Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cleaning Up Cleaning Out Cleaning House

I was, am, and will forever be a reluctant housekeeper.

I inherited this trait from my Mom.

Mom – Dad also – collected stuff and rarely threw anything out. Everything was saved. After all, the item might be useful one day.

Some collections I remember distinctly. We saved the newspaper comics, repurposing (although that term was not used in the 1950s) the colorful cartoons as wrapping paper for birthday and holiday gifts.

Advertising circulars and other paper with only one side imprinted were cut in quarters and placed in a pile on a shelf next to our wall phone. The notepaper came in handy when writing down names, phone numbers, messages. Of course when a particular message needed to be retrieved it was usually nowhere to be found, hidden under a mound of mail, papers, magazines, newspapers, and books heaped on the kitchen counter.

Mom and Dad worked, and housework was a low priority on their to-do list. Their tolerance for disarray was rather high.

Clutter and crud are partners in grime. Hub does not get the relationship.

You must de-clutter in order to clean.

For years I was reluctant to throw out stuff. A couple of downsizing experiences later I am much less hesitant to toss or give things away.

Every few days weeks I get disgusted enough with my surroundings to fling myself into cleaning. This is when hub disappears. I am not a nice person when the cleaning bug strikes. I furiously dash around the house, vacuum, spray cleaner and miscellaneous cleaning utensils in hand. I cannot be disrupted. I cannot be disturbed. My whole personality changes. I transform into a fiendishly freaky dauntingly mean, cleaning machine…

We have an apartment posted on airbnb, and business is good. I realize people want a nice, clean place to stay and try to oblige.

So now I clean, carefully laundering towels and sheets and remaking beds, vacuuming floors, wiping counters, cleaning bathrooms.

Bathrooms are the worst. I would rather work almost anywhere and pay someone to clean a bathroom than do the work myself.

But maid service is expensive.

And I am cheap!

So I clean.

Hub usually joins me, and he is learning. He has always been good about helping around the house, but blind to many basic cleaning essentials. (His mother was not a good housekeeper, and that is being polite.)

Hub cleans the bathroom. I inspect and finish the job. We take inventory of essentials – do not want to leave guests without toilet paper, for instance - and restock.

Who would have thought a couple’s retirement activity would be cleaning?

Professionals tell us learning and practicing new skills keeps our brain youthful, working and alert.

I guess cleaning, for me, is exercise for the mind as well as the body. Keeps me youngish…until one day my weary bones eventually rebel and cry, “Enough!”

Then someone else can clean my house. And we will lower our airbnb price and note the place is available “as is, comfy, a bit cluttered but homey. Special deal available for those willing to clean…”