Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zen and The Art of Housecleaning

Some of you are aware of my housecleaning efforts the past few weeks.

I love our little house, but truth be told - it had gotten pretty nasty.

Oh, on the surface things looked okay.

But anyone looking closely would notice corners not quite as they should  be.  Baseboards and woodwork not quite as they should be.  Windows . . .  you get the picture.

So I quit just talking and whining about the dirty house and did something about it, and boy howdy, did it need to be done.  

Truth be told - I have just been lazy.  Plain, rotten lazy.

Oh, I have had a dozen excuses -

"Well, I went to the gym today."

"Boy, did I ever get some writing done today."

"I could not put this book down today."

Rationalization is an art.  One I'm pretty good at.

And since I'm no longer working I've found without structure in my life, it is very easy for me to be lazy and particularly easy to rationalize. 

When we were still living in Atlanta and I was working, I would, from time to time, have someone come in to clean.  As I recall, most of those ventures didn't end particularly well.

Since we've been living here I have had help come in a few times, and a couple times I would just have someone come in to do a very serious, very "deep" cleaning.

But, now here's the thing about it.

I was never as happy with anyone else's efforts as I am my own.

And now that I'm retired, I can't afford anyone else's efforts - especially if I'm not going to be happy with those efforts.


Yippee Skippy -  today I finished.


I thought I had finished until I threw my head back to breathe a thankful "Finally!" and realized there was a ceiling fan over my head that was dangling cobwebs and dust bunnies.  I'm telling you - nasty!

But.  That will just have to wait until I'm finished writing this piece, enjoying a fresh, hot cup of coffee and spending a little time just relaxing.

I actually, when in the mood, enjoy cleaning the house.

Well, okay, not all aspects of housecleaning . . .

But I like watching the sparkle come back into things.

I like getting reacquainted with some of the pieces Donald and I have collected together.  Recalling a  little memory that might come with a particular piece of pottery, or thinking of the friend or family member who gave us that piece of china.  A shopping trip I might have been on with my mom or a girlfriend when I bought that small painting.

Standing back to look at old ironstone pitchers after giving them a bath is rewarding and even a bit comforting.

If I'm not in the mood, things get done in a sloppy, shoddy way and then I'm disgusted with myself.  But, truthfully, if I'm in the mood I can find comfort in the act and there's even some moments of Zen type reflection.

Today, the last task I did was cleaning a baker's rack downstairs.

It's where some crystal and glass pieces live.  Some are old, some are new.  There's some old green depression glass pieces that a neighbor gave my mother many years ago, and she has since passed them along to me.  There are a couple pieces that belonged to my Aunt Belle that she gave me several years ago when we were home for a visit.  The neighbor, Mrs. Parrot, and my much loved Aunt Belle are no longer with us.  So today, while I was giving those pieces a gentle cleaning I was able to spend a little bit of time thinking about them, which was nice.

My mind takes funny turns when involved in a task that is mindless and repetitive like I've been doing.  Skips around like jumping beans.  Probably a natural thought was having Callahan Garrity popping into my mind.  Remember her?

Callahan Garrity was the protagonist in Kathy Hogan Trocheck's mystery series set in Atlanta, GA.  She wrote the series back in the '90s and I loved every book in the series.  Callahan Garrity was a former Atlanta cop, former P.I. turned  housecleaning service owner.  Her House Mouse Cleaning Service employees were an eccentric bunch of women I was crazy about.  Callahan lived with her outspoken, chain smoking mother, Edna Mae, and the series was very southern.  Because I was living in Atlanta at the time, I was familiar with most of the neighborhoods Ms. Trocheck used as settings - in particular the Candler Park area Callahan and Edna lived in.  I lived in Inman Park, which is right next door to Candler Park.  It was, back when I was living there, a fun and funky area of town populated by an artsy crowd.  Ms. Trocheck portrayed it perfectly.

So.  Today, while washing Aunt Belle's crystal jam pot, I started congratulating myself on what an excellent housecleaner I am.  There was only one incident of breakage in which I accidently decapitated a miniature teddy bear, but all in all, I think I've done a bang-up job.

Patting myself on the back and thinking about House Mouse Callahan Garrity, I thought maybe I should look into going back to work.  Start my own housecleaning business.  Hire a couple women to help me.  

And then I thought.

Maybe not.

Maybe I need to just pay closer attention to my own house.

Work just a little harder at keeping it a little cleaner week to week so I don't have to work this hard getting it all sparkly clean ever again.

We'll see.

In the meantime - anyone out there planning on paying us a visit, could you maybe come like right now while things are looking so pretty?


Anonymous said...

I'll hop on my broomstick and come right over! Thelma in Manhattan

Prentiss Garner said...

Come to Burlington and start on my house if you enjoy cleaning that much