Tag Archives: Cleaning

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: One Big Mess – Two Small Messes = A Bigger Mess

O Lord, You know I was tired of barricading the hallway when company came.   

(Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay)

So, I resolved to do major cleaning, starting with light and fan fixtures. Cleaning a closet. But OMG, why does cleaning always create more clutter?  

Company’s Coming

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

I brush the toilet, close shower curtains to hide the bathtub ring, and shine faucets. A clean hand towel completes the deception.

I stuff dishes into the dishwasher. Gross pots and pans go under the sink. Front edges of the refrigerator shelves are washed, and I swab random spots on the kitchen floor.

Attempting the ancient balancing process known as fling shoey, I toss more shoes into the closet than block the front entrance.

The doors of all bedrooms, offices and extra bathrooms are bolted shut.

Thus, the whited-sepulchre process of cleaning for company is complete.

Why do I stress so?

When children, my siblings and I welcomed visiting kids as reinforcements in the ongoing War Against Grown-ups. Together, we reversed Mom’s earlier cleanup process with relentless efficiency. Once, my brother, our friends and I threw a superior batch of mud pies at our church’s windows.

We didn’t have company for a while.

As Dad was a pastor, our family hosted evangelists and missionaries, often with little advance warning. Watching Mom perfect the God-help-us-they’re-here drill, I learned her technique.

We children celebrated when Brother Alleman visited. Though my sister and I slept on the floor, Brother Alleman’s big smile, his faith-filled stories, and candy bars he brought won our hearts.

As a teenager, though, I wished my parents weren’t quite so hospitable.

One morning, returning after an overnight campout, I encountered a teen boy I’d never seen before, asleep on our sofa. After recovering, I helped Mom fix breakfast for him and 20 other out-of-town church members, strewn throughout our house. They’d mistakenly thought our church held services Friday evenings.

At least, that situation lasted only one night.

One female ex-gang member shared my room for months — but we became good friends. She demonstrated how to throw a knife in less than a second.

When I left home, I declared I’d live a normal life.

Normal? I married a country doctor with a solo medical practice. With my cohost often failing to show and only my children to help(?), I invited few guests. Eventually, I gave up.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Recently, though, with Hubby’s slower-paced job, I dusted off my having-company drill. We’ve rediscovered hospitality.

Mudballs and gang members aside, having company has become a treat again.

Almost as good as Brother Alleman’s candy bars.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does the prospect of company stress or bless you?

Cleaning Combat

Who likes cleaning out refrigerators and freezers?

Not me. And especially, not mine.

But I refuse to feed my garden’s fresh veggies to whatever life forms lurk in fridge and freezer.

Confrontation time.

I review my checklist. Bucket of hot water and disinfectant. Rubber gloves. Body armor. Samurai sword. Hey, past-expiration yogurt gets testy when evicted.

The apron sewn by my husband’s grandma.

I also don an apron sewn by my husband’s grandma. A gentle soul, she nevertheless fought a fierce, lifelong war against germs and dirt.

Her brave spirit pokes me with a scrub brush. “Be strong!”

I straighten, grab my sword and slowly crack the fridge’s door.

Nothing stirs, but I’ve been fooled by silence before.

I throw it open wide.

Ack! Half-filled bottles of lavender salad dressing. Pudding that resembles petri dishes. Mashed potatoes that give a whole new meaning to the term “green vegetable.”

Did something move? A-a-a-a-a-ack!

My chance of survival seems better in the garage, where I slowly open the freezer. No tentacles. I lay down my sword, though I won’t remove body armor or apron.

I summon Golden Oldies to fool my back and muscles into thinking they’re young. A rhythmic tune boogies me across the garage: “Mission Impossible.”

My Cold War almost morphs into peaceful coexistence when the song changes to the “Purple People Eater.” Will Hubby return to find nothing but my eyeglasses and piles of defrosted food? Will he weep more for my demise or the expensive loss of pot roasts?

Thankfully, the music changes to the Star Wars theme: Da, da, da-da-da da da! Retying my mighty apron, I plunge into the freezer’s alternative universe.

White, amorphous, furry-looking packages meet my eyes, their age detectable only by carbon dating. Identifiable or not, each package/container evokes a question:

  • Why did I shred four dozen bags of zucchini? My husband hates zucchini bread.
  • Do Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys grow exponential sets of giblets?
  • Did this single serving of tuna casserole preexist with God in the beginning?

While pondering cosmic questions, I toss out piles of mystery food, moving to the pulsating background of “You’re No Good.” “A Hard Day’s Night” demands endless elbow “Grease,” but eventually the fridge, freezer and I graduate to “Splish Splash.” We revel in unfamiliar spotlessness.

I play H-O-R-S-E with the giblets, shooting them into trash cans. Alas, in attempting a three-pointer, I hit a garbage man.

He doesn’t seem to take my poor aim personally, though he dives for the truck. It roars off to background strains of “Hey hey hey, goodbye. …”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you done recent cleaning combat? (If not recent, I won’t tell.)

The Meaning of Cleaning

Maybe a COVID-delayed optometric appointment had prevented me from seeing my office’s squalor. After all, I’d told a fellow pedestrian I was sorry for not maintaining a safe distance — only to realize I’d apologized to a mailbox.

Legally blind, I also had hurdled growing piles in my office to reach the printer.

What finally inspired my cleaning turnabout? A check lost in the chaos.

Rummaging through rubble, I did recover it.

I saw carpet. It’s blue — who would have known? I even (drumroll) cleared my desk.

Hubby thought he’d entered the wrong house.

Of course, “clean” is a relative term. I know people who vacuum their garages — and probably their streets. For us, not only is “clean” defined differently, it belongs in separate languages.

For me, “clean” means piles have been boxed. It also implies my bookshelves no longer threaten to collapse, as (sniff!), I gave books to Goodwill. Three.

I follow a never-fail formula for dealing with UFOs — Unidentified Funky Objects. If it doesn’t erupt, tick or grow tentacles, I toss it into a closet or drawer.

Instead of pushing neatnik perfection, my unique organization system accumulates points for varying degrees of success.

I can shut a drawer or closet in which all items are current and in order. (100 points)

Hey, it might happen. In Heaven.

Highly unlikely, but possible: I can shut the drawer or closet containing items less than 30 years old. (50 points)

I have actually scored these below:

  • I can shut the drawer without paying, conning, or blackmailing someone to help. (30 points)
  • I can almost shut the drawer. (20 points)
  • I can shut the drawer until it sticks halfway. Permanently. (10 points)
  • I couldn’t shut the drawer if I backed a tank against it. (1 point)

Some claim I should receive zero for that final effort. But I tried. Doesn’t that count for something?

Using my system, I met my cleaning goal.

Then came Christmas and a longed-for visit from my son and his young family. Bushels of Christmas gifts, boxes, wrappings and holiday survival chocolate migrated to my office, as did anything fragile. Heaps of trash, attracted to new clutter as if magnetized, also appeared. So did the books I thought I’d given to Goodwill.

Now, the unthinkable lodges in my brain: if I don’t want to lose more checks, I should clean again.

Twice within three months? I hyperventilate.

Imagine how many points you’ll earn, I tell myself.

The system really does work.

If my total reaches 10 points, I won’t have to clean the office for another year.

And I won’t have to vacuum my street until 2099.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you define clean?

Cleaning Confrontation

Who wants to clean out a refrigerator and chest freezer?

Blown light bulbs conveniently have kept me in the dark about their sad state. I grabbed diet Pepsi or pizza, slamming doors before tentacles could yank me inside.

But now, with the garden producing, I can’t feed my veggies to whatever life forms lurk there.

Confrontation time.

I need hot water and disinfectant. Rubber gloves. Body armor. Samurai sword. Hey, past-expiration-by-a-decade cottage cheese gets testy when evicted.

I cover the body armor with an apron, à la June Cleaver. This secret weapon of all women in 1950s TV sitcoms empowered June to do housework while wearing high heels and pearls. It will grant me added protection.

Hubby’s grandma sewed this apron that gives me courage to clean out our refrigerator and freezer.

Besides, Hubby’s grandma sewed this apron. Though gentle, she fought a fierce, lifelong war against dirt and germs. Her spirit pokes me with a scrub brush and urges me to be strong.

Grabbing my sword, I crack the fridge’s door.

Nothing.

I throw it open.

Ack! Half-filled bottles of lavender salad dressing. Pudding that resembles petri dishes. Mashed potatoes that give a whole new meaning to “green vegetable.”

Did something move?

I slam it shut and venture into the garage, where the freezer resides. I open it. No tentacles.

I summon Golden Oldies to inspire me. A rhythmic tune dances me across the garage—

“Mission Impossible.”

So much for inspiration.

My Cold War almost morphs into peaceful coexistence, especially when the song changes to “One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Purple People Eater.” Will Hubby find nothing left but my eyeglasses and piles of defrosted food? Will he weep more for losing me or pot roasts?

Thankfully, the music changes to the Star Wars theme. Retying my mighty apron, I plunge into the freezer’s alternative universe. I see furry-looking, amorphous packages, their age detectable only by carbon dating. Each evokes a question:

  • Why did I shred four dozen bags of zucchini? Hubby hates zucchini bread, and I probably shouldn’t eat 50 pounds.
  • Did this tuna casserole pre-exist with God in the beginning?
  • Do holiday turkeys grow exponential sets of giblets?

I toss out piles of mystery food, moving to “You’re No Good” and “Hit the Road, Jack.” I use endless elbow “Grease,” but eventually graduate to “Splish Splash,” reveling in unfamiliar spotlessness.

I saved the giblets for a game of H-O-R-S-E, shooting them into trash cans in the driveway.

Oops. I hit a garbage guy.

My apology had better be good. Given summer heat, I really, really want him to haul my melting mess away.

Fortunately, he doesn’t take my poor aim personally. He only wants to flee. So, cans are dumped in haste. The truck roars off to “Hey hey hey, goodbye. …”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you make housework fun?