DIRT – Marilyn Armstrong

My cleaning person was here yesterday.

It was floor and shower day and right now, the house looks as good as it gets. I’ve been explaining to the dogs that they can’t be messy. If I’m going to pay for cleaning, they need to be a lot tidier.

So all the floors are clean. Kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom. AND she got all the dirt that gets into the corner under the seat in the shower. I can clean it, but afterward, I can’t get back up.

While she was working, I commented that my husband does not see dirt. She laughed.

“No,” she said. “You show them the house and it’s a mess and they say, ‘It looks fine to me.'” I laughed. Because it’s true. Garry has improved over the years, though he will never be a natural homemaker. The baseball game will always be more important than the rug.

Now, when I point out the dirt, he squints, puts on his bifocals and nods. He has acknowledged dirt. This is a valiant change on his part and I acknowledged it by finding someone to come and clean every few weeks. This works out for both of us. She is very busy and has another part-time (5-day-a-week) job in the afternoon, so she calls me when she has a free morning, which seems to be about every three weeks.

We aren’t messy these days. The dogs are messy. We (the people) are quite tidy. We just can’t bend or lift much and finally, I realized no matter how I looked at it, we needed help. If Garry were 20 years younger, I could enlist his help — except he’d still be working and so would I, so it still wouldn’t get done.

This leads me to realize that when we were both working, I didn’t notice the dirt as much because I wasn’t home. Retirement leaves one in the house many more hours. I have much more time to contemplate the dust and grimy floors.

I still haven’t figured out whether men don’t SEE dirt. Do they really not see it or are they not alarmed by it? I guess they didn’t grow up with toy vacuum cleaners and pretend kitchens.

LABEL US CLEANING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Label

Label me too busy to write anything.

We’re having company. Most people have company, but we virtually never do. Why not? Because we live in an odd place. Even though we’ve just 70 miles out of Boston, many people — even people from other parts of Massachusetts — are convinced we live somewhere on the moon. I think they are surprised we have Wi-Fi and telephones and (sort of) paved roads.

We also have cars, cows, horses, a LOT of churches and a decent selection of grocery stores and hairdressers. I’m not sure why we have so many hairdressers, but we do. Barbers, too.

Today, though, we started cleaning. We hadn’t done any serious cleaning in a while. I washed the floor when we came back from the Curleys and we vacuumed — but that’s our “minimum” cleaning. We hadn’t done the stairs or downstairs in a while because we haven’t been using it.

Surprise! It came out looking amazingly nice. Needs painting and a new rug in the den — and new flooring in the bathroom as well as a new sink — but that’s doable. Eventually.

On a positive note, we got a lot done. I cleaned all the equipment (but NOT the inside of the fridge — I just couldn’t bring myself to haul everything out so it’s grubby in there). But I did the floors (bathroom and kitchen), the little oven, the big oven, the entire outside of everything including the corners and finally got the downstairs bathroom looking like a real bathroom.

In fact, other than needing a new sink (the old one is worn out), it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was. The living room needs organization, but for now, it’s in waiting mode. If I could manage the stairs better, the underneath living room would make a fantastic office and den. That’s how we used it when we first moved here. Before the kids came and took over the lower level of the house. The fireplace in that room works too, though it makes the room awfully hot.

I haven’t gotten to this blog until now and it’s already dinner time. In fact, it’s past dinner because the dogs have already eaten. Speaking of labels, if your dog doesn’t eat, try Pedigree Choice Cuts In Gravy Steak & Vegetable Flavor Adult Canned Wet Dog Food. They like it better than OUR food and that’s something!

Label us finally getting the house clean. And this doesn’t include dusting, which is an entirely different subject. I don’t want to cook in the kitchen. It’s so … CLEAN.

DON’T YOU HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Rebuke

On a day with little to be done, I got up to discover that during the night, some dog (I’m looking at YOU Bonnie!) peed all around the legs of the dining room table. I would put the gate up to keep the dogs out, but I already know that the Duke just knocks the gates down and if that doesn’t work, he jumps them. But these plastic baby gates that have worked for many dogs over many years and are useless now. The Duke has discovered they are lightweight and easily pushed down.

Any of our dogs could have pushed them over but none of them did. Just The Duke. He’s special.

A glass-fronted desk full of memories

He’s a thief but otherwise, a clean boy. Bonnie, on the other hand, doesn’t like going outside unless someone forces the issue … and even Gibbs occasionally feels a masculine need to lift a leg. Despite all that, this is the first time any dog has done anything in the dining room.

Dining table with French doors

This made me very cranky. I was looking forward to several hours of lurking over the computer, sipping coffee, and contemplating the nothingness of modern life, brooding on politics, and generally readying myself for a day of nothing in particular. Instead, I had to clean the dining room which is difficult to clean because it’s crowded with stuff. Mostly, it’s crowded with a huge table and a non-working organ. The table is used to keep my cameras ready for the shooting birds.

As a matter of fact, the reason I was in the dining room at all was that there was a nice, fat Cardinal waiting to drop by for a feed and instead, I was mopping the floor and realizing that there were cobwebs on absolutely EVERYTHING — and several of the oak chairs were splitting along seam lines and needed to be glued and clamped.

When this stuff happens, I always feel like life is simply falling apart around me. It isn’t really. The dining room rarely is used for its original purpose. Maybe twice a year we have a sit-down dinner. The room is largely pretty clean, except for dust. But it had been a while since it was cleaned and the dust had done a good deal of gathering.

Meanwhile, at least two chairs were splitting for no reason except, I assume, the glue gave out. I bought those oak chairs about 32 years ago before we were married. It really doesn’t seem that long ago. I was getting my first place and was working in a furniture store. Instead of a percentage of what I sold, I got furniture. Oak. All oak, mostly made by the Amish and until now, it has lasted. Somehow, I thought it would last forever.

Nothing lasts forever.

Vines in the dining room against the French doors

Meanwhile, the Cardinal finished eating and moved on. Just as well. My arm is telling me to “PUT THE CAMERA DOWN.” How can I be so smart and be such a slow learner?

I was snippy. Garry took this as a rebuke, a kind of blame for the mess.

I wasn’t mad at Garry. I was just mad because I didn’t want to start the day moving all the furniture and clearing the table. My back already hurt and the idea of floor washing before I had my coffee was distinctly unappealing.

Don’t you hate when that happens? Something you really don’t want to deal with comes up and there’s no one to blame, so you snipe at whoever happens to be in the room. It was really the dogs’ fault, but there’s not much use in sniping at them. They really don’t care and probably don’t remember whatever they did that they should not have done.

My memory is like that these days. Fifteen seconds and everything is just gone. Poof. But for the dogs, their whole lives are like that. That’s why they need constant repetition to learn things … although we have had some very smart dogs who learned on one or two lessons. Duke is like that. If he does something he’s not supposed to do, it isn’t because he doesn’t know better. He knows. He just doesn’t care.

Now Garry is doing his ritual morning cleansing in the bathroom. Yesterday’s cleansing resulted in today’s post. He said I should remember that he does much of his thinking in there. I don’t really see why he can’t think somewhere else, thus freeing up the bathroom for me, but it’s his … meditation (?) room.

And now, the sun has come up. It’s a very cold day outside. I know because I could hear the radiators rattling this morning. We keep the house at around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) — cool, not warm. If it gets colder, that’s what sweaters and sweatshirts are for. I prefer a cool house to a warm one anyway. I grew up in a chilly house and it feels normal.

But I have to apologize to Garry when he gets out of the bathroom … any time now. Because I was irritable and he hadn’t done anything wrong. I just didn’t want to do all that work before I’d had my first sip of coffee.

Don’t you hate when that — ALL of that — happens?

I thought you would.

HOUSEWORK SUCKS – Marilyn Armstrong

Housework seriously sucks.

It’s not just me who thinks so. No one likes it, not even the people who are paid to do it for other people. Maybe they like it the least, but I suppose getting paid makes up for something.

Last night, Garry sniffed and said: “It smells like ammonia here.”

The recently departed carpet

I knew right away what it was. A few weeks ago, my grandkid brought over a darling and completely un-housebroken puppy who — of course — pissed on the rug, directly in front of where Garry sits.

The rug before this one

I have cleaned the rug, cleaned the floor … but the dogs have great noses and they can always smell it and feel obliged to add their own personal scent at the same site. This is why I only buy cheap carpets, so even if I have to ditch them once per year, I don’t have to slash my wrists because my hand-tied woolen rug from somewhere in Asia has been ruined.

I pondered the possibility of getting the rug cleaned. It was only a 4 X 6 so it would not have been all that difficult to haul it to wherever they clean rugs (I am sure there must be a place that does it), but the price of cleaning it would be around $30. The rug only cost $40 in the first place and once the urinating has soaked it through, it never entirely comes clean.

The rug before the rug before the last one

I pointed out to Garry last night that we needed to do some cleaning, especially floors. Even though we clean up after the dogs, they can smell it. The whole urinating becomes a kind of canine party, you know?

So when the dogs started their morning barking: “GET UP GET UP GET UP,” I got up. I turned on the coffee, gave them biscuits, cleaned the water bowl. I tried to get Garry up to help with the cleaning, but he had gotten up early to put the dogs out. It was pouring again this morning, by the way, as it has been doing pretty much every morning for weeks. When Garry said he thought he might need extra sleep to compensate, I said “Whatever,” and got to work. If I waited for Garry, it would be dinnertime and we wouldn’t be done yet.

I took up the rug and its underpinnings — the thing that was supposed to keep it from sliding around on the floor. I threw it away. It stank. It was made up of some kind of sticky foam and I think it had effectively functioned like a sponge and absorbed everything. Yuck.

I rolled up the rug and pushed it off to one side of the room, got out the vacuum. Vacuumed everything. Since we’d done this a mere four or five days ago, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I vacuumed the living room, hallway, kitchen, then took the dustmop and cleaned behind the dressers in the bedroom, another one of those jobs which needed doing for a long time. Oddly enough, it did not disturb Garry who thinks I can’t tell if he is sleeping or awake.

Back to the kitchen, I dumped Murphy’s Oil in the bucket, let it seep into the mop, and washed all the hard woodlike floors. Then I did it again, moving all the furniture out of the way. By this time, my back was screaming at me.

All the pulling and bending was taking a toll. I emptied the bucket. Refilled it with the kitchen floor cleaner and started moving everything out the way for the next stage. I got halfway through the kitchen and realized I needed help. I was not going to get the rest of it done. It was almost noon. I figured since this big cleanup was his idea, maybe he could lend a hand.

Soon to be the new rug. It’s shabby chic, just like the rest of the place.

About an hour later, it was done. Garry hauled the old rug to the trash. I changed the covers on the sofas. Duke is shedding and being white, he leaves a trail wherever he lays his body. Which is everywhere.

Duke made out well, all things considered. When I hauled the end table out of the way, at least half a dozen tennis balls emerged. One was tossed for excessive slobbering and toothy destruction, but all the rest were salvageable. I put a few back in the box where I store new ones and gave Duke three previously lost balls. Bonanza!

That was approximately when I realized I actually couldn’t move. For all practical purposes, my back had seized.

I ordered a new rug. Another $40 plus a new non-skid pad for underneath it. I considered skipping the pad, but falling isn’t a really great idea.

I hate housework. It’s never finished. As clean as you get it today, it will need to be redone in another few days. And another few days after that. It is the task that is never finished and never completed

LOATHING LABOR – Marilyn Armstrong

My kitchen floor needs a serious scrubbing. I have put it off for a couple of weeks, vacuuming it regularly and cleaning up dribbles and dropped food when it lands, unless the dogs get there first.

I loathe labor.

Doesn’t everyone?

I don’t mean we all hate our work because some of us loved our work. Continue to love it. I never hated writing, for example, but I hated making indexes. I got exhausted just thinking about setting up a book for publication.

And housework? It’s no wonder men don’t want to do it. No one wants to do it unless they are getting paid.

The un-Christmas house

It’s hard work. It’s thankless because half the time, no one even notices that you’ve been down on hands and knees cleaning that hideous place behind the toilet in the bathroom … or scrubbing off the sticky mess on the refrigerator racks. And before you blink twice, you’ll need to do it again. It is hard and it’s repetitive.

I love when doctors calculate how much work you do, they don’t count housework because “that’s not work.”

They should try doing some of it. Personally. With their own delicate hands. After that, please tell me again how “it’s not work. ”

Today is Labor Day. The day isn’t a celebration of working, but rather a joyous celebration of how Labor Unions, who everyone trashes these days, worked so we could have a five-day week, get safer working conditions, and hopefully take home a paycheck on which we could live.

Ghost of Christmas present

Now that so many corporations have brainwashed workers into thinking unions are merely graft, they should think back to the good old days of Tiny Tim when Bob Cratchit had no days off, no vacations, no sick days, no holidays. And a paycheck so small he could not afford to buy a goose for his family on the holidays.

I’m pretty sure that’s the way we are going — and I’m equally sure that no one is going to like it one little bit.

FOWC with Fandango — Loathe

RDP Monday Prompt: LABOUR

THE BANE OF HOUSEHOLD CHORES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

As I get older, I’m having a harder time accepting repetition as a big part of my life. I don’t mean cosmically or philosophically. I mean plain old boring repetition of everyday tasks like doing the laundry, washing the dishes, making the beds and cleaning the bathroom.

It always feels like ‘I just did that’ when it’s time to do it again! How many dirty dishes and how much dirty laundry can two people create? Apparently, quite a lot.

I never liked routine chores but I surrendered to their inevitability. Now they seem like an affront to my sensibilities.

What do you mean I have to unload the dishwasher AGAIN??!! I JUST did that!! I used to find sorting and folding clothes soothing and zen. Not anymore. Instead of sighing and resigning myself to another round of laundry, I rebel. I procrastinate; seriously procrastinate. I just had to do three loads in the washer and dryer just to find the TOP of my hamper!

Maybe the political upheaval in the country will help me appreciate anew the reliable, familiar tasks that make up my days. If not, what is going to happen as I get even older? Am I going to be one of those people who is discovered in a pile of filth and garbage in a house that has to be condemned? I’m not there yet. But I worry.

 

BOREDOM AS THERAPY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I wrote a blog a while back about how I’ve grown to hate repetitive, routine household chores, like doing the laundry and washing the dishes. But things have changed. The Trump presidency has altered my perspective on a lot of things.

Trump and his team have caused political whiplash and existential chaos, which, in turn, has increased my appreciation for the small things in life. Things like the belief in facts, the existence of truth and the joys of a shared reality, at least with my husband. Also, a renewed love of predictability, consistency and reliability – in people and in the world.

So my boring daily slog is suddenly comforting. It makes me feel secure. My husband’s predictable routines now seem appealing and safe, almost sexy. Chores are no longer frustrating necessities. Sorting socks is now a calming Zen exercise. Fitting dishes into the slots in the dishwasher gives me a sense of success and accomplishment. These are the things in life I can count on. I am not helpless in my own home.

My chores also take me away, for a short time, from the onslaught of breaking news from Washington, DC. They give me moments of quiet before the next storm. I deeply appreciate them for the very repetitiveness that had turned me against them before. Boredom is now my friend. I see it as calmness and peace without the negative connotations I used to attribute to it. It’s the antidote to my PTSD – Perpetual Trump Shitstorm Distress!

I look forward to training my dogs. Sit! Stay! Come! Good girl! Repeat. No lump in my stomach, no sense of dread. No alternative facts or alternate reality. Just me and my dogs agreeing that ‘sit’ means ‘put your butt on the floor’ and ‘stay’ means ‘don’t move until I tell you to.’ Boring, but very reassuring and gratifying.

I appreciate my friends more, at least the ones who share my version of facts and reality. They help me stay grounded. And if I continue to focus on the small things in life that give me pleasure and comfort, I just might make it through the Trump years.

THE OLYMPICS OF LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’m looking forward to watching the Winter Olympics this year. I don’t do sports myself, but I love watching Olympic sports on TV. I learn the names of different kinds of athletic maneuvers and I cheer on the favorite athletes of the day.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if everyday activities were scrutinized and graded the way figure skating is, or gymnastics. There would be names for the different techniques for folding sheets – and folding the fitted sheet would rate a higher level of difficulty.

DISHWASHING


Dishwashing would be my favorite event. There is so much technique involved and so many options for equipment and strategy. You can use a dishrag or a sponge. Don’t get me started on the varieties of sponge technologies out there! You can even use one of those things on a stick, though some of those have a built-in soap dispenser. I think devices like that should be banned as cheating.

The choice of dish soap is a whole other category for grading. Also, if you use the Consumer Reports favorites, your difficulty level should be reduced.

Now for the actual washing of the dishes.

Do you pre-rinse? Do you use hot or just warm water? Different wrist movements should have fancy names (like moves in gymnastics) as well as the circular arm movements — clockwise or counter-clockwise?

How do you scrub or scrape off baked on or age-hardened food? That is the test of a true champion.

Do you resort to additional equipment or rely solely on elbow grease?

Then, there’s rinsing. Do you rinse using the sprayer?It’s faster but it causes splashing – a serious reduction in points. You’ll never get a “ten” using the sprayer.

Sticking the landing would be to quickly and accurately secure a dish in one of those annoying plastic dish drying racks. That might be my personal Waterloo.

THE DISHWASHER


Putting dishes in the dishwasher is more an art form than a sporting event. You have to be creative, have an excellent sense of spatial relations, as well as patience and perseverance. It’s also an exercise in logic.

Stacking dishes in the machine could be a timed event. The most plates, bowls and cups you can fit in the dishwasher in the shortest time span wins. You could challenge your spouse or roommate and make it a family affair.

OUTDOOR HOUSEHOLD SPORTS: PARKING AND BACKING UP


And then there’s parking the car, or as I call it — backing into the garage. This is one more fun event in the Olympics of life. Just try backing your car into my garage. If you don’t hit anything, you’re already a champion. Maybe making it a sporting event would make it a less frustrating and more enjoyable.

One can always hope.

ANT RELIEF

BANISHING THE ANT ARMY

We have not (yet) been overwhelmed by a massive wave of caterpillar eating machines. So far, the tree spraying and endless rain have held them back, though they seem to be doing damage elsewhere. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Life marches on. This year, it’s ants.

They arrive in May and by June they are getting aggressive. This year’s bunch are more tenacious than usual. As long as I can remember, the ants make a determined attempt to set up their new world order in our house. They did the same in other houses in which we have lived in New England.

Ants arrive with the spring. No matter how I rant and rail about it, they show up anyway.

I spray the hell out of everything. I wash everywhere. Clean under, over, around and through the kitchen and living room. Floors, cabinets. Under, over, and around the knife block and the small oven. Behind the cutting boards.

We threw out the old wooden bread box. Garry said he thought the ants were setting up shop in it. It’s old. I bought it at a yard sale 15 years ago. It’s an old-fashioned wooden slatted breadbox. I’m a sucker for old wooden kitchen stuff. But I think that old bread box has passed its prime.

Now it’s out on the deck, soon to make its move to the trash and I have ordered the largest, best-designed breadbox I could find.

This should, in theory, hold two loaves of bread or one loaf and plus English muffins. Not quite the $2 yard sale choice of last time, but presumably easier to clean and more spacious. I hope so. We went with the flat top so we could put stuff up there. Like the big containers of spice for which I’m running out of room.

I used steel-wool to polish the drains in the sink. I cleaned between the cabinet and the fridge,. then I washed, vacuumed, washed again every surface I could find. After which, I sprayed more ant killer. This is supposed to be safe for humans and dogs. It better be or we are all doomed.

Now, the builders have arrived. I’m trying to not listen to the conversation. It might make me want to get involved, which would not be a good idea. They are professionals and I am not. No matter what they are doing, my interference would be unlikely to improve the situation — neither mine nor theirs.

I do not yet know if the result of all of this energetic cleaning and washing and spraying and scrubbing will be the final end of the ants, but it certainly can’t hurt, right? And inevitably, they disappear all by themselves in a week or two. I think they show up entirely to force me to to all that extra cleaning I typically avoid. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I deserve new grids for the bottom of the sink and maybe a new set of shakers for spices.

It’s a housewifely thing, that cozy sense of relief I feel when I’ve done the work on a long deferred — but necessary — task. I’m not sure Garry gets that same feeling from it, but it always gives me a warm feeling that my house-keeping skills are still with me.

But now — I’m also ready for a nice, long, nap. The day feels as if it’s over … yet it’s barely lunch time!

DOWN WITH HOUSEHOLD CHORES by ELLIN CURLEY

As I get older, I’m having a harder time accepting repetition as a big part of my life. I don’t mean cosmically or philosophically. I mean plain, old, boring repetitive everyday tasks like laundry, dishes, bed-making. Cleaning the bathroom. I always feel as if ‘I just did that’ … yet it’s time to do it again!

How many dirty dishes and how much dirty laundry can two people generate? Apparently, quite a lot.

72-BW-Kitchen-Stills-031716_03

I never liked routine chores, but I long ago surrendered to their inevitability. Now they seem like a personal affront. What do you mean I have to unload the dishwasher AGAIN??!! I JUST did that!!

I used to find sorting and folding clothes soothing and zen. Not anymore. Instead of sighing and resigning myself to another round of laundry, I rebel, procrastinate. Seriously procrastinate. I recently had to do three loads in the washer and dryer merely to see the TOP of my hamper!

75-KitchenHPCR-3

Maybe the political upheaval in the country will help me appreciate anew the reliable, familiar tasks that make up my days. If not, what is going to happen as I get older? Am I going to be one of those people discovered in a pile of filth and garbage in a house that needs to be condemned?

I’m not there yet. But I worry.

KITCHEN OLYMPICS by ELLIN CURLEY

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro ended yesterday. I’ve watched a lot of events over the past couple of weeks. I’ve learned the meaning of athletic maneuvers I didn’t know existed. Or maybe I knew but forgot four years ago. And, now I understand how important 1/100th  of a second can be.

Olympics-Rio-2016-3

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if everyday activities were scrutinized and graded the way dives and gymnastics are. There would be names for the different techniques for folding sheets – and folding the fitted sheet would rate a higher level of difficulty.

Dish-washing would be my favorite event. There is so much technique involved and so many options for equipment and strategy. You can use a dishrag or a sponge (don’t get me started on the varieties in sponge technology). You can use one of those things on a stick, but some of those have a built-in soap dispenser, which I think should be banned as cheating. The choice of dish soap is a whole other category. Maybe if you use the Consumer Reports favorites, your difficulty level should be reduced.

72-Morning-Kitchen-Oddballs-042816_41

Now for the actual washing of the dishes. Do you pre-rinse? Do you use hot water or just warm? The different wrist movements should have fancy names as well as the circular arm movements (clockwise or counter-clockwise?) How do you try to scrub or scrape off baked on or age hardened food? That is the test of a real champion. Do you resort to additional equipment or rely solely on elbow grease? And then there’s the decision as to whether you rinse with the spray setting, which is faster but which causes splashing – a serious deduction.

72-drying-dishes-081616_008.jpg August 16, 2016

Sticking the landing would be quickly and accurately securing the dish in one of those annoying plastic dish drying racks. This would be my personal Waterloo.

I think that putting dishes in the dishwasher is more of an art form than a sporting event. You have to be creative and have a really good sense of spatial relations as well as patience and perseverance. But you could make this a timed event; the most plates, bowls and cups you can fit in the dishwasher in the least amount of time wins. You can challenge your spouse or roommate and make it a family affair.

75-KitchenHPCR-3

And then there’s parking a car. This is another fun event in the Olympics of life. Maybe if I give myself running commentary the next time I’m parking in a parking lot or trying to back my car into the garage, it’ll make it a less frustrating and more enjoyable experience. One can always hope.

ZEN AND THE ART OF LAUNDRY FOLDING

My husband Garry was an award-winning newscaster in his working years. Diligent, determined, fearless, and a very good writer, he strove to be an unbiased observer and reporter of truth. In retirement, he has become a Prince of Husbands … and the world’s premium folder of laundry.

I can fold stuff. But when Garry folds your laundry, it’s like Origami. Art. Perfection. Anyone who has had the privilege of having Garry fold his or her laundry would never argue this point. When Garry folds, you are seeing a master at his craft.

72-Garry-Baseball-HOF_013

There ought to be an Olympic Games for Housework. At one time in my life, I could have been a contender , at least in the 100 Yard Cleaning Dash. I could do a thorough once-over of a 7-room suburban house in 90 minutes flat. Especially if Credence Clearwater Revival was playing very loudly in the background. I couldn’t do it now, though I think I might still be competitive in the Speed Floor Cleansing Relay.

Garry? He’d win a gold medal every year in Laundry Folding. There would be no point in fielding a team if Garry were competing. He would retire undefeated, sure in the knowledge that no one would ever surpass or match him.

Last night, Garry remarked that I have a lot of socks. (It’s true. I have a lot of socks. I change them every day, occasionally twice.) I pointed out at least they are all matched pairs. He pointed out he had, in fact, matched every sock and there were no single socks. A noteworthy feat. I responded how much I really appreciate it, and that I’d been extremely careful to make certain no sock went into the laundry basket alone.

I paused. Then I said my problem was it’s hard to carry several dozen pairs of socks without dropping them. Maybe I should put them in a bag. Or something.

And Garry said, “I could roll them for you so they won’t come apart.”

The words hung in the air. Garry was offering to roll the socks.

Garry is a not a “roller.” He believes socks should be smoothly folded in a perfect, fabric embrace. I appreciate the art, but would prefer not have to hunt down the missing halves of my sock teams because when items of clothing enter the chaotic world that is my dresser, more than art is needed to keep them in order. However, to honor the elegance of Garry’s work, I have never complained. I recognize you must never force a master craftsman to do other than his finest work.

Yet, last night in an act of exceptional grace, Garry rolled my socks. He put them in a bag and gave it to me. Today, he bought me flowers. Too. Just because.

WHAT A GUY!

(NOT) JUST ANOTHER DAY

RITUAL OR ROUTINE?

Here’s a question for you folks “out there.”

72-garden-gate-071215_19

When does a routine morph into a ritual? Or a ritual degenerate into a routine? Because I don’t think we have any rituals, but we do have routines.

72-Kitchen-Autumn-Home-1023_024

Most of our routines are mandated by life itself.

I get up. Stagger into the kitchen and push the “on” button to start the coffee. Then I clean the floors — kitchen and living room — because the dogs track in an astonishing amount of dirt on their dainty little (and not so little) paws.

I sweep, I mop, and if necessary, polish (sort of). I give Bishop his meds. I give Bonnie her eye drops. I put away Bishop’s mattress. I wash refill both water dishes. I give them all a treat because they expect it.

Mr. Coffee and family

I put away the clean dishes sitting in the rack. I look around to see if I’m missing anything and if not …

I turn on my computer, go back to the kitchen and pour myself a huge cup of coffee. Grab a couple of low-fat, low-calorie biscuits. After which, with a happy sigh, I settle down to begin my day.

Is it a ritual? Seems to me it’s exactly what needs doing. It doesn’t vary because it’s not based on my choice but on the amount of dirt the dogs track in from outside. I do it because it needs to be done and if I don’t, the house degenerates into a pit.

Maybe the preparation and drinking of coffee has a hint of ritual to it. Millions of people all over the world drink coffee or tea as the start of the day. Does that mean that “hot, stimulating liquid drink” has some broader implications for humanity?

72-Mr-Goose_21

I tend to think “it is what it is.” Something hot, tasty, and stimulating to jump-start whatever the day will hold.

You can call it whatever you want … as long as I get my coffee.

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015-10: A HOUSEWIFE’S LAMENT

SERENDIPITY PHOTO STORY PROMPT

WEDNESDAY – June 17, 2015 #10

Welcome, again, to Frisbee Wednesday. Today the subject is floors. Mine. Clean, shiny, lovely floors, for a moment in time — frozen in the ether, as it were — free of filth, of paw prints and mud.

The picture, hot from the magnetic memory card in the Pentax Q7, is my kitchen. In almost real time.

72-Kitchen Floor_01

Yes, friends, this is my kitchen. This morning. The coffee not yet drunk. The floor still shining happily with its light layer of whatever that stuff is they put in it to make it glow. The glow in “Mop N’ Glow” is a trade secret, but nonetheless a marvel for all that.

You may write about any of these pictures, or any other picture on my site. Or any of your pictures, or someone else’s picture. Write a little, write a lot. At your pleasure.

THE HOUSEWIFE’S LAMENT: A TALE OF CLEANSING

There is no sight so heartwarming, so touching, as shining clean floors.

The dogs are outside being dogs. The weather is fine. After two days of much-needed rain, the sun has returned. The air promises a warm — maybe hot — day to come.

72-April-Morning_03

The coffee is dripping in its electric home and the smell wafts through the house. I have set mine up next to it, ready for that first pouring.

kitchen morning light

I lean on the handle of the mop and gaze over my floors. They shine softly, cleanly. Tears well in my eyes. It’s early, yet I have accomplished something noteworthy. Meaningful, if transitory.

Garry comes out of the bedroom, grabs a cup of coffee, nods a good morning and turns on his computer. Somehow, the bloom fades. I realize he didn’t notice. No one will notice my beautiful floors.

Soon it will be time to bring the dogs back in. They will set about their appointed task of taking the shine off the floors as quickly as 16 paws can do it, which is pretty fast.

It’s another warm summer’s day in the valley.

HOUSEWORK

My mother hated housework. She did it only under compulsion and had a terrible attitude. She was also a dreadful cook and hostile. The kind of cook who tosses food on the table, glares at you, daring you to say anything other than “Thank you Mom” while choking on overcooked veggies and overdone meat.

I’m pretty sure she wasn’t entirely sold on motherhood either. But having birthed three of us, she did the best she could. Nurturing didn’t come naturally to her, though she made an effort. Her mother hadn’t been much of a nurturer either. It was an apology in the form of a story. I understood.

On the up side, she was a great mentor. She loved books, she loved learning. She an infinite curiosity about how things worked, history and art. She loved movies, laughter, and trips to Manhattan, which we called The City. It was just a subway ride away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As soon as I was old enough to have a conversation, we talked. Not like a little kid and a mom, but like friends. She told me stories. About growing up on the Lower East Side when horses and carts were common and cars were rare. How, when she was little, she lived at the library. If she stayed after dark, she’d run all the way home because she thought the moon was chasing her.

Mom grew up doing pretty much as she pleased. In turn, she let me do pretty much as I pleased. Freedom and a passion for knowledge were her gifts to me.

Some of my happiest memories were the two of us walking through Manhattan arm-in-arm. Like pals. Buying roasted chestnuts from the vendor in front of the library. Sitting on the steps in the shadow of the lions, peeling chestnuts and talking. Going to the ballet, which was Balanchine’s company.

fuchsia on the deck may

New York was culture central. Our local ballet company was Balanchine. Our local opera was the Met. If we wanted to see a show, we went to Broadway. We had the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and the Guggenheim. City museums were free admission and the rest were not expensive, even for a kid on an allowance.

She wasn’t a great housekeeper. Stuff got done, and I did a lot of it because I was the older daughter. It turned out to be a good investment. The time I shared with my mother gave me tools to understand her world. It took me years to put the pieces together, but I got most of those pieces while I ironed my father’s shirts … and we talked.

I hate ironing. But I know how.

PERMANENT K. P.

Back on the Chain Gang

Last night I calculated I have been cooking dinners for me and a husband and/or children, other family and friends for just shy of 50 years. Half a century.

I’m a good cook. I like food and since I can’t afford to order in or eat out very often, I have to make it myself. That’s why I learned to prepare Chinese cuisine. I figured if all those Chinese women can do it, I probably can too. As it turns out, while I’m not a fancy Chinese cook, I can produce credible Chinese-style dishes. I can also cook pretty good Caribbean and Italian food, thanks to Garry’s mom and a long list of Italian co-workers armed with grandma’s best recipes.

75-KitchenHPCR-3

I’ve got a “to die for” chili recipe from Grandma Kraus, adapted for current tastes and some traditional Jewish recipes gotten from family, friends and miscellaneous Israeli pals during my sojourn abroad.

So I cook well. If I make an effort, I cook very well. I just don’t want to.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a festival, company coming, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover or Arbor Day. I do not want to cook. As a result? I cook pretty much every day because Garry doesn’t. If I don’t cook, he won’t eat. He’s already too thin (would he care to take a few of my spare pounds? I’m willing and eager to share). Meanwhile, if I don’t come up with tempting dishes, he will fade to nothing.

So I cook. What he is going to do while I’m not kitchen-able is interesting to contemplate. My daughter-in-law has promised to make sure he doesn’t became a wraith. That would be good.

What is it about cooking I don’t like? Mostly, having to do it. It’s late. I’m tired. I want to eat. I don’t feel like peeling, chopping, sautéing, whatever-ing. There’s no specific part of the process I particularly loathe. I’m just done with cooking and if I never have to do it again, that would be fine with me. Something tells me that’s not going to happen.

Morning light in my kitchen as coffee brews ...

My mother was smart. A terrible cook. The food she prepared was tasteless. Dry. At its finest, unimaginative and bland. At its worst, inedible. No one ever begged her to make that special dish of hers. If she said she didn’t care to cook that night (usually because she was involved in some other project, like hooking a rug or glazing a pot or completing an oil painting), we all leapt to our feet and volunteered to find our own lunch or dinner. “Please, Mom, don’t worry. We’ll take care of it.”

Anything to avoid Mom’s home cooking.

I should have followed her example. She was really a very smart lady. I didn’t realize how smart until long after I’d moved away from home. Oh well. Too soon old. Too late smart, eh?

Other Entries:

  1. Chain gang | Sue’s Trifles
  2. Daily Prompt: Back On The Chain Gang | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  3. Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang « Mama Bear Musings
  4. S. Thomas Summers: Writing with Some Ink and a Hammer | Duty
  5. Daily Prompt: Duty | That Montreal Girl
  6. Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  7. Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang | The Wandering Poet
  8. Laundry: It’s what’s looming in my life | In For the Ride
  9. Irresponsible except for everything | Navigate
  10. Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang | An Ordinary View
  11. 271. The Office | Barely Right of Center
  12. That is for example | Mindful Digressions
  13. Least Favorite Passion – Technical Reports | Ako Si Ehm Blog
  14. RFPs | Mindful Digressions
  15. Treasure From The Future & The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  16. Is School Useful ? | Knowledge Addiction
  17. Enough | Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang | likereadingontrains
  18. Back on the Chain Gang | Life Confusions
  19. DP Daily Prompt: Back on the Chain Gang | Sabethville
  20. Picking up the dog’s turds! | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!