Cleaners and Neaters

For me, one of the nicest things about travel is that eventually I get to come home. Home, after two weeks away, is almost like someplace I’ve never been. It is a familiar, but still strange sort of place.

I get to use a full size tube of tooth paste.

My friends and family say they missed me.

There is an abundance of meaningful work to do.

I don’t have to wear dirty clothes unless I want to.

And oddly enough, instead of responding to unusual circumstances that present themselves only on rare occasions, I have to think about and be who I need to be for the long haul, the majority of day to day living. More about that later.

As I reacquaint myself with the house where I live with the husband, I am suddenly able to figure something out that I have wondered about for years.  We are different, the husband and I, and that’s good and serves a purpose. Here is my newest definition of a particular difference.

Some people are neat and tidy but not necessarily cleaners.

Other people makes lots of messes when they work but they are cleaners when it’s done.

Neaters and cleaners, that’s it.  I can think of so many examples of how this works out – like our paperwork and files.  Everything is stacked or filed (kept) meticulously, but usually it is only one of us who cleans and throws out the outdated and unnecessary.  Bathroom stuff is on its shelf or drawer, but only one of us wipes out the drawer and cleans the shelf. The dishwasher is loaded and run, but only one of us clears and cleans the counters and puts stuff away.  

Now unless you begin to think that the cleaner is in some way superior to the neater, let me say that it’s not true.  I am the cleaner (in case you haven’t figured it out) and I am capable of what I call “creative mess” at any moment.  I am following a trail and can’t be bothered with neatness along the way. Besides, I know I’m going to have to clean it up eventually, so I get to choose when. There is evidence of my creative side all over the house but the husband doesn’t often mind (or notice) as long as his stuff is in the pile where he put it (neatly). We were meant to coexist.

Those of us who love our homes will probably admit that the cleaning and organizing that we do is part of the “love”.  The satisfaction of making a difference, even if it’s only to clean a counter or rearrange a corner of the living room, is like getting to catch up with an old friend.  Yep, that’s what I’m doing today and it’s good to be home… I’m just sayin’.

Grandma in her Garden

My Mom loves to garden.  I call her Grandma sometimes because I have talked to my children about her for years and years. She is their grandma, my mom, Gwendolyn Boone Smith.  Gwendolyn who never had a middle name and didn’t need one because her first name was long enough for two. Grandma keeps saying […]

Hold On, I’m Thinking…

20131008_095842
Green to you?

I am, without a doubt, a work in progress.  You would think that after six decades of thinking on different things I would have settled, but it’s not that easy.  The challenges come on a daily basis. I can’t even think the grass is green without wondering what green is and whether it’s the same to everyone who sees it.

I read.

I listen.

I consider.

Sometimes I read to affirm what I already think. When I recognize my own thoughts in someone else’s words I feel a kinship. I am not alone.  Great comfort, that is.  And the more eloquently it is expressed the more I love it and “like” it, follow it and repost it.  It’s not aimed at anyone. It’s about me and who I am.

Other times I read what I do not think, in order to know someone else – someone to whom I attribute great value and respect, or maybe someone who has taken a curiously different path.  I am glad to be reading them.

The funny thing I find is that their path has some of the same landmarks that mine does.  The landmarks, the questions, the struggles are much alike but they are certainly viewed from a different angle.  Seeing things from a different angle is helpful and healthy for me.  The challenges I face make me who I am as I read, listen and consider.  I’m just sayin’ I think it has to be this way and I’m ok with it.

Thoughts on a Clean House

It’s embarrassing to be reminded.  Some people clean their houses every week, on the same day of the week.

Image

I’ve come so far from that, and I don’t necessarily call it progress.  My house gets… no wait, a room in my house may get cleaned when it becomes difficult to navigate through it.  My whole house gets cleaned only when I’ve lost something and need to find it. Of course, I might find it in the first room I clean, in which case only one room gets cleaned.

Spot cleaning is my specialty.  Spots on the floor, piles of mail on the table, sink full of dishes, a cat mess, a dead plant, are all within my 15 minute tolerance for housecleaning.  In fact I often turn to these obvious, flagrant crimes against clean to avoid other things I don’t want to do.  High levels of anxiety over other areas of life can be temporarily muted by these small but visible improvements.

My most effective tool against messy, dirty house is to invite company.  I like to have dinner time company and that is my most compelling reason to clean the living room, dining room and kitchen. If it’s the first time in my house for a visitor I am aware of how important that first impression can be.  I can get close to being fussy clean for those people.  If the company “knows” my kitchen from having been there many times, I skip being tidy because I’m counting on that first impression over-riding everything they’ve seen since.   It works.  Kind of…

Overnight company is more of a problem. I should really clean the whole house, except for rooms I keep locked (!!?) My solution is to only invite family, meaning people who have lived in my house before, to stay overnight.  I leave the cleaning supplies where they can find them and if they’re bothered they can do a little cleaning in their spare time. They are on vacation and have lots of that.

My bottom line is keeping relationships as the most important thing.  Remember that little poem?

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow

For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow

So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep

I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.

I don’t know who wrote it but I have it memorized from those days in the rocking chair with my little daughters.  It applies to company too, of all ages.  Better to let them know I like them and want to be with them, if they don’t mind my messy house. I’m just sayin’ they might even be relieved to see that my house looks kind of like theirs…