Yesterday, we spring cleaned the dining room and the downstairs bathroom, which doesn't sound all that bad until you consider that we had to unload and wash everything in the china cabinet, which isn't nearly as fun as it sounds, plus individually vaccuum a bunch of Longaberger baskets collected in that misty, far-off past life in which we had money, plus dust and straighten the books -- about eight million of them, feels like -- in three very large bookcases. Not to mention random baseboard cleaning, floor sweeping, furniture polishing, window washing and all that.
Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in the shiny, sparkly living room with a cup of strong, hot tea, wishing to soothe my dust-parched throat, but without the strength to lift the mug to my lips. Meelyn came dragging into the room and slumped on the sofa, her eyes sunken and her hands trembling.
"I'm sure all this cleaning has cut years off my young life," she moaned accusingly. "I've never even seen half that junk in bottom of the china cabinet before. Why do we have it?"
"It isn't junk to me," I said with only a pale shadow of my usual vigor, eyes closed, refusing to raise my head from its resting place on the sofa back. "But what else am I to do with a commemorative plate from the Mt. Summit Christian Church? It's fake willow ware and that church always smelled like mildew, but Nanny and Poppy were married there, so I think of it as an important historical artifact. Someday I'll pass it onto you and you can keep it in your china cabinet."
"Fat chance," scoffed Meelyn. "I'll break it over my knee, more like."
I turned my head sideways and opened one eye to look at her. "No you won't. You'll think, 'This is fake willow ware and Mama said that church always smelled like mildew, but Nanny and Poppy were married there, so I feel sentimentally attached to it as an important historical artifact.'"
Aisling crept into the room, her small face pale and haunted. "My teeth feel gritty," she whispered. "My hair. My hands. Even my eyeballs." That was when I realized that the grey of her complexion wasn't due to actual illness; it was just a skim-coat of the dust we'd been taking off the tops of the bookcases and china cabinet.
Today we moved on to the kitchen, where we completely dismantled the interior of the refrigerator and found a couple of, ahh....science experiments...on the shelves. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Taking out all those shelves and washing them made my will to live swirl down the sink drain with all the grunge I was scrubbing off with my sponge. Meelyn found some salad dressing with a sell-by date of 2007. I hung my head in shame.
Aisling was clearing out the cabinets where we store the canned and boxed food and the dishes. She tortured me by holding up a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk with an expiration date of 2001 on it. She also threw away a box of Thai noodles with peanut sauce and when I chided her for her wastefulness, complaining that we could have given it to the food pantry, she looked over the tops of her glasses and said coldly, "Mother. The date on that box was November 2006."
Heaven help us all.
On the up side, I found some butter I didn't know I had. Meelyn and Aisling and I had discussed moving our dishes to a different cabinet, and when Aisling got them transferred, we all agreed that they looked very nice indeed, very orderly.
There is still a terrible mess in the kitchen -- food that needs to be put back in the fridge, some clutter on the table, dirty dishes to be stowed in the dishwasher -- but we're on the downside of the kitchen duties. We have to wipe down the stove and dishwasher and go over the fridge with one of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, which is possibly the very best cleaning item to ever be invented in the post-modern era, other than the complete line of Swiffer products, all of which I heartily endorse.
We also have to wash the window, stick the sweeper wand back behind the fridge, and finish up by re-organizing the appliance garage, which currently has to be held shut by a bin of dog food in order to prevent an avalanche of baking sheets, casserole dishes, cake pans, mixers, food choppers and the like.
And then alllllll we have to do is GO UPSTAIRS. *sob!*
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