Sunday, April 15, 2007

... and that is why I rarely do housework

Let me start with a disclaimer: it's not my fault the house is filthy. I am a wannabe minimalist (very easy to clean up after) who lives with two packrats (impossible to even guess where to start cleaning up after). And I do manage to keep the kitchen immaculate enough to please even my German ancestors, although I'm essentially an eye-level cleaner; if it's on the floor, I can ignore it. And I maintain a similar attitude toward dust that the safety experts take toward asbestos: as long as you don't disturb it, everything is fine.

However every 6 weeks or so, I start noticing how filthy the floors are, how somebody stupidly touched the buffet, thus revealing that it is actually covered in 3/4 inch of dust, and that the toothpaste splatters on the bathroom mirror obliterate any attempts at self-visualization.

This is what happened this week. And to illustrate what a major production cleaning this place actually is, here's the timeline on my one-day cleaning frenzy:

- enter basment. FInd the hose and attachments for the central vacuum and, since the furnace-duct-cleaning-guys kindly cleaned out the vacuum dirt receptacle in the fall and reattached the lid in such a manner that you cannot actually open the lid enough to change the filter anymore, pry the lid open and scoop handfuls of dust out of the receptacle until it looks empty enough to allow some suction whilst vacuuming.

- since the carpet attachment keeps falling off the central vacuum hose, dig out the secondary vacuum (glorified Dust Buster). This works well for vacuuming carpet, but shorts out after about half a room, and then requires resting for at least half an hour before it will start again. Vacuuming time is reduced with each subsequent shorting out.

- recall that secondary vacuum cleaner has not been emptied since antedeluvian times, so remove cannister and empty 2 1/2 cats' worth of hair from cannister.

- spend 20 minutes putting vacuum cleaner back together. Say "fuck" a lot.

- haul both vacuums upstairs.

- start vacuuming living room carpet with glorified Dust Buster. Get half done before machine shorts out.

- plug in central vac and start pushing little pieces of dirt around the floor. Consider descending into the basement once again to scoop more dust out of receptacle to improve suction. Say fuck it and continue pushing bits of dirt around, stooping to pick up larger bits by hand.

- after 30 minutes, try disabled secondary vacuum. It works, vacuum for 2 1/2 minutes until it shorts out again.

- alternate back and forth between vacuums until the floors on two levels are reasonable.

- recall that the family room hasn't been properly vacuumed in a very long time. Recall also that the family room floor is covered in Berber carpet, which hides a multitude of sins indefinitely, and promise that next time, it will get vacuumed. Mean it this time.

- pour a cup of now 6-hour-old coffee and check emails and blogs. Swear to get back to work once cup of coffee has been consumed. Add 15 minutes to this deadline.

- haul bucket of evil nasty chemicals to the worst of the bathrooms, turn up the computer speakers on the top floor, chase cat away from evil nasty chemicals and clean up toothpaste splatters and other much nastier substances.

- check clock and realize I have 2 1/2 hours in which to clean final bathroom, wash floors, buy groceries, exercise, and eat lunch, before appointment. Obviously one or more of these activities will have to be postponed or curtailed. Guess which will be the first activity to fall by the wayside? I'll give you a hint: it's not lunch, although it probably should be.

- repeat in six weeks.


JustRun said...

I'm not a fan of housework, either. I am, though, an obsessive fan of clean. Therefore, I suffer through every obsessive-complusive moment of it and usually several hours later (more than I'm willing to admit) I'm finally able to bask in the glow of a filth free space. It is good, but I'd still pay someone to do it, you know, if they'd do it just like I do. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

"I'd still pay someone to do it, you know, if they'd do it just like I do" - it's kinda scary when you get inside my head like that, Justrun. Those are my feelings exactly about the subject of cleaning.
We really are our own worst enemy, aren't we?

Allison said...

"50s housewifery"!!!! Fab, fab label :) Can you hear my handclap from here Barb? That totally made my night.

There is so much dust collecting here, I am cleaning in a few weeks. When I move. Ha. But like you, my kitchen is always clean, well, besides when I'm setting things on fire. I'd rather live with a little dust, and enjoy the day though, but that too kicks you in the ass, eventually. At least you've got a cycle.

Anonymous said...

Damn that's a lot of housework, at least you had Bohemian Like You and some other groovy tunes to lift your spirits. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Of course I was thinking of you when that label popped into my head, Al!
Fire is cleansing too, you know, so you're still on the right path. And there is absolutely no oint in cleaning at this stage.

Groovy tunes galore, Fearless! They're the only thing that keep me from taking that vacuum cleaner hose and running it from the car's exhaust pipe in through the window.

Jas B said...

Cleaning is a lot of stress, Barb

I only take care of the kitchen and the washroom. mY bedroon is an extension of my walk in closet, my study room is a mess, but i do have a spare bed there that I sleep on and keep free of any mess. My living room exhibits all my shoes and jackets and scarves. How do I walk around...hop skip and jump! Good thing that I live by myself and that nobody comes to visit! :)

John Mutford said...

I'm with you on the eye level bit. My wife and I are both short, so it's only on occasion that someone comments on the grime above the stove fan that we get to it. Also with you on the "don't disturb it rule". It's only when we notice that our kids have been doodling in the dust on the TV screen that we make it around to that.

Glad you took out time for coffee and emails though. Just like a good 50s-era housewife should. "And she's goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper..."

Joe said...

Hey, that cleaning routine sounds familiar...wait, that's what we do!

Conky said...

i thought central vacs were the cats ASS?!?!?!?!?!?! im crushed!

Evelyne said...

I'm not a fan of housework but my body is stupiud and I'm allergic to dust and all those cool things... it means that i have to clean my apartment more often than that... however, I'm not really tall so there's dust where I can't see it. And I apply the "don't disturb the dust" rule too, but it usually doesn't last long because I then have to take Aerius/Claritins and it drives my roomate crazy (it makes me act like a hyper-active child, really!)... "so remove cannister and empty 2 1/2 cats' worth of hair from cannister" so true when you have cats!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

When you live alone, you have that luxury, Jas. But I am confused as to why you would sleep in the spare room?

You should have seen me vacuuming in my high heels and pearls, John! I was magnificent.
I hear you on the high-up cleaning. Who knows what evil lurks on the top of my fridge? Certainly not me!

Do you use more creative curse words whilst cleaning, Bubs, or do you stick to the standards as I tend to do?

I thought they were too, Jen, until we moved into this house which has central vac. I always thought that you should be able to reach the whole house with the hose. But maybe apparently that's not the case, at least not in our place.

Having dust allergies throws a whole new number into the equation, doesn't it, Evelyne? I'm amazed at how much hair even a short haired cat can lose!

Karen said...

Next time you get one of those wicked urges to clean house, just head on up to my place. My apartment is VERY small, one bedroom, and all on one floor. I'll even buy beer (or make Caesers...).

Jas B said...

Barb, my bed in the bedroom is full of my clothes, as is the floor. So instead of cleaning up, I sleep in my study/spare room! I am a pig!

mellowlee said...

Ug, what is it with crappy vaccum cleaners? I bought a dirt devil and it was great for about six months, now it wont pick up cat hair GRRRR. Guess what, the new pad has HARDWOOD FLOORS WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! I think the bedroom has berber, but I am not 100% on that. On my way to go pay my security deposit, so I will check it out. You wouldn't believe the dust I am unearthing as I pack up stuff that hasn't been touched in ummm 6 years? Your post made me laugh my ass off!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Karen, I should clarify that I never actually got the urge to clean, just got disgusted enough with the filth to actually do so. Still, a small apartment to clean in exchange for a couple of caesars with Karen sounds pretty tempting!

Oh Jas, you kill me! I guess it wouldn't work to keep your clothes in the spare room instead?

I am so excited about your new place, Mel! Hardwood floors! It sounds divine!
It's funny how much dust can accumulate in 6 years, innit?

Deb said...

the day I realized I totally bonded with my next door neighbour was the first time I came up her stairs to see her "FUCK HOUSEWORK" sign. BFFL after that.

I loved this post. Vacuuming tries to kill me - my back's gone out so many times that I no longer participate in that wretched chore (and feel so bad about it, can't you tell?).

This was too funny: "....that secondary vacuum cleaner has not been emptied since antedeluvian times, so remove cannister and empty 2 1/2 cats' worth of hair from cannister."

Johnny Yen said...

Oh. My. God. That reminds me of something from P.J. O'Rourke's "Bachelor Home Companion." He described the perfect bachelor house pretty much like the picture, including a downward sloping floor to a drain so you can hose stuff off.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Where did your neighbour get her FUCK HOUSEWORK sign, Deb? I think I need to order a few dozen. I know some other people who would like one.
I knew it - vacuuming is bad for your health!

All the best stuff - the Jetson's personalized gyrocopter, the drain in the sloping floor - are always trapped in the fictional world, aren't they, Johnny? We need those things NOW!

phlegmfatale said...

I feel your pain - I WANT to have a clean house, but...

Nice idea, bad reality.

I love that hosing-the-sofa off, image, by the way. When I mentioned my own "Hausfrau-rage" in my blog last week, I didn't mean to imply that I keep house so much as I happen to have a house.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

haha I know what you mean, PF! Funny how it's assumed that because you have a couple of x chromosomes you are going to be interested in housework.