There is nothing like impending guests to jump-start my spring cleaning.
The ritual of spring-cleaning surely harks back to a time when laundry had to be done without the blessing of a tumble-dryer--heavy quilts, blankets, winter-tired curtains needed warm sunny days on a clothesline outdoors. Winter woolens were aired and stored away in smelly moth-balls until they would be needed in the fall--at which time they were aired again to remove the stench of the moth proofing.
With Jim away for 10 days at the beginning of March, it was good timing for me to tackle what needed to be done.
I took advantage of a few sunny, windy days to deal with laundry, then retreated inside to some dusting and tidying.
We have no lack of tracked in grit from the gravel driveway; each armload of wood brought in sheds specks of sawdust or bits of bark. Having a wood stove in the living room means that fluffs of powdery ash settle on shelves and the objects on the shelves.
The resident cats provide an endless source of cat hair to be vacuumed up.
I tend to get a burst of energy in the evening, and with no one around to suggest bedtime, I could dust cupboards and rearrange items until well after midnight.
Rootling in a basement closet I noticed that two large vintage crocks had never been brought out into the daylight. They were carefully wrapped in layers of newspaper when I packed up our last Wyoming house in January, 2010. I lugged the crocks upstairs thinking they could go atop the kitchen cabinets along with other similar items.
It wasn't that easy. The inner crock, swathed in newspaper, would not come loose from the larger one in which it sat. Looking at it in frustration I realized that one--maybe both--were out of round just enough to make the inner one stick. I heaved the weighty load into the kitchen sink and aimed hot water between the two pieces of crockery. They stuck fast. I squeezed in dish-washing liquid. More hot water, more jiggling.
Hoping to gain leverage I plunked the crocks on a towel on the kitchen floor, tried inserting a flexible spatula around the edges.
My sleeves were wet, the floor was wet.
It seemed that I could rock the inner crock a bit farther, but no amount of pulling brought it free.
A glance at the clock confirmed that I had been at this task for more than half an hour and the hands of the clock were edging toward 1 A.M.
By now the newspaper layers were quite soggy. Snatching a long-handled fork from the utensil drawer, I began tweeking out wads of the wet paper.
Back to the sink, more dish soap, more hot water, more tugging, and suddenly the inner crock lifted up from its nest inside the larger one.
The cats watched in amazement as I dragged a stepstool to the kitchen counter, placed the crocks within reach, then climbed onto the counter. I lifted them into place, clambered down, crawled back up on the counter, leaning dangerously over the fridge to position the crocks to advantage. It did occur to me that should I topple from my perch, breaking my old bones, I wouldn't be discovered until much later!
A final tweek at the row of 'collectables' parading along the top of the cupboards and I was safely down!
Some of my crocks came from my grandfather's farmhouse, others have been picked up at auctions or flea markets.
None are of special value--I simply enjoy the look of them.
I call the shelves on this side of the fireplace 'mine.' Just to the left of the shelves sits my cherished rocking chair with a stand to hold my current books and magazines, which have to be jostled out of the way to set down a mug of tea.
The shelves on the other side hold oddments that J. has collected.
It seemed that his collections had been edging into my space!
Since he wasn't there to protest, I climbed up to dust everything, severely relegating his objects to their own shelves.
I poked about the house, gathering up items I would like to have near me.
The boy cats enjoyed this late evening activity, trotting up and down the stairs, getting shut in closets, sniffing at each object as it emerged from a box or cupboard.
I appreciate the look of a house freshly refurbished, but I'm not one who enjoys flitting about with a feather duster and a broom.
While we are never dirty, both J. and I tend to be less than tidy by nature.
There always seems to be an overflow of papers, parts, projects and pieces that are laid down where they shouldn't remain.
For several days after a major cleaning I am militant about keeping order.
I rush to sweep up every crumb of wood debris around the fireplace, flick dust off shelves, meticulously put things away.
Slowly other more interesting activities claim me--reading, sewing, baking--and beyond the immediate cleaning and ordering of kitchen or bath or bedroom, I revert to my natural less than tidy ways.
If ever I were 'well-to-do' I should hire a cleaning lady!
Since that will never be, I will have to settle for my frantic bursts of housekeeping!