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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Spring cleaning

On one of the most recent sunny warm days of spring, I decided to start my day with a quick running of the vacuum cleaner before the warm day turned into too hot to bother. I do love a tidy home, but I am not known for my housekeeping skills. I tend to do what is required to keep the place neat, but that’s about as far as I go.

It has never been, nor do I think it will ever be, my favorite way to spend the day, or even part of the day. When it comes to cleaning, I tend to lean toward the superficial. It all looks good on the surface, but you really don’t want to look too deep!

I know there are people in the world, in fact, I actually birthed a person who gets a great deal of satisfaction out of scrubbing down a baseboard or bathtub. I can assure you, that trait did not come from the maternal side of the gene pool. As much as I love a clean house, I really, really love a clean house when someone else did the cleaning!

The risk reward has never felt justifiable. I am sure this all stems from childhood trauma but spending a perfectly good day house cleaning feels like some kind of punishment for a crime I did not commit. But without a sibling to blame or a kid to task, I resign myself to expelling energy expelling grease and grime.

It is just so fleeting. Clean one minute and a mess the next. Any satisfaction is short lived and rarely exceeds the effort. When I do muster the enthusiasm for the task, I am often met with obstacles that make it even less enjoyable.

For instance, am I the only person who begins the process by having to fix the equipment needed to do the work? Yes, I speak of the vacuum cleaner. If there was ever one occasion where I simply plugged in the device and was able to glide it to and from across the carpet in a Zen like state of satisfaction until the task was complete, I would certainly be more inclined to do so, but without fail the practice of vacuuming first includes tearing the machine apart and unclogging one hose or another. I often spend more time preparing the tool than actually using it. After dismantling, locating the obstruction, clearing the hose, and putting the machine back together, I am in a sweat and already exhausted!

What I lack is a good systematic approach. Even after decades in the same dwelling, I lack any sort of methodology, which results in a lot of starts but lacks a lot of completion.

Recently, I got out the trusty vacuum cleaner, turned up the music and began to sweep, but decided I should dust first so any particles falling would then be sucked up. That thought sent me on the hunt for the proper cloth and spray, which lead me to opening the windows, so I didn’t breathe in the chemicals meant to leave a lemony shine on all my wood surfaces.

When I got to the window, I realized it could use some attention, so I abandoned the dusting and decided to take a few minutes to spray some ammonia and wipe down the glass with newspaper – a trick I learned watching enterprising folks cleaning windshields at intersections in major cities where I have traveled – and was dismayed to realize I couldn’t quite reach the entire surface. I then took several minutes to find a step ladder, set it up in front of the window and held onto the sill for safety. And that was when I realized the curtains were also full of dust (following a long winter with many fires blazing nearby), so while I had the ladder out, I decided to take them down and threw them in the washing machine.

As my morning turned into afternoon, my search for the right tools for the job were now all over the counters, as I had emptied out everything under the sink and in the utility closet in search of those sprays, cloths, ladders, and tools. I was delighted to come across a pair of protective gloves, the ones I buy repeatedly throughout each year, that somehow manage to disappear between use. This particular pair was elbow length with a leopard pattern and while I was a long way away from Camelot, I did feel pretty fancy as I sprayed down the kitchen counters, and stove. Distracted somewhere between the laundry and living room, I found myself scouring the oven.

Then I decided to clean out the refrigerator. It looked so shiny on the outside … so I began emptying shelves and threw out what might best be described as abandoned science experiments. Turns out, I am great at storing leftovers, but not so great at eating them or discarding them when I should. This was, by far, the grossest part of the process.

Next, I decided it was a suitable time to organize the pantry. This was something that not only gave me a bit of joy, but also a bit of comfort as I mentally cataloged the cans and boxes of staples that would surely help us hole up for a month should the zombie apocalypse take place any time soon.

Finally, the dryer buzzer sounded, and I spent the next hour getting the curtains back on the rods and the rods back on the brackets.

I took a few minutes to enjoy that fleeting feeling of satisfaction that comes with a clean kitchen, shiny windows, fresh washed curtains, and dusted furniture and then my eyes landed on the hose and canister that started it all.

Wiping sweat dripping from my brow, I decided vacuuming would be a breeze … just as soon as I found the tool to unclog it.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com

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