“Patience is a virtue;” “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Evidently, I am NOT a virtuous woman, and the “cleanliness goddess” and I occupy different, parallel universes.
The decor and condition of my house can best be described as somewhere between “early Cro-Magnon trailer-park dweller of the outback,” and the more modern “tossed for evidence several times by a swat team,” decorating scheme. Housework……..I. HATE. It. I have been on a quest, for years, to discover the ultimate secret to having a consistently clean house. My friends’ houses are always clean! These are women who not only have kids and grandkids, but careers, husbands, pets, outside interests like quilting clubs and volunteer jobs. They go out on the weekends, give dinner and holiday parties, they take weeks long ocean cruises and their houses are forever immaculate and wonderful smelling! Any time of year, week or day….. it doesn’t matter….the house is always the same…..spotless, dust free, no hair from several different animal and insect species clinging to the upholstery or every piece of clothing they own. It isn’t natural, I’m tellin’ ya! I’ve concluded, therefore, that it can only be the magical visitations by that elusive “Good Housekeeping Fairy.” (Henceforth, referred to as the GHKF.) I have taken to chronically whining, “Why can’t I have some of that magic bestowed upon me?”
My patience and lack of house cleaning skills are dubious, at best, but I have maintained a thimble full of faith, much like Linus of Peanuts fame. Linus, bless his little heart, has been waiting in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arise on Hallowe’en and travel the world, distributing candy to all who believe in the Great Pumpkin’s existence. I’ve been standing, surrounded by all manner of dirty, waiting for the GHKF to arise from my mop bucket and start scrubbing, polishing, picking up, hammering…….whatever….. just generally kicking butt on this chaos surrounded by four walls (all of which are in severe need of painting, but that is its own blog!)
As it happens, one morning, some weeks ago, I thought my faith had been rewarded! Opening my laundry room door, I was greeted by what is best described as an al-Qaida inspired operation on a down-and-out laundromat. Clothes, clean and dirty, were everywhere…..on the floor, draped over the rim of the cat kibble container and even dragged out the open back door and scattered about on the deck. It appeared, too, as if someone, (hopefully not my fairy!), had peed on a couple of the t-shirts! I looked at my old cat, Beefcake, and asked him if he had been the one to rearrange things in such a haphazard manner. He merely flipped me off , cat fashion, by giving me the “stink eye,” and stalking out, his nearly hairless old tail angrily thrashing the air. OK…so, if it wasn’t the cat, it could only be that, FINALLY…..the GHKF had, at long last, rewarded my thimble full of faith and crash landed at my house! However, looking at the complete disarray and disorder, I thought, “Just my luck…I got the dyslexic fairy. Or, the one on crack.” I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assumed she had her own mad method for rearranging and cleaning. So, as best as I could, since it is often difficult with actual “ranch worn” clothing to discern clean from dirty, I went about the odious task of re-sorting and re-piling jeans, shirts and underwear. And, since this particular GHKF was obviously facing a formidable task with my laundry and house, I determined she should have another chance to prove her worthiness. Unfortunately, her Rambo style of sorting clothes went on for several mornings. GHKF was actually employing my approach to laundering….throw it, and if it sticks to something, or if one of the dogs is trying to kill it or hump it, chances are it needs washing. Otherwise, just toss it back on top of the dryer and someone, or something, will eventually wear it back to filthy.
Then, one morning, at o’dark thirty, before earliest light, I went into my kitchen for that first cup of coffee, and I heard thumping, scraping and……crunching (?)…..noises coming from the laundry room. Ah-HA!! Here was a chance to go “mano a mano” with Ms. Fairy about her housekeeping skills…..or lack, thereof. I quickly opened the door, simultaneously flipping the light switch, and there, for the first time, I came face to face with my “cleaning lady,” or, as it turned out…..“ladies,” (or, possibly “cleaning men,” although I think that might be a bit of an oxymoron!)
I don’t know how anyone else has envisioned the GHKF, but I had always seen her as a cross between Mary Poppins, Mrs. Doubtfire and the fat little Disney fairy godmother. Never once crossed my mind that “she” would be three siblings with fuzzy butts, ringed tails, masked faces and whiskers. But, there they were…my “Good Housekeeping Fairies.” One was carefully watching me from the depths of the kibble container, where she/he was happily shoveling kibble into its mouth and crunching away with wicked sharp, little teeth. The other two were sorting, folding, bending, spindling and mutilating various articles of clothing, clean and dirty. One was scrabbling amongst the dirty “tighty whiteys” in the clothes hamper, digging and tossing whatever it could lay its little raccoon hands on. Its sibling was hopping up and down on the dryer, evidently enjoying the hollow, drumming noise it was making…. a steady, tribal beat to accompany the shredding of one of my sweaters. I backed out, closed the door and thought, “Ok…so I have 3 raccoons, not the GHKF I had hoped for, and they suck at doing laundry! Perhaps I can teach them to do dishes!” As it turns out, raccoons can only be trusted to do a limited number of things……..