A while back I bought a book by Cheryl Mendelson called Home Comforts - the Art and Science of Keeping House Book. She is yet another former-lawyer turned writer; makes me glad I never considered law school seeing all that wasted tuition. I bought her book because a segment I could access on Amazon waxed blissfully about the serenity of having a housekeeping routine. I was obviously brain-washed by those two or three pages; the rest is a dead boring book about all the minutiae of household work. I use it as a
I did read enough to learn that she recommends cleaning a room from top (highest up) to bottom and from the inside out. I found that last bit intriguing. I was telling Vivien the other day that my Mom's method of housecleaning was to prepare for the annual gatherings of family at Thanksgiving and Christmas but otherwise to generally ignore anything that wasn't too un-hygienic. She would just throw everything that was out of place into the spare bedroom; I grew up believing most people had a 'junk room' for this very purpose. Except my Grandma and Grandpa who were perfect in this respect. Mom's mom, my Grandmother, took a different tack.
|Vivien was moved to look up the plural; turns out both crocuses and croci are correct.|
Grandmother kept everything looking ship-shape, but I learned early on that one never knew what one might find in her cupboards or drawers; opening closets could be life-threatening on occasion.
I've aimed in my adult life to wean myself off of the junk room (I'm not counting the attic, yet) and to aim more for Grandmother's approach than Mom's, except that I like to know where to find things. When my sewing room gets really out of control, usually sometime around Christmas, I find places to put everything that has piled up on the floor, then I work on clearing the surfaces until it looks more like a normal person's house. Drawers and cupboard's don't get much attention except to figure out how to get more in them. Mendelson's inside out approach is completely opposite to mine.
I decided that top-to-bottom and inside-out should be also include East to West, North to South, upstairs then downstairs (not counting the attic...or the garage - way too cold to tackle those yet). The upstairs most North-easterly room is the bathroom. Whittling down the soap collection, finishing off the spare bottle of bleach and starting on the last tube of toothpaste opened up some possibilities for improved arrangements. Bill still has his own cupboard and there is still a cleaning supplies cupboard (now with terry cloth and linen rags), but now the medicines are in their own space and I have my own cupboard.
The shower drain was running slower and slower. I finally give up on vinegar, baking soda and hot water and moved on to serious chemicals. I've came to realise how much Bill has always taken care of when I had to ask how to remove the bayonet-style light bulb (British light bulbs don't always screw in like American ones) in order to clean the light fixture. I took the curtains down to wash them and re-discovered the mechanics of the curtain rod and why things sometimes got stuck. I consulted Mendelson on the nature and source of dust and wished I hadn't (though I do think she under-rates the contribution of outside dirt tracked in by shoes).
The main thing that occurred to me during all this busyness was that dusting, washing curtains and re-organising bathroom storage gives one the feeling of being in control. I am of the view that most 'control' in life is illusory, but still I could finally see why devoted housekeepers might love their work. I suspect mine is going to a short romance, but I shall enjoy it while the bloom is ... whatever that quote is.
Do you have a spring cleaning routine?