Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring Cleaning

As I mentioned the other day, I've been bitten by a spring cleaning bug.  Bill is a bit perplexed and I'll admit that if the usual happens by the time you read this I will have recovered entirely. In the meantime I've been exploring some ideas new to me.

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 doorstop reference on occasion. 

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?


Gam Kau said...

A few years ago I had picked up Home Comforts 2nd hand. It had been highly recommended by a friend, but I found it really rather boring. I like a tidy organised home, but it doesn't have to be bleached and scrubbed top to bottom. Frankly, I think a bit of dirt and dust is good for us. In any case, I passed it on to the charity shop and hopefully it made its way to a new home.
Do you recall the book Simple Abundance, really popular back in the 90s I think? I recently found a brand new copy at a charity shop and picked it up. I looked up the author and learned that she ended up bankrupt!

Shelley said...

Gosh, I don't think I ever heard about Simple Abundance. There was an awful lot going on in my life in the 90s and I wasn't tune into popular culture much at all. Funny thing about all the stuff she supposedly learned from her divorce, I watched my Mom deal with a lot of the financial insecurity my Dad created and I learned a huge amount of all that growing up. Bill and I have separate bank accounts and have never really considered doing otherwise.

The Desert Echo said...

Interesting post, I've come to realise how little stuff I need to be happy and how all the junk I've accumulated makes cleaning a nightmare, when I return home there will be a big purge and hopefully cleaning will be a breeze.

Beryl said...

I really like all the drawers and cupboards neat. If there's no room, stuff can be stacked up anywhere until I get a chance to put it away properly. I like the idea of a junk room, for stuff I haven't had time to put away.

Gam Kau said...

Financial literacy is so important isn't it? I'm always amazed how so many are lacking in financial skills. I only recall the Simple Abundance book because I received it as a gift back in the 90s and I think the author was one of the early proponents of embracing gratitude and simplicity. When I saw a copy recently I was happy to pick it up, but was so surprised to find that she didn't apply her own advice once she became successful.

sanda said...

No real spring cleaning routine here. I try to keep things relatively clean as I go so I don't have a "knock down drag out" as my mother did. I am always amazed at how much dust there is. I can't seem to keep ahead of it. Of course, having dogs doesn't help, but I'll take the companionship of my two sweet dogs over an immaculate house any day.

I read the Simple Abundance back in the 90s. I read somewhere that she remarried after the success of her books and the husband spent all her money. I think she has written another book since her trauma but I don't know the name of it.