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Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

daffodils sunshine morning table

Mostly what I hate about cleaning is how futile it feels. Wipe down the kitchen countertops, and crumbs appear an hour or two later. Sweep the floor, and you’re chasing dust bunnies inside of a week. My kitchen has the kind of dingy yellowish linoleum that never looks clean, even when freshly mopped, and the second I conquer the pile of dishes in the sink, more dirty plates and glasses seem to spring up out of nowhere. And I don’t even have children.

For the record, my husband is a stellar dish-washer and -dryer (we don’t have a mechanical dishwasher) and the only reason he doesn’t do the laundry is because I’m a wee bit compulsive about it. He takes out the trash, and we split the rest of the housekeeping duties between us. But still, the accumulation of life’s daily messes tends to build until it threatens to overwhelm me once in a while.

During our most recent blizzard (which conveniently fell just after the New Year), I tackled a few “dead zones” in our apartment – small, neglected places where clutter tends to collect, resulting in a constant low level of frustration whenever I pass those spots. I made a list, then set to work, clearing off dresser surfaces, organizing a few drawers, and (biggest triumph of all) cleaning out my desk, which I’d intended to do for at least two years.

This is the kind of cleaning that feels satisfying: decluttering, organizing, bringing harmony and order to spaces where chaos previously reigned. It’s admittedly a small-scale victory, and it doesn’t negate the daily work that still needs to be done: the laundry, the dishes, the making of the bed. But it’s nonetheless an accomplishment, a small forward movement toward a cleaner living space and a calmer life.

I haven’t yet tackled all the trouble spots on the list, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe, next time I’m totally fed up with the Sisyphean nature of scrubbing out the sink or cleaning the microwave, I can pull out that list, pick a dead zone to clear out, and give myself a quick hit of cleaning satisfaction. (Possible spots include: the top of the fridge; the “miscellaneous” pantry shelves; a couple of canvas bins that collect oddments of all kinds.)

Anyone else struggle with the futility of the daily cleaning grind? If you have tips to share, I’m all ears.

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Sometimes I get frustrated with the state of both kitchens I inhabit. How they’re never sparkling clean; how there are always spice jars and loaves of bread and the day’s mail and “bits and bobs” (Lizzie’s expression) littering their counters. The counter was almost invisible under junk when I walked into the dungeon kitchen tonight. The dish rack was full of sparkling clean dishes, to my relief; however, even after I put them away and washed another whole sinkful, there are still more dishes to do. It never ends; it never reaches perfection. But usually after one of my cleaning frenzies I realize that perfection is not the point.

Community is the point. It is, of course, the point throughout these ACU houses: in the commons room, in shared bedrooms and bathrooms, in the worship time we share on Sunday nights (which is about to start). But it is especially the point in these kitchens. When I make a batch of cookies or a loaf of peach bread (my newest experiment, as there is NO pumpkin to be found in England) for all to share; when Moose concocts a delicious salad with homemade dressing; when Nathan makes French toast in the afternoon; when Nick downs cup after cup of coffee from our beloved French press. When various of us abide here for hours at a time, studying or reading or just being; when we take turns washing mountains of dishes and putting them away.

Yes, community is the point. I will continue to swab countertops and range spices in neat rows and scrub dirty pans and stack plates in the cupboards. It’s part of my nature. But I will also continue to drink cups of tea with Nick over conversations about books and travel, with Nathan in companionable silence, with Moose over talks about life. Because this, more than anywhere in these houses, is where we live. This is home.

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simple satisfaction

Much of the last two days have been spent cleaning, inventorying, organising and just generally taking stock of the contents of #9 and #10 Canterbury Road. The students arrive Thursday (the day after tomorrow!), and we’ve got to make sure everything is spick-and-span. This has included washing lots of towels and bath mats, checking to make sure all the rooms have fans and lamps and linens, stacking and sorting LOADS of books and a few movies, and going down long inventory lists for every kitchen. (When I was here, we were constantly losing dishes and forks from our kitchen, as it was one of the bigger ones where people ate frequently. I have eaten every kind of dish imaginable with a spoon – including spaghetti and other dishes definitely meant for consumption with a fork.) So, in an effort to prevent the constant migration of dishes and cutlery, every kitchen now has its own distinctive set.

Today we took a marathon trip to the closest IKEA store, to buy some replacements and some new things. Tomorrow: more organisation and the last of the distribution. It’s hard work, but it does yield a certain satisfaction. I adore these houses and this program, and what they have given to group after group of students. They are a safe shelter, an exercise in community living, and a comfy place to call home for a semester. So it’s quite fulfilling to prepare them for this group of students coming our way. I do love welcoming people, being a hostess, and I will be so happy and excited to welcome 29 students and our visiting faculty members, the McVeys, to two houses stocked and sorted and freshly scrubbed clean.

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