Saturday, February 8, 2020

Schmutz Central

It is not true that we are entirely slovenly around here, or that we fail to notice the schmutz that accumulates despite our best efforts. Our best efforts are not all that great, but we do notice. And I would like  to point out that we clean our toilet at least once a week or more often as circumstances suggest. And by "we" I mean Dave. Dave took some kind of pharmaceutical as a young man that turned his pee bright orange, and as he noted, with horror, the pointillistic painting slowly creeping up the walls behind the toilet, he decided that if any domicile contained one man only, that man should be the designated toilet scrubber. I have, over the years, mounted no objection, because I believe in getting along.

Where do you keep YOUR filing cabinet?
In addition, several times a week I notice all the dust on the wainscoting and furniture in the bathroom. Yes, we have furniture in the bathroom. It's a file cabinet. Where better to store all our tax returns than the toity? It's in there because that's exactly what fits in the corner that was designated (in the architect's drawings) as the chase for the heating ductwork. We ended up using some crappier system that didn't use ductwork to get heat upstairs, but thought it would be silly to just wall off that space, and so we got a file cabinet. It serves as a place to showcase some ceramics that we like. And they're dusty. At least once a week, when the light is right, it occurs to me I should really clean it all off.

But that's a chore. I'd have to take everything off the file cabinet and clean it separately and at least one of the items is a very fragile and delicate ceramic artichoke. The attached hummingbird lost its skinny little beak early on, probably in the concussion from my first colonoscopy prep. Anyway, it's gone. And all it takes is a second or two of looking at that artichoke and I decide that although it could stand some dusting, it doesn't have to happen right this instant.

The other day I took the pretty canister off the file cabinet to clean it up. I didn't think there was anything in the canister. It was one of those items I bought in the 'Seventies to store brown rice or whole-wheat flour or rice cakes or something in, back in the days when hand-thrown pots were routinely displayed on the kitchen counters of hippie households. But of course they either broke or were abandoned, along with the brown rice and whole-wheat flour, in favor of bleached grains, Triscuits, and snap-lid containers. This one has survived as a bathroom decoration for the last twenty years. I opened the lid.

There was paper at the bottom. Scraps of paper, folded over. I picked one out and opened it up. It said "Use vacuum dust attachment to clean floorboards downstairs." There was another one like it for "upstairs." There was one that said "Clean out kitchen gadget drawer and toss seldom-used items." One said "Test all the pens in the house and throw them out if they don't have ink."

Spank my fanny. It was a Job Jar!

I vaguely remembered that Dave and I had once decided to institute a Job Jar filled with useful but limited tasks that, if actually accomplished, would lead to a cleaner house. Clearly we recognized we had a problem. We were each going to pull out one job a week and do it. It wouldn't take all day. Things would start picking up. It was doable. It was a great idea.

I don't believe we ever took out a single Job. We forgot all about it. And here it still is.

The canister is clean. It looks shiny and nice. And I know just where it goes. There's a clean round spot in the dust where it had been. It's just a matter of centering it carefully.

43 comments:

  1. Fortunately, in our household also, Paul cleans the bathroom on cleaning day. He uses it with much more ...erm... enthusiasm... than I do.

    We don't have a "job jar", but -- as we are both indecisive people -- we have a "cauldron of cuisine" with little bits of paper on which are the names of our favorite restaurants. On date night, we can never decide where to go ourselves, so we leave it up to the Universe to decide.

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    1. I want to know if you ever pull out a slip of paper from the universe and then go somewhere else.

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    2. Sometimes. If we've been there recently, or if we don't feel like driving that far.

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  2. Dusting??? Who does that? I might remember how to do it if I could just get started.
    I do like the idea of a 'Cauldron of Cuisine'. We wouldn't have to go through the "Where do you want to go? I don't care, you decide" routine.

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    1. You just reminded me of how much Dave always hated the answer "I don't care" to the question "what do you want for dinner?" He cured me of that one. Then we'd have conversations like this: "What do you want for dinner, chicken or pork?" "Pork." "Sorry, we only have chicken."

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  3. Our bathroom gets dusty, especially the little black furniture cabinet that holds the tissue rolls. Last year I noticed several times that someone had drawn their finger through the dust, leaving a streak. I cornered the man of the house and demanded to know if this was his passive-aggressive way of getting ME to clean the bathroom. He declared shock, surprise and ignorance. Said he was just testing to see if it really was dusty, and that he didn't care if it was. I put forth the idea that if he notices the dust, go ahead and dust the cabinet. Move the decorative items (we just have a small mouse with a tiny sewing machine in a desk, 2 benches of miniature fabrics and threads, a chair, several tiny baskets made from acorn caps, and a doll-sized rug and a corner bookcase only 6" high for his other stuff). I don't know why dusting this is such a chore.

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    1. Oh boy. Compressed air to the rescue! I saw a white van once completely covered in road dust in which someone had drawn (with finger): "ALSO COMES IN WHITE."

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    2. We once had a line drawn in the dust on a cabinet and eventually someone drew another line which led to a game of tic-tac-toe, which we call noughts and crosses, and the cabinet didn't get dusted until there was no room left for another game.

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  4. My mother always claimed that a dust rag didn't fit her hand. I like the attitude; but, as much as I enjoy sunshine, it invariably shows me what needs to be dusted...oh, at least every 3 weeks.

    Thirty years ago, it was my husband's job to take care of his own bathroom. Even though I didn't use his bathroom, it didn't escape my notice that he did an abominable job at it, so I traded off some other job and took it over. I've never understood how his aim can be so miserable; but, it's difficult to convince a man that he is capable of sitting to pee. He does wipe off the counter top around his sink; but, it doesn't occur to him to give a swipe to the mirror or the chrome.

    We did learn, when our last cats died, how much easier it is to keep a relatively clean house. Kids and pets make a huge difference!
    Cop Car

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    1. "A dust rag doesn't fit my hand." I'm just trying that one out...

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  5. Yay Dave. Many years ago himself agreed to clean the bathrooms. He was finished (two bathrooms, two toilets) in less than ten minutes. Without getting up I told him he had done a half-arsed job. Which insulted him. And the bathroom cleaning is mine to do.
    A jobs jar sounds like a wonderful idea - but I fear that in this cluttered and dusty home those chores would remain in the jar (where they would at least attract no dust).

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    1. I think women have sabotaged themselves over and over through the years by criticizing men's efforts. I have had less trouble with that because even a ten-minute effort will look better than my (zero-minute) effort.

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  6. That is a very classy file cabinet! Very good of Dave to take on both toilet cleaning AND cooking, I'd say. I love his clever meal offer and take-back :)

    Dusting is my least favourite chore. And probably is most needed, of all the things I always put off. I've had to up my vacuuming game because we have a cat with allergies. Yes, there's such a thing. But I don't think I'll ever have the energy again to do all the cleaning weekly, as I used to, when I had two pre-schoolers at home.

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    1. It seems to me that dusting would be much easier if done only as often as a felt develops. That could be several years. Then you can just roll it up.

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    2. A friend of mine who has lots of collections on shelves says that if you never move anything, you can't tell there is dust.

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  7. So delightful to read that I am in good company when it comes to household dust.

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    1. As my neighbor Gayle says (and I'm sure I've quoted her before) "That's why old ladies' houses are so messy. We can't see it, and we don't give a shit."

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  8. Wow, this triggered a memory. At some point during college, you moved out of the dorms and into a house with a group of friends. One of your first letters to me after your move said, "Now I know who cleaned the bathroom back home for 17 years...." (sigh) I guess its too late to thank our Moms for all of their silent labors, huh?

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    1. I remember walking in a room once when my mom was wiping down the door-frame with a damp sponge, taking off the grimy fingerprints. "You never knew I did that, did you?"

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    2. My late younger brother delighted in running a finger along the lintel of the doorframes when he came to visit. I chastised him for the white-gloves inspection; but, he usually didn't find a lot of dust up there (not a big reach for any of the men in my family the shortest of whom was 6' 1"). For some reason, that is one place I do remember to dust. I even give the baseboards a swipe now and then. I'm sure that since Younger Brother died, no one has had reason to know that, though.
      Cop Car

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    3. Door lintels? I don't even know what's on top of my refrigerator.

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    4. Please don't remind me of the refrigerator top. Other than 10- & 11-year-old great grandsons, everyone else (still living) in my family is tall enough to observe the frig top. Since I'm not tall enough, it gets pretty dirty, sometimes, before it occurs to me to get the footstool out to check.
      Cop Car

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    5. No, no, no! You can't see it! If they can, it's ON THEM!!!

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  9. I think a Job Jar would be likely to suffer the fate of the Swear Box...

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  10. Phyllis Diller said, "Don't scold the kids for writing their names in the dust on the hall table, just tell them not to put the year!" I'm practically lusting after that ceramic avocado, for the life of me I can't see a hummingbird, beakless or not. God knows where I put it. With three males in the house I ordered them to exert their masculinity at school and work, kindly sit at home unless they wanted to clean the bathroom. None of them were keen to clean - problem solved.

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    1. Dave cleans the toilet without a toilet brush. I don't want to watch.

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    2. They only get really clean when you use your fingernails.

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    3. I have nothing to add to that. Nothing at all.

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  11. Where I'd put it. Aiiiii....

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  12. I'm an expert at centering things in the clean ring surrounded by dust. I'm also an expert at wielding old toothbrushes to get schmutz out of corners. while those two sides of me do battle to see which job gets done, I sit and fool around on the computer. And do crosswords, read books, watch DVDs....

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    1. I've got a friend who loves to get stoned and clean things with a toothbrush. I can imagine doing that, but I can't tolerate pot, so...

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  13. Very,very odd, Murr. Yesterday, the day you wrote this and before I read it, I took my handy little dust thingy on a stick and actually dusted the book cases, nicnacs, corners, etc. Something I think I did many many months ago. The universe is small.

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    1. Great! I think I'll put in something about solving the climate crisis next. Get some rest.

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  14. "There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse."
    -- Quentin Crisp

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  15. I still have some of those Hippie Canisters! Old Hippies don't tend to be Domestic Goddesses. I doubt on a Deathbed anyone ever said they didn't do enough housework!

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