Thursday, January 20, 2011

ALL IN A DAYS WORK! - Jenny Gardiner

THIS IS NOT ME, ALTHOUGH THE VODKA-WHILE-CLEANING IS NOT SUCH A BAD IDEA...Cliché or not, I want to talk about resolutions for just a minute. And not because I ever bother with any; I don't. But because I know that there is at least one person around my house who wouldn’t mind if I resolved to try to clean my house occasionally this year.

The thing is, I don’t not clean my house. I just rarely undertake the rigorous all-day effort required to have the whole place clean all at once. Maybe it’s because it only builds up smoldering resentment in me when everyone then comes home and ravages our home in a matter of minutes; or perhaps my psyche can take it better one meager clean-then-trashed room at a time. Or I OCD clean, which takes ten times as long (no hired housecleaner will devote hours to baseboard cleaning, and if I do that, by the time I work my way up days will have passed!).

We do sometimes have folks come to clean, when things get desperate. I’d love to have a regular housecleaner, but I think I might be too populist to have someone doing my dirty work for me all the time, like I feel as if I need to pitch in. I'd be fixing meals for the maid, donning my own pair of rubber gloves when done with that to help scrub things.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore having a sparkling home, but it’s a moot point, as it’s not in the budget for the next, oh, say, rest of my life, anyhow. So I’ve resigned myself to picking up the broom, and yes, even the toilet brush, all in the interest of avoiding COPD or whatever other breathing disorders my family might succumb to if I don’t clean the place.

In honor of my birthday a few days before Christmas, we had cleaners come in. More because we had 18 people coming for Christmas Eve dinner and there was no way I’d have time to cook and clean for that lot. In truth it wasn’t for my birthday, but ended up being an unexpected bonus. See, I cleverly tried to get them to come clean on my birthday as a self-gift, but they refused, saying they were too busy. I had to settle instead for two days earlier (meaning I'd have to re-clean again before company came, because my family would have dismantled the cleanliness by then). But then they forgot to come on their appointed day. Which is problematic, when you spend hours preparing for the cleaners.

See, preparing for the cleaners is almost as hard as cleaning the place yourself. You have to pick up a houseful of stray mess, discard the piles of trash the kids have left lying around, clean up the clumps of dog hair in the corners (too embarrassing for them to witness), wash every dish, put away any hint of your slovenly self. For me, that takes about, oh, ten hours (I’ve been known to dump the motherload of extraneous mess into laundry baskets and hidden it in the garage; out of sight, out of mind).

So to my chagrin, the cleaners forgot me (which isn’t as bad as the time a surgeon forgot to release me and left me stranded in the recovery unit till he was tracked down by a nurse while mingling at a cocktail party that evening). But the upside was I got them as a booby prize for my birthday! Hurray! Which meant a completely clean home, which was indeed a lovely birthday gift.

NOW, IF I LOOKED THIS GOOD CLEANING, MAYBE I'D DO IT MORE OFTEN (or at least do it in sexy lingerie that I wouldn't mind bleach splattering)
Occasionally I’ve hired cleaners expecting to smell the heartwarming aroma of the freshly-cleaned, only to be accosted by the most offensive odors imaginable. Once, it was the unsavory fragrance of cat excrement permeating my entire home. The cleaner vacuumed our unfinished basement, the one piled high with boxes and only occupied by the cats, and sucked up the kitty goodies our antique feline failed to leave in the nearby litter box. This in turn clogged my new vacuum cleaner, and for some odd reason they continued to sweep the entire house despite the ghastly smell. Thank goodness I didn’t have to clean the house, because I then had to spend about four hours trying to de-cat poo the vacuum. It was not a pretty sight. Or scent, for that matter.

I blame powerful cleaning agents for them not smelling the stench. See, another time we went out of budget for a cleaners treat. These occasions usually occur before unexpected houseguests, so that we can delude these friends that we are not slobs. I left the cleaners to do their thing, then returned home to the noxious scent of a cheap hooker. One in dire need of an olfactory system transplant. Seems the cleaner had used a product called Fabuloso, something that is apparently very popular amongst Latinas who clean, but the aroma of which had me running for the gas masks, if only I’d stockpiled them post-911 and the anthrax-in-your-mailbox-scare. This confirmed my suspicions that cleaning a lot of houses with powerful toxins has rendered the noses of many cleaners basically dead zones. Because the smell of Fabuloso is so not fabuloso; rather it is so vile, toxic and lung-searing, that I had to fumigate my house when they left, re-cleaning with something more mainstream.

Back in the 80’s, when a flood of Salvadoran refugees fled to America, many of these immigrant women became housecleaners. We occasionally hired a cleaning company managed by a country gal from West Virginia who was under the impression that if you added enough vowels, very loudly, her Spanish-speaking Salvadoran workers would understand her implicitly. Her commands of “Moppo el flooro” usually fell on uncomprehending ears. And their use of a Chlorox-infused cleaner on my teak dining room table cemented the notion that I should’ve just done it myself.

I suppose I could turn this clean-house resolution on its head by suggesting the one around here most desirous of the spic and span mode perhaps pony up as well. After all, we need a lot of painting on our aging house, and I’m way too short to reach all those high places. Plus, last time we had housepainters, you should’ve seen what those folks destroyed. It’s either that, or fire the maid, and I’m pretty sure I can’t fire myself.


be sure to stop by and visit my website (where I desperately need to do some housecleaning), blog (ditto), or over on Twitter and Facebook (here and here) where I try to stay on top of things in a more timely manner...

Oh, and I think we're still doing giveaways, right? I've got a copy of WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME for someone leaving a comment today!


Mary said...

You're blog posts are always so funny! I can totally understand wanting to hire a house cleaner, I've thought of hiring Merry Maids a few times but then I remember I have no money to do so and clean the apartment myself. lol

Jenny Gardiner said...

I know, it's so sad isn't it? You get these momentary delusions like "I'm thin! I can wear a bikini!" then realize that would be contraindicated. Then it's like "Oh, I've got money! I can take a great vacation abroad!" Then it's like, "Oh, crap, my credit cards are maxed out, that is not going to happen for the next forty years."
I guess it's nice to have the fantasy for a minute or two, at least...Thanks for stopping by!

Caroline said...

Ohhh Jenny how this made me laugh as well a striking a chord! We're in the process of moving so I'm Spring Cleaning BIG TIME before we move out. I don't want to leave the house dirty - I don't think it's fair on the new tenants moving in. So this morning it was the bathroom - Not too bad until I came to the skirting boards around the dreaded Toilet Pan. YUK !! All I can say is "men ". LOL. I have the living room to do tomorrow - washing walls anyone? Finally, why do men seem to disappear all of a sudden why it comes to cleaning? Have a good day -Caroline x

traveler said...

This blog and the photos are priceless. It certainly resonates with me. Cleaning never ends and the effort expended is not worth the result ever.

Virginia said...

Your post is just to funny! Oh cleaning the never ending job. I feel your pain and right now with all the snow you just can't keep a house clean. I laughed when you talked about Fabuloso because I use it to clean with. Does great on the floors. The green one smell is not as strong but you have to like the green apple smell. You can't beat it for mopping laminate flooring.

hagen313 said...

Yes, I can certainly relate, especially the part about having to tidy up BEFORE the cleaners get here --- just so they have access to the surfaces they need to clean!

BTW, I would not let my husband see that 'Win a Russian Bride' ad with the woman scrubbing the floor & the vodka. Wouldn't want to give him ideas.

Jenny Gardiner said...

thanks for stopping by--honestly that purple Fabuloso is the one that is THE WORST. I tried sniffing a few in the store just to give it a fair shake--not for me!

petite said...

I enjoyed this unique and entertaining post especially the lovely pics which are unique and appealing for their humor. thanks.

Estella said...

Your post and the photos are wonderful!

ev said...

Jenny- You would be so comfortable here in our home. I am in the same boat as you- complete with cats. And the self-cleaning litterboxes are great- until you get cats like mine who a)have to bury everything making it hard for the rake to not jam up and b)play follow the leader in and out of the boxes.

Everytime I clean, the little frigging mess fairies come in and screw it up. I gave up.

No one has died from eating anything I have cooked, so it can't be all that bad.

BTW- I am finally getting to read Sleeping with Ward that I won and you signed. It's taken me awhile to get to it, but I'm there!

Annie West said...

Jenny, thanks for the pictures especially. You've given me a whole new slant on housekeeping!

Michele L. said...

Ha, ha, ho, ho,...LOL! Those pictures are priceless! What a hilarious blog! Loved it Jenny!

Ok, don't hate me but I love to clean. Yes, I really do. My favorite thing is vacuuming. Love to vacuum. I would do it everyday if my hubby wouldn't get mad at me. I just love how the carpet looks and the air feels after vacuuming. I have allergies so it helps to keep a clean house. I sneeze at everything. I even sneeze when I get chilled. Heaven help me!

Anyway, it is always refreshing having you here Jenny! Your blog always says it all!

Happy New Year!

Jenny Gardiner said...

Oh Michele, I think we're all going to invite you home to clean for us as well! I promise I'd fix you a really yummy meal!!! Ev--glad you're finally reading SWWC Hope you enjoy it!

Nas Dean said...

A very hilarious post and the photos....but all very true!

Michele L. said...

Thanks for the compliment Jenny and the meal deal sounds wonderful! I think I will pass on cleaning for everyone though. I do my share for my boss, my mom's house and my own house. I think my hubby would get jealous of me spending so much time with you'all! :-)