Cleaning House

Some days it’s just time to clean house.

I have been feeling low energy, barely getting the “absolutely must get done” things done. My partner Sabrina had surgery last week on her right thumb for arthritis, so she’s in a splint (which next week will be replaced by a cast), and although she’s an incredible trouper, managing for the most part to completely take care of her own basic needs, there are still many things she can’t do. Little things like picking up the big water bowl for the dogs to refill it, or sweeping the floor, are simply two-hand jobs – there’s no getting around it.

So when I step into the house after work, I toss my messenger bag on the counter and immediately do the basics: fill the water bowl, open the cat food cans, refill the parrot’s dishes, take out the trash and the recycling, start a load of laundry, make at least a half-hearted pass at the accumulated dog hair on the kitchen and living room floors.

But I haven’t had time to really get much beyond that, until today. Finally, there was a break, an afternoon without appointments or social obligations, and we were just at home together. I replaced the filter in the air purifier, changed the sheets, washed all the throw blankets (our dogs and cats have “blankies” scattered about the house just like a bunch of toddlers), vacuumed all the carpeted rooms, cleaned and relined the bird cage. I even emptied the wading pool on the deck (the dogs’ pool), which was full of rain water, and starting to collect mosquito larvae. Kenji the kitten wasn’t thrilled by all the activity, as he is terrified of the vacuum cleaner, hiding behind furniture whenever it appears. He recovers, though, given enough love. Eventually.

There is something so deeply satisfying about walking through the rooms of a clean house. I love seeing the just-vacuumed lines in the carpet, smelling the fresh sheets, seeing the neatness and order everywhere.

I live with five cats, three dogs and a parrot, in addition to my partner. It will only be clean for approximately five minutes. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a wonderful five minutes.

It’s an exercise in living in the present moment, because the tidiness doesn’t last. It begins to be undone almost immediately. It is in the creation of cleanness, though, that the satisfaction comes. Not in its longevity. (Although, of course, I must admit that occasionally I fantasize about laminating the entire house and locking everybody outside.)

For now — clean sheets, and fresh dreams.

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