"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Guide to More Mediocre Housekeeping in Only Seven Days


I used to say I HATED housekeeping, but that was before “Hoarders.”Now I’m careful lest people think I sleep on piles of abandoned clothes and eat on a TV tray because my table’s buried under domestic flotsam.

So what's a girl to do? If I cleaned like the commercials imply I should, I'd never have time to write a word. Fortunately, turns out, everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten. Remember "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush"? A domestic primer for young ladies.

Here it is, cut and pasted from Wikipedia. 


Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning.

These are the chores we'll do this week,
Do this week,
Do this week.
These are the chores we'll do this week,
So early every morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes.
This is the way we wash our clothes,
So early Monday morning.

This is the way we iron our clothes,
Iron our clothes,
Iron our clothes.
This is the way we iron our clothes,
So early Tuesday morning.

This is the way we scrub the floor,
Scrub the floor,
Scrub the floor.
This is the way we scrub the floor,
So early Wednesday morning.

This is the way we mend our clothes,
Mend our clothes,
Mend our clothes.
This is the way we mend our clothes,
So early Thursday morning.

This is the way we sweep the floor,
Sweep the floor,
Sweep the floor.
This is the way we sweep the floor,
So early Friday morning.

This is the way we bake our bread,
Bake our bread,
Bake our bread.
This is the way we bake our bread,
So early Saturday morning.

This is the way we get dressed up,
Get dressed up,
Get dressed up.
This is the way we get dressed up,
So early Sunday morning.

Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go 'round the mulberry bush,
So early in the morning.


I paid attention at five years old. On Monday I wash clothes. And strip beds and remake beds. To save time, I pile a set of clean sheets on the bed and my husband has to make it up before he can go to sleep. Check! Job done.


Tuesday—who irons? I pile all the clean clothes on the sofa and fold them while I watch “What Not to Wear.” From the time my kids were five their pile got dumped on their dressers for them to put away any way they wanted. Check!


Wednesday—“Scrub” conjures an image of a wooden bucket and a large sloppy brush. I run my steam mop machine filled with distilled water over my tile floor and call it good. “Mulberry Bush” doesn’t say anything about vacuuming, but I run the vacuum around the wood floors and area rugs once a week whether they need it or not! Check!


Darning? I haven’t seen a hand-knit wool sock since my grandmother got liberated in the ’50s. Thursdays are for shopping. Couple of hours at TJ Maxx then I’m off to the grocery store with a fistful of coupons. Check!


Friday—hey, I’m ahead of the game. I swept on Wednesday so today I wash out the bathtub and sink while I wait for my Regenerist thermal treatment to work. Mother says a good housekeeper keeps her bathroom trash receptacles empty. Check!


Sometimes on Saturday I bake a loaf of gluten-free bread or cornbread with brown rice flour for binding. Cake. Cookies. Or even better, a trip to Apple Hill to buy a pie. Check!


Tradition is important, but I mix it up. If my husband isn’t home, I meet friends for brunch. Or drop by someone’s house on the way home from church. If he is, we go out to supper or take a motorcycle run out to Parkfield for buffalo burgers and beer. Long as we're home in time for my show. HBO has a great line-up that night.


 So that’s my week. You know how the military has a “need-to-know” rule? Well, I have a "need-to-clean" rule. Nothing but the basics, Ma’am. I’ve learned to walk around with a wet recycled wash cloth and hit the woodwork. Or a spritz of orange oil for dusting, or alcohol and water for the windows--and call it good. 

So today I get to write. 


Except that it’s Wednesday, and I have to run the forklift while Steve cuts a branch over the driveway. Or he needs help cutting and loading a chord of red oak for delivery to the widow who depends on us every year. Or the horses in the pasture next door get out and I have to run around the house and push them back into the corral. 

Let's see—tomorrow Steve’s cutting a new driveway for a neighbor. I’ll probably have to run to town for tractor parts in our ancient 1-ton Dodge diesel with the six-speed and the 25-pound clutch. I’ll be a wreck by the time I get home again.

You may think I'm joking, but we really did all of these things this past week. I write at night while he watches TV. It’s my compromise to a crazy hyphenated life. I haul my laptop into my writing room and work until midnight. I’d work inside, but it's sooo cozy when the fire's in the woodstove and the dogs and Steve are dozing in the living room, that I tend to get co-opted into the “Family Plan.”  


Like they say: Moderation in all things. Nobody’s going to eat off my kitchen floor, but that’s what plates are for.


How about you? Got any time-saving ideas to share?