Tag Archives: cleaning

Runaway bunnies

We’re still working on our kitchen. Yesterday we—well, not “we” exactly—moved two large book cases out in anticipation of painting. These hadn’t been moved since 1991.

Once the book cases were moved out, left behind were:

  • 1 pilgrim hat, made of construction paper and hand painted by a pre-schooler
  • 1 metal end from a bolo tie (owned by same preschooler)
  • 1 birthday party goodie bag with some contents remaining
  • 1 Ziploc bag containing two Tootsie Pops, a mini box of raisins and a large plastic eyeball
  • 19 years’ worth of dust bunnies

How seasonal.


Filed under Hearth and Home, Holidays

Trash talk

You may have seen the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., on Today or read about them in Sunset magazine though, if you’re like the Johnsons, you might not have any magazines in your house.

The Johnsons have come to be known as a zero-waste family. They generate no trash and very little recycling. You can read for yourself how this family’s desire to live simply and cleanly has decreased their contribution of refuse to our planet. Admirable, I’d say. And guilt-provoking.

I’m a little ashamed of our household’s size 16 carbon footprint. We are the antithesis of the Johnsons. I’m not sure exactly how two humans and two felines can generate enough weekly waste to fill the Johnsons’ bins for more than a year. See for yourself. Not counting the bags of yard waste that already await pick-up at the curb, we’ve filled a 20-gallon can and an even larger sized Hefty bag in less than a week. Plus this large recycling bin and a paper bag’s worth of newspapers joining the yard waste at the curb as we speak.

Granted, we did a little spring cleaning over the weekend. For example, in preparation for our kitchen project, I decided to thin out our spice collection. “They” say kitchen spices go bad after six months and that we should discard them after that time. “They” would probably also say that the bottles should be recycled and the spices themselves composted or trashed, but that presumes the spices aren’t permanently adhered to their receptacles after years of neglect.

As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order, I’d appear to have a good grip on this. Over the weekend, I went through all my spices, A to Z. I discarded four bottles of curry powder, while being hard pressed to remember when I’d ever used curry powder in my life. Maybe they were part of my husband’s trousseau. Cream of Tartar? I’m not sure I even know what that is.

I swear there was a bottle of whole cloves that came from the house I grew up in, which we vacated in 1976. Somehow I manage to go through several bottles of chili powder a year, and yet can barely twist off the gummed up lids of nearly a quarter of these fastidiously filed spices. I had samples of every Spice Islands and McCormick’s label design of the last 30 years. Never mind all the other relics I came across while cleaning out my kitchen for the first time in 20 years.

Perhaps the Today show would like to interview me.


Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio

Clean by the numbers

Today’s might seem like a mundane topic. I chose it for several reasons. For one, this blog is about language and life and sometimes life is, well, mundane. Thank goodness. The second reason is that it gives me a chance to mix a few numbers in with the words for a change.

We have been in our house 20 years this month. Our house was built in 1912. Much like a 98-year-old person, a 98-year-old house needs a lot of care and attention, even if the results aren’t readily visible.

The big news for us is that, after two homes and almost 25 years of marriage—including 25 sweltering summers in the swampy Washington, D.C. area—we are soon going to get central air conditioning. We will also be waterproofing our damp basement. Big dollars, little aesthetic value, but a welcome change.

Those of you who know me personally know I am a clean freak. My fastidiousness is outdone only by my germophobia. Even so, there are areas within this 98-year-old house that get neglected.

Saturday I spent six hours cleaning the basement, five of which were spent scrubbing the cement floor.

As I view all unpleasant tasks as learning experiences, I thought I would share with you what I learned on Saturday.

  1. Five hours of basement mopping burn as many calories, and yield as many sore muscles, as three months of Jazzercise.
  2. A new sponge mop is good for two to three basement cleanings. When you haven’t cleaned the basement in three years, the equation is: 1 mop = 3/4 of a  cleaning.
  3. Eradicating visible mold from concrete walls takes one-half of a large bottle of Tilex and two gallons of elbow grease.
  4. The drip pan of a dehumidifier should be cleaned more often than once every 20 years.
  5. When a husband comes downstairs to “help,” his patience with your goals and methods lasts approximately 15 minutes, fewer if you have been off coffee for 15 days. Never mind how I know this.
  6. Even though we had only one child, we will have enough toys, books, games, puzzles, art supplies and Pez dispensers for 12 grandchildren.
  7. The moment you empty two litter boxes is the same moment in which two cats hear a call of nature.
  8. Finally, if you “accidentally” suck crickets into a vacuum cleaner, they will continue to chirp for up to 45 minutes.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas