Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cleaning Up

I've spent much of the past week cleaning and scrubbing, polishing silver, decluttering, and primping for the arrival of out-of-town visitors, including our innkeeper from Maine. I hate cleaning and will take any excuse not to do it. For example, the idea of an eventual move has been giving me an excellent reason to skip the chores I hate most. I've been working that one for nearly three years.

But there's nothing like the imminent arrive of guests to make one realize that the curtains are disgusting, the windows need washing, cabinets are exploding, floors look dirty, and absolutely everything is covered in grime and cat fur, and needs a wipe-down, including the logs in the fireplaces.

So I've been doing all of that, at least within the limits of my strength and sanity. I didn't crawl out onto my windowsills to wash the outsides of the windows, not did I pile up the furniture to give the wooden floors a thorough cleaning and polishing. I didn't move the heavy bookcase aways from walls, or take all the books off the shelves to dust them thoroughly (although I still might). But despite all that, things are looking exceptionally good. We even put up the four paintings we've accumulated over the past couple of years that had been sitting in the bedroom in their wrappings from the framer. We were saving them for a new place until we decided we should make the most of the place we're in. We found good places to hang them this morning, and they look wonderful.

Cleaning is good feng shui, I've read, because it brings positive energy into a house as it eliminates bad energy. I can see the truth of that without getting mystical. If you put effort into improving your surroundings, it does pay you back with the satisfaction and pleasure.  It used to be called being "house-proud."

Yesterday after I vacuumed and finished most of the tasks for the afternoon, I was sitting here at my desk and smelled a bad smell. I decided it was my filthy microfiber cleaning rag, which has been my constant companion this week, and was lying on my desk. I've soaped it, soaked it, and microwaved it repeatedly, but it still doesn't smell great. It was only later when I stepped down on what I will describe here as a cat "truffle" on the Persian rug near my desk that I discovered the true source of the aroma. I suppose Wendy or Possum was trying to help. They couldn't help noticing that I was wrecking the place — in my "upheaval" style of cleaning, things often look a lot worse before they look better — and were trying to contribute.

I hopped over to the sink and washed up. Then I grabbed wet paper towels and my esteemed bottle of "Nature's Miracle" enzymatic cleaner and set out to find the... truffle. It was impossible to see. I combed the rug. Finally, I found it, a tiny thing. I picked it up in a towel, wiped the area, sprayed like mad, stood up, stepped back — and my heel came down onto a much larger truffle. This always, always, happens when I'm in my bare feet. How do they plan it so perfectly? I'd love to know. I mean, I know that these events are purely accidental — our cats are extremely fastidious about using their box. But they happen to have long fur, and on rare occasions, maybe once every few months, they leave their box a little too quickly. But somehow the truffle always manages to end up under my foot. It's a mystery.

Things got better when my husband came home last night from a fundraising dinner to a transformed apartment, carrying a gorgeous vase of full-blown red, cream, and yellow roses, the centerpiece from his table. He'd carefully brought them all the way from Cambridge on the #1 bus, a bumpy ride, without spilling a drop. They are the prettiest thing in the living room except for the cats.

Speaking of the cats, Wendy was a no-show when our guests arrived, as expected. Wendy is our private cat, which is fine; our cat-loving friends can admire her in photos. But Possum made two brief appearances, even though there were three exuberant and rather loud strangers occupying his living room. He walked around inspecting everyone and making sure he was noticed and admired, tail and nose waving in the air, before he went off for a nap. He must have picked up his social skills from Snalbert, who greeted everyone with his serious, owlish gaze. I was very proud of Possy's good manners.

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