Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some Housekeeping

Today we got really ambitious and managed to go through a huge pile of assorted detritus that was sitting for weeks in our upstairs hallway, throw away a lot of stuff, and put away the rest. It was a combination of books, CDs, magazines, old birthday cards, newsletters, newspapers, and souvenir programs from various plays and musical performances that had managed to gather in the room DH uses as his office. A few weeks ago we had decided to use our brand new Bissell rug shampooing machine in that room, so DH put all the offending debris out into the hallway, and there it had sat.

Once we got through that pile we were truly inspired and then went through the bookcases in the office and put all the books we didn't want to keep into two big boxes, the contents of which can be donated or sold at a yard sale.

DH then got really ambitious and cleaned the windows in the room we fondly, and truthfully, refer to as "The Cat's Room," and we even put back up the clean curtains we had washed two weeks ago!

And if that wasn't enough housekeeping for one day, I spent this evening playing around with my blog's sidebar, cleaning out a few things I didn't think I needed to keep there, and adding my shiny new blog bling from the recent awards.

While I was at it I added a couple of new blog links and moved my two other blogs to their own section called "My Other Blogs." (Real original, aren't I?)

This sudden fall weather must have inspired the old Fall Housecleaning gene to kick in. It's strange to think that when I was growing up, my mother did Spring and Fall Housecleaning, and it involved major housework. Taking down all the curtains and washing them (she had different ones for summer and winter, too!) all the windows....I remember my dad (who happened to be afraid of heights, so I'm amazed he did this) sitting on the windowsill with the top half of his body OUTSIDE the house, cleaning the outside of the windows.

We're lucky if we do that stuff every two or three years! And we're also lucky if we have one decent set of curtains for each window, let alone different ones for different seasons.

It makes me wonder how important any of that is, or ever was. I don't know many people who still do that kind of cleaning. Most women I know work, and who has time to do all that when you have only two days a week to get all the errands and other chores done?

Are we any worse off now that we don't do two major housecleaning events each year? Are our families any less healthy? Our houses that much the worse for wear? I don't think so.

Maybe when the tradition started it was truly necessary, because they didn't have the kind of modern conveniences we have today, such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners, or Bissell rug shampooers. I suppose it made sense back then to take up the rugs and beat them in the back yard. Or wash all the curtains a lot because you couldn't use a vacuum attachment to clean them. But times have changed, and I don't think anyone will be going back to that type of housecleaning any time soon.


The Future Was Yesterday said...

Stay Away From My House, Lady!
That disease you have may be contagious.:)

A male friend and I were commiserating recently about the arrival of "spring cleaning" at our respective homes. He made a comment that stayed with me: "She made me move a ton of stuff we never use, just so she could sweep, mop, vacuum, where it was at - then made me put it all right back in the same spot!!" Shades of George Carlin's stuff.:)

I'm from the "day when spring cleaning was necessary." It was mostly to remove the grime of winter, along with foul odors, wood smoke (and stray ash), as most houses still used wood heat. Obviously, A/C was unheard of in our part of the woods. So the curtains did need to be washed, as we only had one set, and they tended to collect all manner of odor - food, cat/dog, wet winter clothes, etc. Air circulation wasn't the best at that time, as well.

Spring cleaning was quite the event. Everything washed, windows flung wide open on those increasingly sunny days to let the fresh breeze in, and the stale out, rugs hung out to air....

"Stuff we never use" is the key, imo. My wife and I are both pack rats. "Leave that alone! I might want that someday!!" :) So it takes a lot of personal discipline, not to mention love, to get thru the bi-annual cleanings.:)

Fall cleaning was pretty much the same, except it was to get as much dirt, grit, odor, as possible removed, before the house was "buttoned down" for the winter.

Family Adventure said...

I think a lot of it was routine. It was the way it had always been. They may also have had a little more time to do so (more SAHs).

Spring is also a time for general clean up, don't ya think? The garden needs work and the windows are filthy after all that dirty snow (at least where I am).

But back then, I think people put a lot more care and pride into their homes than we do today. They would buy a piece of furniture, or curtains, and have them for years. We just buy, use, and when we're tired of them, replace.

My parents still have Christmas curtains for the kitchen windows. Their couch is getting a little worn, so they are thinking about staining it (it's leather). These are things I would never even consider. I'd just replace the couch. The curtains - no Christmas ones, but if I tire of the ones I have now, I'll replace them with a new set of neutral all-year-ones.

Of course, this is all terrible for the environment, so now I'm feeling bad! I should probably consider reusing things more than I have so far.

Good post. I'd never thought about it before :)


M said...

I haven't washed the curtains yet, but I do like the idea of a thorough house cleaning. We don't clean anywhere near what we should or as much as I'd like, but then we are busy trying to just get through life and all the things we have no choice but to do, and some of the ones we just simply *want* to do!

I always wondered how one is supposed to get it all done, but I guess you answered with all the stress and business of modern American lives, it is difficult for many to get it all done.

I actually would like to clean more--I like cleaning, believe it or not, in fact sometimes I think I'd very happy being mainly a housewife who does some of her own work and pursues other interests on the side, since I love decorating,cleaning, cooking, etc, but just don't have the time or energy for much of it now.

But when life is as hectic as it's been lately for me, cleaning and housework doesn't happen as much as I'd like. Neither do a million other things I guess. Which leads into your other post below that I wanted to comment on too, about the stress on work in American life--great points in that post, I really appreciate your perspective. It's all so true, and is sad. It isn't the life I remember from my childhood, or from the culture my parents grew up with.

By the way, I love the description of throwing the windows open on those sunny days and a lot of the other visuals in that comment--great writing!

And I hope I don't appear like the freak for being the only one to notice/mention this but the image in your post, is it just me, or is the woman either sweating a little too much from all she's juggling, or did she have some sort of accident (I am not a freak, I promise!)

Mauigirl said...

Future, we too are packrats and it is our downfall when it comes to cleaning. Half the problem is just getting all the "stuff" out of the way! I know what you mean about the smoke and ash. When we first bought our house we had an old oil furnace that made nice black soot when it first started up. When we moved in we had to wash all the windows and woodwork, which were filthy. We converted to gas and the problem has gone away, but I'm sure the prevalence of oil heat in the northeast (and coal before that) made frequent major cleanings necessary.

We do send our rugs out about once a year for cleaning because they get dirty looking (there are areas that are a light color on them). It is a good feeling to really clean - and yesterday was a good day for it since it was a beautiful fall day and we opened the windows.

Family, you are so right - I am definitely a culprit when it comes to "Throw it out and get a new one" instead of fixing what you have. My mother is the complete opposite. She just moved into a senior citizens apartment and I told her she should get a new couch instead of bring her old one (it's about 25+ years old, was made of fake leather which had ripped and now has a slipcover on it). Oh no, there was nothing wrong with it, she was bringing it with her. She grew up in the Depression and I think that's where the "re-use" mentality comes from. And yes, she is right. There really is nothing wrong with it. And because she still has her old furniture her apartment still seems like "home" when I go there!

M, I totally agree with you. I can't say I like cleaning all that much but I do love to cook and decorate. I too could probably be happy with staying home and doing some activities, cooking nice meals, etc. It's funny to think that what many of our parents took for granted (a wife at home keeping the house nice) has now become a luxury most of us can't afford.

And ROFLMAO, I hadn't thought of what that shadow on the clip art woman's skirt might look like! I really think it's meant to be a shadow but now I can't look at it without imagining her "accident." Come to think of it, if she's a menopausal woman lifting all those heavy books, well, it could have that effect.... ;-)

pussreboots said...

We did a similar cleaning and sorting in our living room yesterday. The in-laws are coming in a week and I want the home to be a little more organized. There is still a lot of work left.

Mary Ellen said...

There must be something in the air, I've been doing the same thing. In fact, as I was looking for something in the fridge for breakfast, I started cleaning it out...and forgot to eat breakfast when I was done. Now it's past lunch, and I'm messing with my computer instead of eating. I wish all this lack of eating would show up on the scale.

I cleaned all my closets last month...what's wrong with me????

Mauigirl said...

My in-laws are coming up for dinner tonight so that was one reason we needed to get our act together!

Mauigirl said...

Mary Ellen, that's the only way I ever get any cleaning done - I do it when the mood strikes!

Liz Hinds said...

Sounds like you had a great Sunday! It's a wonderful feeling when it's all done though, isn't it? The trouble with these bright ideas - I'll put this pile of stuff away - means you start the dominoes going. I can't do this until I've done that, so I'll do that but first I need to do this - and so on. But as I said, rewarding when it's done.