Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 1 - Cleaning and memories of my mother-in-law

It felt great to get outside this morning and walk. I walked for 62 minutes, and I was just dripping with sweat! But I really was glad to start the day with that walk. It was just around my neighborhood (and I am pretty bored to death with the view), but I do feel lucky to have such a shady neighborhood. After 25 years of living here, the trees have all matured. And I took my walking tour through Harris Teeter - air conditioning and a big drink of water made the detour ever so pleasant.

Then I got to work. I decided to divide my house in 3rds. I live in a townhouse with 3 floors, so making the division was pretty easy. My focus today was the finished basement. I had really hoped to de-clutter and clean, but I decided to focus only on cleaning and picking up stuff. And because that is the easiest part of the house to clean - it didn't take all day. So I vacuumed the first floor as well - the level that was causing me the most stress. There was pet hair (2 cats and 3 dogs worth) everywhere and to add insult to injury there was also copious amounts of leaves that were tracked in by people and the dogs. It felt good to get that cleaned up. Much more to do tomorrow.

I do love things clean and picked up but I don't enjoy the actual cleaning. My mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was an excessively clean and tidy person. Her home was her hobby. I think she truly did love cleaning. And she was a collector of things. All were art-fully displayed and dusted. If something was moved she knew it. It reminded me of a gift shop. When I met her, she lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. It was an older building with wood floors. Each year, she would get down on her hands and knees and she stripped off the old floor polish from the entire apartment with a putty knife (polish she put on her floor monthly). And she would wash all her walls and all the items in her house (she was a smoker). It took her two weeks in the spring. The first time I came to dinner I helped her hand-wash the dishes. I was doing the drying. I was dropping the forks into the forks slot of her drawer. She pointed out that her forks (and other utensils) weren't dropped into the tray, they were lined up - laying on their sides - in a specific manner. Her whole apartment was that way. Just so! I think it gave her some kind of peace to live like that - control over her environment maybe. She was a difficult woman to get to know, she had a hard life, she didn't really get along others that well - not even her son, and at her death she had few contacts or friends. And, yet, I think managed to be her friend, and she was a wonderful grandmother to my children. I think of her often when I clean. I miss her most then!


  1. Yet another way we are sisters under the skin.....

  2. I miss her too! She was a wonderful grandma. Of course, I'm probably a lot like her!


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