Tag Archives: cleaning house

A clean break

DD and I are bloody exhausted. We should be: we have been cleaning her new basement suite from top to bottom for the past three days. And there is still some more to do.

The problem may be that the previous tenant did not clean. Or perhaps the tenant before him did not clean, as we were told that he hadn’t actually lived there very long before moving on. Or else the landlady’s cleanliness standards are not terribly high, so she always thinks that the suite is just fine as is and hasn’t ever required any previous tenant to clean properly before leaving. Or maybe, since the suite is in a basement of a house that was constructed in the 1940s or even before that, the nature of such a basement is that it just is somewhat dirty. Or quite possibly, DD and I have incredibly high expectations in terms of cleanliness so absolutely nothing would suffice in our lofty opinions.

All of the above are likely scenarios.

When we first came to look at the place, it was extremely cluttered with the current tennant’s clothing and possessions. Even the landlady seemed to be rather astonished that it was so messy. It was hard to tell what shape the actual apartment was in, with all that stuff everywhere. And it was rather dark, even considering that it’s a basement (honestly, you really can use higher than 15 watt lightbulbs in most light fixtures!). Still, DD loved the location, it’s a good size for one person, and there’s an actual (if minuscule) kitchen, complete with a full-sized dishwasher, instead of the tiny bar fridge and hotplate that are often found in basement suites. The price wasn’t too bad, considering that it’s fully furnished and equipped, so she pulled out her chequebook and handed the landlady a deposit for half a month’s rent.

And since she took possession on the first of the month, we have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. We had to move a lot of furniture and vacuum up what looked like years of dirt. We thoroughly cleaned the fridge, washed every single dish and utensil in the kitchen, and scrubbed every cabinet inside and out with disinfectant. We did the same in the bathroom. We wiped down or dusted every surface we could everywhere in the place. We disinfected all doorknobs and light switches. We washed windows, for heaven’s sake!

The floor in the suite is that old-fashioned, uneven cement that is typical in older homes. Fortunately, the basement is of normal height; many houses of that vintage have only six-foot basement ceilings, rather than the eight-foot that we are now used to, but this one does not. (If it had I doubt DD would have taken the suite. I know I would have tried to talk her out of it!) This cement floor is mostly covered by various types of carpets, often three or four layers, for some reason. It looks tacky, and DD has decided that she cannot live with it like that, so we are pulling them all up, vacuuming underneath and in all corners, and rearranging them (the ones in good condition, at least) so it looks better. I even bought a sizeable black area rug for DD’s bedroom, to replace the three different area rugs currently in there.

This is all a very big job. And it also goes to show that the landlady really hasn’t paid much attention to that suite in years. Oh, she’s very nice and has immediately sorted anything that DD has mentioned to her (like the broken lampshade, the other lamp that doesn’t work at all, the door that is very persnickety to lock …), but it would have been much better if she actually kept on top of things the whole time she’s rented that suite out. We have already thrown out two garbage bags of broken things and stuff like old tape or expired foods, and we know that it doesn’t matter because she honestly has no idea what is actually in that suite. All I know is that I want DD to start out with a nice clean, functional place. What she does with it after that is totally up to her – but I doubt she would ever let it get to the state it was in when she took possession of it. I’ve trained her far too well!

Another thing that DD has spoken to the landlady about is the hide-a-bed couch. It is a behemoth, probably thirty years old, and it is not in good shape. It is stained and smelly and not very comfortable any more. DD showed the stains to her, and said that first of all, it was far too big for the space, second of all, it was well past its prime, and third of all, if she could get it out of there, DD would be willing to purchase her own smaller couch that she would take with her when she left. The landlady seemed to take all that quite seriously, and said she’d see what she could do. We’re not sure what that means yet, but time will tell.

Another day or so, and I think we’ll have the place ready for DD to move her clothing and personal stuff in there.

And then she’ll be gone and I’ll be an empty nester … an empty nester with a new aversion to cleaning, no doubt.

Breaking spring

It’s Saturday, and technically the first day of my two-week Spring Break. I say “technically” because I’m a teacher and as such, very rarely – in fact, never – work on Saturdays, so really, Spring Break begins on Monday, when I would normally go to work, but I won’t this Monday because Spring Break has started and – oh, hell. Where is this sentence going?

Okay, so what have I done to jump start Spring Break?

Yesterday was my mom’s eighty-first birthday, so DD and I took her out to dinner. No, I took her out to dinner. I paid. DD came along for the free food.

This morning I slept till 6 am – and then I slept some more, till 9 am. Oooooh – I’m still swooning with the joy of it! I spent all morning in my jammies, watching the final episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Really? That’s how the series ends? A bit of a let-down, methinks.

As noon crept past, I showered and got dressed.

Then I cleaned the whole house. I opened a few windows to let the spring air in (yes, it’s about 12ÂșC and sunny today. Sorry, Easterners.). I did two loads of laundry. I mended a rip in a cardigan and sewed a button back on a pair of capris. I trimmed my fringe. I gave myself a manicure (by which I mean I removed the old nail polish, and repainted with the same colourless nail polish. Like anybody would even notice. Still, I made the effort.).

Now I’m going to have a nap. This Spring Break stuff has quite tired me out. Call me in two weeks.

Cleaning house

I had an interesting conversation with my mother the other day. She was telling me all about how she’s been cleaning her place from top to bottom over the past week or so.

“Mom,” I told her, “you’ve got to take it easy. You can’t tire yourself out like that.”

You have to understand that my mother is a neat freak – no, worse than that, she’s a clean freak. She likes her home to be pretty much hygenically clean. The corners have to be spotless and there can be no dust or grime inside any cupboards or drawers. She has waxed floors that are actually no-wax lino. She has waxed the insides of her glass shower doors so that the soapy water just slides off and she has little cleaning to do each time she showers. She has attacked those channels where windows slide open with a sharp knife to remove every tiny bit of dirt. She has scrubbed the outside of her house, for heaven’s sake!

And Mom thinks I am a slob because I do none of that.

My house isn’t a mess by any stretch of the imagination. I do clean regularly, just not the way my mom does. I don’t scrub meticulously in corners every time I wash a floor, nor have I ever waxed my shower doors. I occasionally even wash windows, both inside and outside. I do dust and vacuum and clean kitchens and bathrooms reasonably well, and laundry never piles up overmuch. Clutter bothers me enough that I almost always put things away immediately, which is a constant bone of contention between me and DD. She is frequently heard to wail, “M – o – o – m!!! Leave my stuff al- o – o- ne! I can’t find anything when you put my stuff away!” I usually tell her sniffily that if she’d put things away where they belong in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem.

But I am not up to my mother’s standards, not by a long shot. And because she is eighty years old and is slowing down somewhat (ha!), I have taken over the vacuuming in her condo, as that’s the job she finds the toughest now. I do this every ten days or so, and although she has never let on that she is disappointed in the job I do (which is, of course, much more thorough than in my own home), every few times she “suggests” that we move furniture so that I can vacuum beneath it, or that I do under the beds this time because she spotted one small piece of fluff that might have originated there. I try to do as she asks. She’s my mother, after all, and she really asks very little of me, overall.

But here she was, going on and on about all the cleaning she was doing. In fact, she claimed that she was doing her spring cleaning, only in the fall this time.

Who actually does spring cleaning any more, anyway? My mom, obviously.

She told me that she was cleaning out all her drawers and cupboards and closets, climbing up and wiping down light fixtures, dragging out her fridge and vacuuming behind it – and I was getting a little alarmed. I mean, the woman is eighty! How much energy does she have??

“Oh, I’m going very slowly,” she assured me. “I vacuum a little, then I sit down to rest for ten minutes or so. I can clean lots of things sitting down. And I’m taking Friday off because I’m going bowling.”

Okay, but …

“And here’s the best part!” she continued, all happy and pleased with herself. “I was vacuuming in the spare bedroom and there seemed to be something in the electric wall heater. So I sat down and messed around with it a bit, and guess what was in there? An American twenty-dollar bill, all folded up! I never put it there, so I guess the lady who owned this place before me had done it and she forgot about it.”

Yes, my mother goes on a cleaning rampage and comes out with twenty dollars US. Unbelievable.

You can bet that she’s now checking all the other wall heaters in her condo. Maybe there’s more money somewhere there.