A house guest was due to arrive recently, and my grand plan was to clean the house all day Saturday. If I worked all day, and into the night, I could certainly sort through the chaos of the previous three months.
But first, I had to mow the lawn. The bold spring weather and that trickle of rain had caused a grass growth spurt. If I waited another week to mow, the grass might clog my electric lawn mower.
Certainly, mowing the lawn wouldn’t take too long, then I’d find the Ajax under the sink and get to work indoors. The sunshine felt good.
Yet, you can’t mow the lawn without noticing hundreds of other things that need immediate attention. The lettuce and kale needed watering. Then I saw weeds. The weeds needed to be pulled right then and there, don’t you know?
Some people talk to their plants, or even sing. The idea is that the plants will “hear” the gentle encouragement and become stronger, faster, better. I believe that plants must also talk to each other, especially weeds.
One day I’ll yank a basketful of common groundsel. The weeds that remain start screaming, heard only by other weeds nearby.
“Hurry up. Grow faster,” the weeds bellow in chorus. “If you don’t hurry up and make flowers today, you’ll never reproduce.”
By the time I return to the yard, those weeds have made enough flowers to decorate a float at the Tournament of Roses Parade.
BACK TO CLEANING
Mowing the lawn took less than half an hour. However, I yanked weeds until high noon.
When you have a cleaning deadline, the moment arrives when you want to shove a bunch of stuff into a closet or under the bed. My house is small and I ran out of hiding places long ago. The logical remedy was to start making piles of things to donate to a local thrift store. Soon, my entire bed was covered in clothes and I was trying things on faster than a Fashion Week runway model.
After a trip to drop off my donations, and a stop for a mid-cleaning reward of frozen yogurt, it was time to get serious about cleaning the house. I reasoned that if I ran out of time, I could at least sweep the floor and run a rag over everything made of porcelain or stainless steel. But first I needed to run a load of laundry. I’m a good host. My guest deserved clean, clean sheets and a clean towel.
Thank goodness my house guest has known me for 20 years. If the house had actually been clean, he might have wondered if he arrived at the right house.
After the lawn, laundry, charity dash and yogurt, it was time to start putting things in the most logical placed I could find — quickly.
Most houses have a junk drawer — that place where you’ll find a hammer, thumb tacks, fuses, a flashlight and everything else you shoved in the drawer the last time you cleaned for a house guest.
My junk drawer would barely close or open when I tried to shove a few more treasures inside. Glow sticks, fly paper, a cheap pumpkin carving kit, googly eye, exacto knife refills, Gorrilla glue, wood glue, Gorilla tape, multi-colored balloons … I found that lost bag of Chuck E. Cheese’s game tokens, clearly marked as having no monetary value. Bottles of bubbles given as party favors, cords to unknown electronic devices, a pedometer. I could have spent all day finding alternative homes for those seldom-needed items. Yet, by this time it was time to take the clean sheets out of the dryer.
I’m now convinced that the only logical contents for the junk drawer are vital tools and a $20 bill. If you need anything else, take the money and drive to the hardware store.
PLEASE DON’T COMPARE
On Super Bowl Sunday I popped by a party at Cheree and Dan’s house. I wanted to do an act of kindness and be the first guest to cut into the six-inch high chocolate cake everyone was too shy to slice. While rummaging for a cake knife, I found the household’s junk drawer.
What the heck? Cheree’s junk drawer opened easily. Several plastic tubs contained rubber bands, pens, plumbers tape, and spare keys, among other logically arranged items. There was even room for a binder filled with important emergency contact information. I quietly shut the drawer and decided I had no business knowing that other people have organized lives.