There is nothing that creates a burst of years-postponed cleaning like a phone call from someone saying "We'll be in the neighborhood; we thought we'd stop by for a little bit."
The person in question was Walt's brother Norm. He and his wife Olivia were going to a wedding a couple of blocks from our house. The reception was going to be held across the street at the Veterans Memorial Building and they thought they would drop by while the photographer was taking photos and visit for a bit before they went to the reception.
Now it is no secret for anybody who has read this journal for more than a month that I am not a housekeeper. But I'll say one thing for that new show Hoarders (which I could only watch once because it made me feel too guilty), if nothing else, I can stand here watching the dust accumulate and trying to find a place to put the crap on the kitchen table so we can find a place to put a dinner plate and I can congratulate myself because I'm not one of "those" people.
You can actually see my floor. Some of it. And you can find space to stack things on a shelf here and there. I know that the kitchen counter is blue because there is actually a piece of it that shows when you walk through the kitchen. The laundry pile doesn't reach nearly as high as the ceiling. Yet.
And my desk doesn't look all that bad because I semi-organized it before the guy came to install the wifi last week and so far I haven't screwed it up.
It's only a matter of time, I know.
Now, in fairness to me, because I get so little chance to feel good about something when it comes to housekeeping, I had already planned to wash the floor today, long before Norm called. I suspect there are men's rooms in Grand Central Station that have cleaner floors. And I have this perfectly lovely steam cleaner that works great on Pergo floors. The problem is trying to clean a floor with five dogs curious about what you're doing. But even I could no longer overlook the pawprints everywhere that were starting to make the family room Pergo look like it had a marble overlay on it when you looked at it from the side.
But the dogs were going to Petco and I had decided long before the phone call that while they were gone would be a good time to wash the floor. Norm's call just sent it all into overdrive.
Walt, bless his heart, long ago stopped waiting for a miracle to happen that would turn me into The Happy Homemaker. When he retired and especially when we had these puppies running everywhere, he took on the task of keeping the living room floor clean. Every day he is picking up stuff and sprinkling stuff and vacuuming stuff. It is because of him, dammit, that the recent house breaker didn't run screaming out the front door when he sniffed the living room.
I have kind of ignored the living room ever since we decided to have Pergo installed there in addition to the rest of the house. I stopped caring whether the foster dogs tore up chunks of the rug or not. At one point I packed up boxes of stuff and moved it into the family room in preparation for the Pergo, but the time wasn't right, so the boxes went back into the living room and are stacked around on chairs and the dining room table, waiting to be moved out of the living room so we can get the Pergo laid. The boxes need dusting.
The dogs have been teething on a chair and have destroyed it--but I don't move it out because they only teethe on THAT chair and it keeps them from tearing up other chairs.
(OK, the logic is faulty, but stick with me here)
We haven't had guests here in years. I wonder how old Brianna is going to be before she asks her parents why she has never seen Grandma's house. When we DO have guests, we take them into the family room, where there are only two chairs (because with cages, a playpen and a treadmill there is no room for more. Walt moves in a couple of kitchen chairs for him and me to sit on while the guests have the recliners. It's no biggie. We have no close friends here in Davis any more anyway and it's rare when any family members stop by. And the kids grew up with my casual approach to housecleaning, so they are used to it. Embarrassed by it, but used to it.
ANYWAY, when faced with a rush cleaning job, you work your little tail off and hope that you can get the house to the point where you can apologize because it's so messy and not feel totally appalled that the guests are about to sign us up for a future edition of Hoarders.
While I was sweeping and steam cleaning the rest of the downstairs, Walt was in the living room sprinkling and vacuuming and moving stuff off of the flat surfaces. At one point I found Sheila looking very wistfully at the couch, which had a coffee table and a chair stacked on it (so Walt could vacuum the floor). You could tell she was wondering why she couldn't get up on "her" couch and look out the window.
By the time Norm and Olivia got here, through my eyes the house looked damned good, but I'm used to seeing the stacks and the dust and the clutter. I don't see anything unusual about a bright red blanket sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a broken secretary's chair standing on it. The blanket covers up the concrete, where the dogs ate through the rug, and the chair holds the blanket in place. It's all perfectly logical.
Still Norm and Olivia did stay for awhile and I even let Norm come into my office to check out the wifi set up. I mean, it's not as if they haven't SEEN this house at its cluttered best. Some of the stacks of stuff covered with dust were probably there the last time I hosted a family Christmas dinner, many years ago.
I figure we did our good deed for the day. We've given Norm and Olivia hours of things to talk about, and they can dine out for years on tales of "my brother's house is SO messy...."
When I went into the family room a few minutes ago, I see that the dogs have already torn up something and there were a couple of puddles from the puppy, so it will be no time at all before things will have settled back to normal again.
But for one bright shining moment, it only looks "terribly messy" and not deplorable.