I borrowed silverware from mom. We have exactly five complete sets that were wedding presents, some mismatched stuff from college, pieces other have people must have left here, and silverware I brought in to wash after last summer’s camping season, and forgot to put back with the gear I stowed for winter.
I’m not sure how I’ve gone so long without more complete sets of silverware. I could find ten matching dinner plates and desert plates and glasses and cloth napkins. But if mom hadn’t come over with silverware, we’d have used plastic cutlery.
Dinner for ten on Tuesday meant the prior weekend was dedicated to making this place look less like a bunch of marauding baboons live here.
I thought it would be nice to eat on the patio, which meant uncovering and brushing off the patio furniture. And then hosing it down, when brushing didn’t remove the dust and spider webs. And then taking a leaf blower to it, because hosing it down didn’t work. And then scrubbing it. And then throwing my hands up and deciding the adults would eat inside where I knew the furniture wasn’t covered in crap. I’d send the kids outside.
The patio furniture debacle should have been a clue. The cleaning wasn’t going to go well.
First, some background:
For a fairly long time now, I’ve had someone clean for me. It started when our neighbor launched her cleaning business and gave us a discount. She wasn’t great at cleaning, but we liked encouraging a budding entrepreneur. Plus I had a new baby and a full time-plus job and my energy for cleaning couldn’t keep up with my standards.
We moved to a bigger house and grandma moved into the basement and my former neighbor kept cleaning for us. She spent a considerable amount of time visiting with grandma. So on top of supporting a budding entrepreneur, we gave grandma a social outlet, which excused the crappy housekeeping.
Grandma was a super sweet lady, but with a penchant for gossip.
Toward the end of her nearly five years in our home, Grandma and I were having control issues that had to do with moderating her with her medication, intercepting commitments made to slimy telemarketers, and keeping tabs on how far into the future she’d extended her subscription to People magazine.
At one point she’d renewed her subscription so far out, our grandchildren would get to fight over it.
At a time when Grandma and I were having issues, she regularly vented with our housekeeper. A lot. I overheard more of it than I cared to. It wasn’t pretty.
I asked our former neighbor to kindly demur from kvetching with my grandma about her family. She thought that was rude to ask. So she quit.
After that, I made a go at cleaning the house myself for about two seconds before remembering I’m a much nicer person if someone else cleans the bathrooms in this house full of boys. I hired someone else who has been cleaning for us ever since.
Then recently, Mike had a mini-mid-life crisis and quit his job to come work with me. It seemed prudent to give a summer break to the gal who keeps my house from becoming a biological hazard. It’s past time for the boys to learn to clean a toilet anyway.
I was able to get Colin to vacuum the destroyed dog toy from the living room. Jack cleaned up after the slumber party he’d held in honor of his 15th birthday.
With a dinner party looming, I didn’t want to take the time to yell, cajole or threaten everyone into company-ready bathrooms. I’d do them myself.
I don’t have a lot of nightmares, but in almost every one, there is a bathroom that looks like the one in our basement after a slumber party with four teenage boys.
I hadn’t steeled myself for that. My outburst brought the whole family running downstairs to make sure I hadn’t impaled myself on the toilet scrubber or something.
I will not go into details (you’re welcome), but Mike and his iron stomach saved the day, armed with a plunger we would later incinerate. After breathing into a paper bag for five full minutes, I was able to move on to the other bathrooms.
All the bathrooms are now completely clean.
And I only broke one of them.
It turns out some part of the shower head in the master bath was corroded and when I adjusted it to rinse out the shower, it broke off in my hand. Which resulted in another outburst because water was spraying out of the wall.
Mike came running (again) to see what the problem was.
He stepped into the shower to check things out, determined we need a plumber to fix the problem and then stepped back out, tracking cleaning detergent with him; big, white foot prints from our shower back up to his desk.
I left the footprints and moved onto the kitchen, where it occurred to me I couldn’t remember the last time anyone cleaned the light fixture. The thing is recessed into the ceiling and covered with big, plastic panels. Ugly. I usually don’t notice until we reach a critical mass of dead bugs up there.
I shifted one of the panels a little bit to dust all the dead bodies away. It came completely out, crashed on my head and then shattered into a hundred deadly little slivers on the kitchen floor. It scared the dog half to death, but this time there was no outburst from me.
Eventually, everything was clean. We’re still waiting on the plumber to fix the shower, which has to happen pretty soon, because while Mike and I are fine with showering in the downstairs bathroom, for some reason ours is the only shower Colin will use. I figure he’s got only about a day or so before none of us can stand to be around him.
So everything’s clean except Colin.
Mike bought a new panel for the light fixture before the party. We’ve resolved to rent one of those portable toilets next time Jack has friends over.
… And I’m starting to see the economy of rehiring the housekeeper before I destroy much more of my house.
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photo by: Chrisissy