Cleaning is a nightmare.


‘Cobwebs in my brain, dust devils under my bed’

There’s an old saying, scary-biblical in nature, that goes something like “we come from dust, and to dust we shall return.” Which reminds me of the old joke about the kid who asks his mom if that saying is true and then cracks, “Well, gosh Mom. It looks like somebody’s either coming or going under my bed.”

Not sure what was under my bed. But there sure was a lot of cat hair up top. Miss you, Wommie!

I’m glad that smart-alecky kid isn’t anywhere near my house these days because it looks like I’m saying hello or goodbye to a whole Henry Reunion.

What a whole Henry Reunion looks like

See, my theory on cleaning, which you can read about in detail in “To Clean, Or Not To Clean?” is, in a nutshell, that you don’t clean before company arrives — you clean after they leave. My wise Middle Younger Brother Roger is the one who wised me up, pointing out that cleaning thoroughly in advance of guests makes you, the host, uptight. As in “I just Windexed that coffee table, and he’s putting a wet glass on it.

No, that’s not a loaf. It is a Giant Crumb Machine

Besides, if you wait to clean after guests are gone, you can simultaneously banish all traces of their visit — “Her precious little head was just sleeping on that pillow” — and get things ready for the next set of intruders. Er, guests.

This cleaning plan works pretty well if you have guests a lot of the time. But, because we’ve been gone a bunch (See “Galapagone” and “Two Weddings Are Better Than One” for what we’ve been up to), there’s been rather a guest dry spell.

Dude Man’s Brother Bill visited a couple of weeks ago, but stayed on his boat. So it didn’t count. Not for cleaning, anyway

Which means there’s been a rather long time since the house has seen its last between-guests cleaning. It’s dirty enough around here now to inspire nightmares. The kind where I’m trying to tackle the dust and debris but keep being thwarted. I wake myself up trying to find the missing Lysol.

*sniff* Of course I clean their room the second the car leaves the driveway

Last night I had a doozy. See, I’ve been catching up with The Crown on Netflix in honor of Her Late Great Majesty. I’m up to the part where Charles has met Diana and asked her to Balmoral for the weekend. His Dad is walking through a field, chatting with (er, grilling) Diana. “What do you do?” he asks. “I clean,” she answers, and proceeds to tell him she does housecleaning for her older sister. “Are you good at that?” “I actually like it,” she admits.

I like helping make a mess a whole lot more than I like cleaning up after one. Good thing there was plenty of wine

Well, I’m very good at cleaning too. In fact, once when I was unemployed, I seriously considered starting a business called Executive Cleaning. (Because I was an executive who cleans.) My selling point? You can read about it in “I Love The Smell of Soft Scrub in The Morning,” but basically, I would charge not by the hour or the day but by how clean you wanted it. The cheapest being “Lick and a Promise.” The priciest? “Mother-In-Law Visit.”

Sometimes guests track in sand from their hands

So if I’m so all-fired good at cleaning, why don’t I just haul myself up off this couch and do it? Well, for one thing I’m not sure if the timing’s good. We’re going to be away again soon. Do I clean before we go, so it’s nice and clean when we get back? Or will it just get dirty again while we’re gone?

Decisions, decisions.

Let’s see how I feel after I make a dump run.

Amagansett, New York. October 2022


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12 thoughts on “Cleaning is a nightmare.

  1. Stephanie

    I like the “lie in the dust and think about it approach!” Alice, always enjoy your postings! Happy, clean autumn! 🙂

    • Hi Stephanie — and thanks! Well. I need no longer lie in the dust. (Tho I may lie through my teeth) I just finished cleaning the house from top to bottom. Who cares if no one sees its gleam besides me?

    • I used to have a cleaner when I was working and raising The Child. Dirty (hah) little secret tho: I was a waaay better cleaner than the pro. BTW, my hands smell like Soft Scrub right now as I type, because I just cleaned four bathrooms. We have SIX bathrooms here in Amagansett. Really. SIX. Oh, and about that dump run. I cheated a bit: that was from either 4th of July or Thanksgiving. A normal run is not quite THAT bad. Sending happy book deal thoughts your way!

  2. When we came home from school and the living room was de cluttered, first question to our mother was “Who’s coming?” She was, most decidedly, not a cleaner.

  3. Debra Fried

    I have a feeling your guest room looks just as lovely in the “before” as the “after,” but who am I to second-guess you?

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