Cleaning is a nightmare.

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‘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

 

If at first you don’t succeed, pretend you’re a squirrel.

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‘Third time’s the charm for this tenacious little critter.’

Apologies for being late this week, but I’ve got a good excuse. Rather, several good excuses — and they’re all named Whitmore. Basically, we had Whitmores coming out our ears — staying with us (Dude Man’s sis and squeeze), eating with us (cousins and such) — and celebrating with us (various and sundry).

The fete at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Education Center had Dude Man and Cousin Girl rapt (Hi, M! It was great seeing you!)

We were dining out and going out till I, for one, felt quite like copping out.

The inimitable Aunt Eleanor, founder of the EWEEC, in a rare moment of repose

But, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Because now I’m sitting here all by my lonesome, wishing for all the hub and the bub — and the people who caused it — to come back.

The Child *sniff* just about an hour ago. I’ve already cleaned her room, erasing all traces of her recent occupation — a technique I highly recommend for beating the just-left blues. (See “To Clean, or Not to Clean?”) 

Of course a little blog-writing can also help keep me from deeply sighing as I pass The Child’s empty room. So here goes.

This is the story about the crazy squirrel that I was going to tell you last week — until I remembered that June 21 was the anniversary of my Dear Dad’s passing on to the Great Rosebed in the Sky. (See “Remembering Dad and the Sir Launch-A-Lot.”)

Dude Man tends the rose bush that Dad gave us

There are several species who frequent our feeders — but they’re intended for birds, not squirrels. In fact, The Dude has fortified these feeders with very efficacious squirrel deterrents.

The Dude hand-feeding the species for whom the feeders are intended. (Yes, they land on his hand!)

So, imagine my surprise when, while devouring my New York Times one morning, I spied a squirrel wrapped around the bottom of the biggest feeder, holding on to the bird perch thingies with three paws while transferring bird seed from the little feeder holes to his mouth with the remaining paw.

Squirrel taking a break from hanging from the feeder, no doubt getting ready to chomp on a deck chair

How on earth did he get there? I wondered, as, having eaten his fill he casually dropped to the ground. I went back to reading about the untimely death of Roe vs. Wade (no, we’re not going there today) and — wouldn’t you know it — I glanced up and there he was again.

This time, The Child parked herself in front of a window and waited, iPhone camera trained on the scene, to catch Mr. Squirrel in the act. Here’s the surveillance footage. Be sure to watch till the end:

Well. Dude Man was not having this. For one thing, they are definitely not going hungry — there is so much seed that gets spilled on the ground, those squirrels are practically round they’re so well-fed.

Fat sassy Squirrel Man digesting on our deck

These are the same furry culprits who have been eating our deck furniture and even our house. Seriously. I caught them red-pawed one day, gnawing away at the siding.

Gnawed-upon corner of the house. Fortunately, a friend told us about a spray that makes the wood taste nasty to squirrels (Thanks, Ken!)

So. You think you can just jump up there and devour all our bird seed, Mr. Squirrel? Hah! Let’s see what happens when we raise the feeder a couple of inches. I mean really. Let’s see what happens:

Kinda looks like somebody threw him from behind that tree trunk like a furry little football, doesn’t it? But you’ve got to hand it to that squirrel. He never — ever — gives up. Remember him when you’re feeling frustrated or ineffectual. Or just hungry.

Speaking of hungry, I could use a taste of those berries The Child is offering her Whitmore Grampa. Actually, forget the berries, I could use more Child

Amagansett, New York. June 2022

 

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”?

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‘Not so fast, Facebook Friends. Not so fast.’

I was all ready to write an amusing Memory Lane type tale about my first Real Summer Job (the kind that did not involve babysitting, but did involve the procurement of a Social Security Card), when I saw this on Facebook:

Posted on June 25. Exactly six months before Christmas. I get it, I get it. But I don’t want to play, OK?

So, excuse me, but the First Real Job at the Carlyle Union Banner story will just have to wait. Because (speaking of waiting) I plan to wait till at least after Thanksgiving to begin my own Countdown to Christmas. A “countdown” that will be “brutish and short”, if not “nasty” (sorry, Thomas Hobbes).

Those of you who have read my rants (er, pieces) for a while know that Thanksgiving — not Christmas — is my absolute A-Number-One Favorite Holiday. Christmas, with its obligatory gift-and-tip-giving and endless trapped-in-an-elevator playings of “Little Drummer Boy” doesn’t even come close. (For an amusing and non-crabby recounting of Five Big Ways Christmas can’t hold even a red cinnamon-scented candle to Thanksgiving, just click here.)

‘Little Children Forced to Greet Benevolent Uncles dressed as Scary Santas’ isn’t on my list, but probably should be

The other reason I’m not even close to being ready for a Countdown to Christmas is that I haven’t even begun my Countdown to the Fourth yet. And the Fourth of July is coming up this very next weekend. So I’d better get a wiggle on, as they say where I come from. Continue reading