Friday, February 26, 2021

In My Next Life I Would Like To Meet Josephine...

 I could have used her talents last evening as I sat patiently plunging the one and only toilet at chez moi. I am of course referring to the fictional character of Josephine the plumber, who in my generation sold Comet in US television ads.

Living overseas, the only time I glimpsed Josephine on the small screen was when we came to visit relatives every few years. She was the only female trades person at that point ever encountered by me and when I remarked to my mother as soon-to-be seven-year-old that I did not know women could be plumbers, she looked down from her five foot eight plus heels perch, declaring, "Do not believe everything you see on TV." 

Designed to induce skepticism, this maternal edict only served to fuel my curiosity...if Josephine is an actor playing a plumber. does she get to learn how to plumb? Can she say how Comet is made? Does she get extra money for doing a man job? Why is Comet better than what Nana has at her house?

At the mention of her mother, my mother's previously slowly arching eyebrow, a signal of growing aggravation, shot up completely. Taking a breath, she said, "No woman ever gets the money a man earns for the same job though some day that may change. Chances are good that plumbing is not on her agenda and unless she has a degree in chemistry, she won't care how Comet is made. As for your grandmother, I have no idea what she uses, it might be snake spit."

I knew from her tone that the conversation was finished and lest I irritate her further and risk punishment for doing so, I was to play quietly elsewhere, all the while pondering at what seemed her constant annoyance, a quality she never seemed to shed where I was concerned.

Funny what memories return when one is poised over a plunger. The unclogging took a while, as in hours, and I finished it off with hot water and dish washing soap. You can find out more about this and see Josephine the plumber in living color courtesy of You Tube. Her name is Jane Withers and she is now 94.

As for me, I await  the appearance of a real life Josephine who doesn't mind fussy pipes...

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Turning Day Into Night...

 It is 3:20AM and I am about to head to bed. I have cleaned for most of the day but there is more to do,,,

One of you readers mentioned that when your husband was ill, sleep was often upside down, with waking hours being in the deepest night. That is what has happened here though I am attempting a return to a more conventional sleeping pattern with the aid of breathwork, meditation and sitting yoga. The pain in my back and elsewhere stems from my quadratus lumborum, so lots of stretching and a heating pad as well. Other orthopedic issues complicate this scenario and will for the remainder of my life and there is no magic cure-all ahead for me.

I have been dusting, sorting and wiping down every surface within reach and invested in some microfiber dusters on a telescopic pole. My bedroom is in much better shape and while not perfect, is no longer causing either Lukas or I to sneeze. The doors and most of the baseboards have been done, the bathroom is done daily and the kitchen is always wiped down between meals. I wash and clear as I go. The floors and a bit of laundry remain and I am researching steam mops. A set of telescopic brushes with power heads and varying speeds are due to arrive shortly. Whether they will live up to their advertising is anyone's guess, Ever the sceptic, I await results.

Currently I survive on salads and ping meals which isn't ideal even if they offer organic ingredients. There is a part of me that wants better while the other part knows I should just accept  what is...

Sweet dreams...

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

2 AM

 It is 2 AM and after taking out the household trash, unpacking some cleaning supplies, wiping down door knobs and retrieving a small load of laundry from the dryer, I now cannot wind down to return to bed.

This happens with increasing regularity and because I get tired during the day, naps have become part of this new normal. Meditation helps a bit, but not enough. Last night I was up until 4 AM and fell asleep just after dinner about 7 PM, rising about eleven to go to the bathroom and do chores.

I am working on my bedroom which I started yesterday. So far, I've cleaned the closet's louvered bi-fold doors, the blinds and some of the baseboards, the window sill and the cat area. Microfiber dusters with a telescopic wand should help matters once they arrive, I cleaned the bathroom and sorted through the contents of the shelves on Sunday evening and Swiffer mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors, both of which will be done again tomorrow or Thursday. My next project will be sections of the front room and my tiny hallway. The kitchen floor grout, which was once white, is black, so that is also something I need to figure out, along with wiping down more blinds.

It may take me awhile as my back and leg are not fully cooperating at the moment.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Disgusted But Not Surprised...

 Our politicians have once again failed us. A sad day indeed...

Adventures with a Butter Spreader...

 My mother's 1970's era Oneida stainless steel cutlery set came with some extra pieces including a ladle and a small butter server one would use to slice a portion from a butter dish before passing it to another person at the table. Though seldom used in my mother's time, this utensil has gained a new purpose or two in my home. 

It has been used as a spreader for ingredients or condiments on sandwiches but more recently as a cleaning tool. When wrapped in a Swiffer dry sheet, it fits well between the louvers in doors and extracts dust rather than just moving it around. I was able to free months of build up from the inside of my air conditioning closet and get into the ends of each louver before going over the outside of the door with another Swiffer sheet. I wish all household jobs were this straightforward though it did take a bit of time, the result was well worth the effort.

So, I hear someone ask, "How did you do the top portion of the door?"

Carefully, of course. I hoisted up and hung on to the bar between the air handler and the hot water heater, making sure  my grip was secure, sitting between sections. Job done.

You have no idea how frustrated I was when the cleaner du jour would pass a duster over the door without ever glancing inside...

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Doyen of Domesticity, or, Has Anyone Seen Mr. Clean?

 The best cleaner I ever knew was a middle-aged man whom I met at work. Possessed of an English degree and tired of life behind a desk, he took a job as a cleaner and general locum, found he liked both roles and spent his days keeping our day and evening worker bees happily humming along. 

While I cleaned during my college days for an older woman and various friends in need, it was not until I made his acquaintance that I glimpsed what he termed the "Zen" of cleaning. I grew to appreciate this approach and began using music, meditation or guided imagery as a backdrop to any clearing, tidying or cleaning task at chez moi. Already a neat freak, the peace and serenity afforded me by a clean, organized space represented safety and comfort, two things every home should offer.

Having lived in small, generally spare rooms from earliest adulthood, cleanliness and organization went hand-in-hand as I zipped from job to class to freelance client, took care of animals and completed an advanced degree.

Affectionately dubbed "Mr. Clean" by colleagues, I often wish I had thanked this gentleman for the conversations we had that changed cleaning from chore to accomplishment. I was happier and so were the pets. 

Various life events, including the use of a wheelchair changed this a bit. Though I keep the refuse, laundry and pet mess at bay, and the bathroom and kitchen reasonably free of bacteria, I now face conundrums. Dust, high places, floors I can no longer scrub, discolored grout and crevices I cannot quite reach. The pandemic put paid to getting a cleaner and, truthfully, most of those previously used were not worth the money.

In one instance, a vacuum stopped working mid-room because it was clogged with debris from the four previous homes on the cleaner's rota that day. This came out after she admitted that she wasn't given any spare bags...

Another time, someone called post-visit and apologized for not dusting because she forgot...

A third came and made off with my loo brush which she apparently used at a friend's flat. Said friend recognized that the brush did not match her toilet ensemble and called to ask if my brush was missing...

Evidently, we were spending a bit too much time in each other's bathrooms if she could so easily identify my brush...Another casualty of pandemic living...

With the onset of COVID 19, no-one has come in, and I have been both busy and recently sidelined with all too familiar low back, hip and spine issues. Unable to sleep well, I was trolling You Tube recently and found a cache of recordings of the popular British program, How Clean is Your House?

Having watched these several years ago, I was both fascinated and repelled at the level of filth people, most of whom were able-bodied, were willing to live with before calling in professional help. This second viewing also re-focused my attention on the potential health hazards inherent in such a situation and the often cheap and old fashioned ways available to sanitize.

While no persons in my circumstance were featured in this series, it has re-ignited my cleaning urge and I'm now looking for information on adaptive cleaning tools geared to seniors and persons with mobility issues. Hopefully, some of the self-care and cleaning jobs can be done a bit more easily and speedily.

To my "Mr. Clean," wherever he may be...