Thursday, January 6, 2011



Cliché or not, I want to talk about resolutions for just a minute. And not because I ever bother with any; I don't. But because I know that there is at least one person around my house who wouldn’t mind if I resolved to try to clean my house occasionally this year.

The thing is, I don’t not clean my house. I just rarely undertake the rigorous all-day effort required to have the whole place clean all at once. Maybe it’s because it only builds up smoldering resentment in me when everyone then comes home and ravages our home in a matter of minutes; or perhaps my psyche can take it better one meager clean-then-trashed room at a time. Or I OCD clean, which takes ten times as long (no hired housecleaner will devote hours to baseboard cleaning, and if I do that, by the time I work my way up days will have passed!).

We do sometimes have folks come to clean, when things get desperate. I’d love to have a regular housecleaner, but I think I might be too populist to have someone doing my dirty work for me all the time, like I feel as if I need to pitch in. I'd be fixing meals for the maid, donning my own pair of rubber gloves when done with that to help scrub things.


Don’t get me wrong, I adore having a sparkling home, but it’s a moot point, as it’s not in the budget for the next, oh, say, rest of my life, anyhow. So I’ve resigned myself to picking up the broom, and yes, even the toilet brush, all in the interest of avoiding COPD or whatever other breathing disorders my family might succumb to if I don’t clean the place.

In honor of my birthday a few days before Christmas, we had cleaners come in. More because we had 18 people coming for Christmas Eve dinner and there was no way I’d have time to cook and clean for that lot. In truth it wasn’t for my birthday, but ended up being an unexpected bonus. See, I cleverly tried to get them to come clean on my birthday as a self-gift, but they refused, saying they were too busy. I had to settle instead for two days earlier (meaning I'd have to re-clean again before company came, because my family would have dismantled the cleanliness by then). But then they forgot to come on their appointed day. Which is problematic, when you spend hours preparing for the cleaners.


See, preparing for the cleaners is almost as hard as cleaning the place yourself. You have to pick up a houseful of stray mess, discard the piles of trash the kids have left lying around, clean up the clumps of dog hair in the corners (too embarrassing for them to witness), wash every dish, put away any hint of your slovenly self. For me, that takes about, oh, ten hours (I’ve been known to dump the motherload of extraneous mess into laundry baskets and hidden it in the garage; out of sight, out of mind).

So to my chagrin, the cleaners forgot me (which isn’t as bad as the time a surgeon forgot to release me and left me stranded in the recovery unit till he was tracked down by a nurse while mingling at a cocktail party that evening). But the upside was I got them as a booby prize for my birthday! Hurray! Which meant a completely clean home, which was indeed a lovely birthday gift.

NOW, IF I LOOKED THIS GOOD CLEANING, MAYBE I'D DO IT MORE OFTEN (or at least do it in sexy lingerie that I wouldn't mind bleach splattering)
Occasionally I’ve hired cleaners expecting to smell the heartwarming aroma of the freshly-cleaned, only to be accosted by the most offensive odors imaginable. Once, it was the unsavory fragrance of cat excrement permeating my entire home. The cleaner vacuumed our unfinished basement, the one piled high with boxes and only occupied by the cats, and sucked up the kitty goodies our antique feline failed to leave in the nearby litter box. This in turn clogged my new vacuum cleaner, and for some odd reason they continued to sweep the entire house despite the ghastly smell. Thank goodness I didn’t have to clean the house, because I then had to spend about four hours trying to de-cat poo the vacuum. It was not a pretty sight. Or scent, for that matter.


I blame powerful cleaning agents for them not smelling the stench. See, another time we went out of budget for a cleaners treat. These occasions usually occur before unexpected houseguests, so that we can delude these friends that we are not slobs. I left the cleaners to do their thing, then returned home to the noxious scent of a cheap hooker. One in dire need of an olfactory system transplant. Seems the cleaner had used a product called Fabuloso, something that is apparently very popular amongst Latinas who clean, but the aroma of which had me running for the gas masks, if only I’d stockpiled them post-911 and the anthrax-in-your-mailbox-scare. This confirmed my suspicions that cleaning a lot of houses with powerful toxins has rendered the noses of many cleaners basically dead zones. Because the smell of Fabuloso is so not fabuloso; rather it is so vile, toxic and lung-searing, that I had to fumigate my house when they left, re-cleaning with something more mainstream.


Back in the 80’s, when a flood of Salvadoran refugees fled to America, many of these immigrant women became housecleaners. We occasionally hired a cleaning company managed by a country gal from West Virginia who was under the impression that if you added enough vowels, very loudly, her Spanish-speaking Salvadoran workers would understand her implicitly. Her commands of “Moppo el flooro” usually fell on uncomprehending ears. And their use of a Chlorox-infused cleaner on my teak dining room table cemented the notion that I should’ve just done it myself.

I suppose I could turn this clean-house resolution on its head by suggesting the one around here most desirous of the spic and span mode perhaps pony up as well. After all, we need a lot of painting on our aging house, and I’m way too short to reach all those high places. Plus, last time we had housepainters, you should’ve seen what those folks destroyed. It’s either that, or fire the maid, and I’m pretty sure I can’t fire myself.


be sure to stop by and visit my website (where I desperately need to do some housecleaning), blog (ditto), or over on Twitter and Facebook (here and here) where I try to stay on top of things in a more timely manner...

Oh, and I think we're still doing giveaways, right? I've got a copy of WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME for someone leaving a comment today!


  1. Cleaning cleaning cleaning! Jenny, it's all I seem to do now that I'm unemployed! Makes me wonder how in the heck I got it all done when I HAD a ft job! Well, I didn't - and I still didn't have the help! LOL - I love how everyone just goes about their day with a meal that's magically cooked, on dishes that are magically sparkling, while wearing clothes that are magically washed, dried, and hung up to prevent wrinkles! I do beam when I get the occasional - Wow, you're the best mom ever! Kinda makes it all worth it! But, the question still lies - once I get back into the workforce, how WILL I get it all done...?? LOL!

  2. I used to scoff as a kid when women on sitcoms would clean before the maid came. As an adult, I so understand...and have done it!

  3. Okay, what's my excuse, being underemployed and all--seems I should fill the void, no? But I spend my time looking for work instead (and god forbid, writing when I can find time). My kids are always like "why do we need to clean? we don't care if it's sloppy!"
    Thanks for stopping by you guys!

  4. Those pics are so hilarious, Jenny!! I'm pretty OCD about cleaning, but I never wore sexy lingerie while doing it. Hey, maybe that should be my New Year's resolution! More cleaning while looking sexy....

  5. I'm marking down Fabuloso now to pick up. I lead such a boring uneventful life that I need to give people reason to spread rumors. I miss being talked about. What better than the aroma of cheap hookers in my house ;)

    I use to have a maid come in. I would get up 2 hours before going to work to clean it. I didn't want the maid to think I was dirty...

    I know have a pffft attitude. I will tidy every day, but "cleaning" is once a week and I force everyone in my house to pitch in. I no longer care if company comes over and my house is untidy, cluttered, or disorganized. If I like them enough to be in my house, chances are they like me enough to not care :)

  6. Egad! The eyes! They burn! --rinses with water-- Okay, that's skip a few of those "beauties" on my reread of the post. Definitely understand the cleaning lament/resolution. It use to be a do a little everyday plus BIG clean on the weekend routine, but in the past few years things have just gotten so busy it's hard to find the time. Now before you get house is in no way ready for a bull dozer or pack rats show's tidy and clean, but I can't promise that a picture would produce the "ping" of sparkle that we find so endearing. Great post...thanks for the laugh and the inspiration... ^_^

  7. I would love to hire a maid, but don't think I could ever do it. It's not even that cleaning my house is that hard--we usually keep it neat, at least, so there's not a lot of picking up that has to be done. It's just so BORING. And that sparkling-clean look--and that awesome feeling of accomplishment--never lasts long enough.

  8. Oh what a great post. When I first left full time paid employment, to become a full time unpaid at home mommy, my husband would come home and rave at the clean house, the prepared dinner, the lack of hamburger helper, etc etc. Now 10 years later,he raves much less!! I keep the dust and dander to a controllable level and scurry like a mad woman if anyone wants to come over. I now have teens who can help in a pinch, but a clean house every day is overrated, or very expensive. I'd rather be reading!!!
    Oh btw, I think Fabuloso is also cheap, I see it at the dollar store, gag!

  9. I've tried convincing my husband that I really do need someone to come over maybe two or three days a week for about two hours a day to clean. For some reason he won't go along with it. I think it is because I don't work, and it wouldn't be quite fair for the poor soul cleaning my house while I sit lazily on the couch browsing the internet LOL. I agree, housework is too boring!

  10. I don't mind cleaning. I just hate that it don't STAY clean.

  11. you guys crack me up. I'm glad I have soulmates in this cleaning reluctance thing...

  12. Great pics!! It''s so cold here in London, UK that I'm doing the flat cleaning routine just to keep warm!!! Would love a copy of your book :)

  13. Love it! I have a nearly constant guilt complex regarding how clean my home SHOULD be since I'm JUST a SAHM/aspiring writer. I should spend 8 hours a day on my hands and knees scrubbing my bathroom floor with a toothbrush, right? I, luckily, did not inherit my Mom's OCD cleaning gene and do not vacuum my floors twice a day and dust light bulbs each morning. Too bad I can't hire her to be my maid.

    Love the chance to win your book--cheers!

  14. Only you, Jenny Gardiner! My husband is next to me looking at the photos and we can't stop laughing... I love you, girl!

  15. LOL, Jenny! I think the "Win a Russian bride with Stil Vodka" is my favorite *g*. As for housecleaning, I despise dusting. I will do dishes or laundry or even scrub counters and floors but, please, do not make me dust...ugh!

  16. Thank you all again for stopping by! Winner of a copy of Winging It is...drum roll please!! GMR--contact me at jenny at jennygardiner dot net with your mailing address and I'll get that out to you!

  17. Oh, Jenny !!!... You are HILARIOUS !!!... I laughed and laughed !!!... LOVE the pics, especially the one of the toilet-litter box !!!...