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Guest column | Jim Aylward

Housekeeping is just not my cup of tea

Nobody wants to do it. Nobody wants to scrub, polish, dust, wipe. Nobody gets up early on a sunny morning and says, "Self, today is the day to show the world my housekeeping skills! I can't wait!"

If they say that, there's probably something wrong with their medication.

Let's face it. Housework is the pits. And yet, I find, every two or three months or so, it has to be done.

It's the pile-up that gets to me. Things tossed on top of other things. I think it's in there somewhere, but I can't find it. And, I know why I don't have someone come in and clean for me. Because they don't want to do it either.

When my mother was older, she had a woman come in and help her with housekeeping. She made the woman tea, and they chatted all morning, and then it was time for her to go. Then my mother cleaned the place so it would be reasonably neat the next time the woman came. When confronted, she said, "Well, I can't have her coming to a dirty house!"

One of the beautiful features of this old place in which I live, and about which I grumble and moan, is a series of closet doors fitted with slanted slats. Louvered. Double louvered doors. Even triple louvered doors. Thirty-five little slats at the top. Twenty-six slats at the bottom. I counted them and my back was not happy.

Each of these tiny slats has to be cleaned or they collect dust. As I write this, I cleaned slat No. 22. If I'm in good form, I'll try to hit No. 23 the next day.

I love all those old movies where Sarah Allgood played the housekeeper. Always huddling nearby with a fresh cup of tea and a scone for the master. "You have to keep your strength up, Mr. Aylward!" And then she'd slip away and quietly scrub the floors and bake fresh bread and polish the silverware.

Ah, where is Sarah today when I need her? She's just a memory, and Mr. Aylward can get his own tea and drop his tea bag on the floor and then pick it up and think about the stain tomorrow.

As a writer, I have to have research material. Books, magazines, clippings. Naturally, I have them everywhere. I have a large print dictionary on the rug by my desk. Easy to get to when I wonder how to spell "louvered."

I have files upon files, none of them filled. Files stacked to the left of my desk. To the right of my desk. On the bent-wood chair by my desk. On the floor. If I want something I just paw through it. It's amazing what I can find that has nothing to do with the thing I'm working on. And then I'll have a cup of tea and a cookie. I have to keep my strength up.

No, nobody wants to do it. Nobody wants to scrub, polish, dust or wipe. Housework is indeed the pits. And, as Rhett Butler might have said in Gone With the Wind, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a slat!"

Jim Aylward lives in New Port Richey.

Housekeeping is just not my cup of tea 09/02/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:39pm]
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