Downtime (so to speak)

Connie has been assiduously trying to avoid this.

I’ve been, for the most part, quietly trying to have a nervous breakdown. Sometimes, the looming psychotic break has been kind of noisy. A few days ago I was quite convinced there was no way I was going to get through the holidays without a goodly amount of twitching, drool, and keening.

I did manage to correct my equilibrium and the holiday went quite well. But the last couple of weeks have been frenetic. To recap: HMOKeefe had a stroke, I had foot surgery, 70-hour work weeks, nearly a foot of snow that trapped me on the hill, and all of that has been punctuated by the need to Do Something About Christmas. I had been threatening to run amok at the Exxon with a $20 bill to accomplish my Christmas shopping, but I discovered (on Christmas Eve no less) that Macy’s was damn near paying people to carry stuff out of the store.

I’m kind of tired.

I was supposed to have left for Massachusetts yesterday – a 12-14 hour drive through the mountains, diagonally through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, up I-95 through New York, etc. etc. My foot still doesn’t work quite right and thought of trying to negotiate that drive with the threat of bad weather was just too much. So, in short, I have a week off that doesn’t involve a cross-country trek.

It was a really hard decision to make. HMOKeefe and I don’t get to see one another much and Christmas week has become a tradition. But, in all seriousness, if I’d gotten stuck at the Bates Motel during a surprise blizzard in the Cumberland Gap (which did happen once) or in Harrisburg, PA during a hail storm that dented cars (that too happened) or run over by a semi in New York (a really close call once), I’d have gone right over the edge to the land of haloperidol. But the decision was clinched when I learned I was having a house guest on January 6th.

The big red bucket, the big red sponge and the grungy mop.

Under the best of circumstances, my house is filthy. Three dogs, me, no time, and a general disinclination to spend my free-time with a bucket of soapy water conspires to keep me barely one step ahead of condemnation by the Health Department.

There is no hope whatsoever that I can turn this place into something June Cleaver would have been responsible for by January 6th, but I should be able to do a goodly amount of damage control. The house qualifies as a Super Fund Site right now, so you have to understand that any effort I make is naught but a feeble attempt at cleanliness and order.

I have often and, sometimes loudly, proclaimed, with all appearances to the contrary, that I enjoy having a clean house. I am not one of those people who is comfortable with domestic chaos. I won’t let people in and I do take the precious few minutes here and there that I do have to do the little that I can.

I also, and I’ll kill you if you tell anyone, kind of like housecleaning. The kicker is that I don’t enjoy it unless I have hours and hours to do it all. I can’t complete Step A unless I know I have time to do B, C, D, E and F.

I never have that kind of time.

But now I do.

I think I have everything I need other than bleach.

I am a little daunted by where to start. The leftover pan of lasagna that’s been in the refrigerator for two months might be a good start. And then there are the houseplants that have been in the guest bathroom bathtub since I dug them out of the garden to protect them from the first freeze back in October. The cobwebs that span the two posters on my bed are also candidates. (Cobwebs on my bed pretty much explain my life of recent.)

If I can really get my ass in gear, I might paint the family room. And, of course, there’s the finishing of the cow bathroom that seems like it’s never going to be finished.

In the old days when I had a ton of vacation time, I used to take a week off in the spring and another before Christmas to get and keep the house in order. I miss that. Like I said, I like a clean house. People talk about what they’d do if they won the lottery. Near the top of my lottery list is always to have someone come in twice a week and clean.

Dusting and mopping, scrubbing and scraping.

And so, I’m fixin’ to turn into the Housecleaning Fairy. I’ve loaded up the CD player, put on my grubby clothes, and fished out the sponge and bucket. I’ll probably have to run out to get bleach. By this time tomorrow, I hope to be wallowing in enough domestic order to begin to tackle the chaos that exists behind closed doors (closets, cupboards, shut off rooms).

4 thoughts on “Downtime (so to speak)

  1. Good luck with the cleaning. I have a mental block against cleaning. It really is very difficult for me to do. I am also a slight perfectionist which compounds the task.
    Don’t apologize for backing out of the I-81 drive. That is the worse stretch of road in the NE when the wind, ice and snow start blowing across the Allegheny plateau between Harrisburg and Scranton. Gives me chills to think about those nasty trips.
    BTW: Straight up 81 to Rt. 6 through Middletown and Newburg, NY and you can totally avoid that pitiful excuse for a hiway called I-95.

    • I think I went that route in the summer once. I left Massachusetts by way of the western corner of the state rather than the east. The beauty of the mountains just took my breath away, but the wind was sufficient for me to fear the car was gonna get tossed into a gorge. I vowed at the time to avoid that route in the winter.

  2. I think I’ve gone past cleaning all the way to painting. I’ll see your three little dogs and raise you two big dogs and a handicapped/wheelchair bound house inhabitant. However, I’m not even at the same race track when it comes to time. I have more, scores more, but that just makes my mess more despicable. Hope you’re able to sit down and really enjoy the fruits of your labor very soon.

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