By EVE MARX
For the first week or so following my cataract surgery, I spent a lot of time crawling around my house with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, attacking the woodwork. Now that I could see, I was astounded and embarrassed by the level of grime on my baseboards. While waiting for my health insurer to deem me blind enough to warrant surgery, a year’s worth of grit, grime, sand, dust and the corpses of large black flies gathered in places I was too blind to notice. Not to mention the greasy fluff of fine, white Chihuahua hairs. When I remarked upon this filth to a girlfriend back east, she wrote back, “This is why when I clean, I don’t wear my glasses.”
They say there are none so blind as those who will not see, and I would have to say that applies to my current view of housekeeping. For much of my life, I was known, not always flatteringly, as a “clean freak.” My mother seemed to take great pleasure when I was shacking up with my college boyfriend to tell me, “He says you’re crazy for cleaning and it’s driving him insane.” A 10-year-old boy who was our guest for a week while he spent the bulk of his day at a nearby prison visiting his incarcerated mother told my son, whose bedroom he was sharing, “You’re mother is buggin’. She’s cleaning 24-7.”
I let all that go for a decade or so when I decided cleaning was not half as compelling as spending time with my pony. I logged hundreds if not thousands of hours cleaning him. During that period, my adult son, who inherited my penchant for home décor minimalism and order, pointed out flaws in my housekeeping when he visited.
“What is this?” he said, running a finger along a dust-encrusted ledge. “You never let it get like this before. Are you blind?” he said.
Now that I can see, I’ve been a cleaning dervish. It isn’t even summer, but I find sand everywhere. There is a thin film of crud on the most hard to reach surfaces. Cabinet pulls, the refrigerator door handle, the place where you rest your fingers to open the dishwasher, all were sticky with the residue of honey, raspberry jam, and peanut butter. I blame this on my husband. For the last two weeks I’ve spent more time bending over and on my hands and knees than a yogi. (OK, I don’t actually do yoga, although I keep talking about doing it.) I’ve deep vacuumed. I’ve shaken out and laundered every pillow cover and throw rug. I’ve scrubbed tile. I’ve gone through a gallon of white vinegar. I’ve never mastered an effective method of cleaning Venetian blinds; maybe the answer when they get really gross is to replace them.
Of course I realize I don’t have to do all this cleaning myself. A friend in Cannon Beach whose home is always immaculate revealed she uses a cleaning service. Kukui House Services, by the way, comes highly recommended. My house has wood floors which I near daily Swiffer, but if you have carpet, may I recommend Brandon Stallsworth at Pro-Fresh? He offers free estimates for commercial and residential carpets and upholstery. He won my heart handling door-to-door pick up and delivery service for some old but fine Oriental carpets to Atiyeh in Portland for me.
I’m thinking it might be time to call Jonathan Tate’s Window Service. Even using a ladder and living in a one-story house, I’m not up for that. I’m also petrified to remove and clean behind screens. Truth to tell, I’m afraid once I got them out, I’d never get them put back. I met Jonathan when he was volunteering his time and energy cleaning the windows of the about- to-open Cannon Beach Academy. Super nice guy. I need to call him.