Key in the Door…



clean bathroom

pay bills


wash bedding

This is my TO DO list this week.   Hmmmm, come to think of it, this looks very, very similar to the TO DO list from last week.  Wait, wait, wait…ah yes, here is it.  My list from February of this year (10 months ago) that I found in my coat pocket yesterday when I put on my winter parka.  Well, whaddya know…it’s identical to these other lists.  Nope, nope, “wrap birthday present” was on this February list, but other than that…IDENTICAL.  Oh my goodness!  Is my life really that predictable and monotonous? 

This dull list got me thinking about two things.  First thing: if my February and December lists were pretty much the same, then why oh why do I keep re-writing it?  Maybe I should have a master board with a master list and maybe 2 or 3 blank spaces where I can add anomalies if necessary.  This would save an invaluable amount of time as well as stacks of note paper (note:  I write my lists down, printing them on narrow note pad paper (3.5″ x 7″ or 8.9 cm x 17.8 cm).  Then again, perhaps there is some other twisted reason why I prefer to write lists.

Ok, I’ll confess.  I like being able to grab my click pen (or sharpened pencil, or 0.05 fine tip marker) and dramatically scratch off a completed item from the TO DO list.  As soon as my bed sheets are in the washing machine, I dart triumphantly upstairs, hoist my pen as if it were a sword and masterfully stroke through the words “wash bedding”.  What a feeling!  I’d compare it to winning an Iron Man marathon or being first in line at the grocery store checkout.  WINNING!  

For all you list makers out there, you understand the elation and sense of accomplishment felt when you cross items off this list of chores.  It’s like winning … at life!  You have proven that you can complete assigned tasks and goals.  And perhaps I am also not unique in adding an item to the sheet AFTER it has already been completed in order to be able to strike a line through it.  DONE!  YAY ME!  Yes, I do that…as any normal person with OCD would do.  A list chock full of crossed off words is so satisfying and rewarding!  

This brings me to my second thought, and possibly (probably) even more vital:  is my life that boring and predictable?  This regurgitated list is what I “hope” to accomplish during the weekend.  Saturday and Sunday are my days to fulfill this wish-list of chores.  Yes, they are chores.  They represent grunt work.  A task to be done and I am the self-appointed Task Master.  I know that there are many other things I do on weekends, but those never get scribbled down.  So why am I writing (re-writing) a list that isn’t even accurate?

After much deliberation, I have realized that my TO DO list is more of a may I recommend list or a maybe list.  

 Maybe I’ll vacuum if I’m not playing with the grandkids.

I would recommend washing my bed sheets, but best to toss ’em into the hamper and pull out the spare set.  That’s what the spare ones are for right?  I recommend hanging out with my aunt instead.  

I think I’ll go shopping with my sister on Saturday, so maybe I’ll get around to dusting.

I should clean my tub and sink…or maybe I’ll hop in my car and go for a nice scenic drive to visit my niece.

It was my aunt who wisely explained that the whole cleanliness is next to Godliness mantra is nice and all, but sometimes you just have to “put the key in the door and go live your life.” 

“Huh?”  I was befuddled. 

She reiterated:  “You stand outside your home.  Put your key in the door and lock up your house nice and tight.  Then turn your back to the door, head out into the wild world and go live your life.”  My aunt sauntered off ahead of me and then said calmly, “the dust will be there when you get back.” 

“Yeah, I don’t like coming back to all these chores…the dusting, the vacuuming, the mopping.  So much to do.  My house is a mess!”  I complained.

“Oh sure, I understand,” she mollified me.  “It’s better to make sure your house is clean for when the Pope comes to visit instead of using that little bit of free weekend time you have to hang out with your friends or family,” she snipped sarcastically.  My aunt then held my hands in hers, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Life is short,” she began, “one day you’ll receive news that the person you were planning to see next weekend…because this weekend you were scrubbing toilets…is now gone forever,” she said sardonically.  “Believe me, dust will always be there,” she continued, “but the people you care about might not be.”  Message received Wise(-ass) Auntie of mine.  I love her!

My home will not pass the white glove test.  If you run your fingers along the tables or ledges, you will find a thin layer of dust and a myriad of multiplying dust bunnies hanging out like gangsters in the dark corners of some rooms.  One weekday evening after work they’ll get sucked up into my supersonic vacuum cleaner.  For now, I’ll let ’em live a little since I will be doing the same thing.  

If you are driving by my house some weekend you just might find me standing outside my front door with my head slightly bent over.  I will be inserting my key into the lock and smiling contentedly as I hear my aunt’s voice in my head saying, “put the key in the door.  Go live your life.”

The good, the bad, and the dust bunnies

Clean.  For such a simple word it comes with an exorbitant amount of responsibility.  To keep something “clean” means it must remain free of dirt and…gulp…dust.  EEGAD!  Impossible!  Dust is everywhere!  The desire to have an eat-off-the-floor clean house is most often offset by my desire to actually enjoy living my life.  Hours toiling away, room by room, floor by floor, does not make for a happy life.  Oh I understand the need for cleanliness, but why can the job never be done?

My mother was obsessive about her cleaning.  Hmmm, come to think of it, she still is.  My mother will sit with you at the kitchen table, wet cloth in her hand, and while she is loquaciously speaking, her hand will be moving slowly in circles, seemingly cleaning of its own accord.  I recall my mother always cleaning something.  Her goal was to have the most immaculately pristine house.  “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” was the phrase she quoted.  (When I was really young I used to imagine my mom standing next to God with her handy cloth in hand.  Maybe God would have her clean heaven too since she cleaned with god-like precision.)  I had hoped that when I moved out and had a place of my own I would scour and polish with the same vim and vigour.  I didn’t inherit the obsessive cleaning gene.

The bane of my purifying existence is dust.  I can dust one room and come back an hour later and guess what?  There is a new layer of dust already starting to accumulate.  What is it about dust?

It goes back to biblical times.  Genesis 3:19 – “...for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  So according to that statement there is always someone either coming or going in my house because I have dust everywhere!  I try to ensure my home is a dust-free zone but I just can’t seem to win.  If you think regular bunnies multiply quickly you should see the dust bunnies in MY home.  They are procreating wizards.  It is for this reason that I am always on the hunt to find the newest, latest and greatest, house cleaning miracle mop / broom / cloth that will make my dust-duty bearable.

(Side note:  why is it called dusting?  Wouldn’t that mean that you are putting dust all over your house?  Why wouldn’t you call it anti-dusting or un-dusting?  Just a thought.)

To all you ad agencies spending oodles of money showing happy, smiling women and men (or children or dogs) in the act of (un)dusting…I’m watching.  I want to see the dusty grey hardwood floor suddenly have that path of brownness after the magical swish of the mop / brush goes through it.  It’s like watching Moses part the Red Sea.  A miracle!  Over-exaggerating?  Not I.  I really DO get that excited.

The Swiffer Sweeper.  This was an invention like no other!  When I first saw this advertised on tv I HAD to get one.


After I had de-dusted the apartment in record time, I made sure to tell everyone at my workplace how great it was.  I called family and friends to expound the virtues of this prodigious product.  I would excitedly mention it to strangers while shopping.  When I believe in a product I make sure everyone knows it.  No longer did I have to crawl around on the floor to scoop up dirt and hairs.  No longer did I have to keep using a brush and dust pan to scoop up dirt.  (Anyone who has used a dust pan knows there is always that wee little bit at the end that you cannot get into the pan no matter how much you try to sweep it up.)  With my Swiffer I could stand up and dance around the apartment dipping and sashaying into corners.  I had my own miracle going on.  So imagine my pure delight when they created the duster.  Wha-what?  Oh yes!  Cleaning blinds and table tops and shelves and bookcases.  The bunnies were being evicted.  No more Mrs. Nice Guy.   Bwahaha!

As time passed I bought other products on the market.  There is always something newer and better out there.  I still use the Swiffer Sweeper  and the Swiffer Duster and the Swiffer Mop.  I don’t use them as frequently since the price of the refills have gone up astronomically and also because new products have entered into my humble abode.  My cleaning artillery has grown exponentially.  These products rotate and take turns as the main warriors in my endless Battle of the Dust Bunnies.

I was introduced to a new method of dealing with these pesky, lightweight intruders.  It was my wonderful aunt who told me about it.  I couldn’t understand how two sisters (she and my mother) could have such differing views on housekeeping.  My aunt’s plan was quite ingenious.  Oftentimes her method of housekeeping could cost more than my usual tried and true methods, but her way was much more pleasant and less stressful.  It can be summed up in one sentence.  “Key in the lock and off you go.”  She had to explain it to me, “Life is short,” she had started to tell me.  “Some days you just have to put the key in lock and go shopping.”  What?  How would that clean my house?  “Sometimes you just have to forget about cleaning and go out and unwind and relax and enjoy life.”  So, she was telling me to NOT clean my house.  Looking at my bewildered face, she laughed and said, “the dust will be there when you get back.”  Truer words were never spoken.

Life is like that.  It’s about choices.  Some days you will need to wage war against the non-paying dust bunny tenants.  Some days you will ignore the layers of grey dust on your shelves and floors and go out exploring.  The dust will be there when you get back.  Yes, life is like that…the good, the bad, and the dust bunnies.