I ascribe to the Erma Bombeck philosophy of cleaning: “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stops at tedium and productivity.” – or more concisely, “Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.”

This armoire* is my favorite piece of furniture:

…and this is one of the reasons why:


Growing up, my dad was proud of the fact that he could always bring someone home with him, knowing his house wouldn’t have newspapers strewn about with dirty dishes in the sink. My mother was a neatnik – even boxes in the big attic were covered with pristine white sheets. She was less diligent when it came to instilling her habits in her daughters. (Speaking for myself here.) I had two tasks: dust the baseboards and “just go over the tops of things.” My sister, Jud, had the unenviable job of dusting the ‘whatnot’ shelves with its myriad of small doodads – later assumed by our younger sister, Duff. In the dining room they were also entrusted with the base of the round oak table, and mom’s impressive collection of unusual bottles, some filled with colored water, some not. All three of us participated in dishwashing which was often fun – filled with aimless chatter, ‘I spy something green’ games and occasional petty arguments. As a result of my sink experience, I’ve never considered living without a dishwasher and garbage disposal a cruel and unusual punishment in my lifetime. Our indefatigable mom passed away as she finished the dishes with our dad. (When the time comes, I would like to be so fortunate.)

As for cleaning in general, the joy of sharing the house with multiple animals has influenced my belief in ‘acquired immunity’ – the ‘five second theory’ is often observed, and I credit my husband for allowing my kids to drink out of the bottle. We’ve all been healthy, which I like to think is the result of not living in a sterile environment.

Resigned to the fact I’ll never be a stellar housekeeper, I can still pull it together when I must, and I do go over the tops of things.

*About the armoire – Bill and I found this in parts on the dirt floor of the farm house basement where we lived for a year after we were married. It had been shipped on a boat from England by his grandmother, Janet Thomas. The wood was ugly but in good shape so we worked countless hours on painting and restoring it. No telling its history beyond that, but more reason I love it.