Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Annual Groundhog Day Freakout

IM conversation between me and The Man earlier:

Me: Where do we keep our Liquid Nails?

The Man: Ummmm, at the store where they sell it?

Me: Ok. Do we have any more expanding foam? I broke our can of it and could really use some.

TM: Where are you?

Me: At home. Duh.

TM: What the hell are you doing?

Me: Nothing, at the moment, because I don't have the proper tools. Thus the questions. So are you going to help me out or what?

TM: I'm afraid to ask with what.

Me: Just the info I need. So what about the foam?

TM: I'm not answering that.

Me: Fine. But know this, if you're not with me you're against me. Just like the Urchins.

TM: I'm okay with that. Now can I get back to class?

Me: Fine, but we may need to go out to dinner tonight until the fumes disperse.

TM: Why?

Me: Why do we need to evacuate from fumes?

TM: No. Why all this?

Me: It's Groundhog Day.

TM: (silence) (more silence) Of course it is.

Yes, I have descended into the madness of spring cleaning and it's all the fault of that damn groundhog.

Growing up, I lived in a three story center hall colonial that was owned by my grandmother. Three generations under one roof. Let me tell you, it was no picnic most days.

But to add to the festivities, my grandmother, the matriarch of the household who could chew nails and spit rust, filled her home with antiques. Antiques that she acquired or fixed on her own. The house was like a museum. Only a museum where you'd never see everything, even if you lived there.

Believe me. I know.

This house had nine rooms, one and a half baths and three large halls. Plus a storage room and cellar. All full up to the brim with antiques. And we cleaned all of it. One room at a time. Now, when I say clean, I mean clean. My grandmother grew up on a farm and lived through the Great Depression. She knew how to clean a house.

First you'd empty out the room of the furniture. Then the curtains would be taken down and washed. Then you'd scrub the walls and ceilings. Next you would shampoo the oriental rugs by hand after beating them as they hung over the outdoor clothesline. Next you'd refinish the pine wood floors with homemade shellac. (Don't get me started on home made shellac.) Next every piece of furniture was dusted, waxed and polished. (We had 63 chairs in that house alone. I kid you not.) After that, all the knickknacks, most as fragile as egg shell, had to be dusted and put back exactly where they belonged. (There were three corner cupboards filled to almost overflowing, not to mention the deep windowsills and other tables, etc.) After all that, you reassembled the room. The whole process took several days of non-stop cleaning.

Then you started on the next one. Shampoo, rinse and repeat. Twelve times.

Now at my house, for the majority of the year, I rebel against the mantra that was pounded into my head from a very young age - A place for everything and everything in its place. But right before Groundhog Day I find myself blurting it out.

And I know, it's time. The groundhog is my alarm. Spring is coming. And along with it, spring cleaning.

But this year, I've taken it one step further and into the realm of home repair. And I know I wouldn't be going that far if it weren't for the fact that my wonderful dog is dying. Everyday, it's a little harder for her to get up. A little harder to get around. She's eating less and less. I give her love every time I walk past. I tell her she's a good girl and I just want to bawl.

So I'm throwing myself into my spring cleaning with even more zealous gusto than usual. Here, right in front of me - this house- is something I can fix. Something I can put right.

And so right now I'm obsessive and fanatical and Puritanical in my need to cleanse and repair and it's all the groundhog's fault.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We used to clean like that also. It's been almost two years since I lost my dog and I still miss him everyday when I come home from work. Love her while you have her.

M.J. Fifield said...

Every year I say I'm going to clean like that and then every year I don't.

Loved the response to "where do we keep the liquid nails?" question...

Ava Quinn said...

I do, Sue. I do.

Ava Quinn said...

I don't get quite as bad as my grandmother, Melissa, but The Man definitely talks me off the spring cleaning ledge each year.

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