Gratitude Sunday: Cleaning On My Mind

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
– “You cannot make women contented with cooking and cleaning and you need not try.” Ellen Swallow Richards

Sunday Haiku
Oh, the wild days of
early spring when new flowers
nod to sun and rain.

Sunday Musings
What a wild, fast world we live in. I’m grateful to pay attention to the life and changes springing around me. Mother Nature is spinning spring faster than Charlotte could spin her web and is coming on with robust energy here in the Pacific Northwest for another year. Despite the sustained effort of certain corporations and persons of wealth to continue profiting from fossil fuel use, each spring I maintain those who champion the health of this planet that supports us will prevail. We have to. For our grandchildren’s grandchildren. And selfishly, for however many years I have left I want to see the spring come around every year.

Every spring I am bitten by the cleaning bug. Every year another corner or two that’s been neglected gets found and revived. It’s a good thing. Every corner gets its year, just not all in the same year. It’s lovely to have enough corners to clean. I’m not a natural cleaner; I’m easily distracted and instead of moving logically through a cleaning process, I jump from task to task (there’s also the game of 14) and have to concentrate to make sure I finish something I’ve started. Because of my five minute work window occasionally you can see every project I’ve started and haven’t finished. It’s distracting. Even though I love when it’s clean, I don’t love the task of cleaning. If I had my way I could live comfortably never having to clean anything again, but I’m not willing to live in filth. Even the Queen pays a staff to care for her, so until this queen can pay, I clean.

Part of why I’m cleaning averse is I’ve been through so many cleaning techniques, so many products, so many cleansers, and sprays, and detergents. I’ve developed allergies to most of them, either skin reactions or breathing reactions. I could fill a couple of recycle bins with all the mops and brooms and scrubbers and vacuum cleaners that have broken within a few uses. We limit what we use because of fragrance or chemical composition. We don’t use dryer sheets, or scented detergent of any kind. Rubber gloves rarely last beyond one use and don’t help with breathing issues. At this point a reaction is not worth trying a new chemical commercial cleanser. I’m not at all convinced that our homes are any cleaner because of the application of a chemical commercial product.

One of my first jobs after berry picking and baby sitting was cleaning houses for elderly women Mom met through her Avon route. My employers were vetted by my mom so I never dealt with flakes who didn’t pay, people who made unreasonable cleaning requests, or people who behaved in otherwise untoward ways, and I came highly recommended which kept me on notice to do my best work as I couldn’t let Mom down. Other than a bit of Comet and some Dawn detergent that’s all I remember using in the half dozen homes I served.

I have considered what my grandmother would have used. She didn’t have expensive cleansers full of harsh chemicals and fake fragrances. When she was growing up they didn’t even have electricity, so no vacuums, no dishwasher, no clothes washer, no dryer. I’m grateful I don’t have to cut firewood to make outdoor fires for boiling clothes in lye soap I’ve made from the ashes of the fire from the last batch of laundry. I’m grateful I don’t have to hang heavy clothing like she wore on a line, though with my light weight clothing and sheets I miss having a secure outdoor clothesline (still an unfulfilled goal). By the time I knew her she had electricity and an electric clothes washer, and I remember helping her run the wet clothes through the wringer to squeeze the water out after the machine had swooshed them all around with the detergent and then the rinse water, and hanging the clothes and bedding on the outdoor line, which had to be done in the early morning to give the clothes all day to dry before you dashed out just before dusk so you could bring them in before any dew started.

Amish girl helps with wringing clothes

Grandma had baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), salt, vinegar, hot water, rags, maybe borax or washing soda (sodium carbonate, or soda ash), and elbow grease. She knew how to make her own soap. She spent much of her day all her life with the drudgery of cooking and cleaning up after, but she was a thoughtful, organized person and had her ways. That’s what it takes to manage a home: having your ways.

Over the years I have found a couple products I can use without reaction if I dilute them enough. The challenge is whatever I don’t react to it seems the hubster or the son does, so it will be wise to test all who share your home. These are not product endorsements, because I think you must try products for yourself and see what works for you. These two work for me when used occasionally and sparingly.

I like Dr Bronner’s mostly organic products; the liquid soap lasts forever. A few drops and it cleans like a whip and leaves a refreshing fragrance. I like the peppermint fragrance especially as a bathroom scrub. Hubster prefers a commercial bleach product for his bathroom so he uses what he prefers.

I also like Mrs. Meyer’s products. The lemon verbena is my favorite but the hubster clogs up within minutes and huffs and snorts for hours after. I only use it when he is going to be away from home for a couple hours and I can have the doors and windows open the whole time. We are considerate.

I’ve been avoiding bleach when I can as well. Grandma didn’t have much bleach. I’ve begun experimenting with hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant as I recently read that is why hospitals don’t smell like bleach.

I’m picky about detergents also. I want them biodegradable like grandma’s lye soap was, but not lye, of course. I tried using a mix of borax and washing soda for dishwasher detergent with only limited success, and still using a commercial product there.

Awareness means so much and I could go to great lengths to avoid supporting the chemical cleaning industry. For the most part I stick with baking soda for an abrasive scrub with salt as a kicker and vinegar to cut grease. Both are more natural in substance than commercial cleansers; I don’t need to name brands, you can smell the colorful array when you walk into most stores, and oh, the bright plastic containers! Grandma likely wouldn’t have had much access to lemons, but I use them in place of vinegar sometimes for a fresher smell.

I’ve never been really happy with any commercial wood polish either and I don’t have a good wood polish yet but I’m leaning toward coconut oil and have been experimenting with some lesser pieces of furniture. Don’t want to take chances with my few really good pieces. Grandma would have had bacon grease or lard, maybe access to lanolin or beeswax, and I’d never use those on fine furniture (maybe the beeswax), but I doubt she had any fancy piece of wood furniture that needed polishing. Dusting every-day pieces only needs a rag and a twist of the wrist.

Like I say I’m no cleaning wizard, so certainly do what works for you. If you are trying to eliminate chemicals, or voting with your dollar and avoiding supporting the chemically derived cleanser industries try baking soda, vinegar, and lemon as organic, natural cleaners.

The most important part is water, and I like mine hot to clean with. As my favorite chemistry teacher said, water is the universal solvent. Many times all it takes to get something clean is hot water and some scrubbing. That’s pretty much the one rule I have about cleaning: Try plain water first, hot water second. Funny thing, that’s what my chemistry teacher said when the boys complained they couldn’t get the glass equipment clean enough or get the detergent to rinse off. He’d yell at them, “Hot water. More hot water. Then more detergent. Then more hot water.” It was quite amusing the girls team often passed the cleaning parts before the boys. Not saying it’s a gender thing, it’s a teaching thing.

Who did you learn your cleaning techniques from? Did you develop your own way? Did you teach your children to clean? How did you do that? Did you say “clean the kitchen” or did you demonstrate, first the dishes, wipe the counters, rinse the sink, sweep the floor? Do you clean as a family or does one person take all that on? There are easy ways and there are confusing ways to teach cleaning. We are missing an opportunity in public and private schools by not offering Domestic Science courses, on the easiest and fastest ways to clean and why, and having students steward their own schools; invest a few minutes in learning to take care through stewardship and you earn pride of ownership.

Neat freak would not be a descriptor for me. Daily clutter is a struggle. I am grateful I have not crossed the line to hoarder and able to recognize I have some things that can go away and some treasures that will stay. Grateful to have such an abundance of home and treasure to clean.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – One of the pink rhododendrons by my aquatic center. The simplicity of yellow dandelions. Lawns filled with dime sized white daisies. The pink tinged daisies are my favorites. My plum tree sneaked up and bloomed suddenly, soft creamy white petals layering the driveway, sweet fragrance scenting the yard. My other plum pinked at the same time. A whole schmess of daffodils in shades of yellow. The peaceful feeling of this dada, mama, and baby grape hyacinth.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Favorite (2018, rated R), with Academy Award winner Olivia Colman. Her performance was worth the viewing. Historical films often pique my interest, and I am compelled to do a bit of research. I find it prurient that movie production companies feel they need to sexualize so much of their product to such a degree in order to profit. Yet, the film does provoke the question of how much one’s sexuality affects one’s ability to be an effective leader. * Antman (2015, rated PG – 13), a Marvel Studios production. I’m not that into the comics/fantasy/fantastical elements of Marvel movies but they always amuse me.

Currently ReadingThe Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French. Sunday lunch at the family home and the children find a human skull in the garden. The healthy wych elm and garden must be excavated for evidence. The victim is identified from a death ten years ago and suspicions begin as the family reminisces. Oh, the suspense! * Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. Good thing the author provides a bullet pointed cheat sheet for easy remembering. I think I’ll make copies of that part and make a little booklet I can take to farmers market with me.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hubster fixing the vacuum cleaner and then banning me from using it.
  • Hubster vacuuming what I wanted to vacuum.
  • Getting the kitchen floor swept.
  • A 75 degree no jacket no sweater day.
  • Turning the heaters off for the first time in the season.
  • Getting the doors and windows open and a bit of cleaning done that day.
  • Looking at house cleaning as “always having something to do”.
  • Five minute work windows. Multiplied.
  • Microwave hot packs for when I string too many of those five minute work windows together. Sometimes I forget to pace myself.
  • Turning the heaters back on when the day after the 75 degree day was 45 degrees.
  • That crazy illusion of getting stuff done when it never looks like anything has changed. Evolution is good.
  • The ease of doing my own research and wealth of information on the internet instead of spending the whole day in the library for a pittance like the old days.
  • Laughing at myself when a whole bunch of texts flew by while I was being thick about what was said. Realizing it wasn’t just me but a miscommunication from the start. Sometimes the best way is simple and straightforward. Though I like my la-di-da over-thinking world, thank you.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Nutrition, Science and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Cleaning On My Mind

  1. piratesorka says:

    You are a better woman at the cleaning game. I just am aswful.. ….Pitiful.


    • sassy kas says:

      Just persistent, dear. Personally I think a cleaning service should come with the first Social Security check, at no extra charge. Give me a few days and I’ll figure out a way to fund it.


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