Posted on February 3, 2016
My mom is arriving for a weekend visit tomorrow, which means that it’s officially time for the Semi-annual Cleaning of the House and Changing of the Sheets. All this excitement, however, can begin only after I have made my daily rounds of finding puddles of cat pee in random corners of the house and cleaned them up systematically with two rags, the first cloth sopping and the second for wiping the copious amounts of Method™ pink grapefruit all-purpose spray from the offended area. Today, I go through a total of 12 rags, not because there are six puddles but because there are four puddles but one of the puddles is actually dog pee which requires triple the number of cloths to sop and mop.
But I digress.
The Cleaning-of-the-House ritual begins on this particular occasion with the resignation that I finally will have to wash the pan that has been sitting on the stove for untold days appearing clean but instead harboring the residue of eggs long since fried (plus that extra bit of cat hair for good measure). Unmotivated by that prospect, I decide instead to initiate the day’s events with the Changing of the Sheets, an exercise only slightly less photographable than the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (an event which I experienced firsthand at the at the age of three–I found it to be initially compelling but eventually disappointing when I learned that the Queen was hosting a tea party to which I had not been invited).
Aaaaaaanyway . . .
I elect to start with my 11-year-old’s bed for the Changing of the Sheets since it is the more complicated of the two beds, being up in a lofted area and also pushed against a railing on two sides, making it nearly humanly impossible to either attach or detach the fitted sheet from the corners in the nooks. Also, the kid has actually fashioned a nest up there, complete with stuffed animals and books and all manner of dirty clothing in various states of akimbo, having been doffed with such sleep-directed vigor that there remained simply not the energy to remove items one at a time, resulting in a single, cicada-shell sort of remnant which defies the observer to determine the angle she used to divest herself from it.
After mechanically removing the pillows from the cases and throwing the dirty bits over the railing of the loft, and managing to perform the single-player Twister™ game required to divest the mattress of the fitted sheet, I begin to pull the cover off the duvet, yielding an effect no less celebratory than a firework display of errant goose feathers seeking air and light as they escape en masse like lemmings from a hole the size of my fist at a corner of the cotton container. Of course, the floor fan, which she sets to “vortex of doom” for circulation in the loft, creates a snow globe effect with the feathers which would certainly otherwise be lovely were I not wearing a black fleece top and were my hair not 4-days-since-last-wash greasy.
Right. So now in addition to the Semi-Annual Cleaning of the House and Changing of the Sheets duties ahead of me, I will have to add The Darning of the Duvet to the engraved event invitations. Fucking Great.
Down the steps I tread, nearly busting my ass on several stair-sized mini-carpets of feathers, to find my sewing kit. Because I am organized, I know exactly where the sewing kit resides, and, because I am blind, I have first to locate my reading glasses in order to be able to thread the fucking needle. So back into the kitchen I trudge, flailing across the countertops to locate even just one of the nine pairs of readers I stash at predictable locations around the house only to be able to find exactly none of them when I need one.
Seven minutes later, having located a pair of readers, I return to the bedroom to thread the needle and climb the stairway-to-feathery-heaven to commence the Darning. The location of the fist-sized hole is conveniently identified because it is exactly in the spot where I had performed the most recent Darning, ostensibly with a sewing machine because of the perfect zig-zag stitches, at which point the realization illuminates like a bare bulb in an empty warehouse that the sewing machine must not have made it to this house when we moved because I have to ask myself “what the heck happened to that sewing machine anyway?,” and the only internal response I get is <crickets.>
The Darning of the Duvet takes all of a quarter of an hour, and it requires that long only because I have to descend the downy stairway a second time for thread reinforcements and an additional reading-glasses-assisted needle-loading. The Darning finally complete, my daughter’s duvet now looks like Frankenstein ate a live chicken and decided to lie down on her bed for a post-feast nap.
In the meantime, both dogs have found it necessary to follow me up to the loft and silently plant themselves directly behind my legs like two link sausages on a tiny saucer, making for an interesting Darning dismount in the single square foot of non-bed space that exists at the top of the stairs. So the dénouement of the ritual involves someone’s tail getting stepped on and someone else’s head getting stepped on as the yelping tail-injury victim jumps out of the way and then my own graceful extrication executed with a series of expletives and a smashing of my knee into the bannister before nearly toppling ass-over-bucket down the loft stairs.
As I collect myself and take stock of my morning’s efforts thus far, I realize that for all my work and exasperation, I have accomplished precious little in the vein of the Semi-annual Cleaning of the House, having barely scratched the surface of the Changing of the Sheets notwithstanding the unforeseen Darning of the Duvet. Alas, “it was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Then and there, I determined that the next time my mother comes to visit, I will pretend we have moved to the W Hotel and surprise her with room service and a distinct absence of pet urine, goose feathers, crickets, tails, sausages, or any animal products anywhere.