Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning is bad for your health.

Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows that I find cleaning my house to be a Sisyphean process that I actively avoid.

But I do love to vacuum. I enjoy seeing bits of crunch and filth being sucked into their final whirling vortex of a resting place, deep in the bowels of my vacuum.

Mr. Fabulous found a Miele canister vacuum that looks just like this one (except mine is red) at the bins for a few bucks. This particular Miele vacuum retails for hundreds of dollars. And it's worth every penny.

The feeling I get when I vacuum my crunchy, dog hair strewn wood floors is similar to the feeling I get when I mow my lawn. Both processes are loud. This loud feature means no one can talk to me while I'm mowing or vacuuming.

So I'm in my own head when I mow and when I vacuum. No one requires anything of me. No one asks where their crap is that they can't find. Like a 50-minute therapy session, everyone just gives me a little space. Time alone. To think.

Both vacuuming and mowing also provide immediate gratification, which is so pivotal to those of us who enjoy such things.  After I mow, my lawn looks lovely. Like a park, a cemetary or a putting green.

And after I vacuum, my floors project the look of someone who values the little things, as if I'm someone who basks in the detail that only a crunch-free floor can provide.

If only that were true.

I do like a crunch-free floor. And I love my very fabulous Miele vacuum, not only because Mr. Fab bought it for a fraction of what it's actually worth.

But I'm not a clean freak.

And apparently that's a good thing.

According to The Cleaning Expert ( and many other sources that you can resource on the interweb, there is such a thing as cleaning too much. You can clean, literally, until it hurts.

The Cleaning Expert reports that, "protecting children from being exposed to everyday bacteria, viruses and fungi they would normally encounter meant that their immune systems never learned to mature and deal with these threats. They became over-sensitized to any stimulants in the environment. Thus, by keeping things too clean, you're actually increasing your children's risks of getting conditions such as asthma and eczema."

Ah. Vindication. From someone who is known as The Cleaning Expert.

The Cleaning Expert isn't the only resource who ramps it down when it comes to getting Too Clean. Just google it. Cleaning everything in your house on a regular basis may do more harm than good.

So take a load off, you crazy cleaning people out there! Learn a lesson at the foot of the master. Keeping everything in tip-top shape is not only counterintuitive; it's counterproductive. And ultimately, it can be bad for your health.

I like using my vacuum not only because it gives me license to actively dissociate, to say nothing of the fact that it was purchased for hundreds of dollars less than it's actually worth. In short, I do like floors that don't stick to my feet.

But I'm in no way tied to the tether of a clean house.

And my kids are almost always healthy.

So sit back. Relax. Let it go. Take it from The Cleaning Expert.

The time you're spending wiping things down can be much better spent livening things up.

And no matter who you resource, the outcome is a whole lot more fun.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Costco pronounces you husband and wife.

Like a well-cooked meal, a good night of uninterrupted sleep or finding $20 in your purse that you didn't know you had, the concept of marriage is such a beautiful thing.

Ah, marriage.

On the upside, it's nice to know you're not doing this crazy, flailing dance on this nutty disco ball of a planet without a partner. It's good to have two extra hands nearby when a project takes more than the pair on the end of your arms. It's comforting to know that there will be someone around to pick up the slack if you're befallen by something unanticipated, like the West Nile virus, back surgery or dementia.

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

Sometimes things don't have such a fairy-tale ending, which was the case with my marriage. Which, like those of half the population, ended in divorce.

But there's a bright, redemptive light at the end of my personal relationship tunnel. Even though some pontificators claim that women my age are more likely to be struck by lightning or be killed by a terrorist or get their own Christmas special on NBC than to find their groove-thang, I was lucky enough to find Mr. Fabulous.

Mr. Fabulous is also divorced. And despite the acrimony of his last relationship, he's actually expressed an interest in getting married again. He's also mentioned he'd like to tie the knot some day with me.

That's so very endearing, isn't it?

There's only one setback.


I was married once already. I expected it to last forever. And it didn't.

But somehow, stars aligned. Receptivity occurred. And now there's Mr. Fabulous.

Mr. Fabulous and I live together, we're committed to each other, and after a few years together, we still have so much fun. I can't decide who is whose better half.

Why f it up by getting married?

Not unlike watching that Titanic movie twice or living through the G.W. Bush administrations, there are some things that don't bear repeating.

Kind of like a second marriage, at least in my opinion.

So it made me literally laugh out loud the other day when Mr. Fabulous and I were at Costco. My membership needed to be renewed, and considering Mr. Fab is now a fixture in my house and has actually changed his address to mine, we decided to make the Costco commitment and go in on a membership together.

We were waiting for our membership cards to be created, flush with the scent of togetherness and affiliation, coupled with the prospect of getting crap-loads of merch at deep discounts.

It was then that Mr. Fabulous turned to me and said, "Costco thinks we're married!"

If that's as far as it goes, it's fine with me.

I love Mr. Fabulous. That's indisputable. But if we can fly under the marriage radar and still get the perks, so much the better.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My garbage is lonely....

So as you may know, I've recently committed myself and those who spin around me to recycle our stuff.

It's been so easy! It takes so little to create a new adaptation, and now we've all become accustomed to tossing the majority of our crap into the recycling bin.

Adding the recycling component to my trash collection costs just a buck or two more each billing cycle, and I'd assume the trash collecting company ultimately profits if it takes my discards somewhere and converts it into cash.

But I don't care. Because as I mentioned, recycling is so very easy.

What's not so easy is finding containers to fit all the crap we generate that's recyclable.

So instead of filling my weary trash cans with trash, I've now relegated my trash cans into recycling vehicles.

It's made my regular trash kind of lonely.
This is what my clan created that can be recycled. Granted, it was accumulated over a 2-week time span. The garbage company picks up recyclable matter every other week. But what's notable is that we generated two very crammed trash cans, one full-to-bursting bin and a red plastic vacuum cleaner thing over the course of two weeks.

It's amazing, how fast we used so much that can ultimately be morphed into other things.

And as I've mentioned before, it's so easy. Especially when the trash collecting company doesn't require separation. It's just a list we follow, and our list includes almost everything we use every day.

So this recycling has made my regular garbage somewhat lonely, filled with rank, discarded garbage ennui.

Scroll back to what we recycled over a 2-week span. And this forelorn trash can - which isn't even full, I might add - is the non-recyclable trash we created in a week.

I hate to anthropomorphize my trash. I decline when it comes to giving this recycling thing more credit than it deserves.

But if just a fraction of what we're sending along to be recycled actually becomes something else or doesn't wind up all filled with loneliness in a landfill somewhere, I think I've done our crazy mixed-up planet a bit of a service.

I encourage you to give it a try.

It's very easy. And if it's all about how it makes you feel, take it from me.

It feels pretty good.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Good spelling is a curse.

Anyone who knows me understands that I have a thing about spelling. It's a curse, really. Especially when our lovely language is so flagrantly f-d with on such a consistent, pervasive basis.

Back in the day, there was no spell-check. We used carbon paper and typewriters, for the love of god. Perhaps that intention, that knowing that if you screwed up you had to start all over created an imprint of some kind.

My history is not the history of Everyone.

Here's a sampling of what I've run across lately. If you know me, you know this stuff drives me nuts.

This lovely example was evident and conspicuous to people like me. And this beautiful sign is most likely considered to be a sales tool.
Let's visit the shoowroom, shall we? I'm sure the KC Cabinetry company has many fabulous cabinets to shoow.

So I'll relax.

Perhaps I'll do some gardening.

Maybe I need a geranium, I thought to myself. So I wander into the Ace Hardware that's by my house, and what to my surprise!

I saw this lovely sign, which made me want to dig a little deeper into my soil, if only to scrape away at the angst I feel at the flagrant overuse of the coveted apostrophe...

Who does the geranium belong to, and why must we apostraphize this lovely flower?

So I'll go to work. My workplace is filled to bursting with smarty-pants people who understand the value of education and science. I work at a hospital, for the love of god.

Someone apparently felt very ardent about the vacuuming. That person generated not only one but several signs indicating that their personal work space was riddled with crunchy bits that required the function that only a vacuum could afford. How lovely would it have been if they were to have known how to spell the word that would bring them a clean, crust-free environment?

We'll never know. I'd assume the vacuuming took place quickly, what with this very assertive plea.

So I'm done gardening, I'm through with work. All I want is a tasty meal. One of my favorite places to eat, despite the havoc that descends on my colon, is Garbanzo. This tasty spot began here in Colorado, and has the vibe of a restaurant that's just aching to go national. But they need to work on the signage....

It's not "it's". It's "its".

I filled out my customer satisfaction survey on line that day Mr. Fabulous and I ate at Garbanzo and I saw this sign. I mentioned this gaffe in my response. I have no issue with service or quality, but I did make mention of my issue with this sign. I returned to Garbanzo a few weeks later, and this same sign smacked me upside the head once again.

Apparently the folks at Garbanzo don't have the same disdain for the flagrant use of the apostrophe as I do.

As you can imagine, this language love is a curse. Because the more we ignore or discard these abuses, the more they're going to happen. Kind of like the proliferation of meth labs.

Am I too enmeshed with my appreciation of good grammar?

Guilty as charged.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Critical mass

I get used to my stuff. I've gathered quite a collection of crap. But I live here, I get used to the clutter, the multiple junk drawers, the closets that I close abruptly so items don't spill out and conversely, the closets I open gingerly in case something might spill out and thwack me in the noggin. It's the classic out of sight out of mind game I play with myself.

Then there are times when I look at my house the way visitors might see things, and I get all kinds of critical about the subpar nature of my housekeeping.

I decided recently that I have way too much stuff.

So what's a woman to do?

Two words: garage sale.

In addition to a crapton of stuff I've tucked away in closets and drawers, I have an entire room in my basement that's been affectionately dubbed the Ebay Room.

Lined with shelving all around, this room is where I've been storing treasures I've found over the years, with the intention of selling them on ebay. The room is such a tangible testament to my treasure hunting learning curve, and what's become apparent is that I bought a bunch of stuff I thought had value that's really not worth the listing fees incurred by slapping it up on ebay.

To be fair, I've learned a lot, and I've become much more discerning about what I buy. But that still means that I have a whole bunch of stuff I simply don't want any more.

I've reached critical mass.

So I'm in the process of organizing a garage sale.

I'm motivated on so many levels. I want to divest myself of the things I no longer need. I want to turn my ebay room into a functional living space. I want to step a few paces back from standing in the line marked "hoarder" on Judgment Day.
My car is now relegated to the driveway while I load up my garage with my life's castoffs.

This is an unfortunate yet motivational necessity. It was just last year about this time that my garage was rendered functional for its intended purpose. After almost a decade, I'd finally cleared a path so my car actually fit in the garage.

There's such a sense of accomplishment and normalcy when a garage can actually be used to shelter a vehicle. And I love not scraping my windows in the winter or hopping into a scalding hot car in the summer. I like the fact that, when my car's in the garage, no one knows if I'm home or not. Pull the car in the garage, push the little garage door opener/closer button and my home is my tidy little oasis.

At least from the outside looking in.

Lately I have zero tolerance for the closets, the junk drawers, the stuff I pass by every day and actively ignore. I've been looking at my house the way other people might, and I think I'd think my house would be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

So I'm motivated to have this garage sale. Items are finding their way upstairs, out of the ebay room and into the garage. My car is banished to the driveway, and the garage is filling up with stuff I simply don't have room for any more.

This photo was taken a while ago. There's a whole lot more stuff in my garage now, and there's a whole lot more to do.

I can't wait to get rid of these things I've collected, and I'm much more interested in having a decluttered house than making a ton of money. So the signage for my garage sale will most likely include the words ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.

It feels good to let go of things you no longer need. I'll be selling the tangible elements of my treasure hunting educational process that have accumulated to the point of critical mass. And I'll be gaining a new room, manageable closets, a few less junk drawers.

Best of all, I'm able to look at my house the way other people do, and I think I'll like what I see.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tabula rasa

Yes, I know I've featured this non-functional lamp in past blogs. But this morning, when the sun was streaming through my stained glass window, this beautiful shadow and light display that found its way onto my bedroom wall struck me to my very essence. What a great way to wake up.

Almost every day when I wake up, I have an optimistic list of things I want to accomplish. Sometimes I make a list. Sometimes I try to achieve my goals without the tactile comfort I get by writing things down. And now I have a new organizational tool that's completes the triad of cheap, cool and conspicuous. I got it at the bins the other day for two bucks.
It's a totally cool chalkboard! I wiped off all the data I've jotted down in an attempt to create the illusion that I run a tidy ship. But since I took this picture, I've made note of an upcoming dental appointment, a few things we need at the store and several blog topic ideas.

Which leads me to the blog. Between working at my regular job, writing a weekly Salon piece, thrifting, selling my wares, wrapping, and doing a crap-ton of summer socializing, the blog's been taking a back seat.

I know there is most likely no one whose heart has been broken into teeny sullen melancholy bits of ennui-laden crumbles because my blog production level has taken a bit of a summer haitus. But I've missed doing the blogging.

So I'm going to gather up all the ideas I've scribbled on little bits of paper and make the chalk dust fly.

Tomorrow's just another blank slate waiting for a piece of chalk.