Let's Spring Clean the Kitchen and Hallway!

Kitchen: Day One: Oh, the zeal with which I zipped out of bed on Wednesday morning to start cleaning the kitchen! Before I began I removed every single item from the kitchen benches and piled it all onto the dining room table.

It looked like I had moved out.

But now I had an empty slate which I was about to turn into a clean slate. I started up high again - the down lights in the kitchen ceiling have screw-in glass shades with little chains to hold them onto the light fitting, and as I stood on the step-ladder directly underneath them I was showered with tiny dead bug bits, and in one case, a rather large dead cricket. Dubious design for functionality there..

Again, hours of cleaning the fly poop off the ceiling, then the grime from the tops of window frames and the kitchen blinds. Dish washing liquid is excellent for cleaning all of the kitchen - after all, it is designed to remove grease and dirt, a layer of which settles with great tenacity on every kitchen surface. Which is why I have no idea why open shelving in the kitchen is so popular - perhaps only in kitchens where the residents eat out a lot.

My favourite bathroom cleaner paste is brilliant for removing this grime layer from the stainless steel range hood, elsewhere, cupboards and benches require only soapy water and enthusiasm. Now, I have been experimenting recently with not using the dishwasher. I did this by deliberately running out of dishwasher powder, and not renewing it, otherwise it is just too tempting.. if I had had dish washer powder on the premises I would have used the dishwasher in a minute to clean the range hood filters, but as it was, I soaked and rinsed them in hot, soapy water, rinsed them and left them outside in the sunshine to dry. Not as hard as I thought it might be. Really, machines give an illusion of efficiency, but my two hands are quite capable as well...

While I am scrubbing the window frames with a toothbrush I conduct a spirited discussion on feminism with The Girl. Now, I am a feminist to my tippy toes, but in no way do I feel that this precludes a life of comfortable domesticity. In my mind, the feminist discourse provides me with the courage, the tools and the legal authority to say, "I am my own person, no-one owns me, or can make decisions for me, and I will be taking my share of the power and responsibility of being a full citizen in my community." In no way should feminism limit any of the ways in which I want to live my life, including the option to scrub the woodwork with a toothbrush, should that be my choice. I absolutely respect the choice of any woman who doesn't have a penchant for perfectly white woodwork either, or who chooses to pay someone else to keep them white. As long as she pays them a reasonable wage with good conditions..

At this point, I feel the need for a little nap coming on, and accidentally fall asleep over my book on the couch. The Girl boils some eggs for dinner, and makes Eton mess with home made coconut macaroons, home made lemon curd and whipped cream for dessert. She is a treasure, and I really think she should stay home and look after her old mother forever. She, however, is a feminist to her tippy toes, and has plans to be off to make a life on her own terms. Damn that dratted feminist discourse..

Kitchen: Day Two:

I wake up feeling like my freshly spring-cleaned house has just dropped on my head. Some days are like that. It is cold, grey and windy today. My interest in cleaning is less than zero percent, and I am having trouble standing up. I wash the dishes, wash some of the kitchen bench bits and bobs on the table, and put them away. Then I get to the toaster, and crumple at the knees. There is nothing in me that cares whether the toaster is clean, now, or ever. I thump it onto the kitchen bench, scattering crumbs, and go and lie on the couch for the rest of the day and read my book. Luckily I remember to pick up the girls from the airport, and The Girl from work. Rosy kindly makes dinner, Posy unpacks her entire suitcase all over the living room floor, all the better to gleefully show me every single piece of glitter and bling she has spent all her birthday money on whilst Away.

I go to bed with a hot water bottle.

Kitchen and Hallway: Day Three:

Sunshine! I wake up feeling better. Not great, but better. Today I wipe down the fronts of all the cabinets while listening to Radio National. Then I sit in the sun. Then I do some weeding. Sun, dirt, garden, bees. Make everything better. The girls have one of their buddies over. They cook, swing in the hammock, walk the dog, make sushi and fruit salad and brownies and play stupid games.

I dust the light fittings, door frames, ceiling and book case in the hallway, wipe down the walls. I decide that spring cleaning is over for this week. Sometimes I just need to calm down. I can go for weeks and months living with hand prints on the walls. Then suddenly I need to clean the whole house in a matter of days?? It's like I am a mad perfectionist, but only at the full moon with Gemini rising..

Instead I go out in the sun and weed around my courtyard hedges (Chilean guava, yum), feed and mulch them, and fork over and feed some vegie garden space that I will plant up in a couple of weeks. I am still a bit manic, but working in the sun with the dog curled up next to me is very therapeutic.

I am so glad I have spent several days madly cleaning. My future self will love me for it. I am so glad I have stopped for now. I need a week end..


Anonymous said…
I hope you didn't feel faint and the need for a hot water bottle and a good lie down, for anything serious? But that you just realised you are a tad mad in cleaning manically after a term at work.

And if it is the latter, I like how I guessed the reading in the sun. And gardening.

I cannot figure why it is interesting to read about someone else's domestic chores and daily life, but it is.

I like how you are real. And no perfect domestic goddess.
Linda said…
I do enjoy your posts, they have made me want to spring clean although it's Autumn here! I know what you mean about dead insects in the light fittings. Horrid. Glad you listened to your body and read,slept and enjoyed being outside in th garden. Lovely to hear how good your girls are at cooking and creating meals for you to enjoy after all your hard work.
narf7 said…
Sometimes the manic cleaner in our heads just has to take a back seat. There is virtue in stopping and smelling the roses and thank GOODNESS you just did. I was getting afraid for your sanity there. I doubt that I could clean my house for two weeks. I get the feeling that if I tried to, I would turn into the (suitably feminist) version of Mr Hitler and Stevie-boy and the dogs would have to move out and into the nearest shed till I was able to tame my inner beast. I also think I would be more than just peripherally aware (my current and chosen state of being) of just how much time and energy I would have to regularly donate to said cleaning task and how uptight and crazy I would become. Brunhilda likes to sprinkle her magic dust (ash) around on a constant basis. You can walk around the kitchen and see her love for us dancing in the sunbeams. When Brunhilda gets her long summer period of hibernation (just started yesterday and I miss her already...) the warmer and drier weather brings in the outdoors in a multitude of guises. A person hell bent on keeping their house spotless out here would need regular infusions of some kind of anesthetic for the term of their natural lives. I hope Benson's good dog vibes have now paid for his earlier indiscretions with the raw bread dough and anything that he has eaten of yours, up until now. Spring is well an truly here and nature knows it. Here's to lots of little birds moving to your house (put in a bird bath, they will come!) and eating ALL of those damned flies. There are more ways to metaphorically skin a cat...
!. I think you need to hire Betty.

2. You can never let yourself think that no one cares about a clean toaster other than you, no matter how true it is. Once you have that thought, the game is over. The dirt wins.

3. I love the look of open shelving, but had never thought about the fact that it would get much dirtier than shelves inside of cabinets. Thank you for saving me from myself.

Jo said…
Lucinda, there is a sicky-headachy virus going around that I have been steadfastly avoiding for weeks. I HAVE NOT succumbed, mind you, just a few little pre-emptive lie-downs..

Linda, fall-cleaning is also traditional, from the evidence of the Anne of Green Gables books.

Fran, yes, I am quite mad. Spring madness! Once the house is quite, quite clean I will no doubt calm down and then go and be manic about something else. And yes, I lived in the country once, in a house full of native mice and bats. No spring cleaning there.. in fact, it was an owner-built wooden house, and that, also the mud brick house we lived in a year later, were the easiest houses to clean, because wood and mud brick don't show the dirt. Living in a white painted house with schmick white kitchen cabinets is a terrible pain..

Fran, believe me, if I had some spare cash I would absolutely spread it around employing local labour. Actually, I am plotting to pay Rosy to clean the bathroom for me next week.

Toaster still dirty. Nobody cares. You are so right.

Open shelves. Yes. Ask me how I know..
Tanya Murray said…
I always love your cleaning posts and they offer fresh inspiration and enthusiasm. I can't help but think you would love the challenge around my little abode....lol
Jo said…
Tanya, I feel faint every time I think of what you are achieving at your little abode xx
what a timely post! I did some big house work chores over the weekend (wash the windows outside, clean the sliding tracks of the windows inside). INSIDE will be next weekend, or progressively after work this week.
was going to do waaaaay more spring cleaning, but it was so oppressively hot down here that my energy was sapped and a greater priority was checking my garden wasn't blown away in the hot northerly winds... but i'm so thrilled with the windows. gold star to me.
and to you!
Anonymous said…
Inspiring as usual. Have been reading all your posts but have not touched the laptop all school holidays so unable to make any comments:-) Simply cannot type fast enough on the ipad or phone (which is probably a good thing as it forces me to have a proper sit-down computer session, like the good old days!)

I have been avoiding the housework in favour of mad-woman gardening. The children could not wait to go back to school today as they have been my unwilling slaves (trading gardening time for technology time which is highly effective). We have cleared a big part of the backyard which was waist-high in weeds and planted a 2nd mini-orchard where I envisage I will be lounging in a deck chair with a book in the - eventual - shade of the trees, with some more chooks pecking away peacefully around me. Our current chooks are too fat and mean to be let loose there:-)

Unfortunately I have Bookgroup at my house tonight, so will have to make an attempt on the kids/guest bathroom *shudder* but it is currently 30C here and just the thought of it makes me feel faint. Normally I'd bake something but refuse to turn the oven on, so it will be sparkling wine, dill and goats' cheese in bought tartlet cases and a bowl of blueberries as I am Making Do with what we have. Hopefully someone will bring chocolate;-)
Loretta x
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

A lovely tale, although it sounds as if the spring cleaning bug has caught hold of your soul! That sounds like an old Grimm brothers Fairy tale doesn't it? Watch out for those kitchen sprites.

Don't stress out about the toaster as not much that is harmful can survive a roasting! Speaking of which it has been feral hot here the past few days and the cool change finally came through a couple of hours ago.

There is however one big fire going on just over on the other side of the mountain range: Live blog: House lost in Lancefield-Cobaw fire in central Victoria

The kitchen is looking awesome too! I've often thought that cupboard fronts are historically there to stop the rodents from getting into the goodies stored inside as shelves wouldn't really stop much?


Jo said…
e, I have been obsessively watering everything in pots several times a day. Those winds are killing me!

Loretta, you have been crazy busy! That kind of dedication to child labour is sure to pay off:)

Chris, yes, no rats eating my goodies! And bush fires, ooh that's close to home for you. I have been listening to local ABC radio (while cleaning, of course) to keep tabs on Tassie bushfires too:( It's too early, what will February be like?

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