Cleaning House

I am cleaning house and not in a nice way. I am going after things that have been buried under piles of other things for six months.

I have a steam cleaner for the carpets. I bought a new mop for the hardwood floors. I have a V-shaped razor blade hook thing for the caulk lines in the bathroom.

I have nailed the kitchen, getting stuff that was on the hardwood floor for almost a year. Polished the tables. Cleaned the windows to the kitchen and the adjacent sunroom.

The kitchen is spotless. Gleaming. Ready to be trashed again but hey. There was a stack of 4 chairs there in a part of the kitchen that should have been gone a long time ago. They are now in the garage.

In the process I emptied out alot of old dried beans that were for some reason or another kept in the original bag . I emptied them out into the big old glass jars with the old time metal clasp locks. And I thought - wow. I never cook indian food - looking at them made me hungry for my wife's fare.

This was her kitchen. And she was a great cook. Very consistent, very careful and above all she could do wonders with almost anything. She would ask me what to cook for a night , which always caught me a bit by surprise - she thought things out in advance. She's been in India now for nearly two and a half months, and we will be apart for six months. We will all come over to her in the summertime, and so I am one of two cooks in the house, and currently the only one old enough to use a kitchen knife. It doesn't mean I actually use a kitchen knife but I do have my moments at actually cooking well. I even measure things out occasionally.

But my wife would measure and cook , for what seemed like hours - she could cook Thai, Indian, even French food. I think that part of her personality was what endeared her to the wine people we know - that same meticulous attention to something you are ultimately going to consume, is a trait that they appreciate. Hint: Try Toad Hollow if you can find it. Its a very rare vintage and a California Wine Industry Insider's pick. (you will love finding out who runs the vineyard too - read the label carefully if you can find a bottle.) We go years between glasses, never drink beer - don't smoke or do drugs, but we both love wine and food.

And so I am remembering - how sick I once was, and how quickly her cooking made me better (Thom Kha Gai vs. Influenza, and I bet influenza hasn't forgotten the score yet).

And so I am thinking.. should I re-organize the kitchen. No way. But it didn't stop me from taking the food out of the bottom half of the fridge and scrubbing it and then putting it all back in.

So now the kitchen is done, and part of the living room. My daughter cleaned her room - and affixed to her ceiling the picture of the United States, lights at night - that satellite photography where you can see all the cities glowing from space? Its above her bed. And her room is absolutely spotless.

But my sons room. .... Does anyone remember the last line of the film "Apocalypse Now?". Ok.

I took Richard Scarry's biggest book ever and I made the biggest gak scraper ever. I scraped his stuff up into a pile in the middle of his room and then we sorted it out. He has been "cleaning" his room by piling stuff up under his bed and his dresser drawers.

About 30 percent of the pile still remained after he, my daughter, and I sat there in the middle of the room teasing usable stuff out of it. Then I cut it into threes and said, ok. Find something useful. Everything else goes.

Then I scooped all that was left, broken toys mostly - and threw it away.

Our upstairs is now ready for the steam cleaner.

In the end, this is sort of a nesting instinct thing. Its really almost nuts. Pent up energy. I re-potted the ficus tree in the living room and the big tropical tree next to the tiffany knock-off floor lamp.

Ok. So now here's the joke from church. Read it while I get back to housecleaning. ( rolls up his sleeves ..)

How many Christians does it take to change a lightbulb?

Charismatic: Only one. Hands already in the air.

Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go off and on at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old bulb was.

Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light bulb is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb or tulip bulb. A church-wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring a bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review the church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?