Cleaning For Jack

So, I thought about gardening today. Even got the clogs on. But just as I entered that magical confluence of states where the willingness to do a task meets the physical energy necessary to carry it out  — and this happens about once a month, as you may have noticed — I realized that we had to get to Trader Joe’s. As in, no one will eat tonight if we don’t. Off came the clogs, out came the reusable bags, and away went any notion of getting anything done outdoors while there was still light.

This was especially annoying, as I had just been to the grocery store yesterday. And probably a day or two before that as well. I feel, at times, like I reside at the Eagle Rock Trader Joe’s (their slanted floors even feel like home).  You’d think that I’d have a kitchen replete with healthy, tasty, fresh ingredients. But no. Instead, I seem to be amassing a connoisseur’s collection of snack foods and confections. It’s pernicious! Why do I imagine, when I am walking the aisles of that oft-visited place, that we need, in our larder, yet another variation on the dark-chocolate-and-sea-salt theme? We don’t! We didn’t eat the first eight! Yet here I am again, arriving home with some new salty/sweet delight! This one’s different! It’s got candycane! And freeze-dried leeks! And flaxseed oil!

What? Dinner? Oops. No. Sorry.

I mean, really. It’s insanity.

Then there’s the cleaning. It repeats and repeats and repeats. Just the floors alone! I vacuum the house. It shines. Then Mike gives Mina a good scratching. As well he should. But, when he’s through, a pile of dog hair big enough to soak up a major oil spill is wafting across the floor, borne, on the draft from our central heating, towards every corner of the house. Like a native population that has outgrown its borders, it will travel far and wide, settling everywhere, overwhelming the weak, reproducing wildly. In short time it will be joined by other marauders: dust balls, shoefuls of sand, dirt from the garden, sawdust from Mike’s shop, fragments of whatever Mina last destroyed, food particles from MJ’s peripatetic snacks, bits of playdough, tracked-in leaves, beans from the bean box, tiny toy parts that impale your feet, bits of tissue, colored paper, stickers which have been stuck to the floorboards then half peeled off. The carnage is complete, and not a day has gone by.

I could go on. There is dusting: pointless. Sink cleaning: fleeting. Mopping: pathetic. I expend a remarkable amount of energy, and our house still looks at best just OK. More often like crap. No wonder I can’t get to the garden at all. I am busy screwing up inside pretty much incessantly.

There are days. There are days you just think, oh, for a housekeeper. Oh, for a cook. A gardener! My God. The thought. Someone who could do this stuff well, do it right, and do it so it lasts! So that finally I could sit down with my tea and my New Yorker, look around me and think: there is nothing that needs to be done. Now, or ever.

And then you wake up. And you think, well, I can at least have the cup of tea. And you know what? Maybe I’ll just try one of those candycane things…

And actually, they’re not terrible.

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