A day or two after Glynis and her Kamikaze Cleaning Crew had stripped the scales from my eyes Holly came to see my house. She was as astonished as I was at the difference. While Holly never suffered from the same Pledge-commercial-Brady-Bunch-Barbie-plastic-turkey delusions that I did, she struggled with a messy apartment. Holly had been raised in a clean home, but she had not learned how to do housework when she was a kid. As a full time working single mother, Holly found herself battling messes and clutter just like I did. She marveled with me at the deep-down-cleanness of everything. Who knew that a drain board could be scrubbed with Ajax? We both thought that brown gooey stains on the dish drainer were inevitable. Like me, she never thought about whether or not toaster crumbs could actually be cleaned out of a utensil drawer. Both of us were smart enough to know that our homes did not look like others we had seen, but neither of us understood what needed to be done to gap the difference.
Somehow, in my mind, things looked good when they were new, and then, over time, they got dirty. I possessed some very rudimentary cleaning skills: I knew that a vacuum cleaner should be plugged into a wall, turned on and moved back and forth across a carpet. I knew that I was supposed to spray Pledge on furniture and wipe off the dust. I understood that, when all the drinking glasses were dirty, and I found myself getting a drink of water out of a wide mouth Mason jar, it was time to do the dishes. I did not understand, however, how to have a clean house.
My eyes were gradually opening to the possibility of a different way of life. When my girls were babies, I taught needlecraft classes and sold needlecraft kits and accessories at in-home parties. Once as I was passing around a beautifully framed needlepoint picture, a customer casually commented that she preferred to make her stitcheries into pillows because then she would not need to dust the frame on her wall. Dust the frame? Dust the frame? People dust frames on their walls? What a fascinating concept! I told Holly about it, and she said that she had never gotten the frame-dusting memo, either.