Let’s talk dirty


After what seemed like an endless winter and a spring rain of Biblical proportions, I noticed my neighbors taking the first few tentative steps outdoors again. Could it be the world is still turning and things may get back to normal, whatever normal means these days?

I took one look at all the mildew and weeds, and had to fight the urge to play Punxsutawney Phil and go back to bed for a few weeks. But look! A butterfly fluttered by, proof that the cycle of life has indeed begun anew. But you know what that means. Spring cleaning time has returned.



I did what I do every year when spring arrives. I go look up my copy of “Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean” by Linda Cobb. This book is a priceless little gem I picked up for a buck at the First Monday library sale. It has paid for itself many times over. Cobb is one lady who knows how to take the “oops” out of life, and when she talks dirty everybody listens.

She taught me all sorts of neat tricks like how to use Tang and denture tablets to clean toilets effortlessly; how to mop up oily stains on the driveway with kitty litter; and how to make pet accidents on upholstered furniture go away. Unfortunately she didn’t have any advice for how to clean up a very surprised priest in whose lap the puppy was sitting when he had the accident.


One of the sad axioms of life is that you don’t get anything clean without getting something else dirty. All winter long the dust bunnies and I had an agreement: They didn’t come out from under the couch and embarrass me in front of my friends and I would leave them alone until spring. Today I discovered an entire colony had moved under the sofa and figure they qualify for their own time zone.

There’s a spring project I’ve been yearning to try for almost ten years. I want to tear out the wall between my kitchen and my home office to make room for a big ole farm table on which my friends and family can enjoy casual dinners. I can use the table for my crafts projects like uh, well, something with glue and scissors perhaps?

I realize tearing out a wall seems a rather drastic maneuver, but my friend Sue Ellen Oswalt took down the wall between her master bedroom and a guest room with her bare hands. Well, she probably had a pick axe or something. She created a cavernous space in a few hours. She just kissed her husband good-bye one morning and got out the axe and began chopping away. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I’m hoping my chain saw will do the job but first I’ve got to make sure my health and life insurance are paid up.

Here’s some suggestions on how to motivate yourself to get started on your spring projects:

· Make a list of the things you think need to be cleaned or changed. Start the list with “Make a list.” Check that off. See? You’re on your way!

· Examine your list. Draw a line through anything that only your mother in law would notice.

· While you are at it, cross off anything that you wouldn’t ask your best friend to do like cleaning your living room draperies in the past five ….. er, ever.

· Purge expectations. There is nothing written down anywhere that says you can only be happy when your house is clean. Repeat after me: Clean is only temporary.

I read a brilliant tip the other day to try next time you have friends pop over. Keep a stash of Get Well cards on the mantle and you can say you’ve been ill. No one in their right mind would expect you to have a clean house when you’ve been ill.

8 thoughts on “Let’s talk dirty

  1. Good Morning Emily, Again, you have made my day. I think I will just
    go with your last paragraph and forget the cleaning. Cheers – M

  2. Better get someone to look at the demo wall to insure it is not load bearing. Bad things will happen if you start tearing down a load bearing wall. Sounds like a very worthwhile project. Get a friend to video your work. Might win $10,000 on Funniest Home Videos.

  3. It is also a good idea to check for electricity and water pipes. You can buy a STUD FINDER at home improvement centers. It beeps when it finds something solid behind the wall. You can always find a Stud or two at the same stores. Proceed with caution!

  4. I’ve been doing Spring Cleaning ever since we decided to sell our house and downsize. I never knew how many sore places you get when you scrub baseboards – does your book give any tips on an easier way than hands & knees?

  5. Think you really could use a “Stud Finder”; you could loan it to Marie and other single friends.

  6. My greatest household hint (I have used many many times)….when friends drop in dim the lights and light all the candles…..you can’t see dust or dirt or wrinkles or bad hair….everyone looks wonderful…….

  7. I have discovered that there are some good things about being short and vision impaired. If you are short you never see the tops of the refrigerator, cabinets, picture frames, lampshades……you get my drift! (Unfortunately my ex was tall!) I certainly can’t see any dust on my baseboards…… The other day I saw something on one of my lampshades. Got a brush and started dusting the sides…….you can’t imagine the dust storm I kicked up!

  8. Yes boomers. Isn’t it wonderful how our eyesight fails just when wrinkles and dust bunnies take over our lives, I think we all look wonderful to each other – just stay away from anyone under 50. They still have some sense of reality. Down with reality! Delusion and deception are our friends.

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