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Monday, April 23, 2007

fluff factory


Once a week, on a Saturday, I spend three hours cleaning our apartment. The One usually works on a Saturday, and on the odd Saturday that he is at home, he likes to lie in a bit. So the task of keeping our place livable falls to me.

I start by washing clothes in our brand new top loader washing machine that The One bought with his first salary from the part-time job at the library and that we would not have been able to afford otherwise. There is a beautiful little built-in nook for the washing machine, under one of the kitchen counters. Instead of dragging the machine out from under the counter every time we need to use it, I've unscrewed the counter from its brackets. The silicon seal against the wall serves as a hinge, and we prop the counter up with our brand new broom. Ingenious.

Then comes disinfecting the bathrooms. I spend about half an hour cleaning both of them. I spend about ten minutes cursing, going up and down the stairs for some cleaning aid that I left upstairs when cleaning downstairs and vice versa. By the time the bathrooms are sparkling, the washing is done, so I hang the clothes over the railing on the balcony since we don't yet have a collapsible washing line. At least I use the inside railing; most people here use the railing on the outside balcony for their washing. There is something obscene about hanging your underwear where everyone, even cars passing in the street, can see them fluttering like flags in the wind.

After hanging the washing, I dust everywhere using our brand new duster. Then I sweep the floor with our brand new broom. There is always a fair amount of strange grey fluff (photo #1) which I pick up with our brand new dustpan, the dud that has a crack the size of Africa in it that lets all the grit fall through. There is always a last bit of grit that is impossible to pick up, which I just sweep out of the front door so that we can trample it in again through the week, grain by grain. I cannot discover where the fluff comes from - we own nothing remotely fluffy. The apartment does not even have carpets; all floors are tiled with beautiful white tiles. Which is the next thing on my list - scrubbing the week's grime from the floor with our brand new spaghetti mop, using the dry carpet foam I accidentally bought because I didn't look properly at what I was buying. I only saw the "anti-bacterial" sales gimmick and bought it. I must say, though, that it works as well as can be expected, considering. It even makes the floors shine a bit.

Now comes the fun part. When the floors are dry, I sweep them a second time. There is always a fair amount of strange grey fluff. Again (photo #2). Usually I am so tired by this time that I just sweep the fluff from the balcony to settle on the balcony below us. I think the people living there hate me passionately, dumping the fluff on them like that. I couldn't care less if I tried.

Last on my cleaning list is taking out the trash to the collection point three floors down. It's fun, after working all morning, to see how fast I can run down the stairs and back up. The bin liners I bought for our brand new kitchen dustbin are slightly too small, so you have to stretch the bags a little to fit over the rim of the dustbin. I have it down pat now: cursing, holding one side of the bag with my foot while stretching the other side of the bag. I have yet to put a liner in the bin without tearing it to hell. After doing this, I fill the kettle with water for a well-deserved cup of coffee.

Only to discover that I am not quite done, yet. The kitchen always takes me by surprise. Grimy stove to clean. Dusty countertops to scrub. Dirty dishes to wash. Having a single sink in the kitchen, there is nowhere to rinse the soap from the clean dishes, and we haven't had money yet to buy some sort of plastic basin for that purpose, so the foam on the dishes always dry in streaks.

Finally, I get to sit-lie on the borrowed futon which serves us as a sofa-cum-chaise, holding a streaky mug in my pruned hands. I watch fluff, airborne from my cleaning efforts, settling in clumps on the floor.

Written by I

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