After a few weeks of lockdown I realize, ‘lack of time’, was never the reason I didn’t do any serious house cleaning. I’ve decided to consider myself social distancing from housework.  The first twenty years or so of keeping house was OK, fun even, but by the time the golden anniversary rolled around all the fun was gone.  

When I was a newlywed housekeeping was important.  My self worth as a wife was tied to the fact that everything was always dusted, the floors were washed and the bathroom shined.  If you couldn’t see the vacuum stripes in the carpet I hadn’t done my job.  My mother-in-law would never pay a surprise visit and find a messy house.  Not that she would have noticed dust bunnies in the corner, she was never into housekeeping. I grew up with the belief that keeping a nice house was what women did (remember this was the 50’s) and I wanted to earn my place in the housekeeping hall of fame.  

It wasn’t easy when my young husband had the strangest habit of putting this shoes on the dresser and dropping his pants on the floor. His idea of a tidy house and mine were bit different. He didn’t believe in putting things in the same place twice so leaving the house always started with, ‘Where are the keys?’ After looking through the silverware drawer and the refrigerator, the keys were usually found under the couch cushion.  

Even though the keys were seldom in the fridge there was occasionally ice built up in the freezer.  Freezers were much smaller in the old days, never meant to hold a year’s worth of left overs.  At least once a month everything came out of the freezer and the fridge was turned off so the ice could melt.  I remember being in a hurry and using an old butter knife to chip away the ice before wiping out the compartment and re-packing with the frozen food. Hopefully you didn’t dawdle and the food was still frozen.   The only good part was the ice cream would never keep that long so it was necessary to eat ice cream while attacking the ice build up.   

My picture has slipped from the housekeeping hall of fame. Scrubbing sinks and washing floors has lost all the appeal it once held, yes, it was rewarding to know if the church ladies showed up unexpectantly I was good.    Now, not so much,  Monty loves me for a lot of reasons but my expertise with a dust cloth isn’t one of them.  

The expression a ‘lick and a promise’ serves me well in these golden years.  I admit to being fond of the stripes in the carpet after vacuuming so that is a once a week event.  A quick pass of the dust cloth across the table tops will do and it only takes a few minutes to swipe at the bathroom mirror and sink.  I can call it all good, the promise part is another story, it’s probably not going to get any better.  

After my shoulder surgery I had a gal come in and clean the house once a month.  It was nice, but I never figured out what I was supposed to be dong while she was cleaning.  I found myself feeling guilty sitting on the patio reading while she cleaned.  There is no way dusting or vacuuming would last a month,  if I had to do it for three weeks why have someone else do it the fourth week? OK, she probably did a better job, but still.   

Cleaning house requires a certain level of fitness, and I admit to slacking off a bit, but sweeping the patio has become a full time job. Anything outside will be tracked inside, by our feet or the Daisy’s paws. The paloverde trees are in their glory with yellow blossoms.  Such a spring time beauty, if only the blossoms hung on a little tighter. The wind blowing the dried blossoms off the trees is the closest thing to a snow storm we have in Tucson. 

We have two paloverdes in the back yard. They never bloom at the same time so the first two weeks are spent sweeping the lower patio.  Just about the time I’ve swept up every last blossom the second tree starts to drop blossoms.  Sweeping twice a day doesn’t really begin to solve the problem, spring is notorious for windy afternoons.  What has been swept up in the morning has been replaced by the afternoon version.   The blossoms disintegrate the minute the broom touches them and the yellow dust fills the brick work.  Like any kid, Daisy wants to play in the sweepings, I swear she isn’t happy until she is covered in blossoms and dust.  Invariably she gets into the house before I have a chance to brush her.  That means hauling out the vacuum again.  It is an endless cycle. 

When the palo verdes are finished it is time for the mesquite to drop its ‘fuzzy yellow caterpillars’. The acacia trees have  small yellow balls that start dropping off after the ‘caterpillars ‘are cleaned up.  Once again the broom is busy a couple of times a day.  I love the oleander hedge and the multitude of flowers are lovely but when they join the paloverde blossoms on the spring schedule it is just more sweeping. Don’t even get me started on the bean situation.  The beans are a summertime project requiring squat and pick up a hundred times.  

Complaining to my sister is no use, she simply reminds me how lucky we are to have lovely trees.  Sometimes her positive attitude is so annoying.  


Before blossom time

6 replies
  1. ellen goldman
    ellen goldman says:

    Your musings always make me smile. Multiply your 2 palm verdes times 4 although I’d have to go outside and count. Just know we have many. And a pool… our backyard began this spring with 3 foot high weeds covering every square inch of the yard and we couldn’t see the dogs. Since we have nowhere to go we invested in some garden tools and went to work. Now we have a yellow carpet. Riley thinks the flowers are the best treat ever and vacuums them up from the pool deck while we’re skimming them out of the pool. But all the yellow everywhere sure is beautiful!

    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      Daisy ran through the blossoms and scooped up a whole mouthful. I was a little concerned but she seemed happy. It is a good thing she enjoys being brushed, because there is a lot of that happening. Thanks for reading me!

  2. Geoffery seaver
    Geoffery seaver says:

    Lucia and I really love your backyard. We used to do a lot more gardening using annual plantings but we moved to planting plants that return every year. Our front yard takes care of itself. It even seems to weed itself. We have our lawn at the island house mowed by folks who live on the island. Mr. Dean did an amazing job of taking care of the yard. He would take care of the house when a storm was on the way. He was retired from is primary job and older than us. Seemed odd having his mowing the lawn but he seemed to enjoy it. He retired from mowing out lawn so we hired Mark Jr.. They usually mow our lawn when we are not home so, until recently, we never met him. Recently, we were on the island when the lawn was being mowed. Turns out that Mark Jr.’s mother mows the lawns and he does the edging and trimming. The first time that we met Mark Jr.’s mother we were surprised to learn that she is at least 90 years old. We met Mark Jr. when he was mowing the lawn (his mother was busy making masks) and he is not the young guy that his name might suggest. It seems odd having people that are older than I am mowing our lawn and doing other odd jobs around the island house.

    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      We enjoy our yard but it does require almost daily maintenance. I’ve said your island house is just what I’d expect to find in a movie. Delightful place, I’m glad you have more opportunity to enjoy it now.


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