|This is the picture of a religious fanatic.|
|A disturbing violation of the dust principle.|
|Spiders are our friends.|
- Spiders are our friends. Pay no attention to what is going on up there in the corners of your ceilings. No one else will. Besides, the entomologists assure us that those long-legged crawlers and their webs are the natural enemies of other creatures you don’t want to think about. If all this starts to make you squeamish, reread Charlotte’s Web.
- A closet is not a room. Don’t clean your closets. No one sees your closets. Use your closets as repositories for junk raked from real rooms.
- If it’s square, stack it. This applies to things like magazines, books, boxes, and mail. When we get forty or fifty copies of The New Yorker and Time magazine scattered around our rooms, even I get nervous from the clutter. Clutter, being the most visible form of slovenliness, is also the most disturbing. Fortunately, it is the easiest to cure. Simply walk around your rooms stacking everything in rectilinear piles. This is far simpler than throwing things out one at a time, and it creates an impression of neatness. If the stack gets too big, you might then throw the stack out. That takes just one trip. I don’t understand people who walk all the way to the wastebasket each week to throw out one copy of AARP magazine. Life (as your receiving AARP magazine should remind you) is too short for that.
|Venetian blinds: an invitation to self-destruction.|
- If it’s dangerous, forget it. Never clean anything that requires you to stand on a chair or a ladder or a stool. Never clean anything that requires you to inhale fumes. Most of all, never clean venetian blinds, which are more lethal than razor blades. If I ever decide to commit suicide, I will make it appear to be an accident by slitting my wrists while cleaning venetian blinds. Only my closest friends, who know my feelings about the matter, will know what really happened.
- Drawers are a housekeeper’s best friends. Always keep one large, centrally-located drawer available for nothing but oddments—junk that you can’t quite bring yourself to throw away. In this drawer you will deposit old pens that maybe have run out of ink, and maybe not; and free-floating, slightly bent paper clips; and 51-card decks; and folded snapshots with the foreheads cut off, of people you can’t identify; and postcards from long-lost friends; and two-year-old ticket stubs; and address books from before the days of computers. This drawer, in other words, will probably be the most interesting place in your entire house.
- Be sure the bathroom is brown. Even better, make it brown speckled. We recently redid our bathroom with this in mind: brown-speckled tile, brown-speckled vanity top. Everything that happens in a bathroom is a form of cleansing, and yet the bathroom is the filthiest-looking room in your house. This is because your bathroom is white. Bathrooms are full of things like soap and medicine and washcloths. What real dirt would dare make its way into such a place? Yet the tub is grimy-seeming, the sink is smeared with dinge, and the toilet is not to be discussed. Don’t be concerned: this is not real dirt, even if it is blue and growing. If the rest of your house were white porcelain, then you’d see something really disgusting. The answer is to have a brown-speckled bathroom in the first place, and then forget about it.
- Never clean when the sun is shining. You’ll just resent it. Instead, go outside and give your soul an airing.
|Cows in the house: a spring-cleaning challenge.|
- You can learn to live with anything. There are sects in India who live in temples overrun with rats, which they worship. In other places, cattle or pigs have the run of people’s homes. Our pioneer ancestors lived in cabins whose very floors were the earth itself. Surely there is no reason for us to be preoccupied with a cobweb in the corner, fingerprints on the freezer door, or motes on a vase. We are ourselves born of dust, say the wise men—and dust, I’m convinced, was never meant to dust.