It’s after five in the morning. I’ve been up since 8:30 yesterday morning. It was a Murphy’s Law kind of a day, so I should be exhausted, but I can’t turn off the brain.
I don’t do Spring Cleaning. I live out in the country on a dirt road in Georgia…for the sake of description, we’ll call it Cheeto Lane. Spring in GA is beautiful–and quick, so you want to keep your windows open and get the full affect before the affect smothers you. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my house. It’s not overly large, but the open floor plan gives it that spacious feeling. We bought it when our children were toddlers, and it was years before we even put furniture in great room. We bought the kids tricycles and let them ride around in there. It was basically their play room and we loved it as much as they did. I could see them from almost anywhere in the house.
When we bought the house it was basically a big white barn. White. In Georgia. ??? I painted. Now only the laundry room (or as Auggie Doggie and Darius the Demon Kitty think of it, The Pet Suite) is still white. After nearly 17 years of house tweaking here and there, it feels like it’s mine. It has our stamp on it.
Yet, it’s still in Georgia. I’ve lived in Michigan with the black as tar dirt. I’ve lived in Florida with the dirty gray sandy dirt. And in Delaware…I was little, can’t remember what color dirt we had there, but it wasn’t my Georgia red clay. There’s just something alive about the new turned fields in Spring, a richness, a clean smell in that deep red earth that I never found in any of the places we went. So, even though all the children’s jeans had faint, but indelible red mud stained knees when they were handed down or donated to Good Will, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Still, Spring and Summer in Georgia is hot. Tires-sticking-to-the-asphalt-at-rush-hour-in-Atlanta hot. We jump from forties and fifties to eighties and nineties in just over a blink. A day or so without rain and we go from Georgia Red Mud, to Georgia Red Clay, to Georgia Red Dust. Windows open…car drives down the dirt road…poof, everything in the house is orange…just like in the Cheeto commercial. So, Spring cleaning around here is…well, in the words of The Borg—futile.
Thus, I do Before The Kids Go Back To School And Pre Holidays Cleaning. This usually involves a lovely thing called air conditioning. Brendan Fraser refered to it in the movie Still Breathing as a Personal Serenity Device. It takes the sting out of cleaning out cabinets and drawers and closets, of scrubbing off old floor wax and laying down new, washing curtains, and shampooing carpets. Even washing load upon load of blankets in excited anticipation of that first delicious Autumn cold snap.
So, here I am today, halfway through cleaning the oven, halfway through laundry, finishing the last drawer and next to last cabinet…two closets down, two to go…humming to myself and congratulating myself on my progress…Kids are off to college Monday…I’ll have major quiet writing time coming up…
Then the smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors go off.
It sounds like an impromptu performance of an untrained wind ensemble in here. Dog spazzes out. Cat looks at me like I did it on purpose simply to mess with his nap. The lights flicker, there’s a loud pop and everything goes dead. Except of course, the still spazzing dog and the now beeping back-up batteries on the two desktop computers. Dog begins to cry and is shaking so hard, you’d have thought we were in the middle of an earth quake. I put him out on the chain with a popcicle and he’s pacified long enough for me to flip breakers. Nothing.
Beeps are getting louder and cat is staring at me with this look that tells me if he could cross his arms and tap his foot in disgust, he would.
Flip the main outside. Nothing. Meter is cycling through some Nasa codes that make no sense to me at all. Power company assures me there’s no power outages, but they’ll send someone by to make sure I have power coming into the pole. Squirrels, you know. They like to do little Kamikaze tap dances on the lines and sometimes fry themselves thus….
Three house later, I’m still waiting. Omigoodness, they forgot to put in the dispatch order. Don’t worry, they’re sending someone as we speak…someone named…Tater. Someone named Tater is going to come and check my meter. I’m not struck with a sense of confidence. Not to worry, his mama didn’t hate him or anything. His name is Scot, but he’ll introduce himself as…Tater. Tater deduces that we do, indeed, have power going to the meter.
That’s when my husband, a perfectly handy electrician who can fix just about anything takes over. The Macgyver of electricians. Except when it comes to compressors on an 18 year old central air conditioning unit that has caught fire..flashed and burnt itself out. He could replace it, have it up and running again in no time…if we had a couple thousand dollars tucked down in the chair cushions in the den.
So, here I am, sitting up at 5 something in the morning, new ceiling fan in the den, box fans in the windows, cool for the first time in hours, half way through my Before The Kids Go Back To School And Pre Holidays Cleaning, with these things going though my head:
~Thank God my husband’s not mad at me for breaking the house.
~Thank God tomorrow’s Saturday and everyone is home so they can help me finish putting the kitchen back together.
~Thank God I have a good excuse not to do the other two closets until…October.
~Thank God the AC unit gave up the ghost when we have only 2 1/2 more weeks of August and not 2 1/2 more weeks of April.
~Thank God we’ll be able to replace the AC unit with the income tax refund in March.
~Georgia red clay sure smells good after a quick late summer rain shower…Thank God my windows were open, I’d have missed it.