Friday, October 27, 2006

Cleaning Day

There's nothing like pouring the water out of the carpet cleaning machine's retrieval tank to remind me of the filth we get so used to living in and with. The water I put in was crystal clear and warm to the touch. The water I discarded was chilled and brackish with hair, carpet fibers, and only Heaven knows what else floating in it.

But before I could use the carpet cleaner to suck up the dirt that was deeply entrenched in the carpet, I had to use the vacuum cleaner to get up the visible dirt. Threads, dust bunnies hoping to hide, blades of grass from softball and baseball socks, and again, who knows what else?!?

What I loathe most of all are those tiny yellow spots that remind me of the times we didn't get Maya outside in time. One of the downsides of having a dog that barks only when the doorbell rings is the fact that she gives us no indication of when her bladder is full to overflowing! Those and many other unmistakable signs of a full, sometimes untidy, always animated life are visible all over our carpet.

As things stand in our house, there is wall-to-wall carpeting only on our two staircases leading to the second floor and in all the rooms upstairs - except the bathrooms. One of our strict rules is that no one is to wear their shoes upstairs. (As a family, we don't wear shoes anywhere in the house, but we are less rigid with guests as long as they stay on the first floor.) I cannot imagine what the machine would reap from our floor covering if we had carpet on the first floor of our home. Or if we wore our shoes upstairs.

While filling the cleaning tank in my daughter's bathroom tub, I made the grim discovery that it had clearly been a while since she had last scrubbed her tub. Yikes! I'll chalk it up to brain damage due to the horseback riding incident... Nah, that won't hold water because what I saw today has been there since long before Monday. I'll say it again: yikes! So I sprayed her tub with organic orange oil cleaner, left it to do its duty, and returned later to scrub it out. I poured a healthy dose of drain clearing chemicals down the drain in her tub, her sink, and Daniel's sink as well.

A digression here: Kristiana and I went to Home Depot on Sunday to buy their "strongest drain clearer" and were led by two orange-apron-wearing gentleman to the red Ten Minute Drain Cleaner bottles. Both swore that they had used it themselves with great success. One spoke eloquently and reverently about the product's success in dealing with his wife's thick, long blonde hair. He assured us that, although the bottle said it worked in ten minutes, we could leave it in the pipes "for as long as twenty minutes." We thanked him and his colleague for their assistance and stood there staring silently and frightfully at the bottles.

When at last we spoke again, we discovered that our thoughts were along the same lines: Do we want to use a product that can stay in the drains for twenty minutes max? A product that advises the use of gloves, a funnel, and great care that it doesn't come into contact with the faucet, the drain stopper, or any surface other than the inside of the pipes? What are we pouring down our drains and out into the water tables of the earth our God so lovingly created? Kristiana was genuinely concerned about the aftereffects of such a chemical concoction; she preferred to live with her slow drains rather than scorch them with something vile. I love her gentle, earth-loving soul.

Well, we bought the big red bottle because our sinks and her tub were draining too slowly to ignore - we needed serious help. To assuage our guilt, however, we also purchased the organic drain cleaner as a follow-up.

Anyway, this morning I poured the last of the red bottle stuff down her tub drain and ten minutes later, true to its claim to fame, it had cleared the drain.

Drain cleaning. Heart cleaning.
Ten minutes of acid. Ten minutes of prayer and meditation.
Clean for weeks, but needs follow-up clearing.
Clean for moments, and needs daily, hourly reassessment.

Deep down stains that only a special machine
with its specialized cleansers can remove.
Even deeper stains that only a strong, loving, gentle God
with His strong, loving, gentle Word can cleanse.

"Kids," I yelled just before lunchtime, "Stay off the back staircase.
I just cleaned it." Okay, Mom. (I believe that Daniel said, "Yes, ma'am."
He's turning into quite the little Southern gentleman, I do declare.

I look back at the work I've done.
The place looks great. It smells fresh and clean.
No more Maya-messes.
No more drips of tea, soda, and whatever else they sneak upstairs
even though I rant and rave about
keeping all food and drink on the first floor.
No more stains from all my lotions, potions, oils, and perfumes
on the floor in front of my lovely dresser with its tri-fold mirror.

The carpet is fragrant and clean, for sure. But it's so unlike us.
We live an abundant, messy, fun, tasty, smelly life here in this house.
Maya runs and plays so hard that she wets herself.
We drip pen ink and paint and sweat and all kinds of other
stuff all over our house.
Now that I think about it, Kristiana fell off her high horse on Monday
because we are blessed enough to be able to afford riding lessons.

I started out grudgingly cleaning the carpets and
ended up unexpectedly giving thanks for the mess.
Whudda thunk it?

Simple abundance.
Simple gratitude.

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