Dusting, cleaning, tidying up

Dusting, cleaning, tidying up, vacuum cleaning… Does it sound familiar? On a regular basis we know what this means. Usually, after completing these unpopular tasks we enjoy the cleanliness of our home, sometimes an ephemeral moment.  There are moments in life when we should look back, open old drawers, read old notebooks, look  at old pictures and decide, what we want to keep and what we should get rid of. Some of us have no problem throwing away unnecessary loads, but others suffer with the smallest thing that they have to throw away. Mmmmm, really? Throw away the envelope of that chocolate your first boyfriend/girlfriend gave you or the CD (yes, THE self burnt CD with its self designed cover) your BF (= best friend) gave you in school…

Can we really blame anthropology and genetics for not throwing away anything we own? Or is it sometimes procrastination what makes us push unpleasant things out of our minds and sight? Some people like to collect and hoard, and some take it to an extreme and develop a compulsive behavior turning into compulsive hoarding.

the hoarder

The Hoarder

(Image from http://www.redbubble.com/people/louijover/works/5764908-the-hoarder)
We all like to keep some special things, maybe a certain book, the first little shoe of our child, your favorite stuffed toy, and you certainly have other examples.

Living in a very clean and organized country as Germany you can find examples of tidiness everywhere. If I think of normal households, the first thing that comes to my mind is the term ‘Frühjahrsputz’ which is something like the ‘Spring cleaning’. After a very long and dark winter it makes sense to open all your windows and let light and fresh air invade your place. This procedure also includes the real cleaning of every corner and surface, rooms, windows, bathroom, kitchen, garage, cellar, garden, closet, etc. And here where I live everyone takes it very seriously. In a machine loving country, like Germany where the workforce is very expensive, there are machines for all tasks, especially the cleaning ones. I was amazed the first time after having had breakfast at my in laws place… We had just finished our meal and were taking the dishes to the kitchen when my mother in law surprised us with her new device. She proudly turned it on and started vacuum cleaning the table. No breadcrumb survived the process! Everything was accurately disposed. I first thought it a great idea and following her advice I ran to the next Tchibo (coffee store that sells all kind of ‘practical’ stuff with new themes every week at an affordable price) and bought mine.  But… I had not the obstinacy and endurance of my mother in law and after a few times I sent the table vacuum cleaner to the attic. And to my surprise I found it there a couple of years later!


Vacuum cleaner for the table

Moving around the neighborhood I usually observe the neighbors with their special machines trimming their hedge, polishing their cars, cleaning their fences and their paved entrances. They all attack their floors as if it were the last task in their lives that they would accomplish. Every week there is a free ‘local newspaper’ with a lot of printed ads where you can find the latest offers for machines in the next ‘Home Depot’ or ‘OBI’. When I was living in Mexico and also in Brasil you would see people sweeping their entrances with a broom or washing the floor or walls with lots of soap and water. Manforce against machine…

The Summer is almost gone and the leaves have started to turn yellow and red, a beautiful view and a special atmosphere in the Fall, if it weren’t for the leave vacuum cleaners which are used to blow the fallen leaves to a heap. Of course, if you walk on the sideway you have to make sure that you have been seen by the neighbor with his loud blowing machine, if not… who knows where or how you could finish! Well, that to the romantic atmosphere. You may ask yourself, why and why so compulsively? There is a rule here that states that every sidewalk has to be continuously free of leaves in the Fall. If someone would fall because of ‘the leaves in front of ‘your’ sidewalk, then they can sue you… and that would be very expensive.

leaves pile

The Fall

After the romantic Fall we’ll soon have the cold Winter coming. Oh, it’s so nice when it snows! The tiny frozen stars and the fluffy snow flakes! Are you already guessing? Yes, there are machines to get rid of the snow on the sidewalk and there is a rule that forces you to have yours free of snow by at the latest 7 o’clock in the morning, no matter what… and more exact, always free of snow between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. A romantic idea of snow? Not quite. Some house owners take advantage of the snow and use the mechanical muscle force to get rid of the snow, they have their daily work out with a snow shovel. Can you imagine a tall and muscular German guy shoveling snow in the morning? Nice idea? Well, that’s quite the wrong picture as I have seen and know of many strong German women! who do the job. I know of many men who love machines who then buy a portable snow plow for the purpose…

The reality is that we couldn’t imagine a household without machines. The good old vacuum cleaner, the dish washer, the washing machine, the tumble dryers, the mixer and all of our daily helpers and all the ‘new’ verbs we have developed to combine with the machines, like for example vacuum cleaning. In some countries they work fine and for everyone, but in others they aren’t yet that popular, maybe because of the costs. While living in Sao Paulo and coming from Germany we also bought a dish washer, but… The lady who came to help us with the household was always looking suspiciously at the dish washer and asking me, if I really liked it and commenting that it was not so good. She could not understand why we were putting dirty dishes in the machine and took so long in washing… She was maybe right. It would have been easier to wash the two cups and plates from breakfast immediately avoiding bad odors in the machine. She loved the vacuum cleaner but had a difficult relationship with it. Every time she tried to change the bag, she managed to almost break it coming worried to me with the different parts in her hands. I pictured her confronting with the broom one of those modern vacuum cleaning roots in the form of a disc that sweeps the floor with almost no noise… I wasn’t that cruel and would have never bought one.
You can get a good description of all vacuum cleaners and its use, of course in German,  here http://sunny7.at/wohnen/haushalt/der-staubsauger-guide-

I was mentioning before that it is good, even essential, to look back and to get rid of burden. Opening “internal” drawers could bring unwanted memories back. However, keeping things closed and out of sight doesn’t mean that we have dealt with them. They are still there, waiting…

I personally have reached a moment in my life where I had to look back, analyze the present situation and decide how to continue in the near future. I have decided to physically get rid of burdens and just keep the minimum necessary to have a simplified life. I have also opened some old drawers and have found some friendships that were causing me burden, they used to vacuum clean my energy and I decided to get rid of them, too. At the same time I found old names and faces in those drawers and I’m very happy to be able to reactivate them and have them integrated as an active part of my life. So I’ll have a detox 😉 in all aspects of my life. How about you?


4 thoughts on “Dusting, cleaning, tidying up

  1. Hola, Tona.
    It is so true what you say in the last paragraph. I am in a phase now that I want to get rid of all the mental garbage I have acquired during all my life (I know it sounds impossible, but at least I have to try), and substitute it with good, fresh and shiny stuff. I will let you know about the outcome.
    Huge hug from Heiner.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Me hace muy feliz leerte. Escribes sobre todas esas cosas con que no puedo, jajaja… la aspiradora de hojas…, de verdad es el colmo. Yo tenía una amiga en Holanda, hace años, quien sacaba la aspiradora de mesa para recoger grumos cuando yo todavía estaba terminando de comer y me lo pasaba casi por los labios (grumitos)…jajaja. Un abrazo al vacío.

    Liked by 1 person

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