It’s time to throw out the holiday leftovers

Lori Clinch

Are We There Yet?

Cleaning comes in at 93 on a scale of 1-100 of my favorite things to do. Right in between flogging mice and hanging Sheetrock.

Therefore, I like to start off my spring cleaning much the same way each year — by putting it off to the fall.

I have been known to dab a little Pine-Sol behind my ears, fill the washer with bleach and put the vacuum in the middle of the living room so it’ll appear as if I was about to use it.

What I lack in productivity, I certainly make up for in creativity.

Usually, I save the dirty deed of deep cleaning for the occasional out-of-town visitor, or the loss of an item of such extreme importance that life itself would halt unless there were a quick recovery. Take last summer, for instance, when the boys lost their pet turtle in their bedroom. The search and seizure sparked a cleaning frenzy that lasted well into October.

Things are going to be different this year, however. I’ve been inspired to give spring cleaning a stellar go by a woman that I saw on a TV program called “The Grime Busters.” An entire team showed up on her doorstep, and began to declutter and organize. They brought with them carpenters, spray-painters, and a woman who could create a focal point in the living room out of a few twigs and a pack of chewing gum.

They had not only fought against the intrusion of mess and muck, but had single-handedly rid her kitchen of litter and beat her bookcase-blahs.

The transformation was “to die for.”

I decided that if I’m ever to bask in the glow of a clean and organized existence, I was going to have to rise to the occasion and purge like a pro. My sinks lacked luster, the garbage disposal was coughing, and it was high time someone stepped up to the plate and tossed out the Christmas leftovers.

I took the time to reassure myself that there is a God and that he wouldn’t leave me in my hour of need. I hummed three stanzas of “We Shall Overcome” and headed to the kitchen.

It was there that I found myself asking some very important questions such as: Am I the only human alive who didn’t know that behind the fridge you could grow a mass of dirt, 3 inches thick? Am I the only one who didn’t know that this is the exact area where pennies replenish themselves, milk caps reproduce and paper clips vacation for the winter? And what kind of sticky compound joined in and bonded the entire community in perfect harmony?

I’m fairly certain that a lesser woman would have assessed the situation, balked at the condition of the filth as she shoved that bad boy back into its spot and pretended she never saw it.

But not me. No sir. I did exactly as my mother taught me to do. I waited until one of the children got out of hand, and then I doled that chore out as punishment.

“Who cleans behind a refrigerator?” screamed my 12-year-old son, as if he were in a great deal of pain.

“Children who misbehave.”

“But I’ll go back and wash my toothpaste down the sink, I promise.”

“Too late for that now. Bad choices have bad consequences.”

“Where did all of these alphabet magnets come from?”

“They were a present from your grandmother when your oldest brother went to pre-school.”

“But that was like 100 years ago.”

“Turns out cleaning back here hasn’t been on our annual ‘to do’ list.”

“But you can’t leave me with this mess. I’m only a child and there are laws.”

“Yes, but the laws don’t apply here. If you don’t believe me, ask your older brother. He failed miserably on a case that he tried against me last summer when the garbage can was ripe.”

“But the Bible says to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

“That might hold water if it were Sunday. Here are your rubber gloves, your scrub brush and a can of industrial-strength cleaner.”

“I don’t know anything about industrial-strength cleaners.”

“Great, then it will be a learning experience as well as a productive one.”

With that settled, I turned on my heel and headed back to my easy chair. “Filthy Makeovers” was coming on, and I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for a farmhouse in Montana.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” Her e-mail address is