ALISHA NELSON: Cleaning the Way GRANDMA Did

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I am married to a man named Butch – country boy, Army vet, cowboy, carpenter, builder, mechanic, Jack-of-all-trades, and surprisingly, a bit of a clean freak.
From what I can gather, the clean freak part came from a combination of growing up with Grandma (aka “The Most Amazing Woman, EVER”) and from his time in the Army, both of whom have spent time on my personal Poo Poo list for our marital discord on the subject of cleaning.

I’ve always considered myself to be a clean(ish) person but to be honest, I don’t like cleaning. I’d MUCH rather be outside mowing, gardening, weed-eating, shoveling snow, taking care of animals, picking up dog poop, anything. But since I do like a clean house, I get it done, grumbly attitude and all. And considering how much I dread that job, I was always pretty proud of myself in the area of housekeeping and cleanliness.

Until I married Butch that is.

I remember fondly the first time we spring cleaned together. I could not believe Butch offered to help me clean our first house. Woo hoo! A man who offers to help clean? Wow! How awesome is that? This will be great. It will be so much more fun and easy with two of us working together. An hour or two at most then we’ll head out to a nice dinner and maybe a movie! Yippee!

I got basic cleaning supplies out – paper towels, 409, a vacuum and a feather duster. That should just about cover it. May not even need the feather duster at all with the vacuum blowing air all over, dusting the furniture! Am I smart and efficient or what!

Butch then asks me where the rest of the supplies are. I suspiciously ask, “Why?” He snorts at me and starts bringing out buckets, mops, brooms, dust cloths, vacuum attachments, oven cleaner (what’s THAT for??), Pine Sol, sponges, Clorox, furniture polish, rug cleaner, brushes, etc…etc… etc…

I asked, “Um, heh heh, what are you gonna do with all of THAT? Heh heh heh.”

He furrowed his brows at me in confusion and then STARTS TO SWEEP THE CEILING. Then he says, “Follow along after me and mop where I swept.” Excuse me?? People MOP their ceilings??!!

OMG. I got a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. OH. He wants to CLEAN, really clean like people did in the old days where they scrubbed their dirt floors and regularly polished their silver. He wants to clean ‘like Grandma did’, a woman who mopped every single day, whose house was apparently ALWAYS squeaky clean. Oh no no no. Who did I marry?

I was standing in the same spot, mouth agape, looking desperately for a get-away car when I realized with a thud, there was no way out of this. Oh man.

We cleaned the p-trap under the sinks (ewww), behind couches, inside the tank on the back of the toilet, inside the fridge, the entire house, even the self-cleaning oven!

After three straight days of spring cleaning (!), when he asked me if I had dusted the vacuum cleaner, I threw down my rag and said, “Ok. That’s it. Listen here Mister. We need to have a talk. I love you and I think it’s very cool that your Grandma was THE actual Wonder Woman but that is not who you are married to. My philosophy is more like going for the ‘Illusion of Clean’. If we are going to make our marriage work, we will have to compromise because there ain’t no way I’m dusting the vacuum or waxing the lawn mower. You and your Grandma’s ghost are just going to have to lower your expectations a bit. Got that?”

He stuck out his bottom lip, putting on a serious pout, then asked me “Well will you make her sugar cookies with the edges perfectly browned, with exactly 3 pieces of pecan in each one? And her peach cobbler, fried chicken and biscuits? JUST like she did it?”

Ok. Clearly an exorcism was needed here.

Which I performed in a way by making those very foods and filling the house with black smoke each time, chasing his Grandma’s coughing ghost away and forcing my husband to finally accept his reality – he did NOT marry his Grandma.

Well, time passed and we struggled a bit … but luckily for me, he can’t see as well as he used to and has succumbed to the Illusion of Clean. And luckily for him, I’m happily willing to live off grid on top of a secluded mountain, split wood, haul water, shovel snow, keep the home fires burning and make him laugh all the while.

I think Grandma would be proud.  ;)

Alisha B. Nelson is a city girl learning to live off grid on a mountain in Montana with a country boy. She says it makes for an endless supply of funny stories, even if they weren’t always funny at the time. You can follow her on the Roanoke Star  as well as her blog: funnysideofthemountain.blogspot.com