Dedusted

I actually felt like playing house today and had the energy to do it, so I dry mopped then wet mopped the floor and dedusted all hard surfaces.

Yes, I know — dedusted is not a word, but it should be. The way the word stands, “dust” as a verb is the opposite of itself. For example, when snow dusts the ground, it means that a light coating of snow was deposited on the ground. Some cookie recipes require you to dust the finished cookie with powdered sugar, which means to putting a light coating of sugar on the cookie. I dusted today, but I did not leave a coating of dust on the ground. In fact, the rooms were already dusted with a powdering of dirt particles. So, see? When I cleaned off that dusting, I dedusted. If I had redusted, then I could say I dusted the room, but I didn’t add another layer of dust; I removed what was there.

Look at it a different way: if you bug a room, you place electronic bugs in the room. If you debug the room, you remove the bugs. If you code a text, you put that text into code. If you decode it, then you remove the code to reveal the plain text. If you clutter a room . . . You see where I am going with this.

It is interesting to me though, that a whole slew of words mean the opposite of themselves, not just “dust,” as I pointed out here, but “cleave,” which means both to cling and to unite and “trim” which means to add something or remove something. In fact, there are so many such autoantonyms, they have their own category name: contranyms.

I just realized that spell checker didn’t underline dedust, so I looked it up, and lo and behold, it is a word, and means exactly what I said it should — to remove fine particles and to free something of dust. Who knew? Not me, obviously, because I thought I was being so very clever and whimsical. The truth sort of puts the kibosh on this whole essay, but I’m posting it anyway because whether I dusted or dedusted, the house is clean.

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Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Righteous Exhaustion

With all the work I’ve been doing to landscape my yard, as well as tracking in dirt into the house via my shoes (even though I leave them at the door, the dirt seems to spread throughout the house), I’d pretty much given up housework as a lost cause. Well, today, that cause ceased to be lost and instead became found. And ai yai yai, what a task!

I hadn’t actually planned to clean the house, but I have been in the habit of doing something physical in the mornings. It was too cold to go outside and sitting down to read so early in the day smacked of wanton idleness, so I decided to get rid of the worst of the dust. Well, one thing led to another, and two hours later, I was still working.

This is a small house, and I have various modern cleaning tools at my disposal, so it shouldn’t have taken me very long, but the place needed a thorough cleaning. Apparently, I stopped seeing the dust on the flat surfaces and building up in the corners. Or more to the point, I didn’t want to see because there was nothing I could do (or wanted to do) about it since I was exhausted from my outside activities.

And now I’m exhausted from inside activities.

To be honest, I think all the digging and planting I’ve been doing were easier than cleaning house. Admittedly, everything is brighter now without dust dulling floors and furniture, but still, it was hard work. Now that most of the outside chores are done — only watering my newly sodded lawn and eventually sowing wildflower seeds remain — I should be able to go back to playing house more frequently rather than working at it as I did today.

Wait . . . I just thought of another outside chore I will have to begin doing as soon as the leaves on the neighbors’ trees are gone — blowing leaves off the ornamental rock around my house and garage. I’m not real anxious to attack that job because I have a feeling not all the leaves will blow off since they didn’t on a trial run, but all I can do is the best I (and my tools) can do. The leaf blower blows hard, so that’s not the problem. In fact, on the high setting, it’s enough to blow the rocks around, but some twigs and leaves still remain.

But that’s not a problem for today. Today I just want to bask in righteous exhaustion and the thought of a job well done.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

House Proud

People keep asking me when I’m going to write another book, and I finally have an answer for them: when I stop being so house proud.

I recently read an article telling authors not to get distracted by housework, which never used to be a problem for me. I didn’t mind clutter. mostly because I was too involved in other things to pay attention to it. I didn’t mind a little dust or even a lot of dust — I figured it was better sitting on the top of tables and such rather than floating in the air.

But now, I like seeing my place clean. I like the clutter-free rooms and the dustless furniture and floors. It tickles me to get up in the morning and see my charming living room.

It even pleases me to mop the floors and dust the furniture. I especially like being able to dust the ceiling fans. (The last place I lived the ceiling fans were so caked with greasy dust that I was never able to get them clean.)

Surprisingly (surprisingly to me, that is), all this housework doesn’t feel like work. It feels like playing house.

Maybe if I’d owned a house when I was younger it wouldn’t be such a joy taking care of this place. I certainly wouldn’t have had the same feeling of connection, and I know I would have worried all the time about things falling apart. (Entropy seems to loom large in my life.) For now, though, it’s been fun doing small repairs around the house, most recently rescreening the windows. (I have vinyl windows, and it’s easy, though time consuming, to replace the old screen fabric with new.)

It’s not just physical time I spent on the house but mental time, time I would normally have used for writing (or more probably, thinking about writing). I think about where I want the fence to go, where to plant the multitude of bulbs I ordered, when to order the small trees I want and where to put them. I think about a container garden I would like to put in a small triangular space between the house and the back-door railing.

Ah, so many things to think about!

Someday, perhaps, I won’t be so enamored of all this house care, and will free up my mind for writing.

Meantime, I’m proud to be house proud.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.