I still don’t know what I’m doing ,but ,inspired by my friend Diane’s account of her South African dish , here goes -Cleaning .Its something that some of us do throughout out lives ,sometimes in our places ,often others’ mess .Any why do we bother ?
Well as i was cleaning our rental unit this morning i thought about how dirt /spots /messes/smudges seem to shift once attacked and almost re -form ,expanding their areas so that they cannot be blotted out .With glass ,for example ,the smudge seems to move .When your arm is aching and your recovered shoulder is throbbing again , your unprotected hands burning from the chemicals you have been forced to use (natural smudged glass remedies do NOT work ) ,you look at the original spot and “yay its gone !”.You step back slowly to get your breath and low and behold there is a larger one further down the glass or alongside or ,worse still for your shoulder ,above head height .How did it get there ? suddenly its very very visible to any guest walking in ,and the sun is shining through the glass too and highlighting millions of smudges and spots .They are multiplying like so many insects being born .spilling out over the windows ,creeping along my arm which is becoming weaker and weaker.
Disheartened ,in pain,and forced to use the left arm, i tackle the stove .This is usually the best of the cleaning bunch. One of my favourite cleaning jobs , the stainless steel stove top ,i love putting the chemical on it and leaving it to dry and then rubbing it first with a soft blue rag and then with one of the multicoloured proper polishing cloths i have .The final polish requires a very dry ,clean polishing cloth .This job will not hurt my shoulder ,I love seeing the shining,clear surface emerge from the smudgy,indefinite beginnings .I can even overlook the nicks ,the scratches ,the dents in the surface made by time ,members of my family who have lived here ,assorted friends and the current rental clients .The shine hides all that ugliness.
This morning the magic does not work .Yes it works till i get the shine and then something happens and a faint misty smudge spills out over the shine. i can’t believe it ,i look at the cloth ,i look at the bottle of metal polish .Fine .I start again .The same thing happens .Maybe this house is sprouting smudges ,maybe it doesn’t want me here or cleaning .I plough on -apply metal cleaner ,rub off first with rag ,polish with the polishing cloth .Again and again and again ,and now my left arm is falling off too
Time for a change of movement so i head for the wooden floors .Ths is a cleaning job that relies on a subtle movement of the arms ,a circular movement from a bent over body.Because the arm movement is different ,i might be able to avoid a long term injury to my wrists and shoulders .I mean the kneeling position helps my back too .i learnt how to polish floors from my mother while i was a child in Africa .Well she didn’t do it actually but instructed the maid ,who had to polish the wooden floors regularly .Maria/Anna/Josephine was more skilled than me ,in that she could use her knees and her hands to polish .How did she do that you ask ? Well she attached cocoanut husks to each of her appendages and crawled around the floors .Watched by my mother with and eagle eye in case she missed shining one of the corners of a room ,or sat back down on her haunches for a breather .My mother in Africa directed operations .i was allowed to join in with my feet ,for a bit of a play .Anyway thats where i picked up the idea of getting down on hands and knees and polishing with a cloth in each hand .Good exercise as it uses core muscles ,gentle on back and arms ,and if your lucky and no one comes to the door or phones or asks where you are you can get into a sort of rhythm ,and then into a light meditation .Quite relaxing compared to the other cleaning tasks .
.Wooden floors look great when they have just been polished :first mopped with Metholated spirits in hot water ,thats so that the floor doesn’t end up a mass of smudges,as it does with just water The fun part is the wiping /polishing .A slow ,rhythmical arm movement ,a cloth at the end of both of them
I have to say though that sometimes the old smudge morphs itself even in floor polishing .Today that happened and it wasn’t fun anymore .Polish polish polish and a small part finished .head to the next space and polish polish polish .Turn back to look at the first job and there are new smudges that have appeared .Back to the first job .polish polish polish .Check on the second bit and the same messy smudges .And so it does on ,back and forth interminably .The worse thing is that all this energy is not getting anywhere .Getting me back to the physio tomorrow