Thursday, July 21, 2005

Spring cleaning in the summer

I have a 16-year-old male Korean homestay. He arrived today and will be at our house for three weeks as he goes to school to learn English. We are all very excited.

Yesterday, someone called me if I would be available to take in 2 boys, aged 16 and 13. “Sure!” I said. I immediately headed to Wal-Mart after work and bought lots of stuff – convenience foods, toiletries, towels, a set of linens… I didn’t forget to get air fresheners for the house and for the car. I wanted to have all the bases (and muggy smells) covered.

Driving home, I realized I was having two guests and 4 boys of my own, and the house was a mess. What was I thinking?? I almost had a panic attack. Yeah, I think I did.

Just then, my mobile phone rang. It was the program coordinator telling me that another family was getting the 13-year-old, and was I fine with that? Oh, that’s fine. Thank You, God!!! You saved me again.

Even before I arrived home, I had mentally listed a hundred things to do to prepare the house for our homestay. I needed to make a good impression so I will be given another one in the future. As soon as I arrived at around 6 pm., I lost no time idling and began a major clean-up. Dinner was oven-ready pizza. I had to concentrate on spring cleaning in the middle of summer.

The guest would be staying in Gabriel and Markus’s bedroom, I had to turn it updside down. You wouldn’t believe the stuff and junk that were hiding under the bed. So that’s where their socks went. By the time I finished at around 10 pm, I was dead tired and still not done.

I moved on to the shower downstairs. I had been planning to change its ugly caulking during my weeklong vacation in August. I planned to re-paint its walls and ceiling as well. But now the caulking at least must be changed. I worked on this till midnight. Yikes! Folks, don’t let your shower walls accumulate stains and mildew. Clean that grout! I tell you. I used a caulking strip so it was just a matter of peeling and sticking. Last week, when I worked on the tub upstairs, I chose to use the caulking tube with a caulking gun. That was harder to do but had a nicer finish.

Not half-done with my chores, I decided to stay home today and do more cleaning. I started early with my tons of laundry, and cleaned the toilets till they were squeaky clean. Next, I cleaned the window sills with mineral spirits for the upstairs washroom, and with diluted bleach for the downstairs one. Why I had to do it differently, I don’t know. I just know I had a terrible headache inhaling the fumes. I know, I know. Bleach is bad. Between the two chemicals, mineral spirits seemed to do the job better. And it even gave me a high.

Then I scrubbed all the vinyl floors in the washrooms and kitchen. My knees hurt from kneeling, reminding me of the days I waxed our floors in the Philippines. Then I did another round of vacuuming. My head was already spinning. I had not eaten breakfast and it was past 10 am. In fact, I had not even prepared it.“Guys, just eat cereals.”

Our guest was arriving at 1 pm and I was still not done by 11:30. I looked awful. Smelled likewise. I was getting cranky too. I snapped at Gabriel and Markus a few times especially when they walked into the kitchen with outdoor shoes after I had just scrubbed the floor.

“Sorry for screaming at you,” I later told Gabriel as I was folding clothes in the basement. “I was tired and pressured, but there’s no excuse.”

After all my work was done, I soaked in the tub. I swear, it is much better to clean regularly than to wait for spring.

Our homestay arrived two hours late. I had freshened up by then and had taken a nap. I was baking choco chip cookies when he came with an entourage.

This is going to be a fun three weeks. 21 days! They say if you do something for 21 days straight, it will become a habit. For sure, I will be cleaning daily for the next three weeks. Let’s see if it works.

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