Could it be only eight short years ago when I first found myself tearfully Googling “Housecleaning in the Country”?
Ah yes, I remember it well.
That was back when I was still a city slicker. We had just moved to a rural farming community from the Twin Cities and I was experiencing a homemaking crisis. An avalanche of bugs and an influx of dirt the likes of which I had never seen before.
To date, my experience as a suburban homemaker had been tame. I walked from a clean office to a clean car to a clean attached garage, but still removed my shoes at the house door. I vacuumed and dusted once a week. The odd spider met a prompt and untimely fate. The shower has some soap scum, but it remained pristinely white.
Then it happened. We moved. We gone country, baby!
Goin’ Country and Finding Home
My husband, Michael, and I moved into a 108-year-old house that had been neglected for decades and sat empty for over a year. A house abandoned to the ladybugs and spiders. A house with no hot water and only a trickle of cold rusty water that turned the shower bright orange. A house unpainted, un-recarpeted, un-redecorated, uncleaned and unloved for many years.
But it was paid off. We were Home.
The dead ladybugs that rained down when we installed a ceiling light were ours. So was the gummy linoleum. The coffee brown (before and after cleaning), napless carpet was also ours. So were the toffee-colored sticky mini-blinds and the gray-blue walls, emphasis on gray, not to mention the collapsing well.
The dirt that came in on our shoes was ours. So were the oak leaves snarled in the dogsʼ fur after their happy rolling. The smoke that belched in great clouds from the woodstove and the trail of ashes leading out the door — all mine to clean!
Between almost daily trips to Menards for home repair supplies, I cleaned with what little water we collected, drip by drip, in buckets. Thus it was I found myself desperately communing with Google. But, alas, at the time there was a surprising lack of bloggers in a similar situation.
Give Up and Grow Corn in the Living Room
Finally, one message board hit the nail on the head. It merely said: “Give up and grow corn in the living room.”
My frustration turned to giggles and I took their advice. Come April, I started 36 kernels of corn in a tray of potting soil in the living room. How our friends laughed! “You don't need to pre-start corn, Lenora,” they scoffed. It was just the first of my many gardening mistakes but I had the last laugh. My corn was waist high by the Fourth of July and theirs wasn't!
Eight years later, what has become of my struggle with Kountry Kleaning?
I've adapted. I've accepted that “Dirt Happens” and the need to clean a lot more frequently than I did down in the Twin Cities but it's easy, because I finally have the right tools for the job and learned how to use them. My Bissell Zing is my baby! No cobweb is safe! Washing out the vacuum filters bi-weekly is a must. I've also learned that Mean Green is brilliant at removing wood smoke stain from walls and curtains.
But from time-to-time, especially in the muddy spring and leafy autumn, when Mother Nature gets the upper hand you have to accept the dirt gracefully. Here's a trick I learned from a poem in an old Dear Abby column.
My face in the mirror isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty the cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely and so does my lawn.
I think I might never put my glasses back on.
Eight years later, my metamorphosis from City Slicker to Country Girl is well under way. The process has been both painful and hysterical. I've learned by doing everything wrong. If it can be done wrong, I've done it wrong — and learned from my mistakes. If my struggles give you a good laugh, then it's all been worthwhile.
Lenora Thompson is a syndicated freelance writer from Northern Minnesota who left a successful career in IT, married her husband, and moved from the Twin Cities to a small rural town where she reinvented herself as a freelance psychology writer focused on helping those affected by narcissistic and cult abuse. Connect with Lenora on her website, Facebook and Instagram. Read all of Lenora’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.