FD and I found ourselves quite busy over the 2014 holiday season. We traveled to Dallas for Christmas only to have the alternator go out in the car just a few miles from our destination. FD also discovered an issue with a broken driver’s side door. Uh, that was my fault. The week before I noticed it popped loudly when I forced it shut. Fortunately, we found an Auto Zone that could order the alternator and have it in the day after Christmas Day. And luckily, a nearby dealership had the “door keep” in stock for our old car. FD and our brother-in-law were able to perform the work necessary to fix both problems, so at least we did not have to arrange a schedule with a local shop, or have the expense of labor. Still, we ended up spending one more day in Dallas than we had planned on. But we love visiting Dallas, so it was really not a problem at all.
After the Dallas trip, we made it home just in time to greet my youngest sister, Jules and her family, who were arriving to spend a week with us over the New Year’s holiday. Even though our weather in Oklahoma was bitter cold and quite drizzly, it was still ten to twenty degrees warmer than what they had left behind in Nebraska. In spite of the wintry weather, they still managed to take in some sight-seeing, while the kids and I took a trek to the river in search of wildlife.
It was while they were here that I noticed half the bulbs had burned out on a decorative string of lights up on the ledge separating the living and dining rooms. However, it made no sense to try to fix that while I had visitors. Plus, I knew Juli would want to assist, and there was no way I was going to allow her to see the mess I was sure we would find up there. I was afraid to look at it myself, as I had not attempted to dust the area for, well, a LONG time.
I have never liked to dust. In fact, I do not think I know anyone who enjoys the task of dusting. And, in my experience, it can be an extremely messy undertaking. I have found that using a cloth or a Swiffer duster simply fluffs the dust into the air, and it ends up settling right back in the same area. And though it does a decent job of capturing dust, a vacuum dusting attachment is not very easy to maneuver around little knickknacks without sucking them into the hose. However, microfiber cloths do work fairly well. They tend to draw the dust into the fabric of the cloth and hold it there. Still, despite having a vacuum with HEPA filters, and an air purifier with a HEPA filter, and a HEPA filter for our central heat and air system, I find new dust on furniture within just a few days of a dusting. Generally, dusting is a lot of tedious, dirty work producing less than adequate results. It does not seem to matter where you live or what your cleaning regimen is, dust is going to find its way into the house. And have I mentioned that I do not like to dust?
When we moved here eight years ago, I was elated to have the high ledge between the living room and the dining area on which to display knickknacks. Just thirteen inches from the ceiling and about a foot and a half wide, I knew exactly what I was going to display up there. Some years ago, FD had rescued some antique train sets that belonged to both of his uncles. Uncle Olin only lived to be four years-old, dying of a brain tumor. Uncle Otis was murdered at the age of 31. Over the years after FD’s grandparents passed away, family kids had rummaged through and roughly played with the childhood toys that belonged to FD’s mother and his two uncles. But no one seemed to realize the sentimental value nor the antique importance behind these toys from the 1940’s. So, upon discovering their deteriorated condition, FD rescued the toys that had not been damaged too badly, boxed them up, and put them away until he could find a place to display them safely.
Once we were settled in our new home, I arranged all of these train sets on the ledge, along with a trestle bridge and railroad crossing arms and signals that were a part of the trains and accessories FD rescued. To be exact, there were four antique train sets that belonged to FD’s uncles, and a fifth, plastic model that belonged to FD and his little brother. With the trains placed and railway accessories arranged, I put tiny holiday lights up along the trains, winding them around both sides of the ledge to better illuminate the display. Then, I added all sorts of woodland trees and a lookout tower to set up along the tracks for a more natural look. These latter accessories gave it the appearance of a snowy, mountain railway.
For the last eight years, an occasional swipe with the Swiffer duster to get rid of a stray cobweb or two was all that graced the surface of the train sets. But now that half of the twinkle lights were burned out, I knew what must be done and the magnitude of the task in front of me. The string of lights ran through the nearby china cabinet, snaking down the back of the shelves and through a hole FD had drilled for the plug to neatly make its way to the nearest wall socket. To replace the string of lights, I would have to unload my china from the cabinet so that the shelving could be removed in order to free the end that passed through the cabinet. With the dishes and shelves removed, I climbed the ladder to begin removing the string – and that is when I was faced with the thick layer of undisturbed dust I knew was lurking on the ledge. Worse than that, I saw hundreds of cobwebs with more clinging dust attached! Ugh. Every train, every single tree, and the entire ledge was covered in gross dust and webbing strung from train to tree to ceiling.
One would think I could find a new string of holiday lights on sale after Christmas but, to add to my frustration, none could be found anywhere in town. However, FD did manage to find individual replacement bulbs – 100 of them to be exact, so he spent the evening changing all the bulbs on the string with bright new ones.
The following day, I grabbed a ladder from the storage building and began the tedious job of dusting every train car and tree on the ledge. To begin my task, I opted to use the vacuum with the dusting attachment with soft bristles to keep fly away dust from going airborne. Considering the thickness of the layer of dust on everything, I felt it my best option. The vacuum worked well, although a bit awkward. Working slowly, I ambled up and down the ladder and, moving it inches at a time along with the vacuum, I lifted and cleaned each piece of the railroad set individually. From my perch above, I had to carefully maneuver the vacuum hose in order not to knock anything over. The hose was barely long enough to reach the ledge, leaving me to have to work the nozzle at a difficult angle.
Not halfway down the ledge on the dining room side, I suddenly sucked a small tree into the vacuum. Instinctively, I jerked back on the nozzle, only to knock a whole grove of trees over, which in turn landed on the Commodore Vanderbilt Railway on the opposite side of the ledge. In horror, I watched the linked train cars of the New York Central freight-line catapult over the edge, tumbling to the floor on the other side with a loud crash of metal. Scurrying down the ladder and cursing at my clumsiness, I dashed to the living room to find the engine, the coal car, and a dangling crane car still up top, but the rest of the eight train cars were lying scattered about the carpeted floor in a five-foot area. And of course, the crash offered a spectacular debris cloud of dust particles that glittered in the early morning sun. So much for my effort to keep airborne dust to a minimum. And worse yet, upon closer inspection, I discovered most of the train car couplers were bent and a few cars had some twisted metal. I spent another half hour with the pliers trying to fix the wreckage. The train derailment had certainly put a damper on my already loathsome task.
Four hours and one derailment later, my task was finally completed. New lights twinkled high above and all five train sets appeared shiny and bright. The entire ledge was dusted. But, as I looked across the way from my high perch on the ladder, I discovered still more cobwebs at the ceiling and more areas of the kitchen that needed dusting – like my kitchen cabinets and knickknacks resting atop the cupboards. It is overwhelming I tell you, this job of house dusting. I think my mom’s motto of, “Dust if you must” is a good adage to live by! So, until necessity presents itself again, I am not going to worry about a little “natural” dust. Surely it has some kind of purpose in our homes, or it would not be there, right?
1930’s model metal Streamliner Train with Stafford Liner 1006 Engine.
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…