Disastrous Dusting

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.

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This photo is to show the expanse of the upper ledge between the living and dining areas. Notice the rug runway (our dog Mr. T won’t walk on slick surfaces), and the strange coverings on our furniture – not to mention a magazine rack on FD’s TV chair. These are to protect the furniture from our dog Bear (who likes to dig holes and claw our leather chairs) and Zoe (who sheds heavily). It is obvious the dogs rule here!

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.

I would have to unload the china from the two cabinet doors on the left in order to retrieve the burned out light string. That's Mr. T having a siesta on his rug runway.
I would have to unload the china from the two cabinet doors on the left in order to feed the burned out light string back through the cabinet. Yes, that’s Mr. T having a siesta on his rug runway.
A cluttery mess in the dining area while I work!
A clutter mess in the dining area while I work!

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.

Mr. T jumped up from his slumber on hearing the CRASH from the next room!
Mr. T jumped up from his slumber upon hearing the CRASH from the next room!
Derailed, taking a seven-foot plunge to the floor!
Derailed, taking a seven-foot plunge to the floor!
The crane car hangs off the edge of the ledge.
The crane car hangs off the edge of the ledge.

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?

The New York Central Lines (by Mar Toys later known as Marx Toys) Mercury Engine pulling New York Central passenger cars.
The Mercury engine of New York Central Lines (by Mar Toys later known as Marx Toys) pulls its load of bright gold, tin passenger cars.
New York Central Lines (by Mar Toys later known as Marx Toys) Commodore Vanderbuilt engine pulling freight cars.
The Commodore Vanderbilt engine of the New York Central Lines (also by Mar Toys) pulling colorful tin freight cars.

Streamliner Train 1930's model. Stafford Liner 1006 Engine.

1930’s model metal Streamliner Train with Stafford Liner 1006 Engine.

Wooden All American RR locomotive with four freight cars and two cabooses.
Marx Toy's Vintage 1960's Union Pacific Train Set that belonged to FD and his little brother.
Marx Toy’s, 1960’s Vintage, Union Pacific Train Set that belonged to FD and his little brother.

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

 

 


57 thoughts on “Disastrous Dusting

  1. Ah dusting, that most thankless of household chores! You sure made a valiant effort to conquer it though. That train display is really fabulous, and certainly worthy of the effort. I loved getting a glimpse into your home — it looks lovely. Now I can picture you there better when I think about you!

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    1. Hi Kim! I was just getting ready to email you! Our home is decorated in a rustic cabin style… with modern conveniences of course. And then there are the dog allowances – the hillbilly rug runway, old quilts and throws on the furniture, old pillows and dog beds for lying around on – you can see what is important to us! Daisy deer lived indoors a whole month before she was put in a safe pen outside, and numerous birds and squirrels have been kept indoors until they were able to be released. It requires a lot of cleaning – I’m meticulous about things being sanitary… but I must say I have never worried about dust and cobwebs. 🙂

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  2. I can totally relate to your decorating style — before our elderly dog passed last spring, we had little area rugs scattered all over linoleum and wood floors in between area rugs to minimize any smooth flooring surfaces on which she could slip and slide with her failing hips. And, yes, throws over numerous upholstered pieces …. And don’t even get me started on dusting ….

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    1. Ha ha ha! Dusting has never been on my list of priorities. The comfort of our pets is what it’s all about here. I think there are many folks out there with similar decorating style! 🙂

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  3. Oh my, I feel your pain about this whole dusting event. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. My house has many dust areas that I am just afraid to even venture into. I have lung troubles and even with a good vacuum cleaner and wipes, you can’t help but be affected when you clean. It just seems like such a mammoth undertaking, I can’t face it. In the past I would only be able to get the house thoroughly clean when we actually moved houses. It’s not so much the vacuuming is it, it’s the removal of everything in the way. The house looks like a disaster zone during the process. It makes me want to have one of those modern, uncluttered homes with no knick-knacks, even though I don’t like that style. But I love my books, pictures and other home-making decorations so I will continue to have dust difficulties. Once I thoroughly cleaned an outback homestead after a red dust storm covered everything, only to have another dust storm hit us again within days. Yes, I am sure dust has a purpose…it’s got to surely? That’s what I am telling myself anyway! Sorry to hear about car troubles. I also have an old car that is on it’s old legs and on long trips there is always the thought that this may be its last trip! Anyway, thank for sharing the dust blues. I can certainly relate. I take heart in the “Dust if you must” poem too. 🙂

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    1. Oh, you made me laugh a bit, Jane.I think many of us loathe the task, and yes, it’s unpleasant for those with health issues and allergies. One of our dogs came down with conjunctivitis in both eyes yesterday and now I’m wondering if that big cloud of dust from the train derailment had anything to do with it? It was a HUGE cloud of dust. Regardless, I just don’t worry too much about dust. Until it really starts to look bad I generally let it go. Like you, I love all of my books and knickknacks more than I care about a “sterile” look.

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  4. And therein lays a lesson…”Don’t dust”. Simple really ;). Call it “indoor composting” and “native spider habitat” and tell anyone (rude enough to) who enquires that you are a wildlife carer for spiders and this is part of their natural return to the wild ;). I dust when I start sneezing. Nuff said! Lovely toy trains and I can’t see where they were damaged so unless FD reads this post your secret is safe with us ;). Loved seeing Stevie-boys spoon on display but he says you should use it 😉

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    1. Ha ha ha! Oh Fran, that spoon HAS been used, but I like to keep it from getting clanked around in a drawer. It’s sitting next to the booze section, which right now only has a bit of whiskey sitting out. For a while I set it on the stove, and another while it was on the dining table. It moves around, just like everything else in the kitchen! I love your idea about “native spider habitat” where we do a “soft release”(gradual release at their individual pace) to the wild. I’ll just put on my poker face when I call it my native spider habitat, and folks will wonder if I’m serious and if I’ve completely lost my mind! Always keep people guessing I say! Oh, FD already knows about the damages. He edits my blog posts and he never said a word, so I think I escaped any trouble!! 😉

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        1. I’ll toast to that!! I REALLY love that idea! After all, spiders need a habitat and perhaps that is the very reason we have cobwebs. I think you’re on to something, Fran. You always have the most brilliant ideas! 🙂

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  5. Loved reading about the antique train sets. Those sets are a true treasure. I’m sure your visit with your sis was a holiday highlight and more than made up for the car problems on your trip to Big D. I’m sure at the time it was a headache.

    My motto is “dust if you must.” I like things sanitary too but I can not even attempt an immaculate house with the pets who mean more to me than a spotless house. But it does make for lots of sweeping and mopping of the tile floors along with all the washing of pet beds and towels.

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    1. I hear you, Yvonne! I run a vacuum almost every day, mop floors every few days, and wash beds weekly. We do hair brushings twice a week also. And if we have wild orphans or injured, there is additional cleaning to be done. Yet, I’m not a slave to my home. I agree with you wholeheartedly – the pets and wild critters mean more to us than a spotless house! Those train sets are very special, and they’re a real hit with little kids, especially boys. 🙂

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  6. This is such a great post. Dusting, vacuuming, cleaning are all so tedious. I can handle the vacuuming and the general cleaning, but it’s the dusting that cooks my goose and we do it ONLY when there is no escape.
    It’s interesting to take a look at the ‘museum’ you call home and I now know more about what you mean when you mention ‘household chores.’
    As for the dogs, I agree, its all for the dog and our lives revolve around them in so many ways. Ours is also a Mr. T(yson) and he sheds heavily. While it is irritating to suffer hair everywhere, at the end of the day, that crazy look on his face more than makes up! These creatures are such loyal friends!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Mandeep! Ha ha! I know a lot of us adore those pets of ours. They get by with all sorts of crimes, all because of those eyes, attitudes and shenanigans! My three Japanese Chin shed a lot, but I have an excellent vacuum that helps keep the house fairly hair-free. Recently, we changed dog foods and this more expensive holistic dog food actually has cut down on the shedding in a big way. Who knew diet had a lot to do with that? Yes, now that you say it, our house is a kind of museum. We love antiques and much of our knickknacks came from grandparents, and even garage sales. Items no one wanted or could use anymore. I love giving old and interesting items a new home or repurposing them!

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  7. Absolutely love the train sets, and what a wonderful place to display them out of harm’s way (generally!), Those trains are probably worth a fortune. When I clean my curio cabinets, which have doors so they aren’t cleaned often, I actually take the smaller pieces out and put them in the sink. First I put a couple of small wash towels on the bottom of the sink to cushion everything, then put several inches of water in the sink. Each piece is soaked for a while, then, depending on its form, either dried or air-dried. When each shelf is empty, the shelf is wiped down with a damp rag. That way the dust is absorbed into the cloth, not flying onto the other shelves. It’s an all-day job.

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    1. Thanks Sue! What a helpful comment. I do that with the items in my curio too, though I never though to put towels in the sink to protect them – great idea! The china gets washed before we use it, and if not used very often then I clean that when it gets fairly dusty. I do clean the glass panes in the cabinets more often – seems to show fingerprints and film more. As for the top of the cupboards in the kitchen, I’ve cleaned them twice in the eight years we’ve lived here and I need to do it again this winter. When I was up on that ladder looking across, the cobwebs were a lot worse than what I was seeing from below. That will bug me until I get it done!!

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    1. Ha! Now there’s an idea! I really thought the HEPA filters on vacuum, air purifier and the heat and air system would make a big difference – but dirt and dust seem to filter in no matter what we do!

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  8. Well … I do dust … some. But I’m quite sure, actually i know for a fact, that all the high spaces in my home are covered in dust. Your description of the falling dust particles allowed me to visualize it perfectly!

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    1. Yes, Laurie, if only I’d had the camera focused on the actual impact of rail cars, the cloud of particles in the morning sun could have been a great shot. And from my perch above as I watched it fall, the “Oh CRAP!!” audio would have served just as well!!

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  9. If you ever have trouble with the string of lights, take the Louis shortcut – unplug string first (VERY IMPORTANT) then cut plug with about 12 inches of wire attached, run new string, then carefully splice back onto plug being very generous with electrical tape. Plug in and VOILA – no removing of all the stuff . Sheesh, and this comes from a former master electrician, lol!

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    1. Good idea Louis! Ha ha! FD determined it was the bulbs only and since we couldn’t find a new string of lights to replace and we could only find the bulbs, it was the only option unless I wanted to just order holiday lights online somewhere. Yeah, you men are very clever at electrical stuff… me, not so much!! 🙂

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  10. All your trains are amazing and wonderful that you can FIX them with your pliers, these old toys are made well.The trouble with winter is that you LOOK at things inside.. roll on summer when we can escape the housework again. Your house is lovely.. comfy and spacious.. wonderful.. c

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    1. Thank you, Celi! There is a story to this house that I’ll have to tell sometime. It’s been an adventure the whole way! FD has a lot of the broken toys he rescued years ago as well. He hopes to have a “fix it” shop when he retires. Hopefully he can restore some of those unique play gadgets of old.

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  11. Hi Lori. Hmmm, train sets have a powerful hold on the human imagination. Have you ever had one of your foster creatures escape to the ‘safety’ of the upper ledge among the trees and trains? How would you coax a squirrel down?

    As for the sources of dust – even if your home was hermetically sealed, there would still be dust as humans and animals are busily shedding hair, particles of skin and clothing fibres all the time. It is just part of our environment.

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    1. Hello Margaret! I have not had a squirrel up there, but if I did I would coax it down with a pecan. They LOVE pecans! We did raise a couple of Eurasian Collared Doves years ago, who liked to perch up there when they were learning to fly. I thought I checked for “droppings” on the ledge after we’d turned them loose, but apparently I missed some. I found a couple of very dried, curly droppings up there when I was cleaning! Yes, and you are right – I’d completely forgotten that we humans and our pets are another source of “shedding” that creates it’s own dust and debris… alas, it is always with us.

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  12. Headline: Dusting Woman Causes Train De-Railment…..Brings End to Dusting! Ya.

    It was great to see your warm, comfortable home….thank you for sharing this layer! Your patience and dedication to this task is unbelievable. Yes, I agree the animals bring much of the debris, hair, dust into our lives but they’re worth it!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Henrietta! I wish you a very Happy New Year too. I’m so sorry about what has happened in Paris. We hear daily updates on the news here in the states, but I can’t imagine what it has been like for you and the people of Paris/France, especially those families directly affected.

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  13. So envious of your trains’ ledge. Our is boxed and we can’t even get it out for Christmas tree circle until the dog/dogs calm down. (the cats always just enjoyed watching it run)
    I’d much rather be outside than dust. We have HEPA air cleaners, too…from what I’ve read in forums, using those actually increases dust on furniture as the heavy particles in the air fall out more. Most annoying idea.
    Here Hobby Lobby had Christmas lights on sale in the summer – and most places all the lights were gone from stores before Christmas. …of course they always burn out when you can’t find replacements. Hope the weather lures you outside and away from chores before too long!

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    1. I really love that ledge – it was perfect for the train sets. I think three of the train sets have tracks, which are still stored in our metal building in dilapidated boxes. Since we weren’t hooking them up to run anywhere we only set up the trains. It would be cool if the ledge was big enough to allow them all to circle round and round! Yes, and I recently heard that some of the HEPA filters are hard on the central air systems (not allowing enough air flow) so I’m not sure they’re a good idea anyway. I will look at Hobby Lobby for lights the next time I’m in OKC or Lawton… or maybe I’ll look on Amazon.com. I’m big on online shopping! Oh I’d love to see your crew take in a running train under the tree! I would have thought the cats would want to pounce on it!

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      1. We put in a whole house HEPA system in our first little one story house which we totally remodeled. It worked wonderful! The house always smell like fresh mountain air. People always comment on it even with dog and cat. Sadly the company that made that unit was bought out (Honeywell, I think) and I’ve heard the new ones are not the same. You do need a very good AC man and one who has installed the units before to prevent airflow problems. But if we ever get someplace to stay forever, I will try getting one again.
        We did have the train around the tree with the Bouviers and assorted cats. The cats climbed the tree and glared if we turned it on…they liked to sit under the sparkles and warm lights. Hidden and able to watch everything. The dogs barked. Chaos – so just about normal for us.

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        1. We will look into a better heat and air system someday. I’m all about HEPA though. I have an Aerus vacuum which makes the dog shedding a breeze to keep up with and the filter bags and secondary filters keep the debris from going airborne again. I really love the air purifier too. Investing in good equipment is well worth the price. How boring life would be if we didn’t have a little chaos and drama? Pets make life so much more interesting!

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          1. Aerus is very pricey, but I have never owned a vacuum that even came close to doing what this one does. I got mine in Dallas – can forward the contact information if you like. 🙂

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  14. I hate bed making, house work, cleaning the kitchen. You in there, wipe it all down, clean it, santazi it and the first thing you know, two weeks later, you have to do it all again.

    Not me.

    DS

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    1. I know… I feel like I’ve spent my entire life repeating the process every two weeks. I grew up making my bed first thing every morning. It was the RULE. I still make that danged bed every morning – the day just doesn’t seem right if I don’t. Cleaning is the same thing… if I ignore it I get to feeling guilty!

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  15. Man that looks horrible, what can I possibly be thinking? “you go in there” and it should be “santasize” …. “Santauh”: …. Ah nuts, “clean it all up” will work.

    DS

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  16. You are brave, Lori, very brave. I think I get up top to clean my collections about once a year, and for me that means washing and drying the tea pots and colored glass bottles. YECH!

    It looks so nice now!

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    1. Hi Lynda! I think those lights got me started on a huge cleaning project. The last two days the weather has been dismal so I got to work cleaning some more. I still have those dreaded kitchen cabinet tops to dust and clean… I believe that’s called procrastinating! I’ll get to it soon. I’ve just about got the whole house whipped into shape! 😀

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