I hate to clean house. That sounds pretty strong. I seldom use the word "hate", at least in the true sense of the word. Definitions include things like "malevolence" and "hostile toward."

Well, I don't feel evil intent toward housework, and I've never (so far) contemplated taking a hammer to my vacuum cleaner. I was just happy a few weeks ago when it quit working and I had an excuse (like I needed one) to not use it.

Anyway, synonyms also include "dislike greatly" and "shrink from." Those I can relate to. So much so that I procrastinate, not as long as I can, but until the inclination just suddenly strikes me. Usually unexpectedly. And inconveniently.

Like today, for instance. I almost ran out of time to write my article (pushing a deadline is another talent of mine), thanks to a sudden cleaning impulse.

I'm expecting my son to come help with some household chores. I guess that was the motivation. Not that he would care if I hadn't cleaned. He'd probably just write me a note in the dust.

Nevertheless, suddenly, cleaning seemed like a good idea.

I wasn't always this way. Not that I ever particularly liked to clean house. But I kept a weekly routine. It seemed necessary while raising my children.

However, it always also seemed somewhat fruitless. Dust everything, and three days later I could see the dust starting to accumulate again. Swab the kitchen floor, and in comes the five year old with the dog, both with muddy feet.

Or scrub the bathtub, and it never failed--my incorrigible children could never figure out how to swipe away the ring when they finished. Ultimately sort of pointless. Made me seriously consider bringing back Saturday night baths in a wooden tub in the kitchen.

Now I am by myself, and I find I can tolerate a lot of dust. A sink piled with dishes. Piles of laundry taking up residence by the washer.

Not that any of these take a lot of time to remedy. Twenty minutes to wash dishes while I listen to the news. Two minutes to load the washer or the dryer. And meanwhile I can read a book as they operate. Or clean house . . .

I have timed this work. Ten minutes to clean both bathrooms; approximately 10 more to dust (I am selective about what that dust-cloth touches).

More time-consuming, vacuuming probably takes 30-40 minutes. All in all, I can clean my house in about an hour. Probably what my mother-in-law called "a lick and a promise", without getting around to the promise. Works for me.

It takes me hours, though, because I stop and start. Clean the baths: go read a book. Dust: take a nap. Vacuum — I can wait and do that tomorrow. Pitiful.

Today, feeling somewhat energetic, I also tackled some of the clutter. That would include the dining room table, my dresser, the sofa and coffee table in the living room.

I didn't get to that last Easter bin. I know — pitiful. But I needed to write my article. I can still do the bin tomorrow in time for my son to drag it to the storage building.

Being neat and tidy is an asset. One I seem to have lost. I blame living alone. No one comes in each evening to look around and say, "So, what did you do all day?"

I certainly don't, because I know. I read. I napped. I worked some intellectually stimulating puzzles. I may have actually sorted out some stuff, like my old school files, to throw away. Then I left what remained in nice, organized stacks--on the sofa and coffee table--and read the newspaper.

I think this is where you , "she's hopeless." Actually, I'm honest enough to say it myself.

That doesn't change much, though. If you unexpectedly drop by to visit, I will be suitably embarrassed. Unfortunately, evidently not enough to reform me.

Like I said — I'm hopeless.

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