Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Seamy Side of Celebration

My last blog entry discussed the WFTV expose on health violations at Orlando-area restaurants. Now, I'm firmly convinced that their next inspection will focus on the seamy side of Celebration...more specifically, my beyond-messy home. I can see it will start with a somber voice-over:

"Celebration, Florida. It has a reputation as a pristine, upscale community. But let's bring our cameras past the neatly manicured lawn and rainbow-hued flower bed of a typical East Village home. The porch swing sways sedately in the breeze, and the stained glass 'Welcome' sign in the window lulls casual visitors into a false sense of security. But cross the threshhold and you'll enter another world: The World of the Hellacious Housekeeper."

Duloc Manor used to be relatively low maintenance. It's a modest sized home, and most of the first floor is tile, so in theory it should be easy to clean. But as soon as we added our pets to the mix, it turned into the Land of Cat Hair and Bird Dander. Cat litter crystals turn up in the most unlikely places, and the kitties add their own touches to the interior decorating by barfing up hairballs on a weekly basis. Living here full time also means that my husband and I are continually tracking in grass and mulch through the back door.

On top of that, the water contains an uholy mineral that results in an instant toilet ring that intensifies with every flush. Multiply that by three bathrooms, and you've got an ugly mess. I won't even get into my water-spotted mirrors and the fact that dirty dishes seem to mate and multiply in my kitchen. And every time I microwave lunch or dinner, it explodes and spatters all over the nuker's interior like a dead whale loaded with dynamite (I know that for a fact, as a bizarre Fox special once showed a town that tried to dispose of a whale carcass by blowing it up).

Normally I keep up with things pretty well, and I call in reinforcements (a house cleaing service) once a month. But this week, the mess has gotten away from me because we were on a cruise over the long weekend. While we were gone, the dust and cat hair continued to build, and the toilet rings evolved to a new Darwinian hardiness. I was hoping to devote some time to cleaning when we got home, but job responsibilities intruded.

It's several days later, and I'm still trying to get my work under control. That's sort of like a one armed juggler trying to keep three watermelons aloft, since I have two jobs and am travelling to Chicago in a couple of days. I hate flying because it wastes nearly a whole workday. Even if I bring my laptop, the battery is dead within an hour. But most of my work requires internet access, so that doesn't matter anyway.

At this point, I'm pondering the wisdom of knitting some clothing made entirely of cat hair. That would probably make more sense than constantly brushing and vaccuming the furniture and doing a full-body patdown with a lint roller every time I leave the house. It would only take one vaccuming session to yield enough hair for a full outfit. Better yet, if I can roust Tooncinator, my crazy cat, from his next under the bed, I can find enough to clothe an entire third-world nation. Toonce is very large and very furry, and he sheds profusely. His under-bed den is out of reach of the vaccum, so the hair nest builds up until my husband does his monthly bed move so we can do a thorough cleaning. Sometimes the hair is so thick that we're firmly convinced we've discovered a fourth cat.

Perhaps I should also mulch the first floor of Duloc Manor. Many steakhouses have sawdust floors, so why not wood chips? I wouldn't even have to buy any supplies. If I stopped sweeping and Swiffering, I'd probably be able to track in enough to coat the entire first floor within a week. The odd thing is that no matter how much mulch I clean up in the house, the amount in the backyard landscaping never seems to dwindle. It must multiply like the lizards and frogs.

I'd really like to know what rocket scientist designed the triplex landscaping in the first place. We have a nice garage and driveway, so I rarely park in front of the house. My husband and I constantly parade through our yard to the back door, and neighbors visit frequently, too. It would seem a no-brainer that people would continually be trooping through that area...but some brilliant designer decreed that there should be a mulch bed and bushes completely ringing the yard! Thankfully, several of the bushes died within weeks of being planted, so I removed their twiggy skeleton bodies. But anyone who comes through the yard still has to navigate the mulch pit, and the chips are magnetically drawn to their shoes.

My husband's theory is that the designer assumed that the triplex owners would park in their garages and enter the yard through the garage door. There are three things wrong with that logic: A) No one, and I mean no one in the state of Florida parks in their garage. Three-quarters of the state is occupied by northerners who are used to having a basement. Now that they live on a slab, they turn to their garage as an auxiliary storage shed. B) Most people own two cars. Even if one is in the garage, the second one would be on the driveway, meaning that someone would still be traipsing through the yard. C) Neighborliness is encouraged in Celebration, and neighbors often forgo the formality of the front. We are back and forth so much with the people next door that we're worn a visible path in the grass. Why close off the backyard with landscaping when people will most likely be using it for egress?

Eventually we are going to have a brick walkway installed, but for now we just plow through the mulch. Between getting the landscaper to draw up the plans, submitting them for architectural review, and then getting the job actually done, I figure that the walkway might happen sometime around 2007.

I do maintain the illusion of cleanliness by hosing off my porch each day. When I'm done, it's clean and pristine. But 24 hours later, it's once again scattered with "landmines" left by the frogs and lizards and assorted flower petals from my overflowing pot garden. I wash it all down again, taking my place in the Great Circle of Life, knowing that it will be deja vu the next morning. I figure that if the exterior looks clean, I might be able to sucker passersby into thinking that we live like civilized humans inside.

Oh well, with any luck I can get things under control before the camera crew comes calling. I'm going to call in the house cleaning reinforcements, and hopefully my happy home will soon be halfway sanitary and liveable. If not, watch for me on WFTV news!

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