Tag Archives: Dirty house

Make Like a Tree and Leave

“Don’t you love fall foliage?” A friend of mine asked as we watched brilliant leaves of red, orange and gold waft down from the trees. “It’s such a beautiful time of year.”

I rolled my eyes. I had no patience for the leaf lovers, the autumn enthusiasts, the fall foliage fanatics. I had bigger fish to fry.

I was a woman with a house to clean.

Of course there was a time when I loved the change of seasons as much as anyone else. But now that I am a mother and a homemaker, I realize that the different seasons just mean different messes in the house. In the spring, the dog drags mud through the house. In the winter we have piles of slush. In the summer, everyone tracks in water from the pool. And now that fall is upon us, I can look forward to the melodic sound of leaves crunching under my feet in the family room.

I suppose I should be more understanding of this particular seasonal annoyance considering that it is a scientific anomaly. I have discovered that my house is uniquely situated in the center of the universe so that every time the back door opens, a giant wind tunnel is created which sucks all the leaves in from the deck and spits them into my house. It is such a rare occurrence in this part of the world, that scientists have actually named it the Beckerman Freak Foliage Phenomenon.

While we are pleased to have contributed to mankind’s understanding of the forces of nature, it is mostly just a big pain in the neck. If I don’t catch the leaves and sweep them up right away when they blow into the house, they get trampled and broken into millions of crunchy little leaf pieces that get into the rug and eventually all over the house until I crawl under the covers at night and find myself on a bed of shredded leaf. While this might be fun if you’re a hibernating bear, personally, I prefer my sheets to be cottony soft and decidedly leaf-free. 

Clearly, this would not be an issue if the door remained closed. However, my family seems to be somewhat door-challenged. They have no problem getting the door open: It’s the door closing they have trouble with. And when the door is left open and that wind tunnel thing happens, we get leaf piles in the house big enough to jump in. It can get so bad, I actually consider getting a rake and a leaf blower for inside the house to get it under control.

Finally one day, I hit my leaf breaking point.

“WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN???” I bellowed. The dog came running.

“No, not you.  You don’t have opposable thumbs.  You get a pass,”

Next my husband arrived.  I pointed to the fresh pile of leaves that had blown in from outside.

“Hey, why are there so many leaves in here?” he wondered.

I sighed. “Remember I said when you leave the door open, the leaves blow in?” He nodded blankly.

“Well, voila!” I exclaimed sweeping my arm around the room.

“Oh sorry,” he said while I went to grab the broom and vacuum cleaner. Ten minutes later I found the door open and a fresh pile of crunchy leaves in the family room.

“Congratulations,” I said to the guilty party, who was not, in fact the dog. “You get to clean up the leaves.” I handed him a broom and left the room. Moments later a voice rang out from the kitchen.

“Hey honey!”

I returned to the scene of the crime to find my husband, the broom, the dog, and three times as many leaves on the floor.

“What happened?” I asked incredulously.

“I went to sweep the leaves out, and when I opened the door, a big gust of wind blew all the leaves back in, plus a bunch more.”

I shook my head in disbelief. Then I took the broom and stuck it in the corner.

My husband stood perplexed. “What are you going to do?” he asked.


©2017, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Cleanliness is Next to Impossibleness, Husbands and other Aliens, This Old House

A Post-Apocalyptic House Cleaning

Every summer when the kids go away to camp, two things immediately happen.

First, I cry.

Then I clean.

Whether or not the cleaning is an emotional response to being a temporary empty nester, I don’t know. But regardless of the catalyst, there is no doubt that after ten months of solid kid abuse, the house is in dire need of a purging.

First I tackle the kids’ rooms because typically, those are the scariest places in the house. There is the usual assortment of old, half-eaten food hidden in drawers and under the bed, usually unrecognizable from whatever it was originally and now resembling an alien life form.

Then there is the collection of dirty clothes that never made it into the laundry basket, got stashed in the back of the closet or hung from the chandeliers. And of course, the assortment of broken, fast food restaurant toys that are definitely not so “happy” anymore.

It takes an average of two days, three garbage bags, and one gas mask to get through the kids’ rooms before I am satisfied that there is no longer anything broken, dirty, or formerly edible in the room.

Then I move on to the fridge.

I’m usually pretty good about keeping track of what’s in my fridge. But over the course of the school year, the food containers seem to multiply and take over. By the time I get around to the post-school, kids-at-camp cleaning, the contents of the containers forgotten all the way in the back of the refrigerator either look like a science experiment gone awry, or a refrigerated toupee.

This would be a good thing if I was in dire need of Penicillin because I’m pretty sure I could cultivate a decent batch of antibiotics from the mold growing in there. But when you’re looking for a snack, former food that is now black and hairy is not really all that appetizing.

My problem is, I have one of those top-freezer refrigerators, so I practically have to sit on the floor to see what’s on the bottom shelf. Because of this, I will often jam a lot of food down there, but then forget to check back in a timely manner to see if the leftovers are, in fact, still food, or have been transformed into ET.

My son usually does a great job of keeping the fridge leftover-free. But sometimes some of those hard to see food items in the back get missed and forgotten, and that’s when the trouble starts.

Not so coincidentally, a few days after the kids leave for camp, a noxious smell starts to emanate from the vicinity of the refrigerator to indicate that all is not well inside. Then, the sniffing game begins. First I start with the milk because that is usually the first to turn. Then I sniff my way through various cheeses and yogurts; down to the lettuce in the crisper which may have turned dark green and slimy while it was hidden in the drawer.

While I am down at eye level with the crisper, I will notice a food container on the bottom shelf, shoved in the back next to the jar of pickles and other things I always buy that never get eaten.

Slowly, nervously, I will peel back the lid of the container – just enough to catch sight of something that may have evolved to such a degree that it could possibly push the lid open the rest of the way, jump out of the plastic container, and go on to propagate into a new species known as “Meatloafus Erectus” – a new breed of Hamburger Helper which can walk on two feet and communicate with other forms of ground beef.

Having found the culprit, I then face the daunting task of cleaning the nasty mold-and-food encrusted plastic container. If it had been filled with something tomato sauce-based, I either immediately toss it in the garbage or accept the fact that my formerly clear containter is now and will forever be pink. If I decide to keep it, it gets soaked, boiled, thrown in a NASA decontamination chamber, and then run through the dishwasher at scorching temperatures where it will then be completely disinfected and also melted into a useless blob of plastic.

Then I will vow to never leave leftover food in the refrigerator ever again.
…Or at least until next summer.

©2011, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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