July 9, 2008

House projects and thoughts of spring cleaning

I know that it is a little late for spring cleaning. Actually, I haven't ever really done spring cleaning in this house, not like what I read about in Farmer Boy or heard about from my grandmothers. Orthodox Jews have spring cleaning just before Passover to get out any possible trace of yeast from their house. The "Chicago Tribune" wrote about it a year or so ago and made me glad I wasn't an orthodox Jew in the spring.

Eric and I have been working on our house a bit this year since gas prices and airfare have gone up so much recently, making travel pretty expensive. I just finished painting our bedroom except for the ceiling, which really needs it. Now I am starting to work on the kitchen. Eric already did his part. He took down the drop ceiling, uncovering a mysterious electrical box that looks like it broke through the wall near the ceiling and a bunch of flour moth larva. He also installed track lighting for work areas, a round light for general light, and painted the ceiling. I started preparing some of the cabinets over the stove to be painted, since we can neither afford new ones or the facades you can put over perfectly good but ugly cabinets. This is where the link to spring cleaning comes in play. It took me a good hour or so to clean off six cabinet doors this morning, mainly because I neglected to annually degrease them. Some of the grease had bonded to the varnish and I had to basically strip it using a scrub brush, tri-sodium phosphate and, at times, a putty knife. I also took time to clean the insides of the cabinets because I hadn't done that in quite a while. While I was doing all of this cleaning, I wondered how many people do spring cleaning these days. Is it a vanished practice of a bygone era? I certainly don't remember my mom doing spring cleaning, though she probably worked on it while I was at school. I actually think February would be a good month for doing spring cleaning, since in the Midwest at least, the weather is still pretty bad and we are starting to get cabin fever from all the cold weather since sometime between October and December. Technically it is still wintertime, but when spring actually hits, who wants to be inside cleaning cabinets, refrigerators, dusting and cleaning all those fiddly bits you don't usually get to regularly, like lamp shades? Not me. My favorite part of Wind in the Willows is when Mole gets fed up with spring cleaning and says "hang it all" and runs outside for some fresh clean air.

One thing I noticed is that the wood cabinets weren't nearly so dark and ugly once I finished getting the years of dirt off of them. I will still paint them because the kitchen isn't big enough to support the dark walnut stain and nothing improves a place more than a fresh coat of paint. When I am done, I might use my newfound skills of prepping and painting wood to try and paint over the dark walnut finish of the kitchen window. Dark walnut woodwork pervades our house, giving it a wonderful 70's feel, even though the house was built in the 1980's. Over time, that too will change.

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