I might dust that

As much as I hate to let go of summer, I am trying to embrace the Autumn.  It’s always felt like the genuine start of a new year to me – all the relaxed ease of the summer goes out of our lives, and for our family there’s a general sense that it is time to settle down and get to work.  Maybe it’s a holdover from the school years, but September and October feel like you should buy office supplies and generally get some sort of grip on… everything.  In Joe, this looks like mumbling around the house muttering words like “plans” and “next” and making piles of paper, that and he’s far more likely to say “good idea” to my suggestion that we call the guy about the porch ceiling than “let’s get to that soon.” (That is Joe for “Hell no we’re not doing a renovation.” Also, happening this week, I hope. The thing leaked last year and while the roof is fixed, the ceiling of it drops peeling paint in our hair while we come and go now. Winter is definitely not going to improve it.)

For me, it’s a time of the great and mighty list and spreadsheet, and for scrawling grand statements of intent on the tops of notepads. Bold statements that say things like “Organize Main Floor”  or “Deal With Closets” or my favourite (just wrote this one down this morning) “Christmas?”  (The astute among you will note that these are particularly crappy plans, lacking form or detail, and being too large for anyone to accomplish in one go, no matter how tidy the block letters are that you wrote it in.)

(This is Ken’s sweater, so close to the end that it’s silly that I spent the morning sorting the bathroom out. It needs just a few hours of my time. )

This year I am particularly interested in “getting the house together” (similarly vague and difficult to accomplish, I know.) One of two things is going to happen this winter. Either the pandemic situation is going to improve significantly and people are going to start coming in my house again, in which case I had better tidy up,  or things are not going to get better, and a long-lonely winter stretches ahead of me and I don’t think that I can get through it if the junk drawer in the kitchen is still like this. (Actually, and more to the point, I don’t think Joe can get through my winter if they drawer is still like that.)   Things are going to have to get better in this house no matter what, and the great time of deferral, of lying in the sunshine and thinking that I’ll clean up on a day when it’s not so nice out…it’s over, and it’s time to clean something.

It is time to feather this nest, to dust, to organize, to take things to the thrift shop, to finally fix that stupid shelf and get the right kind of lightbulb for that lamp that’s all wrong. It is time to toss the stash (more on that another day) and start to make a list of what yarn I need to buy for the winter. (I find it’s best to do this right after the stash toss, when I’ve just had a good visit with it and can’t possibly convince myself I’m low on sock yarn.) It’s time to wash the fronts of cupboards and prune plants in the backyard and this year, be the kind of person who rakes up all the leaves before the snow lands on them and you have to clean them up all slimy in the spring.

(A little shawl from the Gauge Dye Works August club – it would be done if the kitchen pantry wasn’t so sorted now. Also, bastard slugs do you see those leaves.)

This feeling, the urge to clean … well, anything to be clear, is a rare one for me. I like being organized but I really hate cleaning, and usually I have to bribe myself with knitting and audio books to get it done at all, so if the mood is with me… I’m going to go dust.

50 thoughts on “I might dust that

  1. Oh, my. Is it already time for the great stash and spreadsheet toss? Maybe you should knit a few more rows on that shawl — you’ll want those springlike colors come February. (Don’t worry. You’ll get through winter, if the dust bison don’t get you first.)

  2. Wash the outsides of the cupboards, that’s on my list too. Ingenious. (And the insides, and organize the spice drawer, mop under the island, every single surface of the kitchen needs cleaning. And upstairs look up and all the ceiling fans need a good scrubbing). I think your mood is rubbing off on me.
    It is that autumn I’m going to spend the next 6 months in this space I want it to be clean and tidy feeling.

  3. Has this new motivation come as a result of celebrating your anniversary? We just had our 30th, and I feel the same way.

    Or perhaps we’re sharing the same delusion.

  4. Personally, I clean much better and thoroughly when I get really angry.

    But, I don’t get that head of steam going much…

    I do know that the pandemic did highlight that not staying home was not the issue.

    • OH another one. My best cleaning has been done with a lot of stomping and muttering about what even I am angry at!

  5. We had a little bit of a drip in a skylight. Oh wait on that one too. Oh wait. Turns out the peeling paint was from dry rot from the damage and we have seven skylights and they’re all about to be replaced at a thousand each and please don’t put it off like we did. It only got much much worse. (We had termites, too, which didn’t wait for the vaccines to be available but we did before we called anybody.) We’re in for $60k worth of damage so far.

    • Oh, I feel for you. The termites ate our house here in Oz…80 grand later…We sold the house, I just couldn’t handle the stress of living there any longer. Full disclosure to the purchasers, hopefully they won’t encounter the same problems.

  6. Please be even more careful of your health than usual for the next week or so. I have found (repeatedly) that when the urge to clean hits me I am down sick within 3 or 4 days – it’s as if my body knows something is up and wants at least a part of the house to be livable while I am out of commission. So, although I do the cleaning, I also get as much rest and up my zinc, etc. just in case.

  7. I’ve been binge-watching “a slob comes clean” (Dana K. White) on youtube and am slowly decluttering. And I had a leak last winter. The ceilings still need to be fixed.

  8. Very timely post. I’m doing this too just now. I hate cleaning and I usually manage not to even really see the mess (until someone comes over, which has not been happening). I have decided that I don’t have to wait until it is too much even for me, I can be a grownup and keep up a regular cleaning schedule. I have made a couple of itemized lists of jobs (with little boxes beside them so I can tick stuff off – very gratifying). I love (making) lists and so far the entertainment value of boxes and check marks has been working. This evening my husband and I finally replaced the broken blinds in the bedroom that had been on a nebulous list of to-dos for ages. Progress!

    It’s a rare urge, this cleaning thing, but, like you, I’m running with it. And rewarding myself w knitting. Some things don’t change.

      • Good point, Felix. Luckily, I’m a simple soul, so I should be good to go for a while, but, yes, that is the dilemma. For now, it’s a very itemized list – my entire house in two columns on one sheet w dear little boxes for ticking. Maybe by the time I get bored it will be a new habit? Fingers crossed …

  9. Oh dear if you’re going to write a blog posts like this and make us all feel like we should also be writing lists (and not only writing them, but achieving things and ticking them off) then I’m going to have to stop reading!

  10. DD finally got my floor machine working again, and I’ve done the (tiny galley) kitchen and half of the dining room, but I need to do SO MUCH MORE. The counters are buried under clutter, but the upside is that it keeps Maisie Dobbs, my new “used” cat, off all but the square foot of kitchen cart and the half of the freezer top I’ve surrendered to her.
    Stephanie, I hope your post kick-starts a must-do attitude for me, rather than my pandemic view of

  11. I thought the urge to clean was supposed to hit in the spring, but I am also looking at the piles and messes and thinking that they need to get sorted, even if it does mean time away from things I’d rather be doing. I had really hoped that the fall/winter ahead of us would be better in terms of the whole COVID situation, but sadly I don’t think that’s the case, so I’m preparing for us to spend another season mostly home with my immediate family and to make things as comfortable as possible. If things get bad again, it’s good to know that my stash will not run out!

    Now get back to Ken’s sweater — he’s going to need it before you know it!

  12. Hmmm… Since The Blog is located all over the world, this cleaning bug must be spread some other way than close contact. Just a couple of days ago, I found myself sorting and putting away everything on the (formerly very cluttered) dining table. Was utterly astonished at some of the things discovered there, and how long they’d been there. Like many others here, I would much rather be knitting.

  13. I am in tune with the Yarn Harlot!! I just this morning finally put away last weeks laundry, cleaned out half (yes, half) the green chair. Do you have a green chair? That extra piece of furniture that you do need when you have guest but when it’s just you there it becomes just somewhere to pile things??
    I too have felt the need to clean. However, I know need to finish the last half of a dish cloth that is also hanging over my head!
    It’s so good to have posts from you to read!!

  14. Ah, we all feel this need to clean and clear out, along with several knitting projects to start in our heads!
    I bet those blue-striped socks you showed us last time feel really good on the feet! I’m wearing wool socks with my sandals at this time of year!
    I’m looking forward to seeing Ken’s sweater, and that shawl is so cute so far. I would love to do that, but I think it is a little too advanced for me–haven’t learned to knit with those kind of needles…..
    Good luck to all of us in our fall activities, especially knitting, cooking and cleaning!

  15. Now it is considered a good thing to leave the leaves in place, or gently pushed to the side of the yard…and leave plants with seed pods thru the winter, no need to deadhead….this allows all those beneficial pollinators to overwinter in the debris. Then in the spring when temps rise to 55° for a consistent amount of time, you can remove them without harming the pollinators. So, I use this info to allow myself to cross off that cleanup item on my list! We need pollinators now….they are in precarious decline. I take this lazy way to give myself a pat on the back for the future of the environment.

    • Only take the leaves of the lawn, not out of the borders. Much better for insects and such. At least that is the idea in Western Europe where it is a lot less cold during winter.

    • Ah – should have been clearer. I leave them on the gardens, but have no lawn- just a paved patio. If I had a lawn I wouldn’t need to be so tidy.

  16. Ooooh could you channel a little of this impulse over the Atlantic to London??? I very rarely feel any desire to clean or tidy …..

  17. Yeah, it’s an autumn thing. There’s a three-week window where I want to do ALL THE THINGS because the temp’s hit the perfect range where I can work like a $^&&^% without overheating, and I make good use of it.

    Tomorrow’s going to be cloudy and cool, and I’m going to ream the everloving hell out of the back garden just shy of pruning the *bleep* out of the raspberry bushes. (That needs to wait until they’re done with their second fruiting.) There will be pressurewashing of things, and preemptive hanging of holiday lights on the back porch, and all sorts of tidying completed.

    And then I’m going to crack a bottle of wine on the back porch and knit.

    • You’re a person after my own heart! Yesterday I Pruned most of the plants in our beds (not the aster, which is still blooming, and a few others that haven’t gotten ratty yet). I, too, usually string the holiday lights on our fence in Oct., after learning that it’s hard to do with frozen fingers in Dec.; I don’t plug the lights in until after USA’s Thanksgiving.

      Before the end of the month the widows will get washed because, with the sun now shining directly in sideways, spots left by rain and dust make some days seem drearier than they really are.

  18. I get the urge to clean at the start of fall but it’s usually because we’ve had the house open all summer and there’s a layer of grime from the traffic (we live near a busy road) and the wind, so it’s time to scrub it all off and ready the house to be hunkered down in all winter. I’m hoping like heck we can have people over too, but if not, I’m going to have us all tidy and cozy and figure out what projects I’m going to be working on come the middle of next month. I can’t have another winter like last year.

  19. I think fall has always been cleaning season for me. Maybe as a fellow Canadian as we brace for the long winter ahead? Sort of a nesting syndrome? This year my life has been significantly disrupted by cancer and I feel an even stronger need to get things in order. I still have a 14 yo to raise and my 21 yo is at university (I’m a single parent by choice and my girls are adopted). I have a mammoth list that overwhelms me in this 150 year old house. Yet still I knit. In fact, I was on a bit of a dry streak knitting and the will has come back in full force!

  20. “It is time to feather this nest, to dust, to organize, to take things to the thrift shop, ”
    and here I was, enjoying a nice fall day when you had to say this.

  21. I’m also experiencing some strong organizational feelings. Mostly because I love to be in a clean space, but also I don’t like cleaning. So I’m thinking it I go through my stuff (my non-yarn and books stuff, those two require much more thought) and get rid of what I don’t want anymore, there will be less to clean. Fingers crossed!

  22. I remember hearing about the nesting instinct that kicks in when you are ~9 months pregnant – heard of friends cleaning cupboards at 4am as it kicked in. I was delighted at the prospect – finally I’d want to do that awful job! My kid is now 16 years & no, it’s still not kicked in, and the cupboards – well, one might get cleaned if there is a mess in it, but no grand cleaning-the-whole-lot has ever happened.

  23. I also got the urgency to clean and the I blacked out and I fell and broke both bones in my right lower leg, so here I sit in the hospital with nothing to clean, and my darling husband forgot my knitting. May the cleaning urge pass.

  24. I know that September feels like a new year and October gets me going because it’s my birthday month and the start of another year (I have several New Years, including the one at the end of October).
    I keep nagging myself “organize, organize, organize” and it never gets done and I feel crappy. This year is different. I found a cleaning lady who is a wiz at organization. She’s done my kitchen… and my dining room… and she’s going to come and do my kitchen. I love her. And she’s worth way more than I pay her. And she’s encouraged me to get my office, my stash, and my bedroom organized (areas I really can’t let her organize for whatever reason).
    I’ve taken 2 55 gallon bags of stuff to the resale shop and have another one going.
    YAY for hyperorganized cleaning ladies!!

  25. Cleaning and organizing are not the same thing at all. Cleaning does not make organizing easier, though organizing can make cleaning easier. Just dust/wipe/wash as you organize.

  26. I’ve been having these urges, too, but was mostly able to overcome them because “knitting deadlines” loom on a couple of projects. But Saturday morning I looked for a needed item in anticipation of a trip in a week and couldn’t find it. The attempt to avoid spending $125 on replacing said item led to me FINALLY cleaning all the bathroom drawers and the top of a closet storage unit I’d been piling things of for . . . months. It felt so good to get that cleaning done, but WHY do I have 6 brand new toothbrushes (and I use an electric one)? WHY do I have 11 partially used lip balms, all still fine? WHY do I have a whole bunch of ponytail holders and my hair’s been short for 7 months?
    And the “lost” item was found in my travel purse, which was not in either place I cleaned. Good grief!
    May you efforts go more smoothly than mine!

  27. I find if you wait just long enough, the urge to clean dissipates.
    Besides, a clean house doesn’t say “I love you” quite like a finished sweater. <3

  28. Oh, I am so confused. My school colors are orange and black, and to avoid a Hallowe’enish look to a scarf, I did one with the linen stitch so long ago I’ve forgotten how to do the stitch. Looking for directions, I find directions that say I should cast on an even number of stitches and another that calls for a cast on of uneven number of stitches. What a quandry.

  29. My cousin’s daughter and partner are unexpectedly staying with us & this has been a great impetus to clean my adult daughters’ (unoccupied) bedrooms and sort out an office which had become a cupboard with a full shelf/floor. The patch of wallpaper missing since before lockdown has been replaced & it feels good.
    I just wish I could be as motivated without visitors.

  30. I feel much the same way; however, I am also the world’s most distractible (squirrel, yarn, fiber, cookie…) housekeeper. Oh well, retiring within 6 months, so maybe I’ll turn over a new leaf?

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