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Don't risk a religious vision by defrosting the freezer

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe
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Lynne D. Schwabe is the director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal.@gmail.com.

It's time for spring cleaning.

Erma Bombeck said her idea of housework was to sweep a room with a glance. I'm in favor of this approach. 

I do not clean or do housework. This is not because I am a diva; I just don't have the patience, the muscle or the time to keep things redded up. It may also be because my eyesight isn't what it used to be.

I want things around me to be neat and clean; I just don't want to be the one keeping them that way. This is odd, considering my upbringing. 

My mother was the queen of housecleaning. Our sheets were laundered on a regular basis (although not on a daily basis, which I have always thought would be heaven). She dusted, she vacuumed, she mopped — sometimes more than once a day. 

Good grief, there weren't even Swiffers or Magic Erasers in those days; she just dabbed around with old rags and Spic and Span. Not me. I'm with Roseanne Barr who said she didn't see a need to vacuum until she could ride on one.

"Clean your room," was a battle cry around our house. 

My mom, love her heart, was trying to impart life lessons and make my sister and me better people. We didn't go along. We argued that dust formed a protective coating for the furniture; she didn't buy it. Being relatively bright, we quickly figured out that if we stirred things around just enough to make it seem as if we'd tried, that Mom would go all compulsive about it and one day, while we were at school, put everything in our rooms to rights.

In my grown-up days, I used to love to have her come to visit, because I knew that at the end of her stay, the kitchen would have been scrubbed and polished until it shone, a state that it didn't enjoy often. Now, although I am compulsive about little bits of dreck on my floors, I just don't take the time to make anything shine, having learned as I did long ago that as soon I finished, I would have to start all over again. And, worse, that no one really appreciates the work involved in keeping a house clean. So what's the point?

Mom also was very big on ironing. I do not even own an iron today. She taught me the exact procedure for ironing shirts, an art hardly anyone is familiar with these days. And what good has it done me? I don't wear shirts. I don't have a husband who wears shirts, and even if I did, isn't that what dry cleaners are for? I suppose ironing shirts could be my talent if I am ever tapped for a Miss America contest (the older version). I'd have to wear something really, really sparkly because no one would have a clue what I was doing.

So I come from a background in which cleaning and housework was a given, something not to be skipped because you just didn't feel like doing it. Even all that history couldn't have prepared me for a trip to Canaan Valley years ago with friends. I didn't notice anyone going all OCD about cleaning; everyone seemed quite normal. Until after dinner one night, when I wandered into the kitchen to find my hostess washing and ironing her used foil. I was agog. I only recently realized that she was way ahead of her time, having been one of the first people to recycle.

If you're lucky enough to have a cleaning person, you have to adapt to certain cleaning person foibles. There are those who break things. Not purposely, but the incidents are never reported. It's only when you are looking for that vase that goes on the dining room table and find it in two pieces that you realize that you've been had. Then there's the other type of cleaner who moves everything  (to prove that thorough cleaning has taken place) and puts nothing back in its correct place. After this kind of cleaning person has been at your house, you need a whole day to get things back where they belong. Some things you never find again. And, I hope you don't fall into my mother's category, becoming the kind of person who cleans before the cleaning person comes. I never understood that. You hire a cleaning person to clean but don't want them to know that your house is dirty? What?

Cleanliness isn't next to Godliness. It isn't even in the same neighborhood. 

No one has ever had a religious experience when defrosting the freezer. 

As one of my friends observed, "Do you know that amazing feeling when you realize that your house is spotless?" She paused. "Yeah, neither do I."