Perfect House -- pure perfection

How does she do it...

By Dottie Rockel

Don and I recently visited the home of some friends for the first time. I was stricken by its orderliness. Each room was perfectly, if sparsely arranged with lovely furniture, appropriate art work and some carefully selected “objets.” I felt like I was walking through the pages of House Beautiful. There was nothing that didn’t add and nothing extra.

Every surface was immaculately clean. The rugs were stark white and even with two rather large golden retrievers in residence there were no telltale stains, footprints, or fur. There was no slurped water. There were no dings in the woodwork or scratches on the door from an anxious canine. I kept wondering how they pulled it off.

I saw no stray piece of mail, nothing carelessly tossed or casually askew. There were no water spots on the shower doors or in the sinks. Even the closets were organized, categorized and neat. There were two framed photographs of their daughter and her family on their dresser. With those removed you felt as though anyone at all could have lived there. Anyone but us, that is.

My house has never been entirely clean. Not all at the same time anyway. There’s always some catchall, some storage space, some cabinet that is brimming with clutter to the point of doing bodily harm if opened too quickly and more usually there are several. Doesn’t our friend have an aunt who paints who would be insulted if her art weren’t displayed on her walls? Has she never found something in her travels or been given an item that she simply loved and forced it to fit into her otherwise perfect arrays? Hasn’t she ever wanted to tuck just one more non-matching turtle into the ceramic grouping on her bathroom counter top?

I would like to complain and say that her house seemed sterile or uninteresting but that’s not true. I rather envied her sparseness - like some sort of Walden.

I’m forever tidying and trying to get rid of things. We were robbed once and after recovering from the initial shock of it I wanted to send the thieves a thank you note. I’m not sure what it is about me that won’t allow me to get rid of superfluous stuff. I have an occasional purge where I take a trunk load of things to Good Will but my house never seems emptier because of it. New books supplant the old ones and the pile of mail grows as if fed from the bottom by a well spring. I hold on to what I might need as well as what I do need. I keep anything I’m in doubt about to review later.

Neat is one thing and clean is another. No matter how hard I tried, I was the sort of mother who always had pureed carrot smudges on my blouse, dog fur on my jacket (even when I rolled it with tape), and scuffed heels.

Who has enough confidence to own stark white rugs? Mine have always been industrial strength peanut butter and jelly multicolored things that still don’t mask what my dogs are capable of doing to them.

I’m too old to dwell on my inadequacies two of which seem to be clean and neat despite my ongoing attempts to achieve either or both. I’m certain that if I traded in all my cleaning aids for a wand I still wouldn’t have a house to rival my friends’.

We had a wonderful time with them and I would love to reciprocate by returning the invitation. Before I do, however, I must call the Rug Doctor, the cleaning service, the window washer, the clutter expert, the landscaper, and the painter. I will schedule a few more trips to Good Will. Do you think I could find a few reputable thieves on Angie’s list?

Guest Dottie Rockel is a humor writer, who also writes about therapy dogs on her web site.

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