Rosie the Riveter closeup

Apply Acid and Scrub

Karin Kallmaker Cheers & Chocolate, LIFE + STYLE

Rosie the Riveter closeup
I got the proverbial fly up my fundament about the floor this week. About 75% of our downstairs (about a thousand square feet) is a light sandy Italian tile that doesn’t ever show much dirt. The grout color was “mobe pearl.” I don’t know what a “mobe” is but for several years now, the only “pearl” that described most of the grout would have been the name of Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship.

Routine messes, spectacular spills and regular cleaning meant that grit seeped into the grout, slowly transforming it from a pale tan to gray. So a few days ago I decided I would use the acid-based cleaner I purchased several years ago for the purpose of cleaning the grout. I had spotted several places where pencil had been used to add more “definition” to the grout, according to my then eight-year-old daughter after (obviously) too much Home and Garden Network. Seeing the pencil marks motivated me to buy the supplies.

But it took a sudden fit of, “I can’t stand it anymore” to actually use the supplies. It was cleaning day so the kids did everything else and I scrubbed grout. For six hours.

You know you’re getting somewhere when the 14-year old boy looks down and says, “Holy crap.”

Maybe it was the sign on the fireplace that reads, “Santa, I can explain…” that encouraged my daughter to come clean. Confession is good for the soul right before The Big Man visits. As it turned out, the few places where I knew that pencil had been used weren’t the only ones. Apparently other places she was just more clever at making the pencil marks look like dirt. I suppose I was gratified to learn that it wasn’t all just general filth and spilled milk.

About hour four, when I knew that in spite of the padded gardener’s foam I was using that my knees would tell me all about this madness, and my shoulders ached, my back reminded me that I had not done nearly enough yoga to hold that pose for that long, I felt pretty sorry for myself. The gloves were sweaty, the job seemed endless and I wanted a shower. I worked myself up into a whine fest, but then I had a most sobering revelation.

Open Quote Mark featuring Starry NightI could be doing this for a living.

After a wretched year for so many people, including lay offs, businesses closed, evaporating cash flow, new insurance tweaks that always end up costing more, at least I wasn’t scrubbing floors for a living. Honest labor, but not labor I’m interested in.

So I look at my nice clean grout and am glad it was optional labor and I get to enjoy the fruits of my scrubbing every day. With the holiest of days for most religions upon us and the Solstice providing dark of night for reflection, I think my complaints are few and my blessings many. Anyone reading this blog is included in the blessings list, as are all the readers who continue to make the work I do for a living a joy.

2009 won’t be a year most recall with any fondness, but I hope that by this time next year we’re all feeling a little more blessed and able to see the blessings that we do have more clearly without having to apply acid and scrub.

Merry holidays and brighter days to all!