September 2012

Spring Cleaning The TinyTrainHouse

by Lori Dwyer on September 28, 2012 · 12 comments

I am one of those truly odd people who take great pleasure in cleaning my house.

It’s right up there with doing laundry in terms of smug satisfaction– while there is no smug satisfaction that competes with bringing in a load of freshly washed, sun dried cloth nappies (diapers, whatever); the cat–in–a–bird–cage–glow that accompanies freshly mopped floors come a very close second place.

It’s Spring Cleaning time in the TinyTrainHouse.

Either by means of brilliant management or the intervention of the gods, I’ve managed to have a spring clean every year since I moved out of home at the age of eighteen. (The years that I remember, anyway– few in my early twenties that remain somewhat hazy.) Back in the BC (Before Children), I had heaps of time, so I cleaned as I wished or as living with flat mates determined. And, being a natural hoarder with minimalist ideologies, I have always taken great pleasure in sorting, culling and storing piles of possessions (which is certainly useful when you have two little kids who own every plastic moulded plaything ever produced).

Being pregnant was awesome for cleaning. Forget nesting in the last few weeks of pregnancy– I had the cleaning bug from about 12 weeks in, and it took a good four months after I gave birth for it to wear off. I remember my husband once telling me that I was going to “mop the damn enamel of the tiles if I attacked them again”, and that was probably not an entirely unfair thing to say. I think, at that point, thirty weeks pregnant and with way too much spare time, I was mopping the kitchen floor of the Purple House on a twice–daily basis.

There was no way I could keep that up. Hello, post natal depression and a massive case of useless anxiety. Pregnant the second time around, I actually relished that fervent, all consuming nesting instinct. ‘Sparkle sparkle’, said the glass doors and the floors and the car and the bathroom and the dog and whatever else would sit still for long enough to be drenched in white vinegar and scrubbed to within an inch of it’s existence.

About this time last year, we moved here, to the TinyTrainTown, from another small town that goes by the name of Paradise. Living in Paradise for six months made the spring clean and un–clutter almost disappointingly easy– anything that I hadn’t used, looked at or thought about in six months was more than likely not useless and could be scrapped, recycled or redistributed. (For those of you who have hoarder tendencies without the ruthlessness minimalism requires, pay careful attention to this next sentence– of everything I got rid of when I moved, I can honestly say I cannot think of one material thing I have genuinely missed or wished I still owned. Really.)

And the year before that… well. Life, into boxes, same as last year. But without nearly as much direction or purpose.

This year, with the weather beginning to warm and the heaven scent garden slowly blooming, it feels as though it’s time to clean. To open windows wide and let warm dry air blow through the house, taking dust and mold and mildew and winter and worries and stress away with it. To shuffle through and pick at boxes of toys and books, to delve into bathroom cupboards and builtin wardrobes and rid the house of the accumulated junk of twelve months worth of day to day in’s and out’s, fifty two weeks worth of life piling up on top of itself.

And it’s just mundane life piling up that leaves the most junk behind. There’s a filing cabinet full of papers to be culled, a storage cupboard stocked with Christmas presents, hoarded over winter like chestnuts, that need of be sorted and eventually wrapped. There’s a hot water main valve that requires relieving, a cat that needs to vaccinated, insurances to be renewed, spiders and other creepy crawlies to be poisoned, a sadly neglected vegetable garden that is just itching to be turned and planted, to stretch tiny seedlings towards the spring sunshine.

I only have myself to blame for so much of that boring doldrum falling right now, all at the same time of year. But, in truth, I don’t mind it at all. It feels like a life reboot, a clearing of the slate. Getting things in order before our birthdays and Christmas– the party season for our small family, all the festivities falling at once– begin and the New Year rolls out again with the best of intentions, before the days trip all over one another and life piles up again.

A thorough clean is a spiritual necessity in order to vacuum up the existential cobwebs and complement the Spring life–refresh.

Force me to choose the task I prefer from all the possible cleaning activities available (laundering of cloth nappies not included), there’d be very little hesitation before I answered ’vacuuming’. There’s something morbidly and perversely fascinating about sucking up particles of dust, dirt and the ever–present Cheerios through an appliance that has more horsepower than my first car. (What is it with small children and Cheerios in every conceivable nook and cranny of the house? Like carrots in vomit; they are omni–present, independent of last consumption).

So I vacuum during a Spring Clean. A lot. I vacuum lounge chairs and picture frames, bookcases and the books within them. I vacuum shelves and drawers and smoke detectors. I even move things, big heavy things like lounges and tables, and vacuum underneath them. I strip sheets and flip mattresses– and vacuum them as well, of course– wash linens and pillows and hang them out in the warm sunshine to dry. If you are of the uninitiated and have never vacuumed a mattress and stared in horrified wonder at the pile of white–grey skin cells formed into the finest powder that results… You should. Likewise if you’ve never machine–washed and line–dried your pillows back to their original fluffy whiteness. The only real drawback being that other people’s inevitably unwashed bedding is going to really start grossing you out.

Being the big suburban hippy I am, I swore off bleaches and chemicals that smelt almost–but–not–quite–like–apples–or fields–of–flowers when I was pregnant for the first time, struck with a sudden awareness that bordered on paranoia at the way bathroom cleaners seemed to literally burn and singe the tiny fine hairs at the back of my nostrils. These days I stick to bi carb soda and
white vinegar, eucalypt and lavender and tea tree for cleansing, deodorizing and most other household purification purposes.

I mop psuedo–wood floors with boiling water and essential oils to make them shine. I scrub my bathroom, removing a ring made up of hundreds of days of the washed off dirt and play of two small children. I wash windows and wipe down a dozen or so random surfaces from sink to shelf to dollhouse.

And I wash. And wash, and wash, and wash. A week’s worth of washing to two days of hard cleaning… I’m guessing that’s why spring cleaning is done in spring.

After all that’s finally been done, after the hidden places of the house are tended to and tided, vacuumed and scrubbed; the actual satisfying part begins. You return things to their respective places, tweaking and reconsidering their arrangement as you go. You stock cupboards with clean linen, fresh from sunshine that feels to be blooming along with the garden’s flowers, a heat too big for itself that spills it’s excess into the deepest layers of your skin.

Light incense. Burn sage. Run an ionizer– ironically, plugged straight into the power source itself– to smooth out the constant electric buzz of your life.

And relax… relish. Feel your soul–self come into some essence of alignment, as if it’s had it own spring clean, subconsciously shuffling away junk no longer needed in sync with the cleaning out of a house.

It’s wholly satisfying and self–congratulatory and feels like dark secrets and baggage that was just beginning to rot… cleared. Everyone needs a fresh start, occasionally. Spring blows in a new one every year.

It’s like life’s Get Out Of Jail Free Card. The Universe’s way of saying all bets are off, table clear… get yourself set and prepared to start all over again.

*And before anyone mentions the FlyLady… we’ve covered her before.

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Blogging Is Just Weird.

by Lori Dwyer on September 27, 2012 · 5 comments

Blogging can be all kinds of weird.

Some days, you’ll spend hours crafting a post, writing and re-writing, thinking and editing…. and no one will pay any attention whatsoever.

And, other days, there are posts that you write out quickly and barely look at it again, the catharsis of them coming through bleeding out the words in the first place. You hit publish and file them away in your own mental archives, with hundreds of others, not expecting anyone to pay much attention…

And they get picked up and syndicated by BlogHer.

Syndicated on

Excuse me while I rest back here on my laurels for a bit.

It’s comfortable, and I’m tired.

And besides, laurels smell just lovely.


Apologies for the bugs in the commenting system the last few days. I’d like to blame a new mobile blog reader app that may have just been released… but truly, it was my own fault for ticking the wrong box.

Fingers crossed, the gremlins will migrate elsewhere soon.

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A Very, Very Long Time.

by Lori Dwyer on September 26, 2012 · 6 comments

There was a moment not long ago when I reached an acceptance with reality. In the twilight gloam of the last two years of my life I’ve struggled so much with my own fairy tale concept of karma. My somewhat childish belief in good things happening to good people has been crushed, and holding onto it has been difficult. I feel as though I’ve spent a lot of the last twelve months, after the shock had worn off, in splayed supplication to the universe; on my knees in the mud, hands up and palms out, tears on my cheeks washed away by pouring rain. Begging… ‘Show me faith. If karma exists, if there is a balance, then present me with evidence. Please. I need to see it, feel it for myself.’

And the universe, all ominous storm clouds and uncaring grey skies, said nothing.

It wasn’t until I had some kind of epiphany, one so basic I’m almost loathe to admit it. But in truth I had never considered that it doesn’t have to be one way, or the other. Maybe it’s more of an equilibrium. You can live your whole life with the most minimal up and downs, the most unremarkable of tragedies and triumphs.

Or you live big and full, taking massive unladylike bites of every day and letting the juice of them run down your chin. You will hurt deeply, with every atom of your soul, and some of your nights will be very, very dark, swallowing all the light there is. And where there is night, there will be a sunset.

But where there is sunset, there is always a sunrise. And if your nights are dark, then sometimes– not always, of course, but some days– your sunrises will be breathtakingly beautiful.

The sun feels as though it’s shining here, a golden warm light on my face after so many months in the dark. I’m watching a list of Good Things pile up, the weight of them beginning to even out all the Bad Things on the other side. It’s preparing for Borneo. It’s feeling content. It’s finally meeting Someone who isn’t terrified of real life, of my life. It’s writing, and feeling myself get better at it, reading it back and wondering where on earth those structured sentences came from anyway.

It’s finally loving my kids as my own again, feeling as though we’re in sync… feeling as though I understand them again.

It may not seem like much at all, but in light of everything… I’ll take it.


Two years.

I have an answer now, to a question I’ve only been asked once or twice. “How long, till you felt better again?”

The answer, truth until now, would come from my mouth unbidden and unwanted- I didn’t want to say it, no one wanted to hear to it, yet there it was. A screaming, bawling, bloody overgrown truth, disfigured and horrid and staining everything around it as it writhed in pain out in the open, exposed to fresh air and scrutiny. “I’m don’t feel better. It hasn’t happened yet.”

I’m not saying I feel awesome, or that I’m suddenly Suzy Sunshine and life’s roses. But the oddest thing has happened lately.

I’ve forgotten to remember I feel different. I’ve forgotten to remember that I thought this would define me forever.

I feel like myself again. And feeling like myself… that’s not really that great, either- I’ve never been a big fan of me.

But it’s better than not knowing who I am at all.

Two years, or thereabouts… to shell out someone’s soul, and have it feel as though it’s beginning to grow again,

Two years.

It’s been a very, very long time.

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