Recipe for spring cleaning day

Traditionally, the Saturday before Easter is a day for cleaning house, to get ready for the festival. However, we had invited a lunch guest on the Saturday, so we moved the schedule up a bit. For once, I didn’t have to sing on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, so I blocked off the two days and got to work.

Thursday I scoured my home office. Fortunately, Norman was at a meeting in Fort Erie, because as these things go, it has to get a lot worse before it gets better. I stashed boxes in the hall to create a place to sort things out. Piles of paper for the recycling. And a lot of dead technology.

Remember floppy disks? I found quite a few. One non-functioning modem. CDs with software for laptops I no longer own. Cassette tapes. Videotapes. By the end of the day, the office was unnaturally tidy, and I was nearly as dead as the technology. Dinner was turkey burgers on onion buns with thick slabs of tomato and a considerable quantity of red wine.

Friday morning I was better prepared. For one thing, we had been invited out to dinner in the evening by a neighbour. This is highly recommended. Nobody really wants to cook after spring cleaning. Also, since handling a lot of paper and cardboard dries out your hands, I had a plan for that too. 

Here is my recipe for spring cleaning day:

Heavy-duty hand cream
Disposable snug-fitting plastic gloves (similar to surgical gloves but cheaper and thinner)
Lemon pasta
Muscle-relaxing bath salts

First, remove any rings, cover your hands with hand cream, and put on the gloves. It feels a little squishy at first, but you get used to it, and does keep your hands from drying out.

Then, head down into the seventh circle of hell. In my house, this is familiarly known as the furnace room. This space lurks in furthest recesses of the basement. There are shelves along one side, crammed with junk left over after the Flood. Not the one with Noah, the one we had in the basement in 2009, when everything was removed from the basement, put in storage, later brought back and put any which way on any available surface.

As you work, turn on some good music to work by. Since it was Good Friday, there were things like the Allegri Miserere on the radio – good penitential stuff for the sins of clutter. The opening chorus of Bach’s St John Passion has a rhythm like a motor and is good for getting moving.

Work furiously for a couple of hours.

Lunch: After brushing off the cobwebs and removing my gloves, I rummaged in the fridge. Not a lot there – we were planning to go to the farmer’s market early on Saturday, and supplies were low. But there were some lemons and some Parmesan cheese. There is always some dry pasta in the cupboard and a cube of chicken stock. So we had lemon pasta.

Chicken stock cube
2 cups of water
6 oz of dry pasta
1 lemon
1 tsp mustard (optional)
Parmesan cheese, grated

Put the cube and the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Use a microplane on the lemon until you have a nice pile of grated lemon rind. Then squeeze the lemon. Add the lemon juice to the pasta and the mustard. Keep an eye on the pan and add water as necessary, but in small quantities. You want just enough liquid to make a lemon sauce – you are not going to drain the pasta at any point. Add the lemon rind towards the end, so it adds flavour but doesn’t cook. Serve in bowls with lots of grated Parmesan.

That provided enough fuel for us both to do another couple of hours of cleaning. The bins (rubbish and recycling) outside are now quite full. We also have a special option for recycling. We live on a street full of houses that leads down to the edge of Lake Ontario, where there is a park and a boardwalk for strolling. On a sunny day (it was), dozens of people walk by our house on the way to the beach.

We put a box containing music cassettes and CDs, and even a couple of movies on videotape in a box marked “Free – Help Yourself” and placed it near the sidewalk. They were gone in a matter of hours. Easier than lugging them to a charity shop.

Finally, I used the bath salts while I soaked for a while with a good book. I put on clean clothes. I’m ready to party this evening.

And here are the results of my work in the office. The basement is still a work in progress.

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