A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday September 26th 2021
Phew! Feels like we’re approaching winding down after several frantic weeks. The ‘frantic’ element is, as always, my fault. It is unreasonable, I discover, to imagine that it is possible to dejungle-ise three years’ worth of neglected garden, and sort out even more years of negected house in a few weeks.
My friend A. is arriving on Saturday and staying overnight.
So no sooner have I removed all the hazardous plants and rubble from the garden in order to provide access for the roofers, than I have to face the fact that I only have a few days left to tackle the housework.
I do feel though that Isis has to share the blame. True, the dust of ages I discover behind the big pine chest and wardrobes and under the bed are my affair. But the heaps of white fluff lurking beneath the bed, the floating mounds of long, white hair which sail upwards when anything is moved and the seemingly endless clumps which scutter across the boards as I walk past? These belong entirely to Isis.
One expects hair to come with dogs. I have had a number of dogs, but never one who shedded as Isis does. More to the point, I guess, I’ve never had a white dog. Black hair doesn’t stand out as much – except if you have white or pale carpets, which I certainly do not. Even grey or blond hair seems to blend in sufficiently with the dust to allow one to overlook it.
Many people comment on the bright whiteness of Isis’s coat. Glowing like the dazzling teeth of Hollyood filmstars, her hair is almost fluorescent. I am often complimented on her pristine coat. I feel obliged to admit that her coat is like a ‘self cleaning’ oven: it just stays white.
This is a mixed blessing: she rarely needs wiping or bathing, and even when she accumulates dirt on a wet, muddy day, it just seems to drop off her. Some in long, wet grass, some on her dog blanket on the back seat of the car, but most, unfortunately, on the floors and the day bed.
Anyway, blame set aside, a back-breaking amount of cleaning is called for. The alternative is to provide my guest with a clinical PPE outfit.
Procrastinator par excellence, I am so overwhelmed by the amount I have to do before Saturday that I withdraw from the horror and spend most of Monday and Tuesday dossing on the day bed reading my Kindle.
Isis is very pleased. She always enjoys a long snooze after her walk, and stretches out contentedly beside me.
It’s Wednesday now. The proximity of Saturday galvanises me into action. When Isis and I return from our walk, and she stands waiting for me to relieve her of her harness and lead, I point out to her that she is responsible for all of the earth, grit, seeds and hair embedded in the porch mats, and, by rights, it is she who should be doing the cleaning.
She is unmoved.
This is our normal post walk routine. Isis retires to the day bed, lies down and waits. I make coffee. As soon as I have made the coffee, she walks up the hall and lies down in the front room, waiting for me to emerge from the kitchen.
How does she know when I’m about to exit the kitchen? I can only guess that she must recognise the smell of the coffee.
However bright it is in the south facing sitting room, she doesn’t make a sound until I join her. Then she leaps up and barks to complain about the bright light, or, even worse, the sun shining on her. I adjust the blinds, and sit in my armchair. Immediately she turns around a few times and settles on my feet. She will stay in situ for ever, and generally I read for longer than I should.
Often she sleeps soundly enough for me to be able to wriggle my feet carefully from beneath her furriness, and go about my business. When she realises that Human is missing, she takes herself off to the day bed to resume her nap.
On Wednesday, knowing that he (or she) who hesitates is lost, I forgo the coffee and attack the porch as soon as we get back. Well, I think, at least my guest will begin her visit in a clean space. Now, every time Isis sets paw in the porch, she is forbidden to drop a hair or a grass seed.
The kitchen is next.
Since the roof blew off my garage and the pedestrian door jammed, my gardening boots, jeans, bramble proof smock and small gardening tools have resided at the far end of the kitchen. Inevitably, other items are added, and the unsavoury pile seems to creep further and further towards the opposite wall.
Although I am very untidy and disorganised, I am also quite fanatical about hygiene (putting aside the earthy boots on the floor) so I don’t have to do much cleaning above ankle level. Balls of Isis hair trundle like tumbleweed up and down the hall, but they’re swiftly removed if they float into the kitchen. Sadly, this doesn’t prevent the odd hair finding its way into one’s coffee.
Behind all the gardening stuff, it’s a different story. The skirting boards are indescribable. Fortunately, there are not many of them.
I am well aware that I’ve not yet tackled the hoovering, so I put in several loads of washing instead.
On Thursday, the bathroom is another easy one. It’s impressively clean above ankle level. The floor is black with dark grey spots. Dave, the plasterer told me when I first had the flooring, that it would show every speck. And he was not wrong. Every dog hair hits you in the eye as soon as you walk into the room. I try to keep my eyes averted.
I’ll not do the vacuuming yet, I decide. There’s plenty of other stuff to do. Just keep going, Human.
Recently, I reallocated the front room as a bookcases, desk and sitting room, and put the dining room furniture in the back room. At the moment it looks like a warehouse, but at least, I think, it should be a less chaotic warehouse. So I do what we procrastinators have to do. I shove into cardboard boxes the heaps of miscellaneous papers which cover the dining table and other surfaces. The boxes are then piled up against the far wall.
This is the room in which Hairy One spends most of her time, so I’ll leave you to imagine the fluffiness of it (the room and all its contents, I mean, not Isis.)
Now it’s Friday. The thought of all there is still to do would have glued me to the bed until midday, but fortunately the doorbell rings at nine-thirty, so I feel bound to get up. Isis is pleasantly surprised to be given an early breakfast and walk.
Yuk. Serious cleaning day. I have to accept that there’s no way the spare room can be made into a guest room by tomorrow. I’ll let my guest have my bedroom, and Isis and I will share the day bed, I decide.
Isis and I celebrate not having to sort the spare room: she snoozes on my feet while I allow myself a coffee and thirty minutes of reading.
The rest of the afternoon is spent changing the human and the dog covers on the day bed, and putting away all the washing.
The new smells in the house are disconcerting to a dog. Human has sprayed smelly stuff on the furniture and rubbed it in. Dog keeps lifting her head in the air, wrinkling her nose, and sniffing around suspiciously. Her dog bed smells safe. She lies in it. She looks quite disgruntled.
It’s almost seven now. Since I only have a couple of hours or so before I’ll switch off the vacuum in deference to the neighbours, I really have no option other than to get on with it.
I won’t go into the boring details, except to say that I have to begin by changing the hoover bag which is stuffed with white hairs.
Then, when the switch is clicked on, nothing happens.
I detach the head and peer down the pipe. Yes, just as I suspected, the pipe and head are blocked with a solid wad of – – – – – – – . No prize for filling in the blanks. It’s so thickly compressed that I can’t pull it out with my fingers, cut it with a knife or push it down with a length of dowelling. Eventually, wielding a straightened out coat hanger, its end bent into a hook, I begin to dislodge it.
The machine roars into life. Poor Isis who has forgotten about the very existence of hoovers, feels the vibration and the warm air, and twirls in dismay before rushing as far away as she can.
Since Isis never goes upstairs, the amount of hair collected from the bedroom and bathroom is incredible.
How does it get there?
Very easily. It clings to my clothes.
Never mind. The cleaning’s finished. Feeling smug, I pick up the last hair from the bathroom floor.
But it’s not my lucky day. I hang up the last load of washing on the drier over the bath, and down come hundreds of white fragments.
I can’t believe it.
I must have left a tissue in one of the pockets.
Definitely can’t blame Isis for that.