(Not So) Good Housekeeping

Clearly, what with a $521 billion deficit for 2004, an upcoming election, the war in Iraq, and rising unemployment rates, Americans don't have enough to worry about. This is evidenced by the fact that there is now a full-fledged congressional hearing into the Jackson/Timberlake flashing incident a few weeks ago.

Personally, I blame the whole thing on Martha Stewart. After spending years carefully building up our dependence on her housekeeping advice, she is now selfishly off defending herself in court. So we are bereft of things to fuss about. Sure, she has her minions running the domestic empire in her absence. (And to anyone who cares, I'd like some of those for Christmas. Minions, I mean.) But it's just not the same. Further proof? Timberlake referred to the Superbowl incident as a “wardrobe malfunction,” a Stewart-esque term if there ever was one.

So, in the interest of returning some level of sanity to public discourse, I am stepping into the breach. In an effort to give you all something else to focus on until Martha's return, I present Chandra's Housekeeping Tips.

The Bathtub: Modern science has yet to explain how it is that a bathtub, which gets sluiced with soapy water just about every day, gets dirty. However, while we wait for an answer, my solution to dirty tubs: Install a brand new one. Shellac it. Padlock the bathroom and tell everyone in your family where to find the garden hose.

Leaf Raking: Every autumn, millions of homeowners around the world spend hours raking leaves up from their lawns. Every spring, they spend hours spraying their lawns with artificial fertilizers. Answer: Let your children run through the leaves as much as they like, breaking them down into mulch. Whatever the wind doesn't catch and blow onto your neighbour's lawn is natural fertilizer for your patch.

Cobwebs: Removing each individual cob web as it appears is very time-consuming. My advice is to wait until the spiders have created enough webs that it becomes one big, house-covering super web. This should only take about 2.5 days. Then grab a thread, stand in a corner, and reel it all in. (Caution: this may drag furniture and small animals out of place.)

The Kitchen Floor: Notoriously difficult to keep clean, because it's a high traffic area in your house. Solution: Attach mop heads to your children's shoes, your spouse's shoes, and all four paws on the family pets. Since they're the ones running through it all the time, they may as well clean it as they go.

Vacuuming: Buy one of those new robot vacuum gadgets, which recently received the most backhanded consumer review ever: These things really suck!

Dusting: Dust will come off the furniture automatically as you reel in the cobwebs. Incidentally cobwebs and dust also make great lawn fertilizer.

Dirty Dishes: Two words: Paper. Plates.

Cars: I get a great deal of amusement from watching my neighbors waste an entire Saturday afternoon washing their car. I mean, there are so many other important things you could be doing with that time, like, for instance, kicking back and watching the other neighbors rake their lawns.

My theory on car cleaning is that the industry invented leases for a reason: by the time you can no longer tell the make or model of the car, or you lose a passenger to the backseat debris, your lease has expired and it's time for a new one anyway.

Shovelling the Sidewalk: If all you northerners followed my advice about leaves, you won't need to do this. The decomposing leaves that blow onto your sidewalk will release enough heat to keep your sidewalk clear for months. Spreading some on your driveway will have the same effect, plus, it's fun to drive through the leaves.

There, that ought to keep everyone occupied for a while. No, no need to thank me.

And please don't hold a congressional hearing about any of this advice either.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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