My husband is particular about his dirt.
Andy has a strawberry patch, a greenhouse, and several gardens. The dirt has to be just right for each. He tested our vegetable garden’s acidity and found it wanting. Andy added bone meal. Now our tomatoes never rot on the vine. He deemed the soil in our Southern California neighborhood too sandy and started compost piles to reduce our vegetable waste to richer, more microbe-laden dirt.
When he ordered worms (and special dirt for the worms), I protested, saying we already had TWO compost piles. Andy told me how much faster the worms would convert carrot peelings into usable dirt for my flower beds. I relented. Now my freesia and gladiolas are the envy of the neighborhood, thanks to Andy’s worm-poop dirt.
But can the man see sand or soil on the kitchen floor?
Hell to the no to infinity and beyond.
Some of Andy’s inability to see dirt comes from his first generation Chinese-American childhood. His father worked days, his mother worked nights and weekends. Both worked long hours. Making money to put food on the table was a much bigger priority than eradicating household dirt.
Andy also grew up in Hawaii, where the vegetation is lush — and the bugs are legion. The first time we stayed at his parents house, I insisted he buy bug spray. So we poisoned ourselves with pesticides because I couldn’t endure the site of a single cockroach.
Andy later explained that his parents had once fumigated their house. Unfortunately, it killed all the geckos and lizards that ate the bugs. The bugs came back. The lizards didn’t.
I grew up in a much more privileged home. My white parents mostly worked 9-5, 5 days a week. Saturday mornings, my father would barge into my bedroom at 8 AM with the vacuum. When I finally gave in and got up, he handed the vacuum to off to me. My family spent four hours cleaning the house every Saturday morning, from bathtubs to baseboards. I was used to tidy. I liked tidy.
Once I was on my own, I alienated at least three roommates because I bitched about their “filth and clutter” as I sullenly cleaned up their dishes. My friend JM and I endured an earthquake that opened all the kitchen cabinets and tossed our dishes onto the floor. Most broke. As I cleaned up the mess, JM glared at me and said, “You know, if you’d left all the dishes dirty in the sink where they belonged, they wouldn’t have broken!”
When Andy and I first lived together, I nagged him about cleaning. So Andy would run the vacuum over the living room rug and never notice the dried animal slobber coating the window panes. He would then pronounce the room clean.
If I pointed out the dogs’ gooey nose art and told Andy to clean the window, he’d miss the black dust collecting on the windowsill.
As for cat or dog puke, Andy only noticed it when he stepped in it. (Yes, I laughed uproariously every time.)
This inability to see dirt/ imperfection was beyond my comprehension. I had no idea what the garden’s pH was, but I could tell if the smallest picture in the living room wasn’t level.
Here’s an example of my stream of consciousness as I attempted my daily yoga in the living room:
I’ll start with a standing half-series, breathe in—shit, the dog shoved the heavy curtain aside and now one curtain is open and the other is not, it doesn’t look symmetrical, there, all fixed, where was I? Right, now into a chair pose, breathe in, breathe out – damn it, is that a Brazillian pepper squished into the rug? Ugh, it is, I’ll just put it in the trash, okay, breath in, hands to heart-center, breathe out – crap! How did that coaster wind up under the table? And is that a pink geranium petal on the dog bed? Maybe I should get out the vacuum.
20 minutes later, after vacuuming, yoga resumes:
This time I will lie on my back and do bridge and some twists. Breathe in, there we go, breathe out – wait, how is there a cobweb in that corner?! I’ll just get a rag and climb up on the couch, and there we go, all set. Back to twists, this time the left hip, oh, wow, I heard that crack and – holy mother of God there is a freaking LIZARD staring down at me from the top of the curtain rod! Damn it, must the same one that ran behind the file cabinet when the cat brought it in two weeks ago,
I guess it never left, okay, buddy, let’s sweep you into the dustpan, yep, hold on with those sticky feet and there you, go, enjoy the compost pile, look at all those yummy bugs…
At the end of my home yoga sessions, my muscles aren’t much looser and my brain isn’t very mindful.
But my house is definitely cleaner.
I work about as well as I practice yoga when the house is dirty. To increase productivity, I keep the house clean – which is not easy with multiple pets, multiple Brazillian pepper trees, and multiple kinds of dirt in my yard.
And yes, I. Not my husband. Andy would drive miles to 99 Ranch to get the exact type of star anise he needs for hot and sour soup, but if I asked him to vacuum he’d somehow manage to sigh louder than my Miele.
Andy spent hours lovingly cleaning his Mustang Cobra, but clean a bathtub? Too onerous. Never mind that he was the one the shedding black hairs all over the porcelain. He’d never heard of washing the shower curtain until I entered his life.
Of course, I’d never heard of star anise until Andy entered mine.
Since I would rather eat Mac & Cheese than cook and Andy would be okay with a black mold biome in the bathroom, a system evolved.
I took over all the cleaning. Andy was responsible for all the food shopping and cooking.
If Andy worked long hours, had arthroscopic knee surgery, or went down with bronchitis, I serve him Kraft’s finest or take out.
If I got sick, my buddy Windex and I soldiered on through the sniffles (impossible to stay in bed when there are smudges on the mirror, you know).
Our division of labor worked well.
Until the day came when I couldn’t work.
Yes, it’s a two-part post! Check back tomorrow to see what happened.