March 13, 2014

My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home


Hug for Nancy



But I won the prizes!

Welcome to my home. It’s spring cleaning time but I’d rather write about it than do it.

“Let me clear this stuff off the chair so you have a place to sit—I’ll turn on the tea kettle so the water can boil while I clear the papers off the table so we can visit for a while. I won’t apologize for the condition of this house, because most of the time it’s even worse. It depends on what’s happening in my life, but if you visit me you often have to wait for me to clear a seat of its coveted clutter before you can sit down.” I kick several plastic bags out of the path as I head to the stove.

As is often the case, my sister is totally opposite. This scenario wouldn’t happen at her house. She is a neat freak. You never have to wonder if you’ll be able to find a place to sit in her home. Clutter is a foreign word in her environs. Although I am sometimes jealous I admire and enjoy visiting her uncluttered, unfettered, home, so unlike my home.

She is so clean you can eat off her floor.

She is going to be angry at me but I’m going to reveal one of her secrets. She doesn’t like to do dishes, so she sets the dirty plates and silverware and glasses on her so-clean floor and turns her cats into automatic dishwashers. The cat’s tongues are so rough the dishes are licked really clean.


However, one of her rebellious cats sometimes jumps on the counter to get to the dishes before she can put them on the floor:

IMG_7831eNo one ever has a clue that she does this. However, she told my husband, her favorite brother-in-law, that she does this. And, until now, she doesn’t even know that I know.

It’s a family secret everyone in the family knows but she doesn’t know they know.

How she manages to be so uncluttered is beyond me. I cannot understand how she accomplishes this feat. I keep removing carloads of stuff from the house, yet the clutter never seems to subside.

The most challenging clutter is plastic bags, dust kittens, and papers. They just clone, and the clones clone, and the clone’s clones clone until I fear they will bury me under an avalanche caused by their free-wheeling multiplication.

This doesn’t occur at my sister’s house. An alien from a neat freak planet must have visited her and given her a multiplication control secret—you just don’t find plastic bags, dust kittens, and papers cluttering her house. And I sometimes feel a little anger that she won’t share that multiplication control secret with me.

We can fly to the moon, but we cannot develop a multiplication control mechanism to stop this cloning—although I do believe the mechanism is already invented and its secret revealed only to a select few persons on this planet.

As for clean dishes, if you want to eat anything at my house you might have to wash your dish first. My cats don’t like people food, so they don’t act as automatic dishwashers. And I don’t want the responsibility of a slobbery dog.

I welcome you to visit me at any time, if you dare, now that you know you will not enter a clutter-free neat-freak zone. It was clean last week—too bad you missed it.

Let me turn on the teakettle…

Oh, I forgot to mention. A few years ago I entered a national messiest room contest. I received a $10 gift certificate to a local store. I admit I was quite disappointed. Think of the icebreaking conversation I could have had…

  • “Guess what! I recently won a messiest room contest. Finally, I won something. I’m so pleased. My sister is Mrs. Clean, but did she win an award for her clean house? Never. But I won a competition for the messiest room, with all its rewards—$500, all the storage bins I can use in one year…and the fame. I’m the best!”

and the invitations to speak at CLEAN HOUSE conferences:

  • I’m here today because I won a messiest room contest. I want to provide you with ten reasons why you should cultivate a similar room. And to tell you should nurture your possible diagnosis of OCD that may be the source of your fantastic clutter. Remember, all those clean freaks are potential  OCDs too. So let’s get with it…and be proud of our clutter.

I’ll end with an adapted quote: I cannot lay too great stress upon the neatness in which a lady’s home should be kept. If it is not beautifully neat, it is nothing.    — Marie E. Jackson, The Florist’s Manual, 1822   Note: I substituted the word home for her word garden.   




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  1. lol!!!
    lol!!…Carolyn, are you talking about me and my sister? 🙂
    Accept I don’t have a cat…I’m a neat freak but my sister is worse…

    Comment by merry101 — March 13, 2014 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  2. I’ve read that clutter is conducive to creativity. So look at it this way: You’re not neglecting your housecleaning, you’re fostering your creativity!

    Comment by Danny Knestaut — March 14, 2014 @ 7:52 am | Reply

  3. […] However, I want yins (I resort to Pittsburghese to avoid a three letter word) to do me a favor: Don’t tell anyone I’m taking several days cleaning. I wouldn’t want to destroy my reputation (see My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home ). […]

    Pingback by Holiday time. Company’s Coming. Time to Clean! | Carolyn's Online Magazine — April 3, 2015 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

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