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Suburban Island

Beware the Canopy
Saturday, Sept. 06, 2003, 8:41 p.m.

QUESTION: What price cleanliness?

WHAT I LEARNED: A clean floor isn't always a good thing.

Cleaning can be an adventure. Vacuum and you're sure to catch the fringe of the rug or suck up some pocket change. Start fluttering that feather duster about and something is bound to fall over - perhaps something beloved or costly. Wash the clothes and it's certain that you will either lose a sock or unwittingly dye something pink or baby blue. I have been on a little bit of a cleaning binge here - with the accent on little - so I have been considering all of this.

Perhaps it is all the Trading Spaces episodes that I've been watching of late, or maybe it is just a deep desire to feel something - just one thing – in my life is under control. As my kids wander from room to room, scattering pieces of their life behind them as they go - a candy wrapper or half-empty soda can here, a balled up blanket or bedroom pillow there, dirty dishes and cast off socks everywhere, shoes and book bags like a breadcrumb trail from the front door - I can't help but desire something (really, anything) to stay tidy for just 5 0r 10 minutes.

It's a goal of mine that seems to be universally despised by my offspring. I find it odd that making a bed seems to be such an alien concept and I am intrigued by all the sorry ways that someone can pretend to make a bed without really doing so. Hanging up clothes seems to be perceived by my youngest teen as a burdensome task which is only required of kids whose moms are particularly mean and unreasonably strict. I know this because this is what he told me just today. Also, I can’t help but notice that my kids seem to have a real block about putting a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom when they've used up the very last sheet of that fluffy Charmin or Cottonelle – often leaving others to their own rather pathetic devices when attempting a middle of the night bathroom visit.

Nevertheless, I am slowly working my way through a maze of tasks aimed at getting things a little more clean and straight. With this in mind, I attacked a major task that had been literally hanging over our heads for quite some time. It had to do with the beautiful white caste iron canopy bed which graces my daughter's bedroom. The crowning glory of said canopy bed is a lovely white lace canopy. A canopy is feminine and delightful to look at. It is also a dreadful and unwieldy dust catcher.

We could not help but take note of the dust that had accumulated on top of the lovely white canopy and it had been on our radar for some time. Taking a canopy off a bed however, is something that I could be capable of procrastinating on for just about forever. Things were about to change however.

I was enflamed by my desire for more order and cleanliness. I was driven by the fact that the white canopy was now a dirty gray and clearly not the original shade chosen at purchase. I was overwhelmed by the embarrassment that came when I realized that when one was lying in the bed looking up, it clearly littered with little dust tumbleweeds. How many sleepover kids had stared up at the canopy and counted those little patches of dust just above their heads?

Of course, this created an adventure for me. I never thought I would need to learn how to fly to clean a canopy. I never considered affixing myself to the bed like a rock climber before starting my task. That was unfortunate because since I do not have a set of wings and am besides that naturally clumsy, I was literally setting myself up for the fall.

Taking a dust-covered canopy off a bed with a thick cushy mattress is a bit more of a challenge than I had first considered when undertaking the task. The problem was twofold. First, there is nothing to hold onto on the canopy bed that wouldn't be potentially damaged by someone hanging off of it - there goes the balance and safety assurance. Second, not wanting to clean up a room full of dust bunnies, it is imperative that all the dust remain on the canopy while it is being removed - this called for odd hands-above-head moves.

One minute, I am holding a half detached canopy which I have attempted to roll into itself to trap those dust bunny tumbleweed things and the next minute I was falling - just like Alice fell into the rabbit hole - falling backwards right onto my daughter's floor.

Mercifully, this was covered in some blankets from her bed and sundry other soft items. A moment later like the other shoe dropping, a picture in a heavy frame pitched itself the dresser onto the floor as well - landing just an inch or two from me. It must have been dislodged by my arm, which hit the dresser as I fell. Ouch.

My guardian angel must have had a catcher's mitt because that was a close one. Too bad that angel didn't just catch me instead. Except for a few bruises I was fine. Never one to give up, I climbed back up onto the bed and wrested the rest of the canopy off the frame with dust intact.

Sometimes there is wisdom in procrastination but sometimes one must battle with the tumbleweeds of life. This was just such a moment. And a few hours later when the canopy was back in place, it was clear that the battle of the canopy had been – at least for now – truly won.

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Like to travel - consider tourism with a twist...

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