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Sunday, May 31, 2009

What I Learned Today, by Pearl

I learned a lesson today. I try to learn lessons every day, but frankly some days just aren’t all that informative.

But today Mary and I cleaned a house out in Blaine. Well, honestly it was almost more Ham Lake (yes, you read that right) than Blaine, but that hardly matters. What matters is that it’s out in the suburban sticks, acres upon acres of developments, primarily around golf courses but some surrounding what used to be much larger wetlands.

Once off the county road, we drove deep into Cattail Estates or Rolling Oak Meadows or wherever we were. It doesn’t really matter. We had passed at least four other developments just like it.

There we were, rows and rows of enormous houses on twisting roads, all built by the same builder with your choice of what appeared to be four basic shapes.

Mary and I both agreed we could not live on those winding, dead-end streets.

As she pointed out, there was no way you could walk for cigarettes.

We pulled up. It was a large house, two stories, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, almost ridiculously high windows and cheap woodwork.

There wasn’t a stick of furniture in the place.

We were quite excited that it was empty.

Oh, foolish mortals.

I want you to picture the interior walls of this place. It was as if a good-sized dog had walked throughout the majority of the rooms with his nose on the wall. It was baffling. Absolutely baffling.

There was also crayon, stickers (mostly of the Little Mermaid), various running stains, and what seemed to be lipstick here and there, but there was no evidence of a dog.

What was this stuff on the walls?

And the kitchen! The departing tenants had done a lot of high-heat frying, and the appliances, walls, sinks were coated in a thick residue of the ghosts of vegetable oil past. Mary in particular scrubbed until she could no longer make the scrubbing motion. I personally scoured the fingerprints off two of the fingers on my right hand, leading to a discussion on the evils of crime and the morbid fascination we both have with the true crime shows.

So here’s what I learned today:

We may have cleaned that house from top to bottom, but there’s probably still DNA somewhere in it.

And just because it’s empty doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a lot of work.


Diane said...

I'm thinking that when you have to ask, "What IS that stuff on the walls," it might be best to just put it out of your mind, slip into a haz-mat suit, and have at it.

Ann's Rants said...

I bet you got a great work out, to boot.

Hope you treat yourself to a round of margaritas and some nachos.

Hi Pearl!


Scrappy Doo said...

When I did housework for hire the empty ones were always bad.
No way could I live in the Zero Lot Maze. I love my wide open sapces :-)

Jodie Kash said...

i had a friend years backs who lived in (or was it on) Hog Mountain, and yes you read that right.

Hey what does cut that weird grease from the stove hood? I could use some.

Jodie Kash said...

Capital "I".

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

With yall on never wanting to live in a cookie-cutter McMansion...
I couldn't live anywhere I didn't know what the walls held..

And, um... LIPSTICK??

Does fuel the imagination!

Thanks, Pearl. Always a good and entertaining read..

Anonymous said...

Yeow! I have to admire the way you ladies tackled the ghosts of oily pasts with such gusto and scrubbing motions...

Kavi said...

I remember an Emirates airlines' ad..which went like, 'when was the last time you did something for the first time' !

And i think of you post. And think when was the last time i did something like what you did...

And wonder the last lesson that i learnt....was forgotten.


Anonymous said...


Well, thanks for sharing anyway.

Anonymous said...

I had to wash my hands after reading this post and I blotted my screen with a paper towel (from the grease left behind...)

I think you worked harder than the money you got paid. I hope the next one is easier!


ICKY said...


1. I remember (as I'm sure you do) when that area was nothing but swamp and dead land. The swamp is still there, but now its littered with Mcmansions in developments with silly reassuring fragrance names, Whispering pines or misty glen or what have you.

2. I noticed you never mentioned carpet biting.
Geez...phrased just a little different, the jokes there are endless ! (I'll leave it to your legions to come up with jokes.)

Not The Rockefellers said...

McMansions baffle me. Those neighborhoods remind me of a Hollywood backlot. What were the bathrooms like? I used to clean houses with a friend and I hated babies rooms and bathrooms.

You know, just for fun, You and Mary should arrive at a job like that wearing tuxes and carrying a body bag..

Hey, it's a dirty job, right?

Peace - Rene

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It sounds pretty gross and disgusting. I bet the tenants didn't get their deposit back - it should have gone to you and Mary.

In the 50's, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house that was considered the epitome of great modern design. Soon after, the New Yorker had a cartoon of an entire block of identical zero lot line Wright houses.

SweetPeaSurry said...

That does sound pretty gross. But hey, more time for gab about crime shows right? And if you scrubbed your finger prints off ... you could head out right now on that crime spree, right? Am I right?


blessins sistah!

fingers said...

'And just because it’s empty doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a lot of work.'

This is my new dating mantra...

darsden said...

Dang pearl don't hurt those typing fingers now..they are extremely important don't cha know..for typing and punching up the ole ipod..bet you wish you had that today while scubing away. Kudos to you for helping out a friend the hard ole fashion way. Yes, empty leave more to clean! Thank goodness you didn't find any bathroom suprises...ooooh yuck the stories my sister would tell of the new development houses in texas...just horrible!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I can imagine doing the same thing. I would assume that the lack of furniture meant an easy job for sure. Oh well - who really needs finger prints anyway?

Aria said...

I love those shows too... and see, I was right "Less IS More" of course I was talking about something else, but hey, the phrase still fits...

Pearl said...

Diane, good suggestion!

Hey, Ann! Good to hear from you! What DID I have for dinner after that? Oh, yeah. We grilled. It was good, but it was no margarita. Heading with a couple friends to Barrio, a Mexican place downtown in a week. I’m storing my need for a margarita for then. I’m hoping there’s a blog in it.

Scrappy Doo, I hear ya. I do love living in the city, but I love the country and usually take my vacations there. Mountains especially.

Jodie, that orange stuff that I can’t recall just now does the trick. There’s also Comet, my personal favorite. :-D Love that scrubbing motion!

Cygnus, I could never figure out the attraction to enormous houses. How much space do ya need, anyway?!
And thanks!!

Ladyfi, I’m dead good at the scrubbing motion. :-D And ooooh were my arms tired on Sunday!

Kavi, oh but there are so many lessons to learn! :-D I suspect that I miss the majority of them…

Unfinished Rambler, sorry! :-D Would it help to know that the place is sparkling clean now?!

Sweet Cheeks, the grease and whatever was on those walls definitely cut into our hourly rate, that’s for sure. I bid it as a flat fee of $100. But that was for the two of us. Should’ve taken four hours. Took five. I bin robbed!

Icky, I do remember when that was open space. I definitely preferred it that way!
And as for the carpet-biting incident… I have nothing to say. The carpet was that way when I got there, I tucked it back into the bull-nose, and that’s all I’m saying about it!

Rene, the bathrooms weren’t too bad, although I couldn’t get the mineral deposits off of two of them. Damn hard water! They should’ve cleaned those more often.

Heartsinsanfrancisco, ha! Anything done well is guaranteed to be overdone and on sale, guaranteed to lose its original flavor.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art has much of a Wright home on display. It’s really something.

SweetPea, you coulda been there with us! That’s exactly where the conversation went. But at the end of it we were too tired to commit crimes.
It’s always about timing!

Fingers, you know, I was going to work something on that in there. :-D Glad you mentioned it!

Darsden, oh, there’s work and there’s work! I’ve been in houses that absolutely reeked of animals and animal hair. The worst ones are the heavy smokers. Word of advice on those: don’t start scrubbing those walls. :-D It never ends.

Kate, I know! You’d think it would’ve been easier. Easier to maneuver maybe, but there’s still the same amount of floors, bathrooms, walls, and countertops…

Aria, I’m not a fan of clutter. But now you’ve got me considering the “less is more” phrase… :-D

♥ Braja said...

But I'm still stuck on Ham Lake....

Captain Dumbass said...

I just finished painting my youngest son's bedroom. The walls looks normal until I actually got up close to them to wash before painting. It looked as though some previous owner had punched holes in the walls and patched them badly. And then threw paint at the walls. It's great finding hair imbedded in the old paint.

MVD said...

Size may matter to some when it comes to home dwelling, but a character devoid, monolithic atrocity with bastardized stylings and sub-par craftsmanship isn't my cup of tea ... clean, empty, or disgusting.

Fragrant Liar said...

Have you ever thought about becoming a CSI?

Warty Mammal said...

I wonder if a house being empty actually makes things worse? All those vast expanses of surface, with even a teensy smudge sticking out like a sore thumb.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

This is the case for the CSI! Maybe they dragged a body across the walls and then boiled it up!! (sounds gross even though I said it myself!!!) :P

Joanie M said...

I cleaned my neighbor's house for them after they moved out and before the new owners bought the place. I found their pot stash.

powdergirl said...

Snot. The stuff on the walls was snot.

I moved into a place once (by accident)and it was all spotless till I checked out the upstairs en suite.

There was pubic hair in what looked like strawberry jelly stuck all over the ceiling fan and window casings.

I moved out without really moving in.

Bevie said...

You'll be cleaning my house soon, Pearl. It will be empty, too. It's a mess, but not because we're awful people. It's just a mess.

Like us.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Was there a basement? You'd probably find the mummified family there.

Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

The grime from high heat frying is the worst. Hope you had Kaboom!

BPOTW said...

Thanks for that lesson in humanity and the possibilities!

And thanks for linking with BPOTW this week!

bettyl said...

That post brought back memories...not particularly great ones, either! I used to clean apartments and I learned early that I really didn't want to know the truth! The world is full of strange folk!