Columns

2003.12.24 On my knees, staring at dirt

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I’M ON my knees, begging you please to come clean. That’s my plea to the kitchen floor.

Getting ready for Christmas means cleaning house. That’s how it is for busy people. Really busy people. They don’t get enough done in the maintenance phase of life. Then when the crunch time of impending visitors arrives, everything shifts into top gear for preparation.

I don’t know how my wife handles the overnight shift, but that’s when she often accomplishes the most. You know the name of her column that often appears on page 2: Midnight Musings. Last night, once again, it went far beyond midnight. We’re close to running three shifts, with no overtime.

For me, it’s the early shift. I’ve been on my hands and knees getting to know the kitchen floor. For some reason, the kitchen floor has long been mostly my domain. Even when we lived in the Observer apartment, I remember tackling that yellowish linoleum, scrubbing and scrubbing the patches of tar from the roof in back. The roof was our verandah and it led to our clothesline. Unfortunately, we sometimes tracked in roof tar on hot days.

I FOUND no tar this morning in our kitchen, but I did encounter some odd substances. The bright blue spots were the most puzzling, but they were easily removed.

The most annoying were the black smudges of unknown origin and unknown molecular structure. It smears to the right, then it smears to the left, but it doesn’t leave the floor. Hmmm, it’s almost like tar.

When I tackle the kitchen floor, I wear an old pair of knee pads, also of unknown origin. They might be a daughter’s old volleyball equipment, but they look pretty basic and they have the name “Grid” at the top. The mud stains suggest they’ve seen some late-season football duty when I’m on my knees taking pictures in the snow.

The lesson in this “Christmas story” is to never assign janitorial duties to busy people. Look at the Observer, but please don’t look too closely. We get an award for our clean newspaper design most every year in the contest, but fortunately, we’re never judged on the condition of the office where the paper is produced.

I SHOULD be turning out a well-crafted Christmas column for this Dec. 24 newspaper. Instead, I’m rushing from floor duty to column duty and then, I hope, onward toward getting some news written before our company arrives.

This Christmas season is a little extra busy at the Observer, because I’m training someone to take over for Felicia, who has handled ad design, photo tweaking and more for the last four years.

Felicia has taken on a job as cheerleading coach for a gymnastics organization and she’s also busy with her new baking business. Now, I’m training Deanna Gillen. She’s catching on, but of course it will take a while. My double duty eats into my writing time.

For example, here it is near the end of December and I’ve never closed up the girls’ basketball season. Did you know Kylene Spiegel became the school’s first thousand-point scorer? Of course not, I still haven’t written it.

But this is no way to end a Christmas column, so let me repeat the oft’ told tale of a dog named Sam. He was my sister’s dog back in the 1960s. I think the date painted over the door of his dog house read 1965.

Sam’s name should have been Bad Boy. Fleas, vomit, horrible odors, night barking, day barking. I would not want to live in a neighborhood like Sam’s, with one exception. I’m glad Sam was part of our family the year he ate a few silvery strands of tinsel.

Through the normal digestive process, the tinsel later appeared suspended from the back end of Sam and it was such a joy to watch him run off into the sunshine, with tinsel sparkling behind him. Now that was a memorable Christmas, and I hope all of you are left with pleasant memories at your house tomorrow.

    – Dec. 24. 2003 

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