12-01-14 Turning a Blinds Eye-1

Here at Dirty House Beautiful we understand if you assume our laissez-fare attitude about cleanliness means we live in filth. We understand your suspicion because we do, in fact, live in filth.

It is the human condition to forever be surrounded by the decaying matter of time gone past. The dirt from that walk in the woods, the microscopic crumbs from that graham with peanut butter, fluffs from that blanket you spread in front of the fire place, dander from those two kittens who arrived this past summer, other dander from that old cat who really didn’t want anyone else’s dander in the house…

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Rather than fanatically purging that evidence of our transient existence, though, here at Dirty House Beautiful we survey the disarray of our domicile with a discerning eye. Each dusty corner is a time capsule, holding souvenirs of our fleeting lives.


This morning, a cold December sun drew my eye to the thick layer of fuzz covering each slat of the dining room blinds. I followed the light back to its source and considered the total amount of dust clinging to the thirty-four slats covering each of the twelve windows on the first floor.

I could not recall cleaning the blinds, ever, since my husband installed them. I could recall, quite clearly, THINKING of cleaning them. ACTUALLY cleaning always escaped me.

The Sisyphean nature of dusting depresses me. No one ever says, “Hey, did you clean your blinds? They look smashing.”

Today, though, I noticed how the gray film dulled the reflection of a rare sunny winter day in the Northwest. I looked closer and saw black fingerprint smears and splats of something vaguely tomato.

Knowing that cleaning is a siren song to my obsessive, compulsive side, I committed to just three windows. That way I could take my time and absorb the philosophical insights of ‘turning a blinds eye’. Also, I could see if cleaning made any difference before spending my whole day wiping off four-hundred-and-eight slats.

Within four slats, I wanted to quit. After dusting and wet wiping each one, they looked only marginally better. However, I persisted with the intention of meditating on the task.

“What other parts of my life,” I asked myself, “require this same level of tedious attention? When else have I felt this frustrated to spend so much time on so little return?”

By the second window, somewhere around slat #50, I started to think back over all the years the blinds had hung. It didn’t seem so long,  just five.

I wiped more dark smudges and remembered how little the kids were when we redecorated the dining room. My daughter was newly walking.

I worked top to bottom, operating under the unscientific hope that the dust would cascade down so the upper slats would stay clean. As I worked, though, I could see the particles hang in the air, sparkling in the sunlight, defying gravity. I imagined the dust giggled as it waited to cling again to its Venetian home.

Halfway down the third window, I was defeated. There is so little time to accomplish anything in any given day, and I wasted an hour running microfiber and a wet sponge over nearly one-hundred two-foot lengths of two-inch-wide faux wood.

My mind wandered to the rest of my to-do’s as I quickly scrubbed my way to the end of the blinds. Then I reached the next-to-the-last slat on the last window of my abbreviated cleaning and rethought the whole job.

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She misspelled her own name, so she must have written it at least two years ago. I remembered how hard it was to contain her art to pieces of paper back then, away from walls, furniture, her brother. There were threats and promises, hiding markers and lots of finger pointing. The era of her vandalism faded so slowly I didn’t quite realize we were past it. Now, her scrawl was already a relic.

I knew I could remove any trace of her autograph easily. I held the magic eraser; it’s advertised to do that exact task.

Of the whole job, that was the one place where I would be able to see that my cleaning made a difference. But. proving my work would require removing all evidence of hers. So, I turned a blind eye.

This is how I come to live in Dirty House Beautiful.


Dirty House Beautiful eschews frenetic, punishing maintenance of one’s home. When the natural, chaotic tendency of our abode demands attention, we embrace the invitation to step out of our linear thinking.

We understand if you assume this is “procrastinating”. We are, in fact, “carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time”.