Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fannie's Spring Cleaning Adventure

Fannie's Spring Cleaning Adventure

Fannie was never shy to admit that the domesticated gene passed her at birth.  Granted, she believed in keeping her home in what she called ‘livable conditions’.  Bottom line, she’d like to see anyone who worked a twelve hour shift on their feet come home to a husband, four kids, three dogs, two cats, and a hamster named Tooter maintain a palace.  But even today Fannie had to admit that her home did not meet her definition of livable conditions. It was time something had to be done. Everywhere she looked was clutter.  There was not a bare space to be seen.  To compile the growing feeling of being overwhelmed, her husband announced that his mother was coming for her annual spring visit tomorrow.

The sight of her mother-in-law’s troll-like figure sucking her teeth in disgust as she scrutinized Fannie’s lack of housekeeping skills made her acid reflux bubble like hot molten lava in the pit of her stomach.   She had less than twenty-four hours to make this place somewhat presentable.  Luckily, the kids would not be home for another five hours, then there would be supper to cook, checking homework, and doing enough laundry to make sure her kids did not look like vagrants at school.

            Fannie looked at the pitiful excuse for a broom and mop sitting in the corner of the utility room.  The beat up vacuum cleaner had more dents and dings than her station wagon.  It blew more dust than it sucked up from the worn green shagged carpet.  A heavy sigh of exasperation was released.  What she needed was heavy equipment to tackle the task at hand.  

            That one thought gave birth to an epiphany.  Fannie looked at the closed door to the garage-her husband’s man cave. The place he retreated to every night in escape from the constant cacophony of kids fighting, dogs barking and cats hissing.  The other side of that door held the answers to her dilemma.  Fannie straightened her posture, held her head high and inhaled a deep breath.  She opened the door to the garage and stepped inside surveying the very items she needed.

            In one corner sat a heavy duty wet/dry shop vac with a twelve gallon capacity.  It came with attachments for any type of cleaning problem and could easily be used as a blower.   If the shop vac couldn’t suck it up, by goodness she’d just open the doors and blow it out the front door onto the lawn.  The final solution to her cleaning needs came in the form of a pressure washer. She could already see dirt, grime and scum dissolving. 

            A huge grin splayed across Fannie’s face.  Yep, each of her husband’s cherished “toys” put a whole new meaning to the term of power tools.  The once dismal task of spring cleaning now seemed like an adventure.  Fannie actually felt giddy at the thought of seeing her new found cleaning tools at work making her wasteland livable again. 

            Shop vac in hand she returned to the den area plugging it into the first electrical socket available.  The flip of the toggle switch brought the loud sound of sucking power.  A giggle escaped Fannie as she held the long ridged hose feeling empowered.  Dogs and cats scattered in fear of disappearing through the sucking hose.  Anything that was not nailed down or failed to scurry out of range was consumed through the long snake like hose.  

            Fumph, there went a small toy.  How many times had she told the kids “pick up your toys?”  Soon patches of green shag carpet began to appear.  No longer was it littered with candy wrappers, stray socks that had lost their mates in that mysterious place socks go in the dryer, and any other small particles that could be consumed by the shop vac.  Yeah this thing worked like a magic fairy Godmother.  

Fannie actually caught herself dancing and singing as she cleaned through each room of the house.  The shop vac had worked miracles that her vacuum cleaner could only wish for.  It was amazing how much the twelve gallon container could hold. It took her a while to figure out how to use the pressure washer. It took all three of her garden hoses and the removal of screen from a window but she could move the pressure washer into any room of the house she needed.  Her kitchen floor had never shined before like they did now.  The same could be said for her bathrooms. For the first time in her domesticate life her home began to sparkle and shine.  

            The spring cleaning march continued through the kids room.  The last room to be tackled was shared by her two middle children and Tooter.  Clothes covered the floor.  The twin beds were unkempt and in need of fresh linen.  With the shop vac hose in hand Fannie bent over to pick up some of the clothes and pile them onto the bed.  The fumph sound went unnoticed.  

            Fannie straightened upright feeling confident that anything worth salvaging from the floor was now piled on the beds.   The sight of the shop vac’s hose inside Tooter’s home struck horror in her heart.  Could the unimaginable just have happened? Worried eyes darted from Tooter’s home to the still sucking shop vac. Fannie’s shaking hands flipped the toggle switch silencing the machine.  Maybe her worst fear really did not happen.  Tooter was probably burrowed under a pile of shavings and she just couldn’t see him.

            Frantic hands sifted through the cedar shavings.  Fannie tried to block out all possible scenarios of Tooter’s demise from being sucked through the shop vac’s hose.  “Please dear Lord, let Tooter be okay.”  Fannie prayed.  No Tooter was to be found among the shavings.

            Fannie turned and stared at the shop vac.  Could a hamster survive such an experience?  Images of mangled bloodied fur flashed through her mind. How would she explain to her kids that she killed Tooter? Click…click the top was released from the container.  Fannie was terrified to look inside convinced that Tooter’s lifeless body lay among the trash and debris.  Squaring her shoulders and taking a deep breath, Fannie opened her eyes and looked inside.  To her surprise and relief Tooter sat in the center on his hind feet with his nose twitching and beady eyes staring back at her.  Fannie picked up the rodent cradling it in her hand.  His tiny racing heart matched the one beating inside her chest.   Fannie sat down on one of the beds petting Tooter.  This would be one tale they would just keep between themselves.  


A native Georgian, Tori Bailey grew up in a small southern town where she developed a love of books, horses and a fascination with flying. She released her debut novel, Coming Home, last year and is currently working on the second novel in the trilogy- Ethel's Song.  After graduating from Brenau College, she continued these interests.  A die hard Georgia Bulldog fan, Tori, lives in the Athens area with her husband and four cats. She enjoys writing about growing up in the South and her home state.  Visit her website: for a sneak preview at Coming Home and Ethel's Song. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.