Every member of mankind has a tolerance level for dust in their
living quarters, which varies with the individual. I find myself nowadays, often marvelling at my mother’s tolerance and forbearance of my father’s hobby workshop at home – which was situated immediately inside the back door, and through which we all traipsed continually on our way to the kitchen. It was sometimes ankle deep in wood shavings and sawdust, and would have driven a lesser woman mad – but if there were ever any rows about this provocation – I never heard them.
When I became a young married woman in the days before most married women had careers or contributed to the mortgage – I quickly became aware that some women undertook housework to a degree that made their family’s life restricted and uncomfortable. Then, I thought it was a bid for self-validation that bordered on mental ill-health – which has become much less common as women are able to access other forms of self- expression.
I am not the most compulsive of housewives – and never have been – but I have to confess that several weeks of sanding and dust have made me a trifle obsessive about it. While all the doors were off, I carefully hung lightweight dust sheets from the door frames – but the strategy didn’t work until I taped them with masking tape to the door frames. This meant I had to crawl on my hands and knees underneath them from room to room, and I have seldom been so grateful to live alone. But it did add some truth to the saying “crawling into bed”.
But my spirit is now broken. Much as I love the efficiency of my little Makita palm sander – I have spent the last two days hand sanding the staircase, in the belief that this would not throw the dust so far. This may partly have worked, since the smoke alarm has only gone off three times – and at least I can hear it when it happens. This has often been painful due to the gripper rods which anchored the discarded carpet. I have stubbornly ignored my daughter’s advice to get rid of them and the underlay which is in good condition – and I can vouch for the fact that the gripper-rod is still needle sharp.
Alfie has wisely spent most of his time indoors on top of the wardrobe in the front bedroom. Undoubtedly, the air quality is better up there – but I do wish he didn’t look so haughty and disapproving, and could express some sympathy – I’m really suffering at ground level.