I am not much of a housekeeper. I think I’ve mentioned the time my mother-in-law and my mother got to talking about my housekeeping skills. I don’t remember exactly how it came up but their discussion ended with my mother saying, “Well she didn’t get that from me.” She is rather obsessive-compulsive about cleaning and her house is always immaculate so I guess she saw my laissez-faire cleaning attitude as a poor reflection on her skills.

Even as Alzheimer’s takes away so many of her abilities, you can still find her Windexing the sliding glass doors to her deck or buffing the kitchen counters that look clean to me. During my visit this summer she proudly said, “I forget so many things these days but I still clean my own house.”

“Yes, it’s very clean,” I agreed, as I watched her sweep invisible crumbs from the kitchen table.

Then there was the day a friend of mine got a little carried away with dusting and pushed her hand inside a vase to clean that dirt that always settles to the bottom. She cracked the vase and cut herself so badly it required a trip to the hospital for stitches. We both took this to mean overzealous housekeeping is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. So she hired a cleaning lady and was able to afford her for a few years until her husband lost his job.

I have never been able to afford a cleaning lady and there is an upside to that. My friend’s house may still be tidier than mine, even without the merry maid, but I have never had to mourn the loss of a cleaning lady.

This past Friday I had a meeting with a woman I work for regarding a new client. She wanted to brief me before we went to his office on Monday. What did that mean I wondered. Is he difficult to work for? Is he involved in some shady business? I hope after a day of working with him I won’t need a de-briefing.

Sheila the Bookkeeper’s briefing was taking place at Panera after which Sheila the Author was rushing off to Gizzi’s, another coffee shop in Boca, where she was meeting four local writers to share stories of self-publishing and brainstorm ideas on how to sell more books. By late afternoon both Sheilas would be all jacked up on caffeine.

The day started as it always does, with the age old question, what will I wear? It’s still hot as hell here in South Florida so I decided to go sleeveless, not the best of options at my age. Unlike Michelle Obama, I am not comfortable baring arms. But what’s a girl to do on a day when the temperature will be in the low nineties once again. I chose my favorite navy blue lacy top because it’s slimming and blue is my color.

What to Wear

Then I decided to empty the dishwasher. Bad decision. The lace that hangs over the edge of the little blue camisole caught on the silverware drawer and tore the lace. Housework once again proves to be a dangerous endeavor.


I hunted around for my sewing kit while my husband  typed an invoice for a customer. As always, he required help from me. No matter how many times I explain the difference between Save and Save As, he still needs help.

“You’re on your own from here,” I told him after I opened a new invoice. “I have to sew this shirt.”

“Just wear something else,” was his reply.

Sewing is another domestic skill I never mastered. My mother loved to sew. Back in 1969 my sisters and I were in a PTA fashion show wearing Easter outfits with capes and pillbox hats my mother created.

Easter 1969

The sewing gene must skip a generation as my younger daughter has a talent for it and created some of her own outfits during high school. She also hemmed my pants which is an absolute necessity when you are five feet tall but when she left for college in Denver, I lost my in-house seamstress and I miss her terribly.

But I have the sewing kit I bought at Walmart for emergency lost buttons and other simple things.

sewing kit

Lame, I know. And come to find out, really annoying. How the hell do you thread a needle like this?

Threading a needle?

That hole looks bigger in the picture than in real life. I started swearing. I felt like crying. My frustration was reaching new heights.

I know. There is Ebola and ISIS to worry about and here I was losing my mind over threading a needle. But do you know what the expression “Threading a needle” means? I do. I Googled it. “To skillfully navigate a difficult problem.” This was a difficult problem and yes, it is true it is a first world problem, nothing life threatening or horrible, but I did not have the skills to navigate the task. My daughter did, she had even left a needle still threaded with white thread from when she visited in May, but I needed blue thread.

Threaded needle

Rich offered to help but gave up after a few tries. “Wear something else,” he said again, but I had already made up my mind. I was wearing the dark blue top. It’s comfortable and slimming. It was then that I noticed the array of safety pins in my sewing kit.

safety pins

Now what, gold or silver? I went with silver because the jewelry I was wearing was silver. I know. Complicated decisions must be made every day. Weaving the safety pin through the torn lace it was impossible to entirely hide the pin itself but I was running out of time and finally satisfied with my work I finished getting dressed and headed out the door.

shirt repair

I will have you know, before I left the house I finished unloading the dishwasher and as always there were dirty dishes waiting in line on the counter because as we all know, a woman’s work is never done.


You finish writing a book and you hold in your hands something you created. You unload a dishwasher and immediately fill it with more dirty dishes. Most days I follow the advice of Erma Bombeck. “No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.”



  1. I meant to tell you that I LOVED that navy lace top! I kept looking at it, but who had time to give a compliment. My grandmother was an expert seamstress and made much of my clothing when I was a kid. My sister was also gifted in that department. My mother and I were hopeless. As for cleaning…meh.


  2. OMG! I got stitches while dusting once! I have learned to slow down while cleaning, takes me longer but there is less blood. A friend of mine, very bright woman and corporate social worker, told me about the Swing Shift. With as much progress as women have made, most of us find ourselves working two jobs. One, the job that pays us for our efforts, and the other is the role of homemaker; kids, laundry, housework and husband care. Although I can not go to sleep in an unmade bed, I can look at a lot of dust and just keep walking. Homemaking skills are often envied and always undervalued.


    • And I bet people thought I was making that up! I can’t believe that happened to you too. And that’s just dusting. Imagine the trips to the ER for washing the floor. My daughter once slipped and fell after I waxed my floor. Luckily, she didn’t crack her head open. But she could have!


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