It's been a spring cleaning week, even though we've had snow nearly every day. (Here in the far reaches of northern New York, it's not been the kind of snow that has made the news. Just a couple inches of wet slushy mess.)

So vacuuming, laundry, making runs to the bottle return, scrubbing down counter-tops, dusting all the horizontal surfaces. We would have used the wet mop, except that the mop head needed replacing and they change the mops every year or so in order to make sure the new mop heads will not work on the old mop poles; the replacement mop head we had on hand was useless, so we'll have to get a new mop today.

But we did manage to get the kid to hand-clean the upstairs bathroom floor with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge. That was probably the most miraculous thing that's happened here in a couple years. He was wanting an expansion pack for his Zelda game that cost $20, and he had already spent all his own money on something else. Brooke offered to give him $5 credit toward the game for doing it. When that worked, I used the same tactics to get him to change the cat litter. It was worth every penny. We have 3 cats, and the litter is really, really bad.

After a week of cleaning, the house still needs a good cleaning. It's a big house and we have a tendendy to let it go, because as the line from Free to Be You and Me so wisely put it: "Housework is just no fun."

It's a certainty that as I finish putting the vacuum cleaner away I'll find a tumbleweed of pet hair rolling by. "Someone needs to vacuum around here," I'll say. This week we have an appointment for the dog to get a haircut and "de-shedding" treatment. That should at least stop the clumps of fur from appearing around the house for a couple weeks.

In the same way, Brooke will pass by a horizontal surface that was dusted within the past day and drag a finger across it leaving a trail in the dust. "Didn't we just wipe this?" she'll ask. It's because of the old furnace. Even when we change the filters, it's so old and leaky that most of the air goes into the intake sucked in around the filters rather than through them. With the windows closed all winter, by March we all have chronic runny noses from the dust level. As soon as we start having occasional daytime temperatures in the 50s, we'll start opening windows just to get a clean air exchange.

We get started on our spring cleaning in March, even though it's not going to be Spring here for another couple months, partly because it takes so long to get it all done, and also because when Spring finally does come, it'll be short. It lasts only a day or two here in the north country. Last year, I think, Spring was on a Wednesday. So we have to be ready to enjoy it when it comes. We have to be prepared.