Are you a neat freak? Do you clean and straighten up daily, with a set list of chores for Monday, Tuesday, etc.?

Or do you let everything pile up and clean only when forced by laws of nature (or the state) to do so?

I like to think that my cleaning habits fall somewhere in the middle. There is nothing freakish, scheduled or outlined about my cleaning. I’m not a total slob, nor am I fastidious.

I tend to clean when things start to look unkempt, dusty or out of kilter. Or when company is coming over – whichever is later.

Not long ago, I was inspired to clean under the refrigerator so that I could install peel-and-stick floor tiles in the kitchen. That bare concrete floor just got the best of me and I had to cover it quickly.

You know, before my mother-in-law arrived for the weekend.

Do others regularly delve into that dark abscess of gnarly crud? I do not.

That fact was evident by the assorted grunge that I removed – with a yardstick, because of course the vacuum brush won’t fit – in my hasty attempt to impress my mother in law.

Mingled in the clumped dust and dirt, I found the following:

  • One barely red M&M, as hard as a rock.
  • Shards of broken glass. You always think you got everything when you vacuum after a glass breaks. But no-o-o.
  • Half a peanut. Why are they always just a half? Wouldn’t a whole peanut roll more easily?
  • A produce label from Sunkist. At least it was evidence that something healthful had been in our kitchen.
  • One blueberry and one raisin. Or maybe it was two of the same fruit. They were dark and shriveled, and one was slightly larger than the other.
  • A shriveled leaf of come sort – perhaps cilantro, kale or spinach.
  • A couple of kid vitamins. Note that my kids are now 21 and 26, one doesn’t live there anymore, and I think the other takes “big boy” vitamins now.
  • Three marshmallow stars, obviously from the Lucky Charms. My children haven’t eaten that stuff in at least 15 years.
  • One bead, formerly shiny. This didn’t surprise me, as my husband the artist still has about 7.2 million beads left over from his prior bead business. That, too, was a while ago.
  • One indistinguishable chunk of something that was whitish on the inside and brown on the outside. It was about the size of my thumb, and had no aroma (yes, I sniffed it – I was that curious). It might have been a small piece of potato, or a fat pretzel, perhaps a piece of ginger root. I have no clue.
  • Two doggie treats. I think this could be a recent deposit, from our “grand-dogs.” If not, they had been there a while. Our dog died in 2010.

While some might be aghast that I would air my dirty “laundry,” so to speak, I think that even the dirt and crud tells a story. The vitamins and Lucky Charms, for instance, remind me that my amazing grown boys were once delightful tots.

The bead brought back memories of fun evenings selling beads at festivals so kids could make their own necklaces. We made some great friends too.

The broken glass reminded of long-ago fancy, matching wine glasses that my husband and I shared.

The experience also reminded me that maybe, just maybe, I should clean those hard-to-reach dark spaces a little more often.