poetry and prose about place

from the pages of an old diary – spring cleaning

with 11 comments

My great-aunt’s diary shows she cleaned her house with regularity.  She had a big two-story house on the main street of the village, with a porch on the front.  On the main floor the rooms included a kitchen, pantry, storeroom, dining room, small front room and sitting room.   There was also a ‘little porch’ and a ‘little entry’ where the wood box was kept.  Upstairs she had the main bedroom, a ‘spare room’, a bathroom, and other rooms, joined by a hall and a ‘little hall’.    The house had a cellar, and an out-house.

Each year, she punctuated her regular cleaning with a vigorous bout of spring cleaning, beginning in late March and lasting through May.  She also did another round of ‘doing up curtains’ and ‘cleaning storm windows’ in October.  Her spring cleaning was methodical, involved a room or a couple of smaller rooms each day, and went from floor to ceiling.  Painting was included as part of the process. 

In 1957, the diary entries related to spring cleaning are: 

Mar 26             ‘cleaned my kitchen ceiling walls’

April 1             ‘I painted some in pantry… I washed dining room ceiling.’

April 2             ‘I painted some this a.m.’

April 3             ‘I finished painting the pantry.’

April 5             ‘I cleaned china closet. linen drawers.’ 

                              (I have one item from her linens, an embroidered table runner with her initial)

April 8             ‘I painted one rocking chair.’

April 15           ‘I cleaned the small front room.’

April 16           ‘I cleaned sitting-room.’

April 17           ‘I cleaned dining-room.’

April 18           ‘I did the dining room curtains up also the tidies in rooms. went over the house. ’

April 27           ‘we took the storm windows off cleaned windows on the out side. 

                               I also cleaned ½ store room.’

May 1               ‘I finished store-room cleaned bath room.’

May 6               ‘I did the spare room  washed curtains got them up. ’

May 7               ‘I wash[ed] my bedroom curtains this a.m did them up this eve.’

May 8               ‘I cleaned the back front rooms upstairs. washed ceilings did the floors.’

May 14             ‘cleaned the bathroom little hall’

May 15             ‘cleaned hall stairs.’

May 21             ‘I cleaned little porch.’

May 23             ‘I cleaned the cellar  

                               painted window sills upstairs windows wood-box down stairs in little entry.  

                               also cleaned out-house.’

House cleaned, she turned her attention to the garden.  On May 20, she wrote ‘I planted my glads dahlias.’  and on May 25, her husband made and painted a new flower box for her.





bits of cloud spellbound

by ceiling

they mesmerize

and float, dust appended

to spider’s web, thought appended

to tongue, nothing built on nothingness

rumours banished by a broom


© Jane Tims 2012

a linen table runner, embroidered with scalloped edges and her initial, made by my great-aunt

Written by jane tims

February 8, 2012 at 6:38 am

11 Responses

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  1. I remember all of these activities from my grandmother’s home, where we lived our childhood. You’ve captured them well. I always appreciate the twists in the story that the poems reveal.


    Carol Steel

    February 13, 2012 at 7:09 am

    • Hi. I should say that the poems are not always related directly to the story of my great-aunt. Most are from my own experiences or imagination. Having said that, I have a few upcoming poems that are direct responses to her diary entries and I’ve included the original diary entry and tried to keep the poems factual. Glad these posts are reminding you of some of your own experiences! Jane


      jane tims

      February 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

  2. I’m going to do a slow and methodical spring cleaning this year so it was great to read this and think about how I’m going to go about it. Painting will be involved in two rooms, and it has seemed (in my mind) like a daunting project. Slow and steady will make it easier. I hope. 🙂

    Loved this line from your poem: “rumours banished by a broom”



    February 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    • Hi Robin. Thanks for pointing out the line you like. It helps to know what works. Speaking of working, my house also needs a spring cleaning. However, for me, planning is one thing, doing is another! Jane


      jane tims

      February 13, 2012 at 6:40 am

  3. I like the idea of spreading spring cleaning out over a few months, with the gardening to look forward to when finished. Most of the time the prospect seems so overwhelming that I don’t ever really get started. But one room at a time seems doable. Maybe keeping a record of it would add a sense of accomplishment…


    Barbara Rodgers

    February 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    • Hi Barbara. I agree. I spread my cleaning out over such a long time, it never really gets done. The logic of my great-aunt’s method must be why the idea of spring cleaning was invented. Jane


      jane tims

      February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  4. Hi Jane, How wonderful to have your great-aunt’s diary. This entry inspires me to remember how my Swedish Nanna cleaned. She had a schedule. But that also meant she didn’t worry about everything at once. One day a week was for her women’s group at her church. I have some linens from her too. Ellen


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    February 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    • Hi Ellen. My great-aunt’s methodical way of cleaning makes me feel inspired to tackle tasks one at a time and not see this entire mess all at once!!! It sounds like your Nanna (grand-mother?) had similar ties with her community… my great-aunt also loved her women’s groups. Jane


      jane tims

      February 10, 2012 at 6:47 am

  5. Hi Denis. Thanks. I always am glad when you visit my Blog/Post…er Blog… er Post…. Jane


    jane tims

    February 9, 2012 at 7:50 am

  6. Great poem and drawing Jane!



    February 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

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