Come on in. Sit down. Get comfortable. Oh, just slide that laundry basket over to the other end of the couch. It’s clean towels that haven’t been folded yet. At least I think they’re clean. Or was I on my way to the washer to do a load? Never mind, I’ll sort it out later.

Obviously, we don’t get a lot of company, or at least returning visitors — especially any that require a white glove test before entering. But there’s no Health Department warning on the front door — yet. Still, it’s an “Enter at your own risk” deal. Would you mind signing this release form — the one absolving us of any liability during your stay?

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never earn the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. I can live with that. It’s nothing I’ve ever aspired to anyway, much to the chagrin of my high school home ec teacher.

It’s not that we don’t clean the house. It’s just it’s never all clean at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong. I insist on a path to every room. It may be a narrow path, with a trail of crumbs marking the way, but that’s OK. None of us has high standards of cleanliness. However, if the clutter is so bad in the children’s rooms that I have to hurdle laundry baskets, a stack of books or various electronics, I wave good night from the doorway, blow them a kiss and hope there is no new life form growing under that pile of dirty clothes on the floor.

We have enough critters in the house already. Our dwarf rabbit has multitudes of relatives mating under beds, tables, couches and so forth. The kids have grown fond of these “dust bunnies” and started to name them. At least the dust bunnies don’t chew on electrical cords, poop on the couch or gnaw on the table leg like the real rascally rabbit.

In desperation, we’ve tried different maid services to help us clean up our act. But they want you to pick up things before they come and have all the cleaning supplies ready for them, so what’s the point? I could cut a swath more easily myself if everything was off the floor and in its place. Like that’s ever going to happen.

There are times when I’ve considered becoming a Shaker. I love how neat, tidy and uncluttered everything is at Pleasant Hill. After every visit I’m tempted to install wooden pegs around the house and hang up chairs, clothes, coats and kids. That would make cleaning a whole lot easier.

Like Popeye the Sailor, I do have a breaking point when “It’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” That calls for action — shoveling out clutter, stacking stuff in closets, sending things to Goodwill.

That’s pretty satisfying — up to a point. The only problem with putting things away in perfectly good places is that I forget where I put them. And of course I need them shortly after they’re tucked away in their ideal spot. It may be months before I stumble upon them again — at which point I marvel over my logical reasoning for putting them there in the first place.

Now how, you might ask, do I spend all my free time because I’m not engaged in senseless cleaning, mopping, dusting and other unsatisfying household chores? Usually I’m outside kicking a ball, throwing a ball, hitting a ball or some such activity with any combination of kids. It used to be more fun when they were younger and shorter — much shorter — and I was more agile.

When you have a 6-foot-tall son guarding a 5-foot-tall mom, it’s impossible for me to get anywhere near the basketball goal, let alone score, unless I can perfect that across-the-street shot where his long arms can’t reach.

At least we’re in the great outdoors where dirt is a natural, acceptable part of our surroundings. I don’t feel compelled to get a broom and sweep it away. Cobwebs? No problem — it would be rude to destroy such artistic work in a spider’s natural habitat. And I don’t need to clean any windows for a better view of Mother Nature.

So, I’m banking on the kids remembering more about Mom playing with them outside than yelling at them inside to clean up their room. The rest of you will just have to enter at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

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