Monday, August 28, 2006

The Need for Speed and Mom Clean

Well, my ‘net connection is back up to speed today and I’ve spent my (abbreviated – I slept in quite late) morning trying to catch up on my reading, which was nigh-on impossible to do all weekend. One would think any connection is better than no connection at all, but I don’t subscribe to that point of view, at least when it comes to semi-serious reading. If the time it takes for a web page to load exceeds the speed of thought by, say, a factor of four or five, then the experience becomes an exercise in futility and frustration rather than enlightenment. Perhaps I’m impatient in the extreme. Or maybe I have a very minor case of ADD. Whatever the reason, I finally came to the conclusion that things weren’t going to get better, speed-wise, and I abandoned the ‘net for the duration... “duration” being defined as “until Monday.” Oh, and the speed I was getting? It varied from ridiculous (2400 bps) to abysmal (12 Kbps). You just can’t surf today’s web at those speeds. The experience truly becomes the “world wide wait.”

So…Given the lack of internet, I took the opportunity to spruce up El Casa Móvil De Pennington, among other things. Cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, washed windows, dusted those places that normally don’t get dusted, purged the magazine pile… yadda, yadda, yadda. The bottom line is my abode now meets or exceeds my personal standard of order and cleanliness. And, as we all know, the standards for “clean” and “order” vary wildly. The hierarchy, as I know it:

1. Mom Clean
2. Microelectronics assembly facilities (“Clean” Rooms)
3. Surgical Amphitheaters
4. Military “Inspection Order”

39. Slaughter Houses
43. Health Department Standards
47. USDA Inspection Standards
63. Open-air markets in Southeast Asia
72. Any given college dorm room
96. Chicken Coops

And so on… I’m probably somewhere around 13 or 14 in the general hierarchy, and I certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to have my Mom visit today. Emphasis on “my.” Not all Moms are created equal, ya know, and I suspect the definition of Mom Clean depends on the Mom. The Second Mrs. Pennington defined “Mom Clean” for me on the occasion of my former mother-in-law’s first visit to our household back in 1981 or so, when we were living in England. That visit was preceded by a cleaning frenzy the likes of which I had never witnessed before, and it sorta mystified me, as we were the first tenants in brand-new Air Force family housing (see list item four, above) and I thought our home was very well-kept. But clean we did. For a couple of weeks. In the end our house was immaculate, and I’m surprised TSMP didn’t go out and acquire some of those “Sanitized For Your Protection” glass wrappers and toilet seat covers one used to find in motels, back in the day.

And so it continued all through the ‘80s. The in-laws never arrived unannounced, even when we lived within a two-hour drive of each other. We always had at least a week’s warning, and that week was marked with a cleaning campaign. I must also add that our day-to-day standards of cleanliness were quite good; I never had reason to complain about the way we kept house. TSMP eventually abandoned the whole concept of Mom Clean somewhere in the early ‘90s, to my great relief. I often wondered if TSMP’s Mom thought we’d gone into some sort of housekeeping tailspin. But she (my Mom-in-law) never said anything. But the concept of Mom Clean lives on in my mind, at least, if not in actual execution.

Today’s Pic: More Yellowstone, this time it’s a collage of four pics. Taken in May, 2000.


  1. On my hierarchy clean list there is a difference between "Mom clean" and "Mother-in-law clean". The latter being higher on the list.

    I like the pics. Nice hair. By the way, I did some checking. The San Vito, Italy, where we stayed is a suburb of Pescara. San Vito dei Normanni is further south of Bari. We did not make it that far south on our sight-seeing expeditions. I am so glad you brought up the subject because I really did think my friend was crazy when she insisted that her father was stationed at San Vito (she isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer anyway).

    Thanks for stopping by my blog - that picture was meant especially for you.

  2. Loved this, Buck. Your "order of clean" cracked me up, too. I have a bad case of the whirling dervish Mom Clean behavior whenever a woman visits. I'm known to clean out corners of places never before seen by man before a visit takes place. My mom is much more relaxed. In fact, she'll scold me on the phone before coming for a visit herself and demand that I not clean. When she arrives, she'll look at my husband and ask, "Did she go out of her way?" He'll usually shrug noncommitally.
    Sheesh. I think it's a disease. (Is there an equivalent for men?)

    As soon as I saw your Yellowstone pics, I raced over to get my eldest to take a look. He had just gotten up from the computer where he had been putting our 2004 trip pictures in order - of the buffalo and geysers at Yellowstone!!

  3. bag blog -
    I've been enjoying your posts and pictures, too. I sure do agree with you about homeschooling. My guys are intelligent and creative kids, but it wasn't until college that they finally felt truly engaged. There is life after school, that's for sure.

  4. I'm probably about the same on your mom clean list as you are, Buck. I'll go awhile on just picking up, but then it takes a major event for me to clean everything thoroughly all at once.

  5. Lou: I figured there might be more than one San Vito. I was serious when I said the guys I knew raved about the duty. San Vito, Berlin, and Chicksands, England (about an hour and a half north of London) were probably the Top Three assignments in the spook biz, back in the day.

    Bec: "Is there an equivalent for men?" I'm not completely sure, but I don't think so. There could be...

    Laurie: I clean like a fiend before non-smoking friends arrive for an extended visit, doing things like washing walls, etc. Smoke, and its residue, stinks. That's one "major event" that'll precipitate serious cleaning. It's good to have friends...


  6. The next qualifying event I see in the near future for a good clean is.... I'm thinking about getting satellite for television. A repairman visiting several rooms and likely rummaging around the floorboards behind furniture will be cause for some cleaning.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.