Okay now, children, settle down. (I knew the title would get you all going.)

Every now and again it’s shake-down time in this house and the red mist of temper descends. You all know what I mean. It usually follows the unparalleled agony of standing on a tiny Lego figure in your bare feet, the air turns blue and every red blooded male runs for the hills because we women have finally hit our limit (an event that tends to be cyclical) with the chaos that now reigns in our domain, all thanks to the men in our lives.

It happened this week and my son and Hugo still haven’t recovered from the tornado that was Christine as she tore through kitchen, bathrooms and (Oh My God) the biological hazard that was my son’s bedroom. I’ve promised next time I will name and shame him.

The salad drawer in the fridge was shocking with something that might have been a baby carrot in a previous life, tomatoes which had dried out without the aid of the sun – withered chorizo anyone?

The breadbin offered up a ping pong ball, one chocolate button and a burger bun that was evidently taking part in some weird Year 6 science experiment.

The oven needed two full cans of Mr Muscle.

The microwave – well – all I’ll say is I cried, readers, I cried.

I found three socks, not matching, empty chip packets, car keys that went missing three months ago and six one pound coins down the side of the couches in the lounge.

Then just to compound the horror, I decided to clear out my closet. Why, Christine? I hear you ask. Don’t you have enough to do with editing two books at the same time as well as writing a weekly serialised story on your blog and have a new book coming out this week, along with social networking and guest blogging. What are you doing, woman?

In my defence all I’ll say is I was demented by this time, so I set about shovelling through T-shirts/vests/leggings/hoodie. Pointless, thankless task. The wonderful streamlined look will last for all of three days, max. No matter how fabulous and liberated you feel after a mammoth clear out, as you survey the six bursting black bin bags, colour co-ordinated T-shirts, sweaters and neatly folded jeans, within a couple of heart beats your favourite best silky top is trapped under a stool, and two sweaters and a pair of pants are found stillborn on the floor.

It’s the same with shovelling clearing out the cars. I’ve tested this in the past: as soon as the last apple core is cleared out from the glove compartment, the melted candy from between the seats, 48 hours later it morphs back into a dumpster on wheels.

Or is this just me?

Sometimes I worry and promise to do better.

Friends of mine are always smart and very well put together. And I’ve seen their kitchens, they (or their cleaners) must spend hours scrubbing the white grout between their tiles with toothbrushes. And I bet their ovens are sparkling and their microwaves are a thing of beauty.

So here’s my ‘will do better’ list:

Hang up and put away.

Do not leave clothes in a scrunched up ball on the floor.

Wear matching bra and panties and not just for visits to the GP/hospital.

I will do a little and often (cleaning that is).

I will stop terrorising the men in my family and ask them nicely to please clean up after themselves (they asked me to put that in btw.)

Anyway, peace and tranquillity has now returned to the household. It’s all looking sparkly with the surfaces gleaming and glass glistening.

Hugo’s just stepped out of his study (a room I never set foot in because the dust bunnies on the floor are breeding) and he put his arm around me.

‘Don’t worry, honey. Your friends might have cleaner houses. But they can’t tell a story like you can and bring sheer entertainment to the masses.’

And do you know something? He’s absolutely right, no wonder I adore him.

What’s more important, my readers or my oven?

No contest really, is there?

You know I love to hear from you guys, tell me I’m not alone and share your dirty little secrets with us, we won’t tell a soul!

And chapter sixteen of Desert Orchid is up. This story’s nearly at THE END.



  1. My dear friend, you really are not alone!! My house is a disaster area. I’m in the process of going through EVERYTHING we own and getting rid of stuff just so that I can rearrange every room in the house. Why? Because my lovely daughter and granddaughter are coming to live with me for a bit. I must make room and baby proof!
    Matter of fact, the other day my hubby and I were cleaning our 75 gallon fish tank. It desperately needed it as the green water was hiding the fish from each other. About half way through, five gallons of fishy water ended up all over the floor. The handle on the bucket we had siphoned it into (so that we could dispose of it down the drains) snapped right in two. I saw it all happen in slow motion, the handle broke, the bucket fell (even bounced once I believe!) and slowly tipped over, sloshing green icky water everywhere.
    It took all day to clean up. But now my floors are mopped and that room is quite clean. 🙂
    The rest of the house? Still in chaos. I don’t even dare open the microwave right now. One room at a time, I say.
    But only AFTER you finish the books. Priorities! LOL

  2. Somethings gotta give! You are working full time and keeping up with an active family and you don’t have a cleaning lady. I feel your pain and am in the same boat. I stopped entertaining a while ago. Then my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother paid us a visit and boy did I whip my house into shape! I don’t have kids at home anymore so I don’t find errant apple cores in the glove compartment, but I still have a lot to keep up with.
    I really don’t think anyone notices the dust bunnies anyway!
    Congrats on another book coming out and all your rewrites! I am still working on my first and have a ways to go….
    Sounds like you have a wonderful husband. We should count our blessings and not the shriveled up baby carrots in the vegie bin! Hahaha!

    • Hey, darling,

      Yes, something’s gotta give – my sanity! Actually, you’re quite right, if I had a boyfriend’s mother visiting, it would definitely motivate me too!

      Susie, if you’re books are anything like your blog, you’ll rock!

  3. Trash is not allowed in my car! However, it does badly need a bath. Too dang hot to wash it, though! My house, on the other hand… hmm, yes. Sounds like yours, pre-cleaning spree. I’m looking to buy a 125-gallon tank for my turtle. Don’t even want to think about that spilling…

  4. You’re so funny, Christine! Just love this. Mostly because I don’t feel so alone now. LOL I just made myself a promise this morning that I was going to do one room at a time and get rid of everything I possibly can. If I haven’t used it lately, it has to go! I had something spill in my oven the other day and I still haven’t cleaned it out. I hate to even open the door. But tomorrow…after the Farmer’s Market run, I’m tackling the oven and the fridge. Maybe it would be better just to move off and leave everything. 🙂

    • Aww, baby, I know how you feel.

      Until I got sick, my oven, microwave and kitchen floor were a thing of beauty. You could eat your dinner off my floor. But now I don’t bother so much because I know what’s important in life, she says.

      However, there’s nothing quite like that deep little curl of satisfaction when everything that surrounds you in your life is at the peak of condition. It looks and smells fabulous and all is right with the world… until… a member of your family (whom you love and adore) spills something and trying to clean it up makes a worse mess and trying to clean that up… well, you can see where I’m going with this.

      The point is we do what we can and as long as no one is poisoned with botulism then all is fine with the world. Until I flip – and it’s not pretty, trust me – I bet you thought I was a really nice person, dead calm and lovely?

      Nope. I’m a bloody monster when I get going, just ask the men in this house. They’re on prozac!

      Sigh, the life of a writer, who knew?

  5. I take home messiness as a sign of creative productivity, and a very good sign. 😉 On my most hectic of days, I save “cleaning” (more like cleaning the bits that look worst and hiding the rest) for evening and order food in. If it’s really bad, I just take out my contacts. LOL!

    We all need to cut ourselves some slack and hugs ourselves for prioritizing our work and worthy awesomeness. HUGS!

  6. I actually envy you…no seriously! I grew up with a perfectionist father that would huff and puff over little things like lint on top the dryer. So, I actually feel guilty when my house is dirty and guilt is the death of creativity! So, you go girl! Put your family and your writing first! In the end, a clean oven isn’t even in the running for importance 🙂

    • Ah, Shannon, yes, you’re so right.

      I used to feel physically ill if my house wasn’t up to a certain standard, thanks to a parent who used to check the tops of doors (not joking) which meant I never could ‘win’. So I totally get the guilt thing and you’re absolutely right. I keep promising to do a little every day, but it’s not working out like that. Thankfully, the family are an understanding bunch, except when they take the p**s and test me. That’s when the head spinning on the shoulders happens and it is not pretty.

  7. Too funny, as usual. I’m so envious because you make it seem effortless. Until last January, hadn’t had a place to call home for several years. Everything was in storage units in three different states.
    As of January, we have a place. Slowly getting things in place, but though it looks comfy, it’s also clutter free (dust bunnies excluded). Actually looking forward to creating clutter.
    I’m glad to see, however, that you all seem to have your priorities right. What’s a little mess between friends and family?

    • Effortless? Are you kidding?????


      Actually, I totally get you, Johanna. I’ve had over twenty house moves in my life. Where we are now is just about the longest we’ve ever been in the one place consistently. And it’s scary how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate. Worry not, you’ll be making dust bunny babies just like the rest of us. Interesting isn’t it? What makes a house a home is the ability to be our authentic selves where no one judges us and friends and family feel right at home.

      Everyone who’s posted here has the right attitude and you’re all welcome any time – bring your own rubber gloves.

  8. Hi Christine

    If you’ve finished round your house … just kidding, just kidding.

    Good luck with the launch of Stormy Spring. Do you have a party or similar planned?


    • Hello, Nigel.

      Ha! Not a chance!

      No, I’ve not thought of a party to launch the book since I’ve no idea how I’d go about organising such a thing. I’m new at all this promotional stuff and tend to focus on my writing. However, I know I need to knuckle down and get my head around it. Not easy when I’m in full creative flow and I want to make the most of it because creativity can be a fickle creature and who knows when it will return.

      But thank you for the good wishes, I appreciate it.

  9. Ha! You may be crying but I’m laughing. 🙂 I can so relate. There’s a ring around our toilets that no amount of scrubbing will remove and pink mold in the shower and a weird smell from the trash cabinet! I just mowed our back yard… but now I see the mulch areas that are supposed to have bushes and flowers in the need mowing for all the weeds that are in them!

    • Tamara darling,

      Lovely to see you! Don’t talk to me about gardens, ours is like a jungle with all the rain we’re having.

      It’s not easy being a mother, a wife and a lover!!!! Just say’in.

  10. Sigh. Christine, I gave up removing dust bunnies years ago. They’re practically my pets now. I’ve just been around the house as it was my turn to load the dishwasher and found fourteen cups. This is bearing in mind it’s just me and DH who live here. I took the remnants of bags of bread from my bread-bin only yesterday, right in front of my mum, and as I opened them puffs of penicillin came out. She didn’t batter an eyelid because I’ve always been the same – writing first, housework second. Me and Tim were fine for years because he used to love housework. Then he took up photography. Two creatives in a house does not a clean place make. If we ever have kids, they’d better come equipped with rubber gloves and a mop. Either that or a strong disposition. Another great post! Hugs. Linds xxx

    • Well, hello Lindsay,

      Two creatives living in the same house – nothing like a challenge.

      You know we have the best job in the world because there’s no one here to make demands except ourselves? And that’s the problem. In our previous lives (before insanity prevailed) we were on top of things. In fact my kitchen floor was a legend in its own time and how sad was that? What I’m looking for a happy medium, a balance, the zen, the chi of housekeeping. And the bigger it is, the dirtier it becomes. My dust bunnies are happily fornicating in every corner as if they’re on catnip. It is not a pretty sight.

      Lovely to hear from you, my darling.

  11. My favorite moments are when I stop to clean up my room. For a few days it sparkles. Then the dust creeps back in and the dog hair clings to the rug. When I’m working the room is a wreck. It’s when I need a break that the room gets tidier. I can’t imagine keeping a house clean while writing. You’re awesome for tackling so much in a weekend! 🙂

  12. Christine, this is priceless! I do remember the Lego’s pain all too well. Occasionally a grandson visits and I revisit that particular issue. For the most part, I’m right there with Lindsay – two creative types in my house. Not a lot of cleaning goes on here. Hey, I thought I was the only one with dust bunny pets! LOL I do have what I call a ‘yuck point’ when reached I become all about screamin’ and cleanin’. But you know what maturity brings? A yuck point that’s farther and farther away. Oh, it’s still there, and I’ll have to clean — someday — maybe next Christmas. 🙂

  13. Now I always thought the self-cleaning bottom of the oven took care of things for you so I didn’t have to do anything. Am I wrong? 😉 Seriously? I am always making comments to my husband about how everyone else’s house always looks so clean and ours is always a mess. Laundry baskets are always sitting around waiting for loads to either be washed or put away. Kids stuff keeps creeping out of the room – both my little ones and my big one. He tells me I just don’t see my friend’s messes because they clean it up before I get there. Still, our house keeps me from wanting the kids to have any of their friends over. It’s sad. If I had help it might be a different story. Oh! And the things that have happened while I have been writing. I was once going to write a post about it months ago, but never did. I still have nail polish writing on the walls I haven’t cleaned off. *sigh* But I love my writing time,wouldn’t trade it. I know you feel the same.

    Congratulations on the latest release! Woohoo! You are going places. 😀

    • LOL!

      You’re right! I wouldn’t trade writing time either! However, I want it all, Debra, I want it all.

      And the oven *shudder* I hate the oven. When DH hears the rubber glove snap he runs, fast!

  14. OMG, Christine, did you peak into my house??? I feel so much better now–I’m not alone! THANK YOU! My ultimate dream? Not to make enough to quit the day job…but to make enough to quit the day job AND hire a cleaning lady.

    Some day, I promise myself, some day soon.

    • I’m doing a little boogie here that you’ve popped in to say hello, Stacey!

      Yes, the cleaning lady. The trouble with that is I’d need to clean before she came or die of shame!

      Thank you for commenting, am thrilled.

      • Glad to be here. Loved the post. And the trick would be to have her come often enough (once or twice? a week) so that it’s not so bad in between. If I didn’t have to clean anymore, I think I could handle the shame for the initial cleaning. It would fade very fast. 🙂

  15. I’m in the same boat, Christine. I’ve never been a neat one and kids having their toys all over doesn’t help with the cleaning effort. My trick is having friends over every two weeks for dinner that my chef friend prepares. I clean before they arrive 😉 I also invite my mother to visit every month and that’s another cleaning session.

    I get occasional cleaning bouts, usually when I should be doing something else. I’ve gotten used to the mess but it’s always a good feeling when the house is clean and clutter free.

  16. Hi Reetta,

    How’s life in the land of twenty four hour sunlight? Hope your weather’s better than ours!

    Ah, yes, having my mother visit. Nope, not going to happen. I’d need a sedative. And my children know better. The only time when I gut the place these days is when I’m having trouble with a story. So every cloud has a silver lining! The muse has taken up residence in the MacKenzie brain, long may she stay!

  17. See, now I know that I am losing my mind. I thought I came by here already. That just proves there’s just too much going on in my life Christine. Can it stop? And what are you doing spring cleaning in July? Your family must think your nuts! Let’s see. Hugo has already bought you a new vacumn and a shiny Mac. Is there something else you’re after? Or is this just an everyday occurrence in the MacKenzie household? Get back to the keyboard and type my girl. This all sounds too dangerous to me. I know I’m a clean freak, but you are going to cause an injury! 🙂

    • OMG!

      You can stop by here anytime. Yes, and the shiny new Mac is looking like something out the space age. The keyboard took a little getting used to. Where, I wondered for ages, is the # tag? Then I Googled it and found it.

      And I’m always after something else, she purred. 😉

      And I am not a clean freak – used to be – but life is too short!

      I am writing, I am. Honest

        • I noticed that you didn’t have share buttons. What is this world coming to? Hurry up Hugo! And then you need the “Comment Love” widget. I want you to know that I installed that myself my dear friend. I am learning html and installing widgets. This is all sounding very kinky to me. LOL! I need to get a life. Seriously. Now I ask you, do normal people do this? Don’t even answer that question. 🙂

  18. A comment love widget? Must get him to do that, like, NOW!

    Normal people do not do this, because writers are not normal people, we are creative, live in our heads type of people which means we are one step away from a mental institution. As can be seen by your comments! 🙂

  19. Congrats on the release of A Stormy Spring! Woot! This post is so funny. Sounds like my house. Your hubby is a gem. Yes, readers are more important than your oven!

  20. Hi CC, I thought I’d stop by and thank you again for visiting my blog. I loved this post about cleaning a house because I am right there with you. One of my daughter’s friend’s mother doesn’t work, she stays at home with the kids and goes to the gym and you could eat off her floor it’s so clean. But she grates my nerves because she’s constantly complaining about how bored she is.

    That alone reminds me that even though I’m backed up against the wall with everything I have to do, at least I’m doing things that I want to do, that make me happy, that fulfill me. And then I count my blessings.

    So, you might have a messy house but at least you’re not “bored.” 🙂

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