Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Sisyphean task

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king punished in Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again, and to repeat this throughout eternity.

Today, Sisyphean can be used as an adjective meaning that an activity is unending and/or repetitive. It could also be used to refer to tasks that are pointless and unrewarding.

Sisyphean task: a punishment from the Gods.

They must be talking about vacuuming. One of the curses of pet ownership is constant cleaning. I should have a sign out front that says Welcome to the Fur Factory.

I tell people I could grow plants in the grout on my living room floor. If I dare open the doors or windows, the house is immediately covered in a coat of dust. I hate living in stale air, so I open the doors often- and suffer for it. Part of the problem is I live on the outskirts of San Diego, with miles of dirt everywhere, including my own half acre. The corral with two active horses in it contributes to the dust, but even if I didn’t have horses, the neighbors have plenty of their own dirt to share.

My pets are no help. I have learned the curse of the Persian cat – constant shedding. I now have them shaved to the skin several times a year (see photos). It is that or vacuum every day- literally. I’ve owned long-haired cats before. Even my Maine Coon didn’t shed like this.

Shelties shed and shed some more. Three of them contribute to healthy fur balls under the oven, frig, and in every corner. If I was obsessive, and didn’t have a job, I could vacuum full time and not keep up.

The perfect set-up

One of the reasons I bought this house is that is perfectly set up for animals. The walls in my hallways are covered halfway up with wainscoting in a dark mahogany finish that doesn’t show the dirt. I’m sure the “Designed to Sell” experts would come in and say “brighten up this hall! Let’s paint it!” You couldn’t pay me enough to paint it white.

I put dark commercial carpeting in the bedrooms so the dirt wouldn’t show. White, shedding cats foiled my attempt to create a low maintenance home. My living room, kitchen and office, where the dogs spend all their time, are tiled in a mottled tan ceramic tile. Perfect because it doesn’t show spots. Easy maintenance is the key for pet owners. I don't put down area rugs. Pointless. My rooms are carpeted in dog beds. 

I have washable slipcovers on my couch and recliner. They get washed almost every week. Not too pretty, but very functional. When I have company I can take them off and the place looks great.

I wipe down the TV screens with a fabric softener sheet. It’s the only way I can get the dust off. My computer printers are covered with hand towels.

No person in their right mind would buy a dog bed that isn’t washable, but Petco carries them. What were they thinking? 

The dogs never go in the carpeted rooms, which prevents accidents. The cats make up for it by throwing up an occasional hairball. I may never get another longhaired cat.

I’ve always loved long-haired animals, from collies to Persian cats. I guess I’m willing to pay the price. A lot like Sisyphus, I will spend eternity rolling a giant hairball out the door and up the hill to the trash can. 

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