Spring – For Real Women
Ah, Spring! When the flowers begin to bloom, love is in the air and a woman can don her cheery apron, call forth an array of singing forest creatures and swiffer her way through a little spring cleaning.
Well, missy, not this year. This year, I want you to hire your own Cinderella to do the Spring Cleaning. You, my dear, are going to do the Spring Maintenance.
Doesn’t that sound wonderfully powerful and independent? Like something Jackie O. would do, only she’d be doing it in a Chanel pantsuit while the rest of us can only afford to wear the perfume.
So, spritz a little number 5 behind your ears, put on your grungiest jeans, it’s time to run through my simple “TomGirl’s DIY Guide to Spring Home Renewal.” You will get another guide in the Fall and we will wear Dior for that.
1. Check the date on your fire extinguisher. Be sure it has not expired and is functional. Oh, and of course, make sure you have a fire extinguisher in the first place. It should be in your kitchen ready to put out any very hot toast or cherry flambé gone awry.
2. Clean your kitchen exhaust hood and air filter. Notice I did NOT say clean the kitchen. Leave that for your Cindy.
3. Check the shut-off valves in your home. There is one for each plumbing fixture. You don’t want to find out too late that you can’t stop the flow of water. If you’re like me, you’ll also consider installing a shut-off valve for your kids, but that’s another column altogether.
4. Check the hoses to appliances like your dishwasher and washer. Replace if cracked or worn and tighten if loose.
5. Vacuum the coils at the back of your refrigerator. Yes, yes, I did say vacuum. But after you’ve completed this job, put your vacuum away immediately.
6. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, then wipe off the covers. Put your hands over ears and test them. Trust me, this will be loud enough to scare away any remaining Disney critters.
7. Replace or clean your furnace filter. You should do this every two to three months – especially at the start of each new season.
8. Clean your fireplace or pellet stove. This type of cleaning has been pre-approved as it does not involve swiffering or magic scrubbing bubbles. Again, those jobs to Cindy.
9. Clean out the ductwork to your dryer. You can buy long brushes that do just this at your local hardware store.
10. Clean all fan blades around the house. Turn the switch so that air will be pushed down. Hot air rises so you want to circulate it the opposite way.
11. Check outside to see if there is any damage to your gutters, downspouts or shingles. If you are very lucky, the snow we’ve had this winter will have separated your gutters from your house and you’ll need to re-secure them with a hammer. Also, make sure your gutters are free of debris. There are people who will do this for you, but you don’t need them.
12. Clean around the outside of your heat pump system. This type of cleaning has also been approved because it happens outside.
13. Check the caulking around your windows and doors both inside and out and repair as necessary. Caulking should be spongy- like, well, a sponge.
14. Vacuum your interior grills and registers to ensure proper airflow. Again, put your vacuum away as soon as is humanly possible.
15. Check your basement and make sure that there are no unsealed cracks or fissures. Seal them before April showers turn into wet socks.
16. Check around the perimeter of your house where the utility lines enter (electrical, cable, telephone). You are looking for holes around the lines. Seal any you find with a foam sealer to prevent small animals from entering – and not the cute talking kind. (By the way, pray that you DO in fact have holes around your lines. There is nothing more fun than foam sealer. Except maybe caulk. Make this a topic of debate at your next girl’s night out.
17. Check your deck and re-nail loose boards and replace any rotting or splintering wood. Another chance to use your hammer and maybe even your crowbar.
18. Go back inside, pay the maid and take a hot bath. If you hum, the little birds might even return to carry your robe to your shoulders.
One final task: Before you bath, breathe in deeply. Never forgot the smell of Chanel Number 5 mixed with a little soot, a hint of leaf mold and the fresh scent of expanding foam and spongy caulk. This is the signature ToolBox TomGirl fragrance. The one that reminds you that you can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let him forget that you don’t need a man. You may happen to want one, but need? That’s for those women who can’t even wake up without a prince charming.