My shoulders are heavy and my stomach is tight. It’s just time to purge the house. Yet I hate facing stuff I should let go of, maybe because we grew up poor. Surely you’ll need the black cotton jacket that makes you look 20 years older? What happens if you run out of regular soap and you don’t have any hotel soap at hand?
Still, my husband’s aunt is coming to town, and it’s difficult to clean when you have clutter.
Abigail Adams knew the value of cleaning. In 1784 she was traveling with her daughter on the little trading ship Active, heading for Britain to reunite with her husband John. She and the other passengers became seasick. All she could do was crawl to the deck and gulp fresh air once a day. As she recovered, she was repulsed by the “horrible dirtiness” of the ship.
In a letter to her sister, she wrote that she “soon exerted my authority with scrapers, mops, brushes, infuses of vinegar.” In a few hours, it looked like a different ship.
She wasn’t finished. She worked on the ship’s cook, getting him to improve the food and even cooked some meals herself.
She did it all with charm, touring the ship with the captain and learning the names and locations of the masts and sails. Soon he told her he was sure she knew the ship well enough to steer and “to take a trick at the helm.”
Abigail Adams rolled up her sleeves and made the ship better. Aunt Chris is going to find a sparkly house, and a better one too.