Deep cleaning the logs

The big dipper, thank you God for the angel message to drink more water (or smartwater =))

Earlier today, I was in line at the Denver airport, to come home after two days in Colorado. Thankfully it was a short line, and I was thinking about a trip, almost exactly a year ago, when I was traveling back to Houston from California with four-year-old Eevie, because her parents were in South Korea to adopt a little boy.

Eevie and I had gone to California to visit her cousins, and she and I had walked quite a bit that day through the airport, and she had taken refuge sitting in the stroller when her legs got tired. As we went through security, the officer told Eevie that she had to get out of the stroller.

Eevie, a daughter of two very avid Pokemon fans who knows all of the “powers” of the characters, did not miss a beat and instead of getting out of the stroller, she stretched out her little arms toward the security officer like she was doing a Pokemon battle, and yelled “SMOKE”. All the people beside me started laughing because they knew…

An imagination like Eevie’s is an amazing thing, and it is something that my parents cultivated in me as well, encouraging me to write poetry, draw, and create pretend stories. I have tried to do the same encouraging Eevie and other children, whenever I get the chance.

But the imaginary power of ‘smoke” was not going to serve me on this trip to Colorado, because I had real work to do, and I had to do it with my own two hands.

Our little log cabin, having sat for more than fifteen years in the Colorado mountains, exposed to the sun and freezing temperatures, was in desperate need of cleaning and protective sealant. So we had been able to employ a gentleman who used sand as blast media to strip the logs and then re-stain and re-seal them to extend the life of the cabin.

For those who think log cabins are maintenance free, its good to know that they require the same amount of care as homes need paint require, in order to endure, and need to be re-stained and re-sealed approximately every five or six years. Ours had gone way past the recommended time frame for treatment.

In the process of cleaning the exterior, the blast media had worked its way through the cracks in the logs, and had formed piles of dirt and a film of dust and dirt over everything on the interior of the cabin, which now also had to be thoroughly cleaned.

I was recovering from a sinus infection and so I had doubts about how ready I was to be going on this trip to clean, but I knew I would be able to do what I needed to do to “clean house”.

My husband had tried to get me help and had hired a “professional” cleaning lady to start working on the cabin, the day before we arrived, but when we walked through the door in Colorado, and saw the piles of dirt and dust and stacked furniture everywhere, we knew we would basically be starting from scratch to clean.

I was in the shower, knocking off the dirt covering MY BODY from the whole first day of cleaning, when the “professional cleaner” came by to get paid the outrageous amount of money she said she “earned”, and I heard her tell my husband “I just used a feather duster on the logs only to knock some of the dirt off before I vacuumed, but there was still dirt everywhere, and I just could not tell where all the dirt was coming from”. (Plausible deniability?)

Oh really? This is a professional cleaner? Well I am not licensed but when it comes to cleaning I am apparently better than the “professionals”. I do not require any special equipment or additional talent, I just recognize that I have the necessary desire and the will power to get the job done, no matter how hard it may look.

Also, I COULD tell where all the dirt was coming from, and bird feathers were of little use in deep cleaning my house to make it habitable… (maybe if I were a bird living in a nest the feathers would have worked haha).

With regards to house cleaning, I had learned from my mom who is still strong and able bodied, that, if you want something done right, be ready to do it yourself. I was not opposed to hard work, so I “dug in” (excuse the play on words =))

Logs that are hand cut, have an uneven surface where dirt attempts to “cling”. Vacuuming or feather dusting only redistributes the dirt instead of removing it. My strategy was to use a ladder to climb up all the way to the top in each room, and physically put my hands on each log, and use a wet rag, to vigorously clean each log by hand and remove all the dirt, rinsing frequently to drain the dirt away from the interior, where we live breathe and have our being.

I then treated the logs with a lemon oil polish to ensure and preserve and protect the integrity of the logs for many years to come. While I was working, I also cleaned every window, inside and out, wiped off every painting, every piece of furniture, and every knick-knack. I washed curtains and bedding, and then put it all back in place, fresh and clean. I replaced batteries, and burned out light bulbs.

While I was doing my good work cleaning, my husband was doing his good work fixing all the things that were broken, or out of balance. He also made sure I had strong coffee, (even though I had given up coffee while trying to lose weight, this job called for coffee) and brought me delicious meals when I needed fortification. The work was grueling and relentless, and it almost felt like we were working in a battle zone, but we did not stop and did not skimp or relax our standards of excellence.

In addition to the exterior repair that we had done, before we went to Colorado, we had been able to hire a contractor to replace the old patched metal roof that was leaking, with a strong red metal roof, and it was reinforced with double screws to withstand the high winds that whip through the valley where the cabin sits. It also was new and fresh, and it was good to know, when the elements did their worst, with all the extremes in Colorado, our house, our cabin, was strong, resilient and ready.

Eevie had wanted to use an imaginary smoke screen as a source of power against what she thought was evil directed at her… but power does not come with just words or with a title; it comes with understanding. We each can see and understand what is dirty and what needs to be cleaned, and nobody else is going to do the job as well as we can. Time for each of us to roll up our sleeves, climb up that ladder, and start eliminating dirt to make way for a better life, and stop waiting for someone else to do it.

The night before we left, after two days of hard work, we stood on the deck of our cabin and gazed at the stars. The night was so dark and so clear that we could even see the milky way. The results that I gained from vigorously employing my own hands to clean my home, made me feel like I was indeed, successfully reaching for the stars.


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Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.