Keep (v): 2. "continue or cause to continue in a specified condition"
My grandmother truly "kept" a house. Things stayed perfect—like magic—and thus perfectly non-replicable. I saw the product, not the process.
And then last winter, eight years after Grandmother died and 40 since I'd stayed overnight, I remembered something. It was when I noticed my black bathtub mold had again fluffed itself twice the width of the grout. In contrast twinkled the memory of Grandmother's white grout and pink tile. How did she do it? She certainly did it without a squeegee, ylang-ylang spray, motorized rotary brush and citrus solvent, all of which cannot cure the nadir of nastiness that is my tub.
She did it with a towel.
My epiphany was a vision of Grandmother wiping the walls after my little cousin and I had taken turns in the shower. Prevention was this particular magic: a dry wall gathers no mold. And although memory cannot confirm, I am certain she would have used a small hand towel to save on laundry. Not a "company" towel, but one too good for the rag bin and too old for show. And she would have smoothed it onto the shower rack to dry, hidden, for next time. Simple, thrifty, effective.
I'm trying it now. A ratty washcloth hangs in my tub as a working tribute. So far, it actually does work. I will never "keep" a house, but with her help maybe I can at least keep the grout on the lighter side of gray.
- Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and educator in Nashville, where she writes the urban nature blog Look Around. Her essays have appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, Killing the Buddha, GeekDad, Mamalode, GardenRant and (forthcoming) The Fourth River.