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Oliver: Please pardon my (rant about) dust

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 12:08 a.m. CST

I hate dusting. There, I’ve said it.

Perhaps this sounds like an odd declaration, but I’ve recently rediscovered my latent loathing.

A change in circumstances has led to a resumption of my housecleaning duties after several years of allowing someone else the joy of kicking up my home’s cobwebs. 

I realize that many people never experience this “luxury,” so I don’t expect any pity now that I have to do it myself. But maybe you’ll allow me the chance to commiserate with those who share my pain.

My disgust with dusting goes back years, decades even, to a time when it was one of my childhood chores.

The source of my angst was a particularly large étagère that divided the living room from the kitchen in our house along Draper Road in McHenry.

The black and brown metal behemoth rose nearly to the ceiling, with three connected sections, two of which had five shelves and a middle section that had three.

On all but the bottom shelves, which sported a faux wood grain, was a motley assortment of knickknacks that were quasi-artfully arranged in groupings. Translation: They weren’t placed with ease of cleaning in mind.

And pity the poor child who didn’t get everything back into its exact place.

Did I mention that a lot of them were glass and ceramic? Or that at least one of them was a clay art project that my brother had made that I still don’t have any clue what it was?

I would experiment with different ways to attack the job, from starting at the top to working from the bottom, from moving everything to the left to taking everything off each shelf as I went.

In the end, it didn’t matter, and it certainly didn’t make it any easier.

Needless to say, this task was one to be dreaded.

And, at least for a little while, it helped me be mindful of not collecting anything resembling knickknacks when I had a home of my own.

Somewhere along the line, however, all of that changed.

Maybe it had something to do with my love of art glass and pottery.

Or more than likely it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t the one who had to dust.

Suddenly, I find myself casting a skeptical eye at everything that might require a swipe of a microfiber cloth.

Is it wrong that I question why I have so many family pictures on the credenza? Wouldn’t those photos be just as treasured if they were in, say, an album instead of individual frames?

(Just kidding. Sort of.)

Decisions undoubtedly will have to be made, and a probably long overdue decluttering is coming.

For the record, my home has never been a candidate for “Hoarders,” but when every surface counts, there’s no sense having more than is absolutely necessary.

Let’s call it self-preservation. Or laziness. 

There, I’ve said that, too.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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