The space that I converted to my study/office was originally designed as a family room. There used to be built-in TV and DVD cabinets but I had them replaced with desks and bookshelves. The space opens to the living room below. There is a railing on one end where we can see directly into the living room.
Speedy and I used to make jokes about how useful that feature of the house is. He said that even if we were in the family room (we converted an extra bedroom upstairs into a family room), if one or both of the girls had male guests, we could take a peek just by looking down the railing. You know, like if they’re sitting too close together, he’d just holler, “Hoy, pagkalaki-laki n’yang sofa, hindi n’yo kailangang magsiksikan (Hey, that’s a really huge sofa so you don’t have to sit too close together)!” He has a similar joke about the sliding door of our bedroom that leads to the garden — if the girls entertained their male guests in the dimly lit garden instead of the living room, we could peek from inside the bedroom. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve laughed over those made-up scenarios.
In short, we always viewed both features of the house as assets. If you can’t visualize the space in the study/office that opens to the living room, you can look at the photos.
The ones on the right side show the open space from opposite directions as viewed directly from the living room. Beyond the railing in my study/office. The window and (door (partially visible in the bottom photo) open to the balcony. I always keep those windows open. There are windows directly across them on the opposite wall of my study so you can imagine the wonderful ventilation I get upstairs.
Monday morning, after Alex had left for school and Speedy had gone to work, I was all psyched up to do the cleaning. I started with the living and dining areas, dusted the furniture, swept the floors, then scrubbed the kitchen counters… the works. Perspiring profusely (I felt I lost three pounds after cleaning downstairs), I went up and started dusting and sweeping. Happy with my handiwork, and thinking that I lost another two pounds cleaning upstairs, I took a shower then wrote the two columns due that day. To my surprise, when I went down a few hours later, I found visible dirt on the living room furniture. Was it because I left the living room windows open? Okay, so I closed them and reminded myself not to open them unless necessary.
The next day, I cleaned the ironwork on the staircase, in the second floor balcony and my study. As I was dusting the one in my study, I realized my mistake the previous day. As I was pushing the duster into every crevice of the grill, I saw the dust falling directly onto the off-white upholstery of the living room furniture. Stupid, I told myself. I should have cleaned the second floor ahead of the first floor because displaced dust on the second floor fell downstairs.
Lesson learned, yesterday, I cleaned upstairs before downstairs. I kept the living room windows closed too. And I thought I had it all solved. If minimal dust gets in, I can get away with dusting and cleaning every other day.
So, late this afternoon, I was cooking dinner. I brought the book I am currently reading down to the living room so I could keep an eye on the cooking. To my dismay, I saw dirt on the sofa again. Where the heck could they still be coming from? I’ve paid attention to everything and did all preventive measures. Then, I figured it out. The windows on the opposite wall of my study directly across the ones that open to the balcony…
The photo above was taken in October last year. About a month after that, construction began on the property behind ours — yes, beyond those windows. The house is almost finished but they’ve been grinding tiles and kitchen countertops for the past two weeks. Construction dust. What can I do, right? I can’t tell them to halt construction until we can hire a daily cleaning woman. Thing is, I can’t shut all the windows all day either. That will make me claustrophobic.
How will I deal with the problem? You know, last Sunday when we went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when it got to the part when Harry and Dumbledore put Slughorn’s topsy-turvy house back in perfect order with a few flicks of their wands, Sam whispered to me, “Mommy, we need that!” Oh, gosh, I wish. If there was someplace where I could get my hands on a wand like that, all my house cleaning problems would be forever solved.