What a Mess

Admittedly, since moving to China, I have become somewhat of a clean freak. I have always been a neat and orderly person, but here in China, I feel an even deeper need to keep our apartment extra clean. Maybe my over-the-top cleaning habits are a form of control since I can’t always control what happens when we live in another culture, or maybe it’s a reaction to the stress I feel when I leave our apartment and interact with an environment in which there are much lower cleanliness standards. Regardless, my tolerance for messes inside our house was stretched this week more than it has been in awhile.

One reason for our messy house was the big black lab we agreed to dogsit for a couple weeks. When a local Chinese friend first proposed the idea of us taking care of the dog while he was away, we excitedly agreed to it. Before Cameron and I moved to China, our first dog was a labrador which we owned for about five years before we had to give him away so that we could move overseas. Naturally, we thought it would be a lot of fun for us to have a lab in the house again. In addition, this lab is perfect – obedient, sweet and lazy.

However, when her owners dropped her off at our house last weekend, they casually mentioned that she was not fixed and that she might start menstruating soon. Not wanting to be rude to our friends, we acted like it was no big deal, but as soon as they left, we went into full panic mode and began googling “dog menstruation” in order to educate ourselves about what was to come. We were disturbed to learn from our internet search that dogs menstruate once every six months for two to four weeks. As luck would have it, the darn dog started her period the very next day. It wasn’t much of a problem at first, just a drop here and there which I would quickly wipe up with a wet wipe. Over just a few days though, the problem became much worse and I was literally following the dog around with a mop all day. Out of desperation, we went to the store and bought adult diapers for the dog to wear, but those quickly fell off. Then, Cameron got on Taobao, our online source for everything here in China, and bought actual dog diapers. During the five days it took for the diapers to arrive at our house, Cameron and I had a mop or wet wipes in our hand at all times (I actually caught Cameron gagging a few times as he wiped up the mess). Thankfully, the dog diaper arrived and that problem is under control now.

The other reason our house was such as mess was because we had new kitchen cabinets and countertops installed. Obviously, I can’t complain too much about this because everyone loves having an updated kitchen, but the process of having it installed is always challenging especially in an apartment. Also, any remodeling that is done in China does not include cleaning either during or after, so that makes the process more stressful. It didn’t help that the dog arrived the same day as the remodeling guys, so my stress was quite high seeing the large amount of dust all over everything as well as the dog’s mess on the floor.

The day our new countertops arrived, the guys brought one of the two large stone countertops in our house and leaned it up against our living room chair. I am not sure how it happened, but all at once I saw the countertop slam to the ground narrowly missing the dog, but landing square on Chloe’s toe. She was screaming bloody murder which made me thing she had broken her toe, but she walked away with just a good sized cut on her toe. The countertop, however, cracked in two pieces. At first, I was convinced we should demand a new countertop, but as I thought about waiting more days for the kitchen to be finished, I quickly caved and let them patch the crack. Now the kitchen is finished and it is a significant improvement from our previous kitchen. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive to update a home that we are temporarily renting, but the remodeling was not that expensive and we anticipate renting this apartment for awhile so we felt like it was worth it to make it feel more like a home.

Now that the kitchen is finished and the dog is leaving in a few days, I finally feel like I can keep the house somewhat clean again. Hopefully I won’t be stretched in this area again anytime soon!

A friend of ours spotted this wild elephant strolling by a nearby village.

It’s rainy season here in our region.

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