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by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

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Features reporter Jeff Wilkin on pop culture

Dusty Trials

I try to keep a neat house. Most of the time, the kitchen and dining room are free of clutter. So are the three bedrooms and front sun room. I regularly put Comet, Ajax and scrubbing bubbles to work in the bathroom sink and tub. My wooden stairs and kitchen floor are routinely swept and mopped.

A couple of times a year, I visit the kingdom of dust in my bedroom. One of the largest gathering spots for dust in the Capital Region is located under my bed. Gray particles show up every day, and it becomes crowded pretty quick. Kind of like high school kids at a pizza party.

On Sunday, I declared war on the kingdom. It is an annoying job, because I’ve got to wrestle a king-sized mattress off the foundation and prop the flexible thing against a wall. The foundation is in two pieces, and I generally take out one at a time for my dusting excursions.

It was a formidable task. For one, I couldn’t believe how many pairs of sneakers, shoes and slippers had been stored out of sight during the past year. I counted six pair of sneakers, four pairs of slippers, four pairs of deck shoes, two pairs of dress shoes. The sneakers included a pair of dust-covered Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars that were canvas models. I haven’t worn them in 20 years, guess I’ve been hanging onto them for a future painting or driveway sealing job. Other sneakers were splattered with paint and were showing holes, so this strategy has paid off in the past. But I decided to toss the painted sneaks, threw the Chuck Taylors in my goodwill box and now have just my first string pair — and two older pairs that will be used for this summer’s outdoor projects.

More annoying were the library due slips that seem to migrate to the under world. Some were from this past fall, and the oldest one was from May of last year. So this drive to decency was long overdue.

Dust was everywhere. Once I had removed the sneakers, shoes, library slips and candy bar wrappers, my old Hoover vacuum cleaner moved in for the all-you-can-eat buffet. I plugged in the old machine and watched it suck up dust and dust mites that had been helping themselves to my hospitality for the past year. It was like a damn exorcism, and I can only hope that dust mites can scream.

I’ve written about dust before, and it must be one of the irritants of humanity. Experts say dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil and human skin cells. It probably doesn’t help that my fireplace, while providing a smoky aroma during fall and winter, is probably also contributing to my dust account.

But the human skin cells are just kind of creepy. Talked to a dust expert years ago, and he said something like, “Dust ... is US!” Made it sound like a science-fiction movie.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about dust is ... it seems to be everywhere. If I can get layers on my bedroom carpet, I wonder how much of this stuff I breath in, day and night. Pretty soon my bedroom windows will be open pretty much every day, so maybe that will help the problem. At least, I won’t have dust collections on my window sills for a while.

I’m sure they will turn up someplace else.

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