There was an article in last Sunday's New York Times about "living in filth". It was making two points. One is that our houses are far less clean than in our grandmother's day. We're talking middle class here, houses like the one Judy Garland (Esther) lived in in the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis". Two is that men, in spite of all the hoo-hah and the claim that they're shouldering some of the burden, don't. Women, whether working outside the home or not, and most of them are, still do the drudge's share of the "shitwork" as Gloria Steinem called it. So they do less. So our houses are dirtier than they were. It used to bother me, all the things I had to keep clean to be considered a good "home-maker". Good Housekeeping magazine had a regular column on how to clean and take care of everything; Emily, I think her name was, Taylor and her husband, Henry, who showed how to do it and made you feel guilty. That was before Martha Stewart built an empire based on fussiness, perfection and guilt. And that was in the interim years before nannies and live-in housekeepers for the rich became more common aids, and making do with cleaning ladies for the rest of us, when the stay-at-home mother did volunteer work and used her college degree to give her children an enriched upbringing. (??!!) . In my day, a cleaning lady charged $5 plus transportation (streeetcars in Winnipeg), and a nice lunch, for a 9 to 5 day of cleaning. I almost lost a friend who had the same cleaning lady, because the woman used to tell my friend that my lunches were nicer than hers. Men have had great fun over the years mocking women who clean up before the cleaning lady comes. Well, yes, of course, but not too much. The trick was, you had to make the cleaner believe you were incompetent and couldn't survive without her. Not hard, but I didn't like them patronizing me. Even lately, my current helper saw me doing some filing (a never-ending task) and said, "Is good you have some pass-time." No one understands what writers do. Anyway, I do have help now. Friends assured me on my 80th birthday that even though I lived alone and wasn't dirty, I was, after all, 80 years old and could use some help. Guilt free. I keep the kitchen and the bathroom clean for hygiene's sake but I always hated dusting. So Maria comes once a month, shovels me out and dusts me off. She just arrived. She doesn't know what a blog is. Sometimes I wish I didn't.