Neither did we.
Several months ago the directors from the Booth Western Art Museum in Georgia and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis contacted Jason and asked if they could bring a tour group to visit his art studio this summer. Every year they plan a tour for art collectors/admirers to a different art mecca of the country where they visit museums, galleries, and artists’ studios in the area, and this year they’d chosen touring from Utah County to Jackson Hole.
Very few people realize just how many elite professional fine artists there are along the Wasatch Front—Cache Valley especially. It’s a little art colony unto itself, but most artists are pretty hermitish, like my husband, so people just think they must be loadies living off a sugar mama. I’ve got a wicked sweet tooth, but unfortunately I’m no sugar mama so Jason slaves away alone in his studio to keep us afloat.
We were honored to be part of the tour and graciously agreed to open our home and studio to a cultured clan of admirers, until I realized how much I would have to do to get ready.
As the day of the tour visit drew closer, I looked at my house closer and panicked. It’s one thing for me to allow the people I love most to wallow in neglected layers of filth day after day, but I was hardly going to let prestigious strangers contend with dust bunnies and cobwebs during their important 45 minute visit to our abode.
I tried to pace myself, tackling a new area each day the week before, but with three little pigs rooting around our house made of sticks it’s hard to keep anything clean looking for very long. Plus, we were still recovering from camping and all the company staying at our house the week before. There were coolers to wash, piles of laundry from all the extra bedding and towels, stacks of dishes, and mattresses to put away before I could even get to the deeper stuff like baseboards, windows, and walls.
As the day got nearer, the number of rooms we were going to allow the tour group in got fewer and fewer. We narrowed down to the major rooms of the house with the most art to show and concentrated our efforts there. We’d padlock the doors to all other rooms and I’d full-body tackle anyone who tried to go down the hall to my office and the mud and laundry rooms.
We’ve been working hard since spring to replant our front flowerbeds, again, after pulling out what Patches dug up and what winter killed, again, so the entry to our house looked pretty good. We’d let the horses out in the pasture to make us appear rustic and ranchy to qualify as to why we let the rest of our property grow wild and free.
The problem with deep cleaning is the more you clean, the more you find to clean. The more I found to clean, the more I realized I was never going to finish in time.
Like an angel from heaven, my mother-in-law called the day before the tour, “Do you want some help?”
I humbly conceded, “If you promise not to judge me.”
She is a VERY good housekeeper and I’m sure my casual cleaning ways makes her shudder, though she doesn’t let on, mostly.
She whipped through my house like a Merry Maid service. Her favorite jobs are dusting and windows, which baffles me because those are the two jobs I try to get around to about every decade or so. As she scrubbed Scott’s face prints off the kitchen window she said, “This is so much fun!”
Obviously, I’m not a blood relative.
By morning we could have entered the home show and won, so long as the judges stayed in the main three rooms of the house.
A big red tour bus pulled in where no tour bus has ever been before out in the sticks of Cache Valley. The people were friendly and gracious guests and we had a great time showing and talking art with them.
We managed to keep them in the designated areas, though one woman somehow strayed from the group to an unapproved bathroom, but what can you do?
I apologized for anything she may have seen in there, but she patted my arm and said in a cute southern accent, “It’s good to see you people are real.”
We are real—real good at putting on a good show that we live some high falutin artsy life when really we’re just trying to pay bills, raise kids and get by like regular folk.