The "real friend" test

Copyright istockphoto.com/EasyBuy4U

Copyright istockphoto.com/EasyBuy4U

My grandparents owned a ranch-style house, and when friends came to visit, they knew not to walk up the front steps and ring the doorbell. The sound of a ringing doorbell meant one thing -- you were trying to sell a vacuum cleaner. My grandparent's real friends entered through the garage (which was always wide open) and knocked on the back door. I can still hear the rap-rap-rap on the screen door and the sound of it slamming shut. That was a happy sound.

Today, at my own house, guests are welcome to enter through any door they'd like (although I have been caught by more than one door-to-door salesman. People still do that?) But the back door is reserved mostly for my son and the pack of neighborhood kids who burst inside, requesting a reprieve from the summer heat.

Their entrance usually sends a shot of anxiety through my body-- not because the children aren't welcome inside-- but because, until this weekend, the garage was filthy. The house sat vacant for two years before we moved in, and there was a thick layer of dirt covering the floor.

Saturday, my husband scrubbed our garage floor. And as I watched him, I kept seeing flashes of my grandfather doing the same thing. My grandparent's garage was set up like a patio, and they took pride in keeping the floor clean. So clean, you could walk on it with bare feet.

My grandparents never had a lot of money. Even as a child, I was keenly aware of financial lack and the intense emotions that surface from feeling like there was never enough. And yet, their home was immaculate. They took pride in their possessions and spent their free time returning their dwelling to a polished, vacuumed and manicured state.

It's a busier world now. My husband, kids and I are always doing something or going somewhere. Making time for household chores often feels like, well, a chore. But what hasn't changed is the satisfaction that comes from respecting the roof over our head and being grateful for it.

And, having friends who love and know us well enough to knock on the back door.

What improves your quality of life?

I'm a lucky duck and won myself a copy of Home -Ec 101: Skills for Everyday Living, written by local blogger and author, Heather Solos. Thanks to my friend, Vera Hannaford, who hosted the contest on her blog. Heather's book is perfect for Generation Xers like me, who need a refresher course on the basic household skills that come naturally to our parents and grandparents.