Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday! Yay!

Well, my goodness, what a hive of activity my house has been today. My cousin evidently has decided to pay back chunks of the money he owes me for his rent-free existence for the past three years by suddenly doing everything he can around the house. Thank God (because my cousin has delusions of competence) we have our current friendly neighborhood live-in lesbian, Mel, who has a contractor's license.

Therefore, I have now got proper lighting in the kitchen, in the front place (you can't call it a foyer because it isn't one - it's just where you come in the front door which used to be a pool of darkness which made me a little twitchy about opening the door) - the ceiling leak is fixed, and I now have an actual pantry sort of set up which has a cabinet for the stuff I don't use every day (i.e., my industrial size food processor) and a bookshelf for the cookbooks I DO use.

This setup is in a place that I can't imagine anyone who ever had a kitchen ever designing. I can only assume that it was made up by someone who ate takeout every night. It's to the right of the refrigerator, and it's a two drawer kitchen cabinet topped with the same black formica or whatever that all my other counters have. However, it has no electrical outlet, and it has no lighting of any variety, and was therefore unusable for any sort of food preparation (if I can't see what I'm chopping, I tend to bleed a lot). And part of it is behind a large piece of a wall that seems to be holding something else up - like the ceiling. So for all the years we've lived here, it has become the catchall space for anything that I didn't want to deal with at the moment - i.e., a mess. You know - wow, I just got this month's Bon Appetit and there are recipes I want to clip - I'll just put it over here. Oh, good, I've clipped the recipes. Well, no time to put them in the recipe file book - I'll just put them over here. Etc., etc., and so forth.

Well, now it's got a lovely cabinet and a lovely bookshelf, and room for all the stuff that's been cluttering up the rest of the counter space in my kitchen and I couldn't be happier.

This is not to say that the area won't get absolutely messed up, probably within about a week. (Look out - I'm in full blabber mode.) You see, I have MAJOR housekeeping problems. I am a very good cook, but I can't clean a house to save my life.

Now I know perfectly well what the problem is. I grew up between my mother's house and my fateher's apartment. Mother's house, where we lived with my grandparents and my great aunt,was where the food was wonderful (and where I learned to cook), and where the only way to get the house clean was to throw a party. This, of course, didn't work terribly well - obviously, when you throw a party, you have to clean up after it. This is the part where we sort of didn't. About a month later, when somebody found ANOTHER plate under a chair, we'd decide it was time to clean house - and throw another party to talk ourselves into it. And then every once in a while my mother and I would decide to dust the bookshelves - which invariably lasted until one of us, closely followed by the other of us, found a book we hadn't read in forever...and ended up spending the day on the floor reading (this took 15 minutes - tops).

And then I'd spend the weekends with Daddy. Now, in Daddy's apartment, I would be sitting down reading a book. I would get up to go to the john or something, and when I got back to my chair, the book would be back in the bookshelf and the cushions on the chair would be plumped up to look as if they'd never been sat upon.

And then I married my first husband, who insisted on the standard of housekeeping his mother kept. Meaning, I would have to get down on my hands and knees to polish the UNDERSIDE of the dining room table. Admittedly, we had parties at which people ended up under there, but it seems deeply unlikely that they were checking the polish.

And then I married my second husband, who was from a foreign service family, who got hysterical if I tried to clean anything, because in his mind, if you were cleaning things, it meant you were moving again.

So at this stage of the game, I have decided that there is no possible way I am EVER going to please anyone, and I have opted out of the whole thing. I maintain enough sanity to keep one step ahead of the Health Department, I do keep the bathrooms in some sort of order (when in fact I notice that things are growing, basically), and sometimes I can even find my underpants. Clean ones!

But I will never be a's just too fraught. And it's not very interesting work, actually. But I keep buying all these housekeeping books...being a book person, I feel that if I ever get the RIGHT housekeeping book, it will magically transform me into a person who has a wonderful spotless house. However, as a realist, I know perfectly well that the only thing that will happen is that I will remain a person who sits at her somewhat grubby kitchen table and blows seven pounds of dust off her housekeeping books before she reads them. And never notices that while she reads them, another layer of crud is depositing itself all over the kitchen cabinets.

On the other hand, my baked ham is legendary, and several gentlemen have praised my efforts in other directions not involving a kitchen. It shouldn't be a total loss.

Love, Wendy

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