I’m engaged in kitchen battles on two fronts recently.
The first is at home. My darling daughter has become, in effect, my roommate. I have heard in a conventional-wisdom kind of way that two women living together are best off having separate kitchens. And I’m finding this to be true. She wants to compost, I think it’s gross to have a container of rotting veg bits under the sink. She bakes constantly and leaves flour dust everywhere, while I like to have every surface gleaming. She clutters up the cabinets with strange items bearing names like “vital wheat gluten” and “liquid aminos” whereas I’d like to be able to find the chocolate chips in an emergency. When I’m at my tiredest and crankiest, sharing the kitchen with a health nut makes me want to cry and stomp my feet like a toddler.
I’m not winning that war. A fragile detente is about all I can hope for.
The second kitchen war was waged at work this week. Like most churches we have a large kitchen just off our largest gathering space. That kitchen happens to be within sight of my office, and serves as a foods/cooking classroom for our kids on Sunday mornings. It’s used more by me and the people in my department than anyone else in the congregation. Unlike most churches, we don’t have a contingent of “church basement ladies” who hover protectively over the kitchen to stock it, organize it, and keep it clean. Our older ladies are busy with yoga, world travel, society page-type activities, and city-wide charity organizations.
And so this week I’ve spent about eight hours doing a long-overdue project: clearing out and organizing the church kitchen. Over the ten years since we opened this half of the building, it had become a dumping ground. Left-behind items from funeral meals. Tacky decorations used once and left “because surely someone will want this again someday.” Two hundred and fifty – no exaggeration – tea light candles. My helpers and I cleared out four contractor-sized bags of trash, filled the back of my SUV with items to take to a thrift store, and moved six large tubs of tablecloths and other rarely used items to a nearby closet. Success!
But the complaints have already begun. It started with an older gentleman who happened to drop by as we were cleaning. He started digging through the full trash cans and offering comments. “You don’t want to throw this away, do you?” “Oh, this could be very useful.” Thankfully I’ve known him long enough to simply say, “Everything in the trash is staying in the trash.” He actually even ended up hauling all the trash to the dumpster for us. But on his return he had to make snide comments about the fact that the trash can liners are in a different place now. Oh, the horror!
Then last night we had a large learning event that required some use of the kitchen. I was called in to help people find items several times, each time with exasperation and disgust because “nothing is where it used to be.”
I have a statement prepared for the comments I’m certain to be getting over the coming Easter weekend:
“The kitchen is neat and organized, and will be staying exactly as it is. Unless, of course, you would like to give eight hours of your own time to come in and put things where you think they should be. Thank you for your concern.”