We are visiting family for the holiday, but will have more family here when we return, so I had a few things to do before leaving.  Not the least of which was cleaning the kitchen.  I don’t know how it is at your house, but it seems to me that no matter how I try, the kitchen is always a mess.  I thought once the kids left home the kitchen would stay clean and tidy.  Then I thought when I retired and had more time, the kitchen would look like they do in the magazines. What a dreamer! The kitchen is the hub of the house and therefore the center of activity. Whether there are two or 12, it’s a busy place.  At our home it also provides the first horizontal surface after entering the house, so you know what that means! 

As I was doing up the dishes before I left for the week, I decided I’d better scrub the stovetop.  Another never ending job. I get it all spic and span, and then we cook, sometimes three times a day, and it needs attention again. To add insult to injury, I glanced down the front of the range to see food splatters all the way down the front.  Bending down to scrub the handles, the oven window and the edge of the bottom drawer, I noticed the left side.  There is only about 2 inches of the stove that is not covered by cabinet, and as I glanced at it I was appalled to see the grease that had slid down the side and caked the metal like a second coat of paint poorly applied.  Yikes, it’s gonna take a putty knife to clean that off.  Actually hot water, a fair amount of Dawn, and a little elbow grease cleaned it up more easily than I had anticipated.  Who looks at the side of their stove?  Clearly not I.  That job completed, I realized how dirty the adjacent cabinet was.  OK, so wash the cabinet.  This is getting ridiculous.  Add to my never ending task list to scrub down kitchen cabinets.  Before or after I clean the utility room, the closets?  Before. Maybe.  Not today!

By now my eyes focused on the front of the dishwasher.  Are you kidding me?  There is a red stripe of something, maybe cranberry juice, sliding down the front of the dishwasher.  Who cleans this house anyway?  As I scrubbed the front of the dishwasher, water splashed on the floor.  Of course, I might just as well wash the floor since I am on my hands and knees anyway.  That job completed, I decided it’s best to get out of the kitchen.  

My son tried to convince me to take all unnecessary items off my kitchen counter so it looks nice.  But everything is necessary!  If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist!  Therefore, the KitchenAid mixer inhabits the corner counter. The mini food processor, knife block, coffee pot, and toaster also grace the area.  There is a basket along the wall to catch odds and ends that have no home, (it keeps them confined to one space).  Another basket for fresh fruit, an essential.  Then there is the drying mat and recipe box that gets used every day.  Actually, the recipe box could go somewhere else, if I had somewhere else to put it.  There is something to be said for getting rid of stuff.  Add that to the list of to-dos. Someday.

Since I am retired, I can no longer use “too busy” as an excuse for a disheveled home.  Some people are very organized and have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Just like in the magazines.  Unfortunately, or maybe thankfully, our home is a place to relax and be comfortable.  Maybe too comfortable.  It seems every time I turn around there is a mess in my wake.  OK, it’s not just me, I do not live alone!  I like to think it’s a group effort.  The cat, my husband, and myself.  The good news is we live comfortably.  Maybe a perfect house is overrated

The grandkids are coming for the weekend.  No one will notice if the house isn’t perfect.  They will remember that grandma and grandpa took the time to play games and read to them.  They will look for cookies and other treats in the somewhat messy kitchen.  The pile of shoes by the door will resemble a centipede’s residence, and coats, mittens, and toys will be everywhere.  Ah, yes, and I was worried about a tidy house.  It’s clean underneath, well, relatively clean. Life is good, enjoy Thanksgiving!


Sue Wilken is a lifelong resident of Fergus Falls.

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