Despite having left behind the rat race of Manhattan, I still rush through weekdays and catch up at weekend time. Saturdays are the time allotted for picking up the shreds and tatters of whatever the puppy found, and perhaps even vacuuming the living room rug. Sundays, assuming the Saturday cleaning catchup has been successful, I cook.
Today I went looking for a recipe for sweet potatoes. Last night’s frugal cooking led me to bake two large sweet potatoes along with dinner, my little nod at energy conservation. If you throw all kinds of things into the oven together (but separate), my gleeful spirit feels I have gotten the cooking of some of them for free. So in they go, potatoes and sweet potatoes, eggplant and garlic, peppers and popovers. Nobody seems to mind sharing.
But then I am indentured to vegetables, and I have to figure out what to do with them. I had just unearthed a nifty sounding recipe for sweet potato soup with lime and cilantro, when I noticed that where once there were two large tubers, now there was only one. With yesterday’s breakfast roll experience still smarting, I went looking for the puppy. Sure enough, there was half a sweet potato on the living room rug, which as all dog lovers know is the only place that messy food really tastes good.
Damn. In case you, gentle reader have not encountered this part of my personality, let me enlighten you that my language goes shockingly to hell whenever I am stressed, not that a sweet potato theft generally takes me over the edge. It is one relic of having worked with bond traders, who, no matter what anyone tells you, are not nice people, not wholesome, and not pleasant to be around. It is something of a departure that I have made such a judgment, determined as I am to see the good in everyone, even bond traders. That world is a long way from my world now, except for the occasional inappropriate expletive. Never mind.
While I was thumbing through cookbooks, a recipe card floated to the floor. Anti-chew spray, composed of equal parts of lemon juice and rubbing alcohol, with a dash of Tabasco for flavor. Now there’s a recipe with promise.
I wonder if Toby would like it sprayed on his back legs?
Meanwhile, I am continuing to clean today, having frittered away not only yesterday but also a snow day on Friday, and I want to say a word about cleaning. I don’t like it. For a variety of good reasons, I never really learned how, and I never really learned the discipline of a cleaning routine. My mother always said that a hundred years from now nobody would know if you vacuumed, but they might know what kinds of kids you raised. While I accept that she is absolutely, one hundred percent correct about that, I still bask in a clean, tastefully and sparely decorated room. My soul craves cleanliness as godliness, but my wayward being does not know how to get there as a matter of daily life.
I wish I did have the talent for creating comfort and light around me. At various times in my life, I have tried to learn the skills. Jeff Campbell of The Clean Team is one of my inspirations, at least as important to me as many skilled writers and thinkers. It was from The Clean Team I learned that even if my mother had taught me how to clean, I would have needed to learn all over again. So now, when I am moved to clean, I use Red Juice and Blue Juice. I clean sinks and bathroom fixtures with spray and cleaning cloths rather than sluicing them with water. I wash many, many things in the dishwasher—the glass parts of light fixtures, as my mother taught me, but also dustpans and the plastic head off my brooms, resting in the conviction that the dishwasher sanitizes everything.
In my own personal variation of the Clean Team’s Shmop, I clean floors with wet towels right out of the washer. Never an athletic person, I many years ago passed the milestone at which a bend to the floor is an occasion to ask oneself, “What else might I do while I am down here?” You can imagine how pleased I was to learn that one can clean floors by putting down wet towels then dancing on them, slipping around a little, then throwing them right back into the washer for another round. This kind of effort-conserving innovation makes it all much easier to have a puppy, but she does cock her head bemused when she sees me cavort across the utility room floor which she has worked so hard to make her own.