Perhaps Next Week


I had the crazy notion to paint the kitchen ceiling a couple of weeks ago. I gathered ladders and tarps and brushes. I lined the wall with blue painter's tape along the wall. I grabbed the ceiling paint from the garage. I blasted the radio and began.

Two hours later, I stood back to admire my work. I washed brushes and pads and rollers. I dragged the ladder to the garage and folded up my tarp.

“Looks good,” my husband said, when he came home from work.

“I don't know,” I said. “Don't you think it looks kind of shiny?” I switched on the light.

He squinted at the ceiling. Was he reaching for his sunglasses? “Maybe when it dries completely, it won't be as bad,” he said.

But the ceiling was still shiny the next morning.

I stupidly soldiered on. The second coat made the ceiling even brighter. I checked the can. Semigloss.

The telephone rang. It was my sister.

“What's going on?”

“I just painted the ceiling in semigloss.”

She laughed. “Why'd you do that?”

“I don't know. I didn't read the label.”

The following day, I ran to the hardware; bought the proper paint. Again, I dragged the painting supplies into the kitchen.

I frowned at my husband, roller in hand. “Why do I always have to paint?”

He smiled. “You're good at it.” He went outside to mow the lawn.

I finished the first coat and stood back to admire my work. “Looks good,” my husband said, grabbing a handful of pretzels and watching.

“Yeah, but now the rest of the kitchen looks horrible.” The trim was dull and dirty. The wall paint was chipped in the corner. The cabinets needed a good scrubbing.

The kids came to my rescue, volunteering to do the trim work while I coated the ceiling for the forth time in as many days.

“Looks good!” I said. And I meant it.

We washed brushes; hung up ladders; wiped up paint spills. And a few hours later, I said goodnight. “I'm beat,” I said, going around the house, shutting windows. I paused in the kitchen. Something wasn't right. “Uh, V?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you do this window?”

“Yep!” She grinned.

“Did you close the window when you painted it?”

“Huh?”

“Look.” I pointed to the part that didn't get painted. The part that was grey and discusting.

“Oh. Sorry.”

I thought of the brushes lovingly washed and hung to dry. I thought of my promise not to do any more painting for another month. I thought of my painty pants hanging in the bathroom.

I pushed the window out of my head.

For days, I ignored the half-painted window. It was easy, what with the warm spell and the open window and the lace curtain hung over it. Who would notice it?

Me.

Every day, I wrote paint window on my to-do list.

And then I loaded up my to-do list so that there would be no more time at the end of the day to paint.

Until last Thursday.

On Thursday, I first coated the window.

And on Friday, I intended to paint.

Instead, I got caught up in cooking.

* * *

I've been learning how to ferment foods. Basically you cut up all of your vegetables, mix them in a brine and let them age on your countertop. I like the idea of fermenting: I like that I'm preserving more of my family's food. I like that it forces me to slow down. I like feeling connected to the land.

I blasted the radio. I cut up tomatillos and bell peppers—orange and red and yellow. I donned gloves and chopped the hottest peppers I had on hand. I crushed garlic and diced onions. I added salt and cilantro. Then I packed the whole thing into a tall glass jar.

I set it on the counter. I stood back to admire my jar of tomatilla salsa.

It needed a friend.

I cut up two of the six heads of cabbage I'd picked up at the farmer's market. I shredded a carrot on top. I added salt and celery seed and caraway seed. I packed it in a crock and weighed it down with a jar of vinegar.

I admired my crock of saurkraut sitting next to my jar of tomatillo salsa.

I wanted a taste.

But fermenting takes time—several days to several months, even years, depending upon what you're doing.

I had to ignore my ferments.

I wanted something to eat.

I preheated the oven. I put tomatoes in a rosting pan and added carrots and fresh herbs from my garden. I chopped garlic and onion and drizzled the mixture with olive oil pressed from my exchange student's olive trees.

When it was done, I ran it through the blender before putting it in a saucepan. I added butter and sugar; salt and pepper and fennel seed.

I dipped in a spoon.

It was delicious.

I never did get that window done.

I assigned it to Saturday's todo list.

* * *

Squints came home from school in a grumpy mood.

“What's wrong?” I said.

He handed me the school fundraiser packet: Magazines. “Everyone's going to win cool prizes but me.” He flounced on the couch.

Years ago, when she was in Kindergarten, Filibuster won a prize for selling magazines for her school. Her award? A limo ride to McDonalds. For lunch. During school hours.

My husband and I refused to sign the permission slip; refused Filibuster her prize. So while the other winners bounced on red vinyl seats and enjoyed French fries, our daugher ate peanut butter and jelly in the school cafeteria.

“What cool prizes,” I asked Squints. “some crappy toy that's going to break in two seconds?”

“No. Everyone's meeting X.” Now for the X, insert a well-known, badly-behaved athlete of your choice.

“Everyone is meeting X,” I repeated. Big deal, I added to myself. Who wants to meet him?

“Everyone who turns in a lot of magazine orders.”

“We already ordered from V,” I said. “We'll order one more each. Look at my tomatilla salsa.”

He barely gave my beautiful jar a glance. “I could fill out a lot of postcards.”

For those of you unfamiliar with how this whole magazine sales thing works, let me explain: In addition to the five thousand order forms, there's a stack of blank postcards in each student's magazine selling “kit”. The kids are supposed fill out a postcard with the name and address of basically everyone they've ever met.

“You're not filling out those postcards,” I told him.

“Please?”

“I don't think your grandparents would be very happy with us. They don't want all that junk mail.”

“What if I filled out a card for everyone in our house? That would make six.”

“Are you kidding me? No.”

“I have to. They said. Or they'll get mad.”

“Oh, really?” I raised my eyebrows. “Tell you what. If they get mad, give them my phone number and have them call me.”

“That's stupid.”

And he's right.

It is stupid.

It's stupid to yank kids out of the classroom for an hourlong “assembly”. It's stupid to promise kids free prom tickets or candy bars or a meeting with X. It's stupid to take kids in a limo trip to McDonalds.

It's stupid to force or pressure or coerce kids to raise money for their school.

“Sorry, Squints.”

“It's OK,” he replied.

“Want to try my tomato sauce?”

“Sure.”

And I really really wish I could say I will do my painting tomorrow, but I've got to catch up on the stack of crappy magazines growing on my bedside table; sitting there fermenting while I ignore them.

Perhaps next week.

Labels:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Perhaps Next Week

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Perhaps Next Week


I had the crazy notion to paint the kitchen ceiling a couple of weeks ago. I gathered ladders and tarps and brushes. I lined the wall with blue painter's tape along the wall. I grabbed the ceiling paint from the garage. I blasted the radio and began.

Two hours later, I stood back to admire my work. I washed brushes and pads and rollers. I dragged the ladder to the garage and folded up my tarp.

“Looks good,” my husband said, when he came home from work.

“I don't know,” I said. “Don't you think it looks kind of shiny?” I switched on the light.

He squinted at the ceiling. Was he reaching for his sunglasses? “Maybe when it dries completely, it won't be as bad,” he said.

But the ceiling was still shiny the next morning.

I stupidly soldiered on. The second coat made the ceiling even brighter. I checked the can. Semigloss.

The telephone rang. It was my sister.

“What's going on?”

“I just painted the ceiling in semigloss.”

She laughed. “Why'd you do that?”

“I don't know. I didn't read the label.”

The following day, I ran to the hardware; bought the proper paint. Again, I dragged the painting supplies into the kitchen.

I frowned at my husband, roller in hand. “Why do I always have to paint?”

He smiled. “You're good at it.” He went outside to mow the lawn.

I finished the first coat and stood back to admire my work. “Looks good,” my husband said, grabbing a handful of pretzels and watching.

“Yeah, but now the rest of the kitchen looks horrible.” The trim was dull and dirty. The wall paint was chipped in the corner. The cabinets needed a good scrubbing.

The kids came to my rescue, volunteering to do the trim work while I coated the ceiling for the forth time in as many days.

“Looks good!” I said. And I meant it.

We washed brushes; hung up ladders; wiped up paint spills. And a few hours later, I said goodnight. “I'm beat,” I said, going around the house, shutting windows. I paused in the kitchen. Something wasn't right. “Uh, V?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you do this window?”

“Yep!” She grinned.

“Did you close the window when you painted it?”

“Huh?”

“Look.” I pointed to the part that didn't get painted. The part that was grey and discusting.

“Oh. Sorry.”

I thought of the brushes lovingly washed and hung to dry. I thought of my promise not to do any more painting for another month. I thought of my painty pants hanging in the bathroom.

I pushed the window out of my head.

For days, I ignored the half-painted window. It was easy, what with the warm spell and the open window and the lace curtain hung over it. Who would notice it?

Me.

Every day, I wrote paint window on my to-do list.

And then I loaded up my to-do list so that there would be no more time at the end of the day to paint.

Until last Thursday.

On Thursday, I first coated the window.

And on Friday, I intended to paint.

Instead, I got caught up in cooking.

* * *

I've been learning how to ferment foods. Basically you cut up all of your vegetables, mix them in a brine and let them age on your countertop. I like the idea of fermenting: I like that I'm preserving more of my family's food. I like that it forces me to slow down. I like feeling connected to the land.

I blasted the radio. I cut up tomatillos and bell peppers—orange and red and yellow. I donned gloves and chopped the hottest peppers I had on hand. I crushed garlic and diced onions. I added salt and cilantro. Then I packed the whole thing into a tall glass jar.

I set it on the counter. I stood back to admire my jar of tomatilla salsa.

It needed a friend.

I cut up two of the six heads of cabbage I'd picked up at the farmer's market. I shredded a carrot on top. I added salt and celery seed and caraway seed. I packed it in a crock and weighed it down with a jar of vinegar.

I admired my crock of saurkraut sitting next to my jar of tomatillo salsa.

I wanted a taste.

But fermenting takes time—several days to several months, even years, depending upon what you're doing.

I had to ignore my ferments.

I wanted something to eat.

I preheated the oven. I put tomatoes in a rosting pan and added carrots and fresh herbs from my garden. I chopped garlic and onion and drizzled the mixture with olive oil pressed from my exchange student's olive trees.

When it was done, I ran it through the blender before putting it in a saucepan. I added butter and sugar; salt and pepper and fennel seed.

I dipped in a spoon.

It was delicious.

I never did get that window done.

I assigned it to Saturday's todo list.

* * *

Squints came home from school in a grumpy mood.

“What's wrong?” I said.

He handed me the school fundraiser packet: Magazines. “Everyone's going to win cool prizes but me.” He flounced on the couch.

Years ago, when she was in Kindergarten, Filibuster won a prize for selling magazines for her school. Her award? A limo ride to McDonalds. For lunch. During school hours.

My husband and I refused to sign the permission slip; refused Filibuster her prize. So while the other winners bounced on red vinyl seats and enjoyed French fries, our daugher ate peanut butter and jelly in the school cafeteria.

“What cool prizes,” I asked Squints. “some crappy toy that's going to break in two seconds?”

“No. Everyone's meeting X.” Now for the X, insert a well-known, badly-behaved athlete of your choice.

“Everyone is meeting X,” I repeated. Big deal, I added to myself. Who wants to meet him?

“Everyone who turns in a lot of magazine orders.”

“We already ordered from V,” I said. “We'll order one more each. Look at my tomatilla salsa.”

He barely gave my beautiful jar a glance. “I could fill out a lot of postcards.”

For those of you unfamiliar with how this whole magazine sales thing works, let me explain: In addition to the five thousand order forms, there's a stack of blank postcards in each student's magazine selling “kit”. The kids are supposed fill out a postcard with the name and address of basically everyone they've ever met.

“You're not filling out those postcards,” I told him.

“Please?”

“I don't think your grandparents would be very happy with us. They don't want all that junk mail.”

“What if I filled out a card for everyone in our house? That would make six.”

“Are you kidding me? No.”

“I have to. They said. Or they'll get mad.”

“Oh, really?” I raised my eyebrows. “Tell you what. If they get mad, give them my phone number and have them call me.”

“That's stupid.”

And he's right.

It is stupid.

It's stupid to yank kids out of the classroom for an hourlong “assembly”. It's stupid to promise kids free prom tickets or candy bars or a meeting with X. It's stupid to take kids in a limo trip to McDonalds.

It's stupid to force or pressure or coerce kids to raise money for their school.

“Sorry, Squints.”

“It's OK,” he replied.

“Want to try my tomato sauce?”

“Sure.”

And I really really wish I could say I will do my painting tomorrow, but I've got to catch up on the stack of crappy magazines growing on my bedside table; sitting there fermenting while I ignore them.

Perhaps next week.

Labels:

5 Comments:

At September 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM , Anonymous Jessie Powell said...

I won't buy the magazines. On Scott's side, ours are the youngest of six grandkids. Nobody buys from them, even though we bought from their kids. On my parents side, my Dad is broke and my Mom would rather just give a donation. And I hate the environmental waste those magazines cause. The prizes disgust me. It boils down to less money for the school. (well, I suspect that X is donating his time, but the limo ride? Yeah.) I like fundraisers I can actually get behind. I hate the ones that create fortunate sons in every class.

 
At October 1, 2012 at 6:07 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

Talk about universal appeal! The art of the todo list is allowing you to avoid some difficult tasks by assigning priorities. LOL

As a side note, I agree with your position on schools and money raising projects... The only lesson here for kids is obtaining the almighty dollar is part of the three R's

 
At October 1, 2012 at 6:57 AM , Anonymous Louise Gallagher said...

This entire post warmed my heart -- I still have a ledge to paint from painting the kitchen last fall! :)

 
At October 2, 2012 at 6:29 AM , Anonymous Rhi said...

I planned to paint my whole flat. We did one wall and then moved out. I now own a lot of paint.

 
At November 8, 2012 at 3:38 PM , Anonymous Kathy Umbaugh Kelly said...

Just getting caught up on the posts. Love this one. We had a similar conversation with M at home. I normally buy all the magazines because I don't want her selling them. This year, I decided to pass and pay the $25.00 opt out fee. Best decision I made. I still have magazines from two years ago that I have not gone through.

 

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