Monday, October 17, 2011

The Housekeeping Chronicles - Flotsam & Jetsam

I'm beginning to comprehend the fact that Eigh, the male half of our Housecleaning Team, does not have an aesthetic eye. He's unable to distinguish things of inherent value from things that are simply of utility value. It explains a lot about some of the things he does.

For example, the night after Ouef and Eigh had cleaned our house one week, I noticed that the bedsheet seemed to have a kind of panel sewn onto it. I wondered why I'd never noticed this feature before. Finally, after some thought, I recognized it as a patch - something that has not been an element of my life for so long I almost forgot the word for it. Someone - Eigh, no doubt - had patched our bedsheet.

The next week, he brought this to my attention, and queried archly whether it met my approval. He had, he said, noticed the fabric was thin, and so he took the bedsheet home and patched it. He'd sacrificed a pillow-case to match the fabric - he assured me that he'd kept the remains of the pillow-case in order to patch the next hole that appeared in the bedsheet.

I can't even remember the last time I bought bed linens. In fact, some of the linens in our cupboard came down from Seattle in the moving van 14 years ago. And when we buy linens, it's always during a white sale. So I can estimate that Eigh spent probably two to four hours of his own time patching a bedsheet that cost $20 ten years ago, by cutting up a pillow case worth maybe $2.

Another example is Eigh's treatment of the laundry. I spent days wondering where the heck my old ratty yoga pants had got to, until I finally found them hung neatly on hangers in the closet, carefully pressed.

Anyway, I'm even more convinced that Eigh has no sense of aesthetics by how he has re-arranged my kitchen.

It's a common complaint of people who hire housecleaners that things get put away in the wrong places. But Eigh has taken it to a new extreme. The cabinets under the stove and counter, where I keep the pots and pans and baking dishes, are getting emptier and emptier every week.

And the cabinets where I keep the platters and bowls and serving dishes for parties is getting more and more crowded. Every Tuesday I have to hunt for the frying pan, the colander and the sauce pan that I use every day, moving them back to the cabinet closest to the stove and sink - and then on Monday they disappear again.

But worst is what he's done to my glass-faced display cabinets. My kitchen has lots of storage, with lots of solid-door cupboards. It has two cabinets with glass-faced doors. I admit I am no Martha Stewart, but behind these doors I like to display the few nice pieces of pottery and china I own. And while my collection is somewhat quirky - I collect ceramic flower frogs, for example - a display cabinet is supposed to be attractive and - well - tidy.

Here's what Eigh has done to it. Our emergncy battery-powered lanterns are nicely displayed alongside a glass throw-away vase from a florist. Behind, my Frankoma bud vase. A French faeiance cache-pot sits inside a hand-made porcelain bowl (student artwork), and a wooden sushi platter is balanced precariously on top. On the second shelf, a valuable Roseville vase is jumbled up next to an African bowl with an old chipped majolica ashtray inside, next to an Aleut soapstone carved bear and a case of steakknives.

Here, a Quimper teapot and an art-deco flamingo are crowded in by an oil lamp whose chimney has long-since been broken. Our votive candles - bought for use during power-outages - hold pride of place in the cabinet. There's my Mom's Van Briggle vase (sorry, Mom!) crammed inside a basket along with something else, and a Pyrex baking dish conveniently balanced on platters and tin trays on the top shelf.

Seeing this fills me with irritation, but so far I haven't said anything about it to Eigh. He is difficult to talk to. He would take any comment as a criticizm of his resourcefulness at packing things away.

Ironically, Eigh's newest self-imposed project is to lay fresh shelf-paper on all our kitchen shelves. He hasn't gotten to the glass cabinets yet. Knowing Eigh was coming to work Monday I tossed and turned at 3:00 am on Sunday, envisioning these cabinets with fresh shelf-paper and an even more crowded jumble of stuff. I hope nothing precious gets chipped or broken.

I know I'm being craven to avoid tackling this, but as you'll note reading the Housekeeping Chronicles that our relationship with Ouef and Eigh is somewhat complicated.

What I really have to do, I think, is go through everything and purge the junk. Then there will be more room in the lower cabinets for the stuff like emergency supplies and steakknives. Maybe that's the bright side of having Ouef and Eigh's presence in our lives.


smalltownme said...

I wouldn't mind having someone else do the cleaning around here, but their puttering with your stuff seems so invasive!

I could have used the sheet mending, though. Our bottom sheet ripped in shreds yesterday and it's the only flannel one we have left. I must have 3-4 top sheets, though.

Glennis said...

Heidi, if you want Oeuf and Eigh's phone number, just let me know.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Our votive candles - bought for use during power-outages - hold pride of place in the cabinet.

I have a "St Jude Money Candle" in the apartment in case of blackouts.

Maybe you need to break his heart by telling him that the glass cabinets are off-limits. Barring that, glue them shut.

Sheila said...

That's hilarious.

Deborah said...

What a riot! I completely understand, though. When I had a housecleaning service for a while, it drove me nuts trying to put things back in the right place (could be a little touch of OCD in action). But there was never any messing about in the cupboards. Nowadays I only have to worry about the wrong places my husband puts things. And he lives here!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

yes, a person realizes one day that they are drowning in crap and therefore... :)

Anonymous said...

Oy!! I miss Juanita from our days in El Paso, but she didn't reorganize things -- she just dusted and cleaned and replaced (and it could be the same dime & piece of scratch paper, 2 weeks in a row, didn't matter).
I could not abide by my things being re-organized like this. BBBB has a point: maybe just saying the glass cabinets are off-limits (after re-doing them for yourself).
Please let us know how it turns out!