Cooking? Cleaning? Forget it!

We have sage brush-sized dust bunnies rolling around our house.


It’s true that, over time, people forget about the intensity of painful events. Case in point: For the past month, we have had workmen in the house, stripping paint, repairing stuff, painting and wallpapering. All the while, we have camped out in a ten by twelve room with a small tv, three dogs and four cats.

The rest of the house either has furniture and boxes piled to the ceiling or drop cloths and paint buckets. It’s also very dirty, since it is impossible to clean. So we have sage brush-sized dust bunnies made of 100 percent dog hair rolling down the halls, flavoring our pizzas and sticking to the paint.

In these circumstances, we find the painful memories of our first renovation coming back vividly, especially the part about trying to cook on a construction site:

“Cooking” Is a Term to Be Used Loosely

Renovating your house is like having a big wedding. If you knew ahead of time how it would discombobulate your life, you'd run away instead.

At this point, I'm so sick of the project that I would gladly return to the old kitchen and single bathroom if the workmen could put everything back the way it was by 4:30 this afternoon. No matter how wonderful the new wing is when it's born, I'll always have strong memories of the labor and delivery.

On July 8, the day they took the kitchen out, we had a dinner party on the bricks. There were big cubes of bricks sitting around the back yard, and we dressed one of them up as a buffet table. We covered it with a linen tablecloth, put out candelabra and silverware and set a flower arrangement in the middle.

But the novelty wore off on July 9. I'm tired of preparing meals on the floor like a hut dweller. At the low point, I had to thread my way through stacks of kitchen cabinets and crawl under the kitchen table on my hands and knees to get the magic biscuits out of the toaster oven. It was the only way to spread out all the appliances so they weren't on the same circuit.

Cricket put up a card table in the dining room and arranged the electric frying pan, the toaster oven and the hot plate on it. The microwave oven is nearby on the sideboard. It's a very workable arrangement --as long as you don't want to use more than one appliance at a time.

One night I was heating oil in the electric frying pan and cooking vegetables in the microwave oven when the fuse blew. With the baby in my arms, I groped my way along the dark hall and down into the basement and found the breaker box. As soon as I got back upstairs, I put the baby's bottle in the microwave and blew the darn thing again.

Sometimes that happens three or four times during the preparation of one meal. (I'm a slow learner.)

Kay Higgins, who went through this ordeal some years ago herself, kindly loaned us her hot plate. However, the hot plate has wearied of front line duty and it only heats half-heartedly.

That hasn't kept me from burning up three pans on it, though. I put a pan of snaps on and think, oh, it'll take an hour to boil. Next thing you know, there's a blackened pan with unidentifiable glop bonded to the metal.

I was in Kroger’s last week when I realized that my attempts at cooking without a kitchen had reached their nadir. I had gone down three or four aisles in tandem with a fellow in jeans, pausing at the same shelves he did, when at last he spoke.

"We must cook the same way because we're buying the same things," he observed cheerfully.

So it's come to this, I thought, I'm cooking on the level of a young bachelor.

Excerpt from “Chivalry, Thy Name Is Bubba”          Copyright Robin Traywick Williams