Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Third Life – In the Kitchen.

The back-lit glow of the tender oregano leaves on my kitchen windowsill catch my eye this morning. As much as I fancy myself a green thumb, I’m surprised that this plant has lasted all season. Every now and then when I’m cooking I grab a few sprigs and toss them in to the daily special, just because I can. It is a picture of both form and function, sitting attractively in in its vintage, green  McCoy planter that I scored at a garage sale for a whopping twenty five cents… and then allowed to subsequently fall victim to an over curious puppy who loves to topple over my plant stands.

In recent months I’ve become quite adept at the art of super gluing. I’m sure that will come in handy if I ever have children as well. I try to push out the thoughts of using it to glue their mouths shut or their hands together, though it’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Maybe it’s best I stick to pets.

The weather has turned chill and I find myself quickly seeking solace in comfort food. I love to cook. I love to share. Cooking for one can be sad at best, but I’ve adapted. Right now the smell of garden fresh rosemary and thyme are wafting through my kitchen as my first real attempt at beef stew simmers away quietly on a stove that is a mere year younger than me.

I braved the wet chill outside to harvest the last of the edible items from my garden for this endeavor. A hand full of onions, some sprigs of rosemary and thyme and I was on my way. If I get another nice day, I need to turn the garden over for next year. If there is a next year. Either way, it’s best to be prepared. Unlike the rest of my family, I do not have a rototiller or a plow or a tractor. I have a shovel and my hands.

My garden is not big but it is more than adequate for my needs. Each spring, when the sun first shines, I head out with gloves on, shovel in hand donning a sweatshirt that quickly becomes a tank top once the blood gets pumping. I turn it once. I turn it twice. I turn it three times. The next chance I get, I hoe it, rake it, whatever seems best at the time. And then I turn it again.

A little time getting dirty is very Zen to me. Send me out in the middle of a patch of dirt and I’m a happy girl. If I’m sweaty, smudged with earth and covered in bits of organic material I consider it a happily successful day. It’s more productive than going to a gym and a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy.

I do not like being trapped in suburbia. I’ve tried it. Large tracts of builder homes where a family farm once sat, makes me want to cry. It’s hard to fight your heritage sometimes. I come from a line born of the earth. Living life inside an artificially controlled environment, under the glare of fluorescent lights, does not soothe my soul. Put some sunshine on my shoulders and some grass under my feet and you’ll see the shoulders relax and a smile bubble forth in no time.

Any given day I spend about ninety percent of my time at home in the kitchen. I never go in the living room. I rarely sit at the dining room table. Kitchen and bedroom are the only two rooms I occupy on a consistent basis. I like it here. It’s warm, it’s well lit, and it’s full of food.

Every party I’ve ever had has eventually ended up in the kitchen, no matter how small the kitchen was. Eventually I came to the conclusion that a much better use for the living room furniture would be to move it to the kitchen when it was time to entertain. This idea, while initially met with more than a few quirked eyebrows, was a stunning success. My dream kitchen has room for at least a love seat, if not a sofa in it. My dream living room, I could care less about.

I suppose there should be a chair or two in there, just to keep up appearances.

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