My kitchen is old, the sink is scratched and the counter is cracked in places, but the little sliver of stainless behind the faucet gleams! (Not germane to this post, but the splash wall is an example of my faux painting. I hand-painted it to look like a lighter-colored version of the faux marble counter, and Bon Appetit is what my mother always said before we ate—just like Julia Child.)
R E M E M B R A N C E — There are certain things that happen on a daily basis that bring me right back to my childhood. Like cleaning the kitchen sink and its surround. Like not worrying about the crumbs on the floor, Huh? Allow me...
Growing up in the family I did was an interesting experience to say the least. Because of some events that happened to me at an early age, outside of my parent's control, it was apparently deemed better for the tiny me that I spend less time around my older brother. I had a second "home" with my mother's sister, my aunt Hoohoo and her husband Bill, who just happened to be my father's brother. My mother and Hoohoo were half sisters, spoke to each other several times a day on the phone, and were as close as could be. They were also oil and water, lol. I wouldn't be the person I am today without both of their ample influences.
Hoohoo and Uncle Bill lived about 1/2 mile away in the family home of Hoohoo and my mother. Hoohoo never met a spill that she didn't mop up immediately, a Revere Ware saute pan that didn't get its copper bottom polished every single time it was used, and a wallpaper book full of colors and patterns, flowers and stripes she didn't fall in love with and order too many rolls. My mother, well... let's just say that my mother's interests didn't really include housework or decorating, rofl. My mother was an RN, she set up health insurance plans for migrant workers in the 1960s in our town, set up Well Child conferences in their early years, and even after retirement from the Visiting Nurses, continued to see her elderly former patients almost every day. But housekeeping? Well, this Amish saying on a trivet on the kitchen wall said it all: Our house is Clean Enough to be Healthy, and Dirty Enough to be Happy (and yes, that same trivet is on MY kitchen wall as I type this).
While my mother always loaded the dishwasher after dinner, Hoohoo always did her dishes by hand. At Hoohoo's, I learned the fine art of hand drying the silver, drying each porcelain dish one at a time, top AND bottom, and never holding two wet crystal glasses at the same time in my little hands. Hoohoo always said that if "we" weren't good enough to use the real silver everyday, who was? At home, I learned the 5-second rule about dropped food (and I learned NOT to pick it up at Hoohoo's). At home, we used whatever dishes were on top, whatever silverware was clean, whatever glasses didn't have something caked on them from the dishwasher, lol. I learned that dry crumbs on the floor will eventually be stepped on making them smaller, and they'll be fine like that until they're vacuumed up over the weekend. Or next weekend. At home, I learned that there was more to life than wearing an apron and making sure every thing was perfectly in its place every single minute of every single day. That's not to say Hoohoo didn't have a heart or didn't help out friends, or that my mother was a slob, let's just say they tempered their spirits in different ways. The little Gemini Casey, the little straight A Casey, the little damaged Casey, absolutely excelled in both environments.
But there were occasions I made sure each woman wasn't too "stuck." Sometimes I insisted that Hoohoo and I go up in the attic and "explore" the dusty old stuff up there before every piece of cutlery was put away. And she did. Sometimes I would insist that my mother clean her Revere Ware with real copper cleaner before she turned the kitchen lights out. And she would. And sometimes I just had to do stuff at home by myself, lol, knowing that I was being a pain in the ass to my parents, but also knowing at that early age I wanted things a certain way.
So how does all of this relate to the opening of this post? One thing that really bothered me about our kitchen sink at home was the area behind the faucet. There was an area about an inch wide between the faucet and the wall, that always seemed to trap dirt and debris. My mom would run her dishrag over it, a million things on her mind that needed to be done RIGHT NOW, but that little sliver rarely sparkled, there was always SOMETHING that could be wiped away. There were times that I would sneak into the kitchen and take some wadded up paper towels and slowly glide them back and forth in that little one-inch span until it gleamed as stainless steel should. That little one-inch area became my little "thing" that I attended to at least once if not twice a week, for the entire time I lived in that house. I have no idea what my mom thought about it, I'm sure she noticed it, but I always gave her plenty to think about in other ways. I'm sure a little extra cleaning on my part was one of my easier idiosyncrasies to live with, lol.
I think about that little stainless steel sliver behind Mom's kitchen sink every night now after dinner and it makes me smile. I wash up the few dishes/pots/pans I've used and put everything on a towel to dry overnight—my own time-saving habit, lol, and I'm glad I don't have a little child learning THAT. The last thing I do is wipe down the counter and then rinse the stainless steel sink and the surround. I have that same damn one-inch area behind my current faucet and the splash wall behind it, and I clean it every time I use the sink. It reminds me of my two "moms," my real mom and her sister, my aunt Hoohoo. I like to think that wherever their spirits are, they're both doing what they need to be doing and they're both smiling at me doing these things I need to be doing. Like cleaning the back of the stainless steel sink surround behind the faucet and quietly stepping on crumbs on the floor. : )