Sunday, April 4, 2010

Egg on Toast

Larry does all our cooking, kitchen cleaning and dishes, grocery shopping, errands, house maintenance, earning.  At times the asymmetry between us—compelled constant activity for him and compelled inactivity for me—has been much greater.  At my worst I couldn’t put my clothes in the laundry, get myself a snack or a glass of water, even adjust my blankets or move a pillow.  I couldn’t scoot my chair to the table, bring my dishes to the sink, open pill bottles, turn doorknobs.  So much fell to Larry, and we were so barely holding on to existence, that whatever could be left undone had to be.  For us that meant, among other things, cleaning. 

We accepted the necessity of cohabitating with our crud for long intervals, relieved every so often by a fresh trauma with a cleaning person.  Actually, the first woman who cleaned for us we adored, and she adored us, but we went away for a couple of weeks and she disappeared while we were gone.  She had a raspy smoker’s voice, and I’ve always feared that she got sick.  But the others were trouble.  I desperately needed someone who could just show up reliably and, if not raise the floor of our degradation, at least sweep and mop it without a lot of fuss and with forgiveness for our idiosyncrasies and the odd difficulty of our life.  I also needed somebody who would call when they weren’t going to come.

One expended a great deal of energy telling me how incredibly dirty everything she cleaned here was.  As if I didn’t know.  As if I wouldn’t do something about it if I could.  As if I wasn’t doing something about it by having her come.  As if it weren’t what she was being paid to do. 

And then, a few years ago, the whole situation changed.  A wonderful person came into our life and I have lived in fear ever since that she would leave.  We are the only people the Wonderful Person has ever cleaned for.  She is reasonable, forgiving, easy to communicate with.  I guess I could survive now if she didn’t want to do this work any more; but it used to be that simply finding somebody to call, making the call, talking to the person, communicating what we needed, negotiating their discomfort with and lack of understanding of my situation and our idiosyncrasies, accepting the indignity of having to lie inert while somebody I didn’t know cleaned the house . . . That’s all easier now.

Last spring her family bought 13 chicks and now we get two dozen eggs from her every two weeks.  They are things of beauty: assorted sizes, big and little, long and round with bright orange yolks that stand tall in the pan.  Two dollars a dozen and, I like to say, harvested with child labor.  At least until the roosters grew up and got belligerent, her kids would compete to see who could get up early enough to collect the eggs.

Larry opened a fresh dozen Saturday morning and, after admiring their diverse sizes and shapes, fried two and served them up on slices of his homemade sourdough bread with a little Vermont cheddar sprinkled on top.  Larry took up making all our bread by hand a couple of years ago to, as he said at the time, “make our life more beautiful,” and it does.  We order the whole-wheat flour made from wheat grown on a Vermont farm, through a small local cooperative grocery store.  I’ve become so accustomed to our good bread that when we have to buy store bread I feel a little put-upon.  Even if we buy really good bread I think, “Uh! I have to eat this stuff?”

So I have this good food and this good man to eat it with, and a good little house to live in that’s only moderately dirty instead of exceptionally filthy.  And as we sit down to breakfast I satisfy my hunger knowing, without really thinking a lot about it, that I’m connected through this act to cows and chickens and fields of grain, farmers, and kids that are afraid of a rooster, even though I don’t leave the house much and hardly know my neighbors.  It’s amazing how much satisfaction there can be in an egg on toast.


  1. Seemingly random question, but are you chemically sensitive? If yes, that would make it harder to find a good person by an order of magnitude.

    What did you finally do to find Wonderful Person? Did you change the way you searched, or did you just luck into her?

  2. cinderkeys: I'm physically somewhat chemically sensitive, and ethically very sensitive. It does make it hard to find someone who is willing to forgo using the harsh cleaners, and at times I have just endured things I don't like.

    I kinda lucked into this person.

  3. Allow me some skepticism about it being luck :-)

    I'm so glad. This sort of relationship gets short shrift, but it's much more important to happiness than lots of relationships that get much more press.

  4. You know, Priscilla, I've been thinking lately that I modify my diet to include eating locally produced, organic eggs and meat. I'm coming to believe that it's more ecologically relevant and important to be a local-vore [sic] than a strict vegetarian. Especially if the locally produced food is organic. And then there is the change in my marital status. If the right woman came along I would consider making this change in my diet in order to meld our lifestyles....Food for thought!

  5. Okay, fork it over. I need a name. Who is this Wonderful Person and would she make the trek to Wilder once a month or so?


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