The Kitchen Counter

This picture, obviously, was not posed in any way. In fact I'm not sure who took it, or why. But as I was going through the files to delete it, I realized it was really quite a treasure trove of information about our lives. So instead of deleting it, I am preserving it forever. With commentary. As follows:

1. Yellow mixer, next to the other yellow mixer, the yellow teakettle, and the yellow dutch oven. Why yes, yellow is my favorite color. The teakettle captures the ideal shade best (not that you can tell the difference in this light).

2. Sebby cake. Part of a larger pattern of Baked Goods, which figure prominently in our day-to-day lives. Yum. It's a bit early at this point, but I won't complain if this cake (or another cake like it, I mean) soon fulfills its highest, holiest purpose and jump-starts a baby.

2a. More baked goods. This is breakfast cake, sweetly made by Abe when I was lying in bed sick one morning—unfortunately, the only reason it's still around at dinnertime is that he accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder. (Haven't we all?) It tasted…odd. The surprising thing, to me, is that over half of it actually did get eaten. (The rest went into the garbage eventually. But not immediately; what do you think we are, inhumane barbarians?! Only after a Decent Interval of sitting on the stove getting in everyone's way and taking up space needed for more important things.)

3. Something from the DMV. Probably telling us to do our car registration. Here it will sit until something gets spilled on it, or I move it ostentatiously to the keyboard of Sam's laptop, whereupon he will move it to his briefcase and forget about it until (best-case scenario) Jan 30th.

4. Marigold's favorite toy, which stopped popping up because someone had stuck a chicken in it. (If you found that sentence unremarkable…well, you have children, probably.) Sebastian took it apart and got the chicken out. Then took the springs out to check them for springiness. Then someone lost one. Now what?? I can't even tell you how many toys this happens to. At least, in its current state, it's recognizable as something that was once a toy (cf. Item 7). (Also note correct usages of its and it's in that sentence.)

5. If my mom were to see this dish soap sitting on the counter, she would say these very words: "If you just put the soap away under the sink every time you finish with it, the counter will look so much nicer." Obviously she would not be correct in saying this considering the state of the rest of the counter… however, she is theoretically right. But then we'd have to, you know, get it out again. And put it away again. Three times a day. You know?

6. Tiny beads and someone's half-finished DNA necklace. We can't stop making them. It's addictive.

7. A broken part of a broken thing. I do not know what it is nor why it is broken nor why it is by the sink.

8. An empty tape roll. Why? Why?

8a. An empty ornament box. Why? Why?

9. A candle still out from our candlelight dinner on Christmas Eve. The other thirty candles got put away, but not this one, for mysterious reasons. Now it has morphed from Item Out of Place to Beloved, Traditional, and Immutable Counter Adornment, which will remain invisible to the all but the most discerning eye (and certainly invisible to the NON-discerning eye of anyone told to "clear off the extra stuff from the counter") until it finally meets its doom in the form of a cleaning frenzy prompted by (a.) impending childbirth, or (b.) guests coming over for dinner.

10. Incomplete box of chocolates one of Sam's students gave him. Good, but not good enough to compete with most Baked Goods hanging around (see item 2). Thus, there it sits (with the caramels eaten out of it) until one of the kids (a) notices it, (b) asks for some, and (c) I remember, before automatically saying "no," that we actually DO want to get rid of them.

11. Pressurized butane fuel for the torch burner Sam got me for Christmas. (You know, for flambé-ing things.) It's cool, but I'm terrified of it. We were trying to decide if we should unscrew the fuel tank every time we aren't using it. Sam said, "We'll lose a little fuel every time we do that." I said, "Yes, but we will also avoid losing a child." There was a thoughtful pause.

12. One of hundreds (thousands?) of Very Important Drawings; important enough to be argued over if criticized as inaccurate, passionately defended from even the slightest stray pencil mark caused by a brother or sister, and wept over with bitter, inconsolable tears when accidentally torn or stepped on—but which, a few hours later, mysteriously become unimportant to the point of no one remembering whose drawing it actually is or what it is supposed to depict.

13. Sam's cursed sinus-rinse packets. No matter how much one puts them away and throws out the little torn-off paper tops, they reappear and multiply and distribute themselves efficiently across every surface, like some sort of smug, horrifying fungus.

14. Blender. Nearly always sitting just-washed by the sink rather than on its base, as it is in constant use, mostly for hot chocolate at this time of year. Yum.

15. Rubbing alcohol. For extracting DNA from lentils, of course.


  1. Yellow is my favorite color, too! We are truly soul sisters. Love your counter. I think I may take more pictures of my family's messes. That is a fabulous journal entry!

  2. That was one of my very favorite of your posts. We are very different in that I am not a baker (sad really) so we don't have baked yumminess lying around. I am pretty much entirely obsessed with main meals. Therefore, we rarely have baked goods and never have side dishes. I'm not sure the psychological impact that will have on my children. Regardless, we shall most likely care on as we have before until one of my children decide to be a baker or side dish maker.

  3. I put my dish soap in a much smaller squeeze bottle and refill it when it gets empty, which is surprisingly not annoyingly often. I put it in a little suction cup plastic scrubby holder, which you can stick to the side of your sink. Just a hopefully helpful tip. Great post!

  4. Cayenne: that's seriously a great idea. Thanks! :)


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