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The Best Room Ever

Okay, I need everyone to pay attention because what I’m about to tell you may be the single most important argument to ever be made in the history of debate…

The kitchen is the best room in any house. Period.

Now I know I’ve started a frenzy among all the “man cave,” “she shed,” “bedroom” loving people, but I hereby stick to my claim that the kitchen is the best room in any house ever.

Think about it! The kitchen really is the focal point for all the activity inside any house or dwelling. It’s where all the action takes place. Sure, the living room sees a lot of feet shuffling through and a lot of butts on furniture but the entertainment is mostly derived from the television. All the *real* action is happening inside the kitchen.

I’ll break it down for you because I’m not leaving until I’ve convinced every single one of you that I’m right… Okay, granted, you could close this blog at any time so I guess I can’t really enforce that… so… I’ll just let it go and continue with making my point… hopefully you’ll stick around.

Let me start with a little background –

Growing up, we would visit my grandparents every summer. Both sets of grandparents, as loyal readers already know, lived in rural West Virginia, my parents’ old stomping ground. My maternal grandparents (Grandma Mooney and company!) had a pseudo-living/sitting room set up where the dining room should have been – but it was more of an extension of the kitchen. It’s just how the old farm-house was made. The first floor was just one big room basically, with the kitchen proper to the right and the dining room/sitting room to the left – no walls in between and close enough that you could fling a coffee cup from the sitting room and hit my grandmother in the head as she made breakfast (not that I would suggest doing that, however, if you wanted to live past the first serving of eggs). The centerpiece of the sitting room was a huge, round dining table made out of solid wood that I remember always had a green gingham vinyl, felt-backed tablecloth in place.

If you ever peeked in the windows, you would find everyone sitting around that table, playing cards, chattering up a storm, eating fried eggs, or watching the smallest t.v. I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure it was in color. It got maybe three channels. There was a living room in the house – but it was on the second floor. And I never once saw anyone up there, except for me when I was playing house. No, being near the kitchen was the place to be.

In my childhood home, there is a family room and my parents are quite happy there whenever they’re watching t.v. But when company comes – including my grownup self – we sit at the kitchen table, coffee cups in hand, hopefully potato soup (if I’m lucky) or some other gastronomical treat from my mother’s massive repertoire in front of us, and talk the day away.

Like my parents, a great-aunt (Grandma Mooney’s daughter) of mine moved from West Virginia to the concrete jungle of the city, Baltimore to be exact. My parents eventually opted for a more suburban route, but my aunt and her family stayed in the city. My aunt kept her country ways though and sure enough, life took place in the kitchen. Visiting her every Sunday saw us sitting around the kitchen table, eating homemade crab cakes, polish sausage, and drinking coffee or sweet tea.

Now, speaking of kitchens, West Virginia women know how to cook. Between my great-grandmother, my grandmothers, my mother, and my great-aunt…these ladies took comfort food to a whole new level. So who wouldn’t want to hang out in the kitchen and be a taste-tester or gobble up the so-called rejects of whatever meal they were preparing? Or if you were brave, sneak something off a serving plate before it made its way out to the table?

But there is more to it than food, so much more. For me the heart of the house is the kitchen. We’re a family in the kitchen. Good news, bad news, shared joys and sorrows – all happened in the kitchen. Oh, we had food, we’re a family that loves food, but in the kitchens of my childhood, we also had camaraderie – we shared laughter and gossip, tears and heart to heart talks. Life was lived in the kitchen. Still is, in so many ways.

So, for those of you trying to make it work in that cramped two-bedroom apartment the size of a photo-booth, and especially those of you with lots of room to spread out (you know who you are…you can go a full day and not see another member of your household or family) – here’s a piece of advice for whatever it’s worth.

Hang out in the kitchen. Maybe cook dinner together every once in a while, or throw together some snacks and play cards or a board game at the table – whip up something awesome, and I’m not just talking food.

Procrastinators, Unite! Tomorrow…

Procrastination:  The fine art of avoiding easy and ordinary chores until they become insurmountable and you need bottles of wine to tackle them.

You all may remember Petra, my beloved burrowing Chihuahua.   I have had to post Lost and Found signs around my house this week.  The last I saw of her, she had chased a ball into my laundry room.  I haven’t seen her since.  I suspect she is trapped under the mountains of socks, towels and sheets awaiting the eager, empty washing machine.  I have taken to throwing treats under the clean piles that I refuse to put away, in the hopes of drawing her out.  I did see a shirt moving last night, and I can only hope it was Petra under there.

I think we can all relate to the Dishwasher Conundrum.  We have dishwashers, beautiful, work saving dishwashers.  It should be as easy as: put dirty dishes in, hit button, remove clean dishes.  I think we all know that is laughable.  The reality is far more sinister.  Let’s review:

  1. Load dishwasher with every spoon, fork and dish we are too lazy to rinse off. Don’t judge me, I know you are guilty of stirring your coffee and putting your spoon in the dishwasher.
  1. Rearrange the now overflowing dishwasher contents to fit in Just One More Cup.
  1. Now that there is no room whatsoever left, finally hit the power button.
  1. Enjoy that unique smell of hot water and detergent. It will be the last time you go near that thing for days.
  1. Place a dish in the sink, with the full intention of emptying the dishwasher the next time you go in the kitchen. You’re far too busy now.
  1. Place a cup, carefully filled with water, atop the dish in the sink. You’ll get to the dishwasher later.
  1. Continue placing dishes in the sink. At this point, you no longer even try to lie to yourself. Those clean dishes are staying in the dishwasher until you move.
  1. Dish Jenga has become the new favorite sport in your house. You now have dishes piled to the ceiling in the sink, overflowing onto the counters, and have been hiding them under the couch cushions.  You consider moving so you don’t have to feel the guilt of the clean dishes crying forlornly in the dishwasher.
  1. Give in, and put the dishes away. At this point, you realize the dishes have aged to the point that they are considered “antique.”  You call the Antiques Roadshow, but they can’t get anyone out to evaluate your dishes; all their personnel are busy balancing dinner dishes in the sink.

My house has several stages of clean, while we’re talking about procrastination.  There is “me” clean, where I write the grocery list in the dust on the desk.  Then, there is “friend” clean, where I at least pick up empty bags of chips and throw away soda cans.  Then, there is the “I’m having a party, oh crap” clean.  Sometimes I throw a party just to have an excuse to vacuum the rugs.  I don’t clean up as soon as I plan the party, though; heck, no.  I perform best under pressure.  Give me thirty minutes with a houseful of people expected, and I will deliver you the cleanest house you’ve ever seen.  Just don’t open the closets.

Procrastination has been on my mind lately, as I realize I don’t always keep up with my fellow bloggers nearly as well as I should, instead tending to read days worth of entries in one evening, sending off a flurry of “likes” to show my appreciation for your talent and dedication to blogging.  I enjoy your writing so much, and I hate that I get so behind.  To all of you who are ready to disown me because you get a week’s worth of alerts in ten minutes, I do humbly apologize. And to be completely honest, it’s not procrastination, between work and a life filled with crazy, I just can’t seem to stay on top of things. To be clear, though, you guys are not “chores,” you are rays of light in my hectic, chaotic life.  I thank you all for making me laugh, think, and sometimes get a little misty.

And you know, I really had more to add to the subject of procrastination, but I’ll tell you later.

Grandma Mooney’s Spooky Charades

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandma Mooney lately. I’m not sure why. I joined a vintage photo group recently and it’s possible the old-timey photos remind me of her – I mean, many of the “mountain” or rural women from her era all look very similar; hair in a bun, house dress, a wearied expression on their face that makes it look as though they’ve seen it all (and probably have).  Winnie Mooney had a heart of gold underneath her massive bosom, however, there was a twisted edge to her sense of humor that still has me laughing to this day. I’m not sure what that says about me. But it’s probably why my mother always called me Winnie when I was growing up (just to be clear, it was meant as an insult).

If you recall, my Grandmother – great-Grandmother really – loved sending Vinegar Valentines; Valentine’s Day always brings her back to my memory too.  If you are newer to my blog, a Vinegar Valentine was a way of saying “Bless your heart,” that infamous southern loaded phrase.  She agonized over the perfect valentine to send to people she disliked, laughing as she sent it.  Although turnabout is fair play, she would get so mad when she received one.  These anti-Valentine’s Day cards were more popular for a while than regular cards.  I have a few people in mind that I could send some to, but alas, the practice has fallen out of favor…anyway, I digress.

Grandma Mooney and the rest of my Mom’s family lived in a holler.  For those who aren’t from the south, a holler is a small valley between mountains.  There was only one way in and one way out of the holler. Now you know what all those country songs are talking about. You’re welcome.

To digress one again, I got in trouble at school once for saying and writing holler when my northern-born teacher thought it ought to be “hollow.” Apparently, I wasn’t one to back down from a debate despite my young age. Seems my mother was not immune to the dreaded “parent/teacher conference” any more than I was when my kids were growing up.

Now when my mother was younger, about five or six or so, she had a young friend who lived down the dirt road from her, and he would come by her house to play with her. Or at least…he tried. For reasons unknown to anyone but herself, Grandma Mooney loved to prank this poor young boy.   No-one was ever able to figure out why; it was a secret known only to Grandma Mooney.  Knowing her, it started as a joke and was so hilarious to her that she just continued doing it.

At any rate, the whole premise behind the “joke” was, is there a demon haunting the Mooney house or isn’t there a demon haunting the Mooney house?

And it went like this: my Grandma Mooney would pull a hideous Halloween mask over her head (and we’re talking back in the day when they really knew how to make Halloween scary), and would sit lurking…lurking…waiting for the boy to come up the road to the house.  Then, it was show time.

Grandma Mooney, in this creepy as hell mask, would pop her head up at the window just in time to scare this little boy half to death as he walked up on the porch.

The terrified boy would run home crying to his parents about the insanely frightening witch or monster that dwelled in his friend’s house.  The parents would march over immediately to find out exactly what was going on, as any good parent would do.

Grandma Mooney was ever the innocent hostess. I mean butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth when she put on her “who me?” act.  I can imagine her taking the parents in for coffee, all the while claiming she had no idea what the poor little boy was talking about.  She kept her bluff face on the entire time and never once cracked or confessed.

I don’t know if the little boy ever got punished for telling “wild tales.” Given the parenting techniques of the day though, I wouldn’t be surprised if a trip or two to the woodshed had been in order. What I do picture, though, is this child growing up and ending up in therapy, never able to trick or treat or watch a scary movie, or even believe his own eyes for that matter.

Word carries quickly in the usually close-knit communities in the mountains of WV.  I’m sure word got out about the demon? monster? madwoman? who lived in my mother’s house.  Amazingly enough, my mom still had friends who would come visit her.

my great-grandparents (Grandma and Grandpa Mooney)

my great-grandparents (Grandma and Grandpa Mooney)

 

Motivation

People inclined to motivational prose say “go big or go home”… as if going home is a bad thing. I’ve just never understood that mentality.  I’m over here like, “Hell yes, I want to go home! And I’m going to have a yummy snack and watch a movie when I get there. Might even take a nap.” Go big. Pfft.