Counter Culture

Our kitchen is long, narrow, and utterly not “Dwell Magazine.” It has antiquated appliances, discomfiting white linoleum, and harsh fluorescent lighting overhead. Its sole redeeming feature (other than expediency — pretty much everything is within arm’s reach) is a long, high counter that runs above the sink. It looks out on the dining area, and could, in theory, serve as an attractive transitional space from food prep to food consumption area. At one point I even bought stools for it, so we could sit on the dining room side of it and read the paper while sipping our tea. Some of you know how that worked out.

But, even if the stools hadn’t been too short, you can’t read the paper on a surface more cluttered than a Victorian hoarder’s parlor. No one’s going to sip tea anywhere near that counter until some of the below items find new homes:

  • Baby monitor — unneeded. Still, I got it at a rummage sale recently for a dollar, so I thought I should set it up. Truth is, our walls are so thin MJ could curl her left toes and we’d hear it in the garage.
  • Cup filled with pens, pencils, watercolor brushes. All broken.
  • A small blue vial of Flower Remedy drops. They were purchased — by me — several months back at a craft fair. For twenty-five dollars! They are supposed to make me happier. But only if I take them four times a day at equal intervals. This obligation stresses me out. So I ignore it. Voila! I am happier. 
  • Small, blue, clear plastic cup from Ikea. A toy of MJ’s. We have a million. They are ubiquitous. I see them in my dreams.
  • Wooden “screw” from MJ’s Plan Toys work bench. Ditto to above. I can’t tell you how many I have stepped on. One day I will burn them all in a colorful — and totally nontoxic — bonfire.
  • Swiss Army knife. Is this Mike’s? An entire wood shop is not enough?
  • Half a bag of artisanal peanut brittle, worth exactly $2.50. It’s too sweet for me. I will feed it to a guest.
  • Glitter-covered Little Drummer Boy ornament. When Mike was packing his studio up he found an old shipping box filled with Christmas presents his parents had sent us, oh, three years ago. This ornament was among them. Why is it now sitting on our kitchen counter? Maybe because the ornament storage box is in the attic, and we don’t have a ladder that reaches up there. One of our neighbors does, but after they had us over for tea and we didn’t reciprocate things got a little awkward between us and them. Thus, no ladder. No attic. No box. Ba-rup-pa-pum-pum.
  • Wooden bowl containing onions, garlic, ginger, and several TJ’s mesh bags. Are those recyclable? Unknown.
  • Pepper grinder. Salt shaker. Braggs spray bottle, which MJ sucks on. I use it anyway. 
  • Nearly-empty vial of an unknown oil that a friend gave me for my face. I am leaving it out in the hopes that this will remind me to e-mail her to ask for more. It has been there for three weeks now. My skin is surviving.
  • One organic, but not very good apple from Trader Joe’s. When will I learn?
  • A folded, blue post-it note of unknown origin. Written on it, in pencil, is “4 LIONS.”
  • A small spool of pink thread from the sewing kit that MJ opened and spilled all over the floor last week. She left it there for Mike to subsequently step on. Adios, sewing kit. Pink thread: the sole survivor.
  • A dental-health kit from Mike’s recent trip to the hygienist. Cheap floss. Still, you can’t throw it away.
  • An extra container of hand soap — “in reserve” for when the one currently in use runs out. This will be in a month or so.
  • An unnamed succulent from Descanso Gardens. Mike and MJ bought it for me around Thanksgiving. I keep meaning to replant it.
  • Mother Goose nursery rhyme book. Very politically incorrect! MJ loves it. I think Georgie Porgie is a criminal.
  • Paperwork from Mina’s recent, exorbitantly expensive vet visit. Depressing to behold. Too much work to file.
  • Brita water pitcher. We’re still using this, even though Mike purchased a new, quite expensive under-the-sink filter a couple of months ago. Why? The filtered water from under the sink is so filtered that it tastes, well, almost undrinkable. It’s easy to believe you are being slowly poisoned by it. The Brita seems to return some of the flavor. This is a state of affairs that is driving Mike — who hates Britas on principle — half-mad. Conversations about it generally devolve into arguments. The phrase “maybe if you hadn’t bought the new filter at a reef supply store” is often invoked. The whole thing is a sore topic. Still, one must hydrate.
  • My recipe book, out because I am making scones. Or that’s today’s excuse.
  • Buttermilk. The same.
  • Sachet of “gourmet salt” that someone gave us as a housewarming present. With a little bowl and a spoon. We never use it. Why? I love salt! But it’s in a sachet! So labor-intensive! I feel guilty. Also worried that if I throw it away the house will burn down.
  • Random spare keys to unknown locks. You never know!
  • Two wooden trivets. Atop them, a business card for one “Oyster Bar” in Silverlake. What is this place? Who went there? Wasn’t me. Conversation must be had with Mike. Are he and “4 LIONS” into something I should know about?
  • Stool sample kit for Mina.
  • A Chapin Sisters guitar pick. Back in the day we had about 3,000 of these. Now this is the only one I have left. I consider it “collectible,” at least by me. Call me nostalgic. Still, it keeps ending up on the floor.
  • A bottle of Holy Water my brother gave me as an ironic gift years ago. A small Bhudda. An orange, Indian-looking jar. I list these three together as they are supposed to form some sort of decorative, pseudo-religious triptych. Unfortunately they are all currently obscured by the stool sample kit.
  • Business card from our life insurance salesman.
  • Small pieces of cut-up sponge soaked with watercolor paint. Why have we not thrown these away? Our child painted with them! Should maybe have them bronzed.
  • Tiny owl pin purchased for MJ at local restaurant. I am afraid she will choke on it. If I throw it away it may pierce and tear garbage bag. We are stuck with it. Whoo. Whoo.
  • One nearly-expired Bird of Paradise (from garden) in a taupe Heath vase. The bloom has got an odd configuration; if it were a bird it would be staring at the fluorescent lights directly above its head, perhaps in avian wonder at their sheer ugliness. As a cut flower it could not look worse. It makes me want to cut my wrists. Or at least sweep it off of the counter — vase and all — in an aesthetic fit of disgust. Especially because I hate taupe.
  • One piece of blue sea glass. What am I, twelve? 

8 thoughts on “Counter Culture

  1. Jeff McElroy

    A Chapin Sisters guitar pick?! What is the highest bid on that?! You know how I LOVE my darling Chapin Sisters!

    Also, I collect Buddhas (really) and pieces of blue paper that say things like 4 Lions (not really).

    Reply
      1. Jeff McElroy

        Obviously, I’d LOVE a pick, but I wouldn’t dare ask for the last one you have!
        However, if Abigail or Lily happen to have a hidden stash somewhere, that would make me quite happy. But, in all seriousness, don’t put yourself or the girls to any trouble. I’m sure I’m enough trouble as it is.

  2. Jo Anna Noble

    what I loved about reading this after stumbling upon it, is it’s as if you were sitting here
    in my kitchen talking…ok, ranting right to me. Jess mess, I love you!

    xo Jo Anna

    Reply
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