Treasured Island and the To Do List

Another “Pattern Language” admonishment reads: “…the kitchen needs the sun more than other rooms, not less.” I do cherish our bright kitchen, even though this low November sun sometimes casts long shadows from crumbs and highlights neglected corners. In the midst of the weekly keep-things-a-little-under-control clean, I noticed cobwebs on the legs of the island and dust on its shelves.

I put “clean island” on the yellow pad “to do” list. Being so much more in the house and with holidays approaching, I’m trying to check off avoided jobs. Also I’m inspired (read chagrined) by our cabinet builder. When he visited last summer and listened to my bookshelf and countertop laments, he said: “You guys just need to get better organized.” A little ruthless and a lot true.

Our cabinetmaker built the island, which I love, to stand on chunky fat legs (the cobwebby ones), painted it with coats of milk paint, rubbed off in places, like an old piece of furniture. The top really is old, made from a leaf of our Anchorage butcher-block dining table – a daring purchase when we bought it. For years that table served everyday family meals and expanded for holidays – but it was the wrong shape for this house. Back in the days of free luggage, Alaska Airlines transported the table leaf, packed up like a very heavy, short surfboard.

A nasty burn spot – a scar about an inch in diameter marks where a dinnertime candle fell through a bottomless holder and remained, burning wax and trying to burn the butcher block – a black divot. The cabinetmaker thought it should stay as a memento mori – a reminder of mortality. A note of imperfection.

The island is a workhorse – the top is cutting board and space for food prep, then serving table for snacks before dinner. Below is storage. On the side of the island facing the living room, a glass-fronted cupboard holds a set of white china, hand-painted with gold trim by my husband’s Granny Trudy – it’s the Thanksgiving china complete with gravy boat and turkey platter. (She left the china with other treasures in the attic of his family house with a note in spindly hand: “for Jimmy’s bride.”)

The kitchen side holds the everyday – soup pot, sauté pans, a stack of baking dishes, and a basket of placemats and napkins. It’s dusted now, but maybe could be organized better.

Still, “Clean island” – check. I’m running out of time, but now on to the rest of the list. And how’s yours?

2 thoughts on “Treasured Island and the To Do List

  1. “You guys just need to get better organized.” That certainly holds true for us. Yet I’m grateful to have met my husband some 21 years ago with his equally disorganized ways as mine. Wouldn’t life feel tense if one of us minded stepping over a pile of books? (His computers and zeros and ones are extremely organized, however.)
    I love the verbal image of the shadow of a crumb! Now you’ve motivated me to clear the counters, darn it.

  2. For many years I had to cook a big Thanksgiving dinner for extended family. One year one of our nephews said after the meal “I just don’t know how you get it to all come together at the same time.” The answer is LISTS. This year I am not responsible for the dinner, but I am still writing those lists in my head. And I was very happy at the farmers’ market this morning not to be the woman asking “What kind of potatoes are the best for mashing. ” My answer might have been – “the ones that someone else is making”. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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