Saturday, April 28, 2007

Even better the second day

I termed it “clothes spam” when I came back downstairs and saw Karen. Not spam as in that junk email we all get, but rather a representation of the canned and oft-avoided foodstuff from which the term is derived.

The clothes were in a solid…block, somewhat rectangular, looking as though they had been frozen, with socks and under-shirts turning corners, the bundle having almost edges defining how they had settled in the clothes basket for some length of time before Karen dumped them upside down on our bed in order to give the emptied basket to Bennett so he could use it as a cage for his stuffed animals. Were this clothes-spam block sitting on a podium in the Museum of Modern Art, intelligent adults would have paid $20 for the pleasure of viewing it.

Once I heated up our bean bags and put them under our covers, I went and found the basket, which was in the guest room (we call it “Memaw’s Room,” because it’s where she and Grandaddy stay when they visit), and turned it upside down over the clothes. I held my hand under the “block” and tipped and…voila! – clothes were successfully back in basket. I felt as though I had put something away and accomplished an easy task when, in fact, I had just prolonged yet another domestic chore for Karen for some future date. Probably when the spam becomes cheese.

Karen tells me she has been embarrassed at times when we’ve had mountains of clothes to be folded sitting on the basement floor next to the dryer. When Maryann comes to babysit, she usually does so much more around the house once the boys are down than a babysitter can be expected to – she was once a nanny, so is used to going beyond the call of only watching kids – and she’ll usually wash any dirty dishes and fold any clothes left around.

It leaves us feeling a little guilty, so we usually try to “prepare” for her coming by cleaning and tidying so she won’t feel compelled to.

We have maids that come every other Wednesday for two hours, usually in the morning. This is the very least I can do for Karen, and I wish we could have them every week. They are Brazilian and, nowadays, we get the ones who report to the owners, a couple named Alex and Lane. Lane, the woman, speaks little English. Alex is the one we deal with mainly about business matters. They named their cleaning company after Maria, their daughter, which I think is kind of charming. Used to be that Alex and Lane themselves would come and clean; then it was one of them and another person; now it’s two or three others only, and we never see Alex and Lane. A good sign that their business is growing.

While we miss seeing them personally, the ladies who come do quality work. But since the basement got flooded on Mother’s Day 2006, we told them to skip vacuuming the playroom (where there was no carpet for a while), and enough time passed that the rotating crew didn’t know now (since we have replaced the carpet) that that was part of the package of our arrangement. When Karen reminds the ladies to vacuum there, they give her attitude. South American style. Usually with a flourish of the vacuum hose and not in English words.

The maids came earlier in the day before my team from the office arrived for dinner this past Wednesday. That’s always nice when we can get the house cleaned professionally before entertaining. Karen had made chicken enchilada casserole, one of my favorites. It’s like Texas lasagna, which is good when you first eat it and even better as leftovers the next day. We served it with diced vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh avocados on the side, corn and flour tortillas, and pink lemonade. Lemon and pink grapefruit sorbet was for dessert as well as coconut gelato.

Some of the folks who came didn’t exactly know what to do between the casserole and the tortillas. They thought the entrée was to be treated fajita style, with the food placed in the tortillas and somehow wrapped and eaten that way. You need only butter your tortillas and eat them on the side, but I found it fun to watch how people tried to figure it all out.

Sometimes, simple pleasures in the suburbs come down to that.

photo: szajmon

No comments: