Jessie Raymond: It’s cooking ‘or’ cleaning, not ‘and’

Ah, the first weekend of fall.
My neighbor, whom I will call “Cathy,” as that is her name, marked the occasion by washing her windows. I, on the other hand, spent two days making a dazzling — bordering on disturbing — array of apple-based, cinnamon-spiced foods and beverages.
Cathy and I live across the street from each other, but we’re worlds apart.
When she dropped by on Sunday, she explained that she tackles window washing at the start of every spring and fall. This is apparently fairly common for people who are not me.
I thought of the window over our mudroom bench, where the dog monitors the driveway in the event that robbers come to steal his food bowl. Picturing the nose prints all over the glass, I cringed. Not only is there a good chance some of those marks date back to before spring, they might even belong to a previous dog. I just don’t know.
I’m not proud of this. But I can’t help it. Whenever I get a block of free time, the last thing I want to waste it on is housework. If I know, for example, that this would be a good day to hoe out the coat closet before the weather turns cold, odds are you’ll find me in the kitchen trying out a new English muffin recipe.
It’s all about priorities.
Cathy agrees, but she comes at it from the other direction. “I wish I could cook like you,” she says, pointing to a loaf of my just-baked bread while averting her eyes from the pile of dishes in the sink.
She tells me how envious she is that I make things from scratch.
Oh, Cathy, if only you knew what a charade it is.
When she came over on Sunday, for example, we were in the yard pressing apples — from our own trees — for cider. How quaint.
Also: how ridiculous.
You see, for the occasional pleasure of pretending we have a real homestead, we pay a price. Several prices, actually. First, we paid to have our four trees maintained. Then we bought an antique cider press. And this year, we rented a power-washer to clean the press, which we hadn’t used in a few years. And we had to order bottles.
In other words, instead of buying $20 worth of cider, we orchestrated a daylong production of making our own, at a cost of $150 a gallon or so. It’s just dumb. Cute, but dumb. (I like to justify it by saying you can’t put a price on experiences. Kind of like Disney World, but without the long lines and licensed characters.)
Earlier, while Mark was getting the press ready, I was inside, doing my best to give the house a Yankee Candle autumn smell by making actual foods. These included a big batch of applesauce, which, I confess, I make as much for the aesthetic as for the product; I’m a sucker for rows of canning jars lined up on the shelf.
The visual payoff comes the hard way, though, as I can’t seem to do canning without trashing my kitchen. As a habitual — and easily distracted — multitasker, I tend to do too much at once. While the apples were simmering, for instance, I figured I could throw together an apple coffee cake. And, since we had a lot of apples, why not get out the hand-cranked corer/peeler/slicer doodad and put a few pies’ worth in the freezer?
As apple peels flew across the kitchen and I fought my way through clouds of cinnamon dust, across the road Cathy (I presume) was surveying her light-filled home and feeling satisfied that she’d have another six months to enjoy her sparkling windows.
I wondered briefly how it would feel to be able to make out more than vague shapes through my own windows, but then the timer went off — cake! — and the thought passed.
Sitting on the porch steps after the last bottle of cider was capped, Cathy and I, as usual, lamented our divergent skills.
“If only I were more creative, like you,” she said.
“If only I were better at taking care of my house, like you,” I said.
And then it occurred to me: Why couldn’t we share our talents?
I made her an offer: I’d give her as much homemade applesauce as she wanted, and in return she could wash all my windows.
I’m not sure if we’re going to try this or not. She stormed off before giving me an answer.

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: