A Different Planet

I’ve been in my new space in Texas now for a little over a month. As far as I can tell, things are going well. My friend and new roommate suffers from depression. She has dealt with this most of her life for various reasons. This was not a surprise to me. She also hates to cook, something I knew as well, and one of the ways I feel all right living here basically rent free, since I take that worry off her shoulders and try to make sure she eats a little better than she has been. She is type 2 diabetic and trying to get her blood sugar under better control and hoping to get off insulin in the near future. As far as these two things, nothing has been unexpected. However, I didn’t realize that entering the kitchen of a depressed person who hates to cook would feel like being on a different planet.

When I got here, I stayed for just a couple of days to get my rental van unloaded, then drove back to Denver to get my car. During the time I was here, I cooked several different things that ensured there would be good food that could be heated up, etc. for the coming week or so until I got back. I left the kitchen pretty much spic and span, aside from the parts of the counter taken up by piles of junk mail which I didn’t feel was my place to simply throw in the trash (although most of it is likely months, if not years, out of date).

When I got back, I wasn’t quite prepared for the kitchen. I had made a batch of Brunswick stew which I left in the crockpot in the fridge. Apparently, they had finished it a couple of days before I got there, but the crock was still in the sink, full of water. Most of the dishes were also in the sink or across the counter. Friend had said she made Salisbury steak a night or two previously and the skillet with remains was still on the stove. There were horse buckets in the middle of the kitchen, which is difficult, since the kitchen is TINY and nearly all of the floor space is taken up by an island which contains the stove top. There is barely enough room to open the side-by-side fridge on one side and the dishwasher on the other. Clearly, not a well thought out design. But the up side is that you can access the stove and cook on any burner from nearly anywhere in the room!

Mail and clutter was piled up where there were no dishes. The dog’s water dish was in exactly the right place for me to kick it across the room every time I moved (that was fixed immediately). The floor hadn’t been swept (a tile floor that is breaking and cracking due to house settling as the result of a flood which didn’t enter the house but washed underneath) probably in days and there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to any of the cabinets.

I say this as a description with absolutely no judgment. While I am not depressed now, I have been in the past and there are days when simply walking down the hall to the bathroom seems to be more than one can cope with. Only the thought of having to change the sheets from wetting the bed got me up. So, if there were dishes in the sink and dust on the floor, I could deal with it. Once I got the rest of the stuff out of my car and got in for real, things moved quickly. There is still a massive pile of junk mail in one corner of the kitchen, but it’s not a corner that would be used much anyway due to its location, so it can stay there a while.

The other interesting thing was finding about half a million lids for food storage containers with no container that fit them. Cabinet by cabinet, I searched and finally made some matches, but decided that if I couldn’t turn up a match for a lid or a container, then out it went. That freed up some space quickly.

Then I had to assess utensils, cookware, etc. One nonstick skillet, mid-quality, one small cast iron skillet, a little too small for much (maybe baking cornbread). Stoneware baking things. No cookie sheet but this horrible heavy stoneware thing. Pampered Chef, maybe? Regardless, I’m not a fan. A pizza stone, which is fine. There’s a 3 quart stoneware casserole dish with a lid that won’t fit in the oven except on the lowest rack, which appears to be the only baking dish she has, so I bought a nonstick cookie sheet, one of those speckled roasting pans and a glass 8 x 8 dish at Walmart. She had muffin pans and loaf pans and other small kitchen items.

I got the pantry cleaned out and organized as well as the fridge. Items from 2015 to 2019 got tossed. Old spices got tossed. Rusty cans got tossed. Friend and granddaughter talked about a cake mix she had bought “a while ago” to make and showed me round cake pans. When I found the mix in the pantry, it had expired in 2016. When you hate to cook, a mix is too much.

So now we have a routine. I got her some protein-y things for breakfast (keto type cereal, full fat Greek yogurt, etc. She HATES eggs and cannot eat them unless they are baked in something). She’s all about leftovers, so that’s good, and she is more comfortable now asking for something she wants. She’s a fiend for chicken salad and loves mine. I’ve rearranged and reorganized things to where they are a bit more functional and logical (for me, anyway). Granddaughter is bringing dishes out of her room on a more regular basis and also eating with us. We run the dishwasher most every night and tonight, she even washed the dinner pan and put stuff in the dishwasher before she headed to bed.

I think the planets may be coming into alignment, and this is a good thing.

2 thoughts on “A Different Planet

  1. I’m glad you are taking charge in a non-judgmental way. It’ll end up being good for the entire household.

    I’ve helped two of my friends deal with big organizational projects. One is the daughter of a hoarder and I moved a literal ton of trash out of their back room. The other was a newly retired teacher with a garage full of all sorts of now useless teaching material (everything is online!). I discovered that it is a hell of a lot easier to clean up someone else’s stuff than one’s own. I didn’t push them to throw out anything they thought was good, but I did point out, occasionally, that while 2 or 3 of something could be useful, 10 or 15 of it was simply too many. No one has that much available storage.

    I hope you and your friend and her granddaughter find a groove that works for you all. You are helping them in a real and tangible way, friend!

    1. Hey, friend! You are absolutely right that it’s easier to get rid of other people’s stuff than your own! Although I am down to one room now. 😂 We will move ahead here step by step and all will be well. Thanks so much for the good wishes!

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