Cheese Juice and Broom Handles

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It is coming up on the twelve year mark of – building “the milk car ton”; the house that I built with Dave Broman and Chuck Arpin in the summer and fall of 2006. I did not come up with the name myself.

I am at a loss of who said it, but they clearly could see that my house looked like a milk carton. It is a small, 650 square foot two level house with a basement. The basement is 4 feet underground and 4 feet above ground. The white siding goes from the ground up to the top, and that extra 4 feet above ground makes it look like a tall, narrow, well….you know.

In its 12 years of existence, this house has gone from being a cozy home for a single mom and a little boy and a retriever, to a house bursting at the seams with a tall teenager, an even taller husband, a very hairy, silly dog and myself.

So an event happened a couple days ago that left me pondering the life of this house and what habitual living does. It all started with some feta cheese.

I was stocking the fridge with some drinks in order to have something ice cold to indulge in later in the hot day. To do so, I needed to slide the feta cheese to another rack. If you are familiar with feta cheese, you’ll know that it sits in a brine. I mindlessly grabbed the container and didn’t it slip right out of my hands and onto the floor!

Feta cheese juice  was everywhere, including underneath the fridge. Great. I was close enough to the tea towel drawer that I could sop up as much as I could with copious amounts of terry cloth material.

I had to remove some parts of the fridge bottom and stick my hand in there, until I realized this was a way bigger job than I had time for at the moment. I did the best I could at that time and wrote a note to make sure I pulled out the fridge and did a good once over because really, there would be nothing worse than the smell of fermenting feta cheese juice smoldering in the underbelly of a fridge compressor, right?

That task came upon me quickly, and today, my strong husband pulled the fridge out of its nook for me and I swabbed the deck and then some.

It is then that I stood in awe at the wall on the left side of the fridge. It is there that I witnessed a fantastic example of 12 years of habitual living. You see, the fridge is small. It’s only a 14 cubic foot fridge so the space for the fridge to sit in is larger than the fridge itself. It’s actually handy to have that 6 inch gap between the fridge and the wall because that’s where we have kept the broom and dustpan all of these years. And now I am seeing that the handle of the broom slid along the left side of the wall, and end ed abruptly with a tap on the back wall.

There is the evidence of the slide of the broom and perpetual nicks in the paint and drywall. Sweeping is my “thing”. Having dogs in this home has made me a chronic sweeper so those nicks in the wall are a reminder that with the love of others comes daily, necessary chores.

It made me think of all the times my son has had to complete his chores over the years before being allowed to go and play. It made me think of whether he’s going to lift up a broom even once when he’s in his dorm in university. I don’t want to know the answer to that one.

It’s the small things that remind us of the life we’re living when we are not thinking about it. Out at the farm, we see evidence of busy lives that existed in this space everywhere we turn. The floors in the kitchen are worn right through to even older linoleum.

There are items that have been collected and used and repurposed to carry on with every day existence that may seem necessary if not mundane at that moment, but they lead up to thoughts of who we are and what we do with our days that others may find interesting at some point.

I remember in 2006, laying on the floor of my newly built kitchen. There wasn’t even flooring laid down or cup boards installed. I had spent the day painting and was having a break. I decided to pick up a Sharpie and write some thing along the lines of “This house was built in 2006” or something like that, and included my name which at the time was Rhonda Bobinski.

One day those floors will be changed, I am sure, be cause laminate flooring simply does not have the durability of other types of floors. Someone will see that and will have an opportunity to explore the history of this house and hopefully get a sense of the great things that have occurred in this space, even if it’s just the simple task of sweeping up after the dog.

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