Monday, February 27, 2012

Do I Want It or Do I Need It?

It’s time for true confessions, so I beseech you not to judge me harshly. I have sink envy. There. I’ve said it.
It’s not as though I have the number of the vasser tregger on speed dial. We do, thank G-d, have indoor plumbing. There are sinks with running water where they need to be – one in each bathroom, one next to the washing machine in the laundry room, and one in the kitchen. And therein, my friends, lies the rub.

For a kosher kitchen, one sink presents a challenge. To turn over from meat to dairy or dairy to meat is like changing stage sets at an opera -- if the first act opened in Venice during Carnivale and the second in Siberia during a winter storm. Constant vigilance is required, lest someone, without thinking, drop a grilled cheese plate into the sink with the roast pan.

Others may pine for jewelry or Caribbean vacations, but I long for that second sink. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean a double sink where my single now resides. I want the big kahuna, a completely separate bowl deep enough to accommodate soup pots I could swim in on a summer’s day.

She doth protest too much, you say, and perhaps you are right. I’ve never actually lived in a house with separate sinks, and I’ve managed to keep my kitchens strictly kosher. Lately, though, I’m finding it more and more frustrating to get by with one. I mean I am daydreaming about being able to clean a chicken in one sink while the mugs from my morning coffee rest in another.

Who fantasizes about sinks?

When visiting friends who’ve recently redone their kitchens, some ooh and aah over the kasherable granite countertops or the Viking wall ovens. They drool as they gaze upon the specialty tiles and the hand-painted backsplashes. But I make a bee-line right for Sink One and Sink Two, staring longingly at them to the point of utter distraction.

They needn’t be fancy or graced with a professional-grade pot washer. No hot water tap is necessary either. Just give me a no-nonsense stainless steel bowl and a faucet.

In desperation, my husband called in the contractor, who said he could make it happen… if I were to compromise my minimal work area, part with the cabinet storing my fleishig pots, and let the equivalent of a few yeshiva registration fees pass from my hands to his.

Thinking about it further, I started to wonder if I sounded like my boys, who need cable television, must have another pair of sneakers, or require those special karate gloves. We always ask, “Do you want it or do you need it?” before considering their requests. I soon began to wonder the same thing about my missing sink.

Are two sinks really too much to ask?

I love our house. It isn’t too big and it isn’t too small. That a pair of sneakers and a sink are the only things my family is missing means that life, thank G-d, is good. And not getting those karate gloves – or the sink -- is a reminder that we probably can do without them in the first place.

When it came down to it, I realized that I just wasn’t prepared to lose my counter space. After all, where else would I store all those drain boards?

But a girl can dream, and while I’m dreaming, why not long for a third sink? One just for pareve…

Monday, February 13, 2012

Please, May I Have a Do-Over?

Decoupage is Queen of the Crafting World and I am her loyal subject.   

It is a happy obsession, one that enables me to rescue the old, the garbage-bound, and the utilitarian and transform them into something colorful that makes me smile. My family knows this is no trifling matter. The long–running joke here cautions you not to sit for too long, lest you find yourself covered in giant paper tea roses.

My boys, who still believe the floor is the best place to store almost anything, possess an uncanny reverence for my art supplies that is generally reserved for their Eli Manning posters. I’d even bet they’d be able to differentiate between Mod Podge and regular white glue in a blindfolded smell test.

My husband, who is well-versed in my preference for glossy over matte varnish, has made many an emergency run to craft shops for me throughout the years of our marriage. He has a sixth sense that enables him to gauge my mood based on what I’m crafting and knows that my studio is my holy of holies. He may visit at any time, but not stash his own tools or medical magazines within its small, beloved confines.

Alas, there are moment s when, gulp, even decoupage cannot save the day and times when I must accept its impracticality. Sharp scissors and cross-country road trips shouldn’t mix, for example, and Mod Podge is a bit messy for watching a movie on the couch in the den. But a crafty girl needs to craft, so she’s got to have options. 

Enter the crochet hook. You see, when I’m not potchke-ing with paper, I’m making afghans. Lots and lots of afghans. Most recently, two for the basement man cave we set up for the Teenager.  Before that, bedcovers for the younger brothers, who – with their very own feet – embellished my work with decorative toe holes. And my favorite, the one that kept me sane on the drive from New Jersey to Mount Rushmore.

Occasionally, my husband will gently remind me that a family needs only so many afghans – at least two per person seems reasonable, no? -- and that our house isn’t that big.  Still, he understands this oddball need of mine to constantly be making something, and pretends not to notice when I begin yet another project. To be fair, I stop for a spell to consider what it is about these crafts that keeps me coming back for more.    
For starters, they both anchor me in one place while I’m awake. They provide fleeting moments of calm, too, little commercial breaks from the action-packed adventure that is life in a household of boys.  For brief interludes, they enable me to shut out the rest of the world, or at least let it in at a smoother, more digestible pace.

When I have to rip out a row of an afghan or recover a mirror because my paper choices feel all wrong, I am reminded to cut myself a little slack. Almost magically, I can make these crafty mistakes disappear – poof - without over-analyzing them or questioning my decisions well into a sleepless night. 

Unlike real life, they are forgiving. They allow for a do-over. And if I don’t catch a misstep, I can cover the evidence with a toe hole in just the right spot, as if nothing was ever wrong in the first place.