For a few weeks now I have been cooking with a microwave, electric skillet and toaster, set up in a corner of my living room. Sometimes I wash up in the little bathroom sink, and lately I’ve had my old sink set up on plywood, without counters on the sides.
When I got all organized and ready for the demolition of my old kitchen I thought positively about what I might accomplish with minimal equipment, and was undaunted. After all, I have cooked on a camp stove year after year, and washed up tin plates without any kitchen at all. We often needed to hide our food from bears between meals, but the dishes we ate around picnic tables were tasty and I enjoyed putting them together.
It hasn’t been at all the same here. The most obvious difference is that we must cook and eat in a dimly-lit corner of the living room. No trees, no fresh air that whets the appetite. The scenery is also blighted by over-crowding–extra furniture in disarray close by, all the dishes and condiments and dishtowels stacked around instead of stowed away in camping boxes.
But another kind of space is lacking, the mental and emotional refreshment that comes from being away from home and with greatly reduced responsibilities. Some years ago I discovered that when I’m camping outdoors or even in a cabin somewhere, after a few days of rest and relaxation, the creative urges surface and want to be expressed. I learned to bring along some ingredients that might take extra inventiveness or work to make a meal out of.
The ability to focus my mind on cooking at this time is completely lacking. There are too many decisions to muddle over, walls to wash, important papers to hunt around for. A storm has hit my artist’s studio, as it were, and the tangible and intangible tools aren’t where they need to be; the artist is disabled. If I get through this without getting depressed it will be enough to show for my work.
It’s a good thing we are coming to the end of the worst period of remodeling. In the next few days the stove will be hooked up, and the sink. The counters are in, so there will be a place for rolling out pie dough! Next month we’ll be kicked out for a few days so that floors can be put in, but I have already started stowing some clutter away in the new drawers.