Mama’s Kitchen Table

Defining spaces has become my new obsession. 

We’re in the middle of an expansive remodel, I’m teaching hybrid (half my students in the classroom, half on Zoom), and I’m having a world of trouble letting go of the old to make room for the new.

As you know I’ve been giving myself over to Sam Harris every morning for approximately eight to ten minutes. He’s fabulous and I’m enjoying his casual style and silky smooth voice. 

Sam is my meditation instructor, he takes me through a brief time of quiet, respite, and daily restoration. Every morning I sink into this blissful calm, almost tranquil state of mind, it’s as if I’ve been soaking in a hot tub with bath salts.

I get in a comfortable position, nestled in my bed, it’s not ideal, but the pillows are just right. I click the link on my phone, close my eyes, and melt in to Sam’s melodious instructions. 

He starts by asking me to pay attention to my breath.

How hard could that be?  

Well let me fill you in, It’s like catching fish with your bare hands, our thoughts are slippery, and they come in vast schools.

My blood pressure slows to a trickle as I allow my thoughts to slither away. It’s quiet for a couple of minutes when Sam asks me to pay attention to the sounds that come into my awareness. I pick up the sound of a bird chirping, an airplane in the distance, I can hear the dryer is going in the next room, and then my stomach growls which reminds me we have no kitchen, food issues take center stage, as I try to refocus on the birds. 

Somewhere between birds, dryers, and my stomach growling I start worrying about selling our old kitchen table, if a black backsplash is the right way to go, and if leather couches are too cold to sit on?

This is when I hear a text message has come in on my phone. It’s killing me not to open my eyes and check the message, but I resist. I assume it must be Julie checking in on dinner plans tonight. 

The next thing I hear is my phone ringing. What the hell? I gallantly ignore the persistent buzzing and continue with anxiety about meals, tables, and countertops. 

This is when I hear Larry’s phone ring which he answers from his office, he says, “hi Kelley. No I didn’t feel anything.” I hear him walking towards my room.

No!

He enters the room, I peek out of one eye, and hold my hand up while stressing, “I’m meditating, go away.”

He says with a little sarcasm, “Mom’s meditating,” and he plops himself next to me on the bed, he’s holding his computer with my daughter and her husband Tim staring at me from the screen as if I’m meshugana?

They’re on FaceTime. See what I mean about how difficult it is to define my personal space? 

Total fail, I click the pause button, Sam’s melodic voice disappears, as I position myself on the wobbly shelf of judgment which can be destabilizing.

I ask, “How are you two doing?”

Kelley says, “we’re great, you had an earthquake last night.”

Larry says, “it was only a 2.8, you don’t feel those, especially if you’re sleeping.”

After catching Kelley and Tim up on the status of the remodel, I get up and throw on sweats, the urge to relax has long since passed.

The electrician is coming in a few days and we have to decide where we want all the lighting to go, where we need electrical plugs, and switches.

Here’s the problem, we don’t know where we are going to put the kitchen table, seems to be a popular issue these days. 

Thirty years ago I squirreled away every penny I could find so I could buy this huge round table I had my eye on for a over year. They agreed to sell me the floor model for a hefty discount, it had a few scratches, but it was made of solid wood, with a huge lazy susan, and seats eleven in a pinch. I believe we all came to love this table, it harbors decades of family memories, but it has always been too big for the space designated as the dining room. 

Until recently, when I had this brilliant idea, which has been hotly debated, but hey, I’m already on the wobbly shelf of judgement. I decided that we should switch the dining room with the family room. Buy a rustic farm table, center it in the bigger room, with a mirror and a really cool light. Oh how I danced around the gutted house with this brilliant but evasive vision. As Shauna Niequist says, those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.

What would they do without me?

We already put the old piano and sectional couch out on the curb with a big free sign, Julie and Kelley posted it on social media, and as if a miracle they were picked up in a few hours.

Next, I put up a folding table in the driveway, Larry was not pleased, but everyday I would add vases, bowls, linens, rugs, light fixtures, trays, bunk beds, speakers, puzzles, cookbooks, and such to the pile. And each day I would marvel as the pile slowly dwindled. It felt good to know someone wanted and would use the things we no longer needed.

I was feeling rather Kondoish, I had simplified the entire house, and we would now live with only the requisite.

I mentioned to our dear friend Jim that I was looking for a solid wood farm table, that it was disappointing to discover tables are now made with veneers which crack and peel after a while. He’s been dabbling in furniture making and decided he could make a farm table from reclaimed wood with a metal base for a smidgen of the cost of a laminate table. Problem solved.

Recently I’ve been waking up at three in the morning, after acquiescing to my bodily needs, I noodle on things, and of course I had an epiphany which I was compelled to share.

I shake Larry’s arm, “honey, you awake?”

He says, “no,” there was an edge to his voice I might add.

“But you’re talking?”

“I’m trying to sleep,” emphasis on the last word.

I’m not easily discouraged, “but I had an epiphany.”

“Tell me in the morning.” He rolls over. Rude.

“I might forget.”

“Then it’s not an epiphany.” He adjusts the covers over his ears.

I mumble something about Jesus having the same issue with his disciples.

“I not your disciple.”

“Oh ye, of little faith.”

In the morning I admit I was not the best version of myself, but the electrician was coming and I had a completely new plan to actualize.

As soon as Larry brought me coffee (we set up coffee service in the laundry room, our only haven of civility) I leap out of bed, promptly drag Larry down to the demolished parts of the house, and with complete confidence I say, “we’re going back to the original plan.”

He scratches his head, “remind me.”

“We’re keeping our round table, we’ll move the hutch into the other room, which gives us more space in here, and we’ll create a little conversation area over there (I point), and now you can keep the section around the wine bar open like you wanted.”

“So no farm table?”

“No”

“And no leather couch in here?”

“No”

“And no new lighting?”

“Let’s not get crazy, we’ll need a new light over the old table, probably a bistro set for the wine bar, a few pieces for the sitting area, maybe a rug to define the space, and a really cool coffee table for appetizers.” I stand back with both hands on both hips, a very satisfied look spread across my face.

“This is your epiphany?” He looks incredulous.

I talk slowly, as if speaking to a small child, “we’re saving a lot of money on a table.”

He holds back his unruly hair with both hands, looks around, and says, “we’re spending way more than we’re saving.” He likes to call this mission creep, which is just creepy in my opinion.

“It depends on how you look at it, we’re keeping our beloved kitchen table, and you can’t put a price on love.”

He looks at me as if I just grew horns? 

I say, “Honey, you better call Jim and cancel our customized farm table. Do you have time to run to Ethan Allen later today?”

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health,” says Shauna Niequist

So a few days later we’re driving to breakfast, because Larry’s breakfast buddy, Steve, has moved away, and I’ve become the egregious substitute. 

I say, “I put the old rocking chair out on the curb yesterday with a free sign and it was gone in less than an hour.”

Larry says, “So you’re paying someone to fix the broken rocking chair and you gave away the one that works?”

“Exactly,” I smile, the choice seems so obvious, “the broken one my grandfather made and as you know love has no price tag.”

“Or limits apparently.”

“I’ve become a minimalist.”

“Let’s hope I don’t get put out on the curb?”

I look at him over the rim of my glasses, “I’ve considered it,” giving him a cheeky smile.

“I’m a classic.”

“There’s not a lot of demand for 60’s models and you require a lot of maintenance.”

“But I still work.”

“Retirement envy.”

I’m Living in the Gap, leaving things on the curb, come by and check it out. 

Anecdotes:

  • “Everyone has a price”, as they say. So let the price on your tag say “PRICELESS” “INVALUABLE” “IRREPLACEABLE” Omoakhuana Anthonia
  • I don’t want to live life too cautiously. I mean, you can step off a curb and twist your ankle. Rickie Fowler
  • “To gather together around a table – the ultimate symbol of communion – is the only truly authentic way to properly prioritise the ritual of eating.” Michelle Ogundehin
  • “To those of us who believe that all of life is sacred every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.” Shauna Niequist

35 Comments

Leave a Comment

    1. Hi Crystal, it’s an odd experience to wake up in the morning and suddenly realize you don’t have a kitchen? I’m kind of a snacked so this has been alarming to acknowledge I will have to walk across the street to my daughters if I want cheese and crackers! I have to say I’m most excited about the reduced inventory! Looking forward to a less cluttered life, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim, once I made the decision to keep the old table I felt this inner calm take over, and I knew it was the right thing to do! The rocker is costing me a fortune but it too is worth it! Here’s to maintaining our traditions! C

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A black backsplash? Do you have hard water? If so, you will spend half your day wiping the water marks off the black surface.
    Keeping the table and chair is important. You can remodel too far, then regret losing evrything that once comforted you.
    Good luck!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pete, I hadn’t thought of the hard water issue, good point, thanks for mentioning it! I think I would have regretted letting the table go! I agree they’ll be a comfort when all us said and done! Can I just say the dust is overwhelming, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. C, your writing…I absolutely love your ways. I giggle, smile, and nod my head. Yes to simplification! Yes to epiphanies! Yes to keeping things that matter! Yes to meditation! And definitely yes to keeping your heart and mind always open. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out. I wrote a story about my Momma’s table. I doubt she’ll ever part with it. Blessings to you my friend. ~Karla❤🤍🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Karla, I so appreciate your encouragement, as a writer you never know how your stories will be received? You captured every message I was hoping to highlight which makes me inordinately happy! I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I’ll have to dig through your posts and find the one about your Momma’s table. I’d love to read it! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so welcome, C. I understand what you mean. I think it’s called The Family Table (don’t hold me to that–I can’t remember what I had for lunch ;-). Thank YOU for the mutual support. 🤍

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheryl, great stuff. Two quickies. We should not forget that the Christian worship service after the crucifixion was kept alive at many a mama’s kitchen table, so those eucharist comments aren’t off base as everyone was trying to hide from the Roman soldiers.

    The other is everyone in a small Georgia community called my great grandmother “Mama,” as she was the health care taker of the community until the regional doctor made his way over once a month. She would sit folks down at their kitchen table to fix what ailed them. The doctor was no dummy and took her along on his house calls.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Keith, great point about the Eucharist and how those early Christian communities worshipped around their kitchen tables! It’s a potent tradition and one we continue to celebrate. Love the mention of your great grandma using her skills to heal her community around the kitchen table, that’s powerful indeed. Smart doctor. I so appreciate your comments Keith, warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Cheryl. My grandmother told me the story about how Mama reinserted knocked out front teeth in her little brother. She sat him down at the table, boiled water, cleaned his teeth off and dipped a hand towel in the water and rinsed it off. She told him to put the towel on his gums as hot as he could stand it and when they swelled, she jammed the cleaned teeth back up in there. And, they stayed. Her quick thinking was amazing. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        1. What an amazingly talented woman! She’s the type you want on your team when life throws you a curve ball! Thanks for the story Keith, I’m going to go brush my teeth, C

          Like

    1. You crack me up Diane! The truth is I was going to be an accomplished cook and I invested in all these glossy, gourmet cookbooks? I actually signed up to receive a new genre of cooing every month, never mind I had four kids and a husband who only want steak and potatoes! Meh! I gave up but allowed the book to stay. Let’s hope someone with the same fantasy grabbed them up? Now I just cook what you post! Today we’re eating fudgsicles! C

      Like

    1. Hi Rebecca! Apparently I do my best thinking when sleep deprived and anxious. Who knew? I really enjoyed your last post and have ordered a few of your favorite authors – who I’ll be getting to know! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’m so glad you liked my post. It really took some time and a good think to recall all my fave reads! Here’s to new reads and to writing–hope yours is going well. I’m off to try and add a few more words to mine!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Kondoish is catchy! I was spring cleaning and found several small but sturdy boxes. The kind Kondo folds socks neatly into and then places in a drawer. Donated a bunch of stuff to Salvation Army, but I saved those boxes, Cheryl.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this!
    Thanks for writing. I continue to be amazed at what I get out of your blog. The blog starts with your meditating, trying to find a relaxing escape from reality, but this is just not possible. Despite the earthquake and the persistent intrusions by your family, what dominates your thought cycle is how to square up all the disparate needs of your remodel. Its amazing how when you are jumbling the various parts of a complex problem, sometimes the simplest solution is the best.
    While reading, I told Gail that it was always nice that I pick up an unfamiliar word or two with each of your posts, and that this time it was “meshuga.” She looked at me like I was from Mars. Everyone knows that word….. Oh well, I guess my Yiddish background is lacking.
    Loved the entire banter between you and Larry, starting with you being the egregious substitute for Larry’s breakfast buddy, all the way to retirement envy….. Fabulous repartee! I smiled the whole time, barely able to contain my laughter.
    And yes, the kitchen/dinner table is where family life occurs. (Not the TV room!) This is where memories are made, big announcements happen along with just being together. (Picture my future mother-in-law saying “Oh really,” about 6 times at the dinner table when Gail and I announced our engagement, or my grandfather having trouble swallowing his mashed potatoes when I said I was not going to be a pathologist.)
    Anyway, I hope you don’t fall off the “wobbly shelf of judgement.” 😉

    PS I don’t envy the remodel. Looks brutal and pricey.
    See you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s just about 5:00 pm here in California, I raced home from Notre Dame after my classes to meet up with the tile guy, who ends up gabbing with Larry about mountain biking instead of gushing over my revolutionary design plan! When I finally got his undivided attention he said great go pick it all out! Then they both split the scene for Wednesday night bike club. And so it goes…

      A few of the guys are still here textureing the walls, I’m hiding out in my room enjoying the first quiet of the day. Praying they don’t need me to answer a question.

      Love that you find new words embedded in the blog entries. I get such a kick when I stumble on a new word, which I carefully tuck away, and can’t wait to use it in my next piece. I often have to get quite creative to work them into the text. This one, “meshuga” I found while reading a book, by habit I floated my finger over the word waiting for the definition to appear before I realized I was reading a real book not a computer! Bahaha, I cracked myself up, but I wrote the word in my notebook after I found out it meant crazy because that’s so applicable to my life.

      Okay, I love the engagement story, “oh really,” that hysterical! And are you referring to Grandpa Arthur from Texas? I enjoyed his and Ethel’s company on many occasions. She was a character but he was quiet like my grandfather, Clayton Cordean, unless you pick urology over pathology! (although you have an endless supply of quality beer names).

      So pleased you enjoyed the bantering, Larry offers an endless supply of material, so he earns his keep! Looking forward to the day with strange men stop showing up at my house with hammers and drills!

      When we’re all done we’ll have to get you out here for a visit! Oh and by the way we’re back to the farm table idea, thinking of replacing the lakehouse table with our beloved round one. We’re measuring this weekend! I’ll keep you posted.

      Hugs, Cheryl

      Like

  6. Great blog Cheryl. I agree that kitchen tables are pretty magical places, and I’m glad yours has made the cut. My version of Marie Kondo is to surround yourself with things that bring you joy.
    FYI- I always prefer “meshugana” to “meshga”, but either works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail, thank you, we may have already reversed our decision on the table! We’re thinking the round table might fit at the lakehouse now and then we can go forward with the farm table idea? It might change back tomorrow, that’s how “meshugana” it is around here! Thanks for the correct version of the word, I stumbled on while reading and was determined to use it in my next blog.

      I am currently at war with the things I don’t need or “fail to bring me joy” but refuse to be eradicated! My stuff is so stuborn but I’m making progress. Hope to get you and Mike out here when the remodel is done and we can enjoy a patio night! They are the best.

      Can’t wait to see you all at the lake, much love, Cheryl

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s