Tuesday, February 2, 2010

About That Composting

Well, that pork hock was the last thing I’ll compost for awhile.

I’ve decided to give it up, because my mother insists on helping. That might seem weird, but it’s not. Consider my routine: while other people look through the mail and pour a glass of wine after coming home from work, here’s what I do…

First thing - peer cautiously down the hallway, hoping to quietly avoid detection. If my mother knows I’m home, she lurches at full-speed and with quite a tilt, all 160 lbs. (she’s 5’ tall) lumbering directly at me, mouth flapping, words streaming, and often holding something out for me to examine.

Before I can defrost my cheeks, she’s in my face, complaining, describing, insisting. I’m exhausted before I get my coat hung up.

Once last summer as I walked homeward, I spotted her in my driveway, shading her eyes and shifting clumsily from foot-to-foot, peering down the street for me, so anxious was she to begin the complaining, that she just had to bring it into the great outdoors.

Her demands are usually extremely petty, myopic and angry takes on daily minutiae. She gives me an earful of “news” from people in Winnipeg I’ve never met, or shoves paper bags containing the prescription delivered that morning while moaning about the “idiot” pharmacist who is trying to cheat her (she gets everything for free…wonderful drug plan inherited from my father’s pension), spilling pills at me while prattling.

“Now Delia, can you believe it? They are supposed to bring one-hundred pills.”

The word “one-hundred” is carefully emphasized as foreshadowing, in case I’m a bit slow that day. “There were only 97.” This announced in tones that leave no doubt I’m supposed to rear up in shared horror.

She counts all her pills. She doesn’t count them accurately, but that’s another ball of wax.

“I had to call them back, and…”

This is the point where I tiredly interrupt, fearing the worst. We’ve gone through several pharmacies because she keeps fighting with everyone.

“What did you say?” She knows I’m not happy at this point, as the whites of my eyes are showing.

“Oh, don’t worry, I just let them know. They need to be told, you know.”

Yes. Apparently everyone needs to be told. And then I have to deal with the fall-out.

She tells me, she tells the pharmacy, she really tells my daughter (poor Kathleen!); she tells anyone who’ll listen, including my long-suffering husband who is waaaay more patient than I.

But I’ll finish now where I began: composting.

When I get home from work, I avoid my mom (if all goes well), then try to make dinner. This involves going through every drawer and cupboard trying to find what I need to cook. I discover pots in the glasses, knives in the tea-towel drawer, and empty butter and sugar dishes, used up during the day but never replenished. I put everything back where it belongs, restock supplies and add items to the grocery list.

I check over the food she’s “prepared” — she insists — and then I fix that. Fixing the food sometimes means cleaning it better, sometimes chopping into sizes appropriate for human and not giant-sized mouths, and it always means preparing more. She makes enough for herself and perhaps one other. When I remind her we are five, she chirps brightly “Oh, I keep forgetting,” or even, “I wasn’t aware.”

Then, I used to fish through the compost to remove the garbage and recycling that she mixes in all willy-nilly. However, I've grown tired of fish-heads and coffee grounds landing at my feet while I laboriously sort for the sake of the environment.

After dinner, I jump up to clear the dishes and rush them into the dish-washer. If I don’t, she’ll wash them, which involves taps bleeding water full-out for prolonged periods, things dropped and broken, things not cleaned at all, and things put God-knows where, tucked away until I come home from work the next day to start the cycle afresh.

After my mom came to live with us, the water bill quadrupled, and I ruined countless kitchen items by turning on the oven; upon opening the door to place that night's dinner inside for cooking I'd be greeted by stinking, melted and quite ghastly, unidentifiable objects, placed there by her, squirreled away like nuts for the winter. No matter how many times I ask, nicely, or furiously, that she never store any item in the oven ever again, she blithely continues to do it. I've finally learned to check inside every time I turn on the stove.

All of which is why I’m not composting at the moment. It was the one messy, irritating thing that I had the power to eliminate.

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