The Care Guide
The other night, Kate and I were joking that I was going to have to write a care and feeding manual in the event that someone else inherits Kate-duty (she takes a lot of watching). So, I did.
Step Away From The Shiny And Focus
A Room-by-Room Guide to the Care and Feeding of Kate Roberson
Kate Roberson is a lovely, intelligent, artistic, empathetic, beautiful creature. And, like many fragile and exotic hot-house flowers, she requires a lot of care and watching. Like, A LOT a lot. So, in the interest of insuring her continued blooming and growth, I’ve created this handy guide for her care and feeding, so that her next caretaker might know what the job entails.
Because a household presents a diverse range of environments, I’ve taken a room-by-room approach to this guide, so that you will know how to approach the particular challenges presented by each.
The Living Room
Although the living room is low on the scale of challenging environments, there are nevertheless a few potential pitfalls that you should be aware of. The TV will not be a big priority, but you should be on the alert for the occasional request to watch a movie. Kate will, every now and again, request a Netflix or On-Demand showing; she generally does not know how to operate these things on her own, but if she manages to talk you into participating in this venture, be prepared for such monstrosities as Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, AKA “the worst movie ever made.” She will also sometimes request a TV series such as “Trailer Park Boys.” As horrifying as this will be for you, you can rest assured that, 15-20 minutes in, Kate will see something shiny and wander off, allowing you to turn off the horror and return to your regularly scheduled programming.
Another area of caution in the living room will be the front door being left wide open, despite the torrential rain and 35-degree weather. The thing to remember here is that she is not in fact trying to drive the heating bill up by 32-gajillion percent (that’s just a side-effect) – she simply forgot that she had to go back outside and unhook the car battery. You know, as one does. Repeated reminders will only produce hand-wringing and self-flagellation; just get used to jumping up to close the door. It’s okay, you can probably use the exercise anyway.
Other living room challenges include dishes left on the floor for the dogs to pre-wash, lights left on, and items randomly discarded on Kate’s trek from the front door to her room. It’s not unlike the path left by a tornado, but you can mitigate the damage by going behind her and grabbing the cast-offs before the dogs break the dishes, or chew through her purse to get to the half-eaten chocolate bar inside.
Here’s the good news: it’s a small room, so there is only so much she can do to it. Here’s the bad news: she will frequently take up semi-permanent residence in it. We’re not talking about a hobo sleeping under a grocery cart for the night, here; we’re in squatter-wintering-in-a-summer-cottage territory. The sheer number of possessions that disappear into that one small room when she moves in will defy physics. We’re talking a kitchen chair, a laptop, a space heater, a full-length mirror, a smaller auxiliary mirror, and enough skin and beauty products to completely submerge a horse if they were to suddenly and simultaneously break free from the bounds of their jars and bottles. When spring arrives and she ventures back out, it’s like watching a clown car empty as all the items egress.
The best possible solution is to have a second bathroom. If that is not a possibility, I recommend the regular guzzling of a two-liter bottle of water to stretch your bladder – you’ll be thankful for the training later. If push comes to shove, Kate will willingly accommodate you in preventing an embarrassing accident by closing the bathtub curtain and allowing you to pee. Just be aware that you will have to scale the mountain of belongings and unearth the toilet first, so it’s best not to wait until the urge reaches Code Red status.
Dude, just keep the door closed and throw an occasional room freshener in, hand grenade-style. Seriously. Save yourself. [Sidebar: The room will occasionally vomit its contents into the hallway, kitchen, and surrounding area. It’s probably best if you leave the house when this happens.]
This room is by far the one most fraught with peril. There are things that produce heat, things with sharp edges, breakables, perishables, and lots and LOTS of shiny items. Close attention will have to be paid at all times while Kate inhabits this room, most especially if her mission there involves the preparation of food or beverage.
First, keep a close eye on the stove. A common scenario is one in which Kate puts something on there to cook, then wanders off. If left unattended, these items will burn and/or boil over, creating a huge mess and likely setting off the smoke detector. (See: sausage, blackened. No, not the Cajun way.) You will want to watch those items so that you can head off any possible conflagrations. Please note that your work is not done when Kate removes the food from the stove; you will need to follow behind her to insure that each of the burners is turned off.
Re: The Oven – same methodology applies.
During the time that Kate is preparing food, be aware that every conceivable flat surface in the kitchen will look like a hole in the space-time continuum opened up in the refrigerator, causing it to vomit out food that will not even be purchased until three years from now. You can maintain a modicum of control over this by throwing away trash as Kate generates it, and by putting away items as she finishes with them. You will need to be vigilant, but by containing the fallout while the meal is in process, you can reduce the post-prandial clean-up time – and since she’s cooking, you WILL be doing the clean-up – to a mere couple of hours. Also, by putting the items away yourself, you will ensure that any perishables are not left sitting out overnight to spoil. Here is the great news: The food that Kate makes will be DELICIOUS!
So, wait; does that mean if you cook, then Kate will do the clean-up? Yes!! Kate is totally willing to pitch in and clean up if you do the cooking. Just don’t plan on the dishwasher being loaded in any semblance of the order in which you would do it. Even if she’s seen you do it 3,254,682 times. It’s just a thing. Live with it. Kate will also do the dishes that need to be hand-washed. Just be aware that “I’ll do it after I do xyz” means that she will probably get to it sometimes within the next fortnight or so. If you’re going to need any of those dishes, and/or you don’t want to use them to create a science project, it is probably best to just wash them up and get them out of the way yourself.
The refrigerator – occasionally, Kate will put leftovers in the refrigerator herself (I know, right?!). While this is A Good Thing in theory, in practice it can present some challenges. You will find cereal or pasta bowls, perched precariously at a 45-degree angle atop a soft bag of kale or spring mix, with only a salad plate half-covering them. If you are lucky, the food in the bowl is not of a soft or liquidy consistency. To save yourself a lot of swearing and cleaning, just put the food into a proper container with a locking cover and place it in a prominent spot so she will find it when she goes back for it later. The same applies to the freezer; those questionable-looking items on the cookie sheet atop the frozen vegetables are actually turkey necks for the dogs, not some Dalmeresque collection of bull penises or the like. Gently remind her to bag them up accordingly.
The Laundry Room
Kate is pretty self-sufficient when it comes to washing her clothes, so you won’t need to worry about doing her laundry. You will, however, have to remind her to empty the lint trap in the dryer after each load. Otherwise, when you go to empty it, be prepared to encounter a fully-grown, post-pubescent Yeti.
The Great Outdoors
The biggest issue you will encounter with the outdoors is the number of items that make their way out there, only to be abandoned to see to their own fates. This includes glassware, grooming items, lawnmowers, cameras, dogs, small children, and occasional articles of clothing. It applies particularly to Ella, who will generally wait patiently outside the door, for hours if necessary. She has, after all, had extensive experience with this.
You will also need to keep a close eye on Kate’s car, particularly the windows and sunroof. These will more likely than not be left open. I hope you watched the weather forecast (Kate didn’t).
This used to be a relatively simple matter; shepherd’s pie, mac n cheese, a pasta bake… Kate was what my Mom would refer to as an easy feeder. Times change, though, and feeding Kate has gotten to be a bit more of a challenge. Now it’s all local this and organic that. Those things are generally very healthy and tasty (and expensive), but beware of the canned sardines and occasional chia seeds that show up, suspended like whale-sperm in some questionable-looking bottled liquid. Also, the mung beans. Those things are trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! But know that it is perfectly acceptable to let Kate fend for herself, and to eat a fucking French fry every now and again – she won’t mind.
The Kate Roberson Experience is a fun and always interesting one. By following the steps in this guide, you should be able to successfully navigate its perils. Be vigilant, keep your sense of humor about you, hang on, and enjoy the ride! (um, not a euphemism)