Here's How It Works; I Wash the Oven Pan

Here’s this week’s poem from Jim Lafond-Lewis. Have a poem you’d like to submit to poem of the week? Or has your child written a poem you’d like to share? Send it on in!

Here’s a list of the easy stuff:
She does the vacuuming,
all year long,
almost every other week for decades now. I empty the whole-house canister.
Only fifteen times in ten years, but still a foul job.

I clean the ovens, once a year.
I hate the racks.
They wreck my hands.
More often than not, I clean the stove-top.
I cook, she cleans up, but not the oven pan.
During the first twenty five years, she cooked and I cleaned (the oven pan went with it).
We're five years into the second twenty-five.

We share big meal prep about fifty-fifty,
you know, when we're having someone special over to eat.
She does more of the cooking. I do more of the clean-up.
We help each other.

I shovel and blow the snow out of the driveway.
If the time is right she helps with the shoveling.
She sweeps the porch before winter.
She takes in the seasonal furniture. I put it back out.
She washes the porch floor in springtime and again during summer.

She covers the grille at the end of the season, I can't wait to uncover it at the beginning.
I break it down and clean it every other year. I wipe it and scrape it during the season.
It's about 18 years old.
I pick up the propane
and do 99% of the cooking on it, which is primarily how we cook from May through September.

We plant together. We keep the gardens clean, mostly.
I weed some, she weeds some.
I harvest. We harvest together.

I rake in the spring. I mow the lawn.
She might rake in the fall, she might not.
I grocery shop more often than she does, but mostly we do it together.
She cleans out cabinets. She irons. She waters the plants, except one.

She works longer hours making more money.
I do the banking. I pay the bills. I do the taxes. She files. I write.

We both wash the clothes. She folds all of them.
This bears repeating
she folds all the laundry.
In exchange I wash the oven pan, every time.
It's good for her, she likes to fold. She'd do it for nothing.
I like it because although I hate washing the oven pan,
I will sometimes forgo washing my clothes because not folding makes me feel guilty.
I've been accumulating guilt for a long time.
Now, buying my way out of that guilt is especially satisfying.

I take out the trash and the recycling. I clean the bins. 

She cleans the refrigerator,
about once a year because, in general,
we both wipe up sections as they get dirty and spills when they happen.
I usually empty the garbage. I turn the compost pile.

She cleans the bathrooms, more often than quarterly, including floors.
I clean two toilet bowls each about weekly. More as needed.
She washes the shower door regularly. I scrub the grout in the shower.
It grows whenever I take my eye off of it.

She dusts when she vacuums.

I replace the ropes in the double hung windows. Infrequently.
We both pull down the storms and put up the screens.
I take in the screens and putthe winter glass in the outside doors, and then reverse them in the spring.
She cleans them. 

She takes the couch's cover off and carries it to and from the dry cleaner. We put it back on together.  

Six out of seven days, I walk the dog.
She walks him in the worst weather. She usually takes him to the vet.
I cut his hair and bathe him about three times a year.

She exercises faithfully for very long stretches
and then quits for shorter stretches. I exercise less regularly but more intensely. I have broken down, lately.
She doesn't break down as often.
She eats more evenly. I spike.
She is built for the long haul.
I try to learn that lesson.

I clean the garage as we go along, she initiates the big clean-out.

I return the empties. 

Pump the gas. Fill the window washer reservoir. A series of small annoying things.
Set the mouse trap. Dispose of the dead mouse.

I talk to insurance agents. She talks to health insurance agencies.

All of this is a result of silent and not-so-silent negotiation.                                             It is subject to discussion with or without notice and much of it has changed or is in the process of changing.Some of it seems like it will always be the same. At any given moment, a chore can become a burden. Together, all of it weighs almost nothing.

Regardless of who has washed the sheets, she makes the bed.
We love sleeping in it.
The hard stuff is about love. That was resolved a lifetime ago.


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