Welcome to my home, and watch your step

Southern Hospitality

If we ever have a national disaster, you might not want to come to my house to camp out. For one thing, I am a compulsive kitchen minimalist, so mealtime might involve sparse rations. You can usually find one shriveled carrot, two sprouted potatoes, or maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter in the kitchen, but certainly not enough to fill a plate. It’s a bad habit I’ve gotten into and it’s a true dilemma.

On the one hand, there is food in the house. On the other hand, it might not be edible. This drives my daughter, Kelly, crazy. I always spot a gleam in her eye when, after driving here from Raleigh, she puts her suitcase in the bedroom, primps in the bathroom mirror for a few minutes and then goes straight to the refrigerator and cleans it out. Next she runs sudsy dishwater in the sink. Then the Tupperware goes flying, and the garbage can fills up quickly. It’s a routine I’ve come to expect.

For another thing, the sanitation rating here might not get a grade of “A.” Once when Katie was 14, she had a friend over for dinner. Afterward, Jessica picked up the broom and began sweeping my kitchen. “I just can’t stand it any longer,” she told Katie, with tear-filled eyes. Her mother still doesn’t believe this, since she’s never seen her child hold a broom. In my defense, things do get cleaner the higher up you go. The ceiling, for instance, is spotless.

Then there is the matter of grounds. I think I know where the term “grounds for divorce” comes from — unsuspecting spouses who choke on menacing black flecks in their glasses of iced tea. Am I the only one who has this problem with bursting tea bags? The process seems simple. I boil the bags and water, then let the pot steep for five minutes. Next I throw away the bags and pour the tea into the pitcher. I add sugar and stir. Easy enough, so far. Suddenly I spot tiny black grounds floating to the top. I strain the tea as best as I can — after all, I hate to waste — and fill up the glasses. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. The dilemma is especially embarrassing when we have company over. Russell is usually the one to notice first. His special “tea grounds cough” is my cue to throw out the remaining tea in the pitcher.

I’ve always said if my beds are made up, I feel like my house is clean … or should I say clean enough? If you came to visit, you would get a clean, made bed, not to mention a warm welcome.

There are welcome signs all over my house and even in the yard. Russell says he hopes we’re never burglarized because it would be hard to prove in court that anyone had trespassed, what with all those welcome signs. We have cross-stitched signs, ceramic signs, decoupaged signs, banners and flags.

Hey, what can I say? So what if my house isn’t the cleanest one on the block and the food choices are sparse. With a warm welcome and a cozy place to sleep, two out of four isn’t bad!


– Ann Ipock
Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller