Monday, September 29, 2008

Cleaning Up the Mess - The Peanut Butter Bailout

Daily Kos recently quoted Nancy Pelosi regarding the current job ahead of Congress, hashing out the plan to bail out the financial industry:
We sent a message to Wall Street - the party is over.

Kos' response:
Sure, the party is over. But we weren't invited to the party, yet we're the ones left cleaning up the mess and paying for the house they burned down.

Gosh, this really reminds me of something. I might even be able to make an analogy. You see, I have a huge mess in my life that needs cleaning up. I didn't make it... in fact, I have spoken repeatedly about the need for caution on the issue, yet this big mess happened. And apparently, if I want anything done, I will have to clean it up.

I should tell you first that we like our unhydrogenated peanut butter. It tastes great, but it takes more work because it doesn't have those hydrogenating agents in it. Therefor, the oil separates out and rises to the top of the container. When you first open a jar, you need to carefully and persistently mix in all of the the oil into the heavy, sticky butter, a potentially messy process. It is possible if not likely to get oil all down the sides of the jar and surrounding table if you are not extremely careful. Not a job for for the young, careless, or faint of heart.

My husband has a genetic inability to see how any minute amount of sticky or oily substance, if not attended to, will spread to other formerly pristine surfaces. I don't have a toddler, but I do have sticky fingerprints on the back on my chair. So given the potential for oily messes regarding the peanut butter, I have a taken to premixing the jars just so my husband doesn't have to. I avoid feeling resentful about this; it's just what I do for my own sanity, to avoid running into oily boobie traps. The same way I wash off oily jars. No guilt trips. It's just what I do.

So this latest jar, it's big, it's new. I bought it thinking it was a bigger, yet cheaper-brand jar, a possible substitute for the even more expensively organic peanut butter we've been indulging in. The jar was so big that it had nearly an inch of oil standing just under the lid. On this one occasion, I fell down on the job to to regulate the mixing in of the oil on this non-standard loan, I mean, purchase. (You can see where this is going.)

So late last week (yes, last week), Mr. Sweetie hit one of those days when he was trying to grab his breakfast while running late for work. His standard pb toast construction was slowed down because the current jar of pb was empty. He grabbed the bigger jar lurking in the cabinet. It was, of course, difficult to open. Without pause, he hugged it to his chest, wrenched it open, and then took it to the kitchen table (on the other side of the room) to spread on his toast. At some point, he took it back over to the cabinet. At some MUCH later time, he nearly slipped on the floor. (I have to presume this because it would be unusual for him to *see* something spilled on the floor.)

And then he realized that --oh shit-- he had spilled peanut butter oil on the floor. He cleaned up as best he could because -- remember -- he was late to work at this point. But he did spare a moment to come into the bedroom and warn me to be careful in the kitchen because - he was really, really sorry, but he had spilled peanut butter oil and it was really slippery.

I groaned and tried to go back to sleep. The oil wasn't going anywhere, so why ruin the rest of my perfectly good sleep cycle? I successfully slept through the alarm a a few more hours while ignoring this impending reality.

By the time I was ready to face the kitchen to see how bad it really was, armed with a roll of paper towels and some grease cleaner, I was still unprepared to see the sight of peanut butter oil spilled across *most* of the kitchen floor. I started laying down towels to soak up the remaining oil. Some there, some more there, and over there, and OMG I was standing in some! And over there... there were even traces in the hallway.

Yes, Mr Sweetie had unwittingly tracked it to the sink, to the table, past the fridge, back and forth across most of the linoleum, with grace notes down the hall and into the bedroom. There is about 50+ square feet of floor involved in the kitchen alone.

Shocked and discouraged, I practically papered the floor with towels and half-heartedly stepped on them to start the soaking process. Those would be the stop-gap measures.

And of course, we were supposed to leave to go out of town for the weekend within 4-6 hours. I barely had time to finish preparing and packing much less crouch at the floor for hours while pregnant... that was my rationale. I didn't have the heart to tackle this task while trying to get ready to leave, although it meant we'd have to deal with it when we got back.

So the towels would have to cover the floor all weekend... and there they remain. We got back home last night, looked at the kitchen, sighed, and put down a few more towels. See, we've been stepping on the towels because any floor uncovered is still shining with the oil slick.

And I'm *still* trying to face this huge cleanup.

I'm thinking I need to find my stool to sit on because squatting on the floor for periods of time while pregnant would be uncomfortable and potentially hazardous. (Don't fall into the oil!) I'm thinking I should use the cleaner before even attempting to mop. I shudder to even think of adding water to that mix. I'm thinking that I'm hungry already and don't have time to deal with this... as I tiptoe across the towels to get my direly needed waffles and orange juice to Feed Teh Baby.

It's daunting. Can you tell it's daunting? I am trying to steel myself to take care of it already, but OMG where to start??? It's huge.

I'm trying to not point fingers. Yes, Mr. Sweetie did it, but this is way beyond the normal careless "oops" situation; it was the perfect storm of bad circumstances, and I don't want to make him feel any worse about it than he already does. Really I don't. I have made my own huge mistakes, and he cleans up nasty messes for me all the time. Like the soup I forgot to throw away before we left for the weekend... *ahem*

But still, I am not entrusting the floor cleanup to my husband, the person who cannot see juice spilled on the floor, the person who in fact doubted the number of towels on the floor.

"Why are there towels over there? It's not over there is it?"

Oh, yes. Oh yes, it unfortunately is.

So it'll be me wiping and scrubbing. Maybe after breakfast...

Okay, so this is not really a perfect analogy to the Wall Street crisis. In our case, the person responsible for the peanut butter oil fiasco is not overseeing the bail out/cleanup. It's not the end of the world, really. It's not a permanent situation that will forever change our lives. Our kitchen won't collapse without a bailout from the local cleaning service, although the mess did bring a halt to food preparations. (Who can cook when our steps are squeaking? Eek! eek!) Meanwhile, I can postpone the reckoning by writing a post about my frustrations, analyzing how we got to this point. I guess that part would ring true, though, what with everyone on Wall Street and in Congress staggering around in shock trying to come to terms with the financial situation. Maybe there is more of an analogy but my pregnant brain has been distracted yet again.

So true, the oil spill in our kitchen is not really on the scale of a national disaster. I do think, though, that I will be implementing a few small changes. Such as sticking to hydrogenated peanut butter from here on out. Must regulate the ratio of oily food containers to potential scale of disaster. On this, I think we can agree.


Lori said...

Oh my! I cannot imagine the mess. Any progress yet?

Joy! said...

There has been incremental progress. Every so often, I spend 10 minutes wiping various spots on the floor with cleaner and then letting it dry. It's actually looking better. Soaking up the oil first definitely helped! Maybe later I can get in a mopping.