Here in the kitchen area, as in the living area of the front room, furniture devoured what scant breathing room existed. The seven by 11 feet of floor space in the middle of the kitchen shrank to a mere five by eight feet in the presence of our card table, the fan, and the alarm clock, all of which were on the floor. That card table, as our ersatz dining table, had permanent, undisputed rights to a corner of the kitchen area. It was pushed next to the wall and the bottom of the room divider, which left only two usable sides. Sol, if Sharon sat on the side next to the refrigerator when I was cooking, I could not open the door until she scooted her chair, and most of herself, underneath the table. Even then, the refrigerator door would only open partway and when I leaned into it to retrieve milk or eggs or whatever, I bumped myself in the head and bumped my glasses as often as not.
That loud-mouthed fan had also staked permanent claim to part of the kitchen; its spot was on the floor opposite the room divider. It’s characteristic asynchronous clatter jangled my nerves nearly as much as the stifling hot summer air it moved in half-hearted fashion. It was unsightly there, with its cord in an untidy heap beside it, but it had to stay there; it served both kitchen and front room. A little alarm clock, its cord also in a heap, was the fan’s permanent companion. It, too, had to remain where it was; there were no empty plugs elsewhere, and it served front room and kitchen, just like the fan.
After deducting the space demanded by the card table and access thereto and the fan and alarm clock corner of the floor, I had an oval approximately four by six feet in which to carry out my kitchen duties. That in itself was no great hardship; there was only one counter, its span a mere five by two feet, and the drainer and sink compressed four feet of that space, leaving a miniscule working area two by two feet. These Lilliputian dimensions were further encroached upon by the toaster, which was used daily so could not be put in the cabinets (had there been any room anyway!)
Of course, with space so limited, I never started a meal with even a few dishes standing on the counter or in the sink. That trained me to keep the dishes and the kitchen clean after every meal, and I pointed out to Sharon this was the way a house was supposed to be kept, anyway. However, I was not so sure the way I washed dishes was a good example.
With only a single sink and a small one at that, I mixed up soapy dishwater in an old large mixing bowl, washed the dishes in that, and rinsed them in the sink. After , I dried the bowl and set it back in the oven, its usual resting place due to, again, space limitations. Our cookie sheets and broiling rack also stayed in the oven.
I reminded Sharon from time to time that most people did not employ such unorthodox washing methods and storage techniques and that one day we would have a large kitchen with everything in its proper place. Although I worried sometimes that we might have to stay in that small apartment until she was grown and I would never have the opportunity to show her what I meant by that, I tried to concentrate on the fact that she was receiving good training of another sort as she observed my inventive ways of coping.