Developing My Social Skills

We had our annual Oktoberfeast (or Oktoberfest, depending on whether your focus is on the food, as mine is, or on everything else) this past Saturday evening, and I have to say that despite a few little bumps, it was the nicest one we've had thus far. 

The only bad thing is that most of the food was consumed, and there just weren't enough leftovers, in my opinion.  Bill took the last of the sauerbraten and spaetzle to work today for lunch, and all that's left is sauerkraut.  And a few dinner rolls.

But before the dinner, there was the preparation, and that ran over the course of several days, probably starting last Wednesday when I did the majority of the shopping and Bill made the marinated mushrooms.   

The biggest push was on Friday – I had a few things we still needed (foodwise and winewise) and I needed to make the linzertorte (made the dough) and the rolls (stay tuned) and CLEAN THE HOUSE.

Yuck.  I know there are people out there who like to clean, or who at least don't equate it with root canal pain, but I'm not one of them.  Sure, I like the way the house looks when it's clean, and it's not like we live in filth until we decide to invite people over for dinner, but we tend to live in a sort of mid-range spot of clean most of the time.  Two small kids can have that effect.  And even if they don't, I consider them a reasonable excuse.

But still.  Things needed to be done.  Floors.  Walls.  The bannister going up to the second floor.  All the big areas.  The kids' rooms.  Pretty much anywhere that people might go. 

And it wasn't something I wanted to leave til Saturday, because on Friday night Bill's brother was flying in and I wanted all that work to be done before he arrived.  I figured if the house was done, I could do the final baking Saturday morning and then use the afternoon to be all Martha-ish and choose my serving plates and decide which cloth napkins to use and arrange our winter squash harvest on a platter and dip seashells in gold paint and create party favor wreaths out of them.  With my glue gun.  In my craft room.  At my farm.  With my chickens that lay pale pink and lavender eggs that are all double-yolks.

But I digress.

So Friday would be clean-the-house day.

And then I got the message from Susan that she would be traveling through my little town on Friday and maybe she could stop by and say hi, maybe noonish? 

Well heck, yes!

I "met" Susan, of She's Becoming DoughMessTic, through our membership in Tuesdays with Dorie.  I've met a lot of fabulous people that way, read their great blogs, and gained a lot of weight.  So it's been MOSTLY all good!

Anyway, I found out at some point that Susan would be in New England and kept my fingers crossed that she'd have time to meet up.  She's basically a dynamo, at least if you take into account all that she does – she's married, mother to a two-year old boy, she participates in Tuesdays with Dorie AND Daring Bakers AND she launched Baking GALS (which has grown to gigundous proportions) AND, with Holly of PheMOMenon, started You Want Pies With That?  AND she does custom cakes and cookies and catering AND she has a little novelty store. 

And so when she let me know she'd probably be in the area between 12 and 12:30, I knew I'd have to race around the house like a cleaning maniac.  Of course, being a normal human being, she'd also said something like "don't feel like you have to clean!" and being another normal human being, of COURSE I felt like I had to clean.  And then pretend that I hadn't cleaned, so it would seem like THAT cleaned-up state was what I considered in need of cleaning.  Because I'm goofy like that and so, I suspect, are tons of other people.

Anyway, just as I was leaving Whole Foods with Julia on Friday morning, my cell phone rang.  I couldn't answer it, and when I listened to the message, it was Susan, and they were on their way, and figured maybe getting to my house around eleven.


I called her back and told her, in my casual, my-house-is-always-clean-enough-to-receive-visitors voice, "Sure!  Eleven is great!" 

And then I drove home through all the red lights, drank several shots of espresso and forced Julia to help with the cleaning.

"But Mommy, I don't know HOW to wax the floors!"


"But Mommy, I don't know HOW to reupholster the furniture!"


You know, age-appropriate cleaning jobs for a five-year-old.

I started with the living room and had Julia get her little broom and sweep all the toys out from under the coffee table and put them away.  I'd deal with the dust and debris.  I also gave her a Clorox wipe or two and had her go around washing doorknobs.  She enjoys that.  I had her help pick up crayons and paper in the dining room (which is also home to the kids' art supplies), and I probably threw other little tasks to her as well.

Oddly enough, I left the kitchen for last, and then gaped in horror at the grime that had suddenly appeared OUT OF NOWHERE on the stove. 

Didn't even get to the dishes in the sink.  I went in the living room (which faces the street) to straighten a pillow or something and saw a green pickup truck slowing down and OH NO SHE'S HERE! pull into our driveway.  MY HOUSE IS STILL A MESS AND I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING GOOD-SMELLING IN THE OVEN AND I DON'T HAVE A GIFT FOR HER AND MY BANGS NEED TO BE TRIMMED AND MY EYEBROWS NEED TO BE WAXED AND I'M FAT!

(Remember the episode on M*A*S*H where they hear that Patton's going to be stopping by, and they go nuts getting ready and then he only drives by?  That's me, only I'm also slightly insecure.)

Susan had brought me chocolate.  She's so nice.  I had no gifts for anyone, so I introduced them to Julia, figuring they'd be so distracted by her hair that they wouldn't notice that I am a lousy hostess.

Well, we had a great little visit.  I got to meet not only Susan, but her husband, Jon, as well.  (Many thanks to Jon, incidentally, for hanging out with Julia and talking about dinosaurs while I showed Susan the kitchen and my (horribly messy) pantry and we talked food and blogging and food photography and stuff like that.  It was a treat to be able to talk to an adult without having Julia trying to get in on the conversation as well.) 

Oh, and, of course, they're both nice, normal, regular people who would not have cared if there were toys under the coffee table at all. 

And I apologize, Susan, if I talked too much and didn't let you get a word in, and if I was so busy talking that I didn't remember to ask YOU anything.  My people skillz are rusty, apparently.  If I ever had any.  Oh, and I also apologize if my accent started to melt and morph.  I have a horrible tendancy to pick up other people's accents and it's a struggle not to start talking with in clipped British words or with a nasal twang if I'm talking to people in the midwest, or a warm, southernish drawl, or whatever.  I suppose it's my form of lizard-like camoflage…I'm just trying to blend in.  And thanks SO much for stopping by!!  It was great to meet you and Jon!!

And that is my story for this morning.

Come back later – I have a Linzertorte post on the way.  (Okay, well, only come back if you want to.  I don't mean to be bossy.  It's my way of overcompensating for my lack of salon-perfect eyebrows.)

4 thoughts on “Developing My Social Skills

  1. Oh Jayne!! That made me giggle! You were a wonderful hostess, no, you didn’t talk too much, no, your house was NOT a disaster, and Yes, we had a wonderful time! You and Julia made us feel right at home. And Jon loves dinosaurs. 🙂 It was fun! Now, come visit ME in Virginia…really push those people skills. Bring the kids – we’ll find something to do. I think. 🙂

  2. What a cute post. I traveled all the way over from Susan’s post to vist your story. Its fabulous that you two got to meet.

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