“Did you put a clean tea towel in the kitchen?”

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and Mountaineering Man and I are doing a full house cleaning in preparation for his parents’ visit. While I’m in the bedroom primping the bedcovers, he’s finishing up the kitchen.

“Yep, all done!” he says.

“Is it the dark blue one with the stripes?” I ask.

“Yep!” says he.

“Noooo – not that one,” I said, before grabbing another tea towel from the hot press and running off to the kitchen.

MM looked confused, and understandably so. The blue striped tea towel was clean, and fresh from the press. But what he doesn’t know is that this particular tea towel is a mockery of a tea towel, or any towel for that matter. It has a large weave and a very rough surface and is cheaply made. When you wipe it across a wet surface, it doesn’t soak up any moisture; it merely spreads the water around, creating big streaks of wetness across the counter – the kind that dries into a pattern of unattractive water spots, ones you have to then wipe over again. To add insult to injury it lost its rectangular form after the first wash; it’s now just a sad, shapeless version of what it once was, when I first spied it in the kitchen aisle at TK Maxx and thought it would go nicely with some navy oven mitts I already had.

Manor Kitchen 2Though I’m painting quite a different picture, I’m not obsessed with this tea towel. I’ve just observed it in use, time and time again, and I’ve come to this conclusion. I should just throw it away but instead I always bury it in the back of the other tea towels – the ones that do what they’re made to do. And when the others are dirty I might grab it to do a bit of dusting but I generally avoid bringing it out of the press.

Of course MM hasn’t a clue because these are the types of things he doesn’t pay attention to, and that is not a judgment of any kind – it’s just the way it is. He also doesn’t pay much attention to which way the duvet should go in the duvet cover, and if he does the job we end up with a very lumpy-looking duvet with one fat end and one very thin end. Same goes for where little-used kitchen utensils go. If I use the garlic press and put it in the dishwasher, MM will remove it after the wash and leave it on the counter – because he doesn’t know where it goes. Though it’s always in a drawer that he probably opens 1,000 times a week, there’s no memory of it for him.

I have a similar ignorance about street names, buildings and directions in general. I’ll ask MM how to get from our house to a new destination, and he’ll ask me something like, “Remember the old church by the shopping centre we always pass on the way to the airport?” Nope, not at all, even though we’ve probably passed it 100 times. “It’s on Dame Street, remember? We were just on it yesterday on the way to the bank.” Dame Street…hm….which road is that again?

Cue MM pulling his hair out.


Such lack of attention to detail also extends to dates (MM can recall the specific date of something we did a year ago; I’d have to refer to a calendar) and instruction manuals of any kind. The latter is mainly due to laziness. I tend to skim over things and miss important details whereas MM will carefully review it until he’s gained an understanding of how something works.

It’s a lesson on how we each focus on things that are most important, or most relevant, to each of us. He’s completely blind to things like the texture of tea towels, and I remain blissfully ignorant about how the refrigerator drain works (did I mention how much I hate reading manuals!?). None of this is particularly significant, but it’s a little insight into the differences that ultimately give our relationship balance.

Besides, if we both obsessed about tea towels…well, that would just be weird!

Cormac Salmon

MM’s Weeknight Dinners

Because I get home from work later than he does, Mountaineering Man cooks dinner most weeknights and he’s really getting quite good at it! One of his specialties is baked fish (usually salmon, hake or sea bass) with roasted veg or a salad and baked sweet potatoes. In fact he knows how to make the perfect sweet potato wedges – they are always super crisp on the inside and soft on the inside. His method? He peels and chops sweet potato into wedges, tosses with olive oil in a bowl and spreads in one layer in a sheet pan. He bakes at 170C for 30 minutes and then blasts them at 200 for 5-10 minutes. They always turn out great!