My favorite folks ! :)

02 February 2011

A new month is ushered in

 Can you believe January is over already?  It went by so quickly.

We've been having an unusually mild winter so far.  We did get snow Sunday night - about 1/4 inch.  It melted off quickly, except in the shadows, on Monday.  Last night was 14F and tonight is predicted to be colder than that.  

I seem to be terribly cranky these days.  I'm home this week.  Was feeling poorly after i got up this AM.  It is better now, but i'm achy.  

I didn't double check Holly's work on Friday.  The fact is in my house, dishes often don't get done for some time.  I spent about 3 hours in the kitchen on Monday doing really detailed clean up.  I re-washed everything that she had washed.  Every bit of it.  As well as some she should have washed but did not.  To be fair, not all of that time was what Holly didn't clean properly.  Some of it was from our dishes from the weekend, or a couple of things the dishwasher didn't get cleaned.  

But i was really unhappy to find that she had put my good iron skillet - wet - upside down on my good cutting board.  It created some kind of seal and kept the interior moist.  The cutting board now has a permanent iron stain, and the inside of the skillet is entirely rusted.  I have wanted to re-surface and re-season this particular skillet, but it was working fine.  I have no choice now, it has to be done before that skillet can be used again.

Duane and i talked about what i would say to her about this.  The fact is, even tho my house does not reflect it, i am a perfectionist.  The house may be cluttered, it may even be dirty, but i am aware of every bit that needs to be done.  When i have the energy to clean, i want it done well.  I expect the same from someone i pay to do the work. 

So i was so very, very tired and not very happy when she came to work yesterday.  And i was really, really unhappy when she left.  

Part of this is my fault.  I didn't plan well, i didn't supervise, and i didn't make absolutely clear what i wanted.  She made Alfredo sauce, and steamed broccoli for us, with (gluten-free) pasta.  I'd already poached the chicken for Duane to blacken to go with his (he likes to do it himself). 

She made it up and presented it as complete - so i had Duane take her home even tho it wasn't even close to 2 hours yet.  She DID make it look lovely - just the right amount on the plates, and a few spinach leaves with some tangerine segments on them.  It looked delightful.  So i was really shocked when Duane got back and we tasted the food.  I came unglued.  Neither of us like pasta al dente.  It does not taste done to us.  In fact, i don't think the pasta was al dente, i think it simply wasn't cooked.  The broccoli wasn't done either.  

So, i had to dirty 2 more pans (because i take much more broccoli than Duane), and another half an hour plus clean up time, just to try to get it cooked.  It turned out okay, but not as good as it would have had it been done properly.

So, on top of the cost of food - because i paid for that - that meal cost us $30.  We don't usually spend that much money when we do eat out; they provide the food/supplies, and they clean up!  I was livid.  Poor Duane!  He wasn't sure it was safe to be in the kitchen, but i think he was afraid to leave me alone.  

No, i had not talked to her about the clean up job, and what she did Monday was fine.  But i think her expectations and my expectations don't begin to match up.  

Frankly, when she talked about being "paid by the job" on Friday, it put an entirely different twist on things with which i'm not comfortable.  It put things in a rather negative light, and when i shared my discomfort with someone else, she said, "She's gotten greedy.  It made it negative.  You need to say 'no.'"

The reality is, i'm hard to please.  I think the women who have come in don't realize this because i'm not grumpy with them or confrontational.  Yes, my house often is a cluttered mess.  That does NOT mean i don't want it clean.  I can tell you right now that the front door (which is a window) has streaks on it that need to be cleaned.  There is Jazz fur on the carpet downstairs.  I've a bunch of craft stuff hidden behind the couch that needs to be put away.  And i've laundry to wash and more that is done but needs to be folded and put away.  I could go on and on and on and on.  I'm very aware of what needs to be done - i simply do not have the energy to do it.  

This is why i love Kimmy's cleaning.  She does the job i would do myself if i were able.  But i think a few of the ladies come in and see the clutter and think i don't care.  Or they don't know what a clean dish is.  

The food is particularly hard.  Both Duane and i are pretty fussy.  I don't care for or like food much, so when i have it, i'm very fussy, it has to be good.  I'm sad that i'm so particular.  It makes things so much harder.  I don't like that i'm hard to please.  

So, now my quandary is:  I planned to have Holly come for a couple of hours on Saturday to help me prepare some things for a Superbowl party we are going to attend.  I could still have her come, and micro-manage the work she does.  Including inspecting each and every dish.  Part of me was thinking "If i have her come, at least the dishes will get done," but it's useless if i have to rewash all of it.  But i don't want to give up if something has hope.  I'm all about 2nd chances.  But, Holly takes a lot of energy, too.  I'm not sure i have the energy to manage Saturday.

Duane is going to be gone part of that day, but he said he could help me. Not to be negative, i think that would be fun . . . except i know in the past how that "help" has gone.  I'll be in the middle of something, i've given him something to do, he does it and then disappears.  There are a dozen other things to do, but he doesn't ask about anything more.  If he's finished the one thing i mentioned, he's done.  It is not "working together."  And i end up doing all the dishes.    

I know i sound like a cranky bitch.  I am hard to please.  I don't like that i'm this way.  I think part of this frustration is that i just wish i could do it myself, and i know that i haven't the energy to do so.  I find it very hard to pay someone to do a poor job.    I don't like the feeling that i'm constantly complaining.  I prefer to look at the bright side when possible. 

On a positive note, we attended friend David's mama's memorial service on Saturday.  

That sounds funny?  She was almost 92, she'd lived a full life loved and cared for by her family, she was ready to go and had said so.  It was a lovely service.  But the one thing that really caught my attention was in the eulogy.  It was read by David's sister, but i think he wrote this part (or maybe i'm mixed up and he said it).  His mama was really uncomfortable and in a fair amount of pain the last couple of years of her life.  The family did what they could to make her comfortable, including having massage therapists come, and David learned massage as well (and he is very good at it).  David was doing most of her care-giving these past couple of years and he made it possible for her to remain in her own home until the end.  

David said that, even in discomfort and pain, she would say at the end of each day, "Today was a good day." 

I just find that so inspiring.  It touches me at my core.  

I've tried, since that day, to finish my day by saying to Duane, "Today was a good day."  Even after my cranky mood yesterday.  Today, of course, he is away from home, so i emailed that to him.  Every day that we have each other is a good day.  

So, do you have any recommendations for me?  Am i asking too much and do you think i need to change my expectations?  

Did January go by quickly for you?  Did you have a good day?  :)



lisa said...

I don't think you are asking too much and I think that you need to find someone else! You will find the right kind of person to do what you ask. Keep Holly until you find someone else and if I were you I would leave a detailed list of what you want done! How you want it done even! You are paying someone to do what you want and it should be done the way you want it done. If it is not getting done then you need to find someone else. The cast iron pan, is something that a lot of people don't realize how they are supposed to be washed and taken care of and that might of been a mistake. But the rest is no mistake. I can't believe that is February already either and I have only I have only five days until I turn a whole other year older! Take care and chin up!!

Rosemary said...

Well, I would ask myself what Holly does well and concentrate on getting her to do that - and I would be specific about the expectations. That way, she gets her pay by the job and you have an expectation that needs to be met to consider the job done. Set the standard you expect. I would, if you feel comfortable, explain to her the standards for meals as well. Some people do like al dente pasta and would be angry if the pasta was anything beyond that - they would consider it ruined and mushy. Maybe she just doesn't know. I don't know if you are up to it, but I would probably try one more time with her.

Let's face it, a lot of young women and women my age (less than young, lol) were not raised to know how to do stuff around the home. I kid you not, they don't know how to treat cast iron, how to clean some things, even how to do ironing. It's kind of a shame.

I think your blog post just sounds like you had a bad day, need a vent, and are feeling very frustrated, I'm sorry about all that.

Rosemary said...

And there are men who do not know how to keep a home either. I'm pretty lucky, the happiest man alive is pretty self sufficient around the house (lol)!

Mali said...

Your post reminded me of when I was living in Thailand. A friend had a beautiful silver cutlery set. Her maid cleaned it with steel wool - beautiful little swirls etched into the silver. My friend was livid, but her maid didn't know what silver was, so really couldn't be blamed!

Being paid by the job (regardless of the time it takes to do it) is fine, in my view, as long as you are getting the value you expect. But clearly you're not. I think expectations should be set between employers and employees very carefully. And you need to do this or you're going to get even more upset.

Kathryn said...

Thank you, Lisa. Good suggestions. I think i realized that a lot of people don't know about cast iron. I think i'm not so upset with her as kicking myself for not checking it out when i saw the pan on the cutting board. It didn't click with me at the time.

I think Holly could work out, if i could manage the energy to direct her! :)

Rosemary - sage advice. Thank you. She's not a young woman - she's my age at least, i think (& i'm older than "less than young" you! LOL). I understand the al dente issue, too, but i've never been served pasta in a restaurant that was as firm as that pasta was when she dished it up. I'm not sure she knows about a number of things that i'll have to keep an eye on.

Duane is self-sufficient! He can use a microwave like a pro!

Hi Mali - i'm actually not really angry about the skillet. It isn't ruined - not like etched silver - it just needs to be re-seasoned, and it was going to need that before long, anyway. And i also remember i did something similar to a family i worked for, long ago, with one of their copper pots. I think it was just the total of dishes that had to be rewashed that got to me.

Being paid by the job is an entirely reasonable concept - for certain jobs. But even then, most folks figure in an hourly rate. I know lots of folks who do contract work. They always figure their hourly rate in when they estimate the job.

Monday wasn't reasonable to me. She came and did 45 minutes of work (i'd already done much of the prep), didn't check with our preferences before serving it, and made $30. Paid by that job was very much over paid. So you're right, i didn't feel i got the value we expected.

But Rosemary is correct, i was very tired and overly critical and frustrated.

Thank you all for letting me vent and for giving me support. I so appreciate it! :)

Amrita said...

In India, maids are very comon and people run into similar problems.

I don 't have a maid for cooking (can 't afford them). just a helper to clean the floor and make chapatis (flat bread).This one is very calculating and wants all my help an d perks - free fuel wood and veggies , fruit and asks for lots of things. In exchange she won 't do anything extra to show her thankfulness for wha t we do for her and he r entire family. I found employment for her daughter and she made good money.

So we have different cultural and social issues involved here too.

I sometime s end up half of the work myself and spend th e morning 'preparing ' for he r to arrive.Its stressful.

The only reason I am keeping he r is tha t she is somewhat homest - others can pinch stuff and she does not take too ma leaves.Bu t i don 't like her attitude.

Be very specific with Holly- an d tell he r about cleaning thing s properly. I do...I show he r how its done.

Here helper s spoil an d break things mainly because they come from poor , uneducated backgrounds and don 't know how to use our things- maybe that was the case in Thailand.

Kathryn said...

Oh, Amirita! I would be so very frustrated with someone like that. I'm not sure we can really afford someone to help with the cooking either, especially with the results we have been getting, but i would be very stressed doing as you are.

Many women here in the US clean before their cleaning person comes, too. I've done it a few times myself, although usually it is more clearing clutter so they can actually clean.

I mean well with Holly, i do, but i'm not sure i've the energy to be able to oversee what she does. She is a fairly high-energy person, and much of it is negative. I find it drains me rather quickly.

But i'm aware that i'm blessed to be able to have help at all.