You’ve placed everything you need onto the granite countertop. Pearly onion, waiting to be peeled back. White cheddar. A carton of Horizon Eggs.
But first you cleared the evidence of last night’s midnight snack; the girls had each left a Winnie the Pooh cup, a white silver-ringed plate, and banana muffin crumbs.
When will they learn, you glanced the question to me.
I shrugged and smiled, Kids. They last a long time. And somehow they need to be told again and again, “I may look like a princess, but I’m not your Cinderella.”
After you wiped the last crumbs from the counter, you placed your onion, cheese, and eggs. Your omelette-ingredient empire now sits in a siege-like arc around the wooden cutting board.
“Where’s the big knife?” you ask.
I feign a little fear. “You need a big knife?”
“I do, ” you smile your Jennifer Dukes Lee smile, and we start laughing. We are both remembering last year’s episode of Desperate Houseknives.
I reach into the sink and draw the Henckels out. “You mean this big knife?” I hold it straight up like a sword.
You laugh and disarm me with a gentle hand and a swift sponge, sudsing the blade down and rinsing it to make it ready for onion chopping. I go back to sitting on my stool and lean my elbows on the counter.
“It’s like this, ” I say.
“Some writers are like this, like you. Maybe we all are, in our way.”
“Is that a bad thing? To be like me?” You place the knife on the counter and lean your back to the sink.
“Nah.” I smooth the coppery skin of the onion with my index finger. “It’s good to know how you work best. It’s good to know what makes for a strong beginning. You know what makes yours.”
“You do.” I twirl the onion lightly by its papery top. “First you cleaned the girls’ dishes. Then you wiped down the counter. You placed your ingredients in a semi-circle. Got out your board and put it in the center. Then you looked for your favorite knife.”
“Not any knife will do when I’m making you an omelette.”
“Oh, I know that’s how you feel. Not every chef would feel it.”
“I feel it.”
“Well, I know. And you honor it. You did not begin until you found your proper tool.”
“What if I hadn’t found it?”
“I might be out an omelette.”
“I would make you an omelette anyway.”
“I know that, ” I say, “because it doesn’t do to be fussy for too long if we can’t get our way as a writer, or a cook. Still, it is worth the effort, if we think we can secure what we need. Like I did this morning.”
“You made an effort this morning? You mean, beyond scoring with your blueberry?”
“I did! I woke and knew I couldn’t write today. I could feel it in my brain. Muddled. Scattered. Just not there. So I procrastinated, because I knew it wasn’t going to work out for me.”
“You? The mother of all writing proliferation? You procrastinated?”
“I did. I checked my email, which is a real no-no if I want to have a good writing morning. Then I went to our virtual office. Then I looked on Facebook and noticed Jim Wood had commented on my status update. Not the Plateau Effect update. But that would have been apt. I woke on a plateau.”
“So you procrastinated on the plateau?”
“And then you made an effort. At what? Watching the sunrise from the plateau?”
“I decided to do what you just did. Take ritual action.”
“You are calling my omelette-making a ritual action? Is this a lost section of the Knight’s Code?”
“I am calling your preparation for omelette-making a ritual action for omelette-making.”
“So let me get this straight. You took ritual action to get off your writing plateau. It involved clearing, semi-circles, and knives?”
“Well, sort of. I made myself go for a walk, even though it was too sticky-hot this morning. I cleared the dining room table. I left my laptop in the kitchen. And I wrote with paper and pen.”
“And that’s how you got us off the blueberry plateau and wrote us into the kitchen for an omelette?”
“Cool. You are pretty impressive that way. I think I should go read Neruda then. And you can just write the omelette.”
You are smiling and looking me straight in the eye. I give the onion a final twirl and stick out my tongue. You got me.