Jottings: The two-fanny kitchen
Her newly remodeled kitchen was finally, the proud homeowner told me, a "two-fanny kitchen." I knew exactly what she meant. As Field Editor for a major company that published more than 75 garden and home magazines plus had books and websites, I was on a scouting interview, looking for story possibilities that would interest the editors enough to order a photo shoot and article. Why was that granite chosen, or that color for the bedroom wall, or the layout of the garden? Why those choices were made was a story that readers might want to hear, and I relished the adventure of searching for the one feature that made a house stand out from the rest. Each family, each home, was different and interesting.
For example, I learned that "a two-fanny kitchen" was a phrase used by designers about a kitchen where spouses prepared meals together; there needed to be room between counters for each to pass the other back-to-back, sharing tasks. Sometimes the husbands had the most to say. One airline pilot said cheerfully that in the kitchen "she's the pilot and I'm just the co-pilot, making salads while she makes the rest." Several men enjoyed baking bread or pies as a relaxing way to decompress after work, while a few had their own espresso machines tucked away near their bath to make early morning coffee. In gourmet cooking households, the budget often went to a high-end European cooking range, while in homes where frequent entertaining brought guests to the kitchen the budget might specify unusual granite or storage for a large wine collection. Spouses who loved to collect might have their own "messy" room, leaving the rest of the house acceptable for a minimalist partner. I loved to hear how compromise made a happy home.
In gardens, some husbands said they were "the brawn while she was the brains", with a few men just moving flower pots, others building arbors and fountains. Either way, couples talked of having morning coffee or an evening drink in their gardens while enjoying the result of their partnership.
I often included family pets in the article, which could be challenging for my photographer. In one home the elegant lady of the house lay on her kitchen island dangling raw hamburger above camera range to get her little dog to stay still long enough to photograph. Once we bribed two huge Great Danes with steak to get them onto a slippery deck, while another dog had his own low sink with a faucet he could turn on with his nose to get a drink, which he proudly demonstrated. Cats, however, often lounged nearby until, of course, I wanted them in the photo, when they would disappear.
Garden shoots started before 6 a.m. and were done by 9 a.m. to get the best light. Scheduling the shoot when the requested garden was in perfect bloom meant being on "bloom watch" then hoping for good weather when it was at peak. One time a hailstorm flattened most of a garden the night before the shoot, so we dug up and moved the survivors around the garden to fill in the spaces for each photo, along with cut flowers from the grocery store stuck in the dirt. For one article I was waiting for a special rose to bloom in the garden of a lovely older woman, but her health was failing. Finally the rose bloomed, she sat proudly next to it and we got our photos. She died two weeks later, content that her beautiful garden was going to be seen by many thousands of readers.
What a privilege it was to be able to share these beautiful homes, gardens and stories with readers all over the world; years after retiring, I miss them all.
Peggy Keonjian is a member of the Jottings Group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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