Tips on Tidiness and Frugality from an Inveterate Spendthrift and Slob

First, my wife Jina showed me the most efficient way to eat a kiwi fruit.  Take a knife (be careful not to hurt yourself–those things are sharp!); position the kiwi standing upright on a cutting board like Mr. Potato-Head getting ready for a hot date with some stunning spud (ah, starchy love).  With a leisurely sawing motion, decapitate the fruit, cutting off a yarmulke’s worth of the outer peel without sacrificing too much of the precious, bright green fruit inside.  Then take a spoon and use it to scoop out delicious bite-sized chunks of succulent kiwi, designed by a tropical goddess not to make you feel truculent.  If the fruit is ripe enough, you should be able to empty that sucker out completely, leaving you with an egg-like jacket to throw away conveniently.

This is a far more effective method of dispatching a kiwi than butchering the outer skin, which takes much longer and wastes more of the inner emerald nectar.  

As for certain citrus fruits, I used to cut a grapefruit in half, position one of the halves on a cutting board, then delicately saw around each wedge with a serrated knife blade before adding some honey to the whole arrangement, then eating each one with a teaspoon.  Due to a presumably iatrogenic case of Lyme disease (I made the mistake of getting the vaccine, which was later taken off the market, although I also got bitten by several deer ticks so I may have gotten it the old-fashioned way), I can’t eat honey anymore, and I shouldn’t eat anything with processed sugar or drink coffee either, but you’ve got to have something to live for.  And I’ve also found a much simpler way to prepare a grapefruit for gobbling purposes.

All you have to do is peel and eat it–and this goes the same for oranges and tangerines as well.  Here in Korea a lot of people shave apples before eating them, which is a shame as the peel contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, and good old-fashioned flavor.  People are paranoid about pesticides–understandably, although not many folks exhibit many qualms about breathing what’s probably carcinogenic air and inhaling vast clouds of smog throughout their lives.

Jina even insists on washing all the dishes twice, since she’s uneasy about dishwashing soap.  She read on the Internet that it gets into your system unless you tackle each dish with a separate rag or sponge–after applying it with one enrolled to serve up the soap.  I don’t mind washing dishes by hand, but apart from being something of a hypochondriac myself, life is too short to fart around washing each dish twice.  As long as you use hot water, you should be fine.  If not, sorry.

When it comes to laundry, I try to stick with cold water.  As far as I can tell, it works just as well as warm or hot, and saves power to boot.  Not that I can claim any moral high ground in green land.  Although I don’t drive a car most of the year since I live in a big city, I do eat meat, and I use a blow dryer to help the towel finish the job after taking a shower.  During the shower, I now follow my brother’s advice and shut off the flow of water while soaping up.  Korean homes don’t have automatic dryers, which I’m not big on anyway, since the same brother pointed out that they destroy your clothes, and they also suck coal from the ground through a straw like a hyperactive child making the contents of a soda can disappear into his bellicose belly.  (Actually, 40 percent of Koreans’ electricity comes from nuclear power; I’ll have to get back to you on how much comes from coal; very little, I think.)

I’ve found that the best way to wash socks is to turn each one inside out first.  Also, be vigilant and trim your toenails regularly.  Otherwise you’ll end up with lots of holes in your socks.  I still have several that look like astronaut-puppets growing out of my legs.  When I’m down to the wire, I’ll reverse the socks on my feet so that the holes are over the small toes instead of the big ones.  These days I’ve found that even putting on socks correctly can be a challenge.  You have to fit them just right or they can be uncomfortable due to the position of the seam.  It’s the details in life that can drive you mad.  The body’s ingenious responsiveness and sensitivity can at times be a burden or a disservice (nothing personal).

As for ironing, I used to hate it (as I still generally do vacuuming, though I’ve gotten better; I have to wear ear-protectors though as the vacuum cleaner sounds like a jumbo jet preparing for take-off), but now–or, as soon as I get another interview for a job teaching adults–I’m not about to iron my shirts to impress a bunch of kids–great attitude, huh?–I don’t mind ironing so much.  The trick is to use a spray bottle and wet each shirt or pair of pants as you work.  It takes me about ten minutes to iron a whole shirt; if I rush, I end up just creating new creases and wrinkles and getting frustrated.  Jina found a method for ironing the strip containing the buttons; try turning the shirt over so you don’t have to go around each one.  You may find it works pretty well.  I still use the regular method.  Either way, nothing’s perfect.

You may have a few suggestions of your own, and I’m always game to try and learn new things.  Let me know if you have any pointers on how to manage the militia of minutiae that make up most middle-class people’s daily domestic and comestible lives.

Thank you!  (or, as Patrick McCabe would write, imitating a grateful rock star who’s just finished performing a live song, “Thaggew!”)


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