Tag Archives: home improvement

Out to lunch

I’m a woman without a kitchen.

This is Day Twenty-six of the most modest of kitchen renovations, and between now and Day Twenty-nine, we’re losing all access to the kitchen, the largest room in our house and the space through which all people and pets must pass.

As I’ve told you several times already, my husband and I painted this large room ourselves, a significant feat for several reasons. It took almost a week.

Now the contractors are here to refinish the floors, a process I’m told will generate significant amounts of dust. Instead of writing my blog, I spent the morning hours removing the remaining items from the counters and sealing up all of the cabinets because, if gobs of pine dust fill my drawers, I will surely melt. I’m already teetering on the edge of sanity.

My husband is away and the plan was for the pets and me to move out for the week. I’m still not sure how that is going to work out. Ricky and Lucy are already completely confused. Every day is a scavenger hunt for their litter boxes and food dishes. I notice them consulting with each other as they approach the search.

This morning they are locked in a bedroom until I can map the next step. A ride in the car will most certainly do them in. Trust me. When this is over they’re going to need some therapy.

Meanwhile, I have newfound respect for do-it-yourself-ers and even for those who live with large home renovations executed by others. I’ve heard stories of people washing dishes in bathtubs and eating out of their microwaves in the basement for weeks and months on end. We’re not even touching cabinets or counter tops or more than one appliance, and it’s rattling.

You know that feeling when the electricity goes out and you walk in a room and try to switch on the light? And then do it again five minutes later? Any bets on how many times in the next three days I bump into plastic sheeting as I try to enter my kitchen?

I wonder what the special is at Nick’s Diner.


Filed under Hearth and Home

Eighty-six the peppers

We’re about to undertake a modest kitchen re-do and, as part of a larger initiative to reduce the number of belongings in our household, we are having to make some difficult decisions.

When we moved into our 1912 Victorian almost 21 years ago, we started filling it up with “collectibles,” a word I use loosely. Once word got out that we were collecting certain items, our friends thoughtfully and generously added to these.

My husband brought into our marriage several really neat collections, including antique framed portraits, antique vegetable cans, antique snuff cans, antique cameras, varied forms of “cheesecake” (a.k.a. antique porn), old Coca-Cola memorabilia, old cigarette memorabilia and old glass pinball machine backs. Over the years, he amassed a matchbook collection and a collection of “miscellaneous,” most of which has been displayed in our Pussycat Lounge. We also have the cork from every bottle of wine we’ve opened since 1990.

After we got married, we began collecting coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets and any and all things chili pepper. We have a chili pepper napkin holder and spoon rest, strings of chili peppers hanging on the walls, chili wreaths and wall hangings, pepper platters and pepper pitchers, table linens and tiki lights, canisters and candles, salt and pepper shakers and switch plates, mugs and magnets. It’s been fun, but it’s time for a thinning of the crop.

You know how it is. I have a friend who started collecting elephants in 1978 and, thanks to the generosity of friends, likely has more than a thousand. With my son, it’s tree frogs; my sister-in-law, it’s apples. The hard part is knowing when–and how–to get the word out politely that we’re full.

I’d like to assure our loved ones that we’re keeping a few chili treasures that we just can’t part with. The other 75 percent are being packed away to pass on to someone who will give them a loving home. Applications are now being accepted.

My husband has slowly and methodically been finding adoptive homes for a select few of his treasured collections. Don’t panic; much will remain with us, and our only child will decide the final cuts once we’ve moved on to the big flea market in the sky.

For now, our kitchen will get a mini facelift and a fresh theme. Shhh, it’s a secret; even we don’t know what it is.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home

Desperate times

I just activated my emergency Snickers bar.

You might be saying to yourself, I thought she was forced to give up chocolate. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I made it through Halloween without a single piece of chocolate, which took great will power; but I was committed to good health and respectful of my dietary restrictions. However, I did stash one Snickers bar, perhaps as a measure of security, where I could get to it in an emergency.

Recently, some minor yet frustrating annoyances have graced our doorstep, which have called for generous amounts of patience and flexibility. The first was October’s fender bender and the various inconveniences that ensued.

I fully appreciate that the flies in my ointment are mere gnats compared to what the world’s poor, sick and homeless face every day. All the more reason to face one’s irritations with proper perspective.

So, as my gnats began to reproduce and mutate, I consulted my handy new manual, How to Say It, to be sure I addressed each inconvenience—and the person behind it—appropriately. Chapter 13 on Complaints offered a wealth of tips and techniques for airing one’s grievances, firmly but politely. I drew upon the insights offered in Chapter 13 to respond to statements like, We’re sorry, Mrs. Welch, but the rug you ordered in August, that was to be delivered in September, might (but we cannot offer any guarantee) be delivered in mid-January, and We’re sorry, Mrs. Welch, but the home project that was to be done in October is delayed indefinitely. We hope to start before Christmas (but we cannot offer any guarantee).

Chapter 13 gave me the right words but it provided no guarantee. Or result. I was on the edge.

With the ointment now full of horse flies, the only weapon I had left was an illegal, fun-sized Snickers bar.

Now, following a Snickers breakfast and paying the piper for it, I will leave  to catch an early flight with an impossibly tight connection. I will be optimistic about not hearing your flight is delayed, your flight has been cancelled or you missed your connection. (Heaven knows, the airlines offer no guarantee.)

Either way, I know the newsstand sells grown-up sized Snickers bars. And extra strength Tums.

Optimism aside, is it an omen that an enormous fly is buzzing overhead as I write this?


Filed under Food, Health, Holidays, Rants and Raves, Reading, Travel