About a year has passed since I last was able to write this blog. As you know, Bob, my husband, Dale, died of probably-pneumonia on January 3, 2018. Suddenly, while he was sleeping. I went to wake him up, but he wouldn’t get up. I thought he was playing games, but he really wasn’t breathing. Turns out he’d been gone for about an hour before I found him.
For a year I thought I would make a blog post about that night, but though I just now sat down to do it, I realize I can’t. Maybe someday I’ll write it all down, but not today. Instead I’m going to fast-forward to today and talk about my kitchen renovation.
Why, yes, that certainly is a subject everyone has done. Everybody on Facebook has written about their new kitchen. It’s a safe subject, not likely to make anyone cry, and just the word “renovate” is cheerful. Like “resurrect.” Or “rehabilitate.” “Renew.” There’s a joy in a new kitchen, especially when one has hated one’s kitchen for as long as I have.
Oh, yeah. Nearly thirty years ago we bought this place for a “starter” home. I didn’t want a ranch style, didn’t like the awkward landscaping, and especially hated the kitchen/dining room with white-ish linoleum and cheap gray carpet that shed pile constantly. Hated the knotty pine cabinets already yellowed with thirty-one years of age, dining room paneling likewise yellowed, postage stamp counter space, and a sink with one of those little, bitty vegetable sinks that just make no sense.
When Dale died so suddenly, we were less than a year from paying off the house. The plan then was to make repairs on it with the money we would no longer be spending on a mortgage. Suddenly I was faced with probably having to sell the house, but then my children stepped up to relieve me of all debt. I have a bumper magnet on my car like the honor student ones you see everywhere, that says “My child is a sober, responsible, tax-paying ADULT.” If I’ve done nothing else worthwhile in my life, I’ve at least got kids who are fine, successful, well-adjusted people. In short, I’m still living in the house I bought with Dale.
But I hate the kitchen. Over the years we’ve installed new flooring in it twice, In 2007 swapping out the linoleum and carpet for wood veneer, then when that was flooded in 2010 we installed dark bamboo. It also was ruined by assorted liquids (you don’t want to know), and several months ago began to buckle badly enough to trip people up. My daughter decided we needed a new floor, and while we were at it we should paint, and install new cabinet hardware, counter top, sink, curtains, and backsplash. She would pay for the materials, and her brother and I are doing the labor.
I’m over sixty. My balance is bad. An hour on a ladder cleaning and painting wipes me out for the rest of the day. This job wasn’t ever going to get done in a week.
So, some weeks ago Travis pulled up the old flooring, revealing once again the linoleum that had been there when we bought the place. I bought some mineral spirits and spent about a week cleaning grease off the cabinets. They’re now nearly sixty years old, and even more gross-looking than they were when we bought this place. The hammered-copper hardware was cemented into place by decades of grease and whatnot, and left green stains on the cabinet doors. The mineral spirits could only accomplish so much, and I searched down our hand sander to take off the really impossible crud.
Doing all this while the flooring is gone enables me to paint with impunity. No dropcloth needed, I don’t have to worry about drips. I’ve primered and got one coat of paint on the cabinet doors, which are laid out across the empty dining room. Travis moved the refrigerator for me, and I cleaned and primered the wall and cabinet behind. That’s where I am today, getting that bit of wall completed so we can put the refrigerator back in its slot and move on. The walls, molding, and backsplash will be an eggshell white, and the cabinets will be a darkish blue that will work with my metallic blue KitchenAid mixer. (Yes, I am decorating around the mixer. It’s either that or risk having it fight with the décor until I die.)
Happily, I’m finding this project somewhat therapeutic. For nearly thirty years I tolerated a kitchen I hated because I wasn’t the only one living in the house. Though I hate that Dale is gone and will never be okay with it, I’m learning to figure out what I want and am sticking up for it. This house is mine, mine, mine, all mine, and every room is for me to use as I please, until I sell it or bequeath it. I move onward.