Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting the Kitchen Out of the Guest Rooms

     Last fall we completely remodeled our kitchen. We didn't go down to the studs, but the drywall was the only thing left standing. It was quite disconcerting to see such thorough destruction of the heart of our home. I thought more than once, "What have I done??" and "Will the new kitchen come out all right? What if it doesn't?"

     We've lived under construction before, so I had some idea of what to expect. I planned over and over again in my head how I would set up a temporary kitchen on the dining room table, complete with microwave, a few dishes, and other necessities. We would wash dishes in the basement, where we have a regular kitchen sink. Thank goodness we wouldn't have to bend over the bathtub to get them done. The refrigerator would be moved to the screen porch, just outside the door near the temporary kitchen.  We'd have to go out in the cold to get to it, but not very far. I was sure we would manage just fine for the two or three weeks we were completely without.

Our Temporary Kitchen
      I should have known better. Construction projects never go exactly as planned and they always take a lot longer than they should. I started packing and moving out of the kitchen in mid-October and we weren't back in with the new appliances working until December 20th! All in all, it was quite an ordeal, and near the end I wondered whether we'd ever have a real kitchen again, much less a beautiful new one.

     Our house is a two-story one, and the floor plan downstairs is fairly open. There are few places to stash things out of sight. Consequently, most of the kitchen stuff got moved upstairs to our two guest bedrooms. Boxes packed with china, crystal, and other breakables filled all available floor space, leaving only narrow paths for access. Every horizontal surface was covered with pots, pans, bake ware, mixing bowls, small appliances, and various and sundry kitchen tools and gadgets. It was all quite a jumble, but I wasn't worried. It would only be that way for a little while. When I had to empty the pantry and coat closet so the new flooring could be installed, most available floor space downstairs was also filled and stacked with more stuff. It was a bit daunting, but I still had hope of being settled in our new kitchen in time for the holidays.

     As construction progressed, I kept having to scrunch into the other rooms in the house. Our kitchen, living/dining room, and hall are all open, meaning I also had to move knick-knacks, pictures on the wall, lamps, books...more stuff to find a place for. When the drywall dust and sawdust began, it went everywhere and covered everything, including our temporary kitchen, which ended up covered with plastic sheeting for what seemed like forever. There was also painting to do, which meant covering, moving and working around furniture. We even had to unhook the satellite TV for about a week. That didn't bother me much, but Robin suffered terribly from withdrawal.

     When the new cabinets finally came, the installers worked a 12-hour day to get them in. But much to my dismay, the counter top would take another entire day, and it wouldn't come for another week! In the meantime I worked at spring-cleaning and moving back into the coat closet and pantry. By December 15th, everything was in and working except the new gas range. I began moving in, only to find that everything had to be washed before it could go into the cabinets. At long last, the range was hooked up on December 20th. When my family came for Christmas Eve, I barely had enough dishes back in the kitchen to serve soup, which only required one pot to cook. I thought I would surely get everything put back over Christmas break.

Our New Kitchen Complete
     This is Memorial Day weekend, and I finally got everything that belongs in the kitchen back in the kitchen. There's a long story about getting clear shelving for the three lighted corner cabinets with glass doors, but I won't go into that. Suffice it to say that it took five months. And all that time a lot of the kitchen was still in the guest rooms, which now have only bedroom things in them. Well, almost. There's still an antique coffee grinder to find a new home for, and some old bottles that need to go somewhere else...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sick Leave

     I'm finding that keeping up with this blog is a challenge for me, but I'm off the hook for the past two weeks. I've been sick. Really sick. Stay-home-from-work sick. Not-even-going-through-the-mail sick. And for two whole weeks! I've never been that sick for that long in my life. I'm usually pretty healthy, and for almost 29 years I've rarely succumbed to the various germs and viruses that circulate in the public school where I work, but wherever this one came from, it got me.

     It was a weird illness from the beginning. I can tell you almost exactly when it started: Robin and I were visiting my dad on Sunday afternoon, May 1st. We had finished lunch and dishes and were sitting in the family room. I was going through the grocery coupons that Dad faithfully saves from the newspaper for me. It was probably 2:30 or 3:00 when my throat started hurting. Not much, just a little soreness when I swallowed. I didn't give it much thought, figuring it would soon go away. Little did I know! By Monday morning I was coughing and felt terrible, achy all over. So, with plenty of sick leave built up at work, I did that thing that I almost never do. I called in sick. I stayed in the recliner all day, tending only to the new puppy as necessary. Tuesday morning came, and I did feel a little better and had no fever, so off to school I went. Shouldn't have done that. By evening I was full of congestion in my nose and chest, which thankfully, was loose and flowed freely. But I was definitely not pleasant to be around, and my cough sounded like I'd been a chain smoker all my life. And my throat was so terribly sore.

     Thus began my odyssey into what the doctor called a "monster virus." Apparently I had all the symptoms: severe sore throat, congestion, low-grade fever, extreme fatigue. When he said it would take 14-21 days to get over it, I didn't really believe him. After all, I'm the healthy one! But sadly, he was right. The mail piled up, along with the dirt on the floor. Dishes were left in the sink for someone else, that would be Robin, to wash. The necessary load of dirty underwear and socks got done, by the hardest. I always thought that if I ever got to stay home sick, at least I could read...not so. Almost no TV either. Interestingly (and thankfully) enough, there was no nausea and no headache to speak of. If you asked me what hurt, other than my throat, I couldn't have told you. But I was sick. Sick, sick, sick. Every night I went to bed thinking, "Tomorrow I'll feel better." Every morning I got up and found out I didn't.

     Oddly enough, one thing kept bubbling up to my conscienceness: I missed my mom. She's been dead almost two years now, but while I was so sick, I missed having a mommy.  Her passing left a big void in my heart, but I felt it while I was sick like never before. No matter how grown up we get, we're always a child in our mother's eyes, and mothers take care of their sick children. And I no longer had a mommy to worry about and take care of me. It was a lonely feeling.

     Finally, after 13 days, I truly did start to feel better. Today is day 15, and other than tiring easily and an annoying cough, I'm pretty much back to normal. I'm headed back to school tomorrow. I'm sure there will be a mountain of work to wade through, but I'll be well enough to tackle it. There's that sweet life peeking through: I may have been sick, but I'm better! Some people don't get better, don't ever feel good. And so I'm counting my blessings this evening. I'm back among the land of the living, and that's sweet indeed.