Posted by: Brenda Kula | January 18, 2008

Kitchen Remodel

Day four of the kitchen remodel. Pablo hooked up the washing machine before he left yesterday. I’m one of those people who can’t stand the laundry piling up, even though it’s hidden from view.

Ralena comes over from across the street to borrow a plug-in phone I keep in a dusty corner closet in the garage for emergencies. They are doing so much commercial construction around here that a line was apparently cut. Though we are a quiet little cul-de-sac of homes, we are but one block from probably the busiest thoroughfare in town. And this city is expanding exponentially.

We chat a bit, as women do. We talk via phone several times per week, but one day missed and we must catch up. Ralena had surgery for lung cancer two months ago. I sat with her family in the waiting room while she was in recovery, on pins and needles. She’s lucky. No chemo or radiation. And she smoked her last cigarette, in what was a fifty year habit, on the way to the hospital. Chantix and sheer willpower have given her back her life, and more money stays in her pocket. She began smoking at age 15, and it had been her companion ever since, never to let  her down as we mere mortals can. I congratulate her on her victory. I am extremely proud of her success.

Ralena leaves, old dependable phone with antiquated winding cord in tow, and it is about 8 p.m. Dare I run a quick load of laundry? I say that because we have had drainage problems somewhere between the washing machine and kitchen sink for months now. This new Whirlpool washer is electronic. It thinks it has more sense than I do, and stubbornly makes noises of protest should I try and bypass its computerized system. Plumbers have smiled victoriously after plunging their loud machinery into the pipes more than a few times over the past months. Only to seem dubious when I call and say I have water all over the floor. I have put up with dark, muddy water seeping up the edges of my kitchen sink every time I use the washer. And then, maybe or maybe not, the washer spills over. I am alerted to this chain of events by my white cat, Bonnie (sister to Clyde), who is fascinated with anything concerning running water. She sits like a statue at the edge of the sink staring down, telling me, "mom, it’s happening again."

So I put some clothes in the washer on this night, and watch patiently as the water covers them. This, mind you, is one of those energy-efficient washing machines that only covers what is placed inside it, thus not filling up the entire washer. When we first purchased it almost a year ago, I would stand staring down through the clear glass top and think, no way. It cannot possibly clean this laundry with just that much water. But it miraculously does. So I’m thinking, okay, I’ve watched it a little while. I will jump into the tub for my twice per day shower, and rush back and check things. The computerized glowing light tells me the washer has about 28 minutes left to go. I’ll be gone maybe ten minutes.

I come back, step through the sea of water, and see that there is about 14 minutes left. Now I know it is unlikely you can save much water, being the environmentally-aware consumer I am trying to be, when it is sloshing around your house slippers. I look at the mess and grab towels. After a short time figuring out I can’t figure out what to do, I call Andy, the carpenter doing much of the remodel.

It is now about 9 p.m. I meet Andy at the back door. "Welcome to my world, Andy," I tell him as he rushes inside.

Soon we are both standing in the small utility room, staring down at the washer as we timidly turn it on again. He can’t figure out why the "sensor", the computerized contraption that is supposed to shut off the water when there is an overflow, has not done its job. Well, the sensor isn’t as smart as they thought, for it has yet to live up to its duties. Andy decides we will run fans through the night to dry out woodwork where Pablo has spent days applying oil-based paint. I will not fold clean laundry tonight, as I’d hoped.

Andy heads out my big garage door. Uh-oh. Charlie Ross has somehow made his escape. Now, Charlie is a dog that usually takes orders well, whereas his sister does not. But give Charlie the whiff of freedom, and the chance to go smell where every neighborhood dog has hiked his leg, and he is off, nose to the ground. Andy alerts me. An expletive finds its customary way out of my mouth. We both take off down the street, peering into the darkness for a little Yorkshire Terrier on the run. Across Ken and Walli’s yard. Back down the street. Charlie will stop every so often, get close to the ground in what I call his "crab walk", then run off again. Finally Andy catches him, and his usual "pee of being caught" goes dribbling down the concrete garage floor. Andy hands me the quivering, slightly wet dog and finally gets to go home.

So here it is Friday afternoon. So far a fast kitchen remodel. Oscar the granite guy and his nephews have installed my beautiful granite counter tops with efficiency. I’m now waiting for the plumbers to arrive, hoping beyond hope that they don’t tell me I have to call our insurance company. Then jackhammer the floor to repair a possible collapsed drainage pipe, as is suspected. A camera will give us the results, I am told.

It is inexplicably snowing outside. Unusual for this region. Hopefully, my husband will come home later, where he has not been for two days, due to working overtime at the hospital. By the end of the day, maybe we will have plumbing in our kitchen and laundry room. And I can finish my load of laundry. I dare to hope. And possibly, poor Andy will get a weekend of freedom from disasters that seem to find their way fairly regularly to this house.   

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