Monday, April 16, 2007

Our mum, she's so house-proud

I don’t know what you people were doing on Saturday night, but we hipsters were cleaning out the refrigerator. I was separating the food products into Tasty, Edible, Unknown and Furry, and Consort was putting the Tasty and Edible products into storage containers more proportional to the size of the food; I favor a “Teaspoon of lentils works best in a gallon-sized container” school of thought. Being as I was fascinated by how air currents acted upon the hair on the roast-beef slices, I didn’t realized Consort was frustrated until the obscenties kicked in.

I looked over. Consort was sitting on the floor, the cabinet doors open in front of him. A flood of square and rectangular plastic storage containers was threatening to wash him into the living room. He held up a lid and barked, “Do we have the container for this? Did we ever have the container for this?”

I said blithely, “Oh, I have no idea”, which didn’t help his mood.

He said grimly, “I’m going to match every single lid to a container and then stack them in the cabinet that way. Then, we’ll actually know what we (expletive deleted) have.”

I said softly, “You can do that, but then there won’t be enough space in the cabinet, which is why I jam all the containers into one another and the lids into the fish poacher”.

I wasn’t heard over the clattering of storage containers being matched.

Twenty minutes later, I had cleared the most egregious examples of inedible food out of the fridge and looked over at Consort. He was still sitting on the ground, surrounded on all sides by perfectly matched storage containers. He was staring into the cabinet, which was completely full of perfectly matched storage containers.

“There’s not enough room”, he said in dismay.

“I know, honey. Just put the lids in the fish poacher and jam the containers into one another. They don’t mind.”

“Why do we have a fish poacher? You don’t eat fish and I have never used that thing. It’s just taking up room.”

“No, it holds lids.”

Consort got to his feet, angrily brushing away the containers which had been temporarily stored in his lap.

“I hate this kitchen”, he said fiercely.

“You think I like it?” I snapped back, “You think I like having to move the drying rack if I want to make coffee? You think I like keeping our good plates stored under our child’s bed? The place was designed for a Buddhist monk who owned a plate, a cup and a spoon.”

“That’s it.” Consort said definitively, “We have no cabinet space and twenty-six drawers without handles. We’re doing it, we’re getting the kitchen renovated.”

“Okay,” I said warily.

We looked at each other. We then looked around the kitchen. The fridge, sitting alone in what used to be an outside porch, seemed to gaze at us wearily.

Consort said thoughtfully, “We’ll take down the wall into the fridge-room, turn it into one big room. One big, well-designed room. With counter-space.” he sighed happily.

“Maybe,” I offered shyly, “we could finally fix the electrical…situation.” Upon moving in many years ago, we had removed the supremely ugly light fixture in the fridge-room, only to find that all the wiring of the house seems to run through that fixture, and touching any of the dozens of wires hanging down can turn off the television or opens the garage. Sometimes, Consort would touch a wire and nothing would happen; I imagined we were shorting out lights in houses for blocks around. Frightened, we have never replaced the light fixture. The only light in that room comes from opening the fridge.

Consort and I grew more excited.

“As long as we’re going to be opening walls, let’s get the laundry room done!” he fairly shouted. The room next to the fridge room, which had clearly been some kind of lanai, had been described by my real-estate woman, a florid psychotic, as “The maid’s room”. Since Lincoln freed the slaves and Russia freed the serfs, I cannot imagine who she thought would live there voluntarily. We had set up the washer and dryer in there because they lacked vocal chords with which to complain.

Consort and I stared at each other.

“So,” I said, slightly less gleefully, “we’ll gut the kitchen and the laundry room, and redo the wiring in the back third of the house.”


“Couldn’t we just do the kitchen? Leave the wiring alone?”, I asked hopefully.

“During electrical storms, the hole in the ceiling hums. That can’t be good.”

“…put off doing the laundry room?”

“We could, but it makes more financial sense to do the whole thing at once.”

“We’ll need an architect for this, right?”


“Which means I’d have to hire one.”

We’d hire one, yes,” Consort said encouragingly, knowing I have a cell-deep belief that I instinctively hire the least-competant person at any given job, and have therefore arranged my life to involve very little hiring.

“And it will take a while.”

“Oh, yeah. A couple of months, start to finish. But afterwards, we’ll have storage space!” Consort said, frantically trying to recreate my enthusiasm of only a few minutes before.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “but…contractors. And sub-contractors. And tilers. Remember how the tile guy from the bathroom went off on a drinking spree and we didn’t have a floor for two weeks?”

“Not all sub-contractors are alcoholics,” Consort said in a less-than-credible tone. He shifted slightly, which caused a cabinet door to open. A bag of rice fell on the floor. He put it back in the cabinet, cramming it towards the back, causing two boxes of cereal to make a break for it. He looked up at me eloquently.

“I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be done,” I said defensively, “I’m just saying it’s a huge and stressful renovation. Living with no storage or counter space is stressful, but it’s, what, an hour of stress a day? Total? To which I am already acclimated? Remove the back third of our house and that’s an IV of stress until it’s done. I’d rather use a salad spinner on the couch than spend a day trying to find why my cabinets were shipped to Guam.”

Consort nodded meditatively.

“You’re insane, you know”, he said conversationally.

I shrugged.

“Just hand me the lids and the fish poacher."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot let Pookie read this post, as I am trying to convince him that if only we had a smaller kitchen with less storage space, we might not have so much crap.

This is all part of my campaign to move to a much smaller, cuter, theoretically easier to clean house.

It's not going well, so far. Damnit.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been trying for a year to get a estimates on replumbing my bathroom. But plumbers are "busy" you see. Guess what if my pipes burst they'd come out and start repairs in an hour, if I want them repaired before they burst that is another story.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

I LONG for the day that I live in a house that has a kitchen with STORAGE and COUNTER SPACE!! I've resorted to preparing meals on the table, since the COUNTERS are used to STORE things for which we have no STORAGE SPACE. It's a vicious cycle. I will be a much wiser shopper when it comes to purchasing my next home. Good luck in your kitchen, Quinn, whether you give in to the renovation process or not.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth H. said...

Here is a weird scenario. We live in a rental townhouse with wonderful counter space and storage. We have started to look at houses and I have yet to find one with as spacious a kitchen. Go figure.

4:39 PM  
Blogger John, famous in Siberia said...

Just sell the kitchen and eat out all the time!

2:31 AM  

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