Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The case of the missing mixer

Did I mention that we are undergoing a "minor" kitchen renovation? Actually, it's turning out to be more "major" than we hoped. When we moved into my dream home 15 years ago, we noticed that the counter tops were pretty worn, but replacing them wasn't as important to us as opening up the wall between kitchen and dining room/living room, so that was our first kitchen reno.

Of course, the counter tops have only gotten worse over time, as have other little problems. We opened up our kitchen space, and no sooner was the wall gone than the little old fridge that came with the home died... and we learned that new fridges wouldn't fit under our old (but still lovely) oak cabinets. So for the past 15 years, our fridge had to sit half-blocking the kitchen window. As for counter space, there was never enough for a gardener who processes a lot of backyard produce.

So when our kitchen windows began clouding up last fall because their seals were done, we did some thinking and planning, and bit the bullet because we knew that changing the windows would lead to a cascade of repairs that meant we might as well take time to renovate the kitchen as a whole.

I find it interesting how just the word "renovation" evokes major excitement in some people. For me, it evokes dread, but I guess I'm not one who watches Home Reno TV channels where renos look so easy and glamourous. We certainly aren't looking for the trendiest new kitchen, or the inevitable setbacks that go with it. Functional is enough when you're trying to live Voluntary Simplicity.

First step -- replace the windows. Easy peasy as we didn't have to lift a finger (other than working to pay for them).

Second step -- remove the old backsplash tiles to allow for new countertop. Quite a bit more work, as we had to make choices about tiles that would match our new arborite. I'm no designer, but I think we did okay. Because Lee is quite particular about having a decent surface for the new backsplash, he put in a lot of hours and muscle removing the tiles and glue from old plaster walls while I was planting our garden.

Third step -- the new built cabinets were installed on Monday, no problem, and the fridge finally took its rightful place after 15 years of warming itself in the kitchen window. I could have kissed Tim, the installer.

Fourth step -- things get complicated. Yesterday morning, the countertop guy came to template everything, old and new. In looking at the removal of our old countertop, he concluded that the bottom cupboards and counter top had been built so well onsite (by the previous owner of our home, who was a finishing carpenter), cutting out the old countertop was impossible because he'd probably end up demolishing all the kitchen drawers since everything fit together so closely. He recommended removing the old arborite with heat and laquer thinner, and applying a new sheet of arborite. A very messy process and a big setback. Just the idea made me groan... and swear.

Thank heavens for Tim, the guy who installed the new built cabinets on Monday. He turned up again yesterday afternoon to check whether the counter tops could, indeed, be removed. "Nothing is impossible," he said, and got to work. He soon discovered that if he took out the sink, he could pry the counters up. No messy laquer thinner required!

Expecting removal and installation in one day (next Thursday) as had been promised, I wasn't exactly prepared when Tim said, "I guess you'll want to empty your bottom cupboards if I'm ripping the old one out right now." After 15 minutes of racing back and forth, they were mostly emptied (I covered our lazy susan pantry corners with towels), and I was laughing at my living room. Pots, pans, waffle iron, tinfoil and wax paper, cutlery holder, potato masher, spatulas and rolling pins all over the place. And our kitchen sink is now out in the garage!

We've been without our dishwasher for two months now (the old one quit as we started this whole process). Of course, the kitchen sink has been really important. Now the laundry sink in the basement has kitchen sink status as we carry basins of dishes down there.

First world problem, for sure. Yes, my back aches with this setup, but at least I'm not carrying jugs of water for miles. This week I am thinking of women all over the globe who don't have the benefit of a sink with running water, never mind hot and cold. How spoiled are we in North America, but we complain when our dishwashers so much as leave a streak!

Tomorrow, we will have new lino installed. For today, I am waiting to hear when the templater will come back to finish the job he started before complications set in.

I am also looking for the hand mixer that I use to mix up my breakfast smoothy. In the fifteen minutes of madness emptying cupboards yesterday, I can't figure out where it went!

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