Journey to Chaos, April, 2019

Renovation of a 1950s kitchen in a 92-year-old house

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These posts are in reverse chronological order. The newest posts are at the top. The beginning is at the bottom.

I’m going to sort of live-blog this renovation. I will try to make an entry each day, with the most recent post at the top. But this is a frantic time in the life of this collaborative pianist, so I may miss a day or two. And all the photos will be in chronological order in a gallery at the bottom of the page.

Hurrah! The kitchen is done. Just over two months from start to finish—less if you discount the time we were waiting for parts to arrive. Salute to Mitch Medved of Medved Builders and his right-hand guy, Jamie. These guys are the best! We’re very lucky to have found them. Thanks for playing along during our construction.

Somewhere between 5/17 and 6/20, when I left for Interlochen Arts Camp to work as a collaborative pianist in the dance department, all the missing pieces arrived at Home Depot and Mitch and Jamie arrived to finish Jas’s “punch list.” Most importantly, the face of the dishwasher arrived. Now, with the added weight on the door, the door stays open while we load the dishwasher. Yes, we’ve used it twice and it works and I love it. It will never replace handwashing for me, but when you’ve got a crowd for dinner, it sure gets the hostess out of the kitchen in record time.

Mitch had installed some tile on the floor of the undersink cabinet, but hadn’t had time on his last visit to grout it. That’s now done. The righthand refrigerator door pull has been tightened. The refrigerator doors have been aligned. The door to the undersink cabinet has been adjusted to open a little wider so pulling out the drawer won’t gouge the inside of the door. The Culligan man came back to see why our refrigerator was only drip-drip-dripping cold water, rather than quickly filling a glass. The water from the reverse osmosis system had been [unnecessarily] flowing through the cold water filter and it had frozen. The Culligan man removed the filter and now the water flows normally.

The other very nice piece of the puzzle was new double-hung windows in the breakfast room. Now we can open the window without my fearing the banging of my head on the casement window.

What do I love? Is still and every single day love the wood floor Every time I look down and remember that ratty sheet linoleum floor, I smile at the wood. I love the refrigerator and the extra drawer where the most-frequently-used items live. I love the pantry cabinet and the amount of storage space. I love having enough outlets to plug in our devices at the desk. The pots and pans are spread out across several cabinets, because of the compact size of the kitchen, but I know where everything is and can access it easily. I don’t have to stand on my head to pull a cabinet out of the bottom cabinet!

I love all the lighting fixtures and the amount of light we now have in the kitchen. We had the electrician come back and hang one of my brass antique chandeliers in the dining room. And while he was here, he hung an old pewter fixture that I’d first received from my daddy in 1972. That went into the library, where there had never been an overhead light. Light switch? Yes. Light switch attached to anything? No! I don’t know why on earth I waited ten years to install a light in that room.

So it’s done and I love it. And now I’ve gone away to northern lower Michigan for three-and-a-half weeks so Jas can break it in appropriately.

And I’m a very happy homeowner.

5/13-17 – Still waiting

And now it’s Week Seven! Jas finished the guest room on Monday, and Mitch and Jamie came to put on several baseboards and frame the kitchen door. They also solved some small challenges, like keeping the handles on two adjacent 90° drawers from colliding when being opened. Stuff like that. At the end of Monday, we had under-cabinet lighting. Yea.

5/6-10/19 – Waiting, waiting

This was Week 6—time for Jas to do some painting. He had quarter-rounds and baseboards to paint and prepare for installation. He spent lots of time preparing the guest room for painting. This has been a tedious job for him, but he’s retired and taking care of this task to save us some money, so he can do it whenever he wants, so long as he meets whatever timelines Mitch has. The closet in the guest room is a challenge for me right now, trying to figure out what to do to make this 47″ wide by 43″ deep closet more usable. It has, to this point, had two 47″ rods. The front one is so cram-packed with my hanging clothes that I can’t get through to the back rod to figure out what’s hidden there. Jas and I keep tossing around ideas, but nothing has gelled yet.

Mitch and Jamie were back on Thursday and Friday. The installed the microwave. Then the range was situated in its nook, but the old-fashioned gas connection was sticking too far out. I could use the stove, but it was sticking about 4″ out from the wall until Bob, my favorite plumber, could come back and put a new attachment on it. The guys pulled out the fridge and got everything hooked up there Then they attacked the dishwasher. This is a small dishwasher, 18″ wide—perfect for two people. It’s a Bosch and has a cabinet door on the front. Except that the cabinet door that was ordered for this installation was the wrong one, so calls had to be made and new orders had to be placed. When we hear back from KraftMaid, that will be finished.

After the appliances, the guys installed door handles and other small but critical tasks. Cabinet doors that didn’t meet perfectly in the middle were adjusted. Doors that opened too wide and smacked into a wall or another cabinet door had stops applied. By the end of Friday we had a workable kitchen, but still no counter and no word on when the counter might be good to go. Mitch told me I could put things in cabinets. I worked all day Saturday, making music, and all day Sunday I unpacked boxes and washed dishes and cut shelf liner and figured out where to put things—china and glassware and cereal, and so on, until my knees screamed, “No more!” And then we went to dinner with my Youngstown son and his wonderful wife, who was in town to see him perform as Nick Arnstein in “Funny Girl.”

5/02/19 – Molding and Appliances

The ceiling extension

In the morning, Mitch and Jamie finished attaching the molding to the top of the cabinets. Where the chimney carves space out of the kitchen, they put a fake cabinet door to disguise the gap and make it appear to be one seamless cabinet. They drilled the holes and attached the cabinet hardware. One of the cooler brainstorms Mitch had was to put an extension down from the wall to the pantry cupboard. Once the molding would be attached, there would not be enough room to dust the top of the cupboard, and it would be the perpetual home of Kitchen Dustbunnies. So Jamie measured and cut a piece of drywall just the right size for the opening, painted it (or Jas painted it – lots goes on here while I’m on various piano benches at school), and put it in place. Brilliant!

The appliances were finally delivered around 3:45. Mitch and Jamie stayed long enough to see them into the kitchen and to push the refrigerator into place to make sure the fit was right. It was!

The shelves over the kitchen desk were my idea. I have so many beautiful handcrafted pottery pieces—more than we ever use. They unnecessarily take up cupboard space. So I thought there are a handful that would be nice on a shelf. The lowest shelf will artfully hold some cookbooks. The middle shelf will hold six or so pieces of pottery. And the top shelf? Something we’ll never need to pull down! I’m not sure yet. I’m considering a couple of old railroad lamps that my daddy had collected a thousand years ago. Stay tuned.

And now the forward motion stops for a while. I’m not sure if they’ll be back before the counter is delivered. But that seems to be all they have left to do—monitor the counter installation; hook up the appliances; put in the backsplash. Fred, the electrician, has to finish up with the outlets, install the old kitchen light in the breakfast room, and do a couple of extra little jobs we want.

Just waiting for the counter.

4/30/19 – Newfangled Measuring Techniques

The guy from the quartz counter company came to measure. He walked in with a tripod and a fancy laser pointer that shot a red dot at various points along the top of the cabinets. Then his app told him exactly how they would need to cut the quartz to give us a beautiful new counter. My how times change.

Jas continues to do some prep work and/or painting each day, a little or a lot, depending on what other tasks get in the way. Because we had removed everything from the guest room to have the floor refinished, he decided to go ahead and repair some wall problems in that room and paint. I decided to put some builtins in the closet to make it more usable. So he’s stripped hooks and so on off the wall in the closet and will paint that also, while I figure out what I want to have installed.

It’s the last week of classes for spring semester in my work world, insanely busy and with lots of stress flying around the halls on campus.

And a month has passed since this project began.

4/27-29/19 – Weekend Whew!

I spent several hours Saturday visiting Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond looking at shelf liners. I had originally thought I didn’t want “tacky drawer liners” in my new cabinets. But the more I looked at these be-YOO-tiful cabinets (and pondered the amount of money we paid), the more I felt I wanted to protect them. So I’ve ended up with EasyLiner Smoother Top, for the cabinets that will hold cans and containers and china, and EasyLiner Clear Classic, for the pantry and the cupboard that will hold the glasses. These both came from BB&B. I’ll take the two I bought at Lowe’s back today (Sunday) and then grab some more of the Clear Classic at BB&B. The first picture in this section is the designated drinking device cupboard, with liner on two shelves and a glass holding down each liner to get the curl to relax.

I’ve been washing dishes in the sink!!! So cool. So big. I use a stainless mixing bowl, that my mother used to mix up salads in when I was a child, to hold the soapsuds/dishwater. (What’s the proper way to say that without thinking of “dishwater blond?”) I put the draining rack on the ledge in the sink. Then Jas insisted on putting the plastic dish drainer on that. I didn’t like that idea, as I’m afraid he’s going to get used to it being there and I’ll have an altercation on my hands to get it hidden behind a cabinet door. I’d rather wash the dishes, lay them in the drainer, then dry them and set them aside until all is done. I don’t want ANY MORE dishes sitting in a dish drainer on the counter overnight or for a day. (True confessions.)

The biggest thing I’m having to get used to is easy close cabinet doors. I’m so used to having to physically close the doors. It’s very hard to just kind of swipe right, so to speak, with the doors and know they’ll close. But I’m not complaining. (They’re actually not closing right now, but I imagine there’s an adjustment Mitch can make that will free them up. The large pictures in this section are from Friday afternoon when I got home from work, after Mitch and Jamie left for the day.

And what’s ahead next week? Monday – hopefully another coat of polyurethane on the guest room floor. Jas wasn’t pleased with the “final” result. Tuesday – the counter quartz guy comes to work his laser magic as he figures out how to cut the quartz to fit our funky old kitchen. Thursday – Home Depot delivers the appliances. Mitch and Jamie have odds and ends to attend to. And then we wait for the counter. Days? Weeks? Unknown.

Besides beginning to load the cabinets and clear out the living room, I’ve got to figure out what kind of stool to get for the desk at the end of the cabinet wall counter. I visited an Amish furniture store yesterday. I can’t determine the height I need for sure until the counter is in place. Having a stool custom made takes 12-14 weeks for delivery, and I’m not sure I want to wait that long. So we’ll see.

4/26/19 – Odds and Ends and a Sink

We’ve never had enough counter space. And we’ve never had a sink big enough to lay a lasagna pan flat to soak, or my Pampered Chef stoneware cookie pan. So my sink goal was a large sink. At first I was adamant that I wanted a double sink. But then I saw this Novus 32″ sink with stainless steel drainer tray, wirecraft bottom grid and glass cutting board and rolling rinsing rack. I don’t have to put a drainer beside the sink when I handwash a few dishes. I can put the drainer tray on the accessory rack in the sink and they’ll dry quickly without eating up any counter space. We get a cutting board with the sink, so we can dice veggies over the sink, not on the counter. I’m thrilled.

4/24-25/19 – Cabinets and More Cabinets, Plus Paint

While Mitch and Jamie were populating the kitchen with our beautiful new cabinets, Jas was painting the ceiling (white) and the walls (light gray) in the breakfast room.

Here’s the thing about this 1927 house: we’ve never had enough storage. I have my clothing parceled out through three rooms and a hall. Of the kitchen essentials, things live in a living room cabinet, two dining room chests, the breakfast room built-in, every inch of space in the kitchen, and various random shelves in the basement. I lost the waffle iron for about three years while it was hiding in the very back corner of an odd-shaped kitchen cabinet. I’ve always been afraid I was going to drop a piece of glass when I carried it up from the basement for a party.

And now. Now. Space. Storage space. The picture at the head of this multi-day post shows the piece de resistance. I have a KraftMaid pantry cabinet. With roll-out shelves! And not only that. Where the refrigerator used to live along a blank wall, I have more cupboards. True, they’re only 12″ deep. But there are lots of them. Lots of shelves. Lots of places to get things organized in this beautiful new kitchen.

With each passing day, I am more glad that I ditched the Lowe’s kitchen designer and went with Mitch, who has listened to everything Jas and I said and made it all happen. He’s kind. He’s smart. And he knows what the hell he’s doing with construction. ❤️

4/23/19 – Cabinet Day

The electrician showed up before 8:00. He’s got a lot to finish today before heading to Florida tomorrow to help with a family medical problem. Shortly thereafter, Mitch and Jamie backed the trailer in and pulled the first cabinet out of the garage. It’s now 10:00 a.m. and the refrigerator enclosure is in place. 😀

4/22/19 – Wielding a Brush and a Roller

Jas has done professional painting in his life during times he was laid off from Norfolk Southern Railway. So it only made sense that he save us some money by volunteering to do the painting. (He’s really good at it!) We had gotten two samples of the colors we thought we preferred – Sherwin-Williams Silverplate and Balanced Beige. But when he put a sample up on the breakfast room wall, they both seemed too dark for us. (Picture in gallery below.) So we took a great risk: first thing Monday morning we ran up to Sherwin-Williams and picked a lighter gray, buying a gallon of it. (Paint ain’t cheap anymore, if you haven’t looked recently.) What a relief to come home from work in the afternoon with the kitchen done and REALLY like the gray on the kitchen wall.

4/20-21/19 – Happy Easter!

We took the weekend off to drive two hours to Mount Gilead, Ohio, to enjoy a family weekend at Jas’s eldest brother’s house. They’ve just done some major renovations to their retirement home since they moved in two years ago. As serendipity would have it, they chose the same refrigerator and almost the same range we did, so we got a little preview of what our kitchen will be like. (Photo: Left to right, Ron, the eldest; Jas, the baby; Glenn, the middle – nice guys, all. As an adoptee who has never borne much of a resemblance to anyone, I am always amused with the family resemblance these three bear.)

I have to say I was anxious (and didn’t post anything on FB or here over the weekend) because we had a garage full of thousands of dollars of cabinets. I didn’t like the idea of leaving the house untended over the weekend. You can imagine my relief when we pulled up to the garage Sunday evening and everything was intact.

4/19/19 – Finishing the Floor

(With a nod to Stephen Sondheim’s song “Finishing the Hat,” from “Sunday in the Park With George.”) I left for school with one coat of polyurethane on the floors. I ran home at noon to the second coat. During my afternoon rehearsal, I received a text from Jas showing me the finished floors. Oh, joy! These floors are one of the great housing happinesses of my life.

4/18/19 – Opening the Pores

I left the house this morning to the roar of the sander and the wood vacuum. I come home tonight to finished floors. Oh, my gosh. I’m shaking my head in wonder. One of my happiest days this year was when Jas pulled off a 1′ square of linoleum and discovered wood. The happiness of today equals that happiness. Pure joy for a new old wood floor in my beautiful 92-year-old home.

4/17/19 – Down to the Wood

The floor guys are here for the third day. The guy who hurt his hand on Monday was going to be no help today, so he left after dropping Eric off. The guest room needs the smallest bit more of work, then will be polyurethaned. We will leave that floor natural, as it was when we found it. The floor got a couple more passes with the sander today. The floor company owner came by with the three stain colors we wanted to try and made a test patches.

There was a portion of the floor—in the northwest corner, where the refrigerator will be placed—that had never been covered with the tarpaper and linoleum. It was a darker than the rest of the floor. Much of it would be covered by the fridge, but a portion, approximately 2’x3′, would still be visible. So they would try doing a “water pop” on Thursday to see if they could get it, along with some of the tack spots, to lighten up.

4/16/19 – Damned 1927 Glue!

That tarpaper. One of the two floor guys hurt his wrist on Monday and left early, not returning on Tuesday. So the entire job was on Floor Guy Eric’s shoulders. He started digging at the tarpaper, to minimal effect. When Jas realized the situation, and we started thinking maybe the wood floor wouldn’t be revealed in time for the cabinets to be installed on Monday, he put on work clothes, strapped on his kneepads, and grabbed a scraper. The picture shows what I saw when I arrived home from school in the late afternoon. No more tarpaper – yea!!!

4/15/19 – It’s Floor Week

We never got an absolute “My guys will be there at x:xx” from the floor company owner. Jas had used this company thirty years ago on another house and had a high opinion of their work, but business owners today seem not to care about communication. So we didn’t know for sure the floor guys were coming until they knocked on the door. Angst! The day was spent tearing up the sheet linoleum (ca. early 1950s) and the 9″ linoleum tiles (ca. 1927). Under the linoleum tiles there was a layer of tarpaper adhered for life to the yellow pine underneath. The pine was what I wanted. During the day, the guys hauled the sander upstairs and ran their first pass over the guest room floor.

The guest room was obviously not crucial to the kitchen reno, but the painter I hired in 2009 after purchasing the house had been very sloppy in his work habits. I had him strip the woodwork in the guest room, and he let the stripper and the paint drop on the floor and stay there. I’ve been upset about this floor for ten years now, and this was an opportunity to throw a little more money at the kitchen project, and have the floor guys include the guest room in their task list. I’m so glad I did. I couldn’t be happier about this refreshed floor.

When I got home from work, the kitchen was down to the tarpaper. Jas dug a bunch of old sheets out of the rag pile in the basement, spread them all over the floor, and sprayed it with water to soften the tarpaper.

4/13/19 – It’s the Weekend

The drywall guy, Buddy, came by this morning and did some more something. (See how attuned I am to the kitchen activities?!) Jas will prime the kitchen tomorrow.

This morning I took Jas into the now-empty guest room and asked, “If you were a painter and there was a room you wanted to paint and you knew the floor was being refinished, would you paint it before or after the floor?” He’s such a bright man. He understood I was saying, “I know painting this room wasn’t in-plan, but how about you paint it while it’s empty.” Knowing Sherwin-Williams was having a sale this weekend, we headed over there and bought small samples of the Silverplate and Balanced Beige that we want to try for the kitchen, and a gallon of Shoji White for the guest room and closet. I also decided to get rid of the rug I had in that room and get two small rugs to place on either side of that bed to the beautiful, newly-refinished floor is visible in all its splendor. I like the antique bedframe in that room, and a quilt I made in 1996 is on that bed, so that makes me happy.

Many of our furnishings are handed down from the previous owner; from my mother, who died in 2016; and from Jas’s mother, who died in 2017. Maybe the guest room can be the first place I have decorated and pleasing to my eye! The library used to be my favorite room until we got the elliptical and that was the logical place to locate it. We have talked about moving the elliptical and associated television to the basement, which would give me two rooms I really like. Baby steps.

4/12/19 – Even Less Activity

One more trip for the drywall guy. I think he’ll come by once more to check on the walls. He told Jas he could paint on Sunday. Last night and this morning, Jas and I emptied the guest room. The floor was damaged by the painter ten years ago, and I’ve felt sick about it ever since. When the floor guy comes next week, he’s going to refinish the guest room floor along with the kitchen and breakfast room flooring. I had the day off from YSU and ran errands—Goodwill, the Habitat Restore, as well as a couple of non-kitchen-related errands and the treat of Olive Garden salad and breadstick for lunch.

4/11/19 – Just a Little Activity

The electrician stopped by for a few minutes. He’s doing a couple of side jobs for us, unrelated to the kitchen. The 1927 light fixture at the base of the attic stairs isn’t working and Jas hasn’t been able to fix it, so Fred is going to handle it and needed to see what parts he needed. As he left he thanked me for the morning music I’ve provided every time he’s here. 😊 The drywall guys came by twice, touching up, fixing small problems, preparing the wall for a great coat of primer. The tile store called to say my order had arrived from New Jersey. Mitch will pick it up when he’s ready to install the backsplash.

4/10/19 – Everybody Gets a Day Off

It’s tech week in the YSU Department of Theatre and Dance, where most of the students whose lessons I accompany are in the cast of “Into the Woods,” which opens on Friday night. That means I’ve gotten extra time off this week. These students have been given excused absences from their voice lessons to be able to rest their voices. That gave Jas and me time this afternoon for a trip to Sherwin-Williams to ponder paint colors for the kitchen. From left to right, the contenders are Silverplate, Shoji White, and Balanced Beige. Stay tuned to see who wins.

4/9/19 – Closing the Walls

The pulling of wires and setting up all the electrical outlets finished today and the holes in the walls were closed with drywall. We get a day off before the drywall guy comes in the prep the new drywall for painting.

4/8/19 – And the Plumber Came, Too

The guy we call “Neff Bob” who knows old house plumbing like no other workman we’ve ever met, came today.

The old radiator is gone!

The 1950s baseboard radiator was a problem in figuring how to place the cabinets on the south wall (the old refrigerator wall – now my wall of storage). When Jas talked to Bob about it several weeks ago, he said he could remove the old radiator and give us a toekick blower that will bring heat into the kitchen without having an exposed radiator. The other three men continued dealing with electricity today, finished removing the old insulation and placing new insulation and then replacing the drywall where old plaster had been.

This morning I ran down to Buckeye Tile and ordered our backsplash tile. Fewer tile makers are making bullnose tile edging nowadays. There’s a metal strip that’s being used. I absolutely love the handcrafted tile I found at Buckeye, and we’re going with a sand-color metal strip to edge the tile. The grout is just a little darker than the tile. Love.love.love.

Look behind the fridge at the old baseboard radiator.

4/4-5/19 – The Electrician Cometh

After a day off to do other jobs, Mitch and Jamie were here Thursday and Friday, along with Fred, the electrician. The old lights were removed. Fred pulled wires from the basement and put wiring in place in the kitchen. The old knob and tube wiring was removed. The kitchen has all new wiring. One old outlet was kept, for Jamie and Mitch to use to power tools and task lighting. Jamie put all the wiring in place for the new can lighting in the kitchen, and for the over-sink pendant light.

4/2/19 – No Soffits Here!

The soffits, filled up with insulation, were removed yesterday following the removal of the cabinets. What an open and clean feeling. The hood and horrible old noisy fan and the exhaust pipe are [mostly] gone. Later this week, the workers will seal up the pipe on the exterior of the house. We will never again have chipmunks or mice or whatever running around inside the exhaust fan. Hallelujah!!! But the floor photo is the very best news of the day. Look at the floor that was underneath the corner cabinet (where the new fridge will live). That’s the original floor, untouched by subsequent layers of tarpaper, 9″ tile, and sheet linoleum. My happiest moment of the day was walking in after rehearsal last night and seeing that clear, clean floor.

4/1/19 – No Foolin’ Around Here!

The fully populated temporary kitchen will keep us sated until the reno is complete.

Let the fun begin. Mitch and Jamie arrived around 8:00 a.m. After we traded some outstanding questions and answers, the first action was to move the refrigerator to the temporary kitchen. That took Mitch and Jamie and Jas, and some tipping and holding of breath. And it’s done. We removed the contents of the refrigerator before it was moved, and wiped down all the shelves afterwards. And now we’re good to go until the new fridge arrives and this one goes off to live with the old range.

3/31/19 – Kick-off Day, Minus One

On Sunday we found a new home for our gas range. This Hotpoint range had been sold to Jas by one of his closest friends, Mike A., when Mike and Diane renovated their kitchen. That range never liked living with us. I could never get it to go as low as simmer. The lowest setting still boiled like crazy. Diane, we love you, and you know Jas adored Mikie. But, boy, am I glad to see that stove go bye-bye. And it’s going to a home where it’s really needed. Its new owner probably knows how to adjust it so it will simmer!

Everything is ready for tomorrow. We’re off to eat Sunday night Mexican with M&M and F&ML.

3/30/19 – Kick-off Day, Minus Two

We’re getting used to living in the temporary kitchen. The refrigerator is still in the old kitchen. We still use the kitchen sink to wash dishes. After the kitchen demo is done, the floor is done, and the new cabinets are in place, the contractor, Mitch, will give us a temporary sink in the kitchen. In the interim between Monday and temporary sink day, we will keep a bucket in the temp kitchen, in which we will place the dirty dishes. Then we’ll take the bucket to the basement and use the cast iron sink for dishwashing duties.

After yesterday’s fall, I felt it necessary to go to Urgent Care today to get my left knee and left wrist x-rayed. I didn’t think there were breaks, but I was very concerned about my plate and screws in my left wrist. The x-rays came back as I suspected—no breaks. But the really good news was that there was no damage to my wrist hardware.

When I got home from Urgent Care, in the ten minutes I had to grab something to eat and head to YSU for a four-hour rehearsal, I found Jas in the pantry closet. He was painting! He who said, “I’m not going to paint that,” was painting that. That made me very happy. That room is beautiful.

3/29/19 – So much for a day off – and oops!

I protect my Fridays so I have a day to do things that don’t get done any other days. But today I had to accompany a violinist whose accompanist had crapped out on her after agreeing to accompany her junior recital. I’m the kind of accompanist who rescues students from irresponsible adults—I stepped up about three weeks ago when the student mentioned that her accompanist wouldn’t respond to her texts or answer her phone calls. I told her I would learn her Mozart Violin Concerto and play the orchestra reduction for her hearing and her recital. When you’re an applied music major, you have to give a junior and a senior recital. And a few weeks (or longer) before your recital date, you must perform the repertoire from your recital for several professors in your discipline. So the orchestra director, the cello professor, and the student’s violin instructor had to listen to the student play her recital repertoire and give her a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. If she passes the hearing, she can move forward and complete her preparations for her recital. We met at 9:30 to run the concerto once, then the hearing was at 11:00. (Spoiler alert: she passed. Yea! The recital will take place on May 4.)

Afterwards, I took advantage of my Friday and ran errands, including having the eyeglasses that are just for use with my iPad adjusted. Then home to eat lunch and do a little more work on the kitchen. The last drawer to empty was the “junk drawer.” I found a plastic container of just the right size, and sorted through the drawer, putting all the rubber bands into a plastic bag, throwing out things that had somehow ended up in that drawer and had no use. Yippee, all drawers and all cupboards and cabinets are empty. On Monday, April 1st, they will be torn out. No foolin’.

It had been raining off and on all day. Everything was wet and I had a queasy stomach from the barometric pressure changes. Jas left at 5:00 to drive to Cleveland with friends to attend a concert by some rock group I had never heard of. At 5:30, I headed back to school for another four-hour rehearsal. Keep in mind that the weather had been wet all day.

I walked into Bliss Hall, which had been cleaned during the afternoon, with a nicely waxed floor and tables spread around for some event that would occur on Saturday morning. I was carrying my purse and my music bag, heavy with iPad and page turn pedal and Apple pencil in case and glasses, and pens and notebook, ad infinitum. When I was twenty feet into the building, I turned to head down the hall to the water fountain to fill my water bottle for rehearsal. And my feet went out from under me. Somehow, I slipped. Down I went onto the terrazzo floor. My left knee hit first, hard. And in the blink of an eye my left wrist hit. The base of my thumb whacked against that hard terrazzo.

The theatre and dance department lives on the first floor of Bliss Hall, and my musical theatre kids are always—always!— clustered in the far end of this hallway, opposite the doors through which I walked. But there were only two students sitting there, neither of whom knew me. All my kids had already gone into the theatre in preparation for rehearsal. I rolled onto my butt and said, loudly, “I’m okay.” The young woman who had been sitting there came over and helped me stand up. Then a young man came and helped me gather my belongings. I thanked them and tried to maintain my dignity and act like nothing had happened as I walked down the hall to get my water. (And through the rest of the evening, I kept feeling thankful for having lost five pounds over the past two weeks. That was five pounds less than whacked into the floor!)

I stopped in the still-open costume department to see if they had any ice. It was almost 6:00 and all the other offices in the building were closed. And the costume department refrigerator had no ice for my wrist, which looked like a large blood vessel had broken. I could still walk, so evidently my knee was okay—just bruised. Ditto with my hand. Except for the bulging blood vessel, it appeared okay. But both were bruised. And hurt.

I broke my left wrist in 2012 and have a plate and screws in my wrist. All I could think was that the fall had damaged the plate and I might need more surgery. Ugh. And then all I could think about was all the musical obligations I have over the next five weeks.

I played for the next three-and-a-half hours, despite aches in my left hand and left knee. When I got home, I immediately got an ice pack and got into bed to ice my knee. As I write this it’s Saturday morning. I think I’ll probably go to urgent care and have them x-ray my knee and wrist. And then go about my life, equally divided between kitchen and music.

3/28/19 – Rethinking

Thursday: Jas has been working on the breakfast room, preparing it to have the flooring removed. He’s removed the molding along the base of the wall and sanded the (Crap, what do you call those four inch high pieces of wood that go around above the quarter-round. Is that molding also? My brain is full and I can’t find the word! – EDIT: Baseboard. It’s a damned baseboard!), as well as sanding the places on the wall where the paint is peeling, to prepare to repaint the room when all is done. He has closed off the doorway between the breakfast room and the dining room with plastic. Now to get from the refrigerator or sink to the dining room, we walk into the breakfast room, turn right, walk past my office stairs into the front hallway, then turn left and left again to go into the dining room.

Before he closed off that door, we moved the breakfast table and chairs into the dining room, where we had closed one of the doors that separate the dining room from the hallway. I love this table. It’s one of my favorite possessions. When I first got this house, I ordered this table from a group of Amish carpenters who live and work in the area. I designed the table, choosing from their catalog of woods and finishes and edges. Its length is the same as the width of the room. The legs are offset so the top end can be butted up against the outside wall without the baseboard radiator touching the legs. When used this way, running the length of the room, we sit on opposite sides of the table, cater-cornered from each other. However, for parties, the table can span the width of the room and be used for serving. Or the two chairs can both fit under the legs and we can sit side-by-side. Did I mention I love this table?! This morning, for the first time since the table took up residence in this house, we sat side by side at the table. It made me happy.

[When I got home from school in the afternoon, the table had been repositioned to the old perpendicular-to-the-wall format. As my professor would say, “Whatevs.”]

We’re having the circa 1950 ratty old sheets of linoleum stripped from the kitchen floor, along with the less-ratty old 9″ 1927 linoleum tiles, a classic 1927 green with cream marbling through the tiles. Underneath all that is yellow pine, which we’re having refinished. Jas had thought we’d just leave the floor in the under-stairway pantry/closet floor as is. I suggested to him that I didn’t love that idea. Then he thought we could remove the mid-century sheet product and leave the green 9″ tiles. He had decided he really liked those tiles and maybe we could leave them on the floor. No, that’s not happening in my world. (Keep in mind, as your continue reading, that this is MY house. I bought it. I have paid the mortgage on it for ten years now. I’m determined not to play the “My House” card, but it’s always there in the back of my mind, each time he gets some (to-me) lame-ass idea for something we should do with the house. Trust me. Leaving that green tile on the floor is lame-ass. (Picture me tripping over the height adjustment between the beautiful newly finished wood floor and the added height of the tarpaper and floor tiles to get something out of the pantry. Accident waiting to happen. I’m old. I fall. Refer to entry for 3/29/19.)

I took everything out of the pantry, moving some items to the basement, moving the bag of plastic grocery bags to my car for recycling, sorting the cloth grocery bags into two groups to go in our car trunks (We ALWAYS forget to take them when we go grocery shopping!), and moving the crockpot and mop and brooms to the basement. Jas said I didn’t need to move everything off the two shelves in the closet; all the floor guys would need was … the floor. I suggested that he might want to paint that room when he painted the kitchen, rather than leave it the ugly institutional green from somewhere between 1927 and 1952. He said he wasn’t going to paint it. I removed everything anyway, in hope!

And back to school for rehearsal, returning home at 10:00.

3/27/19 – Any Stressor Will Do

Wednesday: I started Weight Watchers two weeks ago, finally sick to death of being at the highest weight of my life. I had a horribly stressful four days last week, on hold to see if a show accompanist could recover from whatever illness she had to play all three of her shows on the weekend. She didn’t, and three different accompanists—Tina, Jeanetta, and myself—stepped in and each played one show in the pit, having had no rehearsal with the pit orchestra and having only two hours (for Tina and Jeanetta) or about eight hours (for me) to sightread the music and prepare for the performance. And yet, having endured all that stress, I got my Five Pounds Lost acknowledgement in the meeting this morning. I can do this!

Once home from WW, I had twenty minutes to eat lunch, then headed to school for four hours of class, lessons, and practices. Raced home for an hour of working on the kitchen and a quick dinner. Emptied several cupboards, sorted through utensils, deciding what we might need over the next four weeks.

We have a very old wheeled cart that was left in the house by the previous owner—it holds the coffee maker, extra bottles of wine that don’t fit on the two six-bottle racks on the wall, and the blender on a shelf below. For months now, I’ve been throwing my purse on the shelf whenever I walk into the house. Jas moved the cart to the dining room, moved the coffee maker from one side to the other, moved the microwave from the counter to the tray where the coffee maker had been living, and put the toaster on the bottom shelf, then used the former wine shelf for a device charging station. Brilliant! Now we have a cooking station. The Instant Pot is on a table on the other wall in the dining room, if there’s something we want that the microwave can’t handle.

The more the dining room/temporary kitchen is coming together, the surer I am that we can get through this time period without resorting to eating every meal out.

Wednesdays are my nights off from theatre rehearsals, and we actually ate dinner together. I mentioned to Jas tonight that, when we start reassembling the kitchen, we should leave everything in the other rooms. Then as we need an item, we can bring it back into the kitchen. At the end of six months, everything that’s in the dining or living rooms gets taken to the Habitat for Humanity Restore or Goodwill. This might be a plan!

3/26/19 – Delegation of Duties

Tuesday: I woke at 6:00 and immediately began transcribing music for a student who needed a different key than was available on any of the sheet music sales websites. After Jas got up and had breakfast, he started right back in emptying the kitchen. He made it clear that this was not “his” job and that I needed to put some effort into it, also. I’ll spare you the details, and just say interpersonal communications is the most important tool to get through this process! Fortunately, I received texts from two students cancelling their practice sessions, and one cancelling her lesson. So I didn’t have to be on campus until 1:00. I was able to finish the transcription enough to push the transpose button on the notation software so the student could sing from the new key in her 3:00 lesson. At 4:00 I drove home, spent an hour-and-a-half working on the kitchen, wolfed down some dinner, and went back to school for a four-hour rehearsal of “Into the Woods.”

3/25/19 – The Journey Begins

Monday: The Jazzman and I began emptying the kitchen today. Rolled up the dining room rug and moved the furniture to the perimeter to make space to store the kitchen contents until the day comes when we can re-establish the kitchen. I emptied everything except one stack of dinnerware plates and the two drawers from the built-in cabinet in the breakfast room. Moved the wine bottles to a box in the coat closet, as Jas removed the two six-bottle wine racks from the wall. Took apart the wire racks we’ve been using as a pantry for nine years and reassembled them on the dining room wall next to the designated space for the refrigerator. Moved some rarely used small appliances to the basement. Didn’t yell at each other once. 👍 We’ll see how long that lasts. (I checked my iPhone Health app before leaving for school, and had logged 2,500 steps just moving these items around the house.) After I left for work, he emptied the glassware cabinet and worked on sanding the baseboards in the breakfast room. I was gone for over eight hours and he was dead asleep in front of the TV when I returned at 10:00.


Kitchen Renovation Photo Gallery

Photos in chronological order, beginning with 3/25/19.

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