Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Our house it has a crowd, there's always something happening and it's usually quite loud

I was really worried that the noise was going to prompt the neighbors to call the police.

It was about 3 in the morning and we were outside in the driveway with a circular saw, cutting pipe and ceramic tile and pieces of hardwood flooring.  And it was so, so, gratingly loud.  Crazy loud.  How was it not keeping everyone on the street awake??

I had returned from the Home Depot in Decatur a little while earlier (back when it was open 24 hours) to buy copper piping and a soldering kit so that we could extend the gas line to where the stove was supposed to be - I had been informed that it was already in place, but when one of the guys crawled under the house to check, there was nothing there.  So I handed tools through a hole in the floor to Tim, a 20 year old kid who was lying on his back in the crawl-space dirt under the house in 30 degree weather, while he used fire to connect pipe to more pipe so that I would have gas to cook with .  And then I handed him a spray bottle with soapy water in it, so he could spray the line and see if bubbles were forming, indicating a gas leak that could potentially blow us all up.

Good times.

A bunch of the other guys - who I had begged and pleaded, with all of the feminine wiles I could muster, to come and work through the night in order put enough of the kitchen in place to allow me to cook dinner the following night - were hanging cabinets and doors and tiling the counter-tops and putting down the flooring.  But someone had sneaked in a bottle of bourbon, so most of them were working while they were drunk.  And despite my repeated and increasingly frantic phone calls, the general contractor was totally incommunicado.

Oh, and in about 10 hours, I was due at the airport to pick up members of my family, who were coming to Atlanta to spend Thanksgiving at my house.  My mother was serving in Papua New Guinea, so I thought it would be nice to host the family in her stead.  My maternal grandparents were on their way, my dad, Josh and Lori and Emma (who was 2), Sam - everyone.  And if the kitchen - which was being built from scratch out of my old carport - wasn't done enough for me to cook Thanksgiving dinner in it, I was completely screwed.

I worked with the guys until about 5:30 in the morning, and miraculously, we got it done.  The stove was installed and hooked up to the gas line, the cabinet doors were hung, the plates and cookware and utensils were put away, there was a countertop on which I could chop vegetables and make pie crusts.

There was only one small problem, other than the fact that I had been training to run the Atlanta Half Marathon, and now wouldn't be able to because I was too exhausted.

In installing the stove, the guys had somehow lost the caps to the gas burners - those little flat disc doohickeys that sit on top of the burner and direct the gas around the sides of the disc to create a flame circle.  Without those caps, the gas wasn't directed over the igniter and the burners wouldn't light and no stovetop cooking could be accomplished.

The drive to the airport from my house took about 40 minutes.  And I spent every second of that 40 minutes on the phone with the head of the contracting company I had hired, going absolutely ripshit about how if he didn't find new caps and get them on the burners by the end of the day, I was going to take the check for the remaining $10,000 I owed him and burn it and he could sue me and no jury in the world would rule against me because of what he and his company had put me through, between the AWOL contractor and the drunk workers and me helping them connect gas lines and lay down hardwood flooring at 4 in the fucking morning.

He believed me.  And found new burner caps.  And I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and it all went off without a hitch, except for the part when I made cranberry jello mold but forgot to cook the cranberries first, so it was jello with hard, sour berries mixed in, which made it pretty much inedible. Live and learn, right?

The kitchen ended up being beautiful.  The layout was amazing and I loved cooking in it.  The walls were painted a gorgeous dusty orange, the color of a Colorado sunset.  But the process of building it left me scarred.  I still have PTSD-ish flashbacks thinking about it.

Which makes me nervous about embarking on a kitchen renovation in my 120-year-old Victorian, which has lathe-and-plaster walls (that emit dust if you look at them funny), no square corners and no straight lines.  It's going to be a mess.

But the kitchen is awful - the layout is horrible, the cabinets and counter tops are old and gross, the wallpaper is seriously fug, and it doesn't even have a dishwasher (or room for one, as currently configured).  It needs to be redone.

So I will stock up on bourbon, which will be used to maintain my own sanity, and will not be shared with any workers.  And I will have extra burner caps on hand, just in case.

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