The New Kitchen

Whatever possessed me to purchase a cooktop stove?? There is no hope that I will ever keep this thing clean, though I understand a special razor scraper can be purchased to scrape off the black markings which develop. However, the worst aspect is all the food I have burned. I have ruined two pots of bean soup in two days. Max finally suggested that I should make bean soup in the crock pot; I think he is tired of buying new bags of beans and the smell reminds him of a cooking disaster when he was in college. The burners on my old electric stove only half-worked, half the time. Thus, I could start cooking and wander off with no harm. The new stove works–consistently. I wander off—and dinner is burned.

The stove is part of the kitchen remodeling project, an adventure in mess/exhaustion/confusion/disruption/disorder which took up our entire fall. Scheduled to begin in late September, the project finally got underway the Monday after Thanksgiving and was completed on December 12. The old 1920’s kitchen, original to the house, was completely gutted and new wiring, lights, cabinets, floor, and plumbing were installed. Of course, this necessitated packing up the old kitchen and storing the boxes in the living room and wherever they could be squeezed. Then, we camped out for two months, rummaging in boxes to find necessary items, while waiting for the contractor to begin. Once started, the project moved right along and we only did without water one weekend. The big task turned out to be washing everything—dishes, pans, silverware, food stuffs—before restocking the cupboards. Sadly, a number of boxes remain unpacked. 

I am a lackluster housekeeper, well….shiftless might be more accurate, but even I was appalled at the evidence of mouse parties which appeared when the old cabinets were pulled out. Those little mice had been having frolics in my kitchen. We knew they were there; we could hear them and occasionally one left evidence in a drawer, which then required washing everything in the drawer. This fall, I found a dead mouse one day when I opened the cabinet under the sink. He was inches away from the package of mice poison, having obviously gorged himself and then keeled over dead. Even worse was the little mouse who was caught in the trap in the cabinet under the sink and cried for a while before he died. I was so distraught that I left the house until Max could take him away. It would have been kinder to have killed him, but I could not do that either.

Worse than the mice, which have long had nests in this old house, were the rats. When we first moved in, back in 1984, the boys and I heard scuffling under the refrigerator. LOUD scuffling. We suspected a rat and put out rat poison. This idea was hard for me to grasp, as, well—I had never encountered rats before, not even when I lived in the slums of Lafayette my first year at Purdue or later in cockroach city, aka Married Student Housing. Our house is on the edge of town in a nice older neighborhood—not a place I expected to find rats. On a few occasions, there was evidence, such as a chewed leather button, that the rat was loose in the house. One day, we had been gone for a while and when we returned, the rat made a dash for it, running from under the refrigerator towards the living room. Dan, who was about 13, had the presence of mind to grab the fireplace tongs and smite the rat dead, right there in the living room. Dan—-a good man in a crisis.

The new kitchen is sealed tight and all the old mouse holes have been plugged, covered, or removed. No more mouse parties. The new cabinets, counter-top, and floor are beautiful, way too nice for the likes of us. Max was shocked, though. He stood in the middle of the kitchen, a galley type in which three is a crowd, and exclaimed, “It’s the same size as before.” Too, too, true.