home remodeling kitchen making the best sucking

Bread and Pez

As is the case with most households, we pretty much live in the kitchen. Food happens there, of course, but so do soul-baring, cross-word puzzling, game-playing, homework-doing, robot-building, friend-entertaining, and mind-numbing-boozing. We spend a good part of every day in that room; it is, quite clichedly, the heart of the house.

Yet our kitchen sucks big donkey dicks. Dark, dated, baneful, and nonsensical (what is that nutty little hallway that cuts a swathe through any sense of “flow”?), our kitchen is Suck packed into four walls, dusted with oil-drenched and groaning appliances, topped off with a cherry of dropped ceiling and atrocious light fixtures.

The kitchen is, essentially, made out of All Things Poo.

Literally, before people enter our house for the first time, I stop them in the foyer to apologize for the kitchen. I know they will want to shower after walking through it, and some may find they want to up their doses of anti-depressants.

Kitchen must die.

While we’ve been planning its ultimate demise for a few years now (awaiting an estate payout that would finance the remodel), we haven’t quite gotten around to an orchestrated euthanasia yet. In the absence of our taking action, Kitchen seems to be taking matters into her own, um, faux-granite counters. Kitchen is getting suicidal.

First, she started purposefully hemorrhaghing linoleum tiles, causing them to stick to the bottoms of our feet as we carried tea from stove-top to table. Trying to save her from herself, we peeled up the remaining linoleum, inasmuch as possible (a few tiles remain under the fridge and radiator, where they artfully catch marbles, barrettes, and fridge magnets, and generally look like masses of Poo holding marbles, barrettes, and magnets), and in the process, we discovered a lovely old hardwood floor that will one day be refinished.

Next, Kitchen hacked up a microwave door handle, snapping it off one day and leaving us with a wall-mounted (above the stove) microwave that could only be opened by inserting one’s fingernails into the slot between the body of the microwave and its door. With a tough, sometimes nail-damaging, yank, we could ease fraying tempers by warming up a comforting bowl of Campbell’s Dora the Explorer chicken noodle soup.

Sure, some people would cave and get a new microwave.

However, we are made of firmer stuff. We know full well that if we bought a new microwave, when we do finally remodel the joint some months down the line, we’d end up planning the entire remodel around “the microwave we bought last Fall” which, invariably, would fit nowhere and would clash with all desired color schemes. Our fingernails would just have to bear the brunt of our parsimoniousness.

But then, suddenly last week, Kitchen urged Microwave to take a stand. Microwave was no longer satisfied with the Handle Challenge. Nope. He wanted our complete attention. Taking a cue from his cousin, Fridge, he set his fan to moaning and grigging and whooping, until finally Groom was compelled to tape the thing shut with a long line of masking tape reading “Do Not Use.” Of course, since I’m the only other person in the house with the might to open the thing, I was pretty sure that obvious face-smacker of a message was personal.

With tit needing tat, I then taped a message across Groom’s nostrils reading, “Do Not Snore.” The masking tape approximates a Breathe Rite strip amazingly well.

Just a little FYI in the midst of all this DIY.

Anyhoodle, Kitchen’s health has clearly been spiraling downwards for some time. Kitchen is a wanker.

And yet.

Out of a downward spiral can come a flash of unexpected creativity and warmth. Just as Kitchen’s shenanigans edged us towards a broil, Groom realized we needed to embrace the demise. We hated the monstrosity that was the microwave, just as we’d hated the linoleum on the floor. So, hell, why not toss the beast out? Why not remove that strangely-placed kitchen accessory (it hung very low over the stovetop) and make it possible to actually stir a pot of stew this winter?

And as long as a few feet of wall were getting opened up there, why not toss a whimsical painting onto that space? In a few months, the room will get a full-body makeover, and anything we do know will be nullified, anyhow. So why not do it up?

After a family brainstorm of possible mini-murals…during which we gently rejected the kids’ rainbow- and Pokemon-inspired scenarios…this is what Groomeo pulled off with a few hours’ work:

Such a modified wall space lifts my heart everytime I enter the kitchen to dig another handful of chocolate chips out of the bag, and that’s frequently. It makes my spirits sing as I pour granola into my yogurt. It makes my eyes twinkle as I pull the cork out of the wine. More honestly, it makes my eyes twinkle as I unscrew the cap on the wine.

As I love up the new wallspace, I’m considering starting to hate other parts of the house, just so Groomeo can paint over them and create unexpected and capricious little scenes.

Come to think of it, I strongly dislike the bare plain that is our toilet seat. Wouldn’t it benefit from a picture of Pikachu lounging under a rainbow?

When fun idea meets with competent execution, any house project can become glamorous, ja?

Just look at what The Master and his Wee Niblet Apprentice cranked out a few weeks ago, with little more inspiration than the words, “Daddy, we should make a haunted house out of shoe boxes.”

I dig my “anything-is-possible” boys.

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ice Jack Nicholson Lake Superior sucking

Cooling Our Jets

“Cooling Our Jets”

In my last post, I pretty much took the piss out of winter–and February especially.

Time for true confessions: I actually adore winter.

It is one of my three favorite seasons, in fact. And when a winter overflows with snow, it makes the cut for Top Two.

But, damn, when there’s no snow, that’s when I start to look like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. I sit at my typewriter, in an empty hotel, tapping over and over, “All winter and no snow makes Jocelyn a dull girl.”

Maybe if I didn’t revel in outdoor sports during the winter, I wouldn’t miss the snow so much. Instead, I could recline happily on my chaise lounge, running my pearl necklace along my teeth, sipping chamomile tea with my pinky extended, sniffing, “Jeeves, I do so love dry feet. Why ev-a would those people willfully go out into those drifts of that white stuff?”

But me luuurves the cold and the snow. Two years ago, I went snowshoe running three or four times a week, to the point that I had trouble staying upright, even in the house, without crampons on the bottom of my feet. Last year was The Year of the River Ski, when I would hop onto my old skis and shuffle up and down a frozen creek, tracking snowshoe hares. At the waterfalls, unlike my groom of seven years, I would take off my skis and slide down, rather than kamikazi-ing it down the frozen slope. This year, I was looking forward to more of the same snow-fueled exploration.

But you know the icing on top of a Twinkie? We’ve had snow just that deep so far this year.


And then a little layer of chocolate icing on top of that Suck.

That’s all we’ve had: one small stick of Suck with thin Suck frosting on top, rotting in the fridge.



We found this year’s winter glory, and it’s this amazing thing called–get this–ICE.

One little trip over to the lake just outside our door–you know, the really big, superior lake–and my face looked like this:

That first visit to the Big Ice was followed the next day by another few hours of sliding around the world’s most fascinating playground, and the next day by another few hours, and the next day by another few hours.

Who needs wussy, only-for-faerie-folk, light-as-dust, softie snow when there’s the real, hardcore, tectonic-plate-shifting, bone-crushing ICE two blocks from my house? As of last week, I’m all about throwing my and my children’s bodies onto this junk:

There is a loveliness and grandeur to the pack ice that stops my breath.

And when we have visitors, such as my sister-in-law and her partner this past weekend, our best idea of “what to do to show the out-of-towners a good time” entails giving them only-slightly-lead-ridden popsicles:

On this killer-cool ice, a person can ponder. A person can stare at the horizon endlessly. A person can listen to the cracks and shifting of the ice, likening it to whales calling each other. The stuff is alive.

Niblet is enamored of the music in the ice; he uses the ice picks Groom made for him to whack away at the ‘cicles, making different melodies each time a handful cascades down.

We’ve also played a form of bocce ball with rocks on the ice, taken hockey sticks out and bashed at the formations, made our own curling stones and slid them across vast expanses, and broken off huge slabs to use as twirly-sleds across the lake. I even carried one huge slice of ice home–4 inches thick–pretending all the way that I’d just come down from The Mount and had been handed new commandments (“Thou Shalt Not Wear Leggings”). Once we got that slab home, Groom fired up a blowtorchything and sculpted a lovely hole right through it. Ice, ice, baby? It’s the fun that just keeps on giving.

Even more, toting home heavy pounds of frozen water reminded us of a hundred years ago, when we would have been cutting great blocks of the stuff to fill our homemade refrigerators–imagine how well the butter would keep…and how uncurdled our yogurt would remain, well into August!

(This photo has nothing to do with Lake Superior or ice, really. I had just paid 12 Sherpas $100,000 to haul me to the top of Everest. I took off my oxygen mask just long enough to snap this picture. Then they hauled me back to basecamp, where a pedicure awaited.)

Without snow so far this year, we’d not been able to use our homemade “digger” sled…but suddenly we realized we could enact a real-life version of our Polar Explorer board game. First musher to the South Pole gets the Queen’s endless gratitude!

Girl, here, takes her new-found ice riding skills off the lake, up to the woods, where she toodles down a frozen flow from a broken cistern. She is Sister Cistern (one small step removed from Sister Christian, right?)

Ah. Now *this* is a chaise lounge.

And *this* is a playhouse…until it melts, and the children are crushed under the enchanting A-frame.

Remember Jack Nicholson’s character in the final scene of The Shining–outside the hotel in the hedge maze, frozen into an eternal stasis?

Luckily, my stasis here doesn’t involve scary twins or REDRUM kids. All I am is ECI YPPAH.
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