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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33 responses to “Bread and Pez”

  1. frannie Avatar

    man, but are they talented!!

  2. Tai Avatar

    Your kitchen may be a wanker, but I appreciate it’s ability to pull a really fun story out of you!

    (And kudo’s to groom and niblet for talent abounding!)

  3. Diesel Avatar

    That haunted house rocks! I so need to make one of those. I mean, with the kids, of course. Or not. Whatever.

  4. Jeannie Avatar

    absolutely fabulous!

    And it’s essential to keep a sense of humour while your kitchen disintigrates.

  5. Franki Avatar

    fantastic art work! what creative and resourceful men you have there.

    i sympathize with your kitchen plight. our fridge dies on us about 3 weeks ago. took a week to get a new one. meanwhile we pathetically attempted to keep our cold foods cold in coolers with ice. eventually everything turned to mold. camping is not my thing. my new fridge is a goddess. it’s got cubed ice and crushed ice and cold water that comes right out of the door. i feel like a queen!

  6. Dory Avatar

    I absolutely love the haunted house! Makes me think of all the stuff my sister and I made out of boxes and paint. Barbie Dreamhouse? We don’t need no stinkin’ Barbie Dreamhouse!

  7. rak Avatar

    I think you should remodel around the “new mural you painted last fall”… cause it’s FABulous!

  8. Voyager Avatar

    We are just finishing renovating a dead kitchen. Have fun!
    Talented men you have there.

  9. Claire Avatar

    Oh fabo! Love the mural. It has an early 70’s appeal. The shoebox-haunted house is cool! Display it on your porch with a scary pumpkin head.
    My best memories of my kids’ growing up will forever be the various art/school projects we created together. The Indian Village, Mt.St.Helens volcano (complete with explodable side!), and various CA missions are still mouldering away in our garage. We had to chuck the sugar cube pyramid when we discovered an ant colony had made it home base.

  10. Logophile Avatar

    I love his art!
    I need him to come do the walls in my family room.
    Do you rent him out?

  11. SQT Avatar

    Wow, tis the season for dying fridges. Ours is on its last legs. It spews out water at an alarmingly regular pace. We may be moving soon (to a house with a truly spectacular kitchen) and I don’t want to move a new fridge so I’m trying to keep this one limping along. I think it would be easier if I had some of your artwork to go on it…but I fear it isn’t to be….

  12. Glamourpuss Avatar

    I’ll bet the kitchen in the haunted house could give yours a run for its money…

    I, too, am possessed of a kitchen I must apologise for – bought at the 1980 Ideal Home exhibition, I was proudly informed by the octagenarian I purchased Chez Glamour from.

    BTW – I nominated you for one of them award thingies.


  13. lime Avatar

    you know my kitchen has been in the very extended process of minimakeover. the poor dear has had paint chips haging from her walls for months as i agonize over what color she should wear. i’ve considered a wall mosiac of pottery shards and dismissed it as too much work. i’ve considered a single colro and it is too boring. i’ve wanted a mural for some time. i think your can do boys need to come visit PA and bring my psychic sister and her girl along so we can devour the 4 lb economy bag of chocolate chips i picked up last week while they unleash their artistry on my kitchen. i’d be willing to come help with the hardwood floor refinishing in return….been there done that.

  14. Diana Avatar

    You know, that lovely little shelf over the stove looks much handier than having the microwave there. I always thought that was a stupid place for a microwave, anyway, as you often have stuff cooking on the stove and have to traipse over to a counter to put the hot thing from the microwave down. In 10 years when we finally get our irritating but not unliveable kitchen re-done, I think I’ll take a tip from your bit if serendipity and put the damn microwave over a bit and let the stove have it’s own space that it can share with the spices.


  15. Jazz Avatar

    A couple of weeks ago I collaged the ratty front of the dishwasher we have up at the cottage. I love it. It’s a work in progress, everytime I find something cool I add it on so it changes regularly.

    Here’s to cheap fixes

  16. Maddy Avatar

    You’re right, anything and everything is possible, just let those creative juices flow and be ready with a mop.

  17. susan Avatar

    What a clever groom you have! I may just steal that idea of a shelf above the stove. Yep, the one where we *should* have a microwave…

  18. chelle Avatar

    I am so adoring the painting above the stove, so much more inviting than a “Do Not Use” sign I am sure!

    CUTE house!

  19. Theresa Avatar

    So, you’re waiting to get your kitchen into the Guinness Book as the worst kitchen ever? Of course now that you have that cool mural you’ll be out of the running. Be careful of the twinkle in your eye, for it may lead you to do dangerous things…after all, how many children were not so long ago just a twinkle in their parents’ eyes?

  20. geewits Avatar

    What a creative bunch you guys are! After reading about how you guys all live in the kitchen, I realized once again how odd we are. There is no “we” in our kitchen. Only myself and the cooking. We don’t even eat in there except lunch on the weekends.
    I noticed you already got another microwave. When you DO get around to the remodeling, be sure to take a lot of “before” pictures. I get so mad at myself when I forget the “before” pictures.

  21. Ann(ie) Avatar

    !!! I love his art, too. Can he puleez come by my place????

  22. urban-urchin Avatar

    I have flesh colored tiles in my hallway and weird tan ones in my kitchen. I also have a stupid angled wall in the middle of the living room. Just because you’re a contractor doesn’t mean your an architect. I need to consider taking your approach to dealing with it until I can get the damn thing knocked down.

  23. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Dang. Why don’t I make cool haunted houses like that? I’m such a loser!

    But I did install a microwave this weekend.

  24. My Reflecting Pool Avatar
    My Reflecting Pool

    I love that you make your space so personal and welcoming. It must be a real treat to just sit and enjoy it! What a great shoe box haunted house. I have not done any decorating this year and don’t plan on it. BUT, I can give my kids the tools and let them!! Thanks for the little reminder!

  25. Stepping Over the Junk Avatar
    Stepping Over the Junk

    that is so awesome. I want to make a haunted house out of shoeboxes. I think we will!

  26. Hammer Avatar

    I like old kitchens the more harvest gold and avocado green the better 😉 I like the artwork too.

  27. CS Avatar

    Great haunted house. I am a few weeks away from the big kitchen remodel (cabinet-maker started on mine this weekend!), but I will be moving into a distaster site first. There wil be no cabinets, no counters, no dishwasher. Can you say take-out?

  28. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    I’m all about the random personal insults for inanimate things.
    E.g., this bottle of ketchup is a tremendous *insert woman of ill-repute term here*
    As such, I giggled everytime you referred to the kitchen as poo.
    Or maybe it was just the word poo.

    Ha. Poo.

  29. actonbell Avatar

    Oh, this is a wonderful post. You should read this one to your students! And my mom needs to see this–she needs some kitchen humor; she’s in the middle of a kitchen makeover and it’s been stressful.

    And that’s a great haunted house!

  30. TLP Avatar

    What a wonderful post!!!! I do love the way you wrote/

    My daughter Actonbell ( said I had to read this post. That’s partly because I have remodeled our kitchen recently. My warning is this: be happy NOW. There have been so many SNAFUs on my kitchen. Is it worth it? I still don’t know. Sure, it looks nice, but I’m pretty sure I’ve damaged my health with the whole mess!

  31. TLP Avatar

    I do love the way you write. Note to self: proof read, proof read, proof read…

  32. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Cool haunted house! The possibilities in a house are as endless as the colour samples at Color Your World!

  33. my4kids Avatar

    They are talented! I was wondering if you were headed somewhere like that with the story but not sure till I saw the pic. The groomeo is pretty good. I like the colors!

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