September 16, 2011

Purging the Kitchen, column for this week

Kitchen cleaning revealed treasures... and other stuff

Like many other families in the new economic reality, we’ve decided to stay put in our present home instead of my fantasy of a modern, small home where everything is new.

So we are in the process of fixing and replacing, and in the middle of the Mother-Of-All-Home-Remodels, the kitchen. About the only thing I can compare this experience to is a colonoscopy. There has been an overabundance of nasty preparation and now I’m sleepy and waiting.

What I did not anticipate was the endless cleaning and purging it would take to get to the point where the contractors could begin demolition.
I made three distinct piles: pitch, save, or church rummage sale. Won’t patrons of the rummage sale want a box of 14 plastic funnels, or tacky Christmas placemats.

The “pitch“ pile racked up a stack of old spices. Oh my heavens. I have marjoram older than my college-age son.

The proverbial junk drawer was like being in the back room at the Museum of Science and Industry. How could all
that Stuff be in one tiny drawer? Brown shoelaces, Super Glue, caulk, sticky white and gold letters for a mailbox. There were 13 Allen wrenches from various assembly products, screw drivers of every size, #4 and #9 shaped birthday candles, batteries, Magic Sliders, rulers, and baggies with orphaned screws, nuts, and bolts.

Then came the Tupperware nightmare. I have 100 lids and 100 containers, and about three of them match. I can’t put them in the church rummage sale pile, but I hate to throw them away. Someone suggested I give them to a daycare center for art projects. But what about the lids?

And the coffee mugs
and drinking glasses. My husband has an unnatural attachment to a coffee mug I won in a radio station contest thirty years ago in a city we no longer live. I kept it.

We have a Sambo’s mug and a Mason’s root beer mug, each priceless possessions.

And why do we need two of those plastic spaghetti measurers? Who uses those? Who can possibly have the hand dexterity to put the spaghetti in those teeny, tiny holes? The grandest treasures we found were the matching tin Ponderosa coasters and tray, given to us by friends from a long ago trip to Lake Tahoe. My friend was just asking me about those on her last visit, wondering
if they would be worth any money. I’m sure I’ll be going on Pawn Stars tomorrow, and they’ll be worth enough to pay for this kitchen remodel. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The kitchen is now emptied; food has been moved to the basement fridge and all my pots and pans and dishes are packed away in borrowed plastic bins in the living room.

Meanwhile, we set up an “alternative” kitchen next to the old refrigerator in the basement; our George Foreman and a toaster oven. Our original plan was to wash dishes in the guest bathroom, which is rarely used. That plan fell through when I accidentally pushed the plunger down too far,
and it rammed through the porcelain.

A hole in the pedestal means that all the water runs on the floor, which is not conducive to washing dishes.

People have often told me I am creative; it does indeed take a creative sort to completely destroy a needed basin in this way. Now we are using paper plates and plastic silverware. I’m hopeful the Environmental Police are not watching us this week. In a few weeks, I’ll have my kitchen back. Now I need to focus on learning to cook.

Amy McVay Abbott is a Newburgh-based writer. Learn more about her new book at http://theluxuryofdaydreams.