I wrote this book about this motorcycle riding, red cowboy boot-wearing chick who flips houses for a living. She falls in love with this Quantum Physicist turned hardware store owner dude who looks pretty hot in a tool belt. In A Basic Renovation, Lesley, the red cowboy boot chick, knows her way around renovating. She’s hands-on with chisels, crowbars, screwdrivers, power tools and familiar the enormous mess they create when used to rip out cabinets, yank off old tiles, and break up plasterboard. While I can use a power tool and know it’s ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’, Lesley is comfortable with the mess.
I am not.
We’re finally renovating our tired, old kitchen–the last room in my fiftysomething house that hasn’t been touched. We did the 2 bathrooms, which aside from the noise and and the two weeks it took one tiler to lay 3 1/2 tiles (yes, three and a half tiles), was painless. Even with the grout dust that killed my vacuum cleaner. The kitchen was previously renovated in 1985. When we moved in back in 1999, the kitchen had peach cupboards and avocado green countertops. I painted the cupboards white and lived with the avocado tops for 14 years, but it was time for new. The cupboards were looking tired, the counter tops were getting sliced up (Dr Shrinkee wasn’t fond of cutting boards) the stove was dying. So, this past Saturday, which coincidentally was our 18th Anniversary, the 1985 kitchen came out.
Last week, when I packed up the dishes and cookware and glasses and things I hadn’t seen in 18 years, it was, HOLY SHIT, WE’RE GOT A LOT OF JUNK! Then it became HOLY SHIT WHERE AM I GOING TO PUT ALL THESE BOXES? The answer to that was the guest bedroom, around and on top of the bed, and in the dining room on top of and under the dining room table. When the cupboards came out and the cabinets were removed, the HOLY SHIT WE’RE GOT A LOT OF JUNK turned into HOLY SHIT, THE DUST! Followed by:
HOLY SHIT, THE HOLES IN THE FLOOR UNDER THE COUNTER!
HOLY SHIT, THE HOLES IN THE WALLS!
HOLY SHIT, THE DUST!
HOLY SHIT, THE DEAD GECKO ON THE BACK OF THE STOVE
HOLY SHIT, THE DUST!
HOLY SHIT, THE COCKROACH SHIT!
HOLYS SHIT, THE DUST!
HOLY SHIT, THE MONSTER DUST BUNNIES UNDER THE STOVE!
HOLY SHIT, BUDMAN’S MISSING KONG!
And finally, my personal favourite, HOLY SHIT A LAMB CHOP BONE!
Yeah, that bone came out of the wall. So did the missing Kong. We’re guessing a rat that had uh, once tried to take up residence under the stove, had pilfered the Kong (a red rubber dog toy we stuff with peanut butter). I dramatised that ‘rat under the stove moment’ in A Basic Renovation. It made sense that the Kong was taken by a rat. The lamb chop is a mystery. We’re vegetarian, so where did the bone come from and how long that bone was in the wall? Were the previous owners of my house lamb chop fans? The mystery of the lamb chop didn’t last long, but that’s only because it was overtaken by my realisation that the DUST and monster DUST bunnies and cockroach poop had spread out of the kitchen. It had been tracked into the hallway, into the living room, into the bathroom.
HOLY SHIT, MY HOUSE IS A MESS!
I like neat. I like clean. I like organisation. If I had been the one to pull down the cupboards and rip out the walls, like Lesley did in ABR, I would have done it neatly. I would have used drop cloths and laid out plastic floor runners. I would have contained the dust. But boys who do that sort of renovation work aren’t interested in who cleans up the mess after they do the rip out. Also, there’s the fact I lack upper body strength and was useless in holding up stuff as it was being unscrewed, or moving stuff down the front steps. I was banished from helping and from trying to be ‘neat.’ Four men did the job in 90 minutes while I sat in my study, the only dust-free safe haven in my house, and fretted over the dust and cockroach poo riddled sty my house had become.
When they were through, I went in to clean. But dust is insidious. Here’s a photo of the aftermath, and this pains me to say, this is as good as it’s gonna get until the new kitchen goes in sometime this week — I hope it’s sometime this week.