I’m big on ignoring tasks. If there was an olympic event for procrastinating, I know I’d win gold. Front door area needs sweeping? Yeah, I’ll get to that after there’s a vaccine.
Some things we have no control over, though. For instance, news reports tell us that hospitals continue to feel an economic pinch due to current constraints on elective surgeries. While I’m not usually inclined to offer sympathy to health company executives, I can at least indirectly understand their plight from an alternative viewing: specifically one that looks out into my kitchen.
I make the comparison because our kitchen desperately needs a bit of elective surgery too. Unfortunately though, we learned over the past few months, after briefly dipping toes into home improvement waters, that contractors are now taking a wait and see approach when considering any new projects to put on their schedules.
A tiny bit of background is in order: We bought our condo in 2017 with the full understanding that the kitchen and two bathrooms would eventually need renovating. It’s what partially made the purchase price so reasonable. Gorgeous fell in love with the layout and the big windows which look out over trees and a pond, while I appreciated the neatness of the community’s common areas, plus the condo association’s financial reserves. It is a well managed development. We had no timetable for when we’d start the renovation work, but last year we began to coalesce around a time frame of sometime in 2021.
Back in June, when we temporarily poked our heads outside of the protective bubble, we began a short process of calling in a handful of contractors to come look at our kitchen. I warned all and sundry that we weren’t ready to actually start any work until next year, but I was nevertheless hoping that they could offer up some thoughts, and also provide some ballpark estimates on costs. A few eagerly came and looked over our space, all of us staying six feet apart and masked. Two in particular pitched creative ideas about counter tops, a pantry redesign, new cupboards, flooring, and lighting. No one seemed bothered by my extended time horizon for this.
No one has also bothered to get back to us either.
What each of them mentioned is that building materials are in short supply right now. The pandemic has slowed work orders for raw goods, and what’s available out there is expensive and not sitting around in inventory for very long. Contractors are scrambling to find sources outside of their normal areas. What they are able to get is expensive and also might not necessarily be what homeowners desire.
“We’ll be in touch!,” we’ve been told in eager and friendly voices.
But I’m not holding my breath. And with the surge in Covid-19 cases since the fall, who needs a bunch of strangers in one’s home prior to a full vaccine rollout?
So we make do.
Like everything else at the moment, it all hinges on how those moving parts in the public health system can return us to normalcy. Really, I’m no different than Taylor Swift: she’s putting out albums in advance of performing live again, and I’m writing blog posts about my kitchen renovation before the work can start. She’s got her followers, I’ve got mine. We’re so much alike, Taylor and me.
But what I haven’t mentioned up to now are our appliances.
Dear reader, I’ve got my troubles. Every single one of our kitchen appliances, plus the washer and dryer, are all ready NOW to be taken out and put out of their misery. To wit:
- The refrigerator has a gremlin living in it that is a dead ringer for the one I had in my 1969 Plymouth Valiant back in high school. We hear it popping and exploding on a regular basis. It tries, bless its little metallic heart, to make ice cubes for us. But what comes out are these “ghost-looking” cubes that are completely clear and weigh next to nothing. I saw on a web site not too long ago that some people go to great lengths to actually create this kind of cube. The poor thing is in vogue and is completely oblivious.
- The dishwasher’s detergent compartment stopped functioning probably two owners ago. We just pour the liquid detergent onto the back of the door, close it, and hope for the best. And speaking of the door, its latch fell off recently, leaving an open and exposed area to pull or push the door open/closed. Each time we use it, we’re convinced it’ll be the last time.
- The washing machine’s agitator is agitated. Constantly. It moves, but with an arthritic-like gait that graphically demonstrates what 20+ years of constant usage can inflict. That and the permanent stains of spilled detergent in the upper lid area resemble more of a seedy neighborhood laundromat than one of a clean private home. Its adjacent sibling, the dryer, by comparison is the spry one of the two, gallantly running as if it were still the gleam in the lonely Maytag repairman’s eye. If it weren’t for the fact that it has to be set at 70 minutes for every load in order for the clothes to dry, it would win the prize as my sentimental favorite. Instead it’s yet another culprit for what I feel are our higher than normal electric bills.
- And finally there’s the stove, the youngest amongst all of the appliances. We estimate it as slightly less than 10 years old. But with a faulty oven thermostat and a loose handle that is perpetually ready to fall off, it too awaits to be relieved of duty.
I like to think of our kitchen as emblematic of the country at the moment: Waiting for a cure and a steady hand to help rebuild. In the meantime, however, I do get to be pretty fashionable with “designer” ice cubes.
Until next time…