Another Covid Delay: A Kitchen Cries for Help

Our “Ghost” Ice

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.

Exposed Door Latch on Our Dishwasher

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…

41 thoughts on “Another Covid Delay: A Kitchen Cries for Help

  1. Such a well written post. It is interesting how home improvement projects might have something to take for granted –
    And hope you find the right contractor –
    And smiled with the dryer being your sentimental fav –
    It sure bothers me that appliances are made to fail or are only made to last a limited time; gone are the days when we could have a set for 20 years and give it to someone who wanted to a cheap set??
    We stayed at an Airbnb this year and it had an old heavy duty stacked washer and dryer that washed small loads – and it was sturdy – well made and cleaned the clothes well! Today’s machines – even higher end ones – are not always the best
    Oh and lovely photos of the community – I can see why you chose that place

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, ’tis true about the older appliances having a long life. Really, that’s the other other side of this post: that if I wanted to (I don’t!), I could probably have at least the washer and dryer cleaned up and repaired a bit, and they would probably have another five to ten year’s life to them. But they’re so cruddy looking that it’s hard to fathom spending all this money on a complete renovation and keep them. So off with their heads! I just hope what we get to replace will live as long a life.

      Many thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Like

      1. Off with their heads then! Hahaha
        And one time – many years ago – I washer went out and we were not sure what we wanted to do – but a wager of upgrade the set- so we looked at Craigslist real quick and someone had a “works good” washer for sale and it was not far fro us – under 50$
        The hubs went and picked it up and we had time to plan – we decided to buy a new set (and ugh- got this really nice colored set – front loader fro
        Samsung and they sucked – lasted under five years – then went Maytag – yuck – and now we have whirlpool and have been mostly happy) but that 50$ one – well it was mustard yellow! And I’ll never forget when our plumber came to do some work in the guest bath- he stared and then stared again- it was just nkt a washer he expected to see.
        Last part of this story! I wish I kept that yellow washer because it worked so well – Art towels – boys lacrosse socks – and it was the best washer I ever owned as far as mean and clean! Hahah
        Wishing you a great weekend and I will be sure to try and come back to see how this all unfolds
        Enjoyed your post

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I see lots of the country in your kitchen. 🙂 Contractors are hard to get here, wood products were scarce this summer, and two friends replacing washing machines drove halfway across the state to get them by coincidence from the same store. My refrigerator will make ice by the bucket, but our water dispenser won’t work. So, the water line is open otherwise there’d be no ice, but no filtered water. The last time we had that part fixed it was $600. It’s staying that way until we buy a new one. 🙂 Embrace your character enriched appliances probably at least for another six months. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, that’s funny about your friends going so far and ending up at the same store to replace their washing machines. Ugh, that’s a lot of money to replace a key part. I don’t blame you for waiting to replace it instead. Yes, we will wait patiently here; if need be, we’ll get a repair guy if they break down. I don’t want to get the cart before the horse in replacing before we re-do everything else.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Bowers

    Still laughing. Talk about KitchenAid! I thought I had the jankiest appliances, but my god, the number of yours that are on their last leg is staggering. You didn’t mention your microwave, so I’m assuming at least that’s working, but wouldn’t you know, the least expensive thing to replace is doing just fine….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We are closing on a new house next week. Our downsize house (yeah, what were we thinking). It will need some things done and I’m already wondering if we can get materials to do it. Like you, we can do without until next summer if necessary. My mother had a refrigerator that was 35 years old when we threw it out. It wasn’t broke at all. It was ugly. My current one is hovering around 8 years and my last one (high end model) lasted 6. They don’t make appliances like they used too. Our appliance store blames it on the environmental restraints. You have empty ice cubes. Very chic!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh dear Marty! May be time to go buy new appliances first! I wanted screens for my back door and they can’t come out and quote until after Christmas! Let alone get them installed. Once quoted it’s going to take 6 weeks for them to be made. I do love your views! And a condo with good finance is a big plus!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m hoping they can make it over the finish line because I really don’t want to buy any appliance till we have everything else in place. I will if we have to, of course, but I’m going to try to keep these things limping along as long as possible. Wow, six weeks for screens, huh? We actually had our window screens repaired earlier this year. Ii wanted new screens, but the guy said ours were worth keeping. I hope yours come sooner than you expect!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. By the time they come Summer will be over! Oh well at least I’m ready for next Summer!
        It’s a screen for my sliding doors. They come as a pole and you pull them out as you need them then they retracts. I think

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading this post! Very entertaining! When we have to wait for something, I look at it as getting more of our money’s worth out of it. We also have a good appliance repair person, and he has done wonders for us. It sounds like your electric dryer vent to the outside needs to be cleaned out. I speak from experience. Thanks for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, so you’re trying to get me to do work now, huh? I can tell you without hesitation that more intimidating souls than yourself have failed in that regard; my father for one! 😉 Ah yes, the outside vent. Sadly it’s as clean as a whistle (are whistles really that clean????!!!!) and still the dryer struggles. But I do nonetheless admire it’s spirit and can-do attitude. May it continue in that vain for the next half year! Many thanks for reading and your wonderful comments, Betty. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it is good someone went to the work of making sure that dryer vent was clean! Good luck with the appliances! I look forward to reading your future posts. Those appliances might be planning something! Enjoy your day!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your post touched a sensitive nerve, Marty. We are presently dealing with ‘emergency’ (says “emergency” on all the estimates) surgery in our family room re our flood. We have contractors traipsing in and out all day long. Of course, we are also restricted to seeing only members who live in our household right now (My husband and I). I have learned by now how life is never straightforward, and who laughs at us when we make plans. Yet, I do count my blessings.

    Your description reminds me of “location, location, location.” You live in a beautiful area.

    A very witty and entertaining post, Marty. And, yes, I can see how you and Taylor Swift are similar….almost twins.😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, dear, I am sorry to hear of your calamity, Erica. If you’ve posted on it, I will make sure to find it later today. I do send you my deep sympathies. I can only imagine the stress involved in having to clean up from it… and having contractors in your home at the moment, ugh. Indeed, no straightforward lines for any of us right now.

      We indeed live in a beautiful area. Especially during non-hurricane season! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did not post on it (yet). I genuinely count my blessings since it could have been much worse. More of a nuisance….oh, and I almost forgot…..the whole asbestos complications…..Trying to keep my loved ones healthy is priority right now. Your post is very clever and entertaining, Marty. You and Gorgeous, take care. I enjoy seeing her creativity on Instagram. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Funny post! It also prompted me to walk over to the next room and give my husband a big smooch. He is extremely handy (engineer by training, plus he was a landlord for a long time) and has brought many of our appliances back to life. Just a couple of months ago our oven stopped working and he was able to find the problem, source the part, and get it all back together again.

    Construction materials are really expensive right now and contractors are in demand. They have never been the best at returning phone calls, but now it is nearly impossible. I think 2022 might be a better year for your renovations. Btw, we have little corning cups that match your plate… how very retro of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s definitely a keeper! If you’re interested in a temporary trade, I’ve got a splendid cook and baker here who’s obsessed with kitchen perfection. Say a month? Just long enough to get our appliances all bandaged up to keep working for the next six to twelve months. Think about it. You don’t have to answer right away!

      Re: the Corning plates. A bit of a long story, but we’re transitioning away from a Fiesta set, which became this endless “THING” that never ends. So Gorgeous bought the Corning pieces from different online sources (Etsy, eBay) and they’ll hold us till we, i.e. <b<she figures out what will be the permanent choice later. They are fun retro to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a great idea! Gorgeous and I would have a fabulous time in our kitchen. You and Paul could do guy things in between his repair duties.

        I love Fiesta but I can understand how out of control it can get. Those little Corning cups we have are the perfect size for ice cream so we keep them around despite the fact they match nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the chuckle. Your posts always crack me up. We had a derecho in August and are still waiting for a contractor to repair the damage to my parents’ house. We’ve heard all about how expensive everything is right now but the insurance company doesn’t seem to get that. And in the meantime, we’ve sold the house so we have money in escrow hanging over our heads. I hope you can get your remodeling done before everything conks out!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, only August but it does seem like ages ago. While the insurance has been a hassle, the real holdup is the contractor. My sister and brother-in-law still don’t have their fence repaired either. There was a lot of damage and I guess they can’t keep up. I’m sure COVID is an issue too as they can’t get materials. 😤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Getting contractor help was not something we anticipated with COVID, but now we are getting used to the little quirks and things we hated when we first bought our house in June. Its good to know that some people are gainfully employed right now. Love your posts, as usual!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you are getting settled. I suppose there are always little surprises that lurk for every new homeowner. Honestly, if all I have to complain about are appliances that need replacing, then I’m grateful. Thanks, Tracey!

      Like

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