Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The straight and narrow

When we decided to have the kitchen done, I knew there would be challenges. Eating out, getting sick of eating out, having strangers in the house, noise, mess ... I knew I could handle it.

Now that we're three days into the project, I keep getting surprised by new and interesting obstacles to our way of living. To the left is the most problematic: The Incredible Shrinking Hallway! The plastic sheeting you see at the right of the photo is held in place by collapsible rods, essentially creating a wall of tarp.

It's a good tarp, because it keeps the kids (and cat) out of the mess, while keeping the mess contained to the work site. It's a bad tarp, because the rods have diminished our walkway to the basement to about five inches across, and that's from floor to ceiling. Even 50-pound A.J. has to sidle along the wall to navigate it.

Our basement is our temporary kitchen and food-storage area; it's also our laundry room. Try to imagine the challenges of transporting food and laundry baskets via this hallway. Drinks and snacks aren't too bad (unless you have two kids who ask me every five minutes for "cuppy!" or "m-i-l-k, p-l-e-a-s-e!"), but laundry is absolutely impossible. Most inconveniently, I realized yesterday that I was out of jeans and the laundry bins upstairs in general were overflowing.

The kids have been especially demanding since all this started, so I wasn't able to even think about doing laundry until after they were in bed. At that point, I had no choice but to carry the full baskets out the front door, around the side and to the back of the house, and enter via the garage -- all in the 9 o'clock darkness. I realize it's not exactly beating clothes against rocks in the river, but it's still pretty inconvenient (especially since there are some rats in the side yard). So one of the many concessions I will have to make is to ensure that I do a load of laundry each day, preferably during the day, so it doesn't pile up. We're also getting a dorm-sized fridge to keep upstairs so those frequent trips for milk aren't such a burden (and supreme annoyance).

One thing was made easy yesterday, for which I'm so grateful. My wonderful neighbor Valerie offered to send over a meal so I wouldn't have to worry about hauling the kids out after a very long day of activities designed to keep us out of the house. A few hours later, her husband Ken appeared at the door with a picnic basket filled with the gourmet meal you see at the right. I ate my portion hunched over the staircase because I didn't want to wait long enough to clear a space in our living room-turned-storage area.

Valerie even insisted I return the dishes dirty to her, which I felt awful about doing but I had no choice in the matter considering our hallway situation. (At least I didn't have to worry about storing or disposing of the leftovers -- because there weren't any!)

So we continue to adjust to the changes a renovation imposes upon a family. Luckily some (though unfortunately not most) of the surprises are really, really nice ones!

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