I Am Not OK!


My Kitchen Right Now

Christine here.  OK, I have alluded to the fact that perhaps I am not the best housekeeper. I tend not to notice when the place needs to be cleaned up, because I am easily distracted by much more interesting things like braiding a rug.

But this week has been really weird, and I have figured out what my limit is on mess… the degree of disorder required before even I am compelled just to pick up the spray cleaner and a piece of old T-shirt and get to it.

A bit of history: over 10 years ago, when we were looking at houses, I saw my future kitchen and I said, “Ugh. First thing we do is get a new kitchen. This place is horrible.” John agreed… but life and other expenses intervened.

So, 10 years later, after we paid for a new driveway, a new water heater, central air, a new bathroom due to a leak, serious plasterwork due to a continued leak, and finally fixing the leak, and I could continue on for another paragraph…. before the kitchen ceiling fell down.

Last spring, while gazing at the mess in horror, and checking to see that no cats had been impaled (they were safe), I was secretly dancing inside. If nothing else, we had to get a new kitchen now, right? Hurray, hurray, now we could justify the very frightening expense of getting a new kitchen: there was no alternative with the ceiling down.

Then my nosy neighbor who happens to be an architectural history professor pointed out that the kitchen bumps out onto our back porch, which is one cement flight of stairs off the ground, and that the cement back porch was crumbling. So, we should really get THAT fixed before the kitchen.


See how dark the stuff between the wood is? That’s were all the black dust was hiding.

Fast forward beyond a tetanus shot (one of the pieces of lath that fell down had a nail that pierced through my shoe to the skin) and 40 phone calls to cement contractors and a total of only 5 people bothering to show up to give estimates… and all of them looking at the job, shaking their heads, and saying, “Yeah, we don’t really do this kind of work.”

Meanwhile, little bits of plaster continued to plink down onto me or the floor from the remaining kitchen ceiling.

I finally found a cement contractor through the borough office, and he said YES he would do the job…just after he got back from wintering in sunny Florida.

Four months later, Cement Guy is now tanned, rested, and ready, and the Kitchen Guy almost botches up the whole plan by calling him up to ask him how he’s supporting the kitchen bump-out while tearing off the back porch. They exchange words, and the Cement Guy almost quits. After some smoothing of feathers on my part, Cement Guy agrees to wait a week before starting, because Kitchen Guy wants to demolish the kitchen and put in additional structural supports before the back porch goes out from under the bump out.


A newsletter project (if I ever get it finished): an octagonal trivet.

What that means is that within 24 hours of the phone call, I had to clear out ALL of my kitchen. It took all day and most of a night, and stuff is now stacked everywhere in the house. You have perhaps surmised that I am a bit of a packrat, and I had 10 years to fill every kitchen drawer and cupboard and cabinet with… stuff. You have to weave through boxes containing my bundt pan with the sculpted braid on the bottom and the pie crust cut-outs and the box containing the other rarely used utensils in order to get anywhere in the house now. We are eating take-out and microwave dinners. And, since this is industrial Pittsburgh, a fine layer of black dust has now been released from the confines of the kitchen walls and has settled over each and every flat surface in my house, even up to the second floor. (Yes, they did put up plastic sheeting… but it didn’t help).

The black dust is very fine: you can’t even feel it. When you wipe it away, it seems a little oily, and requires about 5 swipes to get it clean.

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From “Red Clay Tile Works,” this squirrel is one of the hand-crafted tiles that I’m going to have in my new kitchen.

In the past week I have met with: a hand-crafted tile maker, gone to a granite show room, picked out hardware, picked out a stone veneer for the cement columns, gone to the window-replacement place, and met with the kitchen designer three times.

In addition to that, I got ready for and taught a lovely 2-day class on attaching braids to square and rectangular hooked pieces (the class was great – more about that in a future post) and tried not to freak out about the fact that my 80 year old mom who is in poor health is getting her knee replaced today (it was either wheelchair or knee replacement, so she chose knee replacement).

And, yes, I still haven’t finished the braiding newsletter that was due out earlier this month.


One of the newsletter projects: an octagonal maze chair pad

And I have to finish the class handouts and samples for the Valley Forge Guild’s braid in that starts in less than two weeks.

And of all the unusual things, I have been obsessively cleaning because even I have reached my limit of disorder.

A couple hours from now, I am driving 4 hours to go sit with my dad in the hospital to wait for my mom to get out of surgery, and then staying out with them for a week so I can buy donuts and flowers for the nursing staff and keep an eye on my mom’s care and keep my dad company.

Frankly, I am looking forward to being away from my disaster of a home for a week!!!

I’ve been telling my mom to “just visualize 6 months from now, when you’re healed up and physical-therapied, and striding around again.”  I’m also telling myself to visualize 6 months from now… when my mom is healed up, my kitchen is done, the back porch is done, and I can braid again without wondering which box something is hidden in first.

7 thoughts on “I Am Not OK!

  1. Okay, that squirrel tile is very cute and worth all the trouble! Thanks for the post!

  2. Bless your heart Christine!!
    You are a strong lady! To go through so much that upsets your routine and environment is very stressful and hard on you both mentally and physically! By now I would’ve had a good cry..or two!! 🙂 Your tile will be beautiful in your kitchen!
    Take care of yourself

  3. Too bad your leak was contained. You could have had the whole house done by the insurance company.
    Looking forward to the Braid-In.

  4. Hi Christine … Yes you are ok!

    Seems like when it rains, it pours! You certainly have your hands full and yet somehow always fit working a challenging braiding project into the mix! A-Mazing chair pad!!!

    Kitchen renovations are the worst and I think you’re getting “out of Dodge” at the right time. When you get back from your visit with your parents, and the braid in, the progress made will make you a happy kitchen/porch camper!

    I’m sure your parents will be happy to have to near during your Mom’s surgery. It’s wonderful that your Mom at 80 wants her independence. Good for her! All will go well.

    Will be thinking of you …

    Jenn 🙂

  5. Oh, I feel your pain! Awful how things snowball sometimes when remodeling. Glad you all and the cats were okay… maybe even sorta glad for a nosy (but knowledgeable) neighbor…? Best wishes to your mom for a speedy recovery.

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