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The dangerous kitchen

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The milk can hurt you
(If you put it on your cereal
Before you smell the plastic container)
And the stuff in the strainer
Has a mind of its own
So be very careful
In the dangerous kitchen

My wife retired June 30 after 33 years as a teacher and a school principal. She's worked hard. It was time.

When she told me she had decided to retire, I was a little concerned about how she would fill her time. As a principal, she had long work days, and she often brought work home with her, or work often would follow her home in the form of phone calls. I figured it would take her a few weeks, maybe a few months, to depressurize—but then what?

Well, "what" arrived today in the form of two guys and a big pickup truck with a bed full of tools. Sherry, you see, has decided she wants a new kitchen. I'm a little uncertain about how this sequenced in her mind: whether she decided to retire and then decided she wanted a new kitchen, or whether she decided she wanted a new kitchen and then decided to retire, or whether it unfolded in some different way. That doesn't matter now. The room that was the kitchen this morning now contains no furniture, no cabinets, no refrigerator, no stove, no microwave. Big patches of drywall are missing on the exterior walls, the brown paper of the insulation bleeding through the gaps. About all that's left is the flooring, and that's coming up too.

It's been a hectic couple of weeks. It took Sherry the better part of a week to empty her office at school, and over the first part of the weekend, she sorted through much of that stuff and moved most of it to the basement, pending further review. Yesterday was spent cleaning out the kitchen cupboards in preparation for this morning's start of work. It's essentially a father-and-son operation; they arrived a little after 9, and the main man handed Sherry a hammer and told her to put a hole in one of the walls that's going to be replaced. She swung with gusto.

Where does all this leave me? Mixing my Bombay and tonics (aside to a friend, G.S.: I'm saving the Bluecoat for martinis) out on the back porch, where we moved the refrigerator. I don't know where my tall tonic glasses are, so I'm mixing the drinks in paper cups, cooling them with bagged ice, all under the glow of the porch light while the neighbors surely wonder what sort of mischief I'm up to.

Somewhere on the audible horizon the last firecrackers of the Fourth are bursting like benign popcorn. The full moon is rousing itself for the night; the cooler air is a balm from the humid day. My tired wife has settled on the couch, where she takes whatever room the four dogs leave her. I sit here in my home office, sipping my drink as the ceiling fan hums, knowing the cat boxes are clean, the cats have fresh food and water, and all I have to do is check grammar, punctuation and phrasing here before a shower and sleep.

Someday, of course, I'll have to write the checks to pay for all of the work. But for right now, Sherry is content—probably asleep—on the couch, and I've had just enough gin to mellow away the thoughts of loan payments and eight weeks of making coffee on the patio. Life isn't ever perfect, but tonight is a reasonable facsimile.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 7th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
Bombay and Tonic....nectar of the gods. My friend doesn't like the way I make mine. I take 5 fingers of Sapphire and a splash of tonic and squeeze half a lime in it with lots of ice. She says that I ruin a perfectly good drink and I just tell her that's the way I always have done it. Needless to say, only two of them are my limit.

Jul. 8th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Just reading your drink recipe raises my BAC by .05 percent, Jeff. Holy man! If I ever drank one of those, my eyebrows would melt off.
Jul. 8th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
That last line speaks volumes, considering the chaos that has obviously befallen your kitchen. I raise my glass of red and clink (in spirit) your paper cup.
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks. Today blew, so everything balances out, eh?
Jul. 8th, 2009 11:02 am (UTC)
Oh man... I hate when that happens.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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