Kitchen chaos

There are lessons to be learned from messes.

Why did I ever agree to kitchen cabinet refinishing in December? The little voice in my head practically screamed: Just say ‘No!’ December is already busy enough. True. But they happened to have an open week and the man promised our cabinets would be easily completed. Imagine – a beautiful, bright kitchen by Christmas! I hushed the banshee in my brain and sealed the deal.

The weekend before work was to begin I was recovering from the flu. I rested as much as possible and planned to get up early on Monday. I could unload drawers in an organized manner before the workers arrived. I solemnly warned Jack – no sleeping in and no lollygagging over coffee. “Got it,” he said with a smile.

But someone forgot to set her alarm. I woke up two hours late and hit the ground running. I dumped kitchen junk into whatever containers were available and scrambled to find more boxes. By 9:00 a.m. I was sweating profusely, hoping I wouldn’t end up in the ER. Half an hour later a message came – due to illness, they weren’t coming that day. I surveyed my disaster area and let out a great wheezing laugh.

The boss assured me they could make up for lost time. Days later they removed my cupboard doors and drawer faces to refinish at their shop. I emptied the rest of the shelves and waited for their return with the portable paint booth. A week passed. More delays. My office looked like a yard sale had exploded. The kitchen resembled the deck of the Black Pearl – nothing but the skeletal remains of empty cupboards. Preparing meals was like playing a memory game – where did I see that pot?

At last they brought in the temporary plastic walls and started sanding. The fridge stood beside our table. The sink and stove were totally inaccessible. The living room became an obstacle course of shelving and equipment.

A congenial young man worked steadily for a few days. Above the roar of the compressor, something called “psychobilly” blared from behind the plastic. He explained it’s a musical genre fusing punk with rockabilly and dealing lyrically with zombies, vampires and death, “but in a fun way.” The project was almost complete when the blizzard hit on Friday before Christmas weekend. Shut. Down. Again.

Tuesday morning I received another call. The boss was taking the day off because it was his wife’s birthday. I listened in stunned silence. I looked around at all my overtly Christian Christmas decorations amidst the disarray. The little voice said, don’t scream. It’ll ruin your witness. As calmly as I could, I insisted that somebody had better show up and get some work done.

As I write we’re a full week into 2023. The cabinets look fabulous, although there are still some finishing touches required. (Any day now – I hope.) There’s much to learn from all of this. For one thing, chaos won’t actually kill you. But more importantly – NEVER ignore that little voice in your head!


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