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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Little Brown Shack Out Back

Clearly this kitchen fiasco has been getting to me. Some times it even invades my sleep. The other night I couldn’t escape pornographic dreams. They were so vivid and intense. In the twilight of dreamland, my internal fat girl was in full control as she dreamt of the yummy goodness The Food Network has to offer. Paula Deen penetrated my slumber with fried chicken, biscuits and apple pie. God bless that lovely lady. And then I woke up to the nightmare that is microwavable chicken potpies. Do. Not. Get. Me. Started.

I love to cook and have not been able since December 16th 2009, when my kitchen exploded. (Please see posts below if you are a new visitor, and thanks for stopping by.) The things we have been eating are not just unhealthy, they are friggin’ gross. So I’ve been putting off eating until I am so hungry that I can’t think about how gross my next meal will be. Gas station food, really? Oh, yeah someone queue the Pepto commercial.

To give you an indication of how hungry I was, and to show what an asshole I am… I went to the job I hate to buy food. (I can’t believe I am openly admitting this.) I walked up to the cook who happens to have a birth defect…his friends call him Stubby. I call him Nemo…he has an under developed arm that ends above where his elbow would be…that’s not the bad part.

I said, “Dude, I’m friggin’ starving, can you make me something to eat and burn the grease off?” He asked me what was wrong, said I was out of sorts. (Lois gets cranky and stupid apparently, when she is hungry.) When I uttered the following, “I’m hungry enough to eat my own arm.”


Who says that to a one-armed guy?! Apparently I do, Jesus H. what was I thinking?!

Nemo takes everything in stride. He didn’t take offense or smack me with his good arm. He’s a good guy and even makes gas station food tasty.


Have you heard the phrase, “Opening a can of worms?” This renovation has been one can after another of wiggly not so goodness. The house opened a can of whoop ass on the carpenter. I almost felt sorry for him, but then I saw what he billed the insurance company, well... Over it!

He nickel and dimed us to death. The floor, countertops, even cabinet pulls were all “Too high for the budget.” His markup was beyond the pale. Just one example, he charged the insurance company $1,200 just for the counter.

We were actually losing five feet of counter space because we wanted a more feasible, user-friendly layout. Thinking the difference could be made up in a better quality counter than the Formica shit we had, I sent him our wish list. After many emails, phone calls of repeat denies on his end, we said just fucking do whatever. Mr. Lane picked out a Formica in coral sage. (not my favorite, but whatever) It was $80, no exaggeration. Is that robbery without a gun?

Because karma is a bitch, the carpenter thought he could come in here, rob our insurance company, remove everything that was water damaged, install new stuff and call it a day with fat check in hand. Easier said than done.

Besides the nightmare you saw in the post below, there have been so many other things that have popped up, seemingly out of nowhere. The photo of the brick was the last thing I saw before I went to the job I hate. My little wheels were cranking about the nightmare that awaited my return. As fate seems to do often, it stepped in…unbeknownst to me, no one was on the schedule after me. So when it was time to go home, no one showed up. I tried to keep my game face on but I needed out of that place in a bad way. An hour later my little savior showed up. Yes, I almost kissed a girl.

The workers were gone by the time I made it back. They had framed it up, secured each joist, dug out the dirt and debris, placed a vapor barrier down. It was so nice coming home to that after what I saw before I left, but why was it so fucking cold in there?! I’ll get back to that after a couple worm spills.

When he attempted to disconnect the plumbing for the kitchen sink, he found the drain was clogged like an artery with a Big Mac addiction. It was completely solid and had broken in half. Essentially, the water was just going straight into the dirt crawlspace. Obviously we had no idea, otherwise, I’d never had wasted so much time/effort draining bacon grease, oil, gravy, etc. into coffee cans.

He repaired and rerouted the drain because for some reason it was pitched the wrong way. Even as backward ass as it is out here in Bumble Fuck Illinois, water still does not run uphill. Next, he moved on to the copper pipes. Relocated them so they won’t freeze and that was where he ran into another problem. Unbeknownst to him, the electricity in the wall just stopped working. Anyone with a brain knows, water lines and electrical lines are two entirely different entities, yet somehow, in this crazy mess of a house, one seemed to effect the other.

Turns out there were loose wires in the wall above where he was working. Yes, that is called a fire hazard. I’m telling you, this kitchen pipe bursting has been one silver lining after another. Would this fucker have gone up in flames? Would we have been in it when it happened? Would we have made it out safely? Good thing we don’t need to know.

Apparently, the furnace also stopped working. It was 53 degrees in the house. The fridge wasn’t working either because it was plugged into the outlet that disconnected itself. Of course I didn’t know that at the time.

So it’s 6:30 p.m., just finished working an extra hour at the job I hate, I have hungry kids who are asking where I've been, I’m hungry, my old man is walking in the door after being on the road for a few days, as I’m screaming my face off in what the fuckedness. He gives me that look…that husband look that makes you want to poke his eyes out with a spork. Rather than give him the hairy eyeball, I summoned the sad puppy dog look, defeated isn’t my prettiest look but it works.

He pulled me in for a hug, patted my back and said, “I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay, I’ll fix the fridge. Welcome home.”

We went our separate ways to fix stuff. My job came easier than his. After seeing all was well in the fuse box, I got an extension cord and tried plugging the fridge into a different outlet. It worked. (We still had no idea livewires were floating freely in our wall.)

Mr. Lane called the furnace guy who couldn’t come out due to an ice storm, but talked him through troubleshooting. Something, not sure what, worked. By then, the kids and I had gone into the TV room wrapped like burritos and feasted on Cheetos and Sprite. Dinner of champions.

It took a while for the house to warm back up, but the 60 degrees it finally reached by the middle of the night, was a welcome feeling after coming back into the house…from going potty?!? Because there was no floor and our only bathroom is off of the kitchen, we had to go outside, walk around the house, come into the side door, through the mud room/laundry room and into the bathroom.

Here is the icy pathway to the bathroom. Can you imagine? Waking up, middle of the night, full bladder and having to walk out into the cold, it was -13 this particular night. We felt much like those poor bastards who lacked indoor plumbing who lived here in 1861.

Lane 1 went through the front door. I heard him but knew he wasn’t sleep walking this time. He needed to go to the bathroom. It was just before 3 a.m. I kept one ear open as I dozed. He returned spewing cussery like I’ve never heard from my sweet baby boy. Being the kind loving mother I am, I yelled, “What the hell is your problem, son?”

“Dad locked the freakin’ door. I can’t get in the bathroom and I feel like I’m going to crap my pants!”

I could hear the desperation in his voice. I got up, grabbed the keys, threw on my coat and shoes, walked out there, slip sliding the whole way, squeezed through the tiny walkway, smashing my elbow against the dumpster, muttered “fuck” and tried to unlock the door in the dark while trying to not allow myself to wake up completely. Epic failure.

Tried is the key word. The lock was frozen, reason 92 why I intentionally left it unlocked in the first place.

My kid was standing outside ready to shit himself wearing shorts and a wife beater?!?!? My elbow and head were throbbing, we were freezing and tired. We slipped on the ice until we got back into the house, where we found Mr. Lane had waken up from all the noise. He was pissed, but so were we.

The old man thought we were incompetent. He went outside to unlock the door, rambling his thoughts loudly… about how rude it is to be loud in the middle of the night waking him and probably everyone in the neighborhood, (hello pot, it’s kettle can you kiss my ass please) he went on about how stupid we are, how unlocked doors welcome trouble, blah, blah, blah.

He couldn’t open it either and was so pissed, he rammed it like he was a member of the Poo-poo Swat Team. The door was broken but open, successish.

Lane 1 and I looked at each other wide-eyed with a hidden smirk within our muddy colored eyes illuminated only by cold moonlight. Finally back in bed, unable to sleep, I reflected and laughed as I thanked God for my crazy family and shitty old house.

The next day, the carpenter tried putting a water line in for the refrigerator but the location was right where the room was where families once conveyed slaves during the Underground Railroad. The same room later became an ammunition bunker during WWII. He came up with a plan B after many failed attempts to penetrate the brick walls of the hidden room.

He installed insulation, sub-floor and decking. We could actually walk in the kitchen and not have to go outside to go potty! Crazy concept, huh?!

To make a really long story a little bit longer, it’s done. (Photo taken at 4:30 a.m. today reason 1,241 why it looks wonky.) And just for good measure this old house gave him one more little bite on his ass for screwing us out of a nice counter. The walls are not plumb! So when he installed our counter, he had to carve into the wall so it could sit flush. Then he had to fill the crack with caulk and repaint it. I think I heard my walls laughing at him.

We still need to cut out the window looking into the dining room as I mentioned in a previous post. We still need to soffit the edges of the ceiling and do some trim work, but for now it is habitable.

Last night I was finally able to cook. And we ate the shit out of those Spaghetti O’s.

Okay, that last line is a lie. I made breakfast for dinner. Biscuits, gravy, just like Paula Deen would have in my pornographic dreamland.