And I wonder why my back/neck/shoulder hurt after I’ve been working at the computer for awhile. I feel this post is ESPECIALLY relevant because I see that my friend Honour has posted today about harsh working conditions. As I pointed out to her on her post, she doesn’t KNOW from hardship… *grin*
When we told our friends about the kitchen renovation, and that it would take 10-12 weeks to complete, almost ALWAYS the first question was “What will you do about FOOD?” I scoffed and said what was so terrible, we’d have the grill on the deck, we had a microwave, we had a refrigerator. I was right and I was wrong. We do have all of that and more (coffee, hot water, toaster oven) but it’s really not the same. My husband is reveling in this lack of kitchen because he gets to stop every day and pick up food for dinner. I notice he’s also spending a fortune on eating out for breakfast and lunch because there are never any leftovers to take. Bringing in food is not awful, but it’s a lot higher in calories and much less fresh than if we were making our own. I usually make up a huge salad and then munch my way through it during the week (much the way the local deer work their way through our gardens and yards). I miss all the fresh veggies and I miss my weekly trip to the local farmers’ market 5 block away.
I thought I was prepared to deal with the cutlery and dishes. I bought a huge quantity of plastic ware and paper plates and plastic (recyclable) cups. After all, we have no dishwasher and no kitchen sink. Yet we still use dishes and utensils that need washing. We can either do this in the bathroom sink or down in the basement in the laundry area. The basement was working well – I had the dish drainer on the washing machine. There is a big sink so we could do the cutting board and other large items. Then the electrical work began. Not only did the alien electric cords emerge from the ceiling but there is dust and wood chips and other debris down there. The contractors do a very good job of cleaning up each day but there is still the debris that has fallen down among the items on every surface. Washing the dishes in the bathroom sink is a challenge because the faucet is fixed and low – very difficult to get a 16-oz glass clean. I also worry about glass items because the sink is so shallow that anything larger than a cup hits the sides.
The recycling hasn’t been too much of a hardship. That all used to be in the kitchen. Now we have the glass/plastic in the front hall and the paper in the living room. Both containers are tucked in neatly. They need to be emptied more often, however, because (1) we have a lot more containers to toss and (2) they are unsightly and (3) it’s summer and I don’t have central a/c and it gets warm and they start to smell. Still all in all, not really a problem.
Water and ice are perhaps my biggest annoyances. I can’t make my own ice and I have to buy bags of ice. The ice in bags is NOT really cubed ice. It may have started that way but by the time you get it home and hammer it apart (because it melted on the way home and then froze into one huge lump in the freezer) it has a lot of little pieces and lots of pulverized ice. The crushed ice is great for a frozen drink, but if you want iced tea or coffee or water, cubes are much better. And the fragments fall on my wood dining room floor which makes me crazy. 🙂 Okay, crazier. I don’t want my floor ruined because of stray ice chips. We are in the 5th day of a heat wave, with at least 2 more days predicted, and we are using up a lot of ice. Although it costs more, I’ve gone back to the gallon jugs of water instead of the 2.5 gallons. The 2.5 gallons are not as easy to use for filling coffee pots and pitchers. Sometimes they are difficult to close one-handed and that means water on the dining room floor. They also take up a lot of room, and counter space is in short supply these days. On the other hand it finally occurred to me that I could store things under the dining room table since I removed half of the chairs (so we had room to walk around the table).
I guess the last “hardship” is the dust and debris that seem to be everywhere. I don’t consider myself an especially “neat” person. I can tolerate a fair amount of disorder in the house. But when I get stressed, my solution is to clean and straighten. There is kitty litter being tracked all over the upstairs which is, unfortunately, all carpeted. That may have to change after this experience. There is dust and minute particles tracked all over the downstairs from the open ceilings, walking back and forth through the construction, food handling in the dining room and eating in the sun room. There is plastic hung between the front hall and the construction to limit the mess, but as we keep walking back and forth to the bathroom, the deck, the basement, the plastic can only do so much. Not to mention that having to wend our way through the plastic is annoying. When the workmen are not here, I try to keep the big plastic sheet tucked out of the way. This all seems to be causing a low-grade, subconscious stress for me because no matter where I look, things are not clear and organized. I had no idea I was so obsessive about order. No wonder I love Seder so much. Vacuuming is do-able if I don’t mind freaking out the cats when I do the upstairs. Downstairs is okay, but there is so much stuff in the way that it mostly consists of moving furniture. It all feels extremely Sisyphean.
I was going to call this “first world hardships” because nothing I’ve described is really a hardship. There is an end to it, I’m getting something wonderful, and I chose to do this. It all reminds me of a wonderful parable I read when I was young. A poor couple has a one-room house and many children. They are very crowded in their house and it’s becoming very stressful and unpleasant for them. They ask the Rabbi for help. The Rabbi has them bring their farm animals into the house, one-by-one. Finally when all the animals are crammed in the house with all the family, the Rabbi has them take all the animals out. The man comes running back to the Rabbi to proclaim how WONDERFUL it is – there is sooooo much room in the house!! *grin* That’s how I am going to feel once all of this is out of my living room and dining room. Wow!!! Look at how LARGE a house I have!!
(of course not EVERYONE in the house agrees with me…… )