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Saturday, May 5, 2007

How to remodel a kitchen fast

I'll never forget how Greg managed to get a dozen inexperienced city slickers and turned them into a super powered remodeling crew.

Several years ago my mother was bemoaning the state of her kitchen. She hated it, as well she should have. It was antiquated, falling apart and inefficient. Greg sympathized but what could he do? We lived 1200 miles away. The rest of my siblings and their spouses had no skills in remodeling and it looked like mom would have to hire someone to save her kitchen. If you've ever had a kitchen professionally remodeled, you know it ain't cheap.

Then Greg came up with the idea where all my siblings and their respective spouses could come together one weekend and we'd do an all out blow out in redoing the kitchen from plaster to plumbing. Greg would do the tricky stuff and the rest would do the grunt work. I got to be second in command. We've remodeled so many houses over the years I can do it in with my eyes closed. He figured between the two of us we could guide the rest of the crew in what needed to be done.

The first order of business was to get everyone to commit to one weekend to work nonstop. The second was to get us (Greg and me) up to Chicago. We loaded up our van with the dogs and all the tools we'd need for the job.

I should mention that Greg comes from a family of craftsmen. The men on his father's side of the family were all in the trades, from plumber to electrician to master plasterer, you name it. Not a slouch in the bunch. Greg has a natural aptitude for working with his hands and there's isn't a job he can't do on his own.

Anyway, we industrialized twelve people to do work they've never done before in their lives. We gutted the kitchen to its lathe bones. Greg had people painting, measuring, screwing paneling down and hauling trash, any and all grunt work that didn't require any talent.

The night before the work began, he sat down with mom to make sure she was happy with the plans. (I drew her some sketches.)

In less than 48 hours we turned a dingy, useless kitchen into a showplace. The men did all the heavy lifting, dragging out appliances and tearing the kitchen down to its skivvies. The women cleaned, painted, or refurbished the appliances until they were like new.

Greg rewired the kitchen from scratch and installed new fixtures then plumbed in a new sink and faucet. The fun part was when we did the floor. Mom wanted linoleum, so all of us got together and wrestled this big roll of linoleum to the floor. Who knew any of us could work together without killing each other?

I know Greg and I have done bigger jobs but this one had to be the most satisfying job, probably because we did it as a family. To this day, mom still calls Greg her favorite son-in-law. Heh…do I know how to pick 'em, or what.

Today: Hit a few garage sales this morning and I came across a mongo book reader who was selling some of her stash. I chatted with her for a bit and I asked her what authors she liked and why. I loved her answers. She said she liked reading authors who weren't full of themselves. She just wanted a good story. (hmm…where have I heard that before?)

What I liked best is that this was the unvarnished reaction of a typical READER, and not a writer/reader. I've found the opinions of each group can vary considerably, but this lady's opinion carried more weight because she was a true consumer. She is the writer's real market.

Her favorite genre was mystery but she also liked romance because she could read them fast. Both provide escapes and she doesn't have to think any further than the time it takes to read the book.
--interesting. There is continuing evidence that the majority of the reading population do like shorter, cleaner reads. No ten dollar words, no long meandering set up. Just the story, ma'am.

I picked up several short story collections from her as well as Neil Gaiman and Laurell K. Hamilton books.

Garage sale winners: Among my other finds, today also netted me a nearly new camera tripod for 3 bucks, tire chains for Greg's ATV, and a silver ladle for a dime. I've been looking for a gravy ladle and the price was right. But I took a closer look at it when I got home and realized it was an antique. I looked up the hallmark on the internet and it turns out it's a very fine $40 ladle. ---a good shopping day.