do your own work…if you can

It’s great to hire people to help you out. There are things for each of us around which the learning curve, tools, time interests or stakes require or at least support the seeking of help. Sewing sucks for most people, and we hire all kinds of people to do that now. Thankfully cars are now all Toyotas (mine) except this one Mini-Cooper blog so they don’t even need work. You get the picture.   OK. Still there is something cool about doing your own work, and doing it with people you love. Something that brings integrity back from the cliff it always seems to have just plummeted over. And in my America anyway, it feels that the road of daily life is a windy one held fast by a thin ribbon of railing.

The kitchen, dunt dunt dummmmm. Or something like that. Even considering this makeover evokes worry in me. What can stand in more for middle age, a tired marriage, banality, bourgeois values, and surplus money (that does not exist) more than this home improvement endeavor? Moving along.

My kitchen sucked. Anyone who has seen it would at least for the most part agree. The underside of the sink, a green sheet metal job topped with a beautiful white enameled 1970’s sink, was rotted out. Literally, the inside of the cabinet looked like the fender-wells of an International harvester snowplow sitting in a field in Minnesota except that it was stinkier.  There was no counter space…there was no light…it was a literal dungeon…You see. No matter how bad a kitchen is, talking about the remodel makes you into a privileged prick. I hade a kitchen, I had more food than I ever needed, I had hot water and refrigeration. Neither of which my childhood “kitchen” could claim.

Anyway, back to work. I have the best friends. My best friends are two orders of magnitude handier, three orders more successful and one point five more generous than me. OK. Sucking up done. They decided to remodel their kitchen, and with the application of the above everything had to go. Big, tall, light tasteful…DIY (with actual skill)…fast. “I want your cabinets” Again the above indicates a simple nod in the affirmative. “You better be here when he takes them out”, from friend, “or he’ll break ’em”

So I live in the most difficult house to remodel that is not just under the Mongolian Steppes. Yes, the most difficulty house to remodel outside of Afghanistan. Ok, remember that I’m a privileged-bourgeois-whiner living in the bay area. But really, my house is separated from a road by a bit more than you have ever seen. I live in a cabin…in the woods…up a trail, as my mom always tells her doctors. She feels that is important for them to know. It is and its true. Thanks mom.

So back to the kitchen. really, I’m not the one in town who should be taking old wood cabinets. Really it should be someone who has a new fangled “driveway”, whatever that is, leading to their house.

But I land on top of the list because I have awesome best friends, and because I’m weird enough to actually use someone’s old cabinets.

Use old things. Use old things. The cabinets were beautiful and simple, not fancy. No metal sliders, no rain forest wood. Not even a speck of teak dammit. Just beautiful and old.

My friends son is young and strong.

We carried the cabinets.

My friends can build anything.

I helped him install them.

My friend answers the phone.

He told me what to do…and I did what he said.

I trimmed out the new windows. Light!

With the help of my brother in law and my wife, a new door let in even more light.

She painted the old cabinets, meticulously bringing them back to their pre-demo luster.

Finally, we hired experts to install a counter top.

It felt good to do what we did.

It felt good to do what we could.

It felt good to let people help us.

It felt good to hire people to do what we didn’t or couldn’t do.




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