Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ready to cook if I ever get the urge

The new kitchen exceeds my expectations. Breaking down one wall made both the kitchen and dining area feel larger. The light is wonderful. Steve, who put up with the idea of remodeling but wasn't enthusiastic, loves the new kitchen. We love the floor, the appliances, the faucet. The cabinets are well made and good looking. The new units Bob Mason made to replace the ruined mid-century modern cabinets worked out really well. The white quartz counter is good. The extra storage and counter space is great.

Here are photos that don't do it justice:

Last Friday, I wrote a check to the contractor for the final payment, and now that we have a completed sleek new kitchen and increasingly distant memories of coughing through construction dust, big bills, a grouchy contractor, the delay and expense of getting new cabinets and shelves to replace the ruins of the mid-century modern cabinets that were supposed to be refinished, and a grouchy contractor. Oh, did I mention that already? I know, but he was a really grouchy contractor.

Well, I don't want to leave it on a sour note because, ultimately, they did a good job and didn't leave us hanging. Good job, Lower East Side Curmudgeons.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

I'd Turn Back if I Were You

When Steve worked at the VA in East Tennessee, a veteran made him this sign from the Wizard of Oz. (Steve often quoted the movie.)

The sign came with us everywhere we moved. Here, it hung on the balcony wall. A few months ago, the sign disappeared. We guessed it flew away in one of the big windstorms that afflicted New York this spring. Maybe it was offended I didn't listen to its advice when I went to renovate the kitchen.

Today, I visited Susan next door. She is getting ready to renovate her apartment with the same contractor I am using. When Susan and I stepped on her balcony, there was the sign. Susan said it just appeared one day. It flew from my balcony to hers.

I said maybe since it didn't succeed in stopping my renovation, it decided to give you its good advice. She gave me back the sign with a rueful laugh.

And yet, the 3/4 of the kitchen that is done is lovely. After two tries, I got the right part from Electrolux, and Avi, the contractor manager, fixed the stove. (He apparently didn't trust the laborers, who have been known to lack common sense. See broken oven door. See jiggling the refrigerator to make it level, then opening door and watching wine bottle fall to the floor. Floor 1, wine bottle 0.)

Today Steve made a real Southern breakfast like he did in the old-timey days in Tennessee. Biscuits! Delicious.

We like the big doorway to the dining area. 

This area doesn't look much different than it did before we started. But it's all smoother, there's more storage space, that door on the left is the ever-loving garbage drawer, the refrigerator with the freezer underneath is great, and--and there's an ice maker. Ice any old time.  Ice. Happy summer. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kitchen Glitchen--OR--Too Bad about Those Mid-Century Cabinets

Those old metal glass-fronted cabinets were lovely. And now they are mangled. Dead. The sand-blasting and powder coating turned them from smooth steel with a bad paint job to lumpy steel with a good paint job. I'm not going to post a picture because I don't want to be reminded of their demise. Here instead are a couple of pictures of from their nice years:

Oh well. So what if the whole kitchen design revolved around them. So what if we were ahead of schedule getting this done, and now there will be a big delay. So what if my already over-budget project is now going to cost another arm and leg?

Bob Mason, the wonderful cabinet maker in Brooklyn, says he can make something new. Here's what I'm thinking--a glass-fronted cabinet for over the sink, and metal shelves and rails and hooks for over the stove area:

Meantime, the cabinets, floor, and appliances look wonderful installed. I won't go into the shattered glass door on the oven that happened after I signed off on the delivery, meaning the store wouldn't have to do anything to fix it. Pictures to come.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fixin' the Kitchen with GPS as my Guide

On my last road trip, the GPS made some mistakes. She tried to send me down a dirt driveway to get back onto the highway from a gas station. She told me to turn right when I was in the middle of a bridge. I made mistakes, too.  She told me to take the exit, and I missed it.

She just corrected, and we moved on. She never got impatient. She never apologized, no matter how completely wrong she was. She was unflappable, and with some of my own common sense (no, I'm not going to make a U-Turn there), we got where I was going. I decided to try to emulate GPS in kitchen fixing.

So when I called Rocco in Brooklyn to arrange pickup for the metal cabinets he was going to sandblast and powder coat by Friday, and he hadn't even started, I tried GPS-itude. That meant no outrage. No crying. Calmly: Can you have it for me Monday? Maybe.

Then I talked with the contractor about bringing up the appliances from curbside, which is as far as the appliance store would come. And by the way, the refrigerator doors have to come off to get through the door. The contractor said you need a special tool to get the refrigerator door off. He didn't have that tool.

I called the appliance store, and it would be $185 to bring the appliances up and into the apartment. "Get the contractor to do it," Mr. Gutierrez insisted. "He says it takes a special tool to get the refrigerator door off," I said. "It's a SCREWDRIVER," said Mr. G.

Calm: Next phone call, the contractor agreed to bring in my appliances.

Was I nice and GPS cool? Does GPS sound calm and smooth but underneath is a nervous wreck?

I bought a bottle of tequila and had a great big shot. Does GPS drink?

Well, the floor is looking good. Sunny from Malaysia laid it in a herringbone pattern with the big porcelain tile. 

Chipped away peeling ceiling ready for skim coating in the living room. It's a mess. 

I admire some of the patterns in the demolition. 
We've been making toast and coffee on the balcony, but there were some truly cruddy days, so toast in the bathroom. Yum. 
Now here's a bathroom. Not mine. One of the contractors sent me to an apartment in the coop that he had remodeled. The bathroom was truly something. 
There are also chandeliers in the kitchen. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fixin the Kitchen 2017

My kitchen was nice. 

We moved to this apartment in 2001, used the original wooden cabinets plus a couple of metal, glass-fronted 1950s cabinets we brought with us from Tennessee to North Carolina to New York. With new Whirlpool appliances, tile floor, and brushed aluminum counters (from Formica), the kitchen was fine. Later, our friend Toby made new rounded-corner cabinet fronts and drawers, and I painted them red and put snazzy brushed steel 1950s-tailfin-looking handles on them. 


It was getting shabby. The not-very-good-to-begin-with paint jobs on the cabinets was getting chipped and perma-grime. The oven stopped working. The floor had cracks. The dishwasher sounded like a plane taking off. The counter was battered (though handsomely). The faucet barely flowed and then dripped. 

Steve and I are planning to stay here. This New York apartment is a great place to grow old. It's got elevators. You can get anything delivered. Curbs are all ramped and all buses can pick up wheelchairs and walkers. 

I pictured us in a few years, shuffling around our sticky old ruin of a kitchen, each of us also a sticky old ruin, old cabinet doors falling on our heads, us shakily lighting burners with matches because the ignition doesn't work any more, our fingers sticking to the grungy knobs. Would our decrepitude be more tolerable in a brighter atmosphere? It's hard to say. Maybe we'll be so bleary-eyed, we won't notice. But if we do notice, it'll be depressing, and we are unlikely to have enough money then to fix up the place, since we will have spent it all on thick glasses and hearing aids all kinds of medical things. 


I embarked on a re-do to take us into old age. Here is the floor plan of the kitchen as it was: 

After months of drawing, talking with friends for ideas, and research, here is what I came up with. Using the same footprint, it didn't seem like much of a change: 

The old metal cabinets would be stripped and powder-coated. I'd replace the red cabinets with--red cabinets. Replace the gray tile floor with--a gray tile floor.  A new stove would turn the corner and be against the wall by the window with a new little cabinet and counter to the left. A new refrigerator with the freezer below and a smaller, quieter dishwasher would be stainless steel, as were the ones they were replacing. 

There'd be a broom closet to hold the ladder I seem to need all the time to reach upper cabinets. The ladder now stood by the stove--not an attractive look. The garbage never had a good spot either. Now I'd have a drawer just for garbage. A garbage drawer! 

Really, it was the garbage drawer that got me motivated. My sister got one, and loved it. When I visited her, I thought, YEAH, that's what I want. A garbage drawer. 

I'd also have the doorways widened, especially the one leading to the dining area, which is off the living room. I hoped to create a kitchen/dining space that would be sociable, almost like an eat-in kitchen, but, well, a dining area/kitchen. Best of all, the sunset could show itself off into the kitchen. Sunset is when I'm often in the kitchen, and I miss those sunsets. 

I'd gain some storage space, a little counter space, more light, more communion with the dining area, but it would look similar. 

As I priced out the components, one thought kept going through my mind:
Are you crazy?

Not Crazy, probably

Yesterday, demolition started. And when I looked at that big open doorway, I thought, oh yeah, this is very very nice. 

First, here's how it looked just before the sledgehammer:

Here's how it looks now:

That's gonna work, right? Kitchen/dining area coming up. 

More to come. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Mexican Winter

Back to Oaxaca and around Mexico for the winter of 2014-2015. Many pictures, different blog:


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oaxaca Pictures

We had a balcony with a Dr. Seuss tree at Casa Pereyra. 
Women carry all kinds of things on their heads. She's got padded boards--might be kneelers for pews. 
She's got a load of garlic.
This is a giant tlayuda in the municipal building. A tlayuda is a great big crispy tortilla--think small pizza--filled with--whatever. But this tlyauda is the biggest in the world--the sign even says it's in the Guinness Book of World Records. It's about seven feet across. In the center is a rendition of the Tule tree, which is nearby and the biggest tree in Latin America. 
It's got scenes from Oaxaca history. Tlayudas are cooked right on the coals and somehow are both chewy and crispy. We're going out later for our last meal, and it's going to be at the Tlayuda stand. But we have to wait because it doesn't open until 9 p.m. And then it's open until 4 a.m. Mealtimes have yet to make sense here. 
Too bad dogs can't read. 
Steve took the pictures of me. Here, looking at the sunset.