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Losing a Kitchen, Gaining a Blog

My world is upside down right now. OK, that might be a little dramatic but things are moving fast and I'm disappointed to find I'm not as flexible as I've always thought I was.

I was doing laundry Sunday night. When I emerged from the back of the house I could hear that the washing machine was still going. That was odd since I had been in the back for several hours. When I got into the kitchen (where the washing machine resides) I discovered water everywhere! I'll bet there was at least an inch since there were little waves when I walked in it. The carpet in the family room was completely saturated. I said a few not-very-nice words. It appears the machine got stuck on the fill cycle of a wash and had never moved out of it. So it was filling for over two hours.

Mopping Up

The last of the towels as I try to soak it up. The strange dark shapes on the carpet in the lower right-hand corner is where I stepped on the carpet and water gushed up around my foot.

I started cleaning up and bailing out but a voice in the back of my head told me this was bigger than a simple clean up. I come from pretty classic middle-class/suburban/whatever stock that "doesn't like to make a fuss" so calling the insurance company felt like an over-reaction. I wrestled for a while with that as I sucked up more and more water from the carpet and soaked every towel I own mopping up the water on the kitchen tile. I finally realized that if this was something that I could take care of, the insurance company would tell me and I would at least ensure that someone who knows more than me saw the mess and could give an educated answer.

What my kitchen looked like when I was buying the house. This is the Before picture.

I put in a call and in less than 12 hours there was a crew in my house measuring the moisture and making noises that sounded like I needed to get a grip and hold on. 24 hours after that my tile floor was gone. Part of the problem was that an original linoleum floor had not been taken up when they put tile in. They just put plywood over it and then the tile. The linoleum acted as a barrier to the water holding it next to the wood and spreading watery goodness everywhere.

When the guys showed me the original linoleum, I actually gasped and said, "Oh my God!" It is truly a 70s linoleum. My house was built in '78 but I have some ugly linoleum in both bathrooms which seem much more dated than '78. I suspected they used some left-over linoleum for the house. This fact is going to become relevant in a minute. Stay with me.

I swear this picture does not do the linoleum ugliness justice.

24 hours after the tile floor was gone my kitchen was gone. Almost entirely. Only the upper cabinets are left. The footers on the cabinets had gotten wet so they had to take them out. The insurance company feels like I can reuse the cabinets but when I took a look at them this morning in my garage they look pretty damaged from being removed. I've never seen cabinets so flimsy. The parts that weren't visible aren't even particle board. Particle board would be an improvement. Parts of these cabinets are that cardboard/wood-ish thing you put in the back of Ikea cabinets. They are the consistency of a dry cracker. Plus you can see on the back of the cabinets someone has written "Demo." They were like fake cabinets to begin with!

My kitchen from nearly the same place as the Before picture was taken. All those blue things you see are fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers to try to dry everything out.

I'm circling back to the insurance company to talk them out of thinking we can reuse these. The insurance company has been great actually. I know people don't get to say that often but they jumped right in and have taken care of things immediately and I haven't had to pay a dime yet. I know that is what they are supposed to do and we shouldn't have to celebrate when someone does their basic job but we all know the reputation that industry has so it is really nice to not have insurance stress on top of everything else.

Remember that original linoleum? Turns out it is "hot" which is code for asbestos. So the regular clean-up crew couldn't take care of it. A special "abatement" crew has had to come in to get this up. They have to seal up the area for safety when they take it out. That is happening right now so tonight, strangers will finally be out of my house and I will have a blank slate for a kitchen.

I'm feeling a little fragile about the whole thing. This really surprises me for a lot of reason. First of all, I tend to be great with change. I'm pretty unflappable. But this happened so FAST! And there were all these strangers touching my STUFF! I just wasn't emotionally prepared to be invaded like this in my own space. I'm very into my space too. I'm a nester x10. I like to have people over but I don't like to leave very often. Why would I when I like it here so much?

The whole thing is very likely to be a blessing in disguise. I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better. I've been gearing up to fix up parts of this house for a while. I research things to death so I haven't been completely idle in planning. However, I had a certain game plan in my head and this is taking me off course.

So this week has been all about making adjustments and going with the flow. I was so serious about the work I was going to do I was actually planning on launching a blog just for the work on the house. I'm the opposite of a DIY expert but my day job is in adult education so I thought that everything I was researching, learning, discovering and doing (mistakes and successes) could be compiled for others who would like some help and encouragement. Kind of a "see, I managed to bumble my way through it so you probably can too!"

I was in the middle of getting the domains pointing to the right spot, customizing themes, branding, etc. I wanted to launch something that looked really professional. Instead, I'm just going to get something up now and all the work that is happening in my house (both DIY and pros) will be there. The website will just have to get spruced up at the same time the kitchen is, which somehow seems perfect.

Woolberry Farm was never intended to be anything other than a place to share things with family and friends who checked in once in a while. It is a great low-consequence writing exercise. My Master's thesis was actually about blogging and learning. I like blogs for many different reasons and one of them is that they can be a great educational delivery tool which is what I intend for Love This Space. If you are interested in that sort of thing, I hope to see you there!

My kitchen in happier days. Scarlet says she is coming along for the ride.

UPDATE: Comments had to be closed due to hate comment spam. Seriously. Someone is that big of a jerk and has that much time on their hands. The hate wasn't directed at me but that doesn't matter. Hate doesn't fly here.