« I Flaked The Sails Years Ago | Main | Chapter 20 »

Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 74 – Emergency Renovations

…One winter afternoon I had put some meat for the night’s meal inside the microwave on its polystyrene supermarket plate to thaw from frozen. I turned the microwave on expecting the job to be finished in ten minutes and ready when we returned from shopping. However, when we did return, we found to our utter horror, the house filled with acrid, choking smoke. Koko the cat raced outside and we found the microwave billowing toxic fumes and smoke…

Gayle Woodward continues her engaging account of family life in New Zealand.

To read earlier chapters of Gayle’s story please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/life_is_too_short_to_drink_bad_wine/

My life changed again. I was in full time work, with my oldest son working and the younger son a university student. Jeff was testing the waters for an independent life when he flew to Australia with his friend Darren, making a trip to visit the Brisbane Expo.

The house seemed so much quieter with only two young people, only two stereos and only two radio stations blaring out. Jeff returned and seemed keen to continue his independent life by deciding to move into a flat with some of his friends. He was earning his own keep and we were happy that he felt confident leaving the comforts of home behind. I had a slight feeling of sadness that this period of my life was coming slowly, but inexorably, to an end.

Mark began university and a growing social life. Arguments arose between Karyn and Mark about the use and length of use of the household phone. “He’s/she’s been on the phone for HOURS, Mum!” was the oft heard plaintive cry.

I enjoyed these teenagers though. There was intelligent and funny conversation around and their friends dropping in at all hours.

We continued the renovation with all bedrooms receiving new wallpaper, fitted wardrobes and new carpet throughout. The bathrooms and kitchen were still in a 70’s parlous state and very much in need of improvement.

One afternoon, I arrived home from work and walked into the garage from the outside carport to find sheets of hot steaming water falling from the roof and coming through the floor of the house above me! I dashed through the water calling, “Mark!”

I heard Mark exclaim, “Shit!” and heard him running down the hallway above. Upstairs I found carpets soaked and heard water still dripping through the floorboards to the concrete below.

Mark was frantic, pulling towels from the linen cupboard and laying them onto the sodden carpet. When the supply of dry towels was depleted, he used towels from the bathroom and then still more, beach towels from the top shelf.

Finally the water stopped dripping and Mark explained how he had run some water into the basin for a shave, leaving it running to become hot. The phone had rung and, expecting a call, he rushed to the kitchen to beat Karyn to the phone. The call was special, a young lady perhaps, and he had forgotten about the hot tap still running in the bathroom. It had overflowed onto the floor, out into the hallway and then through the wooden floorboards.

There was nothing I could say. I remonstrated about the usage of ALL the towels and we opened windows to try to dry the house out. I phoned Woody to alert him about the wet carpets and flood in the garage. When he arrived home that night, Mark met him at the top of the stairs. “I bet you wished you had stopped having kids after Jeff,” he said.

The bathroom flooring was wrecked and so the renovation of that room began. A much needed new vanity with overflow hole included was installed.

We were still coping with a tiny wooden kitchen where the pantry and the dishwasher could not be opened at the same time. One winter afternoon I had put some meat for the night’s meal inside the microwave on its polystyrene supermarket plate to thaw from frozen. I turned the microwave on expecting the job to be finished in ten minutes and ready when we returned from shopping. However, when we did return, we found to our utter horror, the house filled with acrid, choking smoke. Koko the cat raced outside and we found the microwave billowing toxic fumes and smoke.

Once again, windows were flung open and the blackened mess inside the microwave was removed. It seemed that the machine had malfunctioned and cooked both the meat and plate to a pulpy mess. Although we were coughing, the wind seemed to take the fumes away, the cat returned unharmed and we could carry the now defunct microwave downstairs for disposal.

The wooden kitchen, though, had absorbed the smoke. The shelves and doors continued to emit an evil odour for weeks, even after I had washed them daily. There seemed nothing for it. The kitchen would have to be pulled out and a new one, at great cost, installed sooner rather than later.

My Uncle Ken was a designer of commercial kitchens (as well as being a creative sketcher of slightly vulgar drawings appreciated by our teenage boys). He agreed to take on the task of drawing up a much bigger kitchen for us, one which would take extra space from the hallway at the top of the stairs. We would now enter the kitchen from the staircase.

I drew a rough sketch of what cupboards and drawers were needed and where and asked for a long bench with several simultaneous work stations which would be ideal with teenagers preparing food at all hours. Ken produced a wonderful plan, even including a space for Koko’s food bowls.

We chose a building firm to produce our cabinets, and once again Woody found himself doing building renovation work. He had to move walls and make a new linen cupboard in the old hallway.

It was a momentous day for us when the old smelly wooden fittings and tired bench top were removed and the new kitchen installed.

We ate takeaways for the first night and when all plumbing and appliances were in place we celebrated our new kitchen with our friends Carol and Owen.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.