Cathy Hamilton: Woe unto those who remodel

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Now that I’ve written about my kitchen remodel, people are coming out of the woodwork to wish me well, offer advice or, mostly, scare the bejeezus out of me with horrifying cautionary tales.

The other day, I was a guest at a ladies luncheon.

Over chicken salad and dainty cinnamon rolls, the conversation turned to the horrors of kitchen remodeling. It was like listening to war veterans trade battle stories.

“It got so bad, we had to rent a trailer and live in it for the duration,” one woman said. “Parked it right on our property …”

“I know a builder’s wife,” another woman explained, “who waited for a new kitchen for years, only to have it delayed, time and again, because her husband’s customers took priority. Finally, they got around to doing it, but she couldn’t have a warming drawer. Her son said, ‘No, Mom, it’s too expensive!’ It was the only thing she really wanted! Can you imagine? Denied a warming drawer by your own son?!”

The ladies murmured.

“Oh, dear.”

“Tragic.”

“That’s just not right.”

“You think that’s bad,” another one piped up. “I found drywall dust in my closet!”

“The dust!” still another chimed in. “We had it for a whole year afterward!”

“It’s horrible,” agreed yet another. “And, it gets in your hair, too!”

“I went out and bought Head and Shoulders because I thought it was dandruff!!”

After lunch, one woman shot me an urgent “Pzzzzt!” and pulled me around the corner, away from the others.

She whispered, “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”

“Plastics?” I asked, suddenly feeling like Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.”

“Paper,” she replied, her eyes warily darting about. “Paper plates.

“And, yes, plastic! Plastic knives and forks. Use them, landfills be damned! Don’t even think about washing dishes in the bathroom sink. It’ll bring you to your knees.”

The expression on her face convinced me she had learned that lesson the hard way.

“How long ago was it?” I asked, patting her shoulder, assuming the wounds were fresh.

“Fifteen years” she answered, heaving a sigh. “But, you never forget.”

Then, I thought about it symbolically. The kitchen is the heart of the home. Picture your heart, ripped out and destroyed, then painstakingly rebuilt, piece by piece, over several months time.

In the interim, no lively morning banter over coffee and cereal. No happy family dinners around the table where everyone talks about their day and compliments the tuna casserole. Imagine the Cleavers, Bradys or Huxtables without a kitchen. It’s unthinkable!

Clearly, there is a bond — a sisterhood, if you will — between the brave women who have endured the trials and tribulations of this domestic trauma and survived.

Would I survive, I wondered? Could I? Not without heaping helpings of understanding and consolation, I decided. I’m going to need these women — or women like them — when I start finding drywall dust in places I didn’t know had places.

There ought to be a support group for women going through “the change.” A 12-step program or, at the very least, Facebook groups.

I think I’ll start my own, just as soon as I pick out backsplash tile and cabinet pulls, and research the pros and cons of convection ovens. Then, there’s the center island layout, electrical outlet placement and appliance configuration to consider, and, well, I just don’t know when I’ll find the time.

So, if you’ve “been there — done that” and have any advice, I’m all ears. You know where to reach me.

In the meantime, I’ve got to look into warming drawers. I hear they’re the new kitchen “must-have.”

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