Saturday, December 16, 2023

By the time I get to Reno

Helena's first contact with
the kitchen renovators. (Photo 
taken in a kitchen that isn't ours.)
We just had our kitchen renovated. 

I'm sort of embarrassed at how ecstatic I am about the fact.

Had you asked me a year ago, "Would a fixed-up kitchen make you happy, Peter?" I'd be like, "Of course not. It's just a room."


Entering our bright shiny kitchen is a wholly unanticipated experience. I'm reminded of the  time I first stepped into the Sistine Chapel in Rome. I recall the moment as vividly as if it happened 15 minutes ago. My first thought: "Mom. You have to see this."

I won't describe our new kitchen in detail because I'm really bad at that kind of writing. Instead, I'll tell you how fun and satisfying the renovation was, from start to now. 

What follows are 5 reasons the kitchen upgrade here at Pete's B&G was memorable and uplifting. 

If you think I'm being sarcastic, we've never met.

  1. Azerbaijan

    Emil floored us.
    Yes. The country. This being the first reason took me by surprise, too.

    Emil, the subcontractor who installed our new vinyl floor that I can now glide across in my socks, immigrated from Azerbaijan a few years ago. I've only met one other Azerbaijanian and blogged about her, too. 

    Back in Azerbaijan, Emil was a history teacher and took part in a few Mesopotamian archeological digs. "They're not," he said, "as exciting as Indiana Jones. You're always brushing and wiping little pieces."

    When the time came time to move our fridge (which hadn't been budged since we moved in), I warned Emil, "This might be like one of those digs. Don't be surprised at what you find."

    Then, when he did pull the appliance forward, we discovered a long-abandoned plastic serving spoon. I was like, "Look! They used tools!"

    Emil, clearly a gentlemanly scholar, laughed at my cleverness.

    A few days later I realized I'd missed a chance to channel my late brother Ed with, "That was no ladle that was my knife."

    wanted to know more
    about Stompin' Tom!
    Stompin' Tom

    "Whose signature," Kieran MacDonald asked me the first day of the renovations, "is on your guitar?"

    Kieran--the MacDonald in MacDonald Contracting, the company we hired for the job--entered our living room to discuss next steps but noticed my six string, which has the late singer's autograph a few inches to the right of the pickguard.

    Kieran, who was born in Saskatchewan, has Prince Edward Island-born parents (like Stompin' Tom) and seemed eager to hear about how my guitar got Connors' name magic-marker'd on it.

    Curious people are always interesting.

    Plus he gave me a chance to brag about my guitar. Then and now.

  3. The Kitchen Trio

    DRAIN: Eagles' fan
    Whether you're talking musketeers, blind mice or magi, many of the greatest stories of all time involve three lead characters. (That "kitchen trio" headline was a failed attempt at a Kingston Trio pun.)

    While I'm not saying the appearance or personalities of home contractors is important, when the job is done on time and on budget like ours was--if the heavy lifting's done by charismatic, photogenic and entertaining chaps like Kieran, Constantin and Zaid--that's a huge bonus.

    To whit: While he was adjusting pipes under the sparkling new sink, Constantin let it slip that his conception coincided with his parents' attendance at a '90s Eagles concert. Constantin, is--surprise surprise--a huge Eagles fan.

    (Constantin's revelation sparked me to look up the chart-topper nine months before I arrived on the planet. Singin' The Blues. Go figure.)

    All three of the guys were great conversationalists. Or, as my wife Helena put it, "They listened to your stories and laughed at your jokes, Peter." 

  4. Even this one

    "It's for good reason that the divorce capital of the U.S. is Reno."

    That hilarious play on words is one of those jokes that works way better written than told, because the city of  Reno is pronounced with a long e, unlike the e in renovation. 

    Also, most people under 60  likely don't know "going to Reno" was shorthand for a quickie divorce. Which means that before I could share my joke with  Kieran, Zaid and Constantin, I had to put it into historical context. More work for me,  I know. Still, they laughed.

    When I think about it, I provided those young professionals with so many important history lessons while they were hammering, painting, measuring, drywalling and cleaning up, I'm surprised the job went so seamlessly.

    Baked here at Pete's Blog&Grille
    Breakfast in bed

    My terrific reno joke and the major kitchen makeover notwithstanding, Helena and I remain married. One of us, as a matter of fact,  just had breakfast in bed prepared by the other of us in our glitzy new kitchen.

    If I knew how give to MacDonald Contracting a five-star rating on Yelp I'd do so.

    Rather, I'll  sit here at our kitchen table, admire the shiny new room, do a crossword and be glad that we rescued that little old ladle from behind the fridge. 

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