Coffee heat rising

What Possesses People?

What possesses them, indeed? Poltergeists, maybe. Wisps of madness?

The people in question today: the previous owners of the Funny Farm, lovingly known as Satan and Proserpine. These two were inveterate DIYers. Satan, as far as I could tell, sweltered his way through one of the most boring day jobs known to personkind. So he filled his off-hours with creative renovation projects.

Some of the things, he did very well, indeed. He did a great job on the tilework that covers about half the house’s floors, and my tile guy said he did a fine job installing travertine on the shower walls. But…

But…what you wonder about is their taste in materials.

That travertine, for example, has to be stripped and resealed every six months. Hence: I never use the shower, because there ain’t a chance I’m a-gonna strip three walls full of stonework and reseal it in a tiny closet of a bathroom that has no ventilation to speak of. Except out its door and into the bedroom… 🙄

Then there’s the kitchen cabinetry. It’s all custom-ordered from Home Depot. They bought top of the line boxes: maple. Practically indestructible. The stainless steel of wood, as it were.

But they faced it with…hang onto your hats…PINE.



Used every day.


Pine has got to be the softest wood known to personkind, at least this side of balsa. Look funny at it, and it dents.

All around the pull for the drawer holding the tableware, it’s dented up…from my fingernails touching it! You understand: I do not wear acrylic nails, and my nails are about as sturdy as paper. Usually they’re broken off flush with the pads of my fingers, they’re that soft and weak. But if a nail taps that pine facing as I reach for the drawer pull, it’ll dent the damn wood.

And put a 90-pound dog in there, one who knows the doggy treats are on the kitchen counter and so is that steak you left out while you were firing up the barbecue? Yeah…

Great long doggy gouges. Whenever Charley tries to investigate the riches atop the counter, he scratches up the woodwork. Big time.

Run the vacuum cleaner along the baseboard, parallel to the cabinets? Leave long scratches and gouges all along the bottom of the cabinet doors.

Pine??? What on earth could they have been thinking?

Had friends over for dinner last night and realized the cabinets were getting kind of embarrassing. So this morning began the job of rubbing them all down with English Oil. This will take two or three days, because it’s a job I hate. And because I hate it, I haven’t done it in quite a long time. (Read: years) And because I haven’t done it in such a long while, the cabinetry needs to be cleaned with Murphy’s oil soap: blots of grime scrubbed off around the drawer and cabinet pulls, layers of greasy dust scrubbed off the tops of the cabinet doors and the microwave…and on and on.

And that would be why I hate the job.

The other reason, I suppose, is that every time I have to take it on, I’m mystified by the stupidity of facing high-use cabinetry with a soft wood that dents at the touch of a fingernail.

It’s annoying. Very annoying.

And really, if I had a job and an income, it would be an expensive annoyance. Because if I could afford it, I’d have those cabinets refaced.

Putting something on there that would hold up better would cost an arm and a leg. Maple would look nice, though it might be a little lighter than I’d like. It’s very tough, anyway. Red oak would probably look pretty good in there, and it’s said to be fairly durable…and passé. Very passé.

Hilariously, when I was looking at the house to buy it, Proserpine remarked (proudly!) that they had designed their “gourmet” kitchen for “people who love to cook”!!

Yeah. If by “cooking” you mean “heating stuff in a microwave.” 😀

They removed the ceiling-hung cabinets the builder had installed over the sink and counter dividing the kitchen from the family room. Aesthetically, this was a good move: it opens up the space and allows people in the kitchen to see and interact with people in the family room. In theory, you could put an idiot box in the family room and then whoever was working in the kitchen could watch TV while she was cooking and cleaning up.

Not that there’s much cleaning up after a microwave dinner. But whatEVER.

Brains-wise, though, this was not such a great strategy: it removed half the kitchen’s over-the-counter cabinetry. Then they replaced the cabinets that flank the stove with shallow boxes that, despite their pretty glass-fronted doors, will not hold a standard dinner plate!!!!!

So this means you have no place to put your dishes except in the deep drawers intended for pots and pans.

Know how much a set of Heath stoneware weighs?

Yeah. Back in the 1970s, we had real stuff, with real heft. I still have it, and I still use it. Every day.

So far, the dinnerware drawer has not given way under the weight of eight heavy stoneware plates, eight salad plates, eight bread-&-butter plates, eight soup bowls, and eight smaller bowls. But IMHO, that is some kind of miracle.

It’s not exactly a nuisance. But it’s weird.

Then those fine glass-fronted upper cabinets…they don’t hold an ordinary wine glass.

No. Stemware is too tall to fit in the shelves.

If you move a shelf, then you make the space for the shelf above your wine glasses too narrow to hold much more than a yellow pad or two. Nice.

Sure can’t afford to replace all the kitchen cabinetry. But maybe someday I can have it refaced. Or not. The doors and drawers that got oiled this morning look pretty nice. If I would just get off my duff and polish the woodwork about once a month, they’d be fine.

I guess…