64. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Kitchen…

Everywhere I look
Finished walls and doors,
beautiful shiny floors
What a grand place to cook!

Yes, yes, I know. Bad rhymes again. But every time I walk into the kitchen I feel like singing (and dancing on the checkerboard floor). We’re getting close to the drum roll, but not yet. Still no stove. Still no French doors. But we redded up the place on Saturday in preparation for visitors — it is spring after all — and it looks almost like a real kitchen.

Built in behind-the door spice rack

This is the built-in floor to ceiling spice rack. The bottom shelves are larger to hold olive oil and larger bottles.

It was well that we neatened everything up, because we had more visitors on Saturday than we’ve ever had in one day. We even had our first international guests — our son-in-law’s parents from Spain are here visiting. Such a lovely time we had; I would have given anything to speak the same language…

His mom is an artist, and I was so pleased she noticed the kitchen windows. For outside the windows is the green green grass of spring, and inside the windows on the wall is Blooming Grove green.

The inside green and the outside green are separated by the creamy white of the windows, and I love it. I can’t manage a photo of it though. When I take a shot of the grass outside, the inside green is too dark; when I take a shot of the interior walls, the outside blurs. If someone out there in readerland is a photographer and can tell me how to do this, I’d be happy. In the meantime, you’ll have to look at these two photos and pretend.

We’ve also put wainscoting on the short wall that flows out to the peninsula between the living room and dining room. We’re still working on the rest of the wall as it turns the corner. The beam that separates the two rooms has to go up first. This is good because it means that we can finally get rid of these 2x4s that we’ve been walking around and through for the past year.

Hey, the human species is very adaptable — we can get used to almost anything! (Washing dishes in the bathroom sink was tough though…)

We've put the island back in place. A dark oak cupboard will go on the wall next to the green door.

We’ve put the island back in place. A dark oak cupboard will go on the wall next to the green door.

We actually ate dinner in the kitchen on Monday night — on stools around the island — even though the stove is still in the living room. It was still a little too cool to eat on the porch, but it is ready for spring.

And so am I! Give me a gray, rainy day in spring over a sunny day in winter anytime!

50. Perfectionism, Part 1: the curse

All our lives we’re told, “Do your best.” “If you do your best, that’s all anyone can ask.”
And what, exactly, is our best?
How many times can we have a do over?
When and how do we draw the line between “our best” and OCD?
And who ultimately gives us the final grade? Friends? Lovers? Bosses? Ourselves? Society? God?
Oh my. These are such hard questions I’d better stop now and have a cup of tea. I hope you’re having one with me…


Several events have precipitated these musings on perfectionism.

  • The Color of my Kitchen

I spent (or wasted) hours poring over paint samples. After purchasing a sample jar of Benjamin Moore Blooming Grove, I fell in love. There were even signs to let me know I’d chosen well:

I bought a gallon at a store that shall remain nameless. I do have to say that when the mixologist opened the can to show me the paint, I said, “That’s too yellow.”
“No,” he assured me. “It’s Blooming Grove. It will dry darker.”

Blooming grove samples on kitchen wall
On the wall is the paint from the sample can. The cabinet door is divided in half–the bottom is the sample can; the top is from the gallon that would dry darker.
I have struggled with this. I don’t want to be the whiny perfectionist lady customer demanding a new gallon be mixed because it isn’t exactly right.
Nevertheless, one can plainly see that it isn’t  exactly right.
Does God want me obsessing over a paint color, because, in the scheme of the universe, paint color just isn’t that important. I know this. Where does the line fall here?

  • The Last Glitch in the Kitchen Window Process

Two weeks ago we were ready to put up the windows in the kitchen. The left side just had to be finish coated and we were ready to go. As I sat down to paint them (paint poured and brush dipped) I could see that the primer on the glazing wasn’t sticking. So instead of finish coating, I spent the next three hours peeling little strips of paint/primer off the glazed window panes.
There are no photos of this event.
And then instead of putting up windows, we were back to priming/drying/painting/drying.
It was discouraging.
And I wondered as I was sitting on the floor in the late afternoon sun peeling off little strips, “Is this normal?”
Would other people just say, “Oh for goodness sake, just paint the stupid windows and put them up!”

I wanted to do that. But I knew it was peeling. Done poorly. Failed event. Where does the line fall here?

  • Life in General; Rehabbing a Cottage in Particular

I don’t mind little imperfections in wood or paint or people — I myself have little imperfections.
I am not a complete dorky perfectionist all the time. (The jury is still out on Mr. H.C.)
I have buried uncleaned paintbrushes in the bottom of a garbage can because A. I didn’t want to clean them, or B. I did clean them but not good enough and they dried out stiff and I didn’t want any other perfectionist who lives in the house to find them.
I mean, really, one could spend hours cleaning a paintbrush. Or peeling paint from an imperfectly primed window…Or redoing a board because it is a quarter inch off…Or choosing the right color of paint… I don’t have any answers here folks. The age old question — blessing or curse — is still a question. But I can tell you that just last week I read a quote from Thomas Merton (much wiser than I…) who said this:

We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life.

That gives me hope. So does the wise quote from Mr. H. C. who says to me all the time — there’s nothing perfect in this world.

And now I have to go demand a new gallon of paint. (Nicely, of course.)