Ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen is now green. Green as a grasshopper, green as grass, green as Crème de menthe.
So this is our kitchen, turned from Chinese Red to Dill Green. It is quite green. Actually, it is very green. I had my doubts at first--came home after work on Friday and the house was still such a wreck, the painter was still here, not done, his buckets and drop cloths and pails full of tools all over the back porch (and the kitchen, and the dining room), the doorknob to the garage service door had suddenly somehow broken, a storm was coming, the air was sticky and close, and it was hot, so hot--98 degrees, the carpeting was dense with dusty footprints and blades of grass and dog hair and spackle dust, the cabinet doors were still piled up in the dining room, as was the kitchen ceiling lamp, and the whole house smelled like dog.
The painter looked harried. Painting around all the cabinetry was meticulous, time-consuming work, and while he was almost done in the kitchen he admitted that he hadn't yet done a thing with the upstairs bedroom, beyond what he had done three days before--pulling all the furniture out, stacking some of it in the upstairs hallway, and slathering big gobs of spackle on the walls.
"That's OK," I said magnanimously. "You can finish that next week."
At this, he looked even more harried. "Yeah, I was meaning to talk to you about that," he said. Turns out he had another job lined up, an emergency job, that would take two weeks, three at the most, and then he'd come back right after that and finish the bedroom. He said he'd put all the furniture back and sweep the floor before he left that night.
He is such a nice guy, so soft-spoken and careful and skilled at his work, he wears such bewildered-looking pop-bottle glasses and seems so shy, what could we say?
We sat on the front porch and had a beer while he finished up, and the sky grew darker and thunder rumbled, and I plucked at my shirt, trying to get some air, and Doug got up to help Joe load up his truck. The TV reported tornadoes in western Minnesota, and hailstones the size of softballs.
So we told Joe not to worry about the bedroom, just to get home before the storm broke, and it wasn't long after he left that the sky opened and the rain came down in torrents and, briefly, the tornado sirens went off.
So I was cranky on Saturday morning when we got up to a house just as messy as it had been all week, the bedroom not finished, the garage doorknob still not working, and the kitchen perhaps overly green.
And company coming for dinner.
It was the company, I think that saved the day--a quietly funny, intelligent guy Doug worked with at his old job. We knew we had to get the house cleaned up before he arrived at 7 p.m., and we did--dusting, shaking, sweeping, vacuuming, cramming the toaster, the cutting boards, the coffee carafe, all of Boscoe's medications into cupboards instead of cluttering up the countertops.
It didn't take all day, but it took a big part of the day. We napped. We showered. And at 7, when Chris showed up (on his bicycle, such an intrepid young man), the house was clean, the coals were lit, the beer was cold, and he walked in and said, "Wow, your kitchen looks great." And it did.