The carpenter jimmied the claw of his hammer behind the scroll molding at the top of the wainscoting. With a jerk of his wrist, nails hidden beneath white paint and putty squealed—a sound that, along with a dentist’s drill and Britney Spears’ voice, always sets my teeth on edge. He wrenched the molding off the wall, accompanied by more squealing, and began attacking the wainscoting. I stood back as he slipped a chisel beneath the bead board to loosen it, then ripped it off the wall. The zigzag of wood glue that had fastened the sheet to the wall reminded me of an anaconda in a mink coat. And that’s when I choked up.
Crying may seem an odd reaction to seeing our Connecticut kitchen demolished, for the second time, in the name of remodeling. That kind of behavior is typically reserved for after the renovation, when you’re sitting alone at your desk, a half-empty bottle of scotch at your side, checking and rechecking the contractor’s bill. But my emotional blip wasn’t out of any lingering affection for our appliances. One of the professional double wall ovens hadn’t worked in years, and the other couldn’t keep its heat up even if Julia Child herself were cooing into its cracked control panel. The cooktop’s vent was broken and its burners sparked incessantly when turned on. And the side-by-side fridge was trapped in a corner, so we couldn’t open the freezer door more than 70 degrees, rendering it virtually useless. Read more »