Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, October 6, 2008

Every Kitchen has its own Dance

Last year I was talking to a group of friends about my small kitchen. "I don't know how we'll all cook in there," I said. My friend, poet Sylvia Alcon, answered, "Every kitchen has its own dance!" She is right, every kitchen DOES have its own dance, you just wiggle around, thread through, juggle, side-step, duck, push, slide, and dance in harmony. What results is not only a great meal, but also great laughs, tastes, talk, and, most important of all, memories of those good moments.

Our kitchen in Maine was a complete non-functional disaster site when we moved in. The counters and back splash were covered with cracked, marbled-blue linoleum. Our cupboards were old plywood stained a dark orange brown. One tiny window allowed only a sliver of light into the room. Circles of fluorescent tubing were our lovely chandeliers. An ugly rusted water heater took up an entire corner of the tiny space, and a non-functioning stove arced a bolt of electricity across the room as we switched it on the first time.

It took my patient husband Jeff weeks to pry bar a thick coating of black linoleum glue off the floors and walls. Instead of replacing the old cupboards, we removed the doors, patched screw holes, and painted the walls and shelves delicious colors, an inexpensive and very do-able solution to stoking up the spark of life in a tired space.

We took our time to outfit the kitchen and chose only things we really loved. First, we visited antique shops, auctions, and flea markets in search of lighting, a stove, and equipment. Our local blacksmith, The Scottish Lion, fabricated hardware, hooks, and pulls in the shape of alewives, one of my favorite fish.  At an antique shop in Damariscotta, we found the perfect stove, a 1920's Hotpoint with a great shape and legs as shapely as my Grandmother Clarke's. I named the stove Augustine in her honor (in California, I have Abigail, short and stocky, just like my Grandmother Lovejoy).

Whimsical vintage kitchen towels were turned into curtains, old hanging lights with glass shades replaced the lovely fluorescents, and hefty slabs of soapstone became our new counters, backsplash, and sink, which Jeff installed. Instead of tile or linoleum, we opted for painted floors, which we can re-paint whenever necessary.

Our kitchen is the result of sweat equity, patience, and love. We did it with minimal costs liberally sprinkled with playful ideas and color, lots of bright, joyful color, which I love in every part of my life.  

Yesterday, I received an e-newsletter from one of my favorite places in Maine, Rabelais Bookstore  in Portland. Lining their walls, stacked on the floor, strewn across tables, and on restaurant trolleys, you will find the BEST selection of books for a kitchen lover. Cookbooks, world cuisine books, wine, gastronomic history, organic gardening and more...but back to their most recent newsletter.

I loved this quote, which is apropos of our times.  "Between the pending elections and the chaos on Wall Street, daily life is tumultuous...Cooking at home for our friends and family is the quiet eye of the storm. The crafting of a savory meal from whatever raw ingredients you have access to is remarkably satisfying and a pure pleasure that costs little and gives back so much." Thanks Samantha, beautifully said. Sign up for the Rabelais newsletter to learn about the best new and antique books available.

Spend time in your own kitchen, gather 'round your table, chew on food and good conversation and enjoy the simple pleasures of life!

All joys to you,