Clean up: reclaiming the old kitchen

The girls took care of a huge job for me, in emptying out the old kitchen!

Well. As much as it will be.

Here is how it looks now, while we take a break and get out of the heat.

When we first moved here, my younger brother had his larger freezer where the one in the photo now sits. They moved it out shortly after we moved in, freeing up some space for us.

There was a shelf in the corner, filled with a variety of things hidden behind a curtain. My mother had a thing for putting curtain rods on shelves, then hanging light and lacy curtains to hide the contents. I don’t think she understood that she was damaging the shelves in the process. Mind you, with most of the shelves, it really didn’t make much difference.

This corner is where our current freezer, which had belonged to my parents, used to sit. When I was a kid and we were still using this kitchen, there was a fridge in this corner.

I have zero memory of there being a fridge in this kitchen!

When I started cleaning up the old kitchen before, I had put a utility shelf in this corner. In no time at all, things ended up dumped in front of it, because we had no place else to put them, and it became completely inaccessible!

That corner is where we will be putting the plastic couch from the sun room.

After taking this picture, I took down the curtain over the window that doesn’t have aluminum foil on it. It has a screen, so I tried opening it to get some air circulation, but it would only open half an inch. Ah, well. Better than nothing!

The window with the foil over it is supposed to get replaced. The replacement window is actually leaning against a wall, between the doors to the house and to the sun room.

We are not going to be replacing the window just yet, but I will keep that in mind as we set things up again.

Ah, the old wood stove! This is what my mother cooked on, until the addition was added to the house and we got an electric stove, to go with having running water and an indoor bathroom.

The hinges on the door are broken, as if someone tried to stand on it while open.

There are still ashes in there!!

Eventually, I want to clean it up and pick up some stove blacking – I even found some in one of our local hardware stores.

It’s amazing that this stove was going almost all day, every day, and the kitchen never caught fire. There is NOTHING protecting the walls and floor.

We will not be doing anything to what’s on the shelves in that little nook just yet.

Of course, there were all sorts of things the girls cleared out. The dresser in the photo being one of two larger items, plus lots of things like this sifter screen. It was used to clean the chaff and dirt out of seeds. It’s old and the wood is rotting, but it’s being kept. It’s very likely my dad made it himself. The screen is ordinary metal window screen. The wooden frame was very likely salvaged from a peach basket or something like that.

As the girls took things out, I started hauling some of the stuff either to the junk pile, or into the storage house, which is where that sifter went. I hate that we’re adding things into there. We’ve made no attempt to start cleaning it out. When we do, we’ll definitely need to use masks and gloves. If I can find some coveralls that would fit us, that would be good, too.

Among the things I took in were a large and a small shop vac. When my daughters started talking about using a shop vac on the floors, one of them wondered if the large shop vac worked. I had taken a look at it while carrying it over, I thought that, while it might run, it probably doesn’t vacuum anymore. The little one was

(Aaaannnd… that’s it. I’m done for the day.

As I was writing the above, the phone rang. My sister had taken my mother to the cemetery, and accidentally locked her keys in the car. Long story short, it turns out her car has a combination touch screen she’d forgotten about, but since they were in the area, my mother wanted to see the yard. I am now completely drained. We’ll finish the job tomorrow.)

Where was I?

Ah, yes. The little shop vac. It was wrapped up in a plastic bag, so my daughter didn’t realize what it was. The old kitchen had (and still has) lots of jars that we put into the wagon, so before my daughter had to go back to work, we brought the wagon to the storage house and assembly lined passing them all up the stairs and stacking them in a space I’d prepared for them. Then I brought the little shop vac to the sun room to plug it in and test it out.

It works! So we have a little shop vac – small enough to fit into a grocery bag! – to help clean up the floors. This will be a huge help in the old kitchen, with it’s bits and pieces flooring.

After doing the glass, we stopped to take a break, and I started on this post. Then I got the call from my sister. It turns out she’d tried to call several other people first, including her husband who has spare keys, before being able to reach me. The concern was, there is no shade at all in the cemetery, and it was way too hot for my mother to be in the sun.

So I headed out to go get them, thinking to bring them here to wait for my brother in law – or I could take my mother straight home.

It turned out to be a moot point. I got to the cemetery, and there was no car! Clearly, they’d gotten it open.

Then I saw a car I’d passed on the way over, coming back up the road. I haven’t seen my sister’s newer car in a while, so I hadn’t recognized it. I learned she’d gone to the house closest to the cemetery (which is off the main road and cut into the bush) to make the calls, since her cell phone was locked in the car along with her keys. After reaching me, she got through to her husband, who told her to just use the combination. She’d forgotten there was one! Along the frame of the driver’s side window is basically a touch screen of numbers. She didn’t remember the combination, but her husband did, so they were able to get in. I guess they were on the way to the farm when they saw me going by and turned around.

Since they were there, my mother wanted to come see the yard. She insisted, she didn’t want to come into the house (stairs are difficult for her). I had already told them we had emptied the sun room and old kitchen, and everything was spread out in the yard. They were okay with that, so I sent a message to my family to let them know the situation, and off we went.

What does it say that I get better cell phone reception at a cemetery in the bushes than we do here at the farm? 😀

Once we arrived, my sister parked in the shade of the yard. I asked her if my mom had brought her walker, and she hadn’t, so I went and got my father’s walker. We keep it handy for times like this (and in case I ever need it!). My sister and I also moved the plastic couch into the shade of my mother’s white lilacs, for later.

We then did a tour around the yard, and it was about what I expected. My mother had no real interest in the progress made, and all the interest in the things she didn’t like. Oh, I’d pulled up the spirea over there! Yes, Mom. It was spreading and killing things off. I want the lilacs, not the spirea.

Which is when she told me she had also tried to keep up with pulling them out of that spot, too.

And why did I want those piles of sticks all over the place?

I don’t want them there, but we have to put the branches somewhere. They will be cleaned up in time.

We went around to the old stone cross my late brother had salvaged off a building he’d demolished, which was another area I’d pulled up spirea. I’d been given a hard time about that, too, but now the area is filled with wildflowers. My mother had already graciously given me permission to pull up the spirea in that area. There is one patch of spirea by the storage house that we are keeping. The butterflies and other insects just love them, and it’s a place where we can keep it under better control. My mother was, at least, happy to see how well the grapes are doing (no comments on their no longer being buried in spirea and now on a trellis, though), only to launch into how I need to water them. I really have to water them, because they’re under a roof (meaning, the eaves of the storage house), and they’ll do really well if I just water them.

Yes, Mom, I know how to water plants.

She didn’t know what to make of the cucamelons.

Then we started walking towards the old garden area, and she could see the sunflowers at the far end.

What are those sunflowers doing there? Did you plant them?

Yes, Mom. We’ve been talking about that a few times, now.

What are those over there? Are they squash?

Yes, those are squash.

*long pause*

Oh, there used to be such a beautiful garden here! It used to be so beautiful!

*sigh*

She couldn’t, of course, go into the garden, because it is so rough. My sister and I went down to the end of the apple trees, and she had a few things to say about the horrible plow job. The summer before we moved here, she and her husband were the ones trying to cut the lawn in the area. The problem is that, instead of plowing in straight rows in the same direction, so the furrow overlap each other, my younger brother had gone in circles, instead. That left the mounds the were are now struggling with. We’re not sure why he did it this way, but my sister suspects alcohol was involved! 😀

Since I’d mowed a path, my mother was able to go through the maple grove with her walker, all the way to the old willow tree that we’d lost a big chunk of in a blizzard last fall. My sister remembers that tree being huge, even when visiting at the farm before my parents bought it. Then we went over to the fire pit, and I told my sister about how I found the bricks around it. She was amazed, partly because she remembered those bricks being there, and didn’t realize they’d been completely covered.

I tried to talk to my mother about some of the plans we had, but she wasn’t interested. Instead, she wanted to go to the storage warehouse, where almost all the things my parents left behind are now packed away in. I managed to convince her to first stop for a rest in the shade. After a nice rest and hydration, we made out way over.

She actually insisted in going inside, struggling up the few stairs to get in. The building is jam packed, with only a couple of narrow areas to walk in, but she squeezed her way through. Some of the cardboard boxes have started to collapse under the weight of their contents, and I found some things that could not be boxed where knocked onto the floor, including a little mirrored altar of my mothers. The original crucifix was long gone, and another had been put in it’s place. We found that on the floor. My mother decided to take it with her. It turned out to be the first gift she and my dad received, when they got married! Then she started pulling out the large framed pieces, eventually digging out a print of Mona Lisa.

She ended up taking that with her, even though she had nowhere to hang it!

Then she started digging at the end of the path, trying to reach something. There was a bunch of curtain rods from when we cleaned out the sun room, originally. I convinced her to let me get them for her, but when I asked which she was after, she’d completely ignored me. So I grabbed several and held them for her while she picked a couple of the least damaged ones.

My sister and I eventually persuaded her to stop trying to rearrange things and start heading out.

Then she decided she wanted to go into the storage house.

!!!

My sister immediately pointed out how difficult it would be for her to get up those stairs. I had to plead with her, not to go in. I reminded her of her breathing problems, telling her I’d been in and out of there several times, and my own lungs were starting to burn from it (as I type this, I can still feel my throat burning from talking so much, after being in there). I promptly got told that I needed to leave the doors and windows open to get the smell out. I told her it needed a major cleaning, plus there are no screens on the windows, and I didn’t want anything to get in and get trapped (my sister says that’s probably how the dead squirrel that is now a skeleton on the kitchen floor got trapped in there). She still insisted I should leave the door open and open windows.

What was it she was after in there? Maybe I could get it?

It turns out she was worried about a pair of brass candlesticks, and whether they were still there. They are actually a pair of menorahs, and I assured her, they were still on the shelf, covered with a light curtain. Oh? I didn’t cover them! was her response. Well, someone did. They’re still there.

In the end, my sister and I ended up going into the storage house, and we each grabbed a candlestick, took them to the door and showed them to her.

As we put them back, my sister and I were talking for a bit, but I just couldn’t stay in there any longer. My lungs were burning. Even my sister was already noticing it affecting her, so we headed out. I got more lectures on how I needed to leave the door open, and how I need to clean things. Eventually, my sister pointed out that I had stopped cleaning things, and they should probably leave so I could get back to it.

Which they did, but by then, I was done. That hour or so with my mother drained more energy out of me than two days of working on the sun room and old kitchen. I would so love to have a better relationship with her, but she just can’t seem to find anything good to say, without undermining it with by making sure I know what a bad job I’m doing, or how wrong what I’m doing it, etc. I’ve reached a point in my life where she can no longer hurt me, but my goodness, it just sucks the energy right out of me! She couldn’t even resist making a snarky comment about the sweatpants I was wearing; the ones I wear when I know I’m going to be doing dirty manual labour, that used to be my husband’s. They have elastic around the ankles, to help keep the wood ticks out. No recognition at all that I dropped everything to go and get them when they were stuck at the cemetery, and that’s why I was still in my grubbies.

But I did get a lecture about how she won’t be around forever, and after she’s gone, we’ll remember and miss her.

*sigh*

I wouldn’t be surprised if my mother lived to be 100. For all her complaining, she’s got an amazing constitution. Even when she had abdominal surgery and they kept her in the hospital for a week, she recovered faster than when I had a much less invasive day surgery! I was about to say she could get hit by a truck and survive, but… she’s already done that.

So I’m done. Wiped out. Exhausted. Not physically, but mentally.

My daughter headed out to secure some of the stuff so they won’t blow away. I’m going to go do the watering with fertilizer I’d planned on doing, once things cooled down a bit.

I’ll at least be able to say I finished one thing, today, after that!

The Re-Farmer

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