19 Aug Hanging Doors
Jillâ€™s had the crockpot on all week, boiling antique door hardware in soapy water. Every time I get near the thing, the fumes nearly make me gag. Weâ€™re going into the third week of working non-stop on our pantry project.. Youâ€™d think such a little room wouldnâ€™t need all that, but this is a Victorian butlerâ€™s pantry, twelve feet deep, four feet wide, with windowed doors to the ceiling. It has demanded every skill we possess. Weâ€™ve run new electrical lines, rebuilt cabinets, stripped paint, tiled a wall, re-glazed windows, plumbed a sink, milled wood, caulked, glued, nail-gunned, and then hung 14 cabinet doors, with eight more to go.
Nothing is harder than hanging doors in an old house. If the door frame is crooked and the door itself is warped and youâ€™re not sure where to place the hinge, the work can go on for hours. We take for granted all a door must do. Itâ€™s surprising that hinges can hold the weight theyâ€™re assigned. Surprising too that a door can swing so much and meet its target every time without binding or jamming.
We turn the radio on full blast while we work, tuned to the local alt-rock station (WTMD). Yesterday Iggy Popâ€™s â€œLust for Lifeâ€ came on and I decided itâ€™s got to be his best, but I couldnâ€™t help thinking of the Carnival Cruise advertisement that uses the tune as the soundtrack to a montage of frolicking middle-class thirty- and forty-somethings who would probably be appalled if they were to meet Mr. Pop himself. I can hardly blame Iggy for selling the song. Iâ€™d have done the same. Still, it blunts the edge considerably.
ACure tune came onâ€”you may remember the doleful, brooding bad boys of the eighties — and I called to Jill: â€œWhatever happen to the Cure?â€ She said: â€œThey got old.â€ â€œOh, thatâ€™s a sad thing to say,â€ I told her. As it turns out, the Cure have a new album. It sounds pretty good, just as angst-ridden as ever. Only problem is, when I tried to go to their website it said, â€œpage not found.â€
Earlier this week I was shopping at Sav-A-Lot, a bottom-of-the-barrel grocery store (Iâ€™m a sucker for a bargain), and was startled to hear a Miles Davis tune drifting from the PA. And it wasnâ€™t your run-of-the-mill Miles Davis. It was â€œJeruâ€ from â€œBirth of the Cool.â€ Hearing it at Sav-A-Lot was like seeing Madonna shopping at Wal-mart.
Big Steverino came by this week to drop off the ruined butlerâ€™s pantry cabinetry we bought from him. The thing was massively overbuilt and has massive hinges and latches, which Jill has boiled cleaned. We salvaged what we could. Much of it was water-damaged. In stripping the wood, we discovered that the cabinets had been originally grain-painted. The drawers are made of walnut. The countertop is a single slab of 24-inch pine. You canâ€™t get wood like that nowadays. We donâ€™t have trees that big any more.
As happens whenever we rehab, I have arranged an unrealistic deadline: this weekend, when weâ€™re expecting a houseful of guests. The steel shop manager says he canâ€™t guarantee heâ€™ll get our pantry counters covered in stainless by that time. Also heâ€™s informed me that his shop doesnâ€™t attach the steel to the counter â€“ Iâ€™ll have to do that after I get the pieces back from him. The counters were supposed to be finished last week but the shop that was going to do it got caught up in a last minute corporate order that bumped me out of the queue. After eight years of rehabbing, Iâ€™m used to deadline pressure and the imminent prospect of not getting everything done or done right or done at all. It has taught me a kind of patient fatalism. Jill says if we donâ€™t have the counters, weâ€™ll just put down plywood. I canâ€™t help but love a woman who thinks like that.