This Side Up

When it comes time to part with 'sometime things'


The Lazy Susan was the final straw.

For years, the corner cabinet spun in only one direction to expose half of its contents. That’s just the way it was, although by wedging a knife – a butter knife, nothing sharp – where it bound and exerting some force, it would rotate. It really didn’t make it easy to get the olive oil, the barbecue sauce or a variety of condiments that had collected in its confines over the years. In fact, we really didn’t know what was on the Lazy Susan and, from my perspective, I was somewhat wary of finding out.

So, when the Lazy Susan came off her axis and she was forever wobbly, I figured we wouldn’t miss her. Not Carol.

“Can’t you get that thing to open?” she protested. Out came the knife and the “convincer,” or hammer. That worked. Carol retrieved the olive oil, but Susan’s days were done and an era of kitchen remodeling was about to begin.

Don’t attempt to do this unless you’re prepared to deal with a lot of stuff you’ve forgotten you had. In addition to all the “stuff,” remodeling can be daunting, especially if you’re going to go from top to bottom.

Fortunately, Carol and I are of the same mind. We weren’t looking for granite counter tops, indirect lighting and a kitchen that could be featured in a home magazine. We agreed that functional cabinets, a sink that didn’t leak, drawers that didn’t bind and, naturally, a new Lazy Susan was what we needed.

Mike Penta replaced cabinets, a counter and the sink in the Beacon kitchen. The job went quickly, and once we had selected everything at Lowe’s, he was in and out of the office in a couple of days. He and his brother repeated the process when it came to our home. Mike met us at Lowe’s and, using his phone, photographed everything we selected down to the cabinet pull knobs.

But there’s a big difference between an office kitchen area and what is frequently the center of activity at home. For us, it was all the “stuff.” Over the years we had packed our cabinets. We found pots, bowls, plates and countless mugs that hadn’t been used for years. Some items, like a cooper fondue pot with a stand and Sterno burner stand, had never been used. It had lost its shine, but was perfectly good.

Carol filled plastic containers with what she pulled out of cabinets with the intent of only putting back those things we would use. I suggested we go a step further and that for every item we kept, we throw one out or give it away. It was only a suggestion.

How is it that we amass more than we ever need or use?

To do otherwise is to overcome the rationalization that someday we might need it; that someone else might want it; that it would be wasteful to throw it out or that there’s the space, so why not keep it?

There’s more to a kitchen project than replacing cabinets and a Lazy Susan that have long outlived their time. Carol migrated to the cupboards above the cabinets and then into the pantry and the closet that has served as a larder. More and more stuff appeared from behind the veneer of items we occasionally use.

“What’s this?” asked Carol holding up a 3-inch section that had been cut from a carriage bolt. I don’t remember how I acquired this piece of hardware, yet I was certain it was one of those things that I imagined I could use…sometime. Had that “sometime” come, I wouldn’t have recalled that I had saved it or, if I did, where it was.

The “sometime” had come to render the bolt to the recycling bin.

More “sometime” items emerged. Like the bolt, their time had come. Some items found a home in a cardboard box destined for the Salvation Army. Others went into the trash or recycling. And only a few, besides what Carol wanted to keep, were placed aside for the kids to consider.

It’s been a cathartic exercise that has kept Carol humming from early morning to late at night. I dare not intervene and seeing that I didn’t know all that we had, there’s no chance that I’ll miss it.

The new Lazy Susan offers a display of recognizable and useful items. The olive oil is where it should be and so much we accumulated is gone.

You might call it spring-cleaning. I prefer to think of it as a fresh start.

It was time for new kitchen cabinets.


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