When context is everything

It’s been quite a week. I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m really glad it’s Monday today. A chance for new, for settled, for picking up where we left off before the new kitchen and the missing cat, and a slice of normalcy (or as normal as normalcy can go on the first day of mid-winter school holidays).

So the cat is back, the kitchen is pretty much done (still some painting and some new blinds to go, but that’s neither here nor there, and both are staying firmly over THERE for a little while thank you very much!). Yesterday afternoon, thanks to my fabulous in-laws, we finally got the old fridge, freezer and ever-so-slightly-falling-apart old flatpack pantry out of the house, and therefore we’re now rediscovering the lounge room under all the excess kitchen stuff. It’s nice. Hey, there’s carpet back there. When did that happen?

Want to see some pictures? You bet I want to show them to you!

OMG there are shelves, drawers, and cupboards for EVERYTHING!

OMG there are shelves, drawers, and cupboards for EVERYTHING!

I love this fireplace. It used to have the old oven in it, and a bunch of useless space around it.

I love this fireplace. It used to have the old oven in it, and a bunch of useless space around it.

It has a dishwasher!! And actually IN the kitchen!! Seriously folks, if yours is in the laundry (like mine has been for years) you should put it in the kitchen. Man those things can change a woman's life!

It has a dishwasher!! And actually IN the kitchen!! Seriously folks, if yours is in the laundry (like mine has been for years) you should put it in the kitchen. Man those things can change a woman’s life!

So there you go. I love it. Feels like there’s so much space, even though the cabinetry takes up more room than the old stuff. And it’s so light, and there’s so much storage! And yes, before you ask, it IS still that clean. Who knew that house work was easy once you had a kitchen where everything had a place? (Even when that place is on the shelf in the bathroom, or under the bed. I know. I need to have a garage sale. )

You know what though? They finished it on Wednesday, packed up all their tools and moved out and let me put all my things back in place, and I sat down on my little white stool at the island bench and I thought…

It’s not right.

All that money, all that time. All that stress. All that but-I-loved-it-while-they-were-building-it. I didn’t like it.

Well, not so much that I didn’t like it. They’d grouted the tiles in an off-white grout, presumably designed to blend in with the off-white tiles and the off-white cupboards. I hated that grout. I hated the way it blended with the colour of the tiles, especially the feature tiles, and made it look just like something out of a Home and Garden spread…from 1983.

Nothing wrong with 1983. It was a good year, really…thirty years ago. And I didn’t spend all that money and all that time and stress and craziness for 1983. You can see it in the photos if you look hard. The grout is kind of orangy, a bit darker than the tiles themselves. It’s not a big thing, not really, but I couldn’t look away. After a few days that ivory grout became the biggest thing in my kitchen, like it had grown into a massive, stressful, kitchen-eating monster.

I know, I know. First World Problem. And here’s me having dreamed of a new kitchen for so long, and there are so many GOOD things, like a dishwasher in the kitchen, a tap that works properly, oodles of storage, you know? But I hated the grout.

By Friday morning I’d made up my mind. I, who’ve been taught well not to make a fuss and to be grateful for what I have rather than complain about what I don’t have, I called the kitchen people and told them…TOLD them, mind you…to fix it. Felt like a naughty kid testing the boundaries and stomping off to my room in a tantrum. Told them.

They fixed it that day.

White grout makes my heart happy.

White grout makes my heart happy.

The new grout 2


I walked into the kitchen on Friday afternoon and saw that new grout, and the mess the disgruntled tilers had left, and just like that a weight lifted off me. It was good.

I know, the stress of the wrong-coloured grout was wildly exacerbated by the craziness of home-upheaval and the worry about the missing (and recently discovered) cat. It certainly hadn’t been an easy week. But in that small moment I realised a good lesson: just as it wasn’t the tiles that were wrong – I’d chosen them carefully – it was the grout, sometimes in life it’s not the big things (like a marriage or a job, for instance) that are wrong, but the little tiny stuff around them, the stuff that’s easily changed. It takes wisdom to see it.

Context is everything.

Making that phone call and getting them to change the grout was worth it.


A change is as good as a holiday

This is a Christmas-newsletter-type post for anyone who wants to know what’s really going on in our lives right now, and for anyone who (like my dear friend Wanderer) has noticed the random nature of my blog topics of late. I do apologise. Feel free to skip this and come back on Thursday if you prefer, when I’ll (hopefully) have something interesting to say.

Or keep reading…

When my dad died in December last year we inherited a decent sum of money from him. This isn’t something we’d fully been expecting, considering he’d been on a pension since 1985, but stranger things have happened. And no, inheriting a decent sum of money doesn’t really make up for losing my dad, who’d only just moved back to our state after a 20 year absence.

So we’ve got money, and for the first time in our married life we can make choices based on what we want/feel is right, not on our financial limitations. We’re putting down carpet in our house for the first time (yes, believe it, the place gets COLD in winter!), and we’re upgrading the kitchen (if you’ve been here you’d know why. It has issues). We were already in process of purchasing a parcel of land and a garage from our next door neighbours, although the original plan for that was to build a granny flat for Dad, who no longer needs it. Any of you who have ever had to deal with council requirements for things like this in Australia (I can’t comment on elsewhere…hopefully it’s EASIER!) will know how hard it is. And, because we can, and because it feels like the right thing to do, we’re packing up the kids and going on a 2-month family vacation to the US and Canada, where I’ll also get to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference in Indianapolis, and pitch my work to people who may…MAY just be interested in publishing it.

Yay. All this and a holiday to boot. We are blessed, incredibly blessed. We know this. There’s no way we’d complain about anything right now. No. Way.

So, I don’t like to talk about the huge amount of furniture I have to move and the difficulty in throwing things out and wondering whether it’s wrong that I’m adding to landfill with children’s toys I’d meant to fix or find the missing pieces for and now I have to get them out of the house…NOW…because the carpet people are coming. And how we’ll live with all our furniture stuck in a kitchen for a day or two, when there are still children who need school lunches and meals to be cooked…and doing it all again when we rip out the kitchen window, and a few weeks later the kitchen benches and stove for a week, it’ll be too late to worry about landfill then…and I need to book the tickets to the US, but first I need to finalise the dates, and make sure there’s somewhere appropriate for us to stay in each place, and convince the kids that yes, they may all be sharing a queen-size bed for a week, three of them together, and that’s just okay. I don’t want to talk about it because, really, this is seriously first-world rich-people problems, and I’m so grateful to have carpet and so incredibly grateful to have a new kitchen and so UNBELIEVABLY grateful to have a family holiday overseas, let alone the chance to pursue my dream of becoming a published author, and my husband’s dream of stepping into business full-time, and…

It’s all so good. So SO good. So good that I don’t want to even mention how incredibly stressful it all is right now.

We. Will. Get. Through. It. It. Is. ALL. GOOD.

But please forgive me if I drop the ball a little bit sometimes, or if I get a bit random in my blog posts, or take a while to reply. A change is as good as a holiday…change of any sort–including holidays–rates on the stress scale.

I’ll talk to you soon. I promise. I just can’t promise to make a lot of sense!