The geese have been acting broody. It’s strange, considering we just heralded in the New Year. They have been hanging around their plastic kiddie pool and splashing all the warm water out. There’s lots of romancing that happens in that pool. They’ve started pairing off to prepare for the building of a nest and the laying of eggs. But we have three ganders and only two geese, so sadly, there’s an odd man out. That means one gander has to stand watch, keeping an eye out for hawks and coyotes, while the others feather their nests.
I have to say, I welcome this warm weather. I can turn my heater off and not burn that precious fuel oil. But despite my delight in the shedding of parkas and scarves, I wonder what the cost of this mild winter will be. Will we have an overpopulation of mosquitos and fleas when spring really comes around? Will summer be hot as the blazes, forcing our air conditioning bills sky high? Will the drought worsen, crisping pastures, making oaks draw their roots up until they’re at risk of toppling over?
I suppose all these things could come to pass, but for today, I’ll just enjoy this beautiful mild weather.
Johnny’s been benefiting from the warmer days. He’s moved his workshop outside, where he’s building the cabinets for the new kitchen. He ripped all the old ones out. They were dated (circa 1970) and we needed to start from scratch. To save money, he deconstructed the old ones and is using the materials to build new ones. He’s making doors out of beautiful salvaged heart pine that he pulled out of an old barn demolition. The cabinets are going to be beautiful. He’s even using European hinges that he salvaged from somewhere, so the cabinets won’t cost anything (except for his excellent labor).
Our lighting is salvaged too. When Pop was the principal at Union Elementary in Paulding County, they renovated the facility, taking out all the old fixtures and installing new ones. The workers were going to throw the old ones away (circa 1940) but Pop is a good saver and rescued some of them from the trash heap. Thirty years later, he gave them to us. I cleaned them up and they shone like new. Johnny hung them and now the kitchen is bright and cheery.
But despite our thriftiness, and the generosity of our friends and family, there were a few items that hadn’t manifested. I was starting to think about buying an over-the-stove hood. I looked on Craigslist and found several good deals, but they were in the outer reaches (Snellville and Commerce) so the gas I would have spent to go and get them would almost pay for a new one. I was beginning to consider buying one retail (GASP!) but I talked to a good friend who has rental properties and asked if he had anything like that in storage. He said he had a brand new one — white, just like we need it. I asked him how much he wanted for it and he said that since I did some voice work for him (besides being a landlord, he’s also runs a recording studio) he would just trade it straight across. So, our kitchen renovation continues to have cost literally nothing.
I stripped the old dry goods counter. The top was heart pine-beautiful wide planks, but it was covered in years of spilled paint and grime. I jumped on that job like I was killing snakes (which means, for those of you unfamiliar with that colloquialism, I did it fast and furiously, not stopping until it was done). Eventually, I got the paint and old varnish scraped off. I almost gassed myself to death with the paint stripper, but it was worth it to see that gorgeous wood underneath.
Next I took a butter knife and started to excavate the cracks between the boards. There was an astonishing amount of flotsam and jetsam that had collected over the years — the dirt was black like potting soil. I found brad nails, washers, and all manner of miniature hardware buried in the depths. It made me wonder what kind of transactions had taken place across that counter over decades past – the nails and screws that built Carrollton? The cottonseeds that grew the plants that drove the commerce in West Georgia? It’s wonderful having a piece of our community’s history starting a new chapter in our home.
Gentry, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.