Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Miracle of the Kitchen Cupboards, Part 2

(Part of the kitchen cupboards. To the left was the fridge with an overhead cupboard and a then there was a full length pantry cupboard. We purchase the stove at a church rummage sale for $25.)

Story continued.....

For a while, it didn’t seem possible that I could ever have kitchen cupboards. Then, I remembered prayer. At first, I felt guilty about praying for something as superficial as kitchen cupboards. After all, I had a roof over my head and food to eat. There were lots of people in the world who would have thought our electricity, telephone service (even if it was an eight-party line), and running water made us wealthy beyond belief. I remember kneeling down in the living room and praying, “Heavenly Father I know there are people in Africa who don’t have enough to eat, but if I don’t get kitchen cupboards soon I am going to go crazy! Please help us find a way to get kitchen cupboards…..”

While I was coping with the mess of a cupboard-less kitchen my sister, Bev, and her husband, Joe, a Captain in the U .S. Coast Guard, were stationed in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. According to Bev, the only thing noteworthy about Elizabeth City was its proximity to the Great Dismal Swamp and a factory that made cabinets. Bev once mentioned to me that the cabinet company that sold their “seconds” out of a shop not too far from her house. “Seconds” were cabinets that didn’t quite make the grade as far as the manufacturer was concerned. For example, the finish on “seconds” was not up to the manufacturer’s specifications, or a “second” might have a small nick in it.

An imperfect finish or a nick seemed like a small matter to us, having no cupboards at all. Wilbur drew up a plan of the kitchen with measurement and explanations of the cabinets we would need and sent the drawing to Bev. She visited the shop on my behalf and found there was next to nothing in the shop that day. But the shop’s proprietor told her to keep checking back. The proprietor was dubious about the prospect of finding all the cabinets we needed for our kitchen, but he thought Bev might find one here and one there if she looked in from time to time. Overall, the prospect of rounding up enough cabinets from this source was not encouraging. For some inexplicable reason, though, I felt my prayer was heard. A faint hope and a spark of faith whispered to me that we would somehow get kitchen cabinets.

One day a few weeks later, Bev dropped in again at the cabinet shop. The man running the shop said, “Well you picked the right day to come in! I just got in a big shipment of cabinets. I have a list of people waiting for cabinets. Every one of these pieces has been spoken for on my list, but since you are here, I’ll let you have anything you want.” Bev found every type of cabinet we needed for our kitchen for $600.00. This was a miracle. A complete, unadulterated miracle equal to the parting of the Red Sea and walking on water. A miracle.

Next, we had the problem of how to get the cabinets from Elizabeth City, NC to Montana. The cost of shipping would easily exceed the price of the cabinets. We would have to save for another year come up with shipping costs, even if the economy improved and we had more work.

Miracle number two occurred. Bev and Joe were being transferred from Elizabeth City to Alaska. As is common for service families, they were coming to visit Mom and Dad and staying in our city for a few weeks between their tours of duty. The cabinets were still technically Spoja property. So they were packed with the Spoja belongings and delivered free of charge.

I will never forget the Saturday that Wilbur, with the help of our neighbor Roger Nummerdor (who just happened to be a carpenter) installed my kitchen cupboards. We tried to pay Roger, but he just waved any idea of money off. Being a native Montanan, Roger would no more take money for helping out a neighbor than he would insist on pay for helping his Mom change a flat tire.

At the end of that Saturday I stood back and admired my wonderful, complete kitchen. Counters, cupboards, a new stainless steel kitchen sink; this was luxury of the highest order! I could clean my kitchen and it looked clean! I had a place to chop vegetables. Opulence! Lavishness! If the finish was not up to par or any nicks existed in my kitchen cupboard “seconds,” I was blind to these circumstances. I enjoyed having those cupboards every hour I lived in that house.

I suppose there are some who would say my kitchen cupboards were the result of coincidence. To me this is as ludicrous as saying the breath-taking orchid, exquisite yellow bell, or unique shooting star exist merely as a result of evolution. I know that cannot be true. Yellow bells and shooting stars bear witness of a caring, loving Supreme Being who delights in showering us with blessings of all kinds, not just those that sustain our lives. My kitchen cupboards bear the same witness. A struggling young family of four living in a daylight basement house during a recession, we had the necessities of life and more. But Heavenly Father was not a disinterested observer in our lives who would rather not help us. He is not chintzy, and His help was not limited to assisting us with the necessities only. He had both love and compassion for the young mother who was struggling with the ugliness and disorder of block and board shelves. When that young mother prayed, He answered her prayer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Miracle of the Kitchen Cupboards, Part 1

It was 1980 and we were moving into our new house on Diamond Springs Drive, north of Lincoln Road. Even though it wasn’t finished, the house was an improvement over the 10 x 55 ft. Kit trailer we had lived in. But it didn’t have any kitchen cupboards, or any finished cupboards period. The floors were concrete which we had painted with a floor paint. The paint made it possible for us to be able to sweep the floors more easily and to prevent concrete dust from sweeping up every time we swept.

Over the next year, Wilbur did extra jobs after work and on Saturdays. This extra money allowed us scrape together enough to have carpets installed, but kitchen cupboards were far and away too costly. Having kitchen cupboards was about as possible for us as a second home in the Bahamas.

About a week after we moved into the house, lightening struck our well and fried the pump. A new pump was $1000. We had no money to pay for a new one, so Pacific Hide and Fur allowed us to purchase one on credit if we paid it off in a month. Paying off the new pump took all our money, so I had no money for groceries. We ate chicken pot pie almost every day for a month until we could shop again. Fortunately, Wilbur likes chicken pot pie.

Since I had no cupboards, I had shelves in my kitchen built with block and boards. I stacked food, pans, dishes and other cooking supplies on the block and board shelves. My kitchen sink was from my parents’ old house on Third Street. They had remodeled their kitchen in the early 1960’s and had removed the old cast iron sink. Being of the generation that survived the Great Depression, they didn't throw things away. My parents had stored the old sink in their basement. They allowed us to have it since we had no money to buy a new one.

I lived without kitchen cupboards for almost two years. It wasn’t easy for me, though. The kitchen always looked cluttered and messy. Once we had the missionaries for dinner. One elder didn’t make any secret of the fact that he was appalled by our house and didn’t want to be our guest. The worst part was when I found mouse droppings in the package of spaghetti I had sitting on my board shelf. To be continued.....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

High Fashion

Next time I am thoroughly disgusted by a current fashion, I should try to remember that fashion excesses are nothing new. And some of them even come back in style: note the big flower in my Grandma's hair. She could wear that today.

I admit I feel sorry for Arthur Mason dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy, a popular novel of the time. I am astounded that Arthur's Dad let his Mom dress him that way.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Accident on Third Street

When I was a pre-schooler, I remember asking my Dad about the scars all over his hands and face. Looking back, I realized that when I first asked those scars were recent. When my Dad was older, I don't remember seeing them, so maybe they became less apparent over time. At any rate, the scars were an emotional subject for my Mom. I remember her telling me about a fire in the basement of our house. It was bad enough that she called the fire department.

At that time, people believed that cold water was the worst thing you could put on a burn. They believed putting butter or another oil was the best thing for a burn. I cringe to think what my Dad suffered.

Mom also told me that there was snow when this happened. She was on her way home from St. John's Hospital when the car she was driving slid backwards at a stop sign near Rodney Street because of the slippery streets. To add insult to injury, a police officer ticketed her. When she went before the judge, she explained what happened. The judge said in a disgusted tone, "Oh that was ______." Apparently this officer was notorious for issuing unwarranted citations. The judge dismissed the ticket.

Another interesting fact of this incident is that the Lieutenant Brockway mentioned in the article was the grandfather of one of my good friends in middle school.

My Dad fully recovered. And I never, ever saw him with gasoline or fire in the same place at the same time.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Resolutions

1) Be able to win a Reece Witherspoon look-a-like contest by September.

*Alternatively: Make a concerted effort not to look in the mirror too closely at the wattle I seem to be forming

2) Keep a positive mental attitude.

*Alternatively: Limit whining about going to work full time to every other day.

3) Keep my speech free from all swear words.

*Alternatively: Limit usage of "oh crap" to once a day.

4) Walk four miles every day and do yoga three times a week.

*Alternatively: Go hiking with Eloise every week and leave the chocolate peppermint brownies at home.

5) Keep the house clean enough to show to all our acquaintances at a moment's notice without embarassment.

*Alternatively: When company comes, hide all clutter in the mudroom and blame any mess I miss on Wilbur.