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Of cabinets and Seattle and Saturday’s spontaneities

August 20, 2007
Our newly Dover white cabinets

Our newly Dover white cabinets










We do things right at our house. Then we leave.

This has long been our favored pattern. We commemorate the completion of a remodeling project by leaving the house. Sometimes we go away for the day; sometimes we sell the house and move. It all depends.

The regeneration of our kitchen cabinet doors took three weeks: a relatively short-term overhaul event for us. The honey-birch drippy varnished doors and drawers now sport faces of dazzling Dover white. Their classic, well-worn copper-nickel handles, knobs, and hinges have lost their varnish dribbles and gleam in bright marbled bi-metal patterns. A day at the orbital sander, then several evenings of priming and painting, and a few of soaking the hardware in lacquer thinner and hand polishing each piece–even the tiny copper hinge screws–were what it took for my husband to effect the transformation. It takes a lot of work to do something plain well.

So Saturday Vic hung the doors in the morning, noted some targets for further touch-up, and we decided to head to Seattle to see the sights at noon.

So did everyone else.

We sat on I-405 looking at all the cars. So did everyone else. It took an hour and a quarter to drive 35 miles.

We went first to Bellevue, with the heady notion of checking out neighborhoods that could mean less of a daily commute for my husband. I won’t go into how I needed a soda to quell the nausea that welled up as I laid eyes on actual residential Bellevue. That we found it unattractive at any price would be an understatement. I declared it the Anti-City.

Weeds growing on withered roofs, cars parked akimbo all over the narrow streets, the absence of sidewalks, and frequent use of plastic-covered bivouacs for garages flavor neighborhoods of median-priced and above-median homes. Around the corner are two Lexus dealerships for the residents’ convenience.

I was unable to identify a local character for Bellevue. It’s a place with no sense of place. Like its upscale neighbor, Mercer Island, Bellevue is a place founded on the premise of another place–namely, of course, Seattle.

First Avenue into downtown Seattle was slow. We could have made better progress walking, but there was nowhere to park. All the cute restaurants and shops belong to people without cars, because people with cars cannot leave their cars to enter the cute restaurants and shops. So everyone sat in line in their cars, passing all the cute restaurants and shops, very slowly.

We viewed scenic Alaska Way from beneath the Viaduct. We sat in the parking area for 20 minutes behind a line of pathologically optimistic drivers thinking they could park there and walk along the waterfront. I enjoyed the scenery immensely; I never tire of warehouses to my right and my husband’s right shoulder to my left.

By the time we found a place for lunch that had parking, we were in Des Moines. If you’re not from around here, Des Moines is between Seattle and Tacoma, not in Iowa, and it’s pronounced Duh Moinz. Des Moines has a great marina and a reliable Anthony’s, both of which outclass anything that would tempt us to pay for parking in Seattle, much less wait in line for the privilege.

Free parking and low traffic is a Western thing. We expect it in the West. Seattle is not a true Western city. The proof is in the paid parking, the high traffic volume, and the prevalence of metrosexuality. For those new to the planet, that’s a designer look that downplays or obviates men’s masculinity.

But we are seeing the end of the West everywhere. The West lost California years ago.

We returned home gratified to find our next door neighbor’s Big Fat Greek Wedding spin-off already over. Our gleaming Dover white cabinets shone their welcome.

Thinking over the day, I wondered why no one in Bellevue bothered to weed their roofs. Why did entropy take over? Lassitude results from fictive hyped-up equity. A “why-bother” ethos overrides pride of ownership when value materializes from sweat-free equity. Maintenance is no longer a duty, certainly not a joy; the only duty is to sit on a transitory economic deception long enough to spring the trap on someone else.

Seattle is always instructive for me. I always learn more there about what I want least in life.

  1. August 20, 2007 7:29 pm

    And the Mercer Island $16 Cobb salad (which caused us to flee) outclasses even the $6.00 hot dogs in Seattle.

    There are many things we don’t want. It’s good to find them out.

  2. Ruben permalink
    August 21, 2007 10:53 am

    I can’t imagine wanting to weed my roof. Doesn’t the vegetation help to prevent heat loss?

  3. August 21, 2007 11:08 am

    Probably. You really must come out when the roofs are blooming in spring. I hear it’s just…well, never mind, not with your allergies.

  4. Ruben permalink
    August 21, 2007 5:03 pm

    We saw an abandoned house here that had a lot of grass on the roof. I thought it was a nice look and wanted to move in.

  5. kamelda permalink
    August 21, 2007 8:39 pm

    The houses with grass on the roofs here are charming though. South American poverty is so much more colorful than North American neglect.

  6. August 22, 2007 6:49 am

    Exactly, Heidi.

    I wonder if we can find in that a distinction between helplessness and depravity?

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