Monday, April 26, 2010

History Channel: Our First Kitchen and How I Hate Cockroaches

The love of my life (loml) and I began dating as seniors in high school.  We married 5 years later when I was a senior in college. The loml was in a 5-year program and at the beginning of his fifth year of college we moved into a tiny one-bedroom apartment owned by the college and rented out to married students.  The college, as most colleges seem to be, was not located in a great part of town.  The married-student apartment building was a couple of blocks from the college and further into the bad neighborhood.  My parents visited us there exactly once.  From then on they sent us train fare for us to visit them.  But this is about my kitchen...

The kitchen measured 5' x 7' - wall to wall, not available floor space!  The electric stove was supposed to have 4 burners but there were only 3.    Rumor had it that when a burner didn't work the tenant would throw it away as a way to get maintenance to give them a new one.  It took about 6 months for us to get the 4th burner installed.  I have no idea why we didn't go to the local hardware store and buy a blinking burner.  I guess it was because we were young and didn't know better.
You know how stoves have space between burners - probably because the oven is big enough to hold a large cookie sheet with space around it?  Not this stove.  It was one of those tiny things that you would expect to find in an RV.  Actually, everything in the kitchen was "downsized".  The sink butted up to the stove along the "long" side of the kitchen (long being an oxymoron if I've ever heard one).  Across the short side was a 5' counter which was actually pretty deep (good thing since it was the only available counter space), it butted up to the sink.  And under the counter was the refrigerator.  OK, not as mini as a counter-top refrigerator.  But it was pretty small.  Above the counter was a big cupboard.  This apartment had 10' high ceilings.  The cupboard went all the way to the ceiling.  I am not a tall person.  I could reach the first 2 shelves without a ladder.  After that I had to climb onto a wooden milk box (which loml had found on the street - free furniture!), and then onto the counter to get anything because a) we had no ladder, and b) even if we had a ladder, it would not have fit into the kitchen.

Space was not the only problem with my first kitchen.  The biggest problem was the cockroaches.  Our apartments were sprayed about every 6 months for cockroaches which helped for a short time.  But I sprayed my kitchen at least once a month.  This was a huge ordeal.  I took everything out of the cupboards and put it all into our living room.  I then tightly covered my head (and waist-length hair) with a scarf and changed into my grubbiest clothes.  Shut the sliding-in-wall door, climbed up onto the counter to reach the top of the cabinet and began spraying roach killer along every crevice and seam.  Then I did the same with the next lower shelf, etc.  Roaches flew out of their hiding spots (this was why I had my head of hair tightly sealed in a scarf.) UGH!  Once I finished spraying every nook and cranny with can of roach spray I took out another and taped down the nozzle and let it spray freely while I carefully shut the door behind me and went to sink into a well deserved hot bubble bath!

After 2 years in that apartment (we stayed after the loml graduated for me to finish my Masters in Library Science) we moved from the east coast to the west coast.  Our worldly goods arrived via moving van a few months later, after we found a place to rent.  While unpacking our kitchen supplies I spied a cockroach.  It and all the kitchen boxes got blasted with roach spray.  I haven't seen another cockroach since then.

From my first kitchen I learned to value counter space, full sized refrigerators in which you can store seldom used condiments, lots of freezer space, an oven that holds a full-sized cookie sheet, a stove with 4 working burners, real pantry space, drawers for storing cooking and eating utensils.  And I bow down to my dishwasher (the mechanical one not the loml).  And bugs beware, I am a killer.

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