The Swine Flu (Potential) Pandemic of Aught-Nine: Day 2–And IKEA Kitchens

First, the swine flu.

I am relieved to report that not only has the number of deaths in Mexico been downgraded to 61 (from 68)*, but that the number of cases in New York City has even dropped as of this morning. When I woke up in the middle of the night to service Fella and get a drink of water, the laptop on stand-by beckoned to me from the table, so I checked the CDC Investigation page (as has been my habit during the Swine Flu [Potential] Pandemic of Aught-Nine), but I didn’t document it. (It was the middle of the night, people.) There were nine cases in NYC, but not anymore.

The CDC Update on US Cases of Swine Flu A (H1N1):
April 26, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
California: 6 people
Texas: 2 people
New York City: 8 people
Ohio: 1 person
Texas: 2 people

So we’re up to twenty with no fatalities, and down to 61 fatalities in Mexico (a reduction of more than 10 percent!), and the churches there are empty. The night could have taken a more horrific track, but it didn’t. The Hong Kong ban of imported pork products is a little strange, but whatever they did got them through the SARS epidemic without the government collapsing, so I can see why they would do it again. Here on the front lines, no one I know has gotten sick, although the house cats seem remarkably thirsty. It’s easy to jump to the diabetes conclusion because that’s what Poor Old Chester died from in 1994, but it’s far more likely that these two cats are actually drinking out of their water bowl in the kitchen because we’ve been keeping the bathroom doors shut on account of Filly’s unfortunate penchant for climbing onto bathroom vanities to get to medicine cabinets now. The water cups and sinks that used to provide some water are now off limits to Puff and Sam. Plus the weather is warmer but they are as furry as ever. The swine flu is affecting us all.

*Well, the WHO is saying 81 people have died according to this article, but the same article also reports it as 68 so whatever. Maybe they are splitting hairs about “pneumonia” and “flu” deaths, or maybe they are rushing to press and sloppy.

IKEA to the Rescue!

Except, apparently, the Swedes, who are so confident in their health infrastructure and cold climate that they are wantonly putting their IKEA kitchens on sale through May 3rd. 20 percent off if you buy 3 appliances; 10 percent off if you do nothing but cupboards. We are sorely tempted, Gentle Reader. Our kitchen has been dissolving since we purchased this place, and the idiots who owned it before the people who sold it to us decorated the whole damn thing in pink, teal, silver, and mirrors. Most of it has been gotten rid of, but we’ve been working with this gray laminate and white appliances kitchen that had been cosmetically “improved” with the cheapest materials possible, using the original appliances, which are too small to replace. When we changed out the cooktop last year, we had to chisel away tile to make the hole big enough for the replacement. We grouted some pieces back into place, but it looks like it’s been chiseled away and grouted back into place. The sink is a shallow disgrace original porcelain scratchjob, also cemented beneath the countertop, which means that to replace it you have to bust up the tile above it. The double oven to the left are against the wall, and so narrow that if you wanted to replace it, you’d have to remove more tile to fit the space, or cut a big hole in an existing cabinet below the cooktop and have a gaping hole where the oven used to be, unless you covered it with a mismatched door.

Long story short: kitchen = broken.

This time the yearly sale coincides with Fella’s graduation to IKEA Playroom Qualified, so I’ve been there quite a few times over the last few days getting marketed to. And tempted. It doesn’t help either that two summers ago I went through the whole rigamarole of actually measuring my kitchen and fooling around with prices and installers and measurements and all the numbers are still in place. I’m rethinking the aesthetics, though–I have been stuck on the Liljestad design, which is darker wood. Husband pointed out today that the light in our kitchen/dining room is sort of bad, and that the dark wood would kill it. He’s probably right, although I feel like we could get away with it, because there is a window on a wall that would be entirely unadorned (it’s free of cabinets now) and the kitchen is open to the dining room, which has a half-wall above the living room, which has a sliding door opposite the kitchen window. The dark would probably would not change the natural light, but the ceiling lights are pretty sucky. It could come back to haunt us.

So this year they’ve got a new style called SOLAR (with two dots over the A). I really like SOLAR, but it’s pretty much the same color as our floors in the dining room–a caramelized bamboo–that we were trying to match in the kitchen if we ever redo it. So I am leery, a little, of  matching the carpets and the drapes, as it were. I don’t even like theory of cabinets and floors in the same color. Considering how much of the cabinets you’ll see from the basically same room dining room, even if we put in a different color floor it seems like it would still be the same problem. I have no interest in putting bamboo in the kitchen, but I do have this fantasy that we can find a linoleum that is almost the same so the dining room floor feels like it continues into the kitchen for a quasi-unified look. The problem with SOLAR is that it is base cabinets only; I don’t want the white laminate up top if I have this neat wood-looking stuff below. A trip to the IKEA store itself solved a lot of problems.

Turns out that the Medium Brown Adel is the winner! It’s redder, so it won’t really match the floors, it’s got a simpler silhouette, so it doesn’t cost as much as the Liljestad (and it’s WAY less than the fancy new SOLAR), and it has a quasi-Shaker design that has appealed to me for years. It’s got a windowed door and a solid door option, and it looks like wood instead of like office furniture. We may even be able to salvage the paint job in the kitchen already, with touch-ups done with the leftovers! It looks so much different in person than in the catalog or online that I couldn’t believe it was the same product. I just hope that it’s not being oversold in some kind of uberflattering store light and that it looks just as nice in our house.

The floor is the biggest decision (after how to do the countertops–tile, but what kind and designed by whom?), but it’s something I really think we can delay for a while. It’s gray ceramic tile right now (with pink and white roses in the corners–not joking) and it is bleak and soulless and almost the last remnant of the hideousness that we moved into (the tiled fireplace hearths are also gray tile, but it doesn’t seem so offensive in those places, plus they don’t have flowers). There is also this neat gadget/appliance garage with a roll-up door that will be the perfect place to hide all the coffee appliances and accessories. There is absolutely nothing Shaker about this cabinet, but it’s way cool. I dig it. And I hope to get rid of the raised breakfast bar for once and for all. That thing has been a damn paper trap for five years too many. The absolute funniest part is the dishwasher which has a door to match the cabinetry. We don’t really need a new dishwasher, but that is too slick to pass up.

Planning a kitchen and actually being this committed to it is making me feel quite wealthy. (Yeah, yeah, it’s an IKEA cookie cutter kitchen but it’s NEW and I’ve been thinking about it for YEARS.) This means two important things: 1) I better start working a little harder on my projects so I can invoice more often to pay for this and 2) perhaps I’ll feel wealthy enough to feel utterly immune to the flu. Money always protects people on the front lines in the movies. And if it doesn’t in real life, well, at least we’ll go out in style.

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