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December 05, 2006

Can You Hear Gaia Screaming Now, Clarice?

My cooking of late has been severely restricted around the house, as we have been redoing our kitchen. In fact, I have personally been responsible for the 15% rise in restaurant spending in New Jersey over the past month. But slowly, oh so slowly things are coming together.

The biggest decision that you face is what will your countertops be made of. We were getting rid of some blechy 40 year old laminate (which, to give it its due, did indeed last 40 some-odd years) and were torn about which material to choose. Initially I wanted maple butcher block, because it just looks some cool and, well, cozy in a kitchen. But, as my bride correctly pointed out, it takes a lot of maintenance, doesn't like liquids, and really doesn't like hot pans. Oh bother. Well, what about Corian? I have to admit it was very tempting to have an oil product in my kitchen! Plastic, New Jersey and me; perfect together. I wondered if I could get various Halliburton officials to autograph it...sigh.

But then blinding inspiration struck. I saw an article about Al Gore and the Cult of Gaia and I knew instantly what was needed here:

Gaia Flesh.

Living, breathing Gaia flesh. Ripped from her tormented body in an open pit strip mine in India by huge, smoke-belching machines. Loaded on to diesel-stench spewing trucks for a perilous drive down to the port, and from there on to a rusty freighter whose bilge effluvia leaves a sickened and oil-slickened gaian bloodstream gasping in her wake. My god, it was perfect; I had to have granite:

But gawd I hope everything is hooked up by Christmas...

Posted by Mr. Bingley at December 5, 2006 07:31 PM


Lookin' good! Granite: the red-and-black-flecked rocky-sparkle sputum-phlegm of Gaia-goodness!

Posted by: DirtCrashr at December 5, 2006 08:08 PM

Mmmmmm… Gaia flesh.

Posted by: Gunslinger at December 5, 2006 08:51 PM

And you killed some trees, too. Bless you, sir.

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at December 5, 2006 09:40 PM

Well, still don't know why they don't happen but there should be a trackback showing up any time now.

Yep, any time now.





Um, okay, trackback, you can show up now.

[drums fingers]



[scratches but while no one's looking]

Any time now.

Yep yep yep. Any time now.

[opens another beer]

Oh look. A shiny object...

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at December 5, 2006 10:21 PM

[scratches butt again]

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at December 5, 2006 10:22 PM

Gosh darn Movable Type. It's not even in the KenSpam filter.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 5, 2006 10:44 PM

Very nice, Mr. Bingley! You'll appreciate the improvements once they are completed.

Oh, and I've sent some photos to your MAC address of my own kitchen remodel....which looks startlingly similar. Black granite, oak finish, brushed nickel fittings. The layout is different, but still....

What sort of flooring are you installing?

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at December 5, 2006 10:50 PM

What sort of flooring are you installing?

Heh. We're not quite sure. Probably tile, and probably some sort of gray and off-white pattern, but this is subject to change.

Your pics look great, btw!

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 5, 2006 11:42 PM

I installed wood laminate flooring, with a light oak finish. Looks pretty good, especially after years of worn rugs and shabby tile.

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at December 6, 2006 12:10 AM

And truly the best part, to let you know that the Gaia-force has not yet entirely faded, but is lingering...lingering... as if waiting in pain for you to see the error of youR ways and buy that macrame Toyota Pious.

The damn stuff is radioactive!

Yes children, Gaia will have her revenge yet. Since granite is actually more radioactive than depleted Uranium, and we all understand that DU is to blame for everything from deformed cockroaches to fat guys in Speedos, the future fruit of the Loins of Terror will sprout hideous curly hairs in inappropriate areas, and become idiots upon reaching puberty.



Posted by: Paul Wright at December 6, 2006 03:33 AM

Vishnu bless India.

Posted by: MadeinUSA at December 6, 2006 04:41 AM

But see, that's part of my fiendish plan Paul. I chose radioactive granite to counteract the radon gas eminating from the bedrock (Twist! Twist!) that the house is built upon. I've double crossed Gaia at her own game. Muwhahahahaha.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 06:41 AM

That looks great, Bing! I can't let my wife see it.

Posted by: Cullen at December 6, 2006 06:42 AM

It's only money, Cullen; why worry about your kids squandering it when you can have much more fun doing so yourself?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 07:44 AM

Oh, yeah. Money. That stuff I don't have any of.

Posted by: Cullen at December 6, 2006 07:52 AM

JeffS, I could see that flooring, and it does look good. We have oak parquet tiles all through the rest of the house, and there used to be this vile linoleum stuff in the kitchen. shudder.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 08:07 AM

Is that a Kenmore Elite Dual Fuel range and Kenmore Dishwasher I spy?

Could it be that someone else reads Consumer Reports?

Posted by: John F. Rogers at December 6, 2006 08:50 AM

Jeff's right. For flooring, laminate is the way to go and it's not hard to install yourself.

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at December 6, 2006 08:55 AM

Bingley?!! And "it's not hard to install yourself"?!!!

SURELY you jest. In Bingley's beatific bubble, that's what God made the common labourer for, Mr. Summers.

Posted by: tree hugging sister at December 6, 2006 09:04 AM

So true, THS. I had my brother's help with that laminate, and all I had to do was feed him, and provide tools.

I may not have his help on the second half, alas!, and may have to do that myself.

Perhaps Major Dad has some leave scheduled in the near future? I understand Mr. B cooks a mean turduck.

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at December 6, 2006 09:34 AM

Oh, and the radioactive granite rocks!!!

(Ahem. :-D)

Cuts my cooking time in half, and makes for a great night light!

Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at December 6, 2006 09:35 AM

Not to mention the cool mutation experiments you can perform on innocent creatures and unwanted neighbor children.

Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at December 6, 2006 10:03 AM

Gaia flesh. I'm positively salivating. I simply must have some of that when I get around to replacing my kitchen countertops. Thanks!

Posted by: RebeccaH at December 6, 2006 10:20 AM

Apparently limestone is the in-thing at the moment. I suppose when it comes to Gaia flesh it depends whether you like white meat or dark meat.

Posted by: David Gillies at December 6, 2006 11:59 AM

I love my granite countertops! Yay for raping Gaia!!

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson at December 6, 2006 01:35 PM

What i meant to write in that post was that we had granite countertops installed too - my own bit of Gaia flesh to lovingly subject to hot dishes and all sorts of projects.

The kitchen looks BEAUTIFUL...

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson at December 6, 2006 01:39 PM

YOUR kitchen looks beautiful - ACK!! I cant write anything correctly!!!

its the radioactive wave that Gaia is putting out to those of us who have her bit of flesh...my pots and pans are probably next

Posted by: Sharon Ferguson at December 6, 2006 01:40 PM

I may look at a limestone-type tile for the floor, David.

The Laphroaig eats through limestone too quickly when it's used for a countertop.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 02:41 PM

You SPILL Laphroaig? For shame. I thought this was the Coalition of the Swilling, not the Coalition of the Spilling. Islay Malt is for internal use only.

Personally when I equip my dream kitchen I'm going for basalt or diabase (Mohs hardness of 6.5+).

Posted by: David Gillies at December 6, 2006 06:07 PM

Only after the third one, David, I swear; and it's really only a dribble at that.

From what I can find about this particular Gaia flesh it is pretty close to your 6.5 on the Mohs scale, and it's also pretty darned old; from the Archean period perhaps, which is 2.5 to 4.5 billion years.

Pretty neat.

Top that, Lord Elgin!

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 06:21 PM

We did the "remodel the kitchen" thing last year. Went with Dupont Zodiaq instead. Granite can absorb microbes and is more prone to scratches. But damn, that granite really does look nice!

I don't know how granite compares in cost to Zodiaq, (I think they're pretty close) but I do remember wincing as I wrote the check. I've bought cars that cost less.

At a guess I'd say you have about the same square-footage. Let's say it together: OUCH!

Posted by: Kevin Baker at December 6, 2006 09:21 PM

Yep, it was a serious ouch, Kevin. The stone we chose was actually slightly cheaper than the Zodiaq. But some of the granites are insanely expensive...but so gorgeous that they're almost works of art.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 6, 2006 09:39 PM

Best flooring I know of is jarrah. Stunningly dark red-brown, great character, real hard, termites don't like it and if treated nice will last centuries. It is a eucalypt hardwood plundered from old-growth forests in the SW of Western Australia. It was originally used for train-track sleepers (I guess that's what you call them too), factory floors and even firewood, but it's much nicer as high-end furniture. I can get you a quote if you like? (PS: I'm a geologist, I love granite, good choice).

Posted by: Joe at December 6, 2006 10:32 PM

That's freaking scary Mr. B - I have the exact same countertops and nearly the same cabinets. Thomasville?

You would not believe the green (yes, green) "pickled wood" cabinets with the Motezuma's-revenge-turd-green appliances of a 1970's drug-trip-decor kitchen we had in there before. With 3 inch green / yellow / brown shag carpet in the living room. The previous owners had bad taste even for adult Americans living in the 1970s. The husband was a local politician, so go figure.

Posted by: John at December 6, 2006 10:36 PM

Joe - we call them railroad ties.

Posted by: John at December 6, 2006 10:38 PM

I'm going to be clobbered for this, but for flooring, have you considered concrete? A friend of my sister used it in his "country kitchen", using sand fines rather than the larger aggregates, and had it installed in large panels stamped to look like slate. The company that installed it usually does the treatment on driveways, and the workers thought the guy was nuts, but they admitted it looked um, unique. Like the granite counters, it has to be sealed, but it's probably the cheapest flooring you can get.

Posted by: Lunar Tunes at December 6, 2006 11:36 PM

I know that concrete counters are trendy, lunar, but I haven't seen concrete panels for floors. Interesting. How thick are they? We have radiant heat (YEAH!!) so regular tiles and laminates make the most sense so we can keep warm...

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 7, 2006 06:39 AM

Jarrah sounds gorgeous, Joe, and I adore wood floors. The problem is if we put a reddish floor in there with the cherry cabinets it will look like a scene from the Martian Chronicles.

Now if I ever rob another bank and we convert the garage to livable space, we will definitely talk.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 7, 2006 06:44 AM

Oh, I know those colors well, John. We still have the "Harvest Gold" fridge that came with the house in the garage; it's late 60s/early 70s vintage. The 70s were just a horrid time for home decor and women's fashion; should be sticken from the books, really.

Of course, that would put a severe crimp in Lileks' lifestyle.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 7, 2006 06:49 AM

The cabinets are Schuyler from Lowes. I knew you were a man of taste and distinction, John!

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 7, 2006 06:50 AM

Hey, that looks just like my kitchen! Blue Pearl granite, cherry finish on the cabinets. I even have those same cabinets.

Posted by: TallDave at December 7, 2006 12:30 PM

I'm Mrs. Bingley. It's great to read all your comments. My nagging fear is that in thirty years or so, people will be snarking about our colors and materials in just the same way as we laughed at the 70s nightmare we replaced (Harvest Gold; Dark Walnut).

Posted by: Sue at December 7, 2006 08:52 PM

No worries, my love: in thirty years we won't be able to hear them, anyway.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 8, 2006 08:15 AM

NJSue - no matter what disagreements people 30 years hence might have with the cabinet colors, you don't have shag in the living room. Or appliances in the kind of green I associate with parasitic tropical intestinal diseases. At most they'll complain because the wood color isn't light enough.

Posted by: John at December 8, 2006 09:07 AM

John, you would have loved the house we rented before we bought this one. It was painted that groovy avocado green and the trim work was done in a lovely pink salmon shade.

And it had shag carpet...in the bathroom...around the toilet.

Oh. My. God.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at December 8, 2006 09:12 AM