Priorities shine through torn up kitchen

If you want to see what you're made of, rip up your kitchen. Yank out the cabinets and toss them in the garage. Drag your oven onto the patio and wrap it with a tarp. Slide the refrigerator to the middle of the room, next to a stack of paint cans and a dog dish. Sand drywall until a spotlight is needed to see a hand in front of your face.

This is Schlueterville right now.

My brother-in-law, Bee Gee, assisted in demolition a couple weeks ago. The man doesn't mess around. While I was cleaning out cupboards, he yanked off the doors.

"Blitzkrieg!" he yelled, then flashed a grin and let the sledgehammer fly. I was lucky to make it out alive with my cheese grater and a waffle iron.

The kitchen project is on a major deadline. Our oldest son, Rocket, will marry his lovely bride, Trooper, in our backyard on June 29th, so I'll amend my opening line.

If you want to see what you're made of, rip up your kitchen a month before hosting a backyard wedding. Redo your landscaping, too. Haul in a Bobcat and kick up some dirt. Go big or go home.

I've always thought of myself as a roll-with-the-punches type of woman. I like making use of time, and sitting idle is not in my DNA. "This'll be a piece of cake," I told myself.

That's easy to say when your dishes aren't in a laundry basket under a pool table, and the backyard doesn't look like a bomb-testing site.

I may not be so tough after all.

My patio houses an alarming collection of grills, cast iron pans, and camp stoves; assorted tools of hungry, kitchen-less marauders. The only things missing are a bloodhound on a couch and a scary dude playing a banjo.

The Schlueterville setters have destroyed my backyard begonias. One digs faster than I can plant, and the other christens sprouts with lifted leg. The dogs smile coyly, and begonia leaves wave from their lips.

Every room of my house is encrusted with drywall dust. Curtains of plastic hang from the ceiling in an attempt to control the mess. We fear the Shop-Vac will shoot craps and die.

Ready or not, Schlueterville will welcome hundreds of guests 23 days from now. I have an occasional bawl baby meltdown when it becomes overwhelming. Then I hitch up my drawers, kick my own butt, and take a look around.

My backyard is borderline gorgeous if I do say so myself, and the celebration will be complete regardless of shredded begonias.

Beautiful kitchen cabinets bask in the glow of newly installed lighting, and the smell of fresh paint wafts in the breeze. A wall came down, and the space feels airy and light.

I'm overwhelmed yet again when I ponder the legions of family and friends who have helped with the project, but this time I bawl big, happy tears. I am a blessed bugger, indeed.

Amidst the mess and chaos, I am reminded that a wedding isn't about kitchens or backyards. It's about celebrating love and a new phase of life; watching a son become a husband. It's about joyously welcoming a daughter-in-law, her parents and siblings to the Schlueterville family tree — even if that tree is covered with drywall dust.

Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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