All good things must come to an end.

Well, God’s love is a very good thing, and it never comes to an end, but most other good things do.

We shall now all observe 43 seconds of silence in honor of the long and faithful life of a dearly beloved companion:  our Kenmore microwave oven, aged 24 years and 9 months.  Selah.

43 seconds because that’s how long it took said microwave to perfectly heat a Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit.

The microwave was given to us – to the mere two of us – as a Christmas gift in 1988.  That was our second Christmas as a married couple, and although the sensor thing that you plugged into its inside wall and then stuck into your cup of hot chocolate to get it to the exact temp you wanted did die within the first few years, and although the glass insert became chipped in the same place on opposite sides fairly early on, and although through the years it gradually took longer and longer to heat the same things, and although the light passed away forever a few years ago, the good old Kenmore just kept chugging along, faithfully heating up and/or defrosting many, many edibles every single day for nearly a quarter of a century.  Most impressive.

The microwave has been around longer than any of the kids; they’ve never seen our kitchen without it.  It has taken a licking and kept on ticking, and it steadfastly provided not only food-warming services; it was also our main kitchen timepiece.  When we wanted to know what time it was, we looked at the microwave.  We knew the power had gone off when the microwave clock wasn’t illuminated.  If we were leaving at a certain time, or if I wanted a kid to do something at a certain time, the phrase was (for example), “at 8:30 sharp on the microwave clock.”  It was our standard timekeeper.

Thursday evening, I used the microwave to soften some butter for a recipe.  Friday morning, I came down to walk and noticed that the microwave clock was off. We hadn’t had a storm or anything, but there must’ve been some power glitch.  I went over to re-set its clock, but when I pressed “time of day,” nothing happened.  The little screen thing stayed black.   How odd.

I asked Andrew if he knew anything about the microwave, and he said, “It died, and Dad knows about it.”  SHOCK!  How could it have died without even a gasp?  I hadn’t even been given an opportunity to say a proper goodbye.  Sigh, sigh.  I looked fondly I my boxy friend, opened him up, noted the standard spatters inside, gently wiped the dust off the papers that live on top of him, and went out to walk, but later that day, the fullness of my loss descended.  I wanted a sausage biscuit, but I suddenly realized I had no way to heat it.  What a disappointment.  I guessed I would eat a half sandwich instead.  Not quite as tasty, but sufficient.  I sliced the bread, applied some turkey, cheese, bit of onion, and a slice of homegrown tomato, then turned to put it in the microwave.  (I almost never eat a sandwich cold at home.)  No microwave!  No way to heat my sandwich!  What to do?!?  I took a deep breath, ate it cold, and grieved the loss of our faithful friend.

But a bigger problem soon reared its ugly head.  On Saturday, I would need to make creamy cheese potatoes and a dessert for our church cookout on Sunday.  I know exactly how to soften butter (whether refrigerated or frozen) for basking, and it requires a microwave!  Furthermore, everyone knows that you simply can’t make creamy cheese potatoes without a microwave to soften up those pesky ingredients for smooth mixing.  This was becoming seriously inconvenient!

On the way home from taking Andrew to his Friday VE (homeschool co-op), I stopped at both Target and Home Depot to look at microwaves.  I told Scott I simply had to buy one that day so I could use it Saturday morning.  It was dawning on me that microwave ovens are now in the same category as water, electricity, computers, and internet access; we rely on them so heavily that they are now considered essentials of our modern lives.

That night we went on a date and ended up buying one at Best Buy, where a Labor Day sale on all appliances was in effect.  The LG replacement model is nice.  It’s white (Andrew insisted that it really needed to match our other appliances), has the same interior size as the old one, spins the food (the old one did not, but evidently it is no longer possible to buy non-spinning microwaves), has a bunch of buttons that I will probably never use (because I microwave by time and power setting, not by “popcorn,” or some such), and sports 1100 watts of power.

This latter feature has proven significant.  For example, this baby will cook a sausage biscuit in 32 seconds flat.  Ooooh.  It cooks everything MUCH faster than the old one.  Aaaah.  It also has a button I couldn’t quite figure out called “Quick Defrost.”  There’s a little strip of text on the inside surface when you open the door that says something about this.  I think the wording was that you use it to defrost only 1 lb of something.  I had an 8 oz block of frozen cream cheese to soften (for the creamy cheese potatoes), so I decided to break out of my mold (which, in the old microwave, would’ve been three minutes at power control four) and use one of the fancy-shmancy specific buttons.  I put the cream cheese in and hit quick defrost.  That was definitely the WRONG button – king of like “the WRONG church!”  About a minute into it, I heard something explode, and sure enough, there was was cream cheese all over the inside of my new microwave.  But at least it was softened!

Then this morning, I was loading up said creamy cheese potatoes to take to church.  They should be served bubbling hot, but warm is also OK, so my plan was to put them in my nifty (though very worn, permanently stained, and quite shabby) carrier, along with the hot pack and let them sit in the hot car through church.  That way they’d still be warm three hours later when we got to the picnic.  Normally, I heat the hot pack on high for two minutes and it’s perfect.  This time, I did actually read the instructions on the hot pack.  For a microwave oven of wattage 1000 or more, I was to heat it on high for two minutes and 15 seconds.  However, after the exploded cream cheese incident, I got smart.  No way was I going to explode my ten year-old, one and only hot pack!  I set it for two minutes, assuming it would turn out perfectly.  I guess maybe it would have, but at 35 seconds left to go, I heard a soft “ploop,” followed by something like a steaming sizzle.  I raced to the microwave and threw it open, but alas and alack, I was too late.  The hot pack had indeed ruptured and was oozing hot pack juice.  Sigh.

I still needed to keep those potatoes hot, so I wiped up the tiny puddle in the microwave, shoved the hot pack into a gallon zip-loc, and used it anyway.  (The potatoes were still warm at the picnic and got rave reviews.)  When I arrived home a full six hours after the rupture, I threw out the still-warm but leaking hot pack, and now I have a fabulous excuse to buy a new carrier, which will surely come with its own brand-new hot pack.

So, all in all, I am pleased with the new microwave.  When we were standing there in Best Buy comparing features and prices, two facts dawned on me:  1) the blue-shirted employee answering our questions was probably younger than our dearly departed microwave, and 2) our most important question between the various models really was, “Which one these will serve us well for the NEXT 25 years?!?”   = )

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