Archive for the 'Appliances' Category


I’ve mentioned previously that here in my late fifties, I’m finding that my experience of time seems to expand and contract like elastic. In some ways time is going way too fast, and in other ways what seems to be short is actually quite long.

Our fridge light has been on the fritz for several weeks. Initially it blinked intermittently – a truly obnoxious situation when one is bent down, peering in, and trying to figure out what needs to be used up first. For a while I tried to ignore the problem, but eventually I decided that the bulb must be about to burn out and I should just go ahead and replace it, for crying out loud. I put “appliance bulb” on the Walmart list, but the day before that shopping spree, I happened to look in the dishwasher and, SURPRISE! I already HAD a spare appliance bulb. Wowza! One point for the homemaker who at some point in the past had planned ahead.

I unscrewed the old defective bulb, screwed the new one in, and… it did the exact same thing. Ugh. The bulb was clearly not the problem, so I figured I’d save the new one; I just put the old one back in. Then after a few more days of intermittent blinking, it started just not coming on at all. This exasperated me, but I thought to myself, “I really shouldn’t be so frustrated about this. I mean, we have a great fridge. We have lots of food. Am I really justified in complaining because the fridge doesn’t automatically light up (and stay lit up) when I open the door? How ‘entitled’ is that?!?” 

I asked Scott to look into it (no pun intended), and he did all same the things I had done with the same results, so we just lived with the strobe effect for a few more days. Until the day I discovered that our treasured and much-enjoyed pineapple dip had turned blue, buried back in the fridge where we never saw it because it was too dark in there. After a moment of appropriate and respectful sadness, I threw out the dip and told Scott that it might be time for us to suck it up and actually pay Mintex a service call to come fix the silly thing, before something even more important succumbed in the darkness. Following which comment he said in a questioning tone, “We shouldn’t be having a problem with it. It’s a new fridge. We haven’t had it very long. Maybe three or four years.”

To which I replied, joking, “It’s probably closer to ten years! Hey, look on the side.”

When we bought the fridge, we had taped some paperwork about it, maybe warranty information(?), to the left (far) side, the side you can only see when you come up the cellar stairs or walk out of the pantry. Scott studied the left side of the fridge and eventually said, “Hmm.”

“Hmm?!? What does ‘hmm’ mean?”

“It says here we bought it on April 26… 2010”

“Seriously?!?” tells me that was 9 years, 5 months, and 18 days ago!

Scott did do something to the light – screwed the bulb in more firmly? – and now it’s working perfectly, but our “new” fridge is getting pretty close to ten years old!

Cool as a cucumber

And I don’t even like cucumbers.

I had trouble sleeping last night, and I think it was because I was hot. In my current season of my life I get to deal with hot flashes and night sweats, so at 2:30 AM, I set the AC down from 76 to 75 and eventually got back to sleep. However, when I woke up, our room still seemed awfully warm. Turns out it was 82 downstairs, even though the thermostat was set at 75 and the air conditioner was running. Something was wrong.

I called our trusty heat and air guys at 7:50 AM, and they told me they were heading out to do an attic install (can you imagine? the high today was forecast to be 96!) and said they could come at 9:00 tomorrow morning. That was OK with me. I figured I could turn on the attic unit, which hasn’t been running since Andrew went back to college, and it would do fine in the second floor for a day and a night. i’d just minimize my time on the first floor.  = )

I was pleasantly surprised when Brett and Dan showed up at 2:30 PM, having gotten their attic install far enough along to give their other customers air (they’ll finish it up tomorrow), and decided to come by our house. Super nice guys. Ministry supporters too. Scott had told me that that unit shouldn’t need major service because it wasn’t very old. He was half right. A capacitor – actually only one half of a capacitor, the fan half – had gone bad, and it was a quick and minor repair. I am so thankful. However, they checked the serial number on the unit, and it was dated 2002! That puppy is 17 years old!

I’ve found this time/memory disconnect to be an interesting aspect of being in one’s fifties, especially where appliances are concerned. I know it’s not just me, because it clearly affects Scott too. For example, it seems like we got our “new” fridge just a few years ago, maybe three or four, but it’s probably been more like seven or eight. And I know we had to replace the stove a while ago. I’m pretty sure that was shortly before the Browns moved back to Delaware, which should definitely be five years ago, max, but now that I think about it, it’s probably more like seven. (I just dug out the owner’s manual; we bought that stove in 2010, NINE years ago!) It’s clear that time keeps speeding up. I don’t know how that works, but Josiah could probably explain it to me; physics and the expanding universe and the relationship between energy and matter and time…

Anyway, today I’m really thankful that we’re blessed to have air conditioning and speedy heat and air service men. I’m not quite as cool as a cucumber, but the temp in here just passed 80 on the way down.

Timing the strawberries?

Why is your travel alarm in the fridge, Patty?

It’s an understandable question.

I noticed a few months ago that the milk had been going bad early. Well, the Hiland didn’t, but the Walmart did. Repeatedly. So I turned the fridge somewhat colder and promptly forgot about it until several weeks later, when there wasn’t any appreciable change in the shelf life of our milk, but the lettuce and tomatoes were just a notch shy of frozen. Hmm.  So I nudged the fridge temp back up a skoash.

Then last week I began to wonder what temp the fridge actually was. And what temp it was supposed to be. To answer the first question, I needed a thermometer. The one that hangs in the oven only goes down to 100 F, so that was no help. But Scott had a brilliant idea. He brought in the little transmitter gizmo that hangs on the side of the smokehouse. We have its partner on the windowsill in our office, and that’s how we know what the temp is outside. The set has been setting there and showing us the temp for four or five years. It seems like only three years, but I have learned that nowadays those “seems likes” are always off. As in, it seems like we’ve had the new stove for about four years, but it’s really been seven. Or, it seems like I bought that can opener about five years ago, but it’s really been nine.

We also have the big round, cheap, Walmart thermometer hanging on the smokehouse facing the house, but it’s not very precise – only good for a range of, say, about ten degrees. It lets us know at a glance if the temp is 74 or 86 (depending on whether or not the sun is shining on it), but that’s about it. For more detailed info, we go with the digital one in the office. It has a button on top that, when pressed, toggles between “Indoors” and “Outdoors,” but we never think to press that button, figuring that since we’re by definition standing inside when we’re looking at it, we can already tell whether we’re hot, cold, or comfortable.

So Scott brought in the little gizmo and plopped it in the fridge, and an hour later, it read “73 F.” But the next day, it read “73 F.” As it did four hours after four more hours reposing in the fridge. That was alarming, to say the least. So we took it out of the fridge and set it on the kitchen counter where, for the next two days, it continued to read 73 F. Which was probably pretty close to accurate, although we do leave our thermostat at 80 during the day and 74 at night…?

It then occurred to me that our ACME wonder thermometer that had served us so well for (well, I guess I don’t really know how) many years, was either dead, dying, or… or maybe it needed new batteries! Of course, I didn’t have enough of the right size, so that would have to wait for a Walmart run, but in the meantime, I remembered that my nifty orange travel alarm always has a digital read-out of the ambient temperature. Aha! I got it out of my toiletries bag and set it in the fridge on top of a a clam shell of strawberries. Fifteen minutes later, it read 33 F. Finally! I googgled ideal fridge temp a, arrived at 36 F, and then played around with the fridge temp dial for parts of two days till I got it to stay at 36.

My travel alarm is back where it belongs, our high tech thermometer is doing well, our milk is cold, and our lettuce is crisp but not icy. All is well in the Shade.

“What’s making me happy?”

I listen to a podcast called The Simple Show, and near the end of it, the host always asks the guest to share one thing, “from the ridiculous to the serious,” that’s making her happy. Then the host shares her happy thing, too.

If someone asked me what’s making me happy right now, I would definitely say,”hanging out the laundry.” A couple months ago, when I was trying to come up with some small money-saving adjustments to make, I realized that we could probably use our electric dryer less than we were.

I started with hanging out our sheets, which is just wonderful. They feel so crisp and smell so good! I remember my mom hanging out sheets when I was a kid, and now I know why. My next step was to begin hanging out some other items like T-shirts and jeans, and before long, I was doing whole loads, not so much to save money, but just because it was so much fun.  = )

I have a pretty good system worked out now, what with where the clotheslines are positioned (partly in shade part of the day), which things take longer or shorter to dry, the realization that sun + wind = dry, Jessica’s tip to hang bright colors inside out so they don’t fade, and this truly amazing insight. Our dryer has a setting called “Fluff Air” which I had never used. It is entirely heat-free, and we I’m sure that running the heating element takes a lot more electricity than just running the motor. Well, let me tell you that with my new-found dryer setting, I can off the line a load of TOWELS that are totally crunchy (read: “rough as a Brillo pad”), throw in them in the dryer on Fluff Air for 30 minutes, and while they’re not quite as soft as they would be had they been dried on high heat for 60 minutes, they are certainly soft enough to use.

So, I’m just having a blast hanging out laundry these days; so much so that I’m frequently looking for reasons to do a load of wash! And on Thursday, when I was so diligent to get the (admittedly very small) load hung out before I left home in the morning, and when it poured down rain that afternoon while I was gone, and when even more rain was forecast that evening overnight, get this: I had the absolutely stellar idea to put those three very damp items, including a pair of jeans, on hangers and suspend them in the playroom from the garage door track right above the dehumidifier. By the next morning, they were totally dry

This clothesline experience really is making me happy.

Freezer burn

I recently decided to defrost the upright freezer in our cellar. This is now only a 15 minute task, thanks to my having figured out some years ago that I can melt the ice with water straight out of the water heater, also located in the cellar a mere ten feet from the freezer.

I had evidently let the job go longer than my usual six weeks, and there was a super thick layer of ice in the bottom. I attacked it with my trusty screwdriver – the one I keep on top of the water heater for opening and closing its drain valve – to break up and scrape off as much as possible first. Then I blasted it with hot water.

As I was running the hose back and forth against the lowest part of the back wall of the freezer, I suddenly burned myself and jerked my hand back. Initially, I thought it was the water, but that didn’t make sense because I use that same hot water all the time to shower or wash dishes, and it doesn’t burn me. But I was definitely, albeit mildly, burned on the outside of two fingers of my right hand. They had brushed against the back wall as I was hosing. . . And then I saw it! A somewhat scorched brownish place on the back wall of the freezer, almost down to the bottom. That back wall is metal, and I must’ve grazed my fingers against it while hosing. But why would the bottom back of the freezer be hot enough to burn me? Maybe that’s where the defrost heater is located and its thermostat is a little messed up? Hmmm. . .

I really have too many other things on my plate to try to figure that out right now, but at least the situation did provide me a satisfyingly catchy blog post title!

Back left corner

A couple weeks ago, the washer filled but then wouldn’t agitate.  Even after I pressed down on the back left corner.  I was frustrated.  I called Scott.  I asked him which appliance repair he used for the vacation rental homes.  He said he’d have to look it up and text it to me.  While we were on the phone, the washer started agitating.  As did I.  I cannot tell you the hundreds of times Scott simply holds his mouth right, sometimes at distances of multiple thousands of miles, and the thing that absolutely Will. Not. work for me works for him.  Clearly, I have a problem with my lips.

Last week, I suddenly noticed a VERY odd thing.  I put the Tide and the water and the clothes in the washer as I have done probably thousands of times.  I closed the lid.  I pressed down on the back left corner, and nothing happened.  I mean nothing.  The lid didn’t click down or anything.  But the washer ran its load just fine, and for the next week – for the first week in many years – I did laundry without pressing down on the back left corner.  Well, I did press it, but just out of force of habit.  Muscle memory, you know.  And I was kind of sad.  An era had clearly ended, and the loss was bittersweet.

Until Sunday evening, when Andrew came home from work and commenced to do his laundry.  And he came up to the office and said, “Well, I think the washer just died.”  This was not pleasant news.  Scott was resting his aching muscles in a tub of hot water, so I went down to investigate.  Sure enough, nothing at all on the washer worked.  It was full of water, Tide, and dirty clothes.  I pushed and pulled the control knob, tried to get it to add more water, and (for good measure) pressed down on the back left corner, all to no avail.

Andrew fished his wet clothes out into a bucket and I went to report the situation to Scott.  Who dressed and investigated it personally and announced that he thought the computer on the washer had died.  Oh, dear.  That sounded expensive to repair.  And would it even be worth it?  Or would we need to buy a new washer?  And we only had one more day of socks and underwear.  The laundromat in Hollister?  And if we did have to buy a new washer (ugh!), the worst thing would be that it’s getting mighty hard to even find the kind of washer I like.  Sigh.

I went to bed.

Monday, Scott told me that the guy from Mintex was going to come by around 5:00 on his way home.

Chris did, yea and verily show up about 5:00 PM, and I have to say that he was the most cheerful, friendly, and personable repairman I have ever met.  Truly a delight.  We joked about the washer not washing and when he got into the laundry room, I decided to risk sounding like a total ditz.  “I do need to tell you about this washer, but this is going to sound pretty crazy.”

“???” (with raised eyebrows)

“Well, we’ve had it for many years and for at least five years,” (although now that I think about it, Katie’s been gone over seven years and I’m sure it was that way when she lived here), “in order to get it to agitate, you have to close the lid and then,” (feeling truly sheepish), “well, you have to push down on the back left corner to get it going.”

And Chris exclainmed, “Yes, you do!!!  You are EXACTLY right!  I know what’s wrong with your machine, and I’m going to show you WHY you have to push down on the back left corner.  Then I’m going to fix it, and you won’t have to push down on the back left corner ever again.”

He then proceeded to take the top of the thing apart and remove a certain item, which see.  (The upper, gray, cross-shaped part is the guts of it.  The white part is the cover, which I have removed for your viewing pleasure.)


Chris snapped the white plastic lid off the whatever-it-was and announced dramatically, “You. . . need a lid switch.  Your lid switch is fried.”  And he went out to his truck and brought in a new one.

He showed us how (as you can clearly see) part of the old one was black inside.  “It’s burnt up.  I’ve seen ’em much worse; sometimes the whole thing is black and the plastic is actually melted.”

He then tipped the cover of the washer forward and invited me to look beneath it, at the place where the lid switch mounts, under the back left corner of the lid.  “See that metal hooked bar that sticks up there?”  I saw it.  “When you close the lid, that bar is supposed to engage the switch to start the agitation.  “But!” he said, enthusiastically, “Like many others of its kind, this machine wasn’t made quite right, and we see this all the time.  The bar is about a quarter inch too short, and that’s why you have to press down on the back left corner.  So, you were absolutely right.”

He installed the new switch and manually bent the bar upwards, so that now, when you close the lid, in fact, about an inch before the lid is even fully closed, the switch engages and the agitation begins.  Voila!

Evidently, this is a very common problem, but to me the nicest thing was that I felt vindicated.  Our back left corner really was the key to the whole thing.  = )  His bill was higher than I thought it should be, but since I got service the same day, and since he was so clever and well-spoken, and since he fixed my problem, and since I learned something, and since it turns he’s a fellow follower of Jesus, I decided not to begrudge him his high fee.

If you are in the Taney County area and need appliance service, call Mintex (417-335-8308).

It’s the little things that count

One of the things God is consistently dealing with about is asking for help.  I HATE to ask for help.  I hate asking for help on big, important, spiritual matters like understanding and becoming who God made me to be, and I hate asking for help on tiny, inconsequential, mundane matters like lifting something heavy or reaching something high. I just hate asking for help.  I am currently learning more about why that is true, and I’m working to change it, but frankly, each time I know I should ask for help, it’s hard to get the words out.

But I did ask J.R. for help on Wednesday.  J.R. is a friend at church who claims that if he can’t fix it, it isn’t broken.  So far, this has proven to be an accurate statement.  The issue at hand was our washer.  It is the old-fashioned kind of washer; top loading with a full-length agitator (and no, Andrew does NOT live in our washing machine), and only a few settings.  I only need a few settings, so that is just fine with me.  I can have hot, warm, or cold washes – all with cold rinses – small, medium, or large loads, and 6, 8, 10, or 14-minute washes.  I think there are a few other odd settings, but I don’t think I have ever used any of them.

I normally use the 10-minute wash, and I have always wondered why it takes about 40 minutes for the full load to run.  I mean, 10 is not equal to 40, at least the last time I learned my numbers.  So, for the past few years, I have been doing one cold load every Wednesday morning, and that load takes about 50 minutes to run.  I did finally figure out that the problem is that while the warm water I use for most loads comes in at an adequate rate to fill the basket fairly quickly, the cold water only trickles in, and I do mean trickle.  The stream of warm water is about six inches wide and one inch deep, but the cold water stream is about the diameter of a pencil.  This means that the filling of a large cold load takes a VERY long time, and since there are two cold rinses (as in fill the tub with cold water) with each load – and this is pre-set and like the law of the Medes and the Persians cannot be altered – having such a tiny trickle of incoming cold water is problematic and slows the whole process to a snail’s pace.

So while were we standing around before church, I asked J.R. if he had any ideas of what I might do to solve that problem, and he did!  He said that back in the day he had had the same problem with his washer; that there is a filter on the intake line at the wall and another filter on it at the machine, and that if one were to clean out those filters, one would probably get a larger stream of water coming in.  Hmmmm…  Furthermore, he said that the culprit on the cold line was probably actually lime build-up from our exceedingly hard water and that while he had just gone to Lowe’s to buy a new filter for his, we could probably vinegar soak the filter overnight with excellent results.

Being on a “request for assistance” roll, having asked J.R. for help, I pressed on to ask Scott to help me do the actual deed.  And he acquiesced.  Actually he did all the work.  = )  He pulled out the washer, and I won’t go into detail about what the vinyl flooring under and behind the washer looked like.  Andrew could give details on that.  He then attempted to shut off the water to the washer, but this was significantly easier said than done.  The handle for that is actually located in a hole in the wall between the kitchen (dishwasher – actually full of light bulbs, but with its water connections still intact) and the laundry room (washing machine).  So grabbed the handle, one of those old-timey, four-prong affairs, and twisted, but it would budge.  I was then requested to retrieve the channel-lock pliers off the porch where they had been used a few days earlier for work on the propane grill, and with those clamped in place, he twisted again and the brass handle broke OFF.  Thankfully above the water line, so we didn’t have water shooting into the wall, but broken, nonetheless, making it impossible to turn off the water to the washing machine.  In 103 year-old homes, NO repair is ever easy or straightforward.

We would have to turn off the water to the house, so, being stuck behind the washer (in order for Scott to get out from behind there, we’d have to pull the washer forward far enough that there would be nowhere for him to stand, so, since gymnastics would be required, he only wanted to execute that particular maneuver one time – when the job was finished), he sent Andrew to the well house.  Once the water was shut off, Scott undid the intake hose and produced something small and nasty, which he handed to me with the instruction, “Here.  Rinse this out, please.”  Ummm. . . and how was I supposed to do that with no water?

The well house has faucet with hose on the outside of the building, and that faucet is not controlled by the shut-off valve to the house, so I carried the little item out back, and on the way I examined it closely.  It seemed to be made of very fine brass mesh, about the size and shape of a thimble, and it was packed completely full of what appeared to be mud.  Doubtfully, I applied the well house’s hose to it, and, lo and behold, all the much came it out and it was shiny and clean!

Back in the house, my man-behind-the-washing machine replaced the filter, re-connected the supply line, extricated himself from his prison, and went out to the well house.  With each of our cell phones at the ready in case of flood, he turned the water to the house back on, and nary a drop oozed out.  Yay!

To test it, we started a cold wash filling, and the stream of water coming into the washer was HUGE!  I have since run a large “10-minute wash” load in exactly 40 minutes, a savings of some 12 minutes per load, which will be wonderful, especially on Wednesdays when I have to run a cold load first thing in the morning.

I told J.R. my good news on Sunday and he rejoiced with me.  I told him I was surprised that the clog was mud instead of lime, and he explained that every time we shut off the water for some plumbing repair and then turn it back on, it flushes some built-up stuff on through the pipes (hence the brown water out of the faucet for the first few seconds after re-starting), and while it just comes out the faucets in most places, that little filter on the washer catches it and it all builds up over time.  It’s actually amazing that we were getting ANY cold water into the washer at all.  And it’s equally amazing that such a little thing can cause such a big problem.

There’s probably some great life lesson in there I need to tease out.

New toys

On Wednesday, as is my habit, I did the adult laundry.  The last load was the darks including some hoodies and sweat pants.  When I opened the dryer to fold that load, the clothes within were cold and wet.  Duh!  I must’ve put them in and then forgotten to start the dryer.  I chalked that silliness up to my peri-menopausal brain and re-started the dryer.

An hour later, the same thing.  The dryer had run, but the clothes were cold and wet.  Hoping against hope that it was just that those sweats were so heavy, and that because the washer hadn’t been spinning things out well lately they were just wetter than usual. . . I dried the load a third time, with exactly the same result. Although the had dryer tumbled, it evidently hadn’t heated, and that was clearly a problem.   I hung the sweats and socks on hangars on the laundry room bars and the Christmas stocking nails around the hearth, so our first floor looked like a Chinese laundry.

Meanwhile, our water heater had been making our life interesting for the previous week.

One day, while working in the kitchen, I heard water running in the cellar.  Umm. . . there’s not supposed to be water running in the cellar. . .


We’ve had a lot of history with our propane water heater.  It’s had issues with inadequate venting, with the pilot being blown out in strong winds, with the thermostat going wack-o, and with being full of rocks.

Several years ago, it was diagnosed with some strange malady caused by a major part or the other – not the thermocouple, which has been replaced on more than one occasion – malfunctioning and needing to be replaced.  Whatever part this was had to be special ordered, was inordinately expensive, would take a couple weeks to arrive, and would be costly to replace. Meanwhile, the serviceman said he would not run the water heater till that part was replaced, because it was not safe.  (Essentially, this malfunction meant that the unit had an extremely wide thermostatic latitude, meaning that although the thermostat was set properly and remained untouched, the “hot” water could at any time vary between lukewarm and scalding.)  This information was, of course, delivered to me by the repairman at a time when Scott was not home and my call was forwarded.  I therefore discussed it all with Scott (giving my opinion that we we should either replace the part or replace the water heater) who voted to “just use it as is.”  Which we have done since that time, dealing with the widely fluctuating “hot” water temp.

Then a year or so ago, all the black crud on top of the water heater prompted a serviceman to state that because the cellar is essentially a closed area, the water heater was evidently not able to draw air in sufficient volume to function properly and safely, and this was a problem that had to be fixed.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, since there’d been a functional water heater in that cellar for probably 60+ years, but Scott was determined to take speedy action.  The remedy was deemed to be to cut a hole in the trap door to the cellar, which we had done.

But last week’s sudden sound of “water running in the cellar” was something entirely new and different.  The long and short of it was that the water heater had either literally boiled over, or it had heated to such a temperature that some safety feature forced the overflow valve at the top to open, and steaming water was pouring down the outside of the water heater.  Not a real good thing.

I had Andrew high tail it down there and put a bucket against the unit to catch at least a portion of the cascade, but the bucket filled quickly, and he ended up using the large (30 gallon) trash can that the previous owners had positioned near the furnace when they had a sump pump down there.

Over the next week, every few hours we’d hear the beast suddenly overflow, and every few hours I’d send Andrew down to dump it off into buckets, carry it up, and pour it down the kitchen sink.  He didn’t enjoy this task, but he is a gentleman, and since the concept of me doing bucket brigade duty offended his sensibilities (I like that quality in a son!), he did it.

Scott called R&H Plumbing for an estimate of getting it replaced, and they said they would first have to send a man out to look at it.  However, being on a first-name basis with our problematic unit, they said they already knew that it would have to be a short water heater in order to keep the angle of the vent pipe functional, that there weren’t any of those anywhere in town, that they’d have to special order it, that their main man (the one who would authorize the final solution) was going out of town this weekend, and that they had no idea how long it would take to get it in.  I said, “Well, are we looking at a few days, a couple weeks, or sometime in April or May?”  They said they had no idea, but they would do some research on it and get back to us.

Meanwhile, we continued to boil water three times a day to wash dishes, alternately showered on the second floor (using the messed-up propane water heater) or in the attic (using the auxiliary electric water heater), and schemed about how Jessica – whose leg issues preclude stair climbing and who has been taking sitting “showers” in our first floor claw foot tub – would shower when she returned in a few days from a trip to the east coast.

Thursday morning I called R&H back and left a message asking them to let me know whether or not they’d be coming out to survey the scene that day, because I had an errand (notably shopping for a dryer!) to do in town, and I needed to know whether or not I should stay home and wait for them.  They never returned my call, so I went on to Lowe’s.

It’s incredible the cost of dryers these days.  In the same way that I still think a can of soup should cost about $0.39, I had in mind that a dryer should cost about $150; maybe as much as $250, but surely nothing over $300.  Not so these days.  Had I wanted to – and I definitely did not – I could have spent $1500 on a dryer that would do everything but clean my bathroom and balance my checkbook!  Sweet Georgia Peaches!  Furthermore, I can’t stand to have tools with a zillion features I will never use, and I had already determined that I needed a dryer with exactly four features:  a timer, a motor to spin the drum, a blower, and a heater.  I found a unit on clearance that would do just that and no more, so I was happy.  I also saved $50 by applying for and putting that purchase on a Lowe’s charge account, which I will cancel as soon as we pay that bill.  They said they would deliver it Friday afternoon, and while I was skeptical about that speedy time frame, I said OK.

Friday morning, Scott had had it with the eternally boiling over water heater and said he was going to call a different plumber, which he did at 7:30 AM.

Friday at noon, Lowe’s called to say they were 25 minutes away with our new dryer.  They arrived at our house seven minutes later.  We won’t go into my embarrassment at the filth under the old dryer.  We won’t share my humiliation when I made some silly comment to one of the delivery guys that there was probably dirt under his dryer too – and his reply that actually no, there wasn’t, because his wife has OCD and keeps every part of their house spotless.  We will just say that they hooked up the new dryer, tested it out (it tumbles and heats at the same time!!!), and hauled the old one away, all within 15 minutes and at no additional charge to Team Roberts.

Friday at 2:30 PM a man in a lime green shirt from DS&F Plumbing showed up at the door.  After a bit of discussion with Scott about the details of the situation and some subsequent miscommunication about pressure-reducing valves and shut-off valves (we ain’t got neither them animals roun’ hyar), he announced that he needed to shut off the water for about an hour and-a-half.  I filled the big red jug in our bathroom, emptied my bladder, told him to do the deed, and went back up to my desk.

Friday at 4:53 PM, the DS&F man called up to me to say, “We’re cooking!”

“With gas?”

“Yep.  It’s all hooked up, lines are bled, and it’s heating.”

I asked Scott to talk to the man, because I figure that things like rodent elimination and appliance replacement are always and only the responsibility of the those with Y chromosomes.  He showed Scott the details of the unit’s controls, Scott wrote DS&F a check, and the man and his partner drove off with our old dead water heater.

We are now totally enjoying the luxurious sensation of being able to turn on a faucet and have hot water come out of it without creating a boil-over in the cellar AND being able to dry our wet laundry all at the same time.  BOY, are we ever blessed with our new toys!


Amazing quote

For about as long as we’ve been a family – and at least for as long as we’ve had kids who could walk – we have had a family rule that goes like this:  “If you make a mess, you should clean it up.”  Some family members adhere more stringently to that rule than others.

A few days ago, I cleaned out the microwave.  I do this at least once and sometimes twice a week.  It involves removing and washing the rotating glass plate, taking out the little plastic support gizmo that the plate sits on, heating a damp, soapy washcloth in the microwave for 20 seconds, letting it sit there for about five minutes, wiping the crud off the six inner surfaces, and putting it back together.  It’s not one of my more difficult tasks, but for some reason it is one my more distasteful ones.  That might be because while there are several family members using the microwave, I am fairly sure I am the only one who ever cleans it. . .


So I cleaned the microwave at about 10:00 AM, and at about 7:00 PM, I opened it and saw that someone had exploded food all over the inside of said.  That was rather discouraging.  My cleanliness hadn’t even lasted 24 hours!  I even knew who the culprit was, because I could see the person eating the same stuff (ham and has brown casserole, I believe) that was sprayed all over the microwave.  The person – amazingly, My Hero – had clearly done a thorough job of it.

I then put on my bold, confrontational face, and asked Scott to please clean up his explosion.  (Note that these kinds of requests are still difficult for me, but I keep practicing, hoping experience will yield better results on the part of others, and fewer uncomfortable feelings for me.)

Scott was not disagreeable.  He got a damp cloth and started wiping it out.  I was thankful, but as he was finishing up, I wondered if he had tackled the worst part – the inside top of the beast.  It’s not visible, you know, even to a short person like me, and I was pretty darn sure it wasn’t visible to a 6-foot tall man, either.  So I said, “Hey, please clean the ceiling of it, too.  That’s where most of the ham missiles landed.”

And here’s what he said, having lived a half century on the planet and having had a microwave oven in his kitchen since Christmas of 1988:  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ceiling of a microwave!”

This thought just made me laugh out loud. . . and now I’m wondering what other features of our home he’s never seen.  = )

Too hot to trot

After two more days of the water heater not heating (despite Andrew’s heroic deeds and prayers), I called R&H Plumbing, and Jesse, who has developed a long-term and rather intimate relationship with our water heater, came out.  He’s worked on it often enough that he brought a little rug to lie on on the gravel down there.  = )

Some 80 minutes later we had a diagnosis (super dirty burner) and a prognosis (it will live and not die – yet).  Although it’s nine years old and the average life expectancy for its kin is ten years, with disciplined care we can probably extend that somewhat.

After disassembling and meticulously cleaning the burner/pilot assembly, replacing the thermocouple, re-installing the burner/pilot assembly, re-lighting the pilot, letting the burner come on, turning the thermostat down to turn the burner off, turning it back up, and witnessing the burner re-igniting, Jesse concluded that, “Well, you’ll just have to live with hot water.”

This was welcome news! And we’ve had hot water all afternoon and evening.  But the true test will come with tomorrow morning’s shower.

I have arrived at the following numerically-coded descriptions of the water with which one can conceivably shower:

1 – Ice cold

2 – Cold

3 – Cool

4 – Luke cool

5 – Luke warm

6 – Warm

7 – Hot

8 – Scalding Hot

Yesterday, my shower was a (5).  This morning, the burner of the water heater having been off for some 20 hours, with the shower control turned all the way to full hot, I did one of those speed showers.  You may know the kind.  It’s where, in order to conserve the 17 molecules of hot water possibly remaining in the tank, you turn the shower on only in very brief, 8-second increments.  The first lets you splash enough (2) water on you to facilitate lathering.  You then shut off the frigid stream while you shave and scrub, while psyching yourself up for what must come next.  With a deep breath and firm determination, you turn the water back on for a few seconds of rinsing, during which you remind yourself that it’s not really any colder than the creek was the last time you swam in it – so if it were hot and sunny in your bathroom, the (2) water would actually feel good.  Then, in an act of supreme courage, you tip your head straight back into it to get your hair wet.  At least it’s not technically a (1), but it probably will be by tomorrow morning.  You turn off the water while you shampoo your hair very quickly; then you flip it back on and try to squelch a gasp as you again force your head under the “cool mountain stream” to rinse off, after which you slam the shower control off and leap briskly toward your dry towel.

I vastly prefer my shower to be a (7), and I have both faith and hope that tomorrow it will be!

Jesse also explained the various mistakes we were making in draining the beast.  (He had asked if anything had precipitated this round of lighting failures, and I told him it had been drained about ten days ago and hadn’t been the same since.)

For one thing, draining and filling (for the purpose of removing at least a subset of the limescale buildup) is much less effective than flushing.  I didn’t even know there was a difference – ignorant me!  You want to flush it because the force of the water pushing through the tank does a better job of forcing sediment out than merely draining it.

However, this flushing MUST be done religiously AT LEAST every six months.  If you miss a flush, you are basically hosed forever, because if the little calcium particles aren’t flushed out, they – much like women at intermission – congregate all in one place, and this causes them to stick together, forming larger “rocks” that are too big to fit through the drain, and which will therefore reside in the tank forever.

To flush the water heater, you DO NOT turn it all the way off!  You also DO NOT shut off the water to the house.  Instead, you set it to “pilot,” attach a hose, open the valve, and let it flow for at least five minutes.

Now we know, and I’m sure time will tell how religious we really are.

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