Last year I hosted a family Christmas gathering and our furnace quit working. This year I hosted a family Christmas gathering and my oven broke. It has been suggested that I stop hosting Christmas gatherings before I manage to blow up the entire house, but since no one else is offering to have them, I'll continue my reign of domestic terror and see what household appliance I can break next.
The oven actually broke before Christmas. It happened at some point while I was baking. I can't pinpoint the exact moment the thermostat or the heating element went whack-a-doodle but it was shortly before I took a sheet of semi-charcoaled cookies out of the oven.
I don't burn cookies. Ever. Period. This is not open for discussion. Cookie baking at our house is a sacred activity and Cookies Do Not Burn. The smoking tray of cranberry/white chocolate cookies was distinctly un-Martha Stewart-esque. Something was amiss.
As it turned out, the thermostat worked. It just didn't work correctly. Reminds me of some dogs I know. A temp setting of 350 degrees yielded anything from 275 degrees to 425 degrees. I got the holiday baking done by constantly monitoring an oven thermometer and juggling, shifting and turning the trays accordingly. My apologies to any friends who received slightly under-baked cookies this year. I prefer to err on the side of caution. Using the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer is frowned upon.
So the Farmer and I hitched up the team, went to town and bought a new oven. Oops. We bought a new range. There's the oven part and the stovetop part and collectively they are known as a range. Like home on the range. Which gives me visions of cooking in a cast iron stove fueled by wood and corn cobs. Which was kinda what I felt like I'd been doing because the old oven couldn't hold a steady temperature setting to save its life.
The good news was they had a model I liked and it was on sale and there was even a rebate. The bad news was that they couldn't deliver it until after Christmas. Which meant I got to cook Christmas dinner for the family with an oven that offered complete unreliability. I planned side dishes that could be fixed in the Crock Pot or microwave, said a prayer for the well being of the ham and promised family members I would not serve them baloney sandwiches. My mother wisely offered to bring the pie. I thanked her for it. Pie is sacred.
Flash forward. Delivery day arrived. The delivery men assured me they would call 30 minutes before getting to our house. Fortunately, I took the entire afternoon off of work and was at home, because they didn't call 30 minutes ahead, they just showed up. And tried to deliver my range to my mother-in-law, who lives down the road. That was just the beginning.
We have a pretty solid coating of snow and ice at our place and once they finally got here, the delivery men were flummoxed regarding how best to park their delivery truck so as not to damage the new appliance, the truck or themselves. There was a great deal of backing up, pulling forward and circling around. Then the hydraulic ramp thingie on the back of the truck refused to cooperate, resulting in a lot of whacking and banging until they got it lowered.
They came in and took the old stove out. The dogs were shut in the bedroom. Really, these guys didn't need any more help. Or maybe they did. There was some dispute about getting the old stove through the door onto the porch. Seriously, I have drug enough over-loaded crate dollies through doors at show sites I could have told them all they needed to do was back up and get a straight approach, then run like you're on Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. But nobody asked me.
Once they got the old one out, I thought things were going to get better. I hung out in the house and waited. And waited. And waited. The new range is electric. All they needed to do was unload it, plug it in and shove it into place. But nothing was happening.
There were two guys, a big husky guy and a skinny little guy. They were standing at the back of the delivery van, waving their arms. Finally the skinny little guy came in. "We broke the glass in the oven door of the old stove," he said.
This didn't concern me too much but I was starting to have doubts that my new stove was going to ever make into my kitchen in one piece. It was looking like baloney sandwiches for supper for the immediate future.
The big husky guy came in. "I'm going to pick up the glass," he informed me. Well. Yay for you.
In the mean time, the skinny little guy hauled the new range in, plugged it in and after a great deal of grunting and groaning, got it shoved into place. The big husky guy came in when he was done. "I got all the big pieces," he said. "Pretty sure I got most of it."
I signed the delivery form and they left. I looked at the kitchen floor. It was covered with mud and melted snow.
I went outside to look at the place where the glass had broken. I wondered what constituted a "big piece." The ground sparkled with thousands of tiny bits of shattered glass, mingled with snow and gravel. I got a scoop shovel and shoved up about a six-foot square section of the driveway.
Since the back porch door had been propped open the whole time the kittens had come inside and made themselves at home. They were sprawled atop the grooming table in the sunshine, batting at the leashes that hung from nearby pegs. One of them had drug all 40 feet of a tracking line off its peg and wrestled it into submission, creating a delightfully snarled mess. Weezel was happily chewing a leather leash in half. Seriously. He chews like a dog. This whole litter of kittens has some very canine characteristics, not the least of which is they run in a pack.
I rescued the leash, untangled the tracking line, shooed the kittens outdoors, mopped the floor and turned the dogs out of the bedroom. Does Martha Stewart have days like this?