Most people in our modern world consider a cooking device an important part of a household. Many of us are also over-committed. These two elements came together last week when our kitchen stove (“range,” I’m finding out, is the correct term) burned out. We could tell when we bought our house two years ago that the previous owners had likely not replaced any appliances. The refrigerator died our first year. Now, in our second, the stove—excuse me, range—went. Given that it’s turned cooler around here, a good hot meal in the evening has been a welcome relief, but with no stove how do you cook it? This happened on a Tuesday. My wife and I compared calendars. The closest evening we could both get out to look for replacements was Friday. Of course, once you shell out the money you also have to wait for delivery and installation. It looked like at least a week without home-cooked food. Grocery shopping, of course, had been on Monday.
It occurred to me how utterly dependent we are on our big appliances. The refrigerator died just before a holiday weekend in pre-covid days, so we were on our way out of town when it happened. A lot of food had to be wasted. It took about four days before a new one could be delivered, and we had to cut short our trip to be here in time for the installers. Food. Unless you’re living on granola bars and trail mix you need to keep it cold or keep it hot. Our ranges and refrigerators do the heavy lifting for us. Our ancestors stuck things in the cellar to keep cool and chopped wood to keep what is properly called a “stove” hot in the kitchen. It was pretty much a full-time job just to survive. Now nightly Zoom meetings make any interruption of online connectivity difficult.
Weekends, given the circumstances, are gems. They are the only time we can get things done. Days are eaten up by ever-expanding work by people desperate to keep their jobs in a tanking economy. Supply chains, interrupted by the virus, meant that a delivery of a new range would only happen in January. Going without food until the new year steered us toward a DIY appliance repair solution. I never thought I’d be sticking my head in an oven, but here I was, with a new part ordered from Amazon and the confidence of the friendly people on YouTube telling me I could do it. Taking days instead of months, we were cooking again by Sunday, and I just might’ve learned something along the way.
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