by Valerie Nusbaum

I heard a hissing, whistling sound, like bacon frying, but I wasn’t frying bacon. Not yet, anyway. Looking to my left, I saw sparks flying and then flames starting to climb. There was a “BOOM” and the flames climbed higher. The smoke was thick and white, then black. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Thirty Minutes Earlier

I had bought a quart of buttermilk and decided that I was going to make some homemade pancakes for dinner. Randy likes having breakfast for dinner, and let’s face it, the pancake mixes are good but nothing beats a homemade pancake/hotcake/flapjack for lightness and tenderness. I got out my mixing bowl and carefully measured and sifted my flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar, and added in my oil and buttermilk.

My griddle skillet was hot and coated, and I started cranking out the pancakes. They looked light and fluffy and golden brown. I arranged them on a baking sheet and set my oven to “warm” to keep the cakes hot while I finished off the batch, cooked my turkey bacon and eggs, and fried some potatoes. Yes, I know it all sounds terribly unhealthy, but everything in moderation, right?  Something is going to kill me, and I’d rather it be a pancake than a salad.  How many of you have choked on those raw vegetables?

And then the oven exploded.  Luckily, I was standing several feet away. It’s also lucky that I was in the kitchen when it happened and was able to act quickly; it was doubly lucky that I only had the oven on “warm” mode. One of the heat coils (or whatever they’re called) had worn through. I was able to save my pancakes and only got burned a little. I did manage to bruise my hand black and blue, and I’m still not sure how that happened.

Now, I know I could probably have gotten my oven repaired, but the stove was 25 years old and, after discussing it with my husband, we decided it was time for a new appliance. You might remember that last month I told you Randy is now working from home. He’s here with me all day long for several days each week now, and he had been in the kitchen every single time I’d entered it throughout that day. However, when the dinner preparations began, Randy disappeared. When the fire broke out, he was nowhere to be found. I fought the blaze all by myself. I’m not suggesting anything here. I don’t think he deliberately sabotaged my oven. He’s too fond of pancakes to do that. I’m just asking, “Where was he when I needed him?” Okay, he had run out to get me a fountain Diet Coke from McDonald’s, but I still say his timing was off.

We started shopping for a new stove and decided that it would be a good time to replace the dishwasher as well. I wanted a stove similar to my old one, without a lot of bells and whistles, but I discovered that things have changed in the last quarter-century. I didn’t really want stainless steel because it’s so easily fingerprinted, and I really don’t plan to spend all my time wiping and cleaning. We ended up with a black fingerprint-resistant range, with an extra burner and more buttons than I’ll ever figure out or ever need.

Ordering the new appliances took an inordinate amount of time because our salesperson was new to the job. We all suffered through the process, and then Randy and I came home to wait for our pieces to be delivered and installed. Two weeks went by and we finally got a call about the dishwasher. The range had evidently been misplaced, but it was eventually tracked down and it was delivered and installed last Friday. I’ve cleaned it and gotten it ready for use, but, so far, I haven’t cooked or baked anything. It’s new, after all, and I hate to mess it up.

The new dishwasher showed up on Friday, too, but when the installer began removing our old one out, he found that the valve was frozen, and he informed Randy that he wasn’t allowed to work on that because of some liability issue or something.  So, the plumber left the new dishwasher sitting in its box in a corner of the kitchen.  Randy spent an hour or so on Saturday opening and replacing the valve. It would have taken him 10 minutes if he hadn’t had to go out and buy parts. We’re expecting the plumber again this afternoon and we’re hoping that’s the end of this process.

Now, while all of this was going on, we discovered an ugly brown spot on the kitchen ceiling and deduced that there’s a problem with Randy’s shower drain. Did I mention that the tree service is here today taking down a couple of trees and doing a major pruning? 

We know we’re not alone.  Everyone who owns a home has these kinds of problems, and they always seem to happen at once, don’t they? 

All I know for sure is that I’ll be making microwave pancakes for a while. Those homemade cakes were delicious, but they sure were expensive.

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