Bessie is 47 years old, and sadly, she is way past her prime. Sometimes she’s too hot, and at other times, she barely warms up at all. She’s unpredictable, unreliable, and frankly, she doesn’t look so great anymore, either. As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to replace her.
This is Bessie.
She appears to be the original kitchen range in my little house, a modest brick ranch built in 1971. So yes, I’ve been cooking on a relic that was manufactured during the Nixon administration!
In spite of my irreverent tone in the first paragraph, I’m actually quite impressed with Bessie’s longevity. They just don’t make ‘em like her anymore! Since I bought my house eight years ago, I’ve purchased new washers and dryers twice, and we had to replace a relatively new dishwasher last year, too. Thankfully the 12-year-old refrigerator is still chilling, even though the door makes a loud, cranky sound when you open it, and the icemaker has never worked right. The dispenser doesn’t actually dispense, but it does spit random ice cubes at you when you least expect it. It’s playful that way.
Home Improvement, Part 1
When I first moved in, I updated mostly cosmetic things, like the groovy shag carpeting in the front bedrooms and the paneling on the living room walls. I actually liked the bright blue guest bathroom and decided I could decorate around the gold tile in the master bath. Hey, I’m a child of the 70s. My favorite pair of jeans are bellbottoms!
Anyway, the stove and oven still worked, so there was no reason to replace them at the time when all the flooring and walls needed attention. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t read the numbers on the oven dial; it wasn’t hard to figure out which white mark represented 350 degrees. But over time, I began to notice that my kitchen was becoming unbearably hot when I used the oven, because all the heat was escaping the oven itself and baking me instead. If a muffin recipe said, “bake at 350 for 20 minutes,” 35 minutes later their outsides might look done, but they’d have strange, raw, spongy middles. And the burners on the stove lost their ability to find a happy medium, scorching my morning oatmeal or just not heating up at all.
Home Improvement, Part 2
Finally Bessie gave up altogether when a dry, brittle wire touched something it shouldn’t – with a dramatic arc, a puff of smoke, and a loud BOOM! (I’m wondering if one day I’ll go out the same way. I’m not getting any younger myself.)
Ret and I spent weeks hunting for a replacement, which was much more frustrating than I expected because not just any range would fit in the space we have. Who knew this would be so complicated? Evidently installers will gladly accept your $149 to plug in a new appliance for you, but if carpentry work is involved to make room for it, they’re not interested. Finally, my handy brother-in-law came by over the weekend to help us. My husband Ret is a terrific guy, a loving hubby and a talented musician – but he’s no carpenter.
Now we’re cooking!
Here’s my shiny new range with the smooth cooktop and convection oven. What do you think I should name her? I am so excited! Just think: After all these years of somehow managing to prepare pretty decent meals with poor Bessie, we just might find out I’m really a chef!