another new appliance

It wasn’t our intent to go on an appliance buying binge. Really it wasn’t.

Our oven gave out. The cost to repair it was fully one-third the cost of getting a new stove. So we got a new stove and we have been delighted.

The refrigerator that came with the house was nine years old and gave out six months after our arrival in 2015. The thermostat quit, which meant it was running all the time. Replacement part not available. So we bought a new side-by side.

The new refrigerator was a pain in the rear from the beginning. The bracket that held one of the baskets in the freezer came out from the refrigerator wall, so whenever we tried to pull it out it would fall off of its rails. One of the two crisper drawers on the refrigerator side never opened smoothly. The ice dispenser misbehaved from the very beginning and replacing the control panel did nothing to fix that. Then, finally, the ice maker got out of whack. Either it was leaking, or, as my brother suggested, the valve was not shutting off in time and it was overflowing.

refrigeratorEnough, we said.

We went to our locally-owned appliance shop and explained our plight. The only side-by-sides were Frigidaire, same as what we had. So we checked out the top-bottom models and decided we liked the Whirlpool version. It had more storage space. In the freezer we can stack our frozen lunches horizontally rather than vertically, making it much easier to make a selection at lunch time. The ice maker is well behaved. And we can see what we have in the deli drawer without even having to open it.

It was more money than we planned to spend, but it was worth it. We haven’t done a kitchen remodel, but with our new stove and new refrigerator we don’t need one. We’re pleased with what we have.


struggling brick-and-mortar

I am as guilty as anyone: I order a lot of things through Amazon. It’s simple, convenient, and the prices are good. But sometimes I like to see what I am buying, and for kitchen-related merchandise Terry and I are big fans of Bed Bath & Beyond. We really liked the Gilroy store, and we spent a lot of time (and money) there. The store here in Hemet is smaller, but still not bad.

Now the retailer (Terry and I call it BBY) has been struggling and has announced that they are closing stores this year. So far the Hemet store has remained open, but I wonder how long that will last.

Bed Bath & Beyond couponsWe recently needed a few things, and headed over there armed with their famous 20% off one item coupons. I needed a new 4-cup measuring cup. I hated tossing the Pyrex one I’d had for decades, but it was chipping and you don’t really want to mess around with glass in the kitchen. We were out of food-grade mineral oil for our cutting board and we needed candles.

The candles we found. The only measuring cups they had were cheap plastic ones. Really? Are you kidding me? They didn’t have the mineral oil even though I’d bought it there a year ago. I found a quality glass measuring cup at Target. It’s Anchor Hocking rather than Pyrex, but still quite serviceable. I had to use Amazon for the mineral oil.

I suppose it’s a Catch-22. If BBY doesn’t have the business they don’t have the cash flow to stock the merchandise. But if they don’t have the merchandise they’re not going to get the business – even from people like Terry and me who want to shop there.

The world of retail is not what it once was.


Remembering C.A.

I learned on Monday of the passing of long-time Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd member C.A. Conn. C.A. was a busy, active member of the church until just a couple of months ago, when she was struck by a progressive, debilitating illness.

C.A. Conn photoI really didn’t know her at all my first eighteen months at Good Shepherd, but we were thrown together on the profile committee after Pastor Kathleen’s retirement. She always had an opinion which she felt you were entitled to hear. But she had a lot to offer, and had an in-depth knowledge of the history of Good Shepherd, which she documented. She produced a marvelous video, in which I play a cameo role, as part of our rector search process. At the outset she didn’t know me either, but came to appreciate both my computer and writing skills. That meant a lot to me.

When Sandra, our communications director, left for a career opportunity at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, C.A. told Linda, our Senior Warden (that is, board president) that I was the one who should be tasked with maintaining the church web site and sending out the weekly e-news. Linda was happy that I was willing to take those tasks on, along with the church Facebook page. Meanwhile, C.A. took responsibility for the weekly church worship bulletin. I was frequently in touch with her about content for the e-news.

C.A.’s decline was sudden, unexpected, and troubling. Long a highly mobile and independent person, she had to rely on her devoted husband for transportation and she began walking with a cane. Eventually she was unable to even get out of the house.

C.A. led a marvelous life and gave fully and generously to Good Shepherd Episcopal Hemet. She will be greatly missed and she leaves big shoes that we’ll need to fill.

We love you, C.A. Rest in peace and rise in glory.


where are the sunflowers?

There is something missing in the San Jacinto Valley this spring.

The sunflowers are missing.

Where I would normally see sunflowers I am seeing small yellow flowers. This time last year sunflowers were all over the place. This year we had an unusually wet winter and (with the exception of a few hot days) an unusually mild spring with a lot of clouds and a robust marine layer. Maybe sunflowers don’t like that.

sunflowersSunflowers represent hope and new beginnings for me. In the spring of 1971 I was a senior at Hemet High School. There were sunflowers all around that year. I was enjoying the final semester of my coursework (all electives I wanted to take!) and looking forward to attending Pitzer College in the fall. I also spent some time with a marvelous young woman named Peggy. We went out a couple of times. Hemet’s lone single-screen theater was showing a Sophia Loren movie called Sunflower. It was an awful movie, but I got to spend some time with Peggy. I regret that my social ineptitude meant that the relationship didn’t really go anywhere.

So sunflowers have always been a symbol of expectation, moving forward, and happiness to me. I miss them this year.


an end to envy

When Terry and I left Gilroy and moved south in 2015 we hated leaving the house into which we had put so much love, effort, and money. What I really hated giving up was the stove with convection oven which we installed as part of our kitchen remodel.

It’s shouldn’t be surprising then, that when we would watch cooking programs on Food Network (and we watch a lot of them) that I would get a bit sad and a little envious when the camera shot would show the inside of an oven with a fan in the back. That fan meant, of course, that it was a convection oven. I managed to not let that interfere with my life in any sort of significant way, but I did miss my convection oven.

Earlier this year our oven here in Hemet quit working. A day after the service man came out and diagnosed the problem we got a call saying that the repair would be $250. Given that the stove was the age of the house, twelve years old, and given that we had lost the clock display during a power bobble over the winter, we decided the money would be better spent going towards a new stove.

stoveAs much as we like to support our locally-owned appliance shop, and we do—we bought both a washer-dryer pair and a refrigerator there—their selection of stoves, at least those with convection ovens, did not excite us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and found a unit that we liked. To get it in white, we were told, would be two to three weeks. That was fine, although the two to three weeks turned into seven.

In the end, though, it was worth the wait, and in any case I was somewhat less than a hundred percent for much of that time after my surgery and the unpleasant complication that followed it. By the time the stove arrived I was feeling much better and ready to make good use of it.

Having had it for some weeks now, I can say that I am delighted. No, it is not a Wolf or Sub-Zero: it is a Samsung. It is, however, everything I need. I have my convection oven, a proof setting for bread, and even a long grill burner, something our Gilroy stove didn’t have.

No more reason to feel envy when I see the fans in the ovens on Food Network.


our local strawberry stand

I complain that we don’t have an independent, locally-owned grocery store with a full-service meat department where we can chat with the owners, as we did in Gilroy with Rocca’s Market. I bemoan the fact that we don’t have an independent produce market, as we did with Kachy’s in Gilroy.

strawberriesWhat we do have is a small strawberry stand just outside of town. Their hours are irregular. You never know when they are going to open, close for lunch, or shut down for the day. But they have the sweetest, most moist, tasty strawberries that you will find anywhere. And it’s not possible to get strawberries any fresher. If they’re busy you may have to wait while the ladies pick more and bring them over to the stand in their golf cart. There is a strawberry stand closer in to town that is easier to get to, but their strawberries just don’t compare.

And our strawberry stand just introduced a new high-tech innovation. They had business cards printed up that include the owner’s cell phone number so you can call and see if they’re open before driving out there. How amazing is that?

They are only there for a couple of months each year, but when they are there we are delighted to have them.


blog break

It’s time for a short blog hiatus. I am having surgery on Wednesday for an object on my intestinal tract that should not be there and needs to be removed. I expect to be back blogging in a couple of weeks, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, along with your prayers and good thoughts, of course.

laptopThat may well be all you care to know, and that makes perfect sense. If you choose to keep reading, however, I can fill you in with a little more background, but I will endeavor to avoid the slippery slope of TMI.

It’s been quite a journey, going back nearly a year. After my annual physical last year my primary care physician ordered a blood cell count, presumably because I told the medical student who saw me before he came into the exam room that I had lost weight for no apparent reason. My white count came back high, which resulted in an ultrasound and a referral to urology as the issue appeared to be kidney-related. A CT scan followed, with the urologist saying, “You don’t need me” and referring me to gastroenterology. Those folks told me that I had a GIST, a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. The medical team ordered two different endoscopic procedures to confirm that it was only that. The gastrointestinal surgeon partnered with the oncologist (head of oncology at Kaiser Riverside, by the way!) who prescribed a medication to shrink the GIST. No effect, the second CT scan revealed. Bad news: larger rather than smaller is harder to remove. Good news: the medication not shrinking it means it’s probably not cancerous.

So here we are. Think of me (as the song from Phantom of the Opera says), and my intent is to be back with you soon. I have cleared out my queue of backlogged blog entries and will be starting fresh when I return. Once restarted, this blog may take a slightly different approach or focus but I do plan to keep blogging. Writing is central to who I am, and I have much to write about.

Stay tuned.