Home on the Range

I am unreasonably excited about this. I'm getting a new stove! New as in new from the store, not new as in transferred from one of the vacant apartments! And only seven years after I first reported trouble with my stove!

Hey, this is the life of a renter. On the up side, someone else pays for your new appliance. On the down side, you're at the mercy of someone else's decisions about your appliances. For the most part, my landlord's okay. When something breaks, they get someone out to fix it. When we have a problem, they listen and they do what they can to help. It's not their fault that the building has almost no insulation and we freeze to death every winter, or that the college students treat the place like shit. It's just par for the course.

I moved into this apartment in May 2004. At that time, one of the burners didn't work. In addition, the front door of the oven didn't quite close completely, so baking time had to be adjusted, everything had to be rotated mid-bake and it was decidedly energy-inefficient. I reported it all, and they replaced the non-working element. C'est la vie.

That's okay. For seven years I've created mostly-edible meals on that stove. I'm a believer in meal-planning and cooking in batches, because I know what a huge drain it is on our meager fortunes when we eat out a lot. Giving in and going to restaurants, usually for social reasons, is the number-one controllable way we screw up our budget. (Uncontrollable ones like medical bills, utility hikes and car repairs... well, we speak not of these things. Meep.)

This fall, the bad burner went bad again, because it's not the element, it's the wiring. Then the other large burner went out. Then one of the small burners began behaving erratically. But the kicker came when one of the loaves of bread burned despite being cooked much less than the first loaf, and the Thanksgiving turkey finished roasting about two hours ahead of schedule even though it was so huge I had to take out the middle rack. A pecan pie prepared for the family gathering turned to charcoal after twenty minutes on 350 degrees. That's not supposed to happen this side of Hades.

I've been oven-less for five days now and I think I'm in withdrawal. I had no idea how much I relied on the damn thing until I couldn't use it. I have cookies to bake, dammit! A platter of goodies required for Friday's fundraiser! I might have to... gasp! Buy store-bought. [starwars] Noooooo! [/starwars]

Fear not, for the repairman sent forth by my landlord told them the cost of fixing my beleaguered oven would be three-fourths the cost of a new one. I think he was aiming higher on the food chain than my landlord is likely to see - he estimated repairs at $300, and right now I could walk into Home Depot and get an electric stove for $298.

Honestly, I've never had a new appliance. I've been a renter since I left home at eighteen, as we reporters don't make enough money to actually purchase property, you silly thing. We rent, or we marry rich(er). (This isn't hard, as everyone is richer than reporters. Even social workers.)

The closest I've come was the microwave my parents gave me when I got my first apartment in 1995. It's ironic, then, that the microwave is starting to make funny noises when we start it. Yes, I still have it. What did I tell you about being poor? Hey, the damn thing works, which is more than I can say for just about everything else I had in 1995. If my car(s) had held up like that microwave has, I'd be a much wealthier woman. (Dear microwave: please hold out until February. Thanks, Mgmt.)

Every kitchen has had low-end rental appliances, inefficient and leaking heat/cold all over the place. We learn not to put sour cream in the back of the fridge or it'll freeze, and that you can't put dairy products too close to the lightbulb. You adjust your cooking times and dry every load of laundry twice and pay your electric bill with a sigh.

So now I will get a new stove, and have to readjust all my cooking times and learn all the doo-dads and gizmos added to modern stovature (is that a word?) since the mid-1980s. I suppose it's too much to hope that they got an energy-efficient model, but maybe this one will have a little light inside it so I can see whether the bread's done without opening the door. The things they think of these days!