We redid our kitchen back in the fall of 2005, when we were newlyweds and it was still a relatively good idea to walk into a Sears to buy Kenmore appliances. And for the most part, the appliances have held up. We had to replace the fridge a few years ago, but our stove and combo oven are still humming along. The dishwasher was beginning to worry us, however. Already a loud unit, it was getting louder and washing less with every week. It gets run pretty much every day, and due to Finn’s distracted method of loading it (skipping the step of scraping food off the plates first) it had to work extra hard. I’ve disassembled the screen and chopper several times, and mopped food sludge out of the bottom repeatedly. We weren’t surprised, then, when it stopped working last week: the light on the front flashed on startup, which meant that the computer was confused. I found a couple of reset codes on the internet and tried them all with no luck. I cleaned out the drains and the chopper. After another reset, I restarted it, but the light continued flashing sadly, as if to say, “that’s all, folks.”

So we hit the Home Depot to shop for a new one. We’ve got multiple relatives and friends who all swear by their Bosch, so we took the chance on German engineering and laid our money down on a 500 model. The 800 model has wi-fi for some reason. I guess it emails you when the pots are in the wrong rack, or to tell you when it piddles on the floor. They are all super-quiet and have a third tray on the top for silverware. Apparently we need to watch a video, take a quiz, and be licensed to load it properly. We had to settle for a stainless-front unit, as the black units are special-order and apparently trapped on a container ship somewhere. I’m going to see if I can get a black replacement panel and install it at some point, as we like the way a black unit blends in with the cabinet better.

Two guys showed up today and traded the old for the new in about an hour. I guess 17 years isn’t too bad, all things considered.

Date posted: March 23, 2022 | Filed under appliances, kitchen | Leave a Comment »

I love a bargain. I’ve haunted the yard sales in our neighborhood for years, looking for good deals, and I’ve been lucky more times than I can count. As Finn has gotten more interested in sewing and creating her own clothes, we’ve been looking for materials to work with. Jen started taking her to thrift stores a while back, and tagging along with them has awakened the dormant thrift store shopper in my blood.

I found a couple of things yesterday that I’m excited about, and one of them isn’t even for me. Our daughter is now a Teen, which means she sleeps 21 hours a day and complains about not seeing her friends for the other 17. Jen has been waking at 6:30 to get her out of bed and off to school by 7:45; the bus picks her up within visual distance of our front door but she’s already missed it once. We are eager to get her functioning as more of an adult, so a better alarm clock was in order. Among the shelves of disused electronics I found the exact same model GE alarm clock I took to college; in a weird bit of circular irony I donated that clock to charity back when I got my first iPhone, glad to be rid of its grating alarm noise. After scrubbing this one with bathroom cleaner and a toothbrush I plugged it in on her dresser and set the time. She’ll need to climb down from bed to shut it off, and hopefully that will wake her up enough to get the day started. Because if it’s in there going off for ten minutes every morning I’m going to bury her body somewhere deep in the backyard.

The other gem I found is a Toshiba 19″ LCD/DVD combo in working order with an attached stand and power cord. I did my best to test it out at the store at the single available power outlet, and all seemed to work OK—for $12 I figured I could deal with some broken features, as long as the coax input still worked. See, I like to enjoy listening to football when I’m working around the house in the fall, and the only room I can do that in currently is the den. For another $20 I can pick up a digital antenna from Amazon and move the TV where I’d like to watch some games before the season is over. For the rest of the year, I can plug a laptop into the HDMI port on the back and watch movies (I checked, it works) or use the built-in DVD player (I checked, that also works).

I tested this plan out on Sunday while I installed a lockset on the new door going into the new bathroom; the TV sat on the dresser next to me, and I got to watch the Packers finally beat the Bengals in overtime while I put a final coat of paint on the back of the door. It’s nice to have something in there that closes and latches and locks, and it’s nice to hear the game while I’m working.

Then I moved it downstairs and addressed a leak in our washing machine, which has been covering the floor in water for the past couple of weeks. I’d looked over all the attachments and found nothing wrong, so I bought a water tray and set it up underneath the washer partially as insurance and partially to see if the leak was under the washer or somewhere else. My hunch paid off when Jen reported a new leak this afternoon, so I pulled the drain hose off and checked it out: a leak at the low point squirted water out into the sink. $15 and a trip to the store fixed that right up; the TV sat on the workbench and kept me up to date on Giants/Cowboys. Not bad for less than $20.

Date posted: October 10, 2021 | Filed under appliances | Leave a Comment »

We’re currently experiencing that wonderful synchronicity homeowners enjoy when lots of little things start failing all at the same time, leading to repair bills and irritation.

  • Aforementioned washer woes.
  • The work sink in the basement backed up last week after a load of laundry and took most of the night to drain itself; we called Roto-Rooter and they sent a guy out who wanted to charge me an absurd number to  snake it. Having already phoned a guy who quoted me less than half that price to do it later that afternoon, I got R-R to match that price and he cleaned it to the sewer line. This is not the first time we’ve had this problem, and I expect we’ll have to call someone else in another fifteen years.
  • We’ve run the downstairs air conditioner, a monster 18,000 BTU unit, out of one of the dining room windows, for the better part of 10 years. The plug it was attached to had been original to the house until some investigation revealed it was poorly jumped from a different line—some asshat had cut insulation off a different circuit and taped two wires around it to bring power to the plug instead of adding a junction box the way they should have. We ran it this way for several years, risking certain incineration, before we found it and had an electrician fix it. Yesterday the plug decided it would quit completely, and when I put a tester on it, the readings made no sense—It indicated open neutral under no load. When I plugged in a fan. and turned it on, the tester then indicated hot-ground reverse, which is Not Good. So, we moved the AC unit into the living room and called another electrician.
  • The refrigerator, which is only two years old, is struggling to keep up with the Maryland humidity. Part of that is due to the A/C being off and the upstairs windows being open for most of the morning. Part of it is because it’s been sitting in the old coat closet with the door closed, which doesn’t help ventilate it. Part of it could be because we haven’t replaced the air filter yet. This is not our first rodeo with balky refrigerators, so I tend to believe it’s something to do with the location or operator error. I took the door off the closet to see if that helped, but it looks like we’ve got to call somebody to look at it.

There’s a special evening scheduled at our pool for immunocompromised swimmers tonight, and I am sure as fuck going for a swim.

* * *

As of today, we are at 525 CDs completed, for a total of 145GB of data. The second carousel wasn’t as full as the first—maybe 300 of 400 slots were full—so the final number should be somewhere in the 6-700 range. There are a bunch I haven’t ripped, like the ones I digitized for Rob back in the day, where I’ll substitute clean copies from my discs instead. There are a few others that came from other folks that I don’t have the originals for.

Date posted: August 12, 2020 | Filed under appliances, music | Leave a Comment »

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I set up a table and a stove in the shady part of the backyard to brew a new batch of beer on Sunday, knowing it was going to get hot out there. The brew went smoothly, and because I was using the original stainless kettle I’d started with 15+ years ago, the batch smelled and tasted better than the last two I’d cooked in aluminum pots. This one is called Kama Citra, and it took a metric ton of hops during the boil—it smelled so good—and after it gets racked into the secondary fermenter it will get another two ounces of hops to finish.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’ll have to dump the bock in the kegerator out, as I just can’t bring myself to drink it due to the taste.

* * *

The new washer in the basement is happily cranking away on our clothes. There was a frightening couple of days where it was looking like we weren’t going to get something delivered until the middle of August, but I got lucky with a Lowe’s CSR who absolutely worked the system, found me a washer available locally, and had it delivered the next day. Jen says it’s much larger than our HE front-loader and seems to be washing clothes better.

Date posted: July 29, 2020 | Filed under appliances, brewing | Leave a Comment »

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After 10+ years of faithful, if not mediocre service, our fancy HE front-loading washing machine has given up the ghost. I’m no stranger to basic appliance maintenance, but when the display starts showing strange error codes and failing to drain, and the internet tells you it’s expensive problems with the computer in the unit, it’s time to call in a professional. Jamell was super-cool and nodded his head sadly when I showed it to him; he confirmed my suspicions that we were either going to have to replace the main control board (~$500 plus labor) or the motor (~$500 plus labor). He suggested we replace the whole unit and this time go with a top-loader, as they are easier to work on, break down less, and wash clothes better. I wanted to do my part for the environment and everything but I also don’t want to stink. So we’re heading out this afternoon to the Sears Outlet American Freight to pick up a new Kenmore and have it delivered before we run out of clean underwear. I’m going to steal the top cover before it goes, because washing machine steel makes great automotive patch paneling.

* * *

Finn and I were in Easton at Karean’s house yesterday to help move some furniture and do some house maintenance before she has her carpeting replaced with hardwood flooring; she’s got heavy and bulky furniture that would be impossible to move solo, so we got the coffee table and couch moved together. Then I fixed some stuff around the house and tried to revive Rob’s 400-disc CD changers, which both powered on and immediately made screeching noises—which leads me to believe either the motors are bad or the belts that the motors drive are bad. I threw them both in the back of the car to do some more research, and there’s a chance I can fix them if it’s just the belts, but either way I’m going to be ripping CD’s for the next couple of months so that she’s got her music available again.

Date posted: July 16, 2020 | Filed under appliances, friends, photo | 2 Comments »

Here’s the surround in place with two coats of paint (ignore the kickplates at the bottom; that’s a whole other thing) and the clock recentered.

Date posted: February 25, 2019 | Filed under appliances, house | Leave a Comment »

Here’s the hole I chopped out of the wall. It looks like shit. This is before I put patches in place, replaced the plank over the gap in the floor with two boards, and trimmed the inside closet moulding. 

This is the old fridge in the newer, wider hole. 

And here’s the new fridge in place. I’m going to mimic the rest of the window/door moulding and mill some boards to cover the jagged edges. That should clean things right up and make the kitchen presentable again. 

I asked the delivery guys to move the old fridge out into the garage, where it will sit until I can put an unswitched outlet in the front corner and relocate all of the garden tools to somewhere else. Or, more likely, I’ll pull one of the two cabinets off the back wall and stick it all the way back there. 

Date posted: December 24, 2018 | Filed under appliances | Leave a Comment »

I had a list of stuff I wanted to get accomplished over the Christmas break. Some of it was house-related stuff, some of it was school-related stuff, and some of it was stuff I just wanted to finally get to. It’s all been sidelined by the fridge crisis.

Our current, failing fridge is an upscale top-freezer model, standing 33″ wide by 65″ tall. It sits in our hallway coat closet, peeking out of a hole cut in the wall, directly under the staircase. That staircase is the problem, as the angle and position of the staircase dictates how much vertical room we’ve got to work with. Modern french-door refrigerators are generally 36″ wide by 69″ tall, varying in depth depending on the unit. The existing hole we had would not accommodate a larger fridge, which meant I would have to sneak an extra 4″ from somewhere.

I busted out the Sawzall and set about seeing how much room I could find if I enlarged the hole on the other side of the staircase. This meant I had to pull the moulding off the inside of the closet wall, gently saw through all of the lathe, trim a bunch of the remaining wall studs, and reroute the doorbell wiring (unfortunately severing one of the leads in the process). I measured and measured again, and with all the trimming I did, I think I’ve got the room to work with.

Once I knew that, we went to Lowe’s and looked at the available stock for the third time, finally settling on a 21 cubic foot Fridgidaire in stainless steel on a $850 discount from list price. They looked in back and found one available for us, and we ordered it.

Sunday I continued cleaning up the jagged hole I’d hacked away at, fitting drywall into the sections where the plaster had come off the lathe and replacing two sections of flooring with spare tongue and groove I’d stashed in the garage. Then I slapped a gallon of drywall spackle over the patches and called it good enough, because Jen is making a St. Mary’s County Stuffed Ham for Christmas dinner, and we needed to clean all of the dust up before she started cooking.

After cleaning the house, Finn and I sat down for some LEGO City on the XBOX and then knocked off a few of the backed-up advent activities: viewings of a Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, roasting some marshmallows over the fire, and having a picnic under the tree. 

Date posted: December 23, 2018 | Filed under appliances | Leave a Comment »

Our refrigerator has decided it’s time to break down again, just a few days before Christmas and with a 25-lb. ham freshly purchased. I had to make an after-hours run to the store last night for ice, and throw all of our groceries in the coolers, and run two coolers’ worth of stuff over to Christi & Glen’s spare fridge. Meanwhile the temperatures are projected to be in the mid-40’s instead of the 20s like they were last week, which would have been perfect for storing stuff on the back porch. Merry Christmas.

Date posted: December 22, 2018 | Filed under appliances, house | Leave a Comment »

We did a round-trip into Ohio over the weekend for a funeral, one of Jen’s extended family. His name was Floyd and he was a funny man, extremely nice to me when I met him, and he and his wife always sent us Christmas cards. While we were there we saw Jen’s sister Annie and her son Scott, as well as her father and the larger Ohio contingent of her mother’s family. It was a long trip out and a long trip back, my second in a month, and I don’t think I need to go to Ohio again for a while.

While that was happening, our refrigerator decided it was going to go wonky (probably in protest of the small upright freezer Jen bought and installed in the basement). Jen had emptied and defrosted it after moving a pile of stuff to the new freezer, but when we plugged it back in the temperature in the fridge section wasn’t staying cold enough. We packed up a bunch of food and brought it to our brother and sister’s spare garage fridge the night before we left; hopefully we haven’t lost three dozen eggs and two gallons of milk. On our return from Ohio the fridge was cooled properly, if not slowly, so we did some recon on the tail end of the Labor Day sales to see what’s out there.

Most of the new model fridges have things like TV screens and cooling drawers and lights that come on when you knock on the window (yes, they have windows). Most of them are bottom-freezer designs, which I like. They are larger, taller and deeper than ours because they were made for modern kitchens. Ours is a smaller traditional top-freezer design. It’s hiding out in the old hall closet under the stairs, tucked into a hole hacked in the wall. Because of the angle of the stairwell above, I’ve only got a certain amount of width and height I can work with, and the closet is only so deep. Most modern units are 70″ high by 36″ wide, and I think I can make a hole big enough to squeeze one in there. I would have liked to have the weekend to cut and trim the walls to test my theory before making a $1500 purchase, but didn’t have enough time, so we will miss out on Labor Day sales. I’m betting our fridge will probably last another couple of months, especially now that the heat and humidity has left, and we’ll look at a new one in late winter when money is more plentiful.

Meanwhile there’s a hurricane blowing in this week, and we have no idea what it will do to this area. I bought a submersible pool pump from Amazon for delivery tomorrow, and I’ll go out and shore up the defenses after work tomorrow night. I would also have liked to clean the gutters this weekend, but I guess I’ll deal with what I get when it gets here.

Date posted: September 12, 2018 | Filed under appliances, family, general, kitchen | Leave a Comment »