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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Our Kitchen Range Kind Of Blew Up...

It all started so innocently. Mikey the exterminator was here ("Call Mikey! He'll kill anything!") spraying around our kitchen to take care of some weird little black beetles that have had the run of the place for the last couple of weeks. I happened to notice that the rangetop clock was off. No nice soothing green digital numbers informing me that it was precisely 10:19 on a Sunday morning and all was right with the world. I turned around and noticed that the refrigerator was also off (some brilliant electrician back in the 1950s thought it would be just fine to have them both on one circuit; no idea why). So I dutifully went over to the switch where the range was plugged in and pushed the little red reset button. The black button popped out, then immediately popped back in, shutting off the fridge and the oven before they even had a chance to fire up. I tried it a couple of more times. Same result. The electrical outlet was not cooperating.

Not to be deterred, I went outside to the circuit breaker to see if anything untoward was going on. Didn't seem to be. All the switches were set to "on," everything looked copacetic. Just one annoying plug in the kitchen kept resetting itself. Strange.

So I went back inside while Mikey sprayed the yard and unplugged the range. This time when I reset the plug, it stayed on. Joan, intrigued by the mystery at this point, brought in a small appliance and plugged it in to the suspect plug. No problem. It switched on, buzzed contentedly, didn't disturb the fridge at all. In case you're not keeping score, that's Plug 1, Range 0.

It occurred to me we could plug the range in someplace else. Not that there's exactly a convenient spot apart from the plug that was designed for the range to be plugged into, but beggars can't be choosers and all that. I ran an extension cord from another plug across the kitchen to the range. Problem solved. At least for the moment.

(Joan will probably insist at this point that I mention we had a grounded extension cord with a triple surge protector, and that she had suggested, nay, strongly suggested that I use this for my electrical experiment with the temperamental range. For some reason, when the time came to actually plug in the silly thing, it flat out didn't occur to me. Instead I used an ordinary extension cord that Joan took to college with her some thirty years ago. This was probably not wise.)

Some time that evening I was down here on the computer, much the way I am now, typing away at an email, much the way I am now, when loud popping noises sounded from the kitchen. And Joan screamed. And there were more popping noises. And Joan screamed again. And I, lost on Planet Jenster like I usually am in the evening, just assumed that there must be a spider in the kitchen (the popping sounds, of course, being Joan's attempt to stomp on it).

I got up and went into the kitchen. Holy guacamole. The extension cord was jumping around on the floor like a snake. Sparks were shooting out from underneath the range. Joan was still screaming. The smell of ozone was prominent in the air. And the popping noises, complete with firework accompaniment, continued. "What do we do?" Joan asked. I had not one clue. But it did occur to me that if we could unplug the range, it would have less electricity with which to wreak havoc in the kitchen.

And so, completely ignoring everything I learned in Girl Scouts and first aid classes about how to deal with downed power lines and other electrical weirdities, I grabbed the extension cord and yanked it clean out of the wall. (In retrospect, it occurred to me that I'm kinda big for a girl, and 120 volts probably wasn't going to kill me. And, heck, Joan was right there with her cell phone.) As soon as the plug let go of the cord, the snapping, sparking range was silent. It stood there, looking ominous, its clock face once again blank. The smell of ozone seemed to take a long time to dissipate.

So after Joan stopped cursing me to my seventh generation for not using the grounded extension cord, we called an electrician. He showed up the next day and, surprisingly, pronounced both plugs solid and undamaged. The range, however, is "fried." As in, don't plug it in again, you moron. That way lies madness.

This morning at about 8:30 I got my pay check. This morning at 9:00 half of it went to Sears for a new range, setup, delivery, tax, title, license, dealer prep and options. It's being delivered on Saturday morning. But even the magnificence of a nifty new appliance is kind of dwarfed by the fact that A. we have to pay for it and B. somehow we've got to clean out all the gunk that fell between the counter and the range over lo these many years. I don't suppose Martha Stewart covers that in any of her books, does she?

Incidentally, I finished the revision of the Mindbender manuscript, only ten days past deadline, go me. 27,000 words bit the dust, which is a frick'n miracle. I've been physically and mentally wiped for the last three days, but I'm planning to have a go tomorrow morning at getting one of the packages ready for the agents who expressed interest at the Pen to Press retreat. That should be fun. Expect the return of Scaley the Paranoid T-Rex and all the happy go lucky days that will follow.

Also incidentally, we need a new water heater. I hope the old one doesn't blow up until next month.


Cele said...

I hope you bought yourself a really nice glass top range. They are so nice.

Jen said...

Nope, it's a Kenmore white gas stove/electric range. It's all shiny and pretty, tho, with a big window for the oven and all that.