Coffee heat rising

The Great Freezer Renovation Project…

Welp, yesterday I spent the afternoon shoveling out and cleaning the Funny Farm’s two freezers and inventorying the existing store of frozen foods. The stocking-up project has worked pretty well, so far. Got both the refrigerator freezer cabinet and the big chest freezer in the back of the house emptied out, cleaned through and through, and then repacked and organized sanely.

There was a lot more stuff in there than I realized. My son had bought a pork shoulder from Costco when I asked him to retrieve dog food makings. Lordie! HUGE!!! Once this was cut up and a chunk of it converted into dog food, I still was left with at least seven pounds of pork. Alas, though, only one package of boned chicken thighs remains, so somehow I’ll have to extract three more double-packets of those from Costco…or find a way to fake it. In addition, there’s one roll remaining of Freshpet dog food — figure I’d better get two more of those, which I can raid from Fry’s or AJ’s.

The dog food also contains a Costco “Normandy style” veggie mix and a cup of oatmeal — only about 1/3 package each of those remains. These, though, are easy to retrieve from Costco. Apparently the rationing applies mostly to paper goods and meats.

The situation with the human protein sources looks much better:

  • 7 pieces of steak
  • 2 1/2-racks of barbecued spare-ribs
  • 1 piece frozen cod
  • 12 pieces frozen salmon
  • 5 servings frozen shrimp
  • 3 servings frozen scallops
  • and a package of frozen mussels that, when steamed, will probably make at least two and possibly even four servings.

So that stash represents the backbone of 31 or 32 main meals. If I follow through with my plan to alternate vegetarian days with meat/fish days, said stash could in theory last about two months.

Then we have…

  • 3 pounds of butter, frozen
  • 12 pounds(!!!!!) of white and whole-wheat flour, plus about 1/3 pound imported Italian flour
  • much, much, MUCH more frozen veggies than I thought could possibly be in those freezers

Turns out there’s a small bonanza of frozen spinach, scattered among several packages. Dumped it all into one large Ziplock bag, and it just about filled the thing chuckablock full. There’s also about 8 to 10 servings, all told, of corn and peas, plus about 1/3 bag chard. To say nothing of the chard and lettuce and tomatoes growing in the yard…

LOL! I also found a treasure trove of home-made ice packs. Apparently every time I sprain something, I make a new ice pack, rather than bestirring myself to search for one that’s already in the freezer. Whenever I stumble back to normalcy, I toss the new ice pack into the back of the freezer. 😀

What can I say??? Some of these, I threw out (or, if they contained washcloths, deconstructed and laundered). Just put away enough to cope with the next little disaster.

So. There was whole lot more stuff in there than I expected. On Wednesday I’ll make a Costco run and hit the front door as they open (Costco restocks on Mondays and Tuesdays, meaning Wednesday is the optimal shopping day there). I’ll grab what I can to try to bring the dog-food makings up to snuff, and also try to score at least a rack of lamb, if nothing else. I understand they’re rationing paper supplies and meat. Then at the Fry’s on the way home, I’ll try to grab two or three more large rolls of Freshpet dog food for the hound…one of those lasts her about 12 days, so a total of three in the freezer would be almost 40 days’ worth of Fake Food for her, not counting about 7 weeks’ worth of real food (…assuming I can snab 3 double-packages of chicken from Costco). Even if I can’t, that kind of low-end chicken cut is the sort of thing you find in Mexican markets, so I may be able to nail the chicken from El Rancho.

Okay, that will give me about three months’ worth of meals for myself, about…what?…eight or ten bread loaves for myself, and during the summer when things are growing, easily three to four months’ worth of veggies.

So it looks like in the short run, rather than perishable foods what I really need to stash are beans, rice, pasta, and household goods (paper products, cleaning solutions, shampoo & conditioner, soap, and the like).

LOL! Don’t Get Old, Kids!

Do not do what I have done
In the house of the setting sun…

😀 Whatever you say about dotage, you do have to allow that it gets funnier and funnier the the further you journey into the House of the Setting Sun.

Yesterday I wrote an entire post about the corvid  [SQUACK!!] virus. That would the the one that looks a lot like this fella…

 

 

Life in the Brave New World

It’s not my old age. It’s that the world has changed around us in ways that I don’t like.

When I say “ways I don’t like,” I do NOT mean ways that I can’t adapt to or can’t understand or whateverthepatronizingfuck. I mean that some of the products and ways of doing things that supplant earlier, now outmoded products and ways are objectively inferior to what we had before their advent.

LED light bulbs are way up there in that category, right along with washing machines that don’t do laundry. Personally, I loathe the light emitted by LED bulbs. Not just because the quality of said light is ugly. Because the light actually hurts my eyes. Consequently, when Big Brother announced that real light bulbs would be taken off the market, I stocked up on as many incandescents as I could pack into the house’s storage space. But…I forgot one small detail.

The kitchen in this house is illuminated by seven recessed can lights, each of which holds a 45-watt incandescent(!) floodlight. These lights have amazing longevity. I’ve lived in the house 15 years and have replaced only three of them. Because of that, the need to stockpile incandescent floodlights escaped me.

So the other day, one of those lights went out. Then forthwith another died.

Sh!t.

I only had a couple of real lights in the floodlight form. This meant I would have to replace them, and I absolutely positively did not want to replace them with ugly LEDs or, worse yet, fluorescent lights.

When I surfaced at Home Depot and collared a guy in an orange apron, he produced a box of floodlights that he claimed were incandescents. The only evidence to that effect was that the box was not proudly marked “LED.” So I bought a box of three and tried two of them in the bereft fixtures. Lo! They worked, and the quality of light they emitted matched the other lights’.

So, knowing where these could be had, I realized I’d better stockpile a bunch of them, too. So: back up to the Depot. Bought 15 of them. I may go back and buy a few more, too.

Given that most of these bulbs have lasted nigh unto 15 years and that there are 7 cans up there, a stockpile of 15 bulbs should in theory last as long as I’m likely to last. However, products are such junk these days — just about all products, it sometimes seems — that it would be foolish to assume these things will survive more than a few months, even at the minimalist rate I use them.

You understand: there’s a big skylight in the kitchen and two skylights and two Arcadia doors in the adjacent family room/dining room, so as a practical matter I hardly ever turn those kitchen lights on. Typically, they’re on for a few minutes after dark, long enough to let the dog out to pee and load the dishes in the washer, and sometimes for a few minutes on a winter morning, when it’s too early to navigate by sunlight. That explains the length of time the things have lasted.

Still. Given the quality of the sh!t we find on the market these days… Pyrex measuring cups, for example: reviewers at Amazon report that the painted-on markings wash off in the dishwasher! Mine are 30 or 40 years old and have never lost so much as a fleck of their enamel markings. Given the quality of the products available to us, it makes no sense to imagine these floodlights will last as long as the others, even if they are used only a few minutes a day.

These junk lights, as you’ll recall, were foisted on us by those desperate to save the planet, and to teach us all that we must pinch energy and resources to that end. They are politically correct products whose purpose is to spread a message, and which, quite frankly, are unlikely to alter the progress of the world’s degradation.

Climate change is not a problem that will be solved  by forcing dopey consumers to make do with inferior goods. That is propaganda, intended to make the ordinary Joe and Jane feel they’re sacrificing convenience and quality for the good of the planet and the future generations. We’re DOING something…right?

Bullshit.

The climate problem is to be solved (if it can be solved at all, at this point) by changing the ways that we generate energy — in every country, province, state and city around the world — and by forcing manufacturers to use energy-efficient processes to barf out their products. The same products: just made more efficiently.

Consider all the benefits of the USofA that my generation has lost and that younger generations will never see.

  • They took free TV away from us. All television is essentially pay TV now, in that you must have a cable connection, wireless, or a satellite dish to receive an intelligible signal. And no, streaming is not an adequate substitute, especially not when it foists advertising on you.
  • They took newspapers away from us. Streaming news: not a substitute. On our Sunday afternoon doggywalk, Ruby and I spotted a gigantic fire to the northeast of Outer Richistan. It was pretty close — looked to be on the east side of Meth Central — and it was big. Not a word of it on the news. Not till late Monday afternoon did even a passing mention appear…even though three people were unhomed and the building was destroyed. Local news? A thing of the past.
  • They took Pyrex products away from us. The new ones chip, explode in the oven (or in a cupboard, long after they’ve been in an oven), and lose their measurement marks.
  • They took dishwash detergent that works away from us — and for that matter, most dishwashers that work. The guys at the appliance store where I have the most recourse advise that only two brands  still do a decent job on your dishes: Bosch and a couple of specific models of GE.
  • They took clothes washers that clean clothes away from us.
  • They took toilets that flush away from us.
  • They took kitchen faucets that will fill a spaghetti pot during the cook’s lifetime away from us.
  • They took landline phones away from us, replacing them with expensive, difficult-to-use nuisances.
  • They took our privacy away from us.
  • They took affordable medical care away from us.

One could go on and on and on, right up to the current attempt (which may very well succeed) to take our democratic republic away from us.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of it. If one is going to do without all those little amenities, why spend the money to live in a “First-World” country? Why not live someplace like Panama, where the dollars that you have left will support you much more handsomely than they will here and where medical care can be paid for out of pocket?

110 in the Shade

Actually, Wunderground says it’s 112. But the thermometer on the back porch says it’s 110. WhatEVER. It’s plenty toasty out there.

LOL! Years ago I was doing a story for Arizona Highways on Aravaipa Canyon, a wilderness area in southern Arizona, when I stumbled across a poem written by a woman who had attempted to settle there with her husband: “100 Degrees in the Shade!”

It had a certain charm. Truth to tell, 100 degrees would have been very hot for those times. Temperatures were significantly cooler in the good ole days. Even when I moved here back in 1962, 102 or so is about as hot as it would get in early July (or anytime during the summer), and 110 was considered an exceptional scorcher. Nowadays, 110 is just SOP. You expect it to get up to 116 (or higher) at least a few days during the summer.

The pool is holding its own. Just now it looks exceptionally clear. Of course, one does not go in the water (unless your pool has some sort of shade structure) in the middle of a summer day, unless one craves more surgery to remove more actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinomas. Dropped into the drink in the morning, after the de rigueur two-mile walk, and I’ll go swimming again after the sun goes down. This is why we have air-conditioning and fans.

In Yarnell just now, it’s only 93. “Feels like 89,” sez Wunderground. How do I wish I was there? Let me count the ways. In Payson, where KJG and Mr. Fireman have retired, it’s even chillier: a crisp 91, feels like 87. Brrrr!

Ah, well. Toasty après-midi or no, the chow is on the grill: a pile of multi-colored carrots, a lovely slice from a rack of lamb, and a pile of asparagus. In two minutes we flip the asparagi around, and in another two to six minutes, depending, dinner will be served.

On days like this, I suspect it isn’t even necessary to turn on the grill. Just set the food on the rack, close the lid, and go away.

The new kitchen faucet is finally installed and working…okay, I guess. It’s a little disappointing, for something that cost around $250 (plus the plumber’s bill), to end up with something that just barely dispenses a noticeable flow of water from its handsome spout, and that continues to dribble water for about 4 seconds after you close the valve.

This is described by a customer in an Amazon review. The seller responds with “you need a cartridge.” Welll….WHY would you need a new cartridge for a faucet you just paid $250 for? They give their phone number, inviting him to call and discuss.

Sooo…. I figured this morning I would call that number and grutch my little head off: demand a free cartridge, and also demand that they cover the second trip from the plumber to install the damn thing.

By dawn’s early light, though, second thoughts occurred. Videlicet:

Do I really want to do battle with this company over a dribble of water? Why?
Do I really want to spend half the day AGAIN waiting for the plumber to show up?
Is this issue REALLY worth the hassle?

Answers:

No.
No.
Probably not.

How can I express my annoyance with this government-mandated hassle? What the barely-dispensing faucet — giving an even weaker flow than the previous representative of the same model, which, oh yes, was made after the stupid water-“saving” mandates were imposed on plumbing fixtures — will mean as a practical matter in my kitchen  is that every evening after all the day’s food has been prepared and all the messes have been cleaned up, I will have to fill the sink to the brim and then let it flow down the drain.

Just measured the time it takes to fill the sink I use all the time: 3 minutes and 57 seconds.

Truth to tell, the plumber who taught me this clog-preventing trick said to fill both sinks and unplug the two of them at once. The other sink is not only deeper but wider than the sink I use for daily fiddling. Right now it’s full of the dishes I had to wash in the absence of a functioning dishwasher, but I’d estimate that if the little sink takes four minutes to fill with the faucet running full bore, the other one will take at least five.

Got that? Four to nine minutes’ worth of wasted water, running full blast.

Honest to God, the spray attachment dispenses water more efficiently than the stupid kitchen faucet!

How, exactly, is that a good thing?

The Appliance Jamboree

Welp…since the (radically expensive!) kitchen faucet croaked over, every appliance in the kitchen has decided to do the same. The dishwasher died: when I rolled out of the sack yesterday morning, having turned it on about 9:00 the previous night, the damn thing was still running!

I managed to get the Bosch service folks on the phone, and they arranged to send a repairman over…next Monday! In the meantime, I’ve been cooking and cleaning out of the garage, which mercifully has a work sink. Otherwise, with no kitchen faucet and no dishwasher, the only place I’d be able to prepare food and wash up would’ve been a bathroom.

Also meanwhile…a while ago, the water dispenser on the refrigerator quit working.

Both the dishwasher and the fridge are 16 years old — installed when I moved into this place — and so it’s not surprising that they should be giving up the ghost. At one point, a repairdude remarked to me that modern appliances are engineered to crap out after 7 years. So…what is surprising is that they’ve lasted this long.

Frank the Plumber is due to show up tomorrow to install the new faucet set…sometime…whenever. So I figured if I’m ever going to get a functioning dishwasher in there, I’d better sally out today, in search of a replacement for the Deceased.

At my favorite local vendor, B&B Appliances, the sales dude tried to persuade me that I really didn’t want a Bosch; I really wanted a KitchenAid. B&B sells refurbished used stuff and also dented and returned new appliances, like the Sears Outlet used to do. You can get some exceptionally good buys there, and in addition, the staff is highly knowledgeable, inclined to chat, and honest. He presented me with a Kitchenaid dishwasher: $650;

He didn’t have any Bosch models on hand just then. And more to the point, because I just figured to replace the Deceased with another Bosch, I hadn’t looked up any reviews on the Web or done any product comparisons. So I retreated: back to the Funny Farm to look up the brands.

Googling reviews of Bosch and Kitchenaid dishwashers, I found them both highly recommended, but the Bosch was running just slightly ahead of the Kitchenaid. And there were fewer embittered complaints from whiners about the Bosch than about the Kitchenaid. Hence, it was off to Best Buy, Lowe’s, and HD, there to inspect their offerings.

Conveniently, Best Buy had the Kitchenaid and the Bosch models displayed side-by-side!!! Sooo….it was easy to compare the internal layouts and their control panels.

Fancy that.

It’s hard to beat the Bosch. Even if you’re Kitchenaid. Best Buy will deliver it on Monday. So they say. Home Depot delivers for free. Lowe’s is famed for its delivery rip-offs, so you should never buy anything there that needs to be delivered. Best Buy charges $50 to bring the dishwasher to your house, plug it in, and cart off the old one.

While at BB, I looked at refrigerators. Unimpressed. Tried Lowe’s, which resides right across the parking lot from the Best Buy. Found one that looked like it might be OK, but…. They had exactly zero (that is 0.00) sales staff on the floor. Not. One. Person. And of course you have the problem that Lowe’s is renowned for its haphazard delivery practices and customer service.

Drove down the road to Home Depot, where I found a perfectly fine sales dude but an amazingly unimpressive array of choices.

Or maybe the other way around: so impressive as to be off-putting. Have you looked at refrigerators lately? Forgodsake. They’ve computerized the damn things. No kidding. The guy proudly showed me a couple of models that have annoying computer screens on the door, monitoring not only what is in the fridge (“you need to buy milk!”) but who’s at the freaking front door! Just what I need: a televised refrigerator show.

These contraptions, I decided, are agglomerations of gadgets designed to break. And to make you crazy.

So I started looking at THE most low-tech models I could find.

Mine is an old-fashioned freezer-on-top/nontalking fridge model, with an ice-maker and a cold water dispenser, the latter of which is busted. With some effort, I found old-fashioned freezer-on-top things: $850.

Eventually I found a freezer-on-top Whirlpool that looks very much like my ancient Kenmore, only without the ice-maker or water dispenser. I see I failed to write down the price, but if memory serves, it was about $650, plus $100 to install the ice-maker.

My patience wearing thin, I decided I would think on this and then come back another day to buy…whatEVER.

At any rate, on the way home from the HD, it occurred to me that the plain-vanilla vacation-retreat-cheapo no-frills fridge is all I need. Why do I need an ice-maker, when I have a free-standing freezer in which I can stack scores of ice trays? Why not simply buy the plainest, least gadget-ridden model and call it a day? How hard is it, after all, to buy a bag of Crystal ice and dump it into the ice-cube box that I can steal out of the old fridge? Hm. We used Crystal ice back in the day, when our first refrigerator with an ice-maker made THE most vile-tasting ice you can conceive of. Crystal makes great ice.

And…hmmm… If one were going to end up with a plain top-freezer refrigerator with no water dispenser and no ice-maker…well…why buy one of those when that’s just about what I have? The ice maker still works. My life did not end with the demise of the water dispenser, and for that matter, not having to track down refrigerator filters and wrestle with the damn things trying to get the old one out and the new one in represents a positive improvement in life.

Sooo…why buy a new refrigerator at all, if you’re going to end up with a brand-new version of exactly what you have: a top-freezer fridge with no water dispenser and (soon, no doubt) no ice maker? If the refrigerator compartment works and the freezer compartment works, is there really anything else you need?

And so, we contemplate a step backward in time. Keep the fridge I’ve got. Opt the 21st-century gadgetry. If and when the 20th-century ice-maker freezes up, simply turn off the water to the thing. And run it until it dies…which is likely to be a pretty long time. Then, when it does die, replace it with the plainest plain-vanilla model on the market.

In fact, it might be worth just buying one of those plain-vanilla models right now, thereby heading off the fiasco that will happen when my refrigerator croaks altogether at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday evening right before a three-day weekend. Which, as you know, is inevitable.

At Five in the Morning…

…there are hardly any other dog owners out walking around with their pooches. The weather is gorgeous at that hour, the desert air cool as swimming pool water flowing over your skin. And the morning sun is rising like a red rubber ball.

Yeah: Literally like a red rubber ball, because of the smoke from the wildfire up around Roosevelt Lake. At 100,000 acres, it’s the sixth-largest fire in the state’s history, so we’re told. It’s been burning for many days and so far is nowhere near under control. This morning you could see the smoke hanging in the air over the city. Some moron got it started outside the old mining town of Superior. And the sun? Yes, it looked exactly like this red ball.

At any rate, the dog and I survived preparing our respective breakfasts in the garage. Probably the one really wise thing Satan and Proserpine did in this house was to install a fiberglass (? i think) work sink in the garage, to accommodate Proserpine’s pottery-making hobby.

A little further exploration revealed that the defunct faucet is apparently not really a Price-Pfister fixture but a little masterpiece made by Danze. And lo! Amazon carries the thing. Rather than looking sorta like the set that’s in my kitchen, this thing here looks EXACTLY like it:

Frank the Plumber did a little checking around and found that one of his favored plumbing supply stores wants about $315 for the thing. Plus taxes. And it’ll take ten days or so to get it. Well, that’s about what I paid for it 16 years ago at the Great Indoors. Meanwhile I had the ad up on Amazon while he was on the phone: “Sez here $217 and free shipping. And no wait: it supposedly will arrive on Wednesday.”

Grab it!” quoth he. “Call me when it gets here.”

So I felt pretty smug about that little coup. Frank remarked that 16 years is a good long time for a kitchen faucet to persist. Especially so, I would add, in a house where the proprietor cooks all her own (and her dogs’) meals: the thing gets plenty of daily use.

That definitely is THE set, not some knock-off missing the spray attachment. And the customer reviews are far, far more positive than the grutches about the Price-Pfister version.

Really, I should have replaced this thing a year or two ago…it’s been limping along, groaning and moaning when it’s turned on. But I’ve been too lazy to track it down…haven’t been impressed with the near-misses I’ve seen at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco. VERY tickled to have found the real thing at Amazon…and to get it for about a hundred bucks less than local retail, with no schlepping around the city or endless stands in line.

Shee-ut! I put some water on to make tea and then went off and forgot it. Fortunately am sitting in the family room and so was alerted by the strange popping noises the teakettle started making. Speaking of expensive devices from Amazon, I sure hope the damn thing isn’t ruined. I carelessly left the lid open so it didn’t whistle when it boiled dry.

You understand…I buy those pricey whistling teakettles because of my propensity to put a pot of water on the fire and then to wander off and forget it. Oddly, they don’t seem, to do the job unless you manage to remember to close the whistling cap….

Senility…an adventure a day!

 

Modern Inconveniences: The “Water-saving” Toilet

Have you ever noticed that all our fine politically correct appliances actually waste more water and energy than they save? Case in point: the “water-saving” toilet that can’t flush a normal load of flushables…so that you have to do your business, then flush; then wipe, then flush; and then (because the thing won’t flush enough paper to get you clean on the first effort) wipe again and flush again. But just to make you feel really, really politically correct, the effing thing refills at about the same pace as your politically correct shower and your politically correct sink faucets operate.

This morning, as I was waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting to cycle through three flushes, curiosity struck: How long, I wondered, does it REALLY take to flush this damn thing?

Trot out to the kitchen and grab the timer off the counter. Get back to the bathroom and wait and wait and wait some more till the damned toilet fills back up. Flush again to get the last of the TP down and click the timer.

It took two minutes and 17 seconds to flush and refill.

For the love of God. Since every time you poop in it, you have to flush it three times, that means it not only uses as much or more water as a real toilet used to use (we’re told these miraculous devices use a third as much as a toilet that works uses), that means the damn thing takes six minutes and 51 seconds — ALMOST 7 MINUTES — to flush one bowel movement.

Since, thanks to the aftereffects of the clamitadine I had to take, I’ve been to the bathroom three times this morning (and every morning, we might add), that is 21 minutes wasted, just watching the effing toilet flush and refill.

It certainly isn’t saving any water. In fact, it’s probably wasting water…dollars to donuts, three half-assed flushes take more water than a single flush that does the job.

The showers that make you stand under the flow for ten minutes to rinse two minutes’ worth of shampoo out of your hair? I think we all agree on those damn things. I jimmied mine so they will work (there used to be a gadget inside the damn thing that you could break, if you had a long enough tool). From what I understand, it’s not so easy to do that any more. So there we stand, wasting water and time when, if we had a functional appliance, we would need to waste neither.

And then the damned faucets that don’t dispense water! Argh.

Cooking is not a one-step-at-a-time endeavor: it is an exercise in multitasking. So… If you want to fill up a pot but have other things to do while fixing dinner but stand there and watch water dribble out of a barely functional faucet, what do you do?

Right: set the pot in the sink, turn on the water, and go on about your business. By the time you get back, the pot has overflowed and water is running down the drain.

This saves water…how??

Fortunately, Satan and Proserpine (the previous owners) installed some sort of antique plastic faucet in the garage work sink, so when I need to fill a spaghetti pot, I schlep the thing out to the garage and fill it in about three seconds, which is as long as it should take. And no water is wasted. But if I didn’t have that sink, in the 15 years that I’ve lived here I would have poured half the flow of the Colorado River down the kitchen drain.

The Toto brand elongated toilet is, as it was when these idiotic no-flush flushers were first mandated, billed as the fastest, most powerfully flushing models. I bought one for my last house, and I’ll say that it did work well. But forgodsake: the things cost $240, and that’s before it’s installed.  In California and waypoints that have truly PC water-conservation rules, a Toto that works will set you back $563 (!!!!!!! Plus tax, plus the cost of a toilet seat, plus the cost of installation!). Apparently, however, the newer models leave something to be desired…like flushing. Eleven percent of Amazon reviewers describe clogs, difficult-to-plunge design, and impossible to replace parts. Lovely.

As for the obnoxious faucets? Well, check out the current reviews of high gallons-per-minute models at Amazon. Always go direct to the one-star reviews to get the straight dope; then work up the ladder. Uhmmm…you really want to pay to put this stuff in your house? I especially loved the review of the top-rated model, where the customer described a brand-new kitchen faucet springing a leak on Christmas Day! 😀

Ah, the Third-Worldization of America… No wonder people who have had a bellyful of PC vote for a raving moron like Trump. All he has to do is promise to bring back American jobs to make American products, and we’re sold!