Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Post-Christmas Post

Happy 3rd or 4th day of Christmas, depending on what day Sarge (and Beans) lets me publish this. I was inspired by Beans' post about holiday cooking as well as one by Juvat where he spoke about doing some of his own work on his mancave/workshop.*  About 10 days ago our oven stopped working.  The burners worked fine, but the oven itself would not preheat, or any function using the panel.  I went online to our Next Door app, which is useful and entertaining with posts of dog poop anger, parking woes, or sketchy people walking through the neighborhood.  It's also helpful for getting recommendations for handymen, contractors, and in my case- reputable appliance repairs.  I used the app to click a link and contact one company, but apparently Next Door uses something called Thumbtack- posting my request to several appliance repair places.  Minutes later I was on the phone with one of them and got two calls waiting from other companies.  Each of them was $10 more than the next for a service call, a charge that is waved of course if a repair is needed and purchased.  One of them was able to come over in about an hour, and after pulling the oven out from the wall and removing the back panel, he fiddled with some wires and it started working again.  It was some sort of short, or maybe something else.  I wasn't really sure as his Russian accent was thick and he mainly said the panel was going out.  A repair might be a workable solution, but a replacement panel wasn't possible since they are out of production, with our oven being fairly old, installed back we had our kitchen renovated in 2008.

As it turned out that repair only lasted about 3 days so my wife and I made the expensive decision to buy a new oven, not confident that a more in-depth repair would last or that a used or refurbished part could be found.  We also didn't want to wait seeing how I had planned a big Christmas dinner.  More on that later.

A quick trip to the Navy exchange was unsuccessful as the COVID-supply chain woes must have also affected their offerings.  None, of only four available in the Navy's second largest Navy Exchange (Norfolk's is larger), were compatible with our kitchen.  We were needing a slide-in gas range, vice the freestanding or electric ones they had.  We then checked out our local Best Buy which had some decent sales and several ranges that we were interested in.  I asked my boss who had recently replaced one where that purchase was made and was reminded that Lowe's has a military discount which saved us $100 on the one we purchased. Best part of that is that it was available (one of the main reasons it was chosen), local (Escondido - 30 min north), and could be delivered on Wednesday the 22nd.

My command has been allowing liberal leave and telework schedules over Christmas so I took the afternoon off to meet the delivery man, also paying Lowes for them to connect the gas line and haul away the old range.  When it showed up one of them disconnected the gas line and removed the old range while the other brought the new stove off of the truck. Unfortunately once it was opened I realized it was the wrong oven. The correct one wasn't even on the truck. He made a phone call and then I got both an email and a text saying that the order was canceled.  They left, I called Lowes Customer Service, and after 15 minutes finally found out that Lowe's had canceled it because the stove was no longer in stock. I thought this was absolute horse$#!% not quite right because there were three of them in stock just two days before.  I then called the store, asking for a manager, explaining that the reason I had ordered this particular model was because it was in stock and I needed to cook Christmas dinner.  He said he would look into it and call me back right away.  The lady in charge of appliances and called me back shortly thereafter stating that they found another stove in stock at the nearby Lowes (5 minutes away) and they would be delivering it on Thursday the 23rd.  Christmas Dinner crisis averted!  Or was it?

Fortunately that delivery went without a hitch other than them telling me that they wouldn't install it since the gas line was in the back of a cabinet next to the stove.  When we had the kitchen remodeled we had removed a wall oven which was directly above that gas line.  That must have been easier for our contractor to just route a new hose through the back of the cabinet, vice moving the gas line about 6 inches to the left.  So I had the delivery guys just leave it in place and I said I would hook the gas line up myself.

To be honest I was a little out of my comfort zone with that one, but I took the necessary precautions, securing the gas to the house, securing the line at the stove connection and ensuring everything was well ventilated just in case. Unfortunately the old stove was at a lower BTU then the new one so a new gas pipe nozzle would be needed. I later found out that the new line I ordered that was recommended with my purchase didn't have the adapter so off to Lowe's again. The guy in appliances was very helpful and gave me the correct adapter because it was supposed to have been in the box already.  If you've ever noticed at those big box stores, packages seem to get rifled through and sometimes you'll find them on the shelf ripped open with screws or parts missing, or other irregularities.  Our box was no exception.

Thanks for the parking spot Lowes!

So, after one Lowe's trip for the fitting (and installation fee refund), and one Home Depot trip for the larger gas valve, I was finally prepared.  Then I wrenched my back as I twisted on the floor to reach into that cabinet, not to mention climbing behind the stove which had little room to spare due to the short length of the gas line.  Turns out righty tighty, lefty loosey is a little complex when you're upside down on your back with your hands over your head.  Anyhoo, after several tries I finally got it all hooked up in time for dinner.*  

Christmas dinner was amazing. I made a prime rib for the first time in my life and it turned out perfect. The instructions were very interesting to me as I had never cooked something like this before. It said to season the roast with a garlic, salt, and pepper rub, lay it fat side down in the pan, and cook it at 550 for only 5 minutes per pound**, then securing the heat and leaving in the oven for 2 hours without opening the door.  I guess it seared the outside allowed it to just slow cook on the inside. It was delicious and I will be making that again.

I paired it with some seasoned potatoes, grilled asparagus, and both a Pinot noir and leftover champagne from our Christmas morning mimosas.  My wife broke out the China as we don't use it often enough, and Christmas Dinner is a perfect opportunity to use it while breaking bread to celebrate our Lord's birth.

I'm familiar with songs using this lyric, but I didn't realize that "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day" was a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It's a nice one for the season, but also gets semi-political at the end if you want to read it that way.  Fortunately Longfellow is a bit of an optimist, knowing that what's good and holy will win out in the end.  Enjoy the poem, then a musical variation which is one of my favorites of the season.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Season.  I will be keeping it going, trying to keep my wife from dismantling the house before Epiphany.

Oh wait, I almost forgot about Christmas Eve Mass.  There's no midnight mass anymore apparently, and my own parish has only a bilingual service at 5pm, and the same at 9am on Christmas morning.  So we attended a lovely service at 9:30PM at the even more lovely Carmelite Monastery here in San Diego, just a few minutes away from our house.  If one googles it, it says that it's permanently closed.  In a way it is, as it's not an active parish in the diocese, but they (Discalced Carmelite Nuns) do hold daily and weekend masses which are technically open to the public.   We invited a friend to join us, and when she arrived she was amazed that such a beautiful place was so unknown. "It's like a secret church" she said.  It only has eight or so rows, with seats for 6 people on each side, so we were surprised it wasn't more full, but our government has definitely ramped up the Omicron fear.  I hope you have a fear-free New Year and see you 'round the Chant!




Final final note-  Juvat wanted me to call attention to an important update to his Monday post- that he had incorrectly stated that the unvaxxed were allowed onboard.  Other than small kids, everyone had been vaxxed.  So any of you unvaxxed hopeful cruisers will have to re-think your plans.

*Turns out I didn't use enough plumbers' putty so the next day we smelled a little gas, but I just removed all the connections and reapplied more, but with plumbers tape as well.  No asphyxiation so far so wish me luck.

**5 minutes for rare, 6 for medium, 7 for well.  I went for medium rare.


  1. So I have been saving up my pennies to be able to buy a freezer for my new home. I like to garden, I like to pick up extra food when it goes on sale, and while I do a fair amount of canning, some things just taste better frozen. The home did come with a fridge, a side-by-side, but the freezer section is pretty small. I can squeeze in a 14 pound turkey, but nothing else is going on THAT shelf...so went to Lowes to look at freezers. I like to see the major appliances I am buying. Just me, but I like to look stuff over before I slap down my cash.

    So, off to Lowe's to look at freezers, as, when I checked on line, it said they had freezers in stock. Wandering around Lowe's...not a freezer in sight...lots of ovens (saw the one in the picture--very nice!), lots of washers and dryers, plenty of cooktops...no freezers...at all..."excuse me sir, where are your freezers? Oh, we don't put them on display on the floor as they get shoplifted". "Say what?!?!?!!"

    Evidently, someone comes along with a big blue flat wagon cart thingy, pops the freezer (or occasional oven) on and waltzes right out the door...without going through the check-out and, ya know, PAYING for it!!! And the store evidently can only call the cops to say, Hey, someone just stole a freezer...nothing gets done (NYS and the no bail law stupidiness)

    So, now I have to go back on line and try to figure out how big a freezer I want without looking at them...sigh...

    1. I'm almost at a loss for words. The moral depravity of our society has definitely been going downhill, more so with defunding police, disrespect for police, and less religion which is a foundation of moral good. We have a stand-up freezer in our garage, which is very helpful for the larger items, like Kirkland brand vodka bottles!

    2. Mrs. Andrew and I are planning a freezer purchase this year, but fortunately here in the Gunshine State the authorities still frown upon theft of property, even in this socialist hell-hole of a city (college town, of course. If I'd only known, would have stopped in Ocala...)

  2. I quit using putty on gas lines when they brought out that yellow tape. It works pretty well. Not sure if you had the cone shaped fittings on brass adaptors, but those are supposed to seal without dope or tape. But don't fix what ain't broke! I'm glad you could find something that worked.

    Getting stuff delivered is always a tossup. My fridge died last year mid summer. Took 3 months to get a replacement. This year, lightning took out the new one. A month for a tech to show up, then another month to get the parts. I bought a smallish chest freezer for 2 bills, and an external thermostat controlled outlet and made a chest fridge out of it. It will probably revert back to freezer at some point. The last one, I went and picked up myself.

    That meat up top looks pretty tasty. Even for a well-doner like me.

  3. The meat was delish! No cone on our gas line, it's more of a nipple tip, but the plumbers tape seems to be working. If we smell gas again I will call the gas company who comes out for free to check things like this. They don't want houses blowing up.

  4. Tuna, we had the same issue with our dishwasher: the board was apparently fried and the repair guy (a kind soul who diagnosed it over the phone and did not charge) recommended we just replace the whole thing as it was not worth the money (and the board likely would fry again). I am very impressed with your skills: I am almost to the point of fixing a socket (with the lights off, of course); gas still sounds beyond me.

    The Prime Rib looks amazing! Well done! We have done them once or twice (by we, I mean The Ravishing Mrs. TB; I stood by and turned the oven on and off). My in-laws are much enamored of Prime Rib and in years past, would do it at home.

    The chapel looks lovely. Once when I was growing up, our church (Lutheran) was doing a remodel and a local convent offered up their chapel for our services. It was really quite nice, and a very happy memory I have of inter-faith cooperation.

    1. We have had to replace several appliances due to those panels going out. I almost think it's a scam of some sort. I was commended for making that meal, but it was so simple like you said, turning the oven on and off. As for my handyman skills, it was more of a matter of necessity since they refused. I was perfectly willing to pay them if it hadn't have been in the cabinet.

  5. I read a Dad Joke recently.

    How does a Dad Change a Light Bulb?

    with 10 trips to the hardware store and two weeks.

    I know that's the case with me and sounds like it applies to you also. Nice church there, Tuna. We went to the 8AM Mass Christmas morning. Past experience has shown that Midnight Mass is jammed and since the Church was less than half full @8, I'd say it was true this year also.

    Oh, and only a few folks were wearing masks.

    I have used that prime rib recipe for years, its never let me down. Just wish I could afford Prime Rib nowadays.

    Thanks for the correction help.

    1. My family always attended midnight mass and then we would open presents after we got back. So my Christmas morning Mass avoidance habit is longstanding. I don't particularly enjoy the bilingual masses because when they do it in both languages they short stick the homily.

  6. Well, well, well... If you count the two trips by Lowes as a trip, you did the traditional 3 trips to the hardware store. How bloody nice.

    Fortunately we are an all-electric household with the stove, dishwasher and refrig#1 all belonging to the apartment so they have to fix it. I'm only responsible for the washer and dryer (Speed Queens, so reliable, so not high efficiency, only costs me $20 more per year than the high efficiency, so worth it!) and refrigerator#2.

    Why two refrigerators? Apartment came with a 16.5cuft refrig freezer. Not big enough. So I bought a 16.5cuft. One's for food, one's for drinks (milk and sodas and such) and excess food. That way I don't have to go to the store every other day. A monthly trip to Walmart and Sams, a weekly trip to Publix and that's all the shopping needed (except runs to Publix to pick up meds and such.)

    As stated above, we're adding a freezer this year, small chest one, maybe 6-8cuft, to allow us to do things like buy turkeys on sale, freeze keylime juice, have longterm storage and keep the smaller freezer cubbies in the two refrigerators for short-time storage.

    The prime rib looks great! Found a recipe on how to cook excellent steaks, requires using a frying pan, heating the oven to searing blazing heat, scorching the meat for a minute on each side and then letting it sit in the oven until done with the elements off, kind of like your recipe. Only problem... That smokes up a lot. Kitchen hood vents into kitchen, small apartment, no excess room for smoke to settle into, so even though Mrs. Andrew enjoyed her steak immensely (which is hard to get her to eat red meat for reasons) the kabosh was put on repeating the process.

    Why cook steaks in the oven here? Why not cook outside? Well, some of the more street medicated apartment dwellers in the complex had managed to set 3 fires in the heavily wooded lawn areas of the complex, so management dropped the ban-hammer. Which stopped none of the street medicated tenants from bbqing after hours, so like with big government the only people punished were/are the rules followers who didn't cause the problem to begin with. Ah well.

    Excellent post by the way. You got to use your man-skills and your well-earned verbal skills (no doubt without slipping into curse words and head-vein throbbing anger that burns down to the soul.)

    And nice location for Christmas mass. The old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans also is 'closed' but has masses, especially on high holy days. Beautiful church, beautiful grounds. Went there moons ago and there also was a Lazarine chapter house there (one of the militant knightly orders of the Crusades, now doing charity work, basically really rich bachelors who spend their money and time fixing up places.)

    I miss going to the missions in California.

    1. The extra freezer in the garage comes in handy and keeps us from having to play Tetris with the frozen foods. Fortunately I didn't have to use too much verbal ninja skills as they were quite sorry, yet accommodating. And my confidence in minor household appliance installation has improved.

  7. As to Longfellow? That song/poem was the "White Christmas" of its day. Though I understand why they leave that portion out in these modern times.

    Again, excellent post.

  8. Great post Tuna.

    I try to keep the Christmas spirit alive throughout the year, bugs me that people can't at least hold the holiday in their hearts through Epiphany.

    In other news, the root canal went well. The technology has come a ways since my last one!

    (The endodontist had been an Air Force dentist not all that long ago, so we traded "where were you stationed" stories. A good guy!)

    1. Glad things went well, Sarge. Had a few root canals done, it ain't fun!

    2. Very difficult conversing with all that hardware in location. OG

  9. Thanks Sarge. Glad your mouth is in good repair again. I have a good drill so if you would like me to do some household dental care, let me know! My wife will take down some of the decorations, but the outside lights and the tree are my responsibility so I make sure they stay up until the wise men arrived.

  10. I am glad you had a nice Christmas, Tuna, I hope you have a splendid New Year!

  11. Now that it's too late...
    It would have probably been easier (depending on how it was connected under the counter)to unhook the line from the wall then fish it through when you replaced the stove.

    Also soapy water works to find gas leaks, just in case.

    1. Thanks kurt, I think what you're saying is what we did. There is an existing gas line which we put the cabinet up against cutting a hole in the side of it then routed that hose a few inches to the left where it could connect to the slide in stove. I had to cut the hole a little bigger in order to get the larger gas line through.

  12. Merry Christmas!

    But wow, what a trial to have to go through. Still, you now have an awesome gas range and prime rib confidence. It's not hard but scary with it -- "what if I destroy this massively expensive cut of beef!?!" Such disaster. But if you stick to the timing it's easy -- sear at 450 or whatev, then dial down (325 for me) for around 18 or less minutes a pound. You can always put it back in if it's too raw, unlike the reverse :)

    Anyway, forgive the culinary essay, Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks LSP! Yes, I'm a little more confident, but I'm sure the next project will also result in multiple visits to home Depot or Lowe's!


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