Sunday, April 3, 2011


As I sit here waiting for a refrigerator...

I love the house where I live. It was built in 1912 (I made that up - but it had to be around then). It has high ceilings and dark wood floors, the gorgeous wood somehow surviving various tenants' impulses over the years to follow painting trends. Bookshelves are built in, in that same gorgeous dark wood, as is a buffet in the dining room. I even love the funky cardboard-like paneling that someone installed back in the '50s, we guess. We think someone went through the neighborhood saying that everyone's kitchens and bathrooms would benefit by putting up paneling on the walls... It's weird, but interesting. Very kitch.

The house is not without its drawbacks. The heating system is an Octopus in the basement - what they used to use for coal-heating systems - a central source with huge metallic tubes that lead from the source to the individual rooms. While it no longer uses coal for its heating source - thank goodness - the system was never removed - just converted to a modern system, using the Octopus arms to distribute the heat. (It is also the cooling system - no air conditioning for this old house! There's a light switch that I can turn on in the summer - it runs the Octopus' motor which sucks the cooler air down below and circulates like a fan, just like the thermostat triggers the motor to run heat through the house in the winter.) This is an inefficient, expensive way to heat the house in the winter. Yet my rent is so reasonable (yes, I rent this sweet home) that I don't mind the expense in the winter. It all balances out in the end.

One of the drawbacks of living in this lovely home is that the facilities are older than dirt - or so it seems. About a year ago, the toilet broke. I called a plumber to replace it. (Oh, I also have the best landlords ever - who immediately take care of whatever needs fixing, either by fixing it themselves or authorizing me to hire someone.) The plumber said he figured he would be able to fix the toilet itself, and not have to get a replacement toilet. Um, I said, I love your optimism, but I think you may have to replace it. When he got here, he said there was no way to fix it - it was about 50 years old, or some such thing (maybe not, maybe only 30 or 40 years old, I can't remember - "really old," is what I remember him saying). So I got a brand new toilet. It was so exciting!! (I know, I need more excitement in my life, if this is considered one of the Big Events of 2010.) My landlord had said I could authorize whatever, but that he didn't want a gold toilet, or anything like that. So it was funny when the flush handle turned out to be brass.

So this week, the refrigerator died. I didn't notice right away - didn't notice the lack of humming coming from the kitchen, or anything. I did think it was odd that the ice wasn't forming well. When it dawned on me that I had a dead refrigerator, the cold already had mostly faded away. We made phone calls, my landlords and I. They decided they wanted a new refrigerator rather than the very-reasonably-priced used one that I had found at a local appliance store. Luckily they didn't want a big one - most new ones are mammoth, these days - so it actually will fit in the little alcove I have for it - sort of squeezed in next to the stove, but that way the appliances are off to one side and I can have a little table in the kitchen for casual dining. Real cooks would find this situation awkward, to say the least. Me? Not so much.

So now I await the new refrigerator. It shall be delivered today between 1 and 3 p.m. I'm kind of excited about it. Another appliance goes from 1950 to the 21st century. Not that the dead refrigerator is that old - not that I know of, anyway.

I'm also excited about having a completely cleaned-out refrigerator. Though I do think I'll miss my various science experiments... I mean, what's the purpose to a science experiment if you can't keep it around for years? Isn't that how it became a science experiment in the first place?

It's also a little thrilling to imagine a completely clean corner of the house, as I plan to clean out under the refrigerator before the new one arrives.

I haven't been able to have frozen items this week - my neighbor graciously took my frozen items for safekeeping in his freezer - and refrigerated items didn't last too long with the ice that I bought - well, not after the ice melted and I didn't replace it. So one nice thing about the end of today - I'll be able to have half-and-half again for my morning coffee.

And that opening line, above? It's a play on the words of Tillie Olsen's short story "As I Stand Here Ironing." She was a writer from Santa Cruz, California, who was also a mother and home keeper, who wrote around, and about, the mundane chores of life. Maybe that's why I noticed the refrigerator so much this week - I'm writing again, and anything can be a distraction when I write.

1 comment:

Appliances Online said...

“Bookshelves are built in, in that same gorgeous dark wood, as is a buffet in the dining room.” – I love old houses! I am always intrigued by the house’s history and the significant events that may have taken place there. But then again, old appliances can be such a hassle at times.