Somewhere in her shoulder surgery convalescence, Lynn was allowed near the internet, which is not always a good idea.
Now, the only reason Lynn is in Gunnison at all is due exclusively to the internet, her having used it to find my website devoted to Stargate SG-1 and me having read her Stargate materials via the same internet, but not all her internet wanderings work out so well. Take, for instance, the notion she ran across during convalescence, that somehow the melting of cheese onto bread through use of a toaster — the toaster TL uses on a daily basis — was a good idea.
She was actually very excited to have come across this “handy” tip, although I didn’t get it myself. “We could get a toaster oven,” I suggested, when she announced her super excitement over this novel means of making a grilled-cheese sandwich. No, she said. She was not cluttering up her counters with yet another appliance. Appliances, I will note at my own peril, that are most frequently used by her, possibly for my benefit as well, although I never go near the coffeemaker and am not nearly as devoted to the air fryer as she is. The mixer, which churns out cookies? That one’s a keeper. Along with the Snoopy pancake maker.
So for lunch one day Lynn turned the toaster on its side and melted cheese onto bread, added some tomato soup (not in the toaster) and pronounced it a successful experiment, with only a little bit of cheese dripped onto the toaster, which she would pick off when it unmelted.
This was such a stunning success that she repeated the experiment again this week, and again thought she had a winner — until I wanted to touch up the slightly soggy roll I was going to use for my own lunch (ham and turkey sandwich). Suddenly smoke was billowing out of the toaster and it smelled like the entire kitchen had caught fire. A cheese fire.
I tendered the toaster oven offer once more, and once more was rebuffed. She could just use a skillet to make grilled cheese, which she never eats anyway despite now consuming it on a weekly basis. I have to confess, I still don’t understand why tipping the toaster onto its side and picking cheese off later seemed like such a fabulous alternative to the skillet in the first place, but we are talking the internet here. It inspires all kinds of strange behavior.
And that was that, I thought. Until the next morning, when I popped a bagel into the toaster and then panicked that the entire kitchen had caught on fire. Cheese fire. As this odor continues to infuse the house on a daily basis, we may be investing in a new toaster. Or toaster oven.
I did not think anything could smell worse than burned melted cheese continuing to fry on the metal coils of a toaster, but as it so often does, the universe corrected me yesterday.
To get there, though, we have to go back to the 1960s, to the days when a new housing development was undergoing construction northwest of the rest of Gunnison. It was called the Palisades, and it was tract housing at its finest, with pretty much two models of houses springing up across six (later seven) streets. I moved into one of these houses as a child with my family, and as an adult bought the same style house just around the corner.
And while we discovered the hard way that my childhood house was hooked up to the city sewer with a coffee can (true story), and I did welcome Lynn to Gunnison with a similar collapsed sewer line, the house I purchased came with very few other plumbing problems. In my 25-ish years in that house, I can recall needing a plumber perhaps three times, and one of those was to extract what turned out to be a penny from the garbage disposal.
Do you know how many times a plumber has been summoned to this new house — this custom-built, one-of-a-kind house that we have been in for 1.5 years? Six. Plumbers have now been to this house six times — seven if you count our neighbor taking personal time one evening to come look at one of our problems.
I’m still trying to decide how many of these issues to lay at the feet of our party-boy construction plumber. We weren’t supposed to have a party-boy plumber; our contractor had worked for years with the same plumber who fished a penny out of our garbage disposal. But I knew Dick was getting ready to retire and we were moving onto a street already lived on by owners of a different plumbing company, a company that shops with Pat’s Screen Printing, and I was interested in having them do the work on this new construction.
Turns out I’m getting my wish, one repair at a time.
Dick retired sooner than our contractor expected, and the succession plan had been that his assistant Ben would take over the business. In the meantime, however, Ben’s girlfriend/wife (I’ve heard both) had taken a job in California, so even as he was transitioning the company over to his own business, he was making plans to close it. Last year I was told by our contractor that Ben defaulted on everything he promised to do after our job, suggesting we should feel lucky that ours got completed. Boy, do I feel lucky.
But I still don’t know how much blame to pin on him. The first time we needed to call our neighbors was because the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District told us — not when we applied for our well permit, nor when we received our permit, nor any other time pre-construction — that we needed a flow meter. Our plumber didn’t know about this, but in fairness, neither did some of the people who built their houses out here before us.
And actually, installing the flow meter after the fact proved to be helpful because Avery took one look at our pipes, six months old and already brilliant orange, and recommended installation of a sediment filter to tamp down this mass of iron in our water.
So those were visits one and two; visit number three was for routine boiler maintenance that I figured would be important to invest in since this is our water and household heating supply. And while Mike, an employee of our new neighbors who lives on the street we vacated to move to this new, problem-free house, was here, I asked him if he could figure out the maintenance instructions for my steam shower. But he couldn’t. Now, he did promise to research it but didn’t (and I got charged for that), so maybe there’s blame to go around, but we’re not quite there.
No, we still had one more visit on the books, this one for a broken pump on the boiler that appears to have been a manufacturing defect. Mike said, “I’ve never seen one of these pumps fail,” lucky us, and Grundfos, the manufacturer, which touts its “great customer service,” has never bothered to reply to any of my queries for assistance.
Here we are, only five of six plumbing visits into my saga and me bumping up against self-imposed word limits and universe-imposed time constraints. I’m sure I’m leaving you on the edge of your seat, but you will have to tune in tomorrow (or whenever I get to the next installment), to find out what we can set fire to in the world of plumbing that might smell worse than burned cheese on a toaster.