They were saying on the news this morning one out of seven people in the U.S. has fallen behind on their payments. The median credit card debt per household runs around $7,000.00. Ah, at last I’m falling within normal parameters. What a relief. I thought perhaps I’d span a lifetime coloring outside the lines. Actually I’m never late on my payments but as the money pit continues to syphon funds into its ravenous belly my credit cards are beginning to take a hit. The latest casualty to add to the credit debt was our dishwasher. This is the third dishwasher to meet an untimely end since Rick and I have been together. Apparently as Texas is hard on women and mules or whatever the expression is, we are hard on dishwashers and coffee makers. in an effort to keep the latest one going we extended every effort other than triggering an exorcism or bringing in a shaman to perform a ritual of rebirth over it. In the end the patient was terminal and we had to pull the plug. (Sorry, my puns are a disease.)
Rick is handy to have around in these situations. I tend to shake my blond head like a bobble head doll when presented with prices. My bad is assuming the person quoting the price, a store employee, has some idea the numbers they are quoting are reasonably accurate. Rick, less trusting then myself, questions everything. This makes him an extremely annoying shopper but an excellent buyer, if you will. The employee in appliance sales was very helpful and good at her job. She led us into the sale beautifully. Initially we were planning to hit three or four stores before selecting a unit. She limited our shopping trip to her store only. After negotiating the price there were the usual extras to be considered such as installation, removal of the old unit, and extended warranties, if so disposed. Rick is a lovely man and an excellent partner but no one would ever accuse him of being handy around the house. Not that he doesn’t help out, he does, but when it comes to handyman type jobs he has ten thumbs with no natural gift for tinkering. He would tell you this himself was he penning this blog. Plumbers are meant to plumb, carpenters to carpent and Rick to run restaurants. Such is the order of life. At any rate all said and done he negotiated the $139 quoted for installation down to $55 to match one quoted by another merchant in the area. A win for the underdogs! When all was said and done we wished each other Merry Christmas and went out for a bite to eat.
Growing up my stepfather was much like Rick in this area. A teacher by trade the man had no talent for turning a screw. Unfortunately my stepfather wasn’t as self aware as my other half. My stepfather when presented with a handyman type situation would dive in with both left feet usually creating a disaster quicker than you could say Bob Vila.
While in high school we also had a dishwasher fail. My mother, a consummate shopper had little regard for price comparison. Mom’s mantra, “If it is expensive it is probably good. Always hire someone else to do the heavy labor. Never eat garlic before a date.” A new dishwasher was purchased, including installation. My stepfather reviewed the bill. After noting the charge for installation he insisted he could install the machine himself saving the nice gentlemen from Sears from having to trouble himself about it. Unable to change his mind, Mother took the path of least resistance and revised the order to include only disposing of the old unit and delivering the new one. Easy peasey. Dressed in his getting down to business coveralls and ball cap, my stepfather paced about the newly laid kitchen carpet surveying the manual explaining how to successfully complete his project. Even from my layman’s perspective I saw it in its basic form. A gaping hole approximately the size of the dishwasher and a dishwasher needing to be inserted in the gaping hole. An empty wall socket needing a plug inserted in it and a couple of hoses apparently needed to be connected going to and exiting from a water source. Plug it in, attach the hoses, and insert machine. Yes? To my stepfather this was a project of weighty proportions requiring much serious thought and lengthy deliberation. Much like the pool filter debacle of several years prior. A messy business involving EMT’s and a barely avoided electrocution. Erection of the Pentagon probably took less forethought and planning. Planning aside, things didn’t proceed exactly as laid out in the installation manual. According to the manual a five year old child could install the Kenmore during commercial breaks between Rocky & Bullwinkle and still have time left to tinkle before the program resumed. To quote the intrepid squirrel, “hokey smoke”.
Grunting, groaning, throwing of manuals, and swearing apparently are part of the home installation process. Perhaps not in every household but certainly in ours. Words learned during the installation of that dishwasher and other home improvement projects have served me well through the toughest spots in my life over the years where only such words seem to suit the occasion.
Hours after he began the dishwasher was pushed into place. We stood in the kitchen and admired how shiny and bright it looked in its new home before going on our way. The following day it was time for the maiden run. Mother pushed the appropriate buttons and water could be heard gushing inside. Sensing a win I went outside to do chores. A scream came from the kitchen an hour or so later. Running to see what the problem was I found my shoes squishing over the newly laid carpet and my mother with hands on her face surveying the water flowing everywhere out of the dishwasher.
When the repairman left leaving behind a tidy bill, looks were exchanged between my parents. This was before the carpet people arrived to address the carpet situation. I didn’t speak adult but I felt somehow this was an indicator that the mood in the house was not conducive to asking for a raise in my allowance or if I could have a slumber party. Once the carpet had been pulled up and dried, my stepfather hung up his tool belt and retired his getting down to business overalls and Sears made a neat profit off of installations at our house over the ensuing years.
I have to say these rutabaga fries are nearly as good as traditional fries. Give them a try solo with some horseradish sour cream dip. Yum. Note, if carrots are large halve lengthwise and across.
Baked Root Vegetables with Rutabaga Fries
1 bunch baby carrots, stems cut, halved lengthwise (5)
1 rutabaga, peeled and sliced in 1/4″ slices
1 bag heirloom fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (larger potatoes only)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Garlic salt and salt to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line large cookie sheet with tin foil. Spray with cooking spray.
Place all ingredients in large bowl with lid or resealable plastic bag. Shake well to coat. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Scrape extra seasonings from bowl with spatula over top. Bake for 45-50 mins. turning once. Watch carefully not to burn. Season with salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.