Saturday, October 20, 2007

True Love: Meet the Newest Appliance

This may be the luckiest find of my life (well, besides my husband and children!).
Gagganau Oven
This oven retails around $5400. So how did we find one for less than a tenth of that price? A high-end appliance repair guy, that's how.

Sears was handling the installation of the dryer part of the stacked LG steam washer/dryer we purchased from them very poorly. The washer was installed when we requested. But the dryer had been in the garage, uninstalled, for almost 6 weeks and life was not good around here. Since the washer can handle a double load of clothing (YES! It's true!), the dryer to go with such a wonderous machine needs to effectively dry the same quantity. Well, my old gas dryer was making a wrinkled mess out of everything, etc. Sears kept insisting that we get a plumber out to do the gas hookup (the line was already there). So I told them they could jolly well come pick up everything; they sold me a set of appliances and we paid for installation and they needed to completely install the appliances! They had to call in their high-end installer, who is under contract with Gagganau, Miele, Bosch, Thermador, etc. and who can do any and all electrical and gas work necessary for the installation. So that's how I met Ed and his workers. Top-drawer - these guys show up with fancy trucks and trailers, with sorted bins of stuff and every possible tool! What a concept! They don't sit around scratching their gonads and grunting; they get right to work.
Turns out that makers of true high-end stuff only allow one, possibly two service calls before they just pull out the pesky unit and put in a brand new one. When Ed opened the trailer to get some tools, I saw a wondrous sight - a beautiful Gagganau oven strapped on a palatte. Seems this Gagganau oven didn't like its probe. It's had every board replaced, so is essentially new internally. The only problem is the probe. Yes, it's got a little dirt on it. But NO scratches, dinks or stains. I've never used an oven probe. I'm happy to roast the old fashioned way and use the instant-read thermometer! And no warranty, of course. So we have a 36" oven that will go under our 36" DCS gas cooktop (also bought at fire sale prices - there is a slight dent in one corner which will more than likely press out when it's installed over granite or silestone - and it's also stainless steel, which I don't like but that's what appliances are more often than not) that is also out in the garage, brand-new and waiting to be installed. And, we have a Vent-A-Hood out there, too. Ed said "I'd be happy to install all these for you when you're ready." He even gas us advice on how to change out the cabinets, and some ideas for the remodel.

Of course, Ed has a story. He has masters degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, and was a working stiff until he invented and patented a bottle cap process that Coors Brewing and Ball canning and bottling division jointly purchased. So then Not-So-Old Ed didn't need to work anymore. He was still young, so he bought a Scuba Diving shop up in the mountains and he and his wife and kids ran that (still do). But he still wanted to do something, and his wife wanted him out of the house something fierce. He always had a passion for appliances, and when his high-end stuff wasn't installed properly, he offered to help out Miele with their installs. They trained him, and other companies snapped him up, too.

Our double oven unit is going toes up any day. The bottom oven gave up the Ghost months ago. It's a cheap GE Profile unit, and they are awful. The thing spits out steam and boiling water when you cook anything moist in it, and it cooks unevenly. So Ed took the measurements and he and his employee talked. There is a new Thermador triple unit that has a m-wave on top, convection oven in middle and warming drawer underneath that would fit Like A Glove in the GE's spot. Pray that somebody buys one and the installers muck up the installation as they normally do (Ed only comes in as the WolfMan clean up guy, think Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction. He comes in when there's problems) and we miraculously get a Thermador triple unit, barely used, at a 10th of the price.
Thermador Triple Oven
A Girl Can Dream, right?!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Feeding 80/The Hannukah of Birthdays

This could also read 'Feeling 80' at the moment. Because? Last night we fed 80 people. In one and a half hours. And I only have one small saucepan of curry left.
Some background: Our neighborhood features a K-8 school. This year, there are over 1000 kiddos registered and attending. So, a staff of around 80 services the school. It is an English as a Second Language (ESL) specialty school, as our population here is 17% Asian - Engineers imported from China, South Korea, India, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries. We have children who speak NO English in classrooms. Volunteers from the neighborhood, and older students fluent in the language, help out in the classrooms. Anyway, it is a superb school; and after some cage rattling, I am very happy with the level of Special Needs services Ryan is receiving to help with his speech difficulties.
Unfortunately, last year the school had a snafu with District PTA and our school's attempt to set up a 501.c.3 separate from the PTA for fundraising. Why would a school set up another 501.c.3 (tax exempt) fundraising vehicle, you may ask? Because District and National PTA could possibly direct how your very own school can spend the money, that's why. For example, spending the money on salaries for paraprofessionals to assist with teaching and pupil management might not be okay with District. And other spending might be ix-nayed. And why should ANY entity that is not directly affected by decisions be allowed involvement in the decision-making process, we asked. So, we are allowing PTA to die a slow, and now painful, death. We spent all the money in the PTA accounts to drain it down last year. However, PTA directors and school officials could not tell the rest of us what really happened. Our school district Big Cheeses obviously told them to keep mum about it. It meant that disorganization and confusion were rampant in the school. And volunteers were not organized as our former PTA people were and are understandably jaded, and have been unfairly accused of 'having an agenda'. Puhlease.
Last year, the rumor mill started up in rare form. "Teachers are quitting over this PTA fiasco!", "Our students won't get to do the 5th-grade trip (camping for 2 nights and some team-building stuff to prepare them for middle school), and all our Field Trips are at risk!" "National PTA is going to SUE US!"
All not true.
But what that kind of gossip and doomsday predicting can do, in the end, is affect how the community looks on your school. It will eventually start to hurt property values! PEOPLE - THINK!
Some parents are trying very hard to renew school spirit, for lack of a better term. One group has begun a landscape refurbishing that gave the school a pretty astonishing face lift overnight. There are other groups that are going full steam with the new 501.c.3 and other good things. And I offered to do the one thing I can do - I can feed large groups pretty easily.
So, during Parent/Teacher conferences this week and next, the parents are feeding our school staff of 80 lovely, home-cooked meals. Last night I made two kinds of currty, Thai and Indian, and other parents brought all the sides. And they were yummy! Authentic family recipies, eagerly and lovingly prepared for a staff we are lucky to have serving our neighborhood. And I can't wait to tell all the other parents who helped last night that our dinner got a standing ovation from the teachers and staff.

Now, about the Hannukah of Birthdays. My birthday was a week ago. I have always felt "Why celebrate only one day?" I celebrate the entire month of October! Many lunches out, many celebratory walks and trips. It's a beautiful time of year to get out and about with friends. So I use my birthday as an excuse to see my friends.