Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

The Beat Goes On (And On, and On) | July 1, 2011

It is surprising how you can get used to uncomfortable things so quickly and so completely that you begin to think of them as normal.  It really hit me when Tim was pouring the entryway.  The front door to the old house was inset about ten feet from the front of the house.

The new plan calls for the entryway to be flush with the house.  In order to be able to lock the door, be secure at night, and still be able to work on the slab, Tim and J moved the front door beyond the front of the house.  The temporary threshold was at ground level and the form for the foundation was at house level, so we couldn’t open the door all the way.  In fact, we could only open it about a foot. In order to get in the house, we could either squeeze through the small opening and navigate our way through the rebar or climb in and out of the window.

After the pour was completed and the rebar was covered with cement, it got easier to get in and out of the house.  At least we didn’t have to worry about getting tangled in the rebar, but we still couldn’t open the door all the way.  Tim is rarely bothered by anything uncomfortable, but this was really bugged him.  He said he wanted to put the front door back at the height of the slab, but I said why bother?  I was so used to climbing in and out of the window; it seemed like a waste of his time.  I thought we might as well wait until we frame up the new opening.  One Saturday, Joey, Jeffrey, Gus, and I went hiking in Torrey Pines and came back to find the door in its rightful place on the slab.  When I opened the door wide, I felt a wave of well-being flow through me.  I really didn’t know how awkward it was climbing through the window until I was able to open the door all the way.

I feel the same way about my new range.  The old range, even in its prime, only managed about 8,000 BTUs.  By the time we replaced it, the BTU count was probably around 5,000.  That didn’t stop us from making wonderfully complicated meals.  We always celebrate food related holidays like National Eggs Benedict Day.

To make pasta on the old stove I would put the big stock pot on to boil and then go to Trader Joes to get the pasta fixings.  By the time I came back home the water would just be starting to boil.

My new American Range has three 17,000 BTU burners, two 15,000 BTU burners, and one 9,000 BTU burners.  It is amazing!  I can boil water in record time!  My only complaint is it makes a booming sound when we heat up the oven.  It is not perfect, but pretty darn close.

I often wonder how we managed to cook anything on that old, weak, unreliable range and why we didn’t replace it long ago.  We just dealt with that old range and thought it was normal.  It is like the bad boyfriend I had in college that I put up with so long.  Looking back, I wonder why I dated him at all, but he did make me appreciate the good man I ended up marrying.

The inconvenience that, strangely, doesn’t bother me much at all is the kitchen sink we are using now.  Instead of a proper kitchen sink with a garbage disposal and a dishwasher that drains into it, we are using a stainless steel laundry sink.  It is not very big, but very deep and, when I do the dishes, water splashes everywhere.    I find myself in front of that sink doing dishes and daydreaming or reminiscing.

The other day I was reminded of a woman I knew in college.  She was really my friend Barbara’s friend.  I can’t remember her name, but she had a cat named Thorozine and a charming house.  She was a rare bird in that she was older, had a nicely decorated house instead of a student flat, and was married.  She invited Barbara and me over one time when her husband was at work and we hung out and ate a meal.  In those days I absolutely loathed doing dishes.  I felt like dirty dishes were somehow an affront to my very existence, but, after the meal, my good manners won out (Thanks mamacita) and I offered to do the dishes.  She graciously said to leave the dishes to her.  She claimed to like washing dishes because it was like taking her hands to the beach.

Most of the time I don’t mind dong dishes anymore even in our laundry sink.  It gives me a chance to meditate on the day’s activities, or plan how I am going to deal with the latest phase of our project.  Life goes on during the remodel.  We still celebrate all of the standard, and not so standard, holidays.

Joey still practices his saxophone.

I still send my hands to the beach and learn to accept the new normal.


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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.







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