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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Holiday Survival! Crafts! Stove! STress!

First I apologize for the layout of this post. Blogger will absolutely not allow me to place these pictures where I want them. I get them all set, then when I add a new one it moves everything to the top. The Hell with Blogger! Here it is. Best I could do with their crappy software. (They fixed the glitch in the software so I fixed the pictures, but left this note here as a reminder of the frustration I  experienced posting this.)

I survived the Holidays. Yay! The Holidays have always been a mixture of stress, family, fun, sadness, and joy. Overall they are a time of emotional highs and lows. They were difficult before, but since my diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) it is even more challenging. This year was no exception. More stress, less stress, an exploding stove, and a craft show. In spite of FTD, and with the help of a friend, I mostly enjoyed this holiday season.
All decorated for the Holidays!

It all starts around Thanksgiving. This year Thanksgiving went pretty well. Just a friend and I for a nice home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. My children were unable to make it home for the Holidays for the first time ever. I was not really expecting them to with the current economic conditions, but I had still hoped.

Open House and Craft Show. That's a first!
On December 16th my friend wanted to put on an Open House and craft show for the holidays. Of course in a moment of weakness I said she could have it at my house. Stupid me!

I was not planning to decorate for the Christmas season this year, but since there was going to be an Open House hosted here I figured some decorations were in order. In short I ended up decorating the whole house complete with 8ft tree. Lotsa unneeded hassle, but in the end I am glad I did. It was cheery, and looked nice. The Open House was a moderate success, and we mostly visited with a few close friends. A couple neighbours dropped by, and did some craft shopping. Sales were a couple hundred bucks, and we got to visit with friends. Overall it was a great day. Since my friend did almost all of the work, it was fairly low stress for me.

The only problem I had was a bout of agoraphobia where I was absolutely unable to leave the house and distribute the fliers announcing the Open House to the neighbours. It was weird, but I was totally unable to force myself out the door. I eventually got over it.

Then my kitchen stove blew up. Well, more like shorted out. The burner shot lightning-like sparks all over, and melted. It was very exciting. I ordered the parts online to repair it, and they arrived the next day. I think it was the Thursday before Christmas. I spent Christmas Eve repairing the stove. I had to replace the wiring, and the ceramic blocks the burners plugged into.  It really only took a couple of hours, but when I turned it on, it did not work correctly. When the front burner was turned on, both burners got hot. The back burner seemed to work OK. So, I figured I had messed some thing up, and rewired it a different way. That did not work either.

Self doubt! I figured I had mad a mistake. Before FTD I never would have even considered I had made an error on such a simple repair. Now I question everything I do, and every decision I make.

Anyway it became apparent that after spending about $80 on parts, the problem was more extensive than I had imagined. The whole front panel of the controls seemed to have melted, and shorted out. The cost was more than I wanted to invest in a 28 year old Jenn-Air Stove. ...but I had a plan!

But first there was Christmas. It was very nice. Like Thanksgiving, I spent it with my friend. We exchanged some gifts, and had a very pleasant holiday. Very little stress. Though I missed having the boys here for the Holiday, time marches on. It is a typical symptom and side effect of FTD to become distant with friends and family because of the inability to stay in contact and have normal communications. At least that is my theory.

The day after Christmas I returned to the problem of not having a kitchen stove. As an aside, my stove is in a center island , so it has a down-draft vent. The only company that makes a center downdraft stove that I know of is Jenn Air. I priced a new Jenn Air replacement stove, and they started at around $2750! Being on Social Security Disability that is so far beyond my frugal means I couldn't even consider it.

But, as I said ...I had a plan!

About 6 weeks ago I had been shopping with my friend at a Recycle Store in Ann Arbor Michigan. I personally don't like shopping in Ann Arbor very much. The people there in general seem rather nasty, and more self-centered than anywhere else I can think of. Oh yeah, and "Go Bucks!", "Michigan Sucks!"

Well, at this store I noticed a used Jenn Air stove shoved in the back of the warehouse area. It was much newer than mine, and I looked at it mostly out of curiosity to see the changes and advancements. It was definitely used as it had a few scratches on the top, and it was covered in a thick layer of dust.

I remembered the stove, and asked my friend the day after Christmas to phone and see if it was still there. Yes, it is a symptom of my FTD that it is difficult for me to make phonecalls. I just have an unnatural resistance to calling anyone for anything. Phonephobia! My friend is very understanding of my FDT most of the time, and pushes me and nags me when necessary, and helps me over the difficulties as best she can. She is the best!

It was still there! They could not "save" it for us, but said it probably would be there tomorrow becuse it had been there for a while.

Out with the old, in with the new!
Thursday was my friends day off work, so off we went to Ann Arbor stove shopping. I hoped the stove was in decent shape, and was all there. I really didn't remember it all that well, and didn't check it out thoroughly the first time I saw it. I just remembered it was a Jenn Air with a downdraft, which is exactly what I needed.

It was still there! The price on it was $250, but I negotiated it down to an even $200. Now this is expensive for a used electric range. They can be had for $25 - $50 at most thrift stores in the area. But this was a Jenn Air with the down draft that I needed, and it was a more recent model than the one I had. Mine was about 28 years old, and had all analog controls, clocks, and timers. This one was all digital. This one did not have a convection oven like my old one, but other than that was comparable. It even had a couple of extra burners. We loaded it up, and brought it home. It had a 7 day guarantee, but the guy at the store remembered it coming in as a donation, and whoever donated it had said it was all in good working order. We crossed our fingers that it would work as it is a common problem with the brand to have the digital controls have to be replaced, and that costs over $300.

Left it in the car overnight so that it could snow about 8 inches. This was planned to make it easier to move the stove into the house, and move the old stove out. ...or not!

Unhooked the old stove, removed the old blower, installed the new blower, and hooked up the new stove. After adjusting the height a little, it fits perfectly. Turned on the power, and it worked! Everything works! A nice stainless steel Jenn Air stove with a grill and 4 burners, oven, and broiler, all for 200 bucks!

My new-used $200 Jenn Air. Yay!
Nice to know that I am still able to do some of the things I could before. I was very handy around this old house. I did most of the remodelling myself,  and can still hold my own with a hammer and a saw. Good thing because in a house that is 114 years old something always needs fixing. It gives me something to do.

It has been a couple of weeks, and I am loving this new stove. The digital oven controls and timer are a big improvement, and the blower doesn't shake the kitchen floor. It is quiet, and works great. So far, so good!

That brings us up the the Saturday before New Years. For the past few years I have had some friends over the New Years, and we had a small party that included playing a variety of board games. None of us really enjoy the drunken scene out on the town, so a party at home was the way to go.

This year I just didn't feel like a party, so once again I spent the Holiday with my friend. It was mostly nice until my symptoms of FTD kicked in, and an argument ensued. It was mostly because I was unable to make a decision about something, and she was not in the mood to make it for us. My New Year started with a quarrel directly related to my symptoms of FTD. Ummmmmm ...we made up ; )

And now it is my Birthday. This is the official end to my Holiday season. As a friend texted me today, it is the end of my "Dark Days".

So, I would just like to say, "Happy Holidays" to everybody. Better late than never. ...and Happy Birthday to ME!