We Cook with Gas!

My Hubby is a “handy man”. Our boys all think so too. A recent Father’s Day gift was a “Tool Man” tie. Note that we have only sons. I am sure that if a daughter were involved in the gift decision it may not have been the Tool Tie.

My hubby’s handy man skills emerged later on in our marriage. During the dating / living together stages he showed little enthusiasm for fixing anything around the house. In fact I secretly rejoiced, when upon viewing a flooded floor next to my water heater, he stated that he’d have to look into some home repair manuals when he had his own home. He walked away from the scene, content to let a “professional” deal with this mess.  This appeared to be a man who would be OK with calling a repairman. Hallelujah!

I was a fairly “handy” woman in my own right.  Having been single for a few years I’d managed to install a ceiling fan, remove and replace a garbage disposal, and had even scrambled up onto the roof of my southwestern home and replace the water pump on the evaporation cooling unit. Hubby had no real opportunities to demonstrate his mechanical prowess during the early stages of our life together.This changed as soon as the “I Do” part happened.

Hubby moved into my existing home and now had concern for items like leaking hot water tanks, sagging gates  and other miscellaneous items that he’d been eyeing, during our courtship.  I found that his passion was to work in the yard and  garden. There was already a substantial vegetable garden on the south side of the house, which under his nurturing care increased the production of greens and herbs to the point I was giving away heads Romaine to all my friends!  I even learned to make pesto from cilantro. Hubby’s love of fruit trees was boundless. Added to the typical Southwest Pink Grapefruit and Valencia Orange trees, he planted unusual varieties like “Dolly Parton” lemons, two varieties of limes . Next he added a Peach tree and two Santa Rosa Plums.  Hubby even planted a Dwarf Apple tree that was guaranteed to grow in desert climates.  At one point I considered signing him up for  “Plant Buyers Anonymous” meetings. I swear I saw a brochure for this on the bulletin board at Home Depot!

I truly became concerned when I saw that he moved plants around the yard like we women might rearrange the furniture in the house. He couldn’t plant the Plum trees next to the Mexican Limes… they’d get too tall and provide too much shade. He needed to move them around!  Digging all those holes eventually meant that Hubby learned the location of the underground utility lines. We had the our city’s Home Safety Department on speed dial.

The most memorable event was the time he “found” the gas lines on the west end of our back yard. Even the fire department arrived for this occasion. Indeed the neighbors probably thought we were hosting a party for personnel of our city’s public utilities.  Both the gas company and the local firemen from our city crowded into the back yard to look at and listen to the hissing gas lines that had been breached with Hubby’s shovel.

Flash forward about ten years. We relocated to the  Seattle area. Moving only provided many additional opportunities to meet new personnel at various water, gas and electrical utilities in the great Northwest.

We’d been spoiled by the luxury of a gas grill in our backyard down in the Southwest. Many a meal was grilled in our own back yard and the best part was that we never had to refill Propane bottles! Our cast iron El Patio gas grill was fueled by in line gas that ran from our house main across the back yard. Remember those visits from the Gas Company and firemen I mentioned?

Hubby set about to recreate this convenience in our new home in Seattle.  Never mind that the house had no actual gas lines. He did research and found that indeed there was gas available to our home. The lines came up the street. He just needed to link into those lines and bring the gas into our home via copper pipes.  Welding copper was no problem. Just about every boy has had a welding kit as a toy or at the very least had some experience with welding in Shop class, right?

So how hard could it be to plumb a home that was not constructed with any gas lines? This project was before Internet searching and You Tube technology. But Hubby is a very good student so he consulted books on the subject. He even called our local gas company office to consult with a woman in Consumer Service and Safety, about when the inspection could happen when he’d finished work on our pipe layout. She freaked out to say the very least that he was going to do this work!  There was a justifiable concern about an amateur homeowner doing work with a combustible substance without the oversight of a professional!

Hubby has regaled many friends and acquaintances with his imitation of his conversation with the high pitched screeching voiced women on the other end of the phone at the local Gas Company. I have to admit it was pretty humorous too, even if it did paint a member of my own sex as a hysterical raving loony.  When she did pause for breath, Hubby did reassure her that a licensed contractor would be inspecting each and every joint, before any gas flowed through the pipes!

At the end of this project we did indeed have a gas grill on the back deck. We have enjoyed many wonderful grilled salmon dinners. The fact that we have to work with an umbrella in one hand on many occasions has just become part of our Northwest experience.

While he was at it, he plumbed gas to the kitchen and the garage area for additional appliances.  I will say we saved a bit of money switching to a gas water heater and I truly enjoyed cooking on my new Kenmore Elite Self Cleaning Gas Range with its Convention oven. We were truly “cooking with gas” at last.

Hubby’s “improvement” projects can be trying.  In most cases the end results are truly amazing. It’s just living through the process that proves challenging.

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