Hunka hunka burnin’ love

By Mir
May 13, 2008

Greetings from the land of Unplanned-For Expenses, otherwise known simply as Home Ownership. Why, we’d noticed the deck seemed to be settling a little, last year, when we moved in, and this spring we could no longer ignore that the gazebo seems a bit… SLANTY… and so we called our favorite contractor and asked him to come take a look. He checked it out and told us how much it would be to bring in a jack and prop up the corner and reinforce it, and we nodded and agreed, and the price was not exactly pocket change, but it made sense and wasn’t too traumatic.

The same week, it became clear that we need a new air conditioner. For some strange reason, the unit which is ORIGINAL TO THE HOUSE was having problems. (Hint: This is not a new house, y’all.) FORTUNATELY, we have separate units for upstairs and downstairs! UNFORTUNATELY, the furnace attached to the ailing AC unit is original (read: dying!) as well! Yay!

[Let the record show that all of this happened right AFTER we’d decided to replace the living room floor, and given the confluence of other expensive events and, well, the fact that I was becoming increasingly concerned that the flooring place is run by morons, I canceled our order. You know, the order for the floor I was supposed to get last year when we moved in? That one? No, I’m okay. There’s just something in my eye. SHUT UP.]

And then the contractor came back to fix the deck and started digging and SURPRISE! Have a look at this, folks! It’s not a single sagging corner, actually, but it turns out that the WHOLE GOSH-DARNED DECK doesn’t have a speck of concrete reinforcement. Not one! How about that? Darndest thing. Oh, don’t worry. He can fix it. Um, how does three times the original estimate sound? I mean, the alternative is to leave it until the whole thing sinks into the clay, but… okay then! How about next week? FABULOUS.

So basically, all you have to do around here lately is show up and I will hand you some of my famous buckets of money! Because I have extras! Or because I don’t want the deck to fall off or the children to burn up in the next heat wave! DETAILS!

You would think—in the midst of all of this—that it wouldn’t make any sense at all to go out and buy a big fancy grill, but you would be SO WRONG. Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed? We’re just not very bright.

Also, our family has felt the loss of our former grill quite keenly, as we are all about the charred meat ’round here. Charred veggies, sometimes, too, but we are big, big fans of cooking on the grill.

Honestly, grilling out has everything to recommend it: Fewer dirty dishes, less heat in the kitchen, more pure carnivore ecstasy (generally speaking), and—perhaps most important—although I consider Otto a fairly liberated guy, he is physically incapable of allowing me to cook when it comes to an open flame. So grilling = me getting to relax.

We needed another grill, is my point.

And AS LONG AS we were grill shopping, we figured it made sense to get the RIGHT grill. You know, the one that had everything we wanted. The one which would allow us to cook 36 hamburgers at once. Because sometimes we are REALLY HUNGRY.

Kidding! We are never quite THAT hungry, actually. But we do entertain a fair amount and sometimes our old grill seemed a little small for the task. So we figured we’d look at something a little bigger. Off to the home improvement store we went.

The grills, as it turns out, are conveniently located next to the patio furniture. The kids conducted extensive testing of each and every lounger and patio chair while Otto and I wove amongst the various grills, opening lids, rattling grates, oohing and aahing over rotisserie attachments, and so on. After about four hours we had selected our new grill. When it came right down to it, we carefully weighed all the factors and made a sensible decision.

(It was the shiniest one they had.)

So we left, and Otto went back to pick it up the next day, and for some reason Chickadee was DYING to be part of this excursion, so she went with him. And yesterday afternoon he pulled up to the (slanty) deck stairs and we unloaded The New Grill, the one we’d thought was just “a little bigger” than our old one. Chickadee danced around with unbridled glee while we wrestled it into place.

I’m not saying it takes up the entire deck (because, dude, our deck is bigger than Otto’s last house), but I am telling you that calling this thing a behemoth would be an understatement. It is ginormous. Hugantic. BIG.

No one suffered a hernia during the unloading (reason number #529 to love Otto: he owns ramps suitable for just such a task) and we carefully wheeled it to the spot where the old grill had lived. Then we adjusted and readjusted it until it seemed to fit, when really it just sticks out like the gigantic, shiny apparatus that it is.

“What do you think?” asked Otto, finally, clearly fearing I was about to bust out with an edict to remove this eyesore from my garden paradise.

“I think…” I said, still walking around and peering at it from all angles, “that it is a sexy beast.” We grinned at each other.

“Okay, but, I have a question,” piped up Chickadee. “What happens when THIS grill catches on fire?”

So much for our carefree moment.

“THIS GRILL IS NOT GOING TO CATCH ON FIRE,” we answered in tandem. I went on to explain to her that one of the reasons we picked this particular model is that it is constructed in such a way that flare-ups from grease are pretty much impossible. (There’s a screen under the grates with holes in it. Air can pass through, but flames cannot.) And I lovingly assuaged her fears, mostly by telling her that I refuse to even entertain such thoughts and hey, don’t you have homework to do?

At last she was soothed (or disgusted; hard to tell) and went back inside. And then I turned to my husband, the light of my life.

“Dude! Char me some dinner!”

And he did. And it was DELICIOUS. The end.


  1. Lisa- Domestic Accident

    Well, good thing you are rolling in the dough since blogging is so lucrative like The Today Show reports! Just kidding, just kidding.

    Who needs money in the bank when you have love, right? And you definitely have love.

  2. liz

    And here I thought reason #529 to love Otto was because he has one of those oh-so-sexy back support thingies and he’s certified hernia-free.

  3. Tammy

    Oh, the never-ending joys of homeownership. Congrats on the new grill!

  4. Jen

    I NEVER make elective fixes to my house anymore. It’s just an invitation for disaster. Witness: I had the bathroom remodled and the HVAC system quit; I installed new windows and the hot water heater died; I had the house painted and the (newly remodled) bathroom sprung a leak and the kitchen ceiling fell. I am NEVER doing anything by choice again EVER.

  5. Cheryl

    Big and shiny is good. But does the new grill use charcoal?

    And, that bites about not getting the new floor right now. I hope that the unexpected house things stop popping up and you can get the floor that works best for you soon.

  6. steve

    I want pictures of the sexy beast… and I want to come and visit for some bbq

  7. jennielynn

    Aaahh, a boy and his grill. When we moved into our current house, I decided to buy Mr. Clairol a new grill for his Birthday. He spent many years manning the grill at a steak house in South Dakota, so he is particular about the bbq. This being the case, I let him choose. Of course, he chose the biggest, top of the line model.

    Our grill is huge. Stainless steel, propane, six burners and a side burner. I strongly suspect we could live in it if things got tough. I guess it’s nice to have options.

  8. SoMo

    Now, see I can really have sympathy for ya here. Although, our home inspector told us what would have to be replaced it was all within 5 yrs. And then you start to think, we got time. Then time starts to creep up on ya and tap you real hard on the shoulder and say “It’s time!”.

    So you go ahead and cry about your floors that have gone away. I, too, understand all too well the pains of homeownership and the constant flow of money out the door. *sigh* I am now, very frightened and need a hug.

  9. Dani

    Oooooh! Which one did you get??? I’m in love w/ my new Genesis, as is my husband. I think I saw him kissing it goodnight the first day we had it.

    Sorry about the suckish-ness in the Land of New Floors and Big Bills. It seems that you wrote the story of my life in this post. We can cry over our new grills together. Without the risk of flare-ups! :)

  10. Sue

    A new grill is definitely the place to put your buckets o money – because the fire insurance deductible is probably much higher. Sorry about the hardwood. Maybe you can start a roadside mint stand to pay for the floor.

  11. Heidi

    So sorry you didn’t get your gorgeous flooring, but I’m relieved you canceled your order from the store with less-than-aware employees. Who knows what you would have ended up with? That’s too much moolah to shell out for anything less than fabulous.

  12. dad

    Wow! Now you have two sexy beasts living in your house.
    Count your blessings.


  13. Em

    We get to hear all about it an at the end, no invitation? What the heck! We all like tasty tasty murder, don’t we fellow commenters? That sound you hear is a collective impatient toe tapping. Hey, I can wait all day…..

    I’m just jealous because our grill balances precariously on rocks and dirt until some of those buckets of money find their way to our house so we can build a deck.

  14. Jenny

    Ah, the old “while we’re at it” syndrome.

    Plant a bunch of mint around the deck supports and I bet you won’t even need concrete. Although, I’m surprised you’re complaining about all these additional expenses, what with your buckets of blogging money. :)

    Happy charring!

  15. Melissa

    I’m with Em, both on the invitation AND on the current status of our grill. The dinner gets cooked fine but the ambiance is less-than-Pottery Barn, shall we say. More like Salvation Army.

  16. Astrogirl426

    Yes, I’m with Heidi – part of me is crying for your lost floor (it’s a Monday and I’m in PMS-ing), and part of me is REALLY glad you cut and ran before you got into bed with those numbskulls at the flooring store.

    Ah yes, the joys of home ownership. On the other hand, you could have done what we did and build your own place, so you wouldn’t be inheriting the problems from the previous owners. But OH WAIT, we didn’t actually build an ENTIRE house, just THE BASEMENT. Cause, you know, who needs a whole house, when just a concrete bunker will do? And hey, no deck problems! But that’s probably cause, hey! No deck! Just dirt. I’m a lucky, lucky, lucky girl I am (I’m just waiting for the day Bunker Monkey comes home and asks why he lives in a half a house when all his friends get a whole house? That’s the day I whip out the “if all your friends jumped off a bridge” speech, I guess. I’ve been saving that one up…).

    But hey, at least we do have a (secondhand, basic model, catches on fire easily) grill, too, ’cause we loves us some tasty, tasty murder (I’ll take mine rare, please!!), too. Yum!!

  17. Kritter Krit

    When you said the grills were near the patio furniture I got ALL excited, thinking you were gonna get some. And describe it in glorious detail.

    Yes. Our previous set remained at our previous house with its new owners (when the market is such that it is in ABQ, buyers get to ask for everything to remain…just short of the kids), so I’m hankering for a new set.

    Hubs says now is not the time. (Sigh. Now IS the time! It’s almost summer!) So we’re currently sitting outside in our camp chairs, which immediately blow away if there’s not a body in them. (Even more dramatic sigh.)

    I have visions of tables, cushioned chairs, and umbrellas (oh, my!) dancing in my head.

  18. Pictou

    Having been through a major remodel, I learned that contractor speak “You need to come look at this,” mean BRING YOUR CHECKBOOK, my kids start college this year.

    Cross reference dentist-speak.

  19. Katie

    Try living in a condo. You have to ask someone if you can spend lots of money to fix things. At least in a house, no one can tell you, no you may not have a normal colored door.

  20. suburbancorrespondent

    So, I take it you folks don’t have an ongoing “gas v. charcoal” argument going on in your house? Because we do. My husband would like a big manly gas grill, while I maintain that the only way to grill is over hot coals. So, when our last gas grill broke (the day of a planned BBQ, of course, with guests coming over in a couple of hours) I was delighted when my husband brought home a traditional Weber charcoal grill that he had spotted out in someone’s garbage pile that morning while he was out for a jog.

    Yes, we’re cheap.

    He went to Home Depot and spent 10 bucks on a new whatever-you-call-it that the burgers sit on and some more money for a bag of charcoal, and we were in business! No more faux-BBQ burgers here – just the real, truly carcinogenic stuff for us.

    And we paid the kids a buck or two not to tell the guests the exciting story of Daddy finding a grill in the trash.

  21. Crisanne

    Mmmm, I’m hungry for a nicely grilled steak right about now.

  22. Megan

    Oh thank you indeedy. First Cooks Illustrated does a loving tribute to the glory of charred meat (including pig! and cow! and chicken! and fish! and tasty, tasty ocean bottom feeders!) and leave me wrestling firmly with myself about whether or not I NEED a grill and just as I’ve managed to tame that oh-so-strong temptation? You do this. I hope your mint crawls out and smothers you. But only a little.

  23. All Adither

    Because I am a paranoid neurotic, I cannot relax when my husband grills. I’m just sure he’s going to wipe raw chicken breasts all over the kids plates and cups and then they’ll die of salmonella poisoning. Yeah, no rest for the weary around her.

  24. Beth

    Yay! New Grill Love!

    Boooooo! Homeowner expenses :-( I didn’t get my new kitchen because the shower wall started to squish; I feel your pain.

    Did the contractor consider propping up each pillar of the deck in one of your buckets of money?

  25. Sharon

    haha. we just bought one of the big shiny grills. my husband refers to it as the new car out back.

  26. MomCat

    Bits of houses get jealous when you lavish attention on other bits. (or on a new grill) Law of Home Ownership.

    Don’t remind me of the laws of moving right now, or I might spend the next week in a closet in the fetal position. I meant to go back and reread your moving posts (you know – for giggles!), but I don’t have the courage.

  27. Vane

    I … have a terrible cold, so I’m late for everything, therefore:

    * Yay! for the herb garden
    * Happy Belated Mother’s Day
    * Happy First Anniversary
    * Congrats on the new grill

    I’ll crawl back to bed now …

  28. jen

    I wish the Money Tree grew like mint…(running and ducking…) ;) Soo…I’m thinking you’re probably now going to re-build the deck large and respectable enough for the grill? ‘Cause stuff like that happens around here! LOL!

  29. pam

    Thank the heavens for the Buckets-O-Money.

  30. mammafor2

    You should really be careful!! Make sure your MINT is not to close to the grill, bc it might kill the “sexy beast”! I bet you had clean plates and the service was great, for this dinner!
    What a man Otto is, grilling for the family. :)

  31. Headless Mom

    Ooh shiny! And charred food?

    You are one lucky girl, Mir!

  32. jenn

    Yeah, but I can top you on the “unexpected expenses” category. AT least you have a new grill, and a fixed-up deck, and nice cool air blowing in your face. Our garage door broke yesterday! SO we got to hit the line of credit and write a check for $458 for a “total overhaul” which as far as I can tell, consisted of putting new wheels on the door so that it would move along the track properly again. (We had no choice but to pay what the guy charged and didn’t have time to shop around, because my car was totally stuck in the garage as long as the door wouldn’t open.)

    And the kicker is, my house is only 2 years old! Stupid @*$&#% builder!

  33. kat

    Have you thought about getting a home warranty? When we bought our house, the seller bought a warranty for the first year and we’ve renewed it ourselves every year since. It covers all the major appliances and other random things and it has paid for itself many times over. Our house also has the “original” a/c and it breaks down like clockwork every month during the summer. The nice man always comes out and fixes it, and we give him our $40 co-pay. When he eventually can’t fix it anymore, the warranty company will replace it. We’re patiently waiting for the a/c to die for good and for our brand spanking new replacement a/c. Until then, the nice repairman keeps the house cool in the summer.

  34. barefoot writer

    We suffer from the problem of having things that break down every time we have any ‘extra’ money at all!

    That being said, I love new things – it’s so refreshing and exciting.

  35. Sophie

    When my kids slop water out of the bath and I get mad, I lie to them and tell them too much water on the bathroom floor will make the house fall down. And then we will have to sleep outside in the rain. And how will we eat? Because there will be no kitchen!

    Just think – at least if *your* house falls down you will have something to cook on.
    Not saying it will fall down, but you’ve got me thinking of worst case scenarios here…

  36. StephLove

    In the unexpected expenses department: We came home from a weekend out of town on Sunday to find our retaining wall in pieces and tire tracks on the sidewalk berm. Oh the joys of living on a busy street.

    Oh and I’m late on this but you will be glad to know I have no opinions about mint. None whatsoever.

  37. genny

    Glad you got the grill. It makes dinner so much easier!

  38. Ladanea

    Reading your blog always makes me hungry.

  39. Tootsie Farklepants

    Don’t be fooled. That contractor saw your Today Show segment and was all “cha-CHING!!”.

  40. Pegleg Starfish

    Hi! I’m brand new to your blog via another blog. :) As crazy as it sounds, I’m slightly jealous of your house issues. I’ve been stuck in a tiny apartment for too long. Then again it is nice to be able to call a maintenance man when you accidentally get a quarter stuck in the garbage disposal. :)

  41. Flea

    Yay for the new grill! Boo for the A/C issues! Yay for sexy husbands (I’m rather fond of mine, too)! Boo for idiotic flooring companies!

  42. charity

    Great post. We just bought a nice shiny grill also that can feed a football team, and we are a family of 6. Believe it or not we have had a grill catch fire also, it was quite the expeierence. Good Luck :)

  43. Shannon

    Aw, I am sorry you won’t be getting new wood floors. But when you live in the south, AC is really not optional.

  44. Lindsay

    Sigh, our apartment forbids bbq’s. And I even bought my man one the summer before we moved in here. I miss the days of running through the living room with plates of raw meat, Singles cheese wrappers billowing around the deck, and bellowing “who wants toasted buns” into the apartment. Nothing says summer like it. Enjoy on your soon to be very level and true and flush deck (those are my builder words).

  45. Brigitte

    It’s not even 8:00 am here, and now I’d like some barbecued ribs, please.

  46. sillyme

    hee hee! Your Dad totally called your husband a “Sexy Beast.” In my family that would be brought up every Thanksgiving for years to come.

  47. Poppy Buxom

    Just so you know, blogging has made me so many buckets of money that I’m buying a new driveway, a new deck, AND a private chef to char me three meals a day.

    I loves me some grilled Wheat Chex.

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