Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

One of my talents is the ability to go without. It does not strike a lot of people as a talent, but I’ve always found it useful.

I’m not talking about minor stuff like going without food, social/human interactions, discretionary spending, etc., but stuff people assume you cannot go without.

For example, I went two years without a phone (cell or landline). Those were two pretty good years. I caught flack because the boys were young at the time and there was a lot of handwringing and teeth gnashing about how I’d respond to an emergency.

The beauty of Ellensburg (particularly its epicenter along East Second Avenue) is you are never more than five minutes from anything — police, fire, medical facilities, coffee, quality craft brews — so I was less stressed about not being able to access anything and everything.

Of course, we’ve gone 16 years without TV which is not even worth mentioning because TV as we knew it 16 years ago no longer exists.

It is one thing to deny yourself, but it’s a different beast when you take others along for the ride.

Earlier this summer, our oven died. The stove-top burners still work more or less (one ring is dead), but the oven will not get any warmer than about 150 degrees. If you could restrict yourself to the slowest of slow-cooked foods, I guess you could say it still works.

I tried to get it fixed but my repair man said for what it would cost to install the needed control panel it made more sense to look for a new model.

First of all, join me in the outrage. The stove is less than 15 years old. A stove should last a lifetime. The stove in my grandmother’s kitchen could be traced back to the turn of the 20th century. They are not meant to be disposable. I have shirts I still wear on a weekly basis that are older than that stove. That’s just not right.

But it is what it is, as the kids say.

Luckily, it was summer. A lot of your climate change experts say a good way to keep the Earth cooler is to not use your oven in the summer. Don’t ask who said that but I am fairly certain I saw it on the internet.

Plus, most of our summer meals come off the barbecue. There is technical interpretation of the annual summer burn ban that could lead one to believe that charcoal barbecuing is prohibited within the city limits when a burn ban is in place. My interpretation is more a long the lines of the rules that apply during the winter. When a burn ban is in place in the winter due to air quality, people whose primary source of heat is a wood stove are still allowed to burn. My primary source of deliciously cooked meats was the barbecue so, ipso facto, I could barbecue.

But summer is gone, as Thursday morning’s sub-20 degree temperature so forcefully emphasized.

To be honest, we went four months barely noticing we did not have an oven — the only embarrassing moment was when I came home from the store and told the boys I’d bought a frozen pizza to make for lunch. We observed a moment of silence before agreeing we’d never mention it again.

But we’re talking about a whole other level once the calendar turns. We’re talking about The Holiday Season.

From my take it’s like, “Wow, if we can make it through The Holiday Season without a stove, we may never need one.” But from another person’s take, well, it involves a lot of profanity from a person who usually does not swear that much so I will spare you.

Over my 56 years I’ve learned that sometimes you go without and sometimes you go shopping for an oven. This seems like one of those second times.

Contact managing editor Michael Gallagher at mgallagher@kvnews.com

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