Still without an oven. Our house has been breadless for almost 3 weeks now. While it’s been nice to have time for chores and other hobbies, I miss baking bread—the smell, the product, the mysteries of dough. We are going to someone’s house for dinner tomorrow and I had to apologize that I couldn’t bring bread, even though they requested it. I think we’ve decided to buy an older oven, and I’m encouraged by the number available for sale in Southern California. Ovens in the 40s and 50s make up roughly quarter to a third of all oven listings on Craig’s List. Yet you find almost none from the 60s to 80s, and the rest are 10 years old or less. In the 1950s, planned obsolescence was coming into fashion. Also, I imagine post-war America was filled with factories and workers who had been churning out P-51s and M-1 carbines and now needed something to do. So they made ovens: O’Keefe and Merritt, Wedgewood, Gaffer and Sattler, Chambers. These are the ones you still find available here, still working 60 years later. Our oven is 1/10th that old and already bit the dust. I will let you say the cliché.
Last night I stood out back with a Blue Moon wheat beer in my hand while the barbeque sizzled away. Hummingbirds zoomed and dive-bombed the flowers, and wind shivered ripples on the pool. This is why we moved out West, to create new lives for ourselves and escape the stress and How Important Are You-ness of Washington, DC. It is exactly five years since we moved and I haven’t once regretted it. Now that we have put down roots here, I can’t imagine leaving. This is a particularly American thing to do: move away from your family and start a new life. We are all still pioneers, it’s in our blood. My wife and I made it all the way to the far coast, the ocean at our doorstep. As long as a cataclysmic earthquake doesn’t send the entire state adrift into the Pacific, we’ll be here for a while, I hope. I love it here.