first world problems

Adventures in Refrigeration

Tis a thing of Beauty…mum’s vintage Tupperware

Trials with the Mini Fridge 

I have been moderately afraid to post this in case I jinx it…but we got the fridge fixed last week. I have slowly been putting things into it as I don’t want to upset it or cause unnecessary stress. We had a scare on Day 2 when the temperature in the freezer showed 8 degrees instead of zero but I just pressed the colder button and it seems to be fine. Fingers crossed. Shrines set up. Prayers offered. I draw the line at live animal sacrifice. 

I have now transferred all the food into the fridge and even purchased some freezer items…but not yet put away the mini fridge or reorganized the eating area. Baby steps. I’m thinking of doing a smudging ceremony to purge the space of any bad vibes. Honestly, this has been a THING. First world problems for sure…but a trial nonetheless, though to be fair, this past six months have been challenging on SO MANY LEVELS….

  • The heat dome.
  • Busted sewer pipe (the Roto-Rooter guy was epic though).
  • Selling my mum’s condo and having to clear it out completely in two weeks and store it all in my basement (during the aforementioned heat dome).
  • The movers damaging five pieces of my mum’s furniture and not taking responsibility
  • So. Many. Clients. VIPs. And bidding wars, bribes and annual rent paid in advance in the rental market. Yes, the RENTAL market.
  • Active building site next door. Dust. Noise. Constantly.
  • Cancer diagnosis and radiation treatment for another family member. Doing OK so far. Fingers crossed.
  • Karis moved out.
  • Cleaning the house, dealing with the garden (which needed a LOT of water during the heat dome) and now figuring out recipes for bushels of kale and jalapeño peppers.

French People and Small Fridges

I’m not entirely sure how French people manage with these tiny fridges though I suspect that French people that live in suburbs or the country have proper-sized fridges because they shop at the Carrefour and not at the neighborhood shops: la boulangerie (bakery), l’épicerie (small grocery), la fromagerie (cheese), le marché (farmer’s market), la boucherie (butcher), la charcuterie (deli) or my particular favourite la confiserie (candy store…so the 7-11 for me). It’s definitely possible to shop daily in French cities where you are walking or taking transit but things become tiresome when you’re driving a car—which is how most of our cities are set up. 

I also have to say that I was kind of disappointed when I went to school in the south of France (Université Canadienne en France, sadly defunct since 1996) that we did most of our shopping at the Carrefour because it was cheap. And huge. Kind of like a French Walmart. I even got my hair cut there (regrettable, no photos will be provided). Our campus was basically on top of a mountain and we had the option of really expensive cafe food or going down the mountain into Nice to shop and then taking the bus back home and hitchhiking up the mountain to the school with our groceries. Because we were on a student budget we went to the Carrefour as it was by far the best bang for your franc. It was still French stuff—way better than anything you’d get here—but it was packaged and not quite the same as battling it out at the local deli trying to order cheese and cold cuts in bad French. We were housed in mediterranean-looking 5-bedroom townhouses but they were new (peach-coloured stucco) and had proper-sized fridges…so also not very French but we managed. 

Small Fridges and other Appliances in Japan

I also had a tiny fridge in Tokyo but the whole food thang was so different there and I also had a lot more disposable income. I didn’t cook very much and it honestly didn’t seem to be as much of a challenge to stay fed (ramen, take-out sushi and cinnamon toast). I was more upset by the lack of an oven and once paid $29USD for potato skins at the Hard Rock Cafe because I wanted something cooked in an oven. I had a small toaster oven and a hot plate in my first apartment; when I went with Karis we had a small North American-sized fridge, a small four burner gas stove and a weird gas broiling thing that I was scared of. I think I am just now grateful for appliances in general.

Fun with Fridges in North America 

Why didn’t we just give up and order a new fridge you may ask. There are two reasons and both are equally compelling. The first is that our fridge is a ‘built-in’ fridge. After a bit of research, I found out this is not at all the same as a ‘counter-depth’ fridge. We purchased our fridge when Karis was four when we renovated the house (nineteen years ago). It’s not enormous and, as such, there are not a wide range of replacement options and they are all at least $10K. If we were going to stay here the foreseeable future, we would have considered replacing it and renovating the kitchen BUT we’re not sure we’re going to stay—we’re waiting until the Monster Spec House next door is finished to make our decision. Actually we’re just procrastinating because we don’t know what we want to do or where we want to live. 

We could have replaced it with a counter-depth fridge but we would have had to re-do the cupboards as there would have been a big gap at the top and it would have stuck out quite a lot. Not an ideal situation if we decide to put the house on the market. 

The second reason why we didn’t just replace the fridge is to do with the shipping situation in terms of the supply chain. That ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal for six days and basically broke global trade. The shortage of container ships. The back up at the ports. This is affecting pretty much any kind of consumer goods. So even if I wanted to order a fridge (counter-depth or built-in) there are no guarantees of delivery and some people have been waiting for up to six months. Therefore not solving the problem at all. I met a property manager that has several suites sitting empty in the West End because the smaller fridges that fit into the space are on a six-month backorder. Who knew? 

The supply chain also impacts parts. They tried hard but—for whatever reason—their supplier couldn’t get the last part we needed. I called to check every few weeks and finally I asked for the part number and said I was going to check it out myself. I ordered it from Parts Warehouse in Texas for $266CAD and received it less than three weeks later. It’s the same part but they won’t give us the 90-day guarantee that they would normally offer but I honestly don’t care.

Re-use, Repair and Recycle

One other reason why we wanted to fix the fridge is that it’s a good fridge. It still looks pretty decent and not overly dated. It’s not a ‘Smart Fridge’ so it doesn’t email me and let me know when I need milk (which I’m kind of glad about) or have a fancy window (bad idea, fridges are messy) or anything like that, but it’s a solid fridge and I didn’t feel it was ready for the landfill. Most of the repairmen I’ve spoken with are overwhelmingly encouraging when it comes to repairing older appliances because the new ones don’t have the same longevity that older ones do. Our washer and dryer are over 20 years old but they are reliable and work perfectly. I feel like the fridge deserved the same chance. In terms of cost, I could have purchased a new fridge for sure (that wouldn’t fit) but ours is basically rebuilt with a new compressor and evaporator and some other stuff that I can’t remember. No renovation needed. I feel a bit virtuous about that. Another nod to the Sweden—the world’s recycling capital—as they have an entire mall for recycled goods. My last post was about Swedish Death Cleaning. It seems that they are indeed a tidy and organized country in more ways than one. Go Sweden!

COSTS:

  • Repair attempt by terrible repair people $200
  • First repair attempt by competent repair people $131
  • Evaporator from Texas $266
  • Other part and installation $1776
  • TOTAL: $2373

Moving Forward

I did purchase some Marie Kondo-type containers to organize the fridge. Chris hates them but I kinda like them. It will also prevent me from over-purchasing and decrease food waste. Which is also the right thing to do these days. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I can honestly say that I hope I will not be writing any further posts about refrigerators…except perhaps when I get a new dishwasher. Or design a new kitchen….