Marlena Ballinger

Managing Editor

This Christmas my parents gave my husband and me a small chest freezer. I sort of knew it was coming and I planned to put it in our laundry room next to the dryer.

We had to move a few things to the garage such as a few lingering moving boxes along with an old shelf I put my canned goods in before we could bring the freezer in.

In my plans for our new freezer I forgot to take one thing into consideration, where to plug it in. There are two standard outlets in our laundry room and neither were within reach of the cord on the freezer.

So, Sunday I phoned my mom and nicely asked if I could sweet talk dad into wiring a new plug. You see I usually go through mom because I always get the same answer from dad, I have to work on my cows, or I have to do something with the farm. Sometimes I'll get lucky and get him to come over. This weekend I promised to cook him dinner and he was there.

People (especially kids) think their dads can fix anything, but my dad really can. He even takes the time to teach me his tricks so next time I can tackle the chore, but I've learned there are two things that I will not mess with, electricity and propane.

I've also learned these are the two things that will make dad drop what he is doing to come over. The other day I mentioned a propane leak and he was there.

My dad has shown me numerous handy "man" tricks and I am confident to take on some of the projects myself. I learned a quick lesson about electricity this last summer and that lesson was to call dad.

You see, our hot water heater quit working, I called dad and he said it was probably an element. He gave me a quick lesson on how to change the element and I decided to tackle the job.

Five million gallons of water in my laundry room later and I had the new element in place. For a minute I thought that Niagra Falls entered my house when I failed to drain the tank to the proper level before pulling the old, upper element out.

I ended up changing both heating elements to no avail. We still had cold water.

I had dad puzzled, which is hard to do. "Did you check all the electrical nodes?" he asked.

"Yes, they are all showing 110 volts, Dad," I replied.

We visited the owner of the local hardware store and he didn't have an answer.

In my mind I was thinking that maybe it had something to do with the fuse box the heater is wired into. Dad didn't think so because I was getting power to the heater. After a non-violent argument, Dad told me how to check the fuse box with my meter tester to see if I had full power and I thought it was an easy enough task so I tried it.

When a fire ball flew towards me, I decided to give it up and call dad. He was there a few short minutes later.

We did discover one of the fuses was bad. I changed it and the water heater worked. This also explained why the electric nodes on the water heater's control panel were only showing 110 volts, the heater was only getting half of its power.

This past weekend, when dad came to wire in a new outlet for the freezer I didn't even try to learn, of course I asked a few questions and held the flashlight for dad but, this is one task I'll leave to him or an electrician.

The many other things dad has taught me include how to winterize our motor home, how to herd his cattle, how to change a tire on my car, how to change the oil on my car but there are not enough fireballs in the world to instill enough confidence in me to wire my own outlet.