It was a pretty good weekend, all in all.

What with the hockey tournament and the barbeque melting last night.  You just don’t see stuff like that every day.

I’ll recap the tournament, for those of you who don’t follow my exploits on Twitter.
The throw-together team Pad played on in the College Cup prospect event won twice on Friday and then lost game three Saturday. So, they had to win their remaining game Saturday night vs. Wisconsin to advance to Sunday, and they did.
In the round of 16 on Sunday morning they beat another American side, the Midwest Selects to earn a spot in the quarter finals.

Playing on only an hour’s rest, the guys played great for the first half of the game and then ran out of gas, losing 4-0. My kid got thrown out of the game with 1:12 left for a hit from behind which a) he was guilty of and b) appalled all the people around me who didn’t know he was my kid.

So we were back home by 1p and I was in a grocery store by 130p. The afternoon was largely spent in the lazy pursuit of not very much. I asked the boys what the wanted for dinner and naturally Pad said “steak” so last night I fired up the grill.
Literally, as it turned out.
I don’t know how BBQ maintenance works in your house, but in our neighbourhood when a grill catches fire the conventional wisdom is to just let ‘er burn.

Grease and fat accumulate over the long winter and sooner or later there will be a small, contained fire in which the grease, theoretically, burns off. More rarely, a large, contained fire will aspire to be a larger, uncontained fire.

And that’s what I had.

Not exactly a textbook Boy Scout moment.

So, I did what any normal dad would do.

First, I took a picture. Because a big fire is really cool and I figured the insurance company would be interested if the fence caught on fire too. Plus, the guys will love this.

Then, I turned off the gas and stood by and watched it burn, patiently waiting for the flames to subside so I could cook dinner.

It took a while. Actually, the fire got bigger while I watched. So, I used the time for yard work. Specifically, to, um, hook up the backyard water hose. Just in case.

It wasn’t entirely unpleasant. The fire was a pleasing hue and the flames keep the bugs away and took off the chill in the air.


The next sign of trouble was when the upper heating rack of the grill fell down onto the main grill. I figured that perhaps that thinner grill had warped slightly in the flames, or, maybe some of the load-bearing grease had burned away. Wrong again.

I couldn’t fully investigate until the fire was out, but what actually happened was that the metallic moldings on the inside of the iron BBQ casing had melted off in the inferno.

Now, that’s cool. Or hot, depending on your point of view.

By now both boys had visited the backyard, but neither were concerned about the flames — they’ve seen this movie before, with me starring as Chevy Chase — they just wanted to know when the food was going to be ready.

I had to cook their dinner under the broiler as the BBQ was in need of a serious visual inspection. After dinner, I discovered that portions of the grill were badly warped by the fire and it would not longer close. Well, let’s just say it wouldn’t close easily.

I fixed that with some more Arnold family ingenuity and while noisy, it will now close. More troubling, the intensity of the fire actually caused some of the barbeque’s main casing to crack and break off.

Never one to cry uncle easily, I actually managed to cook on the grill again later that night when Pad had his second dinner of the evening.

But . . . There is a sad truth to be confronted here.

This barbeque came into our lives about 12 or 13 years ago. A kid was selling raffle tickets in support of Oakville Today — a free community newspaper that was, I believe, independent at the time. For some reason, Laura bought $10 worth of tickets, which I told her at the time was crazy because, well, who buys raffle tickets to support a business?

She said the kid was clean and polite and earnest and she wanted to support him. And then as if to mock me (and I get a lot of mocking, trust me) she actually WON the first prize — a new barbeque.

It’s not so new any more. And after last night, we are officially in the market for a new grill. Mother’s Day is close at hand and frankly, I’m hard pressed to imagine anything that would excite a woman’s heart more than a new BBQ.

As a parent, I’m also proud to say that my boys are of an age where an excuse to upgrade any technology — even cooking technology — is a collective call to arms for the brotherhood and they were excited by the prospect of finding a new grill.

The both instantly wanted to know if I would try to find one to rival Coach Dave’s “big ass barbeque” (their term, not mine). I demurred on this point. Dave’s grill is large enough to be subdivided into condos and throws enough BTU’s to smelt iron ore.

I said well boys, with you guys leaving home soon, the needs of your mother and I are more modest.

Insert sound of crickets chirping.

Some evening this week we’ll invade Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Barbecues Galore and look for a new barbeque. I’m sure more blog entries will unfold in the process and really, that’s what it’s all about.

I shudder to think of the number of meals that have been cooked on that old grill over the last 12 years. Burgers and dogs and steaks and chops and chicken and veggie kabobs (I think there was one of those. Just one.)

As the photo evidence suggests, the old ‘cue went out in a blaze of glory. We should all be so lucky.