The Bittersweet Tale of Gervase R. Tinsley and his Convection Oven

Gervase R. Tinsley

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I realized I was in need of something warm and toasty, like, an oven. My husband built his dream house before we ever met. It’s a gorgeous showpiece of form and style, built to his exact specifications. Unfortunately for me, those specifications didn’t include air conditioning or, you know, an oven. I’m hoping a countertop convection oven can at least handle a few biscuits and some roasted Brussel sprouts now and then. I turned to Amazon to research different models when I came across a customer review so heartbreakingly honest that I could barely believe what I was reading.

Gervase R. Tinsley leads the pack with the first review for the Waring Pro TCO650 Digital Convection Oven which he wrote back in 2012. He grips you from the start:

By Gervase R. Tinsley on December 7, 2012

Verified Purchase

I am a 76yo single guy that cooks because he has to and not necessarily because I love it. When my wife was alive and at home, we ate pretty well although rather plain. She had to go into a nursing home last year and passed away 7 months later so I am now living in low income housing on my own for the first time in 40 years. I had a cheap toaster oven (B & D I believe) that died. I read reviews for about 25 or 30 different toaster ovens on Amazon. When I found the reviews for the Waring toaster oven I was highly impressed. Of all the reviews I looked at the ones for the Waring were the best (and the most). Last night I heated up a pot roast (already prepare by Jack Daniels) and it came out perfect & this morning I did a bagle (after I learned the controls) and it also came out perfect. Not being used to these kind of controls, that presents a bit of a learning curve but not unconcorable. Besides, I believe that life is a dynamic experience anyway and, therefore we are on a perpetual learning curve.

This poor man! Is he including all those details about his life in order to establish why he needs the oven? Or is he actually reaching out for human contact through this review, looking for sympathy and comfort about the loss of his wife and his diminished living situation? HIs positive outlook deeply moved me. “I believe that life is a dynamic experience anyway and, therefore we are on a perpetual learning curve.” YES. Thank you Gervase R. Tinsley. I need to remember that more often. I feel badly that he described the food his wife cooked as “rather plain.” I hope he was able to get some enjoyment out of it because otherwise that seems like a rather sad state. I’m happy to think of him now enjoying his Jack Daniels pot roasts.

I was so moved by his review, which he signs Teaneckflask, that I wasn’t surprised when I noticed it had 28 replies. What I couldn’t have imagined, however, was the outpouring of emotion from strangers on Amazon:

JJ says: sorry about the loss of your wife….. thank you for your review and god bless.

J. Luton says: Thank you for your review. I’m glad you are looking at life as a dynamic experience. My condolences on the loss of your wife.

The sympathy notes go on and on. Then there was this:

katherine T. Ohara says:I would like to write a movie based on this review. Thats how informative and personal it was. Never have i read a simple review that gave such a window into ones soul and life experience while convincing me to purchase a product at the same time. Waring should hire you as their spokesman. Thank you for the review good sir and best wishes to you and good luck in your future.

Seeing all these lovely people reach out to this lonely man restored my faith in humanity, as cliched as that sounds. What are the odds that he returned to his review on the Waring oven and saw how deeply he affected complete strangers?

Beonna Hunt says: Gervase, Please update your review. I’d love to hear how your toaster oven is doing 2 years later, and by the comments posted, we would all like to hear how you are doing. I couldnt agree more with them, best review EVER!!!! And I ‘ve read hundreds of reviews.

Sadly Gervase never replied. Another commenter left this:

Alfred J says: Thank you for your review GT. Not only was it informative, but you managed to touch the souls of many. It looks like you have joined your wife, both of you in a happy place. http://www.tributes.com/show/Gervase-R.-Tinsley-95940867

With the news of his passing, even more feel compelled to comment.

Blondegirlfrnd says: Thanks for sharing this. Wow. I just wanted an oven, not a reminder of the fragility of life, but the stark reminder that there is more to life than buying stuff was necessary.

E. Smith says: So sad to hear of this insightful mans passing… great review and such an inspiration. Rest in peace.

Ellen Le says: This review made me and my boyfriend burst into tears. We will definitely be buying this toaster oven.

daniel foster says: i know hes in heaven with his wife….and they’re making wonderful snacks in their toaster oven. his review brought tears to my eyes.

Making snacks in heaven together, that one really got me. The internet can be such a shitty place with anonymous haters wreaking havoc on anyone who dares to put themselves out there. Finding this little pocket of humanity was just what I needed to feel truly grateful this Thanksgiving. I bought the damn oven. This Thursday I’ll be cooking up a (tiny) feast and toasting to Gervase R. Tinsley, his wife, and the surprising kindness of strangers.

Gervase R. Tinsley

We All Start Somewhere

We All Start Somewhere

CEO and fashion powerhouse Katherine Power recently posted an inspiring photo on Instagram that showed the first ever post for her website, Who What Wear. It was a piece about leather jackets showing an assortment of models and celebrities sporting the cool accessory. Was it groundbreaking? Hardly. Was the artwork forgettable? Absolutely. Did it matter? Not in the least. Power and her partner kept at it, little by little, and now Who What Wear is an incredible fashion resource full of stylish design and great tips. I check it daily. Thinking about firsts steps reminded me of my first ever staging job- a loft downtown LA in the bank district. It was 2007 and I was obsessed with Flor tiles. I think we all were.

The loft was empty and had some unflattering metallic silver paint on the window trim. I painted it white for a brightening, streamlining effect and then I added this hodgepodge of furniture, embarrassingly enough some of it was collected from street curbs before trash day.

Start Somewhere

You can barely make out the tip of the “chandelier” I made, consisting of pleasantly shaped twigs and palm fronds tied together and spray painted white. Yup. That’s how fancy I got. Want to hear something even crazier? When this loft sold (with multiple offers) the buyer actually put in the contract that the wood chandelier must stay. Some lawyer wrote that. In a contract. About my pile of spray painted twigs. I still blush thinking about it. And then there’s this gem in the bedroom:

Starting Somewhere

I was really into Phillipe Starck at the time and wanted to try out the regency look, so I SEWED this bizarre canopy with a zebra accent. I remember now it was a shower curtain from Target. Can you imagine anyone actually sleeping in something like this? It’s so embarrassing, but it did look pretty empty before:

Starting Somewhere

So there you have it. This dark, gloomy apartment facing an air shaft, next to a generator that ran 24/7 still sold with multiples. That’s LA real estate for you, but I like to think that someone still might be coming home to turn on their little woodland chandelier and bask in the fantasy of living in a remote cabin. Just kidding. That’s like totally rotted by now.

We all start somewhere. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better all these years and projects later, but honestly, some days it still feels as hard as the afternoon I first walked into this loft with nothing but a paintbrush, a bevy of trash furniture, and the Flashdance soundtrack to sustain me. But we keep on. And that is what makes the difference.

Picnic at Hanging Rocks

desert boulders

I am painfully aware that if I waited just two more months, I could pretend that the post right before this titled “Happy New Year” is in fact from 2015 instead of 2014 and all would be right with the world. Well, sort of. As I figure out what type of space I want this to be, forgive me for treating my blog with the same zeal I reserve for doing my taxes.

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With the shorter days and cooler weather, I was inspired to get out of the house for a change and be outside again. We have this spectacular boulder landscape right outside our door. I’m always reminded of the dreamy Peter Weir film Picnic at Hanging Rock where young girls dressed in white Edwardian frocks mysteriously disappear on a class excursion to a huge boulder. Dre and I took some music, a bottle of wine and a wedge of cheese and off we set to find our own hanging rock.

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Picnic at Hanging Rocks

We managed to find a remote place that felt like we were on Mars, but only a five minute walk from home. It was just so easy. Why don’t we do this more often we asked ourselves? Unlike the girls in the movie, we did make it home, but if we had disappeared forever, I might not have minded.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I hope you all had a happy new year! We awoke on New Years Eve to a gorgeous blanket of snow. There’s nothing like opening your eyes to all white. I needed sunglasses inside with all the light bouncing off the snow.

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snow1We were invited to a friend’s house party to ring in the new year, but got lost along the way on the dirt roads in our neighborhood, an easy thing to do considering there are no street signs. Without cell service to double-check the directions, we just guessed and drove up a steep, snowy driveway on the side of a serious hill. The homestead cabin at the top had a porch light burning, so we were cautiously optimistic.

Not wanting to get shot, I called out “Hello, is this Kelly’s house?” The front door opened and a stranger answered. Now here’s where the story goes totally “Pioneertown.” The guy insisted we come inside to warm up and he’d help us find our way. Andre tried to protest, but the man said “It’s really too cold out here to figure this out, come inside and have some scotch.” It sounded a little crazy, but his adorable dogs ran around our feet and next thing you know, I was drinking scotch and talking to the man’s wife, a former monk from Burma, with their white dog curled up in my lap. She had traveled to Joshua Tree maybe fifteen, twenty years ago and stayed after falling in love with the desert and her husband. I snuck this shot of Andre inside their cabin, laughing at our weird predicament.

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Our neighbors were charming people. Nothing like showing up unannounced on someone’s doorstep to get a real measure of a person. We toasted to the new year, as well as to new friends, then made our way on to the original party, which involved too many margaritas and Cards Against Humanity. Here’s hoping for a new year full of surprises.

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