Thursday, February 09, 2012

All I Really Wanted Was a Second Cup of Tea

The whole thing started innocently enough. It was mid-morning today and Ellie was busily engaged in her school work. I was quite busy myself, updating our little artist group's Facebook presence. I had worked on the project until late into the night last night and was back at it first thing this morning, as soon as I had seen Tano out the door for school and given Ellie a bit of guidance with her assignments.

I realized I had been hunching over the computer and my shoulders ached. I needed a break. A second cup of tea would be just the thing, since my first cup with breakfast had gone ignored for the most part in my rush to get back to my project. My favorite mug sat next to me at the computer now, its contents cold. I picked it up and walked to the kitchen, dumping the tea in the sink and setting it down on the counter. I took the teapot from the back burner, refilled it with water, set it back on the stove and turned on the burner. Then I went back to the living room to check on Ellie's school progress and wait for the water to heat.

This was not difficult or unusual, of course. I follow this same routine several times each day.

After a few minutes, I wandered back to the kitchen. I was anxious for that second cup of tea and the relaxing comfort it would bring. Just as I began to round the corner into the kitchen, though, I heard a horrific popping sound. I glanced at the source of the sound, the stove, just in time to see a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish shatter, sending glass in every direction and spraying dirty boiling water everywhere.

Because it needed to soak overnight and because of my tiny kitchen's perpetual lack of counter space, the baking dish had been set on the front burner of the stove to await washing. I had turned on the front burner by mistake. Oops.

I stared at the mess, stunned, listening to the sizzling and popping of the water, then reached in to turn off the burner. Glass was everywhere.


As I considered the possible clean-up strategies, I was saddened to think that my water hadn't yet begun to heat. Now, I would not be able to heat it until I was done cleaning up, for there was glass and water filling all of the electric burners. They would have to be disassembled in order to clean them out. There would be no second cup of tea for me in the near future.

The clean-up process proved to be a larger task than I could have originally surmised. Did I mention that the glass was everywhere? And the dirty water--the water that had been loosening up the baked-on leftover casserole bits overnight--did I mention that the water was everywhere, too? Have you ever attempted to clean up shards of glass in water? It's difficult.

With my heavy leather gloves which I normally use for tending the fireplace, I managed to get all the big pieces up. Pyrex baking dishes are thicker than they look. Some of those pieces were huge and quite heavy. Between the glass and the water, the force of the explosion had actually knocked a small bag of carrot sticks onto the floor. I was truly grateful that I hadn't been even half a second faster at entering the kitchen, for I would have surely been injured by the glass shrapnel and boiling water. Andy brought in the shop vac and began to vacuum up both the standing water and the smaller bits of glass. When he had finished that, and I had swept the floor and wiped down all the counters, I began to tackle the big job.

The glass and the water were the easy part. When I disassembled the four electric burners on the stove so that we could clean the glass out of them and suck up the water that had flooded them, I discovered something peculiar. The stove, understand, is likely my equal in age or older. When appliances of that era were made, they were outfitted with a generous amount of chrome, just like the cars of the same vintage. Now, of course I have cleaned my stove top from time to time, but upon this close examination, I realized that my efforts have been only half-hearted. It has been a long time since I have seen that chrome. It had taken on a more matte finish, I'm afraid--a more up to date look, but at a great price.

I have since paid that price.

I used an entire SOS steel wool pad to its fullest extent, working up a sweat in the process, and sat back down at the computer to finish my project while I waited for the muscle fatigue to pass. I would have heated up some water then, but I hadn't reassembled the stove top yet.

After my "break," and some more working with my daughter on her schoolwork, I returned to the kitchen and used a second SOS pad, dropping both of their limp and threadbare bodies into the trash can when I was finally finished.

Whew. That was a lot of work.

The chrome now shines like the grill of a 1964 Ford Galaxie. My sweet, vintage stove is looking good.

By the time I had finished cleaning up after the Great Pyrex Explosion Incident (as it will henceforth be remembered), it was the middle of the afternoon. The rest of the family had already eaten lunch. I was shaky from the exertion of the chrome restoration project on an empty stomach, and still longing for my second cup of tea. I toasted a bagel and spread it with cream cheese while I waited for my teapot to whistle.

Before I could eat, however, I remembered a pair of phone calls that needed to be made. They were supposed to be brief, but you know how it goes sometimes. Even if a call to a friend is supposed to be business related, it generally turns into a very pleasant conversation--the longer, the pleasant-er. I got carried away. It's a peril of being an extrovert. I eyed my toasted bagel and teapot from time to time, but was loathe to crunch and slurp in a friend's ear--being that it was a fairly new friend. An old friend would have had to just put up with the noise.

Hanging up from the second phone call, finally ready to eat and make my tea, I glanced at the clock and realized with some alarm that it was 3:50 PM. That is precisely the time I am supposed to leave the house to drive my son to his filmmaking class in Hamilton. I looked down. I was still in my bathrobe! It had been a fairly busy day.

I sprinted down the stairs and threw on real clothes, sprinted back up the stairs, wrapped my bagel in a napkin, grabbed my purse and keys and ran out the door.

On the way to Hamilton, I thought about my tea. Had I only one extra minute to spare, I could have made a cup to go in my travel mug. But, alas, I had not had even one spare minute.

I arrived at home a little after seven o'clock this evening, warmed up some left over dinner and made...a cup of tea.

With my daughter and husband watching a movie and my son scrambling to do laundry and pack for the church's high school winter retreat, which starts tomorrow after school, I felt the freedom to sit down at the computer to write this post. I reached for my tea mug first and took the luxurious sip which I had been longing for since mid-morning.

And in my haste, I burned my tongue.

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