Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remains of the Day

"If you put off everything till you're sure of it, you'll never get anything done.”
-Norman Vincent Peale

My morning habit consists of setting a pot of water to boil and toasting some bread. Each time I stand in front of our toaster oven I unravel my mind slowly, contemplate the immediate future and muse about the fact that I really ought to scoop the old crumbs from the bottom of the appliance. It bothers me without fail every day as it has done for months on end. One day, I always fear, the toaster might have had enough and the remains of bread might start to smoke and burn.
As the bread toasts nicely and my tea steeps, I routinely start to think about what this day might bring, and what it might mean in the greater scheme of things. Would this be the day I do something I always wished to do? Or would the day slide into pitiful obscurity leaving me no better off than I was when I started it?
Such is my regular morning thought; consistently I worry so much about not getting anything done- for example writing a novel, attempting to have my work published, learning something new and valuable- that invariably I tend to steep, much as my tea does, and stagnate into wasteful idleness.
The other day I was observing as some garlic bread was gently turning golden brown.
"You do procrastinate," said the oven suddenly.
Stomach all of a rumble, I was not in much of a mood to argue but I insisted that I was not a procrastinator.
"You do. You put things off all the time," sizzled the oven with a faintly delicious and tantalising garlic breath.
"I do things," I replied. "I wrote a poem yesterday. I cooked a nice dinner."
"Well," said the toaster, "we're really discussing changing your life. Being useful in the world. Accomplishing something. Cooking and writing is all well and good but you can achieve those as well as bigger things. Ten years ago you thought of being a teacher."
"True," I had to concede.
"And a journalist."
"I see your point, Mr. Toaster. Life goes by and we don't even know we're pushing it aside."
"And many other plans- and where's that novel you've thought about for years? Is it even begun?"
"I suppose you're right," said I.
"I'll think about it, I promise. Could you hurry up now with that garlic bread?"
The toasted glared at me, unsure whether I had really learned my lesson.
Just to be certain, it cackled at me and made the buttery garlic bread burst into frightful flames.
I had to roar for Spouse who rushed in, saved the day and wisely lambasted me for not cleaning out the crumbs before the event.
Once the toaster had cooled down to a reasonable level below melting point, Spouse cleaned it out by himself.
I will work on the other matters.


polona said...

well, that was an extraordinary morning if i ever knew any :)
your writing is excellent and what's a little procrastinating between friends?

Anonymous said...

Procrastination, ah I could write many tales of it, but think I do it later.


mouse (aka kimy) said...

those pesky appliances, they can be so infuriating especially when they bring up points with crumbs of veracity.

my dear f has always taken on the burden of cleaning out the crumbs in our toaster oven, I've never even considered being bothered, I've always had faith that when the pile got high enough to be a fire risk, mr. health and safety, as we have always called f, would take care of it.

anyway, I usually am way too busy to think about the crumbs as most mornings you will find me arguing with the coffee grinder. this kitchen appliance is merciless hassling me about my tendency to run about the house and yard, feeding all the critters, bringing in the paper and watering the flowers, while still in my pj's - my coffee grinder is made by 'mr coffee' and I expect it finds my behavior a bit inappropriate and shameful.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Polona, thanks so much for those nice words. I
t's good to put things off! Makes life easier ;)

Steve, That was quite funny. Never put off writing witty replies- that's an urgent necessity :)

Kimy, But what if your toaster went on fire and nobody to help? Hmmm.
Your coffee grinder makes you water the flowers? My microwave does that- you should upgrade like me. You'll find that your coffee grinder has been getting the most out of you. :\ Shame on Mr. Coffee using you like that. If he doesn't like your pyjamas you could throw a cloth over him.

Pappy said...

If you cook on a regular basis, then you have probably had occasion to douse a fire. My brother, a retired fireman, loves to find out about such instances in our family. After my wife had a small kitchen mishap like yours some years back, He showed up at the House in his full rescue gear and strolled into the kitchen while she was preparing supper. He said, "I'm just here to monitor your preparation of this meal and lend a hand if needed."

Jaime said...

I love the way you tell this story as though the appliances have become your inner critic. And knowing how well you write, I would like to morph myself into a fire extinguisher on your kitchen wall and encouragingly say to you, in a gentle way....

Write that book!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Texican, that's hilarious. I could just about picture your wife's face when that happened- no doubt there was a lot of laughing. It seems you all have a good sense of humour so I'm sure she took it well but that's just really funny.
Ah, the wit...

Jaime, I'm listening, I am really :) It just doesn't register that it's a real possibility. I won't get anywhere without trying though so thanks for the encouragement :)

tangobaby said...

Next thing, you'll be telling us about the tea you had with the Dormouse and the Rabbit, Miss Alice in Wonderland.

I think you are very lucky to have appliances to talk to. Mine are not nearly as interesting! I only talk to my computer, and only in instances when it is not doing as I wish, so I only have bad things to say to it.

PS. Woody Allen has a fantastic standup routine (old, old) about some of his appliances that had it in for him. But he was much more victimized, as you might imagine.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Tangobaby, you've spilled the beans on tomorrow's post. I'd better think of something else quickly then ;)
Poor Rabbit and Alice, they were looking forward to seeing what I said about them.
I talk to my computer too. I tried being gentle in the beginning but it took me for a fool and I sorted it out and now it knows who's boss. You've got to make sure of that.
I'll check out that Woody Allen piece you mentioned.
I always love your comments and suggestions for further examination.

julochka said...

i think you either need a new toaster or to call in for an exorcism. :-) i'm a little worried about my bathroom mirror doing the same thing...

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Julie, you might be right. You need to train your appliances to treat you with due respect. They can be cheeky if not put in their place.

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