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Abstract nude, by Jay Meuser, 1956
While painting my next masterpiece—a watercolor, I became aware of a smell in my studio. Ignoring it, I continued with the orange wash and worried not to overwhelm the surrounding colors and hoped the reflections would be believable.
Within minutes, the smell got stronger. Something was burning. “What is that smell, Hon? Did you burn something?”
“Oh, I burnt the toast. Everything is okay,” Hubby replied. He had decided, several years ago, that an aluminum pie plate or a block of wood placed over the toaster would shorten the time needed for bread to toast. I’ve chastened him every time he made burn marks on my smaller chopping blocks or when he melted the plastic on our new and cheaper toasters. He apologized each time and found a different method to implement his plan.
“Burnt toast?—Okay?—Smells like the kitchen is on fire. I can barely breathe!” I rushed to the kitchen and found something very black. “You left the burnt toast and a burnt block of pine on the counter. The kitchen is filled with smoke and the smoke is in every room of the house.”
“Sorry Hon, I ran water over the toast.”
“Why didn’t you just throw it outside. If you burn something, throw it outside immediately! Otherwise, it just stinks up the house.”
This time the block of wood was burnt and smelled something awful. “The block of wood does not help save electricity, it only helps burn the toast. The block is charred all the way through. You’ll burn the house down!”
Frustrated, I picked up the burnt, wet toast and threw it out the door. As it landed in the new snow it crumbled. I placed the block of wood on the doorstep.
Now I had to air out the house! As Hubby sat reading one of his many library books, I ran from room to room opening windows and doors. To hasten the process, I grabbed a couple of newspapers to fan the smoke outside. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the inside temperature was dropping. I continued fanning as long as I could stand the cold.
Hubby continued reading.
As I shut windows and doors I determined patience would help me deal with the smell, which would eventually dissipate.
Upon returning to my studio, I added another glaze of orange to my painting. The results were splendid. I loved the painting. A masterpiece! Maybe not. Perhaps the next painting… .
Two weeks later, the burnt smell finally gone, I noticed a new block of oak sitting beside the toaster.
“Nice piece of wood, dear.” I admired the grain and thought of the many ways I could use this piece of beautifully grained oak. From chopping block to woodcut printing. Later, I watched Hubby proudly place this 3/4 inch, heavy piece of oak over the toaster. This board completely covered the toaster slots. With eyes rolling back in frustration, I went to my studio. Later I observed Hubby in the living room eating toast as he read his new book.
The next morning as I made breakfast, I noticed a burnt smell. “Did you burn toast again?” I asked as I examined the block of wood. It sported two distinctive, black burn marks on the underside and it was now warped.
I placed bread in the toaster and pressed the lever. Hubby walked in and said, “Better watch your toast. I burned mine. It didn’t pop-up.”
“That’s because you had a board over the toaster.” So I prepared my eggs and cocoa. Eventually I realized something was burning. My toast was smoking and I could not release the toast. The knob was stuck. The toast would not eject. As I unplugged the toaster, I yelled, “You ruined the toaster with your damned board! Why do you keep doing that?”
Hubby replied from the living room, “Sorry, dear.”
After breakfast, I decided to inspect the toaster. Upon dis-assembly, I found the interior gummed with black, toast soot. Crumbs stuck to the gummy residue. I spent about an hour cleaning the parts and Hubby offered a computer cleaning spray we previously used to clean computers. I sprayed that on what looked like a motherboard. Once I was satisfied with the cleaning, I plugged the skeleton of the toaster into the outlet and pressed the lever down. It was working. Then I pressed the release button and it worked! “Hon, I fixed the toaster!”
A few minutes later I discovered the interior plastic collar that originally framed the slot where the handle traveled up and down now blocked the path formed by the slot. So I cut the hanging plastic from the slot with a hack-saw.
Now to re-assemble the toaster. With so many parts to hold on to, it was impossible to screw the metal sheets together. “Hon, can you come here? Hold this tight. Be careful not to let the sides pop out.” Hubby used his muscle as he pressed the ends together. I placed enough screws so he could get back to reading. Upon turning the last screw, I proudly examined the toaster only to find one side wall had popped out. “Hon!”
Again, Hubby helped me press the parts together as I re-assembled and screwed the pieces together a second time.
Upon inspecting the sides, I was proud of the work done. Perhaps I could repair toasters and other small appliances. In today’s economy, people could save money and I’d earn a small income to boot. There aren’t any small appliance repair shops around anymore.
Now to replace the knob and test the toaster with its handle in place. Something wasn’t right. Where was the metal arm onto which I was suppose to slip the handle? I now realized why it was so difficult to screw the toaster together, we had forced the metal arm in behind the toaster’s wall. This toaster had to be easily assembled, otherwise how could a factory justify using two to three people just to place 8 screws into the bottom of a toaster?
I dis-assembled the toaster a third time. The metal arm was just a little bent. No problem. This time I re-assemble the toaster without Hubby. Hah! I COULD repair toasters. Maybe a shingle outside the door was imminent.
Smiling as I twisted the last screw into place, I flipped the toaster and happily slipped the knob on the arm. I pressed the knob down. The toaster worked. I pressed the release and it did not return. Upon further inspection of the knob, I found the plastic neck was warped. So I went to Hubby to admonish him of his evil deed once again and showed him the now heat-deformed handle.
I sanded the bulges out of the neck. Proudly placing the knob onto the arm, I pushed the knob down, pressed the release button and it worked! Glory, glory. I was going to really put some thought on this new career venture. Perhaps a web-page to advertise my services. How much would shipping a small appliance cost?
The last piece of the puzzle was the temperature dial. That was going to be the easy part. Or was it? It didn’t slip into place. Aaargh! The dial slipped in from behind the toaster wall. So, I dis-assembled the toaster a fourth time—all the way to the skeleton and the mother board. After determining the position of the handle and slipping it on, I carefully and easily re-assembled the toaster without Hubby. I did it in fifteen minutes!
The toaster looked great in its usual corner. It was sparkling and seemed happy. Only I knew what parts were now deformed or partly mutilated. But it worked! As I collected the tools and considered my new career plans, I decided that it was not for me. I lost one to three screws each time I re-assembled the toaster and spent five to fifteen minutes just hunting for screws or washers.Happy toast from now on!
I was happy to have my toaster back.
“Hon. I fixed the toaster. Don’t you ever cover that toaster or any other toaster with anything again.”
I went to my studio and realized it was now 3:30 PM. Too late to start another painting. The lighting was not right. Maybe tomorrow I’ll create a masterpiece.