Friday, July 6, 2012

Some Things Aren't Meant For The Toaster

I have a cold. It's tailing off, but the snot lives on. And believe me: it lives!  It's winter. The dry days are really dry. We also run a wood stove for heating, as well as a reverse-cycle AC unit, or 'heat pump', as they're locally known. That makes for really, really dry air at night, and if you happen to have a dose of snot, as I do, then you wake up wondering how your kids got so much green play-doh, and why they shoved it up your nose during the night.

I woke up this morning at 0600. Generally I try not to do that. My usual routine is 0700, and a dose of stationary bike. At 0600 it was still black outside, and Natalie was asleep. Sleep is important to her. She complains about it a lot. I figured I'd better let her sleep, so the stationary bike was out of the question.

I came downstairs, and amused myself leaving snarky comments on peoples facebook statuses. (See how modern I am? See my withittitude?) A while later, I heard the Mau-Mau on the move, so I checked her room.

The Mau-Mau also has snot. She had climbed out of bed, and was dutifully collecting the night's rich harvest of mucous-encrusted tissues from her bedroom floor, loading them into a plastic bag for deposit in the bin. Very good of her. I offered her some breakfast, but she didn't want anything except a chance to sit on the couch, in the dark, and watch the dawn. I brought her quilt down so she'd be warm.

Next to move was Genghis. He toodled into the kitchen, and I offered him breakfast. Fried egg in an onion-ring. He liked the idea, and went looking for something to toast. Unfortunately, he missed seeing the entire loaf of bread in the pantry, and decided to ask instead if he could toast a rice cake.

I thought about it. And why not? What was the worst that could happen? I do culinary "what-if" games all the time, and sometimes they turn out to be completely delicious. (Example: the day I looked at a big, thick onion ring, and thought my, doesn't that look like an egg-ring! I wonder what would happen if I tried to fry an egg in it?)

My curiosity was piqued. I agreed to the experiment. Genghis loaded the toaster, and wandered off to the toilet.

Approximately five seconds later, I smelled smoke. Turning away from the egg, frying nicely in its buttery onion confinement, I noticed a reverse niagara of white smoke pouring out of the toaster.

Oh, poop.

I darted across to the electrical switch, but it was too late. With a faint 'poof' noise, the ailing rice-cake gave up, and burst into flames. There in the dark of the very early morning, I watched flames thirty centimetres high (a foot to you eejits who don't do metric; a little under a cubit if you favour that kind of thing) leaping merrily from the toaster slot.

First thought: blow it out... nope.

Second thought: smother it with a teatowel... nope. Teatowel starts to scorch. Damn.

Now I began to wonder: should I yank down the fireblanket? I'll never repack the fucking thing if I do, and frankly, it seems like overkill. And there's no fucking way I'm unlimbering the little extinguisher. Not for a fucking rice cake!

At this point, the toaster takes matters into its own hands. Turns out that in the dark, I'd hit the wrong switch, and the toaster still had power. Having duly toasted that rice-cake into something inappropriately Dante-esque, the toaster decided that, yes, its work was done. With a little mechanical chank!! it popped the rice-cake upwards.

Now, if that had been a piece of bread, it would have been fine. The toaster is calibrated for bread. It's designed for bread. It handles bread, yes. But rice cakes are lighter than bread. And rice cakes that have been burning merrily for thirty seconds or so are very much lighter than bread. Can you see where I'm going with this?

It was quite beautiful, actually. Still flaming, the carbonized core of the rice cake leapt vengefully from the blackened heart of the toaster, arcing through the air with a trail of smoke behind it, to fall with a quiet, flaccid little pfut! into a small puddle on the sink next to the toaster.

The toaster still works. We made crumpets, and then toast for the Mau-mau.

But rice cakes do not go into toasters. Nope.