This day two-weeks, my mood being grey, I opened the door of the fridge in search of solace. A hard-boiled egg be-eyed me banefully. “Last chance!” it seemed to say. “You know my best-before date looooms.”
And so, I gazed, then took it out – cold and eggy – in my hand. I decided to give it a softening warm-up. One quick wipe of a wet cloth, then into a cup of cold water went my egg, and into the microwave went the whole. As a penny-pinching afterthought, a tea-bag was added. “Two for the price of one”, I thought, satisfied, and clocked the whole in: “two minutes”. “One for the climate! I thought, self-satisfied.
Twenty seconds deep into deep-green parsley-chopping for the sandwich the whole MW shebang exploded thunderous. After a shocked minute of figuring-out, it dawned. “Of Course, Máire! You were ALways told that eggs into microwaves just don’t go. You dope!” The little orange light on the front panel had gone bleakly out. It felt like a final defeat for hubris.
Nonetheless, I continued to breathe, to gather any wits I had left about me, and to assess the damage. The inside of the MW was a scatteration of cracked fragments of shell, bits of yellow yoke, lumps of egg-white, and limp tea-coloured water. And so, out came the wet cloths, and the dry cloths, then the wringing and the slinging of bits into their appropriate containers. In the event, I still had enough intact remnants to finish my planned sandwich, I made my cup of tea in the traditional fashion, and sat myself down to watch the six-o-clock News. Breathing out my stress, I pushed the remote’s ON button, and I waited. I pushed deeper. And waited again. And nothing happened. Black!
Then the awful possibility dawned: Had I actually managed to fuse the whole house? A quick scoot to a nearby switch; a quick assessment of the alarm-lights. My worst fears confirmed: not a single watt of electricity entering/activating any device in my home. I was, functionally,back in the Stone Age.
It was a Sunday. I did not know where the fuse-box lived in this newish house, where I was a tenant these 18 months. I did not even know if there still existed such a contraption as a fuse-box in this digital era. I whispered a prayer to the King of the Ages. I wandered off to where I knew there was a panel with a door on an external wall. The hint of electrics and extravagance of wires I recognized there all suggested that, indeed, there was not a single spark of life in the system. I whispered a prayer to the Lord who let there be Light at the very beginning, and reached toward my heart for acceptance.
I returned indoors. In the porch-area, high on the wall to the left, another candidate for fuse-box status. I could see an array of ten switches – all pointing upwards, with the sole exception of one, which was larger and browner than the others. I suspected this eye-catching switch was the key to my konundrum. But I was not at all sure that in forcing it into alignment with its mates I would not electrocute myself. So, I gazed on it sadly for a minute or two, then went back to the blank television screen, and finished my sandwich.
It was a Sunday evening – a day of rest. And I would just have to put up with my dilemma, and see could I learn something useful about non-fossil-fuel existence/living. And then! Oh then! Didn’t I remember that I had an acquaintance of the male persuasion, who knew how to do pretty much everything that needed doing in a house. Better yet, as a fellow Donegal-ite, I felt I might have an innings.
I rang. He was inDeed in the country. Yes! He was, in fact, in Cork. Well, actually, he happened, just now, to be at home! I stated my dilemma. Danny was graciousness itself. He would be over in ten. And, so he was! He looked at my Microwave, and shook his head. “I can probably get the electricity back” her said. “But I have experience broad enough to know that your MW is banjaxed.”
Danny surveyed the external wall, and said nothing. He looked up at the fuse-box and commented on the one mis-aligned switch. “I’ll give it a go,” he said sighed, apparently undaunted by any fear of electrocution. He reached up, flicked the switch, and looked over at my television. The tiny light shone red again! I raced around, hardly believing my good fortune. Switches? Working! Alarm? Red and green lights shining! I flung my arms around my surprised knight-in-shining-armour and took out the notes I had prepared ahead of time, to pay him for services rendered. “No, no, No! Not at all. Put that back!”
“Well,” I said. “All right so! I’m making Blackberry jam tomorrow. And purple Elderberry syrup at the weekend. I’ll bring up you some of each to your house to say “Thank you.” He nodded. “And I’ll pay UNICEF the money I planned to pay you.” It did not feel right that I might be the only needy one to profit from this encounter.
We chatted a while, then off he went to have his tea at home.
Relieved and happy, I sought my learnings: I resolved to not again risk the egg-in-microwave combination. I whispered a grateful “Thank you” to the Lord of Lights. I gave myself a slice of fruit cake, and went out to do the dishes and put manners on the kitchen. The microwave was pulled well out onto the worktop, from where Danny sought to survey its back-wall/panel. It looked sad and empty and lightless. I touched it fondly, in gratitude for its long service. I thought, though, that it might prove too heavy for me to lug solo over to the kitchen table, on the Stage One of its journey to the civic dump. I pushed it back instead in toward its familiar location, looked at it one final time, kindly, and decided that, despite Danny’s prophecy, and my own dopiness, it was worth a last-chance,. So, tentatively, I plugged it in, the dim blue light of hope flickering only faintly in my heart. I whispered another prayer to the God of waves. Then, Lo! A steady green glow appeared on the front panel of the MV – a glow whose significance I knew well – a glow that pronounced Danny blessedly wrong, and myself more forgiven than I was entitled to.
I prayed a fourth time: a sweet Thank you, knowing too that UNICEF’s children would profit even more from my messing, Danny’s generosity, and all the day’s miniscule wonders. As evening gathered in, it found my heart was in rainbow country – smiling.
We praise thee, God, and cry Glory to thy name
For all variety: bright, dark, sweet, sour, high, low, large, small.
For each day’s gift, its mystery and its hope;
For the season that surrounds us: blue air, bright sun, refreshing rain and laughter running free;
For the ministries of healing, the body mended, and the heart made glad;
And for thyself, Sophia God, strong mother, tender mercy, our ever-pardon and our peace,
We Praise Thee, God, and cry Glory to thy name.
Maire O’Donohoe OSU