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  • Michelle Gowan

Problem Solving via Cookie Dough







It is no secret that Gowans are not handy. Academic, perhaps; fixers of broken things, never. All the tools in this house will fit in a thimble (baking tools, notwithstanding). When something in this house breaks down, my husband borrows a phrase from his pal, Andy Griffith, "Aunt Bea, Call THE MAN." Like everybody, we have our share of ice makers to stop making ice, freezers stop freezing, faucets to start dripping, showers to stop draining, lights to stop working, but it usually gets back in working order thanks to "THE MAN." We may not be able to facilitate the protocol that makes something that has stopped working, start working, but we could write a dissertation about the social, cultural , political and economic implications of maintaining an operable electric garage door opener. Hey! That's what happens when two existentialists fall in love.


But we are nothing if not problem solvers. Problem defined- the garbage disposal is humming like something has got it all jammed up. The dialogue that followed went something like this:


"Hey! Somebody hit the reset button! Remember when we learned that will often fix the problem?"


"Well it is probably one of your metal frosting tips again!"


"Well I don't feed my metal frosting tips to the grinder so if it is, one of Y'ALL dropped it down there. I hope, for y'all's sake, that I haven't lost another frosting tip."


"Well even more, I hope we haven't lost another disposer to a tiny piece of metal."


With the disposer (and the breaker to the disposer) turned OFF, the safety guy reached his ham-fisted fingers down the sink to feel for the offending piece of whatever was impeding progress. When he pulled his hand out, it was bleeding.


"Oh it must be broken glass!" I said, smug with deductive reasoning adeptness. " Yesterday I broke a glass in the sink and I thought I got all the pieces out and put them in the trash."


"Except the one that has been lodged in the grinding mechanism," he pointed out while applying pressure and looking for his Boy Scout First Aid kit.


"Move. I can get it out." I carefully reached down that black hole of who knows what attempting to remove broken glass from the grinders. First I brought out some strawberry stems, a couple of egg shells, and the end of an onion. I continued to blindly navigate what I know to be sharp blades and broken glass. I couldn't find a big old chunk of glass that surely was the cause of the laceration now being tended. But, I did feel several little shards of glass that could be the reason the disposer had stopped working. Well I was not about to press my fingers all along the bottom of the disposer in an attempt to remove said shards from the grinding mechanism. I mean, two lacerations don't equal one working disposer.



About that time, I spied a hunk of cookie dough on the counter left over from baking those cookies last night. I took the ball of dough and massaged it until it felt like warm play doh and dabbed it along the bottom of the disposer. I rotated the blades and dabbed some more. When I removed and examined the cookie dough, it was glistening with little shards of glass and a few shards of egg shell. I threw the cookie dough in the trash, confident that it had served a greater purpose than baking it into some cookies. I ran more water in the sink and turned on the disposer, which happily ground up a little bit of residual cookie dough. Everything is back in working order! I am pounding my chest with some kind of home maintenance victory! Look at what I achieved, unscathed and without calling "THE MAN."


Full disclosure: "THE MAN" is still coming on Monday about that bathroom light switch but I am certain that I will regale him with the particulars of how I could not be defeated by an inoperable disposer filled with brittle shards of a broken transparent drinking vessel. I have to take my victories where I can.






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