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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Icemaker, Icemaker, Make Me Some Ice

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I do not like kitchen gadgets.  I never owned an electric can-opener; I never got on the salad shooter wagon; I never bought a set of Ginsu knives; and I don’t own, nor do I plan to own, an Instapot.

Our kitchen is small, as in teeny-tiny-barely-enough-counter-space-to-pile-all-the-vital-snacks-cereal-boxes-ketchup-bottles-hot-pads-small.  Where would I put one of those cool stand-mixers?

Whenever I’ve tried to use a blender to make a smoothie, only the bottom part of whatever I’m attempting to puree gets blended, so I have to resort to sticking a wooden spoon in there to try to push down the stuff from the top. Typically, this results in the wooden spoon getting blended, and while I’m all in favor of adding fiber to my diet, who wants wood chips in a smoothie?

Who wants to clean up the splatters that have taught me the true meaning of the phrase, “when S*&$ the fan”?  Considering that I hate to cook, and my daughter’s idea of homemade cookies involves a tube of refrigerated dough, I’m thinking that a couple of serviceable cast-iron skillets, a saucepan, and a spatula should do it.

But we do need large appliances, including a fridge.  Here, too, I prefer no frills. Our current fridge is a simple top-freezer model with an icemaker inside.  This is great, as I am an extremely lazy person, and I don’t like refilling ice trays.  I am also not stupid enough to think my kids would refill them. Our sink is not next to the fridge, so I know without doubt that refilling ice trays would result in in trails of water across the floor and ice cubes a millimeter thick.  I like small ice, but I need more than twelve pieces of ice as thin as a stick of gum.

So, three years ago, our top freezer icemaker quit - without any warning.  Personally, I thought this was flat-out disrespectful. But I got online and ordered a replacement for Joel to install.  The description said, “Easy to install in minutes.”

A few days later, the ice maker arrived, complete with step-by-step instructions, which, unfortunately had been translated poorly.  The first line read, “Do not promote electric distress. Detach anterior icemaker of the cradle of power.”  The second step read, “Namely, eliminate anterior icemaker.” After reading the third step, “Amputate the harness connector asylum,” Joel decided he’d wing it.  We’ve already had one bleep during this episode, so I won’t go into the next couple hours of how the process went.

Despite some difficulty in getting the new icemaker set up, however, we did have a full ice container several hours later.  I figured it would be best to avoid the topic and let it fade into the realm of the forgotten in Joel’s mind, that foggy place where appointments, anniversary dates, and Mother’s Day typically dwell.  So, I just blithely used ice with abandon, now that we had our system working again.

The new icemaker was interesting – not bad – just interesting.  For one, instead of the narrow rectangular cubes the old one had shot out, this one made crescent shaped ice exactly the same as the old fridge in the garage did.  No problem there – I am not so picky that I care about the shape my ice takes.  For another, some days, the ice bucket would be overflowing, and other days, it would only have four or five pieces of ice on the bottom.  The icemaker kind of seemed to work in spurts, rather like a struggling writer trying to find her muse.  Apparently, some days, the thing just wasn’t in the mood.

I took to calling the icemaker Robert, after the poet Frost, although I’m pretty sure he was more consistent than this gadget. “Whelp,” I’d say, as I filled a glass.  “Old Robert seems enthused today!”  Or, “Hey, Robert. Get inspired! Tomorrow, you’ve got a dinner with guests to work something up for!”

Plants grow better when a person talks to them; I found that icemakers also respond well to human communication.  Invariably, after such a comment, the ice box would soon be full.

As listeners have probably guessed, Joel has now been filling the ice box using ice from the garage fridge for three years.  I caught on late one night when I went to get a snack from the kitchen and discovered Joel, coming in from the garage, wearing his pajamas and carrying a bag of ice.  Rather than let my imagination get carried away, Joel admitted that he was Robert Frost.

He never could get the icemaker to work, so, like the problem solver he is, he decided to circumvent the issue rather than face it head on.

More on gadgets and fridge problems next week.  Tune in at 8:35 next Sunday morning! 

Host of Little Spouse on the Prairie, a regional comedy feature that airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition.