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Thursday, Jun. 09, 2005
Times change, we go through progress and inventions and ever newer gadgetry and abandon the old for the just released. And you know I hate that. Leave me the tried and true, the broken in and trusted. Iím no Sir Trends-a-Lot, unless maybe it has to do with tools. In which case Iím the most up to the minute lad around. Bob Vila is a silly boy in short pants when it comes to specifying tools around this house.

But staying at home yesterday in weather growing hotter and more humid brought me face to face with an old way of doing things that is so foul I just felt like it had to be addressed.

I like iced tea. I particularly like it the way Ally, and several million other Southern women make it, sweet and lite and almost crispy to the taste. She bought herself a tea brewer a couple of years ago and the darn thing has been percolating daily ever since. I guess you could say that the brewer itself has a hint of newfangledness about it but thatís not the issue here.

Not to lay too heavily into the ĎDuhí factor of it all, but iced tea requires but three things to work. Iíve got the tea part whipped, and thereís water from the tap. My big bitch is the ice.

At the old place, we had a whopper of a refrigerator that boasted an icemaker with its own hopper, a machine of prodigious output that pumped out more ice than even me, your above average tea swilling and beer chilling aficionado could milk dry. Opening the freezer door and yanking out a fistful of ice cubes was an automatic and daily part of the routine. It didnít have that ĎNew and Improved!í sort of feel about it, nor did it give off waves of unwanted gadgetry to my psyche. Having ice on demand was just right, the way things ought to be and always should be.

But into every life a little regression must fall.

This new place has a fridge, to be sure. A much smaller fridge, one that doesnít take leftover pizza boxes happily, and stuffing a case of frothy beverages in there has proven to be a task as well. My wife and I are already having heated discussions about that. ďYou canít just toss a bunch of beer in there like you did at the old place, thereís only so much space, and stacking them on top of the egg carton just isnít going to happen no matter how neatly you do soĒ type of discussions.

But when I peeled open the freezer door the first time and saw stacks of plastic ice trays festering therein, I felt like Iíd just take a major step back in terms of the evolution of life. Make that a fall off the ladder and roll downhill a ways regression.

I stand there every morning now, shouldering open the freezer door and twisting those plastic plant starters for a pitiful dozen cubes each, the shattering of cubes, the worthless sharded stuff that looks like grainy snow and piles up at the bottom of the bin. Then thereís that whole cube placenta mess, the stuff that clings to the bottom of the cube cups and refuses to be dislodged with anything short of a jackhammer.

Itís sad I tell you, it really is. I stand by the kitchen sink every morning and shake my head at this sorry spectacle. I vow every morning to ďBy God stop by the grocery store and pick up a couple oí bags of real iceĒ on the way home, but naturally that never happens. I leave the pile of empty trays by the sink so the remnants of follicles will melt and my more nimble fingered (and graciously patient) wife can refill them. The horror of filling them myself being too great to even think about.

Iíll bet a fair number of you can even remember those awful metal trays, with the lever thing on top. Theory was, you got the water frozen and popped the lever and perfectly formed cubes would pop out and into your container. Which was odd, because someone just sorta forgot that ice sticks to metal, that fragile aluminum handles in the hands of a young thirsty Outfoxed end up looking like origami and that metal trays get bashed repeatedly against the nearest hard surface. I beat those things until they looked like a pre-war Chevy, Iím saying.

Iíd forgotten all of this, in the suburban bliss that can only be realized by the presence of unlimited and perfectly formed cubes awaiting behind the upper door. And none of that in-the-door ice and water nonsense either. I had all I wanted in my little cube factory and I let it slip away.

The day of reckoning is coming. Iíve already issued a decree about getting a second fridge, or even better, one of those cunning stand alone icemakers to put out in the garage. Itíll free up freezer space to rid myself of the hated trays, and if I can figure a way around it, that just makes room for more stuff, doesnít it now? Popsicles for Ally, beer for me. Everybodyís happy.

Plus, I could use the trays for sorting out small screws and fishing hooks. Theyíre everywhere and it really bugs me not to have things organized. Trying to keep things ship shape, thatís me.

Ever in search for domestic tranquility is what I live by. That and good iced tea.

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