A little blarney to offer on eve of St. Patrick's Day

March 16, 2002|By Rob Kasper

TOMORROW IS St. Patrick's Day, so this weekend virtually anyone can slap an "O" in front of his name and pretend to be Irish. Since my grandparents came from Ireland's County Kerry, I feel qualified to dish out blarney with the best of them.

In that vein I offer these accounts of when I have been blessed with the "luck of the Irish."

Cuisinart's Wake: It is a sad time in any home when an appliance dies. Such was the case this week when the food processor gave up the ghost, or so it appeared. The blade wouldn't twirl. There was no "pulse" when I hit the button.

A sorrowful clan gathered in the kitchen; our faces were wrinkled with worry at the prospect that this loyal and steady worker would be leaving our household, along with several hundred dollars to buy a new one.

I took matters into my own hands, slapping the food processor around a bit, on the chance that its parts - especially its locking top and bowl - had slipped out of line.

After muscle failed, I tried quiet reflection. I studied "the deceased." My eyes were drawn to a metal spring embedded in the side of the food processor's plastic bowl. When the lid of the bowl was locked it pushed the spring down, which, in turn, applied pressure to a button at the base of machine. In other words, the spring was the "trigger" that set things in motion. This trigger was jammed.

Using the tines of a fork, and whispering an ancient Gaelic incantation ("Come on, baby!"), I ministered to the troubled metal. Then, in a twinkling, it was liberated. The major parts of the food processor were gently put back in place. The plug was put in the socket. We had a pulse. Once thought to be deader than Bing Crosby, the food processor was alive and humming. 'Twas the luck of the Irish.

Hushing the Water Heater: A babbling brook is a delightful sound, unless it is coming from your basement. Such was the case when, right in the middle of a somnolent Sunday afternoon, I heard the sound of water slapping on the basement floor.

A geyser was spewing out of the hot water heater. The watery scene made my heart feel heavy and my wallet light, as I envisioned shelling out large bills to buy a new water heater. I put a bucket under the leak, shut off the valves feeding water and gas to the water heater and called the plumber, a man many of his customers refer to as "King Tutt." His highness arrived the next morning, carrying a pair of channel lock pliers - a plumber's equivalent of shillelagh - and a new pressure relief valve.

It turns out that if you are a hot water heater and things get too tense, you lower the stress by spewing water out of your pressure relief valve. It is the equivalent, I gather, of letting off steam by having a few beers with the guys after work on Friday. Apparently my old pressure relief valve had stressed out and split a gasket. So instead of having to buy a new water heater, I simply needed a new pressure relief valve. 'Twas the luck of the Irish.

The Taming of the Banshee Bags of Baltimore: There was great commotion in this fiscally challenged town as its ruling lords experimented with moving recycling pickups points from the back alleys to the front sidewalks.

During this upheaval, large numbers of plastic bags took flight, flapping in the wind, wailing like banshees, some taking up residence on the limbs of trees that lined the sidewalks.

In good time, the city's recycling chieftains - O'Malley, O-Gallagher and O-Kolodziejski - responded to the clamor of the populace by returning some of the pickup points to the calmer climes of the city's back alleys. Those who have alley pickup are blessed with wide alleys, and luck.

Meanwhile an intriguing approach to the bag problem has floated over the ocean. This month, Ireland put a tax on plastic shopping bags in an effort to keep the discarded bags from littering the countryside. 'Tis an idea from the Irish.

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