that time I almost killed a wolf

Sunday, the day after our first snowstorm of the season, seemed as good a day as any to just hole up inside the house. Before the hibernation could start though, there was one very snowy driveway that needed shovelling.

I had forgotten what a terrific cardio + strength workout shovelling is. Mr. Enthusiasm and I teamed up for the effort, and we were able to get it cleared inside of 30 minutes. Right around the time my arms and shoulders started screaming for mercy.

We retreated to the warmth inside, and he broke out the Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix we had just brought back from Vegas. This is the good stuff, the stuff you make with milk, not water. The kind you simmer for a long while on the stove-top.

It was delicious! Hit the spot perfectly after the vigorous and chilly work of shovelling.

All warmed up I decided that I should start my holiday baking. I’ve got a handful of assorted cookies that I love to make at Christmas, and since this was such a quiet day, it seemed the perfect time to get started.

I measured out all my ingredients and set them aside in their various bowls. When I pulled the unsalted butter from the fridge, I realized it would be at least a couple of hours before it would soften to the point that I could work with it. So now I was stuck.

What to do… what to do?

Yes, I know! I’ll organize the cupboard immediately to the left of my gas range. That cupboard is part baking goods, part baking utensils, and then randomly, where I also keep my Tupperware. I’ve been meaning to re-organize this cupboard because I keep buying things I don’t need (like my 3rd container of baking soda) because I can’t see that I’ve already got two.

My cupboards are very tall, so I grabbed a kitchen chair to give me access to the top shelf. And the first order of business was to remove every bit of contents from this cupboard so that I could take stock, and then organize the best placement.

The counter space directly below me soon filled up, so I started to pile my displaced items on the next available surface, the gas range.

This shouldn’t have presented a problem.

I placed a bag of flour on it, then some cake decorating gadgets, a flour sifter, and finally a square cube of Redpath sugar. I had never seen it packaged in this way.

photo credit: redpathsugar.comSource

The Redpath website describes the new packaging as such:

The very latest in Sugar Packaging

We listened to you and now you can try our new packaging – a closeable, recyclable, re-useable container of white granulated sugar.

Easy to carry, easy to use and fits perfectly in your pantry.

Very cool, I thought, as I lowered it down and placed it on the burner closest to me. My daughter must have bought this for her baking (and because she couldn’t find the 42 other bags of sugar hidden throughout other parts of the kitchen and pantry).

I continued to empty the cupboard, placing the remaining items on other parts of the range, when I started to hear a clicking noise. It’s the noise I typically associate with the act of turning the gas knob on, before the flame lights up. Weird, I thought. So I came down off the chair to investigate.

I could see that nothing was pressing up against the knobs, yet the clicking was coming from the burner with the container of sugar sitting atop it. So I lifted it up.

And that’s when I started to get a sense of the level of disaster I was dealing with. Not fully, mind you, but at least I recognized that Houston, we have a problem.

As I lifted the cube, by that handy dandy handle, I noticed a giant stream of sugar pouring out the bottom.

It took me a moment to figure out what was happening. Had I lifted it from the wrong end? No. Then why is sugar pouring out everywhere? Not seeping out. Pouring out.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

And that’s when I looked down and saw that the entire burner was covered in sugar. Like at least 3 cups worth.

I took 3 steps towards the sink behind me and threw the container in, peering underneath in the process.

A hole, the size of a quarter was the culprit. What caused the hole though?

I moved quickly back to the range, where I noticed the beautiful red knob, set to “Simmer”.


Mr. Enthusiasm had accidentally left the burner turned on after he made the hot chocolate.

I turned it off immediately and then wondered what to tackle first. He was out in the garage tinkering with something, and I really, REALLY, wanted to get the situation more under control before I asked for help. You see, this range is his prized possession. It’s not just any range. It’s a professional grade Wolf six-burner gas range.

He may love it more than he loves me.

And I had flooded the entire burner, including the gas line, with sugar.


Just as I had finished sweeping up the mess of sugar that landed all over the floor as I moved the container from burner to sink, Mr. Enthusiasm walked in. Hey, I asked nonchalantly, do we still have that little handheld vacuum thingy, by chance? I tried to look super casual as I leaned up against the range, attempting to obstruct his view.

He took 3 strides into the kitchen, physically moved me out of the way, assessed the situation and calmly replied, we’ll need the Shop-Vac for this mess.

The massive, industrial-strength beast, was wheeled into the kitchen.

He placed the nozzle on the hose and flipped the switch to on, directing it at the pile of sugar resting comfortably in the well of the burner.

And sugar went flying everywhere.

The Shop-Vac was set to blow mode, not suck mode. And that fully sucked.


Really? REALLY?

What is happening?

I will spare you the long and laborious process it took to clean this all up. Suffice to say the entire stove top was disassembled, washed, and – in the case of the burner at the centre of the disaster, lots and lots and lots of scraping and elbow grease to get the cooked on, baked in, melted sugar (which took on an industrial strength bond) off.

Clean up took over 2 hours, which gave me a lot of time to think. Not dissimilar to the snowy drive the day before, I realized there were still more life lessons to take note of.

  1. Don’t assume anything. Don’t be complacent.  Complacency can be a very dangerous thing. I’m lucky it was sugar I had placed on this still-lit burner, and not cooking oil. It would have taken me 2 seconds to have confirmed that the entire range was turned off. I’m very fortunate that this accident wasn’t a lot worse.
  2. Don’t look to place blame. My initial reaction when I saw the mess was to figure out a way to share the blame. Well, we wouldn’t have had this problem if you had turned the burner off! Turns out I didn’t need to worry about going on the offensive because Mr. Enthusiasm never said a word about it. He didn’t blame me. He just wanted to help me fix it. Fancy that.
  3. You can find a workout in the most unexpected of circumstances. Having to scrub this beast with so much vigor, especially after a half hour of shovelling snow, proved to be a great workout for my arms. I don’t recommend recreating this mess to do this type of workout. But, should you find yourself in this spot, there’s always the upside that you will get a decent workout out of the cleanup.
  4. Sometimes you just have to laugh. As bad as this situation appeared to be, when that Shop-vac spewed a violent stream of air into the pile of sugar, thereby sending it flying all over my kitchen, I wanted to cry. And then I burst out laughing. Like tears rolling down my face laughing. Sure it caused a way bigger mess, but it also broke the intensity of the mood. Laughter really is the best medicine.

So thanks, life, for providing some great little lessons these past few days. But how about you lay off for a while with the teaching moments?

Keep moving! (And keep smiling!)

xoxo nancy

63 thoughts on “that time I almost killed a wolf

  1. Tsk, you’d really think the sugar company would factor this sort of thing in when designing their packaging! Glad you managed to find the positive in the situation – I probably would have just moved house 😉

  2. I was hoping you would share the story! Sorry about the sugar mess but at least the range (and your marriage) survived. 🙂 I did a similar thing a few years ago while cleaning out cabinets but my hot burner victim was a plastic cutting board. 😦 Terrible smell, wrecked cook top and a few choice words from my husband about poisoning us with burning plastic. At least it was an old range I wanted to replace…

    • yikes! that would have been a bigger disaster, for sure. I’m soooo glad the wolf survived. That would have been one very costly mistake on my part.

      I can’t help but think life is sending me some very strong messages about my need to be ‘present’ and to be attentive to detail and aware of my surroundings. Hopefully I’ve internalized the message and won’t face anymore teachable moments in the near term. 🙂

  3. I feel like the universe just got confused and sent you something that was meant to happen to me because reading this felt like watching a typical moment in my life. I laughed all the way through this. I’m sure it was a ton of fun to then have to replace everything back into the cupboard after spending forever cleaning up the mess…. AAAHHHAHAHAHAHA anytime I undertake some big reorganizing project I come down with an illness or find a mouse or something that steals my steam and leave it all halfway done and awkwardly messy all about the house. This was a great story and makes me so happy we have WordPress here to help us all hear it.

  4. hahahahaha! Thanks for the laugh Nancy. Who knew baking cookies and cleaning could make such a mess! And my husband would have run for the shop vac too first thing (he LOVES it!) but again it was nasty it was on blow mode instead of suck mode. And that was sweet that neither of you blamed on another…I have to confess I’ve been known to leave the burner on a couple of times myself…these fancy stoves have such a low, low flame you can’t even see them! So my heart goes out to you both. Hopefully the remainder of your Christmas preparations go much more smoothly! ~Kathy

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  6. Nancy,

    Your story as written gave me a good laugh. We have a 1950’s Wedgewood stove that belonged to my Aunt Bo and Uncle Al (Mr. Enthusiasm will recognize this as on par with his Wolf stove). It has actual pilot lights, which the cats love, but causes me to grimace when I see paper or cloth towels left on the stove (it is now arranged with antique Ball canning jars to keep the cats off when not in use). When you started piling stuff on the stove I knew it would not be good. The shop vac in reverse was the kicker!

    And now for a Safety Moment brought to you by the Redneck Garage.. .

    Have a Safe and Sane Holiday…whoops…Merry Christmas!!!


    • The shop vac in reverse was, indeed, the kicker, Patrick. 🙂

      I half expected Allen Funt to jump out from the dining room.

      Thanks for the safety video! I learned a while back that if you don’t have a fire extinguisher available and it’s a grease fire to dump table salt on it. I’m assuming this is, in fact, the right thing to do.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Patrick!

  7. Thank you for that! I’m glad I could inspire that story, because it would be a shame to have left that unrecorded. 🙂 Really happy to have saved that beautiful range, too. You wouldn’t believe the thing I’m cooking on.

  8. This sounds eerily like MTM’s hooch factory in our kitchen, which I unfortunately cannot send to you in Canada (though I CAN send a sample to your Las Vegas mailing address, should you have one.) I simply cannot endure the questions at the post office. 1. Is it flammable? Well, I don’t know. The base is EVERCLEAR, so you tell me. 2. Will it explode? EVERCLEAR. Will it? I don’t know. I’m not the mail.

    I’m glad your stove survived.

    • I honestly thought that burner was done for. Things did not look good. And even after it seemed clean, when he went to turn it on, I was a good 30 ft away, sure there would be a mass explosion. Turns out, just a very wimpy flame until the remaining sugar burnt away. Resilient little bastard.

      MTM makes his own hooch? You are SO lucky!

      • This post reminded me of my childhood. I was spending the summer in the backwoods of Kentucky with my third cousin Lisa, and we tried to pop popcorn, only to realize that the potato chips in Tupperware were actually on the hot burner. Only in KY……….

        I’m glad your burner survived. Ours wouldn’t have.

      • It’s my dream to spend time with a real family in the backwoods of Kentucky/Missouri/Arkansas/etc. For real.

        I have seen glimpses of reality TV families from those areas. My curiosity is officially piqued. I’d like to experience it for myself. For a few hours, at least. 🙂

      • I can arrange the KY experience, should you ever really want to follow through. Alternatively, you can just come to Charleston, where you would have free accommodations and get to witness all the Pat Conroy nonsense firsthand. We know a lot of those people. (I could never say that on my blog. Ha.)

      • Well, you should definitely come to Charleston, because MTM’s current contract expires at the end of 2015. And, I will move mountains to do the fitness weekend. Unless you want to plan it for March 2014, when I will be walking the entire Natchez Trace (444 miles) in Mississippi. That is fitness, right?

      • Wait a minute…that’s like 700+ kms. That’ll take at least 23 days… I am very excited to hear more about this. You are a bad ass, Andra.

        This deserves a phone call. Let’s chat soon!

  9. My eyebrows went up when you put the first item on the stove. I felt I knew what was coming. When I got to “blow, not suck” I had to LOL. It reminded me of a similar tale from many years ago only it involved sewage. Can I add a No. 5 to your list? NEVER NEVER NEVER put flammables on the stove top. Himself does it and drives me crazy. Still. Made a great story! 😆

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  11. Aww, sounds like such a nice, cozy day until the sugar crisis but I love how you always take a step back to recognize that life is constantly teaching us something; that there is a reason for everything, even the small events in our lives. So, did you ever bake the cookies? I’m guessing the butter was soft after all of that 😉

    • Between shovelling and the disaster clean up I only had energy for one cookie. The Pecan Sandies turned out great. All the other varieties are on tap for tomorrow. Was supposed to start this evening, but the surrounding ice storms knocked power out for 2+ hours. Not dying to start baking at 10 pm, esp with the threat if more power outages, according to the weather folks. Tomorrow and Monday is now the plan.

      • Nice! Homemade Pecan Sandies sound delicious! I grappled with “out of the bag” gingerbread cookies with my daughter today. They’re so damn sticky, it was seriously a lesson in patience but we had a great time. We over floured to speed it up and she kept saying, “we’re getting the hang of it now!” forever my lil optimist, love her!
        Good luck with the rest, let me know what is on the agenda. I’m not a baker, but I love holiday cookies. I never got around to making my annual Chai Tea Eggnog cookies, may do it after Christmas with leftover eggnog, they are delicious!

      • So, as it turns out, not so much. I’ve now been without power for 40+ hours. 😦

        I don’t know how our forefathers (and the Mennonites) did/do it. This is truly crippling.

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