Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flames

My little fire earlier this week wasn’t the first one I’d had, but I was a little out of practice and might have slightly overreacted. The last fire happened when my kids were little and we lived on Newland Hill—not too far from where I live now.

That time, the fault was a wood stove with a pipe too close to the ceiling and an inexperienced fire builder—me. Probably the funniest part about the story was that Eric was a little boy and he was in the bedroom where the fire started. He was blissfully playing the chord organ and hadn’t noticed that the ceiling was on fire.

I got Eric out of the bedroom and ran to the kitchen to see what I could get some water in to throw on the flames. I found a large mixing bowl and ran across the floor. I looked up at the flames eating away at the ceiling and hesitated as I thought about what a mess it would make. Then, I realized that that wouldn’t be close to the mess the fire could make.

I gave a mighty heave and sure enough the flames were fewer. I ran back through and dialed my sister-in-law and handed the phone to Eric. “Tell her to call the fire department,” I said. I knew Dinah’s number but didn’t have a clue what the fire department’s number was, and believe it or not, we did not have 911 service.

Finally, on one of my trips back through, I grabbed the phone and ordered the kids to go outside. “I think I’ve got it,” I said, “but they should probably check to make sure it isn’t smoldering anywhere.”

I called Jim at work and Marcie, the unambitious secretary informed me that he was on a ladder and couldn’t come to the phone. “We have a fire at our house,” I said. “I need to talk to him now.” Needless to say, Jim and my inlaws beat the fire department by fifteen minutes.

Later, my sister-in-law told me that Eric’s voice was so high that she didn’t recognize him, and all she could think of was that some little kid’s house was on fire and in desperation, he had called her number.

When the fire department arrived, they chewed me out for  putting the fire out on my own. I really think the house would have burned to the ground if I’d just gone outside and waited for help to arrive.

A few weeks ago, my ancient microwave finally bit the dust. It quit working and smelled like an electrical fire. I wasn’t home at the time, but Eric took it out and set it on the porch and tried to get the smell out of the house.

I went without a microwave for several weeks much to everyone’s surprise.

“How are you cooking your oatmeal in the mornings?” my daughter-in-law asked.

“The old fashioned way,” I said. “I use a pan.”

I finally broke down and got a new one because, let’s face it, that caused more dishes to wash.

I scoffed at my youngest son when he said I needed to rethink how long to cook things with a “real” microwave instead of one so old it had a dial and the strength of a strong light bulb. “We have one at work that has a higher wattage. I know how to use a microwave,” I said.

Sure enough, I could cook oatmeal in my new microwave and warm up my coffee when it got cold. Not a problem.

Sunday, I wasn’t feeling too well and thought that a baked potato sounded good. Without a clue as to how long it took to bake a potato in the new microwave, I proudly use the preset for “baked potato” and wandered back into the living room to continue watching a show on my DVR.

Suddenly, I heard a strange popping sound in the kitchen, then a slutter, and crackling. I jumped up and as I rounded the corner, I saw a potato in full blaze in the oven. I shut it off and without hesitation, threw some water on it. Soon I had the fire out. Then, I remembered to unplug the microwave.

“You should have used flour,” someone told me.

“Well there was a small sack of flour on the counter, but it wasn’t a grease fire. The water worked,” I said in my own defense.

“Don’t use that microwave until you have it checked out.”

“Not a chance,” I said. “It’s slightly melted inside the door. Good thing I bought the extended warranty.” Or, it really didn’t matter since that was for two years instead of one. Guess that oven’s going back under that, “in case you are unhappy for any reason” clause.

The house was filled with a thick haze of smoke when it occurred to me that not one of my smoke detectors had gone off. Guess I forgot to change the batteries when we “fell back” this year. Better put that on my to-do list before I get my new, new microwave.

Copyright © December 2012 L. S. Fisher

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