Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Good news, bad news, good news...

The good news is nobody got hurt and the house didn't burn down.

The bad news is my clothes dryer caught fire last week and burned up, along with most of the clothes that were in it at the time.

The good news is that we're in the middle of converting a larger, useless room into a new laundry room, and we'd already bought the replacement dryer (a discontinued floor model for only $75).

The bad news is that it's a gas dryer and the line hasn't yet been run from the propane tank to the dryer's new location nor have we bought the kit to convert it from natural gas to propane.

The good news is my retractable indoor clothesline was delivered today and #1 Son installed it for me.

Well, this could probably go on forever.  Instead let me just tell you the story.

Friday afternoon I was sitting at the computer with my two youngest girls in the room next to the kitchen when I started smelling smoke.  It didn't really register at first because we burn our paper trash and one of the boys might have been out doing that, but eventually I realized it didn't smell quite right.  Then I looked up and saw smoke blowing past the kitchen window.  Now, the place where we burn trash is way out behind the house on the other side of the detached garage. Smoke from the trash normally doesn't blow this way, and it if was there must be some strange weather thing going on, so I casually got up to investigate.

Going into the kitchen and looking out the window I could see that the smoke wasn't coming from away past the garage as it should be -- it seemed like it was originating right near the house.  I looked at the door to the laundry room and saw a little smoke through its window, so I opened the door and looked into the room.  There was a thin stream of smoke leaking from the joint where the dryer vents outdoors, right near the kitchen window.

I quickly opened and shut the dryer door.  This is known among firefighters as "ventilating the fire" and is a major no-no, but I wasn't thinking of that, and it is the quickest way to turn the dryer off, and I figured it was probably a problem with the wiring.  It didn't occur to me that I might get electrocuted, touching that thing, but then, my strength during a real emergency is calmness of demeanor, not clarity of thought, as you have probably figured out by now.

During the second it was open I saw flames inside.  My fifteen year old daughter, who had followed me in there, later said she could see that the drum wasn't tumbling.  It's nearly as old as she is and had been acting up lately and apparently could no longer handle a full load.

I figured that just turning off the dryer would stop whatever had caused the fire in the first place and the flames would die down right away, so I wasn't at all worried.  But just to keep him in the loop, I wandered into my twenty-three year old son's room (the son who's a volunteer firefighter) and told him what had just happened.

The word  fire had barely left my mouth when he charged out of the room, ran to the closet where we keep the fire extinguisher, and back to the laundry room, which was now completely filled with smoke.

Turns out the door hadn't actually shut when I slammed it, so the fire was getting plenty of air and was burning even more merrily.

#1 Son unloaded the fire extinguisher into the dryer, unplugged it, and opened the window in the room. 

Then he -- and I don't know how he did this, but he hauled the dryer out onto the porch to keep any more smoke from coming into the house.

It's so nice having grown-up children at home.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Blue is my favorite color

Not because I love blue more than any other color -- I love lots of colors.  Red, for example.  And purple.  And black, and green, and brown...  And I love any number of combinations of colors:  Black and brown, yellow and white, green and grey, green and orange in spite of not particularly loving orange.

That hasn't always been the case.  Not loving orange, that is. When I was in first grade my favorite outfit was an orange and yellow one my mother made me, and for the art contest that year my drawing featured a lot of orange and yellow.  Everyone's drawings were hung in the hall and when I got to school the morning the ribbons had been awarded I rushed to mine to see whether I'd won anything.  I had! -- an orange ribbon, which was nice since it matched the picture, but puzzling.  I knew what a blue ribbon meant, and a red one, but not orange.  Then I noticed something strange.  All the pictures had ribbons and the ribbons coordinated perfectly with the dominant colors in the work.  So I understood: The ribbons didn't mean anything.

But, back to blue.  People like to ask kids what their favorite color is, and they expect you to have an answer, and if you say, "I like purple and green and yellow," because you happen to be standing next to a flower bed featuring that particularly lovely combination they'll say, "But which one do you like best?"  So you have to come up with one color that you like best.  I'd noticed that most girls my age liked pink the best, so I decided that blue would be my favorite.

Learning to navigate the questions asked by adults is just part of growing up.  By elementary school I'd learned that "A mommy" was the wrong answer to the standard "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question.  I amused myself by thinking up various careers and trying them out on the grown-ups to see which ones got the best reaction.  Conclusion:  It didn't really matter which one it was, so long as it wasn't Mommy. 

Grown-ups are so strange.