Jan 19, 2012

Three Alarm Fire

Being a quilt whisperer, I just love it when a quilt quietly whispers its sweet name to me. But sometimes, a quilt doesn't whisper...it screeches...and sometimes that screech involves me building the morning wood stove fire.

Because of life's challenges, DH has been staying with his mother as much as 17 hours a day. He's been amazing with her..and can lift and otherwise carry her..when I cannot. He can also build fires in the wood stove with ease.

And while I grew up in territorial Alaska, and was both a Brownie and a Girl Scout and earned many merit badges......well, do I even need to mention they were all in sewing and wildcrafting and not in camp fire activities?

In my childhood, no one camped out except if their car broke down on the Alcan Highway, traveling through Alaska and Canada for weeks at a time on a gravel road to head south to Seattle or north, back to Alaska. And my memories of that experience are 14 flat tires on one trip alone, and my father having to wait days to catch a ride with a long haul trucker, and hitchhike to the nearest garage hundreds of miles away.

We slept..absolutely freezing...in the back of our station wagon...five little kids and one frantic mother who was convinced my father had already been hit by a truck and died. Because of bears, we weren't allowed out of the car ..except to ...well..... maybe put out a fire if we could have found one ;)

So, now when I wake up freezing cold and put on my rubber boots, hat, two coats, a knit muffler and head out into the pouring rain to get wood from our woodpile..well, more than my hands are frozen, soggy, and not working up to par. I not only set the copious amounts of newspaper, kindling, and logs on fire...I try my best to make the whole house warm up in a hurry! I open all of the stove drafts and pull out the ash drawer to speed things up.

Three smoke alarms all blaring at once later, and me not having the slightest idea of which wires to pull free from their connections on the two wired (and not battery powered alarms)......well, you can only imagine.

The sound of three smoke alarms at once is so loud that it made my tinnitus goes into hyper drive and my brain into a hyperbaric chamber of what to do first, much less next. I didn't think I was actually going to burn the house down...although I did realize I hadn't read the directions on the smoke extinguisher in years, and would no doubt need a magnifying glass(at this stage of my life) in order to read it.... should that need actually arrive.

Just finding a chair to stand on that wasn't piled decoratively with quilts or cradling a cat, or was too heavy to pull into the hallway, much less too soft to stand up on, was challenging enough. Do I bring the darling wood rush chair with the sagging seat and two short and two tall legs? Or maybe the antique chair with the embroidered seat? Or wait, how about the rocking chair..it only has one quilt on it and the rocking back and forth might soothe me as I stand on it to inspect all of those wires and melt my brain with sound waves.

Thanks heavens all of my country neighbors sleep in past 3 am...unlike myself, who is up long before the chickens...or I'm sure the screeching from my house would have necessitated a call to 911. And of course, that would be me screeching... and not just the alarms.

Yep, I'm moving right along on my orphan blocks quilt and its sheer vibrancy is enough to light up the house and shove the gloom of my morning trek along our flooded driveway to the mailbox and soaking wet pajamas..yes, I wear pajamas, two coats, a hat and my scarf to check the mail, too.

Yep, country living is the place to be...green acres is the life for me!

Michele Bilyeu Quilts With Heart and Hands for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Join in my Liberated Quilting Challenge...and buy or donate a quilt, today!! We are changing the world...one little quilt at a time.


libbyquilter said...

oh Michele~!!~ you have gotten me off to a laugh out loud, tea spurting out my nose (not enough to put out a fire) start to my morning~!

hope you are able to take off at least one of those coats and the boots in order to have a great day.


bjmccomber said...

Love your quilts and journal. We are who we are and you express yourself so well that I can hear that piercing wail of the smoke alarm and shutter at the sound. Thank you for sharing.

Paula, the quilter said...

We have this little wood burner that has a catalytic convertor in it. I can get the fire going just fine, but that stupid stupid convertor makes you have to baby the thing so it doesn't start to rumble. Yes rumble. It sometimes sounds like a freight train if you aren't careful. I want my old stove back. Wah.

Alice said...

Thanks you for the giggle--it is true that opposites attract.
My DH is an electrical engineer and I still can't figure out which remote to use on the TV.
Keep being creative you!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

next time grab a magazine and wave it frantically below the smoke detector and that will make it go off....dont' ask how I know.

Scrappy quilter said...

Ann Marie has it figured out. I've had to do that too because I'm too short to push the button to make it stop. You always bring a smile to my face. Thank goodness though it wasn't a fire. Hugs

btw - I'm so impressed with you and your hubby. The care you are giving your parents through extreme circumstances is absolutely incredible. You are my heroes.

Clare said...

I'll swap you. You can speak to your family gratuit cos we're now on a different phone tariff and have unlimited internet. I'll keep your wood burner going 24/7 without the smoke alarms going off and DH will keep the ones here supplied so you can sew sew sew. Deal? xx

Lynne said...

Sounds like quite an adventure! I hope you've fully recovered from your scare.

Susan In Texas said...

Oh wow, that brings back the memories! We hadn't been in our new house very long when we were awakened in the middle of the night by our non-battery fire alarm too. I've never woken up standing beside the bed before. I look all over the top floor for the fire while my DH goes down to check on the first floor. I went down after him and he's sitting on the couch with the back door wide open and it's very cold. The house is full of smoke. He had decided to boil some eggs while making popcorn and reading a book. Popcorn was finished, book was engrossing, he came upstairs. Need I say more? He worked very hard and got all the burnt egg out of my good copper pot. Ah husbands, gotta love 'em! I'm glad neither of our houses burned down, and our hearing was only temporarily damaged. lol

Thanks for your kind words about my first AAQI quilt. I see you are heavily involved in the activity. Lovely quilts on your auction site.

Happy stitching,
Susan in Texas

jenclair said...

I couldn't help but think of Dylan Thomas description of the fire at Mrs. Prothero's:

"And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

You would probably have said, "Would you like anything to sew?"

Angie said...

You are absolutely my most favorite person in the whole wide world!!! I laugh til tears are running down my wrinkled little (chubby) cheeks, green with envy over your delicious grasp and use of the English language and fall in love all over again with quilting, and building fires, and country living in Green Acres!! ROFL I'm the official fire-builder in our house---I told Randy yesterday I think I'm a fire-startin' voodoo witch *gales of laughter* (We actually DID live in and still own the house in a subdivision called --- yep --- Green Acres. :D

Joanne Lendaro said...

=) great story...sorry for your luck! Pesky smoke detectors....