Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stop, drop, and roll

We live in a small house. It’s about 1,200 sq. ft. of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen, and a great room/den/living room/dining room kind of space. The house will be paid for in a couple of years. I never thought we would live here long enough to pay off a mortgage, but then that’s another story.

In our house are two ceiling fans, one big 36” portable fan on a stand, and several other small fans. My husband’s internal thermostat hovers right around boiling point most of the time. The fans are for his benefit.

There are three smoke detectors/fire alarms in the house. One of them is at the entrance of the master bedroom. The second one is over the laundry closet in the hall. The third one is about 4 feet from the oven in the kitchen. That third one is for my benefit. It spares me from having to cook a lot. How, you may ask? Well, if the oven is on even at a low temperature, that alarm goes off screeching DANGER DANGER every time I open the oven door. If I’m cooking something at a high temperature, the oven door doesn’t even have to be open; that alarm just goes off anyway. It’s very annoying.

Mostly, I just avoid using the oven. If I absolutely must bake something, I have to ignore that obnoxious siren warning me of impending doom, pretending that I don’t hear it. It is not easy to ignore being that it’s loud enough for all my neighbors to hear.

On top of that, there’s no measure for what it has done for my self-confidence in the kitchen. I know I’m not a very good cook, but to be taunted by a piece of technology every time I turn on the oven? Well, needless to say, that’s why I started turning the oven off and turning on the Food Network where I can live vicariously through Paula and Duff; and going out to eat; and eating a lot of cereal for dinner.

We have lived in this house 13 years and it has always been that way. I don’t know why it took me so long, but lately I discovered somewhat of a fix for that maddening, blaring alarm that screams at me HEY THE OVEN IS ON even though I am standing right in front of it. And no, the fix was not to just take the batteries out. That was the first thing we ever tried all those years ago. Stupid thing still went off because it is wired into the electrical supply. Batteries are just a back-up. Neither Scott nor I wanted to take on the electricity, so we just dealt with it.

I got one of Scott’s little portable personal fans, put it on a step stool directly under the alarm, turned the fan on high and aimed the cool breeze right at that pesky little alarm. Worked like a charm. I baked some kind of Pillsbury canned bread without the first sound of a disaster warning.

It also gave me a new confidence in the kitchen. Hmmm, maybe I’ll try this cooking thing again.

The past weekend Scott and I made a trip to the big city. The last stop before we headed home was Publix (our small town is a bit grocery store challenged, which is also a story for another day; we simply must visit Publix when we get out of town). Publix had London broil steaks on sale. We bought one. To cook. More specifically, to BROIL.

When I got home from work yesterday, I set up my step stool-fan apparatus. I put two potatoes in the oven to bake. I figured that would pre-heat the oven and get it ready for the London broil that had been marinating all day. I also put some Publix green beans in a pot on the stove.

An hour or so later, Scott got home, the potatoes were done, and it was time to cook the London broil. Still not a peep from the alarm. Every London broil recipe I read said to broil the meat 5 minutes on each side, then let it rest for a few minutes. 10 minutes. That’s all I needed to get through cooking the rest of this meal in total peace and quiet.

I moved the oven rack up to the top position, turned the dial to broil, and put the steak in. Quiet.

One minute went by. Quiet.

Two minutes. Quiet.

Three minutes. Quiet.

Four minutes. Quiet.

Then it started. DANGER DANGER. That incessant, pulsing alarm.

I told Scott to grab the fan, stand on the stool, and hold the fan right up against the alarm. He did that for a little while to no avail. He stepped off the stool and then set about turning on all the fans in the house and opening all the windows and doors.

I took the steak out, turned it over, put it back in for the last 5 minute broil. The alarm was still blaring IMPENDING DOOM. DEATH IS IMMINENT. REPENT NOW. THE END IS NEAR. I just went about my kitchen business. Scott spent the next three minutes trying to get the air to move away from the alarm waving his arms and such. ALL of the alarms were going off by then; not just the one closest to the oven.

Scott walked out to the front porch holding the storm door open. I think he was also trying to intercept any neighbors that might have come running over thinking we needed to be rescued from our demise. I’m sure he would say, “Nothing to see here. No cause for concern. Just my wife cooking dinner.”

After about minute 4 on the second side, I looked in the oven. Sure enough. There it was. Flames. My London broil was on fire.

I called for Scott and pulled the pan out of the oven. We got the fire out (it was small), turned off all the stove and oven elements, and let the steak rest while we continued to move fans around. Finally, the noise of the alarms was silenced. I ended up having to microwave the meat a little because it was still too pink for Scott (who LIKES his meat pink). Dinner turned out OK, but I don’t know if it was worth all the ringing that is still going on in my ears.

It never occurred to me that there might actually be a fire. I was too busy trying to find a way to silence that nasty alarm.

How many times have I tried to silence the warning without actually looking for a cause?

How often have I ignored the warning of danger believing there was no real threat?

How many times have I stuck my fingers in my ears and sang a senseless “la la la la” in my head just to drown out the warning noise?

Oh, Lord, open my ears to Your warnings. Open my eyes to Your work. Open my heart to Your love.

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” Hebrew 3:15

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where's Mikey when you need him?

There are a handful of blogs that I read frequently. Unlike this blog, those writers are in the habit of posting almost daily, so reading a fresh post frequently from them is not that difficult. A lot of bloggers who write daily posts take the first week of January to review all their posts from the previous year. They do a year in review and highlight their top ten or something like that. So, I've read a lot of "Best of 2009" blog posts lately.

Funny thing about those "Best of" posts. Not funny ha ha, but rather funny hmmmm. More of them than not included some kind of statement about 2009 being a difficult year. Yes, there was the sagging economoy and all that, but even beyond that it seemed that a lot of people who write there lives' events down in a daily blog found their moods and topics with a lot less funny in them this past year.

Well, me too. I lost my funny somewhere back in 2009. I have been determined to find it again in 2010.

And God is faithful. Even in the little things.

Scott and I went out of town for a couple of days. When we returned, a new sign greeted us:

Here's a close-up for a better idea.

Andrew Zimmern should seriously consider filming an episode of his Bizarre Foods show here.

I never met a tick until I moved here. Every time Scott went to pick up trash on the roadway our church sponsored in the Keep America Beautiful program, he would come home with ticks attached. That always made me moan and groan even though he was the one with the ticks attached.

I never knew you could fry 'em up like funnel cakes. Hmmm.

Oh well, I guess I'd rather eat them than have them eat me.

They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread. Acts 12: 22-24