Friday, September 17, 2010

Fire in my Kitchen, Lightning in the Air

I can't believe I have waited this long to share this, but here goes: I set my kitchen on fire last week.  OK, so not the whole kitchen, just one of the burners on the stove, but it was still pretty traumatic.  I should explain that I have a deep and abiding fear of fire, that goes well beyond normal common-sense caution of flammability.  I trace it back to when I was eight and my dad, the ardent outdoorsman, tried to teach me how to light a campfire.  It was years before I could even watch a match being struck, and I still won't do the striking myself. I was close to ten before I would use the iron or toaster and very close to teenager years before I would use the stove or oven.  I still refuse to deep-fry anything, not only for health reasons, but because popping grease scares me.

Last Thursday night I was stressed and headachey after teaching, trying to throw stuff together so we could hit the road toward Marion.  I started a quick supper, stir fry, and put a pot of water on to boil the rice.  I noticed the burner was smoking, due probably to crumbs below the coil, but I didn't think anything about it until I heard a gentle whoosh and noticed that there were flames licking the bottom of the pot.  I attempted to blow them out (having done this once before several years ago), but they didn't go out.  They got higher.  Suddenly they were up above the top of the pot of water.  I am comforted to realize that I didn't fall apart then.  Instead, I went into process mode.  Here is a transcript of my thoughts:

-That's a real fire.
-I should turn the burner off.
-Blowing didn't work.
-OK, is it a grease fire?  No, OK, so water is alright.
-I need a vessel [yes, I thought the word vessel].  This bowl is too big, I will use this cup.
-It's OK, the hiss just means that the fire is out.
-Open the windows and door.
-That's the smoke detector, run and fan it vigorously before the fire department comes and the sprinklers turn on and ruin all of our possessions.
-OK, now you may fall apart.

I then fell apart very quietly, manifested mostly by shaking and the intense ramping up of my migraine.  Jordan came home shortly thereafter, and found that the stir fry was ready (sans rice) and a large puddle of water was dripping off our stove-top.  We managed to pack and get on the road.  We had only made it a mile from the apartment (not even to the interstate yet) and since I had asked Jordan approximately five times in the course of that mile if he was sure the stove was off, he turned the car around and we went back.  I went in the apartment and pulled the offending burning out.  I then touched every knob on the stove, tracing with my finger the indention that was pointed to "Off."  Then, I touched every burner with my hand to reassure myself that they were all cool to the touch.  Seriously, if anything like this happens to me again, I will be on an intervention show on A&E.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Pleasant than Productive...

I had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  I did no work.  I didn't think about teaching or my dissertation, although goodness knows I could have worked on both.  Instead, I went to the Farmer's Market.  I went to the park.  I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law and nephew.  Like I said, more pleasant than productive.

The park was lovely.  They have a greenway that criss-crosses through woods and over a lake, following the path of an old rail-road.  The bridge was rusty iron and worn boards that made a wonderful loud rumbling noise.

The park also has a borrow-a-bike program.  They are basic single-speed, reverse-pedal-braking, and not really suited to the hills that rise along the greenway path, but I managed.  I think I did about seven miles, standing up in the seat and huffing and puffing on the hills until I realized that I should just admit when I am beat and get off and push.

In addition to the lake, there were small ponds, like this one covered in lilly pads.

I almost fell in getting this picture, which would have been entirely unpleasant.  Ponds are pretty to look at, but not something I would want to be submerged in.

I liked the deep, tunnelly woods.  Although there were many other people enjoying the greenway, there were also lots of times when I had it all to myself.  A nice green-gold solitude.

After my legs had been reduced to mush, I retrieved my quilt, lunch and books from the car and spread out in the dappled light under a huge tree.  It was amazing.  Love it, love it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For the Beauty of the Earth

I have been loving early mornings.  I have been assigned to teach at 8am this semester, and I fretted all summer long, knowing that it would mean dragging myself out of bed at an unearthly hour - one of the down-sides of a longish commute and a commitment to hygeine.  And even though I am only teaching two days a week, I know that if I allow myself to sleep in on non-teaching days, I will hate myself on the mornings I can't sleep in.  So I have seen 5:30am every day for a week.  And I have to say, it is beautiful.

I have started running a bit earlier, and Monday morning was so beautiful.  There was a fog lying low over the fields, and the sun came up molten red-gold.  This morning I wanted to try to get pictures, but alas, no fog.  There were other pretty things to see, however.

Lillies heavy with dew.

Over-grown fence-posts.

Morning glories.  I know these are kind of considered a weed and a nuisance, but I am fond of them.  In junior high, our beloved band director nicknamed us according to...I don't know, some kind of word association that occured to him.  I was Morning Glory Hallelujah, Glory for short.  And that is what I was called for three years.  I think he would call me that today.

Red berries.

I think these are nasturtiums?  I'm not sure, but I like this picture with the fiery flowers and the hazy white house in the background.

It's September, one of my favorite months.  I love the change of summer into fall.  Everything begins to look burnished and ripe.  Mornings get a bit cooler and I think of camping.  Geese will begin flying like arrows.  I don't think it's hard to understand that God loves us when we see what He created for us.  So many good things - the promise of salvation, the relationships with our family and friends, and golden, late-summer fields, covered over with orange and pink flowers.

For the beauty of the earth
For the Glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:

'Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our grateful hymn of praise
                                   -Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864