Friday, January 25, 2013

Chronic Pain: My Turn to Listen

My proclivity toward kitchen fires started when I was quite young.  I was no more than ten years old and baking cookies (I’m going to bet they were chocolate chip but don’t recall for sure).   The house filled with the delicious smell only chocolate chips cookies can emit (and, I’m going to also bet, my younger brothers were clamoring nearby for their share once they finished baking).
Photo Credit: Lowes

When the timer told me the cookies were done, I used both a kitchen towel and an oven mitt (I assume my fear of getting burned from the hot rack led me to double up on the protection) and the kitchen towel somehow touched the oven coils at the bottom of the oven and caught fire. 

There was a lot of screaming (mostly me, although I’m betting mom did her share once she ran into the kitchen) but I somehow managed to get the towel in the sink and douse it with water before the house burned down. 

Thankfully, the cookies were unharmed.

Nothing soothes frazzled nerves better than some delicious chocolate chip cookies. 

Fast-forward through teen years, my twenties, thirties, forties . . . you get the idea.  I have had several kitchen mishaps (okay, small fires or smoke-alarm incidents) through the years. 

These incidents were so expected within my family that I my own mother bought me a fire-extinguisher for a birthday present one year. (My mom could be quite practical).

Happy birthday to me. 

I have not actually had to use the fire-extinguisher because these all-too-often incidents don’t get too out of hand but there was one time the fire department was called.  That one really wasn’t my fault though (I was using an apparently just-cleaned oven at an apartment I recently moved into and the apartment filled with a horrible smell.) 

So kitchen “mishaps” happen but the biggest casualties are usually an appliance (or two).  A toaster caught on fire and was ruined because of an exploding Pop-Tart (it happens – look it up!).  As a poor college student, I wrote to Kellogg’s and insisted they buy me a new toaster.  (I didn’t get a new toaster but I got coupons for free Pop-Tarts which helped my almost non-existent grocery budget.) 

The most recent kitchen “incident” was probably the worst so far and we lost a microwave because of it.  I was making dinner and using the microwave as a timer.  Or so I thought.  I accidentally started the microwave “cooking” instead of timing for twenty minutes. 

Not a horrible mistake unless there’s a plastic container of frosted sugar cookies stored in the microwave. 


The house filled with smoke and the smell of burnt plastic was horrendous.  Plastic melted into the bottom of the microwave and, even though we were able to clean out the inside, the smell never went away. 

This time the cookies (nor the microwave) could be saved and I had no company to write to asking for replacements – this was all on me. 

My husband and I shopped for a microwave on our next date night (I’m obviously as practical as my mom was) and came home with a gorgeous stainless steel microwave. 

This was the best result of a kitchen fire ever!

While deciding on the microwave, my husband made the comment that we should pay for the install (of course, I had fried the above-the-stove microwave and not a cheap countertop microwave).   Richard was envisioning the lifting and drilling and more lifting.  I was envisioning saving a few dollars.  When the salesperson came over to assist, he assured Richard the install was easy. 

My husband has serious chronic back pain issues.  He is also inclined to do more than he should so when he says we should pay someone to install an appliance, I really should listen to him.  He does not say these things lightly. 

However, I wasn’t really thinking and we both were easily swayed by the salesperson’s insistence that the install would be easy.

Helping my husband lift the very heavy old microwave out of the cabinet and install a new, only slightly less heavy microwave, was enough to make me bang my hand against my head asking, “What was I thinking?!”

Richard was able to install the shiny new microwave but paid for it with increased back pain for the remainder of the day – and the next.

I have learned a few things from this experience:
  1. Don't use the microwave as a timer (the risk is too great);
  2. Listen to my husband (at least when it comes to his back pain);
  3. Always, always save the cookies . . .

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