Thursday, April 16, 2009

Please Stop the Irony Already

What a day today has been, and it’s just 9:00 a.m. I blame it all on bacon and this is why.

Have you ever gotten so busy that you don’t have the time to make a grocery list? I’ve been this way for about two months. Between moving, working, taking classes, my two kids’ sporting activities (one baseball, the other track), Easter, taxes, leading the non-profit group, being a mom, a wife, and the primary caregiver to a mother-in-law whose decision it was (this is where the irony begins) to move into an independent living facility two months ago, I just don’t have the time to stick to our normal routine. I’ve actually gotten in the habit of not doing a darned thing until it has to be done, and not a moment sooner (and I hate that!). That is also why I find myself stopping in the grocery store, any grocery store, to pick up a couple days worth of groceries… every other day. And, that is why I bought bacon at Wal-Mart on the way back from a t-ball game. Wal-Mart doesn’t carry our usual generic brand of bacon, so I bought a different brand. What I didn’t notice is that it is bacon “with rind on”.

Have you ever eaten bacon with the rind on it? It’s ok, unless you microwave it, which is how I normally cook bacon. When microwaved, the rind turns hard. You’ll break a tooth, I’m not kidding. We found this out yesterday, so that is why I decided this morning to pan-fry the rest of it, in an attempt to make it soft enough to eat.

Now, I haven’t pan-fried bacon in probably 10 years. But, it’s bacon, and it’s a pan. You put the bacon in the pan and the heat from the skillet cooks it, right? Sounds simple enough. I don’t know what went wrong. I don’t even know how the grease got out of the pan. I still think the grease was from last night’s chicken fried rice, but even that doesn’t make sense because (second instance of irony) the stove top was as shiny and beautiful as I had ever seen it this morning. My husband cleaned the kitchen last night and I had to stop and hug him before we went to bed because he had done such a great job. Regardless of how the grease got there, with a poof and a blast of heat, I was in trouble.

Reacting quickly, I yanked the pan off the burner and started blowing. This has worked well for me in the past (yet, probably just a set up for this morning’s fire.) So, I continue to blow and then yell for my husband. No answer from the man who is trying hard to not get out of bed. So, I continue to blow, harder now, and yell louder. My thoughts race quickly… baking soda? Nope, we just moved, haven’t bought any, mental note to put on next grocery list. Blow even harder, yell even louder. Flour, sugar? Wait, they burn, I’ve burned bread before….and sugar (no kidding). Fire extinguisher!!! “TOMMY!!!!” In a very irritated voice, “WHAT!!” and slow movement from the bedroom in the back of the house. Should I yell that the house is on fire?? No, the kids would scatter and how would I get them all out of the house? Blow as hard as I possibly can. “TOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Quicker steps. FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Where IS THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER? I think I saw it in the closet in the foyer, where I’m guessing my sister put it before she moved out. (She loves putting things in strange places.) But I can’t stop blowing because it’s going to catch something else on fire.

By this time, Tommy has made it into the kitchen and realizes the urgency of the situation. He rushes over to the stove…. and tries to blow it out. Never mind that it is unnecessary and ineffective, the good news is that it frees me to panic. I yank the cabinet doors open hoping to see some baking soda that I had already decided wasn’t there. He says, “smother it” and grabs the closest pot lid and puts it over the burner. I get three more pot lids and place over the other three, the whole time knowing “this ain’t gonna work”. Then, I take off to the foyer but hear and see Tommy remove something metal from the utensil jar. He’s prying the burner off the stove (Great Idea!), so I turn back to help.

He drops it in the floor (no, thankfully, I didn’t run into him). It just burned him.

Little pockets of grease spill out and are now burning on my kitchen floor, including the burning burner itself. He’s stomping them out while trying to get the burner back on the utensil (I still don’t know which utensil this) and, just in time, I remove the Jim and Nick’s paper bag (that should have been taken out with the garbage last night) away from next to the fire. He uses same utensil to get it up off the floor and into the sink and I hear the beautiful noise of ….sizzle…..

I check to make sure nothing else is burning and to catch myself because I’m shaking like a leaf. He raises the window and we both breathe a deep and heavy breath at the same time. After a few seconds, I return to the stove and to clean up what I can of the mess on the floor.

A couple of minutes later, I decide to finish cooking the bacon, carefully this time on the back burner at a lower temperature. Two or so more minutes into it, I hear the dogs growl and scuffle outside on the deck. This isn’t unusual. They sometimes play like that together first thing in the morning, but when it continues, my second thought is, “they’ve got a squirrel trapped”. I glance over at the deck door and see that it is open.

“Oh, dear God”.

Our cats are as eager to get outside as our dogs are to get inside.

Sure enough, when I make my way out the deck door, one of my kitties is perched on the deck railing bowed up and hissing. I take him back inside and begin frantically calling our other kitty. These cats are about 5 months old and have never had a bad day in their lives, aside from being carried around by a six and four year-old unwillingly. They have never been mean to or scared of a thing.

No sign of the other kitty. I yank the door back open to see our two dogs (a 100 lb weinmeraner and a 120 lb greyhound/unknown mix) pacing and sniffing the deck excitedly.

(Tommy had cracked the door in his harried state to let some of the smoke out.)

I’ve seen the dogs swallow hot dogs whole before, but although only five months old, these cats are too big to be swallowed whole. I’m certain of it.

I check everywhere on the deck that the kitty could be hiding. I call the kitty, whose name is Dagger. Our deck is two stories up, so I couldn’t conceive of him jumping down, and if he ran down the steps, surely the dogs would have followed him. Even if he had, how could he get over the chain link fence? Now, into both neighbors’ yards and down the back alley, Dagger is not there. When I get back, Tommy has taken our oldest son to school for early morning arrival and I’m left to comfort Reilly who looks at me with the saddest eyes.

I begin searching again and when Tommy returns, we search both inside and outside for 30 minutes and no sign or sound from him, while our rescued kitty, Reilly, expends his nervous energy by bolting around the house (in search of Dagger?). I’m contemplating calling in as I get our middle child off to school, who somehow managed to sleep through it all with his sister.

I decide that Dagger is probably okay somewhere, just a little scared and possibly several houses away, and I should go to work. He’ll find his way back home (hopefully). I worry about my oldest son making it through the day, because he left at a time when he didn’t know Dagger hadn’t been attacked and he, of all the three kids, is the most attached to the kitties. I make a mental note to text him that he’s ok.

Just as I’m about to go back inside the final time, I scan the trees. In the very top of one of the largest dogwood trees in our back yard (outside the chain link fence) I finally spot him. There hangs Dagger frozen like a statue. In my opinion, he looks hurt. At the very least, severely traumatized. Tommy happens to be coming around the house when I discovered him. I point to him.

Tommy retrieves the aluminum ladder from the side of the house and proceeds to prop it up against this tree whose trunk is probably the size of my leg. NOT safe. “Do you want me to hold the ladder?” “No.” “Okay. Please be careful.” After much scratching (by Dagger) and nail-biting (by me), Dagger is down from the tree and my husband is bleeding and burned. We make it back inside with one very nervous cat. Time for cuddles and love.

Dagger has what looks like an abrasion on his face next to his nose, but otherwise, looks and feels okay. He finally starts purring after about fifteen minutes, although refusing to be in the same room as the deck door. After careful observation, I come to the conclusion that the morning drama is over and Dagger is going to be fine.

With my wits about me, I get ready for work. I feel almost normal again when I make it in, only 30 minutes late, and find my co-workers walking down the hall en mass. I think, “Fire drill? That would be ironic!”

My boss at the back of the crowd turns around, sees me and says, “Well, there she is!” I ask, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “You just missed the safety meeting again.”

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