Fire!

I slept in this morning. Or should I say that I slept twice? Waking up just a little while before my alarm would go off, I was still tired, and went back to sleep, finally getting up some time between 8 and 9. There was a lot on my invisible list of things to do today. I started this morning according to my typical routine: take care of the basic necessities such as toilet and water, and then spend time in prayer and reading my Bible (or these days, going through the Sabbath school lesson). As I was headed out with the laundry, the neighbor’s cat greeted me, asking for some lovings and some breakfast. I thought breakfast would do this morning, but the cat still wanted to rub, so I pet it and continued filling the washing machine.

The washing machine is a manual one. I switch each cycle: fill, spin, drain, repeat, and then take the wet clothes and put it into another part, a spinner, and then take the clothes and put it on the line. During the early fill cycle, I grabbed some chop sticks from the outdoor water closet (which we are using for storage) and picked up some pieces of trash from the yard. The exercise and the air did me some good, as well as the beautiful green around me. During another cycle, I looked in and under the lemon and lime trees again. Finding one lime that I had seen yesterday, I picked it and put it inside, and then looked for more. Nothing, at least nothing that I could find.

All seemed to be going well. I washed the lime and prepared some lime and thyme chick peas with the remaining chick peas from Friday. On Friday evening I had made dumplings by steaming spring rolls, and decided to do so again this morning, as it seemed it would be less work and require less attention than frying them in the rice cooker and I did not feel strongly inclined to deep fry this morning. I know that whatever is frying on the hot plate needs to be watched carefully, and turned off and on and off again and back on and off and repeat however many times it takes before the food is cooked. One day, just a few minutes in to heating the oil, the oil in the pan burst into flames (or was it the pan itself?), and there were a few threats after that also. Usually, however, when food is boiling in water or steaming, it’s fine.

The steamed spring rolls went through two cycles, and it was getting close to time to switch the laundry to another cycle. The spring rolls looked fine, but I wanted to keep them warm and give them extra cooking time, just in case, so I turned them on again, and went outside to switch cycles on the washing machine. While waiting the short time before I would switch to another cycle, I became preoccupied in the yard again.

I had unlocked the gate a few minutes ago, and had opened some of the windows in the studio. It seemed that I heard plastic crinkling, and wondered if the cat let itself in (as it does know how to open the front door if it’s not latched), or if a person had slipped in while I was out back. But no, it couldn’t be. As I looked into the window, I saw nothing, but then noticed something…I smelled smoke, and that plastic sound sounded like something else that was familiar…

Oh no. I went to the back window, where I could look in and see how the pot on the hot plate was doing. I forgot to check it for water, and it must have been empty (or very near empty). Sure enough, bright orange flames were licking the edge of the steamer and the lid.

I had to think quickly. I must have prayed, but if I didn’t, the Lord knew I needed help and wisdom. I almost panicked, but realized that I needed to remain calm and think logically, and I did. I believe the Lord helped me. I thought of a few things that I could do, but the Lord helped me to think reasonably. Assessing the situation, and that the studio was full of smoke, I realized that one of the first things I needed to do, if possible, was to unplug the hot plate. The box for electricity is next to the hot plate, and the box with the switches is far above on the wall, so I couldn’t just turn off the electricity, and I had to reach past the fire to unplug the hot plate. It seemed safer than hitting the button to turn it off, considering the closeness of the fire. I worried that I might get burnt, but if I didn’t send up a prayer for help and protection, the Lord heard my thoughts anyway. I reached beside the hot plate, and back, keeping my body and my clothes as far away as possible and acting carefully, though quickly, to pull the plug. The flames were still burning. Beside the hot plate was a wooden mortar and pestle. I removed that and put it in the sink before it could catch fire.

I learned from last time that, when removed from the heat, the fire might die out. It was pretty much contained in the metal pan, though the flames were leaping dangerously high, about 4-6 inches or so up out of the pot. I grabbed that same frying pan that had caught fire last time. When it had caught fire, I had removed it from the hot plate by its long handle and went to bring it outside, but the flames were so dangerous that I froze. The oil dripped onto the floor and the fire went out. Now, I turned the pan upside down and set it over the flames. They flickered and continued to burn. I lifted the pan, and the flames continued, so I put the pan down over the flames again. They flickered and burned for a little while, and then puffed out of existence, leaving a charred, black mess.

Actually, my spring rolls weren’t burt that badly, so perhaps the flames hadn’t even been going for very long, but my pan is a mess. I still need to finish cleaning it (and have already scrubbed it some). Though only one side of the spring rolls were burnt, the outside of the rest turned yellow, and I wasn’t sure if it was safe to eat, so I dumped them. But before I did that, the windows and doors had to come open. At first, I only opened what I could think of with the screens closed, and turned on the fans, and opened the doors, but then I realized I needed to open more, so the screens went open and the doors were fully opened, and the fans blew the smoke out.

It’s not good to be in smoke for so long. I covered my mouth and nose, really wishing that my mask was out where I could find it easily. I had to go outside and away from the studio to get fresh air, and then came back in, covering my mouth and nose and holding my breath through some of it and grabbed a chair and brought it outside. Then I went back for a book, holding my breath and covering my mouth and nose. Even when I was opening the windows, I had to hold my breath, cover my mouth and nose, and stick my head out for air. I should have opened my bed room windows too, but I was worried about wasps, so they stayed closed until I realized my bedroom still smelled smoky. After retrieving a book, my tablet, and the chick peas, I had some lunch outside. I didn’t do this all at once, giving a little time in between for the smoke to go out, and to take fresh air into my lungs. I ate my brunch outside while reading, and then went in for another book. Around that time I opened my bed room windows. The smoke was clearing well. I turned the fan toward my bed room, and then went back outside to read.

Would you believe the next story I read was about fire? My legs still felt shaky and my knees weak, but I stayed outside until the smoke had pretty well cleared (though some smoky smell lingered, so the doors and windows stayed open), and until I had recovered from most of that shaky, weak feeling, and then went back inside.

But the experience outside was beautiful. I listened to birds and saw butterflies fluttering by. It was so relaxing, and the fresh air, sunlight (through the clouds), and good, simple food was refreshing, and I felt some energy restored to me. For once, after many days of not feeling well (most days, but maybe not all), I feel well again, and think I can go a while longer, and I learned from the experience…hopefully what I learned will stick, and hopefully that won’t happen again, but I did learn, and it did me some good (even though I could have died).

While I was outside, I also finished my laundry and got it on the line, and I did check a few times to make sure the fire hadn’t gone anywhere else inside. It was a terrifying experience, but the Lord helped me to remain calm, and see the positive things in all of it, and He protected me.

Fire is dangerous, and so is smoke. What I did, going for a book, was not necessarily safe, and (especially in America) you may need to call the fire department even if you put out the fire, to report that a fire happened. Do some research beforehand. Prevention is the best medicine, but it’s better to be prepared than sorry, or dead…I’m so thankful that God protected me through all this, that the fire is out, and that the walls and floor here aren’t made of wood. Whew!

 

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