Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gratuitous postcard: smoke alarmism strikes home

Postcard: Canton, IL City Bldg
Last night, as I was lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep, I thought I smelled smoke. In fact, it was strong enough, I started to worry. It was strong enough to set off my smoke alarm -- sort of. The device gave out a BEEP BEEP WHEEEEEeeeep eeerrrrrrrrr and then went silent.

I got out of bed, checked out the smoke alarm (it was not the battery. The poor machine had gasped its last). Nevertheless, it had given me warning. I thanked it (in monosyllabic old English of a sort non-repeatable in mixed company) before I put it in the trash can.

I'm not overly fond of the idea of fire in my house. I don't even like lighting candles when the power goes out. I'm surrounded by thousands of books. History has shown that books burn.

Knowing that both my smoke alarm and I smelled something, I stayed up and searched my house, from top to bottom, trying to sniff out a source for said vapor. I convinced myself that it made sense to find the fire before calling in the fire department (I could then tell them "it's in that corner of the bedroom!" or some such detail). My crappy lungs absorbed more dust and mold and mildew last night than I think they had done all winter.

I was up and about for a full hour (I missed the local news and Leno's monologue, among other things -- thank all the patron tech gods of recordability!) wandering about my house in a pair of bib-alls, fuzzy slippers, and that's about all. Finally, having found no single spot in my home where the smell was any stronger than anywhere else, I decided to check outside, to see if, perhaps, it was not actually my house on fire. For that, I put on my jacket, too.

Why I didn't do this external search an hour earlier I can't say. Call it the haze of end of day and heavy doses of allergy medication. By the time I'd circled my house for the second time, at a distance of a dozen or so feet from the walls, I finally figured out that my non-airtight house was allowing the aroma of the meats being smoked at the Smithfield/Farmland pork processing plant on the outskirts of town to waft through.

I went to bed annoyed and frustrated with myself, and more than a little hungry for a ham sandwich, dammit.

This morning, Mom and I went shopping in Galesburg. She forgot to bring her latest completed cross-stitch project along to the frame shop, and I forgot to buy the replacement smoke alarm. I hope my house doesn't get lit up tonight.

Maybe I should sleep in the running shower. Yeah. That would make sense.

Or, I could just live on the edge for a day or two, the way we all used to before laws pretended to make us safe.

After all, as a safety-conscious woman, I have a fire extinguisher. Behind the books, I think. Somewhere.

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