Hello My Darklings (she says wearily)
I had hoped to come home in a wonderfully relaxed mood, to greet my man and my dog happily, but what met my eyes this morning as my sister’s car pulled up to the house, clutched my heart with dread.
In front of my house on the lawn, burnt, scorched, covered in the remnants of foam was my 1950’s vintage O’Keefe and Merritt Stove as well as burnt wood, and other things.
Doyle and a couple of his friends and some work men I didn’t recognize as well as my contractor friend were standing on the front porch. I saw Louise and she had a very sad but concerned look on her face.
I and Sis got out of her car and Doyle’s first words to me with a sickly smile was “Hi Honey, you’re home?” I stood on the walkway leading to my home looking at the stove and I slowly turned my head towards Doyle and in my best Ricky Ricardo voice said “Doyle, youse got sum ‘spainin’ tu do” and I could feel myself beginning to seethe. Sis said that my eyes were very big and wide and the grim look I gave Doyle would be enough to make a WWE Wrestler tremble. As a matter of fact Sis later told me that she saw Doyle’s friends and my contractor friend kind of back away in fear.
Then I asked “Where’s Belladonna??” Doyle said she was fine and staying at our favorite doggie hotel and daycare until I could claim her. I pointed to the stove and said “And this??!!” Doyle replied “Honey it was an accident and it’s a good thing my friends were here it could have been worse, it’s not too bad, really not too bad, its not bad is it Hank, tell her its not bad.”
My Doyle is a brave man having faced criminals with guns, and been in high speed chases and other dangerous things during his days as a police officer, he even is not afraid to kill an overly large spider for me (smaller ones I can deal with) but Sis told me later she had never seen a man or group of men that I was looking at, so terrified for their lives.
What happened was on Saturday afternoon, while Sis and I were enjoying our Spa treat, Doyle invited several of his friends over for lunch, he put Belladonna at the Doggie Hotel saying he’d pick her up on Monday, allowing for a Sunday hangover. He decided to not use the bar-be-que but instead broil the steaks in the broiler and he was also finishing up cooking the homemade chili(his recipe) on the stove, fortunately two of his friends were retired firemen, his buddies were outside on the back porch drinking beer and he went out to join them for a few minutes, then he smelled something burning, remarked about it and went into the kitchen to find the stove in flames.
One of his friends found the gas shut off value and shut it off, but the fire started burning the back wall, using the fire extinguishers for grease fires (we have 4 of them for just in case) they worked on the stove, while one of them got the back yard hose to use on the wall, another called 911 and between everyone including the fire department, managed to put the fire out and kept the damage to the kitchen stove area. Needless to say the food was not edible.
He and one of his firemen friends stayed in the house that night to make sure there’d be no flare ups. One concession is that one of his friends directed the Fire Department to the back of the house to the kitchen area, avoiding hoses going through the rest of the house. But there was water and fire damage in the kitchen, my laundry room below was covered in water and soot, and it looks like I’ll have to replace not only my stove but the washer and dryer. Right now the gas is shut off until it is deemed safe, so no hot water for baths or showers.
At least I still have flush toilets, and the pantry was not damaged.
I’ve called my insurance company and someone will be coming tomorrow. My contractor friend will also be here tomorrow morning and will stay until after the insurance person and I have finished our business. He said that the fire was pretty much contained to the back wall and only scorched the floor surface, so the flooring is sound, water had been pumped out of the basement and fans were running to dry it and the kitchen. He felt he could match the style of the wall (it’s called bead work) that was there, the floor would need some repair, perhaps replace some floor boards and he could match it up, the main thing is that none of the support posts were damaged, and the rest of it would be drying out, cleaning and painting and seeing about reducing or removing the burnt smell.
I’m sure as we go through things we’ll find more to clean; Louise cleaned the microwave oven, found the slow cooker and the electric frying pan as well as the microwaveable plates and said “We can still make dinner.” But Doyle said that for this evening it was going to be take out and then we’ll get a game plan together until the kitchen is up and running.
My contractor friend said he could get the gas put back on soon, once he was sure about what damage was done to the line that fed the stove, he also said he could get me an inexpensive apartment type stove (a small one) that he just removed in a remodel job that is in good working condition and once the wall and floor is fix could temporarily install it until I decide was stove I want. I do know what I want, a vintage O’Keefe and Merritt stove.
Sis said that would not be impossible and reminded me of a place not far from us that deals in restoring and selling vintage stoves, I could ask them to take this one to see if they could salvage any parts of it and buy a restored one from them. So already a game plan is coming into place. Except I am going to desire a hot shower soon, and tomorrow I’ll call the doggie hotel and inform them that I will pick up my doggie darling tomorrow in the later afternoon, tonight we’ll be sleeping with the windows wide open to avoid as much as possible the burnt smell, at least the weather is warming up.
And Doyle knows that somehow he’s in the dog house, but I can’t help but think that the fire might have happened when only I and Louise would be here in which case it could have been worse, Doyle and his friends quick actions saved my Great-Aunt’s house from becoming a complete loss, so I’m looking on the bright side of things.
But I think I’ll keep Doyle and his buddies squirming for a few days, already one of his friends came by with a 3 pound box of See’s candies and another with a bottle of excellent wine, and all of them are giving me offers of helping to remove the old damaged washer and dryer and to transport the new one’s that I’ll have my contractor install.
Sis reminded me of the time some years ago when we were having a family bar-b-que and our brother was complaining that the briquettes were not firing up and tossed a lot of lighter fluid on them, fire suddenly flared up about 5 feet in height, I started laughing and remarked about how the hair on our brother’s arm was all singed off and Dad getting the water hose because the grass underneath had caught fire and afterwards Dad bawling out our brother and our brother sputtering back “Hey Dad I could have caught on fire!” and Dad saying that it would have served him right pulling a “bone-headed stunt like that, charcoal briquettes are suppose to look like that!” and Mother threatening to hose the both of them down because of their arguing and the neighbors looking over the fence to see what was all the commotion. Fortunately no one was hurt and we all could look back on it and laugh. But I have to admit, on that particular day I did have a near panic attack, nothing like a darkly semi-dysfunctional family yelling on a Summer day.
Once the repair work is done, I’ll invite them all over to celebrate but the cooking will be done outside on the propane bar-b-que, I’m not taking any more chances. And Louise thinks that now would be a good time to have a glass of wine to relax, I agree for there is nothing like fire and soot to give that extra touch of disaster and gothicness to a victorian home. ***sigh***