Monday, November 15, 2021

Eh bien... C'était excitant ! *


So...There I was...** Waiting for breakfast to be served at our normal Sunday, post-Mass eating place.  Sipping a very nice coffee, people watching (Tourists being touristy is always fun to watch) and just generally chilling.  Mrs J notices that she's got a missed call on her phone from 7:26 that morning.  Well, at 7:26, we were sitting in the pew at Church waiting for the opening processional.  The phones were in the car.

She looks at the caller ID and it's the folks staying in our guest house.  Mrs J thinks they want to report sighting a scorpion or some other pest.

No, Beans, telling some people that scorpions are insects and they also live in the country and that unlike a certain 007 Movie one does not die instantly after being stung, is usually a waste of oxygen.

But, since the potential for a verbal feces fit is high, she elects to go outside to call them back.

I am pondering things when I spot this sign for sale behind the bar.  Truer words don't exist on this earth.

I chuckle a bit and get back to my normal Sunday task at hand. 

"What the heck am I going to write about today?"

Got nothin.  Not even a glimmer of a subject.

The waitress comes by and asks if I want more coffee.

Lord knows I need some more caffeine to fire up the cranial neurons. But the problem(s) are going to be resolved in an extremely short time.

After a bit, Mrs J walks back to the table.  She appears to be a bit disconcerted.

"What's up?"

"We just had a fire at the guest house."

I start to stand up and head for the door.

"Not so fast, they got it out, and other than it being very smoky in the house, everything seems to be ok."

I sit back down and reach for the water glass.  With my current heart rate, caffeine is the LAST thing I need.

So, I ask what happened.

"Well, the husband woke early and went to fix his wife some Tea.  It's still pretty dark and he sees a tea pot in one of the cabinets.  He puts it on the stove and turns on the electric burner.  He then takes the dog outside and stands on the porch enjoying the view.  After a few minutes, he senses something "Hot" in the house, so steps back in.  The tea pot is on fire and the flames are about a foot high."

I think to myself "Wait, what?"  

Before I could get that out, she continues, "He found the fire extinguisher and put the fire out."

"Oh...OK. Any Damage?"

She says "Well, I suspect the burner is done for and so is the teapot."

I say "I didn't realize we had a teapot there."

(Money line coming)

"It WAS electric."

So, we finish our breakfast.  

It's actually quite difficult to eat Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs when you bust out laughing every few seconds.  Part of me is laughing at the humor, part is laughing in relief.

We went to Wally World and bought another fire extinguisher because we knew the one we had was  one use and then headed home.  Changed clothes because we knew there was going to be a "Cleanup on Aisle 3" situation and headed down to the guest house.

Their Beagle greeted us at the gate with a friendly tail wag.  (Obviously trying to smooth things over with us.  It was successful.)

The wife comes out and introduces herself  (I think her name is "Imsosorry" as she repeated it several times.)

We walk in to the house, and there is obvious smoke smell, but other than the teapot and the expected burner, no real damage.  The husband was in the shower, cleaning the fire extinguisher residue off.  A few minutes later he comes out a little nervously.  I think his name was Imsosorry also, or maybe it's their last name.  

"No worries, no blood, no foul.  I'm just glad you kept your wits about you and used the fire extinguisher."

We talked for a while and learned a few things that we thought we were prepared for but things didn't go quite as planned.

We had placed the fire extinguisher right next to the stove as that is the primary source of ignition in the cabin.  Unfortunately, our cleaning crew had moved it into one of the cabinets and we had missed its absence.  By the time you read this, we will have contacted their supervisor and relayed this story.  We also realized based on our guest's story, that right beside the stove wasn't a good place either as he would have had to go very close to the flames to get it.  We set the replacement in a new location in plain sight but out of the way of traffic and away from probable sources of flame.

Additionally, he said we needed a smoke detector, I pointed at the one on the wall.  He said, "It didn't go off".  Well...Crap! I had tested it the week before last and replaced the battery.  In any case, we now have a new smoke detector, which tests good.  Not sure what happened to the prior one, it was only 3 years old.  (10 year warranty notwithstanding.)

We chatted a bit and I learned something I didn't know.  He said when he started using the extinguisher, for the first couple of seconds, the flames got considerably higher before dying out.  I later looked at that extinguisher and in the small print, it said that was a common occurrence.  


So, I'm checking out at Lowes and the check out clerk asks "Fire?" as he scans the smoke alarm, burner and burner pan.  I acknowledge the fact.  He continues and says "Well, the fact that it's you that's fixing it is good news."

Yes, yes it is.

Oh, and Mrs J insisted we get a "regular" teapot while we were at Wally World.

* Sarge decided it's French week at the Chant. C'est le patron

**Norme de mise en garde juvat


  1. Seems kinda weird that a full grown adult person can pull some kinda stunt like that.

    Sitting behind a Volvo station wagon at a stoplight. There's a scrolling marquis at the bottom of the back window. Plenty of time to read it a coupe of times. It says,"If you make it idiot proof, someone will make a better idiot." Truer words were never spoken.

    Nice to have a little entertainment while waiting for the Green.

    1. So did you then run into their car to make them think???

      Not necessarily enough to cause any damage, but enough to shake them a bit...

    2. Patrick,
      Well, it was dawn so the cabin was pretty dark and he didn't want to put on lights so his wife could sleep in a bit, but...

      Yeah, one would think they'd ops check stuff before committing to the fight.

      Re: The Volvo. That would be a pretty neat gadget, it the message could be changed easily and was connected via Bluetooth to my phone. Or maybe just a permanent message. "If you can read this, you're too close. Get off my A$$"

    3. Mark,
      It's a Volvo. The one I owned, back in the early '90's, could be rear ended at 80 and still drive off. Thing was a tank and got about the same gas mileage.

    4. Well as I said, "not necessarily enough to cause any damage..."

    5. So...pretty much anything short of a nuke then? :-)

    6. I miss the wife's 760 turbo, but it sucked for camping...

    7. I suppose it would and at this time in my life, "Camping" is defined as sleeping in a bed no bigger than Queen.

  2. Glad everything turned out okay Juvat. I am starting to take notes on these things as it seems to be useful information.

    The somewhat cynical side of me is thinking "There is a flashlight on a phone, which almost everyone has now. Use that".

    On the bright side, I bet they never make that mistake again.

    1. Thanks TB, Obviously we are also. He said he didn't turn on any lights because he didn't want to wake her up and wanted to surprise her with a cup of tea. Since I have tried that tactic in the past and NEVER (never ever ever) screwed that up, I thought I'd cut him some slack.
      I'm pretty sure you're right on the last part.

  3. (Goes to check the two kitchen fire extinguishers. Both pass, one will need replacement in 2023.) New thermostat seems to be working. (Wife had thought the furnace had died; nope,"smart" thermostat bit the dust after ~2.5 years.) Replacement is very simple. No wifi. No touch screen. Uses two AAA Alkaline (that was underlined) batteies. What's with that, anyway? Lithiums have much better lifetimes. Blood pressure cuff also requires them. Is this just lawyer speak for "don't use carbon-zinc"?

    Glad the fire and damages were minor. Sorry about the teapot, it looks like a nice one.

    1. HTom,
      Good point there, Two is one, one is none. But...Do I really want them to fight fires, or just get the heck out of the house? Both options have downsides.
      Yeah, fortunately Mrs J has figured out the thermostat. A master's degree in Computer Science and I haven't a clue how to make it work. Same thing with the remote control for the new TV. ARRRGGGHHHHH!


    2. Lithiums have a way of, as they say in the battery bizness, 'rapidly disassembling' that is contraindicated in some applications where having a conventional lead-acid battery leak is safer.

      Seriously, it is a thing. It's why some things that use batteries specifically state no lithium or no certain types of rechargables.

      And though Nickle metal Hydride batteries are spectacular to watch as they rapidly disassemble, burning Lithium is even more spectacular and with the fun ability to not be put out until it completely rapidly oxidizes at high temperatures.

      So, yeah, no. Go old school all the way for those things.

    3. Back in the old house we had a programmable thermostat. Even I, who loath playing with interfaces of things, could program it. You, juvat, are just allowing Mrs. Juvat to set the temps so if it needs adjusting she has to do it. (I hope she doesn't read the stuff here or you're toast on this one.)

      As to programmable remotes, again, even I can do it, if I have the codes (auto-code search never works out) and Mrs. Andrew has her ears plugged so she can't hear the evil coming out of my mouth as I talk as if possessed by a legion of evil when trying to program the accursed things. Mrs. Andrew? She can just touch the evil remote and it rolls over and purrs for her.

      (And then there's the voice activated feature in our remotes. It usually won't pick up my voice, even when speaking clearly, until the third try. So it goes like this: press button, clearly say name of show, bad no-good sound comes out of remote which means it didn't get it, so I curse at it, usually saying some version of 'copulate yourself.' Repeat, this time saying something like 'masticate me.' Third time usually works. Meanwhile Mrs. Andrew is giggling quietly, which causes the dog's head that's laying on her to bounce up and down and I get the hairy eyeball from the dog. Tough life, dog, tough life you have there...)

    4. Aren't Lithium batteries used in electric cars? And aren't they supposed to have a half life of a couple of billion years, so they're going to eventually pollute the earth far more than gas fumes?

      Both the old smoke detector and the new one used regular batteries. And when I tested the old one it beeped like a bandit, but yesterday? Deader than a doornail.

    5. Beans II,
      The interface for the remote on our Samsung TV sucks. It's a black background, when an Icon is selected a black box goes around it. For some reason, I have a difficult time seeing which Icon is selected. Also the enter button is the center of an up/down/left/right switch other times it's one of the side by side buttons, the other of which is the volume button.
      Suffice it to say, when Mrs J stayed with MBD and MG a couple of weeks ago, I read a lot.

  4. Hey Juvat;

    Glad everything worked out and after reading your story, prompted me to check my fire extinguisher by the stove today. I will do it after my morning reading. If there is a silver lining for your adventures.

    1. Thanks MrG.

      Upon further discussion with my Boss ;-), we have decided to move the Fire Extinguisher and mount it on the side of a cabinet by the front door. (The door opens into the combined kitchen, dining and living rooms, so accessible from virtually everywhere.

  5. Well that sucks.

    Glad it all turned out well.

    1. Yeah, it could have been much (much, much) worse.


  6. We had a lovely kitchen fire here in the condo a couple of years ago. Whilst trying to figure out a way to prepare a decent steak (no open flame of ANY KIND in the building), I heated the 12" cast iron pan to double hell setting and put a nice tomahawk rib-eye in it. Hell+hell+iron+plus beef fat= not good. I did think to immediately move it off the coil and cover it with a wok lid. Put it out and seared the steak nicely. The entire kitchen area was, of course, covered with droplets of grease and the smoke made the place smell like the back room of a Ruth Chris' Steak House. Not all bad, sez me. Not so much sez the cute Miss Jeanie.

    1. Did the same in the current apartment. Finally got perfect steaks, flaming hot cast iron skillet, sear, sear, cook, lots of smoke, lots of smell. She admitted that they were even better than restaurant steaks. And that I would never ever ever ever cook them like that again. Since the apartment doesn't allow outside cooking of any type (unless, well, you don't follow the rules and then get kicked out) this means no more steak. Which at the current price who can afford it? Oh well, chicken breasts at Sams are still $1.90/lb frozen in the large bag...

    2. LtFuzz,
      I used to cook steaks that way occasionally. Mrs J finally outlawed it for the same cleaning reasons. I can still grill a pretty good NY Strip on my Weber. And with my top secret Baked Potato recipe, I get pretty good reviews from the crew.

    3. Beans,
      Walked down the meat aisle at HEB yesterday. Saw something that said Beef Stew kit, had a pound of cubed beef, three carrots, three celery stalks, 1 idaho potato, and a sliced ear of corn. $17.47.

      Got over to the soda aisle, all full except Pepsi products (I really like Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, not so much). Evidently, there's a supply problem for tin cans in Pepsi-Land.

      But thanks for presenting me with the opportunity to work this into the post.


    4. Since I use 2-liter bottles, and pour into 16.5oz bottles for drinking purposes (cap is so much nicer than just open soda) I don't give a darned about cans. Now if 2 liter plastic bottles or their lids were in short supply, well, end of world.

      Just picked up my turkey breasts for Thanksgiving. Same price as last year, plenty available. Now, if I was listening to the eneMedia, there should be shooting and fighting in the bird aisle.

    5. The HEB was out of the small bottles and only had two rows of the 2 liter (so 16 bottles there total?). Other flavors of Pepsi products were virtually non-existent in cans and small bottles, but well stocked in the 2 liters.

      I got my Turkey last week, JIC. Yesterday when I was in the meat dept, there were tons of them available. So, yeah, hysteria instigation by the press.

      Who knows?

  7. That ended up being another case of "cheap thrills", with a touch of humor. It's good when the thrills stay cheap...

  8. Er, yeah. So those metal 'eye covers' they make aren't supposed to be on the eye when one turns the eye on. Whodathunk? And, curiously, when one of those things is painted, the paint will catch fire if hot enough. And even more curiously, the unpainted ones smell like burning metal when they are heated to bright orange/red also. Apparently I had to be thorough with the scientific method and try both types. Fortunately no real damage was done either time, but the smell of burning metal is a hard one to get out of the air, usually necessitating a major air exchange and about a week.


    As to the burner pans that you have covered in aluminum foil, they make nice enameled burner pans that don't rust as easily as the non-enameled ones and are easy to clean. With your setup, you could buy two sets and just automatically take the used ones and soak them for a day, put the clean ones on, and then put the now-clean burner pans in the ready-to-go box for the next guests.

    And I love an electric hot-water pot. Quick and easy and no fuss. In fact, one used to be in our 'travel kitchen' box wherever we went unless we were really primitive camping (which is neat when young, not so neat when older or dealing with disabilities.) It now resides in the kitchen and is used almost daily. And, no, I've never tried to boil water by turning on the eye underneath it when it's on the stove.

    Though, well, I will admit to having tried to turn up the induction cook-plate that was on a piece of wood on top of the stove by turning the underlying eye up. Good thing the board was there. Hint: Don't try to do complex things when you have a case of shingles-on-the-face so bad even the Elephant Man would look at you and go, "Damn, boy, you're ugly!" while also spiking a major fever. Eh, apartment survived, I survived, the children across the complex seem to have gotten over their PTSD...

    1. Yes, Mrs J reminded me of a guest that wanted to heat a pizza under the broiler, so she used the tray under the dish rack.

      Yes, it was made of plastic. Thankfully it didn't catch fire, but it did melt. Took a while to clean also. No, she didn't tell us about it. We discovered it was missing when we washed the dishes and set them out to dry.

      Did you know that both AirBnB and VRBO ask the guests to rate their stay? Of course you did. Did you know that both AirBnB and VRBO ask the owners to rate the guests? And that that info is searchable by other owners when a person asks to make a reservation? It's not nice to not 'fess up.

    2. When I was but a youth, my mom decided to get some of those pretty painted burner-cover things for the stove. They lasted about a week, before I turned the wrong burner on and walked away.

    3. That probably happened to more than one of the kids alive during that period of kitchen ware. Which is also probably why they're no longer available.

    4. Beans -- thank you for the battery info. Things I know that I don't connect to the real world.

    5. Beans, makes Googling obsolete. We have yet to stump him.

  9. While serving with the local Volunteer Fire Dept. with an engine Co. we responded to a call on a Sunday morning whereupon I met someone who refuses to accept technological change even more than myself. It seems an elderly woman (80+ years) put her daughter's electric flat iron on the stove to heat up. Upon noticing smoke issuing forth she promptly transferred it to the dishpan, which was full of water, thus ending the exercise. After completing the necessary paperwork I returned home and retrieved an antique cast iron flat iron from our overflow storage facility and returned to her house and presented it to her. All present had a good laugh. Old Guns

    1. Well, at least she also had the presence of mind to "Maintain Aircraft Control, Analyze the situation and take proper action, and Land as soon as conditions permit."

      The basic rules of handling an aircraft emergency.

  10. Some lessons are smelly. I had a ragged old towel I was using to move hot stuff on the stove. My daughter and I were talking. It lit off like a dry fuzzy rag should, and her eyes got wider and wider as I kept talking and took it over and dumped it in the sink full of dishes. It was quick, little smoke, and no hair singed. I pitched it after that. We gotta have a bit more tolerance to flame when I'm cooking AND talking....

    1. STxAR,
      Good story, and I'm sure your "Dad as a Hero" point count went up commensurate with the episode.

  11. I had brain tumor removal surgery, and had been home for about a week, was doing well...was very very hungry for some broiled chicken...told my finance that I would fix dinner that night as he had been "doing the cooking" since I had come home from the hospital...remembered to defrost the chicken in time to put in the broiler pan in the gas stove that was in the apartment I was renting. Broiler pans in gas stoves, for those who don't know, are at the bottom of the stove.

    Like STxAR, I also had old dishtowels that I hung on the oven door handle. So I pulled open the broiler pain drawer, and evidently it had been a fat chicken because all the grease spat up, caught on the bottom of the towel hanging there and in 0.02 seconds I had flames 3 feet above the top of the stove!! I grabbed an oven mitt, stuck my hand through the flames and flipped off the broiler knob, screamed to my (9 yr old) son to get outta the house, and grabbed the fire extinguisher, which was gathering dust on a shelf of the bookcase where my cook books were. Pulled the pin, sprayed at the bottom of the flames...OMG!!!! The mess was just awful!! Like dropping a full box of baking soda the stuff went every where!!! It did put the fire out though, so that was good.

    I then called my soon-to-be father-in-law (the retired professional fireman) and talked with him for a few minutes until I stopped shaking and could call my finance and tell what flavor of pizza we would like for supper that evening.
    He came over, cleaned up the mess in the kitchen as I wasn't supposed to be bending over just yet...and brought pizza when he came.

    My lesson was to never store the fire extinguisher next to the stove, and to NEVER, EVER, EVER hang towels on the oven door handle. Thirty years later, I still wont hang towels on the over door handle. Even on my electric oven door handle.

    1. Yeah, I'm glad we were able to amicably talk about the situation with our guests. I think we all learned a few things of import. Storing the extinguisher by the stove seemed logical at the time, fortunately it wasn't there as he didn't think he could get there. So we moved it, and are rethinking that location also. Hadn't thought about the towel location being problematic, but, thanks to you, now do.

      Fortunately, we installed a towel rack on the end of our kitchen island where they're within reach from all points of the "Kitchen Triangle". And the oven mitts are right next to the ovens, so the towels are less likely to be used in the oven.

  12. Yep, that's definitely an attention getter! Wow!!! Glad everything (more or less) worked out.

  13. During my 17 years of fire prevention and public education, I usually advised people to put the extinguisher near the door. That way, if, upon retrieving the extinguisher one discovered the fire was larger than the extinguisher could handle, they weren't in a position where the fire was between them and the door.

    1. Thanks for confirming our plan. We're going to install it on the end of the kitchen cabinets which is about a couple of feet from the front door. Nice to have a professional agree.

    2. (Don McCollor)...Long ago in Chem Grad school, the safety people had a logical opposite idea. The extinguisher was placed farthest from the door. The reasoning was that if you were closer to the door than the fire, you could get out (and find another one). If the fire was between you and the door, you could use it to fight your way out. Redundancy is also good, two extinguishers, two smoke detectors, two CO monitors...

    3. Don,
      The silent smoke alarm concern me, so I had already decided on a second one in the cabin on the opposite side of the common space from the first. So...Great minds think alike. Me? I just get a lucky though every once in a while. Thanks for the input.

    4. (Don McCollor)...Over the years, I have developed a deeply suspicious mind. At work on one pilot plant flue gas mercury inlet and outlet measurement test series, not trusting (from sad experience) the competence, intelligence or dedication of the crew running the instruments (tricky measurements, and agonizingly slow [5 min/reading]), I (over their protests) first had both instruments sampling the SAME duct about two feet apart. One read about had half the value of the the other. Which reading was wrong? Turned out that BOTH measurements were wrong!...

  14. I decided to build a small hand warming fire in the old barbeque grill to use up the chips left from some cold weather wood splitting.
    I learned a few thinds.
    Zoysia grass burns easily when ignited by a fire popped ember.
    The prevailing wind fed the flames and blew the prairie grass fire towards the wooden shed that contained the lawn care gear, lots of gasoline, spare pro e tanks, and a full size oxygen bottle and acetylene bottle.
    It turned out that both outside hose bibs were frozen, and no water came out.
    I was just about to call 911 on myself, when my eye fell on a 5 gallon bucket that had turned into a solid lump of ice.
    I raised the bucket over my head and smashed the plastic and freed the giant ice cube.
    Then I put my back to the wind, got on my hands and knees, and worked from the blackened grass to the burning grass, and rubbed out that fire with a giant ice cube.
    After I settled down, I cleaned up and a snowstorm covered the e licence the same day.
    Both hose bibs were shortly afterwards replaced with frostfree hose bibs.
    I might have related this before, but I'm doing this from my phone and relying on memory.
    It was an exciting afternoon.

    1. John,
      Always glad to know new things. Frost Free hose bibs? What are those and where do you get them. Frosts are relatively few and far between down here, but problematic when they occur. Where do you get them?
      Excitement? That's a duel edged sword.

    2. I will send some info via Sarge after we return from visiting friends.

  15. Have someone with a sensitive nose that does not know what happened take a sniff in that kitchen. You wouldn't want the next guest to give you a bad Yelp review because it still smells like smoke! Then again, you might get a good review because of the new tea kettle!

    1. Great idea, Tuna. The guests check out this morning. I'll talk to the cleaning crew when they show up. Thanks!

  16. When I worked the front desk at two different luxury level hotels at the Florida Mouse the saying was "They remember to pack their underwear, but the forget and leave their brains at home."

    Truer words were never spoken, and believe me I and anyone else doing that job for any length of time at all could write a book on the subject with many examples.

    And now that my across-the-street wonderful neighbors moved a year ago and the place is a short term vacation rental I get to experience it with the stupid questions in my front yard. And no, we're out of sugar; Publix is right down the street.

    1. Bob,
      We try to meet every guest shortly after arrival to answer any questions they may have. We also provide a welcome letter that answers many of the "usual" questions? We get to meet new people, they get answers to their questions, recommendations as well as a caution or two. (E.G. Hunting Season is not a good time to go for a run through the trees. Yes, we did get asked that.)

      Sugar? That's not an issue. Toilet Paper? We have one roll on the wall, one on the top of the toilet tank and a third in the cabinet under the sink. I can't remember the last time I haven't had to replace all three. I actually hope they're taking them home. The cabin is on a septic and if not....Well, it could get expensive.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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