Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Microwave or the Smoke Detector?

I never really believed that as people aged they became more forgetful. It seemed pretty apparent to me that what happens there is that people get older, get sick and tired of playing stupid petty games and just simply choose more often to toss the information out instead of cluttering up their brains with it. Seems I have been wrong about that, in a way.

Last week was a pretty long week. The work just kept piling up, I had to put in a fifty-hour week and my daughter kept needing "days off so I can have a whole day to myself without having to go to work or worry about the baby," which translates into, "I know you're tired because you work fifty hours a week and keep your house and cook for yourself and sometimes for us, but my life is so much more difficult than yours, could you please take the baby for a few hours?"

After one of those phone calls, I shuffled out of my office, still in my blue bunny slippers and the red, white and black polka dot PJs a friend had given me for Christmas the year before (comfort clothes; and do not look at me like that...you all know you would love to have a job where you could wear your jammies all day if you wanted - jealousy does not become you), I shuffled out of my office and into my kitchen, poured a half-day old cup of cold coffee and stuck it in the microwave. I set it for one minute and shuffled back to my office, yawning, and settled in to type a couple of more reports.

After the first report was finished, I kept hearing a beeping noise in the house. It was annoying because it seemed perfectly timed to beep just about every half-minute or so. Now please keep in mind that a whole three minutes had passed since I put the coffee in the microwave, not to mention a ton of medical information had gone in my ears, through my brain and out my fingers in that three minutes.

BEEP!

I stopped typing, turned my good ear toward the door and listened...BEEP!

A report later, I could still hear the beeping off in the distance and then, laughing at myself, I finally realized what it was: The battery probably needed changed in the hallway smoke detector.

"I'll do that as soon as I do this next report. Ha-ha, what a relief to have figured THAT one out!" BEEP!

Finally, the workday ended. BEEP!

I stood up, stretched and started digging through the office drawer where all the batteries are kept. BEEP!

There was not one nine-volt battery in the drawer and it dawned on me that I was going to have to wander out in the rain and go buy a battery for the incessantly beeping smoke detector. It is just bad karma to take the battery out to stop the beeping and vow to replace it the next day. If there is one thing my mother taught me well it is that fire is just lurking around in the walls of the house waiting for the moment when the smoke detectors are malfunctioning, and I did not want to take that chance.

BEEP!

One of my rituals daily is to grab my cup of coffee, even if it is cold, and walk out the back door and onto the patio with my dog, to survey the back yard, especially at the end of the day. If it is raining, we scurry into the Beach House and listen to the rain thumping on the tin roof. It is relaxing for us both.

BEEP!

"That's funny," I thought. "My cup of coffee is missing! My cup of coffee is NEVER missing!"

BEEP!

I stood, then, underneath the smoke detector in the hallway, watching it, daring it to beep, when I heard it: BEEP! The insane beeping was not coming from the smoke detector at all. It was coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the microwave oven. It was, of course, the alarm on the microwave, which I had set three hours earlier, reminding me my coffee was hot and ready to be consumed.

Sighing, and looking around hoping there were no hidden cameras in my house with tapes of these escapades that could launch me to stardom on some home video show, I punched the thirty-second button on the microwave and went back into my office to put away my reference books. One caught my eye, and I sat back down in my chair and began to read an interesting article about DNA and in the distance heard BEEP!

My feet propped up on my desk, reading glasses employed, I kept reading and heard BEEP!

About a half-hour later I thought, "Wow, the battery must be dead in the smoke detector. I better change that."

And so it goes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Dead Guy's Fridge

A month or so ago, Don's Uncle Lawrence, also Don's Godfather, passed away. There was a lot of family involved, of course, so like all deaths, it was sad and emotional. I paid my respects to Uncle Lawrence alongside my boyfriend, but I have to tell you, having been in the medical field my entire adult life, death is not a big deal to me. It is the next step of life, and believing that, I do not have a horrible emotional response to an old person passing away when his time has come, instead choosing to realize that life will go on for him in some form. Death has never really bothered me much within those parameters. At least, it never did until the old dead guy's refrigerator took up residence in the middle of my kitchen.

My old refrigerator, also a hand-me-down, is pretty much at the end of its term. All the food in the bottom freezes solid, which can be very annoying, and when it kicks on in the middle of the night, it wakes me up with its protesting whining. I knew it was about to blink out. It was fun going to Home Depot and shopping for a new fridge! And I picked one out. Unfortunately, my bank account groaned and moaned and refused to multiply by five overnight so I could afford the bright, shiny new refrigerator with ice and water in the door. At almost fifty years old, I had never had an automatic icemaker of any kind, and that became a big selling point.

Miraculously, as I returned home from one of these wishing trips, my phone rang and Don asked, "Hey, would you want Uncle Lawrence's old refrigerator out of his house? It's almost new and makes the little tiny one you're using now look like a midget."

I thought it through for about one second before asking, "Does it have an icemaker?"

Don said, "I don't know. I can go over and look, though."

Again there was a short pause from my end, "Okay, if it doesn't have an icemaker, don't bring it home."

An hour later Don called back and said, "It has an icemaker but just in the freezer, not in the door."

The important fact that I had demanded my next fridge have an icemaker and ice water dispenser in the door, flew right out the window with the next comment from Don, "It's free."

The next day Don's brother told him he could help bring Uncle Lawrence's huge, practically new Whirlpool fridge to my house, and when they offered that I said, "Oh, GREAT! I'll get in there right now and clean out the old one so you can take it away at the same time!"

Deafening silence emanated through the phone, and then Don informed me that they were just bringing the new one over, not taking the old one away. They would take the old one away in a week, on Saturday, when they weren't so tired from working.

"No, then, don't bring that over here because I..." Click. "Don't have room in the kitchen for it."

Within thirty minutes, the dead guy's refrigerator was planted in the middle of my small kitchen, and it IS big, trust me on this one, still full of whatever the dead guy was eating before he kicked the bucket. I could not believe that people actually eat Banquet TV dinners. Totally. I mean, as their complete diet. No wonder the guy passed away.

At least a dozen times a day I am forced into the kitchen with that monstrous box. Honestly, I have to turn sideways to get the coffee started, and it is necesary to step over a chair and onto the linoleum breakfast nook floor to get to my nightlight to turn it off and on. After two days of that I learned my lesson and just left it on. How much electricity can that little tiny bulb use, anyway?

I have that refrigerator plugged in and have transferred my meager contents from the other one into it and have learned that one of the biggest advantages to having it in there is that the grown children, who usually head for the kitchen and the food in the refrigerator like they have bungee cords attached between them, the second they show up, are a little put off by the comment, "Sure, go help yourselves to anything you'd like to eat out o the Dead Guy's Fridge." My grocery bill just dropped by about half!

Cheers, Uncle Lawrence! Come visit your kitchen appliance anytime you'd like! After all, it is yours. Grab yourself a beer and visit for awhile. Just don't get any ideas about taking the fridge back anytime soon. If it goes missing, I will definitely know there's a party going on somewhere and as soon as I get invited, I WILL find my refrigerator!