Month: December 2009

The Tragedy of a Holiday Season Fire….

The past two weeks here in the local area have been especially tragic when it comes to homes burning along with the associated deaths of family members. A mother and three very young children 5, 4 and 3 years old died in a fire a few days ago and about a week before a mother and her adult son died in a house fire. Certainly fires of this type are always tragic but during this time of the year with the holiday season upon us it does seem all the more tragic.

The reason I blog about this today is that our neighborhood also lost a home to fire in the past week. A home right across the street from me caught fire a week ago yesterday in the wee hours of the morning around 2:00 am or so. By the time all the commotion and sirens had wakened me, the situation was under some degree of control and the residents of the burning home consisting of four adults had safely made it out. They were all, however, transported to the hospital due to smoke inhalation. And although there was no human loss of life they did lose both their dogs in the fire, a Pekingese mix and a Miniature Schnauzer whom I know were like children to them.

I am posting a short video I took of the fire itself along with a couple of other photos I took a few days later of the house that burned along with the damage incurred from the house next door from the heat. I was amazed at just how fast they got the fire extinguished once in position to do so as can be evidenced toward the end of the video. Please note also that the video has no sound….

The photo below is of the burned home itself. Almost all the direct fire damage seemed to be the back half of the house. To look at the front of the house you would not know there had been a fire but when it comes to fires, we all know looks are deceiving. Also note that the plywood you see that is not burned was put up after the fire to board up the home.

4815 Oaklawn Drive - 06(Side of Home – Click to enlarge)

4813 Oaklawn Drive - 08a(Back of Home – Click to enlarge)

The photo that follows is that of my neighbor’s home who lived right next door to the home that burned. It is amazing to see the damage incurred to their home just by the heat of the fire. It does go a long way in highlighting the danger of houses being built to close to each other.

4819 Oaklawn Drive - 02(Next Door Neighbor’s Heat Damaged Home – Click to enlarge)

You just never know when tragedy like fire might strike and cost you your home. I have had a couple of close calls in my lifetime and do tend to worry about that sort of thing more now that I am getting older. Leaving a burner on the stove on is something I seem to be very conscious about.

Maybe it’s just me but….

A few weeks ago a young girl, probably junior high school age, rang my doorbell and wanted to know if I would be interested in buying an item from a catalog to help her school buy some new band uniforms. I’m sure you all have had a similar knock at your door at one time or another in the past.

I looked through the catalog which contained items such a cookies, candies, etc and I finally settled on a box of large cinnamon coated pretzels. Not something I would personally like but thought it might be a good gift for one of my sisters to use in their annual Christmas gatherings. Now the damn things cost $15 which was a bit high I thought but nevertheless, it was for a reasonable cause.

Anyway, night before last around 6:00pm the doorbell rang and it was the young lady delivering my order. I thanked her, closed my door and proceeded into the kitchen with the goodies. As I sat the box down on the kitchen bar I noticed very large letters on the box reading “KEEP FROZEN”. I picked up the box and looked closer and the warning was written on every side of the box to include top and bottom.

Pretzel 2(Click to Enlarge)

Pretzel 3(Click to Enlarge)

The box wasn’t the least bit chilly to the touch so I opened it up and there were these six very large pretzels in a sealed cellophane bag. I pushed down on the pretzels inside the bag and they were as soft as a pillow to the touch. The inside of the cellophane bag was covered in hundreds of droplets of water.

Pretzel 1(Click to Enlarge)

I then noted on the box that to prepare the pretzels, you put the “frozen” pretzels in the oven at 400 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes. Yesterday morning I then visited the company’s website which makes the product, found the product listed along with this warning: “This product must be kept frozen at all times”. I’m still not quite sure why, in the case of these pretzels, that is so important but nevertheless I have to assume the warning has a basis.

Now to the “Maybe it’s just me…..” part! What in the hell is that school thinking having junior high kids selling products that have to remain frozen until they are ready to be served or they will ruin? Just how in the world does the school think they can first of all, distribute the product to the kids in school and then depend on the kids to deliver the products within an hour or so to the purchaser before they begin to defrost? Is it just me or was there an idiot in charge of this school’s fund raising activities? What do the kids do if the people aren’t home? I would venture to say few, if any, have available storage space in their home refrigerators to store these kinds of items packaged in boxes. I would also venture to say that a majority of the people purchasing items from these kids work and won’t even be home until 5:30pm or later.

I certainly don’t blame the little girl for this fiasco and it’s not the money. In fact, almost all the kids around where I live for the most part ride buses to and from school and some don’t get home from school for an hour or more.

Please….feel free to enlighten me if I have over-reacted here but it seems to me there was a lack of common sense used in the case of this school fundraising project!

What do you mean, there’s no Santa?

Santa Claus ClipartHaving established who the “real” Santa actually is in an earlier post, it is now time to move to the conclusion of this little dissertation because again, as most of you already know, once one has done all the due research to establish who that real Santa is, at some point they must ultimately deal with the fact that they have apparently had a hoax perpetrated on them during those young and tender years.

There is an often posed rhetoric question one often hears when someone is making reference to some major event of historic proportion and some may even categorize this advent of knowledge as one of those moments. So here is the infamous question….

Do you remember where you were when you found out there was no Santa Claus?

AlanWell I for one was just about the age reflected in the photo just to the left of this paragraph. I was a full-fledged believer in the 2nd grade at Rightsell Elementary but life was fast closing in on me and I was learning more in school than I had bargained for, especially from my classmates.

Even at that young age, I absolutely remember where I was and although it wasn’t a traumatic moment in my life, I do remember that startling confirmation as if it were yesterday. It was on a Saturday afternoon and my mom and I were on a city bus heading downtown. I had heard some disturbing talk during the week at school from some of the more astute classmates regarding the existence of Santa. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know but finally I looked over at my mom as we were riding along and asked, “Mommy, is there really a Santa Claus?” She then asked me why I was asking such a question. I proceeded to tell her what I had heard and after that she looked at me with this loving look and said, “No son, there is no Santa Claus. Santa Claus is actually your mommy and your daddy.” She went on to say how they wait until I am asleep and then they would put out the toys and gifts that were attributed to Santa’s visit.

I remember taking the revelation quite well. But after several minutes or so of thinking about what she had told me, it occurred to me that this information may have even more far reaching repercussions. I then turned to her once again and asked…..

“What about the Easter Bunny……?”Easter Bunny

…..and what about the Tooth Fairy?”Tooth Fairy

Mom again looked at me with that loving smile and simply said, “No, they are just make believe also.”

As I think back now, I remember that even though there was no longer a “Santa Claus”, my parents continued over the years every Christmas to keep an element of anticipation and surprise a part of every Christmas morning. There was always a gift or two or three under the tree or at least nearby that wasn’t there Christmas Eve when I went to bed. The Santa I had come to know and love was seemingly gone yet the anticipation and excitement surrounding Christmas remained for many years to come.

Microfiction Monday….

A blog I frequent often, First 50 Words, was featuring yet another blog with a rather unique theme for those of us who self-indulge in composition. I suppose it’s rather like putting a caption on a photograph but with more pizzazz!

Susan whose blog is named, Stony River, runs a series titled “Microfiction Monday” which solicits a complete story, based on a photo she provides, but written in 140 characters or fewer. The count includes all spaces and punctuation. This week’s photo immediately grabbed my attention so without further ado….

Child & DryerHow come all my friends get to sit in a chair when they get sent to “time out”?