Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is this thing on?

"Is this thing on!?"

In comedy that phrase is usually the punch line to the punch line - you know, the follow up to the zinger that didn't deliver the zing that it promised. But the circumstances under which I was asking that question a few nights ago were hardly a laughing matter. 

After dinner we'd cleaned up the kitchen as usual, then went downstairs to the TV room to watch ABC's World News Tonight with Charlie. After that, we forwarded through our local Channel 7 News broadcast to see what Spencer Christian's forecast held for the week. All in all, thanks to TiVo and the >> button on the remote, we were able to watch about 40 minutes of real time news in about 28 minutes. 

I've been thankful for the ability to record shows before, not only for the convenience of watching what I wanted to watch, when I wanted to watch it, but also for the convenience of not having to watch commercials since I could zip right through them. 

But now I'm even more thankful because those few extra minutes probably saved our lives: I had walked out of the room after seeing that the week was looking good, with sunny skies and highs nearing 70, when I caught a whiff of natural gas as I headed upstairs. Within seconds the odor was so strong that I was starting to feel queasy. 

"Is this thing on!?" I ran toward the stovetop. In cleaning up after the meal, I apparently had nudged one of the burner knobs enough to turn it on. A slow stream of gas had been filling up our kitchen for nearly a half hour before I detected it. 

Adding to my horror was that our old refrigerator has been known to light up the dark kitchen with flashes of blue sparks when its compressor kicked in. 

Fortunately I'd left the kitchen window open after cooking dinner. That, along with the open vent on the skylight, created enough of a draft that the gas had not been allowed to build up to potentially explosive levels. 

Disaster averted. House still intact. 

It seemed like a fitting event to fire this blog back up after abandoning it over a year ago. 

Why haven't I written for over a year? I think a lot of it can be explained by the fact that I was spending so much time talking about my writing, specifically my book The Warmest Room In The House: How The Kitchen Became The Heart Of The American Home (the Bloomsbury USA title from which this blog takes its name.) 

Plus it felt like a good time to revisit this blog. Our lives have taken a different turn in the past six months. New state, new city, and of course new kitchen. 

Actually, it's a really old kitchen, and that has also inspired me, as this new galley has challenged every notion I've had about the kitchen as an inviting and welcoming room. 

Needless to say a redesign is in the works. I'll be posting pics and blogging about its progress.

I'll also, finally, post recipes. 

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