Well, now the firemen have all gone (those handsome sweaty do-gooders in their reflective yellow and orange gear). I can process my morning and be glad that my photo albums are still here and I found my cat again and that the wee ones and I are fine and not traumatized by a crispy house.

I woke up this morning and made a pot of coffee. I was just about to clean up my house, and change some diapers and put the kids in playcloths. My house was a WRECK the kind that only small children can create. I was looking out the window, listening to the birds, smelling…that…coffee…hey wait a minute! That smells more like burning wood, and wait, is that smoke I see or are my glasses smudgy? Wow, I really think that my house might be on fire!

Next thing I know I am scrambling about trying to put the smoke detector back on the wall (I had only taken it off the night before due to a disastrous kitchen goof.) I could not make the thing work, but by then it was obvious that something was smoking and I did not need a detector to tell me so. So I went to the phone and called 911 and told them my house was filling with smoke. I was told to get out NOW, and then the Mommy panic set in. I jammed some things in the diaper bag, threw some cloths on Katie (Miles was still in jammies) and fished the cat out from under the bed.

Three minutes later two fire trucks, two ambulances, and two police cars were in front of my house. They blocked off the street and sent some guys up to the wrong house. I flagged them down and they came trooping in. Katie was really freaked out but Miles thought it was pretty cool. I lost track of my cat – she is not an outdoor cat. She only goes out very occasionally. When the trucks pulled up she freaked and dove off the porch.

The firemen went through my house, broke into the empty apartment upstairs and took notes on the recent electrical problems we have had in the bathroom (the light socket spins and crackles, but was just fixed a few days ago.) They went through the whole house and found nothing, till one of them came out with a crusty looking furnace filter and mentioned that he may have found the problem. Here is me, blushing and feeling very, very stupid. We rent, so we never really think about the furnace much, except that last year the Gas Company told us our very unresponsive landlord could use a dope slap when it comes to furnace maintenance. They said the ducts all needed cleaned out and that some things needed tweaking in order for it to run efficiently. We passed it on, but got no response, then spring came along and we forgot about the furnace altogether.

While they were in the basement they mentioned that the new water heater that had been installed for the upstairs apartment was installed improperly and that every time the water heater kicked on it would spew forth a dangerous cloud of carbon monoxide. YAY for my family. The damn thing wasn’t even vented. I called the Gas Company and the guy looked at it and called up the stairs, “Oh lan-lord that’s a NO-NO. This is appalling. You sure you feeling all right. Girl, I bet you been getting headaches honey.” I almost thought he was going to hug me. At that point I think I would have welcomed it. In any case every one but the landlord has fixed what they could. Wonder how long this will take. It took three months to get smoke detectors, even though we wrote in the memo section of our rent checks, “We need smoke detectors at --- (address) This is a fire hazard.” In addition to all the phone calls. They have a machine that picks up and they pretend not to hear you if they think it isn’t important.

Furnace filters. God, what a tool I am. I was a homeowner and should have known better. It doesn’t really make me feel better that the landlord is even more stupid.

The News Channel Four truck crept by. I told one of the firemen, "God, please don't let them stop." He said, "Don't worry. They are like vultures. They only stop and jam a camera in your face if they can see flames and there is a body on the lawn. They follow us everywhere we go."