Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:58

Where there’s smoke...there’s not necessarily fire

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As if in solidarity with my lemming-like herd of small appliances (the untimely expirations of which I lately disparaged in print), my smoke detector has a death wish.

Or maybe it was a setup.
After all, when a builder installs a particulate sensor within 10 feet of a vent hood,     he should know that it’s next stop is in the electronics section of the landfill.
In truth, smoke alarms and I have a long and storied history.
Take the one in our first apartment.
Now here was a dollar-store-device so sensitive, wired into such a snit, that it shrieked murderously whenever it sensed a puff of steam drifting out of the bathroom from the shower. (The bathroom, naturally, was practically in the kitchen.)
Unable to distinguish steam from smoke, or smoke from ash, its 85 decibel shriek sounded whenever we heated soup, toasted bread past lighter-than-light, or let the tea kettle warm enough to whistle.
Three years, two provinces and three basement suites later, another smoke detector decided to play diva.
EEEEEEEE went its glass-shattering pitch if we cranked the oven past a lukewarm 300F.
And EEEEEEEE it went if we microwaved on high.
“Just don’t turn it up so hot,” said the landlord. “Cooking uses a lot of utilities, anyway.”
Yes, thank you. Good advice.
Who needs bread, pizza and scones, anyway? 400F is a frivolous temperature and should only be used by professionals, right?!
Likewise, 375F is too much for a chicken to handle. They roast up much better if allowed to warm slowly, to sauna at temperatures used to gently culture salmonella.
Naturally, I ignored my landlord. Until a bout of insomnia collided with a hankering for 2 a.m. muffins.
As it happened, our smoke detector was conjoined to the one upstairs. The one right outside our landlord’s bedroom door.
Long to short, the next time I was struck with a late-night urge to make muffins, our smoke alarm was blind-and-gagged with a sock, and until we moved, we prayed we wouldn’t one day burn in our sleep.
Since then, we’ve owned our last three homes. And the only person who might have been bothered by deep-fried cheese after midnight is our doctor.
(Incidentally, my doctor thinks every generation needs a little Julia Child.)
Our current smoke alarm, however, is about to meet its replacement: A laser sensor that smartly distinguishes between worrisome smolder and a whisp of grilled cheese sandwich smoke.
The new alarm couldn’t come at a better time.
Not only do I have a powerful yearning to crank up the oven and bake a loaf of bread, but the wok is on standby for tonight’s supper. Which means only one thing:
I have a date with my wire cutters.

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