By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

I have always heard that bad things happen in threes.  I think the expression began with World War I and the prohibition for a third person to light a cigarette on one match. Never three on a match.  In the amount of time it takes for three people to light their cigarettes, the enemy can find and focus on you and, “Boom," you’re dead.

Mama and Daddy would say things like, “That’s two.  Wonder what number three is.” All of my life, I have counted bad things in threes. I hope we have had our three bad luck things.  I don’t think I can take any more.

Our son James had some medication changes and had a reaction to them.  He can’t take decongestants and some other medications because they give him tics, uncontrollable muscle spasms.  He had been on the same medications for almost 15 years though, so the doctor thought we needed to reduce one of them that has the greatest side effects.  In the process of reducing one and adding another, James started having the St. Vitus Dance symptoms again.  That’s one.

And he got the flu.  And because he loves us, he shared the flu with his Daddy and me.  And the flu was really bad.  I thought I had lost Snell to the Great Light at the End of the Tunnel one night. That’s two.

And because three people with the flu, (one near death), plus a sick cat (another story for another time) aren't enough pleasures in one household----I set the kitchen on fire. Big flames. Real flames. Lots of black oily smoke from burning plastic.             

Burning plastic stinks. Once the fire was out, we turned on the attic fan, lit candles and started washing things in vinegar, soap and water.  The smoke and the fire extinguisher matter have coated everything including our lungs.  We were all coughing worse because we were coughing with the flu anyway. We may be lucky that we had all this phlegm in our lungs already.  Maybe it caught some of the smoke, because what we coughed up was flecked with black debris.  Appetizing, isn’t it?  Sorry, but true.            

No one was hurt, except that I got a couple of burns on my leg.  I had stored a pan with a plastic lid in the drawer under the oven.  The lid caught fire.  I put the fire out, but when I was trying to throw the pan of hot plastic outside, the boiling liquid splattered on my shin. It just resulted in tiny little burns, but one is kind of deep.  I managed to peel the hot plastic off and debrided the burn site, but ouch!            

Anyway, all the smoke alarms work, so the Gwinnett Emergency Service called and asked if I needed a fire truck.  I started to tell her only if it was filled with ice cream or liquor.

The flu must have burned out my brain cells of logic.  For two days I cleaned this stove.  I should have called the insurance people, but no, I started cleaning.  The drawer under the oven is coated in melted plastic.   The instructions on this oven were to soak spills with plain water and wipe with a cloth. That was doing the trick inside the oven, but the plastic had to be chiseled out with a plastic knife.            

The furniture in the dining and living rooms was covered in sheets because of the cats.  They think that is their room so they like everything to be covered in cat hair.  The washing machine and dryer were running almost constantly as we washed everything in the house. The burnt plastic odor has disappeared, but it took some time and a lot of effort.Every year I tackle one room at a time and clean it thoroughly. I decided after all this to move my cleaning schedule ahead and begin immediately.  I move through the house, polishing the furniture, cleaning and washing all the knick-knacks, curtains, etc.  So far this year, the kitchen, den, dining and living rooms are complete.  I have the bedroom to face next.  I didn’t realize how much crap I have.         
This house will soon be so clean.  You have to come see it before the spiders can move back in and the cats can shed another 14 pounds of hair.            

Now here is proof that the flu burned out all of my sensible brain cells.  As I said, I did not call the insurance company. We have been cleaning furiously.  I am an old fat woman who has been lying on her back wiping soot out of this stove and trying to chisel melted plastic from under the oven.         

Finally Snell said, "This stove is 22 years old.  We can afford to buy a new one.  Why are we doing this?"  I got up (eventually) and said, "I'll order a new one in the morning."

What in the world was I thinking, trying to clean this stove like this? Why was I was determined to save this old stove?   And for what? I certainly had no emotional attachment to it.  It's sort of like my uterus.  Used once, don’t need it anymore.

Please, let that be number three.