Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alarming Times

Here it is, the humble smoke detector. Saver of lives, silent protector of the home. Also my arch-nemesis the past few days. Some time ago, my husband may or may not have set off the fire alarm while grilling in the basement. (Don't ask.) The smoke detector kept chirping after it was disconnected, and it ended up stuffed in a large suitcase in the basement. Chirp. Chirp. It was an appropriately incompetent end to an embarrassing little saga in our lives. (Who grills in their basement?) When Austin brought the suitcase upstairs to pack for a business trip, the problem resurfaced, but like a good husband, he reattached it to the wiring downstairs as part of his husbandly fix-it duties before he left. Fixed!

Unfortunately, the smoke detector must have been lying low, because hours later it started its cheery yet incessant chirping again, once a minute, on the minute. Chirp. Chirp. Only this time, it was attached to the ceiling right underneath my bed. I ventured into the cold, creepy basement (we once found a dead mouse down there) and disconnected the alarm and took out the battery, which must have been low. Problem solved.

Last night I was turning in around 11, when I heard a noise. Chirp. Chirp. Seriously? I went out to the living room and looked around. Do you know that it's extremely hard to detect the source of a high-pitched chirping sound? Especially one that only goes off once a minute? It's a very time-consuming process. I finally traced it to Sammy's room, where she was somehow snoring soundly with the incessant chirping going on next to her. I grabbed the piano bench from downstairs to take the alarm down. Couldn't...quite...reach. I could either drag a heavy ladder up lots of stairs from the garage, or use my quick wit and native intelligence to find a quicker solution. I went with option two and found a little stool that Sammy stands on to brush her teeth. Picture this:

Then add a piano bench underneath the stool to the mental image. I don't know what my solution says about my native intelligence, but it got the job done. I took the old battery out then headed to bed. Chirp. I whirled around. The awful thought struck me--maybe, just maybe, all the smoke detectors were put in the house at the same time. Ergo, maybe all their batteries would fail at the same time. So much for silent protectors. I glared at the dead smoke alarms lined up on the noise there. I sat on the sofa for a minute...then a couple more minutes, just to make sure I wasn't imagining things. No sound. With my house less protected, but my sanity fully intact, I went to bed.

I wish I could say that this extremely interesting story had a happy ending, but alas, that's not how life works. I swear I've heard a chirping somewhere in the house today...most likely another alarm with a low battery in the cold, creepy basement. Or perhaps an extremely obnoxious mouse. I'll let Austin investigate.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Case Closed

Yes, dear readers, I have solved The Case of the Missing Keys. When I last wrote, the number one suspect was the adorable mastermind Cici. However, it appears that I have falsely accused her. She did seem highly suspect at the time, but I can definitively say that she is not the culprit. In fact, she has somewhat reformed her character--the other day Austin found her toothbrush in the recycling can, which means she's being more eco-friendly in how she gets rid of things. (Only plastics 1--7 in the recycling, Cici.)

But back to the case. Last night we had a foot of snow from our Sunday blizzard, so I put Cici to bed and Sammy and I went out to help Austin shovel. I put my snow coat on, tried to stick my arms in the sleeves, and found in one sleeve the elusive missing keys. !!! Of course I was in shock. The fact that the keys were in my sleeve would imply that I was in some way responsible for their loss. Who me? Couldn't be.  I have a cute coat to wear out and about in the winter and a more functional coat that I only wear when it snows, and it never snowed during the time the keys were lost. The snow coat containing the keys was hung neatly on a hanger, so it's not like I was in a huge hurry and ripped off the coat, leaving the keys behind in the sleeve.

I've been racking my brains trying to come up with a good reason for the keys to be in my sleeve. It's this sort of thing that haunts you the rest of your life, you know? My best guess is that my snow coat was in the basket by our garage door where I throw my cute coat and purse when  I come home. The keys slipped out of my coat pocket or purse and landed on top of my snow coat. When I got my snow coat out of the basket to hang it neatly in its place, the keys slipped inside and lodged in the sleeve. It sounds plausible. Kind of. I guess we could just leave it by saying that the keys appeared as mysteriously as they left. Case closed.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Key to the Case

Call me Nancy Drew. I'm not quite as well-dressed as she is, but like her, I inevitably have to solve mysteries. This week, I've been working on The Case of the Missing Keys. Unfortunately, I have been one of the few people of interest in the case, because Austin was recovering from nasal surgery most of the week and didn't drive. I think I uncovered a vital clue last night though. I put the kids to bed, and exhausted, needed to watch a little HGTV to unwind. But where was the remote? I knew I had seen it right before supper on the sofa, and now it had totally disappeared. I geared up for The Search for the Black Remote. I searched high, I searched low, I dug around in the couch, I crawled under and around things, all the while muttering very un-Nancy Drew-ish phrases such as, "I hate my life."

Then in a flash of brilliance, I remembered a small *thunk* I had heard earlier while the kids were playing, and checked one of the few places I hadn't looked...the trash can. Yes, there it was, buried underneath a few pieces of trash and limp celery. The missing remote. I had just gained a new culprit for my Keys case.

  Not the crazy one, the small one.
 Look at those shifty eyes.

The next morning, I also uncovered a pair of the suspect's socks in the trash can, and my worry that our keys were now buried in our local landfill thanks to my child's new hobby changed to the calm serenity that comes with the certainty of disaster.

Well, I confess--I still have a little teeny-tiny hope left that the keys didn't get sent to the dump on Monday. When Sammy was the same age as Cici, we lost our car keys and thought they had been thrown away. Bleak despair, gloom all around. A few months later, we got out our Yahtzee game and found them inside. Joy, jubilation! In retrospect Sammy was very cute and clever for managing to find such a great hiding place. So I won't close the case quite yet. I've already eliminated the board games we had out this week, but as soon as I find a suitably fashionable frock to wear, I'm off to search my guitar case and the guest bathroom.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Special Surprise

I sat down tonight with the intent to blog about stuffed animals, and how the gift of one signifies that the giver is placing him/herself in the role of adult--the one with power and dominance in the relationship--while at the same time subjugating his or her significant other to an infantile, child-like role. Then I was planning on diving into the transfer of adult/child relationships to husband/wife relationships, then wrapping it all into the greater framework of imperialism and colonization. Then I realized that I had probably been reading too many of my old college papers while scrapbooking and that maybe all people are thinking when they buy stuffed animals is: "This animal is cute. My significant other is cute. Ergo, I will buy it." Or something along those lines. So instead of a post titled Stuffed Animals: The Role of Gift-Giving in Imperialistic Relationship Power Dynamics, I give to you a story about an old boyfriend.

Writing 101: Know thine audience. 

It was a cold day in Idaho...for those who didn't have a date. Thankfully, this Valentine's Day I did. My first college boyfriend and I had been dating for about a month, and I just knew he was going to have something great planned for us. I was right--he picked me up and we headed off to one of the most popular restaurants in town. Unfortunately, his great plan did not involve making reservations ahead of time on the most popular date night of the year, so either we could wait an hour to get seated or we could go to Arbys. I was a little nonplussed as I picked at my curly fries, but when my boyfriend told me he had a special surprise for me, his lack of planning was forgiven. What woman doesn't like a special surprise on Valentine's Day?

We finished eating, got into the car, and I eagerly watched as he reached into the back seat of his truck, and pulled out...a pillow. A decorative Valentine's Day pillow, with a cutesy saying on it--I think it was "Be Mine." You know, at least with a stuffed animal, you can read, "He thinks I'm cute!" into it, but all you can read into a stuffed pillow is, "It was at his eye level at Walmart and it was on sale." Let's just say I went home that night reconsidering my life. (Roommate: So what did X get you for Valentine's Day? Me: Ummm...a pillow. There's no way to make that not sound lame.) I immediately stuffed the grand token of my boyfriend's affection into the darkest corner of my closet and then broke up with the poor sap as soon after Valentine's Day as I decently could. The pillow then got flung into the middle of the dorm courtyard, where I watched it get kicked around for a couple days. The End.

There are quite a few morals to be gleaned from this story. (Not that there always has to be a moral.) But I think the most important one is this: only buy decorative pillows for your grandma.