Saturday, December 15, 2012

A good imagination ~ My Column from this Week

A good imagination in my line of work is a gift. As a writer, it helps me come up with decent subjects for my work. A good imagination enables me to make non-intuitive leaps, connecting things that most folks wouldn’t ordinarily connect. 

But an overactive imagination is not always an asset, especially in lines of work like bomb specialists, or police investigators. 

Last month our gas stove died a few days before Thanksgiving. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse because Jilda had a fresh turkey breast as big as a basketball sitting on the counter, and it was the main course for her family’s Thanksgiving Dinner later in the day. She’d turned the oven on, and then scurried around collecting spices, fresh herbs, and other ingredients used to make her baked turkey a masterpiece.

When she leaned over to slide the turkey into the oven, it was as cool as an icebox.

That’s strange, she said. She fiddled with the knobs, and tried again. Something’s not right, I heard her say with more than a little panic creeping into her voice.

I hustled outside to check the gas level in our propane tank but it was practically full.

We moved quickly to Plan “B”, which was calling all our kinfolks who live nearby to find a working oven. 

You’d be surprised at how many folks don’t cook these days. After the third call, we found an oven to use, which saved the day.

Later that evening, Jilda began researching stoves as if she were writing a thesis on culinary preparation. She found a stove that had all the features she wanted. With the swipe of a credit card, the oven was ours.

I contacted our nephew Haven who is a plumber and gas man, so he put us on his work list. An overactive imagination is not a strength in his line of work either.

The next afternoon he knocked on our door and soon we were busy hooking that baby up. 

Most of the installation went off without a hitch. All the burners sprang to life as expected, but when he turned on the oven, something wasn’t right.

All of a sudden I smelled smoke, and it was not the new-oven smell. Something was on fire.

My imagination leapt into action. I was thinking not just house fire, but a conflagration that would level our entire community. I imagined news trucks and helicopters filming the carnage nonstop.

I’d have to notify neighbors, fire departments, and possibly FEMA.

My mind raced, ticking off a list of things that I should try to save. I thought first of getting our dogs to safety, my computer so I could save my data, pictures, music, and all the words I’ve written in the past 50 years, my guitar, and, and, and ....

Haven, on the other hand, realized it was probably something small that had fallen through the cracks near the oven burners.

A few seconds later he took his pliers, reached into a bowels of the oven, fished out a smoldering piece of cardboard about the size of a playing card, and tossed it into the sink.

I felt a little foolish, but thankfully I didn’t mention to Haven all the things that had coursed through my mind. 

But then my imagination stepped in and I realized this little episode would be perfect for this week’s column.

Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle - Imagination a great tool for a writer 


  1. Ha! So does Haven read your blog? :)

    I was seconds away from calling the fire department one autumn afternoon, many years ago. One of my son's school chums stopped at my house on his way home, exclaiming that there's a fire just up the street. As soon as I stepped outside I could see and smell a fair bit of smoke. My imagination ran much like yours did. What if they're trapped inside? What if they're out but they have a pet at home? I couldn't see which house... only the smoke. This was long before cell phones so I had to go back inside to call. That's when my son walked in the door and said "Did you see the pile of leaves up the road that someone set fire to?" It burned itself out in a couple of minutes. Whew!

  2. I keep saying We have to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen just for such an emergency. Of course we always forget. You don't see them every where like other things in stores. But kitchen cabinets burn like a dry Christmas tree. In seconds, because of them, your house could be gone. So now I hate wood cabinets in the kitchen around the stove.The kitchen should be designed with fire in mind.

  3. Hi Life101,
    An over active imagination can be as dangerous as being on top of a step ladder. I'm glad that it was nothing more serious burning but it made an interesting blog post.

    By the way Life 101, my ladder was as solid as if someone was holding it steady in those thick branches. I felt very secure and sturdy.
    I appreciate your comment. I hope that you've recuperated from your fall off the ladder.



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