My sister called me this morning, telling me that she nearly burned her house down. She had put some steel-cut oats on to pre-boil last night, then went into her room and unintentionally fell asleep. Her landlords came and woke her about 45 minutes later because they could smell smoke. The oats were burned black to the bottom of the pot. "I'll have to throw that pot away," she told me.
"Nah. It'll come out," I replied.
We had been living in Timmins for about five weeks when Sashimi was born. Timmins was about 3000km from home, and we knew no one. I had met a few neighbours, and one was nice enough to take me out, show me around, and lend me some baby items, including a mini-electric breastpump. She had told me that she may ask for the pump back, should a friend of hers decide she wanted it, but that I was free to use it until then.That breastpump came in pretty handy when I was ridiculously loaded with boob-juice, and I had to sterilize it often.
One afternoon, while three-week-old Sashimi was sleeping, I placed the pump parts in boiling water on the stove. It was supposed to boil for 20 minutes to sterilize. I looked in the pot and thought to myself "There's lots of water, it won't boil dry. I don't need to set the timer, I won't forget." Yes, these were my exact thoughts. I have a super memory of this specific event.
I don't know WHAT I was doing in the computer room, since I was not on the facebook at that time, and I did not do the whole myspace thing. Maybe I was using MSN messenger? Who the hell knows. What I was NOT doing, however, was paying attention to my boiling breastpump. Wait, my neighbour's boiling breastpump.
All of a sudden, the smoke detector started to blare. I looked into the hallway and it was thick with smoke. I ran toward the source of the smoke because I was obviously thought I could extinguish a fire with my boob-juice. I looked at the stove and there was a FIRE. A real flippin FIRE. With flames. They were orange and reaching out of the pot, taunting me. I looked at my boobs and realized there was not enough milk in them to put that fire out, so I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around the pot handle, ran it to the sink and poured water into it. It sizzled and steamed and stank. Not like burned milk. Like the Earth was dying...a slow death by breastpump melting.
I may have just about burned down our new house, but so help me GOD I was not going to let the baby wake up! Friggin smoke detector, would you SHUT THE EFF UP?! But, of course, like all good new homes have, the smoke detector was hardwired to the electrical system. I couldn't just yank the batteries out, I had to find a stupid reset switch on it, but I was too short to reach the detector to look at it/club it with a baseball bat and we did not own a ladder. At that point, I started feeling a little high from the fumes of incinerated plastic, and worried for my darling sleeping baby. So, I ran into the room where he slept, wrapped him in thick blankets, and went outside. There we waited, and waited, and waited, listening to the smoke alarm going off. Various neighbours came by to make sure we were alright, and I just waved and smiled and said that we were Fiiiiiiine, and that I just burned something and couldn't get the smoke detector to turn off. No biggie. Smile and wave, people. Smile and wave.
Finally, our nextdoor neighbour (who shared our driveway) came home from work and used his ladder to reach the detector reset switch and turned it off.
Ok. So at this point, Sashimi was still sleeping in the thousand blankets I had wrapped him in, and the fumes in the house were probably toxic or something. Not Britney toxic, just enough that I thought my brain cells were slowly amassing a collection of yellow "For Dummies" manuals. It was too cold outside, though, to stay there much longer. I opened all the windows in the house and retreated to the basement, where the smell was not as bad. There we stayed until Tony came home. I may have called him to tell him about burning something or other. I can't remember. What I DO remember, though, is the insane mess of ashes and soot spread throughout our house. Our vent about the stove was ruined, our cupboards were coated with ashes, the entire front end of the house had to be completely cleaned - a good four-hour job that evening. It is amazing how much mess a breastpump can make when lit on fire for a prolonged period of time. I also remember Tony forbidding me to EVER use the stove when he was not home. We ate a lot of sandwiches that month.
And then I remember realizing that I had just melted my neighbour's breastpump into nothingness. A neighbour I hardly knew. As much as I like to return things to people, I did not think the crust on the bottom of my pot would suck the milk out of any breast. So I sucked it up and bought a brand new pump, exactly like the one I had melted, and kept it in mint condition, just to give back to my neighbour. If she ever asked for it back.
Which she did not. And I ended up selling it on kijiji about a year ago for $25.
And that breastpump-lending neighbour became one of my best friends in the world. Although she may rethink that when she reads this post.
The moral of the story: After four months of scraping and soaking, that pot came clean. A
little bronzed, but clean. And it is the perfect sized pot for one box
of Kraft Dinner. So never throw out a pot, no matter what you burned in it.