Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Only one post last month...I guess I was lacking inspiration However, today, when following links from Stephanie, I came across the story of a staff Christmas party gone awry. This inspired me to recount some of my favorite fire stories. Sorry I can't illustrate them...

Once upon a time, I went to college in Colorado. A group of us loaded up into three cars one night to take a ride up into the mountains. We made it to the foothills, where we went off the road a bit and lit a fire. It was a beautiful night, we were having a great time drinking our 3.2 beer (it was legal for 18 year olds to drink 3.2 beer and wine coolers! So we did!) around the fire. After a while, we noticed some flashing lights coming up the mountain road. They kept getting closer, so, like any rational 18 year olds (HA!), we poured our beer on the fire and took off into the trees. We stayed out there for a period of time, until the firemen got on the loudspeaker and asked for the owners of the cars to please come up to the road. We determined that they were not going to leave, so we sheepishly made our way back up to the road. Since we were mostly a bunch of urban kids from the much more humid East and Midwest, we were idiots who knew nothing about fires and forest fires and dryness ratings. The firemen lectured us for about 20 minutes regarding fires and forest fires and dryness ratings and how would we like to pay the $5000 it cost for them to come up from the bottom of the mountain to deal with our idiocy? We would not like it. They ended up giving a $50 ticket to each of the cars, and we pooled our money to pay for it. All the people on my floor at school were big fans of the
Grateful Dead, but Fire on the Mountain has special meaning for a few of us...

Shortly thereafter, it was the fall break, where we got a 3 day weekend. That was as good an excuse as any for a road trip, so we decided to drive the 1000 miles from Denver to Chicago. My roommate, our next door neighbor, our RA, and I drove to my house and surprised my mother. It was a surprise all around because they hadn't told me that my father was in the hospital again. (He had heart disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis - he was in and out of the hospital quite a bit through my teenage years). Here's a tip - do not try to spare the feelings and worry of your out-of-state family member by not telling them about someone's illness. It will just make them angry. Anyway, while we were there, my RA took us to a Greek restaurant in Lincoln Park. Because my RA was Greek, she knew the owners, and we were therefore treated to some shots of flaming Ouzo. In case you're unfamiliar, Ouzo is a licorice-flavored, gut-burning liquor that produces a lovely blue flame when lit. The typical response to a shotglass of flaming Ouzo is to clink your glass, blow out your flame, and down that baby. Instead, the next door neighbor knocked her shotglass over and set the tablecloth on fire. It was a beautiful sight - pristine white tablecloth with perfect blue flames...

However, my favorite fire story was several years later. I think I was in my late 20s. My second oldest sister was home for Christmas, and we accompanied my mother to Christmas Eve Mass. The church had extra decorations in place and it was pretty full. As we sat there watching the people line up in the aisle to go up for Communion, my sister and I were doing our most dramatic renditions of the Christmas carols that were playing. Now, as it is, I'm not very well-behaved in church. It's probably pretty amusing to sit next to me, but you might not get a whole lot of spirituality. So, I do a lot of people watching in order to fuel my conversational topics. As I was watching the lines of people going up to communion, I noticed a woman in one of those parkas with the faux fur lined hood standing in front of us. She moved up a little and was standing next to a large candle. Since this was the first of the Christmas masses, the candle was much higher than the glass protector that would make it safer for the next several masses. They should have cut the candle, or burned it down a little, because as the woman moved back a little to let someone out of the pew, her faux fur lined hood went directly into the candle flame and lit up (like a Christmas tree - haha). Fortunately, there are many good and helpful people to be found in church, and the guy behind her started patting the flames out immediately. She hardly even knew what had happened.

Now I'm married to a part-time arsonist who likes to deal with yard waste by setting it afire. Last spring he had the brilliant idea (from his mom's crazy neighbor) to get rid of (i.e. cut back) the ornamental grasses by lighting them on fire. Unfortunately, he forgot that all of our ornamental grasses are quite closely placed near our pine trees. He got through a couple clumps of grass before he figured out that he needed to water down the trees before he lit anything on fire. So, one of our pine trees was scalded and seared along one side. The tree was probably 8 feet tall and beautiful - it was our nicest tree. Now, it's been cut down to about 4 feet and is totally bald on one side...but it perseveres.

Now, my toes are kind of cold, so I think I'll turn on the fireplace...


  1. Damn, you have good fire stories. I literally have no fire stories that come to mind. How it that possible? Fire, one of the elements, and yet I have nothing in exchange for these tales.

  2. *Giggles*....

    I especially loved the Ouza story...and the sweet fire you lit on the foothills.

    I have no funny fire stories to tell in exchange...thanks for the laugh...

    Your first post for 2012 is up...can you believe that?

  3. I am unsure - are you the sort of person I want to take camping because you can light a fire anywhere, or do I want to leave you behind because you might start the tent on fire?

  4. I thought I had no fire story, but after reading your post to hubs, I remembered one. Back in high school, we would spend evenings in a rather large group, playing cards, talking, what other silly things teenagers do. Smoking was one of them, because it was just so cool.
    Now, one of the boys had longish hair which stood in every direction, but when freshly washed, it looked like a helmet made of wood chips. A girl had the very brilliant idea to bring back the helmet to a pefect shape by disciplining a stray hair with a cigarette lighter. Of course, half of the hair was gone within one second, and it was the perfect excuse for every one present to slap the poor unfortunate arson victim's head even when the fire was out. Nothing else worse came out of it, but the poor guy could not get rid of the burnt hair smell even after a dramatic haircut. The girl is still no smarter than then.

    Ouzo is an acquired taste. I like it, but then I also like pastis, which makes everyone I know fake-puke in disgust at the smell of cough syrup. I like it when they both get from clear to cloudy when water is poured in. I find it quite cool.

  5. Huh, I can't think of any fire stories. But yours are good. :)

  6. Come on baby light my fire!

    My fire story is more scary than funny. So I won't spoil the mood!

  7. These are great stories! I had no idea that Ouzo burns blue.

    Many years ago my extended family headed for a cabin for a winter retreat. The relative who was drinking the most ended up in charge of the fire that he built in the fireplace. He kept adding fuel until the fire was so hot it melted the case of the nearby TV (an oldstyle one).

    I shudder to think what might have come of that!

  8. GREAT stories! I laughed at the "part-time arsonist". And I just squirmed through the story about being lectured by the firemen. Try not to set any forests on fire in 2012!

  9. Here are my couple of fire stories:

    1. At a friend's wedding, the videographer backed up to one of the candleabras. Yup, it was just like one of those AFV videos. Pat the hair out, smell hung in the air, not too much harm to come of it.

    2. After my divorce, I lived beside a fire station (and yes, I dated one of them too ha!). Our backyard was all paved so I didn't think the harm in buying smoke bombs and giving them to my roommate's 9 year old (with supervision and an active hose pipe of course). They were legal, but the fire Lt. came over just to make sure everything was OK.

    3. At VW campouts, they burn a bad engine (made of magnesium)in the campfire one night. If you throw water on it, it only gets brighter. You can't look right into it becasue it'll burn your eyes out. But it sparkles and turns a greenish glow. You're only supposed to throw no more than a half engine on it but every once in a while somebody forgets.