Trains, tea kettles and flames

How marvelous to see Mr. Dennis Taylor actually debate an issue
rather than call names in his column of January 19th! He is quite
correct that the differences between our positions on public
transportation are primarily philosophical.
How marvelous to see Mr. Dennis Taylor actually debate an issue rather than call names in his column of January 19th! He is quite correct that the differences between our positions on public transportation are primarily philosophical.

Mr Taylor argues that the government has an obligation to finance transportation for people who cannot afford to own cars. This argument is not based in reality. If the people who bag groceries and wash dishes in restaurants needed trains to get to work, then the 7:02 would be full of bag boys and dishwashers heading off to Santa Clara. It is not. QED.

City Council is considering a ban on new wood-burning fireplaces. I disapprove. I think it a gross infringement on private property rights for a government entity to tell people what kind of fireplaces they can have. I will not be mounting any massive crusade for fireplaces, however, because I have an even more local, even more burning issue that is monopolizing all my free time.

It all started when I wanted a cup of tea.

I filled the kettle, set it on the stove, turned the burner on, and went off to my desk to handle some paperwork. I did not install the little detachable whistle at the end of the spout, because I find it annoying.

Anne meanwhile broiled herself a tuna-melt sandwich. As she took her sandwich out of the oven, she noticed the kettle was boiling.

“Mom!” she called. “Your tea is ready.”

“Oh, thanks,” I called back, falsely assuming that she had bothered to pour my tea for me. “I’ll be there in a minute.” I went back to my paperwork and promptly forgot my tea. Anne took her sandwich off to her room. The kettle kept boiling.

Half an hour later, Anne returned to the kitchen to rinse her dishes, and noticed that the water had boiled away, and the burner was glowing red. “Mom, your tea!” she called.

Oh, shoot, I thought, it’s probably cool by now. “I’ll be there in a minute,” I replied, tersely and obliviously.

Anne picked up the kettle to move it to the sink. Fortunately, she did not succeed in this maneuver; the resultant steam could have been very dangerous. Unfortunately, the reason she did not succeed was because the bottom fell off the tea kettle. The brazing had melted. Liquid metal spilled to the floor.

Anne, barefoot as usual, decided that the kitchen floor might now be construed as a hazardous environment. Consequently, she yelled, “Mom, there’s molten metal all over the floor!” and ran for the bathroom, to put her possibly burned feet into cold water.

Halfway there, she noticed that she was still carrying the kettle. She set it down on the hutch, which is, or should I say was, my best piece of furniture. It smoked. She lifted the kettle, and the place it had rested burst into flame, briefly. She set the kettle down again, on a trivet, and continued to the bathroom.

Now, when I heard “molten metal,” my first response was, “Don’t be silly. How could there be…” Then I recollected that my kids tend to be inventive and independent, rather than docile, and I ran to the kitchen, where I found, indeed, globules of molten metal rolling about on the linoleum, like water dancing on the bottom of a heated pan. I got there in time to see the glass on the front of the oven shatter outward.

Treading cautiously to avoid metal and glass, I turned off the stove and oven. Then I checked Anne’s feet, which were, thank God, uninjured except for one indentation on her calloused heel, and one small blister on a toe.

Allstate sent out a claims adjuster, who surveyed the damage and cut us a check. I am very happy with Allstate just now.

So we are shopping for a new stove and linoleum and a tea kettle. My husband wants to buy me one with a non-detachable whistle. I tell him that will not be necessary. Henceforth I will always use the whistle. It is annoying for a reason.

Cynthia Anne Walker is a

homeschooling mother of three and former engineer. She is a published independent author. Her column is published in The Dispatch every Friday.

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