…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Sunday, January 22, 2006


My partner's father came to see us last weekend. He's a lovely and generous man, so his company is always enjoyable. Still, the single greatest thing he brought us during his visit was fire.

I'm not sure why we've never used our fireplace in the three years we've lived here. Being that this is our first house, it's possible that we still regard it as little more than a very spacious apartment. Maybe we're still pinching ourselves, expecting at any moment to wake and find ourselves living in 900 square feet of taupe carpet and thin white walls, wondering when the loud, drunk upstairs neighbors are going to stop stomping around in their cement shoes.

There's also the anxiety factor. I've heard people talk about "flues" having to be open; how would I know whether mine is? If it isn't, could a backdraft send flames dancing into the living room? Might one of the pets jump the screen and immolate? And though I laugh at my mother's tendency to believe every urban legend she hears, it is difficult to shake the idea that a murder victim, properly mummified, could remain undiscovered for decades lodged halfway down a chimney.

My partner's father took a pointed interest in our unused fireplace, just as, shortly after we moved in, my own father couldn't wait to climb into our attic and have a looksee at our insulation. I hope I don't come across as antifeminist when I muse that these sorts of things seem instinctual to men in the same way that well-fed domesticated cats yearn to rat. So it was that my partner and her pop came home one day with two bundles of wood, a box of Duraflames, and a bag of kindling. Her dad, reliably overdressed in Brooks Brothers separates, lay on his back to peer up the chimney, jimmied the flue, and announced that the sky was in his sights. So, no mummies.

And just like that, fire made our house a home, because, beyond paying the mortgage, nothing says "homeowner" quite like the ability to bring flammable materials into your living space and light them. My partner builds big, tall fires, after her father, whose motto is, "When in doubt, throw on another Duraflame." She's already shopping online for local merchants who deliver firewood by the cord, which would be a fine investment if we didn't ever want to sit on the porch again. Meanwhile, my fires are small, efficient, conservative, as if I'm aiming to keep armed marauders from discovering my settlement. As firewood needs go, I'm wondering whether it wouldn't be more cost-effective to cut down one of our own trees and chop it to bits. It would give me an excuse to put on a flannel shirt and wield an ax to reclaim some of the feminist cred I've lost by letting the dads do our dirty work.


Blogger sporksforall said...

Apropos of my recent tree anxiety, I'm deeply concerned about WHICH tree you want to chop down instead of buying firewood. How will I know where the juibilee is if you are out chopping down out trees?

11:39 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Stack that firewood away from the house, rather than on the porch. A nice woodpile attracts the type of outdoor critters you don't want too close to your home.

If you haven't already, it's a good idea to have an inspection done, followed by periodic cleanings. We prefer a professional deal with our soot and creosote. :)

We adore our fireplace. My partner is the queen of the roaring blaze. I hope y'all get much pleasure from yours.

6:02 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Hey! That makes me Queen of Laundry AND Roaring Blaze! Cool.

11:59 AM  
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