Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief and first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
On Friday night, January 6, 2017 at 6:15 PM, one of our carbon monoxide alarms suddenly went live. It wouldn’t stop, even when I took it outside. When the second one alarmed, I called 911 and the police and fire department arrived, with us outside as directed, even though it was only 7 degrees. They found carbon monoxide in our master bedroom and master bathroom on what is the third level of our house, the ground level being the foyer, my husband’s shop in what is actually a garage, though it’s never been used for one. We also have two other rooms and a bath on the ground level. However, they could not locate any source of the deadly gas. So, we had to pack ourselves and the cat up and move to a motel a few blocks away and at which my daughter-in-law had obtained a large suite for us to use for the night.
The following day, as directed by the fire department, I called the heating/plumbing company to check the three natural gas appliances in our home – furnace/water heater/drier and found zero CO. The fire chief had volunteered to come back and check with him and he also found zero CO. However, we were told to have carbon monoxide detectors (we already had three) in all bedrooms and on each floor of our house, which we now have for a total of six.
On Monday, another technician from the heating company appeared at our door to do a courtesy check, to make certain all is well. And yesterday, the heating company came and changed our vinyl exhaust pipe to the gas drier to sheet metal. Apparently, that is a new federal housing code rule. The old vinyl style is considered to be a fire hazard, plus there’s always a chance a hole might appear in such a vent pipe.
I can now tell you how scary it is to lie down in your bed at night with the knowledge you just may never wake up again due to carbon monoxide. The fire department moved one of the detectors inside our bedroom and I keep another just outside of it. At this point, that is what I depend on to warn us, should we be in danger. Two years ago, we purchased our detectors after a couple was found dead from carbon monoxide in a motel room in a distant town.
This is something each and every one of you should do for your safety because it is odorless and deadly. With nothing showing CO in our case, the only possible explanation is that earlier, my husband had our Jeep running just outside the open garage door in the basement while he used an acetylene torch to thaw the hydraulic lift on the snow plow. He also had our pickup truck running with the exhaust pointing in the exact opposite direction from the Jeep, but also right outside and parallel to the open garage door. Speculation is that the furnace, just inside the door, sucked the exhaust into the house and spread it through the ducts and upstairs. Our house is an open chalet style, but the bedroom and bathrooms do have walls and doors, though the doors were open.
A weather inversion can also cause carbon monoxide when it doesn’t allow your appliances outside vents to work properly. It was unusually cold the night of our own experience.
Also, in spite of the hatred for law enforcement and firemen today, always support and be grateful for your police and fire departments because they may be the ones who save your life sometime.
I’m writing this as a public service announcement to make sure you have adequate carbon monoxide detectors wherever you are. They also might save your life some day or night. Having them saved ours.
Jackie is a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association
Sitting here in my Colorado mountain tourist town home on New Year’s Eve, I discovered that it is sad as we approach the ending of each year because, in spite of the rampant remarks about the bad things that happened in 2016, there were also many good things. But as I was pondering this subject, I wandered many years back to some things that used to be, but are no more. Two recent losses sent me there.
Back in the early 80s, my ex-husband and I bought a lot downtown and erected a commercial building on it. It housed a rental apartment on the top floor, my bookstore just above ground level and a rental store below that. My ex had an office in the back of the bookstore for his CPA practice and the bookstore shared it for its office, as well .
One day I was working in the bookstore alone when in walked none other than Debbie Reynolds, whose parents lived here at the time. Her mother was a rather wonderfully extroverted character, but in a good, down-to-earth way. Everybody local knew and loved her. I only saw Debbie’s father one time and he appeared to be a rather quiet gentleman. But our meeting was brief, so I don’t really know.
Debbie’s father loved books and especially Louis L’Amour’s, so she was always shopping for those and other westerns for him. Imagine my surprise when, while browsing the shelves, she suddenly started singing “Tammy’s In Love” as I answered my ringing store telephone that day.
Another time, she and Carrie Fisher came in to shop and Carrie volunteered to send an autograph home to my then teenage son, which she signed Princess Leia. She was at the height of her fame for that role at the time.
The last time I saw Debbie was when she rode beside another local resident, Dennis Weaver, in the July 4th parade a few years ago. And now, sadly, they are all gone. Even though I heard it said on a recent show about them that Debbie and Carrie were “big deal and high maintenance broads,” neither of them acted that way when they were here and I am proud to have had the privilege of meeting both of them. Dennis Weaver was the same – unpretentious and always out and about and approachable, though we tend to let the movie stars alone around here because I think they come here to escape that sort of thing.
To pull myself out of this roaming back into the past, which was provoked by the two deaths, I told myself that, even though this night was to be an ending, it is also a wonderful, new beginning. I don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do have high hopes that 2017 is going to be an outstandingly wonderful year for us all.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The month of December has been an interesting one around our house this year. We have an infestation of those aggravating little black gnats and I finally figured out they secretly sneaked into the house via a bag of planting soil that was open in the basement. For whatever reason, they love hanging out around my computer monitor, which I consider to be odd, not to mention extremely irritating.
We have a cute little ermine that’s hanging around in his white winter coat that turns brown in the summer. They’ve been around our house for years, for whatever reason, and are cute to watch. They turn white in winter to match the snow and have a little black tip on the end of their tail. This photo only shows half his long slim body.
My husband had an 80-mile round trip to the ER the other night due to double vision that lasted about half way there. After a zillion tests, blood draw and CT scans of his brain/neck/blood vessels, nothing was found to be wrong. The family doc and I think he had an ocular migraine. That’s so much better than a stroke or TIA.
Five weeks ago, our cat went into congestive heart failure on a trip to the vet in the same town where the hospital is and had an overnight stay. Yesterday, he had to go back for a checkup and his lungs are clear, he’s greatly improved and she’s cutting his meds down now. He’s a Siamese and we bought and flew him here in 2004 as an 18th anniversary present to each other, which makes him super special, as does his loving personality. He’s the baby we didn’t have together.
I had a lovely surprise when a local newspaper reporter called and did an interview with me as one of many local authors. She wrote a very nice article that appeared this week. And two days ago, I nervously forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap into an offer from a public relations firm for 2017. What do I have to lose with professional publicity? The bonus is I gain more time to write.
I just noticed Christmas and the beginning of Hanukkah are both on December 25th this year, which seems unusual. So, I want to take this time to wish each and every one of you a wonderful and Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah and let’s all pray that 2017 brings us all peace and prosperity. May the unrest and hatred over the election finally disappear and we can, once again, love one another. I think my cousin in San Antonio, Texas summed it up beautifully when he told me, “Blessings abound during Christmas time. Let it be so!”