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Gill will be the first to tell anyone (and has in this blog) that my enthusiasm for cooking has waned in the past few decades. Waned? Ha! It has died a fast and ugly death. While I once fancied myself a good cook (verging on gourmet for a few special things), I now find it a challenge to rise to the level of SlapDash Sally when it comes to feeding myself. It is probably fortunate that Crazy D and L’il Sis have their own, very specific dietary quirks since we generally cook separate meals. Alas, this past weekend I ensured that my already failing capabilities in that regard plummeted even further.

I was at the gas stove, sautéeing some mushrooms and other veggies for a dish I call “Pasta Surprise”. It is, actually, a surprise to no one since it has been my favourite, go-to, desperation dish for years. I turned to give my attention to something else (likely my half-finished glass of wine) and before I knew it, the smoke alarm went off.

I had neglected to put on the overhead fan when I started since I didn’t think the small amount of cooking justified its loud roar. (‘Go big or go home’ was the approach the fan salesman used– after I confided my cooking habits to him.) Despite my belated attention to detail, the alarm kept getting louder and louder. I couldn’t figure out why since the smoke was minimal. The Pig slunk to her favourite sofa in the next room, covering her velvety ears in pillows and giving me her best ‘Grandma, DO SOMETHING’ look from afar.

Crazy D., ill with a miserable cold and looking like death, stumbled in from the family room where he’d been drowning his sinus sorrows with high octane cough syrup and bad television, demanding to know what was happening.

Irritated, I muttered:”I should think it’s obvious! I’m cooking!”

With that, I yanked open the sliding glass door that leads to the deck to get air circulating. Not enough. The alarm was intensifying. I ran upstairs to open windows for a cross-breeze. (Keep in mind that it is the middle of winter and the latest Polar Vortex is on our doorstep). Still the alarm was showing no sign of abating.

I thrust open the front door and began fanning it back and forth. All this did was alert the entire neighborhood to the current blemish on my culinary expertise. A couple walking their dog heard the alarm screeching and yelled from the sidewalk: “So I guess dinner’s about ready, huh?” I was mortified.

It was at this point that Crazy D, his ears already clogged with his illness  but now vibrating painfully from the noise, ran to the basement and returned wearing huge sound-cancelling headphones (the industrial strength ones he uses for his work as a television sound technician), clutching a chair and a hammer. Lurching up the stairs, he put the chair down in the upstairs hallway beneath the alarm , raised the hammer and took a swing. Silence was ours.

I am in the process of searching out a new smoke detector. Perhaps twenty years is a long time to expect an alarm to remain functional — especially in my house. Although, I am tempted to find an alarm that has, shall we say, a slightly more nuanced interpretation of the term ‘smoke’. It’s not that I don’t want us to be safe, it’s just that our collective hearing is in dire jeopardy. And, given my cooking skills, we all know this will happen again. Although I have been persuaded by Crazy D to retire my ‘Pasta Surprise’ dish.

When I told Gill of this latest alarm incident, she commented: “I recall the same thing happened when I was living with you. Same pasta recipe, same alarm frenzy, probably the same people walking by. Trust me, Ma,  everyone in the neighborhood is a tad tired of that pasta…”