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June 17, 2006: Almost

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This morning we had a short list of errands to run. We needed to buy the last of the summer birthday presents, come home, wrap them all up, drop off my dad's Father's Day present at my parents' house (since he'll be flying away tomorrow), and ship out the birthday presents that need shipping.

So the first thing we did was head off to the store, where we tracked down the thing we were looking for almost immediately, and then we came home and got the presents wrapped and I rummaged through my yarn stash and found the skein that I wanted to send off to my One Skein Secret Pal, and things were going along swimmingly. We got my dad a croquet set, which wasn't exactly easy to wrap, so instead I decided to just tape a card to the outside and leave it in its case unadorned. As we were gathering everything up to take it out to the car I swung it up onto the kitchen counter (it's kind of heavy) in order to put it on a flat surface so I could attach the card. I am only mentioning this mundane little detail because it's important later on.

First stop, my parents' house. I've got a key, and I knew they were off at the Methodist convention in Sacramento so I figured I'd just zip in, leave the croquet set on the dining room table, and zip back out again. Nothing to it, right? Less than a minute and we were off to the UPS store, to get all the packages into the mail. And as we were standing at the counter, my cell phone rang.

"Were you in our house?"

At first I was confused - I thought they were staying in a hotel, so I'd not bothered to ring the doorbell.

"Yes. Sorry - I thought you guys were gone-"

"The security group just called us. You set off the alarm."

The alarm. Oh yeah. They have an alarm. After they had their house broken into a few months ago they had an alarm system installed. And guess what both Richard and I completely forgot about? Since I'd only been in there for barely 30 seconds I wasn't there long enough to hear it when the sirens started. And naturally, the security system not only called my dad, they also called the police.

So I left Richard at the UPS store to finish getting the packages shipped and dashed back to my parents' house, fully expecting to have to explain everything to the police when they showed up (if they weren't there already) and feeling like a complete idiot. But by the time I got there my dad called back, and let me know that the police call had thankfully been cancelled. Phew. Luckily my parents have a good sense of humor and so we could both laugh about this, and as my dad put it, at least now we've successfully tested the system and discovered that it works quite well.

So back to the UPS store I went, picked up Richard, and we headed immediately home. We walked into the house I immediately smelled gas. A LOT of gas. And one look at the oven confirmed my suspicion. Remember when I swung that croquet set up onto the counter? I can only surmise that I must have accidently hit the burner knob, and turned it on. It didn't light, but it was on just enough to release the gas. And it had had a bit over half an hour to fill the house up with a whole lot of it, because we could smell it *everywhere*.

Luckily this part of the store has a happy ending. Once I figured out the problem I immediately turned off the burner and then we raced madly around the house opening every single window and turning on every single ceilng and exhaust fan. Within a few hours the house was clear and the gas smell was gone. But even though I can laugh about it, and I joked to my knitting friends at the gathering later this afternoon that at least none of the cats had taken up smoking, I know just how damn lucky we were. Because we could just have easily decided to go somewhere else today. We could have gone grocery shopping, or decided to drive off to Costco, or a hundred other errands that would have had us out of the house for a few hours instead of just thirty minutes. The simple act of opening the garage door could have created enough of a spark when we returned. Even during that short time we were gone, there was enough gas in the air that there would have been damage, and if we'd been gone longer the cats might not have been so lucky either. All the windows were closed (because it's hot out and the air conditioner was on) and a few hours of gas might have meant that some of our cats might have never woken up again. It makes me a little queasy just thinking about it.

So I am counting us lucky right now, even though maybe two crazy things in one morning might not seem like luck to a lot of people. But the luck is that they were only close calls and nothing else. They were only Almost. And that's pretty darn good luck to me.

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