Apocalypse Prep

For weeks I’ve been dying to get some writing done. Specifically, writing while in front of the warm and cozy fireplace I don’t use very often. Let’s face it, a roaring fire might be the stuff of rom coms, but it’s not very environmentally friendly. Or, from what I hear, that efficient at heating much more than the immediate area it’s by. Also, I know from experience they are a PITA. You’ve got to kindle them, keep them going and so on. More on that in a minute.

Today, through a convergence of dumb-ass circumstances. I got my wish. Right now, it’s 5 degrees fahrenheit outside. I’m sure it was a lot colder when I got up this morning. Don’t remember now. And it doesn’t matter because when I got up it was 62 degrees fahrenheit in the house. Not because that’s how I leave it set over night. But because the furnace decided to quit sometime in the middle of the night,

That’s very rude of the furnace. When I went to bed last night, it was fine. Humming along and working, spitting out heat. But, apparently the demands of heating the house last night was too much and it decided to leave for easier work. Or a better salary. I’m not sure because it didn’t leave a note.

Not that I blame the furnace. It’s been crazy cold here (Chicago) the last few weeks and I think at some point last night or this morning the windchill was something obscene like -22. So, I get it. I’d be pretty pissed to. I kind of am, actually.

As a result, this morning, I found myself in a cold house. Not freezing, obviously. But cold. So, I decided to light a fire, because, why not? I’ve been wanting to write by the fire so, here’s my chance.

Yeah. I know better than that.

While I totally believe the zombie apocalypse will do us all in one day, I’m not exactly prepared for it. I’ve got some stuff ready (like a go bag with some matches and maybe some clean underwear) but I seem to be lacking in survival skills.

See, when I grill outside during the summer, it’s kind of sad. I’m that person that pours about half the bottle of lighter fluid on the coals because I can’t seem to get them to light with a “light squirt” of the bottle. Also, I’m impatient and don’t have time to wait around for all the coals to light in a slow and uniform manner. I’m hungry, damn it, and I want to eat.

Impatience and hunger are not a good combination.

It’s worse when I have to light a fire. I can’t use lighter fluid to speed things up. Well, I guess I could, but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to. Actually, next time I grill, I’m going to check the bottle for that information. And stock up for the apocalypse.

So, I ran out this morning, (not because it was cold but because of other things) then came back and, much to my disappointment, the furnace had not magically started working agin. Time to light a fire.

I grab some wood from the garage and bring it in. Then, I make a bed of newspaper in the log holder thingy (I’m so technical) with the wads I’ve been saving and collecting for weeks. I stick the logs on the bed and try to arrange the logs in such a way that they will catch fire easily. Preferably instantly.

For some reason, at this moment, I’m thinking of Tom Hanks in “Castaway” when he’s stuck on the island and he has a sudden epiphany and yells to Wilson that the fire needs air. Or something like that. I try to arrange the logs so they can breathe.

Then I light the paper and it ignites right away. Flames are burning bright and high and I’m warm for an instant. They burn quickly. Then they are out and the logs didn’t catch. For a brief moment I wonder how houses are able to catch on fire so easily when I can’t make these logs burn intentionally. I try again.

I twist up the paper, shove it in between the logs and light again. The paper catches easily and burns and starts to shrivel. As it does, it falls off the log holder thingy and does nothing to help with the wood.

Not one to give up even when I should, I try again. Shoving a ton of paper in there and lighting it in as many places as possible. It’s a pretty sight and a touch warm. It’s so bright in there, I have to look away for a second and when I look back, the paper has burned out and…


Sort of.


And that only took about 15 minutes, which is a new personal best for me.

The problem is that that’s not enough to keep it going so I shoved even more paper in there and lit again and finally got more to catch. Then I poked it with the poker a bunch of times and it’s going OK now. It’s burning on its own and I’ve got a little bit of heat.

I could almost, maybe, possible, cook a hot dog in this. I’m not going to, (mostly because I don’t like hot dogs), but  it’s nice to know that if the apocalypse happens right now, I’m ready for it.


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