January 10

Posted on: January 11, 2013

John let me sleep, and sleep I did, over 12 hours! But I woke with a pounding headache, and to the sound of the generator; Jason must be drying their clothes.  I wrapped myself in my robe and wandered out.

Everyone looked grumpy.  I wanted to check on Jacob, and happened to look out the back door at the generator.  Something looked… wrong.

“Jason!” I yelled.

“What? What’s the matter?” his eyes were red with lack of sleep, or so I thought.

“Shut the generator off.  Now!”  He did without question.  “When did you turn the generator around?” I asked as I started opening windows.

“Yesterday.  Why?” he had that muddled look.

“Oh, Jason… you aimed the exhaust AT the house, it’s been catching under the snow-roof eaves.”  He looked confused at first, and then understood: The house was full of exhaust fumes!

“Oh my god, Mom!  I didn’t realize it was that close!”  He wrapped a sleepy Jacob in a blanket and opened more windows.  We needed to air the house out, pronto!

“John.  How are you feeling?” I found him slumped over the table.

“Just tired.  I didn’t sleep well.  I let you have the bed and I slept in the rocker, but not well.”  Near the stove was the furthest from fumes, he was better off than we were. We opened the glass sliding door, adding some cross ventilation.  John went into the bedroom and opened both windows, then the bathroom window.  Now, every window in the house was open, letting in cold but fresh air, and pushing out the toxic fumes.

All of us put on coats, hats and gloves while the house purged its deadly gas.

I found Jason sitting on the futon, sobbing, with Jacob wrapped in a second blanket.  “Oh, Mom, I could’ve killed all of us!  I’m so sorry.  Being distracted is no excuse.  I just didn’t think!”

I sat down next to him, and held my son just as he held his son.  “Jason, how do you think I knew about the angle of the generator?  Because,” I gently grabbed his chin to look at me, “I did it too:  Years ago.  I thought it would be easier to have the plug side more accessible; but I didn’t realize it would aim the exhaust right at my bedroom window, until I got sick.  You made a mistake.  It’s over and we’ll be fine now.”

It took hours to reheat the house.

Jason had brought his own snowshoes when they came to stay; funny how we get attached to certain things. He bundled Jacob up and put him on the sled for a ‘ride’; it was the only way to get a lethargic Jacob out into the clean air but it helped Jason too.  When they came back in, John and I put on our ‘shoes, and took a walk, taking deep gulps of the fresh air.  By taking turns tending the stove or going out for air, it was late afternoon when the house was clear and warm again.  Jacob’s last trip out he was actually making snow angels!

Tufts wandered out about that time, wondering what all the fuss was about.  His ‘hidey-hole’, deep in my closet, is well filtered by clothes.  He was the only one unaffected by the fumes, but by size, the most vulnerable. I would have been devastated if anything had happened to him!

The fumes had left us all with queasy stomachs.  Pancakes for dinner were perfect, even for fussy Jacob.

7 thoughts on “January 10

  1. and so much of it is real, Judi. I really DID move the gennie and get all those fumes in my house….

    I’m really trying to share my experiences and lessons… in an entertaining way…

  2. Scary thing to happen, but also good to have the info in my head too!! (yes, I know this is a work of FICTION,.. but these things COULD actually happen, and that is what makes it so compelling a read :o)

  3. This is why the idea of using a kerosene heater scares me silly. I’ve shared how ours went out on a camping trip: I woke up with a pounding headache and queasy stomach and woke up Mom and Dad who discovered that the pilot light had gone out on the kerosene heater.
    To this day the smell of kerosene makes me queasy!

  4. WOW what a good lesson to be learned sure glad you were okay years ago deborah so you could share this with everyone

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