Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Cake that Could Have Killed Us All

Mary practicing before performing

On Saturday, I got Chris, John, and Mary out the door at 7:00 a.m. so Mary could participate in the District Royalty Competition (see here) an hour and a half away. This was the first time I sent her off with her daddy to a competition instead of with me, as I had an opportunity to attend an all-day conference.

Mary had a wonderful time, scored a Superior, and was very pleased to be the runner up.

But I get ahead of myself . . .

Meanwhile, I was back at the home with Margaret, Joseph, and Thomas. I baked Margaret's cake in order to leave it to cool all day, so I could decorate it at night, having it ready for our day trip on Sunday to celebrate her birthday. Efficiency, order, and staying on schedule are the name of the game!

While mixing the batter in the Viking mixer on the counter, children clustered around my skirts, Joseph (3) began removing the knobs from the gas range, like he sees me do when I wash the grease of the stove top. I told him to put them back on and not to do that, and then I put it out of my mind. (For writers: this moment is the rifle hanging over the mantle.)

I bustled about, got us all dressed, and packed up extra outfits, some books and toys, and bag lunches for us all to take to the conference. We were ready to walk out the door, as necessary, at 9:30, but, as I was turning off the lights in the kitchen, I noticed . . .

Joseph had partially turned on one of the gas ranges and it had been leaking natural gas into our home for several minutes!

In a second--when I did manage to at least turn off the knob--so much flooded into my mind, including that this was why I smelled natural gas strongly up in our bedroom while I was getting dressed. I had remarked on it to myself, but because I was in a bedroom and so very far away from any source of gas, I had dismissed myself as crazy.

Immediately, I grabbed Margaret and Joseph by the arms and walked them fast out of the house to the van, where it so happened I had loaded baby Thomas into his car seat a few minutes before. The two children started fussing at me about why I was grabbing them and I had to forcibly put Joseph in his car seat, who was by then crying.

I drove the car down the driveway away from the house before I stopped to think and contact my husband who, of all times, was 100 miles away during the scary emergency.

I ended up going back into the house, opening doors and windows, and running our whole house fan for hours. Apparently natural gas is heavier than air, so it sinks into hidden pockets. It was remarkable to note that when I went back into the house, the odor of natural gas was strong: it proves the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water that I had barely noticed it when I was inside the house.

Tension was rising additionally because I was going to be late to this conference. I had asked the organizer only the night before if I could attend, even though I wasn't registered, and she allowed me because of a cancellation. Then I was the only person there who needed babysitting, so she arranged for two girls to come, giving up their entire Saturday, to babysit my little ones . . . and here I might not even be able to make it to the conference, and I had no cell phone numbers of anyone in attendance in order to let them know of my predicament.

Plus there was the whole explosion risk and whether I'd lose my own life, my children's, or my whole home.

But, you know, in the midst of the adrenaline, the conference problem was making it all much worse for me. Silly Mama!

In the end, it all worked out. We are not exploded, our home is intact. God allowed us to live another day.

And here is a photo of the cake that could have killed us all.


  1. That happened to us once. The kids were leaning on the stove to reach the microwave to make popcorn and turned on the gas. I didn't recognize the smell for a long time but I knew something was funky. Finally asked Dave to help me check and he recognized it at once. We called the gas company and all waited outside for an hour or so with all the windows open. It was very scary and humbling. Glad you were all safe.

  2. Oh, my goodness, that is frightening! Thank God you are all ok.

  3. Comment from J. via email:

    I tried posting a comment on your blog, but it didn’t work (it does that from time to time):

    When we were living in the apartment after our move, we headed back to Sacramento for an all-day visit of family and friends. When we returned late that night, as I walked up the stairs to our door, I heard one of my dogs barking frantically, and when I walked in, I was hit with the thick smell of natural gas. Somehow, one of the dogs bumped one of the burner knobs and turned on the gas. I immediately turned it off and opened every window in the house (and it was 18 degrees outside!). That could've ended really bad.

    So glad you and yours didn't explode!