Things are always somewhat exciting here at Casa Izz…at least to those who don’t live here and aren’t used to the daily goings on. We that do live here are quite used to it, and would hardly refer to life at Casa Izz as exciting. Humdrum or even tedious perhaps, but never exciting. On Monday, however, things were exciting, even by Izzian standards.

As you may have read already, we had a bit of a snow storm on Monday. While I was in the house doing what it was I was supposed to be doing, Mr Izz was outside shoveling snow with my eldest son (I actually love to shovel snow, but it was really windy and therefore too cold for the likes of me. So I didn’t volunteer my services). As I was in the living room, folding laundry that had been neglected far too long, I heard an odd sound, like a very loud WHOOSH that I could even feel as I sat on the floor. At first, I thought it must be the wind…we were getting gusts over 35mph at that point, so it didn’t surprise me that it might be. With that in mind, I went back to my folding. Until I smelled smoke. A LOT of smoke. The living room was almost instantly hazy as it quickly filtered in through the heating ducts. This was odd…sure, I smell smoke whenever someone throws more wood into the furnace, but it’s usually minimal and dissipates rather quickly. This stuff seemed to be hanging, almost making the living room look like it was as overcast inside as it was outside. It was then that I connected the sound with the smoke. So down I went into the basement to see what I could see…more smoke down there. Great. Back up stairs, out the door into the blustery coldness to get Mr Izz. I yelled to him about the smoke, and he stopped what he was doing and came into the house (grudgingly, I might add…apparently he thought I was overreacting. You’d think he’d be happy to get out of the cold for a few minutes). He walked into the house, and smelled the smoke (which had dissipated a bit by then), went down into the basement and poked around. He found nothing wrong…just some smoke, which was more than likely caused by the wind since it was so blustery. Back out he went, shaking his head at my silliness, ready to shovel more of the brilliantly white snow out of my driveway.

Back I go to finish folding laundry, when I smell smoke again, and notice that there is way more hanging in the air than there had been the first time. I went back down to the basement (I’ll be darned if I’m going out to get Mr Izz again unless there is a good reason), coughed because of all of the smoke, and went over to the furnace myself to check it out…all the while trying to wave a clear path in the smoke ridden air with my hand, so I could breathe. More coughing on my part, as I walk over to the pipe that leads to the chimney. That pipe was so hot that I could feel it from about 5 feet away, and this gave me my first clue as to what the problem really was. And this clue assured me that Mr Izz would take more notice to what was going on.

Sure enough, when he came back in and examined the situation for himself, my fears were confirmed: it was a chimney fire. We had been told by our landlord that he had cleaned it out before we moved in, so we didn’t clean it out ourselves before the winter season was upon us. Mental note: even if someone tells you they’ve done something, it might be a good thing to do it yourself anyway. The fire itself was in the base of the chimney…it couldn’t go any further because of the angle of the pipe leading toward the furnace, which wasn’t quite obtuse enough for it to go down more than it was. This was good, and bad. Good, because at least we knew that the fire was fairly well contained, with only masonry and cinderblocks surrounding it. Bad, because we had no way of getting to it if we needed to. Turned out that we didn’t, and after about an hour or so, it burned itself out, thankfully. Apparently the noise I’d heard was the fire, which had started at the top of the chimney, sliding down the chimney to rest at the bottom…this was decided when we saw all the soot on the roof. It’s a good thing we have a tin roof!

Mr Izz spent a lot of time down there, waiting for it to burn itself out, so he could give the whole thing a good cleaning. When it was finally cool enough, he took the pipe apart, and he and a couple of helpers (in the form of Izzlets) scrubbed it out with a chimney brush, and then used the shop-vac to get the rest of the creosote out. The thing was totally caked with the stuff…way more than a season’s worth. But what can you do. Luckily we knew what to do.

The best part of the whole thing was when my merry band of chimney sweeps tramped back up the stairs, finally finished with the task of cleaning the chimney. They had bandanas on their mouths and noses to keep the soot out, so they looked a bit like bankrobbers, with very black faces above the bandana masks. I even shook their hands, for luck (as anyone who has watched Mary Poppins as many times as I have, would know you are supposed to do). It was a job well done…lots of work, but they all seemed well pleased in it regardless.

So that was our bit of excitement. More than we’re used to, that’s for sure. And that’s enough for me for a while. At least for this week.