Monday, August 17, 2009


SHC: spontaneous human combustion. I'm a bathroom reader. Upstairs, in our nicely remodeled schoolhouse toilet and shower, there's a paperback subtitled"Answers to the questions that torment everyone." The author begins by mentioning Charles Dickens. In Bleak House there's a reference to SHC. Dickens found 30 cases on record. Names and dates, as late as 1966 are given as evidence by the author. The victims are found incinerated with only a trace of clothing or body part remaining. Nearby objects: paint, clothing or even newspapers are unburned. It takes a temperature of at least 3000 degrees to reduce a body to 10 pounds of ashes. In each incident no foul play occurred. Nor is their an explanation. I think I may spontaneously combust any day now. If I do, here are a few factors.

At 5:00 am the cat meows once, jumps on the bed and curls up between my arm and face. He licks my chin to make sure I'm awake. At 5:30 I begin sneezing. At six, I walk out the back door to be greeted by a wildly enthusiastic puppy who chews on my fingers. The cat attempts to push the back door open. When I let Pucci out, dog and cat chase each other, turn somersaults, bite ears, and take a moment to pee. I join them, since there's no one around to see. I haven't decided whether or not the cat enjoys the routine. I spend 30 minutes attempting to keep the peace. I give up at 6:30 and bring the dog in for a breakfast of dry dog food and raw ground pork. After the dish of raw milk which both the cat and dog share (the cat followed the dog inside) I toss them outside for more chase and bite. I'm back out at 7:00 to separate the two. Dawn comes downstairs after her shower and lures Mandy inside. More finger chewing, followed by a vigorous thrashing of my running shoes. Mandy is now asleep with her head resting on the front of my shoe. It's a ticking Pee Bomb. Every time she groans in her sleep, I run and check her whereabouts.

My youngest daughter decides to get married. Since she's been living with the man for almost nine years, they decide on a simple civil ceremony. She calls me two hours before the event to ask for my blessing. I'm moved that she'd even care, since she lives two thousand miles away. I tell her that her future husband is the best thing that ever happened to her ( after me). Later she calls me in tears. Her older sister was unhappy and lets the youngest kid have a " piece of her mind." There's no room for details nor do I care to air any. I talk to son, listen to oldest daughter and console youngest kid. I'm not happy with the turn of events, although things seem to work themselves out, later.

Dawn spends all her waking hours the past weekend canning vegetables. First sauerkraut, then kimchi kraut, corn relish and quick dill pickles. I assist with the details in between the never-ending grass mowing. Today, I'll freeze cabbage, corn and bag ten Amish chickens for the freezer. I've never heard the Amish complain about butchering 65 chickens in a morning at the same time doing laundry and canning pickles. I make a note to myself to cut through the kidding and ask how they maintain their sense of humor.

In the 10 minutes before Dawn leaves for work, I begin my sermon entitled,

I can't handle any more of this or I'll spontaneously combust.

The dog needs a kennel. We need to stop buying locally at inflated prices and travel to Lacrosse. Next year will be different. Who's going to finish the kitchen remodel. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

The ticking Pee Bomb is restless. I hear her stirring on her soft flannel blankie. If I get her outside and the cat doesn't lure her into another version of the Keystone Cops, I can take a shower. I might even plan for a trip to town to get a 20 pound propane tank, talk to my friends at Wal-Mart. Wow. I'll ask the Amish if they'll babysit. Mandy bats 3 / 6 in car riding. Three good rides out of a total of six. Three times she sits quietly on the seat next to me or climbs in my lap and gazes out the window. She's grown in the past two weeks just enough to see over the edge of the window. Her sea legs are better so she'll stand on the armrest and sniff the breeze. The other three times she cowers at my feet dangerously close to the brake pedal, pees on my lap or on the seat. My neighbor repeats the mantra, "Only you know that warm feeling ..." -you know , "Love is like peeing in your pants?"


sAm said...

I have an unreasonable fear of SHC. Truly - I have ever since I was about 10 and I first heard of it.

Roger A. Gavrillo said...

From what little I know about SHC, one common trait among the people who "spontaneously combusted" were heavy drinkers. Unless you're doing a fifth of scotch a day, I think you can relax. Then, there were people like Jack Kerouac,Hunter Thompson and most of the Irish in the past century who never burned. Go figure.