Where There Is Smoke Look For An Idiot

By wrjones


This is a grove of trees on a path I walk each Sunday.    The grove is being whittled away.   It takes so long for them to grow and so quickly they can be cut down.

My hometown in Iowa had every street crowned with elm trees until the Dutch elm disease killed all 5000 trees.   They were all in the neighborhood of 80 to 100 years old when they were lost.

As they were cutting this grove, there were a lot of small cut logs laying at the bottom of the trees for a few weeks.   I was going to take some home for the fire place but what with being shit all lazy, never got around to it.

Anyway I don’t do so good with the fireplace.  I keep forgetting to warm that cold column of air BEFORE piling on the wood.    I had a romantic evening planned years ago with good food; A Whopper and a Spicy Chicken sandwich for her.   Good drink; instant lemonade mix for her, and 2 or 3 shots washed back with a six pack of Corona (with lime) for me.   This may have had something to do with the fire place confusion to follow.   Candle light, or perhaps it was an old flashlight, so long ago I can’t really remember that level of detail, and a movie type glowing fire to cozy up in front of on a very cold night.

I lit the kindling, got impatient and added the logs then started drinking heavy.  After all this was to be a romatic evening.

Well it wasn’t long before the smoke started wafting into the room.   Thinking the flue was closed I reached in and pulled the lever the other way.   Turns out the flue was open in the first place but now was firmly shut.   Brilliant!

Now the smoke was really pouring in and the smoke detectors all went off.  They were high up on the ceiling and screeching like a mother.   No way to sleep or be romantic through that.

I opened all the windows, Christ it was cold out and now inside.   Got the ladder to reach the smoke detectors to rip the screechy little devils out of the wall if necessary.   Fell off  aluminum ladder scratching my new oak desk, ripping the wall paper and tearing my romantic shirt.   I may have started that drinking a little too early.

Eventually through my throbbing headache and the now uncontrollable shivering I realized the flue was closed and moved the lever back to the correct position.   Hours, and I do mean HOURS latter I was able to shut the windows.   By now the expensive food was cold and the romance had kind of drained away.

I use an electric blanket now.

Addendum – I told my wife after writing this and she could not remember the incident in the house I was talking about.   At first I just figured she was in some sort of denial.   Then I remembered I did the same thing in this house.  Does that make me a double idiot or and idiot squared?

This entry was posted in Humor, Landscape, Painting. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Where There Is Smoke Look For An Idiot

  1. rahinaqh says:

    Bill, great work… i mean with the painting (not the fire), i love your handling of the tree and the fading in the distant hills.
    your story made me laugh and i can only imagine the expression on your wife’s face…

  2. Rhonda says:

    The painting is wonderful – I love the curled trunks and intertwining look of the trees – the cows ain’t bad, either. As for the romantic/fire story, well we’ve all known for a long long time that your wife must be a saint – or so completely out of her mind by now that anything you do doesn’t phase her at all! ha ha

  3. that’s a beautiful painting but the story is even better! You are funny!

  4. wrjones says:

    Rahinaqh – thanks. I didn’t do so bad with the fire. the house is still standing. My wife gets sort of a jack jawed look about her when I’m off on one of my sad attempts at just about anything.

    Rhonda – thanks. Say, don’t I get any credit for teaching my wife how to live with a completely incompetent man.

    Mary – it gives me a chuckle now. At the time there wasn’t a grin to be found or at least not that I could see in all that smoke.

  5. Lori says:

    I love the painting,the tree trunks look wonderful.

    Maybe your wife had a little something in her lemonade and thats why she has amnesia?

    Reminds me of a fire I had awhile back, lit one in the fireplace early in the morning, it was chilly. I hear fire engine sirens and then a knock on the window. There is a fireman,waving at me to come out. I think the worst and go tearing out of the house and there is about 20 of them out there, I look at the roof thinking I am burning it down. Nope, just a little bitty cloud of smoke out of the chimney.

    They wanted to know if I called them, noooo. I guess one of my neighbors called. They ask me to sign forms while I am standing there in the 40 degree weather in my nightie, dadgumit. Give me all sorts of good advice too like don’t make my fire to big or anything. I agree about idiots being around where there is smoke.

  6. Beautiful handling of greys and greens in this painting, Bill. If yousorta bumble through everything else, you can sure paint.
    I lived in Winnipeg for a few months. I got a real appreciation of those beautiful shady Elm trees.
    I was visiting with a colleague at her modern home one day and noticed the spindly trees on the boulevard gasping their skinny way through life.
    I asked her if it was a new subdivision and if they’d just planted the trees.
    Nope! she replies – they were planted 14 years ago. The climate is so severe, both the heat in summer and the cold in winter, that they just don’t grow very fast.
    So when you get one of those beautiful elm trees providing summer shade, you’ve gotta love it.

  7. Bill,
    Must say you certainly can paint… and write. If you haven’t put a book together that incorporates both talents, you should. Beautiful greens.

  8. Yesterday, I, mucho, macho house repair stud, had to take out the two old automatic sprinkler valve thingies in my back yard and replace them with two new automatic sprinkler valve thingies. I took notes on how to do this from the owner of a local hardware store where I purchased the thingies. We both figured that this would be about a half hour job for a pro and about an hour job for me. Four and a half hours later, I was done and lucky that I didn’t flood the neighborhood. So from one idiot to another, I feel your pain. PS: Did you know that to turn off the water main leading to your house, you need to spend about half an hour with your arm down a pipe scraping away compacted dirt covering the valve that you can only turn off with a “valve key” that none of your fellow idiot neighbors have and that you have to get in your car and consume another half hour or so to purchase one at Home Depot where they don’t know jack shit where any thing is in the store!!!

  9. Wonderful trees, Bill. I hope you paint some more. I really like your approach; the shapes, trunks and the sky showing through in those interesting holes.

    Lori’s story made me wonder if a neighbor called the fire department just to see if she’d have to be called outside in cold weather in her nightie.

  10. swatch says:

    Bill you are a master – this is beautiful. That is sad about all the Elms and your romantic evening.

  11. Jala Pfaff says:

    Great trees. People who cut down trees should…well, you know. “The expensive food was cold…” Hahaahaha. Reminds me of my very first date, when the guy goes, “So, do you wanna eat at Burger King or McDonald’s?”

  12. wrjones says:

    Lori – thanks. You probably have a male neighbor wanting to see how good you looked in evening wear. Has he asked you out yet?

    K – thanks. The loss of a 100 years of elm trees was devastating. The only place I’ve seen any elm trees since in in Central Park in NYC.

    Louise – thanks. Coming from a skilled painter like you, I’m honored.

    David – 15 trips to the hardware store is my normal handyman mode. Then I call someone to fix the original problem and the mess I’ve made.

    Swatch – thanks!

    Jala – Your first date? Did he say something to the effect of, “well, get in and take off your clothes, ain’t you never been on a date before?”

  13. Faye Taylor says:

    Bill, you are a hoot! I enjoy reading your blog and am awarding you the Kreativ Blogger award. You can go to my website to find out about it.

  14. I absolutely love how you describe your dates, Bill. You crack me up every time.

  15. wrjones says:

    Faye – thanks for the award and kind words.

    Shayna – come swim with me again. Keep Erin from hurting me.

  16. Carol King says:

    Beautiful painting. I love the composition and the tree is exquisite!

    We have a working fireplace in our apartment. As usual, on the coldest night of the year the boiler breaks down. I tried to start a fire to try and warm up. There was so much smoke the fire department came. Not fun.

  17. Barbara Pask says:

    Love this painting Bill, wonderful colors. Don’t feel bad, I think we have smoked up our house at one time or the other.

  18. wrjones says:

    Dear fellow idiot, er, I mean Carol, thanks. I remember being at a military base where they decided to do major overhaul of the boilers in winter. Months of cold showers and no heat.

    Barbara – thanks. You mean I’m not uniquely stupid? Damn that was my only chance to stand out.

  19. Pegi Sue says:

    OMG!!!! My mom and I are sitting here and I just read your last two posts!!! All the while laughing my ASS OFF!!!!! You are hilarious!!! Thank you so much for everything, and for your posts!!!! You make my day(s)!!!! Oh, Mom’s too!!!!!!!!!!:)

  20. Great story as usual. Are you secretly a screenplay writer? I can see Chevy Chase in this one.
    The painting is one of your best. Solid composition.
    The portrait of the tree is is fabulous, Bill. Very well handled.

  21. lesliepaints says:

    Doesn’t make you an idiot at all. I’ve had the same experience, just not the fall from the ladder, thank heavens. I was, cleaning smokey black stuff off the glass covering the pictures in that room and the windows and doors for a while.Leaves quite a residue. Love your painting, Bill. I’m very impressed with the twisted trunks and branches and the shadow that the tree casts. The addition of the cows gives me a real good idea of the size of things, here.

  22. wrjones says:

    Pegi Sue – glad I could pick your spirits up. Are you certain you want your mother reading this drivel?

    Cathyann – thanks. Screen writing sounds ok but then it is just more work. Can’t someone just send me money without my needing to produce something? Why can’t someone take care of me as a feel good project?

    Leslie – I’m not and idiot? Are you sure? So mom was full of baloney? OK, you know, Leslie, I always liked you.

  23. gypsy-heart says:

    Wonderful painting!
    With all your sagas Bill, I’m not sure you should be trusted with electric blankets..may I suggest, thermal underwear.

  24. InkSplodge! says:

    You’re a very talented artist Bill, so we’re doubly entertained with the hilarious stories – and you must be a ditto idiot, although there’s obviously a great deal more to you than that if your wife is still around.

  25. wrjones says:

    gypsy-heart – Thanks. I’ve got an order in for that underwear. I think I may look funny wearing it under my shorts here in the summer. It is over 100 so I will have to remember to hydrate myself. I’ll tie a sting around my brush to remind me to drink.

    InkSplodge – My wife can’t be the brightest star in the sky I guess if she puts up with me. This could be a two idiot family.

  26. Irene Rencsi says:

    Hi Bill:
    This painting is wonderful! …One of my favorites of yours.

    I don’t usually paint landscapes but posted one as well on this day…saw this, and took mine down. I’ve roughed in a portrait on it now….nice with the clouds in the background. :)

  27. Gwen says:

    Love this big Elm Tree! You painted the light so wonderfully.

    Still lol at your story. That is too funny…and even funnier that you did it TWICE! LOL all over again!

  28. wrjones says:

    Irene – Thanks. I can’t imagine you doing any painting that would not be good enough to show the world. I expect you are being way to hard on yourself. I would like to see it if you will share:

    Gwen – Thanks. So glad my suffering has brought you a little joy however slight. Hard to believe I’m still married to the same woman, huh?

  29. Bill, what a peaceful feeling this painting gives me. (and not an idiot in sight!) Holly

  30. wrjones says:

    Holly – great, you and the cows can relax.

  31. Absolutely beautiful painting – loved the story, too. Glad y’all survived!

  32. Dawn says:

    The story sounds so familiar. I think we’ve all done that probably once–for some twice!
    Where in Iowa?
    The painting is beautiful and reminds me of a painting by George Inness. Not sure I spelled his name correctly. 1825-1894.

    this kills me because a friend and I did the same thing but it wasn’t our house and all the smoke detectors went off on this teeth crackingly cold night on a hill in Maine. We had to open all the windows and doors to get them to shut off. Not funny.
    But it does make for a funny story.

    This painting is quite striking.

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