The Day I Set Fire To The Microwave…

I blame GQ magazine for the fire. A few years ago I had a yearly subscription to GQ because the boy Vanna used to care for was offering various magazine deals to raise funds for school. I actually wanted a gaming or football magazine, but as they weren’t available, I went for GQ instead.  I vaguely remembered reading a copy once, and it was cheap, so why not? Maybe I’d enjoy them.

As it happens, I only read 3 of the 12 magazines sent to me (turns out they are mostly about men’s fashion and grooming; two things I have no interest in whatsoever) but I did take one piece of advice. It was from an article on…something. Doesn’t matter; the helpful suggestion, however, was regarding dish sponges. Apparently they aren’t very hygienic, and you shouldn’t use them more than once. But if you aren’t a rich bachelor with money to spare (GQ’s target audience; again, not exactly me) and prefer to hold onto your sponges for more than ten minutes, they recommend you microwave them after each wash. It prolongs their life expectancy, you see.

So, for the past couple of years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wash the dishes and then bung the sponge in the microwave for two minutes. Sponge steam doesn’t smell too great, but at least I felt better about doing the dishes. Thanks to GQ, I was no longer a dirty commoner with a dirty sponge.  Totally worth the $24 subscription!

Cut to last week; there I am, doing the dishes like a good husband while Vanna is at work. I finish, chuck the sponge in the microwave and hit the button. I then start sweeping, because I’m a really good husband, while I wait for the magical purifying process to finish. But the regulation two minutes pass and the microwave is still going. Unfortunately I’m watching a particularly enticing episode of Border Control: Australia’s Front Line (the guy had drugs hidden on his body, I’m sure it) and don’t realize what I’ve done…until it was too late.

The smell got me first. A foul, acrid smokiness. Then I think, ‘did I hit the wrong button on the microwave?’ so I stop sweeping and head back into the kitchen. The answer? Yes, yes I bloody well did hit the wrong button on the microwave. The sponge is on fire and there is smoke everywhere. I yank open the microwave door and, uh, panic.

I don’t like fires, you see. I have no pyromania tendencies. I’ve never had a obssession with fire, or had to be warned to avoid flames. I’ve always known fire = bad. Heck, I don’t even use matches. I sit away from campfires. In fact, since an incident in my childhood when the trees bordering our property were set on fire (nothing to do with me, I hastily add), I’ve always had nightmares of my house burning down. So I can’t say I’m accustomed to dealing with open flames. This is probably why my first instinct, after a suitable injection of panic, was to blow on the sponge, like I was a 6 year old with a birthday cake and a wish to make.  Unsurprisingly, this did not put the fire out.

Thankfully my second instinct was more logical. Ignoring the fire extinguisher in our apartment (I refuse to be that guy), I grabbed an old hand towel (I wasn’t going to use a nice one, was I?), soaked it in water and then threw it onto the sponge. Boom, fire out, problem solved, I’m a hero!

Sadly, not everything turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to save the sponge; I had to throw the charred remains in the trash after one use, making me the exact person I hated to be.  And despite our best efforts, the microwave is stained. It still works, of course, but it seems the memories of my error will forever be engrained onto my favourite kitchen appliance. Every war has its casualties, I suppose.

Oh, and remember how I said smoky sponges don’t smell too great? Well it turns out burning sponges smell even worse. It took DAYS for that stench to clear. This isn’t a big apartment, folks, so it wasn’t like I could avoid it either. Granted, it was better than the residual puppy pee smell that seems to linger in the entryway, but that isn’t really saying much. Seriously, don’t burn sponges. You’ll regret it.

But we’re okay now, at least. The microwave still smells, but I’m confident a few months of zapping my leftovers will fix that. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience, one I think is worth repeating: folks, whatever you do, don’t read GQ.

All the best,


Oh, and before I go, I have news!

I have a job! Starting Monday 25th, I’m going to be a lab analyst for Marshfield Food Safety! It’s going to be very different from everything I’ve done so far, but I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.



A Very Subdued 4th of July…

Happy Independence Day America! Speaking as a Brit, I’m not sure you made the right decision (it isn’t too late to come back!) but you’ve stuck to it, so fair enough.

Unlike all the other 4th of Julys I’ve spent in America, this one is going to be spent doing…nothing at all. No special t-shirts, no parades, no food indulgence; just me, my Xbox, and the cats. Where’s Vanna? Well unfortunately she had to work this weekend, which is why this year’s holiday is such a non-event. Had she been available we may have gone up north and celebrated the day with family. But she’s not, so we’re not. Lame, right?

But hey, don’t let my boredom stop you from having a fun time! Oh no. Despite our residual feelings of bitterness, Frankie,

(currently sleeping)


(also sleeping)

And I all hope you have a great day, even if you aren’t American and it is just an ordinary Monday.

Until next time.


P.S. Speaking of cats, no escapes since my last post. The catio has been kiboshed for now as it isn’t stable enough for a roof, and without it, Frankie keeps jumping out. We’ve accepted Anya will remain an outdoors cat, at least for now. Once it gets closer to winter, however, we’ll have to really work on catifying the apartment so they can be stimulated whilst staying indoors. Urgh. Effort.


Another Cat Incident…But The Catio Is Good To Go!

So after the kitten drama last weekend, we were hoping for a calm, uneventful week. What we got on Wednesday, however, was another night of worry and panic. Why did it happen again? Well, we were foolish enough to let Anya go unattended for a few hours. Big mistake. Escape number 2 was worse than when she disappeared for 24 hours though, because this time both she and Frankie got out.


We’d left one window open. Didn’t think too much about it; Anya had never shown any interest in using that window, so we thought it would be okay. Nope. Evidently she was luring us into a false sense of security, playing dumb while she waited for her opportunity to take advantage.

It took us a few hours before we realized what she had done. To be honest, it could have been even longer were it not for the insects swarming us. We’re used to having beetles or fruit flies, but not mosquitoes. Or moths. Initially I called out Vanna for leaving the door open too long when she came in from work. But then she went into the bedroom and found a big hole where the screen frame once was.

usually, Anya picks at the corner of the mesh and sneaks through the small gap…which is at least considerate. This time, she didn’t have time for that. This time she just shoved her fat head at the screen until it popped out. With the light on, the bugs swarmed in. This bad situation was then made worse when Frankie, presumably concerned about kitten heading out into the night, followed her.

As soon as we discovered both cats were out, we rushed out there and started calling their names. No response. Vanna was worried but I was freaking out. Anya would probably make her way back when it suited her, but Frankie? He would want to return, but he would be too scared. He’s a skittish little kitty. He would hear a noise, run, hear another noise, and then run some more, on and on until he ended up so far away he wouldn’t be able to find his way home. This was not good, people.

Fortunately Frankie didn’t have a complete freak out, and I found him in the bushes across from our apartment. This didn’t mean he was an easy catch, however; though both Vanna and I tried calling him out (I even went back there in the hopes he would come to me if I was sitting in his safety zone), he was too scared to approach us. Instead he would run as soon as we approached him. Worried we’d push him further away, we headed back inside in the hopes he’d return on his own.

Well, around 4am kitten came to the window. Vanna went outside on a hunch and heard little Frankie crying. Even so, it took a good thirty minutes to coax him out into the open. Vanna had to sit down on the grass, say his name over and over, and then shake one of his toy mice until he eventually felt brave enough to approach her. She did a great job. Had it just been me, Frankie would still be outside now, crying and crying…

But he’s safe now, and that’s all that matters. Jump forward to Friday then, and the catio assembly. It took a while (the connectors that snapped the wire squares together had a tendency to fall out; it was only when we gave up on the roof did it stay together) but we eventually formed a neat rectangle to put outside the window. It isn’t a big space (any bigger and it would become too unstable to be trusted) but Frankie likes it. Not sure kitten is impressed though.  She likes to venture further afield, act all independent and do things on her own terms.  But she lost that right when she knocked the screen out, so she’ll have to accept the catio is her future, at least until we can trust her to come home on time (she’s like an unruly teenager, it’s ridiculous).

Anyway, we’re starting to catify the place finally. Here’s some pictures of Frankie enjoying his outside area from the bedroom (had I gone outside, Frankie would have freaked out). Is the cage strong enough to keep them from escaping? We’re not sure. Being the dopey cat that he is, Frankie might try to climb it, while kitten will be no doubt doing her hardest to pick her way out. It’s a work in progress. Not too bad, eh?

He was rather tentative initially.
But quickly got comfortable, sniffing the area and rolling around.
Still somewhat skittish though. We won’t trust him alone in case he decides to scale the fence, but I think it’ll really help with his pent-up energy.

I’ll try to do another update soon.  Have a great Sunday!


So This Almost Happened…

Fortunately the little turd came home last night, almost 24 hours after disappearing. No idea where she went, or how she got back. All I know is that I searched for her at least ten times throughout the day (a day which had a heat advisory and tornado warnings), putting aside my daily schedule so I could find her. I knocked on houses, checked out gardens, got poison ivy…but despite the hours calling her name, got nothing in return.

Vanna had an even worse time, as she was stuck at work for ten hours. Neither of us could concentrate (I couldn’t write, couldn’t enjoy my gaming), too worried about our little kitten. When your cat is missing, the questions running through your head get worse with each passing hour. Is she trapped? Is she hurt? Did someone take her? Is she dying? Is she dead? Not knowing is a very frustrating and troubling experience. Automatically you think the worst, but until you know it for sure, there is no relief. It’s horrible.

Thankfully our story ending on a happy note, and she’s home safe. We don’t have answers (the grass was wet yet she was bone dry) but we have Anya, and that’s all that matters. However, this experience has told us that she is never going out again. We can’t risk losing our little one. Time to build the catio. She can enjoy the outside in a small space from now on.

Let’s not do that again, okay kitten?

Normal service will be resumed soon…once I’ve secured Anya’s future, and my heartbeat has returned to its usual pace.


I’ve Never Been So Grateful For Air Conditioning…

Howdy folks,

So it has been unbearably hot in Willmar for the past few days. How hot? Weather advisory hot (that means stay inside folks!) Seriously, we’re talking about 90+F (around 36c) weather since Wednesday, with awful humidity to match (I stepped outside earlier to check the mail, felt like I’d been assaulted by a hot, damp cloth). Thankfully our new apartment has an air conditioning unit, so we haven’t suffered too badly, but wow, it has not been a fun week.

As a result of this extreme heat, our attempts to fix up the apartment have been delayed somewhat; between Vanna working and me breaking into sweat simply picking up after Frankie (I’m blaming the heat for this; I’m unfit but not that unfit!), we haven’t been able to achieve as much as we’d planned. In other words, no photos of our apartment just yet. Sorry.

Hopefully it’ll be cooler tomorrow so we can assemble the bookcase we bought from IKEA. Once that has been put together, we’ll be much closer to showing our new home to the world. If tomorrow maintains this horrible trend, we may have to postpone til next weekend. Urgh. Very frustrating.

On the plus side, while you wait for the grand unveiling, here are a few pictures of Frankie enjoying one of the toys we bought him last week (more on our efforts to catify the apartment in due time) as well as a short video.

Otherwise, expect another update soon regardless of how far we progress…unless, of course, I die of heat exhaustion working on the bookshelf. Though that would be noteworthy enough to merit an announcement, I imagine Vanna would be too grief-stricken to post pictures of my final achievement.


Here’s a shot prior to the storms and the humidity and the horrible heat.
The Catit Circuit toy. Essentially there is a ball that the cat pushes around. It took Frankie a while to understand this…
Especially as he preferred to play in the box it came in…
…which admittedly was rather cute.
But after a while, he discovered the actual toy.


So…We Ain’t In Crow Wing County No More!

Wow it has been a long time since I posted, hasn’t it? I do apologize (even though I said myself I wouldn’t, I think it is necessary for this gap), but I do have a good excuse – we’ve just finished moving from our little home of three years in Breezy Point (Central Minnesota) to Willmar, 140 miles away in Southern Minnesota.

Big step, right? It was also something of an abrupt one, as Vanna’s decision to go to Ridgewater College to study as a vet tech was only confirmed in April. Obviously, we’d considered this step for a long time, but the actual decision was made less than two months ago.

Consequently we’ve both been very busy putting our affairs in order, as I’m sure you can understand. After all, we had to finish our work assignments (more on that soon), pack all our stuff up (not fun), hire a U-Haul trailer (also not fun) and then start getting everything unpacked at our new apartment.  We’re almost there (internet was installed on Saturday, and it is glorious) but we still have things to do before we can say we’re truly moved in. Isn’t moving wonderful?

Anyway, this is just a quick post to let you know we’re alive; once Vanna considers the apartment good enough to share, I will take pictures and provide you with a more detailed update on our lives.

After all, quite a lot has happened since my last post. There’s cat stories, weddings, Christmas plans, and, uh…more cat stories.

This feline has been particularly naughty.

Speak to you soon (hopefully later this week, depending on when I put together the bookshelf we bought at IKEA…),



Frankie Plays Fetch!

Think your cat is amazing? Well ours is better, because Frankie (well it wouldn’t be Anya, would it?) plays fetch!

I also think I could get him to complete an obstacle course, though that would take some work on my part to create one. But hey, it’d be a good way to keep the blog going while I try to find the time to write some creative like I promised (I’m working on it…gradually). Everyone loves cat videos, right? Look, I’ve even created a new category…just in case this becomes a thing.


P.s. Big news coming up soon. Big news!

An expression of my love for gaming and writing


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