Mar 2, 2014

Mr K's busy day

This happened one day last month.

My husband Y had a very stressful Friday. It ended with an eventful evening for our neighbors, a shock for us, and a very lucky outcome.

Y was busy that day. It was one of the first school days after the holidays, and my first day back at work. Y had to get the kids up and ready and off to school.

The kids were tired because they had been awake till late the night before, due to the heat (see: Melbourne Heatwave of 2014).

After a couple of hot weeks our front lawn was about a foot and a half in length and covered in prickly weeds and dandelions, and Y had promised to mow it.

He was also working that night and had a lot to do to get ready.

At around 1pm he rang me in consternation, asking how you look after newborn baby birds.

While mowing the lawn he had come across two tiny baby birds on the ground, with no nest anywhere in sight nearby. He picked them up and put them in a plastic container. Should he take them to the vet? he wondered.

I had hazy ideas about liquid food in eye-droppers and warm quiet boxes. I knew the neighbors across the road had once cared for a sick bird so I suggested he ask them, but they weren't home. I asked a couple of colleagues who said to ring the local council who would have a local wildlife care number. I looked up the council website and found nothing, so I Googled it.  It turns out, you can indeed take newborn wild birds to a vet, and in fact you definitely should do this if you are not experienced with baby birds, as they are very intensive to care for and obviously very fragile.

I rang our vet and they said they would take them. However - if they were really very little (newborns) they would most likely be put down, as they have to be fed every hour and need experienced care, and they would not survive the time it would take the vet to send them to a carer.

After one final search for the nest, Y had no choice, so he took them to the vet.

That was very very sad.  Knowing Y I know this would have upset him hugely, and of course it added stress and took a bit of time out of the little time he had.

He picked up the kids who were hot and tired and after the initial happiness of coming home and having a snack, quickly set to grizzling and "I'M HUNGRY!" for the rest of the afternoon.

As Y was running around, loading his car and trying to get the kids to hurry and change so he could drive them to Grandma's house and then go to work, they were dragging their feet and complaining they were hungry, so Y put some eggs on the stove to boil, while he got everything done.

At this point the kids (I learned later) were giving him grief, arguing and saying "We're not going to eat the eggs!" and Y was saying "Yes you will!" and still trying to get everyone ready and out the door.

Eventually after much yelling, threatening, pushing and complaining, they all got out and off they went.

With the eggs still boiling on the stove.

Meanwhile, I was having a lovely time at work. We finished at five, and it was just one of those things, there were drinks on and four of us ended up having a really good conversation, so I was there almost an hour later than usual, without really noticing the time.

My mobile was set to silent and I didn't notice three phone calls, until I picked up the messages two hours later at my mother's house.

Two were from a policeman at my house, and one was from the school.

Long story short:

The eggs had boiled dry and started to smoke, setting off the fire alarm.

Our neighbors heard the alarm, came to check and saw smoke, and not having my mobile number or a spare key, had had to call 000.

The police and fire brigade arrived, and had to break the door to get in. They turned off the stove, put the ruined pot on the front porch, and opened every window to get the smoke out. Searching for a mobile phone number, they got mine off the name tag on my daughter's schoolbag.

In a weird co-incidence, they first mis-dialled and rang the mobile number of a parent of one of my daughter's classmates, who then rang the school.

The school tried to reach me, and as I didn't answer the assistant principal drove round to our house to check if everything was alright.

I got the messages at 7.30 and rang back the police, and got the full story. I rang the school and filled them in and thanked them profusely. I asked who the other parent was who had alerted them, and it was someone I don't even know. I asked them to please pass on my thanks as well.

We went home and I thanked our neighbors profusely - not only did they potentially save our house from burning down, they were even apologetic for having to call the fire brigade and getting the door busted.  Are you kidding?? Don't even worry about it!

We did previously have a spare key at the neighbors - until I locked myself out one day and got it back, and just hadn't got round to returning it.

I am going to give the neighbors back a spare key and my mobile number, but I didn't do it straightaway because I didn't want it to look like "Here's our stuff so you can save our bacon next time we stuff up."  Does that sound paranoid?  I was a bit embarrassed though.

But: thank goodness for community. I am so glad - again - that we know our neighbors and are on good terms with them all, but everyone involved was magnificent, and they don't all know us. The other parent who alerted the school, the school itself which went out of its way to check we were ok, the police and fire brigade who went out of their way to minimise damage and did more than they had to to clear the smoke from the house. When we got home two neighbors seperately apologised for not being able to do more. Of course I apologised for the hassle and thanked them so, so much - as far as I'm concerned everyone involved saved our house.

And Mr K?   He had been so stressed out and busy that he never even recalled he had left eggs cooking on the stove. I had to wait up till after midnight till he came home to tell him, so he wouldn't freak out at coming home to a busted front door.

Not our house fortunately.
Photo by OldOldliner via Flickr Creative Commons


  1. Oh, that's an eventful day alright! So glad the outcome wasn't more serious. You have a wonderful community there.
    I once boiled some eggs dry here, I'd forgotten to check them before hanging out the washing. The smoke was bad enough, but the smell was just awful and took a couple of days to disappear.

    1. That was the main damage here too. The smell hung around for 4 days and was horrible. And I do miss my heavy bottomed pot!

  2. I've done that egg thing also, but fortunately I was always still home.

    1. At least this seems to be something many people have done!

  3. Wow. What a day - and I am so glad that it ended with such minimal damage. Community is a wonderful thing to find.

    1. PS: Thank you for the back story to your broken door. I had wondered.

  4. Burned hard boiled eggs stink. Yes....I've done that too.

    1. The smell was awful and took a few days to fade.

  5. Bit of a close call. It was good of everyone to help. They did in a not a quite similar situation for my brother, but I am not sure he was very pleased. I will make a post about the matter.



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