Nero fiddled while Rome burned (in a manner of speaking) …

… except this time it was me who was fiddling — with a blog post — and not paying attention to the frying pan onburned the stove. The All-Clad pan. I was cooking (obviously) and the recipe called for caramelized onions. They turned out fine, you’ll be happy to know.

It was after they were done that I ran into a problem. Because I’m lazy, I usually put some dish soap into the pan I’ve used, add water and put it back on to the stove briefly, just to loosen up all the bits so it’s easier to clean.

That’s what I did this time. It usually just takes a few minutes.

But inspiration struck. I got an idea for my next Huff Post blog. I’d been struggling with the idea all day. I couldn’t take the chance that I’d lose it, while I watched the pan. The heat was turned down very low, and all I wanted to do was get the essence of the idea, and where I’d go with it, written out. Notes, really.

Uh huh.



You got it.

I got really carried away. You saw it coming, didn’t you?

Lost in the words, I was. Got into that zone, that no-man’s land where you lose track of time. Where you don’t even know where you are. When you’re oblivious. Every writer’s happy place.

Unless you’ve got a pan on the stove.

Then it’s a bad, bad place to find yourself.



Costly, too.

So there I was, fingers dancing over the keys. Eyes focussed on the screen in front of me. Words tumbling, sentences forming. A story was taking shape. The “page” was getting filled. Totally engrossed in what I was doing, I started editing, refining, polishing. Change this word here, move that sentence there, that’s too long, that’s not clear, ahhh that’s just right.



Then I started to cough. Odd, but I was too into the work to pay much attention.

Got a whiff of something … chemical??? Odd, but I was too into the work to pay much attention.

My smoke detector went off, blaring, startling me. I was so far away, at first I didn’t realize it was coming from my apartment. Looking up I saw what looked like smoke — don’t panic — no flames — it was just hazy suddenly. I was momentarily confused and disoriented. Yeah … I was too into the …

OMG, then it hit me.

Rushing to the stove, I saw it. Black as coal, like it had been in a five-alarm fire. And then I sprang into action. Shut off the stove, moved the pan to the sink. Put the stove’s fan on. Opened the door to my balcony and all the windows, everywhere.

Felt like a total idiot.

Did remember to “save” my document.

Waited for the alarm to stop ringing.

Looked at the pan in dismay.

Felt like a total idiot.

No bringing it back. Way too charred.

My cats were hiding under the bed.

Became aware that the temperature had dropped significantly. It was very cold in my apartment.

Felt like a total idiot.

The words really flowed, though, and the writing went very well. The dish I was making turned out to be pretty good, could have used a little more garlic and cumin. I thought you’d want to know.

Still feel like a total idiot.




12 thoughts on “Nero fiddled while Rome burned (in a manner of speaking) …

  1. Oh dear Fransi! Same scenario, same response, same feelings of panic mixed with
    feeling like a total idiot – mine were mushrooms. Whilst I ran around like a mad woman, the local fire deparment was at my door in full regalia, hoses in hand WOW!
    Embarrased? Yes! As the Chief looked at the pan in the sink, in a slow drawl said
    “mushrooms”? and laughted. I’ll never live it down. Whenever I see him in town
    he’ll say as a hello “Frying any mushrooms lately Mrs. Chevalier?” with a big smile.
    I still feel my face turn red. Indeed so dumb!

    • It really is humiliating. The doorman must have thought I was insane — I was afraid the alarm ringing in my apartment would have triggered something in the main system and the fire department would show up at my door. So I called downstairs in a panic. I guess it takes more than a fried frying pan to sound the main alarm because he had no idea what I was talking about. So I was spared that particular embarrassment.

    • I think, at some point, it’s probably happened to everyone who’s ever cooked. I have had mishaps before, never quite as bad as this one. It was stupid and careless, but also funny. Thankfully it wasn’t more serious and no one was hurt. Lesson learned, hopefully and I’ll be more careful next time.

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