Up in flames

This is my first post on my new blog. I started writing a blog because I didn’t know how else to deal with my anxiety after the Christchurch earthquakes. Writing about my fears helped me immensely. It was an awful time. I couldn’t sleep at night and I was always on edge, waiting for that next aftershock. And there were so many aftershocks. Writing a blog was a form of therapy for me.

Earthquakes are different to other natural disasters because they don’t stop with the first big shake. There are aftershocks and with each subsequent large aftershock, the chance of more large ones increases. Imagine you are robbed at gunpoint and suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. But then imagine that just when you start to feel “normal” again, you are robbed at gunpoint a second time and then a third and this goes on for hundreds and hundreds of times. The frequency does not desensitise you to the event. I can attest to that. The best treatment is to remove yourself from the trauma altogether and to write about it and/or talk about it. I did all of these things and although I think the earthquakes have changed me forever, I feel pretty “normal” again now. I don’t feel quakerattled anymore. I’m rachelsquirrel now.

Rachelsquirrel does fun things like accidentally setting herself on fire. This morning I was lighting the stove to boil an egg for Elizabeth and I waved the match through the air to put it out only it didn’t go out, it just transferred the flame to my dressing gown. I didn’t notice that my gown was on fire until Daniel pointed it out. Then I completely freaked out, screamed and somehow managed to remove the burning gown – my default response in these situations is to panic and freak out. Fortunately the fire went out and the gown was only slightly singed. Daniel thinks he saved me now.

I can’t believe how quickly the flames spread though. My gown is cotton, so not as flammable as synthetic fibres, but still the whole left front from my chest down to my waist was alight. It was lucky my hair didn’t catch on fire.

23 Replies to “Up in flames”

  1. Pleased that you have turned the corner to become Rachelsquirrel. So glad also that Daniel saved your life! Fire is pretty frightening. I nearly burnt my kitchen down so I can imagine what a shock you got. Hope Elizabeth got her egg in the end. πŸ™‚

    Do you think it might be worthwhile using a darker font on your very nice new site?

    1. Thanks for the tip. I’ve changed the font colour to a slightly darker one. Let me know if it’s still hard to read. I’ll probably make lots of changes to my new blog so don’t expect the current look to stay the same πŸ˜‰

  2. I like Rachelsquirrel as a name, my one criticism, is that the blog design is very plain, albeit the content is great. You need a banner at the top as an intro. I’ll be honest, if I was to come here for the first time, I wouldn’t take a second look. I love your blog, and that’s why it’s my turn to be opinionated. πŸ™‚ Please don’t be mad at me…


    1. Thanks, AV. I appreciate the feedback and you’re not the only one who has mentioned the new theme. So I’m now on the hunt for a new one!

  3. ⭐ !!Congratulations!! ⭐ on your new blog and particularly on the evolution to Rachel Squirrel (sounds like a Private Investigator) and for showing others that it can be done. I like the easy read font and wide screen. A little colour in the header would be a bonus. I hope you enjoy. Go bears/squirrels 🐻 πŸ˜€

    P.S. Is this what you where excitied about ? or do we have a revelation to come. πŸ˜•

  4. Rachel, don’t you know that: ” people who play with fire get burnned”…………….Sorry,but I could not resist that, and I am pleased that you did not suffer any injury. One of the subjects that I teach is firefighting, to professional seafarers so I am well awre of its dangers, once a fire is started things can go awfully wrong in a very short space of time. Your dressing gown wasn’t Chinese cotton, was it????
    I guess I can empathise with you in the terror that you must feel re the Christchurch earthquake, it certainly would still be something that plays on your emotions all the time. I have a problem with going to sea………….I will not go at all now. I happened to be involved in an extremelty tragic collision at sea in 1964 and 82 sailors lost their lives, I spent many hours out in one of the ship’s motor cutters searching for survivors, I am still on medication for that…………..it is just something that you cannot get out of your mind.
    I guess teaching marine engineering and sea safety courses is not a great help either, but I do feel I have something to give to the industry. It must do some good, I am 74 and still working full time!!!

    1. Hi John,

      I suspect my gown was Chinese cotton. Does that make a difference?

      I imagine that with the experience you’ve had, you’re the best person to teach marine and fire safety. There’s nothing like having first-hand experience of these things when communicating the risks.

      1. If anything is not up to scratch or of a poorer quality than one would expect on any item…..it is often said “Is that Chinese!!!!”
        But on thinking silk……..where did it originate…….China Therefore Chinese silk should be good……..however as China has joined the “rat race” mass production and all things for the mighty dollar , one could well ask the question, “Is the quality as good as it should be?????”

      2. Yes, I agree. I was just being slow about the Chinese cotton. Or blonde! Whichever you prefer. Anything with the “Made in China” label is automatically given a stamp of poor quality which is a shame because I’m sure it wasn’t always this way. Apparently 30 years ago or so it was anything Made in Japan that was considered poor quality.

  5. When I saw the title, I thought that you had been the victim of unpleasant flame wars/trolling again. Thank goodness this not the case.

    Lighting gas stoves terrifies me. I haven’t had the option for years as all electric here, but setting myself on fire is my worst fear about gas.

    1. I prefer having gas to cook with as the heat is instant. But I can understand why some people might dislike it. I’m more worried about gas leaks than anything else. We have a log burner as our main source of heat and I love it. It’s so warm and I love the look of it and the sound of the fire.

  6. Hi Rachel, I am on a relatively low bandwidth connection and browse with scripts disabled. Did you know that your site is unusable with scripts disabled (eg with NoScript)? Only a blank page is displayed. As you are using wordpress.com, I am surprised – how have you managed that? Is the $30 “Custom Design” upgrade doing that? Normal WP blogs are not like that.

    Normally I would just say no thanks and go elsewhere, but since it was you I loaded the site in a script-enabled browser in a VM. 10 minutes later after 111 requests and 4.9MB downloaded (according to the Chrome developer tools) it still didn’t show me any more than the header and footer and a repeatedly expanding blob. I notice that you have over 3MB of images, the biggest being 500KB!

    I can get to this post using the VM from a link in my newsreader. That is better (several hundred KB) but still rather large for what is basically just text.

    1. Wow! That’s ridiculous! Ok. I’ll look into changing my theme. Thanks for letting me know, Chandra.

  7. So… a friend of mine was going around to schools and ‘demonstrating science’ for all the summer camp kids. When they played with fire, they always had a water hose or something ready and on hand.

    One fateful day he did indeed light his hair on fire. Did he remember to stop drop and roll? No. Did his assistant remember to hose him down? No. He got down on his knees and started smashing his head on the ground.

    He came back to engineering wearing a bandana.

    1. Really? Are you serious? We just can’t be trusted in fight or flight mode. When I panic I don’t think clearly anymore. Although I’d like to think I wouldn’t smash my head on the ground.

      1. Rachel… The only thing missing is the youtube video…

        But seriously, we all do something stupid occasionally. I’m sure the stats would bear that out.

        (Don’t tell anyone but if you want to see me freak out… Spiders.)

      2. I’m with you on spiders! They completely freak me out too. Why do you think I don’t live in Australia anymore?

  8. So glad you aren’t quakerattled any longer Rachel, and great isn’t it to know that things have moved on. That was then, this is now. Great to know too that blogging about it all helped you so much. But to set yourself on fire? Goodness, so glad you were ok, that could have been really nasty but you don’t need me to tell you that! And Daniel did save you…what a hero πŸ˜€

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