Clapper Candle

Now that it’s the holiday season, Bill and I have started burning scented candles again.  We used to do it a lot when we lived in Atlanta.  It masked the mildew odors of summer when the house was closed up tight for months because of the heat and humidity.  We’d burn them when we lived in Idaho when the house was in lock-down for winter.  When we left Boise, we abandoned our partially burned Yankee Candle jars along with our partially burned dreams.  But the time has come to begin the ritual again – mainly to mask the smell of “old” that permeates Mom’s house.

We’ve pinpointed the source of the old smell to her closet, where she has dresses and suits dating back to my high school years, which were in the mid-60’s.  She has an armoire in her bedroom that has two full-sized drawers that contain nothing but sweaters, which she never wears, many that I remember from my years growing up in Michigan.

Once the house is sealed for the winter, which in Mom’s case means as soon as the temperature outside is lower than the thermostat setting of 78, we have to turn the furnace on so that it kicks in at night when the temperature plummets below 60 degrees.  Bill and I close our bedroom door and open a window so we can sleep without waking up on sweat-soaked sheets every hour and a half.  Mom, on the other hand, gets out another blanket (which makes two plus a sheet and a bedspread) as well as her personal-size afghan that she can pull over the bedspread should she become chilled in the middle of the night.

My point is that once the house is closed up, the old smell coming from her bedroom and closet is free to roam throughout the house.  Air conditioning prevents this phenomenon from occurring for some reason, but once the heat starts up, the smell wafts unfettered into all of the rooms.  Ergo, the candles.

Since her sense of smell has diminished with age, we thought the wonderful aroma of Macintosh apples or pumpkin pie would go unnoticed.  What we failed to take into account is her keen eyesight.  She wondered into the Arizona Room where we had a lit jar of Hazelnut Coffee sitting on a clay coaster.

“What’s that on fire on the bookshelf?” she asked, squinting toward the flickering light.

“It’s a candle, Mom,” I answered.

“Well, don’t forget to blow it out when you go to bed or you could burn down the house,” she instructed.

“No problem,” Bill replied, uncharacteristically jumping into the conversation.  “It’s a clapper candle.”

“What kind of candle is that?” she asked, cocking her head to give it a second look.

“You just clap and it goes out,” he replied.

“Really?”

“Sure.  We tried the ones with built-in wick timers but these work much better.”

“Well that’s just amazing,” she said, turning to leave the room.  “What will they think of next?”

“I’m guessing something along the lines of a BS detector,” I whispered as I leaned over to whack Bill on the arm.

“I’m already married to one of those,” he said with a grin.

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