Our world is filled with sounds. Some are so much a part of our lives that we don’t hear them. Others alarm us to danger, such as the occasional siren in our neighborhood. On my other island we medevac people in need of more than a Band Aid to a hospital in Boston. We don’t’ have ventilators and therefore no serious virus carriers. Off they go. In normal times we’ve gotten used to a helicopter overhead every few days, and in the height of the season, one or two a day. Now, with the influx of people escaping elsewhere I sometimes hear five in a day. You get used to recognizing the difference between the helicopter noise and that of a regular commuter plane.
Other sounds I live by are the coming and going of the ferry with its blast of the horn. At 6:15 every morning there’s a rush of cars racing by my house on the way to the first ferry leaving the island. At 6:30 on the dot there’s a blast from the horn announcing it’s departure. The church bells toll the hour, every hour, around the clock. These are pleasant sounds, unlike those pesky beeps on our phone summoning attention.
Then there is the most annoying sound imaginable, the beep of the smoke alarm when the battery is about to go. Even when you remove the battery it has a mind of its own. And why does it always go off in the middle of the night? And you can’t replace the battery without an extension ladder. My smoke alarm is so sensitive that it goes off every time I make toast, even when I open windows and a door. So, I removed the battery and twisted the back cap into place. For a few minutes the light blinked and then emitted the weakest blip, almost like a whiny cat. Then it stopped. A few days later it began that weak beep at regular intervals to let me know it was still alive. After a day it stopped and then started again. Now it’s quiet and when I go to bed I worry that I won’t be awakened if there’s a real need to be alarmed. It has no battery in it. I know that whatever is involved with technology is out to get me. Nothing electronic has a simple on and off button.
Now, a year after all my appliances decided to rebel at once, I have a working washer and dryer, a dishwasher that does what it’s supposed to do, an ice maker in the refrigerator that, after several months of not making ice, is spewing it out like crazy. All it took was a good hard smack from Dave the appliance guy, as he is listed on my phone contacts. He replaced a gizmo in my oven that made it impossible to raise the temperature above 250 degrees. The broiler that didn’t work suddenly does. It’s a miracle and confirms my belief that one shouldn’t run immediately to replace expensive things until you’ve had a chance to live without them for a while. Sometimes things have a way of resolving themselves. Or not. But by that time I’ve usually learned to either do without or compromise my lifestyle. Grilling outdoors solves a lot of the oven issues and the idea of a clothesline should definitely be resurrected.
But this smoke detector thing is making me mad. It isn’t only in my house that this happens, but almost every house I’ve rented in Key West. They know when I’m back and they conspire against me. One year I had to remove the smoke detector in the bedroom and bury it in the garden to get it to stop. And then another one picked up the slack and began it’s regular chirping. If it sounded like a bird it might have been tolerable, but that insistent beeping is very unpleasant and impossible to ignore.
I’ve found the solution: music. Ben Harrison’s “Destino” CD is infectious and extremely good for distraction. I highly recommend all his CDs if you want to feel good, and when I talked to Helen Harrison the other day, she said he’s coming out with a new one. During this year of not going anywhere further than my deck I found music very uplifting. That’s the best I can offer at the moment. Especially if this pandemic continues.
Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resides on Nantucket, Massachusetts. Her latest books are “Salvage Style” and “Upscale Downsizing” (Sterling Publishers). Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.