By Pam Burke 

Just how dry is it in Pamville?


Any ideas I might have had for this week’s column were immediately erased in the moment I realized my home was not going to burst into flames, burn to the ground and start a wildland fire that obliterated the Hi-Line.

I’m sure you can imagine the degree of my elation.

This feeling was topped by a jumbled free-for-all kind of emotional brawl as events played out Tuesday.

I had some clothes drying in the dryer that morning and I needed to get them swapped out for the last load of wet clothes so they’d be dry early. Cheap old trailer houses get hot in 100-degree temps, even with an air conditioner. (Adulting doesn’t get much more boring than laundry chores for breakfast-time entertainment.)

When I opened the dryer door, the dryer shut off. (This was totally normal.) And the ceiling light went out above me. (Weird, right? This just couldn’t be a coincidence.) But then I noticed the light in the dryer went out, too. (This seemed like it would be a scene from some kind of home-safety video, and I was playing the part of the idiot with obviously disheveled hair and bland clothing who always makes the wrong choice … fair enough assessment, most days.)

I hollered to John that I think we blew a breaker because all this stuff just shut down. He happened to be standing about 5 feet from the breaker box and said he didn’t hear anything pop, “So just shut the door and start the dryer again,” he said.

Oh, like the dryer is going to reboot like a computer? (You know I’m a 24/7 sarcasm machine, right? Even early mornings can’t stop that. But I was game to try his suggestion — it beat reading the manual, besides nothing was going to happen. Right?)

I shut the dryer door, pushed the button and the dryer started ... and the lights came on. And my computer came on in the office. And the TV started in living room. (That’s, that’s … a full-scale exorcist possession of my appliances and electronics is what that is.)

I snatched the door open again and everything shut off — including the computer and the TV. (No, I am not kidding. And at this point I did a quick mental review of the home fire disaster plan along with a mental list of the number and location of living souls in the house.)

“I’m not doing that again,” I told the dryer. John asked, “Doing what?” And I said, “Well, I, um, I don’t, I’ll have to do it again because I don’t know how to explain it.” (I didn’t smell fire or ozone or sulfurous gases of hell or anything, so it was a calculated risk, plus John never would’ve believed me without the demo. Which is totally true.)

With John standing in the doorway, I closed the dryer door and hit the start button, and everything sprang to life, again. I yanked the door open. Everything died. Again. (Again! How were we not catching on fire?)

The rest of the story is about some pretty weird, but boring, troubleshooting, including me doing a quick survey of what outlets and lights were out (no logic), and John searching for something wrong with one of the electrical boxes while muttering the rules governing the processes of the electrical conductivity. Everything pointed to this: The ground was so dry our electrical ground rod wasn’t working.

No kidding.

John poured about 4 gallons of water on the ground at the base of the electrical ground rod and the problem was solved. We’ve been watering the ground rod (which sounds like a euphemism for illicit adult behavior, but isn’t, sadly) since then.

We have to grow electricity like trees in Pamville.


Yes this is real. Why does everybody keep asking me about that at [email protected]


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