Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Duraflame Stage of Life #SOL17
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Slice of Life: Duraflame Stage of Life #SOL17


I grew up watching reruns of The Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver.  Carol Brady and June Cleaver somehow worked their way into my schema of how a household should function when the family arrives home from a long day.

Casserole in the oven, laundry neatly folded in piles, fresh flowers on the table, a roaring fire, calm background music and a perfectly coiffed hairdo donned by me.

Now I am perfectly aware of all the stereotypes embedded in this vision and realize I should change my schema.  I am not home all day and I certainly do not have Alice to help me… why did Carol need Alice anyway???  Still, I admit, I do want my family to come home to a welcoming, joyful, calm environment.  How can I pull this off in the fifteen-minute lead time I often have on the other members of my family?  What can I do to speed up what conceivably took Carol and June all day to create?

Recently, I have discovered a solution.  A solution that makes me feel great.  I race in the door, drop my things in my office and head directly to the living room.  I grab a Duraflame log, throw it, with two other logs, on the fire, light it, and voila – I create an instant homey environment.  Somehow knowing the fire is burning in the living room relaxes me as I head into the kitchen to figure out what we will eat for dinner.  The fire distracts my family’s attention away from the stacks of unopened mail, the piles of dirty laundry waiting to be cleaned and the sink filled with the breakfast dishes.

I was feeling pretty good about my Duraflame solution until there was traffic one night and I lost my lead time…

Hey, do you mind just getting the fire going while I start dinner?  I just got home too.

Sure.  Let me walk the dog and then I will do it when I get back.

No just throw it on as you go out.  That way it is going when the boys get home.

I can’t just throw it on Clare, I need to sit there and make sure it takes.

Oh no, you don’t.  I got Duraflame – just light it and go.

 His face said it all.  He likes to forage for kindling and get the fire started without using anything but wood.  He spends time creating the prefect arrangement of logs to allow for ventilation.  He sits, he adjusts, he watches, and he tends.  It is a process.

I don’t like to use Duraflame.  I will make it when I get back – it will be fine. 

 He returns and the fire is roaring.

Why did you make the fire?  I was happy to make it.

I know, but I wanted a fire.  I didn’t want you sitting in the living room making a fire.

But that’s the whole point of having a fire.

Is it?  Have you liked coming home to fire these past weeks?

Yeah – it’s great.  We have been sitting in front of it after dinner and I love that too.

I’m glad. That’s why I am making a fire each night.

But I don’t like using Duraflame.

Why?  It is not toxic.  The chimney sweep said it is good for the chimney.  It’s quick.  It still crackles.  What’s the problem?

I just don’t like it.  It is the principle.  Fires should be made.


I pause and try to find the right words.  I don’t have the bandwidth to say it delicately.


It is not about what we like; it is about the stage of our lives.  Whether we like it or not, we are at a Duraflame stage of our lives.  We are both working.  We have two teenagers.  We are supporting your nana by visiting her daily.  We love to have fun and never do errands on the weekends.  We need Duraflame – something in our lives that just instantly happens and requires no attention.  Duraflame asks for nothing from us.  It just burns.  It just brings joy. I don’t care about principle.   I love Duraflame.

 He pauses to make sure my oration on the finer points of Duraflame is over.  He then starts to feed the dog, signaling he surrenders.  I continue making dinner and we are ready for the arrival of our boys.  Fire roaring and dinner cooking.  We are ready and available to listen.  We are ready and available to connect.  We are ready and available to enjoy each other’s company for the short time we have before we all head in different directions for the rest of the evening.

Later, the two of us are sitting in front of the fire catching up on emails.

I do like the fire.

I know you do. 

It is the principle – it is like cheating using those Duraflame logs.

I know, and in three years you can spend hours making the fire.  It’s just that time is too precious right now. We don’t have hours.   I’m okay with being in a Duraflame stage of life. 

We laugh as the fire continues to burn – asking nothing from us.


  • Avatar
    Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 09:47h, 28 March Reply

    (Laughing while actually tearing up). Living the dream, living the dream. Ps. I distract them with the smell of baking while I have a glass of wine.

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    Aileen Hower
    Posted at 09:50h, 28 March Reply

    This is such a rich slice! I felt like I was standing in the kitchen eavesdropping on your conversation – like Alice!

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 10:20h, 28 March Reply

    “I don’t have the bandwidth to say this delicately.” What a great line! Your slice today is so real and true. This duraflame stage of life will pass, but the love will always be there and your kids will remember it—maybe not the fire exactly, but the feeling of home. Like the atmosphere provided by June and Carol (but better).

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 11:28h, 28 March Reply

    Just loved reading this, Clare, because I could actually hear your voice saying the words! Really, I could! The “Duraflame stage of our life” made me laugh out loud, but there was so much truth and good sense to what you were saying here, A fire in the fireplace does make a house feel more like a home. I loved the ending – the continued conversation after dinner in front of the fire – and your final line! A great piece, Clare. If you were going to show older students how to use conversation in a piece of writing – wow! – this would make an excellent mentor text!

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    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 13:19h, 28 March Reply

    June, Carol, and Alice would be proud! In the end, it’s all about being there in the best possible way. Great slice, thank you.

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    Posted at 19:43h, 28 March Reply

    I loved reading this story. I could hear your tense but controlled conversation. A Duraflame stage, who knew?

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    Lisa C
    Posted at 21:49h, 28 March Reply

    This made me laugh! “Duraflames asks for nothing from us. It just burns” LOL I need more things like that in my life.

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    Linda Baie
    Posted at 23:39h, 28 March Reply

    I’ve always had a fireplace until this last move. I’d love to have a Duraflame fire. One of the nice memories is watching a fire built. I understand your husband’s side, but yours too, and if Duraflame makes it all work, go for it. At a friend’s house, all they do is flip a switch to turn on the gas flames! Loved the way your wrote this, very fun.

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    Posted at 00:24h, 29 March Reply

    Well, this could have been a conversation in my house. I’m a Duraflame, whatever it takes, person…Scott is a purist. But, thirty years on, it’s all good. LOVED this post Clare!

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    Katie Logonauts
    Posted at 00:50h, 29 March Reply

    “A Duraflame stage of life” I’m tucking that one away. Love this post SO much!

    (Sadly, when we finally had the chimney sweep out to inspect the chimney in our new home, we learned that it is not operational and upgrading or repairing costs thousands. Hoping for an outdoor solution when the weather turns!)

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    Katherine Sokolowski
    Posted at 01:04h, 29 March Reply

    This is a riot, and so relatable. I think I’m in the same stage of life.

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    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 01:43h, 29 March Reply

    Reading this post was so real and fresh it felt as if I were there listening in to this great back and forth between you and your husband. You captured it all so well!
    By the way… I bet Carol cooked TV dinners once in a while! Just saying…

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    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 02:25h, 29 March Reply

    First of all…”What can I do to speed up what conceivably took Carol and June all day to create?” Let’s remember that at least Carol also had Alice–just saying. And I have to take issue with your bandwidth and your delicacy because I have to say that your oration is brilliant. If he doesn’t get that right now there isn’t time for kindling and tending when there’s a great product like Duraflame, then high five to you for reminding him about that! Yes, it’s a strange time in life when time matters so much and passes so quickly and has SO much packed into it.

    As always, you make me laugh and think. Thank you for that.

    • Avatar
      Posted at 02:30h, 29 March Reply

      Oh my gosh! This piece is practically perfect. It so, so beautifully captures that teenager time of life. And it’s funny besides!

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