Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Gives, Bud?


I've had good teachers and bad teachers. Most of the good teachers I remember were English teachers or history teachers or journalism teachers. Maybe it wasn't the teachers who were good or bad, but my affinity for their subjects. On the other hand, my high school biology teacher was whispered to have had a fling with a senior and my high school chemistry teacher (also the cheerleading sponsor) spent our hours together monotonously reading aloud from the textbook. She might as well have been reading Greek. So maybe the teachers' skills played as large a part as mine.

Regardless, the little science experiment that has been playing out on my kitchen counter has proved both amusing and frustrating. The tables for Dining by Design (and I am sorry if you are bored of the subject - it is likely to continue all week) are not allowed to have open flame. I like tapers. It's not that I don't like votives, I do, and hurricanes have their place, but I really like a tall, elegant taper.

Enter the bud vase from Nell Hill's. When I spied it I am quite sure the women around me could hear a bell go off. "I can put a taper in there. It will not be an open flame. It will be a perfectly stylish slender hurricane and I am a genius."

So, tra la, tra la, to the register I head with my basket. Nell Hill's manager, who was a manager of mine long ago, cautioned only that as the bud vase was not meant to hold a candle the heat might cause it to break. Good thinking. I'd check it out.

Drip, drip, drip a few drops of wax in the bottom to hold the taper steady, light the wick and wait. I was fixing dinner and helping with homework when the eldest Blandings boy said, "Oh, Mom, the candle went out." "Did someone blow it out?" "Nope." Huh.

I tried again. And again. With different sized candles. Out of drafts. Each and every time, regardless of the variables, the flame went out when the candle reached about two full inches from the top of the slender, genius hurricane. The boys, including Mr. Blandings, thought this was the most interesting thing I had done for a long time.

I get that the candle is not getting enough oxygen; I just don't get why. I mean, people survive for days buried in rubble from earthquakes, it just seems that oxygen would travel a couple of inches to ensure that I have a pretty table. It's the least oxygen could do.

I've asked the eldest to ask his science teacher, Mrs. T, why this would be. Mrs. T is an excellent teacher. If Mrs. T had been my science teacher I would be a modern day Curie. With stylish slender tapers to light my lab.

13 comments:

Tina Steele Lindsey said...

Patricia, though I love the bud vase (which regretfully wasn't a great candidate for tapers) I am really fascinated by what is behind it. Art? Marble? Can't quite tell.

Karena said...

Yes, the very least, and what a great idea, I love the little "hurricanes".

Karena
Art by Karena

Kare said...

I work at a junior college. I'll ask the chemistry instructor!

kare

AMELIA:) said...

.Hmm..even those slim slim tapers that they offer for topping cupcakes, do those work?
My boys just finished the victor mousetrap car for physics, all about "Thrust" - I can hardly wait to see what your boys do with that project as they burn the midnight oil.
pve

HOBAC said...

Have you thought of using those no flame candles?

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.ambiancehomecomforts.com/flamelesscandles.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.ambiancehomecomforts.com/flamelesscandles.html&usg=__ixMVP27pJlAJEpXiEa2MPwoh8io=&h=300&w=300&sz=28&hl=en&start=6&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=Hil41rPYJLnwnM:&tbnh=116&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dno%2Bflame%2Bcandles%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbs%3Disch:1

Mrs. Blandings said...

Tina - it is the painting over my mantle in the living room. Thanks!

Karena - if only they had worked.

Kare - let me know!

Patricia - I even tried those - they went out at exactly the same spot.

HOBAC - I have been considering those actually - thanks for the link.

La Maison Fou said...

If you must light up dear, I vote for the flameless ones too! Otherwise you could pick out a lovely bloom.
I do love the bud vase by the way,....& NH.
Good luck Patricia,
L.

The Muddy Dog said...

The only thing I can think of is to make your own tall, slim candle by putting in a long wick and pouring wax into the bud vase and letting it burn down? If you use soy wax, you will get a more even burn (need to make sure to use the right diameter wick to make sure you have an even wax pool) and little or no soot . I tried a candle like that once and it worked, although the container wasn't as tall as the bud vase. Good luck, can't wait to hear the mystery solved!

Linenqueen said...

Here is the reason your candle goes out. The flame consumes the oxygen and the heat of combustion drives the air upward, because of the narrow channel in your bud vase the fresh oxygenated air can not enter fast enough to sustain the flame.

There is a fix. Do you have a "dremel"? It is a small drill. If you use it with a diamond bit you will be able to drill a couple of holes in the bottom of your bud vase through which air can be sucked in for the flame. You must drill slowly, each hole should take 10 or 15 minutes to keep from breaking the glass. Let the bit do the work, don't press down.

Let us know what you decide to do. And good luck as always. Ann

Brayton Homestead Interiors said...

I love that vase too! great idea with the candle. it just looks so great all alone too!

Karen

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. B--what an elegant entry--perfectly formed--paid off with a lovely ending. just wonderful. You are really hitting your stride. I'm really enjoying your writing. thanks!!!

Barb Carney

Penelope Bianchi said...

HI! Although my science part of my brain atrophied years ago......there is a reason a "hurricane" is shaped the way it is.....(bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller is the reason the candle stays lit. Oxygen.) I actually love the curvy shape of a hurricane....and some are somewhat narrow.....but always curvy!

Love the fabrics....maybe combine the bud vase with a bud or few; with the hurricanes with tapers....I love tapers, too!! I am sure it will be gorgeous!!

Good luck!

P
ps even the candle devised by "muddy dog" would succumb to lack of oxygen,; I think!

Fiona said...

Oh my gosh, my high school chemistry teacher did the same thing! He actually MADE US MEMORIZE THE TABLE OF CONTENTS. He had taught at a college before, and I think he had no idea how to teach kids who had no background. It was a travesty, and that was the one year he taught at my otherwise very good school.

I still don't even get how to balance an equation.