Unexpected headaches and frustrations


I have this thing about incense burners. The quick and easy version of it is this: I find some of them irresistibly cool.

The longer version places us on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, December of 2004. There was a German Christmas festival of sorts being held. It was more or less a grouping of vendors, presenting arts and crafts with holiday themes.

At one of the booths, incense and incense burners were on display. One of the burners was a man standing next to a display of fruit. He had a pipe in his mouth. The wonder of the figure was that it was designed so you could remove his upper body, which had been hollowed out from the waist to the head with a small hole connecting to the mouth. The lower half was designed as a pedestal, with a metal burner pad. So… light an incense cone… set the top half in place… the incense smoke would rise and exit from his mouth as though he was smoking a pipe.

As I said, irresistibly cool.

Since that time, we’ve added a similar figure of Santa Claus with a pipe, and a combination old-man-tree. It’s not an incredible collection as far as quantity. But, we really like them. And not being every day users of incense, they make for nice little displays and occasional use.

Terry went on a trip with work recently. Northeast type of thing… Maine and a bit of Canada. In one store, she saw an incense burner. A log cabin with a chimney. She had found a gift to bring home to me.

It arrived, presented to me with a smile, and was accompanied by three packages of different incense. And it is here that we arrive at the frustrations part of the story.

Do you burn incense? Have you ever had problems with them?

Every so often, I’ve come across some that simply won’t catch. They don’t burn. You can get them lit, but they don’t keep that hot spot… that red glow spot… that burn.

It has been taking forever to get even just a fraction of these recently purchased incense cones and sticks to burn. Matches don’t stay lit long enough. I’ve gone through a couple of grill lighters, and don’t plan on wasting more.

I’ve heard that dampness can be a major factor in this issue. Makes sense. Cones and sticks are dried out when made, with lots of moisture in the air cones and sticks capture a bit of the humidity, which in turn brings on problems getting cones and sticks to stay burning. It has been a very damp few weeks here in the northeast. So, yeah, it adds up. But…

I’m just not in the mood to try and rectify the situation. I’m not going to spread out the incense on a baking pan or sheet of foil and then place them into an oven set on a low heat in an attempt to dry them out. I have no desire to get a dozen grill lighters so I can sit next to the burner for five-minute stretches, lighting and relighting and relighting yet again, hoping that eventually the incense stick will continue to burn completely.

Been out in the garage working on some projects. While Terry makes the masterpieces when it comes to craft arrangements, every so often I turn in a few contributions. One of them involves wooden sleds, which I cut and sand and prep for the eventual painting and staining and assembly.

I bought one of those all-in-one kits a while ago. You know the idea… you head out to pick up a drill, because you need a new one that can handle a big project. When you get to the store, they have the drill you need. They also have a multi-piece kit, featuring that drill and a battery and a charger. Plus, a second battery… a saw and a flashlight and a sander… a heavy-duty carry bag… all for just $40 more. So, you buy the kit.

For ten-plus years—and by plus, it’s well over ten—that kit has served me well. But… the batteries are on the way out. I could buy new ones… at one point I did buy new ones because of how much use I was giving it during holiday craft projects… but honestly for the cost of even more batteries it’s likely time to consider investing in another all-in-one kit. For now, they do charge, and do work, but for short bursts. It takes a while to get them charged back up… basically I can have them all fully charged, run through them all while dropping the first one used into the charger, and before the first one is even close to ready again the others will be dead. Becomes a work for a half-hour, stop for four or more hours, repeat routine. So… yeah.

I hate headaches. But I think what I hate more is when they aren’t unexpected.

It’s one thing when an incense cone won’t light. Another thing when an incense stick won’t stay burning. But those are inconveniences, and usually a bit of a surprise.

When the sander died on me one day this past week… quickly… and wouldn’t charge again… well, I knew there were problems heading my way three or four years ago. I had been given warnings. Repeatedly. I just powered through them, adjusting my schedule or plans and getting the work done. Every project saying something like this to myself: “Just get me through this project, and I’ll buy new stuff for the next one.” Only every time I don’t buy new stuff. The next project arrives, I plug in the charger a day or two in advance and get the batteries as ready as they can be, and then find myself trying to nurse a battery-powered sander to the finish line just one more time.

It’s those situations where I knew better, and I could have done something about it, that’s… that’s frustrating.

I think the batteries are about charged again by now. And I still have some of that project to finish. So, if you’ll excuse me… (I’ll be back in about thirty minutes.)


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com