As a Monastery that makes soaps and candles, we've gotten used to smelling strange smells in strange places. Just yesterday the lovely vanilla fragrance from a batch of candles wafted all the way from the basement candle department (which, admittedly, is in the base of a stairwell) up to the second floor and all the way to the novitiate. You never know what fragrance will tickle your nose when you walk into choir—incense from yesterday's Solemnity, beeswax from the altar or votive candles, perfume from the flowers before Our Lady's statue, ...or even the 'scent of the day' clinging to our sisters who work in the soap and candle departments. We don't usually think twice when an unexpected smell greets us as we go about our day.
Today, though, was a little different. All morning a sickly sweet scent hung about the 'novitiate' stairwell. The base of this stairs is right next to the boiler, which was running. It was a strangely familiar smell, but no one could quite 'put their nose on it.' On the other side of the stairwell is a short hallway leading to the soap department, and who knows what new concoctions they might be creating in there! It was a bit of a mystery, but with a monastery of so many smells, it didn't bother us.
It did, however, bother Sabina, who started barking loudly during dinner as 'her' stairwell filled with the mysterious scent. That should have been a clue for us, as the 'normal' smells around here don't overly bother her. But she sometimes has a habit of barking during Dinner, thinking she should be invited (as she is when we have a talking meal in the community room), so we dismissed it.
At recreation after dinner Sr. Denise Marie came in to announce that the source of the smell had been discovered! Sr. Mary Veronica who is in charge of the shipping department and print shop, found a fluorescent lighting fixture that was one step away from flames. She and Sr. Mary Magdalene stopped on their way to dispose of it to show the rest of the sisters. Thanks be to God this was discovered and we didn't have a fire on our hands! We tried to read the date on the fixture and it looks as if it were from 1957! Yikes! Much of the wiring was cloth covered wires!
As you can see in the pictures, an omnious dark pool of melted something had seeped out from under the box. We are all wondering what exactly melted in there!