I’ve got a spray for that!

I admit that I am a lazy housecleaner. If the dust bunnies aren’t choking me and the bathroom odor doesn’t grab me by the throat when I enter the room, I have a tendency to let sleeping dogs (or dirt) lie. And if I can’t figure out a way around it, I simply grab a Clorox wipe to cover any deficiencies.

This working relationship was rudely disrupted by a little thing called the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the first things to disappear from store shelves were all of the Clorox supplies intended to last for the next five years. I had only a small supply of bleach wipes in the house–how would I possibly clean and kill all of the Covid germs with that?

I came home from an unsuccessful store run and assessed my cleaning assets. I had enough toilet paper, enough dish soap and even enough shampoo. But none of these would guarantee that I was killing those little Covid devils!

It was time to do something drastic…and so I did. I cleaned out the cabinets under my sink in the kitchen and the sink in the bathroom. And you know what I discovered? I discovered that I’m a true hoarder and that was long before it was the fashion in a toilet paper shortage!

Crammed at the back of the cupboard were three or four bottles of spray cleaners, but the one that really stood out was the one with those magic words, “Kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs,” written on the label. Forget those bleach towelettes, I had SPRAY!

I loaded up on this, as of the time, unknown little gem and I sprayed everything. My husband complained that the whole house smelled like bleach. He pointed to the little rivulets of bleach running down the wall under the light switches and doorknobs. He protested when I sprayed down the laundry baskets and hangers (I did lose a few nice clothes to bleach there) and he accused me of spraying his toothbrush with bleach (I washed it afterward). But I didn’t care: I was fighting Covid, and I was doing it without bleach wipes!

Since then, even when the bleach wipes made their reappearance, I remained loyal to the spray. It has served me well in hard times and I will stay with it for good. It beats the wipes with its quick draw and wide shot.

I’m not sure Roy agrees with me, however. The other day, he came into the living room holding his good watch. “I think there may some dirt trapped here under the face…” he began.

“Say no more,” I answered, quick as a wink. “I can take care of any dirt.” And I grabbed my spray bottle of bleach cleaner and went to work. He looked at me for a moment, then looked at his own hand, dripping with spray and holding a watch thoroughly soaked. Then he simply turned and walked away.

I don’t what made him so upset, though. I’m sure the watch will work again once it has dried out…and you can be sure there’s no Covid in there!

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Lady of the Flies

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It happens every year. And I complain about it every year and every year, it does me no good to whine. This is the time of the year when the flies make their presence known in all of the most unpleasant ways.

During the height of the summer, they are less noisome. They fly fast–so fast that I could not hit them if I wanted to. However, they also don’t annoy when they are flying fast and ignoring my presence. It’s the fall, when they suddenly slow down and begin to make a murderer out of me.

I can hit flies at the speed they are flying now. They fly along at old lady pace and land in places where I can finish them off with one good crack of the flyswatter. The real problem is that they are suddenly so many in numbers that I wonder if they have organized a family reunion in which they have invited every one of their many thousands of relatives, all of whom are gathering in the Fauth household.

While I can hit them at this stage, there are so many that after a few rounds with the flyswatter, my kitchen floor looks like a fly killing field. Not to mention the mess to be cleaned off every surface in the house. It is a sad little fly blood bath and never makes me feel good. At least one of them got his revenge, however. I was drinking a nice cup of coffee with a plastic cover which contained only a small hole to drink from. I drank from it all morning, enjoying my daily coffee fix until I poured out the dregs and discovered a drowned fly carcass was in that liquid. I don’t know when or how it crawled in there, but I’m pretty sure I had enjoyed a lot of fly-flavored coffee that morning; a just revenge for all the flies I killed, I suppose, but definitely not the way I want to get my protein!

If it was just the common housefly that had invaded, that would be bad enough, but because of my inattention to a banana slow death on my counter, I have now had an invasion of fruit flies. These little devils make the common housefly a pleasure to deal with. They multiply faster than rabbits in season and they are MUCH faster and more elusive than a housefly.

I was up to the challenge, however. After an afternoon of killing houseflies, my blood was up and when I went to the kitchen sink to wash my hands, a cloud of fruit flies rose from the accommodating pipes of my sink. It was the last straw.

Without devising much of a plan, I snatched the Clorox spray from the counter and, screaming a war cry worthy of Braveheart, I began spraying bleach everywhere, on the sink, in the pipes, over the stove, along the counters, on the floor and even into the kitchen curtains. Fruit fly corpses littered the counters and the floor and the colors in my curtains turned white from fear (or bleach, whatever). It had been an ugly battle, but I emerged victorious.

Feeling mighty and terrible, I put away the bleach spray and the flyswatters and settled down in my favorite comfortable chair to relax. Just as I had begun to read my book, something went buzzing past my nose. Impossible! I had killed every fly for ten miles and besides, none of them was flying that fast. I jumped from the chair, and followed the trajectory of the unidentified flying insect. Crawling triumphantly across my living room windows was a boxelder bug! So excuse me, ladies in gentlemen, while I get my spray and my swatter for round three of the Insect Wars!

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Grandma’s a little rusty

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Now, I’m the first to admit that my best days as a grandma of babies are probably behind me. I have gotten used to throwing a towel, washcloth and clean night things on the bathroom counter and saying to my capable older grandchildren, “Okay, time for a change and a wash, get to it.” They do the work and Grandma relaxes in front of the television until they emerge squeaky clean and ready for bed. Now, I took care of them as babies, but it’s been 9 whole years ago since I dealt with diapers and sleepers and baby baths.

And then, almost a year ago, along came Emmett. He is such a bright and happy baby, and I love spending time with him, but I have realized that my skills for efficient baby care are a bit rusty. In addition, Emmett isn’t too sure he wants to trust me anyway.

This weekend was a prime example. Emmett is at that age where he takes a while to warm up to Grandma and Grandpa when they come for a visit. After this weekend, he may have even more issues to deal with, because he ended up in the rather inept hands of Grandpa and Grandma for a few harrowing moments.

I love to get the babies out of bed in the morning because I always think me releasing them from the crib makes me the hero. When I walked in, Emmett was standing up, leaning against the side of the crib. He was calling something in baby-ese, but judging by the look on his face when he saw me, whoever he was calling for, it wasn’t me.

That didn’t stop me from picking him up. He gave me a suspicious look all the way to the changing table, as if to say, “I called for Dad, but you’re not Dad.”

Ignoring the odd looks, I called for Grandpa to come in, but he, too, got a somewhat odd expression. Nonetheless, he needed a diaper change and some dry clothes (Emmett, not Grandpa), so I went to work. Of course, he had a messy diaper and it took me only three times as long to clean him up as it would have his parents.

After I had a fresh diaper in place, but not on, I noticed a little bit of rash. There was some cream on the table, so I applied some. Now, everyone knows what happens when you leave a baby without their diaper, and sure enough, Emmett peed and I mean, he peed everywhere.

Another clean diaper switched out the newly soiled one and I began to use wipes to try and clean up the baby. While doing so, I noticed that the pee had run under the baby and so he, and the new diaper were a mess all the way up the back.

New diaper number three had to be put on with Roy holding him in midair, because he couldn’t be placed back on the wet changing table. After that, we took him to the living room, where his grandfather declared, “He still smells like pee.”

“I don’t know what you want me to do,” I crabbed, “I don’t know where the baby tub is.”

At this point, one of my self-sufficient grandsons looked up from his video game and advised, “You better wait and ask Mommy. She knows what to do.”

Well, I am certainly capable of doing anything that “Mommy” can do, so I wet down and soaped up some paper towels. Using the same method as before (Grandpa hanging the baby in midair), I soaped down and wiped down the baby, who by this time, looked pretty grim indeed over the inept service he was getting.

Relieved, I laid him on the couch to put a fresh sleeper on. He immediately tried to escape, which I think shows some intelligent thought on his part. The sleeper was unlike any I had ever seen and I only put it on backwards once. Snapping four million (okay, maybe not that many) snaps on a squirming baby who is seriously trying to put a safe distance between you and him is a process that could take as much as a half hour–which it did.

When his parents returned, he lit up like a man up for execution who just got a reprieve. I lit up like a grandmother who has forgotten the finer points of baby care. I really want to have him come and visit for a week next summer like his brothers do. Do you suppose he will be showering and changing his own underwear by then? I didn’t think so!

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The Cheery Cheerleader

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I have a strong reputation at sporting events. My reputation is that I always sew at any athletic happening. People think that I do this because I am too bored with the sporting activity, but this is simply not true. I sew because it keeps me calm and reasonable…which I am not if I concentrate too hard on what is going on in the arena, court or field.

If I am sewing, I remain calm and friendly and interested. If I stop sewing, I turn into this crazy sports biddy that I do not personally recognize. I sew and I am serene (at least until I stick myself with a needle). It’s only when I drop my sewing in my lap that things get ugly.

I try, I want you to know that. I tell myself that I am the superior being and I can control myself and show the spectators on both sides what a good sport I am. This attitude lasts for at least the first five minutes I spend watching the game Then it all unravels (forgive the sewing reference–I couldn’t resist.)

“Oh, look, the other team scored a point, good for them,” I say with a look of Christian charity on my face…that lasts for the first point the other team scores. After that, it’s open season on the other side. “Look at that girl in the second row on the opposing side,” I snap at my husband, “she is cheering every time we miss a point. I just want to slap her.”

Normally, my husband is too wrapped up in the competition to sense the danger right away. It takes a little while to sink in. “That kid is making me crazy. If she gets up and cheers for the other team one more time, I’m going to demand that she be removed,” I declare through gritted teeth.

“Relax,” my husband responds, “that kid is the other team’s coach.”

“I don’t care,” I fume. “And I’m also going to get a pair of magnifying glasses for that line judge. She couldn’t tell an inbounds volleyball from a hailstone on a tin roof.”

It doesn’t matter the sport. I find soccer fans for the other team to be apt to rudely cheer for their players. I think referees at a baseball game should go into a profession more in keeping with their talents–like scrubbing toilets. Football coaches have no idea how to guide their teams (as I am apt to inform them at the top of my lungs) and as for basketball, well, forget it. Can you believe that they will call fouls on our team when the other team is obviously at fault?

“Oh look,” my husband will say, after I threaten to impale the opposing coach on my sewing needle, “you still have several rows to sew. Why don’t you sooth yourself and sew that and leave the commentary on the game to the professionals?”

I sew for a few more minutes before I can contain myself no longer. “Did you see that?” I exclaim, dropping my needle down among the popcorn bags and empty candy wrappers. “That girl clearly slammed the ball down on our court when she knew there were no players to return it.”

I shout a few suggestions as to the eye surgery needed by the referees while Roy frantically searches the debris under our feet for my sewing things. I could give you any number of other examples, but I think by now you understand why I sew at athletic events, whether I am there in person or watching on television. It’s hard to count the number of needles, thread spools, embroidery scissors, etc. that have been lost because I give them a heave in disgust over some ridiculous action by players, fans, coaches or referees.

This week has been particularly exhausting and my sewing has certainly suffered because of it. From, “Nice serve, sweetie, right into the net–let’s have another!” to “Why is the ref letting those boys jump on our players? They can’t play the game when they’re flat on the field! Come on, boys, give ’em a cleat in the eye!” ending with, “You can’t call back that touchdown–it’s the only one the Vikings have made! Eat my shoe, you darned TV”, I haven’t managed a lot of sewing, but they do say self-expression is good for the soul. I’m going to look upon my cheering in that very positive light.

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You’re doing just fine

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It’s been a long year, full of new and unusual medical procedures. I will admit that I’m becoming a little jaded about the miracles of modern medicine, since some of those miracles come from really uncomfortable moments.

In this year, I have had x-rays (and don’t tell me they are no problem…ever had a mammograms?). I have also experienced an MRI, which in itself wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have to use that machine where they slide you in a little hole like a loaf of bread in the oven. My objection to the MRI involves the noise, which had all the volume and soothing effect of a jackhammer being operated right by your ear.

Add to that spinal injections,, ultra-sounds and physical therapy sessions to work out the many muscle knots that were tied while I was undergoing these treatments. And in case I hadn’t scheduled myself for enough fun, this is the year I decided that I should have an implant put into my mouth just to give me enough teeth to chew with! It’s been interesting to say the least!

This month, I decided to have a little fun with something called a thyroid biopsy. This is a procedure where they basically put you head down, feet elevated and draw fluid from the thyroid with needles. I was so stupid, I thought you went down the throat to get at the thyroid, but I quickly found out that they had to put needles in the one place I had probably never had them before–my exposed neck! I had a bit of an idea how Anne Boleyn felt at the block!

I truly admire medical personnel and I feel for all they have been through and what they have to go through to help people to get well and remain well. But sometimes I wonder if they forget that the body they are working on isn’t as used to the procedures as they are.

For instance, when you are in a chair that is tilted so that your head is pointed to the floor and your feet are sticking in the air, and you are about to have a needle thrust into your neck it is useless for a medical professional to tell you to “breath normally.” If I can breathe at all, I’m lucky! They also instruct you to “not swallow.” Of course, as soon as they say that, all I can think about doing is swallowing!

When you are lying face-down on a table while they prepare to stick a needle directly in your spine, the instructions “don’t move,” and “relax” are counterproductive. I can manage the don’t move thing (although I really want to) but as for the relax part–forget it!

I think the phrase I am most resentful of during a medical procedure is “you’re doing just fine.” In most cases, I am in such a position that I’m not doing anything at all–except maybe silently screaming! In a dentist’s chair, having a post screwed into my jawbone or standing in front of a mammogram machine, so squished and positioned that I am forced to balance on tiptoe, the last thing that comes to mind is “fine”.

I understand the necessity of medical tests, but since they scare me more than a horde of Viking raiders, I am less than sympathetic to any attempt to make me “feel better.” I just want them to get finished, don’t stop in the middle to tell me I’m “doing fine.”

Because I am both terrified of all these medical tests and frustrated with the meaningless instructions to “breathe normally” and “relax,” I have developed a comeback that frequently causes them to pause a little. After the dentist told me I was “doing just fine,” I got around dental equipment, fingers in my mouth and a Novocain fat lip to reply, “so are you.” That stopped him in his tracks for a minute and in spite of the grinding he as doing on my jaw, I felt like I won one.

When the fellow about to give me a spinal injection told me to “not move,” I replied, “Don’t worry, I like where I am.” It got very quiet and I felt triumphant. During my last appointment with my biopsy test where I was told to “breath normally” I replied, “define normal.” She was so startled, she actually launched into a definition of the word.

So beware, medical community, I have decided the only way to deal with you is to use my smart mouth. And just for the record, I really am “doing fine.”

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The analog internet

It’s a humbling experience when you reach that point in life when you realize that even your nine-year-old grandson has outdistanced you on the technology superhighway. But that is precisely what happened when Arthur was visiting a week or so ago, because apparently, he’s a technological little wiz.

“Grandma, what are all these books that are the same?” he asked, while I was busy in the kitchen. He was bent to a lower bookshelf in the dining room, peering at the contents with a kind of offhand curiousity.

“Those are my encyclopedia,” I said, not listening as I rushed around, trying to get the meal ready.

“Why did you buy so many that are the same?” came the next question.

“They are not all the same one,” I answered, thinking maybe now was a good lesson for him about “the good old days.” Bending down to join him at the shelf, I pontificated, “These are like your internet, but they are in book form. For instance, suppose you wanted to look up squash.” I pulled out the S encyclopedia, which happens to be divided into two books. I pulled out the wrong one first, of course, and then I fumbled, searching desperately for squash.

“Here we are, squash,” I said, triumphant at last, pointing to the page and looking up at Arthur. He was wearing a look that was a cross between, “oh, my gosh, my grandma is old,” and “in the amount of time you took to look that up, I could have grown a squash.”

As he wandered away to play on his tablet (which I have discovered has nothing to do with paper, by the way), I was left to contemplate the fact that the “information age” has passed me by for certain. I still use those encyclopedias to look things up and not only that, I am in possession of what might be the last paper dictionary in existence.

I admit, I have not even tried to keep up. The advent of the cell phone has left me cold. I don’t mind sitting in one spot and talking on the telephone and I don’t care that my telephone will not take and distribute pictures. Cell phones today do a great deal more than provide vocal communication, they do just about everything but wash your hair (side note, when they do that, or clean the bathroom, sign me up).

It is impossible to go to a restaurant or a social event or even a classroom without seeing those phones in everyone’s hands. They apparently provide all the social contact some need, because I see so many people in restaurants sitting across the table from someone, conversing with someone entirely different on the phone. I used to wonder if I took off my clothes in one of those public places, how long would it take for anyone to notice? Of course, if they did, there would be some interesting pictures of me on Snapchat or something! There are actually support groups out there for people who are too attached to their phones…usually they communicate with each other on phones!

Phones have even affected my conversations with people– those who will look up from their phones long enough to talk. I never say, “I think squash was introduced by Native Americans to….” because I get that far before a forest of phones have cropped up in the hands of everyone there to check out that fact for me. For the record, I was okay with not being sure!

If there is anything worse than the cell phone age, it might be Alexa or Google or whatever invasive, know-it-all machine you want to let into your house. Okay, I get it, this is information at your fingertips, without having to do anything but say, “Alexa, what can you tell me about the origin of squash?” I’d still rather look it up on my own, in the quiet of my dining room, in one of my books that “all look like the same book.”

I once heard a disturbing story about the family with an Alexa, who all scattered in different directions one morning except for one daughter, who slept late, got up and wondered aloud where everyone had gone. Alexa answered her and was correct. Seriously, people are afraid of a tracing chip in their arms, when they tell Alexa everything, everyday, and they don’t know–maybe she works for the CIA!

So my grandson may have to grow up with the fact that his grandma is still addicted to her “analog internet,” and a phone that connects to the wall. And who knows what his grandchildren will be doing when he finds that he has taken a sidetrack on the railroad of progress into the future?

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A technological dinosaur

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I’m old. I’m the first to admit it. There are so many years between me and the kid who is happily operating the computer in the picture that it taxes my math skills to figure it out. This, of course, leads to the observation that my technology skills are about as useful as a shovel digging a hole in the water.

My humble excuse is that when I was born, computers were not an everyday item. I took classes in college, learning how to write cards for computer systems and then I walked across campus to feed them into the only computer in the school, which encompassed an entire room. There were so many people who would feed their cards into the computer and they would produce something wonderful. When I fed my cards into the computer, the computer made strange beeping noises and spit my cards out like they were so many pieces of burned meat.

My computer skills have never improved. As computers began to shrink, they took on more and more tasks. And each time, I was left further and further behind. By the time computers were controlled on keyboards and they fit on a desk, so many tasks had been taken over by computers, while I continued to write with paper and pencil and manage my checkbook with a calculator and even more significantly, I continued to talk on a telephone…attached to the wall.

I think it was when the computer switched to a cellphone that I realized I would never make it. I have just learned to type on a computer, maybe do some Facebook and even, check e-mail, and now technology is moving on leaving me in its gigawatted wake.

I have become that individual who knows just enough about technology to be dangerous. “Okay, I got my e-mail open, how do I check for new correspondence,” would be a typical question I have. “Click on the little envelope icon,” my child (who else would we consult) says with studied patience. “I hit the wrong thing, I hit the wrong thing. Now I’m in something called The Help Store. How do I get out of it?”

As if that weren’t enough, they have now moved all of those programs, or “apps” if I want to be up to date on terminology, to cell-phones. They have made these hand-held devises the new norm for most people. For me, I have trouble turning mine on and I usually pray no one calls me, because I don’t ever remember which way to swipe it to open it–is it right or left? Then, when I get in, I have to remember my password–no not the password for my e-mail or my Facebook that I can never remember, it’s the password for my phone that I definitely don’t remember!

Most people use their phones for everything: paying bills, reading the news, buying tickets. You name it and there is pretty much nothing that a phone can do today that I won’t be able to figure out. I ordered a plane ticket the other day and according to those cell-phone people I will be able to bring it up at the gate, show them my phone, and get on the plane. I figure there is a fifty-fifty chance I will be successful at that, so I’m either leaving for a four-day vacation, or I’m planning to sit in an airport lounge tomorrow morning and cry.

I know that my game of “continual get with the program” will not get me very far, but it has gotten me listed as the dinosaur of the technology community. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that, until the technological meteor strikes!

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Pooping on the pool party

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By Jackie Wells-Fauth

Now, let me start by saying I am a party person. If you are selling Tupperware or showering a bride or mother-to-be or even celebrating a birthday (provided there’s cake), I am right there and I do know how to party.

Having said all that, I am going to attack that standard party of the summer: the pool party. Now here is a party that brings out the pooper in me. (Not literally, people!) There are just so many things about a pool party that are not meant for me, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s start with the location. In order to have a pool party, one must be close to a pool. This presents two possibilities. Either you must be indoors in a large, echoing, reflecting building, usually so humid it will drop you to your knees, or you must be outside…in the hot sun…with bugs and stuff. Need I say more? In both cases, it requires you to walk with your bare feet over rough surfaces so as to keep damp feet from slipping. Yeah, yeah, I get it, but I don’t like it!

My second objection has to do with the attire. Most swimming suits have all the modesty of a g-string and a couple of pasties. Given that my body would better be suited to one of those suits from the early 1900s which had sleeves, a collar and a skirt, together with heavy black stockings, today’s swimming suits just don’t work. I look at the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and I laugh. Yeah, trying wearing one of those chains tied together with a half a tissue into any respectable pool and see how fast you rust! No, I’m afraid swimsuits are out for me!

Then there is the matter of pool party activities. I know, I know, you’re supposed to get in the pool and swim. But what happens if you can’t swim? You are relegated to the sidelines, where you crisp up like an overdone french fry and visualize what life would be like in a desert. So then, it’s into the pool. For a woman who equates “laps” with what a dog does to a water dish, swimming around the pool would be about as easy as convincing Godzilla to calm down, for heaven’s sake. Usually, it’s impossible for me to play any of the water games they have, because I have so many flippers, goggles, arm floaties, etc. on, that I move like the Michelin tire mascot!

Once in the pool, we move on to my next objection. Why do people assume that because you are in a pool, you must want to get wet…involuntarily? You have the splasher, who just can’t resist hitting the water in front of your face and planting about a gallon of it in your eyes, nose and mouth, causing you to cough, splutter and sneeze like a plague victim for the next hour. Then there is the dunker, who feels that the terrible hairdo you wore into the pool will be improved if he/she gets your head entirely under the water. That’s also unpleasant because generally, I manage to suck about half the pool into my lungs when I go under. My lungs don’t like that! And finally, we have the cannonballer (I know that’s not a word, but it’s very descriptive). This is the individual who believes that steps into the pool are for wusses and so they enter the pool at a flying leap and manage to splash you, dunk you and force a bucket or two of water up your nose in a neat, waterboarding maneuver, all in one, satisfying motion!

The exit from the pool is also on my list of things not to do at a pool party. Of course, you are soaking wet, because your fellow partiers felt that was necessary, and then, you generally have to enter a building or hallway which is air-conditioned. The sensation of walking into the north pole in a soaking wet swimsuit is one I have nightmares about. When I walk in to that chilled air in soaking wet clothing, I can’t get to a bathroom quickly enough, so I don’t add to the liquid on the floors! If you wonder who I am at the pool party, I am the person walking around in a heavy sweater and mittens, because I can’t get dry enough or warm enough after that experience.

Now, I’m sure that by this time all of you agree that I am a party pooper when it comes to pool parties. There can’t be that many people who agree with me, or there wouldn’t be so many pool parties throughout the country during summer days. Therefore, this is your fair warning: if you want to invite me to a party, have me over in the fall or the spring, over even at your annual Christmas party, but don’t include me in your pool party. I give new meaning to the phrase “all wet.”

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The forgotten vacation

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Sorry to have been away from my blog, but we have been enjoying a driving vacation over the past few weeks. It was enjoyable, at least I think so, it’s hard to remember everything and the older I get, the more I run into this problem.

We were excited to get away, but our excitement may have affected our ability to pack reasonably and remember things for the trip. We didn’t notice it at first. The first day’s drive was fun and informative and if I finally noticed that I didn’t have the card for my camera, it was a minor annoyance. As I say, this was the case at first.

By four o’clock, when I had taken three pictures before the card signaled, “No more pictures, I’m full,” I was taking things a little more seriously. So, we left the tourist path and pursued the, “I need a new picture card thingy,” path. The people in the shop where we went in search of it were unable to grasp the fact that we wanted a card, not just because our card was full, but because we had forgotten the new card that we had already bought. At least, the clerk I purchased it from looked uncomprehending, but maybe that was because I was filling him full of this information and he really didn’t need to hear my “I’m losing my mind” rant when his coffee break was coming up!

Okay, so we forgot the extra card, no biggie. Until evening hit and I realized that I had forgotten my hairbrush…and any hairbands at all. So, okay, so we hunt down a local WalMart and I restock. Now we’re set, right? So we went to our motel room and Roy went to take his evening medications…which he keeps in his shaving kit and–you guessed it! No shaving kit.

Now, of anything we were noticing we forgot, this was probably the most serious. We spent a restless night, wondering if we would be forced to return home for the missing medication. The next morning, our pharmacy and the one in the town we had stayed in were able to work out an arrangement to get enough medication for the trip. We had to wait two hours, however, so while we were waiting in the car, I bought a couple of chocolate chunk cookies to eat.

It was when I was getting out of the car to go back in the store because I forgot to buy water that I noticed that one of the chocolate chunks had dropped from my cookie…and my leg had gently warmed it so it spread to the maximum amount of the cloth car seat possible.

I went and got the water, came back, got into the trunk to get the paper towels I always carry on a driving trip and discovered I had none. Back to the store where I purchased some rather costly paper towels and I did a scrub job on the car and a muttering under my breath job on myself.

However, we were finally on the road! Our first stop for the day involved a hiking path. Five minutes in, my feet were already complaining. This was odd because, I am actually a pretty good hiker. However that is when I have the proper shoes…which I had forgotten at home…along with the ankle strap I wear when I don’t have the proper shoes. So now, it was necessary to make an unscheduled purchase of expensive shoes which would be redundant when I got home, along with the ankle strap I bought, and which has an identical mate at home. My forgetfulness was starting to cost money!

It became necessary to buy shampoo and conditioner, because the stuff provided in the hotel rooms wouldn’t take care of my bangs, let alone my full head of hair and, since I know this, I always make sure I’ve got a supply with me–which I forgot to do this time. I forgot my heating pad which my back really needed because of the hiking I did without my proper shoes.

I forgot a bathing suit, which I didn’t discover until we got to a hotel with a pool. Then, going shopping for one, I took one look at the massive number of suits, asking massive prices and revealing more than I would show at a physical, and forgot to buy one. I used some shorts that I had, mercifully packed and waited until the pool area was empty.

We played the “I forgot” game all the way through the vacation. We forgot our binoculars and Roy refused to replace them on principal–the principal of “I paid an outrageous price for the pair I’ve got and I’m darned if I’m buying another one that obviously came out of Fort Knox.” We forgot the GPS and this one was pretty major, because we forget directions as soon as someone gives them to us and the GPS always remembers.

We were getting used to stopping at multiple stores to replace things like shaving materials and stamps for postcards, but the final straw may have come when we toured the forest fire. Yes, I know people don’t tour forest fires, but we really didn’t plan it when it happened. We were driving through the Bitterroot Mountains in southern Montana and since things are pretty hot and dry there, the mountains were being troubled with fire outbreaks. On our way through we could see there was a smoke haze, but it seemed to be away from us and they weren’t stopping traffic, so we kept going. We read the signs about bears being possible, getting away from danger area and considered that we were smart enough to stay in the car.

Then it happened: we were driving along and a portion of the trees just above us were on fire. It was our first forest fire; we were typical tourists. “Get the camera,” Roy said. “I can get a shot from over here.”

“The camera’s in the trunk,” I whispered back, “and I’m not becoming dinner for some bear or getting burned up, so I can get it out.”

He was incredulous. “You are supposed to make sure the camera is in the car. That is one of your tasks every morning. So why isn’t the camera in the car?”

And you know what I answered, “I forgot.”

We made it back home all right and no, before you ask, we didn’t forget the way. The atlas is about the only thing we remembered to pack!

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That’s when the wheels fell off the road trip

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

My husband, Roy, is generally considered to be the most patient and the mildest of men. He has to be, or I would have been pushed off a bridge by him years ago. He does have limits, though, and it is never a pretty picture when he is pushed past them.

This week, we played host to our grandsons, hereafter identified as Grandson A, who is ten years old and Grandson B, who is 8. We put these two little boys in the car for an extended road trip on Wednesday, knowing full well that neither of them was excited about a long drive, having endured a six-hour travel time just to get to our house.

Nevertheless, we had business to take care of in Sioux Falls that we didn’t want to put off and then, we planned to drive to the Missouri River near Pierre to enjoy some swimming. Roy had taken the boys before and they had enjoyed it a great deal, so he began this road trip in great anticipation that everyone would fall in line with his plans.

He reckoned without a number of things: First, the business in Sioux Falls involved a medical appointment for me. It was for a treatment which, while it was important, involved having a sore back. It took away a lot of my enthusiasm to do anything afterward besides go home.

Second: The weather. Wednesday was predicted to be a day of over 100 degrees. I am not a fan of hot weather in any case and since I was also not enjoying great health, I began expressing my wish to not stand on the river banks and cook while being eaten alive by little bugs made lively by the heat. When I say I was expressing myself, I mean that for the entire trip from Sioux Falls to Pierre, I gave the weather report every two minutes. “Now it’s 101, good grief, we’ll cook.” “Well, forget it, now it’s 105. We are all going to have heat stroke.” “It’s 103 now. I will not be responsible for the sunburns…I just hope we have enough aloe.”

Third: Grandson A was unimpressed by the road trip and refused to be cajoled over the fun times we would have when we got to the river. In an increasingly loud and plaintive voice, he demanded that we go home, that we not go to the river today, demanding to know whose dumb idea this was, how much longer we had to go, etc. It might not have been quite so bad if we had not forgotten the car chargers for the boys’ tablets. Once they ran out of charge and the only entertainment was to look at a blank screen. Things went downhill from there.

Fourth: Grandson B is now brought into the cacophony of noise in the car when Grandson A, discovering that his protests were not helping, began annoying his younger brother, who reciprocated by hollering and whining for him to “stop that!”

Fifth: The wife employed sarcasm when she remarked (over the noise coming from the backseat), “Oh, now we’re having fun.” This brought increased wails from the back seat where Grandson B cried, “I want to go to the river and have fun!” while Grandson A joined in with a loud lament, “This is NOT fun at all!”

And it is at this point, with a trio of dissenters singing the blues, that the wheels came off of this particular road trip. Fed up to his eyes with the hours-long lack of gratitude for his plan, Roy exploded. He gave that familiar “dad speech” in which he threatened that unless everyone shaped up and had fun immediately, there would be dire consequences. It was the sight of their otherwise patient grandfather and my calm husband, shouting at the top of his lungs and declaring that we were going to have fun if it was the last thing we did, while his face turned scarlet and spittle sprayed everywhere that finally silenced the rest of us.

We traveled the rest of that hideous trip from hell in silence and finally made it to the river with no bloodshed. Once everyone had swimsuits on or like me, sat in the shade with a cool breeze blowing off the water, we all discovered that it was a pretty good plan on such a hot day after all. Thanks to sun screen, water shirts, and late afternoon temperatures, everyone enjoyed the trip to the river a great deal…even if we had been threatened with a good time.

And Grandson A, Grandson B and their grandmother may have learned that there is a point at which Grandpa can lose his famous cool and the wheels can fly off the cart!

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