Category Archives: Humorous Column

Musings on massage

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Of all the odd things that have happened to me over the past year and a half, (and there have been quite a few) perhaps the oddest would be that I have been voluntarily going to massage appointments. Now, some people will read that and say, “What? Of course you would go to massage voluntarily!” I wish I was one of those people–but I’m not.

I am an individual with personal space and boundary issues. I like to keep my distance. As for taking off my clothes, I would shower in my shirt and jeans if I could figure out how to get clean that way. To receive a massage, you must both remove at least some clothing and you must abandon your boundary issues. So, I was never one of those people who scheduled a massage the same way they do a hair appointment or a pedicure. Until now, that is.

My last year has been fraught with back and neck issues and it wasn’t very long into it before someone suggested physical therapy. Once you have been stretched, twisted, snapped and manipulated by a physical therapist, you lose a lot of your inhibitions and a lot of your fear of being tortured on a rack. They do their job well, but they don’t do it easily. And when they are done and you’re feeling a little less tied in knots, their final advice is, “Keep going regularly to a therapist.”

For a therapist to work on me, I have to get out of my clothes from the waist up. Then, I must hoist my heavy body onto a narrow table, lying face down (for the back, you know) and figure out something comfortable to do with my arms. The first time I went, I put my claustrophobic face in that little headrest, ignored the fact that my nose was itching incredibly, and lifted my feet onto the little support pillow, praying the whole time I wouldn’t have some sort of hysterical fit.

In this position, I discovered I couldn’t breath very well, couldn’t adjust my chest in any comfortable position and worst of all, couldn’t see what the massage therapist was doing. They usually play some comforting “elevator” type music, but if that is designed to relax me, it doesn’t. I have always hated elevator music and I am so busy preparing for when they start the massage that I don’t hear it anyway.

Massage would be a great thing if they didn’t insist on touching places where I am stiff and sore. I know, I know, that is their job, and truly I do feel better–later–but at the time, it can be painful. “Just turn your head a little this way,” they will instruct and I will try, but I’m sure I’m as stiff as a board when they try to do anything to help me and my head is always silently screaming that it doesn’t WANT to turn that way!

I have never been very agile at moving positions when I am on my stomach and worst of all, no matter how much I avoid gaseous foods before I go, I always seem to feel bloated when I go and I always managed to prove it–loudly–before the session is over. I guess someone passing gas in their faces is one of the hazards of their profession, but I always hate to be the one to do it!

One of the hardest things to get used to was the manipulation of the neck. As part of that, they apply gentle pressure under the ears and pull. I am sure I go in with my neck folded down into my shoulders like a turtle, but by the time they are done stretching, I feel more like a giraffe. The first time it was done, I had a terrible dream that night that I was on the block and being beheaded. Only they didn’t chop my head off, they just pulled it off. Massage has a strange effect on my dreams!

While I don’t much enjoy the process of massage, I can tell that it helps with my neck and back issues. I admit this reluctantly because I would like to be right in all of my phobias and the one about being worse off if someone touches me has proven untrue. Even so, when I tell someone I have a massage appointment and they sigh and say, “Oh I LOVE massage! It is so relaxing and enjoyable,” I always have to bite my tongue just a little. But only a little–I don’t want to injure it and require another massage!

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To love, honor and share my chocolate

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My cousin Diane is such a sweet lady. She sent me a small package over the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ll bet she never dreamed when she did so that she would set off a small controversy in my household. But, then again, the controversy is of long standing and she only helped introduce the latest chapter.

She sent me a paperback romance novel, some old clippings and a large bar of chocolate. And she addressed the package to “Roy and Jackie.” Now, this is where she made her mistake. I was delighted to get the clippings and the novel and as I sat down to read it, I casually unwrapped the chocolate bar and had a few squares. It was very good.

Roy wandered in at this point and he was aghast. “You are eating my chocolate bar,” he exclaimed in great chagrin.

“Who says it’s your chocolate?” I was sure of my ground, and besides, I had already eaten some of the chocolate…I couldn’t admit to being wrong now.

“She sent it to me. You got the book and I got the chocolate,” he pointed out with an aggrieved air as he attempted to salvage what he could of the candy.

“Well, you have to learn to share,” I said piously. He just shook his head. This is an old argument. Do husbands and wives have to automatically share their possessions…chocolate, time, money? But Roy has never quite gotten used to the idea that I will be sharing everything he has…including chocolate! He seems to feel I share his things, but not mine. This is ridiculous–anytime he wants to borrow my bras or knitting needles, he is welcome to them. Chocolate…not so much!

This sharing things is a long-standing tradition. The strength of a marriage can be tested on whether or not you can trust each other with your things. Roy walked by the display of his hunting trophies last week and after taking a second look, said in a panic, “Where are my prize deer horns?”

“You mean those horns you removed from a dead deer and hung on the wall,” I am an expert at stalling.

“Yes, those. Where are they? You didn’t throw them away?”

“Of course not. I borrowed them and took them to school to use as a prop for our play,” I thought it was a reasonable explanation.

“You took them without asking?”

“It’s in the marriage vows dear,” I replied. “You promised to endow me with all your worldly goods. That includes deer horns hanging in my house.”

Apparently, as in the case of my chocolate, he doesn’t feel that his deer horns fall under the category of “things you share with your spouse.” It’s a very uneven road we travel on this point in our union. While I have generously offered him anything he wants to use in my craft room (as long as it’s not edible), he has all but forbidden me the use of his tools and anything else found in the garage.

I am not a gardener, but not having the opportunity to use the garden hoses is sometimes difficult. Once, early in our marriage, I took out one of his garden hoses to wash down some rugs and left it in the grass. He then, inadvertently ran over it with the lawn mower, leaving several puncture marks. Since then, I would have to have a presidential mandate to use any of his little darlings for my work. It’s true, I won’t share chocolate, but he is very selfish with his garden tools!

I could give innumerable examples of our struggles with sharing, but you get the picture. It’s a simple case of what’s Roy’s is mine and what’s mine is mine. I have no trouble with this philosophy, but Roy really seems put out about it. Especially when it involves chocolate, which is a trigger for both of us.

So when my cousin sent me the paperback romance novel and chocolate, Roy thought the chocolate was for him. It was not…but he’s welcome to read the romance novel if he is so inclined. I think that’s generous and sharing, don’t you?

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I’m saving that for later

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You know, sometimes children can be so rude! My children have known for many years that I am a borderline hoarder, but it’s no reason for them to point it out. This week, however, my older daughter sent me an article, which in essence, said that a person should live their life in such a way that when their children have to clean out their houses, they spend a lot of time saying, “What in the (foul word) was she saving this for? She added that maybe I would be sitting on a cloud somewhere laughing as they tried to sort through the “collections” in my house.

Now, if you’re reading this while you are at the same time looking at a collection of old rubber bands and ripped up hair bands or maybe your collection of broken silverware, you are a person who understands me. No one knows just when I might need those bank books that are no longer current and no longer on any bank still operating in the state, but maybe I can use them for my memoirs. And if not, then my children will have to say, “What was Mother doing with these?” as they pitch them out in the overflowing trash.

I have magazines that are so old, they may be considered first editions and I have no intention of throwing them away, because they contain crossword puzzles that I will do “someday” or they contain recipes I want to try if I ever collect the bizarre ingredients. There is even one in there for a hair rinse formula that is homemade and will give your hair a lustrous shine, but I have to keep all of the magazines so I don’t throw it away, right?

I come from a long line of “collectors”. My mother always saved those covers that grocery stores put on cakes and other baked goods. When I finally helped her clean her attic, we filled a large trash container with them…along with the families of bugs which had lived in them rent-free for years. My grandmother, on the other hand, diligently saved the little foil wrappers that came covering her snack cakes. I once picked up a bread bag filled with these neat little tin foil squares and asked, “What are you going to do with these?” Without missing a beat, she answered, “They will be your wedding present.”

So you see, I really have no choice except to be a hoarder. I have collections of yarn in various containers throughout the house. I am afraid to collect it all in one place because I am afraid it would fill a large closet and I’d be forced to do something with it. My children will have to sort it out when I’m gone, saying things like, “Would you tell me why Mom was saving three partial skeins of dirt-gray yarn? What are we supposed to do with this?”

Collecting has always seemed frugal to me. For instance, doesn’t everyone have a button jar or something containing all the broken, mis-matched buttons they have collected over the years? You never know when you will find a button that works perfectly for an empty button hole. In the same closet I have held on to every dress pattern that I ever acquired. So what if some of them are for sundresses only the young could wear and most of them are of a size that I maybe never was? They might be useful someday.

It will be up to my daughters to figure out what I was doing with a dish full of china pieces (I planned to glue them together one day) and why there is a medium-sized basket which contains all of the obsolete keys I have ever collected. I have this recurring dream that I will come across a door someday that has the secrets to life behind it and it will be locked and only I have a key–somewhere in that basket! I kind of hope my children have enough of me in them that they will be afraid to throw away those keys for fear of facing that very same locked door.

So yes, when my children are finally forced to sort through my houseful of junk, they are going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff as they go. Something tells me that there will be a lot of, “What the (bad word) was Mother going to do with this?” as they sort through the jar lids that are bent, poked with holes or missing their rubber rings. I will look very mysterious when they find the bag full of mis-mated socks in the hall closet and the collection of plastic lids (with no containers) falling out of the kitchen cupboards. They should thank me, though, because I am convinced that the plastic shopping bags I have crammed into one large cupboard on their own will be worth something as collectors’ items. You never know!

So I say, yes, I will be sitting on a cloud watching my children staggering through the houseful of junk. But I won’t be laughing. Instead I’ll be screaming, “Don’t throw away all of those used twist ties! Do you know how long I had to save those to get so many?”

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The television puzzle

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When I was a child, television was simple: We watched Lawrence Welk and Gunsmoke on CBS and Bonanza on NBC. Those were the only two television stations we received and we got great reception–as long as someone stood beside the set with the wire antennas strategically held aloft in their hands.

We were enthralled. It was the modern world where the Cartwrights and Marshal Dillon came visually into our living rooms and we were grateful for the opportunity to see I Love Lucy solve all the world’s comical problems in a half hour of running around like a chicken with her red-haired head off.

Every time I watch television today, I remember those days with nostalgia. While I used to long for more than two or three choices on the television, I could at least make the television work by myself. I walked up, flipped a switch and there! The television came to snowy life. Then, squinting carefully to see which shows were where, I cranked the channel knob like cracking a safe until I was watching those channels. Easy, right? The television was a large, cumbersome piece of furniture where you placed a bowl of flowers for decoration and directed that mystifying collection of tubes and wires in whichever was the most convenient location for maximum comfort in viewing.

Today, the televisions have shrunk to a very light, very flat computer-style screen with a dizzying number of remote controls for a) the one to turn it on; b) the one to manage cable; and c) the one to flip on Netflix and Youtube, and d) the DVR which opens up even more selections. Gone are the days of two channels. Cable offers you a staggering range of programming; so much so, that it is almost impossible to choose the thing you should most wish to watch.

It has become a challenge: No more Marshall Dillon and Ben Cartwright: Now, you can watch fantasy, humor, movies, “reality”, documentaries, horror, sports, home shopping, cooking shows and religion. You can find any of these at any time and what’s more, if you can’t wait to watch the show you are panting for, you can do something called “livestreaming”–don’t ask.

I could deal with all of this, I really could manage, but I have run up against another problem with using my friendly television–you must be a technological wizard to set it up. Now, I tried to be a grown-up about this, but I can only hit “Set-up” so many times only to have it disappoint me when it fails to “set up,” before I am a weeping, whining, frustrated, furious mass of humanity hurling insults and sometimes objects at the impassive blank screen , which steadfastly refuses to be moved by my hysteria.

Feeling like the foolish old woman I am, I have resorted to calling the cable company and they come to my house (eventually) and expertly manipulate all of those remote controls like so many guns in a holster. “Now, this one is for turning on the television,” some kid younger than my winter coat will tell me. “Oh, great, and do I use this number key pad for channels?” I ask eagerly.

“Oh no! You have to use this one to change the channels,” he says handing me a second one. “Great, I can do that,” I say, doubtfully. “Where do I go on this one for Netflix or Amazon Prime or whatever?” I am so hopeful.

“You use this one,” he pushes another remote into my hands, ” and if you want to LiveStream….” “I don’t,” I say sharply as he reached into his toolbelt for yet another gun…I mean remote.

“Well, I’ll just leave you to get acquainted with your new television system and enjoy,” so saying, he headed for the door. I won’t say he ran to his truck, but he wasted no time getting there.

By labeling my remotes—“power,” “cable,” “DVR” and “I don’t know”…I was able to limp along for about three days. I began to be very proud of myself for how quick I got on the draw. And then it happened: we had a power outage. It didn’t last too long and everything was back on within a half hour—except the television system. It seems when it loses power, it must be “set-up” again. There are two things which should never lose power–hospitals…and my television system. I plan to look into that as soon as the delivery guy re-does everything so I can use it again. But I’m willing to bet that the service guys at the cable office are flipping a coin…and the loser has to come out and set me up again. Marshal Dillon wouldn’t do this to me!

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Back to my hippie roots

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It’s been a few years since I thought about them. I was raised in the Woodstock era, with a lot of free love, peace and brothers in harmony. I always admired them a little, those free thinkers who lived in communes, eschewed things like clothes and allowed others to refer to them as “hippies” (even then I was sensitive about my anatomy).

I respected a lot of what they stood for without ever wanting to be one of them. Oh, I wore those shirts that were psychedelic in design and I wore lots of beads and bell-bottom pants, but the one thing I could never come to terms with was the use of drugs. And let me be clear when I say that I know not everyone who identified with the “brotherhood of man” group used drugs and certainly, plenty of folk from the rest of society did use drugs. But I always thought of peace-loving hippies and marijuana use as somehow connected, I just didn’t want to join the crowd.

I’m sure most people by now know that I have been struggling for the last year with a painful spine issue in my neck. I know people are aware of this because I have whined to everyone who would listen and a great many who probably would rather not have had to hear me. Because of this pain, I have tried everything from over the counter painkillers (which didn’t work), to topical applications (which also didn’t work) to essential oils (which had some effect) to massage (which is painful but helps in the long run).

Doctors have spent the year rubbing their heads and trying to find an effective medical solution, but two things they would like to avoid are opioids and surgery. I am fully on board with their concerns and have endured a year of feeling like a I have burning ball on the back of my neck and a feeling like an abscessed tooth in my shoulder and arm, because I, too, would like a less drastic solution.

Slowly, inexorably, I am drawing nearer to surgery, but as I go, I look more and more frantically for a different solution that will end the pain. Today, I had someone finally make a suggestion that I will admit, left me a little flabbergasted.

And that brings me back to my hippie roots. Because the solution he had was the possibility of medical cannabis, known among my 60s buddies as “weed”, “wacky tobaccy”, “maryjane” or just plain old marijuana. When I was young, I was proud that I avoided smoking the “good shit,” so it takes me a little aback that in my aging body and mind, I am considering this avenue–when it becomes available, obviously!

Of course, there are caveats on this. I wouldn’t be able to use it except at bedtime, because it wouldn’t be a good idea to show up for my job in the daytime and then get toasted on a high grade marijuana cigarette. Even so, the idea that I might be able to get a good night’s sleep is attractive enough for me to consider this rather bizarre solution.

Since I had this conversation, I have been busy envisioning myself in a pair of bell-bottomed pants, a fringed jacket brushing up against the flowers in my hair as I sat cross-legged on the floor and lit up a joint. Of course, in order to get me into bell-bottomed pants, cross-legged on the floor would take drugs far more powerful than marijuana. I don’t think the medications that would require are very good for me either! In addition, I am pretty sure I’m too old to learn to smoke, so there’s another problem.

Needless to say, I haven’t made any decisions on this issue and until it is cleared for use, I won’t have to decide. But in doing research on the issue, one of the warnings about it gave me pause: even if we have it in this state, it is not legal everywhere. So before I pack up my innovative pain solution and light out (no pun intended) for other locales, I’d better check on the local weed laws or I might make headlines for infamous reasons and I’m too old for that as well! Groovy man!

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There’s a reason I’m not a doctor

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Today, I sat in my doctor’s office (for the hundredth time) to discuss why it is that my arm, shoulder and neck keep reacting like they are a runaway abscessed tooth with no regard for treatment. Medical personnel are always very sympathetic, but they will persist in treating me as if I were a woman of reasonable medical knowledge. This is a waste of their time.

The worst thing they do is show me x-rays that are supposedly images of what is inside of me. “Now, if you will look between the 5th and 6th (word I did not understand), you will see that there is (another word I didn’t understand.)” the doctor said, pointing to his little slide on its cool light-up screen.

I find the screen very neat and I would like to borrow it sometime to watch the light go through my fingers (I have strange habits), but as for showing me the x-ray image, it might have been my neck or it might have been the secret plans to blow up some poor third world country; it was all the same to me.

“Is that what is causing me to be in so much pain?” I ask, holding onto my offending neck. He nodded, looking slightly deflated that I didn’t respond in some medical-eze. “Well,” I said, trying to look intelligent, “could we just maybe scribble out that white part with your ink pen and erase the problem?” I’ve never actually been thrown out of a medical office, but I am pretty sure he thought about it!

It’s not just x-rays of my neck that cause me to sound uneducated in medical things. I have never had the remotest talent for them and what’s more, I have no curiosity. I have never googled a disease, symptom or rash, because I will either not understand it at all or I will understand it well enough to have it scare the heck out of me.

Other people are so much better informed. “I have a righteous curvature of the scoliosis,” my friend informed me one day. “I looked it up and it said on the Internet that I will be too crippled to walk before I’m 60.” Dr. Internet aside, it concerned me that she sounded so happy about it. I guess knowledge is power, but I’d rather be medically ignorant. This is what we have doctors for.

Medical professionals are proud of their images. I remember looking at an ultrasound of a baby and thinking, “Oh, isn’t that cute, she’s got her thumb in her mouth.”

“Oh no,” the expectant mother told me, “the doctor says that is her little foot tucked under her butt.”

“Ah, I see it now,” I said, nearly standing on my head and lying like a rug all at the same time. All I really saw was a grayish blob that may have been the baby, or a stack of buttermilk pancakes—with the thumb in their mouth!

I look at dental x-rays and don’t see the teeth, let alone the cavities. I saw an ultrasound of my thyroid, and nothing about it suggested that this odd-looking thing was in my throat, but the doctor assured me it was. I woke up from a colonoscopy to a nurse holding up photos and chirping, “Guess what this is?”

“The cave where Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher got lost? That is really dark, those poor things,” I replied. Yes, I knew it was the inside of my colon, but unlike her, I didn’t find the photos they took something I might post on Facebook.

Let’s face it, I am not looking for medical knowledge. Tell me in plain English what the heck is wrong and what I can do about it. I’ll believe the doctor, he doesn’t need photographic evidence that he can read, but I can’t. Give me the pill, the therapy or the surgery that your photos suggest, but for goodness sake, don’t SHOW ME and talk about it!

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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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