Category Archives: Humorous Column

Ode to a shoe…

This morning, I participated in a very strange ritual at my house. My husband came up to me, placed my hand over my heart, then covered his heart with one hand while holding the above shoes in the other. Solemnly, he intoned, “Dear Lord, we are here to pay tribute to these faithful shoes, which have been with me for so many years.”

I wish I could tell you that I made this up, but I didn’t. I wish I could tell you that I’ve never participated in a ceremony like this, but I can’t. In my house, when my husband throws away clothes of any kind, it is a state event bigger than a visit from the Queen. To paraphrase the great Augustus McCray from Lonesome Dove, Roy is “not one to give up on a garment, just ’cause it’s got a little age on it.”

I included a picture of the shoes in question (and yes, those are the ones) because it would be impossible to describe just how bad they had to get before he would throw them away. In fact, his son-in-law had to point out that it is possible that some of his back issues might stem from the fact that these shoes have the outsides of the sole worn completely away, forcing him to walk like a cowboy with a chaps rash!

Now, I understand the desire to not waste clothing. I, myself, have two dresses that have (one or the other) appeared at every wedding, funeral and graduation for the last several years. But I am completely outdone by my husband when it comes to clinging to clothing. This man has garments which pre-date our marriage and that, my friends, was some years ago!

His favorite everyday jacket is a so-called “ski” jacket–he doesn’t ski–that he bought while still in college. The colors have faded from what I assume was a vibrant red and blue to a washed out orange and aqua blend. In addition, so much of the shoulder seams have broken out that it looks like he’s wearing fringe down his arms. But, any suggestion I have made that perhaps it’s time to put that jacket out to a well-deserved retirement, he points out that the zipper still works and the holes in the pockets are not too big!

I admit that I have resorted to criminal behavior on occasion. He had a pair of khaki trousers that were on the knife edge of developing holes in both pockets from his wallet and comb. When I, containing my glee as best I could, pointed out that it was time to get rid of those khakis, he looked at the pockets and said, “Maybe Mom could make new ones.” Now, his mother is a fine seamstress, but I have no doubt she has mended things for him that she privately thought deserved a trip to the rag bag.

But, back to my criminal behavior; when he threatened to force his mother to resuscitate those pants, I admit, I panicked a little and lost my head. The next day, when the sorry-looking pants came through the wash, I may have hooked my fingers in the pockets and ripped them up. Don’t let this information out, however, because I blamed it on the washing machine–it likes to eat perfectly good khakis, you know!

It is just possible that I may have made certain garments “disappear” in the past. If he wears a shirt until I can hold it up and see through it, I figure it’s time for it to take a trip to garbage happy land. I can usually not use his old t-shirts for dust rags because there is not enough of them left and there are socks which should be mercifully dealt with, using the “kerosene and a lit match” approach.

Now, in spite of all my complaints, he always looks well-dressed and appropriate when he is planning to leave the house, but some of the squirrels and rabbits who have seen him walking around in the yard have been so traumatized that they won’t come back. (I realize this is probably a good thing). In the meantime, I will continue to monitor the clothes, do my best to make the old stuff disappear, and yes, continue to participate in ceremonies like the one this morning!

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Environmentally lacking

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Everyday, during my devotional times, I pray for the environment of our earth. And I sincerely mean it, too. I would like to see more ecologically friendly behavior in the world, to try and clean up our beleaguered planet. I want this even more because I have heard from many sources that it is us, the Baby Boomers, who have critically impacted the environment.

I know this to be true. I know this, because while I am praying for a better environment, I am usually in my car, driving 30 miles to work. While I cannot presently do anything about the commute to work, I do appreciate the irony of burning fossil fuels while praying for environmental miracles from the Almighty.

I know there are other ways for me to do a better job in the environment. I have gotten rid of nearly all chemical cleaners, I only have reusable water bottles and I pick up trash in ditches, while avoiding the throwing of anything out the windows of my car. There are some things I am less good at, however, and I am here to confess them to you.

Let us consider the subject of paper towels. Yes, I know it is not good to use a lot of paper towels, but in the last week, I have used over a roll of paper towels and in some cases, like wiping up dog piddle from a nervous visiting dog, I feel I am more than justified. I don’t have to keep rags around that have cleaned up dog mess–paper towels can be thrown out. However, I also used them to wipe my hands fifty times, cover food in the microwave at least 25 times and wipe kitchen counters more often than I would care to admit. Ever since the video on what is in the average kitchen dish cloth or sponge was played for me, I have nightmares about what I am smearing on my counters, while wiping them off, so I use paper towels.

I had a friend some years ago who would hang up paper towels if the only thing on them was water and then re-use them. I tried this for about two hours one day and then I realized if I keep re-using them, I have the same problem as the evil dishrag. What to do, what to do!

I also have trouble with recycling. Is that bottle I just emptied one that can be recycled and if so, where can I take it? Do I put aluminum cans in with the tins used for tuna and vegetables? Which paper products are recyclable, is it just boxes, or could I include some old printer paper? It’s so confusing, so I finally decided that if it isn’t me burning rubber tires, spreading black smoke into the environment, then I am okay.

I have taken a serious look at cleaners in my house and since I’m not exactly a fanatical housekeeper, it doesn’t pain me too much to get rid of them. A friend advised that I use vinegar as my main cleaning agent and so I stocked up on a number of bottles. I sprayed it, wiped it, scrubbed it and ran it down the drain. I don’t know if the house is any cleaner, but the vinegar smell that hits you when you walk in my front door will drop you to your knees.

I turn lights off when I’m not using them, although I admit I’ve gone back to turning on the kitchen light when I get a drink in the middle of the night, ever since I tried to pour myself a drink of water and took a big swallow of vinegar instead! I don’t think the environment will come crashing down if I turn on the light long enough to distinguish the water from the vinegar. On a related note, vinegar spit all over you counter makes a pretty awful mess, especially if you leave it until the next day to clean up.

I don’t own any cows, I plant trees whenever possible and I never use an aerosol can for any reason. So, I feel entitled to use garbage bags as opposed to wrapping garbage in newspapers. I own several grocery bags that I routinely forget to take with me to the grocery store, but the intent is there, as I cram a new selection of plastic grocery sacks into the door where the rest are stored.

I recycle magazines and read newspapers online. I properly dispose of old paint cans and I always remember to pick up all papers from the grounds in the park. These things I do gladly as I try to make up for the Baby Boomer’s generation which hurt our environment so. And as for my morning prayers about the environment and the 30 mile car-ride; I hear electric cars are becoming a big thing. I’ll get one as soon as I have plug-in for it in my garage!

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Character assassination

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No, this is not an article about what people say about my fabulous life and how they blow my trips to the Caribbean and my relationships with unbelievably rich men all out of proportion. For one thing, I don’t have an interesting enough life for that kind of character assassination. No, my complaint goes much deeper.

When I protest character assassination, I am talking about the way all of these entertainment series kill off the characters on the shows that I love the best. How can they take perfectly wonderful, loveable people who are doing no more harm than your average mockingbird, and kill them off? (Didn’t get that reference? Read To Kill a Mockingbird; it’ll be good for your soul.)

Looking back, I realize that this began a long time ago, when I first began to read and enjoy books. Who could read Gone With the Wind and not cry buckets of tears when the beautiful-souled Melanie Hamilton Wilkes bowed out in the last pages? She should have lived forever, but did she? Oh, no, it was much more important that she perish, so we could all wonder, like Scarlett, how we would go on without her?

Early television shows understood the need to delicately balance evil and danger in the world with the lives of the main characters. After all, Marshall Dillon was a lawman in Dodge for 20 years and never did more than wince from a bullet through the shoulder. He never died in the line of duty. He never married Miss Kitty, either, but that’s a story for another time!

Oh sure, sometimes our favorite characters suffered a loss–for instance, it was always bad luck for a woman to fall in love with a Cartwright–but so what? They survived, buried the hapless woman, dried their tears and spent another week riding the range on the Ponderosa. They didn’t die themselves!

Today, however, for the sake of “realism”, characters in these programs must die. I say, why? It is not necessary for a long-running crime drama to have the sweet, understanding little wife of one of the main detectives die. What was the point of blowing her up in a helicopter–I liked her character better than the rest combined and I never saw it coming. I, like her devastated husband, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

It was a real shocker then, that I absolutely fell in love with the calm, down-to-earth heir to Downton Abbey, only to have the rug jerked out from under me only three seasons in. I could even see this one coming, as he climbed into that automobile and started driving, I was in front of the television screaming, “No, Matthew! Look out for that truck!” But he didn’t hear me and then he was gone.

It’s been a blood bath ever since. If I fall in love with a character on a show, of course they are going to die. The strong, big-hearted priest, who stepped in front of an arrow to save the young warrior devastated me nearly as much as it did the leader, but he could have been spared the grief if they had just left the poor man alive! And then there is the unconscionable murder of Han Solo by his own son. What are these people thinking????

The latest in this long line of assassinations is the story I have been following about a group of time travelers. I have really come to enjoy it, and I particularly was charmed by the young female time traveler who became the client, then the friend and then the lover of a man who was so sweet and gentle and accepting, that he supported and affirmed everything about the girl. He wasn’t a traveler, though, so two episodes from the end of the series found our young time traveler, sobbing into the lifeless body of the most perfect guy I’ve ever seen—who died being heroic, of course!

Now, someone’s bound to tell me that these character assassinations are due to actor decisions, budget constraints, and dramatic effect, and I will tell you that I simply do not care. They have taken away my trust and although I will continue on with other programs, I’m not sure that I can give my heart to any more of the wonderful characters, because I think the producers of these shows are in my head and they know just how to hurt me. So I say, give me my innocence back–stop the blood bath. And as a matter of safety for you all; never marry a Cartwright!

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The secret life of an accountant

It is not an easy life for my husband, the accountant. He is a meticulous bookkeeper and understands all that audit and taxes stuff so well. What he has not yet figured out is his wife’s accounting system for the household finances.

I found the above pictured records book when I was cleaning out some drawers today. I’m sure it’s something I bought to do a better job of keeping track of my spending, but it apparently didn’t work. I say this because inside this little book are pages lined with neat columns for recording spending and wonderful little pockets to hold receipts, etc. The year on this book is 2016 and if you could look inside the book right now, you would see that all the pages are still fresh and new and have never been marred by something so tacky as…say, financial records!

I always mean well. Sometimes I even get started keeping track…but I always fall apart and the house is littered with these blank little financial record books, which find their way into deep drawers or dark corners, never to be seen again.

So my accountant lives a secret life of shame over his wife’s financial failings. He learned early in the marriage to get me my own checking account, so that the bank wouldn’t think that he, an accountant, couldn’t keep track of his own finances. He disdains checkbooks with duplicate checks, preferring his own method of daily recording, but he has made me a gift of those handy duplicates, so random checks don’t get away from me and louse up my calculations.

He tried to keep my checkbook balanced and reconciled, but eventually, he sought to avoid the monthly argument–“What did you spend $50 at the Wax Waters for?” “Wax Waters? $50? Are you sure that’s my checkbook?” in any way he could. He turned the whole bank reconciliation over to me, declaring that federal tax laws were easier to understand than my scribblings. I make it a point never to ask for his help (because it ages him), but sometimes I spend some sleepless nights wondering how I could have lost $4,000 when I don’t have $4,000 in the whole account, and little stuff like that.

In the first bloom of love, Roy thought we would be able to strategize on a budget and then, get this, actually stick to the budget. He was so young and trusting! After two months, I was in the hole in almost every category and by six months, I was spending the budget in books and shoes for two years after our tenth anniversary!

In desperation, he tried to establish spending rules like, “If it’s going to cost over $100, let’s discuss it first.” I thought that was reasonable, so I agreed. The trouble is, I never know when it’s going to be over $100, unless I’m buying a house or a car, because I can’t add very well in my head. So the discussion usually ended up being conducted after the purchase was made and at the top of our lungs.

Over the years, we have developed a system that seems to work for us. He puts money aside for large expenditures and manages it very well. I handle purchases for far less money and with far less success at managing it!

So as you can see, the secret life of my accountant is a pretty desperate one, because when it comes to handling finances, opposites apparently do attract! Meanwhile, I’ll go out and buy another financial records and budget calendar book for this year…and no doubt, it will cost more than it should and will end up at the bottom of a convenient drawer! But don’t tell my husband–he probably already knows anyway!

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Space, the final frontier…

Sometimes, you just have to own who you are. You have to admit that you actually enjoy the creamy middle of an Oreo or that you really do laugh at the Flintstones–when secretly watching them–while eating the middles-only out of a bunch of Oreos.

But for me, this is nowhere near my biggest quirk. In fact my quirk, rhymes with quirk–because I have an on-going love affair with Captain Kirk and all things Star Trek! It started with Kirk and the Enterprise on its five-year mission, graduated to Picard and the Next Generation, moved on to Sisko at Deep Space Nine and got flung into the Delta quadrant with Janeway on Voyager. Then, I came home to Captain Archer and the first Enterprise.

Unless you are a giant Star Trek nerd like me, the previous paragraph will make no sense. Suffice it to say that I am addicted to anything which begins, “Space, the final frontier….” If it has to do with Star Trek, I am there for it.

My obsession is very well-known, in particular by my children. They are never at a loss as to what to give me as gift: “Does it have Star Trek on it somewhere? Great, my Mom will love it!” They have given me a wide variety of Star Trek merchandize over the years, and so for this article, I tried to collect and take a picture of all of the Star Trek things they have gifted me, which you see above. You should know that this is not even all of the things I have received, it is just the ones I collected over five minutes of walking through the house.

This collection of Star Trek memorabilia tells you several things about the quirky individual who is me. First, you should know that while I care nothing for mechanics of any kind, I have a schematic of the Star Ship Enterprise hanging prominently on my wall. Second, I have a set of Pez dispensers featuring the heads of the crew of the Next Generation, which has never been opened, even though my grandchildren have suggested it any number of times. Third, I once owned three pairs of Star Trek socks, but because the dog particularly liked the taste of them, I am now down to half that number–one sock from each pair, of course.

Each Christmas, I proudly hang the Federation Star Ship Voyager on my tree and when I am bored at night, I sit down and read my Star Trek book which details the original series, episode by episode and then I watch those episodes on my digitally enhanced set of CDs. I have collections of snow globes and mugs and I have Star Trek features for each of those collections.

My daughter gave me a Star Trek coffee mug for my Mother’s Day present this year, but her instructions were, “Make sure you use it!” How could I possibly do that? It shows the Star Trek crew in relative safety on their ship, but if I fill the cup with hot coffee, they are immediately transported to a strange and alien world. I can’t do that, can I? Besides, the people who made the cup are pretty sure we are none too bright, because on the outside bottom of the cup, it says, “Best results if used from the other end.”

However, since I try to be a good parent, I decided I should use the cup just to suit her. So, I made my morning coffee, poured it in the recommended end and watched the Star Trek crew go where no one has gone before. I then tasted the coffee–and immediately spit it out. The new mug, which was properly washed, made the coffee taste like I’d strained it through the Captain’s communication devise! Plastic or metallic or something!

It’s just as I thought, the cup is meant to be admired, placed in my collection and valued for its Star Trek connection. So, if you don’t mind, I believe I will place it on the shelf along with my genuine Star Trek cold mug and my very lovely lap throw, featuring Spock saying, “Fascinating.”

So now, you know the secrets of my very fine quirk. I do hope my children continue to gift me with memorabilia from all of the Star Trek programs and when we, as a culture, finally do “boldly go where no one has gone before”…well, I’ll be watching from home, surrounded by my space things!

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Technology challenged addict…

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I think it will come as a surprise to no one that when it comes to technology, I struggle. Additionally, I am okay with that fact. I take great pride in the fact that I don’t use cell phones, I can barely manage a laptop and as for printers and other higher-order machines, I am at a loss. I don’t even relax watching television, because I have to figure out which of the five remotes I have, will operate what particular functions on the television.

I don’t think I should be judged too harshly for this. When I grew up, telephones were attached to the wall and they had what we call party lines. That meant that if someone else on your line was giving their telephone friend a long recipe or the neighborhood children were engaged in a hog-calling contest down the telephone, you couldn’t even get on the phone, let alone, make use of so-called “apps” of any kind.

My grandmother always told me she was born in a world where they traveled by horse and buggy and she lived to experience flying in airplanes. I had trouble relating to this until I stopped to consider that I was born into a world with a television tube in a box containing no remote and three stations (if you were lucky) and a phone attached to a cord, and I have lived long enough to operate the flat screen television with double remotes like I’m John Wayne at a shootout. In addition, I live in a world today where the phone isn’t attached to the wall anymore, it’s attached to people’s hands and it does everything for you except brush your teeth. That’s quite a leap!

I have always had scorn for those who cannot live without their technology and I admit, I’ve been pretty snotty about it. A person like me is bound to get her due humbling and that’s what happened to me this week.

My husband was deep into the NFL draft on the large living room television and I was complaining long and loud about not having anything to watch for me.

“I bought you a new television for your birthday last year, go watch it,” he answered my complaints.

“I can’t. It isn’t set up right, ever since the electricity went out last November. I can’t figure it out,” I was really peeved–my favorite shows were coming on and I was missing them!

“Use the downstairs television,” he suggested next, while simultaneously yelling at the Vikings for their latest picks.

“The downstairs TV hasn’t worked since you got mad because the one remote wasn’t working and then the other remote wouldn’t work and you ended up firing those things at it like a tenderfoot gunslinger in an arcade hall.”

Oh well, I would simply go on the internet and see what was happening. You know what happened next. The Internet was down. And nothing I could do (which wasn’t much) would bring it back. I was reduced to picking out little text messages on my phone, which didn’t like my fat fingers and kept losing signal, even when I held it up in the air, balancing on the top rung of the deck railing.

Okay, so maybe I am addicted. And it was especially bad when I finally did get the upstairs television and discovered that when your internet is out, so is Netflix. What? But I have so many series on there that are only half-watched! I must have Netflix!

With shaking fingers, I called the Internet providers and they agreed to send someone out…in two days. Two Days????!!!! I can’t wait two days for television, Netflix, Facebook! The withdrawal was real and I was chewing on all ten fingers by the time they finally got a serviceman here. He asked me a lot of technical questions and I answered all of them by saying, “I don’t know. Just fix it.” He suspiciously sniffed the glass of apple juice on ice I was drinking and then went to work.

He spent two hours changing wires, testing boxes and reworking remotes. It turns out there was a faulty cable on the kitchen television and that’s why it wouldn’t set up. He reduced the remotes to one on all televisions because he said the downstairs television was working fine, but had been so jumbled up with using the wrong remotes, it couldn’t function. The internet needed a new something that apparently had broken and we had to re-set all the computers and even the phones. As for Netflix, that worked like a charm, as soon as the Internet was up.

I have reached the sad conclusion that I am indeed a technology junkie, just like all the others, but my addiction might be worse, because I depend on someone else to keep me going with it. In addition, it is an on-going problem with no easy fix in sight. Today, I went to Roy, who was trying to take a nap and said, “Let’s play some cards or something.”

“I’m tired, let me nap,” he responded. “Go watch Netflix or something.”

“Well, that’s just it,” I whined. “Netflix isn’t working again. And I don’t which remote to use to fix it.”

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A good night’s sleep….

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It was such a sweet plan. It is seldom I can convince Roy to splurge on a hotel room; especially when there were other options, but to my pleasant surprise, this time he agreed. We would spend the night before Easter at a hotel.

It was a very simple plan. We had two family events for Easter, one on Saturday night and the other at noon on Sunday. We were only an hour and a half from home, so we COULD have made two trips, but I didn’t want to. I began weeks ago on my campaign to get that night in a hotel room on Easter Saturday.

“The dog really could use some time away from us,” I mused one evening when she was being particularly bothersome. “Maybe if we spent a night away from home, she could have a night away from home at the kennel. I really feel like she would enjoy that.” I ignored the steady stare of the dog, who seemed to be aware somehow that I was attempting to dump her for an evening.

“Well, I’ll see,” came the non-committal reply. I was not satisfied with this. “We’ll see,” is code in our house for “I don’t want to do whatever you have suggested, but give me time to think of an excuse.”

While we were working on the random disposal of the dog, I also pointed out that it wouldn’t be fair on a holiday to horn in with family. We couldn’t stay with them. In addition, with the price of gas, how could we justify driving back and forth for two days? All of my arguments seemed reasonable to me, and even the issue of the dog finally was settled. Much to her chagrin, she was going to spend Easter at the kennel and I was going to get my night in a nice hotel. For those of you worried about the poor dog, don’t. She definitely got her revenge.

With a gleeful heart, I made my hotel reservations and we started on our journey…our long night’s journey. We left the dog looking resentfully out at us through the bars of the kennel and hit the road. We had a delicious supper at a relative’s house and had a delightful visit. Then, it was time to go to the hotel.

When we checked in, the clerk asked us, “Do you want to be on the first floor or the second floor?” It’s Easter weekend…what would be our concerns? “Second floor,” said my husband, adding to me, “It might be a little quieter in case people arrive late.” I would look back upon this observation with pain later on.

We got to our room at little after nine and we decided we could watch a little television. While we were watching Jack Lemmon in “Under the Yum-Yum Tree,” I kept adjusting the sound, hoping to not disturb our neighbors, but after a while, I became aware that they had theirs a little loud too. Oh well, it can’t be helped!

When we had entered the room, we observed that the cover to the heating unit had fallen on the floor. Not wanting all that mechanism to be exposed, we put it back on, but nothing we could do would stop the clatter and rattle when the motor would heat up. Again, a minor thing.

It was about 10:30 when we turned the television off to go to sleep. It was then that we noticed that the neighbors appeared to be playing rather loud music. We lay in the bed, trying to lull ourselves to sleep to the “boom…boom…ba….boom,” for quite a while before we realized that it was really getting very loud and there was a lot of loud talking and laughing as well.

I was outraged. Someone had the audacity to use their hotel room to have a loud party. On my fought-for night in a nice hotel, I was being subjected to some hooligans and their extremely loud and terrible music.

The volume kept increasing and I began to do a slow burn. I visualized myself calling the desk and with a few well chosen words (interspersed with swear words) advising the managed to calm down the ruffians or I should be forced to call the authorities.

Before calling the office, I thought I would do a little reconnoitering to see exactly where it was coming from. Oddly, the minute I went to the hall and closed my door, I could no longer hear it so plainly. Perhaps they had calmed down. I went back into the room and the volume rose again.

Now I was convinced they were having the party in the parking lot outside our window. When I pulled aside the window shade, I found I wasn’t too far wrong. They were having a party, one they had rented a party hall for at the hotel. They were having a wedding reception/dance in the ballroom…located right below our room!

So there was indeed, nothing we could do. We lay there in the dark of our room listening to the thrum of drums, the clang of dishes and doors and the shrill notes of some very loud songs. In addition, we got the clatter and rattle of room’s heating system, just in case there were any lulls elsewhere. We dozed in the few minutes when the band took a break, but even that was disturbed by the talking and high pitched laughter of the smokers having a cigarette break outside the windows.

My husband bore up under this disaster of a night’s sleep pretty well, but he did once or twice make such comments as “sure glad the dog isn’t disturbing our rest tonight,” or, “do you think we could get them booked under our windows at home some evening?”

“I can’t hear you,” I grumbled. “Because I have my head wrapped in this pillow. If you make any more comments, I’m going to wrap your head in a pillow.”

Around 2:30 or so, the party broke up as the bride and groom presumably went on their way to a honeymoon and a happy life. We fell into an exhausted slumber, and if we snored, we did not wake up each other. I’m sort of hoping some of the party-goers were around us and they were kept awake, but it’s hard to know those things for sure.

The lowest blow hit the next morning. As we dragged out to our vehicle to pack up, a group of people were talking in the parking lot. I was so grumpy, I wanted to turn to them and say, “Quiet down and what are you looking at?”

When I looked over at them, however, I realized, that beyond them, spread out over a large area of land, was another whole wing of the hotel, far away from the dance hall and its sounds. So, in other words, the clerk who checked us in asked the wrong question. Instead of “first floor or second floor” the question should have been, “quiet room in the other wing, or hot spot room right over the dance floor.”

I could write you more about my night of faulty heating covers, wedding music and joyous laughter, but I’m just too tired. I’m going to bed early tonight and if the dog knows what’s good for her, she won’t make any noise, either!

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Illness, according to the marriage vows

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Now I know that when I took those wedding vows, that I said, “in sickness and in health.” I didn’t pay close enough attention, though, because although I said, “in sickness and in health,” I think my husband may have said, “in health only.”

Now, I’m not talking about the big stuff, life-threatening, ect., I know that he would support me through all of that. I am talking about the days where a stuffed-up head and the sneezes or coughs have got me. I think he forgot to take any vows about when I have the flu.

When he is sick, he wants his hot soup and cold compresses and orange juice delivered to where ever it is he is lying, sitting, or contemplating how sick he feels. I am happy to do this, and not because I took any oath, either. Just because it is the right thing to do. Do I wear masks and gloves so I won’t catch anything? Of course, but I always take care of him “in sickness.”

When the tables are turned, however, things are a little different. I have frequently made the observation that he would show up at my deathbed, and the first remark out of his mouth would be, “Before you expire, what’s for supper?”

It isn’t that he has no sympathy, it’s that he simply blocks out the fact that I am sick. Mostly because that would mean he might have to cook a meal and maybe, the lord forbid, clean up the dishes afterward!

This weekend, I have been feeling really lousy with a head cold and congestion. All I really want to do is lie around in my easy chair, watch some romantic movies on television and sneeze until my nose drops off. I don’t care about eating or much of anything else as long as the Vicks and the kleenix holds out. I don’t even want him to take care of me, just let me die in peace.

This does not happen. An hour into the morning, he appears from his shower, toweling himself off and remarking, “I don’t smell any coffee. Isn’t it done yet?”

“No. I didn’t make any coffee, I’m not well. You’ll have to make it yourself.”

After five minutes of listening to him slamming the things around in the kitchen and exclaiming that he can’t find the coffee, the filters, creamer, etc., I finally get up and go out and make the coffee. This is, of course, my first mistake. I have demonstrated that if the house were on fire, I could get up and move sufficiently to get myself out. That must mean I’m not sick.

While he can get himself a bowl of cereal, it’s always a fifty-fifty chance that there is no milk on a Saturday. “Uh, I don’t have any milk. Are you going grocery shopping this morning?” he questions, holding his dry bowl of Grape Nuts.

“I’m not going grocery shopping,” I say, blowing into my tissue.

“Why not? We’re out of milk,” he says incredulously.

“Because I thought it best not to infect everyone at the grocery store with my disease,” I answer, “have some toast, or go get some milk.”

I can usually count on a couple of hours of quiet then, but it was not to be this morning. “Uh, I’m out of clean socks,” he calls from the bedroom, “did you do any laundry?”

“Yes,” I answer through my sneezing fit, “I did some yesterday. There are clean socks in the dryer.”

“Well, why didn’t you bring them up and put them away?” he honestly can’t understand it.

“Do you understand that I am sick, that I don’t feel well, that I am under the weather as they say, and I don’t care if your socks are in the dryer, in the drawer, or on your head. Take care of it yourself!” by now I’m shouting, which is not good for a sore throat.

This will of course, give him a bit of a case of the sulks. He will leave me alone for a time, but I have to hear mumbled comments about how some people are sure in a bad mood today. I don’t answer because he is right! At noon, I roll over to see him standing over me with a smug look on his face. “I made myself a scrambled egg for lunch, because I figured you weren’t going to make anything.”

At least that explains the smell coming from the kitchen. I didn’t think even burned eggs could smell that bad. I relaxed, though, because I figured that maybe this meant he had gotten the idea that I was sick. I was wrong.

“The dog and I are going for a walk, you should come along,” he says in his brightest voice. “Good fresh air will clear your head because you’ve been sleeping all afternoon.”

“I don’t want to go for a walk,” I mutter, after a coughing fit. “I didn’t want to wake up to tell you that I don’t want to wake up and go for a walk.”

“Come on, dog,” he says in his most aggrieved tone, “I guess she doesn’t care to take care of her health with exercise.”

It had been a long day, and I truly felt unwell, so I decided that maybe I should just turn in and try to sleep things off. “I’m going to bed,” I told him. “Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow.”

“Oh, okay,” he replied, “but before you go, what were you planning on for supper?” He didn’t like my suggestion and I can’t tell you what it was because they don’t allow profanity on these internet sites.

Tomorrow, I’m just going to pretend I’m not sick. It’s less work!

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Old Mother Hubbard…

I believe this old rhyme continues, “went to the cupboard, to get her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare and so the poor doggie had none.” Well, the good news is that unlike Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboards are not bare. The bad news is that if I had a bone for the dog, it wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t be able to locate it in all the mess!

Before you ask, yes, that is an authentic picture of what my cupboard actually looks like. Some people line up the things in their cupboard in alphabetical order and with military precision. My cupboard, however, generally looks like I backed up three feet from it before I flung the items in with all the organization of the city dump. (Forgive me city officials, for that insult: the city dump is much better organized than I am.)

I believe I have mentioned that my refrigerator is badly organized, but any item in there is likely to be removed as soon as it indicates by smell or bacterial growth that it needs to go to the garbage can to die in smelly splendor. My cupboards, on the other hand can unknowingly house canned and bottled items dating back to the Crusades. It would just be difficult to discover in the disorder.

If you inspect any cupboard in my kitchen, the story is the same. My baking supplies are jumbled in with the crackers and the old cereal, while my dishes are hanging in there in a minimal state of precision. I have one whole cupboard just for the plastic storage containers I use to house future spoilage bound for the refrigerator. This cupboard is a demon abyss in which lids of all kinds are quietly and efficiently devoured into the black hole, while the lidless containers are fired back at me like heat-seeking missiles any time I am foolish enough to open the door.

I know it looks like there is a lot of food in that cupboard, but if you understand my method of grocery shopping, you will soon discover the problem. I am a hoarder and proud of it, and it causes me to shop thusly, “Oh, look, I need a can of tomato soup, but it might be best, while I am here, to buy three, to have some for later.” This method applies to all groceries. That is why when I buy a container of eggs, I always buy two for good measure and bring them home to be stacked on top of the third container of eggs already in residence.

It isn’t as though I don’t try to organize, you know. It would be wonderful to line all the cans up and stack the packages neatly, and even have the tea bags sitting daintily together on one shelf. But that takes time and it has to mean you care about how your cupboards are organized. I know anyone coming to my kitchen will open my cupboards, swallow hard, and quickly close them as if they have just viewed something indecent or obscene. And for the most part, I am okay with that!

Watching me put away the new groceries that I have hoarded…I mean…purchased from the grocery store runs like a news reporter in a war zone–only much sillier and less fatal. “And she gains ground on the second shelf where the four cans of mushrooms (I hate mushrooms) give way to the new cans of tomato sauce. On the first shelf, the noodles, enough to last beyond the present century and the cinnamon, plentiful enough to spice the rolls of the entire western hemisphere, are squeezed beyond endurance by the arrival of a bag of rice big enough to feed all those starving children her mother always used to guilt her into eating all her liver with. Just as she believes she has won the day, she is bombarded from the air by boxes of Rice a Roni, leaping from the top shelf, giving their lives to stop her assault on their territory. Oh, the humanity, ladies and gentlemen!”

I have been given all sorts of hints on how to avoid this crisis. I tried keeping a list, but I think the cupboard ate it, because it disappeared. I have been told an inventory would help keep things organized and prevent me from overstocking, but I look at my cupboards and I think it would be easier to inventory the sand on the beach…and at least I’d get fresh air and a tan doing that!

I could tell you even more stories about the syrup and honey bottles so plentiful they take up half a shelf…or I could regale you with the story of how a poorly closed box of macaroni once dumped over on the top shelf and rained down on my head, but I think by now, you kind of get the picture. So if there is anyone out there interested in excavating a set of kitchen cupboards, you are welcome to come and give mine a try. But be careful of the Tupperware containers cupboard…it is always hungry and it shows no mercy! Oh, and if you see my dog…give a her a bone, would you, she’ll never get one from my cupboard!

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It can only happen to me…I think

I’m a woman who has the ability to land myself in some rather peculiar situations. I’m the one who could drop glasses down the Grand Canyon, or who would need fresh underwear because my full bladder failed on the very last hill of the roller coaster ride. Each time something happens to me, I tell myself that these things do not happen to anyone else and nothing will convince me otherwise.

I once spent an hour and fifteen minutes sitting in a chair in the middle of the night, lamenting the fact that my glasses were no longer working and I was suddenly losing my vision. This was before I discovered that I had put on my husband’s glasses instead of mine. No one else would do that, right? It could only happen to me.

I live in a world full of strange accidents. I am the person who laments the fact that I have hit a bird with my car, knocking out a little of the front grill. This is only a few minutes before the deer plowed into the side of my vehicle, cracked everything expensive on the car, and then flung itself into the ditch to start the long journey to deer heaven. Only I could hit two animals on the same car trip of under 30 miles.

This week, I found myself on top of a very tall ladder, balancing on some rather shaky shelves to try and clean up a very messy prop room. In the midst of this, the lights failed. Muttering, “it could only happen to me” I managed to crawl down the ladder, stumble over a number of props and make my way to the center of the room. The motion light then turned back on, only to reveal me standing in a half-full garbage bag, the contents of which I had very ably kicked all over the place in the dark. Darn motion light!

If you’re wondering why I chose to put a picture of a plant on this article, don’t worry, it definitely applies. Along the line of it can only happen to me, I have nursed this Christmas cactus for 30 years; ever since it came out of my late grandmother’s green plants collection. The plant has had ups and downs over the years, but I have learned a lot about how to take care of and what it likes.

I noticed a few months back, that it was looking excessively droopy. Not too concerned, I watered it, thinking that would help, but more and more leaves began draping themselves over the edge of the pot, looking like they had just barely survived the Johnston Flood.

I knew it wasn’t root-bound, because I had just upgraded the pot a year or so ago. I used more outdoor soil than potting soil, which I believed was helpful. While I was having these troubles, my grandson, a year and a half old, came to visit. Knowing that he was into everything, I put the plant back in the bedroom, well out of the baby’s reach–or so I thought.

We put the portable bed up in the back bedroom when it became clear it was too cold downstairs. I had no qualms and we had our little nap-taker in the crib in no time at all. Within fifteen minutes, I heard an odd sound and the baby began protesting. I went in to check. The baby was holding the pot from the plant, there was dirt everywhere–on the baby, in the crib, on the rug underneath. In addition, the Christmas cactus, bare roots hanging out, was draped across the floor like a Victorian girl who fainted because her stays were too tight.

I quietly grieved a little; after all the plant was over 30 years old and had belonged to my grandmother. But my daughter was not ready to give up. She put in dirt (that which she could scrape out of the bedroom and off of the baby) added water, and carefully laid those roots and leaves in the newly prepared ground. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I appreciated her help. But after all, I was the one who got the plant out of the way in first place and put it exactly where the baby could get it. This could only happen to me.

I shall now draw your attention to the plant in the picture, which is in fact the Christmas cactus in question, three weeks after its impromptu re-potting and as you can see, it is looking pretty prosperous. Apparently, the thing was rootbound, or at least needed the soil aerated and the baby took care of it.

We have a year and a half old horticulturist in the family. It could only happen to me!

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