Have you hugged your cow today?

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Good news for all those beleaguered cows out there: they have not been forgotten. In spite of those cow-haters who say cows are polluting the air and who are trying to replace them with “plant-based” faux meat (makes my mouth water), cows have finally made the news for something positive.

It seems that in this time of Covid 19, when social distancing deprives us of the opportunity to hug each other, we have another option: apparently it is just as comforting to hug your cow as it is to hug your friends, relatives, children, etc. This conclusion is disturbing to me on a number of levels.

Probably most pressing is, how was this research conducted? I’m imagining this group of scientists with their glasses on their noses and their clipboards at the ready when one of them exclaims, “Do you know, now that I can’t hug my wife, I’m hugging the neighbor’s milkcow. It’s just about the same!” What caused him to think of this solution to his physical deprivation problem? Did he say to himself, “Eureka! Let’s all hug cows!” Did he perhaps try various animals? What’s it like to hug a snake? Or, failing that, was he able to hold on to a rabbit? Worst of all, what are the possibilities for snuggling up to a skunk, and who holds your nose for you while you do?

I mean, have you researchers actually ever dealt with a cow? Some of them are distinctly unhuggable. There’s a reason bull riding is the most dangerous part of the rodeo–it’s because those beef-buckers don’t want anything to do with a human, whether it’s on their backs or around their necks. Even those who would be willing to get affectionate are not the sweetest-smelling of animals. In some cases, just give me the skunk!

Okay, so it’s cows we must hug instead of people, but I wonder, what do we do to convince the cows? Have any of them expressed an objection to hugging out of their species? Do we need to bring them anything? Flowers? Candy? Fresh fodder? The social mores are absolutely staggering.

In the same article that brought me this astounding news on the new bovine relationships, I heard that some enterprising souls have already made the move to take financial advantage of the situation. They have set up a stable of cows and are charging $150 per half hour for people to spend time with their four-legged “ladies of the night.”

So, you can drive up to the barn and ask to hug your neighbor’s cow and have the whole community talking about you, or you can pay for the privilege and hopefully keep things quiet. Certainly you don’t want to get a reputation for being a cow-lover. I do hope the cows involved in the venture are receiving their cut of the money and that they don’t feel too cheap and empty when their customers just use them like that and leave the money on the dresser…or the stable door.

I fear I will be unable to “embrace” this new cow-hugging fad and I do hope it passes quickly. Cows have important work to do, like providing milk and meat and they shouldn’t also have to contribute to our emotional stability. So all of you would be cow-pimps out there be warned…Bossie is capable of kicking out the stall if she’s too displeased!

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Tripping on lint

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I think it was the late great John Denver who told the story about a friend of his who cut his toe on a Rice Krispee and ended up having three stitches to treat it. I also have a friend who accidentally dropped a kitchen knife, which ended up perfectly, point down, stuck in one of her own toes. I was reminded of these people this weekend as I was dancing around my house, dragging out every curse word I knew, waving my finger in the air after I had managed to perfectly smash the tip of it in the door.

I didn’t end up needing medical attention for the finger, but I was fairly convinced for a while that I had broken it. And this is how life goes for me, because I am a card-carrying, lint-tripping, shower-slipping klutz. When I say that, I mean that whatever you might think is clumsy and self-hurting, I can ace it with imagination and creativity.

I’ve known this about myself since I was very young. In college, I once slammed a drawer, somehow catching the end of a scarf I was wearing around my neck. The scarf was wedged in just enough to prevent the drawer from opening. I was beginning to panic, fearing that I would choke to death and everyone would wonder what weird college ritual-gone-wrong I was performing when I died. At that moment, my roommate came along, saw my predicament and quickly untied the scarf from the other end, thus releasing me using a method I should have thought of myself, but I was too busy choking for rational consideration!

It didn’t improve as the years went on. I slipped on kitty litter (long story) and cracked a wrist. I tripped coming out of a shower and smacked my face so hard on the ceramic bathroom tile that I had to sip my meals through a straw for a week and a half. I once burned the back of my shoulder by getting up underneath a lit outdoor grill (another long story) and tipping it over. My fingers have been burned so many times in so many ways that they are actually more deep-fried than a McDonald’s McNugget.

I have a standard apology I give to people when I swing my arms and hit someone. I am the only person I know who can walk down the halls at my job and trip over the polish on the floor. I frequently fall up steps and the number of times I have hit my head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet would defy the limits of counting.

Clumsiness is not a pretty sight either because I frequently sport so many black and blue marks, I can’t remember where they all originated. I chased down a dog once, who was far smarter than I and then ended up in the emergency room having the edge of an eye stitched up and being questioned closely about whether I felt I was “safe at home.” Whether that was a suspicion about my husband’s behavior or just a comment on my own klutziness, I never did figure out.

Usually, I would prefer that my moments of clumsiness were unobserved, but the height of my traumatic actions is one I wish someone had seen, so they could explain how it was even possible. I was once drinking an iced drink, while walking through the dining room. A piece of ice missed my mouth, flipped out onto the floor, I slipped on it and when I stopped sliding, I was sprawled over the dishes, glassware and food that had been supper. I’m not certain, but I believe that may have defied the laws of physics, but I have no proof!

I could probably go on forever with this tale of “trip-itis” but to tell the truth, the finger that I smashed in the door is beginning to hurt from the typing, so I’d better quit. I do have a lot of paperwork to get done today, so I’ve probably got some papercuts to acquire and maybe I can manage to stick a pencil in my eye. However, I wish all of you an accident-free day and a wonderful week. Stay safe and…ouch! I think I just sprained my pinkie!

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Baggy pants brigade

Nothing makes me more angry than pictures of women in dresses that smooth over their curves and fit their shapes perfectly. It is maddening to know that somewhere, they found clothes that actually fit them. That makes my situation a little tight, or perhaps I should say a little loose.

I have always been terrible at math and one of the side problems of that is I have no idea how to estimate the proper sizes for my clothing. I have always compensated for that by buying everything in sizes that are appreciably larger than I think they should be.

It has worked worked fine, even though it has helped me become used to clothing that fits loosely. I feel comfortable in my too large clothing, but I am still the baggy elephant lady, envying all of those girls in svelte, form-hugging clothes. I am even jealous of the mannequins in stores, who stare vacantly into space while wearing shorts, shirts, dresses, etc. with a precision I will never achieve, no matter how vacant my expression!

Wearing clothes that are the wrong size may be comfortable, but it has its drawbacks. For one thing, if I misjudge the size of bra, it can cause padded wrinkles under my shirt, or in dire times, it can cut straight across my chest and make me look as though I have four, instead of two breasts. This is neither comfortable nor attractive!

Most shirts are at least a size or two too large to avoid the dreaded “button gap” and if I wear trousers, they must be able to slide on without being unbuttoned.

All of these things worked very well, until I, in the matter of about a year, lost 40 pounds. It was a good thing, and I was very happy, but it meant that my too large clothes are now seriously large and in some cases, dangerously so. My only two dresses now sag and flow around me like a “moo-moo,” I believe they used to call them because there is a lot of material to cover the “cow-cow”, I guess. It’s comfortable, but not an attractive look.

My trousers are now loose enough, that they, too, tend to drape around my body and if I sit too quickly, I find that they will wrap themselves in a strangle hold on my upper legs. In addition, if I take too deep a breath, I run the risk of having some of the largest ones fall down!

So now you’re asking yourself, “Why doesn’t she just buy new ones?” The reason is because of the genes in my jeans. I come from a long line of people who do not throw out a garment just because it has a little wear on it…or because it fits like the robes of a sheik in the desert! When these things wear out, I will go out, look at the women wearing clothes that hug their figures, commune with the mannequins pointing at nothing with their appropriately sized-outfits…and buy my baggy pants every time!

Happy fall, everyone, and may your sweater bag, your bra be smooth and your pants never need to be unzipped!

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De-constructing a marriage

This week I passed my 38th wedding anniversary. It’s a bit of a milestone and since it happened, I’ve been asked by any number of people, “How have you stayed together this long?” My standard answer is always, automatically, “Dumb luck,” but since we are starting to pile on the years together, I’ve tried to come up with some real answers. This is what I have.

Learn the fine art of compromise. After all, wasn’t the whole country founded on compromise? And I don’t mean the kind of compromise where one person just gives in and lets the other one have their way because it’s just too much trouble. I mean, the kind of compromise where I learn to watch the Vikings on Sunday afternoons with my lips clamped together, so that I can watch NCIS New Orleans on Tuesday evenings and look at Scott Bakula, without an argument. And the true compromise comes when he finds that maybe Scott Bakula can actually act and I find that yelling at the Vikings for missing that pass is very satisfying. Compromise is critical…are you listening, United States?

Adjust your palate. He stops eating things that are ultra spicy and you stop eating things that are 90 percent sugar. It is a proven fact that the longer you are together, the more closely your taste in food will align. We both agree that nothing beats a good Chinese buffet, but that we are not extending our palates to include sushi. We can frequently be seen in the line at the McDonalds or the Burger King, but we are not likely to ever join the even longer lines at Starbucks.

Learn the fine art of holding your tongue. Roy never answers the question, “Do you think I look fat?” If he is annoyed with me, however, he will suggest, “Wear those red plaid pants of yours tonight, dear, everyone will notice you in those.” And when last spring, I was looking for mask ideas and I suggested that we could use the padded bra I had, he puffed out his manly chest and declared, “I would rather die of the virus than walk around in public with half a bra strapped to my face.” Then, this fall, he plucked the very same padded bra from the clean laundry basket, held it up to his face and declared in the voice of a man who just had a brilliant, original idea, “Hey this would make a pretty effective mask!” Did I remind him that it was my idea last spring? Of course not. I simply said solemnly, “Ooooh, and it looks very manly on you too!”

Never, never NEVER construct anything together. I don’t care if it’s changing a lightbulb in a lamp. It is never wise to do repair or construction projects as a married couple. I have made peace with the fact that I married a perfectionist when it comes to this. And he has realized that my scrawny arms and whiny attitude make a poor assistant! “Honey, I just need your help for a minute,” is a statement that brings down a feeling of doom on me every time. I know it will involve me having to hold something while he measures, mutters and stands back to observe his project. I will be pushing the sheetrock against the wall, wondering how much I could get in the divorce settlement or whether it would just be quicker to grab the hammer in his toolbelt and hit him with it.

I love my husband dearly, but I have had to come to terms with the fact that he is a man who will take three hours and two trips to the lumber yard to nail in a loose board on the garage stairs. And he has had to come to terms with the fact that he is not married to Tim the Toolman Taylor! No construction, ladies and gentlemen, unless you want to deconstruct the marriage!

By now, I’m sure that you have figured out that there are really no rules for a marriage. It just takes two people who are determined to make it work and who are willing to go forward together, warts and all. I wish I had some great words of wisdom to impart, but even after 38 years together I think I’m going to stick with my original answer, “I think God is on our side and we’ve had a lot of dumb luck!”

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Caught in the wringer

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It was that time of year again. The time of year where I think of peaceful, restful, happy scenes like the one pictured…and make my annual appointment for a physical.

I don’t think there is a human being alive who doesn’t recognize the importance of an annual checkup of our physical health. Nor is there a human being alive who doesn’t wish with all their soul they can avoid it. But, if we are dutiful, we call for an appointment and think happy thoughts about peaceful places that are nowhere near a medical facility.

I don’t know why it’s so difficult. Perhaps it’s the attractive gown they give you to wear while they check you out. Nothing makes one feel as vulnerable as a gown the texture of a dishtowel, covered in faded designs, which is completely open down the back. Then you get to sit on a table covered in paper, which tends to stick to the portion of your anatomy that isn’t covered by the gown.

They begin with ten thousand questions, personal enough that you wouldn’t normally discuss them with a comparative stranger–Do you feel like hurting yourself? Can you count to ten? Can you follow my finger with your eyes?–you know the drill. And as much as I enjoy answering questions about my suicidal tendencies and the state of my bowels, I enjoy being poked and prodded even less.

Of course, they also sit you down and drain enough blood to make you wonder if they are working for Dracula, and then they squeeze your arm into a blood pressure cup as though they plan to remove the appendage by force–“Your blood pressure seems to be elevated, could it be that we have your arm strapped into an air-pressurized garrote that is shutting off the blood supply to everything above the shoulder?”

They save the real treat for last, however. Nothing that any exam provides for a woman is quite as delightful as the rigors of the mammogram. The late great humorist Erma Bombeck once said that for a woman to prepare herself for a mammogram, she must stand at the refrigerator door and slam it repeatedly on that most delicate part of the female anatomy, the breast.

I would never argue with my favorite writer, but I would have to say that Erma may have understated it. A mammogram is the real test of human endurance and there is no way to prepare for having the breast sandwiched between two plastic plates and squashed like bread dough under a rolling pin.

I’m always fascinated by the care and precision taken by the radiologist who conducts the test. While they have you in that machine, reluctant to move for fear of twisting off something crucial, they have all the precision and finesse of the photographer who took your wedding photos.

“Now, stand with your right arm up and your left shoulder dropped down. Put your chin on the top of the machine–that’s right, just stretch a little. Turn your body towards the machine and point your feet out to the left.”

And while you are standing there with your most delicate body part squashed into the merciless machine, your head impossibly high and your feet turned at an angle away from the body, they make the most ridiculous statement of all, “This will be easier if you just relax.” Once the picture is taken, they say, “Don’t move, I just want to check it.” This is a useless statement–until they release my breast from the machine, I’m not going to be going anywhere! I’ll just stand there, trying to visualize my happy place, but actually thinking about all the horror stories I’ve heard about things accidentally caught in those old wringer washers!

My physical is over for this year, and while I pick on the medical community, I truly do appreciate all they do to try and keep the human physiology in top operating form. All the same, it will take some hours of meditation on my calm and peaceful happy place before I set myself up for next year’s examination!


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A pass on the password

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My computer has finally gone too far. While this is not a picture of my computer, it captures the essence of my computer’s attitude (yes, my computer has an attitude). My computer is a nasty, smugly grinning monster who only knows three words: What’s the password?

For a person whose memory vaguely resembles a Swiss cheese, remembering passwords can be a real problem for me. Sometimes, I can remember passwords and account numbers and how to do math in my head. On other days–most days, I panic if someone asks for my birthdate!

Since the beginning of the password craze, I have had difficulty. What should I use for a password? I tried the standard my mother’s maiden name or my favorite Disney character, but apparently my mother’s maiden name is too easy to guess and too many people chose Cinderella! At one point, I was so frustrated, I even tried a profane word and received a morals lecture from a computer program!

Once we’ve actually come up with passwords, we’re not supposed to write them down! Right, I’m going to remember a password that is a mixture of numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols in a random order. Is it the # before LJm2? or did some computer app force me to update it to something even more bizarre?

Don’t write them down, the computer experts (my children) say; someone might break into your house and find them. So, I tried to be inventive. I put them on sticky notes and put them under my good dishware in the china cupboard. I broke my best bowl because I was having trouble reading the password upside down and typing it in to my computer. So, I tried writing it on the inside of a meat paper wrapping in the freezer: Roy made hamburgers one night and there went the wrapping paper. Okay, so I need to remember them.

I solved this by not turning off my computer until some random article in a magazine guilted me into giving the computer a break and allowing for updates. I turned it off. Guess what? It needed passwords to turn back on! I remembered some of them; others, it let me change. The ones that really stymied me were mostly ones that my children helped me set up. So I sent out a frantic call: They’ve locked me out of Netflix, what is the password? I received a GIF of Jean Luc Picard shaking his head and holding his forehead.

Now, my children are usually very helpful. My daughters patiently go over the instructions time after time, but I can always tell they are impatient with their old mother – “No Mom, just press the button once; we don’t double click any more.” My older daughter and her husband are both slightly scoffing and the younger daughter bites her tongue a lot, I know. The most helpful of them all is my younger son-in-law. He’s truly a whiz and he does so much, but he has this look he gets when he’s trying to help me, that makes me suspect that he’s secretly screaming on the inside.

So, I’ve come up with a surefire method with passwords: I use one for everything and I’m going to share it with you now. My password for everything from now on is, I take a pass on passwords! Oh, but don’t tell anyone, okay? My daughters said it’s not good to give those passwords out! Thanks!

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The fly fixation

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In a field out there somewhere, there is a convocation of flies, having their end of summer conference. There are a lot them, floating around, fat, lazy and ready to make their winter plans.

The meeting will be called to order by Hal, a huge, experienced horsefly who has dodged many a flyswatter over the summer and has earned the respect of the rest of them by flying directly onto the potato salad at the Smiths’ barbecue and living to tell the tale!

But he has something more serious on his mind now than hysterical picnic-goers. “Men,” he begins solemnly and then catches the eye of some disgruntled females, “very well, fellow flies,” he amends, “it is time to get serious about where we are going to outlast the winter.”

“It’s useless,” moans Freida, a tattered fly who has seen more than her share of disappointed moments on the garbage pile. “I have all but shredded my wings trying to make it through some of these screens people put up on their windows. I can’t find a way inside.”

“Even if we can, those humans with flyswatters are cruel and relentless,” adds Harold, one of the smaller, more irritating flies whose specialty is flitting in people’s faces. “There is no place safe for a decent fly to hang out, either inside or out.”

“On the contrary,” Hal holds up a conciliatory wing, demanding the attention of the others. “I and my team have been doing extensive research and we have a place where we will be safe and well-fed for months to come.”

“Where!” exclaimed the other flies in excitement.

“It’s simple: the Fauth household. There are always holes in the screens because they have a cat, so entry is no problem.”

“A cat!” Freida screamed. “But they can be even worse than humans.”

“Not this cat,” Hal sneered. “It’s fat and lazy and doesn’t do a whole lot that requires work. She won’t bother us.”

“What about the humans,” Harold questioned, hope of flying into more human eyes growing in his breast. “Won’t they have flyswatters?”

“Oh, the best,” Hal responds. “But they can’t hit the broad side of a barn with them. We couldn’t be safer and I’m told it’s highly entertaining to watch them running around, slamming the flyswatters on counters and walls and ceiling without doing any damage to us at all.”

“I’ve heard about that place,” Freida said excitedly, then she sobered. “Oh, but I did hear that the Enderson hatchling was killed there. They must not always miss.”

“The Enderson fly was lost there,” Hal said somberly, “but he was young and cocky. He stayed too long on that Fauth woman’s foot, believing she couldn’t get him and unfortunately, she got lucky. But that’s the only one she’s taken out all year. This is the place, my fellow flies.”

“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get to the Fauth household!” Harold yelled, leading the way for the swarm to follow.

And that’s how it happened that my house has been invaded. I can only assume that it is a deliberate invasion because I can’t imagine any other way that every fly for a thousand miles has suddenly descended on my house. I hope the rest of you are having a fly-free week because they have definitely fixated on me!

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Clutter Creation

I always admire those people who are organized and neat. The people who have a place for everything and who put their things in their proper places after each use.

I admire these people, but under no circumstances will I ever become one. I have clutter in every corner of my house, from my bedroom closet, whose floor never sees the light of day…or the closet light, for that matter, all the way to the junk drawer in the kitchen that can only be closed by holding down the clutter inside and shoving hard with a hip (I have a permanent dent in my hip from this and I regularly slam my fingers in with the clutter, but that’s better than cleaning it.)

The worst clutter comes, however, to the table beside my chair. This table is where I put everything I might need in an evening’s entertainment. I regard it as a skill and a talent to find a way to put everything necessary on the table so that I don’t have to move at all once I have settled in for the evening.

It requires art and skill to get everything on this extremely small table. I must have my cold drink, which always sits on a coaster that is slightly tilted because it is sitting on embroidery thread and envelopes.

The embroidery thread takes up a great deal of the table right now as that is my current project. This is much better than when I am working with yarn and plastic canvas; however, right now the embroidery thread is wrapped around everything on the table and pulling it together in a jumbled mess, bringing scissors and used spoons and bobby pins into an awkward embrace.

Used dishes, empty wrappers from granola bars (okay, they are candy bars, but granola sounds better), and flyswatters are scattered around the edges of the table, hanging onto the few empty spots as thought their lives depend on it. If you figure that there are still some technology items that have to reside on the table as well, it means that my laptop and the remotes for television, DVD player, air conditioner, etc., are all sitting on top of the jangled mess beneath.

Of course, on top of that will be any books I am currently reading and that means that if I sleepily drop the book on top of the remotes or the laptop, I can set off a chain reaction which turns on the television, cranks up the volume and sends out some random e-mails, all with one blow.

My table reminds me vividly of my father’s workbench, which I remember as a child resembling a tool collection which had suffered a nuclear explosion. My father could always walk up to that jangle of hammers, grease guns and electrical appliances and choose exactly what he needed. My cousin, dismayed by the clutter, cleaned and organized it for him one summer and it was a year before my father could find things again.

That is my table. As long as I don’t clean or straighten it, I can unerringly locate the scissors under the envelopes and empty cans or that last cough drop tucked into a corner and sheltered by the computer. I shudder to think where I would look for that latch-hook that I never use or the scraps of paper that I can’t throw away because I might use them for notes, if I clean that table.

So, I simply tell myself that the table is my clutter creation….or maybe it’s just the clutter I created, but it works for me!

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My brief criminal career at “B and E”

There’s a beautiful house sitting on top of a hill on my regular route through the area. (It’s not the picture above, that’s just one from the internet to set the tone.) The house I am admiring went up several years ago and every time I pass it, I wonder about it…what it looks like inside, what the view is like.

I won’t be investigating that anytime soon, however, and it’s because it always brings back memories of my brief career as a criminal “B and E” man; I believe they call it–breaking and entering.

There was a house I admired a great deal when I lived up along the Missouri River some years ago. It also was a house on a hill; a big place that I just knew had a commanding view of the river and the bluffs beyond. I drove by that house and my mouth watered, thinking what it must look like inside, and then with a sigh, I would turn towards my little house with the tiny bedrooms and the commanding view of the neighbor’s trash racks. Ah, well, such is life.

Then the day came when I received a writing assignment to interview a person I didn’t know. I was to interview her at her home. I was given the address and since these were the days before GPS, I had to rely on somewhat more vague directions and my own abysmal navigating skills. “It’s a big house, sitting up on a hill east of town…you really can’t miss it. It’s the only white house on the north side of the road,” were my boss’s instructions.

Now, I want you to know that I really did listen to those instructions, but all I really heard was “big white house on the hill over the river.” Well, of course I couldn’t miss it…hadn’t I been admiring it for years???? I could not believe my luck. The story I needed to do wasn’t that exciting, but I was finally going to see inside the house on the hill. My excitement knew no bounds.

Although a set of detailed instructions was drawn out for me, I just crammed them in the camera bag without looking at them. I knew where the house was, obviously. I drove the rather complicated side road that led up to the front door, already admiring the view from outside and prepared to gush over the whole place when I finally got to meet my interviewee.

I knocked at the door and while I don’t know what I actually heard, I expected to hear, “Come in,” so that’s apparently what I thought I heard. Turning the door knob, I found the door unlocked and I went in. Walking down a long hallway, I emerged into an astonishing great room with windows all along the wall which faced the river. I had been right; it was beautiful! I stepped to the windows, with my back to the room and just drank in the sight.

I was on the verge of pulling out my camera, when a very brusque male voice behind me demanded, “What are you doing in my house?”

I turned around in some consternation: my interviewee was supposed to be an elderly woman. The man who stood in the doorway to another hallway was middle-aged and wearing a short robe and a very hostile expression.

Confused, I stammered, “I’m sorry. I am here to talk to”…and I gave the lady’s name.

“This isn’t her house,” he said, outraged. “She lives over there, on the north side of the road.” The north side. Oh, yeah, it was the north side I was supposed to go to; I remember now and of course, this was the south side, which meant that I….had broken and entered this understandably cranky man’s house. I was standing there, admiring the house and view after having illegally entered the premises!

A friend I told this story to said I should have tried to bluff my way through–“Yes, I’m conducting a survey. How do you feel having your home invaded while you were in the shower? You don’t like it? Okay…that’s one negative response.”

I was not that cool, however. I mumbled some sort of apology, stumbled back down the hall I had entered through and ran for my car before the man decided to call the police. I made it to the NORTH side of the road and conducted my interview with the sweet lady there who lived in a much less impressive house without a panoramic view and then I had to go back to work and explain to my boss that I might very shortly be arrested for breaking and entering.

Fortunately, everyone seemed to realize that it was a careless error on my part, but it has taught me a little bit about being so single-minded that I miss all the little clues that should maybe tell me I’m on the wrong path.

That’s why I’ll never see the inside of the beautiful house on the hill this time. My brief career as a “breaking and entering” criminal has dampened my enthusiasm for house touring. I’m better off if I just admire it from the road!

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Vocabulary quiz from hell

Or-Confessions of a twentieth century teacher teaching in a twenty-first century pandemic!

I am here to confess that I am about to commit a murder. The object of my slaughterous intentions is named Priscilla. Before anyone calls the police, Priscilla is the name I was forced to give my computer, because otherwise the students in my classroom thought I was yelling at them when I was actually venting it all on the technological bane of my existence.

I don’t ask much as a teacher, just some books, paper, pencil, maybe a blackboard? But over the years, it has slowly crept up on me that in order for this 20th century girl to survive in education, I have to learn something about those little impassive, Vulcan-like mazes with a keyboard and an attitude!

Very well; I sit through the computer training sessions, I listen to the techno-jargon, I scream a little inside, and eventually I learn enough about the current program to get by. And then do you know what happens? You guessed it! Some enterprising young mathematical and cyber wiz pipes up with, “Oh, you know how to do that? That’s obsolete; we have something much better now.”

Then, without so much as consulting me, a pandemic showed up. Can you believe it? It happened solely to make my life miserable, I’m sure. But it has forced a great deal of what a teacher does to go “remote.” “Remote teaching” is another term for “move over you 20th century dinosaur, there’s a new cyber-sheriff in town.” I took a computer class on remote classrooms and I learned about My Drives and One Drives and Google Drives and push button communication and scheduling meetings and posting assignments until I don’t know my Microsoft Teams from my Zooms…whatever happened to Skype, by the way? I understood Skype!

And that brings us to the vocabulary quiz from hell. I discovered that I could actually construct a multiple choice quiz on my online classroom and I was delighted…once I learned how to use it. Once the test was done, I was assured that it had automatically saved to My Drive. Then, I scheduled it to be posted for administration on Wednesday. It posted immediately.

NO, NO, NO Priscilla! I don’t want the kids to see it now! I want to schedule it for later! Where is the delete? Which button? Someplace is a delete! Ten minutes later, I finally hit delete, so it was no longer posted.

No problem, right? I can go to My Drive, where it’s saved and try to schedule it…not post it. Except I went to My Drive, and there was nothing there but a couple of empty files. No vocabulary test.

I wasn’t too unhappy; I probably inadvertently deleted it altogether. It happens, so hey, I re-wrote the multiple choice vocabulary quiz and tried again. I hit the button. NO NO NO, Priscilla! I wanted to schedule it, not post it now! I took another ten minutes to try and figure out a delete that didn’t wipe it out. I was unsuccessful, so another vocabulary quiz was sent into cyber-oblivion.

By the third test, my multiple choice answers were beginning to suffer. Option C: Who cares?, Option D: Priscilla sucks! I tried a third time to schedule and this time, nothing happened. Oh well, this one was saved in My Drive, I’ll go on. I put together some other quizzes and finally caught on to how I should schedule them to post later. Perfect! I’ll just go to my drive and get it and schedule it.

My drive did not have the Vocabulary Quiz from Hell. I don’t know exactly where it is, but I do know that I kind of hope it went back where it obviously came from. This 20th century teacher has taken My Drive on a trip around the bend! But only after I have murdered Priscilla!

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