6 Susie's Snippets

Sleeping in Someone Else’s Bed

First, let me say that October 26 is  National Pumpkin Day. I thank the Lord every day (at least in the fall) for fruit and veggie farms, because there we can still see and purchase lovely huge pumpkins!  They are usually artfully displayed, as well, around hay bales, scarecrows and the like. It reminds me of the wonders of fall, and driving by or walking around these areas is a sensory delight!  The brilliant colors of the pumpkins and gourds and the leaves on the trees, the scents of apple cider in the barns, and the taste of pumpkin pie…all these just make me feel cozy and happy.

               Meanwhile, in the land of retail, it’s hard to find a pumpkin or gourd. There may be some in a discount bin, but the mainline stores are all about something that’s still 62 days away. That’s two months!  Yep, it’s all about Christmas. Now, normally that would be fine with me, as I love Christmas time. I typically know how many days until the big event months in advance. Even in March, I can tell you how many days until Santa arrives.

               But shopping-wise, this is annoying to me. I want to find pumpkins and apple cider and masks (MASKS!) in the stores in October. I do not feel the need to purchase candy canes, stockings, inflatable snowmen, or fake greenery. And let me digress to say that the stores have – for years, now – completely ignored a major holiday that happens in November. Try to find an autumn centerpiece, or a turkey sculpture, or some pilgrim candles for your Thanksgiving table. Ha! Too busy trying to sell tinsel, ornaments and snowflakes.

Seriously, marketing plans are just not in sync with the weather, the season, or my mood. It’s like sleeping in someone else’s bed. I know this feeling well, because I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all that experience!  Some are better than others, of course, but sleeping in a different bed almost always leaves you restless and a bit tired. Even if you think you slept pretty well, it’s just not the same.

Recently we celebrated our annual Friendsgiving. This is when we take  our dog and go with friends and their dogs to a cabin in the woods. We cook a big Thanksgiving dinner and have all the fun of the food and the laughter of good friends, but none of the stress of family. This year was especially poignant for us, as we will not be hosting or attending a large dinner filled with extended family. Hopefully, next year, but not 2020.

At any rate, we slept in a queen-sized bed with very comfortable sheets and pillows. The sheets were soft, but rustled like paper. It felt good, but sounded odd.  The mattress was firm and I should have slept well. I did, too, but awoke feeling “off,” and with a little twinge in my neck. Truth be told, I do that at home, too, but it was just different.

               I know our faithful pet, Forest, felt the same way. He missed his regular bed. He missed it so much that he fit his 100-pound, muscled frame into the Russell terrier’s little portable bed. He seemed comfortable enough, but I’m not sure he slept well!  Take a look at the photo and you decide.  Anyway, Christmas retail in October is okay. It’s a little like sleeping in someone else’s bed. It’s just not quite right.

Working Out Together

My husband has, for the past four years, dedicated himself to a work-out routine in order to get fit (or in his case, more fit) and stay healthy. He gets up very early every day and completes various exercises, usually employing videos from YouTube. Often, I sleep through these videos, but during the covid months, I have also gotten up many a day to complete my own rigorous routine. My routine includes feeding the cats, brushing my teeth, starting a pot of coffee to brew, and posting an Instagram picture for my volunteer work.

               Okay, so it’s not rigorous, but I am faithful in completing the tasks. Meanwhile, my dearest one is out in the family room becoming even more gorgeous and using a number of techniques to achieve this purpose. As it turns out, I find that we have more in common than I thought.

               I mean, I never totally watched all the exercises that he did, but I can hear him and the video instructors from my perch. While the coffee brews and I surf the Instragram world, I get to sit in a big easy chair in the corner of our kitchen. This is how I heard some of the terms and it began to occur to me that he and I share many common interests.

               For example, I never hear “sit up,” “push up,” or “jumping jacks.” These dreaded things I know all too well from my school years as exercises I never want to repeat. But he doesn’t seem to do these.

               Last week, I heard the instructors telling him to do something at the bar club. Bar club? I’m all about that!  I meet my girlfriends once a month at a local emporium to enjoy half-priced drinks!  We’re not an official club, but it sounds right to me!

               Sunday night I cooked a big feast of mostly Mexican delights. It was tasty, but I totally understood Monday when I heard the television talking about “burpees.” Of course, it’s not the right season for the famous seeds, so I knew he must have tuned in to a specific video that would help relieve that bloated feeling from just one spoonful too many of refried beans.

               Then the next day, the video man was talking all about “dips.” I love dips. Bean dip, deviled ham dip, horseradish dip, guacamole…they’re all good. Technically, a cheese ball is a dip, right?  I could not believe that Matt’s fitness program included tips on such wonderful things!  The same day, I heard him do something called crunches. I can only assume these are the things that go with the dips – chips, crackers, pita pockets and the like. Yum!  Who knew that exercising could be so delightful?

               I heard the voice on the tape today talking about Romanian dead lifts and Bulgarian dead lifts. I am not really sure what these are, but they sounded an awful lot like the exchange students at my high school. I had a date with the guy from Bulgaria, and it pretty much was a dead lift.

Then I heard the voice say “Bulgarian split squat.”  That’s when I left my comfortable chair and walked into the family room to see what in the world they were doing with a banana split. Turns out – it had no ice cream, no banana, and no chocolate sauce. It had squat. So I guess that’s how they named it. And it did make me hungry, just thinking about a banana split.

               So I muscled up to the freezer, squatted down to the bottom shelf, and pulled out a Nestlé’s crunch bar.

               It’s gratifying to know we have so much in common in our retirement years!

Waiting for Godot

               In  high school, we read the play “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett.  (Note:  I didn’t like it, no action at all and boring). Discussions raged (well, okay, they were forced by our teacher), but have raged throughout literary circles about this play and its deep meanings. Was it philosophical? Existential? Spiritual? Political? Psychological?  Even Beckett was vague, though I do remember reading once that he said something to the effect of “people like to make simple things complicated.”

               I remembered this all vividly when, about ten years ago, we remodeled our kitchen. We ordered all new appliances – a once-in-a-lifetime dream. The remodeling was done in about four weeks and we had everything but the stove. Let me digress to say that I don’t understand why it takes 4 to 6 weeks to move a stove from one state to another. Are they moving it via a horse and wagon?  But at any rate, two weeks after the remodeling was complete, the stove arrived. The wrong stove.

               We sent it back and waited another three weeks. (The store rushed it!). So for nine weeks we ate meals we cooked in the crock pot or microwave, waiting for our new stove. It finally arrived and when we went out with the installer to the garage to move it into the kitchen, we heard a lot of what appeared to be broken glass tinkling sounds. Sure enough, the oven door had been cracked and was broken to bits.

               Geez.  I recalled and identified with how bored and stupid the two main characters (Didi and Gogo) were in the play while they waited for a man who was never going to arrive. The store re-ordered the stove and we enjoyed another three weeks of soups and stews. I waited for that stove like I was giving birth, but it finally (finally!) arrived. Intact and the correct stove.

               It was a twelve-week wait, but that stove still works and I still like it.

               Why am I reminiscing about waiting for the stove? Because this year, the year of the pandemic, the year of finding new things to do, I have spent about that same time framing waiting. Waiting for blinds.

               We ordered new blinds for the windows in our family room. The old ones still work, but we’ve never really loved them and they are over 20 years old. So we masked up and went to the store and had them send a professional to measure the windows. That was August 6.

               We were told they would be cut in the store and ready in a “couple of days.” That should have been my first clue. On August 19, they told us they didn’t have enough of the right size and were getting two of the blinds from another store. Since these were “scheduled” to arrive on Labor Day, I presumed this store was in Antarctica and the blinds were being brought here by carrier penguins.

               They did arrive, a little after Labor Day. That was September 7.  On September 11, they called us and left a message to pick up our blinds. We called back, because when we ordered them and the installation, we had been told the installer would bring them. So we wanted to double check and sure enough the nice and, apparently incompetent, voice on the phone said, “no, no, the installer will bring them.”

               The installer company called and said they could work us in – in October. They were simply inundated!  Apparently, a lot of people were bored with their homes and ordering window treatments to be installed. I mean, it is a pandemic.

               So I waited another month, tracking the days on our mostly empty calendar until the installer came. He arrived yesterday.

               He did not have the blinds with him. He stated, very emphatically, that we were to pick up the blinds. It’s actually in the contract we signed. And we would have been happy –ecstatic, really, for an excuse to go somewhere – to pick up the blinds had the lady not told us he would.

               So anyway, we called and the manager actually delivered the blinds to us. In part, I’m sure to not lose our business, but at any rate, now, just a mere ten weeks after ordering them, we have the blinds in our house.

               No, no, not on the windows. I am sitting here now, waiting for the installer’s company to call to schedule us again. I’m sure they’ll work us in…sometime before Thanksgiving.

               Waiting for Godot was really not complicated at all. I’m sure Beckett must have ordered something to be delivered sometime in his life. He got an entire play out of his experience! We write what we know, right?

Autumn Musings – or Fall Musings – Your Choice


So, I’m wondering why we call the season of autumn “fall.” Back in the old (very old) days, we referred to this time of year as “harvest time,” which makes a lot of sense to me. “Fall” and “autumn” became popular terms during the 1600’s, when people began moving from rural farmlands into larger metropolitan cities. Without farming, the term “harvest” became less applicable to the lives of city-dwellers, and subsequently, “fall” and “autumn” emerged as two new names for the season.

“Autumn” is derived from the “autumnus,” a Latin word having connotations of “the passing of the year.” The term “fall” was likely from Old English words “fiaell” and “feallan,” both of which mean “to fall from a height.” It is assumed that this new name for the season was inspired by trees’ falling leaves. Again, makes sense to me.

By the 19th century, “fall” had become a totally American term, while “autumn” remained the commonly used British term. In fact, one source I found referred to the use of “fall” as “an American barbarism.”

But no matter what you call it – harvest, fall, or autumn – it’s a special time of year. Leaves turn wonderful colors and fall like snow from the trees. Birds sing and frolic. Pumpkins start appearing on doorsteps and in windows. Candy appears in every type of store. People start stashing away lightweight clothing and getting out sweaters, jackets, and hoodies. It’s all amazing. And for me, it’s just a glorious countdown to the main event – Christmas!

As I write this, there are 81 days until we officially celebrate Christmas. And before we get to the big day, we have all of autumn, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, costume events, Halloween, Thanksgiving, football, shopping, decorating, caroling, and wrapping presents! It’s my very, absolutely, positively favorite time of year.  People are full of love and the giving spirit, even more than usual, and you see acts of kindness everywhere. Fun stuff happens too – like my friend who has her family on a “group text” (whatever that is) and her daughter advised her mom, in the group text,  that she found out her husband would like a football jersey for Christmas. Of course, that meant the entire family, including her husband, read the information, so his gift might not be a big surprise.

It’s this kind of funny and fun thing that sustains me in happiness and joy and  keeps me from dwelling on the economy, the pandemic, the frightful number of deaths and hospitalizations, worry for my near and dear who work in hospitals and groceries and food service, and from the incredible number of people who wear masks as chin guards. I mean seriously, do they think COVID will enter through the dimple in their chin? It’s all I can do not to alert people that their mask is not doing them (or me) any good at all when dangling from their ear, wound around their neck, or pulled down when they talk. People don’t seem to realize that when we talk, a million little invisible particles of spit emit from our mouths and nose. It happens to even the most sophisticated among us, so please leave your mask up and speak a little louder!

Okay, off the soap box. Hey, “soapbox.” Where did that word come from?  According to Wikipedia, it comes from people turning over wooden crates used to ship soap to stand on and make an impromptu speech, usually political. Now it means any time we get on a rant about something, even if we’re just sitting at a keyboard.

So I’m off the soapbox about proper mask attire (what mask are you wearing for Halloween?) and on to making my Christmas shopping list. Shop local this year as much as you can, please!  Though that is a topic for another day, and another soapbox!

Instructions for the Simple-Minded and Easily Amused

Recently I heard that the New York Transit Authority had updated their instructional guidelines to include the specific admonition that “defecation on the subway is prohibited.”  Have we really fallen that far down the evolutionary ladder in terms of both common sense and common decency?  This has gone far beyond the tags on pillows that say “do not remove under penalty of prosecution.” I used to worry about the tag police arriving at my house with an arrest warrant, until I realized that once I had purchased said pillow, I could remove tags at will.  Whew! 

Seriously, though, the instructions seem to have become more and more ridiculous – beyond the mere advice to “not use the hair dryer outside or in the bathtub.”  Well, duh. Plus, who has a cord on a hair dryer that reaches to “outside”? 

The sad truth is, however, that if you read instructions on most normal products or services, they speak to the very dumbest among us. Apparently, they have to.

For example, we bought a new hose last year and when we took it out of the box, we noticed instructions printed on the inside of the bottom of the box. Instructions for using a hose?  It really seemed self-explanatory. Worse, the first instruction said, and I’m not kidding, “remove hose from box.” Duh, again.

Last week, I purchased some small staples that are used with a hammer, rather than a staple gun, for craft products. The back of the tiny box had this warning:  “do not put staples in mouth.” I know that some folks do hold nails in their mouths when working, but staples?  Seriously, I didn’t think we needed to be told that!

Recently, I began to notice that some of the people who create these warnings on labels are displaying a quirky sense of humor. It had never occurred to me before, but it must be a tedious job to create tags for appliances or clothing that say the same thing, over and over. Equally dull is the job of printing up the schematics and instructions for putting together furniture or children’s toys, although I’m absolutely convinced that these people are either using a translating dictionary or are creating misleading instructions deliberately. There can be no other reason that you read at the beginning of step M, “be sure that part B was inserted with flat side out in step D.”

On the other hand, I was delighted to find a unique tag in a  shirt I purchased. Instead of the typical “made in wherever,” it gave the name of the company and this cute line, embroidered on the tag: “These shirts were tested on animals. They didn’t fit.” I laughed hard at this.

Then I discovered a company in England called Sainsbury. It’s an on-line grocery or market of sorts. On one of the cleaning products they sell, there is an intriguing bit at the very end of the ingredients, cautions, and warnings. It reads, “You are reading this because you forgot your phone when you went to the toilet, didn’t you.” This one made me laugh so hard, I nearly choked on my coffee.

I was shopping on line for some pet shampoo, since it is skunk season currently (and pretty much always around my house). I found a totally natural pet shampoo that has this information printed on the back: “Remember to eliminate all escape routes well in advance. Once your pet is slippery wet, he or she is suddenly faster and smarter than you are.”

I’d love to have the job of creating fun instructions for people who are either (a) really dense or (b) easily amused. So here’s my instruction for reading my blog:  Don’t hold a cup of hot coffee over your reading device while in a room filled with snakes or mice.

Car Lines

Tonight we went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that the doctor had ordered today. Nothing is seriously wrong – just needed a prescription cream for a skin rash. The doctor said the pharmacy would have it a bit later in the day, so we waited until around dinner time to go. First mistake!  Trying to do anything at 5 p.m. on a Friday night is usually a bad idea.

               We compounded this error in judgment by getting into the drive–through lane. It seemed like a good idea, since there were only three cars in line and since there is a pandemic, we could minimize human contact. This was our second mistake.

               After about eight minutes of waiting, the first car finally moved. That meant two cars were in front of us. We played a game of Scrabble, discussed our dinner plans, and commented on every car that drove by. After another eight minutes, we began to agree that we might have been better off going into the pharmacy to get the prescription. On the 20th minute of waiting, the first car in line pulled away.

               Now we were just one car from the promised land – that being the squawk box in which we could request our medication. We would have pulled out and gone to the parking lot, but there were now two cars behind us, effectively blocking us in to the lane.

               This brought back a memory from 20 years ago. I had dropped my husband off for a meeting and was supposed to pick him up in one hour. I drove to the store and picked up a couple of needed items, carefully placing the bag in the backseat. Having a half hour to spare, I decided to surprise him by getting the car washed.

               I got into the car wash line, which apparently was the exciting afternoon activity that day. I was about 5 cars behind the one in the actual wash. Listening to the radio, I watched for the door to slide open, indicating the next car could go in.

               It didn’t appear to move. In fact, it took so long, I began to wonder if it was broken. Finally, after about six minutes, the door slid upward and the next car in line moved ahead.

               I quickly calculated that at six minutes each, it would take another 24 minutes to get through the line. This would make it difficult for me to be back on time, but I’d likely only be a few minutes late.

               What I didn’t realize is that the car in the wash had been in the actual wash longer than I had been in line. The actual time of a single car wash was ten minutes. By the time I figured that out, I was the third car in line and I had about 13 minutes to pick up my husband. On my left were a row of bushes and on my right was  a long concrete wall.

               I looked in my rearview mirror to see if I could back out, but there were three cars in line behind me. Unless I wanted to get out and ask each of these drivers if they would consider backing up, too, I was stuck.

               So I waited, impatiently. This was before the era of cell phones, so I had no way to let my dearest know I was going to be about 17 minutes late. The more impatient I became, the longer it seemed to take each car to get through.

               When it was my turn to put in my money, I punched the car window button viciously. I was so frustrated by my own tardiness and the length of this car wash that I inadvertently pushed two window buttons down at the same time – my window, and the passenger window behind me in the back seat.

               This fact I did not realize until I finally got into the car wash and the water began to spew. At first, I didn’t know what was making the back of head wet. When I realized the back window was down, I stabbed at the button. But instead of raising that window, I had made my window retract. Now, the entire left side of my body was getting drenched.

               I was finally able to get both windows back up, which seemed to take a forever. I was soaking wet, as were the groceries in the back seat.

               I was also 25 minutes late picking up Matt, whose mood did not improve upon seeing the wet interior.              

               But every experience teaches us something. That’s why I was not surprised to find, when we eventually reached the actual box to talk to the pharmacist, that my prescription was not ready. It wouldn’t be in until Monday, and did I really need it tonight? was the question she posed. Instead of making a sarcastic response, I simply indicated we’d return Monday. We didn’t inquire why they hadn’t called to inform us of this. Clearly, getting stuck in a line of cars rarely yields a happy ending.

               That’s my life lesson story today, which I have related in between scratching. Ah well, it’s just another 48 hours of itching.  You can bet on Monday, I’ll mask up and go inside the pharmacy!

Senior Clue

My family enjoys playing games of all types. Of course, games like Candy Land went away when I grew up, came back when we had a child, and left again. But games like Trouble (and many versions of it), word games, and Risk have been in our cupboard for many years.  I was actually grateful when we got a little tired of Monopoly, but some games have endured for my entire life. Clue is one of those, although these days, I’m playing a slightly different version of Clue. I call it Senior Clue.

               Around the first of August last year, I had a tiny little biking accident. The accident was completely my fault. We were on vacation and on our last day, we had taken bikes from our bed and breakfast to ride around the island. Since we were on vacation, the only footwear I had packed were flip-flops. I didn’t think this was a big deal, though clearly it wasn’t the safest choice I could have made.

As it turned out, it was really dumb. My flip-flip got caught on the pedal and rather than crash into some poor person’s fence, I crashed into their concrete steps. This resulted in two bones in my foot breaking. It was a pitiful end to a great vacation.  The rest of that month I spent wearing one of those large, clompy boots to insure my foot would heal well. I did get pretty good at getting around in it, especially since I had a smaller, lighter boot in which I could drive.

               I followed all the doctor’s orders and by early September, I was able to wear real shoes. The doctor, however, said absolutely no flip-flops or bare feet, even around the house. Fortunately, I found a pair of lightweight, summer shoes that were comfortable and gave me support. They are also hideous, but at a certain age we prefer function over style.

               So for a couple of weeks, my body adjusted to not wearing the heavy boot and to walking normally. I even began to go up and down stairs just like a youngster. Well, like I had in July, anyway. I was carrying some laundry upstairs by hooking the hangers between my thumb and forefinger and raising them high enough so that they didn’t drag on the ground. By the time I reached the top of the stairs, I was in agony. I couldn’t bend my thumb at all, and pain shot through my entire hand when I tried to use it. It appears that carrying three shirts on hangers upstairs sprained some muscle or tendon in my finger/thumb area. A couple of nights with ibuprofen and ice pads and I could move it again, but any serious stretching in that area causes me twinges of pain, even now.

Then one night a few weeks later, I was working a jigsaw puzzle.  After about an hour, I stood up. Pain shot through my knee and I limped to the kitchen to complain to Matt about this new development.

               I knew from an injury I had in 2011 that you can fall on your knee and the cartilage could take weeks to break down. I feared this is what had happened. Not wanting a repeat of that horrible experience, I began popping glucosamine like M&Ms and elevated my knee, placing an ice pack on it.

               It seemed to get a little better, but then that night in bed, I raised my knee up under the covers and a rocket of pain launched from my knee up to my hip. My dear husband (who is very knowledgeable about muscles) calmly said, “Oh, you’ve strained your quadriceps.”

               Seriously? I strained a major muscle in my leg by…standing up?  This is ridiculous! But, it turns out, he was absolutely correct. With some muscle cream and a heating pad, I got that bad muscle back in shape in two days.

               I didn’t even know what a quadriceps was until this happened, so I guess you actually do learn something new every day. I totally understand that riding a bike in flip-flops is just asking for an injury. I was disappointed that carrying hangers over my thumb could cause an injury. And I am totally dismayed to discover that merely standing up can cause an injury. And there you have it – that’s Senior Clue.

               It’s not about who killed Colonel Mustard in what room with which weapon. It’s all about what body part will malfunction next, when, and by doing what.

Do you play this game, too?

Grease is the Word

Less than a year ago, we purchased new carpeting for our family room and hall. We hadn’t replaced the original carpeting in at least 15 years, and it had been tracked on by us, our child, his friends (most of whom were burly high school football players), a variety of family members, and many pets. It was in sad shape.

            So I was thrilled that, now that our son was an adult and had moved out, we could get new carpeting for the most-used room in our house. The hallway runs parallel to the family room and goes to the mudroom. On the other side of the hallway, also parallel, is our kitchen. It is sort of a “great” room, with a wide entrance from the kitchen, through the hall and into the family room, but the hall itself is about 3 feet wide and 15 feet long.

            Less than a year. Which is why I was so mad at myself in March when I took a bag of kitchen trash to the back door to put in out in the trashcan. I walked through the kitchen and down the hall and when I got to the back door, I noticed something dripping onto my foot. Some kind of nasty, awful, thick grease was leaking out of my “leakproof” kitchen trash bag!  It had drizzled all through the kitchen (which thankfully has a ceramic and easily cleaned floor) and all through the hallway in a lazy “S” pattern. Grease.

            My mom would have said, “I just can’t have nice things.” And I had done this myself. I raced the bag to the trash can, cleaned up the mudroom (linoleum) and kitchen floors, and grabbed the spray bottle of stain remover and a large rag. It’s a name-brand, supposedly effective stain remover and I squirted and scrubbed and squirted and scrubbed all the way down the path of that grease in the hall.

            The stain laughed. I tried another brand of stain remover, one guaranteed to remove any and all stains. Scrubbing and scrubbing left me a small patch at the very beginning of the stain that appeared to be gone.

            It was back the next day.

            We borrowed a carpet cleaner from friends and cleaned the entire area, even the family room. The carpet looked brand new. I went over the stained portion about seven times and the stain was gone!  It looked wonderful.

            It was back the next day, chortling at me with malicious glee.

            Meanwhile, the pandemic had hit hard and I was staying at home with that evil stain, running the length of my hall and mocking me every day.

            Then, the solution appeared – as if by magic – on my Amazon page. I was searching for vacuum cleaner filter replacements, when a “recommendation” came up for a little throw rug. Aha!  Inspiration struck.

            Just days later, I received my 2’ 7” wide, 12’ long carpet runner. It fits nicely in the hall, as though we had planned it that way from the beginning. And it’s just wide enough to cover the wandering stain fully.

            Who’s laughing now, greasepot?

Multi-risking

               There was a time in my life when I was an expert at multi-tasking. I could read a book while watching television and keep both stories straight!  I could work a jigsaw puzzle, cook dinner, and carry on a conversation that made sense – all at the same time.

               Sadly, I fear those days are waning. In fact, I don’t so much multi-task now, as I multi-risk. If I try to do two things at once, it is very likely that both are at risk for being completely messed up. It’s dangerous to add a third task, for certain. I know this because of a day I had last week.

               I was cooking dinner while doing the laundry. That seems like a normal “dual-task” situation, and a situation I’ve completed successfully thousands of times.  I felt like everything was proceeding fairly normally. Then I received a text from our niece, asking me if I had received a letter from an agency at which she had used me as a reference. Just as I was answering her, I got a second text. This one was from a friend, asking if we were free on Wednesday evening. Now, I know that when you read a new text, you have to close it out before you go back to the any other text. But while I know that, I was trying to pull clothes out of the dryer and also listen for the timer on the microwave.

               So I quickly texted that I had, indeed been asked for a reference and had already submitted it. Then, I opened the other text and responded that, due to the pandemic, our schedule was generally pretty clear. What did she have in mind?

               While I was removing the item from the microwave, my phone dinged twice with two more texts. My niece wanted to know what our open schedule had to do with her reference and what she had in mind was getting a job. My friend wanted to know who had been asking about her.

               Clearly, I had responded to the wrong people with the right information. Or was it the right people with the wrong information? While I was straightening out this mess of my own making, the pan on the stove bubbled over.  I dropped the phone on the counter and picked up the pan very quickly. In my haste, I knocked a baggie holding some ingredients for dinner onto the stove top. I set down the pan as fast as I could and scooped the baggie off the stove. Or what was left of the baggie. Most of the plastic had adhered to the stove top.

               I researched on the internet and found that rubbing alcohol will remove this disaster. I checked my cabinet and we had this item, but the bottle had about a teaspoon left in it. I tore off my flannel shirt and grabbed a sweater from the laundry room. Pulling it over my head, and snagging a mask from the desk, I dashed to the car and went to the store to get more rubbing alcohol.

                The sweater had just been delivered the day before from my trusty on-line delivery service. It was in the laundry room so that I could remove the tags and wash it. I remembered that – only when I found those tags all over me while standing in the checkout line. 

Meanwhile, all my delicate shirts were undoubtedly crumpled in the bottom of the dryer, developing permanent wrinkles that would require either ironing or another spin with a wet towel through the dryer.

               Multi-risking is my new skill, apparently.

Freak Events

Some errors we make ourselves, while some are thrust upon us. For example, back in my youth, I had a freak accident while driving. I had the accident – but it was not my fault. It happened like this:

               I was driving down a two-lane highway in the evening, alongside the beautiful Ohio River. It was dark, but my headlights illuminated the roadway ahead of me quite nicely. Way in front of me I could just make out the outline of a large dump truck. Behind me, at a nice distance, was a pair of headlights. The moon was shining on the river, and my boyfriend (at the time) was in the back seat, while my mom was in the front passenger seat.

               My headlights suddenly caught a rolling object in the cross hairs. It was rolling fast and coming right down the middle of my lane. The car that had been at a distance behind me was just passing me. The road to my right had a sharp incline down to the river. I had three choices – sideswipe the car next to me at 50 mph, steer into the river, or hit the object head on.

               In the second I had to decide, the object – which turned out to be a tire – hit me.  Well, it hit the car, right in the middle of the grill, bounced up and hit the windshield, and then flew over the top of the car. I began to slow down, of course, and in my rearview mirror I saw the tire make a bounce, and continue rolling down the road.

               The car next to us pulled over, right in front of me. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, although I did get a black eye from hitting the steering wheel upon impact.

               This accident was was so freakish that it was almost comedic. It turned out the dump truck was carrying a load of tires and thankfully the one that fell off and rolled had no hub cab or metal in it!

               Some errors of a freakish nature are those we make ourselves. Right before Easter this year, I was creating a basket for our adult son. This tradition is one that I enjoy, and since I now pack the basket with interesting things to cook and money/gift cards instead of toys and candy, I think he likes it, too. The pandemic caused me to get most of the items via the internet this year, but I wanted to tuck some little sweet item in the basket (which nowadays is a bag). Anyway, I was getting some meat at the butcher shop and spotted some cool looking cookies at the checkout. A bunny and a carrot cookies went into the bag.

               It was several days later when my son called me to say that the cookies seemed to be granola rather than actual cookies. I asked him to read me the label and it turned out they were neither cookies, nor granola. They were dog treats!  Ack!  It pays to read the labels closely!

               Then there are those events caused by nature, God, or just dumb bad luck. Last week, I was sitting on our patio, enjoying a glass of wine, when something plopped on my head. It was a tree frog!  The nearest tree was many feet away, and the frog had to jump up and under the umbrella to achieve this scary feat.

               When my screaming subsided, my husband rescued the frog and placed him back out by the tree. This is small comfort to me, because I believe the frog now knows how to leap onto my head. But, like the rolling tire, at least this freak accident was not my fault! 

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