Author: Susie (Page 1 of 2)

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! 

Carnival Canes

This year, the only county fairs Ohio will have are “junior” fairs. I’m glad the 4H kiddos get to show their animals and experience the annual fair event, even though it will be strange and not totally fair-like. For me, the annual county fair is an amazing and must-attend event, so I will personally miss it very much. I have a history with our county fair, a big one.

               Thirty-seven years ago, my husband took me to a county fair in a neighboring county in July. I hadn’t been to a fair since I was a girl, so I loved the whole experience. We ate greasy food, played silly games, and rode every ride, including the Scrambler and the double Ferris Wheel.

               Three weeks later, our own county fair opened and we went on Sunday of fair week.  I didn’t know it at the time, but he had slipped the fair worker a 5-dollar bill to stop the single Ferris Wheel at the top, so he could propose. How romantic!

               Or it would have been.  What Matt didn’t know is that the double Ferris Wheel experience had left me with nightmares and I had vowed to never ride such a thing again. So no amount of wheedling or cajoling was getting me on that Ferris Wheel.  (Let me digress to say that I have not found out in the ensuing 37 years if he retrieved his five dollars, or not. The story on that is unclear.)

               But, we enjoyed the rest of the fair. We had pork chops from the Grange grill.  We enjoyed milkshakes and fried pickles. I began my life-long love affair with elephant ears. We went to all the animal barns and looked at the all the displays. We watched a couple horse races.  And in a show of dexterity and skill, Matt won me a carnival cane.

               He didn’t get to propose at the fair, but as we left the fairgrounds, he suggested a detour to the levee.  There, we sat on a swing and watched the river and he asked me to be his wife.  So while I didn’t get the Ferris Wheel proposal, I did get the man of my dreams.

               Every year since then, we’ve celebrated the Sunday of fair week by attending the fair, eating an elephant ear, enjoying a pork chop, and Matt wins me another carnival cane.

               Later on, we took our son, his cousin, or various friends of his to the fair to watch them on the rides, enjoy cotton candy, and watch horse races.

               By the time our son was an adult, we still went on Sunday, although we avoided the more fried foods, split an elephant ear, and only went to the non-animal barns to look at displays (allergies). I began to enter photographs in the annual contest (I’ve even won a few ribbons).

               But regardless of other changes, I’ve never left the county fair without a cane in my hand; a cane won by my husband for me to commemorate a very happy day in our lives.

               This year, there will be no elephant ear, no Tilt-a-Whirl, and no horse races.  But we went to an antique store and bought a cane. It likely cost the same amount as it would if he’d played the game, though it required no dexterity or skill. We picked a color I’ve never had before so we’d always remember the 2020 “fair” cane.

               I’m sorry we aren’t getting a full-fledged “normal” fair this year.  I know many people are upset and sorry about it. But if missing the fair saves even one life, then I’ll gladly pass on the elephant ear, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and the milkshake. Plus, I got my 37th cane!

Filler Foods

Some people eat to live; I, however, live to eat. I enjoy food – always have!  There are very few foods that I don’t enjoy and that’s probably contributed to my life-long battle with baby fat. (I’m sure there are nicer names for those extra pounds, but I’ve battled them since I was a baby, so…). At any rate, I really like food.  I was a mother’s dream in that regard, because I would not only eat, but would ask for, foods such as asparagus, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, kale, and liver and onions!

               There are only two foods that I don’t typically enjoy. The first is celery. I realize that most people don’t munch on celery for the sheer pleasure of it. Usually I see folks using celery as a vehicle for some better food, such as peanut butter or chive dip. I can get that down, if I have to, but honestly, the celery doesn’t really add much.

               Some people will tell me that celery adds “crunch” to other foods. I’m not sure why we need a textural change in things like chicken salad. And honestly, cooked celery does not provide a crunch in soups.  If I want crunchy chicken, I’d prefer to fry it. And if I really want crunch, then I’m reaching for potato chips. At least that way, I get taste with the crunch.

               This is why I get a little annoyed when restaurants serve food that is mislabeled. When I order, for example, chicken pecan salad, I expect to find a lot of chicken and a reasonable amount of pecans in my dish. If (and when) that chicken salad has a lot of chicken, but someone waved a pecan over it while they were dicing up about 50 pieces of celery to add, then I feel that I’ve been misled. What they are really serving is chicken celery salad and honestly, they should say so!  I’d order the fried bologna instead!

               The other food I’ve never gained a taste for (in fact, I loathe and detest it) is carrots. As a child, we had cooked carrots every Wednesday night, and I had to sit at the table until all the cooked carrots on my plate were gone. Preferably into my stomach. These were long and awful evenings. Often I didn’t get the task done til way after my bedtime. So there I sat, staring at a congealed, nasty carrot pile while I would have gladly tucked away a couple of servings of vinegar spinach or lima beans or sauerkraut.

               This aversion was made worse because my mother would bemoan to all her friends that “Susie will any vegetable at all, except for cooked carrots.” So that meant every time we went to someone’s house for dinner, the hostess would smile tenderly at me and state, “Your mom says you don’t like cooked carrots, but I know you’ll just love mine. I use (fill in the blank here with some noxious food).”

               So, being a child of earlier days, this meant I had to smile in return, choke down the carrots, and then respectfully inform the hostess that I loved her carrots. This insured that (a) my mom would get the recipe and begin cooking carrots with persimmons, or in clam juice, or in one horrible instance, with sardines on top and (b) the hostess would serve them each and every time we dined at her home.

               Now folks have tried to convince me that carrots are one of those wonderful foods that “take on” the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with.  Ha!  They do not. They are vile.

               Plus, they are another food that is considered good filler for things like salads and soups. This gives restaurants and groceries license to, yet again, misrepresent what they are serving. The other day I got some beef barley soup. I love beef. I love gravy. I love barley. It seemed like a good choice.

               There were many pieces of beef in succulent gravy in this soup. There were about ten little kernels of barley. There were also about 45 (okay, there were exactly 45, I counted) chunks of carrots. I know, because I pulled each one out to the side. In my HALF CUP of actual soup, after the carrots were eliminated, I became painfully aware of why they are called “filler.”

               But honestly, why didn’t they name it beef carrot soup?  Then I could have had something else – like fried bologna!

               And let me finish today’s rant by saying that there are other, much more worthy vegetables, to put on veggie trays. Pea pods, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, jicama…there’s a long list. Enough with the orange and green sticks!

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday. It makes me think back to all the birthdays, (so many, many birthdays) I’ve had in the past. I’ve always loved birthdays, because no matter the number of times I have one, or which number it is, the day usually involves being around people I love and who love me and getting a lot of very cool presents.  What’s not to like?

               My birthday is in the summer, too, so it stretches a long time. In my school days, I would start getting presents in late May and end up having birthday “events” all summer long. Not a bad deal, in my opinion.

               There was only one birthday that was memorable for bad reasons. Every summer until I was 12, we spent summers either in our cabin in Pennsylvania or in Texas. My dad and grandfather built the cabin the year I was born. (Let me digress to say that this cabin was a two-story, 4-bedroom brick and block structure that had indoor plumbing, a fireplace, and a furnace). It was situated on a big lake and 4+ acres of woodland. I loved that place. The year I turned 11, we had moved in April from Pennsylvania to Ohio and hadn’t been to the cabin that year. We planned a couple of weeks’ stay and arrived late on the night of my birthday. Vandals had been inside the cabin, knifing couches and chairs, throwing eggs and ketchup at the walls, and breaking dishes and pictures. I spent my birthday helping clean up and wondering if the cabin would ever be the same for me again.

               It wasn’t. But mostly my birthdays – at the cabin and everywhere else I’ve been – have been wonderful.

               Today is my birthday. Amidst the background of a worldwide pandemic that is turning America on its ear and the peaceful, but impactful protests of Black Lives Matter, I am celebrating another year of age. It won’t be without fanfare, but it won’t be typical by any means. I won’t have a big party or have the whole family gather to swim and eat and laugh. I won’t go to restaurants with friends and eat too many chips and salsa. I won’t see a movie at a theatre, or go to a play, or go to the Fraze as I have in years gone by. I will be praying for many near and dear who are ill, or recovering, or who have lost loved ones recently. I’ll be working to help others in smaller and less visible ways, and hoping that we all help people get through these turbulent times. I’ll be celebrating with my husband and my son and eating fried chicken – a treat I’ve not had in six months (but this dieting thing is working!).  And I’ll be so grateful for family and friends who are well, for the people who love me, and for my health.

               Today is my birthday, and I’m looking forward to many more in my future. My goal is to reach a healthy and mentally intact three-figure age, so hopefully these future days will include people I love, activities of fun and laughter, and less stress about health and politics. Whatever these birthdays bring, good or bad, I am hoping they come a bit more slowly.

In any event, I’ve been blessed to share my journey with so many kind, smart, thoughtful, and selfless people. They make every day a birthday of joy and love.

               I hope today is your birthday, too.

Creature Comfort

When I first moved to the country, well over 34 years ago now, I was a stereotypical city gal (though not as bad as Lisa in Green Acres). For the first part of my life, I could easily sleep through busses, trolley cars, and loud honking on the streets outside my window. My first weeks in the country, found me leaping out of bed from a sound sleep to grab my baseball bat and run frantically through the house due to the “noise.” Turns out, the noise was just a squirrel jumping onto the roof.

               My next hurdle was spiders. I’ve never been fond of them, but in the country they are terrifying. I found one in the laundry basket that was the size of a softball! My usual response to this was to scream (which never really brought my husband at a very fast pace) and let him deal with it. Because, after all, (a) I wasn’t going near it and (b) he’s the one who kept saying “spiders are our friends.”  I did think for many years that he had strange friends. If he wasn’t home, I just dropped a large Webster’s dictionary on the critter and left a note – “large bug here.”

               Years passed, and I got over the spider thing. I mean, I still don’t like them, but the screaming has stopped. Possibly bats are the reason for this. They are bigger than spiders, fly, and occasionally come in for an uninvited visit.

               I really, really hate bats. The first time one got in our house was about six years after we moved here. Matt told me it was “a bird.” He was trying to prevent the screaming, I’m sure. We didn’t see one for a long time after that, until 2017. Then, they appeared to be having some kind of bat-conference. In our house.

               We noticed the first one when we were watching television and there was a swirling shadow in the hallway. I immediately said to Matt, “there’s a bat in here.” A calm response, I thought, as I made a bound into the bathroom and slammed the door.

From there, I supervised the process of removing the bat. This included my usual helpful behavior from behind the closed door, such as yelling “get it out.” Fortunately, the bat got so tired of flying around, seemingly unable to find the wide-open door, that he fell to the floor. Matt quickly covered him in a large towel, took him outside, and showed him the woods. After that, a bat was swooping around our house several nights in a row.

               Finally, one evening Matt pointed out an incredibly large bat hanging in the corner of the stairwell. We took our usual paths to this disaster. He stood, quietly assessing how to best approach the creature. I scurried to the upstairs bathroom, again anxiously saying, “get it out. Get it out, get it out, get it out!”

               For many long moments, I heard nothing. Then, Matt said that he was going to need my help.

               My help? Was he kidding?

               As it turns out, Matt had the bat in a box with a file folder on top.  He needed both hands to keep the file folder on top of the open box. My help was needed to open the back door.  This meant that for several long seconds I was downstairs with the possibility of a winged beast escaping and finding me. I was brave. I stood by the door, ready and willing to leap outside into the pouring rain if need be.

               Without incident, Matt escorted our unwelcome guest to the woods. Then he called a wildlife removal service and we got our house bat-proofed.  Matt’s my hero.

               Until one night we came home and found a little bat, sleeping on the hinge to our back door. On the inside. Again, I employed my usual tactics when a flying, furry creature is inside our home. I bolted for the bathroom. Matt prevailed and took the bat outside to release him.

               A few weeks later, another bat was swooping around our kitchen. This one was much bigger than the sleeping one, or so it appeared to me. I started to run into the bathroom off the family room, but as I opened the door, I realized I could go open the back door and help Matt get the thing outside.

               Matt stood, bravely attempting to herd the bat toward the open door, but it flew into the bathroom instead. Matt shut the door, blocking it in, so that the next day our removal team could come do their work. 

They team came to confiscate the winged creature and assured us that now that it was warmer, it likely wouldn’t come back.  It’s been over two years, and in fact, we have been batless.

So you can imagine my delight when we found a herd of raccoons swarming our bird feeders last week. At last count, there were ten. Raccoons.  Twenty feet from my back door.

Oy, vey!

Good Ideas Gone Bad

My husband usually has great ideas. He is a man of exceptional vision and a talent for creating and building things, like springhouse roofs and fences. Sometimes, I don’t get the picture as easily.

For example, years ago we remodeled our kitchen. He wanted to recess the refrigerator into what – at the time – was a wall between the kitchen and a hallway. I didn’t understand what he was describing and insisted that this would not look good at all. He showed me diagrams and I still shook my head and was pretty adamant that this would not work. But since typically Matt has good ideas, I told him I would trust his judgment.

               When the project was done, the recessed refrigerator created more floor area for our kitchen table and made the kitchen a lot more user-friendly. It really was a good idea and I always credit him for yet another inspiration.

               Every once in a while, though, he has an idea that’s not so great.  One year, Matt wanted me to accompany him to California on a business trip. I have been to California and I knew two things: first, I hate to fly and secondly, I didn’t much care for California. There were a variety of reasons for this that I will not go into at this time, but it didn’t leave me with a lot of good memories.

               He listed all the wonderful things we would do, and eventually I succumbed and flew to San Francisco with him and he was absolutely right. I loved almost every minute of our stay there, even when he had to attend work functions. I was thrilled with the food, the shopping, the coffee, the wharf, the trolley cars, and our mini-trips to Sausalito and Alcatraz. And the wine!  That was amazing, too.

               Once again, he was right in dragging me into his idea. What he didn’t mention until the last minute was that the trip included a 5K charity event for which he had signed both of us up. Both of us. Meaning, me, too. Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea to you, but if you know me, you know that for me, running a 5K ranks right up there with things like root canals and gall bladder attacks.  In other words, I hate and avoid them.  While I have supported many 5K events, I have never actually participated in one.

               Including this one in beautiful San Fransicso. I went to the event, dressed in my best running gear (or at least, the best I could find in a whirlwind shopping trip) and got my number pinned to my clothing. We started off and I was walking, naturally. I tried to walk at a quick pace, but I was soon losing many of the group as they jogged away. Matt gamely walked with me and we got about a half K (whatever that is, it felt like ten miles) when he said he had to use a bathroom.

               In San Francisco, there are lots of public toilets, but they are all pay-toilets.  It was a Sunday morning, so very little was open, but there was (of course) a Starbucks. I had wisely tucked a twenty into the pocket of the new running shorts, so I went in to ask for change. Naturally, you had to purchase something, so I bought a latte, gave him two quarters from the change and found a bench to wait.

               While I sat, sipping coffee and contemplating the beautiful city scape, runners and walkers were passing me by – going both ways. Apparently some of them had finished the first half and were on their way back. I was rather conspicuous, sitting with the large number on my chest and back, sipping from a Starbucks cup. A few (who still had breath to speak) yelled encouraging words, like “way to go!”

               Matt emerged from the public toilet and we decided it was too late to walk the entire 5K (just how long is that, anyway?), so we turned and walked back to the start/finish line.

               When we approached, me clutching my now-empty coffee cup, a small group began applauding and I heard “there’s the coffee lady” several times.  My one and only 5K run was actually a half-K coffee walk. And, believe it or not, I actually got a blister on my heel from the morning’s stroll.

               Matt admitted that signing me up for the run had been a not-so-good idea. But he’s quick to point out that without that event, I wouldn’t have gained notoriety as a coffee-swilling non-runner.

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