My Night to Cook Days, Light Days, Remarkable Days, College Days

Okay, I’ve addressed hemorrhoids, so I feel like the content of this blog is wide open. Why not address the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done? Sure.

Of course, some history is in order.

In college I lived in the dorm two years per the University of Illinois requirement.

But then, as all cool kids do, I moved off campus. I lived with some dorm pals in a house that had been subdivided (awkwardly) into two apartments. We thought it was the Taj Mahal. (It has since been torn down…)

The first floor had two apartments. One had five bedrooms — perfect for me and four pals. Well, maybe “perfect” is an overstatement. But, hell, we were out of the dorm so we hardly noticed the inconveniences. To wit:

We had one bathroom. For 5 girls.


To access the basement laundry, the residents of the other first floor apartment had to tramp through our apartment.

No problem.

More background detail: In our one bathroom for five girls, we had a dresser with five drawers. Convenient. One for each of us to store our toiletries. Nonetheless, one drawer was still small considering my storage needs.

The other first-floor residents who needed to tramp through our apartment? Well they would be Mr. and Mrs. Dicker. While they were not old — my guess is grad students — they were married (which none of us could imagine). The Dickers were seemingly appalled by our freewheeling approach to life in general.

Really? We were good students — accounting, biology, social work, geology, engineering. We were devoted to our studies Sunday through Thursday nights. Yes, Friday and Saturday were the “let off steam” evenings. But they — particularly Mrs. Dicker (a/k/a Kim…can’t believe I still remember the name of someone I had less than 3 conversations with 40 years ago, but I digress.) Kim seemed particularly disturbed by our “goings on.” The music. The parties. The raucous laughter.

But we abided her.

We also made up a song about Mrs. Dicker. It went as follows:

“I’m a dicker. She’s a dicker. Wouldn’t you like to be a dicker too?”

Of course I am not proud of this ditty, but believe me, I wasn’t singing it alone…

One of our — frankly brilliant — ideas, was that we would each take a night and cook for the five of us, allowing the remaining four to come home seconds before dinner, snarf something down, and return to study on campus. The cuisine was “uneven” but that is the subject of another post. For now, let’s focus on my night to cook.

I came home, about 4:30ish. Early enough for me to prepare my signature ham slice or meatloaf. But before starting, I had to “freshen up.” So I proceeded to the shared bathroom, opened my assigned dresser drawer, removed my spectacles, rummaged around my very messy drawer, and donned my shower cap so I could wash my face without having my hair “in the way.” Ladies will understand.

And just at that inopportune moment, the doorbell rang.

I trudged to door, still in my shower cap, and asked, “Who is it?”

“Kim Dicker. I need to do my laundry.”

So I unlocked the door and admitted her.

She looked STUNNED.

“What the hell?” I thought. It’s just a goddamn shower cap. Surely she is familiar with shower caps?? I explained that I was just washing my face and donned a shower cap so as not to dampen my locks.

She looked dubious but hustled past me down to the basement, and I returned to the bathroom to finish up my “refresh.”


When I returned to joint-toileting central, I caught a glimpse of myself.

Yes, I had the shower cap on but that wasn’t the half of it.

Somehow, appended to my shower cap, was a “light day” pad. The strip covering the adhesive back had gotten dislodged. Not sure how that happened, but one small drawer to house all my toiletries is the obvious answer. The crowded conditions made for an untidy drawer. Jumbled even. Things got knocked loose perhaps. Like adhesive backs.

And the pad was stuck to my shower cap at such a jaunty angle!! Almost gaily!

I don’t know how to even end this post.

Are the Dickers still married? Did Mrs. Dicker tell Mr. Dicker? Did they concoct some bizarre story of the girls next door? Did Kim Dicker suppress the sight? We will never know.

This I do know. The Dickers never mentioned the shower cap incident to any of us. They moved away at the end of their lease. They didn’t say good-bye but one day they were just gone. So we got to rent the whole first floor, and the Dicker apartment became one with ours, meaning we now had two bathrooms, two living rooms, another bedroom, and two front doors.

And there was learning. Henceforth I always stored things in their original packaging.

Tidy, eh?

H as in…Humiliation?

1977. I am freshman in college. Young, thin, active, in my prime. Then one day I confront the dreaded.

No, no, not a “fiery crash.” (Is there any other kind? ) But…

Before I clue you in, I must say that I am an aficionado of rare disease. Perhaps it was my wonderment as I paged through the World Book Encyclopedia, neatly arranged on the family room shelf in my childhood home. My goodness!

Some of the pages feature women half-naked, balancing water vessels on their head.

And the “spider” entry! Frightening! This entry was enhanced by a careful reading of one of the Nancy Drew mysteries that involved a spider at the most tense moment! (I was a devotee of Nancy, not to mention her father Carson, housekeeper Hannah Gruen, friends Beth (plump) and George (surely gay), and boyfriend (Ned Nickerson). All gathered on the “veranda” or in her “roadster.”

But I digress from the realization that I was at the end of my life — at 18 years of age, in the prime of dorm life. What was wrong? The dreaded, “BLOOD in the STOOL”

Yep. I knew. Certain. Sad, but true. At such a young age, I was to be struck down with CANCER. Although frightened, I resolved to be strong. In my obituary, they could say I “battled” cancer. I stared it down — with a smile.

So I carried my head high. Of course I didn’t tell anyone. That would not be “noble.” I merely made my appointment at the college health clinic and carried on, knowing that when I went to my appointment, the doctor would struggle to look me in the eye but deliver the diagnosis. Blood in stool = death.

Then I went to my appointment.

The doctor breezed in, did a quick exploration of my nether regions, and, stripping off her gloves with nary a care in the world, pronounced: “You have hemorrhoids.”


Sure, I didn’t want to die of cancer but must I succumb to hemorrhoids? Isn’t that an affliction of the elderly? I am 18. In my prime. How can I face my peers knowing I am afflicted with hemorrhoids?????

Luckily, contemporaneously with my pseudo-cancer diagnosis, my always-upbeat roommate Patty was in-patient at the college health clinic with strep (or some such not-cancer diagnosis). After the startling diagnosis of hemorrhoids at the tender age of 18, I went up to the in-patient floor to visit Patty. And I confessed my illness.

She laughed so hard I feared a health setback. Then I laughed. Prior to my visit with Patty, I was wondering if I could somehow acquire cancer. Surely that was better than admitting I had hemorrhoids a/k/a “piles”?

Post my confession, I thought Patty would wet herself. Then I thought I would wet myself.

Yet here I am. 45 years later. Still kickin’. In a few weeks, I turn 64.

Thank God for my bowels. #blessed

Danger Danger

My parents, Bob and Rose, were not risk takers, nor were they negligent or absent parents. Weary? Sure. By the time I was born in 1958, they had been “parenting” for 19 years. Yikes. Nonetheless, they hadn’t completely checked out. Yet…

Perhaps it was a bygone age when the dangers were yet unknown. But, really, did they need a scientific study? Or just a think-about what made sense?

So why was I permitted to do the following:

Envision summertime in suburban Chicago, circa 1968…to hell with the Vietnam War. Tonight the MOSQUITO SPRAYING TRUCK was comin’ through! Gather all ye children and run after the truck, lost in the fog, breathing in the insecticide. Ahhhh. What fun! The smell was noxious. Sure I coughed. But the fun of frolicking in the cloud!!

Let’s switch seasons. What could be more fun than Dad tying the toboggan to the bumper of his car and pulling us around in a snowstorm?

Or perhaps venturing out with the toboggan to Jensen’s slides? Gosh the sliding was the half of it. Just climbing the rickety stairs was terror enough. Then the slide down, wondering whether we’d actually get down in one piece, and if so, whether we’d slide into the Des Plaines river. The tantalizing tandem risk of brain injury v. drowning was uppermost in our minds. Or maybe it would just be a broken limb. I don’t think I ever visited Jensen’s slides on a day where the paramedics didn’t also drop in.

How about Foster beach? The bus rides were “safe enough,” and my Dad always advised never diving into a lake, and yes, both parents advised sunscreen. So how was it that I bussed to the beach in June, lathered up my Irish skin with baby oil (because Coppertone WAS the reason I didn’t tan), then dove into Lake Michigan off the pier, daring the submerged rocks to paralyze me with a neck injury? Okay, maybe that was me. My parents had dispensed the cautions. But did they think I’d obey them? I was the kid who not once, but twice, jumped out our split-level second story because I thought I could fly. To my Dad’s credit, when I returned from Foster beach, aglow with sunburn + Noxzema I had purchased on my walk home, he glanced up from the dinner table and said, “I thought you were smarter than that.” As I puked my way over the next 24 hours, I wondered the same myself.

But let’s talk about home front –1330 Castle Drive. Split level with garage door. Heavy 1960s-era garage door. No separate entry. To make good time, one had to stand at the kitchen entry to the garage, press the close button, and take off at a full run to duck under the descending garage door to avoid the few minutes time delay of closing the garage door and trudging to the driveway from another the back or front. All — including Bob and Rose — agreed this time-saving venture was totally worth the risk of being crushed by the garage door.

What about the youth group trips to Wauconda? Sure Bob and Rose had no idea that we all piled on the wooden float, then rocked and rocked until it flipped, trapping us underneath. Heck, I was a good swimmer, so the panic when I rose and encountered the flip side of the float with my head and couldn’t breathe was but a nuisance. Best to swim to the side and try to surface again.

My Mom told me her Mom let her row a boat in Lake Michigan rationalizing she was a “good swimmer.” She was appalled yet, in hindsight, my folks arrived at similar assurances.

Which leads me to wonder what my kids will reflect on….Why did I let them do that I shouldn’t have??

Perhaps that is better to know post-death?

Piano Bench

Doesn’t Vladimir look happy? See that big smile? Is it because he is one of the world’s greatest pianists? No, it is because Vladimir Horowitz has a happy butt.

I never knew about piano bench pads, probably because I never spent enough time sitting on one. During my brief piano lesson era, I was able to condense my teacher’s practice requirements to a quick few scales per day, perhaps the reason I am not one of the world’s greatest pianists. Perhaps not even a pianist. Okay, I am just a shitty piano player. But my spouse is decent. He’s no Horowitz but after 12 years of piano lessons, he does a nice job. And now that he is “retired,” he’s spent a fair amount of time tickling the ivories.

So I should not have been surprised when he, known in college as one of the “butt-less wonders” of Blaisdell dorm, floor 2, needed some padding.

First he took matters into his own hands and ordered himself a very ugly, orange, pseudo-leather pad for the piano bench. In his defense, the picture looked brown, but it was decidedly orange on arrival. And our house is devoid of orange.

Being income-less, I assured him that the best course was to return the ugly not-so-cheap orange, not-leather pad and let me take on the task of comforting his tush. I set out for JoAnn Fabrics, located the pads department, and dragged a 3-inch pad to the cutter counter. So far so good.

But the cutter person said she could only cut one side. Huh? Okay then, but how does one cut a 3-inch pad pray tell? With an electric knife. Excellent! I have one of those. It is one of the items salvaged from my parents’ stash of 1970s things.

She cut a nice straight line.

I took the pad home and instructed my budding Vladimir to cut the other side. He questioned the electric knife, but I reassured him. He, however, does not have the skills of the JoAnn cutter so the cut was a little jagged. I won’t say it looked like Otis the dog gnawed it off, but it wasn’t “clean.” Oh well, onward.

I located some fabric in basement storage, left over from when we had our dining room chairs recovered.

Aside: I use the term “our” haltingly, because, like the electric knife, the dining room chairs came from my parents. The only difference was 40 years. They purchased the dining room chairs in 1938 and the electric knife decades later. We had the dining room chairs recovered, re-glued, and rebuilt, but our 38 years of abuse have taken their toll. Last summer, we made the momentous decision to replace the remaining three of six chairs.

All of this to say that the fabric is available, begging to be repurposed after years in the basement.

Pad? Check. Fabric? Check? All that is left is assembly. What could go wrong? (See checkbook post.)

I started by Googling “DIY piano bench pads,” initially encouraged by the number of posts, then dashed as I began reading them. All posters were more DIY proficient than I.

So, I texted my crafty friend and trundled down to her abode with my pad and fabric. She had advice, instructions; my head began to spin. I fixated on the fact that I had used a local seamstress for some small projects, and as my crafty friend gave instruction, I became more convinced that the local seamstress was my ticket to success.

Today I phoned her. She cannot possibly entertain such project until after Christmas.

Hmm. What to do? I considered glue or staples, delay, or just defaulting to Amazon. I am consumed with the enormity of the task. Like Rome, a pad isn’t built in a day.

Perhaps I could put the pad on a board, staple the fabric to the board, fashion the corners in some way … but wait! The staples will scratch the already scratched piano bench, rendering it more scratched. So let’s add an old towel, glued on the bottom. NO, NO then the audience will see the towel lurking under the pad +fabric contraption. Okay, how about a hunk of sheet? Is that enough to pad the staple? Can I glue that onto the board? Or will the whole shebang stick to the piano bench like old gum to the bottom of a movie theater seat?

I don’t know. I don’t know. Stay tuned.

Berry Butt

the source of berry butt

Eleven years ago my youngest child graduated from high school (some say “graduated high school” and perhaps that is correct, but I am unsure whether a school graduates a student or a student graduates a school. I will stick with the former.) So, back to my reminiscence… Often a state occasion such as the graduation of one’s youngest, a “launching” so to speak, brings a crush of special events. So much so, that one’s memory can blur the details. True, but Berry Butt remains crystal clear.

The term was coined at my son’s graduation party — actually at the time the party was winding down. But before I go too far, allow me to set the scene.

All of our children’s graduation parties were modest affairs in our backyard, which is no wooded estate, rather a concrete slab patio and a small square yard with various hardy plants (because no others would survive), surrounded by a 5-foot wood fence. On the north side, the wood fence ran parallel to the “Barbie” fence, a term coined by my children after my neighbor erected an ugly white plastic fence. Between the wood fence and the Barbie fence grew a spindly tree that shed berries every spring. By “shed,” I mean a near constant dropping of red berries onto our patio furniture for a two-week period in June. The berries were inedible, the tree, an ugly runt of a thing, but for some reason, likely laziness, we neglected to remove it.

On the day of the graduation party, we swiped the berries from the patio chairs multiple times prior to the guests’ arrival, but then, when guests began arriving, in the crush of congratulations and greetings, we became lax. My son’s friends stood, preferring to stop in, mingle, and move on to the next party. But the old guard–the neighbors and friends–who attended out of obligation or pride (“I knew him when…”) sat, lingered, chatted, until it was time. Each stood and reached out to say all the nice things like “You’ve done a great job.” “Wow, three kids graduated and off to college.” “Bet you’re proud.” And we nodded, but then watched them walk toward the gate, the seat of their pants a testimony to the fact that they sat in one of the patio chairs close to the red-berry-shedding tree. Berry butt.

in our defense, what were we to do? Say, “Yes, we are excited for him and thanks so much for stopping by and your pants are stained and red berry stains are hell to contend with?” No. We did not. We said nothing regarding the seat of their pants. We just watched, silently at first, but then giggling, as each and every non-high-school guest left with a confirmed case of berry butt.


For the three of you who regularly follow my blog, I want to let you know that I am Anxious (Please note the uppercase “A”. It was not a typo.)

You probably think it was pandemic anxiety. No. I have shoved aside the prospect of the pandemic. I’ve buried myself in work. In useless tasks. I don’t listen to the news. At best, I do a cursory review of the print edition of the local paper. Why? Because I cannot change the course of history. Best to bury my head in the sand, do what I can in my tiny ambit and hope for better days ahead. Oh, yes, I wake in the middle of the night, terrified about the health of those I know in the “high-risk group,” wonder if despite my spectacular triathlon performance last summer, I am in such group, worry about retirement funds, furloughed employees, mental health, and despair. But, at some point, I realize these are all out of my control. We are what we are. Buckle up.

So, why the anxiety? Otis. You remember him? The adorable cuddly, ball of fur that we brought home in November? Well, he is no more. He has morphed into Cujo.(Aside, I have an inability to remember what I deem trivial knowledge, so several years ago, in the days of movie “rentals” (how quaint), I counseled my spouse to rent the movie Cujo, telling him it was rumored to have beautiful photos of nature. Alas, I was thinking of White Fang.

I present the photos of Cujo and Whilte Fang:

Guess who is who?

(And, a further aside: I also confused Silver Streak, a comedy featuring RIchard Pryor, with Midnight Express, a very violent movie about drug smuggling. I wish you could see the faces of my coworkers when I told them I found Midnight Express very, very funny… But I digress.)

Back to Otis a/k/a Cujo.

Otis was purchased to be Lassie. I have put my heart and soul and money and time into him to alleviate all my loneliness, to make me feel important and loved and useful. He was destined to curl up at my feet, to serve as a comfort dog as I carried out my noble charitable work, weaving in among the very sick and very old, Otis and I were going to bring joy to the world. And he was to be my companion, through thick and thin.

But then he turned on me. He has become an adolescent terror. Not satisfied with ripping apart the bushes and digging holes in the yard, he has turned to systematically ripping out the landscape edging and trotting around the yard with his prize. I stride outside and sternly instruct him to COME. He looks at me, clearly thinking, “You must be kidding.” I close in and he goes on the attack. Jumping at me, biting at my sleeves, baring his teeth, growling. One day this scenario transpired when I was still in my robe. My lovely robe was streaked with muddy paw prints. I retreated into the house, dragging him by the collar. To say he didn’t seem to give a shit is a gross understatement.

Then there are the “walks.” We start out nicely enough, then Otis decides things are dull, so he pulls and tugs at the leash. I remind him, patiently, to come along and he does his leaping and nipping routine.

By the time I am home, I am capable of strangling him. But, at least to date, I have not.

I have, however, contacted a few trainers. The first pronounced his behavior “unacceptable” and “alarming,” advising me to clamp down. Think those hot boxes in Bridge Over the River Kwai.

NO, NO, NO my other consultant counsels. Yes, he is acting in an “alarming” and “dangerous” manner, but he needs counseling. Think of Otis on a couch, pouring out his grievances.

I am anxious. All right, downright panicked. I wake up in the middle of the night and read about aggressive dogs and conclude Otis will ultimately eat me. Think Lord of the Flies. After I mourn my ugly and untimely death at the paws of Otis, I lament the money, time, and effort spent on a lost cause. I remember everyone’s shock that I would purchase a puppy at my advanced age. “Yes, yes,” I scold myself. “They were all right. You are a dope, a fool, and if not dead soon, you will be at least maimed beyond recognition within a few days.”

I turn to a third advisor — the one who, I was told, was the end-all-and-be-all of dog aggression expertise. This time, I send a video. “This,” I explain, “is my own-fault Cujo that everyone under the sun warned my not to get. Can this marriage be saved???”

She responds quickly. She has watched the videos and opines that Otis seems “very frustrated, which is common when dogs are distracted and not getting reinforced.” She then adds, ” I don’t think he’s being aggressive, he’s adrenalized and frustrated. He’s still a baby and will need a lot of guidance and reinforcement for the behaviors we want.”

My head is spinning. What am I not reinforcing? How can I de-adrenalize him? (Note to self: Remove speed from his kibble starting tomorrow.) Why is he frustrated? He isn’t trying to train himself.

But, despite my questions, I find her response reassuring. Perhaps he is rehab-able. Perhaos he will become Lassie. Perhaps everyone will say, “Gosh, we were wrong. Nancy is the perfect dog owner and Otis, the perfect dog.” I am hopeful. Tonight I plan to sleep the entire night without once googling. “Can a 6 1/2 month golden retriever kill me.”

Tomorrow is our virtual training/meeting/assessment. I will keep you posted. Or, I will be torn to pieces and eaten.

An Easter Miracle

Starting a piece with a definition is an over-used literary device, but appropriate to today’s topic. To wit, Merriam-Webster defines “miracle” as “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” Let’s not dwell on “outstanding,” rather focus on “unusual.” And before I disclose, some background is called for.

My late sister Rosie ran circles around the rest of her siblings in her ability to create thoughtful, cute things. She made me Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls with my name inscribed.

She made my nephew a clown Halloween costume that was passed down to the other nieces and nephews the way some families pass down a christening gown.

My inability to do these kinds of things rivaled the inabilities of my siblings, the difference being that they didn’t try. Alas, I was a member of the “hope springs eternal” crowd. Apparently Rosie shared my hope for myself, so when my kids were young and she was decluttering, she would, from time to time, ship me things. Before Christmas, she sent three two-foot high cardboard cutouts shaped liked gingerbread men that my kids could decorate. And before Easter one year, she sent me a lamb cake mold with instructions to use a box cake mix. That was it, the only instruction. Not sure why she thought that was adequate, but as I said, she had more hope in others than they in themselves.

For starters, the mold had 2 pieces. I mixed up the cake, presuming that one piece was the left side of the lamb, and the other, the right. So I filled each side with cake mix. When I took it out of the oven, each side had risen, thus when I removed the cake from each side and put them together, I had a two-headed lamb.

I’d already met the definition of “miracle,” yet there was more.

Unbelievably, I was not dissuaded from going further. I was expecting my 20-something niece and Jim’s brother’s family to join me, Jim, and my three teens for Easter brunch. After a moment’s reflection, I decided none were fussy and all would prefer dessert despite its appearance. So, I forged ahead because I had no alternative and time had grown short. So short, I felt I couldn’t wait to decorate my two-headed lamb cake.

I skillfully applied a white frosting and teased it up to resemble the soft curly fur of a lamb. Masterful. Then ,the piece-de-resistance. I added two red jelly bean eyes and a black jelly bean nose. Viewed from the proper angle, one would hardly notice the duplicate head. Into the freezer it went for a “quick cool.”

A short time later, the time for dessert arrived. I dispatched my son to fetch the cake and bring it to the table. It took him longer than expected because he paused, finding it difficult to walk and laugh simultaneously. You see the “quick cool” wasn’t quick enough and the warm frosting gave rise to some melting of the jelly beans. As all stared in amazement, someone snapped a picture.

Over the years, the picture has been shared to family and friends of family. It is forgotten for several months, then like an Easter miracle, rises.

I am thinking there is no better time than a global pandemic, when people are starved for a bit of amusement, to share my creation publicly. Hence. I present, my two-headed lamb cake.

Rosie, we will miss you tonight when I launch my inaugural attempt at a family Jeopardy game on Zoom, but rest assured, hope springs eternal for my creative ambition.

The Laundry Room

As I mentioned in a previous post, our washing machine (actually the laundry tub) overflowed three times last week. And, being March, it’s muddy and Otis ran around the laundry room with muddy paws before he had a bath(s) in the laundry tub. We also store our luggage in the laundry room and having just returned from vacation, the luggage needed storage. Before I put the luggage in the cubby under the stairs, however, I decided to pull out ALL the luggage and backpacks and free totes, hoping that one might contain my lost sunglasses, rendering them found. What I am warming up to is that our laundry room resembled a war zone.

All week I plotted my attack, knowing it best to wait until Jim could supervise Otis. No telling what Otis could get into while I was distracted with the laundry room.

Today was D-Day. And let me assure you, I have less to fear from the coronavirus than from what was lurking in the laundry room…

I won’t detail the mold. It is distasteful and is now vanquished. But I WILL discuss some of the other cleaning challenges.

First, the evidence of my good intentions:

  • Three full and one half-full bottle of Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Three cans of Pledge, one of which had corroded, reminding me of Chernobyl
  • Three bottles of hydrogen peroxide

Those were exact duplicates. If I were to categorize by function, the duplications abound. A couple of spray bottles of degreaser (not sure that I have EVER used a degreaser. What does one degrease?) Several — and I mean several — different variants of products to clean and shine the wood in your life (and this is in addition to the Murphy’s Oil Soap and the Pledge). Lots of rug cleaning items. Bathroom cleaning items.

Next I spot the specialized tools.. The mismatched rubber gloves. The squeegee for the shower door (since the kids have moved out, we rarely use the shower with the shower door and have never even been tempted to squeegee it) and the blind cleaner. I can assure you I have never used this to clean blinds. Never.

I move on.

Our lightbulb collection has overgrown its storage receptacle. All different varieties, which is good, because who the hell know what bulb goes where anymore? Lightbulbs confound me. It used to be so easy. You need a 60 watt, 75 watt, or a 3-way. You go to the store, see the white package with the accordion insert, check the wattage, and you’re good to go. But now, where to start? I turn off lights when I leave a room, not to save the planet, but to save me a trip to the light bulb aisle.

Overwhelmed by the duplicative cleaning supplies and confounding light bulbs, I pivot back to the luggage and decide a sensible approach is to store all duffel bags in the mother of all duffel bags — the biggest and bestest one (and adorned with Jim’s initials no less). Alas, it smells. I report this to Jim, reluctantly, because I am thinking that I can do a little treatment, but it may well be that the initialed bag is headed for the garbage. Jim shakes his head knowingly. “Yeah I think one of the kids borrowed it and threw up in it.”

What???? So, so many questions!!

  • First of all, why would someone throw up in a borrowed duffle bag? And then return it
  • Secondly, if the duffel smelled like vomit, why would Jim store it for later use?

I ask Jim why he believes someone puked in his initialed bag. His proof is scanty. I wipe it down with white vinegar, wishing what it really needed was a couple of bottles of Murphys Oil Soap, scrubbed in with a blind cleaner, with a chaser of degreaser. The jury is out on whether the initialed bag will remain in our fleet of travel bags.

After hours of diligent effort, I grow weary. I scramble and organize shit and duplications of shit I will never use, just so I can get to the final act — scrubbing the floor.



No doubt you’ve been thinking Otis has indeed blossomed into the Lassie that Nancy envisioned.

We absolutely have had Lassie-ish days. Okay, perhaps just moments. But I do not want to admit failure, so I have soldiered on. We advanced from Puppy Socialization x 2 to Obedience 1. Also, in an underconfident moment, I even retained a personal trainer for Otis as he has confounded my ability to convince him that biting your way to the top is undesirable.

The personal trainer arrived and I believe if you look up “whirling dervish” in the dictionary, she would be pictured. Jim and I were breathless by the time she left. Jim, in fact, said he needed a treat. Her follow-up written communication, however, was clear and helpful so we felt good, or at least not bad, about leaving Otis with a trio of caregivers while we went on vacation.

We are fairly certain that the caregivers are now near dead, but are too nice to admit it.

We came home from this;

And this.

At 12:00 midnight.

Today is Reentry.

Jim went to work. I don’t know how his day went. To be honest, I don’t care because I had the reentry day from hell. Nothing that transpired at his workplace holds a candle to my day.

To wit:

I kicked things off with a few loads of laundry. All loads overflowed the washing machine and flooded the laundry room floor. i worked at my paid remote job while I mopped and soaked up ugly water.

Then I decided to pick up dog poop–as a break, so to speak. Well let me tell you, my pre-travel “don’t worry about picking up dog poop in the yard” statement seemed ill advised as I used the ice chipper to un-earth dog poop around the yard. Lord Almighty. A dog poops a lot in 8 days.

Eager to retire from dog poop retrieval, I decided to go to the grocery store and restock the larder. Alas, my car wouldn’t start. I added “jump car” to the to-do list of this evening’s activities. Jim will be so excited.

Now that I am homebound, I decided to take Otis for a long walk. We’d had a short walk earlier, but I know a growing pup needs his exercise, so I hurried to the basement to release him from his crate.

Ooops!! Too much hurrying. I stumble down the basement stairs and hurl myself into the wall, knocking a picture off the wall, breaking its frame. My arm aches but I press on, leashing up the hound and setting off.

Oh good God. Otis is the neighborhood litter hound. He retrieves bottles caps, cigarette butts, not one but two small plastic bottles of Fireball. By the second, I am wanting a shot of Fireball to power through the rest of our walk.

I slip on the ice multiple times, but two times are really noteworthy — slinging my body back and forth in a way God never intended the human body to gyrate.

We finally arrive at the lake — the goal of our walk. But it is frozen so Otis is unimpresesd. A lot like our backyard. To think I could have just let him out the back door and avoided this walk!

Otis now thinks he needs to ratchet things up. He leaps upon a nearby bench, not once but twice.

We press on. But then he finds the pièce de ré·sis·tance — a dead mouse. Voila. He eats half while I yelp, “DROP DROP,” all the while balancing my library book. (Did I forget to mention that I had stopped at the library at the outset of this sojourn? Mea culpa.)

I am horrified, although admit to wondering if his not eating the second half is due to obedience or dietary preference.

It is now getting dark. And cold. The previously wet sidewalks are now icy. I lurch my way home, feeling very sad that I don’t have any money as we pass the liquor store, because this is a night of nightcaps.

I press on. Otis retrieves and chews/swallows an untold number of abandoned Kleenexs, a paper cup, a forgotten mitten, a couple of “BURIED CABLE” flags, a few unidentified pieces of litter, and we are home.

He is filthy. I am exhausted. Nonetheless, I decide a sponge bath is in order. I repair to the laundry room to prepare his bath in a Rubbermaid tub. Wow! I discover the washing machine has overflowed yet again! Oh, joy.

I text Jim. Go to the grocery store. Go to the liquor store. I then address the washing machine overload and dog bath in that order, interrupted only by the realization and Rube Goldberg fix of our rusted out dehumidifier to absorb all the washing machine overflows and wet dog wetness.

A kind and good man, Jim comes home with groceries and pizza. I meet him at the front door, because the back entry now has a thin layer of ice due to the impromptu bath occasioned by the walk.

To be honest, a touch of coronavirus looks good to me now.

The only way to end this day or reentry is to go to bed. So be it.