Tuesday, April 28, 2020

In Which We Suffer Yet Another Wildlife Invasion (And By "We", I Mean "Me")

About a month or so ago, I said to Rick--even though I knew I might as well tell Piper or Marlowe, the two implacable cats in residence--"Hey, I smell something really awful in the garage. It smells like dead animal or something in there."

Rick, who was either reading Flipboard on his phone, catching up on the family group text, or perusing the mail, gave no sign that he even knew I had spoken. This is standard, unfortunately, and I have to perform a sort of Evaluation Ballet. Did he hear me? Is he Thinking About It? If I repeat myself, will he get testy? Dammit, why can't I ever remember which one is His Good Ear?

Finally, he turned to me. "Hm."

I let a few seconds go by, and then I said, "Well, did you hear what I said? I mean, it really smells bad in there. Something's dead in there. I'm serious."

"Yes I heard you. I don't smell anything. Besides, there's no way anything could get in there anyway. It's just damp."

Oh, Dearest Readers! I know you all remember the last time he assured me there was Nothing In The Garage. Who was right that time? And I didn't even tell you about the summer before last when I suggested using a hose to rid the garage of a raccoon up in the rafters and was pooh-poohed for that idea. Guess how we finally got it down? Let's just say it was one wet and unhappy raccoon when it left.

But I digress.

I continued to smell The Smell, and Rick continued not to. He even cleaned out the garage one warm and sunshiny day and found nothing. Luckily, I was not in the garage too often, thanks to having nowhere to go. But a day came when I wanted to repot my kitchen window geranium, a 4" plant I brought in to winter over. It has become mammoth, rewarding me with nonstop blooms all winter (and now spring) long. I headed out to the garage for a larger pot and some potting soil.

And there it was, That Smell. It was still horrible. But I grabbed a pot and saucer and dragged over the bag of soil. I dug in with the saucer, but I couldn't dislodge any soil. It had gotten really clumped and hard. I reached in with my hand and felt...hair. Because this:

I absolutely felt my stomach right there in between my tonsils. Gagging and retching, I sped to the house to wash and rewash my hands. I could not stop feeling sick. Finally, it passed, and long enough for me to go and grab the bag and drag it out and into the driveway.

Later, Rick came home from work. He walked in and said, "Is there something you want me to do? I see the bag of dirt in the driveway."

"Yes," I said. "Yes, there is." I went out with him to the driveway and explained what I was going to do with the potting soil. I invited him then to look inside the bag.

"Hm," he said. "I even moved that bag when I cleaned out the garage. Never even thought to look inside it."

"But didn't you smell it?" I said. "How can you not smell it?"

"I smell it now that I'm right up against it."

He then walked into the garage and came out with a shovel. He headed over to the bag of soil. "What are you going to do with that?" I asked him.

"I'm assuming you want to keep some of this potting soil that's still good," he said.

"After all the bodily fluids have been seeping into it? No, I do not. What I want you to do is to chuck the whole thing into the trash for me, please."

Later, I recounted for him my whole awful, sickening, frightful encounter. I told him how I had actually touched that horrid dead thing. I told him how it took me a while to stop feeling like I had to throw up. I explained that it was so gross and horrible and my stomach was actually sore from clenching.

"Hm," he said. "I never even thought to look in that bag."

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Saturday Sillies: A Photo Collection Of Shopping In The Good Old Days (Like Three Months Ago)

Way back in the Pre-Corona Days, when we used to be able to run out Willy Nilly for Doo Dads and Whatnots whenever we needed them, I snapped a few photos of things in the stores that caught my eye. "Someday, I can use that for the blog," I wisely said to myself.

That Someday has arrived, Dearest Readers. I need some Mental Chex Mix--you know, just a bit of light snacky stuff right now. Here we go.

1.  Back in January I was looking at my grocery store's Closeouts section for some cheapo memo cube paper. I wanted to use it for my Good Things Jar. In my search I came across this wonderfully perplexing item:

Are Seniors these colors, or are these colors only for Seniors? Am I yello?

2.  It was a December trip to my grocery store that produced this find. I was dawdling through the Closeouts department (imagine!), unmasked and ungloved, browsing leisurely, probably looking for stocking stuffers, when I saw this ridiculous item. It's ironic and irritating, yet fabulously vexing in its way.

Because nothing says Civilized and Elegant like black vinyl and a misspelling!

3.  I like to keep a running list of items I need from the grocery store, adding to it as I think of them. As a result I've become a big fan of the long narrow pads of lined paper with magnets on the back. I get them at dollar stores, and that's where I got this next snapshot, also in December. These signs were hanging literally everywhere I looked in that store, but I waited until I was driving away to take the photo. I didn't want to offend the person who made them, should he be the same individual ringing me up or stocking shelves as I shopped not a few feet away. (Ah, the Good Old Days!)

NO CASH BACK IN ANY DEVIT CARD. But your debit card--a different story? 
Happy Saturday, everyone.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Words For 2020: #5 Accept

Accept is probably the most difficult word I deal with every single day. Just now, I rewrote that first sentence four times. I might even rewrite it a few more before I hit Publish. Such is the life of a Serial Control Freak and Perfectionist.

It's not easy Being Me.

When I was younger--a little kid--the idea that I had any control over anything never once occurred to me. I Accepted without question that my parents were in charge and our lives were the way they were supposed to be. If other kids did things or went places or had things that we did not, well, that was because those things were not The Kind Of Things For Us. I never really gave them much thought. I was compliant and no trouble.

That didn't mean things were easy. I was a serious fat kid who preferred reading to anything athletic. Oddly enough, the only person who ever teased or bullied me about my weight was my older brother. And he did so brutally and unrelentingly. My mother's only response was to tell me to ignore him, which everyone knows is not effective or helpful. My father either never heard him or didn't think it merited his intervention. Nothing I said to my brother in retaliation ever bothered him; he was unassailable. It went on for years and years, and I learned to Accept that it was an unfortunate part of my life. But I never got over it, this having to Accept and having no control.

My father raised us to feel self-confident and empowered, ironically, and to feel pride in who we were. "Don't follow the common herd" was one of his favourite sayings. I was proud that I was smart. He had very high expectations, but he was an idealist. He was an idealist and a philosopher who worked at the steel mill. He wanted much better for all four of us, and sometimes his passion for our future could be frightening. His disciplinary lectures were so intense that we often felt faint. Our parents never once hit us, but standing and listening to a lecture was enough.

I set about planning the rest of my life with as much control as I possibly could. And I followed my plan, almost ruthlessly. I planned out my college--done! I planned my wedding--done! I even planned my two children so that I could be pregnant during the colder months and have them in Spring, thus ensuring I had all Summer with my babies. Jared was born at the end of March and Sam at the end of April. I had enough sick time with both births to end the year.

Parenting and Teaching are the two most Control-laden jobs in the world. After a childhood of no control, I was Control Central. I thrived in both environments--organization is one of my strong suits. I can motivate, command a room, come up with ideas quickly, and delegate tasks easily. And I can make all those things seem like fun for everyone.

These days, however, I'm learning that all that Control has cost me. As I wrote in an earlier post, I always seem to be in a hurry. And I feel as if I should be doing something all the time. Often, I get irritated at something and feel as if I should mention it to the person who said/did it. Sometimes, a small thing that Rick does will fray my nerves, and I want to explode. Or I'm driving and I get behind yet one more red pickup truck driven by an old man in a hat and it's poking along and I cannot pass it. The Fate Of The World does not rest on any of these things, or my actions concerning them. I need to Accept and move on.

I've learned the difference between the Acceptance of my childhood and the Acceptance of my adulthood. It is Choice. And it is often a Choice born of Necessity. I will be 61 in May. I don't want or need control of so many, many things anymore. I want Peace. I want Serenity. I want Simplicity.

Naturally, right now, there's very little anyone can control. We all have to Accept. This is Life right now, and we make the best of it. I'm heartened and uplifted by what I have read in your posts and comments about how you are all getting through These Times. I feel fortunate to have a circle of Virtual Friends because, for us, nothing has changed in our relationships. How very comforting that is.


Thursday, April 02, 2020

Words For 2020: #4 Read

Back in 2016 I shared with you my profound distress that I had been unable to Read a book for well over a year. After a lifetime of Reading, it was not only a shock, but a terrible loss. I truly grieved; books were my life as a child and adolescent. Every spare moment was taken up by Reading. Whenever I was punished--sent to my room or confined to a chair--it was always with the caveat that I could not take a book with me.

I would Read in trees, in bed, on a blanket outdoors, and by the thin light of a closet door ajar illicitly late at night. I was forever grateful to Miss Mamie, the town librarian, who eased the book limit for me and let me haul out huge stacks from our little storefront library each week. She recommended the best books always, and I'll never forget her. I Read constantly throughout high school and college, thrilled that Reading was basically my curriculum as an English major. I always Read every novel I assigned right along with my students, every time, even though I'd Read them a hundred times already.

So it was particularly hurtful when my inability to Read surfaced and lingered for years. I would try and try to Read, but it was a chore, not a pleasure. I wasn't having the same experience as before; there was no Joy in it. I wasn't getting Lost In The Book. I may as well have been Reading a textbook, just chewing up information that I wasn't particularly interested in or attached to.

Then I had a breakthrough when I was refocusing on other parts of my life and getting a handle on my stress. I suddenly was able to Read again, really Read and enjoy it. I started tearing through books again like before, and it was so rewarding. The best time of the day was when I was done with everything else and could nestle in with my book among the couch pillows and the quiet (or the cat's snoring). I would look at my book stack on the table and smile every day. Books once again appeared on my Christmas List, and my sons happily indulged me.

But once again, I'm stuck. Experience would tell me that Something Is Broken, that I need to look at my Stressors or How I'm Coping with Everything Out There. I know by Reading over at your sites that many of you are having the same problem. We can't concentrate. I know in my case, I worry for my husband and sons, still out there, working in "essential businesses." I try not to, but I fear for them every day. And I miss my sons and their girlfriends and families. Like everyone, I find the physical isolation difficult. I feel disconnected.

Now more than ever, I want to Read, and Read More, and Read More Often. Reading isn't just an escape for me; it's a way to connect with part of myself. Reading is a Solace. I would lose whole chunks of time when I opened a book. Who couldn't use a Fast Forward Button these days?

I would love you to share your childhood Reading Stories. And if you have any tips on Restarting Our Reading, share those, too.

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