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Is It a Llama?

The first week of quarantine I felt trapped and claustrophobic. During the second week I realized that I was safer at home rather than being, out-there-with-the-virus. By the third week of quarantine I began to think about changes I wanted to make to my office, which I was now sharing with a quarantine buddy, my daughter Tammie.

The futon in the office needed to go away. I wanted to replace it with a recliner. Supplies on wire shelving in the room were dusty and needed to be cleaned, organized and put into labeled boxes. A heater had to be installed. The room’s only heat vent was the furthest one away from the furnace, too far to warm the room above 59 degrees during six months of the year. It’s hard to be creative while freezing.

I wondered, “How am I to accomplish what I want? After all, I’m quarantined!” Once again, the sensation of being trapped and claustrophobic swept over me. When I told Tammie what was bothering me, her eyes lit up. She pulled out her phone with an enthusiastic invitation, “Let’s go shopping online!”

I ordered a heater and then called a local business man for installation, “after-this-is-all-over.” An order for a brown recliner we liked went out next. While we were at it, we made a big online grocery order. Following that my daughter purchased a yoga stool, clothing and craft supplies. I wanted garden supplies, a grandchild’s birthday gift and shoes. Tammie asked, “Did you know we can order our favorite restaurant meals uncooked and in bulk?”

Feeling like James T. Kirk, a science fiction spaceship captain, I pointed to her phone and ordered, “Make it so.” We both knew what we wanted. Continue reading

Bumps and Thumps

Snuggling down under a large quilt in my rocking chair on a cold winter night felt so right. The best part of my self-indulgence was that my conscience was clear; I wasn’t being lazy. During the day I had washed two loads of laundry, swept, vacuumed, baked bread and cooked a nice supper. The furnace in the basement kicked in with a roar. I smiled. During the summer when I had had it installed; I worried it would be so quiet that I wouldn’t know when it was running. Ruefully, I reflected, “With it directly below where I’m sitting, it sounds like a jet engine revving-up to take off.”

As a new widow and fully responsible for my home, I had quickly become aware of the sounds in my house and what they mean. The old furnace was working right when; augers kicked in, pellets clinked down the chute and the noisy blower frequently started up with a roar. Well pump clicks told me when water was being drawn from the well. Snow falling from the upper roof make loud crashes, but apparently do no damage.

Sometimes I learned new sounds. One day I was in the dining room when I heard a loud thumping sound coming from the upstairs hallway. It sounded like a kid was running from one end of the house to the other. My heart pounded. I was home alone. Slowly walking toward the staircase, I spotted Louie my white and black cat on the landing. A few seconds later, Shadow the black and white cat joined him. They had been chasing each other. I picked Louie up. He looked soft and fluffy, but tipped the scale well over twelve pounds. Still, how did he manage to sound like an elephant heffalumping down the hallway? Pets make surprising sounds. Continue reading

Scratch and Sniff

Seeing tears glittering in my daughter’s eyes, the nurse gently distracted her by sweetly pointing out, “I have some stickers for you.”

Niki’s eyes lit-up and the tears disappeared. No fuss, no worries, life was good! Forgetting her doctor’s office anxieties, she leaned over to examine the stickers the nurse held in the palm of her hand.

It has always amazed me how much my children loved getting stickers. I found they worked just as well for bribes as for rewards. Everyone seemed to be handing them out. My girls received them not just at the doctor’s office, but from the dentist, their teachers, the bank and at birthday parties.

By the time Niki was in grade school and Tammie was starting kindergarten, the types of stickers had multiplied. Plain pictures on a sticky-backed paper became passé. Stickers came out with textured surfaces. Some were padded plastic. My children especially loved the ones of the latest Disney movie princesses.

One day, as we were shopping with Grammie, Tammie received a rather plain-looking, slightly bumpy sticker of a pink-frosted cupcake with a cherry on its top. She proudly showed it to me saying, “Scratch it and then sniff it.”

Scraping my fingernail over the red cherry, I leaned down and sniffed. It smelled like a bowl of cherries! Grammie enjoyed looking at and sniffing Tammie’s latest sticker, too. Continue reading

Scratch and Sniff

Seeing tears glittering in my daughter’s eyes, the nurse gently distracted her by sweetly pointing out, “I have some stickers for you.”

Niki’s eyes lit-up and the tears disappeared. No fuss, no worries, life was good! Forgetting her doctor’s office anxieties, she leaned over to examine the stickers the nurse held in the palm of her hand.

It has always amazed me how much my children loved getting stickers. I found they worked just as well for bribes as for rewards. Everyone seemed to be handing them out. My girls received them not just at the doctor’s office, but from the dentist, their teachers, the bank and at birthday parties.

By the time Niki was in grade school and Tammie was starting kindergarten, the types of stickers had multiplied. Plain pictures on a sticky-backed paper became passé. Stickers came out with textured surfaces. Some were padded plastic. My children especially loved the ones of the latest Disney movie princesses.

One day, as we were shopping with Grammie, Tammie received a rather plain-looking, slightly bumpy sticker of a pink-frosted cupcake with a cherry on its top. She proudly showed it to me saying, “Scratch it and then sniff it.” Continue reading

Farm Friendly

I peeked into the entryway when I heard the back door open. My three younger grandsons had finished playing in the snow and were coming in to warm up. Remembering how frost-nipped their cheeks and fingers were after sledding in my backyard last month, I went to the kitchen to pour them cups of hot sweet tea. As I buttered toast for them, I could hear them stamping snow off their boots. Since they rolled around in the snow when they played, I knew there would also be snow clinging to their clothing.

Eleven-year-old Ben was the first to step into the kitchen. I said, “I’ve made tea and toast for you.” He grinned his appreciation and sat down at the table. Nine-year-old Luke came in next and eagerly accepted a cup from me. Jacob, who will be seven in May straggled in last. After placing the buttered toast on the table, I checked the entryway to see if I needed to hang wet snowsuits over the registers. What I saw was the inner house door hanging wide open. Since my wood pellet thermostat is in the entryway, I don’t like it when that room gets chilled. The rest of the house would soon be roasting!

I opened my mouth, but it was my mother’s voice that came out of it. She said, “Who was the last person into the house? Were you born in a barn? You left the door hanging open!” Continue reading

Mrs. Spelling Bee

I looked up from my paper. Without making a sound, our teacher, Sister Mary Florence was walking slowly up one row and down the next. All 48 children sat still at their desks, silent as mice when the cat is about. Outside, the wind moaned subdued complaints as it swirled through the playground. The bank of windows which ran the length of our fourth grade classroom creaked as the wind push against them. The radiators below, whispered, ‘click, click, click’ as warm water from the school’s boiler room flowed through the pipes. Continue reading

Mystery, She Wrote

Blood! There were drops of blood all over the deck at my back door. My heart jumped and a lump formed in my throat. A scenario of how they came to be there instantly formed in my mind based on noises I’d heard during the night.  Someone had needed help, but if they rang the door bell, I had never awakened! Guilt seared my conscience.

At bedtime the night before, I had leaned over to peer out my second floor bedroom window. My house sits next to a bridge that spans a small river. The tree leaves along the river shimmered in the moonlight. As I looked, the country-side darkness was sliced open by the headlights of a car speeding past. Its tires went, “thip-thip” over a bump in the asphalt near the bridge. In the silence following it’s passing, a frog croaked. Continue reading