Hirsute Roommates

mad cat

Most days I work from home.

Sure, I miss going to the office to see other people and a different set of walls that those of my home. However, I don’t miss getting up early, scraping ice from my car every morning, fighting traffic, or micromanagement. I get up a little later, power up my computer and am suddenly “at work”. I take breaks for laundry or to grab a coffee with a friend and leave as needed for meetings and home visits with clients.

It’s a mostly perfect arrangement, aside from three problems, the roommates.

They never leave. This is naturally very exhausting so they spend most of their time sleeping. When they are awake, they are fully energized for at least a half an hour of chaos and disruption. Even worse, they use discretion in choosing their times of mayhem, which is generally limited to when I’m on the phone with my supervisor, a client in crisis, or a conference call.

Just yesterday, I was on the phone with someone who was about to lose her home. She was crying and explaining how it all happened when the gang came barreling down the hallway. The two sisters were chasing Big White like cheetahs racing across the savanna after a doomed antelope. Big White ran for her life and leapt onto the table for my protection.

In her big clumsy hurry, she knocked my coffee mug over. The cheetah sisters followed Big White’s trajectory onto the table and over it after her as she continued to flee, now drenched in coffee. I muted the call and fortunately, the woman had a quite a story to share and was none the wiser. It was about this time that the sisters overtook Big White and a terrific fight ensued.

They were all put into the backroom from which they promptly escaped by the collective power of meowing and pounding on the door. Once they broke free, silence returned. I breathed a sigh of relief wrongly thinking I could return to work for a few hours until they were recharged again.

A few peaceful minutes passed before they had regrouped and returned with a new mission to obtain food.

First, they jumped on my keyboard to make sure I was paying attention. Then, they started to meow together like they had practiced this performance and Big White was the maestro. Lastly, the littlest one hopped onto a potted houseplant (not toxic to cats) and started to bite off the leaves and looked at me, as though to say, “We will find our own food if you don’t feed us immediately.”

What did I do?

I caved, of course.

I can’t refuse those little hairy roommates anything.


The Danger of Smoking (for a Cheap Vacuum)

The Vacuum has picked up a nasty habit; it smokes now.

When I found out, I begged and pleaded with it to quit.  As curls of smoke continued to escape from the base, I knew I needed to take a new tone with the device.

“Can’t you see you are going to die if you keep this up?” I asked in a threatening tone with desperation in my heart.

It responded with silence and another puff of smoke in my direction, as if to say, “I will do as I please, thank you very much.”

Apparently, continuing to smoke is what pleases the mean, not-so-old machine.

I remember the first vacuum in my life, as though anyone could forget their first. It was a heavy, grey Kirby with a slouchy bag that grew fat on dust, crumbs, pennies, hair and anything else it saw fit to consume.

The Kirby came to us by the good graces of a door-to-door salesman making rounds through the Indiana countryside. He showed the lady of the house all of amazing things the Kirby was capable of doing to save her time and then convinced that for such a low monthly payment plan, it would cost more to not buy it.

In retrospect, this must have been true because there was never another vacuum to replace the Kirby, although all of the hoses have been replaced, the attachments lost, and the whirlwind action is now more of a breeze. I’m willing to speculate that the lady of the house was too embarrassed by the 200-month-payment-plan that she once signed as a youngish housewife to seek out another vacuum.

Perhaps another one will come to her?

For all the years I lived at home, I pushed and pulled that vacuum across the floors and up and down the stairs. My shoulders strained in their sockets with each pass across the room and I grumbled and griped about indentured slavery. Fortunately, no one could hear me complaining as the Kirby overpowered all noises with its mighty whirlwind action.

At some point, I left to find a quieter, lighter vacuum of my own.

Never have I found another vacuum as cumbersome and obnoxious or as consistent and reliable as the Kirby which brings me back to the dying Dirt Devil bought on discount just a few years ago.

The little smoker has been quarantined to the closet for a few days while we go out in search of another cheap replacement that will burn out in another few years, if not sooner.

We will continue with the cycle of our generation to buy cheap, discard, and replace instead of to buy for quality and repair as needed; unless a brave soul intervenes by knocking at the door, offering a product too good to pass up, with a low, low monthly payment plan.

Long live the door-to-door vacuum salesman.


When a Door-to-Door Vacuum Salesman Has an Existential Crisis in Your Living Room




Grocery Store Sushi

The night after a weekend snowstorm is perhaps one of the best and worst of times to shop for groceries.

Generally, the shelves are picked clean of bread, meat, beer and potatoes (the usual Midwest fare), leaving only limp vegetables and over-priced granola for the unfortunate post-storm shopper. The positive side is that the aisles are usually just as empty as the shelves, a definite silver lining for any mildly anti-social person.

So this Monday, I popped into the grocery store for a few staples to get us through the week. While most of the store was creepily abandoned, there was a most surprising person standing angrily at the deli-counter. A Precious look-alike, if not the real Precious, stood with her chubby arms crossed holding her ground with a worker behind the counter.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to people watch, I rolled my cart towards the nearby cheese and sausage display. I pretended to examine a block of Munster while “Precious” remained in a heated argument with a small boy/man who appeared to be the sushi roller for the day.

“This time do it right,” she demanded and went on. “Just cream cheese, that’s it. That’s all I want.”

The young boy/man was baffled. This was not a restaurant or the type of store to make sushi to order. This was the wrong zip code for that type of grocery store service. He was simply under orders to make a certain number of several kinds of sushi to fill up the display case.

I risked a quick look at the counter, and it actually appeared that several pieces were missing from a container of sushi, now lying open in the neutral space between the two adversaries.

It is possible that in spite of the clear plastic container, she didn’t notice that various colored contents of each roll. She was then quite naturally shocked and disgusted to discover vegetables, seafood, and other unidentifiable contents in her mouth, when she only expected rice and cream cheese. Logically, she then had to eat another few pieces to make sure that this was not what she wanted. Each involuntarily eaten piece only increased her emotions and confirmed that she was tricked.
Now was the time of reckoning and she wanted this little boy/man to right this apparent wrong.

In an unexpected move, the clever boy/man nodded his head to the woman’s demands.

He said, “This is a very bad thing. I will get my manager.” He slipped through a swinging door into the back of the deli, never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, the Precious-look-alike waited and helped herself to a container of fried chicken which was her dues for suffering through the injustice of grocery store sushi.

I left humming the lyrics to an old song by Stephen Stills called, “Love the one you’re with.”

It just felt right.

Here’s a link to the song:

http://foodimentary.com/2012/04/19/origins-of-sushi/- interesting read on history of sushi

Black Banana


While in a training on mental health, I felt my eyelids growing heavy. I could barely resist the urge to let them fall shut just for a few minutes. The struggle to stay awake was intense and I was losing.

Just as I gave in and let my head drop forward, the presenter started to pass out pink foil chocolate hearts. She scattered a handful on each table and graciously declared a chocolate break for all.

After ten minutes, most of the crowd had reassembled with the smokers and vending machine patrons still straggling in when our generous presenter restarted on the thrilling topic of depression.

Yet again, drowsiness crept over me. A few pieces of candy remained on the table in front of me, just a little less tempting than taking a nap underneath of the table. The nap was not going to happen so I began my plans to eat the one closest to me and maybe the one next to it, too.

Wait, I pulled my hand back from little hearts that I was a second away from capturing. I remembered in a fleeting moment of self-control a pack of nuts in the front pocket of my bag. That would be a healthier option than post-Valentine’s Day discount chocolates.

Be stealthy, I told myself. I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself than my intermittent dozing may have already done.

I reached down into the front pocket where I was certain the nuts awaited me and grabbed something that was not the sealed plastic bag I expected.

Whatever it was that I grabbed was cool and slimy.

And oh so organic, I thought as I pulled out what I suspected to be a decomposing banana.

It was completely black and starting to shrink into a little mummified fruit corpse.

More surprises were to follow on my return from the trash can.

In my brief absence, my neighbor had gathered up the remaining chocolates into a pile, including the ones that I had been eyeing, and scooped them into her purse.

On second check of the former-banana pocket, there were no nuts.

There were never any nuts.

Only the lingering smell of a rotten banana remained.

finicky eaters

2 birds

Separated by sixty years
The two are practically one
She prefers her Jello green
While his Heineken must be cold
Neither eat real food
And yet they both have energy
to be constantly
Charming and cantankerous
Indulged and indulgent

Here are some links if you found this post looking for help with your picky eater-

For kiddos:




For adults:




Image: quoteko.com

Welcome to Earth


“Hello babies, welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-:
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

On following recommendations

sun 2

In general, in-door tanning is not recommended (that is. if the CDC can be trusted).

It has something to do with the increased risk of skin cancer for each minute spent under the golden, glowing bulbs. In spite of the well-known and scientifically supported evidence of this, I still decided to take the risk last week. The temptation of feeling warm light on my face after what seemed like an eternity of cold and grey weather was too great to resist. After all, it was free tan week.

When I entered the tanning salon, it was packed with other pale faced Hoosiers. I was surprised that so many other people were able to disregard such strong warnings of danger associated with tanning beds. Just then, a red faced, blonde teen burst through the door, bringing with her a whiff of tanning lotion and burned skin.

We reached the counter at the same time and she started drumming the countertop with French-tipped nails, like she was in a hurry to catch skin cancer. I took a more leisurely approach, assuming that the cancer, premature wrinkling, and sun spots would wait for me as long as it took to check into a bed.

The cashier raised her perfectly manicured eyebrow at the blonde who continued to tap on the counter.

“Hi, I just tanned earlier today across town and I wanted to tan again. Is that ok?”

This is where someone with common sense should have intervened to stop the proposed baking of the girl’s organs. I, for one, was mesmerized by the humming of the machines and hot air escaping from the cracks in the line of doors and wasn’t about to stand in anyone’s way.

“Oh, you want to double dip,” the cashier said.

Smiling, the girl nodded in the simple pleasure of being understood in so few words.

“Of course, you can. We actually recommend it on free tan week.”

My jaw dropped and then I looked around for that person with common sense whom I expected to step in just a few seconds earlier. Surely that person would intervene now.

“In fact,” the cashier continued and stepped away from the counter and produced a colorful bottle from underneath of it, “we recommend that you use this lotion afterwards to seal in all that color you will get.”

“I’ll take it,” the girl said. The price and/or risk were of no concern.

As I pulled the lid of my tanning bed over my body and started the machine, I reflected on what just happened and decided the following about recommendations. 1. People lie to people who don’t want the truth. 2. We get just what we are willing take. 3. Winter in the Midwest is depressing, so I took 20 minutes of safe and recommended artificial sun.

Image: www.educationalservice.net

Other recommendations on tanning, for the interested reader:


nose blind?

Recently, we were expecting company and up against the clock to prepare for their arrival. The house was a wreck, but only because of our three roommates. To put it simply, they are hairy, lazy bums. When they aren’t lounging on the couch or hacking up hairballs, they are kicking litter out of their boxes, digging in the potted plants, or tearing up random mail/papertowels/anything they feel like destroying.

And they don’t even pay rent!

In any case, we launched into a crazy, cleaning frenzy. We swept, mopped, dusted, and scrubbed. The fridge was cleared of mold covered leftovers, the trash was bagged, and the clutter was organized. After a few hours, the place was spotless from top to bottom. The floors gleamed and the windows sparkled.

It was impressive what we accomplished that afternoon. Our roommates came out of hiding (they hate the vacuum and all cleaning activities) and sniffed the air. They inspected each room before throwing themselves onto the couch with bored yawns and meowed for an early dinner. Bums, right?

As I put the cleaning supplies away, I heard spritzing from the next room. The spritzing noise traveled through the rest of the house. I tried to quietly creep towards the sound and was stopped by a scent-wave of artificial wild orchids that stuck in my throat.

Coughing through the mist and covering my eyes, I escaped into the unpolluted air of the living room. I found my darling husband with a bottle of febreze and a determined on look on his face. He was carrying out a self-imposed mission to spread the potent odor of fake flowers throughout our home.

When he saw me choking on the sweet air, he stopped and smiled.

With the bottle in one hand, he explained, “It’s in case we’ve gone nose blind from the cats.”

I couldn’t argue with him and suddenly feared it was true. This was something that I had heard about somewhere…the nose blind concept.  Could we have gone nose blind and even with all of that cleaning, the smell of stinky cats still lingered?

How embarrassing.

Nose-blindness is a stealthy condition that slowly overtakes olfaction when exposed to less pleasant smells on a regular basis. It’s an adjustment of the senses to a new normal that happens without one’s self-awareness of the change.

Yet again, he saved me, the hero of my senses.

Of note:

Later, I remembered where I heard about this condition.  The same place where I get all of my other reliable information, commercials from tv, of course.  This is a real condition, if conditions that are invented and coined by huge corporations as part of advertising strategies are real. The first article listed below actually uses science to explain the phenomenon. Whoa!

Check it out.

Here are some links: