Way back in the Fall of ‘14 when the grass was green and lush, I noticed a dripping faucet in the bathroom. I did what I always do with matters of home maintenance… I told my husband. He’s somewhat of a jack of all trades and can fix most anything if he puts his mind to it.
“The bathroom faucet is leaking…” I said.
Jim sighed and grumbled something unintelligible.
A month or so later, we found ourselves in our local Menard’s on a completely unrelated mission. We passed by the bathroom faucets en route to the check-outs. (That might have been intentional on my part).
“Oh, look! Bathroom faucets… c’mon, let’s look…” I said, infusing my speech with surprise.
“It’s fine. It’ll last a long time yet.” Jim mumbled.
“No, no, no… let’s buy one today so we have it on hand. Just in case.”
His sigh was accompanied by his trademark unintelligible grumbling.
I steered him down the appropriate aisle and asked “Which one should we get?”
A bigger sigh escaped him. “I don’t care… maybe that one,” he opined, gesturing toward any one of a dozen models.
At home, the shiny new faucet took up prominent residence on the kitchen counter. About a week later it moved to a more central point; the dining room table. To get anywhere in our house, you have to walk through the dining room. Surely he would see it and swap the faucets out, I thought.
Now, I’m not usually one to nag, but I have been known to make the occasional exception… “When are you going to put in that new faucet? That drip is getting worse.’
“I don’t know… when I get the time, I suppose.” He said during a commercial break.
Yet another week passed. The faucet mysteriously appeared on Jim’s recliner. Within the hour, it moved back to the dining room table, presumably of its own accord.
Some time later, perhaps around Thanksgiving, the faucet was demoted and banished to the dank basement where it was stored in the most logical place… near the home repair tools and plumbing supplies.
I sighed, resigned to the fact that it would not be installed on my timetable.
Fall turned to Winter. Winter turned to Spring (2015). The grass was visible, but sparse and mostly brown. It was the third week of April, roughly two and a half weeks after Easter.
Jim took a shower one quiet Thursday evening, then grabbed and loaded his toothbrush, opening the spigot with his free hand.
Water pressure propelled the single-handed unit across the room in an upward arc. Water gushed forth uncontrollably. Our bathroom faucet was now a geyser!
I was in the living room, concentrating on properly uploading our church newsletter to the website.
The dogs barked.
I looked up, wondering if I’d heard a noise coming from the other room (besides the dogs). I cocked my head to one side and listened closer. Was that Jim calling me?
At any rate, the dogs were still barking so I went to investigate. As I walked through the kitchen and into the dining room, I heard a faint voice calling “Hello…” with no apparent urgency. He might have been talking on the phone for all I knew.
I quickened my pace.
The tiny bathroom was a sight to behold: my rather tall middle-aged husband, clad in red skivvies, was standing in front of the vanity with both hands clamped down on what was left of the faucet. Water spewed between his clenched fingers, spilling into the nearly full basin below.
I paused to take it all in.
“Hello…” He said quietly. “Can you shut the water off?”
I dropped to the floor, scrambled to Ground Zero and yanked supplies from the cupboard, tossing them behind me, hopefully to dry land.
Luckily, the shut-off valves weren’t corroded. Both hot and cold turned easily and within seconds the flow of water ceased.
“It’s a good thing it didn’t blow when we were in town today,” Jimbo stated, his words laced with relief.
“Could that have happened?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah… there’s pressure on the faucet all the time.” Jim knowingly replied.
“Well, aren’t you glad I was home to help you?” I teased.
His machismo kicked in. “I would have just let go & shut the water off myself, I could have handled it.”
“Then you would have had an even bigger mess to clean up.” I calmly replied. “At any rate, I’m really glad it happened to you and not me!” I exclaimed. “You should be, too, by the way” I said, leveling him with ‘the look’ reserved for the most special of occasions.
That shiny new faucet once again claimed a prominent place upon the table where it spent a mere sixteen hours before it was permanently installed.
The installation process went smoothly. It was uncharacteristically quiet… I heard no foul language (and I was listening). Every single word Jim uttered could have been spoken aloud in Sunday School.
As I stated before, Jim can fix almost anything… when he’s in the mood.
The big Box caught my eye as I cruised past. My head swiveled of its own accord and I drew up short, suddenly thankful that I was following my husband instead of leading him. Had I been in the lead, he would most surely have rear-ended me and we would have tumbled to the floor and landed in a heap, perhaps requiring medical attention ourselves.
Jim and I stood side by side, our mouths agape as we stared in disbelief at the white metal Box.
It was a vending machine alright, that much was certain; and a very large one at that…
It dispensed prescription medication. Yes, it dispensed prescription medication. In my mind, there is something VERY wrong with that concept!
Below is a side view pic of the Mechanized Pharmacist. Around its front sat several people anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones (hence the side-view of the Box).
Those folks were staring at the Box, too.
The Pharmacist In The Box boasted that it accepted most major credit cards and once you punched in the proper code, found on your discharge paperwork, it would spit out your drugs in the proper dosage and quantity, of course.
Call me old-fashioned. Call me a fuddy-duddy. Call me a stick-in-the-mud. Just don’t make me buy medication from a vending machine. Not even one dose! A person can’t get a decent cup of coffee from a vending machine; how can anyone expect us to buy medication from one?
I’m all for progress, but some things just should not be done by machines! I like the personal touch of having a real, live, highly educated person dispense the drugs that my highly educated doctor thinks I need after he or she examines me personally. Sometimes too personally… like when they look at parts of my body I haven’t ever seen.
Like my eardrum. What were you thinking?
I like to see my pharmacist’s credentials on the wall just the same as I like to see my doctor’s credentials in the exam room at the clinic.
I simply do not want to read a little metal placard that tells me where and when my pharmacist was manufactured and by whom.
Women, as a general rule, want to be smaller… not shorter you understand, most of us are already short enough! Many of us claim not to be overweight, but under-tall or perhaps vertically challenged. For most of us, buying clothes in a smaller size would be cause for delight… maybe even a little celebration with just the tiniest dish of ice cream with chocolate sauce, a dab of whipped cream and a cherry on top. Double fudge brownie on the side is optional, of course.
Personally, I made it all the way up to five foot two and I still tower over my eight year old granddaughter… my feet are still a fraction of an inch bigger than hers, as well.
Her older sister is another story indeed. That girl, now twelve and a half, has had bigger feet than me for the past four or five years, and now she’s passed me up in height.
I’ve got her on circumference, though. I have more curves. Right now, if that pre-pubescent child stands sideways and sticks out her tongue, she looks like a zipper.
I, on the other hand, do not.
It’s not that I’m fat… in fact recently, a doctor told me that I am not overweight.
I love that man. I recommend him to all my friends.
I used to carry around another sixty pounds, but then, when I hit my mid-fifties, I discovered water aerobics… it’s an exercise program that I really enjoy and I’ve made many new friends in the process. It’s truly a win-win proposition.
I come from a long line of exercise-avoiders, so ten years ago, if you would have told me I’d ever look forward to exercising, I would have called you a liar to your face.
Now I teach class one day each week and if I miss class, I slip into B-drive in the blink of an eye. There are a few people (mostly men) who can and will agree, but I see no reason for them to speak up now. I’m trustworthy.
What’s B-drive, you ask? Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you: it’s b**ch mode… and I don’t like it any more than those sweet unnamed men, bless their hearts.
Water aerobics has led to changes in my diet and the extra pounds have disappeared. I even have muscle definition. My muscles are quite well-defined and I know how to spell their names, too!
My skin is another matter entirely. It’s holding a grudge and insists on staying a size sixteen.
So now I have a size eight body inside a size sixteen skin suit. It isn’t all that pretty but I’m healthier in both mind and body; and I’m stuck with it.
You know what they say; keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
We climbed into the car after leaving our Western-themed Christmas party, buckled up and skillfully executed a perfect U-turn before making a left onto Main Street and heading home.
Three blocks later, Jim abruptly pulled to the right and eased the car to a stop to allow the squad car behind us ample room to pass as it responded to the emergency it was surely called to… a car accident maybe, or a robbery. Could be a domestic abuse call or possibly a fire.
I said a quick prayer for all those involved, including the cop.
We expected the shriek of a siren followed by flashing lights from an ambulance or fire truck as it roared past while we sat on the side of the street beneath the ‘No Parking’ sign.
The cop, however, had other ideas. He neglected to pass, even though we’d left him space aplenty.
Seconds dragged onward.
The blue and red lights atop the squad car reflected from one side mirror of our little Prius to the other, then bounced menacingly off the rear view mirror and into our eyes as the city cop came to a halt directly behind us.
We sat in the front seat, wearing our coordinating cowboy outfits, as we nervously waited to be informed of our crime.
“What did you do?” I asked my beloved.
“Nothing!” Jim grumbled as he unbuckled his seatbelt.
“Leave that ON! You don’t want to get a ticket for not wearing your seatbelt TOO, do you?”
Even in the dim light cast by the streetlight, I could see that little muscle in the side of Jim’s jaw begin to twitch like it does when he’s angry.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling nervous or stressed, I seem to lose the ability to filter my speech. My words just seem to flow with abandon…
Jim sputtered, “I have to get my driver’s license out… HE’S going to want to see IT, for sure!”
“How fast were you going?” I asked, perhaps with a tinge of accusation in my voice.
“I. WASN’T. Speeding.”
“Did you run a red light?” I inquired in what I hoped was my best problem-solving tone.
I was beginning to entertain the notion of keeping my mouth shut when the man in blue appeared outside Jim’s door and shone his standard issue police flashlight inside our car.
First, he swept the beam across our laps, then with a flick of his wrist, he shifted the light behind us and quickly scanned the back seat.
The officer explained, quite politely, that he pulled us over because our passenger side taillight was out. “But your brake lights and blinker are working properly,” he said encouragingly. “And, would you happen to have your 2014 tabs with you?”
Jim cringed as I opened my mouth to speak…
“I think they’re due in March, and I’m sure we put them on…” I said confidently.
“Let me check again,” the officer replied. He returned shortly and confirmed that our plates were current, but that the current tab was partially obscured by the license plate bracket.
Then he asked to see the aforementioned driver’s license, explaining that he had to ‘run the license’ before he could cut us loose..
Once he was out of earshot we glanced at each other saying, “Wow! It’s a darn good thing we don’t drink!”
Jim’s license came back ‘clean’ and we were permitted to go on our merry way after promising to drive carefully and get the taillight fixed ASAP.
Jim was in Duluth working the spaghetti feed, so I was all alone when it hit…
That beast came out of nowhere and knocked me flat. I was dazed and felt like I was sprawled on the floor. I simply did not know what hit me! I hadn’t been wrestling with my demons, or even thinking about them. Perhaps that’s why I was easy pickings.
I gathered my wits and when I could once again string a couple of words together to form a complete thought, I recognized my foe. I stared it down… This was not our first battle.
It was a KILLER craving. The kind of craving that would have me contemplating a trip to Duluth (twenty-four miles) barefoot to satisfy. I hadn’t had a craving like that for a long time… possibly years.
This craving Would. Not. Be. Denied.
I began to rummage through the house in search of a fix… and was inexplicably drawn to the basement.
I could hear it calling my name… faintly, but distinctly.
Once downstairs, I opened a door. And there it was, sitting in its own little corner, back-lit by white light; it was radiant… and it was calling me, beckoning me closer. Inviting me… Tempting me…
I fixed my eyes upon it; I became transfixed. It pleaded, “It’s gooood… C’mon, try a little…”
My hand reached out of its own accord and touched it. A little electric tingle passed between us. I just knew we were meant for each other… and I was home alone. No one would ever know. My fist closed tightly around it and carefully extracted it from its berth.
I cradled it in my arms as I ascended to the kitchen.
It wasn’t exactly what I was craving, but it would make a good base. I could add an ingredient or two and it would suffice.
I laid claim to it, dug in the cupboard, chose a vessel, transferred it from its container to mine.
It. Was. Mine.
I went in search of the other ingredients… opening the bottom left door, slowly sliding my baking supply drawer open, reaching in and closing my fingers around the brown plastic rectangular cover of the Hershey’s cocoa can.
The cocoa sang to me, pitch perfect, of course.
I clapped my eyes on the dish of vanilla ice cream on the counter. My craving DEMANDED chocolate. It did not ask politely, or even suggest… it made its demand and I raised the white flag of defeat.
I would mix a little cocoa into the ice cream and make do.
Mesmerized by the cold confection, I removed the cocoa from the baking drawer by rote, lifting it straight up, then shifting to a horizontal motion to clear the cupboard, then up and over to set the can on the counter. It was kind of a complicated series of movements but I wasn’t worried… I’d done it hundreds of times before.
My thought process, however, was a nanosecond ahead of my arm movement… or maybe the cocoa can was taller than I remembered…
The bottom edge of the cocoa can clipped the upper lip of the drawer. I was left holding only the lid. My right leg was covered with a thick layer of cocoa powder, from mid-thigh clear down to the floor. My new white shoe was coated brown as well. Baking cocoa covered the cupboard shelves, both top and bottom, and spilled out on to the hardwood floor.
My three little dogs quickly gathered ‘round, eager to help with the clean-up.
“NO! SIT!” I commanded. “STAY!!!”
I slipped my foot out of my shoe and hustled over to the closet to retrieve the vacuum, sternly commanding the dogs to keep their distance from the mess. Amazingly, the canines obeyed.
I quickly connected the vacuum hose attachment and sucked up as much cocoa as I possibly could, then wiped down the shelves and floor with a damp rag. I thought I’d put the vacuum away before I indulged in my ice cream. As I coiled the hose, I saw that its inner surface was coated with cocoa; I giggled as I took it outside and sprayed it down with the water hose, then hung it in the shower to dry and made a mental note to put it away before Jim came home… I could imagine the questions he’d ask, but would have to work on a suitable response.
I changed clothes and returned to the scene of the accident.
By that time, I had a lovely cold chocolate soup… It was delicious!
Thankfully, I remembered to take the vacuum hose out of the shower. I felt like I’d dodged a bullet!
Jim came home; he was none the wiser.
The next day I vacuumed the living room carpet as he ate his lunch at the counter.
Since I’m frugal by nature, I only change vacuum bags when they’re full… and those HEPA filter vacuum bags for a Kirby are expensive! I turned the machine on and went to work. Soon the house was scented with cocoa! I worked furiously, keeping my back to my husband lest he notice me struggling not to laugh.
In the end, he kept his mouth shut and so did I.
For some reason, Lonnie behaved better than usual for the entire class this morning… go figure.
I found a dead body today.
I walked in the front door, arms laden with supplies for the Bible Study I’d volunteered to host. I carefully descended the stairs and unburdened myself at the serving counter. Then I went back to the car for the rest.
Still, I noticed nothing wrong.
Tables needed to be rearranged to accommodate an unknown number of guests.
I went about my task, dragging one long table back to where it belonged, then returned to the meeting room and gathered plates and napkins, cups and glasses, and began to set the table for eight, hoping that would be enough.
I thought I heard a noise and looked up, toward the stairs.
My right hand flew to my mouth, stifling an involuntary scream. The body was sprawled just to the left of the stairs, near the supply of folding chairs. Its eyes were open wide and its legs were stretched straight out behind, as if it lunged forward just as it took its last breath.
A tirade of terrible words assaulted my ears… apparently issued forth by me, for I was the only one there alive. Those words are not a part of my normal vocabulary. I don’t recollect taking anyone’s name in vain… except maybe the deceased.
I approached cautiously, armed with a broom should self defense or evasive measures become necessary.
I stretched out my arm, holding the broom handle with my fingertips, and poked its rump with the bristles. It didn’t move. Relief flooded through me.
I clapped the bristles firmly over the body and swept it into the dustpan, holding it securely in place while quickly walking to the back door, pivoting, and backing up against the push bar, opening the door without using my hands.
The door clicked shut as I strode down the sidewalk. I realized that I had not unlocked it… I would most likely have to hike up the hill, through scads of allergy-inducing dandelion seed heads and clouds of pine pollen, circle the building and enter once again through the front door.
Oh well. It couldn’t be helped. I’d taken my antihistamines, so it wouldn’t be too bad, I hoped.
I flung the body of the mouse beneath the pine trees at the edge of the church yard, breathed a sigh of relief, and hurried back inside with a twofold purpose; to minimize my exposure to the pollen, and to finish setting up for the Study before the others arrived.
I shudder to think of what might have happened had I stepped on the carcass with my arms loaded with muffins, cheese, crackers and a large bowl of fruit salad!