According to courthouse records, our house was built in 1876. We think it was cobbled together until we moved in almost 20 years ago. No doorframes match; one has wide oak trim while another has narrow pine. That doesn’t affect the livability of the house.

The house was vacant for at least five years prior to our purchase. During those years, evidently, the house was not unoccupied.

The fall we moved in we learned about Asian lady beetles. The ladybug look-alikes sheltered in the corners of our bedroom. Hundreds of them. I learned that they taste horrible after one wandered into the plastic straw of my water bottle and I took a swig. Blech!

Some falls, these creatures abandon us choosing to winter somewhere else. I notice, but don’t really miss them.

Another critter is not so ready to relinquish control of our mutual domicile. Especially this year.

Whoever penned the song “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…” must not have had to live with them.

They are taking over my kitchen counter. Husband has placed little cardboard squares of an anticide at several intervals around the perimeter of the counter. This has not seemed to antagonize them in the least. It seems to serve as an antipasto prior to hitting more anticing spaces like the cutting board.

The cutting board is ever present on the counter in front of the toaster. Bread is buttered (or more likely, peanut buttered) here. Apples are sectioned with the corer for Husband’s lunch. The other day I noticed a sliver of apple (sliver being the size of one of wood that accidentally offends a finger) being wrestled by troops. Fascinating to watch, but the antithesis of what I wanted in my kitchen.

There have been so many this year and so diffuse that I have anthropomorphized them as having Fitbits attached to a limb counting each step taken, mile accumulated and calorie burned traversing my counter.

The day I picked up the chef’s knife from its designated space for when it’s dirty (at the edge of the counter, next to the stove, blade pointed toward the stove) and watched them scurry towards my Keurig coffee maker, my antipathy maximized, I decided to up the ante. I may be making a mountain of an anthill, but I would ant-ihilate them.

I googled “getting rid of ants” and found an anthology of suggestions. All required destroying the trails by applying deterrent smells. Vinegar is anathema to ants. I had that antidote.

I started by washing the few dirty dishes on the counter (one of the articles said to do this or put them in the dishwasher… No thanks, I’m full). I removed all appliances and canisters and washed them. I scrubbed the cupboard. There were a few spots I could feel something – a long ago spill maybe.

Finally, I poured vinegar into a spray bottle and added some water. As my antepenultimate action, I sprayed the perimeter of the counter with the vinegar solution, making sure that any final ant anthems were dirges. I wiped up excess fluid then returned the appliances and canisters to their proper places.

By this point, I had worked so hard in the high humidity I knew my antiperspirant had not survived. That was a small price to pay for putting the anti-lock brakes on the ant invasion.

Within an hour, I returned to the immaculate perception for a cold drink and to admire the kingdom that I had regained. Unfortunately, the ants hadn’t gotten that message. Aargh! What would it take? A trip to Antartica? A dose of anthrax?

I adjourned to the throne room, ready to call it a (k)night. While sitting, finishing my paperwork, a new creature scurried from behind a cabinet across the doorway and under the bathroom door. A mouse!

I think I’m going to need an antidepressant.

 

 

 

 

Even people not close to me soon are aware of my love (read: addiction) to books. About five years ago, I discovered a podcast that serves (read: feeds) my devotion to the written word. The podcast is called Books on the Nightstand.

Books on the Nightstand not only has a podcast but also a website and many of the devotees (read: junkies) spill over to another website, GoodReads, to leave each other messages of our most recently read book, what we want to read next, or how we can influence others or a plethora of topics that keep our fingers limber on keyboards until we are using them to turn pages or scroll e-book screens.

Finding so many like-minded souls meant we had to meet. Many of us thought we were the only ones with this unquenchable habit. Ann and Michael, the podcasters, arranged a weekend in quiet off-season Vermont for therapy. Even they did not realize the scope of the dependency. They quickly diagnosed that once a year would not quell the addicts clamoring for their services. They scheduled three sessions for the following year that another attendee dubbed Booktopia.

I have now completed nine sessions with plans for another trip at the end of August to Asheville, North Carolina. I knew I was hooked when the second year the second session was planned for Oxford, Mississippi. In June. My aversion to heat was overpowered by my demons.

Each session has presented new ideas and discussions of coping with my mania. The most recent includes a postal book group.

Six fellow book-heads (not to be confused with potheads) will each send a reading book along with a journal to the next name on the list developed by an administrator. The reading book is to be about 300 pages. We each will get two months to read and comment in the logbook before sharing our needle- um, er, books with the next. At the end of a year, our book will return with the comments of the other users in the diary sharing its travels.

Now the pressure was on. What book to choose?

Since books hide my nightstand, it might seem to the uninitiated an easy task to find a book to pass on. But…

I didn’t want to send a book most would have already read (cross off We Were Liars).

A book with 250 pages seemed too slim and with 350 too bulky.

An old read would require a second “dance.” Would I experience the same high? Could I fit a new read in my schedule?

After weeks of deliberation, I stumbled upon the perfect book while sorting books for the next local library book sale.

It was a book I owned, had not read, really wanted to, and (best of all) was the perfect size (read: dosage) – 300 pages.

Now, where did I last see it? The bedroom.

At the foot of my bed is a book shelf with four tiers (the top one double stacked) and two piles of books on the top approaching the ceiling . There are two collapsible cubes on the floor. Both full. I know one has 35 books in it. Finally the nightstand was rescued from a hotel liquidation sale so it has the cubby on the bottom, with a double row of books and then a few more placed on top of those. There are only two or three books on top of the nightstand because I actually deigned to clean it off earlier this week (trying to show Husband that I can turn over a new leaf).

I correctly chose the orange cube. The books in it were neat as were the ones stacked on top, booty from recent visits to Book Con, Booktopia Vermont and a few rescues from library book sales.

The stacked books had been carefully placed with the exactitude of the dealer making sure the customer had paid the bill in full . Each book was placed precisely for balance and stability. I removed at least six handfuls of books to unearth the desired volume, placing each in a different pile on the bed to best reconstruct the pattern. The book I sought was, of course, on the bottom, back row. I had to replace it so nothing above it would topple.

In my frenzy to unearth my treasure, I had placed the small piles of books on the bed haphazardly. I had to reconstruct the puzzle without a corresponding picture.

That was exactly how I felt, trying to force puzzle pieces that were almost right into opened spots. So what if the color didn’t coincide with what adjoined?

The rebuilding was completed. Husband would never notice anything, but I knew the books weren’t precisely where they had been. But what would that matter?

This will give me the impetus to reduce the number in/on the container.

If only these books weren’t so close to what has been my favorite reading place since childhood. The bed.

Nowadays, the toothpicks don’t seem as strong as they used to be. Perhaps it doesn’t take as many pages to supply my fix; I’ve developed a tolerance. Either that or my eyelids, along with the rest of me, have put on a few.

 

 

 

Wow! I knew it had been awhile since I’ve written, but didn’t realize exactly how long. Time goes so quickly.

It’s almost 19 years that we have lived in our house. During that time we have caused much confusion for the mail man (and yes, we’ve only had a man). At first we got mail for the previous owner,  the AME Church, and its pastor. That was understandable. Husband having one last name while I use my own has to be confusing. That has been proven by a new person getting mail at this address. That person has Husband’s first name and my last name.

Son becoming an adult has added to confusion since the only difference between his and dad’s name is an I (Dad is II and Son is III). Last month we weren’t sure who should get mail from the County Prosecutor that had no Roman numerals after the name.

It didn’t take us long to discover that there was an address very similar to ours. In fact the only difference is the direction. The number is the same, the street name is the same. We are East and there is a West.

We could have dined on many pizzas we didn’t order. We even almost had a dumpster delivered. Husband discovered it as he was leaving for work.

We’ve even gotten dunning calls from businesses trying to find people who have lived on West (it’s a four unit apartment).

Last night before we went to bed, we heard of a body being found in a house about 2 blocks south of us. This morning’s paper provided more information, some I was pretty sure was going to be trouble.

This morning’s paper gave us information such as the deceased man’s name, the fact that one of his sons was arrested for obstruction with the police and domestic violence with his brother. Strangely, they gave the address for the other brother. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was trouble. It was West.

Sure enough, about noon, Husband heard the porch screen door open, he unlocked our front door to see who was here. I was on the couch when I heard a female voice say, “Does Paul and Elizabeth still live here?” I recognized the male’s name from the paper as the brother who had lived at West.

Husband answered, “No.” I shouted out to them, “That’s WEST!”

Husband repeated my advice.

As Husband came in he commented, “Obviously they stay in close touch.”

I think I want to go back to just getting the wrong mail.

Almost 24 years ago when our son was born, my friend Mary, who had been my matron of honor, looked at our infant and commented, “Bill will never be able to deny this child is his.”

I had given birth to a miniature physical replica of my husband even to a cleft in the chin I was not aware my bearded husband had.

Over the years there have been instances when Son exhibited behaviors obviously learned from his mother. I laughed the first time he talked to grandma on the hard-wired-to-the-wall phone while he passed back and forth – exactly the way I talked on the phone.

Another incident that caused me pause was seeing my pre-schooler straighten the stripes of a bath towel draping a wet picnic table bench. “Oh, son! Don’t get that from me.”

Today another sign of our connection – granted it has been a hectic week. On Monday, leaving for work at 4 p.m. was the fifth time I’d left the house that day. It wasn’t the last time I left the house.

Wednesday was a flip flop of Monday. I left the house once but made six stops throughout Dayton, Springfield and Urbana.

For the Fourth, we drove more than 3 hours to spend the afternoon with my family to get back in the car for another 3 hours. It was a good visit, but we were all exhausted.

Husband and I were able to nap this afternoon. Son worked a full day.

I picked him up at the end of his shift, but had him drive home. Shortly after getting home, he came to me for the car keys. I didn’t have them.

A few years ago, I had so many instances of calling Husband to get me into a vehicle that I finally put reminder labels on the steering wheel and door.

It only took about 15 minutes to locate the missing keys today. After checking his pockets, the dining room table, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the front porch he located them safe and sound in the ignition of the locked car.

After the busyness of this week, I’m happy to stay home, reading and writing until Husband gets off work so he can once again get keys out of the locked car that I drive.

Yep! He’s my son, too.

A couple of times recently I’ve come across a reference to “baby brain”. The connotation was that a woman who is about to have a baby or having just had a baby can not think properly – probably because of the reassignment and abundance free-range hormones.

Despite being a century past menopause, I’ve been experiencing my own version of “baby brain” the last two weeks. My excuse? I’ve referred to my muddled mind as “booksale brain”.

The library book sale was last week. During that week, I leave the house by 7 a.m. My return usually is at least 12 hours later. There were several instances where I explained my new malady, also acknowledging where I stole the reference. 

Sometimes “book sale brain” caused me to forget the word I needed to finish a thought. Other times it was the diagnosis was because I couldn’t remember where or how something was done previously.

The sale ended on Saturday. Sunday was a good recovery day – I had to rewind a show I had recorded at least 4 times because I kept falling asleep while trying to watch it.

Monday proved that my recovery was not complete.

I was leaving the house for two purposes. To take Son to work and then to return the big yellow rental signs that were on the library property to announce the sale to drivers-by.

I grabbed two sets of keys as I left the house with Son. The older white van would be used to transport the signs, but the newer gold van had the letters for the signs in it.

I used the electronic fob to open the gold van and asked Son to get the boxes of letters. He did and then walked to the other van and waited for me to unlock it so he could get in.

Despite being only one year older than the gold van, the white van uses ancient technology. I had to use a key to unlock my door and then presented with the problem of a Son standing on the other side with his hands full and how I could unlock the door, all I could think of since I didn’t have a fob. I walked around to the other side and used the key to unlock the slider.

Astonished, Son asked, “Why didn’t you just flip the lock switch (of the electronic lock)?”

Embarrassed and flustered, all I could answer was, “Because I still have book sale brain.”

I wasn’t happy with that answer, but he seemed to be.

Graduation was yesterday for the University where I work in the library. The last two weeks of the semester have meant the only familiar faces in the library have been my co-workers. All the students have appeared to be new – never before brightening the rooms of the library. Many of these students also seem to have no idea how a library works or what resources it has. All definitely waited until the last possible minute to get the assignment done.

“How late is the library open tonight?” It’s posted on each door both on the outside and inside the library, as well on the circulation computers.

“Do you have scholarly journals?”

“Where would I find a book about Hitler?”

“Will you fax a document to me so I can send it by e-mail?” (We are still scratching our heads about that one.)

At least at the end of this term I haven’t had to show any seniors how to use the copy machine.

One student of particular note this past week jammed one of our two copy machines just as the shift was changing. While I worked to find all the of the multiple jams, the impatient student attempted to get the second printer to do the work. It reacted in a similar fashion to the first, so the student got the other librarian to unjam the second printer.

When the student saw that I was leaving she commented, “I’ll bet you’re looking forward to going home.”

A few minutes later I stunned her when I made a comment to my relieving co-worker about a job I didn’t get finished.

The student was surprised that we actually had tasks to perform. Evidently she thought we were just there to help the students. “What do you have to do?”

I don’t know why I was so surprised to hear this type of comment from a student. As many jobs as I’ve had in my life, seldom does someone on the outside realize all that goes on on the other side of the time clock.

One of my small jobs is counting the number people in the library once an hour on the half hour. Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve looked for John Belushi or other Animal House characters lurking in the stacks.

The first time was because of the piles and wads of paper I found on the floor, the shelving, the tables, and the computers. Since I discovered this on my first check, I had to tease the day-librarians the next day about “what kind of library are you running here?” since there obviously had been a paper fight.

The second time there was a puddles of water on the floor near the computers. I was so surprised someone would have just left that, I said out loud, “Is that water on the floor?”

A student at one of the computers said, “Yeah! My buddy spilled it.”

“Then why didn’t he clean it up?” Oops! Did I say that out loud?

I guess a twenty-something agile and limber student doesn’t think about that the same way  as an arthritic, overweight women who uses a cane.

Imagine that!

 

The yo-yoing temperatures have had some questioning whether it is truly spring or not.

I have seen or experienced proof that spring has actually arrived.

The daffodils are standing at full attention. The forsythia is well on its way to being fivesythia.

There was a fly in my van last week.

Two Canada geese have adopted the university library as their personal property. I think they have been trying to hatch it.

The robins have returned and are presenting harmony with the cardinals and sparrows.

Most obvious spring forensic? My husband of twenty-five and a half years was confused by the voice that answered his phone call to home this morning.

I answered the phone and heard, “Do you have to work today?”

“Yeah,” I answered, baffled by his question.

“Oh, I though you were Son!”

My allergy produced basso profundo has returned.

Yep! It’s spring.

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