Home Alone Heart Attack

Being home alone is an interesting experience. When you are used to having a houseful, it’s actually kind of depressing and lonely. People thought I’d enjoy it – find it peaceful. But I haven’t. I enjoyed the week before when the kids were gone to camp and it was just me and the hubby. I took the week off work and got a lot done around the house. He wasn’t there all the time so I still spent a lot of time alone, but I wasn’t lonely.

This past week, however, has been a little depressing. My husband took the kids to see grandparents and I went back to work. I worked long hours too. I mean, why not? What was waiting for me at home? The dog?

Going to bed the first night, pulling the door closed behind me for no reason beyond habit and a theoretical fire block if the house caught on fire, I actually felt just a little bit scared. I got over it and slept so soundly that I had aches the next morning from not moving.

I went to work each morning and had a couple of meetings at church in the evenings. I saw people. I spoke to people. But then I’d come home and feel like doing nothing. Sometimes it felt like I was just waiting until an appropriate time to go to bed. Most evenings consisted of having a glass of wine with dinner while watching an episode of Firefly. I was enjoying myself, but people were missing and I was feeling it. There was simply no action. No energy. No life. No spark.

The last night, I had worked eleven hours, gotten off work about 8pm, and picked up some McDonald’s for dinner. That was another thing – it was hard to work up any interest in cooking for myself. I had a lot of salads and sandwiches and by Thursday night, I was tired of salads and sandwiches. McDonald’s was on the way home.

I sat down with my McDonald’s and my glass of wine (that makes the meal classy, right? It was even sparkling wine). Sat down on the couch and started up another episode of Firefly. About halfway through the episode, I started getting the loading screen every few minutes. At one point I decided to pause it, let it buffer, and try to get something done so I’d be ready for bed when the show was over.

Ah, yes, I thought to myself. I need to unload the dishwasher and get the dirty dishes in there. Can’t have the counter cluttered when the kids get home. That would undermine all my efforts to get them to stay on top of the dishes.

So I headed into the kitchen, grabbed the silverware out of the already-open dishwasher, and turned around to the silverware drawer. In one quick and practiced motion, I opened the drawer and prepared to drop the forks and spoons in their proper places, already turning my attention back to the next item in the dishwasher.

But something wasn’t right. Something didn’t compute. The drawer was not as I had left it. And since there was no one there but me and the dog, and the dog has not yet mastered the ability to pull open drawers, this took me by surprise. And then my mind interpreted more clearly what the not-quite-right situation was with the silverware drawer. And I shrieked and moved quickly back to the living room. Where the dog slowly raised her head to inquire if she should be concerned about whatever had just happened.

I’m actually proud to say it wasn’t quite a shriek. More of an exclamation of surprise, tinged with maybe just a hint of panic. My voice stayed in its usual octave. The noise was brief. If it had been anything more, the dog would have come running to take down whatever had scared her mama. I’m not sure this would have been a good thing.

I grabbed my phone off the couch, as all good first world people of the social media age would do, and creeped back into the kitchen. Where I got a better look at the snake hanging out on my tablespoons.



A couple of quick shots and I was back in the living room, sending it first to my husband, then posting it on Facebook, then sending it to my daughter, who is the usual putter-away of dishes. She promptly submitted her resignation. My husband said he wished he had been there to witness my reaction.

Which just highlighted my on-my-ownness even more. In normal times, Jane would have been putting away the dishes. She would have shrieked much more satisfactorily than I would have. She would have run into wherever we were and breathlessly told us there was a snake in the kitchen. The boys would have yelled “cool!” and dropped their electronic devices to go check it out. The dog would have hurried to see the cause of all the excitement. There would have been a crowd in the kitchen. I would have laughed at Jane, secretly relieved that it hadn’t been me, and I would have suggested that my husband relocate the snake to the outdoors.

But there was no husband. No Jane. No eager boys. Not even a curious dog. Just a lazy, I-slept-all-day-in-my-crate-and-now-I’ll-lay-here-on-the-couch-while-you-have-a-silent-heart-attack-and-die dog. And a snake. In my silverware drawer.

I think I’m a tougher woman than most. I’ve done a lot of things that many women wouldn’t do. I’ve ridden a kayak down a fourteen foot waterfall by myself. I’ve gone on rigorous backpacking trips. I played roller hockey, even acquired stitches on my face and a chipped tooth. I experienced natural childbirth – three times! And one of them a home birth. I participated in a rock climbing competition just 10 days after my third child was born. I’ve done stuff. I’m tough.

In certain situations.

Critters in my house, especially of the slithering variety, are not in that subset of situations. So I stood in the living room, trying to imagine myself coaxing the snake onto a long stick and taking it out the front door. The image turned into the snake deftly and swiftly traveling up the stick and leaping onto my face. I calmly revised the image back to the snake wrapped around the stick. Then the dog entered the image and attacked the snake on the stick. The snake fought back. A war ensued. I forced the mental image back to a stick with a snake traveling out the front door. But the dog was a real concern. Lock her up in a bedroom? Just how long should the stick be? Open the front door first? How many bugs will come in the house before I get the snake on the stick and out the door? Do I really care about mosquitoes when there’s a snake in my silverware drawer?

I decided to go check on the snake again.

And it was gone.

I was actually relieved. I didn’t have to worry about being brave enough to move the snake. I would have done it. Of course, I would have. I’m tough. I do what needs to be done. I totally would have taken care of the snake. But now it’s back in the walls, hopefully eating mice and bugs and being useful to us. I’m good.

And then the Facebook friends started talking about it maybe being a copperhead. And I started imagining it stalking me once I went to bed for the night. My skin crawled. I told my tough (remember how tough you are?!) self that I was being silly. Cooler heads prevailed on Facebook and I employed my Google-fu to confirm that the snake was not a copperhead.

I finished watching Firefly. I finished putting the dishes away – including the silverware and the stuff that goes in the drawer below the silverware. I went to bed.

I swear this stuff only happens when my husband isn’t home.



Independence and Reality

Hal is at that stage of life when a person desperately wants to be independent but isn’t quite up for the task… yet.  This is in contrast to people at the other end of the spectrum who desperately want to be independent but aren’t quite up for the task… anymore.  There are some remarkable similarities if you stop to think about it.  No one likes to regress.

Hal likes to pour his own milk, which makes me quite nervous.  He wants to get things out of cabinets.  He wants to buckle himself in the car.  And brush his own teeth.  And put the DVD in the player by himself.  And operate the remote.  And walk the powerful, difficult-to-manage dog.  And feed said dog.  And put her in her crate.  Pick his own clothes.  Brush his hair.  Choose the dinner menu.  Pour the salad dressing.

And that last desire brings us to last night.

He hates vegetables.  His only solution to this problem is to insist on Ranch dressing anytime vegetables are served.  Cooked or raw – doesn’t matter.  The only vegetables consumed without Ranch are peas… presumably because they are too small to dip.

Yesterday, he made it clear that he did not want green beans – the most despised of the “regulars” in our house.  Never mind that the green beans consumed on Easter were fresh and lightly steamed and everyone else loved them.  I agreed that we would not have green beans.  I fixed broccoli, cauliflower, and… asparagus instead.

He was not amused.

“I said no green beans!” he protested as he got close enough to the table to see that there were long green stalks waiting on his plate.

“I know.  There aren’t any green beans on the table,” I responded.

He approached his plate cautiously.  “What are these?”

“That’s asparagus.”

“It looks like green beans.”

“Well, it’s not.”

He spied the strawberries on the table and reached for them.

“No,” I said.  “No one is getting strawberries until they’ve eaten all their vegetables.”

For Hal, that meant the single stalk of asparagus, broken in two, a half dozen small pieces of broccoli and cauliflower, 2 raw sugar snap peas, and a handful of raw baby carrots.

“Well, then,” he said, “I’m going to have to have some Ranch.”

“That’s fine,” I said.

An old hat at getting the Ranch out, he headed to the fridge and then returned to his plate.  I didn’t hover nearby.  Big mistake.

“Hal!” My husband’s booming voice drew my attention back to the table from the kitchen where I was filling glasses with water.  “That’s it!  You can’t pour the Ranch by yourself anymore.  You’ll have to get someone to help you.”


That’s Hal, head down and crying.  He’s not crying because he wasted half a bottle of Ranch.  He’s not crying because his Daddy yelled at him, nor because his siblings are laughing.  He’s crying at his loss of independence.  For him, it’s as devastating a loss as an older person losing the right to drive.

The Evolution of a Snazzy Outfit

Hal found a clip-on tie in his dresser this morning and announced his intention to wear it. When I saw him next, he was wearing his Power Ranger pajama bottoms and a white undershirt with the tie clipped on.

“Mommy, where are my shirts with all the buttons on them that I can wear a tie with and that are just for me to wear? Where are the shirts with all the buttons?”

I led him to his closet, where he selected a blue button-down shirt. I then left him to his dressing choices and resumed my breakfast.

He returned in a few minutes, claiming that the shirt was too big. I helped him button it and explained that it was supposed to be tucked in. When he prepared to do so, I asked, “Are you really going to tuck it into your Power Ranger pajamas?”

“Oh! No.” He smiled sheepishly and hurried back to his room.

As I was rinsing my breakfast bowl, he returned. “TA-DAAA!! What do you think of these pants?!” His voice clearly indicated that he thought he was dressed to the nines.

He had tucked his shirt into a pair of polyester workout pants with stripes down the sides. I stifled my laugh just barely better than Jane did. Then he walked up to me and fingered the tie hanging from the collar of his shirt.

“Mommy, can you tie this into a bow tie like Daddy wears to church?” I gotta agree. A bow tie is all he needs to put this outfit over the top. Bow ties are cool.