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Posts tagged ‘home’


When my mother was about eight or nine, my uncle, eight years older, was supposed to be watching her.  He wanted to see his girlfriend Pam, who lived on Andrews Air Force Base.  Having no qualms about shirking his babysitting duties, he promised her 5 packs of SweeTarts from the 7-11 down the street – a bribe he knew would be effective as it was my mother’s favorite candy – if she would agree to stay in the house by herself.

She gave in to the SweeTarts.  He left and was gone for a long time.

My mother, growing increasingly scared, formed a plan that would defend her from attacks of any origination.  She stood between the front door and the outside screen with one hand on each knob.  Her thinking was if an intruder somehow materialized inside the house she would leap outside and shut him in; if someone attempted to attack from the outside, she had her hand on the screen and could quickly slam it closed.  All fronts were covered.

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My Uncle and the Snakes

It takes some mental acrobatics, but you can almost picture my uncle as a young child if you try.  Ditching school, jumping off the roof because he thinks he’s Superman, teaching relatives the hula: this cute kid today oozes cool through his “Yeah, man”s and clipped phone calls to unidentified people I’ve named Shorty.  One Christmas, years ago, he gave my sister and me two packages of CDs — one for each.  On the wrappings, he wrote something like this: “Jen/Jess/switch/swap/Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum/Booger1/Booger2/give/take/share/keep.”  Fifty years ago, I wonder if anyone thought he’d one day say to his niece (i.e., me), “Look, Tweedle-Dum, I thought you were supposed to be smart,” when she failed to grasp the finer points of Bridge during his five-minute explanation.

On Thanksgiving, I asked him about the snake problem I’d heard he’d been having over the summer.

He said that he’d had four under the fireplace in his house.

“How did you know?”

“I could hear them rustling.”

“How did you know there were four?  Did you count them?” Read more

Hot and Cold

Many switch out their wardrobes in the summer and winter, but I don’t do that.  I need my cold-weather clothes year-round because the building where I work is freezing in the summer.  Also in the winter.  Usually in the spring and fall, too.

In the summer, I welcome lunchtime for all the usual reasons people live for lunch, plus for getting outside in the middle of the day, when the mid-90s, high-dew-point blaze of the sun is a relief from the arctic chill.

Figuring out what to wear can take some creativity.  Because I’m totally against the possibility that I may experience even minor discomfort for any length of time, I need warm and heavy for the office, and cool and skimpy for that long, 10-minute car ride home. Read more

Pests and Predators

I’m not sure when I started growing a bit more (than usual) worried about being attacked and murdered.  It was before the Ohio kidnapping and rescue story, although that gruesome reminder that some sack of shit men think they’re entitled to do whatever they want with girls and women didn’t help.  I usually carry pepper spray whenever I walk anywhere, and I have a rape whistle on my keychain, but it was around that time that I bought a tire thumper and more pepper spray for my bedside.  I actually did some searching on “best baseball bats for self-defense” and found spray that marks the attacker.  And when the items arrived, I hoped more than I hope about most everything that they were a total waste of money and I would never need to use them.

The home is the one place everyone should feel safe and comfortable, and whenever I hear about anything ranging in degree from mold growth to home invasions, I feel a little ache for the victims who, on top of whatever else, have lost a sense of security in their homes.
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The Idiot’s Guide to Homeowning: Changing the Air Filter

It was too much to hope the tools would be pink.

I had asked my grandfather to put together a toolbox for me to bring to my condo when I moved in.  He gathered what I imagine are the sensible and practical items everyone should have.

I examined them with a sour face.  “These are dirty.  Uck.”

My grandfather did not react, except to say with total calm,  “Jennifer, you’re going to need these, so just put them where you can’t see them and don’t look at them if you think they’re dirty.”
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