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Monday, July 4, 2016

Basement Battles

Our heat pump froze over today.  They tell me that happens when the filter gets clogged. 

There’s a filter?  Like for regular or menthol?

In my recent experience (before my nap) I learned that when the filter is clogged, all the good, cold air goes back to the unit and turns into Frozen, the Backyard Reenactment, and the wicked bad air blows up my pants leg.  If you’ve never had a blast of thermodynamics up your leg in the midst of a humid Southern Summer, let me assure it’s no different than dropping a boiling hair ball down your pants.

Never mind the Fourth of July.  We’ve already seen fireworks at my house.

I suddenly discovered the urgent need to call the Heat Pump Fixer People.  They suggested that as long as we keep Labradors scattered around the house like throw rugs, we might want to consider changing the filter more often.  Who knew that big dogs were good for more than finishing up your ham sandwich or standing in the open doorway to watch the neighbor’s cat wash between its toes?  They also keep us up-to-date with filter changing.

The filter is in the basement.

I barely have the energy to crawl into the kitchen and hold my mouth open under the ice dispenser when it’s this hot, and this guy is suggesting I skip down two flights of stairs like it’s the Yellow Brick Road, and crawl through the Tunnel of the Dead to change the filter?  Everybody knows that shady characters go through neighborhoods hiding bodies in basements.  Doesn’t this guy read? Or watch reality shows?

“What did they say?”  Captain CoolDown, clad only in Things He Wears When It’s Too Hot to Dress is mopping is brow with the daily newspaper.

“They say you need to change the filter.”

“I’d better do it.  This heat is going to make the bodies smell.”

Great.  I’m looking for Green Acres and he’s giving me Twilight Zone.

Armed with a new filter, flashlight, and a flask of Holy Water, the Captain heads downstairs.  I hear various noises that may or may not involve screaming and swordplay and the breaking of glass that I’m pretty sure involved what’s left of the Holy Water.

In the silence that follows, I’m trying to decide whether to call my pastor or dial Emergency Services for the Jaws of Life.  Suddenly the Survivor of Basement Battles: Zombie Heat Pump edition pops his head in the kitchen.

“We should be good in just a little while.  Do you know anything about this?”  He held up a coil of Christmas garland bedecked with tiny lights.

Garland that had been in the way when we brought up our decorations last December and I blindly piled in a convenient crawl space, effectively blocking air flow for six months.  There was only one thing to do.

“Never saw it before.”

Let the Spirit of Christmas Past stay down there with the rest of the bodies.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Going Paleo

“Whatcha doing?”

The kids are never intimately concerned with my activities unless I’m stirring around in the kitchen at suppertime.

I put an egg on the table.  “Checking the fridge for supper stuff.”

“Are you gonna divvy up that egg between us or are we on our own?”

“We could only afford one. It’s a special free-range egg. The chicken that produced this egg roamed the countryside randomly, picnicking on the wonders of nature along the way.”

“Wonders of nature?  You mean like beetles and slugs?”

“I don’t think so. Chickens like corn.”

“I don’t think the chicken crossed the road to pounce on a niblet.  On the Nature Channel I saw one hijack a baby mouse like it was a chocolate truffle.”

“Tell you what. You can have the egg.”

“I’m good.” He hooked a slice of cold pizza out of the fridge.

“One day you’ll be sorry for your poor food choices.”

This kid could bench press me and the contents of my purse, and yesterday he finished my Zumba video while I was still searching for my oxygen tank.

“At least I’m not on the Fred Flintstone diet.  You have to eat special food to give you big feet and bad posture?”

“It’s the natural diet of our caveman ancestors.”

“And what was their lifespan?  Twenty years?”

I pondered. I have Devil’s Food Cake recipes older than that.

“Maybe I’ll pick a different era to eat my way through. Somewhere in between Caveman Og and Paula Deen.”

“Yeah,” he grinned, tossing the pizza crust into the trashcan like LeBron James sinking a three-pointer.            

“One carries a big stick and one carries a stick of butter.”


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Christmas Letter From the Family

Merry Christmas to the Forked Branch of the Family Tree,

As we speak, the toilet runneth over, so forgive me if I’m a bit hasty with my Christmas wishes. Bill and Bo-the-Labrador are doing their best to take care of the excess water, but Bo still gets the wrench and the screwdriver confused, so the going is rough. I’m considering demanding a refund for the training money I wasted. Who needs “Sit” and “Stay” when everybody knows “Right Tighty, Lefty Loosey” is the way to go? Pet Smart, my nuts and bolts.

This year has been an inspiring and adventurous one for our family as I have been diagnosed with the life-threatening condition, Snoring.  To arrive at this diagnosis, I was festooned with electrodes and starred in a video demonstration of my sleep habits, aptly named “Night Noises.” This adventure was repeated a second time much to the amusement of my insurance company who promptly decided I was a health risk and rushed an invoice to my mailbox with the speed of Kardashian porn hitting Twitter. At night I now sport an appealing breathing apparatus that attaches to my face like a tick and huffs air up my nose like the Big Bad Wolf on House number 3. Also, sometimes the mask slips, resulting in a noise that sounds much like a family reunion after the beans have been served.

Bill, who only has to deal with diabetes, high blood pressure, and ingrown toenails fails to see the glamour of the whole thing. *Sigh* People who don’t have to suffer just don’t understand the trials that the chronically ill must face.

Also this year, we’ve seen the rise and fall of the family garden. Mostly it was the fall, since the only thing that rose were weeds and grubworms, but we have hopes that the new fertilizer that Bill’s been collecting will do the trick. I have confidence that he’s on the right track, although I read on the Internet that fertilizer from cows works best, and even though the Labradors are certainly large and do on occasion eat grass, composting their output just because you don’t want to walk to the backyard trashcan is not an optimum solution.

This is the year of the helmet for our son who has taken up arc welding. You might want to tuck a spare pair of Ray Bans in your purse when you drop by for the annual Christmas gift card and casserole exchange. Also, don’t be surprised if you can’t open the refrigerator door or put the seat down in the bathroom.

Living next to the Crazy Cat Lady finally paid off and we were fortunate to end up with another free cuddly ball of fur, size tiny. Although we can’t believe our good luck with pet adoption, our hope for the New Year is a similar run on the Powerball drawings, as we’ve had to take out a second mortgage and Bill is considering an exciting new career as a Wal-Mart greeter in order to meet veterinary expenses.

We considered putting in a pool this year, but every time we mentioned digging a large hole in the yard, the kids began to drool and request notarized copies of our life insurance policies.  Upon further reflection, a new dishwasher sounded much more practical.
Best wishes to your family from ours. If you have exciting news about a partnership at the law office or come into a substantial windfall, be sure to update our relationship status on FaceBook. We all need a little piece at Christmas.

Wishing you the best in the coming days and hoping Aunt Ethel doesn’t drop her wig in the offering plate at church this year.

Signed, Out on a Limb of the Family Tree

Friday, December 11, 2015


Sometimes you have to look backwards to see the light in front you. Come visit me at Huffington Post and share the Peace & Joy of the season.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Remembering. . .

A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

by Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm

I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Legacy

Turns out Mom was right. Again. Even from the corner of heaven where children don't talk back. C'mon over to Huffington Post and help me figure out what to do about this legacy. (I'm not going to attempt the Atkins diet, but a gold bar wouldn't hurt.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yoga Bare

Join me at the Huffington Post where exercise is always Extreme! When Yoga comes along, we just grin and bare it!

After yoga class, the Captain joined the Witness Protection Program. Here he is trying out his disguise.