Helping a Hoarder

No, I’m not an actual “hoarder”, but I have “hoarderish” tendencies.  I chalk it up to a couple of things:

  1.  I used to be a teacher.  Teachers save things to use next semester, next year, next lesson, etc.  You see something and you think, “Oh, I can use that cardboard for a project.” , or “That’s a great photo in that magazine… I can use it to explain <whatever> when we get to that.”  So it’s in my nature to save things.  I have many items that fall into this category.
  2. I am the child of someone who grew up during the depression.  We reused our brown paper lunch bags until they fell apart.  We reuse tin foil.  (I’m sorry, aluminum foil!)  My mother wipes off and reuses paper plates.  I’m conditioned to do the same things.  We wash out Ziploc bags to use them again (I’ve taken to writing on the bag to remind me what was in it before.  I have a “butter” bag (don’t judge me!), a bread bag and a cucumber bag.  If the inside of the bag gets “too” wet, I toss it. I have a stack of used Ziploc baggies scattered on my kitchen counter ready to be filled.
  3. I’m lazy.  I admit it.  When something falls on the floor, I don’t always hurry to sweep or vacuum it up.  If it’s wet, or wetish, or food, I’ll pick it up pretty quickly, but other than that… why bother?  It’s not bothering me and I live alone so I’m the only one I need to please. 

I’m getting ready to relocate, and to that end, I have asked a friend to help me. We met a few friends for lunch the other day and she told them, “She only has a work area <this big> on her counter… yet she “cooks”.  I don’t know how she does it.”  Basically, she shamed me. 

I’m asking for help in getting ready for the move — but really, what looks like “junk” to her may be a cherished memory to me.  If I decide I want to save that magazine, or that pamphlet, or pair of fuzzy dice (no I don’t have fuzzy dice, this is just an example), why would she want to try to ‘shame’ me into parting with my cherished memories.  I have to keep reminding her, “I’m MOVING, not DYING.”  What I need is encouragement, not judgement.  What she should have done was told the girls that I’m making good progress or we’re moving right along.  If someone asks for your help, then HELP them.  Don’t tell them what they did wrong.  Don’t look at them incredulously when they tell you YES, that item is a keeper.  Don’t worry about where they’ll store it.  Let that be up to them.

It was a big laugh-fest at lunch… everyone making sport because I’m not disposing of my lifelong memories willy-nilly.  They’re MY memories.  I’ve lived in a variety of lives.  I was a teacher.  I was a fan-girl.  I wrote documentation for my employer for 15+ years.  I’m AWARE that I have a TON OF STUFF.

I do think about my students – I’m even friended to one on Facebook!  I remember my fan-girl days with some fondness (some not-so-fondness)  so I’m keeping the fanfiction I wrote.  And I want to keep copies of the documentation in case a prospective employer says, “Do you have examples of your work?”  “WHY YES, Mr. Employer, I DO!”   (Ok, I don’t really expect this to happen, because life is not rainbows and lollipops like I imagine it to be.  It’s more prunes and sandpaper… I don’t get as far as actually meeting Mr. Employer before I’m turned down.  But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!)

Yes, in my kitchen, I only have <this much> space to work.  But it works for me.  I constantly shift things around the kitchen.  I’m storing some things in the microwave.  When I need to use the microwave, I shuffle those things around the kitchen until I use the kitchen, then I put them back.  Works for me.  When I need to cut veggies, I put the cutting board on the counter, I cut my veggies, and go on with my life.  It doesn’t bother me!  But hear this:  Everything I use is clean.  Trust me on this.  When I make food to share, I clean the counter, I clean the cutting board, I clean the pots, the knives, the forks, the casserole dish, before I use them.  I would never EVER consider bringing or serving food to others that might in any way be injurious to their health.  That said, let’s get back to our main topic.  Helping.

I need help because I’ve been at this for over a year.  I keep going around in circles.  my pastor just retired.  He’s 88 and was, more or less, forced into retirement.  He loves his job.  He doesn’t want to leave. WE don’t want him to leave.  That said, since he didn’t have much of an option, he retired.  A contingent from the church came to help him pack.  He was packed in 2 weeks.  I feel inadequate compared to him.  (for many reasons, but we’re talking about the move)  TWO WEEKS???  It was obvious I needed help.  I asked my friend to come and she comes one day a week for about 5 hours.  It’s better than no help, but we’re making SLOW progress.  I friend I think would help me is having physical issues, and I’m not going to push her by asking.  But now I realize I need MORE help.  But after ‘the shaming’, I’m afraid to have anyone else come help.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I need to move NOW.  I need to move FAST.  I need HELP, but I’m afraid to ask for it.

I’ll die in this house.

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Does Everybody Know What Time It Is??

That’s right… it’s time for the TOUR DE FRANCE!  I’m excited and disappointed at the same time.  tour

I’m excited for the reason I am every year.  Seeing the French countryside, watching the challenges – man against man and man against nature – and hearing the two British commentators getting all excited.  Yes, British excitement.  Something to look forward to, eh?  This year, the race starts in Dusseldorf, Germany, so I’m hoping to see some lovely German countryside. 

I’m disappointed because the team I normally follow won’t have any American riders.  Bummer.  There will be other Americans, just not on the team I normally root for.  Also, some of the non-American riders that I dislike immensely are going to be back.  They’re frontrunners, and I’ll be hearing their names a lot.  The only thing I can hope for is that they lose a tire, get their bikes mangled in a crash and lose an insurmountable amount of time or get the flu.  I could wish them worse, but I would never wish for anyone to get seriously hurt or fall over the edge of a mountain.  Even them. 

And so my month-long obsession begins on July 1.  Normally, I’m glued to the TV every morning to see the ‘live’ race and again every evening to see the same thing on tape.  I’m really curious to see if that’s what I’ll do this year.  You are too… I can tell!

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Fear runs rampant inside my house.  Not big fears like nuclear war or ISIS breaking down my door.  I don’t have fears like that.  I trust that our vigilant military will stop the bad guys before they get to Lawrenceville.

No, my fears are more along the lines of missing the garbage truck or missing out on my Friday Freebies.

Let’s start with the garbage truck fear.  Our trash is collected on Monday.  Many people in my neighborhood put their large blue wheely trash bins (and matching blue recycling bins) out at the curb on Sunday night.  But not me.  I might have something to add to it on Sunday.  And since I’m not currently employed, I’ve been able to do that on Monday at a leisurely pace because they usually don’t show up until some time between noon and 4PM. 

Except that a few weeks ago, they came around 10AM and I missed them.  And DAMN IT… I had a lot of stuff that week!  So the next weekend, I was ALERT and got the trash out before 9AM.  And they came around 10 again, so I was pleased! 

But yesterday I spent the day at church, working on a project.  I had to get up earlier than usual (to be there before 7:30 AM Mass began) and then, after 3 Masses, I had to come back later on for the 6PM Mass, after which I needed to ‘clean up’ the remains of my project and ask the pastor if there was anything else I could do to help him before I left for home. 

After such a strenuous and holy day, I decided to treat myself to a “don’t have to cook it” dinner — so I headed for Kroger, where I also picked up 2 of my Friday Freebies (one of which I’d forgotten about completely) and the loaf of bread that was on my list.  Then I’d found that I had a coupon for a FREE bag of frozen veggies.  Now I don’t eat much in the way of frozen veggies, but I’ve been looking for corn niblets to put into other dishes, and I thought, “a bag of corn would be nice”… especially if it was FREE!  While I searched the large area that encompassed Kroger frozen vegetables, 2 young men came down the aisle talking about pizza.  One of them passed by in front of me then dropped a full – and unopened – bottle of 7up on the floor.  It promptly exploded and soaked my pants, part of my shirt, got in my hair and all over the floor.  The young man stood there for some time looking blank (I suspect the pizza was to feed some intoxicated need), before eventually muttering “Sorry,” and scooting away.  My concentration was broken.  I forgot about the cheese I needed to buy.  I forgot about anything else that might have been in my brain, and was just agog that the kid didn’t even ask, “are you ok?”  or say more than just “sorry” before shuffling off.  Really.  Agog.  But I digress. 

All of this led to not thinking much about “more trash” to load into the blue wheely bin to prepare it for it’s journey to the curb in the morning.  I was concentrating on the snacky food I’d bought (a spicy chicken sandwich) and the Chocolate Paradise ice cream that was my big reward!  I then smooshed my legs with medicated ointment (per the doctor’s orders!) and tried to play Candy Crush (thanks, Kathy Hadala for re-addicting me to this!)  (that’s sarcasm… I’m not really that happy about it!)  but I kept drifting off to sleep.  So I decided it was bedtime.

And this morning, it being Monday, I needed to put the blue wheely thing and it’s accessory out at the curb by 9, BECASUSE I FEARED I’d miss the truck again.  I was awake (don’t ask why) around 6:30 (and surprised to see ‘light’ outside — I really thought it was much later) and thinking it was getting late I hurried into my flannel pants and hustled the blue yard accents out to their rightful place of honor… under the Bradford pear tree — where I must be mindful not to run over them with my car when I back out of the driveway.  Why not park them on the other side? The mailman said they’re too close to the mailbox. But… CRISIS AVERTED — for another week anyway.

Then there’s my FRIDAY FREEBIES.  Kroger has a promotion where every Friday they will load ONE free item to your Kroger card… provided you go to their website and say “download this coupon”.  Most of the stuff is good stuff I’ll use, but every now and then they offer some kid or pet item I have no use for.  Sometimes I download them and donate them to our Food Pantry at church. Sometimes I don’t.  The item is available on your card for about 2 (maybe 3) weeks.  Sometimes I get 2 items at once because I’m getting for the last 2 weeks.  Sometimes, like this week, I FORGET I have something loaded… like the iced tea I forgot about.  I didn’t NEED it, but it’s free iced tea, and I’m all about FREE stuff right now.  I’m also afraid I’ll forget to download my free thing on Friday.  I used to set an alarm but it would go off at just the wrong time, so I stopped doing that.  Now I have to rely on my own brain to remember.  But I’m always afraid I won’t.

Of course, I’m afraid of crawly and slithery and slimy things.  I’m a girl.  It’s my right to be afraid of such things.  I’m not saying ALL girls are, but people will understand if a girl is afraid of bugs or spiders moreso than a 200 pound guy with 1000 tattoos .  If you catch my drift.  I fear moving the shower curtain to turn the water on and finding a spider enjoying my tub. 

I have other fears.  Real fears.  Running out of money, getting sick and not being able to pay for it, losing my residence, and things like that.  But I try not to let those big things bubble up to the top. 

That would make me fear becoming an alcoholic.



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Hitting Reset



I’m trying to ‘reset’ myself. 

I had a pretty good routine going and then had an accident, followed by 2+ weeks without air conditioning (in Atlanta metro, mid-September) followed by two just over a week “indisposed” for many hours of the day and night, most likely a result of medication prescribed for the pain incurred during the accident.   The way to ‘cure’ the indisposition was to stop taking the medicine that was disguising the pain from the accident.  So I stopped taking the medication and the pain came back. 

The pain isn’t so evident during the daytime so I’ve been wanting to resume my winning routine.  But I’ve been leery of overdoing the area of the pain, and making excuses for not starting. 

BUT… today was Monday and what better day to begin a ‘reset’?

There’s a lot that needs resetting, as I’m doing a lot.  Exercise, diet, cleaning, packing, cooking, job hunting.  And as I cleaned up after making lunch – a tasty salad – I realized… I don’t have to restart it all at once

I expect me to be perfect all the time. I expected to be able to just resume the routine I was keeping overnight… but no… it can’t be done.  Well… maybe it can.  but not by me.

It’s now three months later… why?

Well, a few weeks after I started this entry, I had a birthday.  And you can’t diet on or immediately after your birthday (there’s always leftover cake, right?) Then Kathy had her annual Halloween Party.  In early November, I started to think about going to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  A  l-o-n-g Thanksgiving week.  Since I was planning to drive, that meant I could take a lot of stuff with me.  Christmas giftys, baking supplies, outfits to get a 2nd opinion on, warm clothes (in case it got cold), light clothes (in case it got hot), several crochet projects, and so on.  The planning / listing thereof and subsequent packing-of-the-car process occupied much of my time.  No time for exercise or packing.  I returned from NJ at the very end of November and… wouldn’t you know it – I had a Christmas social calendar unlike any I’ve had in decades. 

So… here it is, three months later and, coincidentally, the height of the January resolution making season.  I don’t usually make real resolutions, but this year was different.  I anticipate being in a new state before the end of the year (FAR before the end of the year!)  Lots of work has to happen for that to come true.

I need to rock myself back and forth to get going again.  Yesterday, I walked again for the first time since November.  It was a foggy, potentially rainy morning, but I persevered.  I also baked an apple pie, using up the apples I bought to bake for Christmas (but never did).  Paying some bills was on yesterday’s list, but…. Nah… that didn’t happen.  The pie was delicious, by the way.

Today was day two of my ‘reset’.  I did three things today.  (Walk, pay those bills, and cook a roast pork.)  I’m trying to set up my bullet journal 2017 but I’m not feeling it.  (So I’ve been browsing Pinterest to find a layout I like.  Trouble is, I like them ALL!)

I’m making lists – which is one of my best things – and scanning the house for things that can be done, packing-wise.  I’m looking at job search sites, but only wanting something that’s a lot closer to home than my previous position was. 

There’s some forward momentum going on.  Let’s see how long it continues! 

Happy New Year to both my readers!

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It’s NOT my hair

I was very young when I was born, and I don’t really remember it myself, but in all the pictures of a wee little me, I have a full head of golden ringlets. In the pictures of grade school me, I have either long  “Shirley Temple” curls or a short, stiff “flip”. I remember woefully the nights of setting my hair with pink plastic rollers and then trying to sleep.  My hair was thick and curly and liked to be knotty at my nape.  In the high school and college pictures, my hair is as long and straight as possible.   

I spent my young adult years shuttling between my NY City-adjacent hometown and the Jersey Shore, one famous for hot, steamy summers and the other famous for saltwater drenched humidity.  My hair was not happy.  And don’t even get me started on the cold scarf-laden, muffler wearing winters!  I moved to Arizona and escaped the humidity (and the cold) — but it was Ar-i-zo-na and it was HOT, so I spent a lot of time wearing a ponytail.   Back in NYC-adjacent, I started to experiment with shorter styles to meant to alleviate the hair-stuck-to-the-neck look, but which resulted in a wider, frizzier look that could not be tamed with a ponytail because it was too short.

So… stick with me… a few months back, my niece who also has the curse of the curl, pitied her curl-infested aunt and sent me a flat iron.  I resisted using it, until one day when I thought, “maybe that thingy would reduce the frizzy ends” and I tried it.


Then I started to notice it… my hair not only got straighter, but it felt ‘different’.  And then it happened:  I started getting compliments on this new, straighter hair — this hair that felt ‘different’. 

This new hair is almost naturally straight.

This new hair is not thick and knotty.

This new hair doesn’t require a ponytail holder meant to make an actual PONY look attractive. 

This is not MY hair.

One night, when I was asleep, someone – probably elves – snuck into my room when I slept, removed all my thick, curly, knotty hair and replaced it with smooth, straight, unfrizzy hair.

Where were these people when I was in high school and long straight hair was the style and I was stuck with a pony tail and as many barrettes as I could manage and still maintain my <ahem> cool.

This is NOT my hair.

… but I’ve set up elf traps and they’re not getting it back!

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PS:  I think the real reason it’s straighter has to do with the specific combination of medications I’m taking these days. 

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I stopped at the supermarket today — the 2nd day of the new year, hoping to buy some tasty AND healthy items.  Personally, I find those things to be contradictory, but, New Year – New Me is my motto, so I’m trying.  I’m also trying to incorporate more exercise into my day.  One day, I purposefully walked up and down the stairs several times in a row for exercise.  One day I walked to a neighbor’s (about a quarter mile away) and they were astounded when I refused a ride home.  I told them it was my daily exercise.  And besides, it was downhill all the way.  Like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, I got home in record time.

I also read somewhere that walking around the entire supermarket is a good walking workout.  So, that’s what I did today.  I walked up and down all the aisles as fast as the other shoppers would allow.  As I did so, I checked items off my list.  In the pasta aisle, I nodded and said, “No pasta.”  In the frozen food aisle I told myself, “No ice cream.”  In the wine aisle, I cried…”No chardonnay” (this is a medical thing, not a healthy lifestyle  thing).  It was a depressing walk.

I bought cottage cheese, one russet potato, and club soda.  More depressing.

I’m going to miss my chips, my cookies and my frozen pizza.

But if it works, I suppose it will be worth it.  Stay tuned for updates as they occur.

Now where did I leave my carrot sticks?

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A Mole Person

Last weekend was 4th of July and truthfully, one of the worst 4th of Julys I can remember.  No traditional foods were consumed.  No napkins were required to wipe dribbling juice, sauce or ice cream from my chin.  No fireworks lit up my life.

No, instead, I was a “mole person”.  I stopped for groceries on Thursday on my way home from work and did not emerge from my house until Saturday (the 4th) when I walked ALL THE WAY to the mailbox to see if the mailman left anything on Friday (when I did not venture out at all).  I tell you this, because no actual people on the outside seemed to have missed me.

I started the weekend with a blender full of orange juice and vodka, skillfully mixed withscrewdriver2 ice cubes to create a refreshing beverage full of froth, slush and… yes, vodka.  I admit… I did free-hand the pouring and since it was “Friday” (it was really Thursday, but no work the next day) I was feeling festive and I allowed the pour to be ample.  Too ample, I’m afraid, because my lights were out by 9PM.  [Truth be told, my lights are out most Fridays by 9 owing to the earliness of my waking hour.]  It was about this time, while listening to the rain pattering outside, that I decided that if I could not go away somewhere or do something fun, I’d make my own fun.  Thus the virtual tropical holiday began.  Instead of sitting in my house, drinking my frothy drink and listening to the rain outside, I was on a tropical beach, drinking an umbrella drink and listening to waves lapping on the shore – a story I perpetuated all weekend with random blurbs on Facebook about what a great beach, island, palm tree, etc. I was enjoying.

Then on Friday morning – pretty early – I was stricken with a charley horse the size of an egg in my right calf muscle.  This was followed by extreme soreness in the area for several hours.  Hours during which I decided my best course of action was no action at all… just laying quietly in bed, with the TV on and computer perched atop my tummy.  After a breakfast of coffee & English muffin, I resumed my vacation by taking a “stroll on the Deck Chairs on Beachbeach” and enjoying a “tropical beverage under a palm tree”.  It beat a status of “laying in bed like a slug all day.”

Having decided to dedicate my weekend to “vacation” rather than “cleaning” – what I aim to do most weekends… I tried freeing my mind of cleaning claptrap but was only somewhat successful on Friday. I eventually sorted through my 4 containers of felt, felt cut outs, thread, and felt cut out patterns and finally got them into what I considered “organized” containers.  With a good feeling of accomplishment in my heart, I had another beverage – this time without the blender.  I substituted lemonade for the OJ – after all, it WAS a summer holiday weekend and lemonade just seemed appropriate.

My weekend diet left something to be desired.  The English muffin was probably the highlight of my culinary adventures.  Intermittent rain and thunder left me lethargic and my bed and I saw a lot of each other on Friday.

tourSaturday, July 4th, started much like the day before – but without the leg cramp.  It started EARLY – not only because I’m now used to getting up at the crack of dawn, but because the TOUR DE FRANCE (TDF) was about to begin in Utrecht, Holland.  I listened to the “pre-race” commentary from behind my eyelids, but once they were set to go, I sat up and took notice.  (BTW, I’m rooting for Teejay again!)

Actually, it was a time-trial day and they’re not the most interesting – especially for Day One.  I was able to go down to make coffee & a muffin and mosey back up paying “some” attention.  The big news was that one young Australian rider had broken all former time-trial records and was happily sitting atop the standings waiting to see if the next rider out of the gate would knock him off his pedestal.  Down to the last dozen or so riders (they ride in a ‘reverse’ order so the better riders from last year were the last to take off) the tension built until the last possible contender had crossed the line.   Rohan Dennis (who looks all of 14) beamed as he slipped on the first yellow jersey of the competition.  And the green jersey for the best ‘sprinter’.  And the white jersey for the best ‘young’ rider.  Being that it was Day One, the first across the line took all the accolades.  The green & white jerseys went to the ‘next in line’ the next day, however, as (1) Rohan would not want to wear all 3 at the same time… and (2) the yellow is the only one that counts!

Finally on Saturday, I emerged from my cocoon and walked all the way to the mailbox.  I was looking to see if the mailman had left anything on Friday (since I hadn’t gone out all day).  There was an orange Shutterfly envelope containing the most recent ‘free’ cards I’d ordered.

This milestone (ha ha) having passed, I was now free to watch my favorite all time 4th of fireworks2July movie – “1776”.  I love the idea of our all-singing, all-dancing founding fathers.  The three hour movie kept me busy until… the recap of the TDF started at 8 PM.  Of course, I enjoyed another “tropical” beverage… to keep the illusion alive.

Now, I have to make this perfectly clear.  I LOVE FIREWORKS.  I am an avid fan of the “ooh” and the “aah” that fireworks inspire.  At a respectable distance, I don’t even mind the noise.  This year, I didn’t see a single live firework – even though someone outside my door was busy shooting them off for about an hour or two.  I sat in bed (with the race rerun on) and listened for rockets landing on my roof.  I am NOT a fan of street fireworks.  If a neighborhood wants to put something together in a safe area, that’s different.  But just shooting rockets and so on from the cul-de-sac in front of the house makes me nervous.  Maybe it’s from horror stories of fires and injuries from improperly handled rockets, roman candles, and so on, from my childhood, but whatever the reason, street fireworks make me very anxious.  I was this way until the noises subsided and no flames were appearing to emanate from my home.  Then I drifted off, dreaming of Gouda and yellow jerseys.

Sunday:  Awake again at 7AM to watch Stage Two where there was to be actual road racing by all the contestants, I enjoyed my familiar ‘breakfast’ (yes, I’m a creature of habit and I don’t believe in making dirty dishes where I don’t have to) and watched the riders go from Utrecht through Gouda and Rotterdam in the rain.  The weather at the finish line looked horrible – rain, wind, and the sea pounding behind the stands.  Alas, I had to leave for church at 11:10 – just 11 short minutes before the end of the race.  With all the wet roads, I was sure there would be a pile up toward the end and hoped one of my least favorites would be tossed aside in the skirmish.  But, I’m a good girl, and off to church I went – after pausing the TV so I could resume watching from that point when I returned.  Sadly, by the time I came home, the resume feature had already begun and could not be reversed.  I missed the end of the race and now would have to wait until nearly 11PM to find out who won.

Having learned this, I changed my clothes and headed out for a Sunday paper.  And more English muffins.  The weekend had eroded into just another day before work, and I set about doing my ‘getting ready’ chores – setting up the coffee pot, making lunch, deciding on (and packing) breakfast and selecting an ensemble to wear.  I made a quick pot of macaroni & cheese which can be used for a fast dinner before Monday night Bunco and a “theresnothinginthehousewhatwillIhaveforlunch” lunch.  I tried to clean up the kitchen (there’s more cleaning than I’m ever prepared to do at one time), gathered some trash (Monday is trash collection day which means Sunday is trash gathering day) and continued my crappy diet which consisted of 3 chicken tenders (previously frozen) 2 (or 3) spoonsfull of macaroni and … need I tell you…. another tropical beverage (OJ this time).

My weekend had come to an end.  By 8PM I was in bed playing one of my word games, and occasionally watching the TV to see when they reached the point I’d already seen.  (I did enjoy re-watching the crashes and flat tire dramas unfold again).  Finally they reached the point where I had previously hit the “freeze” button and watched for 11 minutes as the riders completed their day’s journey.  No crash, but the guy I had picked “to” crash gave up the ghost about 2 pedals away from the finish because he realized HE would not be the day’s winner.  This is what I don’t like about this man. If HE is not the victor, he just doesn’t care.  He doesn’t care who he hurts or whose way he gets in.  I don’t see how he can consider himself a ‘team’ player.  Yeah.  He didn’t do anything wrong.  Yeah. (Yeah, is his favorite filler word.)  Yeah.  When he’s not whining.  Yeah.

And so it ended.  Pretty much the WORST 4th of July I can remember for a long time.  There were no tall ships, no trips to an actual place with sand, no cookout with overdone hot dogs, no watermelon seed spitting, no potato salad, no laughs with friends over a beer (or a frothy tropical beverage).  There was me – the Mole Person – and my TV and my blender.

Oh well… there’s always Labor Day to look forward to!

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