House Cleaning With a Robot

“Honey, you need to vacuum, so the new robot vacuum doesn’t have to work too hard?”

I didn’t say it out loud, but thought, “Why did we have the robot vacuum? Wasn’t it supposed to be a labor-saving device?”

“I know dear. I was worried about there being too much pet hair.”

It was a Christmas gift from our children. Probably, a few million people received robot vacuum cleaners, this year. The robot vacuum’s trial run in the master bedroom was sketchy. After travelling back-and-forth under the bed, it muttered something unintelligible, returned to home port, docked itself.

What had it said? “I quit? This was above its pay grade? Too may dust bunnies? Pet hair? Batteries not fully charged? I needed the heavy-duty model?” Many questions generated. A few days later, and things were much improved. Of course, after I’d pre-vacuumed.

The cyber contraption meandered through the master bedroom, into the bathroom. Twisted, turned, pirouetted, around solid objects. Mapping–that’s what it did, as it labored its little cyber guts out.

Room layouts, would no longer be secret. It had little difficulty hopping over bathmats and area rugs. Never liked sharing things that should be kept secret. Will the abode remain in a perpetual state of improved tidiness?

I distrusted this little device, that resembled a fifties sci-fi flying saucer on wheels. My faithful dog, would be at my side. He already despised the regular, person-powered vacuum.

At this moment, Max and I are sheltered in my office, with the door closed. Barred from intrusions from cyber-technical household devices. Home computers excluded, of course.

The Fire Down Below

The house was on fire!  Dang it–it was the third time.

Flames shot from a floor register in the utility room.  Heat and smoke were unbearable.

Where was the fire extinguisher?  “Honey–where’s the fire extinguisher?”

“It’s right on the wall–where it has always been.”  This was no time for joking.

“I can’t help you right now,” She answered.  “Maggie bit someone while I was walking her.”  Why had she been walking Maggie?  I was the one that always walked the dogs.

No time to talk.  I snatched the extinguisher from the wall bracket; pulled the pin with one swift motion.  Real firefighters would have been envious.

“Ouch! Why did you hit me?”  Asked my wife.  “I’m sorry.  I had a bad dream–something about the house catching fire, Maggie, the dog, and fire extinguishers. When I pulled the pin, my arm connected with your knee.”  I hoped she believed me–it was the truth.

Waiting For the Plumber (Or a Reasonable Facsimile)

The kitchen faucet has become problematic.  Just when things were going so well it is leaking, or more accurately, seeping around the faucet handle.

If it were up to me, I would only have, bare-bones, basic faucet fixtures in the house.  The reason being, I’m inept when it comes to plumbing repairs.

I once broke off a water pipe in the wall.  The worst part, I was trying to impress my new bride, in our “new” home, with my resourcefulness.  My father-in-law bailed me out of my predicament.

My wife and I learned a lesson from the experience.  Guidelines were established.  If plumbing work was needed, only professionals would be called.  If I insisted on doing the work myself, my wife would temporarily relocate to the next county, for the duration–at least until I called a real plumber to clean up the mess.


Smelling Nice

A quick walk through the bath, body lotion store with my spouse.  I tried not to touch anything, nor stare at anything or anyone for too long.

“Doesn’t this smell nice?”  She asked.

“Yes, it does,” I nodded in agreement.

This same scene played out, at least, a half-dozen more times–until I was a sticky mess; a virtual cornucopia of mixed fragrance samples.

If cleanliness was next to godliness, then smelling nice, had to also be right up there.

What Day Was It?

Sunday?  Saturday?

No, it was Friday

Friday–New Years Day

Formica, vinyl

Friendly waitress

With blonde up-do

“All I Need Is a Miracle”

Greatest hits of the eighties

Typical chain dining fare

Nobody out this morning

Unwelcomed rain came again

“Your collar is messed up”

“Thanks Dear–that’s because

it has a crease where there’s

not supposed to be one”

Too much information

Menu changed again

Not for the better

Prices went up to match

Missed my hometown diner

Welcome to 2016!




This story idea came from– a great blog to check out.  Door-to-door solicitors can’t always be avoided.  In my opinion, it’s best to face them head on.  Don’t show weakness.  Control the conversation.  Ask probing, open-ended questions.

Salespersons are easiest to deal with–since, I’ve worked in sales most of my life.  There aren’t many angles that I’ve not seen.  First and foremost, they have to sell themselves.  If someone appears desperate; uses the same stale clichés I’ve heard a thousand times; they’re not getting anywhere.

One of the lamest techniques, “I’ve been talking to some of your neighbors,” Says the pitchman (woman), “They really seem to like ‘XYZ Magic Purple,’ cleaning solution.”

I don’t waste any more time, send them on their way.  If, I asked, “Which neighbor, was it? They’ll hem, haw, and stutter; come up with a name–a name, that can’t be disputed, from down the street, or around the corner.  I’ve never, ever, known anyone, from these referral lists.

Solicitors, from religious organizations, are an entirely different matter.  They come in groups, well-dressed, Bibles in hand, wandering through the neighborhood.  Saturday, seems to be their day of choice.  My two dogs won’t let them past the front door.

“We’d like to invite you to attend Sunday services with us at a local church (usually Protestant).”  These solicitations are low-key and easy to deal with.  One particular religious organization can be more persistent–they’re notorious for attempts to convert non-believers.

This past Saturday, I got caught in the front yard, by two young men from this group.  Both were well-dressed, in starched white shirts and ties.  “Hi, my name’s ‘Wayne,’ this is ‘Darrell.'”  “We’ve been talking to some of your neighbors,” ‘Wayne said.

It was the same statement–re-purposed.  “Why, what did they say about me?”  “Who, was it?”  That could have been my way out.  Suspicious paranoia might have worked; it would have been too easy.  I didn’t want to be typecast as the neighborhood nut case.

“Do you consider yourself a Christian?”  “Yes,” I answered–prepared for what was to follow.  “Did you know that current world events were prophesied in the Bible?”  Darrell asked–followed by a plethora of scripture references.  “Wayne and I would like to share some scriptural passages with you–if you have the time?”

“I’m kind of busy right now,”  I answered.  “My wife suffered a broken arm a few weeks ago.  I’m helping with the housework.”  “We’re so sorry to hear that,”  They answered in unison.

“Don’t you think God’s plan for us is wonderful?”  Wayne asked.  “It certainly is mysterious,” I replied.  I’ve mellowed over the years; met them head-on–with scriptural knowledge.

We discussed original sin, heaven and hell, celibacy of the priesthood, Jonah and the whale, Noah and the Great Flood, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea.  Then, more sins, sinners, consequences of sins–temptations, temples, and the Ten Commandments.  Moses, disobeyed God–didn’t get to enter the Promised Land;  David had a tryst with Bathsheba, Sampson, had a fling with Delilah, and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their wickedness.

Wayne and Darrell weren’t interested in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection.  So, it was back to the opening question.  “Was I familiar with Biblical prophecies about the end of the world?”  “Yes,” I replied.  “Gog and Magog, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse–Armageddon, the ultimate, final battle of good and evil.

“The Bible also mentions a great tribulation period in the final days,”  I offered.  “Do you guys think we are currently in that period of time?”  They agreed, that it could, indeed, be possible.  I followed with a probing question.  “Or, is this wishful thinking of our finite human minds?  Because, who really knows, whether this is the beginning of the end–or the end of the beginning?  Only God knows.”

None of us had all the answers.  “Would you like me and Darrell to come back later this evening–talk further about these matters?”  Wayne asked.  “I appreciate your concern.  That won’t be necessary.  God knows what’s in my heart.  It’s been nice chatting with you.”

I was tired.  Even though they didn’t say it–I think, they were, too.  I was satisfied to leave it at that.  By now, my wife wondered where I’d gone.  I hid the religious literature under my arm–to no avail.  “You shouldn’t have wasted your time,” She said.  What she really meant, was–there was still a lot of housecleaning to do.


short order cooks 2

It’s been a long recovery since my wife’s accident on December 20th.  There was a new sense of purpose–a different attitude. Less helplessness, more take charge.  Breakfast preparations were underway.  At times, it seemed, just a bit too frenetic.

“Be more careful cracking those eggs.  Half the egg whites landed on the countertop.”

“Add a little milk, some salt, and pepper.”

“Use a fork–not a spoon.  It works better,”  “OK,” I answered–put down my spoon, and picked up a fork.

“You’re making scrambled eggs–not meringue.”  “Yes, Dear,” I replied.

“Where’s the ham we just bought?  I know one piece, is in the freezer, in the garage.  Where’s the other piece?”  “Right here,” I answered.

“Now, divide it one-third, two-thirds, for me and you.  Cook it in the skillet till it browns.  No, that’s not done yet–turn it over once more.”

“Add some butter to this pan, now add the potatoes.  I just use scissors to open the package–it’s quicker.”

“Don’t forget the biscuits.  Use some non-stick cooking spray.  Biscuits take the longest.  This entire meal should take no longer than twenty minutes to prepare.”

I caught my breath, rinsed, and put the dirty dishes in the sink.  Any thoughts of ever being a short-order cook, quickly drained away–not, that there ever were any.  I already knew, more that I ever wanted to know, about cooking.  And you know what?  Breakfast was ready in exactly twenty minutes.


truck stop at nite

Crickets chirped in happy unison.  It was a pleasant summer night.  Elmer was oblivious to it all.  They’d watched spaghetti westerns together for hours.  Lee Van Cleef was her favorite actor–or was it a lie?  …Along with the other lies.

“So, you’re a painter?” Luann’s mother asked, when they first met.  “You’re not a frustrated artist are you–like Van Gogh?”  “No ma’am, Elmer answered.  “I paint houses and buildings.  It has ups and downs, but I’ve never been tempted to cut off one of my ears.”  It was funny then, but not anymore.

Luann wanted a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet.  What she got, was Elmer, the frog prince.  Their relationship was doomed from the start.  After eighteen short months, Bobby Ray Tompkins came along and spirited her away.  Closer in age at twenty-two, he had swagger–knew the right things to say.  Bobby Ray personified bad boy mystique, with slicked back, dark hair.  There’d been a few minor scrapes with the law.

Elmer suspected something was wrong.  It was much too late.  They were probably both laughing at him.  What a stupid little man–she’d say.  Yeah, what a dumbass–Bobby Ray would answer.  After downing a fifth of Jack Daniels, it made complete sense.  His face flushed an angry beet-red.

The showdown happened later that night at the Wrangler Bar-T Truck Stop and Cafe.  Elmer found Bobby Ray–leaned over a diesel truck engine in the service bay.  Elmer grabbed the back of Bobby Ray’s shirt from behind.  Bobby Ray swung around off-balance.  He thought it was a prank at first.  Elmer got in a few jabs-then a respectable left-hook.

“I know who you are.  You’re the cheatin’ S. O. B. that took my Luann away.  And I’m gonna’ make you pay!”  Bobby Ray deflected most of Elmer’s punches.  “Elmer, you’re stinkin’-ass drunk.  Why don’t you just go home?  She doesn’t want to be with you anymore.  Get it through that thick skull of yours!”

Bobby Ray held Elmer at a safe distance.  His arms flailed helplessly–like a whirling dervish, until the Sheriff arrived.  “Let me loose!  I’m not finished with him yet!”  Elmer screamed as he was handcuffed and escorted to a squad car.

Elmer calmed down on the ride home.  “Elmer, you and me go way back.  Why did you go and pull a crazy stunt like that?  You’re lucky Bobby Ray didn’t press charges for assault.  Do something stupid like that again and you’ll spend the night in jail!”  Elmer knew the deputy was right.  “Stay away from Luann and Bobby Ray.  If Luann doesn’t want you–you’re better off without her.  Do you understand?  Because I’m only sayin’ it once!”  “Yes, Sir,” Elmer answered.  Elmer was the first and only person banned from the Bar-T Truck Stop.



“You have till the end of this week to finish and receive final payment.  Otherwise I’m calling in someone else.  I want the roof, siding, windows, and doors installed.  Whatever’s left, above and beyond that, I’ll finish, myself.  I’m tired of messing around–another year’s started.  I thought, at the very least, this would be completed before Christmas.”

In retrospect, I knew better, than to be taken in by empty promises. Emotions and friendships had no place when it came to doing business.  Business, was business–period.

I wanted a backyard barn/storage building with a loft–a place to putter around after my retirement.  It wasn’t a secret at the hardware/building supply store where I was employed.

Then, along came Ken, (not his real name ), an affable contractor with all the answers.   A frequent store customer, we often engaged in enjoyable conversations about anything and everything.  My building project was one such topic.

Sure, he could build to my satisfaction.  I would furnish all the materials, he’d provide labor and know-how.  The first sunny weekend in September, we broke ground.  Ken and I staked out the foundation.  Geometry came into play–to my chagrin.

This turned into a “don’t let this happen to you” nightmare.  For weeks on end the contractor was a no-show.  When the contractor and crew were there, they rarely worked.  My wife called everyday with updates.

“They were here for an hour, didn’t do any work–then left.   They took two-hour lunches, worked for a half-hour, then left.  I called Ken and he didn’t call me back.”

The contractor stopped answering our telephone calls.  My wife, one day tricked him, by calling from our cell phone, instead of the land line.  Ironically, he answered.

It was a miracle that the foundation and framework ever got built.  By, that time, it was late autumn.  The fall rains came and continuously drenched the new framing lumber.  It was an unending source of arguments.

“Honey, he’s your friend.  You need to get tougher with him,” My wife pleaded.  “If, I get somebody else it’s going to take longer and cost more,” I answered.  “It’s already taking too long, costing too much,” She answered.  I hated to admit defeat.

That’s the way it turned out.  The building cost way more, than I’d planned.  It was way behind schedule.  I finished the trim work myself–with the help of a reliable handyman.  Additional expense that paid off in peace-of-mind.

In March, the building was finally completed.  The inspector’s seal of approval closed that chapter of my life.  But, it’s still a point of contention between my wife and I.  I’m certain to hear about this for years to come.


Let the superlatives flow, as I relate, how I met my best friend, the love of my life, the person that always makes me smile, that later became my bride.

I was a late-bloomer, not a confirmed bachelor.  There was still a glimmer of hope.  My aspiration was to be seen as a loveable bumbler.  My wife told me that she thought I resembled Richard Dreyfuss–no implication of klutziness on his part.  I sported facial hair that was dark brown, and later, turned salt-and-pepper gray.

My first steady job was with a large corporation as a service representative.  As fate would have it, I would later work on a construction crew for the same corporation.  Our contract was in the same building where I’d previously worked.

Though this experience I further sharpened my shtick.  It helped that my fellow construction workers played along.  I played the “I thrive on rejection” self-deprecation angle to the hilt.  Here’s rejection depicted in a “Just for Men” commercial with Keith Hernandez and Clyde Duncan.  I took rejection a step further.  “Give it your best shot ladies, I can take it; I thrived on rejection.”

An offshoot corollary–I was “stuffy, repetitious, and boring.”  Anything, from my mouth, perceived negatively, merely upheld my aforementioned reputation.  “Ladies, you’ve been forewarned.” With these fortress-like defenses, how could a young man go wrong?

Then one fateful day I met her.  A slender, attractive woman doing data entry, that would later become my wife.  She looked past my craziness.  My defenses, meant to hide my social awkwardness, quickly crumbled.

That’s the “Cliff Notes” version of our courtship.  I wasn’t going to give away all our secrets.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  We were wed on April 11, 1981, and have been in love ever since.  The best way to describe our relationship, is to say–we complete each other.  I’m no longer rejected, and hope I’m not boring.