The Squirrels Are Coming!

I pried the door open and tiptoed into the bedroom to check on my sleeping granddaughter. That’s when I heard them scratching at that weak spot behind the wall above the air conditioner.

“They won’t break through the walls,” my husband had reassured me earlier in the week, chuckling at the absurdity of my question. But it sure sounded like they were about to do just that.

As I reached over to pull the covers over my granddaughter, I glanced up at the spot where I heard them scratching. The room was dark, so I couldn’t be sure…Was that a tiny hole or just a shadow? Should I grab my granddaughter now or believe my husband? They won’t break through the walls, I whispered to myself. I squinted, forcing my eyes to adjust to the dark and focus on the spot. And then I saw something poking through.

They were screeching and scratching fervently now. I scooped my granddaughter up in my arms, and stumbled across the room, tripping over the blanket that was loosely wrapped around her. She felt so heavy, and I feared I would drop her, so I paused for just a moment to recoup my strength, pulling the blanket tighter to get a better grip and distribute her weight.

That’s when I saw a flash of silver-grey – flying through the air – then the burning sting of claws digging into my flesh.

Holding tight to my sleeping granddaughter with my left arm, I tried to swat the squirrel off my leg with my other arm, but that only made him dig his claws deeper into my thigh. There was a stream of warm blood running down my leg now, and I knew I had to act quickly. Wrapping my hand around his middle, I squeezed the air out of him, forcing him to release his grip on my leg.

Squirrels were pouring in through the hole in the ceiling and running down the walls onto the floor. I was paralyzed with fear.

Holding the gnashing squirrel at arm’s length, I cried out, “Help…Help! Help me!” Where was my husband? “T-O-M! Help!” Couldn’t he hear all this commotion? Was he deaf? “H-e-l-p!”

From a distance I heard someone calling back, “What’s wrong?”

“Help me!”


“Come in here! Help me!” I screamed.

“I’m right here; what’s wrong?” I recognized my son’s voice. Where was my husband? I still couldn’t see anything in the dark.

“Turn on the light! Take this!” I shouted, holding the squirming squirrel out to him.

“Take what?”

“Turn on the light! Look for yourself!!” I shouted, “Turn on the light and see what I have in my hand!’

I heard someone pull the chain on the overhead light, and there was my son standing in his underwear in the middle of the room. My husband was sleeping soundly in the other twin bed across from me.

“The squirrels broke through,” I gasped as my eyes searched frantically around all four corners of the ceiling.

“You were dreaming,” he said.

“I was holding one for you to take from me,” I said, opening my empty fist.

“It was a nightmare,” he reassured me. “But, if they had broken through the walls, dad wouldn’t have heard a thing,” he laughed, glancing over at my snoring husband. “We need to move out of this place – – soon!”


 It was a nightmare, but, in reality, I live with this fear every day…

…To Be Continued…

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Happy Holidays! See You Next Year…

Let me take this time to wish you all a very happy holiday season.  I will be taking the next week off to spend some time with family and friends. I also intend to eat a lot of cookies and lounge around in my cozy pants.

While I’m away, feel free to visit this site any time of the day or night.  Read some older stuff in the archives, leave me a comment, or just have a look around.

I’ll be checking back in on Monday, January 4, 2016. Until then,


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Navy Showers And Toilet Tutorials

My dad was in the navy during WWII and served on the USS Boxer, an aircraft carrier. When we kids were growing up, dad was always trying to instill naval discipline in us – especially in the toilet.

“You guys are taking too long in the shower!” he said one day. “From now on you’re all taking navy showers like I do.”

Then he demonstrated the procedure. Like a performing mime, he turned invisible knobs for hot and cold water and began his tutorial: “Wet yourself down for 30 seconds, then turn the water off… Wash yourself.”  He moved an invisible washcloth around his torso, and then turned the invisible knobs again.

“Turn the water on and rinse the soap off. That’s a navy shower – rinse, soap up, rinse off. Two minutes; that’s it!”

“We’re washing ourselves with the water off?” I asked, horrified.

“Yes! With the water off.”

“How can I wash myself with the water off? I’ll get cold.”

“You won’t get cold because you won’t be in there that long. A navy shower is only two minutes long.”

“Two minutes! That’s ridiculous,” I said. “It takes longer than that for the water to heat up.”

“Two minutes!” he shouted. “And I’ll be timing you.”

Try as he might, we never took to the two-minute navy shower.

I forgot about the navy shower until we moved into this temporary apartment.

The bathroom here is so tiny; there are only 22 inches between the shower stall and the door. After my shower, I have to towel off in the shower stall because there’s no room to move around outside the stall without bumping into the toilet or the small triangular corner sink.

While in the shower, the water beats down on top of my head; there is no room to step away from it. To work up a good soapy lather, I have to hold the washcloth above the shower head, otherwise the water washes the soap off the washcloth before I have a chance to use it.

There’s no ledge to rest my foot on, so shaving my legs is quite a challenge. I have to bend at the waist and stretch down to the floor, extending my heel forward so my butt bumps into the back wall of the shower stall. It’s a good stretch for the calf muscle, but I hold my breath some mornings, hoping I’ll straighten up on my own, without having to call for help. As I  reach the bottom of my leg, my head protrudes past the shower curtain, leaving a puddle of water on the floor. As far as the backs of my legs go – who knows what they look like? I can’t twist around and bend at the same time to reach the back of my leg without the entire shower curtain blowing out into the room.

There is a dim light bulb and no exhaust fan in the bathroom, so as soon as the water heats up, the room fills with a steam so dense, it becomes difficult to see and  breathe in there.

I spent the first month cursing in the shower while trying to hold the shower curtain in place with one hand and washing myself with the other. One day,  my father’s toilet tutorial came bubbling up from somewhere in the depths of my mind.

The navy shower! 

“Rinse for 30 seconds. Turn the water off and lather up. Then rinse the soap off. Two minutes. Then get out!”

I tried it and it worked!  It’s a quick wash, for sure, but at least I get a nice soapy lather and I don’t have to clean up puddles of water from the bathroom floor.

I take a navy shower every day now. I only wish my father was alive today, so he would know that his twelve-year-old daughter was listening to him, after all.

Anchors aweigh, my boys! Anchors aweigh!

Here’s to the navy shower!

Anchors aweigh!


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Picking Up Loose Change

How many of you will bend down to pick up a penny on the sidewalk? My 88 year-old mother will do it. She lived through the Great Depression and remembers when a penny had value. She remembers when a loaf of bread cost 8 pennies, and still lives by the philosophy of A penny saved is a penny earned.

I don’t pick up pennies anymore. It has to be a nickel or more to make it worth my while. The penny today has virtually no monetary value at all. None. And with a composition of 95.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, it doesn’t even have any metallurgic value. At my age, I won’t risk hurting my knees or falling over to pick up a coin that has no value.

There was a penny on the floor in front of the bathroom for three days this week. I stepped over that thing a hundred times or more, and so did everyone else in this apartment. Doesn’t anyone see that penny on the floor, I wondered. Why doesn’t someone pick it up already? Just when it was really getting on my nerves, it disappeared.

“Who picked up the penny off the floor upstairs?” I asked.

“I did; why?” my husband said.

“That penny has been sitting there on the floor for three days.”

“So? Did you want it?” he asked.

“No. I don’t want it. I’m just wondering why it took you three days to bend down and finally pick it up?”

“I just saw it now,” he said. “Why didn’t you pick it up? Do you want it?” he asked again, reaching down into his pocket.

“No; I don’t want it.”

“Well that’s good,” he said. “Because now I can’t find it.”

You see? That’s how it is with pennies. Someone is always dropping one or losing one because they have no value and no one cares to keep track of them or bend down to pick them up when they roll away.

I remember the day I tried to pick up some loose change – mostly pennies – that slipped out of my hand and rolled under the counter at the stationery store.

I was wearing my long down-filled puffy coat – the one that wrapped me up like a tight cocoon. I bent over with straight legs, because I was unable to bend my knees in that coat, and stretched my arms to pick up the coins. As the coat tightened around my backside, my body took on the shape of an upside down V and trapped me in that position with no wiggle room to straighten up.

As I teetered there trying to hold my balance with my ass up in the air, unable to move up or down, my fingers dangling just above the floor, I started laughing at the absurdity of being trapped in my own coat. I knew that if I leaned over another inch to grab the coins, I would fall over, head first.

What to do? Leave all those coins behind or fall on my face trying to retrieve them?


The store clerk kept calling, “Next! Who’s next?” Because from his perch above the countertop, he couldn’t see me bent over holding up the line behind me.

“I can’t get up!” I called out with my face buried in my chest. “I’m stuck!”

My mother was a few steps away. She came running over, grabbed me around the waist and pulled me back up to a standing position.

“What happened?” she asked.

“I was trying to pick up the change I dropped, but I got stuck in this tight coat.”

“Did you get it all?” she asked.

“No; just leave it there. They’re just pennies.”

“Are you crazy?” she said, and then she bent down to retrieve the rest of them.

The moral of this story:

It’s good to travel with someone from another generation who still sees the value in a penny.

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