Patsy Porco

A Mouse in the House and My Hub in the Tub

In Humor on September 24, 2018 at 2:52 am

My husband was recently in the hospital with pneumonia. He was in the ICU for five days and in a regular room for another three. During his time there, he wasn’t able to bathe, so when he got home he really wanted to take a shower.

The problem with taking a shower was that he couldn’t stand for too long because he was still weak and a little short of breath. I immediately ran out and bought him a shower chair. I presented it to him with the fanfare deserved of a 65-inch television. My excitement died with him. He told me that he wasn’t go to use it. In truth, I was relieved; those things seem unsanitary.

Since he couldn’t take a shower, I told him I’d draw him a bath. So, I drew him a bath. When I handed him the picture of a bath, he indulged me with a laugh. This is an old, tired joke in our family, so it was nice of him to humor me. I took back the picture and said I’d fill the tub.

He said to hold off on that for a minute.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because while you were out buying me a shower chair, I saw a mouse come up the steps from the basement.”

“A mouse!” I said. “It’s not even cold out. They never come inside before fall!” It was the end of summer, but the outside temperature was still very warm and I wasn’t ready for this fight yet. This was a fall battle, not a summer one. How dare that mouse not follow the seasonal rules.

In truth, we had just experienced two rodent-less falls because our son had taken an insulation gun and had filled in every crack and crevice in the basement. But this summer, we had a new Bilco door installed and I suspect the installer left some gaps between the cement and the door.

“Did you see where it went?” I asked.

“I think it’s under the fridge,” my husband said.

I responded with a word that I promised myself I wouldn’t write in my blog posts, so use your imagination. Then I pulled the refrigerator out from the wall. A tiny little black mouse ran out, around the corner of the kitchen, and into my son’s bedroom. Great. Just great.

After pushing the fridge back against the wall, I ventured into my son’s bedroom. The mouse wasn’t in the room, so it had to be in the closet. Of course the closet floor contained a mountain of clothes and shoes, so I pulled them all out and, thinking ahead, put them into a laundry basket so that the mouse wouldn’t run out and get lost in the pile. Finally, as I took out the last shoe, the little thing came running out.

I was kneeling on the floor and, in its panic, it ran over, under, through my legs before racing back into the closet. I think I was as freaked out as the mouse was, but I had to persevere. I leaned into the closet and tried to trap it under a Yankees cap, but it kept slithering out. Finally, it ran out of the closet and out of the room, probably back downstairs. I put the basket of shoes and clothes back into the closet and vowed to buy mousetraps. I had given the mouse a chance at life and it had thrown it away.

In the meantime, my husband still needed to bathe. I went into the bathroom, which is across the hall from my son’s bedroom and next to the family room where my husband was, and filled the tub with water. My husband came into the bathroom and got into the tub. I told him to let me know when he was finished.

After his bath, I went back to help him out of the tub. He was sitting cross-legged and told me he was stuck. He tried to push himself out, to no avail. I tugged on his arms, with the same result. We tried everything we could think of but nothing worked.

“Should I call Mike?” I asked. Mike is a family friend who is unfailingly loyal and especially helpful during crises. While this wasn’t a crisis, it wasn’t something I could manage by myself, and our son was at work.

“No!” he said. ” I do not want him seeing me naked!”

So, we tried again to get him out of the tub. As the water receded, my husband was able to gain more traction with his hands, but he couldn’t unfold his legs. Finally he said, “Okay, call Mike.”

I called Mike’s house and his wife answered. I explained why we needed him. There was silence for a second and then she said, “You have got to be kidding me.” I assured her that I was not. She said that Mike was at work but she would call him. She hung up and called back a few minutes later.

“Mike was just about to leave work so he’s going to come home and get his mover’s belt. He’ll be right over.” I didn’t ask her why an accountant had a mover’s belt. That was a question for another time.

I told my husband that Mike was on his way. Then I went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, my husband announced, “I’m out!”

“How did you get out?” I asked.

“Once the water was gone, it was easier to push myself out,” he said.

While that probably helped, I also think the idea of his friend seeing him undressed provided additional impetus.

“I’ll call Mike,” I said. When Mike answered, I told him that Frank had managed to get out of the bathtub. Mike laughed. “Okay, I’ll turn around. But at least I’ll have a good story for our next poker game.” He laughed again.

I relayed Mike’s message to my husband. “Oh, great,” he said. “I guess I won’t be playing poker for awhile.”

Once he was dressed and settled on the couch, I told him I was going to the store to buy mousetraps.

“Don’t forget to return the shower chair,” he said.

“Oh, sure,” I answered.

Then I left and bought the mousetraps. I did not return the shower chair. They might be unsanitary, but I’ll take unsanitary any day over a husband wedged into a bathtub.


bathtub pic






Walking Duke

In dogs, Humor on August 22, 2018 at 12:27 am

Yesterday, at dusk, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful summer evening and go for a stroll. However, while I like to walk, I need a reason to do so. I am not the type of person who walks aimlessly or without a purpose. So, I decided to take my dog, Duke, out for some exercise. As I gathered up some plastic grocery bags, Duke deduced that it was walk time and jumped up and down in ecstasy. Once he settled down, I attached the leash to his collar and allowed myself to be pulled down the front steps by my jubilant dog.

It was a beautiful summer night, around 7 p.m. It’s August and, each day, the sun sets earlier than it did the day before, so I knew we didn’t have much daylight left to walk in. We kept up a brisk pace up and down the streets near my house. Duke willingly matched my stride, except for when he absolutely had to stop to mark a tree or sniff an already marked bush.

As we approached a corner where we were about to turn, the door to a house across the street from us opened and out walked a man with with two medium-sized, muscular dogs, both on leashes. Duke, who is large-sized and round, skidded to a stop when he saw the dogs. At the same instant, the two dogs saw Duke and started barking. All three dogs strained at their leashes, trying to move toward each other. The man looked at me in that way that people do when they’re wondering if your dog is going to kill their dog. I quickly piped up, “He’s very friendly.” The guy looked relieved and said, “So are mine.”

So, I walked Duke over to meet his dogs. One of the dogs sniffed Duke and sat down. The other one went for Duke’s throat. Duke, in response, went for the dog’s throat. We owners had to drag them apart by their leashes. Once we had done that, I said, “So much for friendly dogs, huh?” and laughed. The man did not laugh. He looked at me, then at Duke, and said, “I’ll say.”

Hmmm. I had meant to make light of the encounter and he meant to blame Duke. I chose not to go for his throat, though. I just turned and dragged Duke down the street away from that house.

For awhile, the walk was very pleasant. I met a nice woman with an enormous sunflower garden. She explained how she prevented birds from eating the seeds out of them (she put clear plastic bags around the heads of her spent sunflowers but left them on their stems until fall, when she gathered the seeds for next year’s garden), and even offered me a bouquet of them. I politely declined her offer, and regretted it immediately, because I buy sunflowers all the time from our local store for $3 a stem. After I left her house, I wondered how long I had until her offer expired. Could I come by later, in the dark, with scissors and take as many sunflowers as I wanted? I actually spent time debating this question with myself. I finally realized that if I had to come under the cover of night, I would probably be stealing them. Instead, I decided to walk Duke by her house on another night, and bring a vase.

When we were a few blocks from home, darkness fell suddenly. One minute it was dusk, and then it was night. As we were passing a hedge in front of a ranch-style house, Duke pulled on his leash and stuck his head under the bushes. I pulled him back out. He pulled even harder, yanked the leash out of my hand, and dove under the bushes. I heard skirmishing and yelled at him to come out of there immediately. The sounds under the hedge got louder. I squatted down and looked under it, but didn’t see Duke. I went around the bushes and saw Duke in the house’s front yard with his nose down in the dirt under the hedge. I tried to grab his collar to pull him away, but he shook me off.

Right then, the outside lights of the next-door neighbor’s house came on and a woman appeared at the front door. “Boxy!” she called. “Boxy, get in the house!”

I looked under the hedge and could see a little, fluffy, black and white kitten. “I’ll try to get Boxy and bring her to you,” I said. I reached down to grab the kitten who was partially under the hedge and partially on the lawn. I had to keep knocking Duke aside so I could get to Boxy first.

I had one hand under the kitten’s stomach when the woman called over to me, “Is my dog over there?”

“No,” I said, “Is Boxy a dog? All that’s here is my dog and a kitten.”

Then it hit me. “Or maybe it’s a skunk!”

The woman turned off her lights and closed her front door.

Just then, the motion lights of the house we were in front of came on. But nobody came outside to investigate. Maybe they weren’t home. Or maybe they were smart.

In any case, I immediately dropped the furry ball and backed off, which gave Duke the opportunity he was waiting for. He grabbed the baby skunk in his mouth and started violently shaking it back and forth.

“Stop it, Duke! Stop it!” I yelled. He ignored me.

“You’re going to get sprayed,” I screamed. “Drop it!”  Instead of dropping the skunk, he hurled it across the lawn. Then he retrieved it and flung it back at me. I looked down and the poor thing looked half-dead, but it was still moving. At this point, I wished it was dead, mostly to end its torture by Duke, but also because I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave a half-dead skunk on the lawn and go home, could I?

The question was moot because Duke picked the skunk back up and resumed his furious shaking of it. I grabbed Duke’s collar and he slipped out of it. I started chasing him. He raced across the lawn, stopping only to shake the skunk or throw it across the grass. After the fourth or fifth toss, the skunk was motionless.

Duke went over to the skunk and looked down at it. He looked confused, like he was wondering why the skunk wasn’t playing anymore. While Duke stared at his lifeless toy, I pounced. I sat on him while I put his collar back on. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t tighten the collar. He knew this, and kept trying to slip out of it.

Now I had a dead skunk and a dog who was determined to escape from me. I knew I should do something about the skunk, but what? I decided to believe that the skunk was faking death and would move on once we left. I’ll check on him tomorrow, I told myself.

In the meantime, I had to get Duke home. That proved a challenge. Every three steps, he’d lie down in the grass and rub his face in it and roll around. He was obviously in pain from being sprayed in the face by the skunk. After about 20 rolls in wet grass, I was able to walk him home.

When I got him inside, I didn’t smell skunk. My husband didn’t smell skunk. I supposed that Duke had only gotten sprayed in the face and had rubbed it off. I did wash out his eyes, as much as he’d let me, but that was all I did.

This morning, the house reeked of skunk. I must have been inured to the smell of skunk the night before since I had been in the thick of it. I don’t know why my husband didn’t smell it when we got home. However, everybody smelled it today.

Needless to say, today involved de-skunking Duke. My son and I used a natural remedy from the pet store and then bathed him. He still reeks, but not quite as much as he did. However, the house does. Tomorrow, we’ll try again –– this time using a peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dishwashing detergent mixture recommended by friends –– and also figure out how to get the odor out of the house.

I read online that the smell can linger for a year if it’s not addressed. I have guests coming over next weekend, so waiting a year for the air to clear isn’t an option for me.

In the meantime, I really should go check on that skunk.



The Case of the Missing Eggplants

In gardening, Humor on August 6, 2018 at 1:06 am

I was so proud of my garden this year. I had managed to grow eggplants, which I’ve never been able to do in the past.

This summer, I had at least 20 eggplants growing on two plants. They were small and didn’t seem to be getting any bigger so, a few days ago, I fed them plant food and waited.

Today, I went to check on them … and they were gone. One-hundred-percent missing. There wasn’t a trace of them. It was as if they had never existed.

Do eggplants regularly disappear? That would explain why I could never grow them. Maybe, in past years, they were there before I saw them and had vanished by the time I started looking for them.

Their giant leaves still exist, though. Only the eggplants are gone. We don’t have deer, just rabbits and squirrels. But even if they ate them, there’d be evidence, e.g., partly eaten eggplants lying all over the ground.

This is very perplexing. But, then again, so is my zucchini situation.

Everyone who grows zucchini says that they’re overwhelmed by the abundance of their harvest. I grew two zucchini. Two. I have several enormous plants that look very healthy but they don’t have any zucchini growing from them now that I picked the two that grew. I’m beginning to wonder if my zucchini disappeared, too.

My strawberries vanish regularly, but I blame that on birds. But I can’t blame birds for everything. Eggplants and zucchini wouldn’t fit in bird beaks, unless they were vulture beaks. I haven’t seen any vultures in my garden, though. If I did, I would have certainly taken a picture.

Speaking of pictures, I should have taken some of my eggplants—just to prove that they did exist and that I didn’t dream that I grew them.

The line between my real life and my dream life has been getting blurry lately.


Bye Bye


(Note to Grammar Purists: The plural of eggplant can be eggplant or eggplants. I didn’t understand the rule regarding when to use the former and when to use the latter, so I chose to use “eggplants” at every mention. Zucchini is the plural of zucchini.)


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