Patsy Porco

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

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.)


A Day at the Beach

In Humor on July 29, 2018 at 11:55 pm

Today was the first day I went to the beach this summer. I live along the Connecticut coastline and every town has its own beach, mine included, so I could have gone every single summer weekend, and even some weeknights, if I had wanted to. And I did want to. But the thought of packing a bag with everything I’d need, putting on sunscreen, carrying a beach chair, and driving to the beach always seemed like too much trouble.

But, today, I was determined to take advantage of our beautiful Calf Pasture Beach, so I gathered everything I’d need and drove the 4 miles to get there. The beach was packed, but there was still plenty of room on the sand for everyone. The sky was clear, the temperature was in the mid-80s, and the water was refreshingly cool, but not cold. It was a perfect beach day.

For two hours, I sunbathed, took dips in the Long Island Sound to cool off, bought an ice cream cone, and read. I sat as close to the water as I could, without getting wet.

While I was reading, I heard someone speaking very loudly. I looked over at the sound and saw an older man floating on his back in the very shallow water not far from the sand. I realized that it was the man who was speaking, and he was shouting the same words over and over at a young woman who stood near him in the water. I didn’t know what he was saying to her because he wasn’t speaking English.  The woman looked at him with no expression and walked away. When she passed me, I asked her if everything was okay. She told me that everything was fine and thanked me for my concern.

I decided that the man was probably unstable, so I went back to the book I was reading. After a few minutes, I heard a noise and looked over towards the water. The man was still floating on his back in the shallow water and was again yelling at someone, but now the tone of his voice had changed — to one of agony. I looked a little closer and noticed that he was talking to the same young woman who had acted like she didn’t know him. She had returned and appeared to be dragging the man out of the water by one leg, which only made him scream louder. This just seemed too odd to ignore, so I got up and went over to them.

I asked if I could help and the man said, “YES” or something that started with “Y” and seemed affirmative. The young woman shrugged. I grabbed the man’s other leg and started to help the woman pull him out. This maneuver caused his head to descend lower into the water, which lapped over his face, making him choke and gag. Since preventing him from drowning seemed more important than pulling him out of the three inches of water he was lying in, I dropped his leg and elevated his head with my hand. Meanwhile, the young woman continued to hold his leg. She didn’t seem to be pulling anymore, just standing still with his leg in her hands. I suggested that she put down his leg so the man could try to sit up. He nodded in agreement. Once both of his legs were on the ground, we tried to help him into a sitting position. He cried out in pain and fell backwards. I grabbed his head again and kept it above the water.

At this point, a lot of things happened at once. A man came over and asked if he should call the lifeguard. I said yes. The lifeguard came running over from her chair. She was blonde, fit, very cute, and useless. “My supervisor will be right over,” she said.

While we waited for the supervisor to arrive, another woman came running over to see what was going on. She said she was an EMT and then started demanding answers to standard EMT questions: “What’s the man’s name? How old is he? Does he have a heart condition?” I had no idea. I looked over to ask the young woman if she knew anything, but she was gone. A crowd was assembling and she had retreated to the back of it.  I ran over to her and said, “Do you know this man?

“Yes,” she said. “He’s my father-in-law.”

Her father-in-law? I had so many questions for her, but this wasn’t the time. “What’s wrong with him?” I asked.

“He has a cramp in his leg,” she said.

“You’d better get back over there and answer some questions about him,” I said.

She looked like she was thinking over her options. “Go!” I said.

She strolled over to the EMT. Just then a bunch of teenaged lifeguards arrived in a Jeep. They jumped out and grabbed the man’s arms and legs and started to pull him out of the water. He started screaming again.

The EMT, who had managed to extract answers from the young woman, said, “He’s 65 and he says he has a leg cramp. I think it’s more than that,” she said. “Maybe a blood clot.”

I had to agree that it seemed more serious than a leg cramp, since he couldn’t sit up without howling his head off. But it was out of my hands now. I went back to my chair and watched as the lifeguards and EMT slid a surfboard under the man and carried him off like pallbearers at a beach funeral.

Once the excitement was over, the crowd dispersed.

I decided that it was a good time for me to leave, as well. A person can only take so much relaxation in one day.


Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT




Medical Karma

In colonoscopy, Humor on July 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm

I had a terrible sinus headache today. I also had an appointment to meet the doctor who would be performing my colonoscopy. He is in the same practice as my primary-care physician (medical lingo for “regular doctor”) but he’s a specialist and I had never met him before.

After the nurse had escorted me into a little room and had measured my weight and blood pressure, she left me alone after assuring me that the doctor would be with me shortly. Judging from my experience, I sincerely doubted it. So, I lay down on the white paper on the vinyl bed and closed my eyes.

The lights in the room were motion-activated and, since I wasn’t moving, they went off. That suited me fine because my head was pounding and light exacerbates my headaches.

After awhile – a long while – the door opened. I shot up into a sitting position and the lights went on. The doctor grabbed at his heart.

“Oh my God!” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“You scared me to death,” he said.

“I did?” I said. “Why?”

“I thought you were dead,” he said, shaking his head. “I walked into a room that was pitch black and saw you lying on the table. And then you popped up and the lights came on.”

He reached behind himself to make sure there was a chair, and sat down and put his head in his hands.

I laughed. And laughed. “You really thought I was dead?”

He took his head out of his hands and managed to produce a shaky chuckle. “You have to see it from my point of view. When I work at the hospital, I occasionally walk into a room and encounter a dead person. You were lying with your hands crossed over your chest in a dark room. What else would I think?”

“Wow,” I responded. “Did you ever find a dead person in one of your consultation rooms before?”

“No.” He shook his head. “But there’s a first time for everything.”

“I’m sorry I alarmed you,” I said.

“You scared the crap out me,” he said. “By the way, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” I said.

Later, when I was being given instructions on how to prepare for my colonoscopy, I thought it was only fair that I got to scare the crap out of him – considering what the horrible-tasting liquid he prescribed was going to do to me.

Dr. Sammarco





Waiting for Your Boaz

In Humor on July 24, 2018 at 1:05 am

I got a text today from my friend, Boaz. He was on an airplane and he said that everyone’s private TV screen featured a picture of one of the airline’s smiling flight attendants. Every passenger was looking at a different flight attendant, and he said that the woman in front of him had a picture of an attendant who looked just like me, so he got to stare at me for the whole flight.

“I’m sorry about that,” I texted.

“Why?” he texted back.

“Because you have to stare at my double, and my attractive days are behind me. ”

“That’s funny,” he texted, “because your attractive days are right in front of me.”

That’s Boaz for you. He always knows what to say to make you feel good about yourself.

I decided to call him later in the day. During the course of the conversation, he said, “You haven’t blogged in a long time.”

“Because my life is miserable and I have nothing funny to write about,” I replied.

“You could always write about me,” he suggested. “Then I’d be famous.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “All 30 of my readers would know your name.”

“That’s 30 more people than know it now,” he said.

I had to laugh. Boaz has that effect on people. He always sees the positive side of life. The little daily nuisances that currently have me down – our dryer broke, our basement flooded, and a circuit died on our circuit board – are just minor annoyances to him. He prefers to think happy thoughts … even during the times when he’s tempted to ship his kids off to military school or strangle a coworker.

Everybody could use a Boaz in his or her life. Which reminds me: A few years ago, there was a meme that made the Facebook rounds. I sent it to Boaz, and he loved it. He said that the message was 100% accurate: everyone should wait for his or her Boaz.

It was just too bad that there was only one of him, he said.

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.35.11 AM

Author unknown

Guessing Games

In dogs, Humor on June 30, 2018 at 3:04 am

Today, my son and I decided to find out if our dog, Duke, can swim.

We’ve been deducing things about him since we adopted him in January from the Humane Society in Connecticut. When we got him, aside from his name, we were told only four things about him: that he came from “down South somewhere, probably,” since Duke was sent to them from a shelter in North Carolina; that he had a family for his first four years but they had to give him up for a reason the shelter volunteers either didn’t know, or did know and weren’t sharing with us; that he was extremely overweight, which we’d have to rectify; and that we had won the jackpot because of his sweet, playful nature. That was all of the information we got on him.

So, we’ve had our detective glasses on for five months. Through trial and error, we’ve discovered that: when he is in our fenced yard, if he can’t tunnel out or slam his body against the gate until it opens so he can escape, he will curl up patiently by the back door until we let him in; he will run out the front door if we accidentally leave it open and will probably get attacked by another dog, which will land him at the vet’s and us in the poorhouse; he will eat anything and everything including socks, which must be high in calories because he’s gaining weight instead of losing it; he hates cats and squirrels; he’s fascinated by bats; he thinks he’s a 110-pound lapdog; and his breakfast kibble gives him pause.

Every morning, he hesitates in front of his bowl, but not in the evening. We don’t know what he’s waiting for. I’ve given him permission to eat, I’ve said grace for him, and I’ve walked away. Walking away works the best. When I return, the food is always gone. Maybe he likes to eat his breakfast in peace.

We also had to narrow down his breeds by asking others what they thought he was. My friend, Christine, who has worked in shelters and has seen a lot of dogs, said she thought Duke was probably part malamute, lab, and German shepherd. Once I googled malamute, I could see why she decided on that breed. I think I see some shepherd in him, too, and labs look kind of generic, so I can’t come up with any evidence that he’s not one. Therefore, I’m inclined to agree with her.

However, I saw a commercial the other day that featured wolves, and I could’ve sworn he was in it. Maybe he was a TV wolf before we got him. The former owner is probably getting monthly residual checks while we’re getting shredded, slobbery socks tossed about our house, tumbleweeds of dog hair blowing around the legs of our furniture, and enormous veterinarian bills.

But, back to today. We noticed that Duke has webbed toes, so we assumed he could swim. So, we took him to the nearest public dock. When we got there, it was low tide. Duke was very interested in the thousands of suicidal oysters that had died on the rocks, but he shied away from the water. I eventually lured him in, but he wouldn’t go in further than his ankles. Then he took off running under piers and across jagged rocks, leading me and my son on a slippery chase across mossy stones and through sucking mud and stagnant green water.

When we finally caught him, we rinsed him off and took him home. We still don’t know if he can swim. He might never have seen large bodies of water before. This weekend, we’re going to take him to a lake where dogs are allowed to swim. Hopefully, he’ll see how easy it is and he’ll join the hordes of dogs chasing balls in the lake. Or, he won’t.

Either way, he’s going to wear water shoes. I don’t want him bleeding all over the kitchen floor again, like he did tonight. He must have cut his foot while running across the razor-edged rocks. I had to drug him with Benadryl so that I could clean his foot and wrap it in gauze. Of course, he tore off the gauze and dragged the blood-soaked wrappings across the rugs. So I was forced to make him a boot out of socks and a ribbon of medical tape. It took several tries to tie it on tight enough to keep him from pulling it off, but loose enough not to cut off his circulation.

It was good practice, though, because I’m going to have to make his water shoes out of socks and old tires, since I don’t know where to buy them. Hopefully his dog friends will be so busy making fun of his swimming that they won’t notice his shoes.

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Scores Best Left Unsettled

In bocce, Humor on June 7, 2018 at 8:52 pm

When I was growing up, my family belonged to Crispin Gardens Athletic Club, located in Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia, where my family lived. My father and mother were very involved with the club, so, naturally, we kids were, too. Or, to be accurate, the first four of my parents’ children were involved. The other three were too young to play at the time we were members.

My two brothers were good at baseball and football, which were the two sports offered to boys. My younger sister and I were not good at softball or cheerleading, which were the sports available for girls. But that didn’t stop us from participating in both activities.

I was a cheerleader for 5-year-old football players. I could never figure out how to do a cartwheel so I got to cheerlead for kids who hadn’t figured out how to play football.

I also played softball. When I was in about fifth or sixth grade, my sister and I were on a team together. Neither of us ever got a hit. So, the two of us were traded by our team … for one girl from another team. Our neighbor, Mrs. Devine, who was a family friend, managed a team in the league and she took pity on us. She gave up one of her better players for the two of us.

We did her proud … once. When Mrs. Devine’s team played our former team, both my sister and I got hits, much to our former team’s dismay.

I think those hits were our only hits, but they came at the perfect time. And, to make our victory even sweeter, our new team beat out our old team to win the club’s World Series. There was probably a lesson there …  but it was for our former team, and I doubt they learned it. Little league managers can be ruthless.

There was another lesson taught that season and this one was for me. I was fiercely jealous of the girl who replaced my sister and me. She was a few years younger than I was, around my sister’s age. So, not only was she a better player than I was, she was younger. I was demoralized. I wished all kinds of evil on her. And then, within a few weeks, she was dead.

She was hit by a car driven by a young guy who lived across the street from us. I was overcome with guilt for wishing her ill. I was certain that I had caused her death. When I got a little older and realized that I probably had nothing to do with her dying (although, we’ll never really know how powerful thoughts can be), I resolved to not wish bad things on people, no matter how much I disliked them.

So, years passed and I joined the occasional team and was always the worst player. I couldn’t even successfully serve a plastic volleyball over a swimming pool net. But this year, my luck could be changing.


Six of the Boccegaloops

Our city sponsors many spring and summer sports leagues that play on the courts and fields at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut. My husband and I are on a bocce team, Don Carmelo’s Boccegaloops. We were on it two years ago and the team came in last place. Our record wasn’t entirely due to my skill-less playing, but it certainly contributed. My husband persuaded me to play again this year. The team was happy to have us back, because of my husband’s skills, so we rejoined.

Last night, we had our first game and we won. And I didn’t stink. I credit the one practice we had a few weeks ago for turning the tide. I actually helped the team win. I wasn’t the best player (my husband and the other players were really good), but I wasn’t an embarrassment. And, I didn’t throw the ball wildly and crack any skulls. I kept the ball on the court and even got my red ball really close to the little white ball, the pallino, a few times, which is the object of the game.

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But what made me especially proud was that I didn’t wish any ill luck on a certain member of the opposing team. Others may have, but I didn’t. I did talk trash about her later, but I didn’t wish her any misfortune for her bad behavior.

It all started when our red ball and the opposing team’s green ball looked equidistant from the pallino. When that happens, you’re supposed to measure the distance between the closest green ball and the pallino and the closest red ball and the pallino, to see which ball is truly closest to the pallino.

We were winning 10-2 and the game ends when one team has 11 points. The head of the league came over and said that our ball was closer, so we were the winners. While gesticulating and jumping around in protest, a woman on the other team “accidentally” kicked our ball, making her ball look closer. Then she denied kicking it. But it was too late. We had won. And she was not happy.

Before she left, she shot us all a look that could kill. Some would call her look the “evil eye” or “malocchio.” She’s Italian so she probably knows how to activate it.

Anyway, I think my teammates and I would be wise to take precautions … at least until the league plays again next week. After then, she’ll probably despise another team and will have forgotten all about us.

I hope the evil eye loses its power once it’s transferred to someone else. If not, we’ll need to learn, and use, the fig and horned signs … and maybe stitch evil eye patches on our shirts.

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Strangely enough, possessing an evil eye repels any evil eyes that might be directed your way.


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A Good Way to Be

In Children, Humor on June 5, 2018 at 1:30 am

Whenever I sit on our sofa, I always lift the bottom cushions and check under them before sitting down. It’s become a habit, but tonight I caught myself doing it and wondered why I did it. Then I remembered.

I have a friend who is very smart and very introspective. Sometimes she’s so deep in her thoughts that you have to nudge her back to the conversation you’re having with her. She is also very calm amidst chaos. And that was a conscious choice she made.

She has experienced two life events that would send most of us into a tailspin, but she told me that she refused to allow them to interrupt her life. She said that she was available to support the people who were in trouble and she would continue to help them when they came out on the other side of their problems, but she would not obsess about their situations or let them interfere with her life.

She also doesn’t let the little annoyances, or alarming discoveries, in life get to her.

One day, she told me of a visit to her mother’s house. She said that she was sitting on the couch across from her mother, who was in an armchair. While talking, she slid her hand down the side of the couch between the cushion and the the arm. She felt something soft, so she lifted the cushion and found a family of mice. The surprising thing is that she found this to be interesting instead of horrifying. She told the story in a bemused fashion, as if it were odd that she didn’t find animals in her own furniture.

On another occasion, she told me that her son’s grade-school teacher sent a note home saying that she suspected that her son had worms. She called the teacher and asked why she thought this and the teacher said that the boy couldn’t sit still and was acting oddly. So, my friend took her son to his pediatrician and had him checked. He didn’t have worms after all, so he was sent back to school with a declaration of wormlessness from the doctor. Again, my friend didn’t get upset or mortified like most of us would have. She just did what she had to do, and told the story.

Years later, her younger son had the same teacher. He came home from school one day and said that the box of raisins that she had sent to school with him for recess had had worms in it. He took the box to the teacher and told her that he had inchworms that he wanted to show the class, since they sang the song “Inchworm.” The teacher told him that the the worms in his raisins weren’t inchworms and he should throw the raisins out. Being a very considerate teacher, she offered him an alternate snack from her supply closet.

I remember that my friend grimaced when she wondered if this teacher now thought of her family every time she saw worms. But then she laughed at the coincidence and put the incident aside.

I find her company to be very soothing. Nothing is a disaster to her, just something to endure and examine later. She might be on to something.

worm in apple

Pretend this apple is a raisin.

Let Me Lead!

In dance, Humor on June 3, 2018 at 9:17 pm

My husband and I took an hour-long dance lesson at a local Fred Astaire Dance Studio this past week.

A beautiful, young, Russian dancer, Tatiana, taught us the steps to the foxtrot, the rumba, and the merengue. I didn’t think my husband would enjoy the lessons but he surprised me. When Tatiana told me that my husband would lead every dance, his eyes twinkled. When we coupled up to dance and I automatically started to push him around the dance floor, he would stop dancing and say, “Let me lead!”

Tatiana, probably tired of my resistance, told me that I had to suppress my urge to run the show and allow my husband to take charge. That was really hard for me. But I tried. Like learning dance steps, I realized that learning to surrender control to another person takes time and practice.

When we got home, we practiced everything we had learned. Dancing on our own, without supervision, was the most difficult part of the dance lesson. Neither one of us could remember the order of the steps to the three dances, or even the actual steps.

At first, I thought that we had just wasted an hour of our life. But I had to concede that it was an enjoyable hour. So, even if we still couldn’t dance, we did have fun together, as well as a topic to dine out on, so it wasn’t a waste of time at all.

And, best of all, since we forgot all of the dance steps, we also can forget the part about my husband leading.


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