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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Olympic torch, reimagined

It was a fairly ordinary Sunday morning. CSB took Mom to church while the household's resident heathen lolled by the fire and did the crossword. He brought Mom back here with him, and she happily ensconced herself in the red velvet overstuffed wing chair by the fireplace. She went through the motions of reading a newspaper. Regarding a photograph on the front page of the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, she questioned, "Why are they all wearing the same hats?"
She asked several times what the date was and then checked what I said with the date printed on the newspaper.

Then she tipped over the ottoman where she had been resting her feet and began counting the bees on the fabric. It is a lovely pink Scalamandré silk with gold bees patterned across it, quite Napoleonic.

Mom said, "But it's been nice, I've been in here, I've been in there, I've been on the other side."
I said, "The other side of what?"
Mom said, "Of what I was involved before."

Then it was time to pick up my brother and his wife at the train station. It was pouring rain and I didn't want them to get soaked. I banked the fire and put the screen in front, and said, "Mom, I'm going to pick up Carl and Sandra. Carl, your son, and his wife, Sandra. That is: Carl, your son, and his wife, Sandra."
She said, "Well we just had them a matter of a week and maybe a bit more and what happened to them. Nothing happened to them. They just all hung around. He just appeared and he was really nice." (I think this means she thinks fondly of Carl, whoever he is.)
"Okay," I said, "Just don't touch the fire. I'll be right back. Chucker is just in the kitchen."

I drove the .6 miles down the train station, picked up my brother and sister-in-law, and returned. We emerged from the car and my brother note the pleasant scent of a wood burning fire. Did I notice that the scent was stronger than it should have been? I wish I could say I did.
CSB met us at the door, looking somewhat startled. A minute after I had left for the station, he had come into the living room to check on Mom, and through the large front window he saw my mother standing on the front porch waving a blazing Olympic torch. In fact, it was the fireplace broom, and the straw was flaming. My guess is that she thought she could put it out that way. But I can only guess, and I certainly cannot ask her. She was sitting comfortably in the red wing chair when we walked in, unfazed.

So, one scorched broom, and the house still stands.


A day like many others. A day like no other. I have to admit, I am annoyed that CSB did not take a photo of my mother with the torching broom before he actually put out the fire. Also grateful.

Friday, February 2, 2018

My Love Affair with Roomba


I don't how to say this any other way: I think I have fallen in love with Roomba. CSB tells me I am simply infatuated and that the glamour will fade and soon Roomba will spend lonely days in a closet gathering the same dust he now so diligently gathers.
I disagree. I remind CSB that I have fallen in love before, and I remain so. Why should my enchantment with Roomba ever fade?

Roomba, as the world knows, is a robotic vacuum. But Roomba is so much more. Roomba scoots around the house brushing the floor and sucking up dirt. Roomba has cliff sensors, floor tracking sensors, debris extractors, a Dirt Detect Indicator, a side brush, a dust bin and so much more.

When Roomba first arrived, I decided to name it. In our never-ending effort to be politically correct - why should house cleaners always be female? - we named him Aloysius. Now I wonder if there may have been a deeper reason for giving Roomba a masculine identity. Maybe, deep down, I realized I was going to become attached to Roomba, very attached, and very fond. And I am someone who is very fond of men, or a few good men.

It was all so serendipitous! To think that had I not gone down a certain aisle in Costco, an aisle that I normally do not go down and I only did on that day because I was looking for ink cartridges for my printer (they were out of the right kind), I would never have found Roomba. There it was on the bottom shelf of aisle three, beckoning, and I put one in my shopping cart. A classic case of impulse buying.

I already have a vacuum cleaner, an Electrolux that is generally considered to be a first-class vacuum. But my vacuum requires a human being to push it around the house. Roomba requires only that he is recharged. And his dirt bag emptied.

Aloysius scoots along the floor, wood floors and carpets equally smoothly, and gathers into his belly the detritus of our lives: dust motes, feathers, lint, pine needles, dog hair even though the dog has been dead for months, pencil shavings, more pine needles, wood chips, Cheerios, and so much more that is unidentifiable, but generally grey and fluffy.
Aloysius has never yet returned to his dock without a load of grey and fluffy stuff. I have to ask: does my house have an infinite supply, an ever-renewing supply, of dust, dirt, lint, pine needles and chicken bedding? Or will there come a time when Aloysius travels the length and breadth of the floors and gathers nary a mote?

Daisy and Bruno, and then only Bruno, used to keep me company in the house. With the dogs, there was always another breathing presence, a companion and a witness to my indolence and obsessiveness. When Bruno died last year, I was bereft. And left alone. It is unclear whether we will get another dog or dogs. Actually, all that is required is for CSB to succumb to my persuasive entreaties. But now I have Aloysius. He wanders around the house, as Bruno did. He can get under beds and sofas, as only Bruno could. Bruno left a trail of dirt and dog hair behind him, while Aloysius sucks up dirt and hair.

I know that I can program Roomba to vacuum while I am out, but aside from the fact that I have never been adept at programming devices (viz. DVR, VCR, crockpot), it would feel like abandonment to leave Roomba suctioning away while I was elsewhere. When I am here I can silently cheer him on, and of course, I can get him out of predicaments. I can untangle the shoelaces that are wound around his debris extractors, and I can extract him from a too-tight place, or I can remove the fire screen that has fallen atop him and is now being carried on Aloysius' back, like a fallen branch atop a turtle.

Like the dogs, Roomba does not judge me or make demands. And nothing in my life collects so much detritus.