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‘Willy-Nilly-Silly’ sums up life lately
JANE HAD A LITTLE in common with this goose recently when she discovered a puddle of water ‘the size of Lake Superior’ on her kitchen floor. Everyone at Jane’s house – the dogs, the cats, and even Jane herself – seems a little frazzled by quarantine. But, the up side is getting outside to witness the resurgence of spring.

VIOLA - While I was adding another already-accomplished item to my pandemic to-do list so I could cross it off, I noticed a puddle on the kitchen floor about the size of Lake Superior.

Throwing down an old dish towel, I cursed the dogs as I used my foot to swish the towel around and wipe it up.

When you’re home more than usual, you notice more than usual. Like I noticed I was overwatering my succulents. Normally, they get watered on Saturday. Now it’s every day, and twice on Saturday because who’s thinking clearly?

After vacuuming up thousands of beetles that had sprung to life with the spring-like weather, I noticed the dogs seemed lethargic. I thought I would rouse them out of their stupor with dog treats, but there weren't any left.

Perhaps I’ve been giving them too many treats since I’m now home all day. Or maybe it’s because I’ve dragged them out on a hundred more walks than normal since I began sheltering at home and they were just plain pooped. 

The cats were crabby, and as I shooed them out the door I spied another puddle. This time, I cursed the cats before cleaning it up.

My apartment-size refrigerator was bursting at the seams with more food than ever before. There were seven containers of plain yogurt lest Louisa, the pig, should starve. I’d stockpiled my favorite Kevita pomegranate drink (not toilet paper, like some people) because when I sat down and thought about what I would miss if I didn’t have it, that was it.

I was coming in from picking up old yogurt containers in Louisa’s pen, when I slid through yet another kitchen puddle and yelped in surprise. What the Sam Hill?


I swung open the refrigerator door, and the opened bottle of Kevita crashed onto the floor. The cap came off, releasing a new puddle of reddish pink into the first puddle, this one the size of Lake Michigan.

But wait a minute—the light was off in the refrigerator. I checked the plug; it was still plugged in. I picked up the Kevita bottle and found it wasn’t cold. I ran outside, around the house, and down into the basement, where I checked the breaker box. Nothing was tripped. I came back up and stood in front of the quiet refrigerator, and could almost hear it thinking, “I stopped working last night, you fool. Shame on you for only now figuring it out, especially since you’ve been home all day.”

“Seriously?” I questioned my refrigerator. “The one time in your life you are full to the brim, with onejob to do during this pandemic?” 

I called Rockweiler. They reminded me I had bought the oldest and cheapest apartment-size model on their showroom floor in 2012. They also told me they’d be hard pressed to get any parts for it for weeks. Then, they sold me a new refrigerator because that’s exactly how someone would want to spend their money when they are newly out of work.

Emptying the old refrigerator, I remained calm and ran through a list of all the things I’m grateful for, like a mantra desperately needed: I went for a hike with Dane, and a great horned owl flew above us; we saw sandhill cranes and a bunch of Canada geese; the dogs had a riot running around; I’d crossed “clean my office” off my list (even though I hadn’t planned to clean it and had to add it to my list afterwards just so I could cross it off); I’d reconnected with two friends via telephone to see how they were holding up; and since I'm not working, I hadn’t had to waste any time taking a dumb shower for the last few days.

By the time the two men in a truck pulled up, all the contents of my fridge were spread out over the counters, the dogs were in their outdoor kennel, and the cats were outside. I was ready, and the men worked fast and capably.

But when they jangled and jostled the old fridge to get it onto the dolly, there was a pile of crud underneath it the size of Mount Rushmore. “Oh,” I stammered, “let me get a broom and clean that up before you bring in the new refrigerator.”

I swept like a woman possessed during a pandemic who had just used her charge card willy-nilly for a new refrigerator. Lo and behold, I found five cat toys, including one that was my newest kitten’s favorite, a tiny yellow ball we had brought home from the Driftless Humane Society. I also found two of my favorite marbles that I suspected the cats had swiped out of the bowl I keep them in.

Pandemic or not, new refrigerator or not, stressed or not stressed, pets happy or crabby, on my list or added to it after the fact, I can now say with confidence, “I have all my marbles.”