Knit, Perl, Pacify

tank If I hadn’t sculpted a knitting basket in ceramics class, I might never have learned that the hobby has morphed from domestic chore to communal activity undertaken by creative women striving to deliver unique social messages. The afghan above was made by a gaggle of crafters using their needles and yarn to show the world that they’re sick and tired of war. Hats, mittens and scarves make nice holiday gifts, but this patchwork of pacification is an example of why women should rule the world. They’d never allow a marksman to shoot a hole into this stunning piece of work!

Of Food Pantries and Squirrels

squirrel The lone guy staffing the food pantry office sighed and rolled his eyes rather than saying thanks when he spotted me walk in. Figuring some empathy was needed, I complemented him on his selfless volunteerism and he responded immediately by chatting me up as together we shelved the food I’d brought. He refused to let me go until I met “his buddy” – a black (rotund) squirrel living on a stash of peanuts he keeps on hand just for this critter. Kindness takes many forms and I’m pretty sure that my reward for making my donation was meeting his bushy-tailed friend.

I’m Having a Vac Attack

©¨™; Is it wrong to love a crevice tool? I hope not. I once told my kids that the vacuum is my favorite appliance – especially when a vigorous vacuuming session warms me up while purging my stress. In particular, my crevice tool can send chills down my spine when it explores and mines hard-to-reach corners, so don’t judge me when I wax poetic about that plastic tube with the cross-cut mouth. While I’m confessing, I’m also prepared to admit my affair with my clear wrap dispenser box. I know. It’s sick. But these days, I take pleasure where I find it.

‘Tis the Season For Some Mayhem

the boys I’m making an emergency trip to the supermarket today because Tuna plundered the giant bag of bread stuffing cubes last night. He batted the contents onto the floor and created quite an interesting mosaic. I don’t know how much he ate while crafting his masterpiece, but there’s a chance he could stop pooping or require a vet’s intervention; mixing bread with water can do wicked things to the GI system of a cat living on a steady diet of IAMS. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for Tuna as this holiday approaches – and especially for Dreamsicle who’s too lazy to pull this crap.

One Creepy Dance Card

dads and dtrs I find “daddy/daughter” dances creepy and I can’t stop thinking about incest when I glimpse photos of kindergartners box stepping with adult males. I’m sure someone finds these events cute, but before they were invented, it wouldn’t have dawned on young girls to call stepping on their father’s feet “fun.” The time to dance with Dad is after he goes broke underwriting a wedding and not before. To understand why I make this distinction, search the faces of dads in park district brochures: Many would rather muck barns than waltz for hours with a kid in a pink party dress.

It’s “Fear of Furnace” Time Again

furnace I greet each winter asking, “Will my furnace die this year?” I’m pretty sure Carter was president when my unit was installed and my realtor warned me that I’d probably face replacing it nine years ago. So far, so good. But to stave off bad juju, I buy new filters every 8 weeks and stow ads for heating contractors like a squirrel amassing nuts (especially those promising to show up at all hours, welcoming MasterCard and offering discount coupons). When spring arrives, I ritually dump the expired coupons. Since this process has worked for nearly a decade, why stop now?

Son Shine? Not For These Families

baby Media stories about babies switched at birth evoke feelings of horror, anger and sadness, but the premise put forth by writers of the French film, “The Other Son,” boosted my reaction tenfold. Imagine Scud missile attacks in Tel Aviv requiring hospitalized newborns to be relocated, then brought back after the all-clear sounds, only the Jewish baby is handed to a Palestinian family while the other goes home to be raised by Jewish parents. I had visceral reactions to the story and couldn’t stop wondering how the shocked parents would sort things out. This film is worthy of a second viewing.

Buddy Burners? Not if My Mother Could Help It

scouts I was a school slacker despite my teachers’ best efforts, but my Girl Scouting experience was a different story. My mother, during an infrequent bout of wanting to do motherly things, decided to become a troop leader, but neither her heart nor her talents were in it. For example, she rarely made sure we met requirements for merit badges, so all of our sashes were decorated like Christmas trees. We ran wild on camping trips while she and her assistant holed up in their cabin drinking rum. Frankly, it was some of the most fun I had as a kid.

Managing My Expectations

cat and turkey After a killer previous day, I was giddy contemplating my free time — until my Internet connection crashed, requiring a long chat with a polite guy in a far-distant land. Problem solved, I next encountered a section of the carpet that Dreamsicle mistook for his litter box. He tried to hide his accident by digging up sections of pile, but by the time I cleaned up, the morning was shot. In that moment, I was reminded of the foolishness of entertaining expectations. Sometimes, a promising day comes down to no contact with the outside world and a pile of poop.

The Nose Doesn’t Always Know

smell test Yesterday, I took a scratch-and-sniff test in the name of Parkinson’s research to determine, for example, whether my nose detected motor oil, pineapple, peanuts or leather after activating a bunch of rub-off samples. As I worked my way through the required four booklets, I began to doubt my proboscis. “C’mon, Dufuss,” I urged, “You can ID bubble gum, right?” Unfortunately, seeds of doubt had moved into my nasal passages — right next to the Mucus dude – but still I soldiered on. I hope researchers don’t laugh at my answers, but if they do, I’m claiming PTSD: Probable Traumatized Smelling Duress.