“The blogosphere needs more nice people like Molly, if only to counterbalance the cranky bastards like me.”
Simon C. Larter, http://constantrevisions.blogspot.com 

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There is a groundhog living in luxury under my deck. I bet he has a little disco ball, a great sound system, a huge wet bar, and mossy wall-to-wall carpeting down there. I bet he throws great parties at night for all the neighborhood raccoons, possums, and assorted squirrels. I am sure they have a great time, too, because that groundhog serves up great party food.

This consists of all the delicious nubbins that the groundhog harvests right under our noses from the planters arrayed on the deck. These are full of an array of delectables including sweet potato vine, coleus, vinca vine, geraniums, and impatiens. We put all of this in before the groundhog made his tenancy in the condo under the deck apparent to us.

I discovered him one day as I looked out my window, and saw him munching on the begonias in my largest planter. He looked adorable. Like somebody right out of Beatrix Potter. All he needed was a little blue waistcoat.

I Googled, and I was horrified to discover that groundhogs will eat up an entire garden very quickly. Suddenly, I was in Farmer MacGregor mode. How could I get rid of this guy? I read on. The experts advised that trapping is futile, as groundhogs evade traps with great aplomb. Their advice was to shoot the groundhog.

Shoot? You mean with a gun? Murder the little face with the black nose and button eyes? Here in suburbia, where I am sure if my husband went out on the deck with a firearm he would accidentally maim one of the preschoolers next door? Not an option. After my heart stopped pounding, I Googled “plants that groundhogs don’t like eating.”

The results were heartening, as there are indeed many plants that groundhogs don’t like. So now my planters are full of radishes and rosemary.

Although they aren’t that attractive, they will remain intact for the summer, according to the pundits.

I am inviting the pundits over for dinner. We are having radish sandwiches garnished with rosemary.

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We are having soup for dinner. We have to; it is one of the meals our meal kit service sent us. But as far as I am concerned, soup is completely inappropriate as a main dish.

Soup is mostly liquid. Since when is a bowl of liquid filling? No matter that this particular soup has chickpeas floating in it, along with some carrot slices, greens, and herbs and spices. Oh, and is garnished with grated cheese. It is still a bowl of liquid. Right. They sent along a tiny baguette. Instructions are to cut it in half, put some garlic, rosemary, and olive oil on it, and toast in the oven. Now we are up to a bowl of liquid with one tiny piece of toast per person.

I frown upon people who can demurely sip at a bowl of hot liquid, then put their spoons down, pat their lips with a napkin, and call it a meal. I am willing to bet that these people go downstairs at around ten p.m. and make themselves a bologna sandwich. Or worse, they have the soup and seize up with hunger pangs at about midnight, and then have to go downstairs for cheese and crackers, sleep ruined for the rest of the night.

Maybe the soup diners expect something afterwards, like a big piece of pie. That makes sense, but around here, sugar is off limits to me, so there will be no pie. My husband can eat pie, however. He doesn’t get any pie, but I have noticed him looking around the kitchen longingly after certain particularly meager meals, like soup.

But wait. Pizza counts as pie. Done.



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Waterlogue 1.2.1 (66) Preset Style = Vibrant Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Auto Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Narrow Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

I have two stupendous porches. Actually, one is a deck. I spend hours and money adorning them with plants, nice, comfortable furniture, and accessories. I water. I set the lights on timers so that they look glorious in the evenings to folks walking past my house. And then I never sit out on either of them.

Here is the thing about porches. The ones that don’t have screens around them are open-air invitations to every fly, mosquito, wasp, or gnat to come right over and bite me, buzz me, or scare me. If I bring a sandwich out, it is even worse; those yellow jackets feel free to zoom right in, and although it was about twenty years ago, I have never forgotten the time one flew into my pop can and ended up inside my mouth. I still have nightmares.

Inside porches are much nicer. Screened and safe. Mine has a ceiling fan, so it stays cool out there pretty much until late July. I sit there more than I do on the deck, but the porch is still underused, despite the fact that it is upstairs, and I can even sit out there in my underwear, and nobody can see me. This sounds like, bliss, right? Like a place where Andy Taylor and Aunt Bee would sit and sing folk songs to Opie? Or play gin with Barney? That’s it, really. In order to enjoy a porch like that, you need at least one other person to sit out there with you. You need light conversation and a deck of cards. But my husband does not like to sit on porches and do little more than talk. He has said just about everything he wants to say to me in the forty six years we have been married. Additionally, he doesn’t play a soothing, quiet guitar to sing along with—he plays the accordion, which is as loud as bagpipes, and just about as irritating to the neighbors. So that’s out.

I love the porches though. I look through my kitchen window at the deck, and the view is gratifying. Every night, when I shut the doors to the upstairs screened porch, I feel proud of my decorating skills. If Martha Stewart came over, I would make her a glass of iced tea and take her up there with confidence.

I would wear clothes, however.

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Don’t you love all of those great YouTube videos and articles on Facebook that tell you how to fold a dress shirt in forty two easy steps that guarantee it won’t be wrinkled when you take it out of your suitcase? Or the one that gives you a delicious recipe for ice cream using only bananas and laundry starch? I know. They are all so helpful.

I have a few hacks to add. Mine aren’t just ones for household application. I have hacks for just about every occasion. Here are three foolproof life hacks that really work:

Cocktail parties and small talk: they go hand in hand. You can either arm yourself with three all purpose questions that work across the board (Do you like dogs? How many pairs of socks do you think you own? Have you ever tried rutabaga?), or you can do what I do, and just send your husband to the party, stay home, and binge watch something. Avoids the small talk altogether.

Waiters and waitresses. They are altogether too friendly these days. So if one of them refers to you as “you guys,” or if you are unfortunate enough to have one who enjoys squatting by your table to chat about what they are majoring in at college, simply place your order and go to the restroom. After you wash your hands, play three games of Ruzzle on your phone before returning to your table, where your husband will finally be sitting by himself, musing about the fact that these days, one can major in Advanced Steampunk Architectural Music at the local college.

Your appearance. If you are a man, nobody ever notices your haircut or your face, unless you have had a huge mole removed from your nose, or you cut your own hair. But that doesn’t really matter, either, because men are immune from being judged by what they look like. For women, this is untrue–we are judged by our appearance all the time, even if we are running for President and have a higher IQ than Stephen Hawking (who, by the way, is no Cary Grant). So if you did not plan to go out and thus have absolutely no makeup on, but suddenly you realize you have to make an emergency run to the store for toilet paper because your husband insisted on having hot sauce on his baked beans for lunch and then those frozen jalapeno poppers during the PBS Newshour, and now it’s ten p.m., do what I do: put on a thick layer of bright red lipstick. Everyone you see will be fixated on your lips. No one will even notice your unplucked eyebrows or that your roots are coming in.

As much as I appreciate all of the hacks out there for storing plastic bags in Kleenex boxes, using hand lotion in your muffin recipe if you are out of vegetable oil, or polishing your shoes with Vaseline, I really wish somebody would come up with a hack for my husband. So if any of my readers know of a hack to stop a seventy-some guy from telling that joke about the short guy that goes into a bar, I would appreciate your sharing it with me. So far, the only hack that I have come up with for this particular life problem involves duct tape, and that just seems cruel.

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I have been blogging for what seems like a hundred years. Every week. I have missed only a few deadlines, due to holidays or being sick. This adds up to something like five hundred blog posts. No wonder I am fresh out of things to say.

I have talked about housework. The vacuum is a favorite subject, along with Swiffers. I have wondered how my counterparts a hundred years ago did without labor saving devices. Conclusion? I am glad I was born when I was. Beating rugs must have been exhausting. I can’t even consider what it must have been like to have to boil laundry.

I have certainly written plenty about my husband. He plays the accordion and is in a near constant stage of confusion about something. He has unlimited enthusiasm and a kind heart. A great guy. But I have nothing left to say about him.

I have posted about global warming; central air conditioning (we lived without it for thirty years; what were we thinking); the fact that I hate to cook but love to eat, but now, thanks to Blue Apron, we actually have decent meals three times weekly; insomnia (I have a contract out on The Sandman); cats; my children; writing; and getting old.

I have what must be the opposite of writer’s block: I have written about absolutely everything. I have said it all. There is nothing left to do but start over.

Here’s the thing about my vacuum cleaner…


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