Buying a New Desk

books notebook macbook table

Photo by Caio Resende on

On Sunday morning my honey and I have developed the habit of going to the local pancake house for breakfast. This past Sunday was as usual, so we found ourselves headed down the road to the pancake place.

I need to mention that we had been looking for a computer desk for several weeks, but hadn’t found one yet.

“We could go look for the desk after we eat since we are already out,” suggested my honey.

I had already figured on this and brought my checkbook.

“I also need a few things,” he added. “I need speaker wire, a breaker bar, and a light bulb.” We could get that stuff at any Wal-Mart any time, I thought.

“We need to shop for the desk first because it will take more time,” I pointed out. He agreed, but I knew he really was more interested in speaker wire than a desk.

We got to the pancake house, which is always busy, and put our name on the waiting list. While we were waiting for a table, he mused, “I could run over to the office supply store and get a breaker bar while we are waiting.”

I couldn’t believe it, but he left me setting there and went to the office supply store. I decided if they called our name, I would go in and eat and he would just miss out. Fortunately for him, he made it back in time.

After eating, we went to the furniture store – well, actually, to two furniture stores. For some reason he has to look in every store in town before buying.

They didn’t have what we wanted at the first store, which was what I figured. We then went to another furniture store, a chain store just like two other stores we had already been to on other days, not to mention the four additional furniture stores we had browsed.

He finally found a desk that he liked. It was the exact same desk I had picked out the first day at the first store.

After the deal was done, he decided to look for an electronics store to buy his wire. That figures. A storm was coming up, but I knew he would not be satisfied until he got the wire. So we drove around in the traffic and pouring rain until we found an electronics store.

“Are you going in?” he asked

To buy a spool of wire? “No, I’ll just wait here.”

I thought he would be happy after that, but I should have known better. He still needed the light bulb.

“Can’t you just get one at Wal-Mart?” I asked. It was still pouring rain and bolts of lightening were flashing.

“That delivery guy broke the bulb the other day. The store will replace it.” So, we drove 25 miles in the rain to get a free light bulb. I was getting pretty aggravated.

Then he decided that we really should have purchased the hutch that went with the desk.

“I want to go home!” I said.

“Okay, I’ll take you home and go back by myself. But we could just go by on the way home.” Except it wasn’t on the way home; it was in a different direction.

I gave up.

We drove all the way back to the furniture store in the middle of a storm.

I suppose I should quit complaining and just be happy that we are done shopping. At least I didn’t have to go to five different Wal-Marts looking for the right kind of light bulb.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Previously published as
The Wire, Breaker Bar and Light Bulb
Posted in Home, Humor, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding German Roots

Not humor but an interesting story from

Blogging the Blue Danube

Dachau entrance

My partner, Morris, was born in Germany, but came to the U.S. with his parents as an infant when they immigrated. Ever since I’ve known him, he has wanted to see where he was born (Föhrenwald, Wolfratshausen, Bavaria, Germany) now called “Waldram.” This is his story, not mine. He should be the one telling it, but I doubt he ever will, at least not on the Internet.

His parents were Jewish and fled all over Europe trying to escape the Nazis during World War II. They were successful in evading capture and were in a displaced persons camp near Munich when the war ended. When they had an opportunity to come to American and escape war-torn Europe, they took it and moved to Pittsburgh. There they raised Morris and his two younger brothers that were born after moving to the U.S.

His mother was Ukrainian, his father Polish. We were…

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Better Late than Later

I am being done in by the mundane things of life, those little home repair jobs that are so unimportant that I can never get around to them. It is easier to put up with the minor inconvenience than take the extra time to fix things. Finally, these chores have begun to accumulate to the point that I am starting to worry about being buried under a pile of procrastinated tasks.

The other day I stuck my head out of the pile of undone chores and looked around like a chipmunk.

“Are you going to do the chores?” I asked my man hopefully.

“No, I need a day to recover from watching football.”

That figures!

But, I’m the handy person of the home, anyhow. Superwoman! That’s me! So, I decide to take a day for chores. It will be the perfect time to catch up on those little aggravating “do it yourself” jobs.

Most of the really bad stuff, as it turns out, is outside. Outside chores pile up in the late fall because, well, because it’s cold outside. So, I dressed in my superwoman insulated underwear and got ready to work.

First on my list is the garage window, which is falling off and making the house look like it’s haunted. Somehow the storm window came loose, the screen fell out and the glass window came out of the frame. Not a big deal for a superwoman, only a matter of putting it all back together again and putting in a screw in to hold the frame tight. After an hour of tugging, fitting, and sliding, I finally managed to fix it. That’s one down for superwoman.

Next is my weird holly bush with long shoots sprouting out of the top that make the whole thing look overgrown. It’s just a matter of getting out the ladder and trimming off a few wild branches to tame it down until spring. I hate this task because holly is thorny and I always get scratched. This time is no exception. I thought superwoman was bullet proof, not to mention thorn proof, but apparently not.

Then there is that dead flowerpot sitting by the back door creating an eyesore ever since cold weather killed the flowers. Superwoman picks it up and it breaks in her hands, falling to the patio and shattering into a million pieces. Probably her super strength. Well, that takes care of the flowerpot. Now all I have to do is sweep up the mess right away before having a chance to procrastinate again.

Dead leaves have blown up and settled around the back door to my house. I am sick and tired of wading through wet leaves to get inside the house. I don’t really know where they come from since the trees were long ago bare, but I rake them up. Superwoman does not have a leaf blower or it would be much easier.

By the time I finish bagging the trash, I am exhausted and half-frozen. My super powers are beginning to get out of whack. I forgot to change the light bulb by the front door, which has burned out and is making the house look one-eyed. There is also the torn screen on a bedroom window. I take the screen as far as the hardware store, where it stays to be fixed.

So, that pretty much takes care of the chores. Trouble is things never really get caught up when you have a house. I noticed that the windowsills need a paint touch-up, the shutters are faded, and there are small tree branches that have blown down and need to be picked up so the lawn can be mowed next spring. The weeds are starting to sprout again too.

A superwoman’s work is never done – which is yet another good reason to put off doing things until later.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
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The Plumber


I really hate dealing with service people, but there comes a time in the course of home ownership when one must have repairs done, like it or not. In my recent situation, it was the plumbing needing attention.

I thought by now that everything that could leak had leaked, and everything that needed replacing had been replaced. But that seems not to be the case with a home that is growing old. It is unending.

Water has been seeping from under the shower for a while. I tried ignoring it. I tried soaking it up with a towel. No use, it is probably leaking between the walls. Water leaks cannot be ignored forever. Time to call the inevitable plumber.

Service people never show up when they say they will. They always get tied up on another job and call to say they will be there later, or tomorrow, or whenever the mood suits them. Usually this is after I’ve taken the day off work to be there.

Things started out well with this plumber, however, when he said he would be there at 10 and showed up at only 11:30. He turned out to be the talkative type. He tried to sell me their long-term service plan. I really just wanted him to fix the leak and leave.

He looked at the leak and decided it was not coming from between the walls, it was leaking under the shower door. I didn’t think so, but what could I do? “I’ve been a plumber for 14 years, mam, and I see this all the time.” Do I insist on having the wall torn out for no reason? Of course not.

We had also noticed a shortage of hot water lately. I figured since he was already here, I might as well get that checked out too. “When we take a shower, there is never enough hot water.”

His eyes lit up. That figures. They would rather work on something they understand than a mysterious leak. He proceeded to explain to me how water heaters work, how they have magnesium rods to keep them from corroding and how a tube carries the cold water to the bottom of the tank.

Who cares? Just fix it, I thought. So he pulled the magnesium rod and it was nearly eaten up with corrosion. Then he tried to pull the cold-water tube and it was too corroded to repair. “Mam, you need a new hot water heater — or I can put this one back together if you want to wait until it goes out completely.”

He proceeded to show me the corroded parts and the calcium deposits and to explain the realities of making hot water. Eventually I ended up purchasing a new hot water heater. Of course, he gave me a fabulous deal and a 50-gallon tank for the price of a 40-gallon one.

He was happy as a lark putting in the new one. This is something a plumber was born to do. He called me out to the garage two or three times to see what he was doing and to explain. As if I cared, just fix it, I thought. I tried to seem interested, but what I was really interested in was how to pay the bill.

“What about the leaking shower?”

“I’ll put some caulk around the shower door, mam, that should take care of it. No extra charge. We will take the price of the service call off the total too and there is a discount coupon in the yellow pages if you want to use that.”

I can’t figure out why I’m so broke with all the money I saved getting my leak fixed. But at least I have 50 gallons of hot water. I think I will go take a shower now and see if that leak is still there.

It better not be. If it is, I will not need a plumber. I will need a hit man. I wonder if there is a discount coupon in the yellow pages for that?

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
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Empty-Nest Syndrome

close up photography of bird nest

Photo by Evelyn on

Mothers sometimes complain that adult children abandon them after they grow up and leave the nest. Empty-nest mothers feel as if the children no longer care. They want to know whether the children still love them.

Here is a simple test to help mothers know the score.

Regardless of how hard it is, do NOT call or contact your adult child for one week, but wait to let her or him contact you first. Subtract 1 point for each day that passes without a call or visit. If you give in and call the child, subtract 10 points.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Call up your adult child on the phone and say, “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to lend you any more money. Ever.” If the child says, “That’s okay, mom, you’ve done more than enough already,” give yourself 1 point.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Visit your local hospital and call the adult child. Say: “I’m calling from the hospital. Can you get over here right away?” Hang up. Give yourself 1 point if the child is there within an hour.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Invite your adult child to come over for dinner. When the child arrives, say something else came up and you didn’t have time to cook. If the child offers to take you out to eat, 1 point. If it’s fast food or no food, subtract 1.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Ask your adult child to take you to your next medical appointment. On the way home, ask her or him to stop at the pharmacy, the grocery store, and the dry cleaners. If the child complains, subtract 1 point. If he or she offers to take you to the doctor again next time, add 1 point and thank your lucky stars.

Positive _____ Negative _____

The next time you see your adult child, give him or her twenty dollars. If she or he keeps it, subtract 1 point. If she or he says, “I don’t need your money, Mom.” Give yourself 1 point. If he or she offers to give YOU money, add 10 bonus points. (Of course, this will never happen.)

Positive _____ Negative _____

Call your adult child and say that you need help with mowing the grass, painting a room, cleaning carpets, or washing the car. If the child agrees to help, add 1 point. If the child makes an excuse, subtract 1 point.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Send the adult child a card on their birthday. If she or he calls to thank you, add 1 point. If the child actually remembers your birthday or even Mother’s Day, add 1 more point.

Positive _____ Negative _____

Ask your adult child to go to church with you. If he or she goes, add 1 point. If he or she says he will go, but doesn’t show up, subtract 1 point. (But you should have known that this would happen.)

Positive _____ Negative _____

If the adult child calls you for any reason except to borrow money or baby-sit, add 1 point. If the child visits any time except on a holiday, give yourself 1 more point.

Positive _____ Negative _____

If the adult child has a picture of you displayed in her or his home, add 1 point. Subtract 1 point for every picture of the child or grandchildren that you have displayed in your home.

Positive _____ Negative _____

If the adult child never borrows money from you, add 1 point. If the child borrows, but only for emergencies, subtract 1 point regardless since everything is an emergency to children. If the adult child pays back the money they borrow, add 10 bonus points. This is not likely, but we won’t give up hope.

Positive _____ Negative _____

TOTAL _____ TOTAL _____


If you ended up with more points that are positive, the child loves you, but it’s time to cut the apron strings.

If you end up with the more points on the negative side, you are being neglected, and can continue nagging.

If you didn’t bother to keep score, count your blessings and quit whining. Your kids are grown and your work is done.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Family, Humor, Rants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beetle Mania

“We are infested with ladybugs, thousands, all over the house outside, coming in through every crack!”

It was a text message from my daughter. Naturally, it was at a time when I was so busy at the office I could not spare a second for anything, much less bugs.

“I got the vacuum out. I’ve killed over a hundred inside. They are everywhere.”

I’ve never heard of such a thing — bees, maybe, termites, maybe, “Are you sure they are ladybugs?”

“Yes, swarms of them I have probably 200 on my window. The garage is full of them.”

And so began, a full-fledged episode of beetle mania. I felt like my head was going to explode. I could not deal with one more thing. The kitchen floor is missing thanks to a leaky refrigerator, the bathroom toilet was been broken, I lost my car keys… and now THIS?

When the plumber came to fix the toilet, he had cheerfully told me that bad things happen in threes. Not at my house. At my house they happen in swarms.

“Call the exterminator. What is the name of that one that came when we had termites?”

Later, another text came. “He can’t come until tomorrow. They have hundreds of calls. They have called in extra people and are working double shifts.”

Ladybugs are supposed to be cute and harmless. Children’s toys often look like ladybugs. I have jewelry that looks like ladybugs. Ladybugs are supposed to bring good luck.

“Okay, keep vacuuming.”

When I got home, I found out she was not exaggerating. In the garage, bugs were crawling up the wall and all over the ceiling like a scene from a horror movie. On the outside of the house, they crawled all over the house, especially the windows.

I found a half-full bottle of insecticide in the garage and went to work spraying around windows and doors. My son sprayed the garage.

Ladybugs may be cute when there are only a few, but no insect is cute when there are a thousand of them. Besides, these ladybugs were weird-looking. They were orange instead of red. I found out later that they were not local ladybugs. These were Japanese beetles, sometimes called Halloween beetles because that is the time of the year they appear. These were right on schedule.

“Weather is getting cooler and they are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. They are harmless, just leave them be and they will go away on their own,” advised an article on the internet. Obviously, their house was not swarming with hundreds of them.

The most aggravating part about the whole thing was when I found that the government released them as a natural enemy of aphids, which are tiny bugs that infest fruit trees. A large crop of tasty aphids and perfect weather conditions had made them fat and sassy.

They have no natural enemies here and can do as they please. Apparently, what pleases them is to reproduce. I guess the goverment guys didn’t notice they have WINGS and won’t stay where they are released.

I only hope this is not some biological warfare experiment and next thing they are releasing is killer bees or fire ants.

On the news that evening, there was a segment about the ladybug invasion. Apparently it is not just me. They do not carry disease, infest your food, or gnaw the house down. They do bite if aggravated.

The next day the exterminator finally showed up. Even after he sprayed, I still see a few. I can deal with a one or two walking across the ceiling upside down, just not hundreds of them.

Good grief, there is a ladybug walking across the computer screen now while I’m trying to type. How brazen can you get?

If ladybugs bring luck, I must be the luckiest person in town.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss
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Munich, Germany

I have recently started a new travel blog about a trip to Europe. I hope you will check it out when you have time.

Blogging the Blue Danube

Where to begin? Germany is very modern and at the same time very traditional. The people are friendly and cultured. Much of Munich was destroyed in World War II, but has been restored.

We are divided into three groups by the tour director, blue, red and orange. Our blue group was first to leave early in the morning so we were supposed to eat and be ready. However, this didn’t go over well, so the tour director, with the soon to become familiar lack of planning, told everyone to go ahead and eat early if they wanted. This meant the groups leaving hours later crowded the lines at the buffet almost preventing us from meeting the deadline to leave.

After breakfast, we went on another hour-long bus ride getting back to Munich. Then we toured the city by bus. The local tour guide was knowledgeable and pointed out sites, most…

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Musical Rooms


We are playing “musical rooms” at my house. This is similar to the children’s game of “musical chairs” in which everyone switches chairs while the music plays. I made the “brilliant” decision about a month ago to change my house around. The living room was the largest room in the house, but seldom used at all, so I decided to change that situation.

I always really hate the musical chairs game as a child because someone was left with no chair when the music stopped, and that child was out of the game. I’m finding that playing musical rooms is almost the same thing as playing musical chairs.

Let the games begin.

The office will become my daughter’s bedroom. Her bedroom will become my grandson’s bedroom. The living room will become the media room. But, just like in musical chairs, we seem to be one room short. When the music stopped, I no longer had a living room — unless you consider the attic the living room since that is where all my furniture is, except the hutch, which is now in the kitchen, one end of which has become the dining room.

I knew moving rooms around was going to be bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad. It is almost like moving from one home to another except I’m packing and unpacking all at the same time. Nothing is in the same place and a new place has to be found for almost everything. I spent the evening yesterday figuring out what to do with all the leftover items, and tripping over topsy-turvy computer cables in an upside-down house.

Furthermore, my house is full of strangers. The TV people came on Saturday to move the television connections. The phone company came yesterday to put in a new phone jack. The cable company came to move the Internet connection. I still have to get movers to move some of the heavy things to the attic that we can’t budge and probably a handy man. The pictures are all the wrong places. That means patching the nail holes and touching up the paint.

My grandson’s room is hopeless. It will have to be repainted. He has selected orange as the color choice he wants. Never ask an eight-year-old what color to paint a room. I feel like I’m living in a Dr. Suess story. Mr. Brown is upside down and everything else too.

Is the ceiling fan on the floor? We didn’t move the bathroom, did we? Thank goodness the refrigerator is still in the same place, And the furniture for my grandson’s room, which is now in the attic, can stay there until the movers come.

It is hard trying to carry on with normal life in the middle of all the chaos. People have to eat, sleep, take a shower once in a while, and go to work. The normal tasks are hard to do because we are too busy dealing with the abnormal ones.

At least it is only temporary. Actually, the living… er … media room didn’t look too bad this morning. It will just take some getting used to. I still feel as if I am living in someone else’s house, though. I’m trying hard not to think about it right now as I might loose my sanity completely. I’m already having nightmares about the Cat in the Hat.

Please, stop the music while paint I the bedroom orange.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
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Eat Your Spinach


“Stop! Don’t eat that spinach!” These words are music to kid’s ears everywhere — words they thought they would never hear.

Ever since adults were brainwashed by a cartoon character named Popeye, kids have been victims of vegetable abuse. Adults were convinced that to grow up big and strong and have muscle power like Popeye, a kid should be vegging out on spinach.

Nutritionists have long proclaimed the virtues of green leafy vegetables, spinach in particular, because it contains a large concentration of vitamins and nutrients said to be “good for you,” a virtual “powerhouse of nutrition.” Somehow, kids were just never quite convinced that something that tasted so bad could possibly be good.

Kids got a temporary reprieve from vegetables back when it became public that the President back then didn’t like nutritional green stuff either and refused to eat his broccoli. If the President of the U.S. didn’t eat green vegetables, surely kids shouldn’t have to eat them either. But, alas, Presidents move on and vegetables stay around and continue to plague kids by being good for them.

In the mind of a kid, the only good vegetables are French fries and ketchup. The rest of that stuff may be good for you, but it sure doesn’t taste like it. Adults secretly know that kids are right since they were once kids too. Generations have shunned the slimy pots of greens that were once a dinner mainstay, especially in the South. The trend now is raw or nearly raw “steamed” vegetables, which are said to retain the vitamin content that could be lost in cooking.

The hip new generation of adults likes salads, and baby spinach has become the vitamin-laden darling of the salad bar generation. If you couldn’t quite disguise the awful taste of spinach, you could always slip a few leaves into a cellophane package with other more palatable greens and market it with a perky name like “spring salad mix.”

And so, spinach has remained king and retained its lucrative market power even as the sodium-laden canned vegetables of past generations lost their allure. Fresh vegetables have become more popular and more readily available at the supermarket. “Eat your spinach” is more likely to refer to a bowl of salad these days than to a bowl of droopy greens cooked all day until a vitamin could not possibly survive.

Trouble is, kids don’t especially like salad either. Finger foods, such as baby carrots that can be dipped into ranch dressing, might slip through for a while, but the only really good vegetable is a vegetable that you don’t have to eat. So, kids continued to hide steamed broccoli in their milk and pass up the salad for Jell-o.

Once upon a time spinach turned up in the news with the deadly E. coli virus, kids everywhere were delighted to know that they were right. After all, television said so and media everywhere broadcasted the potential deadly result of eating raw spinach. Mom trashed the green salad in the fridge and salad bars scrambled to find replacements for the sick vegetable.

It seems that the deadly virus was inside the spinach and could not be washed or rinsed away. Only cooking could kill it. Therefore, Popeye’s canned spinach was safe from the contamination that plagued the popular fresh variety. Popeye, no doubt, is still squeezing cans and popping spinach to give him super strength, if he is still young enough to do so.

If kids can only convince adults not to return to the green slime of yesteryear, they will be safe from the virtues of spinach for at least a while longer. Now, if kids can only figure out a way to get rid of broccoli, the second most detested green vegetable, they will be home free.

Pass the ketchup, kids.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Previously published as
“It’s NOT Good for You
Posted in Food, Health, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hamster Dance


Ever since he was been old enough to walk, my grandson has wanted a hamster. He was drawn to the hamster cages in pet stores like a moth to the light. We had to pry him loose with promises.

“When you are old enough to take care of it, you can have one.”

The other day the topic of small animal pets came up again. I don’t remember why now — probably my brain is trying to block out the memory. “When he is old enough…” I began. Then I remembered that he was nearly eight years old.

He was old enough.

Some preliminary checking on the Internet revealed that cages had changed a lot since I was last in the hamster market. They are no longer simple wire cages with exercise wheels. They are colorful multi-level habitats with towers and tunnels for the hamster to play in — in other words, rodent condos.

We decided to let my grandson pick out the hamster he wanted. Of course, he was thrilled when he got the news. We had to wait until after dinner to tell him as we knew he wouldn’t eat otherwise.

“I can have a hamster? For real?” he squealed. “I’ve always wanted a hamster!”

We knew that.

I remember the first hamster that my kids had for a pet, Squeaky. Shortly after bringing it home, it had three babies. I will be sure to get a male this time.

At the pet store there were dozens of hamsters. His mother somewhat favored a small gray longhaired one. However, my grandson wanted the very active, brown and white shorthair. I had forgotten how much they look like rats. It was too late to back out now, though.

The Internet promised that hamsters are inexpensive pets after the initial investment. My grandson chose a habitat. By the time we added litter, food, an exercise wheel, an igloo to sleep in, vitamins and chew sticks, the bill was more than I care to think about, especially when buying a rodent.

Was it only last year that I was trying to trap mouse rodents in the garage? Of course, I didn’t mention that out loud. “Besides, this is not a mouse,” I keep telling myself. I’m thankful that he didn’t want a gerbil. Talk about looking like a rat! At least hamsters don’t have long creepy tails.

And so, we have a new member of the household now. The new addition is named “Buddy.” He seems to be adjusting well to the new environment, climbing up and down the tunnels of his habitat and running for hours in his exercise ball, which is about all a hamster knows how to do. He loves lettuce and stuffs it in his pouches like a squirrel.

I remember that hamsters are escape artists and can learn to open a cage. One pet we had even learned to roll its plastic exercise ball against the furniture until it would pop open.

Buddy has already cracked out of his habitat twice. I don’t know how he managed to unlock the door, but he apparently spent the night in the heat vent and came out the next morning tired and thirsty and rubbing his eyes. Just what I need, a rodent loose in the house.

The second time he escaped, he was apprehended behind the living room curtains. His doors are now securely taped shut. We may have to add a barbed wire fence, alarms and spotlights.

“You have to remember to wash your hands after you play with it,” I told my grandson. “And keep its cage clean so it doesn’t get sick, and give it fresh water every day. And be gentle with it so it doesn’t bite. And…”

Oh, well, I might as well save my breath. He isn’t listening anyhow. It is good for a child to have a pet to care for and love. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I just wish it didn’t look quite so much like a rat.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Creatures, Family, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments