To Shirk or Not to Shirk

I was on my way out the door to take my car in to get the brakes fixed when I got a call from the mechanic cancelling the appointment. Even though he’d ordered the part in plenty of time, it turns out the company he ordered it from, which generally has next day service, had to special order it. So it won’t get here for a few more days. That’s the joy of owning a classic car! Luckily, I can still drive. The brakes work fine, but the warning light keeps coming on, so I never drive anywhere I would need to slam on the brakes in an emergency. Mostly I do what I’ve done for the past year and a half — drive the car slowly through town then head out on the four-lane highway until the end of the divided highway, then I come back and do whatever errands I need to do.

Because I can still drive, it’s not that big of a deal that he cancelled, but it did leave me feeling a bit lost as often happens when plans go awry. So I decided to clean house. There’s been a musty smell in here lately, though I’m not sure where it comes from — perhaps the dust I drag in from outside on my apparel, or maybe because I have to sleep with the windows closed due to the continual bad air quality alerts, or possibly because of the stale smoke blowing in from the fires on the west coast. I’ve let the dust build up more than I like lately since I’ve been spending so much time on my garden, and I thought this was the perfect time to get everything cleaned up.

Now the house smells like Murphy’s Oil and furniture polish. (I add the furniture oil to the diluted Murphy’s oil in the hope that it will help hydrate my 93-year-old unfinished wood floors, and so far it seems to work.)

Then I had to go check on the house I’m looking after for absent friends and take photos of some work that’s being done. And on the way back I picked up a few groceries.

I still have a few more things to do today (payback for yesterday, where I did nothing but lounge around and read), including going to work. My next planless day won’t come until the weekend, but that’s okay. It will be even more enjoyable since all my chores should be done and I won’t have any reason to feel guilty for being indolent. To be honest, I don’t feel guilty even if I do have reason to feel guilty — after all, there’s no fun in shirking one’s duties if there are no duties to shirk.

On the other hand, as I discovered today after all my work, there is fun — or at least a feeling of smugness — in not having shirked the day’s duties.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Surviving Air Quality Alerts

Denver had clean air long after smog choked other major cities, probably because in my youth, it was more of a cow town than a city. I remember being able to see the mountains from almost anywhere in town, but as the town grew into a city, fueled by the huge influx of people escaping the big cities in California and elsewhere, smog grew, too.

Ever since I left Denver, I’ve chosen to live in smaller places where the air is relatively clear. Where I live now is so far from any major city that I should never have to worry about air quality alerts, and yet lately the alerts come rather frequently. It has nothing to do with us; the problem is the smoke from wildfires in California being blown into Colorado and beyond.

Because of my smoke allergy, this has been a particularly rough time for me, with bad sinus headaches, lack of energy, and a bit of chest congestion. Admittedly, these problems are nothing compared to what people directly affected by the fires have to deal with, but I still have do what I can to protect myself. Today, after I watered my bushes and garden areas, I spent the day inside with the windows closed. Such precautions don’t really help much because the air seeps inside, and even after the air quality alert is cancelled, it takes days for my allergy symptoms to clear out.

Despite that, it was still a pleasant day. I lounged around most of the afternoon, reading and drinking tea.

Once this brief blog update is posted, my plans for this evening, to the extent that I have any plans, will be pretty much the same. Luckily, I have a fresh stack of books from the library as well as a large stash of tea.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator