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

A Dirty Little Tale

I used to love wall-to-wall carpets. I grew up with wooden floors in the bedroom, and even with bedside rugs, oh, were those floors cold in the Colorado winter! As an adult, I always had carpets. Carpeting not only made the floors warmer, but seemed to give rooms a warm, welcoming feeling.

The first time I wondered about carpets was after the carpets in my dad’s house were cleaned before putting house on the market. The dark areas in doorways and at the base of sofas came clean, but then, though the carpet cleaner bragged about his expensive, top-of-the-line, sucks-everything-up machinery, it took only a few days before the dirt started rising to the surface.

Then, after moving into the room where I lived for a couple of years before moving back to Colorado, I really wondered. That room had a truly filthy carpet. It had supposedly been cleaned before I moved in, but walking on it made the soles of my feet turn black. After a few months of my complaints, the landlord had the carpet cleaned. It looked great for a day or two, then the dirt again became apparent. Finally, he hired a professional. And the same thing happened. Looked good for a couple of days, then they went back to looking as dirty as they had before cleaning. And that triple-cleaned carpet still turned my feet black, so even in the heat of the desert summer, I had to wear something on my feet while in my room.

This house I bought seven months ago doesn’t have carpets. At first, I worried about freezing my feet, but so far there hasn’t been a problem.

What is surprising is how dirty the floors get.

It’s been just a few days since I last cleaned, but this morning, I dusted, swept and dry mopped (turning the dust mop black with dirt), then I damp mopped with Murphy’s Oil and a dash of Old English lemon oil. And the damp mop turned black, too.

The dirt isn’t a problem. Although I live alone without pets, change the furnace filter, don’t wear shoes in the house, and have a sort of mud area to put on and take off shoes, this is an old, house, it’s a windy area, and dirt happens. Luckily, the floors are easy to clean.

What shocks me every time I clean, though, is what a difference a carpet would make. All that dirt I can easily clean up would get ground into a carpet, and from my experience, vacuuming and even steam cleaning does not remove any but the surface dirt. In addition to that, carpets emit fabric dust and can emit toxic fumes.


So now, suddenly, I have an entirely different view of carpets.

And — not so suddenly — I have developed a fondness for my very warm-looking (and clean!) antique hardwood floor.


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.