Sunday, July 29, 2012

Like A Hamster On A Wheel

Like A Hamster On A Wheel
By Allison Adams 07-22-12 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 07-22-12

My washing machine is on the fritz.

It’s no surprise, really. 

It’s performed perfectly for over 22 years, washing clothes for a family of 5 without needing anything but electricity, some H2O, and a little soap. 

When my last baby bird flew off to college last fall, my washing machine sat idle for days in between little loads of laundry generated by the 2 of us.

It must have assumed it was semi-retired.

It must have been daydreaming of La Boca Del Vista condo living in sunny Florida when I awakened it rudely earlier this summer, after my baby bird flew back to the nest with what appeared to be all of his dirty laundry – from his entire spring semester – along with a couple dozen dirty duds belonging to his dorm mates.

For several long days after my son arrived home, I tortured my poor washing machine.  Apparently.

In those long days I fed my washing machine one load after another.

And another.

And another.

No wonder it doesn’t know when to stop the washing.

You see, that’s the problem: it doesn’t know when to stop the washing.

Now when I put in a load, if I’m not paying close attention (never), my washing machine moves from one cycle into another, and then starts the process all over again.

And again, if I’m not (never, ever) paying attention.

And again.

Like a hamster on a wheel.

One day (always), when I happened to be particularly distracted with important business (on Pinterest), my wacked-out washing machine took my poor load of whites through 3 series of cycles before I remembered what the heck was going on in the laundry room and stopped the madness.

I tried sweet-talking it:

“Don’t fail me, friend!  You are the wind beneath my wings!”

I tried a tough-love pep talk:

“Now, look – are you gonna let a couple of decades of dishtowels and a semester’s worth of socks and sweatshirts get you down?  Buck up and get back in the game!”

I inconvenienced our family and let our laundry pile up for a week in order to give my washing machine a little vacay.

Can you please wash my golf shorts today?”

“No can do.  Our washing machine is on sabbatical.”

“It’s in the laundry room.”

“It’s needs some quiet time.”

“It’s a washing machine.”

“It’s been under a lot of stress lately.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Turn your shorts inside out.  Your golf buddies won’t notice.”

“I think you need a little therapy.”

My husband was right – I called in a specialist.

Dr. Reviere arrived the next day and listened intently as I described my washing machine’s sorry symptoms.

He quickly delivered a diagnosis:  my washing machine had a bad ticker. 

Bless its heart.

As it turns out, when a ticker goes bad on an old machine, the motor almost always follows suit.

Dr. Reviere suggested that, in the interest of economics and common sense, I learn to live with my antique appliance and its defective device.

After all, it still washes the clothes.  (Does it ever.)

So now I just set a separate ticker – er, timer – when I put a load in the washer so I know exactly when to run into the laundry room and manually manipulate the dial to the “Off” position after the spin cycle.

Sometimes I put my arms around it and shout out a little encouragement:

“Keep goin’, baby!  Don’t worry!  I got your back!”

Yeah, I know. 

I need a little therapy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Web M.D.

Web M.D.
By Allison Adams 06-24-12 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 06-24-12

Ever since the news media announced that we’d be paying the price for our mild winter with a nasty tick and skeeter season, I’ve been on high alert.

Some people in my family would say I’m obsessed with this issue, and perhaps I am, but they ought to be grateful.

Without me, they would not know about the dangers that await them in the great outdoors.

I remind them regularly (via a prepared speech) that ticks and skeeters carry heinous diseases.

I arm them with the proper insect repellent before they go outside, and when they come back inside I instruct them to conduct a full body check over every inch of their epidermis to be sure they’re not packing a pernicious passenger.

Despite my efforts, yesterday my husband returned from the golf course with an itty-bitty tick latched to his back. 

(You’re scratching now, aren’t you?)

I sprang in to action to remove the intruder using a cotton ball soaked with liquid soap, which slowly smothered the bloodsucking beast.

When the time was right, I detached the tick from its host, and tossed the tick and cotton ball into the trash.

I lectured my husband on the hazards of golf, and warned him to be aware of the signs and symptoms of tick borne diseases, which I promptly researched on the Mayo Clinic’s website.

I read all about Lyme disease until I could recite the symptoms and treatment verbatim.

Then I went on to learn about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

That led me to West Nile Virus.

Which took me to Dengue Fever.

I began to feel a little clammy.

I started to itch a bit. 

My head ached and my eyes began to hurt, which caused me to have some vision problems.

It occurred to me that I also suffered from a little aching in my joints, restlessness, and some sensitivity to noise when I don’t have that annoying ringing in my ears.

I noted that, at times, I experience difficulty in speaking, occasional confusion, absent-mindedness, and agitation – all of which I feel certain that my husband would confirm.

I remembered that last week I had a cough and a little bit of a runny nose.

I also don’t sleep very well, and I’m often very tired during the day.

Thanks to the information provided on website I realized I have a several serious health issues.

Without my glasses I ail from the effects of astygmatism, myopia and hyperopia. 

And wouldn’t you know it - blurred vision is one symptom of botulism!

I have a case of scurvy and acid reflux, but no peanut allergy – thank the Lord!

I may or may not have a deviated septum, which could have been the cause of my runny nose, but in reality I probably contracted a mild case of the avian flu.

I battle narcolepsy and I'm ridden with cellulite.

After reading the signs and symptoms as best I could (given my vision difficulties) I realized I am afflicted with sciatica, vertigo, and separation anxiety.

Despite the fact that I haven’t stepped on a court in 10 years, apparently I have tennis elbow.

Also, my carpal tunnel has a syndrome. 

Last, but not least, the symptom checker on the website indicate I have the yips and a touch of rabies. 

I walked feebly through the living room to report my ailments to my husband.

I paused in front of the TV to inspect my flat feet condition and I heard (with my good ear) a TV commercial warning about the dangers of diabetes.

Well, guess what?  I have 3 out of 6 symptoms.

I added diabetes to my list and handed the terrible tally of maladies to my husband.

“I doubt that you have contracted a tick borne disease,” I said, “but according to my diagnosis it’s a miracle that I’m able to stand upright.”

He read through my ailments as I made my way to lie down on the couch.

“Hmmm.  You forgot one”, he reported.

“I did?” I asked.

“Hypochondria.” he said.

“For the love of Pete, please write it at the bottom of the page,” I directed.  “I’m too weak.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Natural

The Natural
By Allison Adams 07-08-12 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 07-08-12

This is a documentary.

I thought you may or may not be interested to know how I write one of these columns.

Usually, like tonight, I wait until the eleventh hour of my deadline, which is set by my editors (plural) – it takes a village, apparently – and I hope that they’ve been extremely busy with several big news stories and don’t realize that I haven’t yet submitted my column for review on a more timely basis.

Then I gather any column topic ideas that I have either emailed myself, left myself a voicemail about, or written in chicken scratch on the back of a Pal’s receipt or on my dry cleaning ticket, and shoved in the cup holder of my car.

Next I sit down at my desk, fire up my computer, and wait for a light bulb to illuminate above my gray haired head.

This is about the time that my husband appears to “help” me. 

Take tonight, for example.

My beloved wandered in and saw me sitting in front of the computer, staring at a blank screen, and casually parked himself behind my desk chair, and peered over my right shoulder.

Him:  So … what are you doing there?

Me:  I’m trying to write a column.

Him:  Oh! Wow!  Is it that time again?

Me:  Yes.  Yes, it is.

Him:  Great!  Well, what’s this one going to be about?

Me:  I don’t know yet. 

Him:  Really?  THAT must be a little scary – the not knowing, I mean.

Me:  Yes, it is.  Do you mind, dear?  I work better without someone hovering over my shoulder.

Him:  Oh – right, right, right.  Sorry. I’ll leave you alone.

Me:  Thank you.

Him:  Are you sure you don’t know what you’re going to write about, or are you just telling me that to get me to leave.

Me:  But, you’re still here.

Him:  Right.  Well, I just thought that surely you must have some ideas – don’t you?

Me:  Unfortunately, no – and this column is due in three hours, so I’m getting a little – um – edgy.

Him:  Oh, right.  Right.  Okay then, I’ll just leave you alone.

Me:  Thank you.

Him:  Do you need anything – maybe a glass of water, or a bowl of ice cream?

Me:  I need a little privacy, please.

Him: Oh, sure.  Right, right, right.  I’ll just go in there, then, and leave you be.

Me:  That’d be great.

Him:  I’ll just be in the next room if you need me.

Me:  Perfect.

Him:  You’re not going to write about me leaving the garbage cans at the curb for five days in-a-row, are you?

Me:  No.  I already wrote about that.

Him: Oh, right.

Me:  You’re still here.

Him:  Yes, sorry.  I just want to make sure you’re not going to write about the way I control the TV clicker every weekend.  You’re not, are you?  I just wondered if you planned on writing about that.

Me:  Already did – several years ago.  The goal is to write about something different every time.

Him: Oh, sure.  Right.

Me:  I love you, but you’re loitering.

Him:  I’ll leave you alone now.

Me:   Thank you.

Him:  You’re welcome.

Several more moments pass and neither of us moves a muscle.

Me:  I can feel you staring over my shoulder. 

Him:  Right.  Well, I was just hoping that you wouldn’t write about me again for a while – you know?     Can you leave me off your list of column topics for a few months? 

Me:  But you’re an unending source of fodder.

Him:   I think you already wrote about that.

Me:  Oh, right.  Right, right, right.  Thanks for reminding me.

Him:  I’m here to help.  I’m very helpful.  Hey – you could write about that!

Me:  Great idea!  I promise to paint you in a positive light.

Him:  Oh, good!  I’ll leave you alone now.

Me:  Thank you.

Him:  No problem.  Just trying to help.  It’s just my nature – helpfulness.

Then I type it all up, like this, and email it to the newspaper. 

It’s a complicated process.