Broom handles aren’t just for witches

Here I was about to go again. Pete had been away for five weeks and the story of my life was as dry and flaky as the skeletons of old dust bunnies.
Then, just as I gave up trying to fish a column out of my humdrum universe, my cell phone rang and the voice on the other end coloured my day with super-power persuasions of how much he loves me.
Honey, if more husbands phoned their wives at work and spoke such impulsive laurels of love, marriages everywhere would have a lot less headaches.
And for a gal like me who was failing at composition, you also were adrenaline for my alphabetized world.
And, you got me to thinking about magnetism.
According to Dave Barry, an American writer and humorist who manages to plunk out a weekly column for the Miami Herald, magnetism is one of the six fundamental forces of the universe.
Barry claims the other five are gravity, duct tape, whining, remote control, and “The Force That Pulls Dogs Toward The Groins of Strangers.”
Mr. Barry, I concur.
But I have my own set of fundamental forces to add to the list, though they may not be as mighty as duct tape or as unstoppable as a groin-sniffing canine.
Nonetheless, these forces impacted my neck of the universe when I ventured into the recesses of the dingy farmhouse basement on the weekend to deal with clutter from a distant past.
Though if it wasn’t for the plumber scheduled to do pipe work for my newly-dug “enough-water-until-the-cows-come-home” well, I wouldn’t have risked my sanity—and vanity—to clear-cut a corner for him to work in down there.
On my list of fundamental forces, magnetism is #1, too. When Pete’s home, it keeps a tingle in my toes. While he’s away, it suddenly becomes a division of “Murphy’s Law” that sucks me into chores and spaces not meant for wives.
This was the only reason that, on Saturday morning, I donned my version of a “HazMat” suit.
With a fear of spiders dropping by the handfuls from the basement ceiling as I cleaned, I figured a solid unit of head gear wouldn’t hurt. I rummaged in the tea towel drawer and found an old triangle of cloth, wrapped it around my head, and tucked in my ear lobes.
I donned my leather work gloves, a pair of safety goggles, stuck my feet in some old gum rubbers, and unscrewed the broom handle to use as a weapon—good for attacking inanimate objects from a distance that may be home to unwanted eight-legged guests.
Then I looked in the mirror.
Oh, brother. I hoped nobody, including Pete, would show up for a surprise visit. I was unrecognizable, not to mention the stained cloth on my head—having been part of an old sieving device for making tomato sauce—made me look as if I was bleeding to death.
The #2, #3, and #4 fundamental forces in my world are clumped under “delayed gratification” which, as I was descending the staircase to the basement, translated into chanting about all the really good things that I was going to do to de-stress when this chore was all over—hot shower, eat chocolate, and drink red wine.
Four-and-a-half hours later, and through deep-breathing exercises as I tackled the unknown, it was all over. I’d made a mole hill out of a mountain of work and when I looked around, convinced myself that just this once, I did a better job at something than Pete.
Sure, I’d encountered my eight-legged nemesis on many fronts—the biggest and meanest-looking ones hiding out inside the corners of the basement windows that had been nailed shut for 10 years.
But the broom handle came in handy and, come to think of it, just might be the reason behind why it’s been raining so much since then.
(Although I did leave an rickety, ominous shelf crammed with old jars and other cobwebbed items for the “man of the house” to deal with, just so that he doesn’t feel left out).
Lucky for my ego, too, that nobody showed up on my doorstep that day to check out how I was “settling in” to life on the farm.
It was bad enough that “Cash” was lying prone and snoozing at the top of the stairs when I emerged from the dark hole of the basement door and slamming it behind me—further decked out with sweat and a swipe of carbon across my forehead from the furnace pipe.
He took one look at me and gave a whole new meaning to “dog gone.”

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