Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Nun Walks into a Bar...

“You can write about this. Just make it funny.”

That's what you told me just a year ago when you called us all together to give us the news. To tell us you had pancreatic cancer. (

You said you only wanted to have to tell us once. But I think you knew we all needed to be together, to lean on each other, to pass around the tissues, to remember the fun times (we're all right behind you), to prepare for the future.

To prepare for today.

But we weren't.

We aren't.

“Just make it funny.”

I couldn't do it then, and I don't think I can do it now. And since you can't be here, I'm gonna write whatever I want.

Like you knew I would do anyway.

Damn it.

Today I cried at Panera. I didn't make a scene. Just some sniffling and blotchiness. Just enough to make the servers nervous. They finally stopped looking at me funny every time I went in to Papa Murphy's – where I cried after you first told us the news -- and now this. 

I'm not sure what that says about me... or you... or fast food. But the absurdity does kinda make me laugh.

I think it probably made you laugh this morning, watching me cry in my coffee.

They serve coffee at Panera, Brenda! Coffee! Do you know how much I love coffee?

I can see you with your head thrown back, blue eyes sparkling, and those dimples!

Earlier this morning I was thinking about how, when we lose someone we love, we cry for us... not for the one we lost. We cry to make ourselves feel better. Not because it will make the ones we miss feel better.

Was that you nudging me, reminding me? Preparing me for the call?

I know you are OK now. I know you don't hurt now. I know you're not sick anymore.

I know you're OK now.

I can hear the angels laughing and I know you are scandalizing St. Peter. Dear God, please tell me you didn't show up at the Pearly Gates wearing your “Nun Who Ain't Getting' None” costume.

But then again, why not?

And I think of all the people lined up to greet you. All the people who've been missing you as much as you've missed them.

As much as we'll miss you.

So, here goes....

A nun walks up to a bar in heaven.
“Gimme a Captain and Coke,” she says, winking at the cute angel tending bar.
The angel, shocked by her behavior, faints dead away.
“I didn't ask for Sex on the Beach,” she says.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Spirit Week and Other Fashion (Non)Sense

It's high school homecoming season in Iowa, which means “School Spirit Week,” which means teens across the Hawkeye state are rummaging through their parents' closets for the most out of date, dorkiest clothes they can possibly find.

Which means parents across Eastern Iowa can be heard saying “But wait! I just wore that last week!” in addition to the usual “Are you wearing that to school?”

This year I found my sartorial choices challenged by “Tourist Day.” Things started on a positive note, strangely enough, with a boost to my “Cool Mom” status. Both Little Angels wanted to borrow a Hawaiian shirt, which they knew I, as a “Cool Mom” had.

Unfortunately, in preparation for the great remodel I had actually cleared a few things out of my closet – including my three Hawaiian shirts. Shirts which they had previously ridiculed, I might add. Now my fashionistas were all “Oh, how could you... why would you....” Princess Pack Rat was able to one-up her brother, as she had snagged one shirt out of the donation bag and set about teasing him with it.

In order to keep familial harmony and avoid forever being labeled “The Mom Formerly Known as Cool,” I made a trip to the mall with The Princess acting as a proxy shopper. We selected a very nice, almost-not-obnoxious Hawaiian shirt, which we thought would fit The Prince.

And then the Little Prince went to the mall with his friends and picked out another one. In XXL. All three of us could wear it at the same time.

Shirt problem solved, the Little Angels started arguing over who would get to borrow my fanny pack. Once again, “Cool Mom” was called on for the costume rescue.

“Yeah, all the tourists wear those nerdy things,” they said.

“Huh, wha? Wait, what makes you think I have a... I'll have you know they're quite handy!”

Yes, I do have a small (?) bag which can be carried around my waist so as to free up my hands and shoulders to carry a bunch of other crap my family members don't want to carry themselves. When the children were younger I frequently used it to carry a variety of important supplies – money, band aids, money, wet wipes, Kleenex, money, hand sanitizer, and, oh yes, money! – on our adventures.

My ego was only somewhat bruised by all this until The Princess asked if she could borrow my khaki shorts. Ahhh. Finally! Khaki shorts, something nearly everyone has, sometime timeless, classic, not at all nerdy. Why sure, she could borrow my khaki shorts.

“Good. Dorky 'Mom Shorts' will really complete the look.”

Since when did shorts that cover your wha-hoo become dorky?

The King has escaped relatively unscathed by all this, although the children are disappointed that he doesn't wear sandals – or mandals – which they wanted to wear with socks to complete their ensembles. I tried to point out that he does wear black socks with shorts and work boots, but they did not find this to be nerdy enough for their purposes.

Really? Really, people?

All this pales in comparison to last year's “80's Day" debacle. Despite how many yearbook photos you show them, current high school students continue to show up for “80's Day" dressed like extras from “Flash Dance.” Or worse. I'll be the first to admit, the 80's were dark days for fashion, but they weren't that dark.

BTW, shoulder pads? Awesome. Big hair? Not so much.

I don't remember scavenging through my mom's closet for Spirit Week, but then again, it wouldn't have done me much good. I already had the overalls (a sweet purple pair!) and socks for “Overhaul and Sock 'Em” Day. My beloved vinyl go-go boots from color guard were repurposed for “Punk (rock) 'Em” Day (because, why not?). And who didn't love "Hat Day"? (Although it has been discontinued because apparently wearing a hat to school is too disruptive to the learning process... during a week of disruptive activities.)

In small town Iowa, circa early 1980's, "Dress Like a Farmer" or "Dress Like a Cowboy" day were almost guaranteed a 100% success rate – who didn't have jeans and a button down shirt? The only difference between the two costumes in our minds was the ever disruptive head gear. Did you go for the seed cap or the cowboy hat? Hot on the heels of “Urban Cowboy,” we all had cowboy hats of one type or another.

In fact, most of our ideas about cowboy attire came from that movie, which, upon reflection may have lacked authenticity. We may have been subject to revisionist fashion history, just like today's youth and their limited 1980's fashion knowledge. Come to think of it, there has probably always been a gap between reality and fun when it comes to dress up days at school.

I can picture the scene now: 1793, France
Louis XVI: Darling, have you seen my old, lounge around the castle crown?
Marie Antoinette: The Dauphin wore it to school for something called “Storm the Bastille Day.”
Louis: I have a bad feeling about this....
Marie: I'm sure it's nothing to lose your head over.

Or something like that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is That a Mug in Your Pocket or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

Dear Mr. Coffee,

I'm a big fan of yours. Or, I should say I'm a big fan of coffee (the life-supporting beverage), and I have been – off and on – a big fan of Mr. Coffee, in that you make coffee in a readily ingested liquid form available in my cup.

But that's about to change.

The part about being a fan of Mr. Coffee, not the part about being a fan of coffee (nectar of the gods).

You see Mr. Coffee, you have the same problem other “Misters” have. You have a problem measuring.

Just like fishermen are said to misrepresent the size of their fish, you misrepresent your cup size.

Maybe I'm being too harsh when I say “misrepresent.” Perhaps “fail to mention,” “neglect to inform” or “skip that important little tidbit” would be more accurate.

You see, I recently undertook what I thought was a coffee maker upgrade. My puny (but honest) one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker just wasn't satisfying me anymore. It took too long to heat up, required too much effort to get ready for action, and sometimes it finished before I was satisfied with the fill level.

So picked up an available 5-cup maker at a coffee bar. Bigger, better, faster, more. At least that's what the label said.


Except that my one-cup-at-a-time maker put out as much coffee as I put in water. Within reason, of course. For cups over 12-oz., I was advised to seek immediate attention (to avoid reservoir overflow).

And yes. I do have cups bigger than 12-oz. I like big cups and I can not lie.

Imagine my surprise then, when I realized the pot for my new 5-cup brewer was not much bigger than my mug. Cups is cups is cups right?

Not so much, I discovered.

While the box clearly advertised “5-cups” it never actually mentioned cup size. After looking really, really hard, there in the fine print, buried on page eight of the user manual I discovered:

“1-cup = 5 oz. brewed coffee.”

Which strikes me as funny because there in the large print, clearly emblazoned in eye-catching, red letters on the front of my Pyrex liquid measuring cup it says:

“1-cup = 8 oz.”

And, of course, I think:

“1-cup = 12 oz.”

So my new (bigger, better, faster, more) coffee machine makes just 20 ounces of coffee at a time. That's one and a half mugs. I won't even mention the premature pouring.

I now realize my new machine is the same size as those sleazy motel coffee maker affairs. The ones that make only two styrofoam cups-full. That's just enough to get me moving and down to the front desk, where – God help us all – there had better be an urn of complimentary coffee or there will be hell to pay. If I get lucky, it's enough coffee to get me to the mini-mart next door to satisfying my jonesing. I have been known to stop for a mini-mart cup of coffee on my way to the fancy schmancy coffee shop so that I have a lil' sum sum to tide me over as I wait for the gravity-fed, peace-love-and-mellowness, slow-drip coffee to come together in my cup.

While we're on the subject, I think hotels should offer a choice of caffeinated or decaffeinated rooms (with two packets of one style grounds, instead of one of each), much like the smoking and nonsmoking rooms available now. I'm the only one in my family who drinks coffee, which is why we are able to share one overcrowded hotel room without incident, even as the kids get bigger and we argue over sleeping arrangements, pillow allotments, towel assignments, shower time and possession of room keys.

But I digress.

Which is what happens when I drink coffee 5-ounces at a time.

So really, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Because when it comes to coffee, Mister, size matters.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Let Me Introduce to You The One and Only... No Talent Slugs

No Talent Slugs to Play Fundraiser

J. Salemink
Special to The Pleasant Glen Daily Herald Tribune Gazateer Times

A podiatrist, an accountant, an orthodontist and a Home Ec teacher all walk in to a bar.

It sounds like the set up to a bad joke. And it may be.

It's also the line up for Pleasant Glen's most unlikely popular underground band, The No Talent Slugs.
 The group will be... performing... Saturday at The Bar, downtown Pleasant Glen, to raise funds for the high school fine arts program. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Jim Johnson: We recommend you get there early and start drinking quickly. The drunker you are, the better we sound.

I recently sat down with members of the group at The Bar to discuss their upcoming show and their surprising popularity. Johnson, a graying, 54-year-old podiatrist, is the rhythm guitarist, lead singer, and spokesperson for the band. 

Jane Smith: Graying? Graying? That's like describing a blizzard as “snowing.” And "singer" might be stretching it a bit.

Smith, a Home Ec teacher at Pleasant Glen High School, is….

Smith: “A smokin' hot babe who makes middle-age look good. As a keyboardist and vocalist with the group, she also gives the band some much needed class.”

So, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Smith has cast aspersions on your singing ability. Based on other comments I've heard, I have to ask... can you sing?

Johnson: “Well, yes. Of course I can sing. You might not want me to sing.”

Smith: We've had to re-program the auto-tune synth three times so far. Shout out to Matt “MC” Currand, our electrical technician and roadie. We've relegated Jim to lead screecher on the heavy metal tunes.

Johnson: We all serve our time behind the microphone now.

Smith: It's harder to know who to boo that way.

Bill Jones: I wouldn't call it singing so much as “vocal stylings.” Remember William Shatner's spoken word performances? We're not that good.

Pleasant Glen orthodontist Bill Jones is the group's bassist and a founding member. Can you explain how the group came together? Or, more curiously, why?

Jones: Our kids – who actually do have talent – joined a high school rock band program at the local music store. They teased us about taking an adult Learn to Uke class... one thing lead to another....

Smith: One beer lead to another. Each of us claimed to have the least musical talent....

Johnson: Dares were made....

Smith: Bluffs were called....

Johnson: Aspersions were cast. You dirty, rotten aspersion caster.

Smith: I'll never live that one down, will I?

Jones: And the next thing you know, we all had signed up for lessons.

So you all play the ukulele?

Smith: Oh, God no. But it's not for lack of trying. I've taken the beginning ukulele class three times, and intermediate twice. I can play a “C” chord pretty reliably. Or is that a “G” chord? Which one's the open one?

Jones: Jim and I switched to electric guitars, because, well, they're electric and we're guys so....

Johnson: And they're much more expensive than ukuleles. Double bonus! Between the two of us we've got the big three chords – C, G, D – down cold.

Jones: Ish. I still have a little trouble with “G” too, Jane.

Smith: I know. Believe me. We all know. Anyway, the kids were having so much fun, that we decided not to let our lack of musical talent get in the way of forming our own band.

Johnson: What we lack in talent we more than make up for in enthusiasm.

Three chords? Doesn't that kind of limit your play list?

Johnson: You'd be surprised how many songs only have three chords.

Yeah, but... not the same three chords.

Jones: You're right. And that's what really sets the No Talent Slugs apart from … well, everyone else. GCD, DAG, EBA, EAG, FBI, CIA....

Smith: It's still rock and roll to me.

So you transpose those other chords?

Johnson: Pffft. Heck no. We just play them as G, C or D.

Smith: Reminiscent of a song, yet not a song.

Interesting. I can't... I can't think of any other band to compare you to. Can you?

Johnson: We used to say we played like first year band students.

Jones: Until the first year band students threatened to sue us for defamation of character.

Smith: We've been compared to Milli Vanilli.

Johnson: Technically, we were urged to lip synch.

Jones: And have someone else play our instruments.

Smith: And appear on stage for us.

Any chance you've been compared to Spinal Tap?

Johnson: Dude. Our amps go up to 12.

Do you take requests?

Jones: We get a lot of requests not to play.

Johnson: Really? From who?

Smith: Your wife. His wife. My husband. The neighbors. Our kids. No, I take that back. The kids upload videos of us to YouTube and wait for them to go viral.

Anything you won't play?

Smith: Billy Joel. His music is sacrosanct.

Johnson: And he uses more than three chords. Show off.

Jones: You'd think we could at least play “Piano Man.” It's the same damn thing over and over again.

Johnson: Yeah, but she can't play the piano, man.

Smith: Aspersions cast, aspersions carried.

Saturday's show will also be the public debut of the band's newest (and quietest) member, Andrew Jefferson James Washington, Accounting Professor at the local junior college.

Johnson: He's the whitest black boy you'll ever find.

Washington: I resemble that remark.

Jones: He holds the dubious distinction of having the least natural rhythm of us all. And that's saying something. He's going to fit right in with our percussion section.

But isn't rhythm kind of a requirement for a percussionist?

Johnson: Not necessarily. For us, anyway. Laurie Anderson, our drummer, sets a pretty steady beat... for the most part. It depends on what she's been working on that day.

Smith: She's a clerk-typist at PG JuCo. If she's had to catch a lot of grammatical and spelling errors that day she tends to be a little edgy. Sets a quicker tempo. If something came in from the athletic director... it's “Katy bar the door!”

Washington: “I may not have much soul, but...”

Johnson: “Any. You don't have any soul.”

Washington: “No, I don't have any funk. I don't have much soul, but I play a mean tambourine. I think. I've never actually played with a band before, but I've got the moves down from watching “Josie and the Pussycats” cartoons. Mostly I just shake a paper plate along with the kitchen radio while I'm getting dinner ready.”

Jones: I saw him playing air tambourine at our neighborhood picnic and I knew he would fit right in.

Smith: We stole him away from the Tambourine Tamers. They put up a good fight, but the group kind of fell apart when the lead 'bourine developed tinnitus.

Washington: Rumor has it he was experimenting with adding a triangle to the group.

Johnson: Sad, really. Know your limits, I always say. Don't let them stop you, but know them.

Washington: I also had an offer from Martha and the Accordion All-Stars.

Smith: You play the accordion?

Washington: Play... own... potato, potahto. I was a punch card operator in another life.

Smith: Mad skills, A.J. ...J. Mad skills.

Sad situations and, dare I say, scandal, seem to lurk in the Slug's backstory, in particular when it comes to percussionists....

Johnson: Ahh, yes. Patty the Postal Worker, our original drummer. Such force, such precision, such a stickler for the rules. You know, I really can't comment on her situation, other than to say the court-ordered anger-management classes conflicted with our practice schedule.

Sounds a little cliché.

Johnson: Isn't all rock cliché?

Washington: It's like Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Smith: Did Freud really say that?

Washington: Beats me. But he should have. Anyway, sometimes a postal worker goes postal. Don't we all? But if you said “she went accountantal,” it just wouldn't have the same... umph.

Smith: I can't believe you didn't tell us about the Accordion All-Stars. You're a man of mystery. I like that.

I have to say, you don't seem like the stereotypical rock and roll band members. The talent limit, the whole three chord thing, the white-collar jobs...

Smith: See? I told you I added credibility to the band.

Jones: How do you figure?

Smith: I spent one summer filling all the tampon dispensers on the University of Iowa campus. Definitely not white collar.

Washington: We're the new face of “Dad Rock.”

Jones: We're not just the face. We're the gut, receding hairline and bifocals of “Dad Rock.”

Smith: You guys do look more like Richard Simmons than Keith Richards.

Johnson: We're not a typical band, or typical band members. Amy Yoder, our … well, we're not really sure what Amy plays...

Jones: She calls it's “rock oboe.”

Johnson: Ummm, yeah, we'll go with that. Anyway, Amy works as a parking garage cashier...

Jones: In a pre-paid pass only parking garage.

Johnson: She says if she didn't have The Slugs, she'd go...

Washington: Accountantal? That woman is hard core. Joan Jett has nothing on her. Except for talent.

Smith: Jon Nesmith, our theremin player-slash-manager, works summers as a detasseling crew leader when he's not holding a stop/slow sign for road construction crews.

Jones: And in the off season he candles eggs and works as a mall Santa. He says he's used to herding cats, so we keep his skills sharp.

So your band is a cure for mass mid-life crises?

Johnson: No. That name's been trademarked. And they protect it ferociously. We're the No Talent Slugs. Or at least Pleasant Glen's No Talent Slugs. Sheesh. And you call yourself a journalist. Try to keep up.

I'm beginning to think that's not just soda that you're drinking.

Smith: Reminiscent of a soda, yet....

Johnson: Now who's casting ashpersh... asbergs... oh, you know what I mean.

Jones: We're just a group of people who like music and have a good time playing music.

Smith: But through some horrible, horrible twist of fate, none of us have any talent for it.

Washington: We're very serious about our band. We couldn't be this bad without being serious.

Johnson: We're like the kids that always get picked last for the dodgeball team, but who really like dodgeball. So we decided to make our own damn team.

In a weird way, I think I kind of get it. But what I don't get is why the legendary Bob Viner, owner of The Bar, and avowed patron of the musical arts, the man credited with launching the career of near-superstar recording artist Joe Davenport of The Average Joes...

Smith: I had Joe autograph my boob once, when I was in college.

Johnson: I have Joe's autograph on a restraining order.

Jones: I have Joe's partial crown on display in my office.

Washington: Who's Joe?

My question is, why is Bob is letting you play at The Bar? This is one of Eastern Iowa's most popular and respected venues for live music. I've heard rumors of bribes. Care to comment?

Johnson: No bribes were exchanged. He lost that card game fair and square.

Washington: Never bet against an accountant.

Smith: Boobs for beads... or bookings.

Jones: Nepotism is alive and well, right Uncle Bob?

Viner: You! (Pointing at Jones) I'm not your Uncle. You! (Pointing at Smith) Keep those things covered up. You. (Pointing at Washington) Hand over the ten bucks you owe me. And you (Pointing at Johnson) couldn't win a game of “Go Fish” if you cheated. Because you did cheat. And I still beat you. Your friends better drink as much as you say they do, or you'll be scrubbing toilets to pay off your bar tab.

As for you, Miss Reporter Lady, it's a fundraiser for the school. These yahoos play for free. Fewer expenses equals more money raised. End of story.

Well, that clears that up. Any final comments?

Jones: Get there late. Leave early.

Smith: Drink lots. Please.

Washington: Tip your waitress... but, like, with money... don't actually tip her over.

Johnson: Support Pleasant Glen's Fine Arts, so your kids don't end up like us.

Viner: Amen.

For booking information, contact jsalemink through this publication.

Viner: After consulting a licensed health care provider.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sorry, Wrong Number (Probably)

I may or may not have ACCIDENTALLY hacked into someone else's email account.

Probably not.

Most likely not.

And if anyone wearing a black suit and sunglasses, and carrying a badge and flashy-thingy starts asking questions, definitely NOT.

I mean, come on! On more than one occasion I have been unable to switch on an “intuitive” Apple-brand computer.

True story.

In fact, I think I can say with almost 98% certainty that I did not ACCIDENTALLY hack into an email account for jsalemink. And yes, there are a surprising number of jsalemink's out there. Apparently. At least there are if you are consider the number of times I have been denied the use of “jsalemink” as a user name. I know of at least 2 others also living in Eastern Iowa. And that may be pertinent to the story....

You see, we recently switched cell phones and cell phone providers, and I tried to back up... something... (Photos? Contacts? Plans for world domination? Scratch that last one, NSA) to a “random letter that may or may not be G-” e-mail account for transfer. Or something like that. ( Really, the fact that I can't remember what I was trying to back up, why or where to ought to count for something here.)


I was pretty sure I had, at one time, created this account for some (totally legit) reason. I just couldn't remember what the password was.

Or the answer to the security question.

Or why the heck I'd chosen that security question.

It let me change the password anyway.

So, like, if I did ACCIDENTALLY hack into someone else's jsalemink email account, it's almost Totally. Not. My. Fault.

No reason to worry, right?

It's just that when I gained access to the account there were only four other emails, besides the “Welcome to your new blank-mail account. Two were in Definitely. Not. English. (The other jsalemink's I know speak English. Almost entirely. I think.)

The third said “The phone number associated with this account has been changed.

The fourth said “Welcome Back! Jsalemink.”

Curious, no?

So... Upside? If I did hack into some other jsalemink's account, they probably don't (-ish) speak English.

And they weren't using the account very often, so by the time they do use it again, they will have forgotten their password, and their security question and/or answer and they will have a new cell phone number and THEY will think they've hacked into someone else's email account.

Which they will have done. Ish.

And that's what I'll tell the Men In Black.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Livin' in a Box

The bathroom remodel is going as well as can be expected, which is to say it's been at least 36 minutes since anyone found me on the floor, curled up in the fetal position, mumbling “itwillallbeworthitwhenit'sdone, itwillallbeworthitwhenit'sdone, itwillallbeworthitwhenit'sdone...”.

Progress has been slow but steady, given the usual assortment of pre-existing plumbing, electrical and ductwork snafus that had to be corrected before new work could be started. The main contractor has choreographed an intricate Cha Cha of schedules, stepping forward with the planned jobs, backwards with emergency situations, forward with subcontractors, and backward with their emergency situations.

In the meantime, my search for a bottle of aspirin in a house full of plastic storage boxes has been equally slow but steady.

We planned this remodel partly to update our very 1970s split-foyer home, but also because we just didn't have enough room for all our stuff. Paradoxically, the act of remodeling requires us to compress our overabundance of stuff into even less space for the duration of the project.

The answer to our problem is probably that we just need to get rid of some stuff. But that's a difficult concept for a near-hoarder to grasp. And now that the bathroom and the two largest closets in the house are one cavernous, fixtureless space, it's just a little too late to back out. Hindsight is 20/20, and very much NOT appreciated, thank you.

Instead my solution has been to put everything from the bathroom and closets and much of our adjacent bedroom into plastic storage totes. The cat was nearly a casualty of this process when he – traumatized by the constant stream of strangers in and out of the house – decided to take a nap in an tote I was still packing.

There are totes in the family room, totes in the living room, totes in the (remaining) bathroom, totes in our bedroom, and totes stored off-site (and out of mind). Totes filled with clothes, totes filled with shoes, totes filled with medicine, totes filled with towels, knick-knacks, makeup, hair ties and, finally, totes filled with other totes. All this in addition to the totes we've always used to store seasonal items, craft supplies, fabrics, toys, and anything else we don't know what to do with.

Totes to store, totes to organize, totes to keep dust out and totes to keep my sanity in.

All these totes make me look organized, but it's just an illusion. In truth, I have little to no idea what specifically is in any given tote at any given time, except that it probably isn't what I'm looking for. Case in point: The Princess was suffering from a severe onset of seasonal allergies and needed antihistamines. I stared blankly at the sea of totes presumably storing the contents of the bathroom and medicine cabinet, then sighed and drove 15-minutes to the nearest drugstore.

It's not just the dizzying array of sizes, shapes and colors of the totes that drives me crazy, it's the impossibility of keeping a tote together with its matching lid. In this regard, I'm sure that somehow plastic totes and socks are genetically related.

At one time I had, in my living room, two 20-quart boxes but five lids for 20-quart boxes, as well as one lid for a 58-quart box, but no 58-quart box. This was the day after I had purchased a matching amount of boxes and lids.

After wiping the dust from my curling iron for the 20th day in a row (I'm a slow learner) I decided to give up and tote-up everything on my dresser. I managed to find three nearly identical, clear storage totes in our basement.

Each of them required a different lid. Even the two boxes which were the same brand did not use interchangeable lids.

Behind the bedroom door I discovered three lids without boxes. None of them fit the boxes in question.

While searching for lids that did match, I found 30 totes without lids – including both full (18) and empty (12) totes, clean and dirty, large, medium, small and smaller. I also found 40 lids – small, medium, large and larger.

I wish I was kidding.

Finally I admitted defeat and headed to the store to find totes that were just the right size and shape, and an equal amount of lids that fit that size and shape.

As I pondered organizational strategies for organizational strategies, I waxed philosophical: Would my life be more organized if I could put me in a tote?

At least until the remodeling is done.