And it isn’t even my doll!

CAUTION: Contains subject matter dealing with depression and mental health issues. Also a photo that is best viewed on a large display. And a gratuitous tag mentioning Roz Warren because she dared me to. Anyway, this story is similar to my usual Conversations with My Wife but lacks the humor and warmth I try to bring out in those. So if you’re not having a good day, you should probably take a pass on this one.

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Broken leg. Broken arm. Time to put her down? (Photos by author.)

Yesterday when we sat down to breakfast, Deb’s doll, Miss Potts¹, was sitting on the dining table, rather than her place over on the side table next to the window. Miss Potts is basically made out of small flower pots—too small to be actually useful—plus twine and straw and little cloth hands & feet. …

Hang on, folks, it’s a looooong catalog season and we’re only into November…

We read catalogs at breakfast. And share stuff we find.

DEB: “Common sense. It’s not a gift, it’s a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone who doesn’t have it.” That’s my last two years at my old job!

ME: Pity it’s a t-shirt, not a desk sign. Oh look, this one has a little doll that kinda looks like Dr. Fauci! Wait… okay, it’s a “Dr. Fauci Bobblehead Collectible” because, apparently, as we approach the end of the year people are looking for fun ways to remember 2020?

DEB: Speaking of our favorite year: “I tried to embrace my inner child today, and the little asshole bit me!” …

The river is long and the river is wide, but there’s a path running just along the side

Since I recently chided Mark Starlin for not warning readers about photos that are best viewed on a large screen, I will warn you that a couple of the river panoramas below look best on a big screen.

So on Election Day, we went out walking (we’d already voted well before—relax!) along the river trail we’d been enjoying.

A new three-mile stretch had just opened up at the northern end. Re-opened, actually, because the section had been graveled for the most part a long time ago, but the county park association had rebuilt the trails with paved roadway, replaced the old wooden bridges with steel structures, and turned some meandering tracks into straight paths. …

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Catalog season!

DEB: So, remember how they said on the radio that most breakups happen around December 11 because that’s when guys realize they need to buy Christmas gifts? So here’s the [outdoor clothing] catalog, winter edition, out in October. And the first half of it is all guy stuff, which is usually just an afterthought at the back. Why? Because girlfriends are starting to shop already for Christmas. And guys have no clue.

Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year! …

Give the Gift of Shared Kindness

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

As we’re waiting for our orders to be finished up at Subway:¹

DEB: You know what we should have brought?

ME: Um, our credit cards? I have mine.

DEB: No! Gail’s thing!

ME: Yes! Gail’s… um… thing… with the… um…

DEB: The above-and-beyond envelope!

ME: Oh! (realization strikes) Y’know, that would be perfect for right now, wouldn’t it?

The actual name is The Gift of Shared Kindness, by the way (GoSK).

The idea is that you have something on hand to give to someone for going above and beyond what would be expected. Or maybe they are having a bad day. Or maybe you are having a really good one. The point is, you have a little packet with some cash that you give to someone for whatever reason you like, to maybe make their day a little better.

Vote! We did!

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Email from the state voting certification office, received less than four hours after we dropped off our ballots. This was going to be a cute selfie of Deb and me putting our ballots into the drop box at the county voting office. Instead, the lobby was so busy I was afraid of holding people up. Plus, there were LOTS more people than would fit into a small lobby while allowing social distancing, and I was starting to feel anxious, which makes for even worse selfies than my usual poor photos.

We had both gotten our ballots this week, so why not swing by downtown York, Pennsylvania and drop them off? …

Ask not for whom the phone bell tolls, and you’ll end up listening to a sales spiel

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Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

DEB: (seeing me hang up my phone as she walks in) Who was that?

ME: Not anyone trying to sell Medicare insurance, it turns out.

DEB: You want to talk to someone about insurance?

ME: Actually, I want to talk to the ones trying to sell insurance to Joan Herlocker.

DEB: Who is — (awareness hits) Oh!

Many years ago, when Deb turned 50, she got an application to join AARP. Since this was many years ago, the easiest route was to fill out a paper form and mail it. Which is how Deb became an AARP member, along with her spouse, JOAN (which I figured out was JOHN with an “H” poorly written so it looked like an “A” to the rushed data entry person). …

But I would not feel so all alone / Everybody must get… graveled?

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Stones! Large gravel, really. Not wet, just shiny with fixative. Feels weird to walk on, because my brain thinks I should feel a little shifting every time I put down a foot, but there’s no give at all when I step on it. (photos by author)

As we amble into fall here in central PA, we are rain-deficient. Not a drought, just at the point where lawns and plants need attention to watering. So our landscaper chose this period to apply a treatment to our backyard “terrace” (just a flat area half surrounded by big rocks, with loose gravel) to keep the gravel in place.¹ The fixative needs a day to set, and dry weather works better. So with a ten-day forecast showing no better than a 20% chance of precipitation, he scheduled the two-day process.

DEB: I dunno, honey, it’s Zach. You know his record.

Three years ago Zach transformed our backyard. …

Love, friendship, and partnership; and the greatest of these is currently up for discussion

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To the tune of “Proud to be an American “

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Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

If tomorrow I was stuck at work
I can’t imagine that
I’d be afraid to take them on
’Cause I’m a tough old bat

I worked real hard to now become
The person whom you see
’Cause I’m the sort who says both “R”s
When pronouncing “library”

And I’m proud to be a librarian
Where the books I loan are free
And I’m grateful to my Aunt Lucille
Who got this job for me
And I’d gladly stand and SHUSH! you all
If you have too loud a say,
And the penalty is fifty cents
If your books aren’t back today.

In honor of Medium’s own librarian and Medium sherpa, Roz Warren.


Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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