After a whirlwind tour of the house, the family left for a vacation in the Florida Keys. I wandered around trying to acclimate myself to what would be my surroundings for the next fortnight. I was continually startled by the lights that come on automatically when I entered a room or opened a closet. I guess that’s what I get for staying in the house of an engineer.
I was amazed that this huge, well-stocked kitchen did not have curry, cumin, or olive oil. That pretty much eliminates everything I know how to cook—all three dishes. Yet any normal person would have been thrilled to stay there, what with the flat screen TV, Wii, and wireless connection. I was just excited to have a private yard to try to learn to ride my unicycle. But after two days I had purple shins and chafed inner thighs, yet was no closer to enlightenment.
Scenario: You’re a vegetarian. You are house sitting for someone whom you know to be a hunter. Advice: Don’t poke around in the freezer in the garage. At least in the kitchen refrigerator were foodstuffs I could eat. I was slowly, but surely, working my way through that family-sized bag of baby spinach. Funny how in my American Sign Language classes they used to say I resembled Olive Oyl. I was now morphing into Popeye. I was glad to report that I was learning to cook and eat things that I wouldn’t ordinarily have bought for myself—until I had to bury the evidence of my experimental cooking disaster.
Things got better from there. I enjoyed Ocean’s Eleven, still not understanding that whole fascination with George Clooney thing. Still, if he showed up at my door I guess I’d let him take me out for ice cream or something. Another movie highlight involved watching Braveheart while drinking a Guinness and trying to ignore Mel Gibson’s Peter Frampton hairstyle. I later posted on Facebook that I was tired of watching several movies in a row with graphic depictions of 18th century medical practices. Someone asked which ones. I started the list: amputations, leeches—then he clarified, “Which movies?” Oh.
After all this sitting around, I needed some exercise, especially since I realized my butt was too large to sit on their kiddie swing. I found the Cardinal Greenway, which is the longest contiguous rail trail in Indiana—a total of 27 miles. With markers every half mile, it was a convenient way to know exactly how far I was running, which is something I have difficulty measuring when I run at home through various paths. Even running during a weekday, I passed many joggers, walkers, and bikers. Good to know Bloomington isn’t the only place into fitness.
The highlight of my stay was definitely Molly, a conveniently hard-of-hearing Weimaraner. She also snores, has restless legs syndrome, and is abundantly flatulent. I developed a soft heart for her when she jumped on the bed one night; I yelled at her to get off. Since she wouldn’t budge, I tried to push her off, at which time I realized she was shaking, from fear of the thunderstorm. Sometimes it’s nice to be cuddled up with a warm dog on a stormy night, until you remember what gross thing she was eating earlier in the day. Apparently a byproduct of living in the country is finding a decomposed carcass in the driveway.
As a fun outing, I met up with my parents at the horse track, Hoosier Park. Since I thought I would just be housesitting, I had only packed clothes for running or lounging. My Mom had to bring me something appropriate to borrow for the evening. I had to apologize to them, as I had gotten a nasty blister from running, and the only bandage I could find in the house had Batman on it, and it completely clashed with my change of clothes.
As much as I enjoyed my time away, I was looking forward to being home where everything is two steps away from everything else and I can make a good cup of tea. It would also be a relief to be away from the dry wind that blows across the plains of Central Indiana, and return to the wooded humidity of Bloomington. Then again, my friends don’t have a mold problem in their bathroom.
Knowing that a family with three kids would soon be returning, I made sure I didn’t eat the last box of Spiderman Mac & Cheese. Even I sometimes have a modicum of self control. Before I left, I created a Ms. Potato Head to guard the mail and welcome them home. I’ll leave you with a quote from what became my favorite wine from my friends’ collection: “No one remembers exactly where the hippo came from.”