Driving home after a busy day crowded with work, students, meetings, and constant demands, I relish the thought of arriving at my empty house and enjoying the quiet, eating a light supper and reading a good book, maybe listening to the Cleveland Indians game on the radio, cherishing the knowledge that no one will be there to ask anything of me.
But then I walk in the door and realize I'm not alone: I'm sharing the house with a Very Bad Smell that lurks underfoot like a slovenly roommate. It doesn't take long to sniff out the source: inside the potato bin, where some potatoes have rotted.
Here is one of the hazards of living (mostly) alone: I don't cook or eat enough to keep up with the fresh produce, so things occasionally rot. Someone will need to remove the stinky, mushy potatoes and then clean out the bin, which appears to be developing its own ecosystem. No use looking around for volunteers: it's all on me.
Similarly, this morning the dog started barking frantically at a particular spot on the front porch. Who will go out and see what foul beast she's cornered there? That would be me--but I'd better grab the broom first and sweep away the spider that insists on building a web across my front door every night. When I finally get out there, I see nothing worth barking at except a swarm of ants emerging from a new crack in the porch, which does not make me happy but I have to wonder why the dog is so hysterical about a bunch of ants. Did some other small beastie get scared away before I got out the door? We do get snakes out there, but she never seems to care about them, and neither do I since they help control the mouse population.
Mice! That's what I dread about winter: as soon as the nights get cold, the mice will start looking for warm winter lodgings, and then I'm likely to catch a few in the mousetraps in the kitchen. Unless the mice happen to get caught on the one day a week when my husband is here, I'll have to be in charge of emptying the traps (yuck) and then re-setting them (ouch!). It's a chore that can't be postponed (speaking of Very Bad Smells), but a dead rodent in a trap that can pinch me is not what I really feel like facing first thing in the morning.
I've proven that I can manage on my own as long as I'm well and truly alone, but I'm less adept when my space is invaded by mice or ants or Very Bad Smells. If only I could find a way to put the invaders to work! The snakes can eat the mice and the dog can bark at the ants but who will harness the Very Bad Smell?