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CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY WITH A FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies.

Winners of three autographed paperback copies will be randomly drawn from those commenting on this post within the next week.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Mother’s Day (CAUTIONARY) Fairy Tale

Once upon a time (and we’re talking LONG time), there was a poor Mom named CinderBarb, who married her academic-gypsy prince and moved to Illinois, where CinderBarb began to look for a castle. She soon found that in central Illinois, castle basements came in two forms—finished (floors) and unfinished (not so much). Unfinished basements had exposed plumbing and wiring, dirt (or, in some newer castles, cement) floors, and regular floods. Finished basements had plumbing and wiring covered with dark faux-wood panelling, cement floors with shag carpeting, and regular floods.

photo credit: Joshua Hoffine

Central Illinois basements. What’s not to love? [photo credit: Joshua Hoffine]

From her fairy godRealtor, CinderBarb learned that when her children are small, they will say, “Let’s play happily all winter down in the subarctic unfinished basement even though it’s basically the place that you scream to the blonde teen in the slasher movie to stay out of. Unless she has to do the laundry, of course.” Then when they become teenagers, their parents bring on the paneling, shag carpet, and the stereo, and the kids will say, “Let’s go down into our neat basement and play some swell board games instead of drag racing down University Avenue, drinking beer in the parking lot, and scoring drugs from students at the U.”

Of course not. No telling what might be inside...

Hell, no. No telling what might be inside…


So CinderBarb bought Entropy House (unfinished basement) where she was forced by her wicked step-socioeconomic status to slave from dawn to dusk and where nature, not to mention the dog, abhorred a vacuum. At Entropy House, CinderBarb’s prince was always asking when we [can’t you just see those air-quotes?] are going to finish moving into our house. But somehow in their whole whirlwind home-by-midnight-with-a-PhD courtship, CinderBarb never got around to mentioning her genetic impairment. Sadly, she was born with a congenital Martha Stewart deficiency. Her only coping mechanism when moving to a new castle is to line up the furniture around the walls and hang her two pictures in existing nail-holes in hopes that the previous tenants had better decorating skills. She leaves the actual redecorating until they put the castle on the market and the fairy godRealtor hints that while it’s all very well for lower forms of life like them (Sellers), real humans (Buyers) are going to require roofs and carpet from the current century.

Anything could be in those boxes.

Honey, have you packed the cat?

But even CinderBarb had to admit that having a family room decorated in early U-Schlep boxes might not be the Better Castles & Gardens effect she’s after. She lacked the nerve to actually look inside the boxes, many of which followed them, unopened, through the last several castles. Movers cryptically labelled some of the U-Schleps with phrases like “MB—misc.sn.pit.” While this might mean “Master Bedroom—miscellaneous snapshots and pictures,” CinderBarb couldn’t shake the suspicion they actually contained a variety of snake pits belonging to somebody with the initials “M.B.”

So one day she channelled Mary Poppins: “Let us all clean out the basement and move these boxes down there. There will be fun and much pizza.” As with most of her worst ideas, CinderBarb refused to listen to the voice of reason—which in Entropy House was rarely heard above the din anyway—as she deployed her troops into the depths.
At first it wasn’t too bad.

The four-year-old, King of Boxes & Junk, began to pile up his cardboard treasures while his sisters gathered about 375 stuffed animals nobody had played with in years. If ever. Carried away by her excitement at catching a glimpse of the actual basement floor, CinderBarb uttered the word that broke the magic spell: “trash”. The King threw himself across Mt. Cardboard screaming, “NO CinderMom, you can’t throw out that box. It’s my airplane.” She reached for another box. “Not that one either. It’s my duck house. In case I get a duck.” She pointed to a little one in the back. “Nope. Spaceship.”

CinderBarb pondered the immortal words of that great American philosopher:

If at first you don’t succeed try again. Then give up. No use being a damned fool about it.”–W.C. Fields.

When the King’s back was turned, she bravely threw out an old waffle box.

Meanwhile, his sisters held a wake for their stuffed animals. Somehow they knew CinderBarb couldn’t get rid of anything with an obituary. “This is Fluffy/Bluey/Mary/Dolly/Baby/etc. I got her from Grandmom/Aunt Tilly/Uncle Toots and I LOVE her. If you throw her out, I’m going to tell them and they’ll probably get me TWO more. Big ones.”

888 - basement cat dark eyes Scary


Bowing to the inevitable, she remortgaged the castle, purchasing thiry-seven miles of shelving to hold all of the King’s junk, stuffed animals, boxes of books, and toys from upstairs.  It took her family the better part of a week to haul it all upstairs again. “My next castle,” vowed CinderBarb, “…will have a magic attic where these boxes can live happily ever after.” **


Sure, you could go for that perfect house. Or not... [photo credit: Demotivators]

Sure, you could go for that perfect house. Or not…
[photo credit: Demotivators]

**Sadly, not THE END.

What is the worst thing that happened when you moved? Best moving story?