If you have ever wandered at length through a mall parking lot the size of Brazil looking for your car and wondering if setting off the vehicle alarm on your key remote might help locate it, it certainly WILL! That is one of many useful things I learned last year.
You can learn a lot if you're paying attention. For example, I also learned that ...
Foundation drains should be periodically checked to ensure they have not become clogged or crushed by dirt.
A crushed foundation drain can cause water to back up along the basement wall.
Water backed up along the basement wall can cause a moisture problem in a downstairs closet.
It takes just a little moisture in a downstairs closet to grow toxic mold, which can go undetected until someone getting ready to attend a play with her friend Clenece searches the closet for a pair of gold sandals.
A little mold on a shoe box can totally freak out the person who finds it.
Only a small amount of mold in a closet corner can cost $15,000 in air testing, remediation and restoration (the latter includes hepa-vacuuming and/or wiping down with a bleach or borax solution every surface of every room from ceiling to floor, cleaning each item including - but not limited to - papers, books, paintings, computers, clothes, carpets, mattresses, furniture AND furnace ducts).
It is possible that freaking out can cause you to do a lot more work than is necessary.
When a whole room full of furniture (including your husband's computer) is stored in Topeka for a couple of months, you (and especially he) are really glad to see it again.
When you and hubby are sick as dogs with respiratory ailments - months before mold is detected - and three rounds of antibiotics per patient will not do the trick, no doctor is trained to ask, "Hey, you guys wouldn't by any chance have exposure to toxic mold, would you?"
A trip to Arizona will relieve symptoms of toxic mold exposure when three rounds of antibiotics won't. So will follow-up trips to Estes Park and Oklahoma City.
Very few homeowners possess a certificate stating they have an almost mold-free home, but WE do! (That it's not totally mold-free is because mold spores are ubiquitous in every home. Yuk! Who knew?)
Mold isn't the worst thing that can happen.
Sometimes the good, like brother-in-law Steve, die young.
But, because we were counting on a 100th birthday party for Ray's mother Christina, even 94 1/2 is too young to die.
Life is precious.
Owls unfortunately don't realize that or they'd look both ways before chasing an innocent bird into the path of a car traveling 55 miles per hour.
A little bird being hit by a car doesn't make nearly as big a thump as a huge owl does.
It is possible for a defunct owl's foot to get caught in a car's grill and for him to be driven all over town by a driver who hasn't a clue he's there.
An owl can break a car's grill in two places.
When you take your car to the dealership to have a little problem fixed, it can cost you around $600.
Some interesting and fun individuals attend high school reunions, including many you didn't think were interesting and fun in high school. (Maybe some of them really weren't but just managed to improve with age.)
Not everyone improves with age.
World War II Rangers do.
Lawrence and KU are great places to plan reunion activities for a group of old soldiers who appreciate everything that's done for them.
A reunion with his buddies can be so important to one old Ranger that he will make a 12-hour auto trip from Texas, accompanied by his wife ... and chauffeured by his hospice nurse.
Old Rangers send some very unusual Christmas cards. (An artist retains his talent even while being held in a German prison camp.)
It is possible for Ray to have way too many outdoor lights: a bazillion icicle lights hanging from the roof, 12 glowing trees, a herd of lighted deer, candy canes and Santa in his sleigh.
Too many lights make the electric company happy, but trip our circuit breakers.
The sun actually rose the morning after we bought a 9 1/2 foot artificial tree.
But the most important thing I learned last year is this: Life passes quickly. Make up your mind to enjoy it.
- Marsha Henry Goff is a freelance writer in Lawrence. Information about purchasing her book, "Life Is More Fun When You Live It Jest for Grins," is available by calling 843-2577 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.