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On my own: Talking to the dog and other issues

By Tammy Keith

This article was published July 27, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Being on my own for most of the summer, I’ve learned a lot.

As my regular readers know (and might be sick of hearing), my husband has been in Mississippi, living in a university dorm and taking classes toward his doctorate.

He’s come home most weekends, but last weekend he stayed to study for tests and get papers done as classes come to an end.

I’ve missed him, but I have made the following discoveries.

• The dog is a good listener. When I take him for a walk, I talk to him as if he were my husband — nonstop. “Rudy, do you like that front door? I do. I like the wreath. It’s hot, isn’t it? Hey, we need to get home. Master Chef is coming on.”

• I am messier than I thought. I’m usually a pretty good housekeeper, but without my husband there to help, I’ve let it slide a little. He’s my moppist, so there has been no mopping. I have a stack of clean clothes piled on the cedar chest at the end of our bed. For some reason, I find the thought of hanging them up exhausting.

• The mail piles up when he’s gone, too. He is the mail-getter in the house, apparently, because I might go three days without checking the mailbox. When I do, it’s like a mystery. He pays the bills, so I’m not sure what’s junk and what’s important, so I have to open every. single. piece.

• I get a lot of work done because I stay at the office later every day. There’s no one to go home to, so I keep working. That’s a little sad now that I see it written.

• My television-viewing habits have changed. I looked at the score of the Cardinals game the other night, but I did not watch it. I saw that golf was on, but I kept flipping. I still watch my favorites, but I have discovered shows like Junk Gypsies and The Middle. I laughed until I cried watching The Middle the other night. The cat was not amused.

• I knew this, but it has been made clear to me that my husband is a big reason I get out the door on time every morning. He makes my breakfast and puts my refilled coffee mug in the car. I’ve only managed to make my own breakfast about twice.

• I don’t like the coffee being on the bottom shelf of the pantry, down by the baking potatoes. It’s silly. It hurts to bend my knees. Why do we have it there? I moved it up to the top of the pantry with the cereal.

• I eat out too much when he’s gone. I now have a third restaurant whose employees know my name and order when I walk in.

• Left on my own devices, I eat random things. One night I had frozen yogurt, leftover hummus and chips, and then I boiled green beans from the farmers market.

• I am capable of turning off the sprinklers when it rains, remembering to turn up the air conditioning when I leave and hauling the garbage and recycling cans down to the curb and back up.

• I can do what I have to do. I managed to buy our son a used car by myself, although I did have my husband on speaker phone when it came time to talk financing.

• I rely on him way too much. I realized that when I called him in Mississippi and asked, “What do we need at the grocery store?”

I hear my mother’s voice loud and clear. She’s saying, “You spoiled thing — I raised you better than that.”

I agree with both, and I’m going to hang up those clothes right this minute. Right after I watch my third episode in a row of The Middle.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or


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