Happy to say that Carol and I are both--finally--on the far side of our long-playing COVID episodes, but it was quite the sapping, irritating and frustrating experience. We were only REALLY sick for about a day-and-a-half each (moderately high fever and no desire to do anything but lay there in bed and feel shitty), but we're just now coming to the end of the lingering malaise and debilitating lack of "zip" that followed. I finally tested negative about five days ago (after almost two weeks with those cursed dual red lines on my test doohicky) and Carol followed suit four days later.
Even so, we're just now coming out of the brain-and-body fog that follows. Am finally able to write and concentrate properly again, but still have some chest and head congestion, occasional infuriating cough and an off-again/on-again runny nose. Am doing my best to do a half-hour/45 minutes of stretching/fitness every day in the basement (Carol's doing the treadmill), and look forward to getting back to exercise class next week.
Can't recommend any of it but, as I mentioned last time, we're still safe and snuggly in a warm, welcoming environment, and that puts us well ahead of many--if not "most"--people on this planet, even if we're not feeling entirely up to snuff.

We've eaten pretty well but lost a little weight, played gin and backgammon and watched way too much TV. Favorites include:
a) As mentioned last time, THE MAGPIE MURDERS
b) All the old "THIN MAN" movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy (they are SO smart!)
c) Old episodes of THE ROCKFORD FILES on Prime's FreeVee (a few commercials, but not many)
d) Season 4 of Formula One's DRIVE TO SURVIVE series on Netflix. This covers the fantastic, season-long "Clash of the Titans" confrontation between my personal favorite Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes and the genuinely brilliant and deserving (but occasionally bratty) Max Verstappen's Red Bull. You couldn't Hollywood Script it any better, even if the ending was, well, let's just say "affected by outside forces" in ways that it maybe shouldn't have been. Then again, there were dramatic ups and downs throughout the season and it's a riveting thing to watch. Plus the production, editing and camera work is as good as a top-end clothing, car or shampoo commercial. And that's a compliment.
I think...

Back in "real life," things can get a bit boring, numbing, listless and repetitious when two long-married folks are trapped at home together (did you ever consider that maybe The Donner Party were just sick and tired of each other?) but then sometimes, out of the blue, Fate throws you a screwball and spices things up.
It happened like this:
Carol and I are laying in bed the other evening, half-heartedly watching some lame TV show and/or reading a bit when, out of the clear blue, she lets out a truly blood-curling scream. I mean, it straightened out all the hairs I have left. Even the ones in my ears.
In fact, ESPECIALLY those!
Like any sharp, smart, thoughtful and resourceful husband, I replied: "Huh?"
"A MOUSE!" she shrieked. "I JUST SAW A MOUSE!"
Now, to be honest, we have had occasional--VERY occasional--mouse visitations over the years, and they have been dealt with via the usual and draconian commercial methods. But we haven't had any in-house mouse sightings in many years, and so you get used to the notion that they rather prefer to live elsewhere. Bless their furry (but occasionally disease-ridden) little hearts.
Like any good husband, I inquired: "Are you SURE???"
Carol gave me a look that would curdle milk. Turn it into cheese, in fact. I think "withering" might be an apt description.
Now I am not one to doubt my beloved wife but, like all husbands--even the moderately thoughtful ones--I am constantly in search of:
1) The path of least resistance
2) Solutions that require neither effort nor action on my part. And so much the better if they don't require thinking or decision-making, either.
So we stayed there for a bit, as if our bed was a life raft and the floor around us was a dark, uncertain sea (very likely filled with furry-eared sharks, sea snakes and box jellyfish) and then, like any concerned husband, I went back to my reading. Or at least I did until another blood-curdling wifely shriek rent the silence:
I rolled my eyeballs up under their lids, but again I saw nothing except the mirrored sliding doors of my closet, not ten feet away.
"I don't see anything, Honey."
But before Carol could even answer, damn if the furry little ham didn't stick his head out for a curtain call. In fact, he looked right at us!
And now, of course, I was obligated to actually DO something. You married or long-cohabitated men will surely understand. Mind you, it matters not WHAT you do (or if, in the end, it does any good as far as remedying the situation is concerned), but the time has come to get off your effing duff, take command in a muscular, manly sort of way and make some sort of feeble (but humane...it HAS to be humane) attempt to deal with the despicable rodent that will surely lead to a Bubonic plague-laced infestation (I'm talking thousands, maybe even millions of mice here) if the threat is not eradicated post haste.
So I went downstairs to my basement shop area and looked around for some suitable gear. Only I couldn't find any mousetraps, so I finally grabbed a gardener-style squirt bottle with a trigger and a nozzle on top and filled it with a couple parts water, a part-and-a-half of vinegar (a smell I have been assured that mice detest) and a small half-bottle of Peppermint Oil, which I remember hearing they like even less.
Oh, and a small plastic container with a lid. Mind you, I had no idea how I might tempt, cajole or corral the renegade rodent into said plastic box. But at least I looked well-equipped.
By the time I get back upstairs, Carol is curled up in a tight crouch on the bed, staring into the hallway. I notice that she's pulled all the covers and blankets up so the mouse can't attack her in bed like midieval knights storming a blessed castle...
"How are you so sure it's a 'he?'" I asked.
But that was the wrong way to go, since the thought of a female mouse brought forth visions of multitudinous mouse litters as yet unborn and the million-fold, flea- and disease-ridden infestation mentioned above.

Did I mention that I was dressed for bedtime? In other words, in my underwear. Visualize my somewhat wide-track but short-on-vertical-wheelbase shape in a fine, slightly oversize THE LAST OPEN ROAD tee shirt (I get a wholesale price on them) and a pair of roomy and zoomy ROAD AMERICA boxer shorts (available from the ROAD AMERICA PADDOCK SHOP and just the thing to impress your bed- and/or room-mates). And some slippers that are only halfway on my feet on account of I wasn't really paying attention when I burst forth out of bed and hustled myself downstairs.
So I set the plastic-box-with-lid down next to my dresser--I still can't figure out how I planned to use it--and, with my eyes wide, teeth gritted and trembling finger vibrating on my squirt-bottle trigger, I open the closet door.
And damn if the little bugger isn't RIGHT THERE!
Or he (or she?) is for a flashbulb-pop of an instant. After which he/she TAKES OFF, scrambling right over the toes of my LH slipper like Justin Fields bursting out of the backfield on a broken play (currently the best offensive play in my beloved Chicago Bears' game plan these days) and hard right onto the white tile floor of our darkened bathroom.
But it doesn't take Mr. (or Miss? Mrs?) Mouse very long to decide there aren't any good places to hide or disappear to in our bathroom. So when I switch the light on, he (she?) does a 180 and comes barreling out, damn near over my toes again. Only this time I've got the squirt bottle ready...
You really need to visualize this:
The mouse goes skittering/scrambling back into our bedroom in an awesome arc of a full-on powerslide, hell-bent on getting back to the relative darkness, safety and seclusion of my closet. And here I come, stomping and blundering along in the mouse's wake, squeezing the trigger on that squirt bottle like it's a Thompson sub-machine gun.
Imagine for just a moment what this must've seemed like from the mouse's point-of-view. Like being pursued by a manic, lumbering, pale, pasty, bald-on-top/grey on the fringes Godzilla--shorts akimbo/slippers flying off in all directions--squirting a veritable fire-hose of horrible vinegar/peppermint oil solution...
He/she disappeared into my closet and never reappeared for the balance of the evening. And I wasn't about to go in after him. Or her.
Carol didn't sleep very well.
I, on the other hand, slept like...well, like husbands usually do in times of stress. And right there, I think, you have the essence of the differential gulf between the male and female of our species.
Don't tell Carol I said that, OK?

Come the next day, I headed over to our nearby Big Box hardware store and quickly realized that our situation, following a deep freeze and a thaw and another temperature drop, was hardly unique in our neighborhood. In fact, right as you entered those big sliding doors, there was a huge display of mouse traps, rat traps, bait traps, glue traps, far-more-expensive "humane" traps, mouse repellent sprays and such. And then another, similar display right by the checkout.
So I bought a sackful of conventional, Tower-of-London style traps that pretty much break the mouse in two at the neckline, plus a few of those modern, politically correct "humane" traps where the mouse gets suckered in by the apparently irresistible scent/flavor of peanut butter or brie or whatever, a trap door snaps shut behind them and then you have to take the distressed and terrorized mouse someplace far away--like to your boss or in-laws' house--to release back into the wild.
I figured I was giving the mouse a choice, you know? Like that famous 1882 short story by Frank L. Stockton: "THE LADY OR THE TIGER."
I also bought some VERY good peanut butter. From Whole Foods, no less. Hey, I figured, it was gonna be his (or her) last meal, right?

Sure enough, on the very next night, there was a loud, authoritative "SNAP!" in the wee hours and, as it turns out, our mouse picked the door with the tiger behind it. Oh, well, like they say about racers who died behind the wheel: "He [or she] died doing what he loved."
Eating peanut butter, I mean...

All the best for the new year,


Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: