Slippery Slope

February 13, 2024

Many people’s pandemic stories (at least the tales of those of us lucky enough to escape COVID—those who got sick, of course, have the REAL stories) contain certain tropes. These include: Not Touching the Mail for Days, Cleaning the Groceries, Taking Daily Neighborhood Walks, Getting a Dog, Having Tons of Zoom Meetings, Putting on the Pandemic 15 (lbs) and Undertaking Home Improvements. Of these, the only one I missed was “Getting a Dog,” but then, both Rose and Julie adopted rescue pups, so I think I get partial credit. 

Now, nearly four years in, I have stopped doing most of the above activities—I grab my mail as soon as it arrives, plop my un-sanitized bags of food on the counter, Zoom as little as possible, and have cut back sharply on those walks (which may explain why my Pandemic 15 linger). But we are still Undertaking Home Improvements and One Improvement is Leading to the Next, and the Next, ad nauseum.

First, in the summer of 2020, Steve re-finished our back deck, which of course led to new patio furniture and a fire pit. We were ready to have company—outdoors and socially distanced! Mission accomplished? Not so fast!! The interior of our abode was also crying out for attention. The family room paneling, once off-white, had aged to an ugly off-off-greyish-brownish. A new coat of paint worked wonders! But then the living room looked awfully sad by comparison, so it got painted too—which highlighted (highlit?) the shabby, shabby furniture. Out with my mom’s ancient sofa! Begone worn-out wing chairs! In with all brand-new stuff!

Which, naturally, made our poor little kitchen hang its range hood in shame. Arguably the heart of our home, the kitchen had gone un-enhanced for decades (unless you count the appliances that broke and HAD to be replaced). So, just before the holidays, we launched the next phase of Operation Beautify. Luckily, some of my writing income had been set aside for this project, so we hired a professional painter to do the walls and cabinets, and another company to lay the wood laminate floor. It now looks so snazzy (we even have color-coordinated drawer knobs!) that I often just walk in and stand there, staring in wonder and joy at its loveliness.

But then I mosey out to the dining room, where the big wooden table, its finish long worn away, stained with coffee mug rings and traces of magic marker (it’s also the arts and crafts table) sits in silent rebuke. Even the boys are taking notice, and almost nightly now, they mention our dingy eating surface and the urgent need to “fix it.” So that’s next on the agenda.

Where does it end? I’m hearing rumbles of discontent from the furniture in the upstairs bedrooms, and angry rattling from our extremely old windows. And I know, once we finally finish the re-do, the deck will start sagging again…

It’s a slippery slope, and we’re slipping all. the. way. down.


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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