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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


No, not the word, but yes, the word too, because I found the tiny pencil sharpener I have been looking for for weeks now. And I was so excited that found is my word for the day.

My pencils have been getting duller and duller and no amount of scouring drawers and bags turned it up. I was starting to get desperate, ready to buy another, and then Ralph said Let’s vacuum under the couch.

That might sound like an odd thing to say on any random day, but if you knew how much popcorn had crumbled on, under and around the couch since I bought kettle corn at the Farmers Market last week, you would understand.

So we moved the couch, vacuumed all around, and then decided to remove the cushions and be thorough about it.

And there it was! My inch-long favorite pencil sharpener wedged between the cushion and the side of the couch.

Never in a million years would it have occurred to me to look there, though it probably makes sense since everything inevitably ends up wedged under the couch cushions at one time or another.

Used to be you could scrounge up enough change to buy a slice of pizza, when people had things like change in their pockets and pizza wasn’t four bucks a slice.

But today a pencil sharpener was better.

Of course that got me thinking about other lost and found things, things that turned up in strange places, or maybe never turned up at all. I bet everyone has at least one story. I’ve got about a hundred. But a couple stand out in my head. Like my paycheck.

At least I think it was my paycheck. It was money or something resembling it, anyway. And I couldn’t find it. I searched my car, my purse, my bedroom, the kitchen drawers, the garbage. This was long before I was married, and I was living with my parents so they were on the case, but really my grandmother was on the case because she had a direct line to all the saints in heaven and could whip one out for any circumstance.

For lost things, she called up Saint Anthony.

Saint Anthony was a fixture in our house. If you have ever lost your keys or wedding ring or favorite shoe and prayed to Saint Anthony but never found it anyway, it’s probably because he was at my house busily searching cars and drawers and under couch cushions.

We searched for that paycheck quite thoroughly. My grandmother was starting to panic. She wasn’t selfish, so she didn’t call up her saint friend the instant something went missing, she did give him a chance to help other people, too. She always gave it a good old fashioned try herself first.

I remember her face down in my car, looking under the seats and floor mats, then retreating back to the house to look in my underwear drawer and then returning to the car again.

There was no check.

So she did the only thing she could do, and asked Saint Anthony. Then she went back to the car and there was the paycheck. In between the seat and the console.

We both swore it was not there before.

People in my family tend to lose a lot of things, car keys being the most frequent. Wallets a close second. Once, I lost my purse because I put it on the roof of the car and then forgot it was there and drove away. I didn’t even know it was gone until someone called me up and said they saw my purse in the middle of the street and looked me up to find me. I drove to their house to retrieve it and thanked them profusely. All the cash was still there.

Moral of the story: don’t put your purse on the roof of the car. Or your baby. Just saying.

More importantly, though, there are good people in the world. Sometimes it’s hard to find them but sometimes they find you.

These days I mostly lose my cell phone, and usually because as I’m frantically searching high and low, telling my mother that I simply can NOT find my cell phone anywhere, it takes me a while to realize that it’s on my ear where I’m holding it so I can tell her I can’t find my cell phone.

Sometimes, though, I do leave it in odd places, and THAT happens because my cell phone is perpetually attached to my hand, unless I need that hand and then put the phone down wherever I happen to be. Sometimes that’s in the bedroom closet. Sometimes the grocery store. Occasionally the refrigerator. Once, Ralph and I had to retrace our steps through an entire shopping trip to find out my phone was next to the Life cereal.

I usually keep the ringer off, which is peaceful, but perhaps not entirely helpful when it comes to finding the phone.

The award for Best Finding Story has to go to my brother Brian, who lost a ring that was valuable to him. It seemed to have disappeared off planet earth and even appeals to Saint Anthony didn’t turn it up.

I mean, at first. That was probably the day your kid lost their favorite teddy bear or something, and he was busy. Because some time later, after everyone had mostly given up on finding this ring (but my grandmother never lost faith in her favorite saint) my brother was getting himself breakfast one day and poured himself a bowl of Cheerios, and there was his ring.

I feel like maybe there is something about my family and cereal here.

The one finding story that didn’t turn out so well was when I lost my wedding ring. The last memory I have of it, I had taken it off to wash dishes, and laid it down next to the sink.

When I realized it was missing, I ransacked everything. The sink drain. The drawers. My pockets. I even opened up the vacuum cleaner bag and sifted through god-knows-what to see if I’d sucked it up while cleaning. It never turned up.

Remember the flood? We stripped our house down to studs and bone when that happened, which means I even got to look under every crevice where it might have somehow been wedged into the baseboard or magically osmosed through the sheetrock. We even dug deep into the plumbing pipes. No ring.

To this day we suspect that our cat had something to do with it. She liked to stare at shiny objects until they did something to threaten her and then she whapped them to the floor. Perhaps she whapped my ring right into a garbage bag or something.

I’ll never know.

But, I suppose that was the universe’s way of saying you can find love even if you don’t have the gold to prove it.

Now if only someone would help me find my marbles. I think I left them around here someplace.

Photo: my bag o’good things, and my favorite pencil sharpener, with an excellent array of colored pencils that my friend Kaarina gave me. I use them every day.