Author Archives: Kim Peterson

Hidden Treasure

Image by guvo59 from Pixabay.

When you hear the word “treasure,” do your ears perk up like a kitty’s at the whirr of a can opener?

My ears wiggle, too — though as a child, jewels, in particular, fascinated me.

When I was a preschooler, a kind lady, aware of our family’s poverty, offered to buy my sister and me Easter clothes. She was rich, so I reveled in fantasies of princess dresses of red velvet, encrusted with precious stones.

Instead, we wore blue-and-white gingham. Not a single sapphire or diamond on them anywhere.

At sandy beaches, I buried quartz pebbles, marking their hiding places with an X. Someday, I would dig them up and sell them for millions. Then I’d wear princess dresses and eat Dilly Bars every single day.

In my heart of hearts, I knew few found for-real treasures in Indiana cornfields. Jesus told a story about a man discovering a “pearl of great price” in a field, but I never found one.

Still, I tried to hide my everyday treasures, with limited success. My younger brothers, who couldn’t find their shoes if their lives depended on it, possessed sophisticated built-in systems that detected all candy bars within 50 miles.

I also loved fruit — another commodity that disappeared quickly at our house. When my mother brought home ruby-red apples or golden oranges, I sneaked several and hid them in my bed’s headboard for secret indulgence while I read Little Women or Black Beauty.

Much later, I learned that I came from a long line of fruit pirates. My Southern grandmother treasured apples as if they were made of gold. When Dad brought her bags of apples from the Midwest, they vanished. An even better treasure detector than his sons, Dad found them under her bed. Once, while visiting my parents, I was vacuuming bedrooms when I discovered his apple stash as well.

Thus, my toddler grandson’s precocious ability to hide treasure shouldn’t have surprised us. He mostly spirited off other people’s valuables. When car keys, remotes, or backup flash drives vanished, his parents immediately identified the chief suspect. After extensive treasure hunts, they might find their billfolds nestled in 50 pounds of cat food.

Or maybe not.

They still considered that little larcenist a treasure — and Grandma certainly agrees.

I’ve never dug my fingers through piles of gleaming doubloons or gems, but the ring of precious faces around my table glow with greater worth. The only diamonds I own are small solitaires that shine on my left hand and on a silver anniversary necklace, courtesy of the shy, loving guy whose once-hidden treasures have taken a lifetime to discover and enjoy.

Makes my ears wiggle just to think about it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you consider your treasures?

Dancing with the Wind

Clutching my second grade reader, I watched cars and semis whiz past on the highway, but my school bus didn’t appear. Only my imagination kept me company.

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay.

My imagination and the wind. It swirled, breathing earthy spring smells and twittery bird songs.

What do you do when you’re seven years old with no agenda?

You dance with the wind, of course.

I skipped and leaped more like a spring calf than the ballerina twirling in my head.

The porch light went on. Mom poked her head out. “Honey, are you all right?”

What kind of question was that? “I’m dancing with the wind.”

“Oh. Okay. Just don’t get dirty.” Mom closed the door.

The wind and I resumed our dance until the bus arrived.

Eventually, I learned to keep my performances secret, though spring’s Chinook, as Laura Ingalls Wilder called it in The Long Winter, and I continued joyous rendezvous.

However, watching evil Miss Gulch of The Wizard of Oz during a cyclone gave me second thoughts about Mr. Wind.

My own stormy encounter at age 18 confirmed the wind’s erratic moods. Trees fell around my car, power lines sparked, and a nearby chimney exploded. Had the wind gotten up on the wrong side of the continent? Still, I loved its gentler caresses.

My husband never has understood my wind fetish. One sultry night during our early marriage, even the open window above our pillows didn’t cool me. I moved mine to the foot of the bed. Ah, the ecstasy of wind on my toes!

Hubby, who awoke to feet in his face, wasn’t ecstatic.

Ceiling fans help keep us together.

Lately, I’ve winced as the wind has powered trash cans and downspouts past my window. I don’t relish the prospect of spreading Weed & Feed® mostly on me — and Rhode Island.

If we camp this spring, we and our camper may follow Miss Gulch to Oz.

At home, you might find me and my laptop in the bathtub, a refuge reminiscent of the tub where I once read to three antsy little children until an all-clear siren sounded. Thankfully, our bathtubs were/are of the literary variety.

Despite grown-up reservations, the wind still holds a fascination for me. The force that spins windmills like pinwheels recalls Jesus reminding rich, powerful Nicodemus that the wind — and God’s Spirit — are way beyond our control.

Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay.

The spring wind still burgeons with life. Some dark, early morning, I’ll answer Chinook’s call. We’ll dance while no one watches, turns on a porch light, or calls the police.

Why do I want to dance with the wind? Possibly because my grandmother passed down her Native American heritage.

Her middle name was Zephyr.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever danced with the wind?

Ahhhh … Ewww! or Aaa-chooo!

Image by Peter H from Pixabay.

Say the word “lilac,” and ghosts of perfumes past waft through me. Bushes pour their lush scent through an open window into my teenaged soul. My toddlers take turns carefully sniffing purple blossoms along a neighbor’s fence. My husband plants a lilac for me on Mother’s Day.

Say the word “lilac” to my allergy-ridden friend, and she thinks “dynamite.” She once considered sneaking into her churchyard at night and blowing up bushes that every spring swelled her nose to clown size.

The beauty of a scent is definitely in the nose of the beholder. For one conscientious church custodian, ammonia spelled righteous spring cleaning that should characterize God’s house. However, my office faced a restroom door. Ammonia’s powerful fumes wiped out this choir director’s brain cells — critical because she owned so few.

Cultural factors play major roles in olfactory opinions, too. Many Frenchmen eat Époisses cheese. Southeast Asians consider the hedgehog-shaped fruit durian delicious. But because of their, er, distinctive smells, laws in both areas forbid taking these foods on public transportation.

And you thought your Uncle Archie’s garlic breath reeked.

Thankfully, many scents imprint positive impressions. Hubby’s marriage-long aftershave. Vanilla tippled into birthday cake batter. Autumn’s smoky, smoldering leaves. Plump baby necks. A new book with crisp, untouched pages. (Kindles will never replace that.) An old book with its mellow air of wisdom. (They will never replace that, either.)

A tiny tinge of flavor in warm spring air proclaims, “ice cream.” My husband says I can sniff out any ice cream within 50 miles. (Ice cream trucks, take note: add extra guards.)

Perhaps your nose, like mine, shifts perspective per experience. The smell of June roses may recall an evil prom date who handed you a corsage one night and, the next, dumped you for Bambi LaBody. Contrariwise, the return of a familiar bison ambiance to your college-age son’s bedroom fills your heart with joy.

Image by Kirsi Kataniemi from Pixabay.

Given the power of smells, shouldn’t we be grateful our Creator did not design us like dogs? Their noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times as sensitive as those of humans. I am doubly glad I am not an elephant — and not only because that nose might mess with family portraits. According to a Baltimore, Maryland, zoo, this pachyderm’s trunk can outsmell any canine nose, anytime!

In heaven, someday, perhaps mine will surpass them. My allergic-to-lilacs friend, Uncle Archie, and I, sans furry nose or undulating trunk, will together inhale the beautiful fragrance of Christ. No more “ewwws!” or “aaa-chooos!” Only “ahhhhs.” Our holy noses’ sensitivity will make those animal buddies’ olfactory talents compare to stuffy-sinus flu.

Even better, every smelly memory will be a perfect one.

Image by RitaE from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite smells?

Umbrella Magic

Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay.

When I was a preschooler, my mother said umbrellas kept high-wire performers from falling. Would carrying an umbrella atop a swing set morph me into a lovely lady wearing a sparkling bathing suit? Then, perhaps, the world would see the magic me.

But the umbrella didn’t turn into a parachute. I fell like a rock.

Nevertheless, umbrellas continued to enthrall me. Why wouldn’t my mother buy them?

I understand now.

First, what five kids can do to a helpless umbrella staggers the imagination. When my mother gave in and bought one, all umbrellas in the store bowed in a moment of silence. During initial roughhousing, someone raised the newcomer inside the station wagon, resulting in broken ribs.

Sometimes, a lucky umbrella survived and took refuge in the front closet, buried among mittens, hats and boots. If not so fortunate, it found itself in a fencing match with a broom, both wielded by little brothers.

Occasionally, a foolhardy umbrella permitted itself to be discovered. It faced more fencing matches at the bus stop and a school bus ride among 40 passengers intent on poking each others’ eyes out. However, after occupying a dusty corner of the lost-and-found, it eventually vanished into the Alternate Universe where half of all children’s possessions abide, never to be seen again.

As a preteen, I decided to purchase my own umbrella. Because awkward Jo March in Little Women found true love under the umbrella, I thought I might, too. But umbrellas cost three whole dollars. When a friend from Indianapolis offered to buy me one for only one dollar, I requested red with polka dots. Instead, she bought one covered with old-lady pink and yellow flowers. Mom made me smile, thank her, and pay her $1.25.

Still, it possessed a magic of its own. On rainy Saturday mornings, I ventured into our slumbering village, rendezvousing with imaginary loves who shared my umbrella and the rain’s gentle, percussive music.

When did the magic disappear? During college in Bloomington, Indiana, which boasts more rainfall than your average Amazon jungle. I often left my umbrellas in classrooms. Skipping lost-and-found, they entered the Alternate Universe, leaving me to empty my tiny bank account to buy another. I also shared elevators with 30,000 other umbrella-wielding students. My love affair with umbrellas might have ended forever — except that a special young man raised his below my dorm window to signal his approach. We have shared umbrellas for 45 years now. …

This chilly March day, as I again walk a college campus, umbrellas bloom like spring flowers, sheltering laughing, shivering students on their way to class.

Do they feel the magic, too?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like rainy walks under an umbrella?

Saga of the Sofas

I flop on our sofa after a busy day, thankful it’s comfy and fairly presentable.

Unlike its predecessor, Old Plaid.

I don’t remember Old Plaid’s original hues. After a quarter century, it could only be described as kid-colored, a motley mix of Kool-Aid tints. Rubbed with greasy popcorn, anointed with salsa, its cushions had been shaped into forts, castles and stair sleds, its creaky hideaway bed ravaged for M&M’s.

Call it a record of family history.

Call it a mosaic of life.

I called it butt-ugly. Its saggy condition reminded me of my own losing battle with gravity. I would have sawn Old Plaid in half rather than move it to our new house.

I delayed calling The Salvation Army, afraid they would turn it down. So, I made my husband call.

When their workers loaded Old Plaid into their truck, I wanted to kiss their feet.

I also wanted to throw myself into their path: “Stop! Don’t you understand a mother’s and grandmother’s heart? My babies puked on that sofa for decades!”

I had to move on. After waving a sad goodbye to Old Plaid, I forced myself to seek a new, pukeless sofa. Sensing my pain, Hubby stayed by my side. He also went sofa shopping because it involves lying down and taking naps.

We found the perfect couch. At least, I thought so.

“Red?” Hubby stared.“Red?”

I gave him credit. Although his very DNA rejected it, he went along with me. 

Unfortunately, the poufy, red sofa also was a sleep machine. Every time I sat, I would lapse into a week-long coma.

A neutral shade might work better, anyway. We examined a few hundred brown sofas. One’s fabric resembled a quilt made of old bomber jackets. I liked it. Hubby, in the last stages of terminal shopping, agreed. Our grandchildren couldn’t damage it; the sofa already looked like they had shaved it with driveway rocks. Plus, we would look cool. However, our children, who don’t appreciate our Old Hippie ways, would have us committed.

So, we made a responsible, boring decision. I turned down the red sofa. We ignored Big Bomber and bought a different brown couch.

This sofa of destiny belonged in our family. Solid and great for a long nap, but not fatal. It made friends with our carpet and drapes. We christened its teddy-bear-soft cushions with Sunday afternoon naps.

Occasionally, I recall Old Plaid. Maybe another young family’s toddler soaked it with his Sippy Cup and made it feel at home. Or some unsuspecting in-law has spent tortured nights on its hideaway, never to straighten again in this life.

I still miss Old Plaid.

But not that much.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What “Old Plaid” do you miss?

Heroic Hot Chocolate

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.

Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding sessions that have baffled men since forever. 

Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?

They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.

But hot chocolate?

Perish the frou-frou thought.

Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.

The real chocoholic, though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate — often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?

Maybe. He certainly kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Visiting Spaniards decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to European friends. The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated (the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate houses appeared all over Europe.

Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.

Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000 cups.

Hot-chocolate courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the hungry?

Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay.

However, hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The Inquisition would have loved that one.

Fortunately, hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at Starbucks when nobody’s looking.

Heroic for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.

In the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.

Cheers!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?

Fifteen Reasons Why I Feel Fine in February

When Midwestern citizens select their favorite month, February is among the first voted off the calendar. Even 2020’s relatively civilized temperatures (so far) don’t suffice to keep February in the running.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay.

We still wear long undies. Yet swimsuits go on sale. Ack!

February Visa bills bristle with charges we’d repressed.

We’ve already lost the right gloves of new pairs our in-laws gave us for Christmas.

Cars define dirty. Even if some thug attempted to steal mine before my very eyes, I wouldn’t realize it. If I did, I’d offer him the keys.

But I’m still feeling fine in February for 15 reasons:

  • God has not run away to Florida. He knew we needed Him here big-time.
  • I love baggy clothes. Fitted-waistline spring and summer outfits constrict my creativity. Not to mention, my breathing.
  • On Groundhog Day, a marginalized species is celebrated with newspaper headlines. Isn’t it nice that groundhog groupies crowd around Punxsutawney Phil as if he were Justin Bieber? Insane, but nice.
  • I don’t have to do spring-cleaning yet. Shoot, if we squeeze a little more snow out of winter, I don’t have to take down my Christmas wreath yet.
Photo by Linnell Esler from FreeImages.
  • Let’s hear it for half-price chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day!
  • If that’s not enough to make you smile, February is also Great American Pie Month.
  • Because my toes are buried deep inside fuzzy socks, I don’t have to polish my toenails.
  • Nor must I face my March birthday yet. An added bonus: because leap year comes in 2020, I receive an extra day of reprieve.
  • My youngest grandchild was born on the 10th — a reason to throw confetti all month long!
  • February’s sloppy weather creates an excellent working environment for a writer. With a recluse sun rarely showing its face, my laptop and I snuggle in my chair with zero desire to play hooky outside.
  • A steaming mug of coffee tastes 10 times better on a February morning than in May.
  • Everybody’s windows are dirty. Everybody’s yard looks lousy. Regardless of color, houses look gray. February in the Midwest is a great equalizer when it comes to property upkeep. Unless you haven’t taken down your Christmas wreath.
  • Girl Scout Cookies arrive in February.
  • Hot flashes come in handy.
  • Finally, it’s February, not November. Only a few weeks until legal spring.

The birds, chirping a little louder, feel the change. So do brave, if stupid, daffodils poking up green fingertips in my sheltered flower bed. With these tiny pre-signs of spring — along with a few hundred Girl Scout Cookies — how can I keep from feeling fine in February?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite thing about this month?

I Can’t Sleep Without ________

Photo by Mehmet Goren from FreeImages.

You’ve filled in the blank, haven’t you?

Whether newborn or nonagenarian, we humans believe certain conditions must be met before we can journey to Slumberland.

My grandchildren all have possessed highly personalized bedtime needs. Several have required “loveys” before “Waaaaaaa!” has turned to z-z-z, including stuffed animals, a slip and an orange.

Photo by Raija Ylonen from FreeImages.

Positioning also is important. I read of a toddler who rejected his crib. Instead, he slept atop his nightstand. I get that. My daughter often napped under my rocking chair.

Sometimes routine matters most. One grandson demanded we sing “ABC Song,” “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jingle Bells” every night. In that order. Otherwise, we would cause a monumental tear in his universe.

When little devils finally settle into angel mode, eyes closed and breathing peacefully, we’re ashamed we considered a bedtime exorcism.

Most adults, though, try to exorcise their own insomnia demons.

Of course, we’ve outgrown silly childhood rituals. …

Really?

If that were true, we wouldn’t check locks three times before retiring. Fiddle with the thermostat. Line up slippers.

If that were true, the bed-linen industry wouldn’t be making millions. We each require 26 pillows, placed just so. Also, our aptly named comforters.

Image by JityPix from Pixabay.

Some, to their spouses’ dismay, must be swaddled or, more accurately, burrito-ed. Others substitute weighted blankets, gravity blankets and sensory compression blankets to achieve that huggy feeling.

Those names scare my sleep away. A gravity blanket sends my novel-writing mind zooming off on spaceships. A sensory compression bedsheet sounds like I’m sleeping in a hamburger press. As for a weighted blanket — I often throw off covers during the night. Smacking Hubby with a thirty-pound blanket might not help him sleep.

Just sayin’.

Some adults need visual/auditory stimulation on or off. I prefer that devices sleep elsewhere so buzzes and squeaks don’t keep me awake.

Superior sleeping habits don’t guarantee a peaceful night. Unlike babies, who rarely lie awake worrying about world peace, we adults embrace sleep-bashing topics the second our heads hit the pillows. I’ve counted sheep, only to worry about their welfare. Warm baths, listening to sea sounds, sleeping with an orange — nothing worked.

Even my prayers morphed into worries.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

One night, I played an alphabet game learned in Bible school. I recalled God’s names and/or attributes that started with A, such as “Almighty” and “amazing.” Then, B: “blessed” and “beautiful.” Then C, and so on.

Before reaching G, I fell sound asleep.

Since then, I’ve prayed alphabet prayers many times.

Occasionally, my insomnia stretches from A to Z. Eventually, though, I doze off, knowing Someone bigger and better can manage the world.

And oranges stay in the fridge, where they belong.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you remedy insomnia?

Hula Hoop Hullabaloo

I halted before an after-Christmas-sale toy display. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rattling, green-and-purple-striped Hula Hoop®.

Shades of the 1950s. I looked down. Was I was wearing anklets and Mary Janes?

As a four-year-old, I marveled as my friend Kathy bobbed and wiggled. Her hoop never touched the ground. Though my few borrowed sessions consisted of rattle-rattle-clunks, I wished the Hula Hoop® and I could be best friends forever (BFF).

But my mother doomed my dream. She said I could not steal it. So, I begged for a birthday hoop.

She informed me: a) $1.98 was a lot of money; and b) they were impossible to find. Wham-O sold 100 million hoops in 1958, with demand outracing supply. No hoop for me.

She lied. On my birthday, I received a green Hula Hoop®! When Dad sent it rolling toward a busy street, I shrieked. Had I found my BFF, only to lose her? To my utter amazement, Hoop rolled back to him. Birthday magic was complete.

My favorite toy accompanied our family on a mission trip to Mexico. Happily, the street children also spoke Hula Hoop®. Unknown to me, my neighbor Maria bragged about my superiority. This gringa, she proclaimed, could keep the hoop going 12 hours straight.

Another pigtailed girl faced me, a gleam of challenge in her dark eyes.

My BFF turned traitor. Rattle-rattle-clunk. Rattle-rattle-clunk. I failed my country.

I didn’t leave the mission compound for awhile. Maria joined a temporary witness protection program. During retirement, though, I couldn’t remain apart from Hula Hoop®. Our glory days were past. But we would stick together, come rattle-rattle or clunk.

Before long, our family planned a return to the States. My parents insisted we did not have room in the car for Hoop and my new baby brother.

Why not leave Brother and take Hoop with us? But no one asked my opinion, so I sadly tucked my BFF behind a dresser so no one else could play with her.

Fast-forward several decades. My sister insisted on introducing me to her new exercise equipment. Sessions with it had strengthened her core, she said.

A Hula Hoop®.

These days, I cannot even find my core. As I watched her bob and wiggle, I wondered: could an old friend aid in my search?

The New Year and my surprise Hula Hoop® encounter had reawakened both core conscience and childlike longings. I brought the hoop home.

Our sessions have largely consisted of rattle-clunks. My core remains AWOL. But I harbor no qualms about exposing my flab to Hula Hoop®.

After all, what are BFFs for?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite childhood toy?

Hotel Versus Home

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

Everyone knows the opening words to “Home! Sweet Home,” penned by John Howard Payne in 1823. Few know that Payne, an American whose family opposed his theatrical career, wandered Europe most of his life, dying in Tunisia.

What did he know about “home”? Payne rarely stayed around long enough to pay for trash pickup and roof leaks.

No doubt, his home-sweet-home fantasy was fed by the reality of 1820s lodgings, in which guests often shared rooms with scary strangers. If Payne were traveling today, he’d discover modern hotels present their own unique challenges.

For example, the more expensive a room, the harder it is to operate its coffee maker. Ditto for the clock — at least, I assume it’s a clock. Both devices appear to have been designed by NASA.

Likewise, nice hotel rooms feature remarkably complex TV remotes … whose batteries are always on the blink.

Given all this advanced technology, one would expect more than two clothes hangers in the closet, right?

I do appreciate hotel rooms’ multiple electrical outlets, as our 1960s home features one extra, originally intended for summer’s single oscillating fan. In most hotel rooms today, I’m not surprised to find outlets in the ice bucket.

But where the heck are the light switches?

John Payne probably took baths in a horse trough. Unlike us, he never faced crucial questions: will turning the faucet to red guarantee tepid or scalding water? Even worse (gaaaaahhh!), was the installer color-blind?

Payne surely couldn’t have imagined hotel grooming aids labeled “Clean Sand Spa.” Racier names almost prevent me from taking them home, for fear grandchildren will discover them in a bathroom drawer: “Grandma, what’s a French Fruity Massage?”

The French factor in today’s hotels does seem overdone. Who uses a duvet at home? Why do we need more French stuff in this country? Aren’t fries and toast sufficient?

I do, however, laud hotel king-size beds, loving those 26 pillows.

Did Payne pay extra for breakfast? Probably. Past, present, or future, nothing’s free. However, some modern “free” breakfasts are worth the hidden cost. Others feature orange water and cereal resembling kitty litter.

A less familiar verse of Payne’s song reveals his mind felt at ease at home. Is this true in my case? Not always, especially as I’m eating while sneaky ants pursue “free” breakfasts.

They picked the wrong ant hotel.

For me, though, it’s home. I can make coffee here, find light switches, and sleep well, even without French influence and with only one pillow.

“Be it ever so humble,” there’s no other place I’d rather be —

If only a housekeeper would show up.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hotel amenity?