Lazy day

The fireplace is going crackle, crackle, crackle, and when I look into it, I amuse myself by thinking up ways to describe the flames.

They leap. They dance. The flicker. They flare. They lick the logs. They lull me into my mood for today’s column.


It is so nice and warm in here. No doubt, those pretty flames are consuming the oxygen that my brain needs to function. Being oxygen-deprived, I have a perfect excuse to be ineffectual. I am, today, as useless as an ornament on a tree. One that doesn’t light up or flicker or pulse or feed starving children or bake bread or remove calluses or alleviate any of the world’s financial woes.

That’s me (it would be “I,” if I had the strength to be grammatically correct, which I don’t.)

I am a holiday ornament, on vacation from being meaningful, relevant, insightful, inspiring, or thought provoking on this lovely, lyrical, lollygagging, languorous day.

I did do something purposeful, though.

I made tea. Vanilla tea with lots of chemical sweeteners and a dear little tag that hangs over the side of the cup like a flag, waving, “Hey, there. Open a novel, wrap an afghan around your knees, snuggle on the sofa, hug your ferret, and drink me.

A ferret is a perfect pet for a writer who is a useless holiday ornament on a lollygagging winter day, because a ferret doesn’t do anything. You can drop a morsel of food three inches from its mouth, and it won’t find it unless you point the ferret’s nose at the dish. It can scamper out your front door, and even if it were no more than two feet away, unless you picked it up and carried it back into the house, it would never find its way back. It can never go for a walk. Nope. Never. Absolutely impossible. If you put a harness on a ferret, which is like trying to put a silk sock on a slinky, instead of going for a walk, it will take you for a zigzag. Move three steps forward. Stop. Dig in the grass. Retreat four steps. Stop. Scramble up your pants leg. Scramble down. Stop. Chase its tail. Stop. Raise its head. Begin to run frantically as if being chased by Lord Voldemort and an army of Death Eaters. Stop. Climb back up your pants leg.

Some ferrets, if you ring a bell, will come. Others, like mine, just look at you with a quizzical expression on its face that conveys the thought, “Are you food?”

What ferrets do most, best, and infallibly, however, is make their owners laugh.

So, laughing is one more thing that I have been doing on this idle, idyllic, inert, and immobile day.

Yesterday, in a burst of efficiency, I went to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets – just so that I could write a movie review for today’s column and prove to myself how terribly purposeful I am. And I can guarantee you that when I arrived at the theater, my brain was functioning at peak performance. I had even brought along a little spiral legal pad on which to scribble notes, and I saved the stub the usher gave me so that I could write off the price of the ticket on my income tax.

The lethargy I am feeling today must have been in its incipient stages, though, because within fifteen minutes of watching Nicolas Cage vow to redeem his grandfather’s reputation and discover the lost gold hidden during the Civil War by the boo hiss evil awful Confederate conspiracy, I was having so much fun that I forgot to be critical and lost all interest in writing a review.

(In an effort to justify the price of that theater ticket, I feel compelled to instruct all readers to leave their dishes in the sink, their cats unfed, their phone messages unanswered, and go, immediately, to that movie. Seeing a President of the United States depicted as an honorable man alone is worth the price of admission. Then you can write your own review and send it to me.)

Other than watching the flames flicker in my fireplace on this lazy, hazy, down-zi-daisy, dillydally day, I also went to an antique store and bought two copies of Tennyson poems (I’ll tell you why when my brain is no longer in the OFF position), a flower frog for my ball point pens, a butter dish, two newspapers, (both of which I forgot at the restaurant where I had lunch), and a bottle of Rolaids anticipatory to eating all of the wrong things for dinner.

My dinner menu is: Chocolate. Whipped cream. Peanuts. Peanut butter. More chocolate. Hot chocolate. Tea. A fireplace. A ferret. And a book.

Gosh. Life is good.

Happy New Year, dear readers.

In the weeks and months to come, may life be good for you as well. May you be safe, merry, kind, generous to yourself and to others.

And when the occasion warrants, may you, as I am today, be as happy and as useless an ornament on a tree.

Shelly Reuben is an Edgar-nominated author, private detective, and fire investigator. For more about her books, visit:

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