Bonnie Henry

Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star

After our granddaughters’ last visit, the youngest asked us, “What do you guys do when we’re not around?”

“Why,” replied my husband, “we just sit around and wait for you to come visit us again.”

She nodded her head, satisfied. Of course that made perfect sense to her in the “me-centric” universe that most 10-year-olds inhabit. What, after all, could we possibly do to fill the void?

Well, we golf, we volunteer, we read, we entertain family and friends, we shop more than we ever should at Costco. And we have scintillating conversations along the lines of:

She, while riding in the car: “What was that noise?”

He, driving: “What noise?”

She: “That noise. Hear it? There it goes again.”

He: “Where? I don’t hear any noise.”

She: “There. It sounds like it’s coming from under the dash.”

He: “What does it sound like?”

She: “Oh, I don’t know. Sorta like ‘kapunga, punga’ but really soft.”

He, straining his ears: “I don’t hear a thing.”

And so it goes.

Not that our days are solely filled with idle talk. As example, I give you a recent day, with some events compressed to fill the time – or in this case, the space – allotted. This particular day begins at:

3 a.m., when we are jolted from the bed with the shrieking of the smoke alarm. After stumbling out of bed, my husband walks the hall, looking for the likely offender, which is neither smoke nor fire. More likely than not it will be, as it has been several times before, a spider that has crawled inside the alarm and set the thing off. My husband sets up the ladder, fiddles around a bit, and the noise stops. We go back to bed and to sleep until:

4:30 a.m., when the alarm goes off again. Once again, my husband climbs the ladder and this time unplugs the alarm. Blessed silence. The next day he will vacuum all three smoke alarms in the house, in the hopes of a good night’s rest — at least during some foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, abandoning all hope of any more sleep, I trudge to the kitchen and turn on the Keurig. It hisses, makes a few gurgling noises, and stops. Probably needs another purge and cleaning. No time for that right now. So I hunt down the emergency coffee pot. But wait, there is no loose coffee to be found.

Nothing left to do but puncture a few K-cups for their grounds. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And please, send me no scoldings about those K-cups littering the landfills. I washed and line-dried every diaper my kids ever wore. Cut me some slack.

The smell of coffee rouses my husband. Together, we read the paper, with me reading him a few tidbits I cannot resist. He hates it. This I know, but am helpless to stop. Maybe there is a 12-step program out there for Wives Who Read Aloud to Their Husbands.

Finally done with my “habit,” I throw a load of clothes into the washer, then dryer. After that, I will spend the next 45 minutes plucking minute Kleenex shreds out of the brown towels that got washed and dried with the wayward tissue.

By now, my husband has purged the Keurig back into existence. We split a ham-and-cheese sandwich for lunch, then go for a walk, narrowly sidestepping some dog droppings along the way. “Jerks,” I hiss under my breath – not the dogs, but their owners. Then I head to the nursery to buy some plants to replace the plants that died in the last freeze. Replant, water, repeat as necessary.

After dinner and dishes, we retire to the living room and the television. While he channel surfs, looking for anything – please, God, anything — devoid of reality TV and/or politics, she surfs the Internet, clicking on, “Places I’d Like To Visit Before I Drop Dead.”

And so it goes.

Bonnie Henry’s column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at