Dust Bunny Treasure


Anne Michael

Last week seemed to be a very long week. It was a good week; positive, energetic, lots of hard work but with a satisfying number of items ticked off my “to do” list—many things accomplished. The week was so full that by Friday afternoon, I was worn out. That afternoon, as I imagined the weekend ahead in which housework and laundry figured prominently, I found myself whimpering like a puppy that had just piddled on the floor and was filled with dread at the human explosion that would follow. Pathetic, isn’t it?

It turned out not to be as bad as my consumptive kind of thinking led me to believe. I slept in all the way till 8:30 a.m. Whoo, what a rush, waking up to the sun in my eyes! Although my dogs were cross-legged, I was delighted at being able to sleep three hours later than normal. I treated myself to a leisurely breakfast and contemplated the dust that drifted and the tail-feather tumbleweeds that my big dog sheds as they floated across the floor in the breezes stirred up by the air-conditioning. Trepidation started to rise.  There was no way around it.  Unless I wanted to put on five pounds by lunchtime, breakfast had to end sooner or later. Spending hours ironing did not sound the least bit appealing. So, gathering my cleaning tools and supplies. I made the decision to get busy.  Normally, as I’ve told you before dear reader, I enjoy cleaning, but when I am not in the mood for such “frivolous” pursuits I have to drag myself kicking and screaming into the utility closet, expletives escaping under my breath and wishing there were some Gypsy curses I could invoke with an evil laugh.

I “sucked it up” and went to work for a couple of hours, scrubbing, polishing and pursuing that totally futile exercise of dusting. The dust just comes back. I don’t know why I bother. If I treated my friends as badly as I treat dust bunnies they wouldn’t come back.

As I attacked my bookshelves, I decided to tidy the arrangements of books, photos, albums and bric-a-brac. I enjoyed looking at photos of friends and family as I cleaned small frames, and washed my fragile blown glass dragon collection, thinking of how I came by each of them. It had been quite some time since I really looked at all these things. I savored these little bits of the history that form the life Steve and I have made in our years together. It was most satisfying.

Looking more deeply into the shelves, I took the books out one at a time and lovingly dusted them, reliving each story with pleasure. It surprises me how much of a packrat I have become. I discovered books on those shelves that I had not yet read.

My ordinary life as an ordinary person on what started out as an extraordinary day took on a further luster and brilliance with each new discovered volume. My heart began to pound the way it does being caught out in a thunderstorm. There was Empire by Orson Scott Card. I had forgotten that I had purchased it. I found Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass tucked up in a corner out of sight. Authors like Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman, Alan Bennett, Kate Whouley, Sara Gruen and Alice McDermott graced my shelves, and I had no idea. I had been on a book binge; I scoured the bookstores and book clubs for the best bargains. Upon finding them, it seems I squirreled my new treasures in between books I’d already read and being a busy woman, I then forgot all about them. 

All of a sudden, I found that I was wealthy. I wanted to crouch over the pile of books in cartoon-like fashion, guarding this newfound fortune from all predators and scream “mine, mine, all mine!” The thought did make me laugh aloud with a kind of mad joy. I could no longer complain to my husband that I had nothing to read and expect anything resembling sympathy or an offer to drive me to the library or bookstore. All told, I found 40 books with covers I had not even cracked open. Dust jackets (now dust free), winked at me in the burnished Florida morning light streaming through the window, taunting me.

The day had become pure magic. With the housework finished, my chaise lounge beckoned and forty unread titles clamored in my brain saying “me, me, me, read me!” So many choices. A ravening kind of hunger rose up. A bit of my soul demanded to be fed. What book? Which author? What I wanted to consume with my eyes became the most important question in my universe.

Deciding what to have for breakfast on any given day can be overwhelming, but choosing between 40 books—whoa, what an overpowering array of choices!

I already knew that anything resembling work was out. That eliminated Presenting Workshops or The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. I don’t know what I was thinking when I picked up those two books. I did know I wanted leisure, relaxation and freedom from obligation, even if only for a short while. 

Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories seemed like the right way to go, but it is thick and heavy and the cover shows the man wearing a winter coat and scarf, over a bulky sweater against a bleak gray wall. It chilled me. I wanted warmth, sun and summer.

I considered Diana Gabaldon’s book Of Snow and Ashes, number five in the series about the time travels of Claire and her centuries old romance with her husband Jaime. That book is weighty and chunky, the kind I can lose myself in for days. It is sure to be a great read.  Her books always are. Gabaldon’s books are intense and involved, and oh so wonderful but I wanted the reading equivalent of comfort food.

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton fit the bill. I was certain it would be comfortable, not educational and just pure entertainment. There are always a few exciting moments, but not enough to make me pace around to relive the stress. Grafton’s character, Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator, her landlord Henry and his brother William are very much like old friends, the kind of old friendships that allow me to pick up where I left off.  It didn’t take me long to decide that a visit to Santa Teresa, California, was just the ticket. The book is lightweight for the hands, lightweight enough for a mind seeking rest and ease without being vapid or reading like Soap Opera Digest. No suitcase required. I was ready to go. I didn’t waste another moment poring over the pile.

I took my wristwatch off, turned off the phones and decided to take a vacation in my own back yard. I slipped into another life for a while, with the same enjoyment some folks feel at an amusement park. It was bliss. A few hours and one unexpected sunburn later, I was sated with the pleasure of having an afternoon spent with Kinsey Millhone. When I finally took myself into the house, I was well pleased I dusted those shelves earlier in the day.

I have 39 more “book vacation days” left. I can hardly wait. The dust bunnies can have their way for a while. Some will call me lazy; I just call me lucky. What a week this has been. Just maybe dusting has some merit.

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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