Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

I want a cardboard box for Christmas!


I got out of bed this morning, not right away when I heard my iPhone alarm and its irritating chime, but after about three rounds of groping in the dark and tapping the snooze. My first thought was, another chaotic day doing more things than I ever intended to cram into a earn money and seem to come up short anyhow....“Maybe living in a plain cardboard box under a bridge doesn’t sound so bad?” As you see, it’s never just one thought, it’s a first thought followed by rounds of thoughts before I even have one small sip of coffee.

Lately, I haven’t even had time for morning coffee in my chair with my favorite cat, Miss Kitty. I haven’t had time to sort out my pills into the plastic, dated organizer strip. I plod around the house searching for my pills, digging in my purse or finding them in the Walgreen’s bag still in my car. Still in my nightgown, sweater and BOG boots I enter back into the house, walking through my office where no table surfaces are visible and bags of Christmas gifts and ornaments are stacked here and there. Ahead on the hallway wall I see the decorative sign that says, “Out of my back in five minutes.” My purse and the back of my car looked as messy and disheveled as a hamster cage, so I quickly cleared them out at the same time I was looking for the pills. 

Minutes later, I am upstairs getting dressed when I happily discover I still have clean underwear and jeans to put on, but will have to re-wear the same pair of socks. Then it occurs to me that Christmas is nearly here and I haven’t yet worn my “Ugly Christmas Sweater,” or the red, short-sleeved T-shirt that looks like a Santa suit with a belt printed across the middle and words on the left upper chest that read, “Does this suit make me look fat?” I put it on, decided that it did...make me look fat... but wore it spark a someone...somewhere. In myself too.

I’m definitely not chuckling about my “holiday five”. I’ve been grazing holiday buffets, indulging at parties and eating too many Christmas cookies, so now my jeans are tight. I was so proud after losing weight during my gallbladder situation. Such a sense of accomplishment to try on my snowmobile pants and not need the green bungee cord to keep them fastened this year. The zipper was able to complete the task! Now I wonder, will I need the bungee again?  I don’t want to blow out the zipper sitting down for the first ride! December trauma is upon me.

This is all very stressful and there is more. I had the dentist fill six, yes six, teeth in the past two weeks. A record! Apparently certain blood pressure meds will cause “dry mouth” which I learned can bring on bacteria and tooth decay. Needless to say I switched meds and the dentist said I should add to my daily tasks, a smear of fluoride gel on the teeth before bed. Will I have time, or just misplace the gel? If I misplace the gel...I will have no teeth.

Also, adding to the loss of my mind is the drama of my son and his girlfriend’s rent/housing crisis this past two weeks. Yes indeed, “the mother of the year” as someone accused me of being...I helped. Not financially, but with finding them resources. It drew out a few more gray hairs. If I lived in the box under the bridge with no phone they would have figured it out themselves...or would they have?

Did I mention I also had a community choir concert, a poetry reading event at the Inn to organize, a craft sale with my Iron Ranger hooded sweatshirts to sell...and my brother and sis-in-law came up for a family visit. This is too much isn’t it? My answer to myself who isn’t present but will be back in five minutes is... “Scarlet, it’s past time to push something away...seriously.” 

The worst December trauma episode is that I didn’t keep track of our health insurance renewal form this past October. How could never arrived! I was busy learning the ropes at my new job managing the Inn. I did not notice the form never arrived, then a week ago I got the cancellation letter. Merry Christmas and happy health care for you. Even tossing on the Santa suit wouldn’t cheer me out of this dilemma! I was on the phone for hours with MNsure trying to get it straightened out. One call center worker said I wasn’t even in the system. Right away I figured it was my past haunting me again...a “name change issue”. I told her to make sure she was looking for my new name, Scarlet Stone and not Lynn O’Hara. I could hear the keyboard clicking as I waited. She gently reported, “I am not finding a “Scarlet O’Hara.” A thought shot out in my head... “And you won’t, as this is not MGM Studios in 1939!” I laughed at how silly that sounded and corrected her. Then she said she was looking through all of the “Stones.” Images of agates, quartz and topaz being tumbled around flashed in my muddled head.

I ended up printing a renewal form on-line and sending in all of the income verification needed. So where do I send it? I looked all over the form and there was NO address anywhere. When they mail the form you get a return envelope but I didn’t have one. I opted out of calling back to the MNsure office and waiting for thirty minutes to get an address. (It’s having to listen to that musical arrangement again that is the toughest part.) I used an address from the cancellation letter thinking the form would go to the correct office. Just this morning I followed up with a phone call. MNsure had my income verification entered in but the renewal form was missing. I had sent it to the wrong office.

“Just forget it”....I thought. I’m calling the appliance store and reserving the next empty refrigerator box available. Forget insurance hell, the pills, the bills, the kids, the snowmobile riding, my teeth, family, and the choir. Forget about tight pants and holiday poticca, screenprinting equipment and making Iron Ranger shirts too. I’ll be headed out with my cardboard box on my back, searching for a good site under a bridge somewhere to live out this chaotic existence!

I wish you all a calm, bright, warm and cozy holiday. If you receive a new large appliance for Christmas, can I have the box?

Scarlet can be reached at:


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