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“I think you should know I’m sleeping with someone.”

This is not an easy thing to tell your husband. Over text message. While he’s out of state. But I hit send anyway.

His reply came a moment later. “Eeyore?”

My reply featured a photo of me with my arm around an 18-inch plush Eeyore doll my husband got me for Christmas.

“I miss you, too,” he sent back.

Yes, I’m a 30-something who sleeps with a stuffed animal while my husband is out of town. Don’t judge.

Sure, Eeyore provides no body heat and will do nothing should an intruder burst into my bedroom, but it’s nice to have him there anyway. It helps make the bed feel less empty, helping me feel less lonely in the process.

While Chuck was away on his most recent trip, I also discovered another way to combat loneliness: cleaning.

Typically when Chuck is on trips, I take advantage of the opportunity to stretch out on the couch and watch movies he probably wouldn’t like while stuffing my face with popcorn and Panda Express.

But this trip was going to be five days, and that would amount to a lot of lounging, so I decided I was going to use my time more wisely. I was going to clean the house. And that’s what I did. I cleaned like I’ve never cleaned before.

At one point, I was standing in the middle of my kitchen, taking stock of all the shelves and compartments I’d taken out of my refrigerator.

I had no idea I could pull everything out! It was a revelation.

Each piece had been washed and wiped down. I was feeling quite proud of myself, but the feeling didn’t last long. Yes, everything was clean, but now I had to put everything back together again. I was hoping I’d have more luck than Humpy Dumpty.

As I started to put the pieces back in place, I began to picture myself on a game show. I’d hold up a piece and the studio audience would yell and point and holler their approval as I reassembled the refrigerator. They would appropriately “boo” me if I was heading off course.

I got everything back with little trouble, except for one piece. Of course, there had to be a mystery piece.

I knew where it went; I just couldn’t remember how it fit there. I had to try it on each side and then flip it around before I figured it out. A bit embarrassing, but it could have been a lot worse.

I turned away from the fridge and threw my arms up in victory only to be greeted by an empty house. Only the gentle tick of the wall clock was there to congratulate me.

Didn’t matter. I was on a roll. Over the course of the next few days, I power-cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed and scrubbed floors, and strapped on knee pads to tackle the tangle of weeds in our backyard. I was cleaning and polishing things in the house that hadn’t been properly attended to since we moved in nearly two years ago.

When my husband finally came home, he seemed impressed with my cleaning execution.

“Wow, our refrigerator has never been so clean,” he said.

“Damn right,” I replied before letting him know about all the other long over-due projects I’d tended to in his absence while he was in Las Vegas with his friends.

“And here is your to-do list,” I said showing him a revised list of chores and tasks he needed to get to, sooner than later.

“OK, sure,” he said.

“Good,” I replied. “I’m making popcorn.”

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.

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Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.