BALANCE: /’baləns/ a condition of equal or correct proportions.

by | Sep 24, 2021 | Chris Goff, The Writer's Life | 6 comments

by Chris Goff

The desire to find balance in one’s life is not new—just prevalent as we all juggle life in the face of Covid. For a while it was us at home, mastering multiple home offices, home schooling and pickup groceries. Then we were back to offices, grocery shopping and schools.

“But wait, a Delta variant? What’s a Delta variant?”


As a writer with six kids who has always worked from home, you’d think I would have this down. After all, I’ve juggled writing and the endless list of household chores for years. This week, we hit critical mass.

Our daughter, a middle school teacher and mother of our youngest grandchild, was diagnosed with a breakthrough case of Covid and quarantined for 10 days. We all had to be tested.

I developed a toothache that had me driving forty minutes to an emergency dentist and given a 10-day supply of antibiotics before any treatment.

The tree in the front yard of our Michigan home developed a crack, requiring us to cut down the tree or let it fall on the house.

Midweek, a squad of mysterious ants appeared on the upstairs landing–nineteen to be exact. I caught four, killed fifteen, and then they were gone. I Googled and discovered they are “moisture ants” and aren’t going to eat my house, but I still called pest control. They scheduled a tech to come out and told me to call a carpenter to look for a leak.

And did I mention Sullivan?


Books for kids are a great research tool.

Sullivan, the ground hog, is a type of marmot, also known as a woodchuck. You might think they are cute little critters, especially when watched from afar, but trust me, they’re not. Ground hogs love their burrows, will defend them tooth and nail, and work cooperatively to burrow. These little beasts can dig up to 45’ of underground tunnels with multiple underground chambers and entrances—a network that can cause patios and floors to crack and backyards to collapse.

Our ground hog is big, extremely intelligent, a great communicator, and quite fertile. This spring he sired four little Sullivans, all of whom now need to find their own place to live. Fall is upon us. Winter is coming. And we were lucky enough to have our house chosen as a potential homestead. I called wildlife control, to be told I ought to just shoot them. Granted, it’s Michigan. Our backyard is big, with a little creek and woods that is home to deer and other wildlife, but I doubt my HOA would appreciate me firing a weapon in the backyard. We opted for a trap.


Sitting down to write this, I realized how much my writing has suffered. Focused on household chaos, I’ve been doing writerly things: tech for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, tech for Rogue Reads, contest judging, blog writing, but I haven’t worked on my book in weeks. 

This must change!

There will always be chores, and problems to solve. My daughter is back teaching school. The root canal is done; the pain gone. The ants have marched on.

The Honey or Yellow Locust Tree

The tree continues to be a problem. Currently, due to a rain delay, it’s half down. The half toward the road, leaving the weight of the arm overhanging my house to sag toward the roof. For the first time, last night, the branches played taps on the bedroom window in the wind. The tree guys are coming back Monday, provided the tree stands that long.

Still, as Sullivan postures from the meadow, sunbathing on the little bridge and waving goodbye to the possum and raccoons (who have proven much easier to trap), I have not given up hope. Nae, I’ve come up with a plan. I’m going to do what the genius’ do! Nikola Tesla slept for only a couple of hours each night but napped liberally. Leonardo Da Vinci practiced Polyphasic sleep – four hours up, twenty minutes sleeping. Thomas Edison, who has been accused of disrupting our circadian rhythms with his invention of the light bulb, reportedly slept a mere three to four hours a night and regarded sleep as a “waste of time, a heritage from our cave days.”

I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? How many hours of sleep do you need a night?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Small Bodman

    Oh Chris, I can certainly identify with those household chores that interfere with your (terrific) writing since in just the last week I’ve had to deal with a broken boiler (no hot water for 3 days), clogged drain pipes, phone system screwed up, TV malfunctioning, roof leaks and carpet repairs. Ah, the joys of home ownership. But good luck with your new regime – what I’m waiting for is your next novel!

    • Chris Goff

      The problems of homeownership—LOL. Porcupines or ground hogs. My son actually came back with “I’ll see your ground hog and raise you an attic of bats.”

  2. Lisa Black

    No thanks, I like my eight hours!
    Good luck with the trap. I couldn’t even manage to snare the armadillo in our flowerbed, when armadillos are reportedly one of the most less-bright animals on the Earth. I finally ripped out all the plants (which weren’t doing well anyway) and put down mulch to encourage it to find a spot with more cover. It’s worked so far.
    Hang in there!! Glad you got the root canal fixed!

  3. Gayle

    Oh, goodness, Chris, you have been through it! I’m so glad your tooth is no longer painful! I’m also in awe of your ability to catch varmints. Our groundhog deserted (thank heavens), but we’ve got a porcupine in the front yard who comes out at dusk and mows the clover, and after dark when we’re in bed, invades the flower gardens and chews up my pretty blossoms. Argh. Oh, in the back yard, his or her child, named “Spikey” by my grandson, cavorts and eats, too. I’d love to catch them and transport them out, but said grandson is having none of it. I’m still thinking about that. Thank you for a great blog!!!! 😊

  4. jennymilchmanj

    Hang in there, Chris. That’s a lot all at once but you sound like a maestro. If you curtail sleep for a little, please catch up at some point! “They” said sleep is as important as exercise. And even more important that ground hogs and tilting trees. Glad your daughter’s well.

  5. Christine L Goff

    Armadillos?!? Better than alligators, a possibility where you live, Lisa.

    Karna, I appreciate the encouragement on the book. I am actually working on it.