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Piper O'Possum primed for action

A couple of weeks back I admitted to buying a petite plush possum from Scheffel’s Toys in Jacksonville. It was intended as a Christmas present for a young niece, but I couldn’t shake Piper loose. I needed a Southern Oregon version of the traveling gnome for future adventures. That’s my excuse, and I’m standing pat.

Piper is also the self-proclaimed regional mascot for the appreciation of opossums everywhere. Though they may look like large rats, they are not rodents, but marsupials. Anyway, she’d wrapped her tail around my heart and would suit nicely — pictures posted on Facebook. This week, she ventured forth in our own backyard thanks to my escalating health problems relating to dusty air ducts. I also uncovered (cough, cough) how long it had been since I played the board game “Clue.” Make sense so far? As much sense as the past year, anyway?

In order to slay pride at the altar of public service, I share my experience to possibly prevent someone from having to endure sleepless nights, extreme respiratory discomfort and humiliation. I’m good at this. While suffering through a list of physical issues, I began evidence-gathering to uncover the culprit. I’m a Jessica Fletcher nerd and trust she would have patted me on the back and handed me a wedge of pie.

Turns out my air ducts were so dust-caked that they were spewing poisonous gas at me and over me all night long. Well, not poison gas exactly, but that’s how it felt. While I waited for Jesse with ProKleen to come scour out the buggers, I could no longer remain under dear old Aunt Sophie’s (my home) frame.

I called The Chalets at the Resort at Eagle Point. They were nearby, and I’d been curious about them since their opening three years ago. I pass them regularly while walking the golf course path and wanted to see if the inside matched the charm of the nicely landscaped outside.

I tucked Piper and a few clothes into a suitcase and prepared to treat myself to three poison-gas-free nights during my birthday week. Our room was well-appointed, and Piper liked it right off, though she noted there were no slugs or snails for snacking. I had to promise we’d go hunting for banana slugs at the coast this weekend for my real birthday. I think I rate two getaways this year, if only for being born in January. I’ve tried imagining being born in May or October, but every year it’s a foggy/rainy day in January that I must work to enliven.

Assistant Terri Steinhorst showed me to my immaculate two-room suite, which included a gas fireplace, sliding glass door onto the patio with table and chairs, and view of the Robert Trent Jones course. The design is elegant Northwest style — classy yet homey. I slept on a cloud-comfy bed with a gaggle of pillows in attendance. If you’re a golfer, they offer a stay-and-play package.

I was disappointed to learn that Talon Grill, their fine restaurant, had closed except for weekends for lack of business during the shutdown. Crackin’ and Stackin’ came through for breakfast takeout with their veggie omelet with sliced avocado and home fries with bits of peppers and onions. A large cup of Good Bean coffee brightened the foggy-bottomed day. I’m grateful for such a safe haven.

So, Aunt Sophie is 121 years old and she comes with a few eccentricities. One of them is where the downstairs air intake flows through a high cupboard in the hallway — the same cupboard where I stashed board games in a different millennia. When Jesse at ProKleen opened the vent, he discovered a mound of gray pasteboard boxes with long, gray beards. He was nice enough to remove them for me and vacuum the shelf. When I saw them sitting there festooned with blame, I could only sigh and mourn the sad fact that I hadn’t played “Clue” in decades. I would probably never see Jesse again anyway.

Folks, check your air ducts if you start feeling wheezy. The lungs you save may be your own. Meanwhile, Piper O. is ready for an adventure worth sinking her 50 teeth into.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.