Today’s topic, as advertised above, is safe places.

I’m not talking about classroom cozy corners, panic rooms or those calming visualizations conjured through meditation.

Valid as those concepts may be, they don’t figure into my daily life. What I do count on, however, are the two categories of “safe places” scattered around our home, where certain things need to be if I’m ever going to find them again.

In regular use are the spots designated for such things as my house and car keys, pocketbook and, since the spring of last year, COVID-19 masks. Failure to put the appropriate item in the appropriate location results in my decapitated chicken dance routine, which is never a pretty sight and would be entirely unnecessary if only I stuck to the plan, and failing that, had a more accurate memory to back me up.

My going out gear is currently consolidated on a hook by the front door. Before the pandemic, my keys were assigned to a basket sitting on top of the microwave in the kitchen, and the chair at the foot of the dining room table was my purse’s landing pad. This latter practice had to be abandoned after I attached a small hand sanitizer dispenser to the bag’s strap. We feared the fragrant cleanser might prove too tempting to our uber-omnivorous Plott Hound.

This is the dog who’s devoured many dangerously enticing treats within his ambitious reach including but not by any means limited to: bars of soap, ant baits, coffee beans, the complete contents of an Easter basket (wrappers and all) and nearly 200 neon green paintballs in a sitting. Just think how scrumptious a shot or two of spring mist, peach blossom or cucumber melon has got to be to so curious and diversified a palate.

Between him and our clever and determined beagle, we’ve had to be endlessly creative in coming up with the right kind of concealments, which brings us to my second type of safe places.

Being a family of largely autumn and holiday season birthdays, from mid-October through Dec. 24 of each year, I follow a long-established tradition of tucking away multi-occasion presents of varying sizes, shapes and sometimes edible contents. This was particularly the case when the three kids were still living with us.

One highly effective repository was a now-extinct spa tub in the master bathroom. It was both high and deep enough to thwart even our most determined plunderers — human and canine. Since its replacement by a far more useful storage area, the high shelves in our walk-in closet and spare bedrooms have proved equally fine hideaways.

There is a major caveat to this dispersing of gifts throughout the house. I have to remember where I stashed them. I’m not saying this has ever happened, but it’s vaguely possible that prior years’ chocolate bunnies, stocking stuffers and gift cards could, theoretically, unexpectedly turn up at distinctly untimely times. Ah, how the best-laid plans of mice, men and slightly addled brains do often go awry.

I did, though, once have an especially foolproof safe place, which never failed me back when our kids were little. It was my favorite hide-and-seek cubbyhole in our old split-level. To this day, our adult children haven’t figured it out, and so it remains perhaps for perpetuity the safest of my domestic safe places.

Susan Writer’s current collection of hideaways retain their secrets in her Woodsboro home. She can be reached at You can also visit her at’s Ask Someone Else’s Mom.

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