I know what a trillion looks like.

One of my grandsons got his hands on a green stuffed dog...and older model. It was filled with little white balls of Styrofoam. I would guess it had about 10 trillion of those little tiny balls inside of it and about two trillion escaped into my dark brown carpet.

It actually looked like it snowed in my daughter's room.

I came home from work, opened her door. Stood there in shock due to the snow-effect. The little balls were everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE.

I backed out, closed the door, and looked at my son with a question on my face.

"Bradley tore a hole in one of the stuffed animals and the cats went crazy in there."

I stepped back into the room and stared at the mess. My black cat walked past me, down the hall, with little white balls sitting on her back. I bent my head to watch her walk by and then looked back into the room.

We just moved into this place. We hadn't even been there a month, not even a chance to get settled and enjoy it and now it was ... destroyed by white Styrofoam.

I didn't have my vacuum. It was in storage.

We tried to sweep it. Ha.


After a couple of tries at vacuuming the mess with a regular vacuum, borrowed from a family member, I purchased a shop vac.

I chose to take care of the daunting chore ahead myself. I really wanted to clean it up. I needed a sense of accomplishment, so I chose a corner and began the task.

The sheer number of tiny Styrofoam balls was mind-blowing. There was probably a thousand in a square inch. After I got one corner clean, I stretched out on my stomach and began tediously going back and forth - watching the white carpet turn brown again. I couldn't reach all the way under the bed, so I used the vacuum hose as a suction to bring toys out from under the bed, then moved it around, flaying, until it got the majority of the little balls.

It was about an hour before I could see an end in sight and that is when I thought of this column and telling everyone that when President O'bama or anyone in government talks about the United States owing a trillion dollars to China or any given entity, I now have a visual.

It was an education in patience for me to figure out how to get all of those little balls vacuumed off the floor, off the bed, off the curtains, off the toys, off the dresser, and finally, off of my clothing.

Don't tell Rayna, but I took the green dog with the remaining eight trillion balls still inside, and wrapped it in a plastic garbage bag and tossed it in the trash.

The photographer in me wanted to keep it and deliberately do it again with the cats, while I took photos or video.

But then the exhausted mom kicked it and green puppy went bye-bye.

I am still seeing an errant tiny white ball here or there in the hallway. I am not sure where they are coming from.

I think the cats have a stash.

Published June 30, 2013