My Pretty Thumb Nail

I don’t like my nails too long, and I don’t like them gnawed back to the nub. I like them just right. My left thumbnail has not been just right for a long time. This is how I “think” it got that way…

It was somewhere just before COVID. I developed a passion for pistachios–specifically the shelled variety. I was never brave enough to take on my wife’s wrath by eating them while watching TV on the couch. But, lest we get distracted, it wasn’t a problem with where I ate the pistachios; it was how I ate them. The shells on most of these green nuts were anxious to give up their contents–the happier the shell, the easier the nut was removed. [see Happy Fruit] The problem was when the shell was not smiling at all.

Back in my early days of eating pistachios, my left thumbnail was the “wedge” of choice. I would lodge it between the barely smiling shells and try and pry the shell open. While I had a good deal of success, it slowly eroded the layers of my thumbnail. Over time, the central part of my thumbnail was depleted of a layer or two of its “naily-ness.” When I was made aware of the “use the shell from a pistachio to pry open your future pistachio” method, my thumbnail was spared any further shame.

The nail continued in this degraded state for many months. Even though my thumb was no longer a tool for snacking, the nail never recovered. It continued to peel back since it was not smooth. I would trim it hoping to fix the problem, but the nail was always peeling beyond my ability to comfortably trim it back. Then I saw my daughter’s clear fingernail polish…

I have never had my fingernails done. There is a vague memory of my mother twisting my arm and having my toenails done when I was very young…or maybe it was my brother. The clear polish provided a possible solution to my problem. First, it would provide a smooth coat on my nail. If the nail was smooth, the layers of the nail would not continue to wear away unevenly. And, the big one, the clear polish would go mostly unnoticed.

The longer the recovery takes the more selective I can be in helping with dinner. I have been known to say, “I can’t help cut potatoes now because I just did my nail.”

I am close to restoring my nails, but it has not been entirely smooth. I have had to do multiple coats to make the polish more durable. I have had to let my wife in on my project. As long as I stay with the clear polish, she tells me she won’t worry about me. If I am lucky and my daughter forgets to take her clear polish back to school with her, my thumb may return to its naturally handsome state by the end of the month…or later.

The Jambalaya Compromise

When you are billeting (they live with you) a house full of junior hockey players (3 of them are 18 and one of them is 19), you get the opportunity to eat with them on a regular basis. With their practices often being in the afternoon with minimal food consumed prior to practice, the call to “eat dinner together” has varying levels of enthusiasm. Depending on how long ago they ate their post-practice Chik-Fil-A or Chipotle, they may not be hunger. And, if they are hungry, there is the distinct possibility the meal won’t tickle all of their taste buds.

Over the past 4ish months they have been living with us, we have found a couple of meals that will reliably pull them away from their video games and voluntarily bring them downstairs to eat with us.

  • Pizza: I cannot lie. We make a pretty good pizza. My role is “dough maker” and sausage and bacon fryer. If we have the full crew on that night, we make at least one each of the following: pepperoni, sausage, and barbecue chicken.
  • Sliders: We will make 36-48 of these. Aldi’s has the best price on the bread, and the boys love them for warmups. Since “second dinner” is usually consumed by at least half of the boys, this is a big deal.

The rest of the things we make for them have less than full enthusiasm.

  • One of them doesn’t like gravy.
  • One of them didn’t think he liked meatloaf, but he is possibly the best eater now.
  • Only one of them likes roasted sweet potato cubes with rosemary. This is one of our favorites. It is unfortunate.
  • One of them (quite possibly one of those already referred to above) doesn’t like tomatoes in any form.
  • A random thing–one of them likes lots of whipped cream on his pancakes and some baked items.
  • They will all put roasted broccoli on their plate, and sometimes they will eat it.
  • After the boys were gone one night and found out there was Chinese in the refrigerator, two of the boys came down to claim it as their second dinner that night.
  • The visit to “flavor town” left the curry and gumbo out in the cold. The fried rice entered the semi-regular meal rotation.

With these facts in mind, I felt compelled to try something new with them. Unfortunately, the available protein was pointing me toward Jambalaya. How did I handle this? I made the jambalaya as an “optional” lunch item. My gut told me one of the boys would very likely enjoy it. Two of them might think it is okay. One of them would definitely find the tomatoes and the spice beyond his range. (It would be a street he would never visit in Flavor town.) This compromise – a meal for all but only if they wanted to try it without having it as their only dinner option- allowed everyone to participate as they chose.

In the end, I did get my jambalaya. The one who enjoyed it added hot sauce because he could. The other Chinese lover thought it was good. And, the other two didn’t even try any–no matter how hard we nudged them. It made plenty and and the “second dinner” stores were replenished for a couple of days. If I can find another rice-centric recipe, I am going to try it!

Country Code 60

As I was heading home from church today, I received this delightful text from “Maria.”

Hi, I’m Maria. I’m glad to see you here. I want to find my soul mate here.  I’m 29 years old and single. (don’t talk to me about sex or I’ll be mad, under 22 Do not disturb) Add my whatsapp: +16398541530   We can share our daily life together and get to know each other better

Interestingly, the phone number she texted me from is: +60 11 7227 6439. I don’t know much about international phone numbers, but what I do know leads me to believe dear Maria is from Malaysia. (Malaysia’s country code is 60)

I am sure Maria is a delightful young lady who has reached out to me alone to build this lasting relationship. For her sake, I wish she would have chosen better. The warning about “sex talk” is also greatly appreciated. It is clear she would be the type of person I would look for if I hadn’t already been married for over 3 decades.

Sharing my life with someone based on the information she provided is going to be difficult. Do I start texting her about COVID and see where that leads? Do we talk about books we both have read? It is perplexing what she would see in a guy like me…

The biggest concern is where this dear young lady got my cell phone number. Since I have not willingly registered on any sites that “Maria” would frequent, I can only guess my number was acquired in a dark or very shaded part of the internet. Alternatively, maybe poor Maria was supposed to meet her “dream guy”, but she typed the number in incorrectly and got me. The guilt will haunt me. Yet, I am going to wonder what could have been…

Poop Shaming

While alliteration might cause me to choose a different title, I will stick with the more accepted and equally effective title chosen.

I have been there myself sometimes. I see all of the people walking their dogs. When the dogs do their business, the owners act like they were born to clean up after them. Is this consistent behavior, or is it only the behavior dog owners want you to trust always takes place?

Apparently, someone out there (not me) took it upon themselves to call this assumption into question. The flags I saw this morning made me wonder what dog walkers do when no one is watching. The flagged product in the image is weathered more than the 5 other feces piles recognized by the frustrated individual. It must have frustrated them greatly that they could not flag coyote scat when deposited in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, the origin of sidewalks is only assumed to be from coyotes. Vindictive owners waging a campaign on the positive effects of letting excrement break down naturally might also be responsible. After all, the feces fulfill their purpose in fertilizing wherever destiny deposits them.

While I don’t plan on cleaning up after the canines who have been flagged, I do take comfort knowing someone else out there does think like I do. When those thoughts enter my brain, I am content to let them die a quick death. I have a neighbor who believes otherwise. He/she believes this is a battle worth fighting. They want to mark every battle waged with a flag. When the owner goes by, they want that flag to trigger immense guilt within the hearts of those lazy dog owners. They are fighting for the dignity of the grass these “poop piles” are desecrating.

Transitioning from poop to Christmas is not easy to do. I will save that for the more gifted bloggers. To those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Just A Shard…

On another morning this past week, the heavily callused bottom of my foot had to ward off an attack from a shard of clear glass. It was barely a tickle as my foot’s defenses developed over multiple decades kicked in. (I love how I used a foot verb to describe the defenses the foot has against sharp objects, but I digress.) It was barely bigger than a grain of salt. With no knowledge of invasive creatures that poop glass of such small sizes, I had to seek out another culprit for my attempted injury.

With the recent mouse adventure still fresh on my mind, I vowed to take a more logical approach on solving this mystery.

  • The Kitchen: Did any baking go on that could have caused a glass (actual glass or a baking item)to be thrown into the far reaches of the kitchen area? I couldn’t think of anything, but the extra kids in our house are not always the best proactive communicators.
  • Christmas: Christmas decorations only started going out yesterday. The shard made its appearance/penetration at the end of last week. No candle holders or broken ornaments to blame here. The culprit must be something else…
  • Shoes: Could anyone have walked through a field (it wouldn’t have to be a full field, but visualizing a full field of glass sure is more interesting than saying a “broken drinking glass”.) of glass and brought some of it into the house on their shoes?

It is the latter that is likely the winner with some slight modifications. At the beginning of November, we had new windows installed in our home. With the exception of one window, all windows on the first floor are now new. According to the building code, if a window is within so many feet (maybe 4?) of a door, the window must have tempered glass. Tempered glass is glass that shatters into a million tiny pieces when it breaks. This prevents the glass from developing sharp edges that could cause serious injury. When the glass from the window near the back door was taken out, the glass broke into SO many pieces. While tarps were laid out prior to the removal and brooms/mops circumnavigating the floor numerous times, one of our residents encountered a very small piece of glass under the table during dinner within a couple days of the window installation.

While my glass prick or tickle was a month removed from the “window swap party”, no other explanation can account for it. It was kind of like a bacteria that was lingering around with the hopes it could bring down one more victim. If it were a suitable victim, the bacteria could take down a household, then a street, then a town, a state, and then the world. In this case, my calluses were like my immune system. And…yes, it is time to end this posting…;-)

Bananas Over Bananas

As the kids worked their way through breakfast this morning, the last banana was eaten. I mumbled a phrase that included “Sam’s” and “restocking” to appease those who felt cheated of their full banana breakfast quota.

While at Sam’s along with the two bunches of bananas, I had a variety of snack bars, salads, and the ever-necessary package of toilet paper. (Some members of our household just love the stuff.). The self-checkout lane was open. I was happy to forego building a relationship with a cashier. Unfortunately, I had to meet a team of employees floating around helping those who were challenged by the self-scanner. In my case, it was necessary. When I attempted to scan my bananas, the screen displayed a “RETRY” prompt. I attempted to scan both bunches of bananas before the “team” told me, “Someone else had problems with this register earlier. I guess we are going to have to shut it down now.” They continued talking. I heard words like, “cancel transaction” and “so sorry.”, but I was moving on to a new lane by then.

After letting a couple people ahead of me and attempting to jump in quicker moving lanes, I eventually had the opportunity to scan my cart of groceries again. After scanning my proteins, I went after my bananas again. Immediately after scanning one of the bunches, the “RETRY” came up on the screen again. I dropped the scanner into the basket and gave the “team” the evil eye. The team lead punched in her code and circumvented the scanner with the bananas. My question of, “Shouldn’t you check to see if there is a problem with that SKU?” was met with a stare and assurance that it would take care of itself, eventually.

As I was finishing my transaction, the person next to me also paralyzed the self-checkout while scanning bananas. The reassuring team calmed her by saying, “We had two other customers who had the same problem this morning.” I am pretty sure they knew it was me both times, but did they?

The Shirt Made Me Do It

As I was at Sam’s today buying chicken, I was fighting with the plastic bags you are advised to use when putting the chicken into your cart. The first bag was coaxed into separating, so I could bag the chicken breast. The bag for the thigh was given a great deal of difficulty. After giving up on the first bag, I was presented with an opportunity. The woman walking toward me was not wearing a mask. She was wearing a t-shirt that stated, “Be A Nice Human.”

I thought to myself, “Nice humans would want me to bag my chicken thighs and not be frustrated.” My question to her as she approached was, “Are you a nice human? Could you help me get this bag open?” She may have paused slightly, but she extended her hands to try the “slippy-slidey” technique that I had been using on the bag. She tried to pull some moisture from the meat case to help her fingers better grip the bag. When this failed, she said, “Lick your fingers and you will be able to do it.”

Of course, I could. I thanked her. She told me, “I would have licked my fingers and done it, but it was your bag.” So, whether I had germs or she had germs or whether my licked fingers were covered in salmonella, I now had a bag to deposit the thighs into.

Just another life experience complicated by a post-COVID set of glasses.

Getting A Clean Floor

Our house is heavily used. With our kids out of the house, we have resorted to exchange students and billeting hockey players to maintain an adequate level of chaos within the house. To make sure we are on the same page, we need to agree on the definition of chaos. If you think chaos is something to be avoided and something unworthy of friendship, let me illustrate how piggy-backing chaos can be an advantage. Or, to say another way, we like to schedule our related unscheduled chaoses so they maximize their synergistic potential.

How do we do this? Let me relate three events obviously related, but not immediately noticed.

  1. Yesterday, our exchange students needed to do laundry. They had a very small load, but the items they wanting to have washed were of very high emotional value. I did not ask lots of questions or take particular notice of what was in the washer. My wife, however, decided the load was a little light. She chose to grab some our laundry to add to the mix. In most cases, this would be the end of the story. The clothes would have been clean, and everyone would have given thanks for the wonders of an automatic clothes washer. (We are ungrateful lot. We take nearly everything for granted. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.) When the girls (i.e. the exchange students) got their clothes out of the washer to put on the drying rack (Our previous exchange students were also afraid of the dryer’s hoarding and/or its shrinking qualities. The number of clothes washings greatly exceeds the number of tumbles the dryer dispenses.), they noticed many little pieces of paper all over the clothes. After quickly sending the paper off to a lab and getting a rapid test result, the paper was determined to be facial tissue. The guilty party apologized profusely for forgetting to check her pockets. Many pieces of tissue were scattered on the floor between the laundry room and the drying racks.
  2. As flowers are delivered to our house, the arrangements are enjoyed until they are no longer capable of bringing any more joy. When the flowers have expired, the vases are washed and placed on top of the refrigerator. (With a son working at Teleflora, his discount allowed the vases to grow at a quicker rate more recently.) Prior to yesterday, the top of the refrigerator was thought to be a safe place. Unfortunately, the loud crash we heard after the ice cream was put away last night removed this confidence. After hearing the crash, a quick glance showed big, small and very small pieces of glass spreading out from ground zero. We announced the imminent danger to anyone crazy enough to walk barefoot in the kitchen. My wife jumped into action with the broom and the dust pan. The previously unclaimed bowl of ice cream went into the trash in case some of the glass chose to land there. After 10 minutes of careful cleanup, my wife committed to a more thorough cleaning on the morrow.
  3. Unfortunately, the coordinated attacks on the floor had one plague yet to release. Having finished my coffee creamer the previous day, I opened my new one. Opening and pouring into my coffee cup were the easy part. The difficulty came when I had to place the very full container of Snickers creamer into the refrigerator. As many times as I had done this in the past, the containers on the top shelf of the frig seemed to be a maze I was unable to navigate. As I moved the black mango tea to checkmate, all of the pieces on the checkboard moved to their own positions via the quickest path available. The creamer was vengefully thrown from the board. It fell to the floor where the lid promptly snapped open. As it rolled toward the dining room table, it left a path of coffee-flavoring deliciousness in its wake. After rescuing the remaining half of the creamer, I pulled out the paper towels and had a party.

If it were only tissues scattered over the floor, a broom would have gotten it done. As this is written, the mop has not visited the sticky and glass-shard laden kitchen floor. A broom and mop will need to caress the tiles that cover the kitchen floor. Once that is completed, the full impact of these synchronized events will be appreciated.


When driving, I am known to talk to the other drivers I share the road with. While I often say things as innocent as, “Come on, sport.” to encourage the drivers to fully embrace the speed limit available to them, I have been known to use words that rhyme with “blidiot” and “blummy”. I have never been one to use hand gestures to convey my frustration. But, if shrugging counts, then I plead guilty.

Today’s entry was prompted by a driver who failed to notice my turn signal. He nearly turned into path before catching himself. I wagged my finger at him (the POINTER finger) and continued my turn into our subdivision. Using this driver’s actions as an opportunity to prepare for any similar future situations, my mind went quickly to my horn.

What is the horn but an extension of myself? What can it say? A light tap says, “Excuse me. Could you please stop texting and pay attention to the road?” Multiple light taps say, “If you don’t go quickly we are both going to have to wait until the next turn light to get out of this intersection.” A horn held for a couple seconds is less subtle. It is speaking in its outdoor voice. It is speaking truth and not trying to disguise its purpose or protect the other drivers feelings. And, finally, there is the multi-second horn. This is the noise a car would make if it were Tarzan. As the car stands over its defeated prey, it would hold the horn down to remind the other driver he was about to complete a very stupid act. The extended horn is nothing personal. The driver blowing the horn hopes the “accused” driver will feel so guilty they will think twice or more before making the “near-mistake” again.

If only more driver’s would embrace the benefits of “horn-whooping” another driver. Your driver’s education teacher would be disappointed, but someone else cares enough to try and help you out. It is great to care for others so much that you see a horn-whooping of an ignorant driver as a community service. I know I will.


Since the 2nd week of the year, possible longer, I have done 10,000 steps or more per day. I. Am proud of this feat. There are days that were almost 30000, and there were many days, especially of late, that were just barely 10,000. How ever many steps there were, I earned them all. During rainy days, I put my old shoes on and carried the umbrella. I allowed for great flexibility in my walk times just so I could fit them in. If I needed to take 2 short walks to cover my steps, I kept the carrot dangling until I captured it every day..

This held true until today. Today, while we were still on our vacation, was supposed to be a day spent at my mother’s house. When circumstance changed and my wife suggested a chance to our schedule, I agreed. I knew it would make walking 10,000 steps very difficult today. And, with nearly every vacation day being a “just barely”, I knew 8-10 hours of driving would make maintaining that goal very difficult. And, with the expected rain, it was just not going to be a thing I wanted to save for the end of the day.

Fortunately, I was able to get a short walk in before we left. And, we stopped in the small town of Casey, IL. We walked around and took pictures of all the BIG things. My favorite was the pitchfork. After this stop, it was about 4:00 in the afternoon. I knew my record was on the line. So, did I panic? No, I cheated.

Cheating with steps is something my mother described at breakfast today. The correct arm motion makes your phone think you are stepping. After experimenting with up and down and side to side, side to side was the winner. While feeling guilty during each “step”, I put about 2 miles on my phone while my wife drove across Missouri. When I checked my step counter and realized I only had 70 steps to go, I decided to be done. The remaining steps would get added “the old fashion way” when we walked into our hotel.

I can either claim to have 10,000 steps every day this year with an asterisk, or I can amend my statement to, “My phone says I have done 10,000 steps every day this year.” Since no one is likely to care or ask, I will make what claims I must and keep trying to fit those steps in.