The Coons Go On An Adventure

While my photography doesn’t give evidence of it, a mother and 4 kits were involved in this siting.

My “whimsical friend” described the raccoon mating cycle like this:

During the whimsical season of summer, raccoons embark upon their enchanting mating rituals. These cunning creatures engage in romantic escapades from mid to late summer. Ah, the dance of love!

And behold, the magical outcome of their passionate encounters! After a gestation period ranging from a swift sixty to seventy-four days, a joyous event unfolds. The raccoon family welcomes the arrival of their delightful cubs, up to four in number. Oh, the adorable offspring that grace the world!

As the days pass and the sun gently caresses the earth, the baby raccoons undergo a wondrous transformation. Their curious minds awaken, and their eager eyes and ears open wide, revealing the wonders of their surroundings. This enchanting sight typically occurs around eighteen to twenty-four days after their birth.

With each passing moment, the young raccoons grow stronger and more adventurous. They embark upon their own playful journeys, discovering the realm around them. In a mere span of four to six weeks, these remarkable creatures find their footing and embark on their first steps, exploring the world with their tiny paws. Oh, the marvel of nature’s progression!

Thus, we witness the circle of life unfolding in the raccoon kingdom. From the fervent mating season to the birth of their precious kits and the swift development of these young ones, the raccoons teach us the beauty of growth and the wonder of life’s ever-changing tapestry.

Good Morning…uh

Many days when I take my walk, I find I am the people I bump into are my first non-family contacts of the day. Today I was reassured when someone else confirmed this dilemma also poses problems for them.

Mid-afternoon today, I “shifted” (i.e. the left side of the sidewalk) into the passing lane as I prepared to pass a lady walking her dog. I gave the customary, “On your left” warning.

She responded back with the popular, “Good morning…uh, I mean, good afternoon.”

I replied, “Don’t worry. I do it too. Have a great day!”

Phone conversations don’t seem to clear the first “good morning” of the day. It seems many of us have a “good morning” queued up. If we don’t get the opportunity to use it in the morning, it is still lurking and waiting to come out. It matters not if it is morning, late afternoon or evening. It is waiting patiently for your first attempt at being social. Whether you consciously realize its presence or not, it is going to fight a battle with your lips to be the first social thing to emerge from your mouth.

This is a PSA. The problem is real. If you are fortunate enough to not lose control of your mouth with this greeting, you likely have other places where your body and mind are not in sync. You can expect the “good morning” crowd to show you grace at that time, too. Thank you.

You Light Up My Life

As we drove to church this morning, my wife noticed the light bulb in the center console. She asked what any curious wife would, “Where did that come from?”

Before I tell you how I answered, let me detail what I did the previous morning. I received a text from my son, “I know I should have contacted you Friday, but can you help me clear out my apartment today?” Since it was the proper dad thing to do and I already had my shorts on, I thought, why not? My wife said taking the smaller car was best because most of everything had already been cleaned out of his place. I left within an hour of the text to head to his old apartment.

Because the apartment had black mold, my son hadn’t been living there for a few weeks. The apartment complex “graciously” let him out of his lease early since they had no other open apartments to move him into. [They collected a couple extra months of rent while they weighed their options, and he continued to dutifully pay his rent.) This weekend was THE weekend he had to get a truck from his work to clean out the remaining big items and take them to a storage unit. Among the items, I helped him load were a comfy chair, a dining table and chairs, and a bed. We also donated a dresser and a futon to the dumpster. The dumpster also received additional knickknacks of diminishing functionality and worth. It was one of those items from a lamp recently demoted to “trash” that occupied my console.

As I mulled over my wife’s question, my immediate reply was, “I got it yesterday when I helped [our son’s name] move.” I quickly followed up with, “Dear, I keep it as a reminder of how you light up my life.” Obviously, both answers were true. 🙂

Since my wife was still drinking her coffee, her brain was not fully engaged. The number of points I lost because I led with an honest rather than flattering answer was minimal.

Sonic Talk

After deciding a “mall walk” was better than a walk where I would be forced to hold an umbrella over my head, I checked in with my wife. If she hadn’t already gotten our drinks at Sonic, I would pick them up on the way home.

With the drink ordered on the app at a stop light 3 miles from the location, I pulled into Sonic to get the Route 44 Coke Zero w/ easy ice and the Route 44 w/ a shot of blackberry flavoring and no ice. My weekday buddy Jordan brought the drinks out almost immediately after I checked in. (Georgia usually brings them out on Sunday. She is effective, but not as friendly as Jordan.)

Me: Just coming back from the mall. Boy, was it dead!

Jordan: With the weather, I would have thought it would have been busy.

Me: I don’t go to the mall very often, but in my opinion, there was almost no one there.

Jordan: When I grew up in Jersey, and it rained, we would go to the mall all of the time.

Me: The good thing was fewer people to share the samples with in the food court.

Jordan: Yes, I liked the samples. The problem was the people giving the food samples always wanted to talk your leg off.

Me: I know, just like my server at Sonic. [Delivered with a wink]

Jordan: Good enough. [Said with a smile]

I don’t bond with everyone, but when I do, it often involves humor. I enjoy having some non-family members in my life to tease. My wife and housemates often reach the saturation point before I am satirically spent.

Why Buzzards Are The Perfect Spies

Tree full of buzzards

As I came back from my walk today (actually a few days ago, but it sounds like I am more organized if I claim it as today), I saw the ominous tree full of buzzards. Besides these perching few, there was a handful circling above. I try not to get overly paranoid, but with the help of an AI app, I think my feelings are properly conveyed below…

Buzzards are nature’s most efficient hunters, but did you know they can also make great spies? With their remarkable vision and stealthy flying capabilities, buzzards can observe and gather information without being noticed.

One of the main reasons why buzzards are so good at spying is their incredible vision. Buzzards can see small objects from up to two miles away! This means they can easily watch a person or object from far away without being detected. Thanks to this sharp vision, buzzard spies can observe and watch without risking detection.

In addition to their impressive vision, buzzards have the perfect body for flying long distances without making any noise. They have large wingspans which allow them to hover in mid-air for a long time, allowing them to view the area below with ease. This also enables them to remain undetected while spying, as they blend in with the sky and never make a sound.

Finally, buzzards possess an innate intelligence that helps them assess situations quickly and react accordingly. They can understand their surroundings and make decisions based on what they observe. This makes them ideal for gathering information in difficult environments where it might be hard for a human spy to go undetected.

In conclusion, buzzards make perfect spies thanks to their incredible vision, silent flying capabilities, and ability to assess situations quickly. Their stealthy nature makes them ideal for gathering information without being detected, allowing them to serve as valuable assets in any espionage mission!

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!

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.