Category Archives: Sam

The week in pictures (8/8/2020)

The week in pictures (8/2/2020)

The Week in Pictures (7/25/2020)

The week in Pictures (7/4/2020)

For the gringos, “Tia” means “aunt” in Spanish.

Ellie doesn’t understand that her tia is not in that room
We’re making poke bowls to get more greens in our diet
Avgolemono is a perennial favorite at our house. We only got enough dill from the scraggly plant in our back yard for a garnish.
The neighbors watch “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” on our outdoor projector setup. When more people arrived we switched to Hamilton.
Ellie wrapped up in a blanket
I’m pre-chopping vegetables to keep up with my family’s breakfast demands.
Pesto-ham scrambled eggs with thai and sweet basil from the garden
Ribbonized squash
Ribbonized squash and andouille sausage with tiny pieces of kale
A cheesy squash casserole. The topping is the same recipe as the breakfast pizza crust

Cutco knives really work

Trigger warning: this post contains graphic imagery.

Spoiler: Sam still has all his digits.

A few days ago, I did not practice mindful chopping. This would be fine if I had been using one of my normal knives. I’m used to the knife bouncing off with a shallow cut. Instead I was using a knife my sister in law brought home from her part-time job at Cutco. Ten minutes later I pressed a two-millimeter flap of skin to the tip of my thumb with a bloody paper towel as my wife drove me to urgent care.

The doctor was a friendly old man type. He told me he’d need to numb my whole thumb and that I should expect two needle pricks. What he didn’t tell me was that he needed to hit a bunch of different nerves with one prick, meaning he had to wiggle the needle inside my hand.

Once I was numb, he told me I’d only need some surgical glue once my thumb stopped bleeding. Then we spent ten minutes trying to get it to stop bleeding as the table turned red and criss-crossing lines dried on my hands. A nurse went out to my wife in the waiting room and told her that I was fine, they “just needed to figure out how to control the bleeding.” Eventually the doctor declared defeat and said I’d need stitches.

As the doctor worked on the stitches, which go straight through the meat of my thumb and my thumbnail, he mumbled about how hard it was to get the thread through the skin flap without tearing it more. Then he changed his mind again. “Ok, we’re going to try something unorthodox. We’ll use stitches and glue.”

So, once my thumb was a caked red riot of wire and glue, the doctor told me he just needed some foam to put on it and we’d be done. He left for the foam and I breathed a sigh of relief. When he returned he had another huge syringe in his hand. “We’re out of foam.”

So I got another needle, this time in the madness that was once the tip of my thumb. Then he invited in two nurses – one to give me a tetanus shot, and another who said “we should just cut his thumb off.” Then she said, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” as she wrapped my thumb in gauze. I don’t think I would have let her do anything else at that point.

All done! Now my thumb has to stay wrapped and relatively dry for a week or so and then it should be fine!

If you’re interested in your own set of extremely sharp knives, comment your contact information and I’ll put you in touch with my sister in law! We bought the signature set!

Apocalypse Garden

Look how fuzzy!
This is a fern. Ferns have been around for millions of years. This one has been at this house as long as I have been here.
This sprout box is called “The Rad Beets.” it features beets, radish, and carrots.
This sprout box is called “The Vegan.” It features cucumbers, spinach, and kale.
This sprout box is called “Gaia.” It features calendula, echinacea, thyme, fennel, and basil.
Our pitcher plants survived the winter and are thriving.
Hydroponic lettuce!
This is a mint plant, oh, and Ellie.
Take us to the rest of the plants, Ellie!
Big cucumber plants!
Cabbage! Doesn’t look like it, does it? Where’s the ball? It’ll show up later.
Time to go outside, Ellie?
Ellie has to stay behind because she likes to harass pedestrians.
More cabbage in the ground outside. Purple cauliflower as well.
Mint planted next to the fence!

Thanks for joining us on the tour!

Letters from the apocalypse: Part III

My household has had the first serious injury of the apocalypse, and it’s mine. My dog is not doing particularly well with doggie distancing, and is getting harder to manage. So much so that several days ago when I was queuing up a phone call as I opened the door she saw another dog and bolted, yanking the leash. Caught by surprise, I fell over, and landed on my back on the post on the porch. Now I am injured enough that simple tasks like laying down in bed cause me immense pain. Fortunately, the pain is worst when I’m moving from one position to another. Most of the time I hurt just a little or not at all, and my wife is taking good care of me.

At the same time, my mother in law has instituted fast-paced Spanish lessons. One hour a day plus homework. In case some of her methods are proprietary, I won’t describe them here, but it’s been a long time since I had assignments for my own learning that someone was actually checking and pressuring me to complete. I feel like I’m in school again.

One of my tasks is to learn how to roll my “rs.” The first step of this is to say the word “ladder” over and over again, because this word exercises the same tongue positions that are required for r rolling. I’ve said “ladder” enough to drive my wife crazy, but still not enough that I have any idea how to roll an r when my mother in law tells me to.

Karime has become an excellent chef and is now doing much of the cooking. Between the three of us, we’ve made hamburgers and french fries cooked in the air fryer, carrot cake with chocolate frosting (for Nydia’s birthday), pork chops, gallo pinto, yellow rice, pad thai, coconut chocolate mousse, beef stir fry, hamburgers and french fries cooked on the stove, italian pasta with sausage from a local farmer, and more! We’re getting more accustomed to cooking for ourselves. Lately whenever we order out we end up feeling sick, such as when the three of us ate a whole fried chicken in one sitting, so that helps to encourage spending time in the kitchen instead.

Apocalypse Week 2

We have not yet had any issues with food supplies running low. In fact, we have branched out beyond pizza and pasta. We unpacked our gifts, including some cool new kitchen appliances. I’ve already gotten some use out of our new air fryer. I had some asparagus laying around, and I started with a lime-parmesan asparagus dish. After that was a big success, I tried making up a recipe with orange juice and zest, sesame oil, and fresh ground peanuts. I called it “Pad Thai Asparagus.”

It turned out well.

On the left is my sweet potato hash. On the right is my pad thai asparagus. I tried air frying the sweet potato hash, and it got a little burnt, but it was nice and crispy and I still liked it.

Letters from the apocalypse

Come rain, snow, or global pandemic, one thing you can count on is Sam will always post his weekly blog. Things are relatively slow here still compared to the news. We don’t have anyone obviously infected, and no national guard is confining us to our houses.

I’m living with a doctor and a former nurse, and we have a whole system in place now. We each have our outside shoes and our outside gloves, and the doctor taught me all about how to remove one’s gloves without ever touching the outside of them. Standard practice for infection control in hospitals is now the rule of law at my house.

I negotiated free reign of the neighborhood for dog walking, as long as we practice doggy distancing. No playing with the other dogs, Ellie! Since we can’t go to the movie theater anymore, I set my projector up downstairs to be our home theater.

One person we spoke to said that he bought beef jerky for when fresh food was hard to find, but then he ate it all right away. Since it’s only been a week or so, we still have our regular food, which means pesto pasta, salads, and homemade gluten free pizzas. Under our self-imposed rules our last trip to the grocery store was our last trip to the grocery store. I wish I was young enough that I could still be excited about having no salad greens and eating only beef jerky, rice and dried beans. Instead I just have to hope that it won’t come to that. At least I can hope that it won’t stay there for long.

In case of emergency, break dance

Every once in a while, dance is unavoidable. As a social creature in a dance-driven culture, it’s difficult to avoid entirely. For those times, here are some tips for the uncoordinated. All of these examples come from my own experience at my wedding last night.


At my wedding, I was required not only to dance, but to open the dance. Everyone’s eyes were on me, and I knew I looked silly, but it’s ok. If your friends tell you you’re dancing wrong and jeer you, they either are about to teach you how to dance better or they should not have invited you to a dance party, and they may not be your friends. Think about how many times you’ve overheard conversations about someone on the dance floor making people uncomfortable because he was a bad dancer. As long as you’re respecting personal space and have good hygiene, just try your best. I had a girlfriend once tell me that I was an unacceptably bad dancer, and the only thing I learned was that she was an unacceptably bad girlfriend.

Stop Dancing

Allow yourself a break. You can even dance for an hour and then go hide for the rest of the night. At my wedding there were plenty of other people chilling out to talk to. When my new wife wanted me back on the floor, she told me.

Use your awful dancing to your advantage

Invite other shy people to come to the floor. I told my reticent friends that I would join them and do such a silly dance that anything they did would be cool by comparison. That did not turn out to be a compelling argument initially, but for the most part, they did seem to eventually get out there, so maybe I helped. Another trick specifically for couples where one partner wants to dance and the other does not is to take the one onto the dance floor so the other gets jealous. That one got instant results and a dirty look.

Beware of Dance-offs

This happened at my wedding. I don’t think it’s representative of what is likely to happen to you, but just be forewarned. My dad saw a young man showing off his dance moves, and the first thought in his mind was “I should see if my doubly left-footed son will challenge him to a dance-off.”

I said no. Then other people started coming to me and asking if I was going to take on this little child prodigy in the dance-off. Eventually, the child himself showed up and started asking if I was getting cold feet. “Why’d you challenge me if you were just going to get scared?” Finally I agreed and told him to set up the challenge. He didn’t know what to say to the DJ, so I set it up for him. The DJ turned on the song “Billie Jean” and the whole dance floor backed up to watch us see who was the better dancer.

The child tore up the dance floor with one sophisticated dance move after another. I tried a few goofy moves to keep things interesting on my side, but eventually I couldn’t think of anything else and alternated between doing grotesque parodies of my opponent’s moves and just sticking to my old Jig / Cha Cha almalgamation.

When it seemed like Billie Jean must be on its seventeenth verse, a groomsman tagged in. He was the only one of my groomsmen with any dance skill, and I got out of there. Afterwards the child asked me how it felt getting owned, and I told him it didn’t feel great, and asked him if he had a good time, which he did.