Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Property Mismanagement

We had a neighborhood barbecue a while back. It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon this past March, and it was the kind of day just tailor-made for an impromptu get-together out on the street.

We didn’t grill burgers or dogs, though. We cooked a Prius.

Well, I shouldn’t say “we” cooked a Prius, so much as, the meth addict felon who lives down the street cooked his Prius. We just all came out to watch.

That fine afternoon, Sir Meths-a-Lot had somehow caught something in the middle of his driveway on fire. He remedied that situation by intentionally kicking over a large can of gasoline at the top of his driveway, which ran down into the fire and strangely enough, started a much, much larger fire.

By the time I saw the giant plume of black smoke rising above the rooftops, the entire driveway was burning, his Prius, which was parked at the curb in front of the driveway, was ablaze, and a flaming river of gasoline was running down the gutter toward two of his neighbor’s cars.

Good times.

His also-a-meth-head-but-so-far-only-committed-misdemeanors brother managed to get the fiery river put out before any more cars caught on fire, and it wasn’t too much longer before a couple garden hoses had the entire barbecue extinguished and Captain Felony Meth could concentrate on shouting at one of his neighbors to – and I’m not making this up – “mind your own business, bro.”

This fun Sunday afternoon get-together came after at least a year of other amusing antics and shenanigans over at Methtopia, including, but not limited to the following (and keep in mind, I am not making any of this up):

Fights on the front lawn
Homeless lady living in her truck out front and using their potty
Power washing the house/driveway/street at midnight
Throwing two dozen eggs from the side yard onto the neighbor’s house at 3 A.M.
Vacuuming the street with a Hoover upright
Mowing the street with an electric lawnmower
Power washing the lawn
Oh, and a full guns-drawn SWAT team raid on the house

That was all just neighborly fun and games, but apparently I have a limit, and as we found out, that limit is lighting the street on fire.

After the barbecue that no one was invited to, I did some internet research and came up with a few phone numbers. I texted around until I found the property owner and told him that his renters just lit his entire driveway on fire and it was time for them to find other, more suitable accommodations.

He then told me he only managed the property for his son, who owned it, but he would go check things out that day.

When I inquired back about the property visit, he texted back, “Everything looked fine. No problems.”

I decided at that point that an in-person meeting might be appropriate.

At the meeting, which took place at my kitchen table, I informed Roy of all the silly things that have been going on over at his son’s rental property, and that it was definitely time for the renters to fire up the old Prius, as it were, and head on out.

He amazingly tried to make the case that they were really quite nice, but I finally convinced him to give them notice. We settled on a charitable thirty days’ notice, even though three days were all that was required by law, given the many, many drug arrests that had occurred in the home. We shook on it.

He texted me later that week to tell me he changed his mind and they could stay until the lease ran out on August 31st.

I texted him back and told him how small claims court works for a landlord operating a nuisance property.

He ignored me.

During the dedicated public servant portion of the barbecue, Mr. Amphetamines-R-Us got popped for felony possession of a weapon while on parole (parole in this case, I’m assuming, meaning the entirety of his twenties and thirties), so he went back to his home away from home.

My first-ever incarceration report search (God bless the internet) turned up the fact that Doctor Now-I-Have-To-Do-Crappy-Jail-Toilet-Meth was scheduled to be in the slammer until after the lease expired, so I let it go.

A For Sale sign went up on the lawn in July, and things were looking promising until Future Eagle Scout Time-Off-For-Good-Behavior came home in mid-August to resume his standard routine of basically living in the front yard and doing absolutely nothing even remotely productive with his life.

I texted Roy. Here’s how that went.

Me: When will they be out?

[August 31st ]

Me, On August 31st: Will your tenants be gone by the end of today?

[They will start moving tomorrow hopefully . but not later than Tuesday
They are moving to my other house, other house’s tenant be out till midnight,so don’t worry PL try to help me find a nice buyer]

September 2nd: [Because holiday,may be we are running behind ( one day)]

Me: So, will they be out by Wednesday?

[Yes sir (OK hand emoji)]

September 4th: [They are moving since last night sir]

Me on September 5th: Your tenants are still at the house tonight.

[They are moving it may take 3 days to finish,sir]

Me on September 10th: It is Sept 10th. Your tenants were supposed to be out on August 31st. They are still in the house, with no signs of being out any time soon. What is your plan to get the felon drug addict who nearly burned your house to the ground out of our neighborhood?

At this point, I received a text from the second number I had, which I thought belonged to the owner, Roy’s son.

[This is Bea. Im Roy's daughter. I cant help but get your texts everyday. Are you renting the house or buying the house on plum? Whats really going on?]

Me: Sorry to have included you on the text string. I thought you were one of the owners. I'm a neighbor with kids, on a street full of people with children. The tenant is a meth addict, a felon, and the definition of a nuisance. He nearly burned down the house one day, which was when I contacted your dad and told him they needed to go. And I am honestly amazed that he didn't come to that decision on his own! This was after the SWAT team raided the house with guns drawn while my kids were playing in the street, and I don't know how many fights on the front lawn between the felon and his drug addict associates. I met with your dad and he told me in person he would evict them in 30 days. He then went back on that and told me they would be allowed to stay until August 31st. It is now Sept 10th. They need to leave this neighborhood, and I need to know an actual day they will be gone. They are wholly unacceptable, and suing your father for running a nuisance property is the only next step. I already made him aware that each affected family can sue for $5000 per person, including children, which adds up to a conservatively estimated $100,000 lawsuit. Time for them to go, now. That's what's really going on.

[First, I d like to thank you for being a concerned neighbor.

Second, if my dad says he will do something. You can mark my words. He is a man of his word.

3rd, My dad raised 3 kids in the same neighborhood. I want you to know things are being taken care of.

I just need to step off the gas pedal a lil bit and know you have been respectfully heard and my family is making it happen.

My dad stays unwell. Please be respectful. Nobody is ignoring you. We are all families in this community

Contact me directly from now on.

The new family thats moving in has their trucks outside being loaded.]

Me: I was not aware your dad was unwell. I will contact you from now on, but hopefully that won't be necessary. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

[Again Marc, I want you to know my dad is under doctor's care and is very fragile. He is a good man. You will be taken care of at any cost. Period.

Have faith and some patience. M working on it too from Chicago as well.

You have our utmost respect n attention. I will personally contact you soon.

I m looking out 4 my dad and his health too. I only got 1 old man.

He dont need threats, your request is enough 4 all of us to step in.

My name is Bea. M his oldest kid. I invite you to be patient with serene calm mind. Universe will return the favor in 10 folds.

Namaste! (prayer hand emoji)]

Umm… say what?

Me: I am nice and serene. You didn't answer the question. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? Outside where? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

[We have new tenants moving in very soon. Be patient, be kind. Everytime u look towards the house, inhale love n exhale love. Right now, you may not be perceiving things as they are, rather how you see!

No need to be on pins n needles. Cuz I got chu! Relax.

Your request has been received, approved, accepted, sealed, stamped!]

What in the actual hell is this idiot talking about? Are there three different people on the other end just grabbing the phone to text random crap at me? Can someone throw the phone to an adult?

Me: What actual date on the calendar will your current tenants be gone?

[I will call you tomorrow with that. Im sending my own tenants from my house to shift over there.]

Me: Text me. I like to have things in writing. It brings me peace and harmony.

[Blessings (double pink and red heart emoji)]

Shocking situation update: I never received a follow-up text.

Pray for us while I inhale and exhale love.


See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Blinded by the Light

We saw a man holding a sign yesterday.

It was odd, to say the least.

He was not spinning or throwing a big arrow sign inviting us to buy a new home, or get our hair cut. His sign was homemade.

He was not “out of gas – need help,” or “lost job – anything helps.” He appeared to be a sober and employed member of society.

He was not announcing the good news that Jesus loves us. I did not get any sense, one way or the other, of his faith.

He simply was not taking up any of your standard sign-holding causes. Yet, there he was, lobbying the general public for the change he wanted to see in the world.

Alone on the sidewalk at five o’clock in the afternoon, wearing a floppy sun hat to guard against the still-blazing one hundred-degree heat, he held up his sign for the passing cars to read. Or maybe not to read.

Why is the sign blank? Is he holding it backward? Wait, no, I think there might be something written on it. Slow down. What does that say?

The sign appeared to be made in haste, possibly even as few as twenty to thirty seconds before he left the comfort of his air-conditioned home to take up such a noble cause out in the heat of the day. Written in single-line skinny Sharpie marker on a three-foot square piece of poster board was his gripping plea to America:

Ban Blinding LED’s

Umm… huh?

So many questions left unanswered.

Car headlights? Streetlights? Flashlights? Cell phone camera flash/flashlights? Home kitchen lights?

Wait a second! Are my home LED kitchen lights slowly stealing my eyesight from me and I didn’t even know? That would totally explain why I can’t hold the small print far enough away from my face to read it anymore!

It might also explain why I had so much trouble reading his sign, but I had no trouble reading the stop sign he was near, so I think that was on him.

Sadly, his poor sign-making skills may have been preventing his effectiveness in more ways than one. Had his sign been of a more professional and legible quality, he might have been able to market more effectively, and comfortably, to the folks in what I am assuming is his real target audience – nighttime drivers.

Since he was out on the street holding up his nearly blank sign to people in cars, instead of being out front of a Verizon store or a Home Depot, I am assuming the LED’s he wants banned are the car headlight variety. But obviously, he needed to petition us during the day, because his crappy sign would have been impossible to read at night with plain old standard headlights. Only the blinding LED’s he was lobbying against would have been able to illuminate his dull sign enough to be legible, and that would have been completely counterproductive to his worthy cause.

Oh, well.

As bad as he was at being a sign guy, I had to admire his passion for the cause, even if the cause was completely unclear. He was putting himself in harm’s way to get out his faint and confusing message, because it was crazy hot outside, and his legs were insanely white. It was as if they were seeing the light of day for the first time that afternoon.

I’m not sure how much traction he’s going to get on the LED thing, but he’s well on his way to a secondary cause. Ban Blindingly White Legs! Just stand out in the summer sun in shorts holding an illegible sign for an undefined cause until you are lobster-red.

He should Sharpie in “and please bring me aloe” at the bottom of his poster board.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

We had a fantastic stroke of luck last week when my wife had parked our Honda Accord on the street, and a nice man decided to remove our front bumper for us with his truck. How awesome is that!?

Speaking as someone who has dealt with car insurance agencies following our Suburban being totaled, I am really pumped to get to go through another damage claim.

I say the man who gave us a bumperectomy was nice, because he really was nice. He left a note on our car with all his insurance and contact information, and then hung around long enough to actually meet my wife when she returned to the car. He obviously can’t drive very well, but he acts appropriately after he’s finished hitting your parked car.

His insurance company took all liability for the repair costs, so as far as the world as we know it goes, everything is working as it should.

But that’s not good enough for me. The insurance world, as we know it, sucks.

We didn’t do anything wrong in either of our major insurance claims. We weren’t at fault. In this case, we weren’t even near the car. So why do I still have to take time out of my life to get the car fixed?

Why do I have to meet with a claims adjuster to look at the damage? Why am I responsible for getting my car to the repair shop? Why do I need to drive a rental car in the meantime? Why do I need to return that rental car and go to the repair shop to pick up my car when it’s done being repaired?

I am required by law to have car insurance, and I pay them an insane amount of money every year for the privilege of driving around and not causing accidents. Yet, when someone else hits me, I have to do all the work to get my car fixed. This is obviously a huge injustice that we, as Americans, have let go now for far too long.

Here is my proposal for the 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America – also known as the “This Crap Was Not My Fault” amendment:

Any insured and licensed driver in the United States of America whose vehicle incurs even the slightest dent at the hands of another driver, regardless of the bad driver’s status (i.e. insured/licensed or not, in the country legally or not, high/drunk or not, originally Canadian or not, extremely low IQ or not, etc.), shall be immediately compensated with a new vehicle, at the site of the collision.

The new vehicle shall be the current model year version of the old vehicle, or, if the model is out of production, any comparable new vehicle of the good driver’s choice.

The new vehicle shall be delivered within one hour of the time the collision occurred, regardless of the time of day or night. It shall come with a full tank of gas, and one thousand dollars cash in the glove box to compensate for the one-hour wait and the inconvenience caused by the bad driver.

The new vehicle delivery agent shall transfer all the good driver’s belongings to the new car, then meet the good driver at their home to deliver them a case of expensive imported beer and a predetermined number of bacon cheeseburgers, with a corresponding number of large fries.

While the good driver and their friends/family eat, the agent will take care of setting up the garage door opener buttons, pairing all their phones to the new car, installing car seats, and/or anything else that needs to occur to make it as though nothing ever happened. All DMV paperwork and fees for the car swap will be handled behind the scenes with absolutely no action needed by the good driver.

The good driver will not experience any change in their insurance rates even though the car is newer. The bad driver will not experience a change in their insurance rates either, however, they will be completely on their own for any repair/replacement costs for their vehicle, as well as any beer and cheeseburger-related expenses.

Based on what a ridiculous racket the collision repair industry is, insurance rates should actually go down under the new system.

Contact your congressman today!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Slovak Style Link

God bless the internet.

Never in the history of man has it been easier for two neighbors to be toxically rude and disrespectful to each other without ever having to actually speak in person. And that’s just one example of the amazing benefits the internet has brought us. If I could kiss Al Gore right now, I still wouldn’t.

We could go on for days about how the world wide web has improved interpersonal communications, but today I want to focus on the benefits it brings us in terms of our personal style, wealth, and ability to attract women. Specifically, I want to gush about how the internet has introduced me to Mr. Martin Železník, Slovakian Men's Style Coach.

I was just a regular, boring old day on LinkedIn, until I got the connection invitation that would change my life forever.

Hi Marc,

Nice to “meet” you,

I see you’re a speaker. I help men make more money and triple attention from women by developing their own authentic personal style.

If that's something you're interested in, let's connect.

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach

This could be the break I’ve always needed. I mean, who doesn’t want more money, but TRIPLE ATTENTION from women!? That would be insane! Where do I sign, Martin?

Wait, I’d better not be too hasty. This is the internet, after all. I need to learn from my past mistakes with all those deposed but still super-rich Nigerian princes. Does Martin even care about me at all, or is this another scam?

Let’s look a little deeper into his LinkedIn profile.

His signature line reads:

Martin Železník l Men's Style Coach
I help men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style
Slovak Republic

Double confidence and triple attention from women, PLUS more money. This is sounding almost too good to be true, but there is a picture of Martin Železník right there to reassure me. The picture, however, is not insanely reassuring, by American standards, in the style/confidence/women’s attention/money category.

Martin has a thin, weaselly, “I’m super sure that I’m super cool” smile, and thin blonde hair cut close at the sides with an ocean wave-looking section on top that is gelled enough to preserve the individual comb tracks and could likely withstand a forty-knot wind. He does not appear as if he could grow any discernable amount of facial hair.

His shoulders are at a quarter turn, but his head is cocked back to the camera, as if to say, “Hey, what’s up, ladies? As you may have noticed, I have quite a bit of style and personal confidence. I also have an American LinkedIn account. Yes, it’s true.”

Captain Style Coach is rocking a blue Oxford-style button-down shirt, a beige V-neck sweater, and what appears to be a heavy black wool suit jacket of some kind. He scores bonus Slovakian style points by popping the collar on his jacket.

Based on the picture, I have to assume that if Members Only jackets were available in the Slovak Republic, Martin would own as many as he could afford.

All that being said, I’m not current on what is hip and trending in Slovakia at the moment, so maybe Martin is the Tom Selleck of Eastern Europe. I’m inclined to believe he’s on the level, because he seems to really care about helping me develop my own authentic personal style, based on his second communication.

Hi Marc,

Thanks for connecting with me.

I specialize in helping men make more money and double their confidence in any situation by developing their own authentic personal style.

I’m curious, Marc, what do you want to communicate with your clothes?

Wow! I have only recently connected with Martin and he’s already blowing my mind with insightful personal authentic style queries. And he cares enough to ask the tough questions. What do I want to communicate with my clothes?

I took a second to total up the amount of time in the last forty-seven years that I have spent thinking about my clothes. It’s in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen minutes total, so it’s safe to say I have no idea what I’ve been trying to communicate with them. I have given it some serious thought now that Martin has encouraged me, and I have come up with the following.

What I seem to be currently communicating with my clothes is, “Hello. I am a middle-aged man. I am not homeless.”

But is that what I want to communicate? Martin is getting me out of my middle-aged, non-homeless comfort zone and forcing me to come to grips with that tough question. I really don’t know what I want to communicate right now, but one thing is for sure – my current clothes-related communications are not helping me at all in the money/confidence/women attention department. Martin is a Slovakian style genius!

But what to do about it?

As if Martin could read my mind, he just sent me this urgent communique:

Hi Marc,

I’m offering all of my new LinkedIn prospects a free style diagnosis of 1 outfit of your choice to find out how is your current style and appearance helping you reach your goals.

Would you like to take advantage?

My style and appearance are related to my goals!?!? Holy crap, Martin, you are turning my whole world upside down right now. Hell yes, I would like to take advantage.

Free style diagnosis, here I come! I am currently wearing a black San Francisco Giants T-shirt with less than two holes in it, and khaki shorts. I can’t wait to find out if that’s correct or not. I’m really looking forward to doubling my confidence and increasing my income by an unspecified amount.

I’m not entirely sure what will happen when my wife finds out that I am experiencing triple attention from women, however, or how that will impact my confidence/money escalations, but we’ll cross that authentic personal style bridge when we get there.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Teaching Me Happiness

School started today.

Actually, let me write that the way it feels. SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!!!

That doesn’t do it justice. How about 28-point font and some old-school emojis?

SCHOOL STARTED TODAY!!! :-) :-) :-) WOOT, WOOT!!! (Clinking champagne glasses)

I like summer as much as the next person, but when you work from home, summer can get fairly crowded and loud when three ever-growing boys are around the house all day. Or trapped inside the car with you on a three-week road trip. Always fighting. Just so much fighting.

But everything is better today. Today they went to school. Today, they are not at home with me. They may be fighting, but I can’t hear them, and if the school calls, I’m probably not going to answer. Not today, anyway.

Do you know what it sounds like inside my house right now? It sounds like a yellow Lab snoring. I imagine the angels singing in Heaven sound just like a sleeping Lab.

I woke up this morning, and like every morning in the past month or two, my feet hurt when I got out of bed. I think I have plantar fasciitis. It hurts. Today, however, I don’t care, because school has started.

Running hurts now, due to the probable fasciitis situation, so I’m actually gaining weight instead of losing some like I wanted to do. Bring it on. I don’t care. Not today, anyway, because school has started.

I forgot to put the trash bin out this morning and missed the truck. Now I will spiral into the nightmare of trash hoarding for the next three to six weeks as I slowly work myself out of the collection deficit. Doesn’t bother me a bit today, however, because school has started.

My old Ford Expedition’s driver window switch broke again, and the window is stuck halfway down. Do I care? Not today. School has started.

A couple of weeks ago, our new Suburban’s A/C stopped blowing cold air when a rock punctured the condenser, which apparently, is vitally important to making cold air. It cost $1300 that I didn’t have to get it fixed. It had to be fixed, however, since it’s going to be 105 degrees today. Am I worried about any of that? Nope. School has started.

And speaking of money I don’t have, besides the looming abyss of college costs, our boys are going to start driving soon, which means my insurance rates are about to double with the first boy, triple with the second one, and then the policy will probably just be canceled altogether when Son Number Three gets his license. Doesn’t even faze me today. School has started.

And to top it all off, I had a stiff neck this morning when I woke up, because my wife stole one of my two pillows last night. My neck is still a little sore, but I don’t care, because school has started.

There was no way I was going to try to steal that pillow back and risk waking her up. She’s a teacher. They need all the sleep they can get, because school has started.

Thank you, teachers. We love you. You can have all the pillows you want.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Clash of Siblings

My wife and I caved. We caved hard.

Well, to be fair, since she’s going to read this and I don’t want to get into more trouble than I’m already in, it was probably me who did most of the caving.

OK, all of it.

She already went back to school. That’s essentially the problem. She left me here all alone with the three boys. We had a fun summer, and together we played fairly effective man-down zone defense. But now she’s off enjoying the peace and quiet of teaching high school math, and I’m stranded here, a week before the boys go back to school, hopelessly outnumbered three to one.

There was nothing I could do. They got on my last nerve. I was out of options. I snapped.

Sure, I tried movies. We watched them all. We watched the Batman movies. Everything from Lego Batman to Keaton, Clooney, all the way through Christian Bale, and into the who-paid-to-have-this-guy-cast-as-batman Ben Affleck debacle.

We watched Planet of the Apes, Rise of Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of Planet of the Apes. I have no idea why.

We watched Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2. Twice. You heard me.

When we passed through Ocean’s Eleven and got all the way to Captain Ron, I finally said enough is enough. I was considering calling Child Protective Services on myself.

“Get away from the TV! Go find something to do.”

The things they found to do were argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“Go get in the pool!”

In the pool, they forgot to swim. Instead they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

“OK, fine. If you can’t get along, we’ll do chores! How do you like them apples?”

We cleaned the house. We cleaned the backyard. We trimmed trees. We cut grass. We weeded vast expanses of lawn. We washed cars. And during it all they decided to argue, yell at each other, get into fights, and cry.

I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Like I said, I snapped.

We have always had a “no video games” rule in our house. In general, my wife and I believe that video games warp their tiny brains and turn them into moody, obsessed, psychotic little blobs of pasty-white flesh.

I still believe that, but I just don’t care anymore.

“Here’s an iPad. Why don’t you get that Clash Royale game you heard about?”

“What? Dad, are you feeling OK?”

“Shut up and get the game.”

They have all since graduated to something called Clash of Clans, and they are officially obsessed. They have learned an entirely new language in just a few short days. The people at Rosetta Stone should look into this technology for language acquisition.

Here’s a sample conversation I just heard when I was able to pry them away from the screens long enough to eat lunch:

“Bro, what if you put your dark elixir in front of your magic archer, with a dragon queen and a scarmy behind them?”

“Dude, then you could totally balloon a city hall with your pekka. But your barracks would be completely hard-pushed.”

“Not if your wall breakers were in front of a barbarian king or an archer queen. Then your goblins could balloon a hog rider, with a lava bowler hound golem….”

I tuned out after that.

We don’t have normal conversations anymore. It’s all they can talk about, 24/7, but I don’t care. Because they are talking, not yelling.

For now, I will take it. I will pull the plug the minute school starts and go back to being a responsible parent who cares about their mental health.

“How much longer can we play?”

“Shut up and play the game. Don’t ask questions.”

Right now, we’re dealing with my mental health.

School cannot start soon enough.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Driving Me Crazy

Here’s the problem: A millennium or so ago, I used to be a sixteen-year-old male with a brand-new driver’s license, and I remember what I was like.

***Spoiler Alert*** I was not a good driver.

Within three days of passing my driver’s test (with a score of one hundred percent, I might add) I managed to get my parents’ car up on its side in a ditch.

I didn’t waste any time proving that test scores and real-life common sense are two completely separate things. I mean, I didn’t even have the actual plastic license yet before I learned my first major motor vehicle physics lesson. I still had the temporary printed half-sheet of paper folded up in my pocket when I stood on the passenger door and climbed straight up out of the driver’s window.

Well over the posted speed limit on a country road, plus a ninety-degree corner, plus an idiot driver equals one pretty banged up Audi 5000, and thanks to the miracle of seatbelts, three unscathed moronic teenage boys.

Fast-forward through many more hair-raising automobile exploits and an eventual increase in calm and skill level, and we arrive at yesterday – the day my wife had me scheduled to take Son Number One, who is almost fifteen, out to an abandoned parking lot somewhere and start the process of teaching him to drive.

I just don’t think that’s a good idea at all.

I successfully stalled long enough yesterday and again today to run out of time. Things just “kept coming up.” But there is very little chance, and by very little, I mean zero, that she’s going to let that happen again tomorrow.

She keeps saying, “He has to learn, and the sooner the better,” but I just don’t agree. I see no upside for letting him get his license. Ever.

I know what he will do. It will not be pretty. Tires will smoke. Brakes will howl. Metal will crumple. Insurance claims will be processed. Sleep will be lost. Metric tons of money will vaporize from our bank accounts.

She keeps trying to make the argument that he won’t be as bad as I was. I keep agreeing with her. Based on what I’m seeing from him, he’ll be much worse.

But she won’t listen to reason. In the end, she keeps defaulting to the argument I hear other people make all the time. They say it’s great when the first kid starts to drive because they can take over shuttling the younger siblings to school and sports.

But as far as I can tell, that’s probably the worst argument for it. When I put our Audi on its side, I was with two guys I actually liked. We were all getting along, and no one was mad or yelling at each other.

I can’t imagine what will happen inside the car when it is only occupied by our sons, whom, based on our observations, alternate rapidly between hating each other and just barely tolerating each other.

They might drive off a cliff. (Which, incidentally, I also almost did in my parents Jeep, about three months after getting my license.)

Please pray for our family. And our eligibility for auto insurance.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Thou Shalt Not Floss

Our three boys spent the last week off at church camp. The two younger ones were here in town, while Son Number One went all the way down to Los Angeles with his high school group.

He and I got up before dawn on Saturday to head off to the busses. His bag was ninety-nine percent packed the night before. When we woke up, he was supposed to brush his teeth and then pack his toiletries and his phone charger.

Off we went to the church to get him loaded up onto his bus. “Do you have everything?” I asked him.

His ears filtered my question through his small, inoperative fourteen-year-old brain, and he answered, “Yes! Quit asking me!”

I wrestled a hug out of him and sent him on his way. Fast forward to last Thursday afternoon when I picked him up. We had no contact with him all week, since the youth group leaders took everyone’s phones away on the bus trip there, and gave them back on the bus trip home. That made packing his phone charger the morning of the trip kind of a moot point.

What wasn’t supposed to be a moot point was packing his toiletries. As we were walking to the car and he was busy answering my questions about the week with super-descriptive one-word answers, he suddenly remembered something noteworthy.

“I forgot my toiletries bag, so I couldn’t brush my teeth all week.”

*record scratch*

“What?” I asked, hoping I had misheard his incredibly long sentence.

“Yeah, I totally thought I packed it, but it wasn’t there.”

“I watched you pack it,” I said.

“I know, I thought I did. I thought I put it in the same pocket as my phone charger.”

“I think you did, too. Did you take everything out of the bag to look?”

“Trust me, dad, I looked a bunch of times.”

“So, you just didn’t brush your teeth all week?” I asked, still not having fully wrapped my brain around what was coming out of his mouth, besides the halitosis. “Did you at least floss?”

“I chewed a lot of gum.”

Oh, great, those four out of five dentists will be thrilled. *sound of a blood vessel bursting in my brain*

“Did you tell somebody?”

“I’m not going to use someone else’s toothbrush. That’s gross.”

*sound of an even larger blood vessel bursting in my brain* “Um… not to use someone else’s toothbrush. To get you your own!”

“No. No one’s going to have an extra toothbrush, dad. Geez.”

*more blood vessels breaking, calming breaths*

“Why didn’t you at least ask someone to borrow floss? That’s a one-time use product.”

“I told you, I chewed a lot of gum.”

“Where did you get all this gum?”

“Our group leader took us on a walk to a gas station to get snacks. I bought a two-liter of root beer, too.”

“That’s nice. Do you know what else they sometimes sell at gas station convenience stores?... You know what, never mind.”

I opted to simply drive out of the parking lot in silence and continue the silence all the way home, for fear of having a full-blown stroke while operating a moving vehicle. I tried to think about dogs playing fetch. That’s a nice thought.

When we got home, he grabbed his sleeping bag and pillow and asked if I would get his duffel bag.

“Sure,” I said, still thinking about Labs and border collies leaping in the air for sticks and Frisbees. I carried it by the shoulder strap and was halfway to the front door when I looked down and saw it.

*second record scratch of the day*

I walked into the house where my wife was already getting super-descriptive one-word answers to her questions.

“Please tell me this whole thing was just some kind of elaborate and really stupid joke,” I said, falsely hopeful. “You brushed your teeth all week, right?”

*first record scratch of the day for my wife*

“You didn’t brush your teeth?” she asked.

“No, I couldn’t. I forgot my toiletry bag.”

“This one?” I asked, trying very hard not to have a totally paralyzing stroke, even though I was not driving anymore. “This one, here, in the end pocket of your duffel bag? The MESH end pocket!? The pocket on the outside of the bag that I can see right into without opening the bag or even needing to unzip it? This toiletry bag right here under your phone charger!?!?!?”

“What? There is no way that was in there the whole time. I totally looked, like, a bunch of times.”

As I stared into my wife’s beautiful eyes for some shred of logic or reason, I heard the sweet, welcomed sound of the rest of the blood vessels in my brain exploding.

No, no. Don’t call me an ambulance. Just get me some gum.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

No Kids at Home Improvement

All our kids are gone! All our kids are gone!

I’ll probably shout the same thing when the third one finally ships off to:

A) College
B) Boot Camp
C) Taco Bell New Employee Orientation Day

(Complete toss-up at this point)

This happy occasion, however, is the result of church camp. All three boys are gone for the whole week, so my wife and I are doing what every healthy, loving, happily married couple does when they finally get the house to themselves – home improvement.

We dropped the boys off on Monday afternoon and immediately raced to dinner, followed by a romantic trip to Home Depot to browse the aisles in peace and quiet.

Then we headed home to get some more ice and Advil. My wife seems to be doing a little better than me after our week of chiseling off our old hardwood floors. I’m still nursing a few sore muscles and joints, pretty much everywhere on my body that I have a muscle and/or a joint. Back when we were first married, we could renovate all day long, but now we need to take it a little slower.

Our first full day without kids was spent hanging out with Jason, Paul, and Larry – the three gentlemen who are installing our beautiful new fake hardwood floors. Thankfully, the new floors do not get glued down, because after last week, if anyone ever tries to glue anything else down to my concrete slab, there is going to be a fight.

The first thing the guys did was remove half the downstairs baseboards, so we were immediately able to start our kid-free week off right – by sanding and repainting our old baseboards. They look amazing!

Today we had breakfast with Paul and Larry and then retired to the pool area to sand and paint. Around noon, we were able to get away for an intimate lunch at the hotdog shack in front of Home Depot when we made a run for more paint and rollers.

When we were finally finished with the morning’s allotment of baseboards, my wife had an amazing idea. She whispered it in my ear. It seemed like the perfect time, so we snuck off to the guest bedroom.

And started to paint it!

If you need us the rest of the week, we’ll be here, in the throes of renovation.

We might even paint the living room!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I'm Floored

My fingers are numb and my hands hurt whenever I breathe. Also, the rest of my body hurts. I’m typing this with the end of a ballpoint pen I have duct-taped to my wrist.

You see, we are having new floors installed in our house next week, partially because my wife has wanted new floors since the day we moved in, but mostly because our Labrador retriever retrieved a bottle of blue food coloring from the counter one afternoon and ate it on the carpet.

It looks like someone murdered a Smurf in our living room.

Half of our downstairs is carpet, and the other half is hardwood. It’s the hardwood part that has crippled me.

You see, along with the rather large sum of money our flooring guy quoted us for the actual installation of the new flooring, came a slightly smaller, but still substantial amount of money quoted for removing our existing hardwood.

He explained that we were more than welcome to remove the old hardwood floors ourselves, but the $1600 quoted to remove them was such a big amount in order to cover the possibility that the floors were installed with the Devil Glue.

He explained that when you try to remove the first board from the concrete floor, you will see one of two colors of glue underneath. If the glue is dark brown and hard, the old boards will pop right off the concrete like they just can’t wait to get out of the house. And if the glue is light tan and spongy, your best bet is to sell the house and move somewhere with dark brown glue.

I laughed. “Ha, ha,” I said, “it can’t be that bad.”

On Monday I popped up a four-inch section of the first board, after fighting with it for about twenty minutes, to reveal the dreaded spongy tan Devil Glue.

That wasn’t so bad, I thought to myself. And $1600 is a lot of money. I can do this.

I cannot do this. Our hardwood floors are apparently installed to withstand a category five tornado, and a category one thousand hurricane, combined.

If all the major and minor earthquake faults in California triggered at once, and the entire state was ground into a fine dust by a three bazillion magnitude quake, the only recognizable thing floating out into the Pacific Ocean would be our entryway and kitchen floors, still joined by a short hallway, completely unscathed by something so trivial.

Our floor guy’s advice was to use a Skil saw and actually cut the floor into six-inch strips, perpendicular to the length of the planks. I did that. We now have sawdust on every single square inch of the house, including the ceiling. We have sawdust in the pockets of jackets that were hanging in the back-bedroom closets upstairs.

Besides having six months of dusting ahead of us, and some seriously impressive boogers, I’m not sure the sawing effort helped greatly in any other way.

I have purchased every single prying, scraping, and chiseling tool offered at both Home Depot and Lowe’s, and in the past day and a half I have managed to remove about six square feet of flooring – an area roughly the size of two kitchen chairs.

When I was able to stand mostly upright again, I even suggested the idea to my wife of buying a Bosch handheld planer I saw at Lowe’s, and grinding the boards off, one by one. Plus, I thought it was a great excuse to own my own handheld planer. She politely pointed out that that was probably my worst idea ever, since we would need to back a dump truck up to the front door and load the resulting sawdust out of the house with snow shovels.

I told her politely that it was certainly not my worst idea ever, since about three square feet in I was seriously considering whether I could open some windows and adequately contain a gasoline fire that could burn the floors off. And also grenades.

She agreed those ideas were worse.

I’ll tell you what is starting to sound more and more like a good idea: paying our flooring guy $1600 to handle the Devil Glue. When you think about it, that’s pretty cheap compared to the cost of the full body cast I’m going to end up in to get the next six square feet.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Freedom from WiFi

We are traveling on summer vacation right now. It’s hard. It used to be a lot easier before we had all this technology.

We have three main issues that are taking up most of our time and energy: charging cords, cell signals, and WiFi.

Our three-week vacation apparently required a bag of charging cords the size of a basketball, conveniently tangled and knotted into the shape of an actual basketball. We somehow managed to get them all loose as the miles clicked off, which was a mistake. After two weeks on the road, the boys have managed to get us down to two cords between the five of us. I have confiscated mine. The rest of the family is on their own. It’s like four dogs scrapping for a single pork chop.

Our trip centered around going to Yellowstone National Park, which the government inconveniently placed in the middle of the wilderness. And in order to get there, you have to drive through miles and miles of wilderness that isn’t even associated with the park. It’s a lot of wilderness.

The end result of all that wilderness is a distinct lack of cell coverage. And on top of all that, we just added Son Number One to the cell plan, so ninety-five percent of our data is immediately sucked into the teenager data void. I already upgraded our plan to unlimited texts, because my wife knows more than two people, but I can’t bring myself to go to unlimited data. We have Verizon, and they want what amounts to a monthly mortgage payment on a large house for the privilege of having unlimited data.

On the plan we can afford without moving into a refrigerator box, we are allowed 8 GB of data between all of us. A GB of data is a mysterious unit of measure that fluctuates wildly in size depending on many factors, all of which are controlled by Verizon. It can equal as much as five full days of web browsing some months, and as little as five seconds of a video the next month. We never know which it will be, so consequently, WiFi is our best friend.

Before the advent of WiFi, when traveling, you checked into a new place, unpacked a little, then went to explore the area. Now, we check in and everyone explores their immediate area for the little sheet of paper that tells us the WiFi name and password. Then comes the gathering of the devices – phones, Kindles, iPads, laptops. Then I spend the next two hours either putting all the devices on the WiFi, or repeating the WiFi password (proudweasel264) about a million times to those trying to do it themselves, while they complain that it’s not working, which it doesn’t, when you spell it “weezal.”

The closer we got to Yellowstone, the sparser the cell signals became, and the more rare the WiFi became, until we found ourselves in a hellish three-day period in a house in the woods near West Yellowstone with absolutely no WiFi, and one single fluctuating bar of cell service, which was just enough to make your phone think it might be able to do something, then eventually give up.

We have worked our way back westward toward civilization and are now spending the Fourth of July holiday week with more extended family in a very big, very modern house in Sunriver, Oregon. It had great WiFi… on Monday.

Yesterday, it left a little to be desired. By ten in the morning I was on the phone with the rental agency to let them know that the WiFi had quit and my attempts to reset the cable modem had failed. They patched me into a call with Bend Broadband, who promptly led me through the very same troubleshooting steps I had taken myself, then shrugged on the other end of the phone and said they would need to send out a technician. On Friday. Between one and five o’ clock.

I guess wilderness is not the only obstacle to a reliable connection.

But I can’t complain. Not having WiFi has been very freeing. It has freed me from the confines of the house and the vacation activities.

The folks at this Starbucks all say hello.

Have a great Independence Day enjoying your freedom. Happy Birthday, America!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Yellowstone, Red Face, Purple Feet

We are in the middle of our epic family road trip adventure to Yellowstone National Park (Motto: America’s Hot Tub, with Bears).

Everything hurts as I write this – my back, my face, my knees, my feet, my wallet – everything. 

Yellowstone is the nation’s largest national park, covering ninety-eight percent of the lower forty-eight states, and much of Canada. On our first day in the park we entered through the South Gate, which is in Arkansas, and exited though the West Gate, located on the Oregon coast.

One thing you don’t realize about Yellowstone until it’s too late is that the entire park is above thirty thousand feet in elevation. Not only is there very little oxygen to share with your fellow hikers, but there is way too much sun.

Yellowstone is tricky, however, and fools you into forgetting about the sun by giving you late June temperatures in the low teens and sixty mile per hour winds.

In addition to a wicked sunburn that hurts my face, I also can’t feel my feet anymore. Besides sitting in the car for forty-eight hours, waiting to make a left turn into a particular geyser’s parking lot, once you find a parking spot a few days later, the geyser is still six or seven hours away on foot. They should really warn you that flip flops are not the way to go.

I tried to suggest wider roads and drive-thru geysers to one of the rangers, but he said something about fragile geothermal areas, blah, blah, and I tuned out.

I also suggested to another ranger that they put the geysers on a more regular schedule to make planning your day easier. I mean, Yellowstone boasts eighty percent of the world’s geysers, and the only one they have on any kind of a schedule is Old Faithful. And they can’t even seem to nail the time down on that one to anything closer than a twenty-minute window!

As far as all the other ones go, you walk three hundred miles to see the geyser and it might not even geys! That can be disappointing for the kids, and lead the adults to wish that each geyser had a bar, which is another suggestion that the rangers seemed to dismiss a little too quickly. I’m not too sure about these people.

In addition to all the geysers, they keep quite a few animals in the park, not the least of which is the grizzly bear. I’m not sure why they think keeping dangerous bears near all the human tourists is a good idea, but then I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, based on how the rangers dismissed all my reasonable suggestions for park improvements.

My theory is that they keep the bears in the park to boost sales of bear-repelling pepper spray. Bear spray is like really industrial strength Mace, and comes in a pressurized spray cannister the size of a soda can. I’m not sure how much Mace costs, but bear spray retails in the park for a little under five thousand dollars an ounce.

But you can’t put a price on the safety of your family, and by “you” in this case I mean my wife. I can put a price on our safety, and it’s well below five thousand dollars an ounce, but my wife strongly disagreed. And she strongly disagreed with that look. You guys know the look. So now we own bear spray.

Thankfully, the bear spray cannister remains fully charged after our first day in the park, which is much more than I can say for myself or any of my lobster-red family.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go ice half my body and apply heat to the other half. I’ll catch up with you after we get done with our National Park adventure. Hopefully I will still have a full can of bear spray that I can sell to you, cheap. I’ll let you have it for the low price of only three thousand dollars an ounce.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Psychic Travel Log, Volume IV

We leave tomorrow on a two-week family vacation. We are taking a road trip halfway across the United States to Yellowstone National Park to see hot smelly water shoot out of the ground at inexplicably regular intervals.

I’m really not sure what we were thinking. I mean, Yellowstone sounds amazing, but we have to get there first. And we have to get home. And we’ll all be in the same car. Together.

We’ve been home, all together, for the past couple weeks, ever since the schools were rude enough to tell us not to send our kids there anymore. Our house is over three thousand square feet in size, not including the garage and backyard, and yet our children cannot seem to find enough space to stay off each other’s nerves. Or ours.

They are, quite simply, really annoying. Two of them are teenagers, which means they are permanently in a bad mood. The other one is a teenager catalyst. Son Number Three is the vinegar to their teenage baking soda. It’s a burbling mess when they are together.

So, in a moment of complete stupidity, we have decided to reduce their available square footage from three thousand down to roughly ten. That should go smoothly.

Since I will probably be a sobbing mess, or heavily medicated, during the non-driving hours, I anticipate being unable to keep an accurate travel log. Instead, I have once again channeled my psychic powers of clairvoyance to envision exactly what the trip will be like, in order to write the travel log beforehand…

Day 1 – Rocklin to Winnemucca, Nevada – We threatened the children with their very lives seven times before we even reached I-80 (six blocks). We stopped the car in Reno and made the kids run laps around the Atlantis Casino while my wife and I went inside and ro-sham-bo’d to see which one of us got cocktails. I lost. Nevada is hell. Winnemucca is every bit as magical as it sounds.

Day 2 – Winnemucca, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah – Correction: Nevada is worse than hell. The boys are taking turns to keep up a continuous stream of complaints and everything is ugly and brown. During a lunch disagreement I was hit in the back of the head with a flying turkey and cheese sandwich. Eventually the three boys got into a full-on fist fight in the car and we just let it go, because it was our only hope to break up the soul-crushing monotonous boredom of I-80.

In an unforeseen turn of events, Utah is even worse than Nevada because the road is completely straight. There is literally nothing to do - not even steer. I set a Chevrolet Suburban land speed record while everyone was asleep after the melee. An hour later, I fell asleep for fifteen minutes and it didn’t matter. The road is that straight. Boring is no longer an adequate word. After approximately three months of driving we made it to Salt Lake City. Mormons everywhere. We fit right in in our Suburban.

Day 3 – Salt Lake City, Utah to West Yellowstone, Montana – We have left I-80. We are now on I-15. That is the single most exciting thing that has happened on this trip so far. My wife bought a blackout sleeping mask and $8,000 noise-cancelling headphones from a Best Buy in Salt Lake City and has completely checked out of the vacation. I do not blame her. It’s every man for themselves now. We made it to West Yellowstone by making two of the three boys ride on the roof rack for the last seventy-five miles. It was the only way.

Day 4 – Yellowstone National Park – We drove directly to Old Faithful, which only took eight hours, since our line of six thousand cars drove three and a half miles an hour in between bison traffic jams. The boys complained that the buffalo weren’t exciting enough. We took a picture of an elk. Everyone fought over the camera. The camera broke. We missed Old Faithful by three minutes and had to wait sixty-one minutes to see it again. Those were the nicest sixty-one minutes of the trip, because we were all waiting one hundred yards apart around the perimeter of the geyser.

Old Faithful was amazing. Then we had to get back in the car. Two million buffalo later we were back at the hotel. My wife and I had a long talk that lasted thirty-five seconds, and we decided that we had definitely seen all the good stuff already.

Day 5 – Yellowstone National Park to Idaho Falls, Idaho – After a drive that I have permanently blocked out of my memory, we sold the Suburban for well below market value in Idaho Falls and purchased plane tickets home, with all five seats in different rows.

The boys are home now, and my wife and I are at an undisclosed hotel where they can’t find us.

Happy summer travels, everyone!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Cell-cation

On the surface, summer seemed like a good idea. No more school meant no more lunches, homework, carpool, crying parents, etc. But what we didn’t factor in was that the boys would be here. In the house. All. The. Time.

That wouldn’t be so much of an issue if they didn’t seem to hate each other. On second thought, “hate” might be unfair. Loath is probably more accurate.

Since the last school bell rang, they have fought continuously. UFC fighters should come here to get a lesson on stamina. Yelling, screaming, tears, wrestling, punches… and that’s just first thing in the morning about who gets to use the bathroom.

There are three of them. We have three bathrooms…

You should see what happens when they get to the toaster. We only have one toaster. Blood has been shed over toast, my friends.

My wife and I want to leave, but the amount of time we have in mind would be considered an act of criminal negligence.

Our home phone, on the other hand, decided it had had enough. It went on vacation without us. I mean, the actual body of the phone is still here on the kitchen counter, but apparently all its internal virtual phone-ness has left. It has moved to Huasna, CA.

We have one of our old cell phones as a home phone for the boys, because we try very hard not to appear criminally negligent. Right there on the home screen, reporting a much nicer day, weather-wise, than we are having, our phone inexplicably thinks it’s in someplace called Huasna. (Since I have no idea how to pronounce that, I am going with “Wah-snah,” but you are free to pronounce it “Who-as-nay,” or “Fresno,” or however else you see fit.)

I don’t know exactly what happened. I’m not sure if our phone got as tired of the boys’ constant fighting as we did, or if it just needed a break from the big city hustle and bustle here in Rocklin. Either way, it picked a place where no one would ever find it.

I looked up Huasna, CA on Google maps, and let me tell you, the middle of nowhere is Times Square compared to Huasna. I’m not sure how my phone decided to go there, since I have never been within a hundred miles of downtown Huasna. And when I say “downtown,” I mean the intersection of Huasna Road and Huasna Townsite Road, where there is nothing.

If my phone has been there more than a week, I’m assuming it’s already the mayor of Huasna. I think it will be a fair and just leader of the Huasnians. It has been a reliable and trustworthy phone, and it has all the answers, since it has a Google search bar on the home screen.

I have to assume that the Huasnians have no electricity or running water, so they might never have seen a cell phone before. For all I know, they are worshipping our home phone as a god. I hope the power doesn’t go to its head.

Speaking of power, I also have to assume it will be home soon, since it will have no way to charge itself in the rolling hills of the Huasna countryside. And I’m guessing it hasn’t called to check in because the Huasnians have never heard of cell signals or wifi. Someone will probably bring it home in a month or two in a cart pulled by donkeys or oxen.

No matter, though. Even if it gets back soon, we don’t need a home phone for a while. In a few days we’re going to all get into a car together and drive across the country.


Sitting right next to each other with our knees touching. What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe they could drop me off in Huasna to visit the phone?

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!