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Monday, April 29, 2019

Dialing All Friends...Smarty-Pants Car—Where Are You?

I know you’ve all been there.  At least if you have an iPhone or other smarty-cell phone.  Sometime your cell phone has made a call for you that you did not intend.  If you are lucky, you stopped the call before the other person picked up.  Though, despite your best efforts to hide the fact your pocket made a call, the call’s recipient probably could tell you had called.

How did we ever manage without Caller ID?  I remember thinking it was a silly idea when I first heard of Caller ID.  Why did I need to know in advance who was calling?  Wasn’t that the purpose of telephone etiquette—where the caller says “Hello, I’m John Doe. Is this Dorothy?”  I only took Caller ID service because I worked for a phone company, and my assistant got some points if we all took the service.  Or maybe she lost points if we didn’t.  Despite my skepticism, after one day with Caller ID I was sold.  I wondered, “Caller ID, where have you been my whole life?”

I don't think I’m the only one.  No longer do most people answer a phone call blind.  We’ll want to know who is calling.  We also no longer need to be able to recognize the voices of our family and friends. Even mental telepathy and ESP are obsolete.  We now have Caller ID.

But back to that butt or pocket-dial.  Your friend or acquaintance whom you called by mistake--they either called you back or pretended to not notice you'd inadvertently placed a call.  If you’ve been less lucky, some friend or relative listened to you while you muttered over grocery prices as you pushed your cart through the aisles, or pumped gas or, worse yet, engaged in a real-life conversation with a companion that they could overhear.

I think I’ve done all those things.  I even butt, or pocket-dialed an acquaintance while walking my dog and--as I bent to pick up my dog’s deposit--dropped my sunglasses into that deposit.  Sort of the trifecta of screw ups.

You might be surprised at the words I used to express my dismay at the sunglass/dog poop situation.  I was surprised at the words I used.  Suffice it say—they would not have been acceptable to the nuns who taught me.  Or to my Mother.  And the person I had inadvertently called on my cell who was listening to the whole verbal deluge was a friend of my Mother’s.  No doubt, given the luck I was having that day I probably said a number of things that would not have been acceptable to any of my Mother’s friends.  Oh was that kind of day.

Recently, I’ve topped even the “pick-up-dog-poop-drop-sunglasses-in-dog-poop-butt-call-disaster” incident.  Now my cell phone has taken to making phantom car calls on its own.

We bought a car that communicates with my iPhone through Bluetooth.  Sounds pretty cool, eh?  My car stereo (do they even call them stereos any more or is that a sound system?) will play audio books, podcasts and music from my cell.  How wonderful has technology gotten?  The car-cell collaborative strategy also will play GPS directions and probably will drive my car when I’m not paying enough attention.  I think the artificial intelligence collaboration between my cell and my car has reached the awareness stage.

I may start to call my smarty-car-cell collaborators “Car 54”.  If you are not old enough to remember the TV program “Car 54, Where are you?”  I’ll summarize it briefly.  Two police officers patrolled in a police car assigned that numerical designation.  The officers were always up to hijinks and rogue behavior.  But only in the nicest, most humorous ways. You can watch a bit at: 

As I think my car and cell are likely well intentioned, and since I am so much at their mercy, I will give them “Smarty Car 54” as an affectionate, but nostalgic  name in the hopes they use their considerable combined power in a helpful and benign manner.  Also, that way, when my car and cell phone team up and go rogue, I will have a named entity to blame.

Recently, my Smarty Car 54 decided to call one of my sons.  I had not touched my cell phone or even said anything to it.  I think perhaps I turned on the windshield wipers.  But I had no awareness that I had done anything that would result in a call to my son.

What takes the cake is the occasion when my husband’s call was answered in my car while neither my husband nor his cell were in the car.  I was leaving for an appointment, pulling out of our garage in Smarty Car 54, when a woman started talking to me from my car.  The woman appeared to think she was talking to my husband who happened to be sitting not in the car but back in our kitchen.  He had been on hold on his cell phone when I left the house.  Apparently, my husband’s cell through Bluetooth switched the call to my car sound system just as the called party picked up the call.  Luckily, my husband was not engaged in any smarty-pants behavior.  Unluckily, I was suddenly talking to his insurance provider.

So now both of our cell phones were ganging up with our car to confuse the hell out of us old folks who were just trying to do normal stuff like make phone calls on a phone.  Or drive a car.  But not at the same time.

The only thing I could think to do was to drive the car into the kitchen and let the lady talk to my husband.  No, I didn’t actually do that. I did run back inside and ask my husband to get in the car and talk to the lady who was talking to me and see if he could get the call back on his phone rather than in the car I was planning to drive away.  He did.  I drove away a bit later.  The Smarty Car 54 hijinks certainly gave me an excellent excuse for why I was late for my appointment—my car had been tied up on a call with my husband’s insurance company.

Currently I am lucky if I can get my car to play the radio. I do not even try to  replicate any of my smarty-car-cell phone hijinks, at least not intentionally.  But apparently, I can do it unintentionally.  My brother recently told me he had received a phone call, supposedly from me, and the call sounded like it was from my washing machine.  I assured him it must have been the Smarty Car 54 that called him.  As I told him—the washing machine has had it phone privileges taken away until it gets the laundry done without my having to sort the clothes, lift the baskets, add detergent and fluff or fold.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Redbuds in bloom

Redbuds and Dandelions

As if by secret signal known only to them, the redbuds burst into color one day last week. Appearing in between tall trees, by the wave of springtime's fairy godmother’s wand, the bright purple blooms suddenly are everywhere: in clumps and copses, on manicured lawns, and in the midst of deeply wooded parklands. Some are tall and gangly like teenage boys. Others, pruned and shaped, sit more like well-endowed, plumpish matrons, smartly attired and residing amongst pristine surroundings.

This week pink dogwoods have joined the color parade, along with yellowish-white dogwoods that in time will be more of a true cream. Purple phlox and bright yellow daffodils, along with the host of other early flowers, brave enough to face the occasional evening lows in the ‘30’s, are scattered everywhere. Along with perky dandelions and other wildflowers. Or weeds as some would call them.

Tall trees are covered with yellow-green foliage that looks from a distance like a Monet. Upon closer inspection, the “foliage” is not new leaf growth but little seed pods so delicate they quiver in the slightest breeze, giving a blurry impressionist view of pale chartreuse. From our sunroom windows I daily calculate by the foot the growth of underbrush. A week ago, our neighbors’ houses were fully visible. Now, only the rooftops can be spied. In a month’s time or less I will live in the midst of a forest.

The female cardinal who has tapped on our windows incessantly for the past months finally has quit. The ornamental cherry tree she had inhabited while tapping on our dining room and study windows now looks like a virginal bride, covered in full, fluffy-white blooms. Perhaps the blooms help Ms. Cardinal see that the window is only a reflection and not another female cardinal she needs to furiously run off. Or perhaps there’s a better explanation, she now is busy pursuing more urgent tasks, such as nest-building.

The days are almost summer-like at times. Then other days I pull out my winter coat even for a park walk on a sunny afternoon. A woodpecker on the roof has taken over the tapping for Ms. Cardinal.  Each day we check our collie for ticks. Despite flea and tick preventives, we often pull at least one from her thick fur. “Aa..ah..ah..choo…" Bless all us allergy sufferers. It’s springtime in the Ohio Valley. Wish it would last forever. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Thoughts on Pain, Personal and Global

As a recliner philosopher I share my thoughts on a personal experience with pain and how it reflects some of the broader pain many are experiencing. You can read this essay on the Medium.

A Big Pain in the Butt by Dorothy J Chambers

Download Medium on the App Store or Play Store

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Barking at Angels

If he were still in our lives I literally would not be sitting at the computer writing.  You see, it made him crazy when I sat at the computer.  But he’s not.  So, I’m writing. 

“He” was not an abusive husband or boyfriend.  “He” was a protective, sweet, 60-pound collie.  He looked just like Lassie in the movies and TV shows of my youth, with a silky, sable and white coat, resulting in dog hair in everything everywhere, and a prominent, white blaze down his nose, for which we named him Blazer.

Blazer came into our lives about five and a half years ago on a cold, wet, March day.  He was a snuggly ball of fluff with warm brown eyes that looked into your very soul.

Yesterday, we sent Blazer over the rainbow bridge, as the euphemism goes, after his short, difficult, and, not to mention, very expensive encounter with a deadly T cell lymphoma.

Although Blazer seemed incredibly young to have acquired what the veterinarians described as a very lethal illness, we learned that even young puppies can be stricken with the disease.  Due to additional unfortunate circumstances (before the lymphoma diagnosis Blazer had developed Lyme disease despite having been vaccinated, and been treated with steroids) any treatment for the lymphoma would, at best, be palliative.

We were told Blazer likely had 1 to 2 months to live after diagnosis.  Yesterday the palliative treatments no longer allowed Blazer to eat or even keep fluids down, breathe comfortably or enjoy his formerly regular park walks.  With the remainder of his time going to be one of discomfort and no hope of improvement we eased him from this world.

I won’t go into the regimen of medicines, infusions of fluids we learned to give, or hospitalizations to bring him back from the brink.  Rather, I’ll tell you about how Blazer came into our lives and some of his many endearing quirks that keep him in our hearts.

Blazer was a 9-week-old rescue puppy originally named Romeo, a particularly ironic name we thought to saddle a pup when we had agreed as a condition of adoption to neuter him as soon as he was old enough.

We’ve known the peculiar heartbreak that comes from opening your heart to any dog—as George Carlin called a puppy--the “heartbreak in the making”. Our lives have been enriched a thousand times over from sharing them with a number of collies in succession. Our last dog before Blazer was a sheltie who had what you might call “issues”. You can read some of what I’ve written about this difficult, but nevertheless endearing, sheltie on my blog.  

We deeply loved all our dogs. All were unique. 

What seems just a heartbeat ago, but in reality, was less than six years, we spotted a small litter of collie pups on a collie rescue site. After filling out more forms and questionnaires than if the would-be adopters were hopeful immigrants from a Middle Eastern country, we were notified we had been selected to adopt the one male puppy named Romeo. We had to take him at 7 or 9 weeks of age, apparently both particularly good ages when puppies are more accepting of strangers.  Only two hitches, Blazer had an infection and would likely not be ready for adoption at 7 weeks.  And by the time Blazer—or Romeo if you prefer—was 9 weeks old, my husband had just had surgery and would be restricted from lifting and other activities.

We both readily agreed to adopt the ball of fluff whenever he was available.  So, Blazer came home with us on a cold, wet March day.  The weather stayed miserable for the first week of his life with us.

Having learned from previous training and experience that most collies can be successfully housetrained in one, very intensive week of vigilance and positive reinforcement, we embarked on training Blazer.  That meant one person in the household always having eyes on the puppy unless he was sleeping in his crate.  And taking the puppy outside at least every twenty minutes, plus after eating, drinking, or playing, and then staying with him and praising him profusely when he responded to nature’s call in an appropriate location.  The idea is, if at all possible, to never let your pup make a mistake indoors and to know only praise when he or she does the right thing.

My husband and I watched Blazer like two parent-hawks and I scooped him up, immediately hustling him outside whenever we even suspected he might need “to go”, in the inevitably pouring rain that week.  We praised him effusively every single time he did what he should.  The training worked like a charm on Blazer.  In a week’s time he was completely housetrained.  He also NEVER made a “mistake” indoors during his lifetime.

Unfortunately, this also demonstrates the law of unintended consequences.  By the end of the week I had developed a severe case of bursitis in my right hip from which I have never completely recovered.  I wasn’t as young as I thought I was or had been the last time I’d housetrained a pup.

Going outside with Blazer involved carrying him down the stairs to the yard.  I suppose I should mention Blazer, at 9 weeks of age, weighed over 9 pounds and was crafty enough to pretend he didn’t know how to go up or down stairs until the end of training week.  At that point, Maxie, a large black Labrador retriever, appeared in a neighboring yard.  Blazer was out with me, in the rain, and, frightened by Maxie’s bark, to my amazement, was very able to scurry up our back stairs.  When I went over to the fence to pet the very friendly Maxie, who must have been on vacation or hiding from the rain for the previous week, Blazer then hurried back down the stairs to get a closer look at Maxie. From the start Blazer had demonstrated his cleverness.

Blazer had an exuberant, protective, fun-loving and somewhat quirky personality. As with many puppies, Blazer loved to chew. Blazer never chewed shoes, most furniture, socks or the majority of things he shouldn’t. But he had two forbidden, but insistent, chew targets: the timers we had around the house attached to electrical cords of lamps and also our expensive, oak grandfather clock. The timers made a very faint ticking sound which apparently drove him to distraction. Only now has it occurred to me that the tick-tock of the grandfather clock may also have done the same.

Blazer’s persistent attempts to get his teeth on the timers and the grandfather clock led me to fantasize about finding, or even creating some snap-together rubbery blocks that could wall off the objects until Blazer grew out of this puppy-chew stage. By the time I was considering inventing rubber bumper blocks and incorporating the first Blazer Bumper Blocks, LLC, to make and sell something for other dog families driven to distraction by chewing pups, Blazer abruptly stopped his chewing, but not before he left teeth marks on the grandfather clock and destroyed any number of timers.

Unlike our previous sheltie who was quick to bite, Blazer never met a stranger. He loved everyone: kids, adults, and other dogs.  However, for some inexplicable reason, he hated bicycles, and most anything with wheels. He would bark uproariously at them if they dared to pass us on a park path. We often walked one particular path to avoid bicycles. The path showed the universal sign for prohibited, a large circle with a bicycle in the center with a backslash through the bike.  Almost made us wonder if he knew the meaning of the sign and had appointed himself the enforcer.

The longer Blazer lived with us, the more careful we had to be about our words in front of him.  We could not say, even casually while eating dinner, “do you want to take a walk after dinner”, “go to the mailbox”, “have a treat”, or any of a number of words and phrases.  He constantly anticipated actions based on our words in ordinary conversation.  He also anticipated what we would do based on time of day (meals, walks, treats, getting the mail, or sitting in the sunroom) as well as other nonverbal behavior. There were times when the only way we could account for his prescient behavior was by his reading of our minds or deciding what he thought we should do.

Weekly our lawnmowing service parked down the road. If my husband, who usually opened the gates for the mowers, was not at home Blazer would lead me to the dining room window from where I could see their truck before they had started. Then he would lead me to the back door where I would need to go out and open the gate. I have no idea if he knew what we did in the back yard when the mowers arrived. But he sure seemed to know I needed to do something and where I needed to do it. Blazer never led my husband to those locations—we guessed he figured “Dad” could figure it out on his own.  

Blazer had many little quirks and unique qualities.  Like all of our collies he liked to run and play.  But Blazer alone loved toys of rubbery material with little bumps on them.  One favorite toy—actually we have two identical toys—is called a zoober.  It’s a long, rubbery, hollow tube that you can throw and it bounces in unpredictable ways.  Blazer could run after one of his zoobers to the point where his human companion was exhausted.  But the game never got old to him. Blazer also liked to catch a tennis ball, putting one in mind of Yadier Molina with his deftness. He also, alone amongst our other dogs, threw it back as if he were channeling Bob Gibson.  Afterwards, Blazer would settle in to watch the latest St. Louis Cardinal game, no doubt, we were anthropomorphizing him as we thought he was trying to learn some new tricks. 

Like most collies we’ve lived with, Blazer was a barker.  He had what seemed an irrational irritation at anyone walking in front of our house or anyone he could see from the windows.  Though he would be friendly if the same people, with or without their dogs, came to visit or were encountered on a walk.  But he simply could not abide their parading anywhere near his home.

As I mentioned to start this piece, Blazer also would not tolerate without protest my writing at this computer.  Long story, I’ll try to make short—in a previous house I’d used a computer monitor that occasionally emitted high-pitched squeals. Numerous efforts to stop the squeals, which were determined to be interference with some other electronic devices, were unsuccessful.  The squeals appeared to convince Blazer I was in danger if I was close to it, or even in the same room.  I waited too long to replace the monitor.  By the time I did, Blazer’s behavior had generalized to the now silent computer and monitor and to my doing anything in that “dangerous” computer room.  If I even removed paperwork from that room and appeared to be doing anything with the office items he would bark, try to put all 60 pounds of himself on my lap and between the damned computer or papers and me.  No amount of positive reinforcements with treats and praise ever changed Blazer’s mind that he needed to protect me from all things related to the computer, monitor and that room.

So, unless Blazer was out of the house, I improvised a solution that would not disturb his and my tranquility. I bought an iPad and learned to write on that in our sunroom.  Blazer then happily laid by my side in the sunroom.  In fact, every morning after breakfast Blazer and I had “sunroom time.”  All I had to say were those two words and he would happily trot out from wherever he was to lie by my side.  I could read or write as long as I liked as he was the most faithful of companions.

Blazer came to look forward to our “sunroom times” together.  If I didn’t promptly go to the sunroom after breakfast, he’d try to lead me there.  Other times he often initiated expanded sunroom times.  We passed many happy mornings and afternoons too in the sunroom together.

Blazer liked to sleep in our master bathroom on the cool tiled floors, often with his back wedged against the closed, linen-closet door.  But not before he had toured the walk-in clothes closet and dug in the carpet in at least two corners.  Every evening I’d admonish him to not dig.  But dig he must.  The admonishment could be brief because I knew I needed then to quickly get my contact lens supplies out of the linen closet so I could remove and clean my lenses before bed.  Once Blazer settled into his preferred sleeping position he was so comfortable I hated to disturb him.  Eventually I realized the smarter approach was to just leave the contact lens supplies out. 

Blazer’s last night was spent by our bedside rather than in the bathroom, where we could hear his restless moves and labored breathing, as well as occasional bouts of vomiting.  We had decided after Blazer’s diagnosis that in hindsight we’d kept most of our dogs alive and suffering longer than we should have for our sake, not theirs.  So, we’d vowed we’d give him a peaceful end when he was no longer interested in his many happy activities, able to eat or otherwise handle bodily necessities, or appeared to be too uncomfortable.

By yesterday morning Blazer had no interest in food, could not keep even water down, and clearly was uncomfortable just trying to breathe.  We made arrangements, then took him for a last, very short walk in the park where we’d first walked him.  We also drove past the first home he’d known.  Just driving to his first home neighborhood in the past had always produced happy notes of excitement from the backseat of the car.  But not now.  He was restless and uninterested.  By the time we got to the veterinary hospital where he’d been helped numerous times before, he walked without any hesitation.  In a quiet room, Blazer laid quietly a little away from us and, even without any sedative yet, seemed to rest comfortably for the first time in a while.

I’m not sure I personally buy into the various euphemisms for death, including “crossing the rainbow bridge.”  But if it helps anyone with a loss, that’s a good thing.  Each dog is unique and most are lovable in some way.  As I’d mentioned, the last dog before Blazer whom we had to say goodbye to was my Mother’s sheltie; she bequeathed him to me because no one else would consider taking him.  He had a nasty disposition at times and a penchant for “bite first, ask questions later.”  Nevertheless, we grew to love him before we lost him.  I’m not sure he is yet with the angels but may be in corrective, angel-training somewhere in purgatory.  I’m sorry—it’s the recovering Catholic in me.

Blazer was his own unique soul, totally filled with love and not a mean thought in his head.  Never did he consider biting any creature.  Though curious, he didn’t even hurt the baby bunnies he found in our yard a few years back.
His too-short life is over here.  I don’t know where he might still be other than very much in our and the hearts of those who loved him.  Everywhere we turn he seems just out of sight.  I like to picture him, like our other collies and maybe our sheltie someday, running and playing, and most assuredly barking at angels.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Chasing that First High

The year was 1969. The summer of Woodstock. People my age were chanting about peace and love and listening to rock music.

It was the summer between my graduation from high school and starting college. I talked my way into a minimum-wage job ($1.25 an hour) selling men’s clothes but found myself mostly doing dreaded inventory at a neighborhood, men’s retail store: 3 whiskey (color) glen-plaid (pattern), 42 R (size). I learned to tell a man’s waist and inseam measurement on sight and how to talk him into buying that pair of pants, with a shirt that complemented his eye color to boot. But I never talked the store owner into paying the commissions she’d promised.

We lived a walkable few blocks away in a smallish, newish bungalow on a tightly packed block of two-family flats, our house like a toddler riding a shiny new tricycle amongst an army of road-weary teens on dirt bikes, all looking down on us.

One Sunday, our next-door neighbor called over the fence to me as I sat in the yard, Jackie De Shannon singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” from my transistor radio, as I sunned myself in pursuit of a tan that would never come to my red-head’s skin, a fact it took me another ten years and more than one case of sun hives to realize.

As I walked to the fence our neighbor, someone we’d only waved to, told me she had a problem. I said what neighbors said, at least back then, “What can I do?”

She responded by handing over a bushel barrel of freshly-picked, fat, ripe peaches from her tree. “Take these. I have way too many.”

I probably said thanks before I took them inside to our tiny kitchen. That Sunday my Mom and I made endless pies, bulging with the fat, juicy peaches. We handed at least one such pie back over the fence to our neighbor and froze the pies our family couldn’t eat.

In the process of peeling and slicing peaches I bit into one. As juice ran down my chin and hands, my skin tingled and stars burst forth in that center of my brain that responds immediately with a physical high to an addictive substance. I suddenly had a little love in my heart. My vision filled with a vision of a hot, golden, summer day.

I savored that perfect peach and then gobbled a few more when mom wasn’t looking. That first, perfect-peach high. I was hooked.

For the last 49 summers I’ve been searching for another peach that good

This summer I shared part of a box of Georgia peaches from “the peach truck” that comes to Louisville several times a summer. I’ve bought bags of Georgia peaches multiple times at the fruit market. I’ve also bought bags of peaches at various farmers’ markets, some from Pennsylvania, South Carolina and one from about a mile down the lane on Tucker Station Road.  

Almost all the peaches this summer have been good. Some are outstanding, others so-so. Some have just enough of the hint of that first, perfect, summer-of-1969-peach to keep me buying and trying peaches. Each time I think: “Maybe the next one”.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Swords Drawn—Don’t Eat those Cookies or Candy. They’re for Company

Yesterday we discussed serial killers and the Mueller Sword of Damocles suspended over Trump and his administration. Or not exactly. Spoiler alert if you’ve not read yesterday’s column.

The serial killer turned out to not be a serial killer since he’d only killed two people.  And, I did not discuss Trump. I just meandered into a discussion of fawning and faulty advisors and Trump’s troop sprang into my head unbidden.

But I’m back on track of talking about advisors and advice columnists, faulty and otherwise. As promised, I also will give this post a little holiday and end-of-year spin.

The columnist in our local paper, who shall remain nameless to protect her identity and also because the name she uses may be a pen name, recently addressed a complaint. 

The inquirer seeking advice said her husband eats all the festive, holiday candy she places in decorative candy dishes around her house. (I promised a holiday theme.) The husband’s gastronomic excesses occur even though he knows he isn't supposed to eat these candies.

The writer goes on to complain her husband’s decorative-candy eating occurs despite the fact she has provided him with volumes of healthy snacks in the pantry and freezer.

He eats all of that, as well as full meals, and also all of the potato chips in the house before she has a chance to have a few chips with her measly sandwich. Her husband swallows, practically unchewed, a whole can of nuts before she has a chance to think about eating a nut. And, to add insult to injury he eats all of this without gaining weight.

In response to the writer’s plea for advice on keeping her eating-machine of a husband to at least keep his grubby hands off the Christmas candy, the columnist suggests the writer display decorative candy made of glass.

What a great idea. This strategy should certainly discourage her husband from eating the candy after that first bite. But while her husband’s bad Christmas-candy-eating habit is likely to be broken so are his teeth, all in one swell crack.

He might also be discouraged from eating anything for a while. On the downside, the savings in candy purchases could be offset by the dental bills.

Once again, though, the advice columnist fails to get the question right. What I hear the wife screaming between the lines of her letter is: “How can my husband eat all of the snacks in the pantry, the food in the freezer, every last chip and nut in the house, and then polish off all of the decorative candy--and not gain weight?

Sister, I hear you pain. As does any woman  who has watched her husband consume all manner and quantity of junk food and never seem to gain weight. While if she eats a tiny bite of brownie she gains 5 pounds overnight.

Among many other gender disparities in this world, the ability to eat whatever one wants and not gain weight, unfairly burdens the so-called fairer sex.

As far as I know, there is no cure for this or many other of life’s inherent inequities. That says nothing about the non-inherent inequities. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to even the playing field. But that’s for another day. 

For now, we’ll just try to solve the problem of keeping decorative sweets to offer company when your husband is an eating machine. I have learned a few tricks from my foremother and can offer solutions to this timeless question that do not involve glass candy.

First, wait to put the candy on display until just before the guests are to arrive. That means hide the treats until then. It gives errant husbands a much shorter span of time to run in and eat all the candy. It also gives the guests at least a fighting chance at the candy.

Or try the other “trick” my mother used. When I was a child my parents never kept candy or snacks in the house. With one exception. My mother kept one particular type of cookie in our pantry: “Windmill Cookies”, so-called because they looked like little windmills. And maybe also because they were as hard as the material used to make actual windmills.

Guests may have occasionally broken a tooth while trying to eat one. Sort of like trying to eat glass candy.  But technically they were edible and it was not such a litigious society back then. Our family members, on the other hand, never suffered a problem as we knew better than to try a windmill cookie —so no rush trips to the dentist for us.

I once asked my mother why she bought the windmill cookies, our family’s least favorite sweet. My mother's reply was edifying, "I buy them because no one will eat them. That way, I always have cookies to set out for company."

If your husband eats all the decorative, intended-only-for company candy, consider buying technically edible but disagreeable sweets. That way you always have some to put out. After the first bite even the guests likely will leave the candy alone.

But, now that folks are so much more inclined to run to the courthouse over small incidents, you might want to warn them about possible broken teeth. Or is that like the serial killer next door? Is it caveat emptor when it comes to killers and candy? Discuss and analyze amongst yourselves.

Here's hoping your “company” cookies and candy last well into the new year and that 2018 brings joy and blessings to you, dear reader, and all of God's creatures.