storytelling teaching

A Woman Named Humble

A woman named Humble


Many of my English students adopt English names.

It’s not just for my class, it is for their entire business and professional identity.

In one particular corner of the world, the entire population seems to have perused the same outdated baby-naming book.

I have a lot of 30-year-old Herberts and Mildreds as students.

Some of them, however, choose random words for their names.

Today I had a woman named Humble in my class.

She probably saw a list of other virtue names such as Faith or Grace or Hope and assumed that Humble would work too.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that a humble person would never call herself humble.

Only a braggart would do that.

If she had asked for my opinion before she chose her name, I would have told her.

At this point, it’s none of my business.

I carried on with the class.

But I cringed whenever I said her name.


I Had So Many Questions

I had so many questions

I had so many questions.

In the bread aisle at Kroger was a very tall, heavyset woman.

In a cow costume.

Complete with horns, udders, and a tail.

Incongruously, she was also wearing bear-claw slippers.

Topping off the ensemble, she was sporting a flowery fanny pack.

How did she get that thing buckled up around the cow suit?


I had so many questions.

But I hesitated to strike up a conversation.

What do you say to a gigantic cow-bear woman? 

I wondered if I could surreptitiously take her picture.

But again, I hesitated.

She was as freakishly large as I am freakishly small.

She could take me out with one hoof.

Or paw.


I went on my way.

I had so many questions.

And now I’ll never know the answers.

family storytelling

A Fire Pit in the Back Yard

A fire pit in the back yard


Bob is going to build a fire pit in the back yard.

He showed me pictures of what it will look like.

Today he marked off the area with spray paint.

We now have a big pink circle with an X in the middle of the lawn.

It looks less like a fire pit and more like a conjuring circle.

I’ll admit, I’m a little anxious.

Bob laughed and told me not to worry.

But isn’t that exactly what you would expect him to say?

I’ll sleep with one eye open until this project is completed.

Or until I get summoned by demons.

Whichever comes first.

diabetes family storytelling

I’ve Been Had

I've been had


The Grown Son had an order ready at the pharmacy.

He begged me to go and pick it up.

He needs his diabetes supplies right away.

So I went.

However, I hit traffic.

There was a 20-minute stop for road work.

I was tempted to turn around and go home.

But he can’t wait for his insulin.

Eventually I made it to the pharmacy.

I hit the same 20-minute stop at the same intersection on the way home.

And then I got caught in train traffic.

For two trains.

When I told this to the Grown Son, he burst out laughing.

Apparently he knew about the road work.

That’s why he asked me to go on the pharmacy run.

I’ve been had.

family storytelling

Two Problems Solved For The Price Of One

Two problems solved for the price of one


One of the fire alarms was chirping.

We couldn’t figure out which one.

The noise was driving us crazy.

We finally found it.

It was the one in the Grown Son’s room.

He was still asleep in the middle of the morning.

Also, his room is a pigsty.

Bob was cursing and shouting because he couldn’t set up the ladder due to the mess on the floor.

The Grown Son was cursing and shouting because we were disturbing his sleep.

Then Bob couldn’t find our battery stash, so he cursed and shouted some more.

Finally, the problem was resolved.

The battery got changed, the ladder got put away, and the house was filled with blissful silence.

The Grown Son, with much contemptuous eye rolling and a bit of embittered muttering, started a load of laundry.

Yay, two problems solved for the price of one.  

family storytelling

Well Played, Mom, Well Played

Well played, Mom, well played.


I miss my mom at Thanksgiving.

She was a fabulous chef.

Her grandmother taught her how to cook.

I make their recipes every year, and it’s as if they were here at my table.

However, the very best thing I ever learned from my mother wasn’t exactly a recipe.

She taught me to clean as I cook so that when dinner is over, there’s not much work left to do.

This drove me crazy when I was a kid, but I get it now.

My mother would be very pleased.

She loved to say, “I told you so.”

Well played, Mom, well played.


Happy Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving Day


The first casualty of our Thanksgiving celebration was a small cut on my finger.

Really, it was so small and insignificant that I didn’t even know it was there.

Until it found the salt.

Rumor has it that some violent cursing ensued.

I will neither confirm nor deny that rumor.

But let’s just say that the wound is no longer small nor insignificant.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!


My Swan Song for 2020

My Swan Song


The sh**show that is 2020 just keeps on giving.

I did a load of wash with some Kleenex in a pocket.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the backyard, plucking thousands and thousands of Kleenex shards off of all of the clothes.

And cursing.

With any luck, this will be my swan song for 2020.


My Grocery Store Has Changed The Layout

My grocery store has changed the layout.

My grocery store has changed the layout.

It’s a tragedy!

The holidays are upon us, and I can’t find a thing that I need.

I hate when they do this.

It totally throws me off.

The Kroger near me is enormous.

I have had to criss-cross the vast expanse of this place several times because they moved the sour cream.

This is, of course, why they do it.

They want to keep the customers in the store longer.

I’m so mad that I’m tempted to boycott.

But I can’t because I need food.


I Would Make a Terrible Spy

I would make a terrible spy


The theme for our Toastmasters meeting last night was James Bond.

In honor of Sean Connery.

I would make a terrible spy.

I can’t lie.

I would stick my foot in my mouth and blow my spy persona.

Then I would try to compensate and only make it worse.

That would be before the martinis.

Once the martinis started flowing, I would still put my foot in my mouth.

But I wouldn’t even try to compensate.

I would just blabber all of the secrets.

And laugh.

Yeah, I can’t lie.

Which made my recent incident of punking my kid so epic.

He was furious that I pulled it off so well.

But he was also impressed.

As was I.

It was a bittersweet moment.

I have peaked.

I will never be able to lie so beautifully again.

Or will I?