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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect




This is Clay’s hand holding Ike’s hand.  Notice the deep pink lines in Clay’s knuckles.  His hands are always warm and dry and rough, I love that.  His hands look old, they have always looked old.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love a man with rough hands.  If a man shakes my hand and it’s all soft and moist I immediately think he must not work with his hands and for some reason that concerns me.  However, one thing does bother me about Clay’s hands and that’s his fingernails…he bites them.  Chews them clean off to the skin.  He’s tried to break the habit many times over the years and does a good job until he starts to stress about something.   I’ll catch him looking at a proposal on his computer and gnawing away at his fingers.  I’ll say, “Let me see your fingers.”  and he’ll look at me sheepishly while he curls his fingers into his palm.  Sometimes, I can figure out that something is bothering him by the condition of his nails before he tells me that he’s worried or stressed or bothered.

When I was young I was told to always keep my hands looking well groomed because when you go to a job interview they will look at your hands.  To me, I thought if my hands looked too nice then the boss would think that I never did anything but file my nails.

When I was in design school I accidentally spilled black permanent ink all over my hands while working on a project. I didn’t have time to get it all off before I had to go to work.  I was a waitress in an upscale retirement home’s restaurant.  The manager saw my hands and made me go to the salon to remove the ink with nail polish remover before any of the clients noticed it.

I stopped painting my fingernails when I was in college too, because the polish would rub off on the velum paper I used to draw sketches.  If I even slightly brushed my nail on it the polish would leave a mark that I couldn’t erase and my professor would take marks off for neatness.  A few months ago, I painted my nails for the first time in probably a year or two and it totally freaked out my family and I felt like my fingers were giant neon signs flashing LOOK AT ME!  My daughter said, “Mom, it just seems wrong that your nails are painted.”

I won’t be painting my fingernails again for a very long time.


I have big knuckles, full of deep lines and my hands are always dry.  My hands look a lot like my mother’s hands except she doesn’t have dry skin.  I like to keep my nails short, but I don’t bite them.  If my nails are too long they just get dirt under them from the garden and it’s painful to wear garden gloves and pull weeds if I have long nails.


It seems Clay and I have given our hands to our daughter.  She told me a few days ago that she doesn’t like her hands.  I felt bad, because hands say so much about a person and it’s not like she can trade them in for a better pair.  Her hands are bigger than mine now.  She can’t wear slip on bracelets and she rarely wears jewelry.  She is constantly searching for lotion.  Her hands sometimes hurt because they’re so dry.  She has chewed her nails since the first day of kindergarten.  It was and always has been her silent way of coping with new or uncomfortable situations.  She’s started painting her nails in hopes that it will make her stop chewing them.  I even offered to pay her fifty bucks if she could stop biting them and keep them filed for a month.  That was about five months ago.  I haven’t had to pay her, but it would be fifty dollars well spent if she can ever beat the habit.  I love her hands because they fit her perfectly, but I’d be happy to see some nails on that girl.

What are some tricks to beat the habit?  I’d like for the girl to like her hands.

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