Every once in a while, even in the dead of winter, something really interesting happens. Like this morning I was in a rush home from the gym out of the shower bundling into my warm clothes to get to work to put in my week's hours to get home to work on my next minor field statement (phew!), as I put on my socks, I discovered that not one, not two, but yes THREE of my toenails are about to come off. Hanging on by a thread. One that I did not examine closely because it seriously freaks me out. I swear they were fine yesterday.
This has never happened to me before. Four marathons and countless long runs, 18 months wandering the streets of southern Italy, 2 years of whisking through New York City, and I've lost nary a toenail. In fact, I've had very very few blisters. I have feet of steel. Or just tough feet. (oh that my heart were as tough!)
I hopped in to work, where my new assignment with the Papers of the War Department has me annotating documents requesting the delivery of cannon shot for certain U.S. frigates in 1797, or recommending the appointment of a nephew to a naval lieutenancy or surgeon's mate. Twenty hours a week of perusing such documents can lead to sleepy eyes and unimpressed brain cells yearning (yes yearning) to work out my minor field statement at home.
When, today, what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a letter fresh from the pen of Samuel Hodgdon, Commissioner of the Commissary, to Israel Wheaton, 21 July 1800. He was very concerned about a shipment going through the dangerous waters fraught with Mediterranean pirates. He warned Wheaton to make sure to have enough to pay off the Jews as a sort of bounty to get through, and then he enclosed a list of supplies, including fine India muslin, china with red, blue, and green flowers, red birds and cages, squirrels, mahogany, and other sundries. Sounds like a movie to me. Check it out here (click on image to see the letter).
As I read, I curl my toes in my boots and I can feel my depleted toenails. Why now, I ask? I haven't been running much lately--too cold in these parts. All I know is that when these suckers come off, they're going straight in the mail to little Kim Ethington, my greenie from our days in old Italy. It's a sort of bounty repayment for the toenail she lost after I marched her through the cobblestone streets of Foggia (while she sang "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" to me at the top of her lungs). She kept the toenail in a special place, and even took it with her--a badge of honor--to show her fellow MTC compadres at our district conference in Bari. There, in the Sheraton Hotel, I accidentally dropped the precious toenail. We spent hours (ok, minutes before the mission president's wife saw us) scouring the floral carpeting there in the ballroom, to no avail. And she hasn't let me forget.