Come Dunk Me

A few months ago a friend who belongs to our neighborhood club asked me if I would be willing to be in a Dunking booth on Memorial Day to raise money to buy an outdoor movie projector.  Now I am always one for creative fund raising schemes so I said yes.


At the time I thought I would be one of many who would perch upon the unstable bench above a tank of water awaiting the baseballs being thrown at the tiny target. It is all in good fun, and I hate that we rent a projector to show outdoor movies so I was willing to join the team.  Come to find out that I am the only woman being dunked and there are only five other men.   To top it off, the weather has not been particularly warm so I am sure that the dunk tank water is going to be extra cold.


Now, I am beginning to wonder what I have gotten myself into.  Our club is opening a greatly anticipated new pool complex, which is replacing the forty-year-old versions that were ripped out over the winter.  Everybody I know is planning on coming up to the pool to celebrate.


My friend Lynn had wanted to take me new bathing suit shopping before the dunk tank and I said no I would just wear an old suit.  Now I am not only regretting not getting a new suit, but also not working out much harder in the last month and being more vigilant with my healthy eating.  Actually, at this point I wish I had a whole wet suit.


I am beginning to anticipate the screaming I will do while sitting on the bench.  The only thing that will possibly make this whole episode bearable is if I can raise more money that all the men.  My dunking time is Monday, Memorial Day at 2:30 at the Hope Valley Country Club.  It costs $5 for three balls or any donation larger than that. 


If you hate me come out and dunk me.  If you love me come out and dunk me.  If you love watching movies outdoors in the grass come out and dunk me.  Make this whole crazy thing worth my while and come out and dunk me.  I don’t think you even need to be a member of the club.  Just bring your money and take your turn.  The worst part is that I am at the end of the dunking time so I am going in after all those men have been dunked.  I hope they have not drunk a lot of beer before they sit on the bench.  All I can say is please pray for me and Happy Memorial Day!

Unplanned Good Days

meeting Jan's Australian friend Justine

meeting Jan’s Australian friend Justine


There is nothing I like better than an unexpected good day.  Being a natural born planner I usually know what is going to happen during every hour of the day.  I like to keep expectations low so when good things happen I can fully enjoy them.


Today just happened to be one of those days when lots of good surprises happened and makes it just a really good day.  It started with my trip to workout.  My gym happens to be very cool about dogs and I decided that Shay needed some extra attention so she got to accompany me on my work out.  Shay is the kind of dog who has never met a person she does not like and even people who normally dislike dogs take a shine to her.  Working out with Shay made it go by quicker and feel less painful.


After working out I settled down to write two speeches and two letters that had been weighing heavily on my mind.  Normally I don’t experience writers block, but these particular works had been on my list to do for a while without any inspiration.  Check, check, check, off the list.


I then went downtown where I met a group of friends for lunch.  I have been doing a lot of lunches and dinners out and all that fine dining has not been helping my waistline.  Our group had chosen to go to the Art Institute’s cooking school restaurant, The District in the basement of American Tobacco, where my friend Paris was working.  Since it is a cooking school restaurant I was not sure there was going to be a healthy choice for me.  Boy was I surprised.  I had a fabulous chilled melon soup and an avocado and grapefruit salad and all the tea I could drink.  Fun friend lunch and really healthy too!


I headed home after lunch and my cohort Jan from Texas called and said she was at around the corner from me and to come and see her.  Jan was making a quick two-day stop here to see her new Granddaughter Elliot with one of her Australian friends and business partners Justine.  Since I had done a little consulting for Jan and her business I had only virtually met Justine so this was a fun treat to meet her and see Jan.  It was a short visit, but as is all things with Jan, wonderful.


I rushed home to write my blog and stopped at the mailbox, which contained four thank you notes and three checks.  That is the kind of mail I like.  As I walked in the door my phone was ringing and it was one of Carter’s teachers.  She said she just had to call to tell me about something wonderful Carter had done in class that brought tears to her eyes and made teaching her a joy; Music to the ears of a mother of a 14 year old.


I am writing this just before we run out the door to Carter’s final band concert.  I am hoping that the day of unexpected surprises ends as well as it started.   Even if it doesn’t I am cherishing each of the small joys I had today.  They add up to a pretty great day.

I Need an Intern

When I was in college I worked as many real jobs as I could get in the summer so I could earn real money.  I was getting experience “working,” but not trying out careers.  Thus, I ended up selling lots of stuff door-to-door, like vacuums and cable TV.  I made a lot of money and in turn my “work experience” helped me get a real job when I finished school.  Employers liked that I had worked which they thought might be a good indicator of my actual “work ethic”.


Things certainly are different for college kids today than they were back in the olden days.  Everybody is looking for internships in actual work places so they can see if they like that possible career path.  I don’t know if the “internship path” is the better way to get your foot in the door when you go to look for a real job, or just something to do that you don’t get paid for. I know there are paid internships, but I also have been hearing a lot about kids who are willing to work for free just to get “experience.”


This week alone I have had three calls from college kids who are interested in writing jobs.  Since I have been on sabbatical for the last year from real work I did not know that my magazine had already “hired” five interns for the summer.  Publishing is such a tough field these days that kids are willing work for free to get published.


I got to thinking about all these out-of-work college students and I can think of about 5,505 things I could teach one this summer if I had an intern.  Of course I don’t have any money to pay one, but if someone wanted to learn how to be a full time blogger-community volunteer-board member-writer-recipe creator-farmer-mother-organizer-speech giver-researcher I have a job for you.  Tasks for this intern would also include the mundane like, driving places, practicing both basketball and volleyball with my daughter, laundry, dishwashing, purchasing, dog walking and iced tea making.


Spending time as my intern you would look for the absurd in everyday life in order to find blog topics.  You would search out healthy new foods and be a taste tester for creative creations.  You would chauffer me around so that I could needlepoint rather than drive, in exchange I will tell you life altering stories that will save you years of making wrong decisions.  You will write blogs and if they are any good you will be a featured “Guest blogger” on Less Dana.


If you are my intern you will walk away from this experience hopefully thinner because you will have helped me drop my last twenty pounds.  You will have learned how to live a healthy life that packs as much as possible in a day.  You will have spent at least 63% of your waking hours laughing and you will have been published even if it is just on my blog.


Being a Less Dana Intern might not be the job you thought you were looking for, what with the no money and the decidedly motherly duties, but it could prove to be your go to experience when ever you are asked the interview question, “What have you done where you learned the most?”

Mediterranean Half Cooked Half Raw Salad



YUM!  This is now a new favorite.  I created this salad as a way of using up smaller amounts of vegetables. The creation of half roasted vegetables with their more complex flavors, raw vegetables with their crunch, capers and feta cheese for it’s saltiness and vinegar for the tang makes a really satisfying dish.


Four cups of roasted vegetables – I used Eggplant and zucchini, but you could use carrots, yellow squash, fennel, or even sweet potatoes

1 pint of cherry tomatoes –halved

½ small red onion chopped

25 fresh mint leaves chopped

3 T. capers

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 T. rice vinegar

1 T. olive oil

2 packets of Splenda

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the vegetables you are going to roast in uniform sizes about the sixe of a cherry tomato.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with pam.  Spread the vegetables in a single layer.  Roast in oven until browned and soft about 30 mins.


Remove from oven and let cool.  Mix the vinegar, oil and Splenda together.  Toss the cooled roasted vegetables with the tomatoes, red onion, mint, capers and dressing in a bowl.  Add the feta and toss gently.  Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Shay Shay’s Two Today


Today I went to Dr. Joe Moylan’s funeral.  He was a great man, loved by many and will be missed by all.  Although he lived a totally full life with a loving wife, six children, twenty grandchildren, fulfilling career as a Doctor, great educator and founder of the Durham Nativity School he left the world too soon.


I came home from the service and was truly sad about the huge loss to his family and the greater community at large.  As I sat down to change out of my church clothes our sweet dog Shay Shay jumped up on the bed beside me and sensing my sadness snuggled up to me and rested her curly brown head on my shoulder tucking her nose under my chin.  It was just the comfort I needed at that moment.


As I was rubbing her belly in her favorite way to be thanked I remembered that today was her second birthday.  It is hard for me to imagine our family without our loving four-legged member.  She makes everyday a joy, except when she chews up my reading glasses.


She can leap tall buildings in a single bound.



Fly through the air.



Not just catch a ball, but throw one as well.



But mostly she can love us.   Now she loves Russ the most, but who can blame her.



Happy birthday Shay Shay.


Sister C and Sister E



Almost fourteen years ago I was at church early saving two pews because my whole family was coming to witness Carter’s Baptism.  A tall skinny blonde woman I did not know shimmied into the pew I was saving in the front.  In my typically officious voice I announced to her that the seats were taken because my daughter was being baptized that day.  She looked at me and said that her daughter was also being baptized that day, news to both of us that we were sharing the day.  It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that did not start out so friendly.


Carter and Ellis, now affectionately called Sister E and Sister C unknowingly started their life long friendship there and then.  Today they were both confirmed together in the same church where they were baptized.  This time their parents happily chose to sit together.


Carter choosing to join the church and be confirmed was not a slam-dunk.  At first she was unwilling to agree to go through the classes.  I told Carter that she did not have to pledge her allegiance to any God, Church or Jesus, but that she had to go through the classes to learn what she did and did not believe in.  I know that she was challenging to her teachers in her questions.  I am thankful that many smart adults, Taylor, Nancy and her mentor Jamie did not tire of helping this prove-it-science-type adolescent come to an understanding of faith and grace.


I ended up being asked to be Ellis’ mentor as a church elder.  It only seemed fitting since I consider her my own bonus daughter.  Ellis’ mother Lynn often says of Ellis that she is more my daughter than hers when Ellis is being her natural comedic self.


So today I celebrate not just Carter and Ellis’ confirmation but the years of friendship with the whole Toms family started there at Sister E and Sister C’s baptism and continued on today and for years to come.

Family Ramblings



My sister Janet drove down to Durham today to celebrate my father’s 75th birthday with us.  My Dad just wanted to have a lunch outdoors so we went to the Washington Duke Inn.  We went late enough that the rain had stopped so we were the only people on the terrace.  There may have only been six of us, but we are loud enough to be a party of 20 so it was nice to have the place to ourselves.   Who knows if we disturbed any golfers on far off holes, but luckily no one complained.  My mother has spent her life being embarrassed about how loud we are, but now that she can hardly hear I think she appreciates the volume.


As is always the case when any two or more Carter’s get together we told stories of our childhoods, family trips and traumas or perceived traumas.  I love to hear everyone’s different recollections of the same story or the true confessions about things that happened long ago.


Janet, being the youngest of the children by almost nine years, always had a lot of experiences that somehow slipped under the table.  Today, she recounted how at age 9 she fell off a ladder onto a Danish friend and broke the girl’s leg.  In normal Carter fashion my mother came out and told the girl that she was fine and just to get up and walk.


My mother, having no recollection of either this girl, or the leg-breaking incident said to Janet, “Was this girl living with us?”  It was not such a far-fetched question since my parents always seemed to be the shelter for our wayward friends.   I can remember more than a few holidays when we had a friend of Margaret or Janet’s living at our house with no apparent plan of ever returning to her own family.

In fact we talked about a girl today who lived with my parents more than a month after Janet had moved away from home.  My mother did remember eventually calling Janet to ask her how she might get her friend to leave my parent’s house.


All these true confessions prompted Carter to remind us of a friend she had made once in St. Croix who had broken her arm.  Carter said she had fallen on that girl and that was how she broke her arm.  Why that child never told on Carter I will never know, but she must have been complicit in the accident to keep that fact quiet.


There is not much of a point to these rambling except as a warning to keep your distance from anyone of us in case we might fall on you and break something.