No Such Thing As Average

Average is just a math equation, but in the real world nothing is ever actually average.  In my opinion it is usually feast or famine, high or low, big or small rarely right in the middle.  Take the weather we are having in Durham right now.  Rain, BIG Rain, certainly record setting rain for the day, which just happens to be 1.32 inches.  Gee, I think we got that much in the middle of the night and now it is raining buckets again and will for almost the rest of the day.  We might triple that record, but in the world of averages, will hardly move the average rainfall line at all.


Even though we are up something like nine inches of rainfall for the year compared to the average it is just balancing out the terrible drought we had a few years ago.  In the end when you average the two years together you keep the average rainfall about in the same place it was.


The same idea is true for me in trying to move the needle on the scale down.  If I eat roughly the same food everyday and work out about the same amount I seem to stay in the same place.  My average is what my body has become accustomed too and has learned to live on.  In order to make a dent in my average I have to change some things and keep changing them for a very long time.


I just can’t have one day of extra vigilant eating, but I have to have ten and even then the needle might only move a little.  That’s the reality of middle-aged-peri-menopausal-woman.  I have spent a lifetime of days that makes up my average.  To change the average might take the rest of my lifetime.


But of course no one wants to be average, even our own average.  We all want to be better than our regular selves, which is just plain hard to do, that is unless you put everything about yourself on the scale.  Some days you might have a bad day at working out, but a good day at eating, a great day at work, but a poor day at laundry, a fantastic day at parenting, but a so-so day at being a spouse.  You never have an average day at everything, but over time you create a set point for what you are going to be like in every aspect of your life.


The best we can hope for is that we are a little better at a little more today than we were yesterday and that way, given enough time your average will improve.  The key is not to throw in the towel on anything if you have one bad day, because a good day is coming that will balance it out, just like the rain, the drought year has been overcome by a wet year.

No Fare at the Ballpark


You know the saying, “It’s American as baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.”  When I think about that phrase it all just says fat.  Americans are fat and the hotdogs and apple pie have not helped, but neither has baseball that is unless you are playing it a very high level, say at least AAA.  For most of us, baseball means sitting in the stands and watching.


I’m not a baseball fanatic.  I don’t know when the last time I watched a baseball game on TV.  If I had to guess it was when my Mima was still alive and even though she was legally blind from Macular Degeneration she would “watch” her beloved Atlanta Braves on TV.  That was fourteen years ago.  Despite my indifference to TV baseball I have enjoyed going to the Durham Bulls since they moved to the DBAP some thirteen years ago.  Russ and his business partner Rich decided early on that they needed season tickets for their company, which I have come to love.


A few times a season we go down to the ballpark and sit right behind the Bulls dugout and cheer on the local team.  I am regular enough in Russ’ seats that the promotions team members who do all the fun activities on the field between innings know me.  Those things like sumo wrestling or when a kid runs the bases against Wool E. Bull, our mascot, are what make minor league baseball so great.  This year they have a new one where 8 tiny little children are dressed up in  bull costumes and they chase Wool E. across the field.  It is called the running of the bulls and is about the cutest thing I have ever seen.


The only thing that is wrong with going to baseball is the food.  The choices at the ball park are, hotdog, peanuts and beer of course, bar-b-que, pizza, burritos, funnel cakes, cotton candy, ice cream, snow cones, lemonade and chips.  Food vendors come and go at the DBAP.  One year someone tried selling a salad and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  At last something I could eat at the ballpark.  But I was much too infrequent a visitor to make an impact on salad sales and that offering did not last.


Years ago I could see how only offering unhealthy foods would appeal to the primarily male audience at games, but now even men worry about their physique.  I know I am not the only person who thinks about what I can eat before a game since I know there is nothing for me at the park.  If someone comes up with a healthy solution and lets everyone know it was available not only might they sell it, but also more weight watchers might come to the games.  I’m not suggesting that “It’s American as baseball, grilled chicken and a fruit salad” is the new slogan, but let’s widen the baseball circle to include the health conscious.  They might be fans that will live longer to cheer on the team.

Pain in the A#$

There are so many reasons people eat which have nothing to do with actual survival.  Boredom, habit, celebration, anger, thirst, and my big winner today was frustration.  I am happy to say I did not let frustration get the better of me, but it took everything in me to recognize that eating would not fix my problem.


This morning Russ got up and took a shower in his normal routine way.  I had an early meeting so I was up reading e-mail waiting my turn.  After his shower Russ lathered up his face with shaving gel and suddenly stuck his head out of the bathroom and announced there was no hot water.  When he said none, it was not that the water was not hot, but that no actual water was coming from the tap.


Last year we installed a tank less instant hot water heater, which had an epic failure this morning.  This was not the news I was looking for in the early morning hours.  I called for service and was told that sometime a repairman would come, but you know the drill, we can’t tell you when.  I asked that they give me one hour so I could go to my meeting and they said of course.  There was no chance a repair was coming to my house in one hour anyway.


Seven hours later a nice guy showed up and confirmed that the water heater, new as it was, needed to have the entire heat exchanger along with some ancillary parts replaced.  Let’s see, it’s Friday afternoon, do you think I might have hot water today.  Not a chance.


The repairman called the manufacturer to order the parts and they were happy to send them for Tuesday afternoon delivery.  Nice as this repairman was I got involved with the manufactures phone call to get the parts sent fed ex for Monday morning delivery.  Naomi, the phone rep, finally gave in after spending over 45 minutes having me get her to admit that five days without hot water from a one year old very expensive hot water heater with a twelve year warranty was just insane.


So here I sit with four days of no hot water, a full dishwasher of dirty dishes and two loads of laundry needing to be done and me in need of a shower.  Frustration was knocking on my door.  I got the dishes washed the really old fashioned way, by boiling water and filling the sink and boiling some more so after the soapy washing I could rinse them.  I had forgotten how hard on a manicure washing dishes by hand is.  I am going to have to not worry about nails since I have a lot of hand washing in my future.  At least I can say I did not let the lack of hot water make me eat something naughty, but boy I certainly thought about.

Worse Than a Hair Sandwich?



The other day at Mah Jongg my friend ordered a sandwich that sounded delicious, turkey and melted cheese, avocado with cranberry mayo and sprouts on grilled sunflower bread.  Not liking the texture of sprouts she asked the waiter to hold them off the sandwich.  Leaving off the only healthy part of the sandwich caused her a little guilt until all the other women spoke up that we too disliked sprouts.


To me the actual health benefits of such a minor player in a dish could be disputed so that part of the guilt should be relived.  There just is not much to sprouts except some annoying hair feeling in your mouth, so why add them?


In college I had a friend whose favorite bench-marking phrase was, “Is it worse than a hair sandwich?”   So clearly the inference is that anything resembling a hair sandwich is bad and that is what a sprouts sandwich feels like in my mouth.


I am certainly all for healthy food, but adding sprouts to a grilled cheese with turkey and avocado does not turn it into a health food option even if it is on sunflower bread.  Does eating the sprouts act as a balance to the rest of the dish?  If you want to eat a treat do as my friend did and make a real treat and own it.  Don’t accept the pacifying part you don’t like as a pardon for your indulgence.


One true honest to god decadence once in a blue moon is way better than pretending you are having something healthy all the time just because you throw a tomato or some lettuce on it.  So don’t be fooled by the existence of the sprouts and for goodness sake, there is no sin on not having them at all because quite frankly they might be worse than a hair sandwich.

The Benefits and the Curse of a Well Trained Nose

Today as I was outside walking Shay in her normal sniff, sniff, sniff “don’t pull me along mommy I’m smelling everything” walk I just closed my eyes and took a big whiff too.  I could really smell the summer.  The overwhelming scents of honeysuckle with undertones of magnolia were the first scents that hit me.  Once of the best things about living in North Carolina is smell.  As we walked past our vegetable garden the basil and mint competed with the flowers.  Then I drew in the very distinct odor of the tomato plants.


Shay all along was concentrating on the ground smells of deer that had certainly passed through the property the night before.  I wanted to teach her to enjoy the beautiful scents and not just those of other animals so I dragged my hand among the sage leaves and held it to her nose.  She pretended to be interested in it for just a moment and then pushed her face deeper into my hand for a good petting.


From the sage I moved to the lemon thyme and then gave Shay another whiff.  This prompted her to go right over to the low growing herb and sniff around.  I realized she thought it might be a good place to leave her own scent so we quickly moved onto the grass.


As we walked in the yard the freshly cutgrass mixed with the clover top notes to make a familiar bouquet. I stopped and closed my eyes and sucked in the air hard, holding it in my throat like my yoga instructor has taught me to do.  For a moment I felt as I could smell the fireflies and the dust on the gravel driveway.  With my eyes closed I felt a tingle and the smell changed to something more pungent for just a second, then just as I opened my eyes to see if perhaps another animal was crossing our path I saw a flash of lightening and a few seconds later heard the confirmation of thunder.  I think I actually smelled the lightening coming.


Paying attention to smells has served me well in the cooking part of my life.  I’ve always been good at deciphering what ingredients are in a dish someone else has made because of my detective like nose.  I also have not done things that dull my sense of smell, which can naturally diminish with age and abuse.


The only problem with a well-trained olfactory machine is that if I smell something tasty it starts my salivary glands going and makes my brain think I need to not just smell something good, but taste it as well.  So for now I am going to spend as much time as possible with the flowers outside.  I have never developed a taste for rosewater and the lavender is supposed to make you feel relaxed.  So to combat any hunger pangs I might get I’m just going to go outside and stick my head in the gardenia bush that grows above my lavender and stay then until the feeling passes.   Feel free to come and take a smelling tour of my garden anytime your diets needs it, but I suggest you stay away from the sage which may prompt you to go in search of an entire Thanksgiving meal.

Care Package Nightmares


What is it about kids and care packages?  When Carter starts to think about getting ready to go to camp the first words out of her mouth are, “You are going to send me a care package aren’t you?”  I think Care packages started during the war to help feed people who were truly starving.  I don’t know when they became the staple of kids going to camp.  I think Carter considers it is a badge of how much your parents love you.


One year when she was at camp she told me about a girl in her cabin who did not get a care package and how the child grew more and more despondent at each mail call without a package.  Think that the entire camp experience can be ruined by one thoughtless, selfish parent who after shelling out thousands of dollars for camp and hundreds more for a trunk, new sheets and towels, and a crazy creek chair wasted the whole thing by not sending one stinking package.


Camp basically provides a kid with everything they really need to live a fun and carefree existence.  But a package from home is icing on the cake.  So I succumb to the pressure and send off a package.  What I have discovered is there are good things to send and bad things and in the end it is all about getting some totally unhealthy food, which luckily at Carter’s camp girls are required to share with the whole cabin.


In Carter’s case some goldfish and sour gummies are the least bad for her acceptable foods.  I also know that a Tiger Beat magazine, especially one chocked full of One Direction photos is a great non-food item.  I throw in a new box of stationary just to take up room and a note and I’m done.


From previous years I have learned that the packages that come from “Care Package Providers” are easy to send, but never have food and Carter comes home with all the crap they sent her and throws it away.  Also books and clothes are the equivalent to sending coals to New Castle.  I get a letter home that says something like, “You sent me a book!”


If only there were some incredibly healthy and desirable things I could mail I would.  I think that the camp would frown upon my sending a commercial frozen yogurt machine and the yogurt in dry ice, unless I was sending it as a donation to the dining hall.  I think I might have to send an electrician along to rewire the cabin to handle the power load and that is a no-no for sure.


So hopefully my barebones package is the care Carter is looking for; just enough reassurance that her parents love her, but nothing too embarrassingly over the top.  If only she could appreciate what having to go to the post office in order to mail it really was like, then she would kiss my feet.

Write to Carter, Please

Carter’s first day at camp and I was looking forward to making some progress on my giant-never-ending-been-on-the-list-for-years house projects.  You know the kind of things you don’t want to do, but you really want done, like cleaning out the junk drawer or organizing old pictures.  Thanks to my opening my big mouth in the winter and volunteering to research, write and produce ten skits for church this summer I spent the majority of the day writing.


This upcoming Sunday’s skit, which is a take off on “It’s a Wonderful Life”, required me to re-watch the whole movie.  I already had the basic idea in my head, but needed a couple of actual lines from the movie, which true to form did not come until the end of the second hour.  But I like that I have checked off this job on Monday because I need to start racking my brain about the following Sunday.


Before I wrote that assignment I had to write Carter a real letter at camp so I could get it in the noon mail.  I had written her a note to leave on her pillow at camp, but her bunk was consumed by a giant gaggle of girls in their getting-to-know-you session so I could not get close to her bunk and was getting the leave-already look.  I forgot I had that note written and wrote another.


Getting mail at camp is the most important activity there is.  I think that Carter grades me on how many letters I send her.  I have religiously sent her a real letter everyday she has ever been at camp, but since no mail gets delivered on Sundays she feels like I must be slacking off somehow.  Quite frankly that is not that much happening without her home so the letters tend to get repetitive.  How many times can I tell her Shay-Shay misses her?  I know she does not like to here that she should not have left her room such a mess.


This year I am trying something new.  As a reader of this blog would you consider sending Carter a note or postcard at camp?  It does not matter that she may not know you, but I think it would be fun for her to get an avalanche of letters.  You can even put in it that she could share it with someone who did not get any mail that day.  If you went to camp as a kid tell her what your favorite camp activity or memory was.  Her mailing address is:


Carter Lange


Camp Cheerio

1430 Camp Cheerio Rd.

Glade Valley, NC 28627-9731


I am not telling her about this, but I will report her reaction when she actually sends me a letter.  This may free me up to not have to write so much and I can get to my big list of chores, or maybe go to the movies or feel less guilty if I start a new puzzle.  Oh no, I am starting a big new list of fun things to do while Carter is at camp, which means my yucky list might stay intact for another year.

The “I’m in love with a teenage boy band” diet



Yesterday was the long awaited One Direction concert here in North Carolina.  When I say long awaited it was Carter and her other fourteen year old friends who were about to jump out of their skin thinking about seeing the British boy band in person.  I was merely one of the three mothers who were necessary to chauffer the girls to the arena for the show.


We had been lucky enough to buy a box for the show at our school auction so not only did the girls have great seats all together, but we had a lounge area with food that had glass doors so that we mother’s could sit in club chairs and have the deafening sounded dampened about half of one decibel.  I was thrilled that it provided a good needlepoint spot and I was able to complete half of a roof for a gingerbread house ornament during the whole show.


I can remember being Carter’s age and being madly in love with the terribly short lived Bay City Rollers, of S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT fame.  The only difference is that I never got to see them live and even if they might have been playing a show within an hour of my house there was no way that I would have considered asking my parents to take me.  I was lucky if they picked me to go to the dentist, there was no way they would shell out the big bucks that concerts cost, sit in the ridiculous parking traffic of a big arena and endure the deafening screams of 25,000 teenage girls.


That is unless they knew what I learned last night.  Girls madly in love with a band forget to eat and lose all their appetite upon watching them sing.  Before going to the show our group of girls got together at one friends house to make their tribute t-shirts.  The Kim family made a big spread of food for them to enjoy before the show, but nary a chip was touched.  Once we got to the box we had a taco bar buffet, cookies, popcorn and the big “horn of plenty” that consisted of cheese, fruit, veggies dip and crackers.  The only thing the girls made a dent in was the popcorn and water.


For almost four hours they stood, bounced, danced, screamed and some even cried a little, but eating was not part of the evening.  As we left the arena I offered them food in the car on the way home, but they were too over come with emotion to eat.  This is certainly a diet I wish I had known about when my hormones raged big.


Needlepointing is not much exercise and no appetite suppressant.  But De and Hannah my other Mom driver friends and I did get up at the last song and danced with the girls.  By that point in the evening our daughters were so happy and thankful to us for taking them that they were not even embarrassed by our dancing let alone our existence.  I know it was an experience these girls will remember the rest of their lives.  Now if I can just remember this bands name and not keep calling them New Dimension I may remember it too.

Bound for Camp

Camp is in the girls’ blood in my family.  Tomorrow Carter goes off for three weeks to her camp.  It is clearly her favorite time of year.  Loving leaving home for the camaraderie of a cabin of girls is something I completely understand.  I loved camp too.  When I was in fifth grade my friend Tammy Mongé told me all about Camp Idle Pines in Bow Lake New Hampshire and I begged my parents to let me go with her the next summer.  Thinking about swimming in the freezing cold lake, canoeing at night among the singing loons, putting on skits and making tie dyed shirts all brings back happy memories.

Camp food was way better than home food.  First you always had dessert, something we never had at home.  Second we had milk from a farmer down the road.  The whole milk was like cream and the skim was like light cream.  It was a weight-gaining situation at every meal.  I think we were required to drink milk and if you were someone who did not like milk you might have been allowed to put Hershey’s syrup in it.

Sunday nights at Idle Pines were leftover nights and the cabin with the highest cabin cleanliest score got to go to the leftover buffet set up on the ping-pong table first.  If you were first you were ensured some leftover lasagna but if you were last Chicken a la king might be all that was left.  It certainly did not bother me because we also had the dessert buffet, which included such offerings as banana pudding with vanilla wafers in it, a molasses cookie called a Hermit with raisins or ice cream made by adding sugar to the skim milk and putting it in the ice cream freezer.  Just thinking about camp food makes me gain weight.

The other great thing about Sunday is that it was “store” night.  The camp store sold candy, stamps and toiletries.  We were only allowed to buy candy one night a week right before we watched an outdoor movie.  Our parents would deposit money in our camp bank and we could only spend what we had pre-deposited.  I learned the first year that at the end of the camp session we each would get a little envelope with the unspent cash from our bank.  The next year I did my best not to buy much from the store so I could take the cash home with me.  I think the only candy I bought that year were the penny fireballs, bypassing the quarter snicker bars.  That should have been a tip that I could withstand calories for money.  I’m sure that after the dessert buffet at dinner I had already had my fill of sweets.

I know that Carter will have great memories of going to camp.  Since she is staying over for two sessions Russ asked her if we could visit her during the bridge day.  She looked at him like he was crazy.  Getting to stay at camp with just a few kids and all the counselors to your self is the most fun day ever.  I have to admit I’m a little jealous, but thrilled for her all at the same time.

The Happiest Non-Holiday Day of the Year

It’s the first day of summer other wise known as the summer solstice or the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  My happiness comes from knowing that I have the whole relaxing season ahead of me.  As a kid we used to just live for the school year to end and for the carefree days of summer to take over.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I loved school and school friends and school activities, but a break was always a good thing.


Even though I have been out of school for thirty years now I still welcome the first day of summer as if it is a gift that was given me even though now summer does not change my in my day-to-day life much.  Perhaps it is the increased amount of sunlight?


For me in Durham North Carolina I will enjoy fourteen hours and thirty-six minutes of sunlight today.  Fourteen hours of sunlight is a good number.  When I lived in London the summer solstice was two hours longer due to it’s northerly location on the earth.  Having the sun come up at 4:45 and not go back down until after nine thirty is almost too much daylight.


Why, you ask?  I am a morning person so I tend to wake up with the sun. Four in the morning is an early start.  An early breakfast means an early lunch followed by an early dinner and then since it is light so late I think it must be time for another meal.  So more sunlight means more eating for me.  In the winter if I am having a nighttime craving I just go to bed and I have somehow avoided eating in my sleep.  In the brightness of summer I have a harder time going to bed artificially early thus the opportunity to over eat.


The eating issue is quickly overruled by the false sense of lack of responsibilities in the summer.  This is an issue I clearly need to out grow.  I am less vigilant about looking at my calendar.  I miss meetings and appointments and people are more forgiving, thinking I must be on vacation.  Sometimes I am on vacation so if I don’t show up for something I am apologizing now, preemptively.  Then again, fewer meetings are planned for the summer and that could be another reason for the euphoric feeling I get from the summer solstice.


Whatever the reason it makes me happy.  I hope it makes you happy too.  I imagine I am not alone.  I have never heard of anyone who had seasonal depression from too much sunlight.  So enjoy your long day today.  You might not be able to put your finger on the cause of your happy feeling, but its summer, don’t think too hard about it and just lay back.

Spanx Swim Pants- Where Are You?

Spanx have spoiled me.  I love those leg-thinning-long-line-panties that hold in not only your tummy, but also your butt and most importantly your thighs.  The advent of Spanx have enabled me to wear more body hugging dresses without the fear that parts of me are giggling in an unsightly way.


I noticed that Spanx in their product expansion to take over the world also moved into the bathing suit arena.  Hooray!  At last, perhaps there will be a thigh lifting swim suit or at least a thigh covering model, but no.  Spanx is yet to figure out how to take their most popular product, the mid thigh firmer and turn it into something that could be worn around the pool.


Spanx has spoiled every woman I know.  Nary a friend will leave the house without her favorite foundation garment, but all that squeezing and shaping makes wearing a regular old swim suit a scary proposition.  There must be a way to grab those upper thighs by the loose and lumpy skin and pull them up to a place that could be hugged tight by the revolutionary spandex.  Reconfiguring our naked selves into a more svelte and tight model is the desire of most females and Spanx has been happy to oblige all these years.


If it means that we are going to have to make a fashionable bike short model swimsuit so be it.  Perhaps if the bottom half was nude colored with some strategically place color blocks it might not appear too strange.


So I implore you Spanx designers, get on the long leg design swimsuit.  The butt-lifting enhancement is also a good feature.  I promise it will be a hit.  While we’re at it the waist nipping and boob support all in the same suit will ensure your dominance in the swimwear arena. 


For now I will sport the wrap around cover-up skirt and pray that no one is paying attention between by chaise lounge and the water, but a pair of Swim Spanx seems like the answer to my dreams.

Lather, Rinse and Repeat


Long ago when I could still read mice type found on shampoo bottles without the aid of shower readers, I found the instructions “Lather, rinse and repeat,” lacking an ending to their story.  The idea that someone needs shampoo instructions is somewhat comical.  I don’t know about you, but by the time I was able to wash my own hair I had mastered the order and I probably was still too young to read.


I am wondering if the marketing department of shampoo makers thinks we will really keep repeating the three steps over and over until the bottle is empty.  The addition of one word might clarify what they mean; “Once.”  Lather, rinse and repeat once.”  There it is.  Something that makes much more sense.  They certainly did not mean to keep washing your hair repeatedly until it all fell out.


To me instructions on things like shampoo were put on because some fool drank the shampoo since there were no directions about how to use it.  That prompted a note from the legal department saying something to the effect of “For God’s sake tell the morons who buy our products how to use them so we don’t get sued again.”  Marketing recognizing a opportunity decides that if one washing is good then more will be better and thus the “repeat” is born.  It is shocking that legal has not jumped all over them for that one.


I just bought a new lemon scented bottle of 409 cleaner.  It smells very realistic and lemony.  I wonder if anyone has sprayed it on his or her fish or in their iced tea?  I have not noticed a warning reading “Not real lemon, do not eat.”


What I think American corporations need are not more Legal or Marketing departments, but a Department of Common Sense.  Most of us can figure out the obvious use of a product as long as we know what it is.  So rather than take up vital real estate on shampoo bottles with unneeded instructions consider putting the word “Shampoo” in a font large enough for us to read without glasses because I just have not yet found a shatter-proof pair of readers to keep in the shower.

Don’t Ignore Chemistry

Today is the day that I take Carter on all her appointments like hair and teeth and I get to sit there and needlepoint because I am just the driver these days.  As I was eavesdropping on the hairdressers’ discussing a difficult dye job to fix another salon’s mistakes I heard a great phrase, “The chemistry is just not in her favor.”  See the client wanted a miracle.


How many things does that phrase, “The chemistry is just not in her favor,” apply to in life?  I can think of many.  But so many times we want to ignore the chemistry and hope for a miracle outcome.


As the hairdressers discussed the nightmare-multi-processed situation the same theme kept coming up, if only the previous colorist had done the simplest process they could have easily reversed the mistake.  Trying more and more complicated scenarios made going back even harder.


This is true with eating.  If you want to reduce, trying overly complicated eating programs is harder.  You need to figure out what chemistry is in your favor and the most simple.  Many years ago there was a popular diet called The Zone.  You had to eat an exact balance of protein, fats and carbs at the same time in blocks.  Yes the chemistry worked, but it was so difficult that the over complication of planning and creating meals made it not in your favor.


The idea that things are better when the chemistry is right is true in relationships too.  How many times do we see couples that are made up of people who are really more like oil and water?   The two can be put together but they never will really mix.


The lesson is to pay attention to the elements in their simplest form and work from there.  If you get the right elements together the chemistry will work and you won’t be fighting Mother Nature.  Simplifying is your friend.

Reunion Afterglow

Best buddies Suzanne and Dave

Best buddies Suzanne and Dave

Suzanne Sally and I all got the striped shirt memo

Suzanne Sally and I all got the striped shirt memo



I just spent the weekend at my 30th college reunion and with each five-year passing people get better.  One of the upsides of being over fifty is most people have softened into their nicest selves.   Perhaps our aging eyes help us see people in a more easy-going light or our memories have let go of any past un-harmonies.  Mostly I think that by this point in life it is not about what you have, the position you attained or how you look, but really the content of your soul.


There are those close friends who I have constant contact with who make the reunion comfortable and safe.  One acquaintance said when I got there he was glad to see me because he had not seen anyone else he knew up to that point and was feeling like a freshman on the first day of college all over again.  Those insecurities existed for just a second and quickly people relaxed into their true selves.


I loved sharing with people I have known more than half their lives, but not seen daily.  We cut through all the frivolous and got right to the heart of what they were passionate about now, struggled with or hoped for. Of course there was the rehashing and laughing of old stories but people opened up about disappointments or difficult relationships or sadness’s but seemed to be quickly comforted by the love and compassion shown by the group.


The real bonus I find at reunions is getting to know people I did not really know well or deepen new or shallow friendships.  I shared a room with my best friend Suzanne and we spent time talking with different people at the gatherings and then late in the night, in of the less than stellar Sleep Inn, we talked in the dark sharing the conversations we had.


Because of world of Facebook and things like this blog I had gotten to know some people much better in the last five years and the reunion was like a hug from a long lost friend.  I love that I know Sally, Mel and Maria better now and treasure them even more.  Sally even asked me how the reunion food was on my diet and thankfully with all the time being spent talking and very little time eating I lost a pound.


My thanks go out to the whole committee who worked so hard to bring us this perfect weekend.  How they gave us weather that was better than any day we had a semesters of Fridays our Freshman year I will never know.  A big shout out to Pam Kurey who by virtue of being married to Greg was an honorary member of the committee and seemed to work harder setting things up and taking things down than anyone else who was actually in our class.


No matter what is happening in your life going back to your reunion will enhance it.  Don’t miss another opportunity to reconnect, rehash, reminisce and relearn.  Everyone is better than you remember and so are you.

Love of Fathers


Anybody who knows me knows my father.  See even if you never met him you have encountered him in some way in me.  I am truly a product of my father.  Of course my mother can be seen in me too, in my love of games, my artistic side and devotion to needlepoint, but most of the rest of me comes from my father.  My love of cooking, my story telling nature, my sense of humor, my loud voice and imposing presence along with about nine hundred and fifty other traits including the tendency to exaggerate comes from my father.

On this father’s day I want to say thank you to Ed Carter for being such a great supporter, cheerleader, role model and overall generous soul to me.  Although he pushed me all the time to be better, do more, try harder he also gave me options and advantages for which I am truly thankful.  My dad always thought I could do anything.  I am sure that is how I developed my “Not always correct, but never in doubt” personality.

As a child he never missed an opportunity to teach me something that he thought I would need to know even if I wasn’t interested.  I might not have been interested then, but now I am glad I know how to take care of my house, earn money, grow a garden, cook anything, travel the world alone, be generous with others, talk to strangers so they quickly become friends, tip generously, nurture employees, spoil friends, love family and most importantly raise a daughter.

Thanks Dad for being a great dad.  Because of you I picked a wonderful husband who became a great Dad to our child.  Father’s day is not the only day I think about how important fathers are, but don’t let a day go by without knowing that I am surrounded by men who are father’s I love, my own and my daughters.

Reunion Confession

My thirtieth college reunion is only half way through and I am already exhausted. It’s a the good type of tired from talking too much and standing and walking and talking some more. At this point in life I only remember about a blink of any eyes worth about my time in college so the reunion is like getting to know people I know I already like all over again. Except for my really close friends who can finish my stories or prompt me to retell something funny or poignant the reunion is a new audience.

Last night my best friend Suzanne and I had dinner with a group of people I had not hung out with much in college. One of them was a guy Jeffery who confessed to me that he was afraid of me in college. I asked him what that was about and he said that I always had an “aura of industry” about me. It is a strange sounding phrase, but really dead on. I was busy when I was here. I was bossy, and loud and organizing things and giving parties and running for office and selling things, not much studying.

In thinking about my industriousness today i thought about one of my college jobs that prompted me To make a confession to some of my sorority sisters today. For two years I was the membership chairman which was the worst job. During rush the chairman had to run the discussion and make these paper bags for all the sisters to put little votes in for the girls they wanted to continue. The first time we did this it took hours to count all the votes and then write the invitations for the girls who we wanted to continue. As I did it there were no real surprises about who got the votes based on the discussion I had heard.

Being industrious I decided, completely illegally in the sorority world, that I was not going to ever count another vote. We put the bags out at every discussion and people would put their slips of paper in, but I would just glance in them and write the invitations for the girls I heard the most positive comments about.

I apologize now for this, but I have to say we had two really great pledge classes who were coherent and turned into great sisters. I may be hauled off to sorority court for this confession, but I think that the statue of limitations was up long ago. I’m not Catholic, but I hear that confession is good for the soul. I know that reunions are good for the heart. So please forgive me.

Reunion Bound

I’m taking my lunch break from my six and a half hour drive to Carlisle, PA at a panera bread in Warrenton VA. I am not breaking my no eating in the car rule and I think this will be my only free moment to write a quick blog posting before I am thrust into the world of old friend nostalgia.

I have not taken such a long car trip alone since I went to my last college reunion 5 years ago. At first I was a little fidgety and feeling unproductive as I just sat, no needle pointing, writing, reading or game playing. After surfing the many stations on the satellite radio I settled into the ’70’s on 7 to get me back into that college mood. Even though I spent more years in college in the 80’s I know with every song from the 70’s

The music has been the perfect way to get back in that college mood. I have way more memories of dancing than I do of classes. Probably not something I should admit, but as I listen to so many of the lyrics I am reminded it was a time of not much to worry about. Really, I can’t imagine a song about leaving the cake out in the rain because you won”t be able to make it again since you don’t have the recipe would be a big hit now.

Most everything I am listening to is about “come dance with me” or “don’t worry baby, everything will be alright.” So now that I am half way back to college I am fully in the laid back mood of college. I can’t wait to reconnect, reminisce, dance and jump a little higher. Now that I think about it I probably should have brought a sports bra.

Faux Whiskey Sour – By Accident



I am constantly on the search for a non-alcoholic-caffeine-free-zero-calorie drink.  I gave up drinking almost thirty years ago and that is a story for another day.  I have since lived mainly on iced tea, but after 6:00 PM I need to cut back on caffeine so that usually means I am stuck with just water.


Today I made up a drink that tastes practically like a faux whiskey sour and satisfies all my requirements.  I was not trying to make a whiskey sour, but somehow the combination of basil and balsamic vinegar turns out like whiskey.


If I had an orange slice and a cherry it would look more like a drink on Mad Men.


This recipe makes one big serving


4 basil leaves

3 T. fresh lime juice

2 Splenda packets

1 t. balsamic vinegar

1 Cup fizzy water – I used San Pellegrino, but club soda is fine

Crushed ice


Whirl the basil, limejuice, Splenda and balsamic vinegar with a splash of fizzy water in a blender (I used my stick blender).  Pour into a big glass and fill it half way with crushed ice.  Fill the glass with the rest of the fizzy water.  Stir.  Enjoy.

Driving Hell



For someone who is not working at a paying job this week I certainly had a day reminiscent of my past workdays.  The whole thing started with a carpool to school for Carter and our neighbor Price so they could attend Drivers Ed.  Poor things barely got the weekend off after school ended and now they are sitting in a class for three hours with out a break, each day starting at 8:00 in the morning.


After dropping them I ran to the grocery and back home to drop my bags.  Back in the car and drove half an hour to Cary for a meeting.  An hour later back to Durham for two hours of Mah Jongg therapy with lunch.  Go pick Carter up and drove twenty-five minutes to Chapel Hill for her camp physical then back home to drop her off.  Back in the car to Raleigh for a meeting at the Food Bank then a forty-five minute rush hour drive back to Church for a meeting.  Amazingly I was home at 6:00.


I spent almost four hours of my day driving.  Yuck, and to think I used to be in sales and spent everyday driving to customers.  With the exception of Mah Jongg everything I did had to be done today so I had little choice, but it certainly felt like a job.  The meetings were not the problem, but the getting to them was the part that wore me out.


I can hardly wait until Carter can drive herself places or even drive me.  I remember the day I got my drivers license when I was 16.  No sooner had I gotten home with that little laminated piece of paper than my Dad handed me his dry cleaning and told me to go to the village and drop it off.  Oh happy day!  I was given the car and a chance to drive all by myself.  I happily volunteered for every driving errand my parents had.  I could not imagine not wanting to drive.


I guess that I might feel differently when I am in the throws of Carter practicing driving with me as the passenger, but I can hardly wait for her to drive.  Imagine a child who can drive herself.   I wonder if it would be too haughty to sit in the back seat and needlepoint while Carter chauffeurs me around?  I’m a terrible back seat driver already so I am going to need all the distractions I can get so I don’t scare her to death.  When the practice driving get’s bad I am going to remember today and how much I want another driver in the family.

I Think Of You Often

Marlene Ostrow and Me

Marlene Ostrow and Me


When I first got out of college my Dad was doing advertising for MCI.  Phone companies were doing everything possible to get people to make more long distance calls.  One memorable ad was a split screen of two old ladies talking on the phone to each other.  One said to the other, “I thought you died.”  Obviously, she had not called in a long time.  The other replied, “I think of  you often.”  As a twenty-something I could not imagine going so long without communicating with my good friends.


Last night I had the pleasure of getting together with my big sister from my college sorority, Marlene Bodene Ostrow whom I had not seen in over thirty years.  We went years without communicating and if it weren’t for Facebook I might still be wondering if she were alive.


But like those two old ladies in the phone ad who rediscovered each other after so many years, Marlene and I picked up right where we left off.  Learning about the lost years we quickly discovered that we were now both card carrying Mah Jongg players and had the new Mah Jongg cards on us to prove it.  I am thankful that I did not play Mah Jongg in college because it might have caused me to fail out, especially if friends like Marlene would play with me.  I can imagine us now yakking late into the night as we built the wall and discarded four dots and green dragons.


Our friendship that started out as Pi Beta Phi sisters merely took a little break and was easily rekindled once we saw each other.  Like the old lady in the ad, I had thought about Marlene often, even though she did not know it and we did not talk.


This is my week of reunions.  Friday I go to my 30th college reunion.  Seeing old friends I keep in close contact with is always fun, but the part about these big reunions I find the most interesting is the conversations I have with people I did not necessarily keep in contact with or even know well.  At my last reunion a man who was an acquaintance told me about some small kindness I did for him at a vulnerable time in his college life and how much it helped him and he never forgot it.  I had no recollection of the incident, nor idea that I had helped him.  If it weren’t for the reunion I doubt I ever would.  It meant so much to me to hear about it all these years later.


I met another classmate who had devoted her life to feeding the hungry and although we never really knew each other during school I had a fabulous conversation with her learning about her life’s work.  Her story inspired me, but I have not told her since that last reunion.


With the joy of reconnecting with Marlene fresh in my memory I am going to go off on Friday with the commitment to tell people what they meant to me and how they might have affected my life.  I wish I had been better about doing this at my 25th reunion because one wonderful friend, Danny Allanoff will be missing at this year’s reunion.  Danny passed away earlier this year and he was a kind, funny and generous friend.  His smiling face is going to be missed by us all.  I don’t want to go another year without letting people know I cherish them.




First Date Eating

I was watching something on TV today where women confessed that they ate much less on a first date than they did normally so they did not appear to be pig like.  One woman went on to say that it she ate differently in public in general than she did at home alone.  She knew that standing over the kitchen sink eating spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar would horrify anyone who saw her doing it.


I got to thinking about how concerned people are about having his or her eating habits judged.  We don’t want people to see how we eat when we do it badly, unless you are a competitive eater, like those people who eat thirty hot dogs in five minutes.  But for many of us, appearing to have a smaller appetite or making healthier choices, at least when we are in public, seems to be important.


If you were able to go out to lunch with a girl friend and be satisfied with a green salad with grilled chicken would you make that your choice if you were alone?  As long as you don’t go home and eat six Oreos after lunch because you are starving you know that the salad lunch was really all your body needed.  No body needs, Oreos, they are a want item.


So the challenge is to try and eat all your meals and snacks as if you are on a first date.  Let’s not say a blind date because if you discover in the first five minutes you hate the guy then who cares what and how much you eat.  Think of the date as someone you really like, then what would you eat, and do it.


It has been twenty-two years since I have been on a first date, but I still remember what it felt like.  If I did not want to do anything horrifying then, I think I would still not like to scare my husband now because I happen to like him even more now than I did then.


If you have a problem with eating from the jar over the sink take a video with your phone of yourself doing it and play it back.  I am sure you can cure yourself of that habit if you saw what it looked like.  I’ll experiment with the first date line of thinking when I’m out and report back if it helps me eat less, but more importantly I will try it at home when I am alone.  Being conscious of what and how much I’m eating is all I’m striving for.

Five Tips to Get Rid of Belly Fat


Analytics, Data Mining, targeting, optimization, all the tools that Facebook and other websites use to post ads specifically chosen for me keep sending me the same one ad –  “Five tips to get rid of belly fat.” Since I write a weight-loss comedy blog it is not much of a stretch to think that I might have belly fat, but what I really want is an ad to tell me how to tighten up sagging skin from weight loss.  Come on analytics figure out I have lost belly fat and have another problem.


I think the same advertiser has a companion ad for the “Five foods you should give up to get rid of belly fat.”  I guess that belly fat is so universally hated that it causes people to click on through.  Finally I clicked on the “Five tips” ad to see if I could quickly see what the information was.  Ha!  I was taken to a sight for the Trim Down Club and a thirty-minute presentation for their product.  It was like a time-share presentation without the vacation


As a public service I sat through the thirty-minute web-presentation to find out what the five foods you should never eat are; concentrated fruit juice, margarine, whole wheat bread, processed soy, and corn, especially genetically modified corn.


Here is what is amazing, I gave all those foods up years ago, and I have gone both up and down in weight the whole time I was not eating them.  There is no silver bullet to losing weight and no website that can give you the body you want.  I don’t know anyone who actually has the body they want.  Everyone I know wants to improve some part of himself or herself and advertisers know that.  That is why the “Five tips” ads are so popular.


I could make a list fairly easily of five foods you should never eat if you don’t want belly fat; donuts, a bloomin’ onion, corn dog, funnel cake and any other carb-loaded-deep-fried-carinval-food.  For men the list might be, beer, lager, ale, stout and beer.  Of course the carnival food rule applies to men too.


The bottom line is eat as many real, whole, non-processed foods as you can.  Eat a colorful plate of vegetables and protein.  Limit your carbs and cut out the processed sugar.  Remember the amount of food, even healthy food you eat counts.  Use a smaller plate or bowl and leave the kitchen.  It is hard to eat if you aren’t near the food.  I just saved you $47 for the Trim Down Club.  Consider this my free gift to you along with the thirty minutes you won’t have to spend to see what those five terrible foods in the ads are.

The Pope, Food Waste and Green House Gasses


I got a call last month from a graduate student who wanted to research how the Food Bank helps reduce greenhouse gasses because we keep food waste out of landfills.  Then this week the Pope made the health news when in his weekly address he talked about food waste.  He said, “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry.”


The average American throws away $390 worth of food a year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.  I am guilty of doing that.  We just buy more than we need and when it sits around too long it eventually get’s thrown away.  I know it is bad for our family budget, but I never thought about it being bad for the planet.  Food in landfills is the number one producer of green house gases.  And I thought that driving was bad, but decaying produce is worse.


The Pope’s point was not lost on me, but I know it is hard to take food you are not eating in your house and give it to someone hungry.  So it is going to take more of an effort on my part to buy less and make sure we are eating what we have before we buy more.


It’s not like I live far from the grocery store.  I could walk there if I were a little less lazy.  There is a man that lives down the street from me who I don’t think has a car because he walks to and from the store everyday.  I know I would eat less if I had to carry home what I purchased at the store, rather than driving it home.


So now it is not just better for my body to eat less and be more thoughtful in my consumption, but it is better for the planet and now that the Pope has gotten in on this line of thinking I guess it is better for my soul.  I know that eating less and being less wasteful is better for my fellow man.  For the good of the planet and my future generations I am committing myself to being less wasteful with food.  My mother always told us that we should leave something on our plate.  I think it was her way of trying to get us to eat less.  Rather than leaving something on the plate we should just put less on it to begin with.

Living the High Life


It’s raining, I mean pouring, and the old man certainly is snoring.  This tropical storm Andrea has been dumping bucket loads of water on our already saturated land for over 24 hours now.  Carter and I ventured out of the house this afternoon on an errand.  We left our neighborhood via Dover Rd. heading towards Hope Valley Rd.  At 1:30 the golf course was already completely lake like and the tiny bridge at the end of the course by the Hodges & Burket’s houses was barley peeking above the rushing water.


We went to the mall and two hours later were barley able to make it back home.   As we returned via Hope Valley rd. the water had breached it at Rugby and city workers were just about to stop cars from passing.  We got to Dover rd and turn down only to be stopped four houses in because the road was so flooded that you could not see pavement for at least a football field and a half.


We turned around and went up to Surrey Rd.  I was fearful that the water might have come across the road there, but we were lucky enough to get there before the breach that I am sure happened within moments of our passing.  The water was six feet up a street sign, which I knew because I could only see about half the speed limit on the face of the sign.  It is still raining and raining hard.


Seeing the homes in the valley’s of my neighborhood where water has engulfed them reminded me of something a friend’s father told me before I bought my first house; he said, “always buy on the high side of the hill because water always runs down hill and water always wins.”  No matter how attractive a house was on the outside, if it was in a valley I never bothered to even look at the inside.  Why fall in love with something that could cause heartache?


The phrase “taking the high road” also comes to mind today.  Sure the quickest route is not the easiest or in the case today, even the passable way to go.  The high road took longer, but in the end it got us home.


Nature is going to win.  We can fight, but rather than fight, working with the inevitable is easier.  Dieting is the same way for me.  I have learned what naturally works for me and what might cause me to be underwater and I plan around it.  But I always plan to be on the high side of the hill so that I am not caught surprised by a sudden deluge.  That means having healthy food in the house and not having to go to the store hungry, or looking at restaurant’s menu on-line before I go out to dinner.   I’m not going to win against nature, but I hope that I am learning to stay out of her way.

Eighth Grade Graduation

8th grade graduation

8th grade graduation

When I was a kid we did not graduate from eighth grade, but today was Carter’s closing exercises for her middle school.  For Carter the end of middle school means that she will move to another school campus next year so it is fitting to have a ceremony to commemorate completing four years of school.

As a parent I am thrilled to have middle school behind us.  I don’t know anyone on earth who loved the years between ten and fourteen.  Outside of the time from birth to two years old, middle school years represent the greatest change a girl makes, both physically and emotionally.  In our house the physical definitely rivals the emotional and I think they are both fighting it out to see which one is the winner.  Judging from the great differences in the boys in Carter’s class many of them are still in the throws of the great change.

I want to publically thank every teacher Carter encountered in middle school.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again, it takes a very special kind of person to want to spend time with adolescents.  The most important thing that Carter learned was her own voice.

There is so much ahead for her and her classmates and I hope that they go forward with kindness and respect for all people and a greater curiosity for the whole world.  But now at last everyone gets the rest that comes with summer break.  Although the sleeping in will be short lived since Drivers Ed starts Monday.

Tonight the kids will have a big party to celebrate their “graduation.”  It will be a last goodbye to some kids who are moving on to different schools.  Those friends will be missed, but new students will be joining Carter’s freshman class in the fall changing the whole dynamic.  Middle school is done forever. Hooray, Hooray.

When Being Fat Is Better

I like to go to the movies the old fashioned way, in a dark theater.  I like being surrounded by the movie, the big picture, the surround sound.  What I don’t like is being surrounded by people, especially people who have crinkly candy wrappers or are hard of hearing and keep asking their seatmates what the characters on the screen just said.


I like to go to the movies in the middle of the day when everyone else should be at work because I am a lot more likely to have the theater mostly to myself.  I don’t mind going to the movies alone, but I love when I go with friends and we are the only people there.  Then we can talk out loud to each other during the show.


But heaven forbid someone else talks out loud if they are not with me.  That really drives me crazy.  The other thing I will never understand is that when the theatre is empty of everyone but my party and someone else comes in and sits right behind us.  Really?  A few hundred seats to pick from and you feel the need to sit that close to us.  Did I really pick the best vantage point and they want to share in it?


I often offend them by getting up and moving and looking right at them as I do it.  I have been known to tell people that I am moving because of them and I know it is bitchy, but I want them to learn not to sit near me ever again.


See this is one thing I miss about being fat.  No one ever wants to sit next to a fat person in the movies.  They think you are going to spill over into their space and you certainly are going to hog the armrest because you are already some kind of hog.

I’m sure people also think that the fat people are going to make the candy wrapper opening noise because certainly fat people all eat candy at the movies.


Being not so fat and not looking like I might not smell seems to just say, “welcome to the seats around me.”  NO!  Now I have to stand up and sit down a bunch as people are looking for seats and take on as many turrets like symptoms as I can to discourage people from considering my area of the movies.  I know I am only entitled to one seat, but for God’s sake if the place is only 2% full spread out and let us all take domain over four or five seats.  I may have to start wearing a smelly fat suit to the movies.

Squash, Potato and Onion Tort



This is a layered vegetable dish.  You can use any vegetables you have hanging around.  I am coming into the squash production season in my garden so I am always looking for creative new ways to use them.


3 Medium New potatoes – sliced into ¼ inch rounds

4 Summer Squash- I used both zucchini and yellow squash- sliced into 1/3 inch rounds

3 large Yellow Onions sliced

½ c. Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper

1 T. Sugar



Slice onions.  Spray Pam in a large frying pan and put onions in it.  Place on medium low heat on stove.  Cook low and slow, stirring every so often. After about 20 minutes the onions should start to get golden brown.  Don’t try and get there faster by making the heat higher.  The low and slow develops the onions natural sugar.  When they get to the color in the picture sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on top and stir.  Continue cooking about 5 more minutes until they get brown.  Putting the sugar on too soon will make them burn.  Salt to taste when done.


In a separate fry pan sprayed with Pam on medium heat put a single layer of potatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper and cook about five minutes until browned on one side.  Flip potatoes over and cook on the other side for another four minutes.  Set aside when done and cook the squash the same way but for just three minutes per side.


Preheat oven to 350º


Using a loaf pan, lay a layer of cooked potatoes, then a layer of squash, onions and sprinkle ½ cheese on top of the onions and then repeat layering.  You should be able to repeat again, just ending with onions.


Put the loaf pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

No Excuses


True to “Mayhem” form I got way off track last month in my eating, working out and general good health.  I won’t blame all the celebrations, school year end stuff and general over stress of May, but boy am I glad last month is over.  From a half century of weight fluctuations I know better than most that if I am not being vigilant I am going the wrong direction.


During May I made my reacquaintance with all things white, as in sugar and flour.   Too many birthday, anniversary, goodbye cakes – big mistake.  I already know that I need to eat an anti-white diet.  White is my enemy.  But it was not just white that got me off track.  Trail mix lead me down the snacking trail too, so nuts and raisins are troublemakers I need to avoid.


No excuses.  I know better.  I’m back to weaning, detoxing, and divestment of the evil things that weaken my resolve.  It will take three days of hardship to get over the sugar cravings.  There is no way around it; I just have to force myself to stick to the plan because I know it works.  Conversely and more importantly I know that I can’t just have a little sugar.  It is a devil to me.  A little sugar or a small bit of flour, like a tiny biscuit, just open the floodgates to eating more and I am powerless to it.


So the coconut cake and the almond cookies I had in May need to be a mere memory of a bygone-era.  One month a year off the wagon is about all I can allow.  Falling off is easy, but crawling back on that moving wagon is difficult.  And recognizing how fast the wagon is going is really hard when you are blinded by a cupcake.


For the record I gained two and a half pounds.  Does not sound bad unless you multiply it by 12 and get thirty pounds.  I am making the commitment here to lose the two and a half and two and a half more by July.  This public humiliation is the only way I can do it.  If you see me in person keep an eye on me.  Since I don’t have any fundraising diet I need all the outside pressure I can get.

Missing The Window – Again


Earlier this spring our best carpenter, builder, handyman Joe built some very useful shelves in out attic.  See the American Girl world collection had gone up there and nothing had come down so the shelves were Russ’ answer to a problem I had created.  When we moved to this house almost twenty years ago a large number of very important boxes moved directly from the moving van to the attic on the promise that I would go through them at the right time.


See the issue is that the right time only happens about three days in the spring and three days in the fall when the weather is just right so that the attic is neither too hot nor too cold.  This spring, being as cold as it was for so long, might have only had one day that was just right and certainly I was busy doing something much more important on that day, so it just slipped by me.


I need to post a sign on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Is today the right day to clean the attic out?”  The issue with that sign is the answer is almost always going to be no, even if the weather is right.  It is not just the temperature obstacle, but also the fear I have that I will find things that will interest me that I need to not spend time with.  For instance one thing I know I have in the attic is the entire collection of Gourmet Magazine from the 1980’s.  Even though I also have the Gourmet magazine annual cookbooks the magazines include many more stories on travel and restaurants and was written back in the time when real cooks read cooking magazines.  I know that each carton contains hours of distraction I just don’t need.


Certainly one could make the argument that I could just throw away every box I have not opened in the last three years because if I did not need it there is no reason to even think about it.  Unfortunately, I know that there are things like my diplomas or old photographs I really would like to have, which means opening the boxes to find them.  Now some of those boxes are Russ’ old engineering textbooks and I am sure they could go right to recycling, but I think he should weigh in on those things himself.  What if he happens to have a first edition book from Goddard himself, how would I know?


At best all I can hope for now is a string of cold rainy days while Carter is away at camp.  Of course I want the cold to be here in Durham and not at camp in the mountains where Carter will be…little chance of that.


The heat in the attic could be a great weight reduction chamber like they used to have in old movies, but it would clearly be offset by the Gourmet Magazine fattening recipe enticement.  Carrying boxes up and down the pull-down stairs is a great weight training exercise, but could prove fatal, especially if I was alone in the house.  It seems like for my long-term longevity I will have to wait until that just-right day in the fall.  Let’s hope I’m not already busy that day.

Exam Semi-Hell

It is almost the end of the school year for Carter.  She is about to close out her middle school career and move into the pro-league of upper school, but before she can do that she must complete her final exams.  Now 8th grade exams need to be taken with a grain of salt because they do not count on your “Permanent Record,” yet in the world of competitive school it does not feel that way.


Middle school exams are really just a practice session for what high school exams will be.  Can you memorize, synthesize, regurgitate, postulate and reiterate a year’s worth of learning?  I think the thought of the exams are worse than the actual exams themselves, but that is easy for a woman who has not taken anything more than an eye exam in the last thirty years to say.


I love the idea of learning something new, but hate the concept of being quizzed on it.  At this point in life I would not make a good traditional student.  I am curious and don’t always want to follow the path of learning an instructor wants to send me down.  I come up with questions and theories that I want to discuss when I think of them, not when the teacher wants to teach them.  I am sure teachers all around me are as glad as I am that I am not in their course.


The idea of my having to take an exam is horrible, but that does not mean I am not interested in Carter doing well on her exams.   I have empathy, but expectations.  All that being said, I have to just assume that Carter is studying the right material, using her time wisely, reading the questions thoroughly and is preparing the best she can.  I have been fairly hands off this school years so she can learn how to handle upper school on her own.


As her Mom my job is to make sure she has nourishing food, a quite house, and sleep.  Somehow I still am feeling the pressure of exams and am ready for it to be over.  It may only be semi-hell for Carter since it is middle school, which means it should only be semi-semi hell for me, but I am really not used to any Hell.  I am ready summer vacation.