Halloween Overload



Hallmark is always getting a bad rap for promoting Mother’s day since it sells cards but no one seems to jump all over the Mars or Hershey companies for selling America giant bags of candy for Halloween.  I don’t think Halloween was such a big deal when my parents were little.  Sometime in the 1950’s the costume thing caught on and then the trick or treating, but I don’t think it was until M&M’s came in fun size bags that the candy-begging thing got so big.


I feel like running from house to house and grabbing as much candy as you can hit a peak in the late seventies when parents still felt safe letting their children run amok in their own neighborhoods.  Then people started busing carloads of kids into neighborhoods they deemed to be more generous.   Sometime after that parents got pulled into to escort their kids and to look their neighbors’ in the eye as if to say, “You know us so please give our children some free candy.”


Now the yard ornament decorating companies have really come into their own with some people creating whole front lawn grave yards with fog and fake spider webs.  Halloween is the only night grown-ups are legally allowed to traumatize children as long as you give them a mini snickers after you have done it.


The thing I hate is that we buy candy in case one of our neighbor kids comes by looking for a treat, but for the most part we have the lights off so Carter and her friends can watch a scary movie.  Hardly any child is going to waste valuable candy gathering time on a dark house so by 8:00 at night I am assured to have a bowl of leftover candy; something none of us needs.


I am sure candy companies have banked on this happening.  Stock prices of all things chocolate depend on people like me buying candy just in case.  For the most part America does not need all this candy.  I would rather have kids come to the door and let me give them a quarter, at least I would have something to do with the leftover money when all the handing out had finished.  I’m sure I would be considered some kind of Grinch for not handing out candy and that is stepping on the foot of another holiday.

Alive and Well



All the worry is passed now that I have Carter home safe and sound from her Meniscus surgery today.  Poor thing was not allowed to eat anything form midnight on last night and she was not wheeled into the operating room until 3:00.  We had hoped that her Doctor would be able to sew the tendon, but when he got into her knee he found it was a feathery mess so he was only able to trim it.  The good news to that scenario is that she won’t have a brace for four weeks.


Carter was a very happy drunk on the anesthesia.  It made her sweet and generous offering to share all that she had in recovery, which was a cup of water.  On the way home she asked me if I was a happy drunk back in the day when I drank.  I told her I was a funny drunk and she said the nicest thing.  “Mom how is it possible for you to be any funnier?”


I want to freezer her like this because I fear that as soon as the anesthesia wears off and the pain from the operation is realized she is not going to be as cheerful.  But for the moment I am just happy she is home with me.


Thanks to all who sent us good wishes and said prayers for us.  It was not a life threatening operation, but why take chances, I’ll take all the help from a higher power I can get.  That and the ice chilling machine from Donnabeth, the dinner from Christy, the magazines from Lynn and Ellis and the visit from Taylor before the operation.  I’m going back to enjoy Carter before the happy wears off.

Another Set of Crutches



Carter is a crutches salesman’s dream.  She needs them often and she keeps growing taller so she needs new one.  Tomorrow she is having meniscus surgery and she got fitted for yet a new pair of crutches today.  I optimistically brought her last set up to Triangle Ortho to see if they would still suffice, but no, they were already at their most extended setting and were considered too short.


Poor Carter has been living with this knee pain since her volleyball team beach trip in the beginning of August.  As soon as she made the team she got injured.  No one had any clue that the damage was as bad as it was, not that the adults around her paid any attention.  Having to have surgery is bad enough, but the worst part for Carter is missing playing basketball, which is all she was living for.


As a parent I would do anything to take this pain from her and keep her from suffering, but that was not an option on the extensive forms I had to sign today as her legal guardian.  Being a helpless observer is not something I do well.  I am doing my best to try and alleviate Carter’s fears about the procedure. I think that it would be considered really bad parenting to tell her how much fun anesthesia is going to be.


For me I am going to have to try and not deal with anxiety by eating.  Double whammy, worry about Carter and not eat sugar.  I know that eating does not help anything, but it sure makes stress more fun, if just for a minute or two.


Hopefully the complex tear will be in a place that can get sewn up and Carter will have a brighter knee future.  We won’t know that until after the Dr. has gone in. Please pray for Carter and Dr. Silver who is doing the operation.  At least I am a well-seasoned mother of a child on crutches and know all the best parking places.

When Did Pants Become an Accessory?


Today I was driving over to Target and I passed two young men out on the street who were the height of fashion in their crowd for sure.  One was wearing a red necklace made up of beads about the size of ping-pong balls that clearly could have come from his great grandmother’s costume jewelry case.  The other had a fashionable fedora in a jaunty placement on his head and a fringed leather vest.  From the waist up these twenty somethings looked like they might have walked off the pages of GQ except for one thing, they both had hold of the waistbands of their jeans lest they fall to the ground while walking on the sidewalk.


Why do young men who obvious care what they look like, even if it is like a lady who lunched in 1940, insist on wearing pants that are so much too big that they can’t stay on by themselves?  Clothes that can’t stay on are more like an accessory than an actual item of clothing.


I blame the “No Shirt, No Shoe, No Service” push of the 1970’s when young men had to be told that shopping was not a clothing optional experience.  Owners of 7/11’s mistakenly assumed that everyone would at the least be wearing pants so they did not see the need to include bottoms in the saying.  Of course for alliteration purposes it would be so easy to say, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Slacks, No Service.” If we did it now young people still might not get it since they don’t know what slacks are.


I think the way to solve this your-pants-are-too-low-son-and-I-don’t-want-to-look-at-your-boxers craze is for middle-aged white women to adopt this way of dressing.  I assure you the second all too-cool-for-school types see women old enough to be their grandmas dressing like them they will run for the store to buy something different, like a belt, or a pair of jeans that hug their waist, not their thighs.


So let’s bring back pants as a non-optional clothing item.   I declare November 1 as the day we give them a taste of their own medicine, but make sure to wear a pair of cotton granny panties so they can really be cured of wanting to look like us.  Middle-aged women go to your husband’s closet and put on his biggest pants and go to the mall, McDonalds, the car wash, and every bar in your town.  One day ought to solve this problem.


Now to the young man wearing the necklace, I might have some other costume jewelry you might look good in.  How do you feel about a nice brooch?

The Sad Life of the Airport Salad

You know the drill. Running through your connecting flight airport, having spent three hours on one plane without real food, having forgone the available peanuts and pretzels because they are just too fattening. That is of course because we all know that four peanuts leads to four hundred.

So there you are, the mere minutes you have to run from gate B 22 to E 49 and the time to slip on the the jetway before that door is closed to you forever is fast approaching. As you run the idea that you can take the time to grab something to eat is lingering in the back of your head. No, it’s not lingering it is screaming at you, “get some food! You have another two hours on the next flight and maybe they won’t even have peanuts!”. Or worse, “Maybe the turbulence will prohibit the happy flight attendants on the fifth leg of their flying day to get out of their seats and give you a drink.”

So between moving walkways you turn your head sideways looking at the various national food vendor chains to see if by chance there is something healthy and QUICK you can grab to eat on the plane.

The first problem is nothing healthy is ever hot at the airport. Yes, every once in a while you see a boxed salad sitting lonely in it’s clear plastic coffin in the refrigerator case. The one lone box of white iceberg lettuce with a couple of strips of overly processed American cheese and nitrate injected thin cuts of ham that is posing as a chef’s salad. It’s an insult to any culinary professional who wears the white jacket. How dare this pitiful salad dare to call itself chef.

Then there are the trio of fruits, apple, orange and banana, sitting in a basket looking like they are tokens to some healthy options commitment the airport authority asked all food vendors to adhere to. Yes, fresh fruit is available, how long have those particular fruits been sitting in that basket without and expiration date on them, who knows? Too long for me to chance buying one as my meal equivalent when I am already calorie, sleep and oxygen deprived.

Now back to the hot issue. The hot food emits smells, like French fries, pizza or general tso’s chicken. Why can’t the airport have skinny foods that make an odor that entices you to eat it? The meanest smell of all is Popeye’s Louisiana Fried Chicken, red beans and rice and fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Normally that spicy and greasy smell would make me feel a little queasy, but in the terminal, between gates seven and nine it calls to me.

I think the problem of airport food is not going to change. We are never going to be allowed to bring food from home and get it through the TSA checkpoint. Somehow an agent will pick up my homemade salad with some balsamic vinegar lightly dressing it and declare I am trying to smuggle some threatening item on to my flight. Even if I try to prove to them it is safe by taking a bite right there at the body scanners, I know they will take it from me and throw my fresh arugula, roasted pears and blue cheese salad in the bin, say so long good and good for me food.

And since the time between flights is never going to get longer, nor do I want my trips to get longer, and airlines are never bringing back food service on flights and nor do I want that back, I am going to have to eat one of those good smelling, fast purchasing, bad for you meals. Now here is the innovation– airplanes need to put treadmill sections in the passenger compartment. It could serve two purposes, be a calorie burning section for those of us who have eaten an airport meal and those passengers on the treadmills could generate some power to run the plane on. I’d gladly pay a little extra not to have to sit cramped between the grandmother who rarely flies and talks to me the whole trip and the mother who thinks it is OK not to buy a seat for her almost two year old freakishly large child who wants to kick me.

Ninety Minutes ’til Married

Today is Cousin Jon’s big day. We had a great rehearsal dinner last night out side under the trees and the stars. It gave the Lange side a chance to really get to know Allie’s family. In the small world of a Lange man marrying an OPEX sales woman, that being a rare thing in its own right, we told lots of stories about OPEX. Based on Russ and my twenty one years of marital bliss we are predicting much happiness for Jon and Allie.

Since the wedding is at five tonight we took advantage of being just a ferry ride away from St. John’s. Russ and I dragged Carter out of our room early this morning to go to the clearly more beautiful island. Once we docked we decided to take an open air tour of the island with Smittie, a lovey older man from Domenica who has lived on St. John for a good part of his life.

He took us up into the National Park which had mainly been Lawrence Rockerfeller’s property until he “donated” it to the government in the fifties. I imagine the IRS played a significant role in that transaction. None the less it is great that two thirds of the 19 square mile island is preserved.

After the indigenous people had been conquered by the Danish and slaves were brought in to work the sugar cane farms the island was prosperous for the sugar and Rum by product. In the middle of the 1800’s the bottom fell out of sugar. Funny how much sugar has to do with bottoms. Eventually the Danish sold four island’s, st. John’s, St. Thomas, St. Croix and one other little one to the US for 25 million dollars during Woodrow Wilson’s administration.

Since Smittie was able to drive us through the national park with out going through any entry gates I asked him what happened the two weeks the government was closed. he said people could still go in the rain forest part of the park since there was no way to keep them out, but the park service closed the beaches by blocking up the parking lots and walk ways out to the sand.

He said that the governor in St. Thomas through a hissy fit saying that all the tourist who had made good money to come on vacation to go to the beach needed them open so after two days they were reopened. That was something that didn’t make the news on the mainland. I can only imagine how all those tourists in Washington DC who paid good money to go to see the monuments might have felt about that.

We had a little lunch on St. John, jumped the ferry came back for a refreshing swim and now are changing for the reason we came here, the wedding. As I think about how the vows they are about to take will profoundly change their life I wonder if they have had much time during all the celebration to think about it. It is only with 21 years of married life behind me do I appreciate what a big day this is for them. Having someone by your side to travel through life with is a true joy, as long as it is the right person. So I am trying not to get too teary already, but I hope that Jon and Allie have as happy a life as Russ and I have had. I guess it’s not 90 minutes ’til married, but 90 minutes until happily ever after.

The Problem With Island Food For Russ

The Problem With Island Food For Russ

Vacations hold some promise of paradise. Not all places have paradise potential, but the hope with any place you get away to is that it will be something different from home. I no longer think that going away is going to better than home. It is hard to beat my own bed, my own quiet room and my own pillows. But vacations are supposed to be a break from the normal frenzy of daily life.

With the proliferation of wifi the world over there is almost no such thing as a vacation for Russ. He really planned on taking the long weekend off. Then on Wednesday more work popped up. “I promise I will not work during the days,” he told me. We planned to go to St. John today, but then calls and meetings gave us reason to postpone that until tomorrow. At least Russ got out to the beach by 1:00 and at three we went into town for lunch.

A colleague had given Russ a recommendation for a place to eat that I happen to have heard of too. We wandered the alley’s and finally found it. The place was famous for their hot sauce, a favorite taste profile for Russ. We ordered the local specials. Caribbean lobster salad for me and curried goat for Russ. Whmile waiting for our meals they brought Russ bread so he could taste each of the hot sauce varieties. “Too watered down,” he said, “you can make better,” he finished looking at me.

Our meals came. They were fine, nothing great. “I like your cooking better,” Russ declared. It’s not just island food, but any food that I did not make that Russ dismisses. Even if he is eating something I would never cook for any variety of reasons like, I don’t have access to the ingredients, or it is too fattening or I have just plain never heard of a certain dish.

Now don’t get me wrong. Once in a while we find a restaurant that has something so devine that Russ asks to come back and have it again, but hardly ever on vacation. That is a testament to the great restaurants we have in Durham as well as the cook he has at home. But vacations hold out the promise of something more and that expectation is hardly ever met.

So now we have to adjust our expectations. We are here to celebrate the wedding of Jon and Allie. We are enjoying the company of family we rarely see except at weddings. It does not matter what we eat or if I can get a good cup of decaf coffee in the afternoon, or if Russ will ever stop working. I know my paradise is the people with me. Russ will have to wait a few days until I can get back to the kitchen for his paradise.

Is This 1988?

It’s 88 degrees, but it feels like 99. The music blares to a late eighties gay bar beat and it’s three in the afternoon. The ocean pounds the white shore next to us. I need a nap.

Since it is the first real cold day in Durham you might think I am dreaming, but I am sitting at a bar in St. Thomas waiting for our room. Russ and I woke up at 3:55 just because we were fearful of over sleeping the only flight between RDU and here today. Russ’ cousin Jon is getting married this weekend and we are here to represent Russ’ side of the family.

Jon is a popular relative in our family. He’s a NYC ad guy which means all things cool to Carter. One of his accounts is “Got Milk?” and he often sends Carter autographed pictures of the teen stars who wear the milk mustache. Because of Carter’s adoration she was also invited to the wedding.

Proof that the world is a really small place is the fact that Jon is marrying me junior. His wife to be Aly’s first job was my very same first job out of college. Not just the same job, but the same company, the same territory, the same customers, the same boss just twenty years apart. Suffice it to say we think that Lange men do well marrying ex-Opex women so this is sure to be a happy union.

Tonight we are meeting up with other Lange cousins for dinner. I am hoping that we get in our room soon so I can nap and shower. It’s weird to come to hot weather when I was just beginning to crave some crisp fall air. I am really hoping our room is not too close to this bar because listening to the pulsing beat of the music day and night will make me feel like I’m back to selling OPEX mail opening and extracting machines by day and dancing at Rehobeth beach with my friends at night. I’m too old for both of those things.

Halloween Nightmares


Today Carter convinced me that we needed a Halloween costume for Shay Shay this year.  Since Carter will have just had her knee operated on and certainly won’t be dressing up I thought it was the least I could do to celebrate the season.

Amazingly enough while we were at Pet Smart buying food we found the 75% off Halloween costumes and it is a whole week before the holiday.  We considered a ladybug, but it required Shay to wear a hat and she was not happy with that plan.  Then we saw a shark fin.  Cute, but it had the great possibility of sliding down and looking like a giant grey appendage more fitting for a boy dog than our princess Shay.

Then we spotted the perfect outfit for both Carter and Shay.  A jockey and saddle turning Shay into the horse he is riding on.  At first wearing Shay kept looking behind her to see what monkey was on her back, but then she settled into her role as steed.  We think she is going to wait until our backs are turned and then grab that little man off her back and rip him to shreds looking for his squeaker.  That will be no problem since the whole outfit only cost $2.97.

Halloween is not my holiday.  When Carter was little I did get into making her costumes, which were more like works of art.  My favorite was the year I made her into a garden.  Another year when she was really into reading The Magic Tree House books I make her a book.  I framed it after Halloween and it hangs by the bathroom now.

Today I went to Spooky Mah Jongg at my friend De’s house.  Now there is a woman who is really into Halloween.  There were hundreds of pumpkins, skulls, mummies skeletons and all things gross like rats and bloody arms all around the outside and inside of her house.  When De lived in Atlanta she used to put on a full blown haunted house.  She says what we saw today was just a portion of what she used to put out.

Not only does she have all the decorations but also bowls of candy are everywhere.

This is why I can’t have anything to do with Halloween.  One tiny Heath bar leads to a fun size Butterfinger, to three full size Reese’s peanut butter cups and forty-eight candy corns.  Candy cannot even be a treat for me because it tricks me into eating more of it.   And then begins the slide into holiday eating hell.

This year I am vowing not to have one bite of Halloween candy.  I’ve already eaten more than my quota with the chocolate covered cranberries.  So don’t offer me a small bag of M&M’s or a Sugar Daddy.  I need to Pope-like and abstain.

Rip It Out, Even Twice



Since the deadline for completing needlepoint Christmas ornaments is ten and a half months away I have slowed down the speed of my production from hyper-fast to just impressive.  Without the self-imposed pressure to get just one more canvas done I veered off into creativity mode on this week’s ornament.  It is a little bird house with flowers and rather than just do the standard basket weave stitch I decided to do this one like a sampler and do a different decorative stitches on each flower and the bird.


Decorative stitches are a growing thing in needlepoint and most people I know who do them have a stitch guide showing them what stitches go in which places.  Since I was winging this I just used trial and error.  I must confess to more error than trial.


Since this was a painted canvas not specifically intended for decorative stitches some parts were an epic failure.  I completed one whole flower and looked at it and thought it was horrible so I ripped it out.  I tried a different stitch and it was worse than the first one.  I sat and looked at it for a day while I completed a different area of the canvas.  It was still horrible.  I ripped it out again.


I started over completely ignoring what was painted on the canvas and made up my own flower and my own stitch.  Better, not perfect, but better.  I used twenty-one different patterns in the little four by six inch ornament.  I learned I don’t like so many different patterns.  It was a good lesson.


The real learning came in idea that it was all right to rip something out even twice.  I am much happier with the product than I would have been if I had left the offending needle worked section.  Completing a job does not always mean it is done.  Sometimes you just on the way to figuring out when done means finished.


It is kind of like painting your house.  Just because you buy a big can of paint and cover all the surfaces with it does it mean it is right.  If it turns out to have been not exactly the color you imagined it to be or the light makes it look unappealing, repaint it right away.  Living with the mistake will be way more annoying than spending the time and maybe the money to get it right.


I am in no way espousing perfectionism.  That is a different mental illness and one I am far from, but not settling when you know something is wrong is the right thing to do in the long run. It is better to lose one day’s worth of work and have something I like than have something I dislike which equals losing a weeks worth of work, plus the money I put in it.  Do I like ripping out completed work, for goodness sake no, but will I remember that pain when I look at the finished product years later, probably not.

Fair Fun Continues



Without stepping foot on one ride or eating one bite of anything fried my life continued to revolve around the NC State Fair today.  This morning I spoke at the Food Bank’s Press Conference to introduce Hunger Relief Day at the Fair with Agriculture Commission Steve Troxler.


This Thursday is the big day when anyone who wants to go to the Fair can bring FIVE cans of Food Lion brand products to the admission gate and get in for that donation.  It’s a deal.  Regular adult admission is $9 and you know you can get some cheep cans of beans or peas at Food Lion and save some big bucks.


We are trying to raise 325,000 pounds of food at the fair on Thursday.  It’s a goal we should be able to meet if more people who come to the fair that day bring cans.  Typically only half the people who show up at the fair that day bring food and just end up paying admission.  Don’t do it people, save your money for the food at the fair.


Hunger Relief Day does not mean that you have to go hungry.  I saw on facebook where one friend had tried an Oreo cookie wrapped in Red velvet cake and deep-fried.  She said it was mighty fine.  It sounds like it is something you can only get at the fair.


Commission Troxler is a great guy.  He comes from a little town called Brown’s Summit that is not too far from my family’s farm.  Thanks to him farming is well supported in North Carolina and we all know that without farms there is no food.  Troxler issued a matching challenge that he will donate $5,000 to the Food Bank if Hunger Relief day brings in the 325,000 pounds of food.  If we get 300,000 pounds he will donate $2,500 or 275,000 pounds a $1,000.


Come on out to the fair, bring cans and not only will you help feed your hungry neighbors, get into the fair for less than half price, but you can get us the $5,000.  That is a win-win.

Fairly Exhausted



The annual State Fair Horse Show weekend has come and gone, Thank God.  It is Carter’s big weekend and one that Russ and I barely endure.  Yes, we love watching our daughter do the thing she loves so much, but no we hate the standing around waiting, the late nights, the judging and the packing up when it is over.


Carter had a fairly successful weekend.  Her best class was Hunter Seat Equitation where she was being judged on how she was as a rider and not how her horse was.  She came in third in a class of fourteen in Equitation.  On the under saddle classes we were happy when she ribboned since she does not own a horse and is at the mercy of a horse she is lucky enough to get to ride.


Ridding is a money sport, the more money you pay the better you will do and we are not a money family, especially when it comes to horses.  So good for you Carter, for doing well without your parents buying it for you.  There is a lot of character building that goes on at horse shows.


I consider this my state fair diet weekend.  I ate nothing there.  I waited until I was home each day for any meals.  Yesterday that was not a big deal because the showing ended early, but tonight we were not home until 8:30.  Besides not consuming any frozen cheesecake covered in chocolate or a fried candy bar I got plenty of exercise.  I counted my trips between the barn and the arena at 37, just today.  That had to be at least six miles of walking.  Add to that the trips to the car in loading today and that was worth two more miles of walking, with the extra exercise of carrying stuff.


So no more state fair diet for at least another year.  I am happy to stay home and walk my dog and carry stuff around my own house.  At least it does not smell like horse poop and my teeth don’t feel gritty from dust flying around.

A Peck of Unpickled Peppers

When I was a kid I knew the nursery rhyme about Peter picking a peck of pickled peppers long before I knew what a peck, pickling or a pepper was. It seemed like a very mysterious thing that Peter was doing.  The part that was most confusing was that he could pick something that was pickled already.


My summer garden is all picked as of today and I think I must have at least a peck of peppers and now I need to pickle them or at least do some kind of preserving.  Of course with Carter showing at the state fair horse show this weekend I don’t have a ton of time to pickle or make pepper jelly.  I hope that the peppers will keep another few days so I can at least chop some up and put them in vinegar with a little sugar and salt.  Russ likes to eat those hot peppers that way and I have less guilt that we are using the bounty of our harvest.


I did make a quick pot of ratatouille with the last of my eggplant and a few of the sweeter peppers and the end of my basil.  At least Russ and I will have a healthier meal at home than we would have if we were still at the fair with our RV living horse riding child.


For all my Durham friends if you want a few peppers send me a message and I can leave you a little package at my front door.  You will have to take them in the raw form and pickle them, or sauté, fry, roast or cook them yourself.  The good news is they hardly have any calories and they produce a ton of flavor.

I Should Have Gone With Jell-O Wrestling



Today could be misconstrued to be my family white trash day.  What with Carter spending the night in an RV at the State Fair like a Carney and me being challenged to a play off in Jell-O wrestling, but that does not really paint the whole picture.


See Carter is showing in the state fair horse show and was lucky enough to have one barn mother offer to let her stay in their rented RV so that we did not have to get up and drive Carter over to the horse complex at five in the morning each day.  As much fun as it sounded to Carter it is really a bigger gift to us parents.  Carter has a knee problem so she is not jumping her horse so her father and I don’t even have to spend our whole weekend at the fair.  Woo Hoo!


So while Carter is in horse girl heaven over in Raleigh, Russ and I went to Trivia night at the club.  We had a team made up of the Prebbles who are in their thirties, the Barnes in their forties, and us, one in our fifties and the other somewhat younger.  We thought it was the perfect make-up for trivia, covering a large expanse of time.


Our strategy was good.  Our team won two of the four rounds, and lost a third in a tight tiebreak.  But when the four rounds were totaled we were in a tie for big winner and had to play a tiebreak round against the strong team of the Everetts, Sprat/Tendlers and Peruns.  Both teams correctly guessed the first two questions keeping us deadlocked.  That was when the tiebreak of Jell-O wrestling was suggested.


Knowing I had a good forty pounds on any of the other team’s women I challenged Stephanie Perun to the Jell-O and she accepted.  I had more than forty pounds on her — this was my chance.  The room erupted, but unfortunately Hope Valley had just recently dismantled their Jell-O Wrestling ring so we had to go back to answering trivia questions.


To our great dismay the final question was what year did 80’s hair band Poison release their debut album?  Well the other team with ex-mullet wearing team member Roman Perun had the distinct advantage since he could have been mistaken for a Poison member.  So down our team went in the final moment.  I knew I should have demanded the club to start boiling water and stirring up the lime Jell-O.

Not an Honest Mistake



Sometime in September a guest to a party at my house brought me a container of dark chocolate covered cranberries.  This oh-so-polite person did not know me and did what all well brought up guests might do and showed up with a hostess gift.  How sweet, how kind, how bad for me.  I think I need to have a guard at my door at my next party to intercept all gifts that are just plain dangerous for me.  That means any candy, cookies, baked goods, sugared nuts, breads or otherwise forbidden foods.


For a month those chocolate cranberries sat in my cupboard untouched.  No one else in my house is interested in those.  If they had been nachos the rest of the house would have sucked them down before the party was over.


I thought I could use those tasty treats in a recipe I might make for someone else so I stowed them in the not often opened platter cabinet.   Out-of-sight, out-of-mind for me.  But then last week I needed a platter.  There they were, dark chocolate calling to me just as my body was at it’s monthly weakest.  I shut the door; no I slammed the door and left the house, as if I had just encountered a poltergeist.


The next day there they were.  I made the fatal mistake of actually opening the box, and having a few.  Once that seal was broken the devil was hold of me.  Over the week I would pop a couple of the tangy treats in my mouth each day.  Not too many, just a few and before I knew it the whole container was gone.  Only then did I actually look at the calorie count and calculate that I had eaten at least a pounds worth of calories.


In reality my body reacts very badly to sugar calories so even though it was only one pounds worth of calories I am sure that it reacted more like two pounds to me.  And the scales are unhappy with me.  The unfortunate truth is that for me eating even a small amount of bad for me food leads me to eat other forbidden items.  I work hard not to have a throw-in-the-towel mentality for a day when I eat something bad early on, but somehow it still happens.


I should have blogged about my cheat the first day it happened and then I could have invited all my skinny friends to run by my house and eat up the chocolate.  Lesson learned!  Yes mistakes happen, but making the same mistake over and over is not acceptable.  What’s the point of having a blog to keep me honest if I’m not using it for that?

Texting Language



Today my friend Mary Eileen, who happens to be younger than I am, sent me a sort of dictionary for text language for seniors.  At first I thought she was talking about seniors in High School since we have children at the same school, but it quickly became apparent that she meant old folks.


I have still not learned teen text language.  The other day someone wrote me IMHO, which apparently EVERYONE knows means, “In my humble opinion” to teens.  I got a big laugh out of that since I have never actually heard a young person say “In my humble opinion.”  Mary Eileen’s Text code for really old people went something like this:


ATD –At the Doctor’s

BFF- Best Friend’s Funeral

BTW – Bring the Wheelchair

BYOT- Bring your own teeth

FWIW Forgot where I was

LMDO-Laughing my dentures out

LOL- Living on Lipitor

ROTFL…CGU- Rolling on the floor laughing…Can’t get up

TTYL- Talk to you louder


I feel like I am somewhere in between kids’ text language and this one.  Since almost everyone I hang with seems to be watching their weight or thinking about watching their weight it might be helpful if we came up with our own text language.


Here are just a few I am considering using:


WCCN- Warning cupcake nearby

HMPIT-How many points is that?

ICAICGP-I cheated and I can’t get up

PDMFC-Please distract me from chocolate

BFD-Big F$*#ing dessert

LSP-Lost some pounds

SIL-Scale is lying

TOD-Tired of dieting

CWAGTTNTAF-Come walk and gossip to not think about food


My problem is that once I make up a textism I won’t be able to remember what it means so I might as well just write out the actual words.

Maybe Not a Happy Columbus Day



No mail today, its Columbus Day.  Not all states or governments recognize Columbus Day as a holiday.  I loved that they said on the news this morning that there would not be any negotiations in Washington today since it was a federal holiday.  I thought that it was rich for the Congress to take a holiday from governing since they have basically been taking a holiday for the last two weeks.


Columbus Day is to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ “Discovery” of America in 1492.  Ha!  He basically bumped into the Continent while looking for someplace else and now he gets a day named after him.  What about Leif Erickson?  I think the Native people’s of America actually deserve a day, or nobody gets a day.  In Hawaii they call to day Discoverers’ Day in celebration of the Polynesians’ discovery of Hawaii.


The Italian American’s had the strongest lobby in the early 1900’s and that is how Christopher Columbus got this day.  You know the Norwegian Lobby did not stand a chance to get the Leif Erickson day since he supposedly landed in Canada which we all know does not count when America is handing out holidays.  I think we can solve this whole big problem by changing the name of the holiday to Great Explorer’s Day.


Great Explorers does nothing to discount the people who were already here and let’s everyone chose whomever they want to celebrate.  I know it sounds terribly PC, something I am rarely accused of being, but why squabble about getting a day off work?


While we are on the subject of federal holidays, I have another suggestion.  I think we can combine MLK’s birthday and President’s day into one winter holiday and call it Great Leaders Day.  This will solve all future fights about someone needing recognition by letting everyone off work.  When I was a kid we had both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday off and then they got merged into one Presidential holiday.


I do believe that MLK is worthy of national recognition, but why does he get one whole day to himself and Washington and Lincoln each get what works out to half a day?  I’m just thinking ahead that we might one day want to throw another leader into the “let’s have another Monday Holiday” pot.  It seems like that gives our elected officials a chance to appear like they are legislating while they discuss the need for a holiday rather than doing real work like passing a budget or approving the debt ceiling limit.


What I would really like is a “let’s get all our elected officials back to work 220 specified days a year” just like the non-elected working population.  No more holidays for anyone specific!

Fighting Words



At three o’clock I got a text from my child I had not seen all day asking me the eternal question, “What’s for dinner?”  Thank goodness her father and I had just settled that question as he was heading out the door to the store.  Lord knows there might had been a fight over that innocent issue if I was required to go back to a store today.


What I don’t know is if Carter is asking the question to judge whether she should eat something she likes better where she is now or if she should accept an invitation to go out to dinner or if she is just hungry.  Whatever the reason I know that the “What’s for dinner” question has probably caused more disagreements in more households throughout the world for all time.


I remember thirty years ago my friend Gussy saying to her then husband David in response to that same question, “What are you trying to do start a fight?”  Granted they eventually did part ways and I’m sure it was not over what was for dinner since Gussy is a great cook.


I am so tired of thinking about what is for dinner even though over 500 cookbooks, endless cooking websites and multiple TV channels dedicated to food surround me.  Why with all these resources and the availability of almost any ingredient within five miles of my house is the dilemma about making dinner so prevalent?

I know it is harder for me since I am trying to keep it healthy, but even that is no excuse.


I know people who hate to, or are just not good cooks who make the same meals on the same nights of the week; meatloaf Monday, tuna noodle casserole Tuesday, wicked ham Wednesday (yeah I could not think of a W food), turkey tetrazzini Thursday, fish fry Friday, you got the picture.  I cannot imagine making the same thing over and over again, even just one over.  I know my child would probably love anyone of those weekday meals so I hope she does not read this blog since they are all way to fattening for us.


Those people who have a limited repertoire have cut way back on the stress about the “What’s for dinner” question.  If you serve the same things every week people stop asking.  I wonder if they complain more about the repetitiveness or less because it is a fait accompli?


I really don’t mind making dinner and yesterday we established I don’t like to shop for ingredients, but sometimes I would just like a few suggestions that fit both my dietary restrictions and time available.  Yes, we all can agree that beef wellington is yummy, but don’t ask for it on a Tuesday.  Some days I would be really happy just having Special K for dinner, any takers?

I Should Have Stayed Home

As someone with a flexible schedule I enjoy the luxury of not having to shop when the majority of nine-to fivers have to.  Not that I like to shop at anytime, but I really hate going into any store when they are busy.  All this being said I sometimes have to venture out into the world in the height of shopping frenzy period.  Take today.  Carter and her friend had a trip to the mall to look for dresses, see a movie and go to dinner planned.  Hooray to have a child old enough to do these things on her own, except for getting there.

I almost had to look at the calendar as we neared the mall to see if I had perhaps slept for two months and woke up at Christmas time.  The traffic was insane with cars lined up to make a left turn into the already full parking lot.  Thank goodness the two girls in my car were flexible about where I was going to drop them off.

On my way home from my drive through moments at the mall I had to stop at Harris Teeter.  Now I normally would never venture into the grocery on Saturday afternoon, but Russ had found two recipes in the New York Times he wanted for dinner and it had been a few days since I had actually cooked him any food.  So into the store for spring onions and fresh ginger I went.

I think that parents of young children now use the Harris Teeter near the mall as a substitute for Chuky Cheese.  There must have been at least a dozen toddlers running free in the store, screaming and crying some in laughter but most in need of a nap.  One mother who was pushing one of those extra long carts that looks more like a car with two steering wheels in the kid basket part was holding up all aisle traffic because her not so darling two year old child was holding the front of the basket and walking backwards.  Well she really wasn’t walking, more like she was standing there as her mother spoke in her I-must-be-on-medication-sing-songy-I-want-you-to-like-me-voice hardly attempting to get her child to keep moving as dozens of shopper’s cart ground to a halt around her.

You can imagine that in my head I was screaming, “Put Your GD kid that damn car/shopping cart and push her around like the rest of the universe.”  But no, I stood patiently as she coaxed the child to take each small step even though at any moment she could have run her over.

Once I broke free of that gridlock I went to the checkout.  I purposely picked a line without children.  The young couple in front of me had a full basket with lots of beer and I was sure they would hurry along so they could get home to pop one of those cold ones open.  WRONG!  Two perfectly capable twenty somethings stood and watched the checkout clerk ring every item up and then watched as the clerk packed their bags.  Only after he had refilled their cart with their grocery’s now in bags, and not reusable ones, did they think to pull out their credit card and finish the transaction, which they could have at least done while he was bagging.  What I really wanted to scream is, “You both have two perfectly good GD arms.  At least help pack your own groceries.  They don’t get more valuable if someone else does the work.”   But no, I stood there making mental note of what these people look like so I can never get behind them in line again.

I know my blood pressure went up and it is all my fault.  I know perfectly well to stay locked in my own little quiet home on weekends when all the world is out doing their business, but really, full parking lots and crowded stores are one thing, but laziness in minding your kids and packing your groceries is a first world problem that can be solved!

Board Governance Is No Laughing Matter



It is a good thing I don’t work in corporate life anymore because my butt is not trained for it.  I spent all day, like more than all day from 7:30 this morning to 5:30 tonight sitting in a hotel meeting room at the National Association of Corporate Boards – day of non profit board training.  It was really good information, presented in a mainly good format. With the exception of one joke told by the host Chuck as a way of stretching an introduction so that grown ups could figure out how to make the technology work, my day lacked comedy and exercise.


I have forgotten how uncomfortable those ballroom chairs are and those skinny conference tables have legs that prevent me from crossing mine.  I was fairly well behaved, for me at least.  I hardly ever spoke out of turn and only during one presentation did I call the presenters out for anything.  The real sizzler was ending with two accountants talking to us about the form 990 and new IRS regulations.  Can you say glaze over?


The best and worst part about the conference is that now I have a list two arms long of things I need to do on the boards I am on.  Well, I can do them on the one I chair and suggest them on my other one.  Nobody is going to be happy with me.  That is unless we face a crisis that we are actually prepared for because of checking off an item written on my arm, like crisis management, succession planning or foundation creation.


So now I need to go write up all my lessons learned so I can get my board cohorts excited about the work that lies ahead.  It’s sad that board governance has become such a big passion of mine.  Long gone are the glib days of planning parties and writing manuscripts with my college friend Hugh for a book called “Excuses, excuses.”


Now I’m all about long-range vision and strategic plans.  At least I still run meetings with their fair share of jokes and witty remarks.  I wonder how those will read back in minutes?  Now that I have learned from the accountants about the importance of board minutes documenting CEO compensation rational discussions I’m not sure the IRS would appreciate my sense of humor.  I just hope to follow all the rules.  Orange may be the new black, but I don’t want to pay for my volunteer non-profit board work in jail.

Happy 15th Anniversary CMG Partners

IMG_6517 IMG_6516

When I was a kid my Dad commuted everyday from Wilton, Connecticut to New York City on the train.  Many times I went to work with my Dad having to stand in the bar car at six o’clock in the morning where he would spread his paperwork out on the unused bar and work on the trip into the city.  We rode the same bar car on the way home, now full of Mad Men of the 1960’s and 70’s drinking and smoking.

One of my Dad’s best “train” friends was Dick Beatty, an Ad guy with Ogilvy and Mather.  Train friends turned into family friends and Dick’s wife Mimi and son Rich would come for Christmas dinner and Sunday lunches after church.  Rich was a year younger than me and we grew up together until the Beatty’s moved away to Lake Forest, Illinois when Rich and I were in high school.

Our parents had remained good friends through the years and fast forward to our first years out of college and Rich and I both ended up in Washington DC.  We picked up the sibling like friendship we had started at ages five and four.  Rich married his wife Susan, who to this day says I was not so nice to her at first meeting.  I was just used to the girls Rich would bring around not lasting long enough for me to invest my time in them, but Susan was different.  They had two wonderful sons, George and Burke.

I married Russ Lange and he too became great friends with the Beatty’s.  Rich, Russ and I all worked together in London on the BT project for Carter Marketing Group.  When we finished up that job I decided to retire since I was pregnant with Carter, but Rich and Russ joined forces and started a new company, CMG Partners as a spin off from Carter Marketing Group.  That was fifteen years ago.

Russ and Rich, whose names were often confused, would jokingly be known as Ralph, just one Ralph for the two of them, started out as partners adding people and locations throughout the years as client work grew.  Their strategic marketing consulting services have expanded to cover multiple industries and they continue to be experts on the CMO Agenda.

I am proud of what they have built but mostly I am overjoyed for the friendship that has bloomed through the years.  A business partner is a second spouse with all that the relationship brings.  So I want to say thanks to both Russ and Rich for fifteen great years and I look forward to many more productive and successful years together.  Happy anniversary CMG Partners and congratulations Russ and Rich.

The Corset Diet



This morning on Good Morning America they reported on a new trend of women wearing corsets as way to reshape their bodies.  The reporter acted like wearing a corset five hours a day could somehow permanently reduce your waist when you were not wearing it.


I am not sure how tight these woman who are trying this are wearing these contraptions but it seems highly unlikely that you could squeeze fat from one area of your body to another and have it stay there.  And it sounds as if the fat is still on you somewhere, just not in the middle, what is the point of that?


Now I am all for some good shape ware.  I had my first real experience in my early twenties when I was a bridesmaid at one of the seventeen weddings I played a supporting role in.  Back in the eighties bridesmaids dresses often were missing parts like straps, backs or sleeves making women who had any endowment up front go running to the Dor Ne Corset shop in downtown Washington DC.  I can’t remember whose wedding it was that required me to get the X1100 waist cincher and strapless bra.  I can’t even recall what the dress looked like, but I do remember the under garments.


This two part, fully bones black lace number was both backless and strapless and not only could hold the girls in place but created the smallest waist on me I have ever had.  Mae West had nothing on me in the X1100.  I found every excuse to wear it long after that wedding had taken place.


The X1100 must have had 30 hooks on just the bottom piece of apparatus.  It was some feat just to get the thing on.  It made me look great, but I never would want to try and take it off in front of another human because that was none to attractive.  As much as I wore it I must say it never did any permanent reconfiguring of my body.  Yes, my waist was smaller and smother in it but only while it was on.


Sad to say I think the Dor Ne is gone.  Buy a corset if you really need one for a certain dress, but if you want to lose weight you are going to have to do it the old fashioned way and not eat as much.  I think squeezing is not going to make a big difference.

I Need Daylight Saving Time



This morning I had a hard time waking up.  It was dark and it was cold and I had a snuggly little Shay in bed with me who has been under the weather so she too was not wanting to get up.  Carter was going out to breakfast before school with our friend Taylor and commented on the eerie dark blue sky, “Where is the sun?”  Now it was seven in the morning, but it felt so much earlier.


I am a morning person, but I like the morning to begin when the sun comes up.  The shortening days with the dark mornings are bad for my waistline.  I don’t know what the connection is to darkness and eating comfort foods, but somewhere in my brain they are coupled. I am fine with afternoon darkness because late night snacking is not my issue.  But starting a day in darkness somehow makes me want to eat more.


We are not going to be setting our clocks back until the Sunday after Halloween.  This date was chosen so that kids trick-or-treating could have more light time in order to go out and scoop up free candy.  I like for kids to be safe while trick-or-treating so I understand the rational behind this chosen date, even though it is one week after all or Europe goes on Daylight Saving Time, but I wish we could go on and move the clocks back now.  Not only do I have to rally myself up in the darkness, but also I am going to soon have Halloween candy in my house, which is always a dangerous thing.


The need for a little caffeine jolt in the mid-afternoon on a cold and dark day calls me to the kitchen.  If only there was nothing but a little espresso there I might be safe, but then there is some chocolate and I guess I need a guard to restrain me from my naughty thoughts and potential behaviors.


I blame this all on the lack of vitamin D from the waning sunlight that fall has stolen from me.  Maybe if I put up one of those full spectrum lamps right in the middle of the kitchen I could burn the autumn cravings right out of me.  If I could hire one of those movie spot lights and have it set to shine in my bedroom window about 5:30 every morning I could trick my body into thinking it is still summer.  I know a lot of friends who say that dieting is easier in the summer because the heat takes their appetite away or that the summer fruits and vegetables are more appealing.  I think that with air conditioning and year round produce availability I can prove those are not the reasons why dieting is easier in the summer.  Clearly it is the sunlight.


Fall is my favorite time of year, but I am going to have to work twice as hard to make it the healthiest time of year.  Damn all the candy and impending holiday foods, just bring me the morning sunlight.

Failure is an Option



I spent the better part of today at Carter’s school where the parents came for a wellness activity.  Most of it is confidential so I don’t want to reveal too much, but one theme that came from some of the ninth grade kids is the stress they feel about getting into college.  One child was worried that a bad grade on a quiz first semester freshman year is a death sentence.


What have we done to kids?  First, we have taught them math well enough that they understand averages and how hard it is to average out a very bad grade.  Good on the math front, bad on the psyche.  We all need to fail every once in a while.


When I had my first job out of college selling mail opening and extracting machines we used to do a group exercise reviewing all losses.  Yes, it was painful to discuss with all your peers and your boss why you did not close a particular sale, but we all learned way more from those reviews of failure than we ever did from the accounts we won.


One reason is you had to analyze every step in the loss and really come to Jesus about your own performance.  Did I do everything I could have done to sell that company our mail opening machines?  Did I create the right relationship, communicate well, overcome objections, show value, and prove to be a partner they trusted?  Obviously not or else I would have made the sale.  Doctors in hospitals do the same thing with patients they lose.  More learning happens when you dig deep to discover how you would do something differently next time.


Do kids in high schools and college today ever feel like they can try something and fail?  And if they do fail, do they have a review to learn from that defeat?  I know in sports there are lots of opportunities to learn, especially if a coach is good and cares about developing people and not just winning, but what about out side of sports?


I want to live in a world that encourages experimentation and creativity not just success.  It is a long life and if we just keep limiting ourselves to doing the things we already know we are good at it is going to get fairly boring.  No matter your age, you should try to learn how to do something new every year or so.  Some things you will not be good at, others you might be fine at, but just don’t like that much, but I think you will find many more things that you are good at and that you love more than you thought.  Trying, learning, failing and trying again is the best example you can be for your children.  They don’t need to think that you are perfect; they need to know that we are human.

Words With Friends Diet




This title is misleading.  I don’t need a diet from Words With Friends, but I would like to turn my love of Words With Friends into a diet.  Right now I have eighteen different games going.  It sounds like a lot but considering that most of my opponents only play once or twice a day there is not too much action in my game life.  I try and play twice a day checking to see if it is my turn first thing in the morning and right before I go to bed.


My favorite part of the game is that I can try and make up crazy words that give me a high score and there is no penalty if they are not really words, I just am old to try again.  I wish that were the case in dieting.  I would love to be able to experiment with different food combinations or amounts to see if they reacted positively with my metabolic make-up with no penalty for trying something.


I know I could try that in real life, but there are so many variables; how much exercise did I get, what time of the month is it, what else did I eat, exactly what amounts did I eat, that it is hard to experiment and really know if something is working or not.


I have written in the past about my theory they eating ground meat is more fattening than eating solid pieces of meat.  I have no scientific evidence for it, just a few dozen tests that are about imperfect as a scientific method could be.  If only there was a “Words with Friends” like test where I could put in the data on the food and my phone could tell me, yes that will help you lose weight or no, try again, just like it does when I make up crazy words.


Perhaps I could use my love of Words with Friends as an exercise plan.  What if I am only allowed to play while walking?  I would say something more strenuous, but I think it would be hard to read the screen if I were bouncing around a lot.  I can’t read a magazine while I am on the elliptical so I am worried about moving tiles around while so much of me is moving around.


I am open to any other suggestions that tie Words with Friends to a way to drop some pounds.  If you want to play with me I am Danaclange.  I have no idea how many more games I can have at once, but I welcome new opponents who don’t expect me to know what all the words I play mean.

Driving Lessons



The time has come when my child is going to start her practicing driving section of drivers Ed.  The thought causes both anxiety and excitement deep inside me all at the same time.  Certainly Carter is ready to drive.  She has been adult size for years.  When she was about seven we started letting her drive at the farm and she has been giving her friends lessons on driving the gator and the Kubota bus for years.   But driving on your own property with no other cars coming at you is easy; facing traffic and real time decision-making is another story.


Learning to drive is so different for kids today than it was for me.  Since I went to boarding school and I have a May birthday my parents paid a private driving school to give me the required class and practice driving time.  I never went to any classroom, but was given the Connecticut DMV book with all 125 questions and answers of which 25 would be on the test.  I was told to memorize the whole thing.  Then a man who certainly was unemployable in any other profession came to my house with a very old sedan and we spent a few hours driving around the rambling Wilton, Connecticut roads.


I had learned to drive from spending my life sitting in the front seat watching my parents and driving our tractor to cut the grass.  It was just not that complicated.  Cars only had a few buttons, dials or levers.  No phones, navigation or back-up cameras to distract us.  Traffic was not much of an issue.


My first summer I had my license I did back my parents ship-like Chevy station wagon into the top of the Hurdman’s spit rail fence and broke the wood.  Tommy Hurdman and I went by the Wilton Riding Club and picked up a spare piece of split rail that was sitting along the entrance driveway and brought it home to his house.
It only took us about twenty minutes with a hand saw to get that rail to fit into his mother’s fence and no one was the wiser.


Since we did not have this yearlong practice time that North Carolina requires today I don’t remember spending much time driving my parents around while I learned to drive.  I think that I memorized the book, drove four hours with the could-be pedophile and went on down to the DMV and got my license.  I know the night I got it I went to the movies in Westport with Tommy Hurdman and no one thought twice about me being a ‘new” driver.  Boy, have things changed.

As Beautiful As You Feel



On my way home from my errands today I stopped at a local nail salon to get a quick manicure.  I have the world’s worst fingernails so I just get some nude polish so as not to draw attention to my nails.  I never expect any miracles from something as quick and cheep as a manicure, but perhaps I have missed the magic that some people feel from a shaping and polish.


I usually don’t get my nails done on Fridays because it is the busiest day at the salons, or so I’ve been told by one of the nail techs.  That wisdom held true today because the place I went to was packed.  As I was sitting at my assigned little manicure table another woman came and sat at the station next to me.  Since we were sitting facing a big wall of mirrors I could get a good look at her without having to turn my head.  When I say this young lady sitting next to me was the most beautiful human I have ever seen, live or in pictures, including every movie star in retouched photographs, I am not lying.


I stared at the reflection of the young woman with her wheat colored blond hair in a lose pony tail, cornflower blue eyes the size of quarters and lashes like giraffes and skin that was a warm glowing color, but was so smooth the sun had never aged it.  If you don’t already hate her she was wearing black Capri yoga pants and a pink skin tight yoga top that reveled a body that appeared curvy but devoid of body fat all at the same time.   How can this be?


She was so stunning I had to turn and stare right at her and I hope that my mouth was not hanging open in disbelief.  As we sat side-by-side having our tandem manicures I heard her say to the nice Asian woman painting her nails, “I feel so much more beautiful when I get my nails done.”


The first thought that came into my mind was, “Has this woman never looked in the mirror.  How much more beautiful could she get?  But then I thought about it.  She did not say, “I am more beautiful, but that she felt more beautiful.”  Since most of us don’t go around looking in a mirror all day we really don’t see what we look like all the time, except for our hands.  We look at our own hands inadvertently as we do our daily chores, like cooking, driving or typing.


Now to a regular person looking at this stunning specimen of a woman the difference between what she looked like with a manicure or without probably was a less than one percent change in her beauty, but to her it made a big difference.  I won’t go so far as to say getting a manicure makes me feel even close to beautiful, but it does make me feel not so bad about my short pitiful nails and wrinkly hands.  And if something that costs $13 can do that then it is a good thing even for the goddess next to me.

Does This Bag Make Me Look Thinner?



I need a new fall handbag. I realized today when I was out with my big brightly colored stripped tote that it was actually October 3 and although it was 85 degrees it is time to tone down the pink. For some reason I have dozens of spring and summer bags probably because I am naturally attracted to happy colors, but time for my French ice cream flavor bag has passed.


I bought my current bag at the Farnsworth Museum shop in Maine this summer and I have loved having a giant lightweight tote so I can carry my needlepoint everywhere without having it stick in an unsightly way out of my purse.  In the past I have shied away from big bags because I had the notion that the bigger the bag the more sh#t I would carry around in it and the heavier it would get.  This tote has proven to me that I can be minimalist in my purse contents.  Even though I could probably use it to pack a week’s worth of groceries in, I don’t.


Normally shopping for a new purse is not such a horrible job.  No sizes are required and for the most part sales clerks don’t lie to you about how the purse makes you look, as they could when you are trying on a pair of skin tight red jeans.  But since I don’t see a moment’s free time in my calendar to go purse shopping I looked online just to narrow down the search.


What was I thinking?  Online I can’t feel the weight of a bag or judge if it is actually worth whatever crazy amount they want to charge me for it.  My favorite feature of one website is the silhouette of the woman in grey pictured carrying the bag you are looking at so you can judge how big it is on a human.  The only problem with this feature is I am fairly certain that the grey woman model is not my actual size.   Are her arms as fat as mine?   Hell, for all I know she could be a Kristin Chenoweth’s twin and the place the purse hits on her is not anything like the place it will hit on me.


As far as I’m concerned the most important requirement of any accessory I buy is does it make me look thinner?  Yes, I want a purse that is beautiful, can stand on it’s own when I set it down and has useful pockets and compartments, but if it is not flattering when I “wear” it then it is a non-starter.  Because I will “wear” that purse everyday until I realize the season has changed and I need to change it again. I guess I might actually spend less time at the mall than I could looking online because I am actually good at scanning a large area filled with purses and ruling most of them out.  I only need one and if the store has got one of those trick mirrors that make you look thinner I’ll buy the first one I like.

October Second – The Day God Made Me Smile



Little did I know that on this day forty-nine years ago a baby boy was born who would grow up to make me happy everyday.  Yeah, I was only three so I did not know much.  It took me a few years to recognize Russ Lange as the quality human he is, but once I did I knew I had to spend my life with him.


I owe Russ’ parents a big thank you for raising such a genuine, kind, brilliant, hard working, loving man.  I owe Russ a lifetime of devotion because he makes all things good for Carter and me.  Really devotion is not a strong enough word to describe my love and affection for my husband.  But the word does not exist in English to convey how much I cherish him.


So on his birthday, a day he would act is like any normal day, I want to send out to the universe this message, “Russ Lange rocks!”  October second is not just a regular day; it is the day that God made me smile.  Like me, you might not notice his super powers at first because of his quiet steadfast demeanor.  Perhaps that is because he lives in an air space above most of our heads.  But if you are ever lucky enough to be invited to visit the place Russ exists in you will discover new possibilities about the world and yourself.  Not everyone gets that invitation.  I’m just glad that I did and I did not miss the big party that became my life living with him.

Creamed Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms



This recipe marries are two yummy steak house staples, Creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms.  In their restaurant version they are much more fattening than this rendition.



1 pound of fresh baby spinach or one 10 oz. package of frozen spinach

1 small onion minced

2 T. cream cheese

¼ C. milk

1 t. butter

1 T. flour

Dash of nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 pound of big mushroom caps- stemmed

3 T. Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a skillet, sprayed with Pam, sauté the minced onions.  Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.  If using fresh Spinach add it to the pan and cook on medium high heat turning it often until wilted, about one minute.  If using frozen cook according to package and squeeze dry.


In a small saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and cook on medium heat stirring for one minute.  Add the milk, keep stirring and cook for one minute.  Add the cream cheese, nutmeg, the cooked onions and spinach.  Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste.


Spoon a small spoonful of creamed spinach into each mushroom cap.  Place on a jellyroll pan.  Place in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Pull the pan out of the oven and sprinkle each mushroom with Parmesan cheese and place back in the oven for five more minutes.