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.