Not Enough Studying Time For Me



As Carter is busy studying for exams I am dreaming of school ending and a life of carefree days.   Then I went and did something that has suddenly added hundreds of things to my plate. I booked a trip to Africa for me and Russ to go on while Carter is at camp. So much for free time, I hardly have enough time to get ready.


I have a new camera that Russ gave me for Christmas and I scarcely understand half of it. Russ even got me a “compact field guide” to learn how to use this powerful machine and I don’t understand almost every third word in the book. Now I need a crash course in my camera and I need to rent a bigger lens and learn to use that. So add to the list of things to do, research lens rental companies as well as figure out which is the right lens for wildlife shooting that is not too heavy for me to carry. Sounds like a first world problem that I should not be whining about.


The next problem is figuring out clothes to take to Africa and finding pants for Russ to take. We only get to take one small roll-a-board suitcase each since we will be flying on tiny bush flights. There is no need for anything fancy, but we do need good hiking shoes and warm clothes since it is winter there. Being winter the bush will be down so we need to wear “blend-in-brown” clothing, not something I own much of. This is no “Out of Africa” –trunks full of flowing gowns type trip.


I am so thankful that I am a smaller size because searching for “safari wear” is difficult at best for me and almost impossible for Russ. Apparently no one over 5’ 10” buys safari type pants because most of the inseams available for men are in the 30”-32” range and he needs 36”. Safaris are not the time you want to wear floods because you are trying to protect yourself from bug bites.


Speaking of bugs we have to go Monday to the travel clinic and get all the yellow fever and malaria type shots and pills. I like to be prepared for all possible illnesses when visiting other worlds, but given my very limited luggage situation I am going to have to be judicious in my anti-getting sick, or pro-getting well medicinal supplies. It’s not like I am going to have a CVS nearby.


I am most thankful for I-pads to “carry” all reading material. Please send me recommendations of your favorite reads so I can load up before I take off. We have 27 hours of flying there and back and there is only so much needlepoint I can do. That reminds me, I need batteries for my headlamp. It looks ridiculous, but makes stitching on dark flights so much easier. Now I wonder were my Africa plug adaptors are? So much to do and so little time.

Didn’t I Clean Out the Dishwasher Yesterday?



It is the last weekend of school and Carter is in the middle of exams. Today was her first one and then two on Monday, and one on Wednesday with a paper due Tuesday. The end of the school year is painful. Kids are so ready to be out, but they have their most important work of the year all crammed into the last few days. I am so ready for school to be over too. I am tired of the routine and want to change things up.


While trying to create a study friendly house right now I am doing all the mundane stuff around here; laundry, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, walking myself, paperwork I should have done months ago. I am trying to get everything ready for the summer, let lose, travel, carefree, Carter goes to camp, not many meetings time. I guess I feel a little guilty about Carter’s studying so I am trying to be equally as productive. I am just glad that I don’t have any exams to take.


The problem is I am not good at staying home more than one day in a row and do house work. Even though I still have multiple baskets of laundry to put away and piles of clothes I’ve weeded out to go to Goodwill and buckets of mail that needs to be dealt with I quickly grow bored with these tasks and look for alternative things to keep me occupied. I know I was this way in school during exam periods.


In college I would invent my best recipes during exams when I should have been reading. I never took as many naps as I did during exams. Suddenly at the end of a semester I would decide that it would be a good time to paste all my green stamps in books as a break from studying. I’m not sure you could call it a break if it took the majority of my time.


I don’t have attention deficit disorder I have deficit interest disorder. I can stay on one task for many hours if I am having fun doing it, but I tire quickly of things that bore me. Being stuck at home doing housework for two days in a row now is making me crazy. Once I have cleaned the stove once I can hardly face it dirty again 24 hours later. I look at the clean dishwasher and wonder, “Didn’t I just clean it out?”


Just a few more days I tell myself and I am not the one taking exams. I know I should not wish this time away because in three short years Carter will be going off to college, but the days are long even though the years are short. So I will do my best to endure the boredom at home so I can create a study friendly house. Lord knows I pray that Carter inherited anyone else but my study unfriendly personality.

Vegetable Mountain



There are people in my house who would turn their noses up at certain vegetables and gobble down bowls full of others. Sometimes I can get them to try something they swear they hate if I hide it with other things. Only then does a vegetable hater discover they don’t dislike something as much as they thought.


Vegetable Mountain is the perfect way to use up small bits of vegetables and get some eaten by all. The best base of the mountain is potatoes since it is universally the favorite and if it is at the bottom they have take some real veggies in order to get to the starchy base.


This mountain started with thinly sliced new potatoes cooked in a fry pan with a bit of water until soft and then allowed to crisp up a bit as the water cooks away. The next layer is oven roasted cauliflower, followed by pan sautéed zucchini, blanched sugar snap peas, green peas and topped with a bit of oyster mushrooms.


The secret is to salt and pepper each vegetables well when cooking them individually and then assemble it all at once. Vegetable Mountain can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Any veggies can be used and the more color the better. I wish I had some roasted red pepper to add to this one.


Note:  Despite the best laid plans Carter still picked out the cauliflower and mushrooms.

Best Response



This morning was one of those mornings where the timing of everything was tight as a tick. Russ was in Philly so I had to get Carter to school early in order to make my eight AM appointment with my trainer. Carter is never happy when I have to take her to school on training days. The complaints about having to get up early and lose precious sleeping time are to be expected from a teenager who is already sleep deprived.


Not only was I going to have to take Carter to school I also needed to stop at Bogangles to buy Bo Berry biscuits for Carter’s advisory for their end of year treat when they would be presenting their gift to their advisor, appropriately named Mr. Bo. Adding that stop to our morning meant that Carter was going to have to be ready at 7:30.


I think the promise of Bo Berry biscuits helped get Carter to the car at 7:28, which was an unheard of two-minute gain in the race against the clock. We pulled out the driveway and hit every green light. Not being a regular Bogangles customer I arrived at what I thought was the drive-in area and discovered a line of orange cones guarding the entrance and was forced to circle the building to come at the drive-thru speaker from the far side. As I pulled around the building a women in a white Honda drove quickly around the orange cones and butt in front of me.


It was one of those obnoxious moves that one might expect from someone from a different state. I obviously have been living here long enough that I did not lay on my horn, but instead took the opportunity to tell Carter never to do that herself when she gets her drivers license. The woman in the Honda looked sheepishly at me from her side mirror as she ordered her $3.79 biscuit and coffee. I thought it was just as well she snuck in front of us because I was sure our order of 20 biscuits was going to take a while.


The line, though long, moved quickly. When I finally reached the human interaction window with my $20 bill in my hand ready to fork over the $17.79 to pay, the man in the window told me that the woman in the car in front of me had paid for my order. “My gosh, I bet she was a surprised about how much it was,” I said. The Bo man replied, “No, she asked how much it was before she paid for it.”


So much for my thinking she was not such a nice person. Feeling guilty I paid for the order for the guy behind me. It was all of $3. I hope the Honda woman had a nice day because she certainly restored my faith in human kind. Rarely does someone come up with an apology that stops me in my tracks, but she certainly did.

Do 100 Laughs and 50 Smiles and Call Me in the Morning



A friend stopped me today and asked if I had work done because the skin on face was not so saggy. She quickly corrected herself by saying, “Of course you didn’t because if you had it would have been on the blog.” You got that right, sister. If I had under gone any kind of improvement treatment it would be fodder for this space. I don’t have enough time in the day to get a facelift and come up with something else to write about.


I have to thank this friend for thinking that I might have had work, but she is right, my face is not very saggy considering how much fat has been melted out of it. To make her feel better I said that the sag in my upper arms and my thighs is dramatic. I am wondering what I am doing to my face that I need to do to the rest of me? I don’t use any special and outrageously expensive creams. I can’t even try them since I am highly allergic to most potions.


I guess that smiling has been the exercise that has tightened up my skin– smiling and laughing. It might cause some small lines around the eyes and maybe those parenthesis lines around the mouth, but laughing loud and often has been my constant in life. It is the only thing I can think of that has made my face seem perky. If I were frowning and dour I bet the skin on my face would look saggy. Perhaps I have just created an illusion of tight skin because I was smiling at my friend.


So laughing is the answer for the face, but all that laughing makes the really saggy parts of me giggle and draws attention to how loose I really am. That giggle is only attractive on a jolly ‘ole elf with a bowl full of jelly for a stomach. For me I am going to just have to keep the giggly bits covered or compressed or disguised. I guess I won’t have to revert to wearing a burqa as long as I keep laughing and smiling.

If I appear to be some simpleton know I am just doing my face exercises.

Memorial Day



As a child growing up in the 60’s I thought the news was the report of how many people died that day. The reason I thought this was Walter Cronkite always started the news by saying, “Nine died today in Vietnam,” or 12 or 34. It wasn’t until I got a little older did I comprehend what Vietnam was and that the news was not a report of everyone who died in the world.


I eventually came to hate the war, not just for the dying, but also for the tedium and the arguing that seemed to go on about it. Being a Beatles fan I adopted the “All we need is love,” mantra. I had a poster in my room that was a rusted scarecrow like figure made out of an army rifle, helmet and one of those bullet belts set up in a field of tall grown flowers. The caption under the figure read, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”


It seemed like a logical question to me as a child in single digits. What was all the fighting about? The adults around me could not really explain it in a way that justified the numbers of dead that opened the news every night.


Today is Memorial Day; the time to honor those who lost their lives in all our wars, not just the popular ones, if you can ever say any war is popular. So thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but lets try and remember those people everyday before we get into some conflict that causes us to send young people into battle.


Let’s not get into a conflict that goes on for so many years that we can’t remember why we started fighting in the first place. As John Lennon put it, “Give peace a chance.” Let’s not add to the numbers of young men and women we need to remember on this day in the future.

Necessary Creativity



Today Carter had to study for her impending exams so for her sanity as well as mine Russ and I left her home alone while we took Shay Shay to the farm for some off leash running and some family visits. It was the perfect day for the farm with low humidity and temperate warmth. Even though it was an ideal walking day I did not get all my steps in at the farm because there were so many stories to listen to.


My father had a lot of opinions about my blog and most recently the Graduation Advice about daydreaming. He recounted a story about a speech a boss of his at Avon, Jim Clitter, gave when my Dad was a young executive. Clitter told the audience that creativity came out of necessity.


My dad took his advice to heart. So when he created a new fragrance line called “Charisma” my Dad sent, and back in the old non-internet days that meant messengering, all the Vice President’s wives a mock-up of the kind of racy campaign materials for “Charisma” that were clearly targeted at women, along with a sample of the product. He asked the women to look over the campaign and if they liked it to tell their husbands to vote for it at their upcoming meeting.


What my father knew was that women were his target audience and if his fate was left up to a room full of men he might not get their approval. He came up with the creative way to show the all-male group that he knew what women wanted in a fragrance. Thank goodness he was right and the wives told their husbands to vote “yes.” When my Dad went to the meeting to present the campaign he got a standing ovation thanks to his “wives campaign.”


Today, my Dad told me all his creative ideas happened between five and eight in the morning. All my life he has been a morning person. He used to get up at 4:30 to catch the earliest possible train into New York City to get to work first. I now understand it was a necessity because if his best thinking was going to end by eight am that did not leave much time.


I’m sure that “wives campaign” was a risky thing for my Dad to do. He was still a young guy in a new company, but I’m sure that the success gave him courage to continue to try other brilliant but risky moves. One famous one was when my Dad was working at Sprint and they had just finished building the first all digital long distance network. To help drive the point home that Sprint was way ahead of the rest of the phone world my father made a commercial of blowing up an old telephone tower without getting permission from the network guys. The ad was exciting and made lots of news, which in turn got lots of customers.


My Dad was called on the carpet and told that the network guys were mad because they could have sold the antiquated equipment to a third world nation for $25,000. The network guys had no idea how much more valuable that tower was as a symbol of “out with the old and in with the new.” They did not have the same necessity for gaining new customers that my father did, and creativity was never the strong suit of guys in “network.”


Consider these two stories a counterpoint to the daydreaming advice I wrote about last week. I know my father may say his creativity came out of necessity, but I think that being creative is just a lot more fun and he was always one who liked to have fun. My charge is for you to consider a problem you might want to tackle at five in the morning and see what crazy solution you can come up with to solve it. You might not know that you are really an early morning person because you never had to get up and catch a train that early.