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.

Skinny in a Tube



Last weekend at my boarding school reunion there was a conversation that came up more than once amongst the crowd of women who graduated in the seventies. It was about how we used to sit on the roof of our dorm, Beaverbrook, (yes an all girl school with a dorm with beaver in the name is a whole separate conversation), slathered in baby oil holding record albums, preferably doubles, covered in tin foil to reflect the sun. Our desire to be Bain du solie brown was universal. No one had ever heard of skin cancer and wrinkles caused by sun damage were not news back then. For those of us with oily skin to begin with the sun was a healer to any acne we might have had.


If only pale, smooth skin had been in fashion, we all would be better off today. I wish that I had invented self tanner in the seventies. I am sure I could have saved my whole generation years of trouble with the demonologist. Not only does tan in our lotion save our skin it saves us hours of sitting outside, strategically turning our chair to face the sun full-on at all times.


Just like I could not have imagined tan in a tube back then I wonder what the future tubes hold for us? Skinny in a tube seems like an even bigger seller. Is it possible that scientist could be developing a lotion that sinks into our skin and melts away extra fat underneath? Will my daughter go to her 35th high school reunion and lament with her friends how much time they spent on treadmills?


I can’t wait for scientist to invent all the great things I think up to save me work. I have no choice today but to eat right and workout, but at least I can be a little warmer color than my natural pasty white thanks to my tube of self-tanner. I hate to waste good foil and possibly soil a valuable double album cover just to get a tan that my doctor would scold me for.

Graduation Advice



Carter asked me if I would take her to the Durham Academy graduation today. I was happy to do it so I could get the lay of the land for when her graduation will happen in just a few short years.   I also really like graduation speeches since I feel like there is a lot of pressure to tell graduates something important and profound on this momentous occasion. I say this and I can’t actually remember anything I was told at any of my graduations, but I’m sure lack of sleep has everything to do with that and perhaps other celebratory reasons.


The Reverend Willimon from Duke Divinity gave the commencement address and he encouraged the graduates who have just finished 13 years being focused on learning at DA to daydream. He sighted great thinkers and inventors who had ADD and made stupendous creative achievements because they were not always focused.


I agree with him whole-heartedly. If ever I have had a creative idea it came about during a period of rest, relaxation or when I was actually sleeping. Rarely have I come up with anything close to brilliant when I was trying to. How can I encourage this in my child yet still keep her on task in school? This is the true balancing act.


The two valedictorians also spoke and I assume they did not know what Dr. Willimon was going to say, but their advice followed along the same lines. The first young man who clearly is so much smarter than I am had lots of important things to say, some of which were way over my head. One thing I did get from him was that it may seem like all the good ideas are taken, but there is more to be done. He charged his classmates with this, “Even if you can’t come up with the next good idea you can support one.”


The second valedictorian summed up his speech with these three points, “Take risks, foster face-to-face connections and giveback and say thanks.” All good advice. It is so much easier for me to recognize sage counsel this far from my own graduation. I hope that some of these smart words soaked into the young people in the audience and on the stage.


It is easy to get caught up in the minutia of day to day that we miss the big picture and that picture is so much smaller in the rear view mirror. But it is never too late to live your life bigger than you are living it now. So consider this your graduation day and go forth and day dream, support good ideas, giveback and say thanks and your life will have been worthy.

Salmon Tartare on a Baked Beet Chip



I bought a whole side of Salmon, which is just too much for a family of three. After one night of pan sautéed salmon I needed to change up the next salmon meal to try and trick people into eating it.


Nothing could be easier than tarter because it is raw fish cut up and mixed with a few other items. I love tuna tarter with avocado so I wanted to make this a little different than that.


1 pound of Salmon

4 T. capers

2 T. minced Chives

4 T. lemon Juice

Zest of 2 lemons

10 drops of hot chili sesame oil

Black Pepper

Salt if needed if you are eating the tartare straight and not on a salty chip


Baked Beet Chips- Google how to make these or look for a recipe from me later in the week. You can use any kind of chips.


Slice the salmon into ¼ inch slices and then cut it again into ¼ inch pieces

Add all the rest of the ingredients. Let it chill for at least an hour, which will “cook” the salmon in the lemon juice.


If you want you can add diced avocado, shallots, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber.

Walking Meetings



Today has been a day of too much sitting. After my morning workout, which hardly gets me any steps I had a meeting, Mah Jongg and another meeting all in the sitting position. Now I am a world-class sitter. I was never an antsy kid who could not stay in my chair at school. Give me a chair and a reason to sit and you’ve got me. I am a productive sitter too. Through all of my meetings and games I also needle pointed, so I consider myself to be doing double duty while I am sitting. Happy sitter, that’s me.


Then I remember that I am now a walker. Even though I have started wearing my fitbit over six months ago and have been walking at least 20,000 steps a day for the last four months, there are some days I forget I need to walk until it is late in the day.


Walking 20,000 steps takes almost three hours if I were to try and do it in one continuous time period. If I have not walked much in my normal living by seven at night I am screwed. And thus here I am at the treadmill desk at night, having not eaten dinner or written my blog or gotten my steps.


Why didn’t I suggest in all my meetings that we all walk around the conference table rather than sit and stare at each other. I know that my brain works better when I walk and I am sure I am not alone in that. Now my brain does not work better when I run because I have heard the voice inside my head screaming, “What are you doing, stop running.” But waking, my brain is happy with.


Now on I am going to suggest some walking or at least a walking break during all meetings that last more than twenty minutes. I think everyone will benefit and for those who do not like the idea they may make meetings shorter so they won’t have to get up and walk. It will cut into my needlepoint, but then that is my reward for after the 20,000 steps. I love a calorie free reward!

Happy Birthday Shay Shay



For years Carter would beg us to get her a dog. Being an only child and knowing that we could not get her an older brother she thought her best bet for a sibling was a dog. Since Russ has terrible allergies to both dogs and cats I used to tell Carter that is was more important to keep Daddy alive than have a dog.


I too wanted a dog. I had a beloved dog I got between my sophomore and junior years in college when I moved off campus. My dog Beau went everywhere with me and was my best companion.


Sometime a few years ago our family spent time with a labradoodle and Russ discovered that he was not allergic to that breed. So the search began for a dog that Carter could love and would not kill Russ.


We ended up getting our baby Shay Shay (Carter named her the Americanized version of the Chinese word for thank you.) We were not completely sure that Russ would be OK with her, but we took a chance and it worked out.


Today is Shay’s third birthday and she is clearly the most important member of our family. Everybody fights over having her sleep with them. Of course if she gets to choose she will stay with Russ who is her favorite. IT is not always a good thing for him since she tends to snuggle him right off the side of the bed.


So happy birthday to our best baby. None of us could imagine life without her now. I’m glad that Carter never gave up her campaign to get a dog. She was right; our family was not complete without her.

What’s Your Plan?



Recently I was at a luncheon and a planned giving professional introduced herself to me and the group I was sitting with. It was a social event so my group was not prepared to talk about planned giving. The professional knew this was not a place for her to work the room and thought she was just meeting people, but that was before she met me. As someone who is happy to help people part with their money for a good cause I see people in development as always working so I asked this person some questions about her job thinking she might teach me a thing or two.


In case you don’t know what planned giving is, it is about what you plan to do with your money when you are dead.   Not everyone is lucky enough to have any money leftover when they die, but no matter how little or how much it is a much better idea to make a plan than leave it up to the government who decides they get it if you don’t have a will or a family member with a good lawyer.


Back to the story, so as this professional was explaining what she does she asks me if her organization was in my will. No, I tell her to which she quickly responded that it should be.   Whoa, whoa, whoa. Poor women made a grave error in her phrasing and I was quick to jump on that.


“I think it would be better to ask me, ‘What can we do to be one of the beneficiaries of your estate?’” I told this Pro. She realized that she had backed herself into a no win conversation with me and started back peddling.


I am sure she knew better than to tell a potential donor that “I SHOULD” give to her, but I am not sure she had ever had anyone tell her she should have more finesse when doing her job. See, I just can’t help myself when I see a training opportunity when it comes to a sales person, and development people are the ultimate sales people, they just sell a good feeling.


As I continued to probe this pro for information about how successful she was I found out that her organization often got money because a donor outlives all the other people listed as beneficiaries and her organization might have been the only non-human in the will. It got me thinking about our own wills and how short the list is of people we want our money to go to. Now don’t get excited, I’m not looking to add any of you readers to our will, so don’t call me, but I had not thought about what would happen if we outlived our list.


Despite my own call to action to so many people about giving to worthy causes I think I have been neglecting my own plan for when I am no longer here. So despite her clumsy words I am thankful to that planned giving professional for opening my eyes to some better planning. I’m not saying she will get any money, but you never know. I hope her organization will have to wait a long time to find out.

No Nuns were Harmed in the Writing of This Blog



After a wonderful breakfast outdoors in the cool Connecticut morning with my friends Karen and Stori eventually they had to get on the road to head home.  After our heartfelt goodbyes from a great reunion weekend I headed off to Bradley International Airport.  I arrived with lots of time to wait so I thought I would circle the terminals to get my steps.  It had been a low step weekend even though last night I did my best to dance up a lot of steps at the Ba Na Na Na – the traditional EWS dance party.


It turns out Bradley is a crap airport to walk in.  There is only one terminal with two little short legs and not much room to walk.  After making three passes of the route I decided I was drawing too much attention to myself from the many TSA agents so I settled into a rocking chair.


After pulling out my needlepoint I was suddenly I was surrounded by many middle aged and older elegant women who all seemed to resemble Barbara Billingsly, the Beaver’s mom from Leave it to Beaver.  Turns out that Smith College had a reunion this weekend too.  After a few rows of stitching, another group of women came along and joined the Smith women and me at the rocking chairs.  This group was not quite as elegant, but they were all as well behaved as the elegant alumnae around me since they were Nuns.


I learned by doing my favorite airport activity, eavesdropping, that many of the Smith women and all of the Nuns were going to be on my first flight to Baltimore.  Hooray, a flight of quite, well behaved, thin passengers with a good connection with the guy who might ensure we would arrive in one piece.


As the Southwest gate agent called us to line up I took my number 4 position in line.  Being early on the flight where we get to pick our own seats I chose an emergency exit row seat for the extra legroom.  Then the game began of other passengers coming down the aisle assessing which seat they would take.  I silently prayed to get one of the Smith ladies or at least a tiny Nun.  No luck.  The largest man in a red spider t-shirt that barley covered his nine-mouth pregnant like stomach sat right next to me.


When I was much fatter the fat people would not sit with me.  See, fat people want to sit next to thin people so they can co-opt some of their space.  If they sit next to an already seated fat person they don’t have the same opportunity.  Now that I am normal size I guess I have become a target for the space grabbers.  It was a good thing I had a little extra legroom because the pregnant man instantly fell asleep and spread out all his limbs in his sleep as well as his mouth with breath that could have made one of the Nuns swear out loud.  I think I need to wear all my clothes at the same time next time I get on a plane so that I appear larger and scare off the space steeling fat people. So much for the end of my great reunion weekend.

EWS 35 Years On

Thirty five years ago I graduated from The Ethel Walker school. It seems like it was yesterday, but I know my math is right because I am here at my reunion right now. My closest friend’s from those years are here with me and it is as if we have never missed a day apart. If you never were a teenage girl at an all girl’s boarding school I can’t really explain the depth of the friendships that develop in a place like this. Sadly, at the last minute some friends had to cancel so our class representation is small, but mighty.

Getting to really talk with each person has been a bonus to reunion. Of course spending time with my great friends is the best part, but today’s chapel service is a close second to favorite part of the weekend, as well as least favorite.

The chapel holds a special place for me. I was the head of the Northfield Leauge, the group charged with running the Thursday and Sunday Chapel services that were part of our life back in the seventies. So getting to sit in the beautiful building I know so well and listen to the choir sing the familiar benediction always brings tears to my eyes.

Today’s chapel service was the one that welcomes the current senior class into the alumnae association. A few older women gave remarks as way of advice to the young women about to embark on the next step of their journey to adulthood. For the most part it was an inspiring and uplifting event, except for one woman who was there for her 50th reunion who, as a successful woman of Wall Street, talked about the importance of making your own money, investing it and not being dependent on any man. On the surface I agree with her on all fronts, but there was a missing piece to her speech about how being successful and independent gives a women the opportunity to do good in the world.

Immediately following this older woman’s speech was one from the current president of the school, a girl named Lizzy Turner who is graduating in June. She was an inspiring powerful speaker who laid out a much broader description of what a Walker’s woman was, not just someone who could earn a good living, but was concerned about the whole world, from social justice to their own families. The enthusiastic standing ovation she got helped send a message that life is more than just making money.

At lunch following the chapel my classmates and I talked about how we felt closer to the world that Lizzy Turner projected that the Wall Streeter. I am proud of the women I went to school with who are being the change they want to see in the world. I am hopeful that the young women who are following us are going to keep working to make the world a better place than we did. I hope for those young women that they also have the lifetime of friendships I have gotten from this place.


Thanks Dad

I’m on my way to my 35th boarding school reunion at The Ethel Walker School. Since I am going to be in Simsbury celebrating middle agedness with some of my favorite people on earth I am going to miss my father’s 76th birthday tomorrow.

It was thanks to my Dad that I went to EWS, a place I discovered myself, my voice and so many wonderful friends. When I was in ninth grade my Dad recognized that I was just one of five hundred students in my class with not enough to do after two in the afternoon when I would get home. My mother was not keen on sending me to boarding school. It was expensive and she held had not loved her years at Dana Hall. The fact that I am called Dana is a little bit of an irony and a story for another day. My dad had gone to VES for boarding school and loved it and thought I, like him, would benefit from a smaller school.

He was right. My first year of Walkers was hard, but I found my place. My Dad supported me in every way. One of my favorite memories was on father-daughter weekend my junior year when he enthusiastically played first base in the softball game. My Dad was probably the youngest father there and was well loved by all my friends. He played the game with gusto and when he jumped high to catch a fly ball his pants ripped completely down the middle and the two pant legs fell to the ground.

Without missing a beat he pulled the legs up, ran off the field, jumped over two stone walls and got a fresh pair of pants out of his yellow VW Scirocco and returned to the game in time to take his turn at bat. Of course he got a standing ovation from both the Suns and the Dials teams.

Since my Dad was working at Avon for many years at that point, surrounded by successful women he was a great promoter of girls and all that girls could do in the world. He often talked about writing a book called “why women” about why women were better workers. I wish he had because back then he would have been ahead of his time. Even though he never wrote the book he always told his three daughters and many of our friends that we could do great things in the world.

So Dad, I’m sorry I am missing your birthday tomorrow, but know that I will be spending the day with some of your fans, Nancy Mack, Karen Appel, Stori Stockwell and Sarah Brand and more. Thanks for all you have given, taught and encouraged me to do. I owe you everything for having given me the privilege and advantage of going to such a great school. Please know all the sacrifice is appreciated by me. I hope you have a great birthday.


Cantaloupe Soup



I let a cantaloupe sit a little too long on the counter. When I cut it open it smelled wonderful, but was just a little too mushy to eat solid. So I made soup with it and I might like this better than plain fruit.


1 whole cantaloupe seeded and cut from the rind

2 T. lemon juice

1 jalapeño pepper- seeded

1 inch of fresh ginger root- peeled



In a food processor place the ginger and the jalapeño and pulse until minced. Add the cantaloupe and lemon juice and run until pureed. Add a little salt to taste. If your cantaloupe was not sweet enough you may want to add a little honey.


Chill and serve.


You could also substitute fresh mint leaves for the jalapeno for a variation.

My Fourth Dimension



I was going to post a cantaloupe soup recipe today, but then I was over whelmed with kind messages about yesterday’s blog and I feel a response is required. I love getting comments on my blog and I don’t usually reply to the wordpress, facebook, words with friends, texted or e-mailed comments. I feel like everyone hears enough from me and just because I don’t write back a personal message to each one of you does not mean that I am not touched, moved or appreciative of the kind words you send me. I’m really grateful that most of the time you readers get my jokes and don’t hold me accountable for health, interpersonal or other advice that requires a doctor or professional. This blog is my therapy and should just be entertainment, inspiration or a “what’s for dinner” guide.


I don’t post before and after pictures of myself often because I am not fishing for compliments and this journey is not as simple as how I look. If I really wanted to shock you I would post pictures from eleven years ago when I weighed 135 pounds more than I do now.


For more of my life than not I have been fat, but I never felt like I was fat. I was a regular sized person carrying around a fat body. Today at Mah Jongg my friend Christy, who has known me for thirteen years and seen me regularly that whole time said, “I looked at the picture on your blog yesterday and I don’t remember you ever looking like that.” Now she is a true friend because I either looked like that or fatter than that more of the time she has known me than not.


The thing about just looking at a picture is you are only seeing a two dimensional vision of the person and we are all four-dimensional, the 3-d physical being and the 4th being the soul. Since Christy is a friend I think she remembers the fourth dimension of me and not just the physical. I think there is a kind of friend blindness where we see the good in people we love and tend to block out the bad. For that I am thankful.


My message today is don’t worry about getting older, having a few extra pounds, wrinkles, gray hair or no hair. Chances are the people who love you still love you no matter what and they may not notice, certainly not the way you notice yourself. People love you for your kindness, warmth, generosity and I hope in my case, sense of humor. So thanks for the kind words yesterday and today. Keep the messages coming. If you want to make me really happy just tell me I made you laugh, not that I look good. Looks will come and go, but laughter is forever.

Shockingly Less Dana, More Good Celebrates Second Anniversary

IMG_4303The start of the Callenge


2, 95, 103, 734… The number of years I have had this blog, the number of pounds I have lost in the last two years, the number of countries that have visited this blog (With the exception of the top five countries the rest have to be by accident) and the number of blog posts I have made ( I apparently posted four more posts than actually days because I had so much to say).


Two years ago today I sent out an e-mail inviting friends to log into this new blog. On the site was a video asking for pledges to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC for every pound I could lose by November 1, 2012. I had 744 views on the blog that day. I certainly did not send the e-mail out to seven hundred people, but I’m sure based on the numbers, people could not believe I was doing this weight loss challenge and had to watch the video multiple times.


A weight loss challenge for myself has been the most successful way for me to stick to a diet. I had done this before and lost 137 pounds and raised $48,000. The problem was that I gained over ninety pounds back over six years. The math on that is that I basically gained a little more than half an ounce a day. It certainly was easier to gain half an ounce than it was to lose.


During this last challenge I lost 53 pounds and raised $53,000 — more money per pound than the first one. That was great for the Food Bank and great for me, but I was still a long way from the weight I wanted to be. So without any money on the line I kept the blog portion of my challenge and worked on losing the weight just for myself.


Except for two days when I was too sick to lift a finger to the keyboard and write I posted a blog on this site everyday. My sweet husband and daughter posted things on those sick days so that I never missed posting in 730 days. I have to say that this very public accountability has been the difference. I think I have changed my eating habits to something I can live with. I certainly have changed my exercise routines.


I spend about twenty minutes everyday writing this blog, I think it is time well spent to be mindful. I am thankful for the people who follow me, encourage me, laugh with me, make fun of me, celebrate with me, cry with me, share their stories with me and inspire me. I am not at my resting place yet. So it’s the start of year three of Less Dana.


I know so well how a half an ounce a day on the plus side can get out of control. I am not looking for a half an ounce a day on the minus side for much longer, but what I do know is that very few days are even, most are plus or minus. It takes keen awareness and honesty with one’s self to stay on an even keel. I want to thank all you readers because you are my balance. Without you reading this blog I never would have gotten to where I am today and I am counting on you to keep me heading in the right direction. Thanks for the two years, I will try and keep you entertained in the next year.

Spring Vegetable Hash with a Poached Egg



Normally this would not be a dinner that my child would like, but she seemed to think it was OK. You can make it with any vegetables and it is a great way to use up small amounts of leftovers. I just used what was fresh from the farmer’s market.


3 Small Red potatoes – cut into a ½ inch dice

10 asparagus – cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup of fresh peas

2 leeks – cut into ¼ inch pieces

4 poached eggs


Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water and cook until fork tender- about 10 mins. Drain and set aside. In a separate pan with boiling water cook the asparagus until slightly under cooked. How long depends on how fat your asparagus is my pencil thick stalks took about 2 mins. Pull the asparagus out of the water and add the peas and cook them for two minutes and then drain them and set aside with the asparagus.


Spray a fry pan with Pam and put on a medium heat, add the leeks. Stirring often cook them for three mins and add potatoes and cook another four minutes so the potatoes start to get crispy. Add the green veggies and salt and pepper and cook until everything is hot.


Scoop a quarter of the mixture into a bowl and top with a warm poached egg.

Mother’s Day Amends



All the occasions that center around me happen in a eight-day period. First is our wedding anniversary followed the next day by my birthday and a few days later mother’s day. It can make for a really good week or a disappointment that I have to wait another year for my time to come around.


Last weekend for my birthday Carter wrote me a heartfelt letter. Yes, that is about all I ever really want. Flowers can die and fade away, and never should I ever be given candy or treats, but a letter I can read and reread especially when I need a pick me up, so it’s a good thing.


Since I got a letter for my birthday and Russ got my breakfast in bed this morning I was sure that Mother’s day would go unnoticed by the person in my house to whom I am an actual mother. I don’t come from a big tradition of honoring mothers. Heck, I just sent my mother a card and called and left her a message on the phone.


That is why I was caught off guard when Carter gave me an envelope. On the outside was written, “Mommy, Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks for the womb and board! And everything else you do for me! I love you! Baby Bug.” It was a lot of exclamation points, but the best part was that it was funny. A good pun goes a long way with me.


I was expecting another heartfelt letter, one that her father had reminded her to write. Then I opened the envelope to find the only real gift I ever want, a gift certificate to Chapel Hill Needlepoint. “I bought it with my own money, “ Carter told me. Her father confirmed that part.


What a surprise, a good joke and a real gift. I started to feel guilty about the just funny card I had sent my mother, with a couple of sentences, not even a whole heart felt letter. My fifteen year old had shown me up. So here is my open letter to my mother.


Dear Mom,


I hope you had a good day and that your two other children did more for you on Mother’s day than your first born. I know that I have not always been the perfect off spring and for everything I ever did that made you mad, embarrassed or sad I am sorry.


I know I don’t say it enough, but thanks for being my Mom. Despite the jokes I make you had to do some things right because I have never gone to jail, killed anyone that I know about or been banned from entering a foreign country. I know that leaves a lot of leeway, but I think I turned out OK, even if it took some 53 years to get here.


Mom, I think that the next 20 years you will see continued improvement in me so I hope that you can consider me a long-term project that eventually turned out the way you wanted.


Happy Mother’s Day!


Your Doodle Bug


To all you mother’s out there I hope you had a great day and that someone acknowledged all the hard work you do for your kids. If you have a mother and have not done anything it’s not too late, a heartfelt e-mail and a good pun go a long way. Go on and steal from Carter and thank her for the “Womb and board,” I’m sure your Mom does not read this blog.

Baked Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Red Pepper Sauce



Springtime at the farmers market makes me so happy. I was downtown bright and early at 8:00 this morning buying food for the week. Of course I had to make one trip back to the car to drop off my bags half way through shopping because I could not carry my basket of strawberries, bunches of asparagus, stalks of rhubarb, green beans and leeks and still have any hands free to get the rest of the items I was buying.


I ran into my friend Mary Lee who is a regular at the market and she alerted me to the squash blossoms that were for sale. You have to be a very early shopper to be able to get the precious squash blossoms. Most farmers hate to pick the blossoms and thus forgo having squash to sell. I understand this because I too hardly ever take the blossoms off my plants, but I may get over that affliction this year.


So tonight for dinner we had a farmer’s market extravaganza. I will save my spring vegetable hash with poached egg for a blog later in the week. Today you get the Baked Stuffed Squash Blossoms with red pepper sauce. Carter had eaten squash blossoms in Paris so I felt certain she would not turn her nose up at this first course of dinner.


6 squash blossoms – ours were about four inches long which is on the small side

1 oz. of goat cheese – crumbled

¼ cup of Parmesan Cheese- grated

½ cup of ricotta- used fat free

2 Eggs beaten

½ c. Panko Bread crumbs- in a shallow bowl

Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees


In a bowl mix all the cheeses and add 3 T. of the beaten egg mixture and salt and pepper. Put the cheese mixture in a Ziploc bag and cut of the tip of one corner to make a pastry bag. Hold the squash blossom in one hand and squeeze the cheese mixture into it packing in as much as possible. It is all right if it comes out the top.


Dip the filled blossom into the egg and then then in the panko coating it on all sides.


Place the flower on a cookie sheet that is covered with foil and sprayed with Pam. Repeat until all the flowers are done.


Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 15 mins until the flowers are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.


To serve place a large spoonful of red pepper sauce on the plate and place the flowers on top.


Red Pepper Sauce


2 Sweet Red Peppers

1 large Onion- chopped

2 T. half and half

Red pepper flakes


Wash you peppers and then turn a burner on your stove on high. Set the peppers on the grates of the stove and using tongs turn them every so often until most of the skin had blackened. When that has happened place the peppers in a brown paper bag and seal it and let them sweat in the bag until they are cool enough to handle.


Put the onions in a pot sprayed with Pam and cook then on medium heat until they are soft- about 10 mins.


Take the cooled peppers and scrape off the skin and cut them open and discard the seeds and the stem. Add them to the onions with salt and pepper and a couple of red pepper flakes. Add 3 T. of water and the half and half and using a stick blender puree the mixture until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

Baby Food

IMG_4285 IMG_4280 IMG_4288
I like having friends of all different ages. It is always helpful to have someone who has been through a stage of life I am in to help give me perspective or advice and then turn around and do the same for someone else.


Today my great friend Jan who moved to Texas four years ago was up visiting and taking care of her 15 month old granddaughter, Elliott. Since Jan is doing the Grandmother thing I asked her to come over for a walk to lunch play date with E. Although I am a long way off from the Grandmother stage it was so fun to play with a baby.


I feel like Jan and I have come full circle because I have known her since before Carter was born. It seems like yesterday that I used to roll Carter in her stroller into the darkened locker room of Hope Valley where she would sleep while Jan, Roz, Judy and I would play Mah Jongg in the ladies card room.   Jan’s kids were in elementary school then and now one is married and the other is getting married next month.


Elliott is a happy baby. She has two dogs of her own so she was totally cool meeting Shay Shay who was most intrigued with this little person. I was happy Shay did not think to look where the squeaker was on Elliott. After some play time with the dog Jan and E and I set out on a meandering walk to lunch.


Things have changed in the baby eating world since I had Carter. First Jan had a disposable stick down placemat that covered the public table that had who knows what germs. Then she began the breaking up of the crunchy section of the meal. E really likes teddy grahams, but they must have their tiny little ears and legs broken off and then their bodies and head quartered so they are baby bite sized, smaller than half a kernel of corn. I helped with the breaking, but found that I was better at making graham dust than bite sized pieces.


Elliot was an expert at picking up each tiny crumb and popping it in her mouth. Me, with my aging eyesight could hardly see the actual the tiny teddies. Jan told me that Elliot was very particular about what she liked to eat and to demonstrate she pinched off two tiny bits of bread from her sandwich and added them to the pile of teddy chunks we had made when E was not watching. Not one second later did Elliot pick up one of the bits of bread and without any fanfare drop it on the floor since it certainly was not a teddy graham. She quickly found the second piece of bread and did the same.


Then came the wet portion of the meal, a squeeze tube of amaranth, zucchini and banana.   Jan and I both decided that baby food had changed a lot since we had our babies because we did not even know what amaranth was. I guessed it was a grain and Jan confirmed I was right as she read the description on the package, “An ancient grain that pairs well with the zing of zucchini and the sweetness of banana.” Obviously the copywriter at the baby food company was counting on the fact that baby’s don’t read descriptions since I have never encountered a zingy zucchini in its natural state in my life.


E. loved the stuff in the tube, but when Jan offered her a bit of bacon she spit, wiped, waved and demanded that the offending pork product be removed from her being. An avocado was not met with any greater love.


I guess they have made baby food too good because it is dwarfing the appeal of bacon. I can remember that Carter’s first solid food was some horrible rice cereal. Then one day we gave her some bacon and she looked at me like, “Why the hell have you been giving me that damn cereal when this stuff exists in the world?”


I’m sure that by the time I am a grandmother things will change again. Who knows what format babies will want food in then, but I can pretty much guarantee that zucchini will still not be zingy all on it’s own, no matter what the package says.

Do I Need Three Daily Constitutionals?



Today my friend Sara wanted to do something to celebrate my birthday so we took a walk to a local spot for lunch. We were lucky that the humidity was low even though it was warm so we did not get too sweaty to eat lunch at a place with people who were not exercising right before dining.


It was the perfect guilt free way to commemorate my birthday; nice walk, good friend, healthy lunch, great conversation and post merriment walk back. It got me thinking that I should have to walk to all my meals. Not that it would increase the amount I walk in a day, but that I think it makes me more mindful of my eating.


Mindless eating is an issue I think I have overcome after two years of writing this blog. I started by vowing not to eat in the car. I feel like the advent of the drive thru restaurant, and I use the term restaurant very loosely here, is the downfall of the American civilization. We should not have such easy access to unhealthy and fattening food. Drive thru raw vegetable stands are fine, but for French fries we should have to climb a mountain or jump over thirty hurdles before being served a small bag.


Also eating while driving does not give your stomach a chance to register that you are eating at all. Our mind really is on the driving, or at least I hope it is. I think it is best if we enjoy our food with another human being. This is not always possible for me, but I do notice I eat much more slowly when I have someone to talk with during a meal. I do have the terrible habit of eating my breakfast in front of TV while a small dog sits at the ready to drink the milk from my bowl. I don’t think eating with Shay counts as a dining companion.


Sara has been a great friend and avid follower of my blog and weight loss progress. She asked me what my plan was when I reached my goal for keeping the weight off. Since I have lost and gained weight so many times the maintenance part is the most important and difficult task. The one thing I know is that accountability is my best friend. I don’t anticipate changing much of anything.


I certainly can’t add sugar back to my life. I still will need to exercise the same amount. White flour is still a foe. Mostly, I will still need to write my blog everyday. Knowing that there are people all around me with their eyes on me has been the biggest helper to my keeping on track. This is all very easy to say while I still have a few more pounds I want to drop, or a couple of items in my closet that still don’t quite fit.


It seems that if I hover right above my goal and never quite reach it I will stay the course, but then there is the part of me that wants to reach my goal and see if I am able to maintain. Perhaps I should add walking to or before and after every meal. When I get really sick of eating at the places that are close by I might reach my goal because I make myself walk downtown for lunch. Of course I might end up only having time for one meal a day by the time I reach lunch, eat it and walk home.

Work Friends



Five years ago this month I got a job completely by chance that I was not looking for, was not really qualified for, and did not even really know if I wanted. The owner of the brand new Durham Magazine called me up and asked to see me about working at his publication. Since I had just received the inaugural issue in the mail I was intrigued and went to see him.


I met Dan Shannon at his Chapel Hill Magazine office and we talked. As he was trying to figure out if I should work there and I was giving him the bottom line on me so he could back out on the idea before we both got in too deep. This is what I told him, “I’m a mother and I have a husband who travels a lot, so my child comes first, I am on a number of non-profit boards and they are my priority, I also take a lot of vacations, I am not looking for a job and I am a real bitch.”


I think it was the last line that made him insist that I work at the Magazine. So I started with the understanding that I was in line to be the Chair of the board of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and when that happened I might not have time to work for him. So without wanting or needing a job I started as the Community and Events Editor of Durham Magazine, a title that he and I made up that day and one I have held ever since.


What I did not know then was that the best part of working for the magazine was going to be the friendships I made with my young co-workers. For my first issue I had to have my picture taken by the staff Photographer, Brianna Brough. Little did I know then that I would get to know and love her and have the privilege and fun of working on so many great stories with her.


Bri and I joke about the book of photos she has of me that would be called “Dana’s butt” since I often was holding her reflective disk so she could get the perfect shot of someone who was the subject of a story I was writing. It was Bri who came on the Colin Firth shoot we did when I got to interview him between takes in the movie Main Street. The movie may have been a flop, but the interview was a highlight of my magazine career.


Last year I got a new boss in editor Andrea Griffith Cash. She convinced me to come back to work while I was still board chair and write about people doing good works in Durham. Writing one column an issue was the perfect way to keep my hand in the magazine while not being taxing in any way.


Last month Andrea told me that I was being included in the Women’s issue as one of ten women featured in a story on Non-profits. I objected that it might appear self-serving for me to be a subject in a magazine I contributed to. Andrea told me to get over it. So today I had to go for my official photo shoot with Bri for my profile picture for the story.


Being a model is so much harder than being the person who holds the reflecting disk. I am thankful that Bri is such a talented photographer and great friend so I feel comfortable that she has taken at least one good shot.


At the end of the session I asked Bri and Andrea if they would do a selfie with me for the blog and so I could have a picture of myself with me two great young friends. It is the friendships I have made that make me keep working. Thanks to Andrea and Bri for all the fun.

Swim Suit Calorie Estimates




I finally broke down today and went swim suit shopping. For most women I know it is the worst day of the year. No matter your size or shape at age 53 there is not much good about trying on bathing suits. Not that I am going to appear in public in a swimming costume anytime soon, but I figured I better get an idea of how my new body looks in different suits while there are still a few choices left in the stores.


I thought that an off Tuesday morning would mean fewer shoppers and a chance for me to get the handicapped dressing room so I had enough room to stand far enough from the mirror so I could get a good full look at all the sides of me without having to go out in the hallway and use the big three way mirror.


I started by perusing all the choices on the floor and then I gathered at least ten suits to take in the dressing all at once so that I did not have to leave the privacy of the dressing room to get a different model.


Trying on bathing suits is a workout that is not listed on any exercise websites. As I tugged and wriggled and pulled varying amounts of spandex around various body parts I started thinking that I should be getting walking credit for the amount of calories I was burning by trying suits on.


If the bathing suit was a one piece but had a shelf bra with no under wires I burned about 15 calories trying it on if it were a size too big. Same suit in the right size was 18 calories and in a size too small burned 25 calories. If you added a complicated under wire/bra system to a bathing suit it added another 5 calories to the trying on workout. Those estimates are for “regular” suits.


When I tried on a “Miracle” suit you could double the calories burned because of all the contorting, and wriggling and pulling it took to get the suit on in the right places and all the parts tucked in. Then there were the calories burned by standing on my tipee toes to see if my legs looked better longer and thinner. Well of course they did, but my legs are not going to get any longer.


Despite the extra good workout I got in all the “Miracle Suits” they were no marvel. I ended up getting the least expensive suit I tried on and gave up going to a second store to continue the “Try on work out.” I know that all the suits in my closet are too big based on the fact that I had to buy a size I have not seen in the swimwear category since I think I was in high school. I’m sure that there has been size inflation, but I am taking this new suit as a small victory. Let’s just hope it can hold all the parts in the right places since it is the most basic model without any bells or whistles. I also bought new underpants, but since I could not try those on the report about their fit will have to come later. I know you can hardly wait.

What’s That Flapping Sound?




People who know I walk 20,000 steps a say have asked me if I ever considered running. I laugh. When I was 28 I had a bad moped accident in Greece and the stateside Ortho Doc told me the good news was I would recover from my hip dislocation, broken leg and broken arm, but that I would never run again. I told him I could not run before so I was even. Running is not in my cards, but the good news is I have not worn out any knees or hips.


I have to admit that all this walking and weight loss has made it easier to run on the odd occasion when I am trying to catch a run-away dog or chasing the recycling truck down the street because I was late in rolling my cart to the curb. The other day I took Shay Shay out for a walk and it was much colder than I had anticipated. In my underdressed state Shay decided she needed a long walk before she would submit to her business.


When she finally decided she was done it started to drizzle, as we were three streets away from home. The cold rain was not helping my situation since I was only wearing a t-shirt and it was about 50 degrees out. Shay also is a bit of a princess and does not like to get wet. I am sure the lab part of her was bred way out and this is a poodle trait. If only Shay realized that a little spritzing of her curly coat improves her look a lot.


With my small dog pulling on her leash we both started to run to get home. Now Shay can out run me any day, but having her tug at me certainly helped get me up to speed and stay there for a good three minutes. Since I was able to run that distance without panting I noticed a different sound, something like flapping. I looked to the sky to see if a large hawk was flying overhead, but saw nothing. That is when I realized the flapping was my own flabby body parts slapping against myself.


Before you blame my large breasts I will tell you I had on my most supportive sports bra, so I ruled out the most likely flapping culprit. That left three potential perpetrators, my stomach, my thighs or the underside of my upper arms. I stopped running very abruptly and practically choked my dog to death as the leashed pulled against her collar. The flapping sound stopped.


Since I have no way to isolate one flapping flabby area from the other I am not sure I will ever identify exactly who caused the terrible sound, but what I do know is the Doctor’s prediction that I will never run again was not exactly true. Instead I should only run with deaf people because the hearing runner will be thrown off stride if they run with me because they will keep ducking and looking to the sky to avoid the large bird of prey that most certainly is flying along with us.

May The Fourth Be With You




It was Star Wars Day at the Durham Bulls. Not that I knew that when I decided to use Russ’ company seats at the Baseball game. I love to go to the Bulls games in May when the air is cool and the humidity low. After going last Sunday night without a friend Carter decided to make up for it and bring three friends tonight.


So Campbell, Elizabeth and Liza came along for the game. Since we sit in the second and third rows right behind the Bulls dug out I warned the girls to pay attention to the game because sometimes a bat might come flying near our seats. It does not happen often, but you never know. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for us to have to bring a teenager home broken.


Russ and I also brought our friends Dave and Sara so we were all busy talking with out chosen friends when a bat came flying and hit a man five seats down the row from us. We were not sure how badly he was hurt since it appeared the bat had hit him in the leg. Eventually the usher brought a consolation bat to the hurt man as an apology for getting hit. I always thought it was a dangerous thing to give a weapon to someone who might be upset by getting hurt.


The game continued and not two innings later another bat came flying into the stands and hit Campbell in the thigh. She said she was fine, but we will see how bruised up she is in the morning. The usher came by and said he would get her the bat she was due. Campbell was not interested in getting a bat, but Carter insisted she get one. Since she was hit by the Columbus player and not a Durham Bull it took the usher a little longer to coax a bat from the player who had hit her. Eventually he came bearing the apology bat and she shyly took it.


Sorry that Campbell got hit at all, but I am just thankful that no one was hurt more seriously. If the force had been with that player he could have swung that bat much harder and really hurt one of us. The Bulls won the game 6-2, but I am not sure I want to go to Star Wars night next years given that bats were flying around like light sabers this year. I hope Carter’s friends will still want to go to baseball games again after this.

Birthday Guilt


Boy, am I going to have birthday guilt come tomorrow. I just had afternoon tea at the Fearington House and let loose of all healthy ways to celebrate my big day, and this is just the beginning. We still have dinner tonight and brunch. If I were Catholic I would be headed to confession.

One of the best things about Russ is one of the worst things. He is so busy with work that he does not plan celebrations far in advance. That leads him to go so much bigger because it is last minute. So a night at the Fearington House with a massage and flowers and the decadent eating. He wanted to do more but the front desk told him yesterday this was all they could fit in since most everyone else who comes for the weekend plans their trips far in advance. They don’t know Russ. The other thing about him is that once he has given me a gift I love he somehow thinks he needs to give me that gift again, year after year, but then he wants to do something new so the number of gifts keeps growing. I am totally spoiled.

It has been a great birthday this year, especially since it is not a big number. It started last week with my friend Donnabeth taking me to lunch. Then Hannah had a lunch at her house to celebrate my and Michelle’s birthdays. Yesterday my Mom came and took me to lunch and last night Renee organized drinks at the club for the May birthday gang. De showed up with a darling orchid for me. Sadly Beth Sholtz who shares my birthday was not there because of a last minute issue. Suzanne sent a gorgeous hydrangea yesterday and Carter thought it dwarfed the beautiful orchid Russ sent. I am continuing the parties next week with lunch with Shelayne and Susan Monday.

Facebook has totally changed birthdays because so many friends are reminded it’s your day and send kind messages. As far as I am concerned it is the best use of Facebook.
I used to hate birthdays because I selfishly thought the day did not live up to the hype. Not now. It could not have been a better day and it is not over yet.

Besides my friend Beth it is also my friends Gussy, Tricia and Cousin Sarah’s birthday. Happy birthday to all of you. Some years are better than others and I hope that you all have your best year yet.

I am not as good as Russ at celebrating other people’s birthday. I want to keep hold of how great this day has been and make sure that I honor my friends and family on their big days in a way that makes them this happy. I just can’t break my diet this way on any other day but my own birthday or I will cut short the number of birthdays I have.

Happy May Third to all of you. Go out and celebrate, it’s my birthday.

Twenty-Two Years; Same Man, Same Woman, Same Tux

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One score and two years ago Russ Lange did the riskiest thing he had every done in his life and that was marry me. Consider that he spent three months analyzing what new car he should buy before settling on a white Ford Taurus station wagon at age 26, but then asked me to marry him just 10 days after he first kissed me. Little did he know that the ride he would have with me was going to be much wilder than his stayed and studied vanilla station wagon path had him heading down.


I count my lucky stars that somehow we ended up with each other, but I never doubt why we have stayed together, or at least why I stay with him. Why Russ stays is fodder for his blog.


As the years go by I have some big ups and some big downs, but Russ is the steady oak, always there. Like the tuxedo he bought for our wedding and still wears three or four times a year, he is a classic. He is supportive, even when I’m crazy, he pushes me when I need it and catches me when I fall. He is brilliant, but not condescending. His generosity is unparalleled. I know I am undeserving.


Anniversaries are for two, but poor Russ somehow was set up for a lifetime of anniversaries being about me since we got married the day before my birthday. Then we had to go and have a baby and add Mother’s day to the week of celebrations. For this I want to apologize. May 2 was the only day the church and Sulgrave Club were both free. Russ I acknowledge you got done in because of this.


Russ, I hope you have more good days than bad with me. I know I’ve had more good years than bad because of you. So happy 22 years together. I can’t wait for the next 22.




If I were a Miss America contestant, Ok don’t laugh so hard that you stop reading, just go with my premise, so if I could possibly be a Miss America Contestant, OK, even states like North Dakota who only have like six women the right age have contestants, so if you are having a hard time imagining me being eligible, forget the fact that I am too old and married, imagine that I am Miss North Dakota, OK, as a Miss America contestant my cause would be the rekindling of the lime population. I know it’s no world peace as a platform, but the great Limeapocalypse is a serious problem.


Since Cinco de Mayo is still four days away you might not realize that there has been a terrible lime shortage this spring. On May 5th you may not be able to get a Margarita made with real fresh lime juice or you might have to pay double and then this crisis will hit home for you. For me I have been silently suffering the shortage for a while.


Lime tree disease and lack of rain in Mexico have ruined this year lime crop. As soon as one Mexican drug cartel realized that limes were getting to be more valuable than weed they started stealing the precious few off the trees the poor farmers still had. A case of limes went from $14 to $100 practically overnight and poses no issue to smuggle.


I knew the shortage was really serious when my mesh bag of limes I buy every two weeks at Costco went from $3.99 a bag to $9.99 and for the last three weeks have not being stocked at all


For most of you the loss of the tart green citrus in not life threatening, but for me it is like I have lost a limb. I am a serious iced tea addict and my tea of preference is to take it with lime and sweet ‘n low. Please no comments on the sweet ‘n low it is my last vice. It is not just in tea that I use lime, but if you were to search for “lime” in the Less Dana blog you would discover 19 recipes that call for lime and at least a dozen other posts where I write about limes in some way.


Tragic as it is to admit I am a lime addict. I have so little in life that really makes me as happy a lime and this shortage has the potential to ruin a good summer. Yes, I know for many of you limes and lemons are interchangeable, but they are not. And have you seen the price of lemons these days? I know that the lemon growers are making the most of this lime problem and charging as much as they can for the poor lime substitute.


I ask, as only a Miss America contestant could do, with mascara stained tears streaming down my face, “Please pray for the Mexican lime trees, their farmers, packers and importers.” I’m not sure how I am going to survive through the shortage, but I am looking into the cost of building a glass house to grow lime trees in Durham.