All Sports are Better With Hats



I am a very competitive person, but not very athletic, which might actually be a good thing. If I were good at sports I might not have any friends because I would constantly working on beating them. There are a few things I can do and one is croquet. Perhaps it is because I really like the outfits. If more sports encouraged large floppy hats I might have tried a little harder at them.


Today we are off to celebrate our dear friend’s Mick and Hannah’s 20th anniversary with a friendly game of croquet. Not many steps are spent on your average game so I am going to have to circle my opponents at all times to make the game exercise friendly. I think it might also make them nervous so thus my competitive side comes out.


The only problem I see in this event is that it is going to eat into my needlepoint championship, which ends on Wednesday at 4:30 exactly. I have been in a yearlong battle with a few other competitive stitchers and I bet that none of them are spending the last precious days playing croquet. Now I just have to figure out how to wear a big hat, circle the wickets, stitch and hit my ball to the stick all at the same time. I’ll post a photo on Face book if I am able to succeed. Until then, I’m off to the green.

Asian Baby Eggplant Salad



Today at the farmers market there were these beautiful tiny purple and white eggplant. Not having any idea what I was going to do with them I scooped up two pints and brought them home along with six kinds of tomatoes, corn and lots of other end of summer yummies.


I have been eating a lot of tomato and mozzarella or tomato and goat cheese salads so I wanted to prepare the eggplant in a flavor profile other than Mediterranean. SO what could be better than something with fish sauce? Since I was hungry I also wanted to make something fast. Turned out to be both easy and delicious all the while remaining healthy. Win, win, win.


20-baby eggplant – halved

1 T. olive oil

20 cherry tomatoes- halved

20-mint leaves- chopped

20 basil leaves- chopped




Juice of two limes

2 Tb. Fish sauce

3 splenda packets

3 dried red chilies – or you can use a ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 cloves of garlic

1 T. olive oil

2 T. fresh ginger-grated

1 T. soy sauce


Heat a non-stick fry pan up to medium high heat and add olive oil and the eggplant. Sautee until golden brown and soft, stirring often. This will take about three minutes.


In a blender or using a stick blender mix all the ingredients for the dressing and whirl until the garlic and the chilies are finely minced.


Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit for a few minutes sot he flavors can marry. Can be served at any temperature, but will be even better then next day..

Certain Slow Death



Yesterday I was driving home from downtown Durham early in the morning and I noticed a biscuit war between Biscuitville and Hardees had broken out. The little moveable black letter sign outside Biscuitville read, “Best biscuits in town” and not 200 feet down the road the little moveable black letter sign at Hardees read “Fried Bologna & Velveeta Biscuits.”


I got to thinking that assisted suicide is illegal here in this state, yet slow, long drawn out killing by biscuits is apparently legal. Now Biscuitville could change their sign to read, “You can eat more of our biscuits in a lifetime than the other guys,” followed by tiny mice type reading, “As long as you eat a plain biscuit.” And Hardees could change their sign to, “Fried Bologna & Velveeta biscuits, perfect for your mother-in-law.” Tiny mice type, “Who you are tired of having live with you.” Those might be more honest ads. Or if you really wanted to demand total honesty, “We are going to love you to death with our biscuits.”


I feel like Hardees has thrown in the towel as far as ever wanting to have customers who live past the age of forty-five. How much bad can you put on one breakfast sandwich when you are frying an already fat-full piece of bologna and then adding the “cheese product” known as Velveeta that is only made out of oil and does not require refrigeration? I was not even talking about the butter/lard and who knows what else biscuit full of salt.


I checked the sodium content of this morning treat and it has 1030 MG of sodium. The average recommended daily serving is 1200mg. Good luck, there is practically sodium in air, you will surpass your limit before your morning coffee break. That is if you only eat one biscuit and no hash browns. I bet Hardees might even do a two-fer-one deal on those heart stoppers.


I wonder if the makers of the moveable black letter signs make the word “Biscuit” in a premade version so the fast food workers don’t have to figure out how to spell it when putting up the advertisement. I am yet to see one of those signs with the words, “fruit skewer special.”


Really North Carolina, if you are not going to allow assisted suicide for people who are clearly suffering from some heinous aliment, you really should not allow “Fried bologna and Velveeta biscuits.” It’s the same thing, just slower.

The Hundred Foot Journey- A Dieter’s Torture



Today my friend Christy and I went to lunch and since our children, at least mine and most of hers are away on school trips we decided to do the decedent thing of going to an afternoon movie. I have not been to the movies all summer, mostly because there has not been anything I was dying to see, but now good movies are starting to come back out.


We went to see Helen Miren in “The Hundred Foot Journey” a food movie if ever there was one. I am thankful for a couple for a couple of things. First, that we went directly from lunch to the movies, that way I was full and not tempted by the regular movie treats and also that I was full and not seduced by the food being portrayed on the screen. The second thing I was thankful for was the lack of smell-a-vision.


If Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey had ponied up for installing the completely doable technology to make the smells of the foods that were being cooked at the appropriate times in the theatres the movie could have been renamed, “The ten thousand calorie journey.” In order to cover the extra costs of smell-a-vision the producers could have sold the companion cookbook and even the mail-order complete frozen dinner service for all the foods they cooked in the movie.


Clearly Steven and Oprah have not learned the successful marketing circle that Disney so beautifully mastered by making a toy, a book and a ride at Disney World as well as dress up costumes to match each movie they put out.


It’s not too late for the producers to throw together an around the globe eating tour to take lovers of the movie and eating to Paris and then to India and back to wherever in France the movie was shot. Cooking lessons could be included as well as language courses so regular ‘ole Americans could understand the many parts of the movie that were not translated into our native tongue.


As a professional weight-loss expert I do not recommend seeing this film on an empty stomach. The number of beautiful food related minutes in the movie are too great to test the will power of most mere mortals, let alone anyone who is trying to actively drop a few pounds. But for all lovers of food and the visual arts it is a film worth seeing. I think I need to see it a second time and take notes about the actual dishes. This first time I just let the calories flow over me. Of course I was craving both French bread and Curried Goat at the same time after the movie was over.


The one thing I wish I had was the list of ingredients the star used in his Indian inspired omelet. Please, please let that recipe get put on the Internet so I can make it at home. Not only did it look delicious, but also it did not seem too far outside my healthy eating regime. This movie was pure food porn and I feel dirty for loving it so much.

So Many Surveys, So Little Improvement



Seems like I get six or seven surveys a day asking how some service I received or product I bought was. Not only do some companies send you one or two e-mail, but my car service department sent me nine different requests to review the same oil change. Hey Ford, if I had a problem you would know it, take my silence as a good sign and stop bugging me.


E-mail is harmless enough and easy to delete, but phone calls to ask me about my service are a line that should not be crossed. Any of my readers certainly know that I have strong opinions and am never shy about letting the appropriate people know when I am very unhappy or very happy.


Today at lunch a group of us got a yummy Nicoise Salad. We thought it should have come with capers, based on our historical knowledge of what a Nicoise salad usually had and the description in the menu. We asked the waitress and she brought us an abundance of capers to add to our lunch, which we greatly appreciated.


She told us that what we got was the chef’s interpretation of the Nicoise Salad. Fine, he can interpret all he wants and I will just order capers on the side. A supervisor later told us that capers were supposed to come on that salad. Since we are regulars at this place and she was new I let her know not to bother trying to sell us any excuses the sous chef wants her to sell us next time. It might not have been the nicest thing in the world to say, but it will save her heartache when she waits on me in the future. I did not need a survey to ask me what was wrong, it was easiest to tell the person I will see regularly how to make sure I am a happy customer.


I like to give feedback so things get better, but what I can’t stand is being asked to spend my time to help someone improve their business and then have them repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Stop asking me ‘cause it is worst that I went to the trouble of telling you and you ignored me.


The world has plenty of ways to give feed back and most of them are public and not nice. Sometimes I read trip advisor reviews and want to have a review of the reviewer. Clearly their standards are not the same as my standards. Sometimes I am more harsh than others just because I am hungry, as was probably the case today according to my friend Carol.


It’s all right to ask for feed back, but please don’t badger customers to death to tell you what they think. They may have been perfectly happy until you started bothering them, take no news as good news.



My Day with Jean(ne)s



Somehow today everything on my calendar ended up to be with different friends named Jean(ne). It started with my annual lunch to celebrate my friend Jean Bethea’s birthday, which was a happy occasion. Jean and I have been friends at least fifteen years. She is always good about remembering my birthday and celebrating it with not just gifts, but a lunch out to catch up.


I am not as good at birthdays. Hard as I try I usually miss the actual day, especially Jean’s since it is in the beginning of August, a time of year I don’t look at the calendar, know what day it is or even what time it is. This year was a little better than usual because we actually had our lunch out in the same month as her birthday. I am trying to be better at these things especially given my second Jeanne thing today.


See my great and wonderful friend Jeanne Behr is moving on Saturday. I am sad, sad, sad, but since her husband David Anderson got a great job at George Washington University I know she has to go.   I still don’t have to be happy about it. Last week Jeanne and I got together for what we thought was our going away lunch and trip to the needlepoint store, but we were not ready to say goodbye.


So we are having dinner tonight and I promise no crying even though it is what I feel like doing. Jeanne and I got to know each other originally at church while she and David were dating. They sat in my regular section. We liked and disliked the same things. We laughed about the same things and complained about the same things. Eventually I started to bug David about when they might get married. When the time came I was the director of their wedding.


It seems to me like I have friends moving away at a much faster rate than I am making them. This is not good given that my child is not going to be living at home in about three years and the rate at which one makes new friends slows down dramatically without a child.


Of course I will still be friends with Jeanne, she is just moving five hours away, but it is not the same as having that person sitting behind you on Sunday. The best gift I can give Jeanne is a chance to meet some of my Washington area friends so she can start to make friends in her new home. Her kids are way grown up. She is moving to Old Town Alexandria so you people in the capital area contact me so I can put you in touch with her, Dorothy Pearson I’m talking to you.


I have an opening in my friends named Jeanne category as well as my friend’s named David. Yes, David I will miss you too, especially your dry wit, but I am still a little mad at your for taking Jeanne away. Just remember that Durham is a good place to retire to and I bet I can get your place in the pew behind me back from whoever moves into your spot. There is no way they can be as good as you two are.



Please Summer, Don’t Go




I am fighting the end of summer in the worst way. I wait all year for it to get here –plan as much travel, camp, eating warm just picked tomatoes, not waking up before the sun, lazing around as I can fit into the months Carter is out of school. Meetings don’t happen, or if I want to skip them I can use the “it’s summer excuse,” the phone does not ring, e-mails are more junk than requests for actual work, everyone is forgiving.


Last week Carter started back at school, but I still was in denial. It had been a big summer, Africa, Maine, Baltimore, Washington, Hamilton, Mass. Carter had five weeks of camp, we had a week of family camp and three days at Warren’s Maine HoJo’s retreat. I got nothing done at home. Piles of to-do chores continued to build up. Magazine work sat on my computer. Cars in need of inspections sat in the driveway unchecked. Requests lay in my in-box unanswered, even invitations to probably really fun parties went un–RSVP’d to which is a major pet peeve, except in the summer.


Since going to Maine I let my walking get cut in half to 10,000 steps a day so that I might actually get something productive done with the last few days of summer. All that happened is that I walked less. No closets were cleaned out, or clothes taken to consignment even though they did actually move from the ottoman in our bed room to laundry baskets by the garage door months ago.


Now all my desks both standing and sitting are full of piles of things like Carter’s Honor Camper certificate and trip itineraries from our safaris so I can have a reference when I actually get around to finishing our Africa photo book. I owe e-mails with pictures of all the friends we made on our travels who I promised I would send pictures to. But nothing is happening because my mind is still in summer mode with no end in sight.


I extended summer a little by driving the Cheerio reunion gang to Charlotte this weekend and taking a mini alone vacation in which I intended to actually get some work done. The only problem is I had too much fun on that overnight because Charlotte friends read my blog I posted at 7:00 that night and invited me to have dinner with them at the last minute. How could I say no, and why would I, it was still summer in my mind and the heat proved it.


Here is the problem. Summer is over. I need to start looking at my calendar a few days ahead and see what I am supposed to be doing rather than a few days after and see what I have missed. Today at noon I opened the freezer in the garage and was reminded that I was in charge of the vegetarian entrée and the delivery of a friend’s cake at a church new members dinner that was held last night. Being a summer slacker as an excuse is going to start to wear thin.


So I offer this blog as my blanket apology if I have owed you something, missed a meeting, or thank you note. I may make it back into the land of the super organized, over achieving, pain-in-the-asses, but then again, maybe not. I really like summer.

1950’s Peach and Cottage Cheese Redux



After the drive home from Charlotte with the car full of teenagers I was just wiped out. I started the day by treating myself to a real breakfast this morning which turned out to be more difficult than I thought. There was a very cute French Bistro right near my hotel so since I was working on my Eiffel Tower needlepoint I thought it was the right place for me to go.

I got there well before the post church crowd and was seated at a cafe table outside where I had good strong sun light to stitch by while I waited. And wait I did. A middle aged woman alone is the customer that gets forgotten. I ordered my usual iced tea and scrambled eggs. My tea came quickly, but not my food. No worries I was stitching and enjoying the outdoors.

Long after I had drained my glass a young man who was not my waitress dropped a plate in front of me. Before he could get away I asked for salt and pepper and more tea. The spices arrived quickly which hardly made a difference because the eggs were cold. I eventually flagged down another server and sent my plate back. I was still without any more tea when my second plate of nice hot eggs arrived.

Only the second time I saw my waitress was when I was finished with my meal and needing my check, I never got any more tea. So much for the treat of a real breakfast. I should have stuck to my standard cereal and milk and saved myself the aggregation.

I got home just in time to kiss Russ goodbye before he left for San Francisco. I am hopeful that the earth will be still while he is there this week. I was too tired to go to the grocery and since Carter had sushi available for her dinner I decided just to scrounge something up for myself. I looked at a bowl of perfectly ripe peaches on the counter and decided that I needed to eat them today or tomorrow or lose them all together.
I peeled and sliced two peaches and put them in a bowl. I considered just pouring some milk on the and being done with it when I found a nice container of cottage cheese in the fridge.

How many 1950’s old cookbooks had I seen in my house growing up that had a photo of a lettuce lead with a half a peach and a scoop of cottage cheese topped with half, not a whole one mind you, but half a maraschino cherry? I spooned out a hunk of cottage cheese on my fruit, then turned to my bag of tart dried cherries. After cutting about dozen in half I sprinkled them liberally over the dish and took a bite. Heaven. Sweet, tar, creamy, juicy. Every bit of me was satisfied with these three ingredients. Sometimes they were on to something in the 1950’s and it was so much faster to make it and serve it to myself without aggravation.

Charlotte Three Decades On


I’m writing my blog from the comfort of my Hampton Inn room in Charlotte where I sit alone, needle pointing, watching movies and having major Deja Vu. My purpose for spending a Saturday night alone while Russ and Shay hold down the Durham fort is that I am here solely as a driver. Carter and her 2C Camp Cheerio friends planned a reunion in Charlotte for this weekend.

The overwhelming love of camp and each other made this one-month-out-of-camp get together mandatory. Of course ten fifteen year olds can’t drive themselves so I volunteered to fire up the old Land Cruiser and stuff it full of as many kids from the triangle and Greensboro as I could fit. One generous Charlotte Mom, Melanie offered up her house for the girls to stay at. The plan is that the boys are staying at William’s house, but boy planning is totally different than girl planning so I hope that Mom knows what’s going on.

Hearing girls, hanging out the window of their Mom’s car, scream out “CCCAAARRRTTTEERR,” as they pulled into the meeting spot parking lot made my heart happy. The friendships developed at camp are different than all others so I am happy to act as a bus driver. The bonus is I get a night in Charlotte.

Thirty years ago I used to spend a lot of time here selling mail opening and extracting machines to the growing banking and remittance processing businesses here. North Carolina was the southern most side of my five state territory. I quickly learned that flying to Charlotte on Piedmont Airlines was the way to go, especially since I was trying to rack up enough frequent flyer points to fly to Greece. I miss Piedmont Airlines.

Although Charlotte was always the biggest place in North Carolina it is different now than it was then. Back in the day I used to stay at a Holiday Inn, that was until one morning when the room service clerk delivered my bagel and cream cheese order. Since my job often required me to visit a client’s site very early in the morning I would eat breakfast while doing my hair, it was the 80’s after all and hair was a big production.

This particular morning the clerk brought me blue cheese rather than cream cheese. I called the front desk to let them know of the mistake I discovered after taking a bite. The response of “We don’t have blue cheese,” was an unwelcome discovery. That was when I looked more closely at the small paper cup the odorous cheese had come in. The Holiday Inn did not know they were growing their own blue cheese without a license. I never stayed there again.

Food in Charlotte is much better now than it was then. Beside the mold problem I used to only eat BBQ here. Yes, it was good barbecue, but it was not all that healthy. Today as I pulled into my hotel I noticed than I was surrounded by good restaurants as well as fancy prepared food store Dean and Deluca.

So as Carter and her friends were frolicking at Carowinds in the heat, I was enjoying a yummy lunch of spinach salad and chili lime shrimp at Dean and Deluca – No mold was encountered.


You Need a South African Friend

My favorite place to be is around the dining room table. It is not because of the food, which of course is a bonus, but because of the conversation that seems to flow most easily at meal time. Tonight we had the pleasure of spending the evening at the home of our friends Mark and Kelly Ushpol who happen to be South African. Long before I met Mark and Kelly I had been a big fan of South Africans. They tend to be warm, fun loving and hospital people and the Ushpols embody all those qualities.

After Russ and I came home from the best vacation ever to Africa, Kelly had wanted to get us over for a Braai, which is South African for a barbecue. Since we did not encounter any food in SA that we did not love and we so enjoy the company of the Ushpols we gladly accepted. Although I begged to be given an assigned dish to contribute Kelly would not hear of it.

After drinks and nibbles we went to the table set with a huge platter of Boerwors a very long sausage, mieliepap – a ground corn dish with onion and tomato sauce and a lovely salad. The flavors of South Africa aided by the conversation in the appropriate accent made me feel as happy as I was back on vacation.

Then came dessert. My rule is I eat what I am served when I am invited to dine at someone’s home. Not a hard rule to follow when Kelly brought out a something called Jennifer’s a peppermint crisp fridge tart. It was a gooey, creamy center with coconut cookies as a layer and chocolate peppermint candy ribbons running through it. If there was ever a reason to break one’s diet it was to taste this yummy dish and it was not just to be polite.

Kelly had sweetly made the grown-ups servings in these tiny little shot glasses while the kids were served from a big oblong pan. It was kind of her to know that I should not eat too much of this sinful dish. But as Mark, Russ and I each took our first bite our lively conversation slowed down to a practical silence while our brain caught up with our mouths. “What is this?” I asked. Kelly said it was not really a fine dish, but more of a joke. A more perfect joke there has never been.

That is when talk turned to dissecting the parts of the recipe and what American substitutions had to be made. If this was a second fiddle rendition I can’t imagine what the real macaw tastes like. Russ, Mark and I all asked for seconds. Kelly retrieved her I-Pad so she could show me what the right peppermint crisp candy was and Russ of course found it on Amazon.

After dessert Mark pulled out the South African Liqueur we love called Amarula. What the hell, I’ve eaten dessert, I might as well have one finger. We retired to the living room where the laughing continued. There is nothing better than the generous hospitality of being in someone’s home, unless it is being in a South African’s home.

Not Looking at Me Does Not Mean I Won’t Hit You



It’s back to school so it’s back to driving more for everyone so it’s back to local roads being busier than the lazy summer time. No matter if it is a busy time of year or day I have the same routine when I am trying to pullout onto a primary road from a parking lot or secondary place. I look out my side window in the direction opposite I want to go, then I look out the opposing side window and if everything looks good I do a quick recheck of the first side to make sure nothing has changed. Assuming no one is going to come barreling at me I go.


Can someone let me know if the normal rules of the road changed over the summer because today I was almost hit three times by drivers all doing something differently than I do, but all the same way. As I was driving on the primary road at the speed limit I saw a driver in a car stopped on a side street on my side. They looked at me and turned their head and looked the other direction and without turning their head to look back they just pulled out.


If I had been so far away that they had room I guess the third head turn check might have been unnecessary, but that was not the case. Three times today people pulled out either right in front of me heading the same direction or across my lane with not enough room and without looking at me. I began to think my car had donned itself with the cloak of invisibility.


I wish that I had a big loud speaker attached to my car so I could scream out, “Just because you don’t turn back and look at me does not mean I am not here!” as I slammed on the breaks.


This got me thinking about a friend who told me of her sibling who got rid of all the full length mirrors in her house because she did not want to look at her hips since she had put on about fifty pounds. “Just because you are not looking at something does not mean it is not there!”


Gaining 50 pounds is not the worst thing in the world, but if you don’t like it denying it is not going to help. Not looking back at the car barreling towards you does not mean there is room to pull out. People need to pull their head’s out of the sand and face the situation as their reality.


The three drivers that pulled out in to traffic were just lucky I was watching them so carefully. Actually, the second two were lucky the first one did it to me today with more room to spare and made me watch the others more vigilantly. It was hard to believe it happened two more time in a three-hour period.


We all have things we don’t want to face. My friend’s sister has to decide to look in her own mirror. No one can do it for her. But driving affects the rest of the world. So please people, look three times, that last one might save your life.

Beware New Inventions



While watching the news today I learned about a new product called a Noonee – the Chairless chair that you wear. It is also called the invisible chair, but it is clearly visible, it just does not look like a chair. What it is is an exoskeleton device you wear on your legs and when you want to go into a seated position you turn it on, or something like that and basically squat.


The company that makes it says it’s for production workers who have standing jobs with no place to sit down when they are tired because chairs take up too much space in factories. Yes, those types of workers may like this invention, but I see terrible things in the future with the “Chairless Chair” existence.


First I imagine airlines may see this as a way to back more people onto planes. It is going to be standing room only, but if you get tired just squat with the use of your invisible chair. You thought checking a bag was expensive imagine how much money an airline could get for a real seat.


Next restaurants could start charging for seating areas that have actual seats. Instead of BYOB it’s BYOC. Poor people who cannot afford exoskeletons will be dragging old folding chairs around everywhere.


Once we have rid the world of chairs, sofa will certainly be next. No lying down to watch the football game. You ex-couch potato, just squat there in front of the flat screen with the exo-chair strapped to your backside with side table attachment holding your beer and snacks.


Inventors out there jump right on this craze and get ahead of the curve with the PJ’s with the built in bed. Furniture as we know it is a thing of the past. We are going to have wear everything. I wonder if the new ex-furniture will come is styles like Chippendale and Queen Anne? I am so sick of mid-century modern.


I hope your hips and glutes are in good shape because they are clearly going to get a workout with this new “chair.” Mark my words; RSS- or Repetitive squatting syndrome is coming. The orthopedic world needs to gear up for a whole new set of problems. I think I’m not going to short Herman Miller stock yet.

Where Do The Years Go?

photo copy 3


Carter started tenth grade today. That’s double-digits in school years. She’s a sophomore. Although she is in tenth grade she has been at DA for twelve years since she started in Pre-K. It is not the fact that twelve years have gone by, but that she only has three years left that seems unreal.


What is even scarier is that I can remember back to my first day of 10th grade like it was yesterday. When I was a sophomore I went to boarding school so it was incredibly memorable. I was in no way prepared for what I would face.


One of my strongest and most frightening memories was of my first Latin class. Somehow only the brightest, and I am not including myself in that group, of girls decided to take Latin I that year. There were only a handful and most of them were upperclassmen and all of them were “old girls” which meant this was not their first year at Walkers.


To add to the genius pressure we had the incredibly hard Mrs. Dembrow as our teacher. I was completely out of my element. What do I remember of Latin? “Semper ubi sub ubi.” Read the next sentence out loud to get the translation right. “Always where under where.” Actually, quite a useful bit of information for me. Too bad I did not always follow it.


This is what is terrifying in my realization that Carter is the same age as I was then…when I was in boarding school I thought I knew everything. In fact, I’m sure I knew more then than I know now. Only with age comes the understanding of what I do not know. I’m sure I’ll know less tomorrow.


Although going to Walkers was the best thing my parents ever did for me, starting a new school as a sophomore is hard. I was lucky since the majority of my class started that year, but it was hard for all of us. I am happy Carter did not have to start a new school today.


Being a returning sophomore comes with a level of comfort. I am most pleased that she came home excited about her teachers and her classes. It is time that learning gets to be fun. She said she recognized some genetic similarities between us when she got electrified about the prospect of debating historical issues. I told her that both my parents were history majors so those genetics run deeper than one generation.


After school I picked her up and we had our ritual talk in the car that extends way longer than the time it takes to get home. We sit in the car in the driveway and finish our conversation. The sad part for me is that Carter will be driving herself to school starting in December so I see our “car talks” are almost to the end of their life. Where did the car seat years go?

Small Adds Up to Big



It’s the last day of summer vacation, but I got up at six AM for a really big reason. Today the very generous folks at Bayer Crop Science came out to the Durham Branch of the Food Bank to pack 2,000 Weekend Power Packs for kids who are at risk of hunger since school is starting. Oh yeah, while they were there they made a $300,000 donation.


Since the press conference and packing event was being held in the “Dana Lange Volunteer Center,” the Food Bank asked if they could roll this ‘ole past board chair out to welcome everyone and kick the event off. I was happy to lose my last free morning for a really big check.


Some things are just way better big and checks are at the top of my ‘it’s better bigger” list. But then some things are better small, like hips or stomachs. What I really wish I had on the “It’s better small” list are the number of people who are at risk for hunger, especially kids in school.


An amazing woman named Louella Rutledge who runs the Weekend Power Pack program out of an Orange County Church spoke about the impact the food she gets from the Food Bank makes on the lives of the 74 children she feeds every week. She read a bit from a note that a teacher sent her. “I had a new student who when she started was unable to keep up with her work and was listless and tired in school. When she started getting her Backpack with food things changed. After a few months of continuous improvement in school I asked her what was different. The child said that she felt special because of getting food for the weekends and that made her not only less hungry, but wanting to try because she knew people cared about her.”


The backpack she gets on Friday is small. It usually has things like a few cans of beans and franks, or chili, some cereal, fruit and milk. But that very small thing makes a big difference in one life.


I am thankful for all the people who do small and big things to help their neighbors. We never know what impact we are going to have in the world, but if we all try and do one or two little things they will add up to one big better world. Thanks so much to all the volunteers who make people feel special. I hope someone made you feel special today too.

 Let Your Lack of Perfection Show



Back in the day when I had a non-stop traveling job I got pretty used to living out of a suitcase. The hardest part of it was learning how to look professional for a whole week with one rolling suitcase when I had to see the same people for five days in a row. I worked with a woman who was always impeccably dressed which fit her never a hair out of place personality. She also was a stickler for perfection in all written and spoken presentations, which was scary for me.


Since she was my senior I was a little intimidated by her until one day she shared a traveling trick with me. She told me that she would take her oldest underwear on trips and throw it away rather than repack it to bring it home. My first thought was, ”We travel every day, that’s a lot of underwear.”


Since we traveled to nice places and stayed at the Four Seasons and the like my second thought was, “If I threw my oldest underwear away at the Ritz Carlton when the maid went to empty the trash she would think that some homeless person had broken into my room and thrown their underpants out.”


I tactfully, or as tactfully as I was capable of, tried to relay my thoughts to my colleague. She let me know that no homeless person would want what she was throwing away. Suddenly, this very buttoned-up person on the outside seemed much more like me on the inside.


I had imagined that everything about her was always perfect right down to her underwear, not that I had ever thought about her underwear. Knowing there is a chink in someone’s armor makes him or her human. Realizing their humanity makes relating to them easier. After learning that about her I was less intimidated by her and actually was able to relax and learn more easily from her.   She has no idea how she helped push me professionally by confessing that her old underwear was not worth bringing home.


I don’t travel for work like that anymore so I have probably built up a good collection of “not even worthy of homeless women” underpants, so I can’t take her advice literally anymore. But what I do try and do is let people in on the many chinks, cracks, folds and crumbling places in my armor so they can feel comfortable enough to maybe learn something from me. We all have things we can teach each other so please share your wisdom. I promise I won’t ask you about your underpants.

Padron Peppers- The Best Salty Snack Your Hips Will Love



One of the hardest things about trying to eat healthy all the time is there just are not that many good for you salty snacks. I know people think popcorn is a good choice, but some how on me it adds pounds.


Turning to veggies as snacks is the answer, but they are not always fast and sometimes they just feel like the punishment tray when you have to stay away from the crispy or fried snacks.


A few years ago we discovered these little peppers that are in season right now and they are the snacking answer. When I can get them I buy as many as I can find since they are easy to make and yummy to eat.



Padron Peppers




Heat a skillet up on the stove so it is hot, hot, hot. Spray it with Pam and fill that thing up will the peppers. You want to cook them hot and fast so they blister and turn brown. I use the flick of the wrist technique to flip them around in the pan, but it you have not mastered that move just stir them every so often. After about 4 mins. sprinkle them with salt and serve.


TO eat them you pick them up by thee stem and bite the pepper off the stem. They are usually not too hot, meaning spicy, but once in awhile one will really give you a little zing.

No Skip Button



The invention of the DVR is the best thing to ever happen to me as a reformed fat person. Not having to be subjected to the suggestive and naughty inducing TV commercials for gooey cheesy pizza or fudgy chocolate brownies late in the evening, long past the hour when all eating needs to stop is great. Food marketing late at night is never for broccoli or cherries, if it ever is, but for things that cause guilt if succumbed to. Thanks to the ability to fast forward through commercials I am able to not stress my will power.


Unfortunately not everything has the DVR skip ahead button and boy do I wish it did. Tonight Russ and I went to the Durham Bulls game. It was the perfect night. Not too hot, no humidity, so un-August like for Durham. The only problem with the game it the absolute lack of any healthy food at the ballpark.


Russ is a good egg about the eating and he helps me out by ordering salmon salads from Tyler’s tap room that we eat in his office across the street from the Bulls. It’s a good salad, but since we can’t take food into the park we have to eat before the 7:00 start of the game. Normally eating before 7:00 is not an issue for me, as long as I have some fruit later in the evening.


Tonight as we sat in the dark with the score zero to zero through the fourth inning I could hear the call of “Peanuts” through the night air as the lightening bounced around the cloud above the “Bull.” Flash, “peanuts,” flash, “popcorn,” flash, “peanuts.” I tried to concentrate on the game, but all through my mind flashed, “Peanuts.” Where is the fast forward button that skips the ads for the tempting foods? The call of the vendor’s product is just as tempting as the pictures of Baskin Robbins on TV.


I only had one recourse to the call, well two, but I took the good-for-me path and left the game rather than giving in to peanuts. I drove home thinking of the yummy and healthy grapes I had at home. I got a bowl, stepped on the walking desk and wrote this blog. Perfectly satisfied to type with sticky grape fingers and the feeling of triumph over the voices calling to me in the night.

Tanda Tula Chicken and Cabbage



Breakfast in South Africa was probably my favorite meals. I’m not sure if it was because I was eating more than my normal cereal and fruit so the excitement my taste buds were getting was making me giddy, or if it was that we ate breakfast at ten in the morning after having spent three and a half hours out looking at beautiful animals. Whatever the reason I had some really tasty stuff in the mornings. The only sad thing is that none of the offerings were repeated. Yes, it was good to try new things, but if I really liked something I did not have an opportunity to try it again and figure out how to recreate it stateside.


One item I really liked was an unusual dish for breakfast, chicken and cabbage. Although red peppers were not in the name they played a major role in the dish. Last night I tried to recreate it for dinner and even if I missed some ingredients Russ and I ended up liking what I made. It is incredibly simple and fast and healthy.


6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs- chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 sweet red pepper – seeded and chopped into bite sized pieces

1 10 oz. bag of shredded cabbage

Lots of salt and Pepper


Heat a big non-stick skillet up on high. Add the Chicken and salt and pepper it and cook stirring often for about five minutes. Add the red peppers and continue cooking for another minute until they start to get soft. Add the cabbage and continue cooking and stirring for another two minutes. Salt and Pepper the whole dish again.


Serve with rice if you want a starch.

Ice Bucket Challenge

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When my friend and fellow DA board of Trustee member Jamie Spatola put the call out for trustees to join school administrators and teachers to take the ice bucket challenge for ALS of course I answered the call. Never do I pass up an opportunity to make fun of myself on behalf of a good cause. In this case the cause is very close to the Durham Academy communities’ heart.


DA Alum Chris Rosati has been suffering from ALS for the last three years. He is an amazing guy with a great smile and infectious positive attitude. I was lucky enough to get to spend time with him interviewing him for my column that will appear in the next issue of Durham Magazine.


Quade Lukes, a classmate of Carter’s had challenged our head mast Michael Ulku-Steiner to take the ice bucket challenge which involves pouring a large bucket of ice water over your head or donating money to an ALS related charity. What I hope is that people will do the challenge and donate money.


As with all these viral things it was not a creation of a PR machine, but of some people who actually had ALS. They said if you pour a bucket of ice water on your head you can challenge three people to do the same, thus the pyramid effect.


For our challenge today Michael enlisted his colleagues and trusted side-kick Lee Hark who named three people we were challenging, Steve Hartman of CBS news who has interviewed Chris Rosati multiple times, Wool E. Bull for being the heart and soul of Durham and Vanilla Ice because Lee is apparently in love with Ice-Ice Baby after his viral video on the weather related school closing he and Michael made together last winter caught the Ice’s attention.


It seems like everyone in the video deserves the right to challenge three people. So on behalf of the dozens of us who poured the freezing water on our perfectly dry and warm heads I am challenging anyone who reads this blog to take the ice water challenge or even better take the easy way out and make a donation to an ALS charity. I am thankful that I am able to lift a heavy bucket over my head and I want to thank my body for continuing to work, unlike those with ALS. Let’s find a cure for this horrible disease.



Proud Mother



Today I went into the non-profit Carter had volunteered at during her Durham time this summer. It was her last day of “working” there having spent over a hundred hours in order to qualify for the Mayor’s Award. Getting actually 104.5 hours of work meant she had to be there everyday she was not at camp or on vacation. Due to her working nine hours or more most days she was able to finish early so she can have three days off before school starts.


I was hands off in this little “job”, but really wanted to see her in action for a few moments so I went in just before five o’clock rather than sitting in the car to wait for her to come out today. Carter was on the phone helping a “client” when I came through the door. The real employees greeted me and I introduced myself as “Carter’s Mom.”


Both women at the front desk jumped up to shake my hand and tell me what a good job Carter had done and how much they were going to miss her. These are the words a mother longs for. I stood at the reception desk and listened to Carter helping the person on the phone. It was like listening to her speak a foreign language.


Kids Carter’s generation don’t talk on the phone much; at least my child does not. If ever she has a need that involves the phone she usually begs me to do the calling. I was thrilled to hear her have such an adult conversation with a stranger.


I know that doing this volunteering was not her first choice of a summer activity, but now that it is done Carter says it was great experience. I am thrilled she learned so much about working for other people and about herself. The worst thing about working is getting that first job. Most jobs want you to have experience before they will give you a job and how do you get experience without having a job? Even non-paid internships often require prior experience.


Kids need to have opportunities to learn how to work for other people they are not related to. A good work ethic is one that is best developed at a young age, but our society has made it virtually impossible for young people to get jobs. Volunteering is great, but not everyone can afford to volunteer. Many young people need to earn money.


If you have any need to hire people please consider creating a job that you can hire a teenager to do. Yes, they take more training and yes it may be harder on you, but you will be doing the world a great service if you can give a young person a job. Also, my Dad always had a great motto about working, “Be nice to the people who work for you, you never know when you will work for them.” You may be training the next Bill Gates.


photo copy



After two weeks on the road, in Maine and at camp without a scale I had to face the music this morning and get on my scale. The music was bad, really bad, like I was singing badly, and playing the bagpipes at the same time bad. Although I started vacation off OK avoiding my usual sugar and flour I quickly fell off that wagon. I had ice cream and bread and cookies and chocolate and mayonnaise and fried stuff and now. The music is bad.


Some of what I ate was worth it, like the many lobsters or the round top ginger ice cream, but most of the rest of it was not. If I had brought a scale and stood on it after the first two days I think I would have skipped eating most of the stuff I did. I also would have gotten more walking in than I did. But that would have meant sacrificing some of the fun I had or the sitting in a rocking chair needle pointing telling stories with my friends and family.


No crying over spilled milk or sucked up cream in this case, oh yeah, the real fresh cream in my coffee fresh from the cow at camp, or the homemade yogurt that you know was double extra full fat since it was made from the camp cow milk and then the homemade granola with all kinds of nuts and craisins and honey on that yogurt that made you think you were eating healthy, but in fact was more calories than six blue berry pancakes, oh yeah, real maple syrup…


Now I’m home and facing the bad music I created. The first thing I have to do is break myself of the sugar craving in my system. This is a three-day process. I know it, I know it will be bad and I will do my best to stay away from fragile people who might suffer if they come in contact with me during this detoxifying period.


It is a little easier to give up the flour products, that is the ones that are not equal parts sugar and flour. I can stay away from bread and not have it affect my mood. Not like squeezing the sugar from my blood system. I have one methadone like weapon to help break my sugar addiction – Thomcord grapes from Trader Joes and luckily we happen to be in their merciless short season.


First you should know that I get no money from Trader Joes for telling you about these grapes. Second I am potentially derailing my own detoxification plan by telling you all about them because they could sell out, but in order to atone for the eating I did in the last two weeks I must come clean, and ask forgiveness and share my solution.


Thomcord grapes are a cross between Thompson and Concord and have a special sweetness that once your mouth has had it is unforgettable. Last year about this time of year was the first time I had ever tasted this perfect fruit. Then one week later they were gone for the year.


Today I went to the store bought three little boxes and whenever I was feeling any weakness in my stay-away-from-sugar regime I had a grape, or two or twenty two. OK, I’ve had a whole box, but no processed sugar and no flour have passed my lips. Tomorrow the scale will tell if the grapes as substitute are working or just passing the sugar buck on. Please God, let me make it back to where I have conrol.


More Doggone Progress Needed



I love vacations, but I miss our sweet dog Shay Shay when we go away. I am sure we miss Shay more than she misses us since she goes to live with sweet Mary and all the other playmate pups she is caring for while we are gone.


Last night Carter and I stayed at new hotel called EVEN that was very dog friendly. The place had only been open a month and was bright shiny new, but they welcomed guests with their dogs. I met three different dogs in the lobby and the elevator and they made me miss our puppy. I would love to take Shay on a vacation with us since there seem to be more and more hotels for pooches.


The only hole in the dog vacation plan is that restaurants do not let dogs in and I do like to eat while I am away. In England dogs are welcomed everywhere, especially if you have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, which is considered the royal dog, although I think the queen has corgis. A meal at the pub is always nicer with your best friend at your feet.


I don’t think it is really a health hazard to not allow dogs in restaurants. I think my dog is cleaner than others in my family some of the time. Now that all dogs take flea and tick killing medicine it seems like the pest risk is low. Service dogs are allowed everywhere by law so what’s a few more? We used to have smoking and non-smoking sections; we could have canine and canine free areas for those people who might be allergic. Restaurants could always reserve the right to refuse to allow badly behaved dogs to stay.


I just can’t see traveling with a dog in the summer since you can’t leave your baby in a car for even a few minutes to run in a store and buy something, let alone eat a meal. Being allowed to bring Shay Shay in a restaurant with me is also figure friendly because I am bound to share my meal with her. In fact it probably would be increased revenue for the restaurant because I am more likely to order a steak for her while I get the salad.


So who do I lobby to change the no dogs in restaurants policy? I can bet that the first state to do it will see a major upturn in tourism. Nothing helps get changes faster than the promise of more tax revenue.


I know there is a loophole in the whole system and that is all I need to do is train Shay to be a service dog and have her wear a little yellow vest but that is not the answer for the whole country. If hotels have gotten there it’s time for restaurants to get in the game.

Pay Attention

After the last camp breakfast and hugs good bye we drove off from Washington Maine. Russ was driving for a very short first leg to the Rockland airport where he was flying out of. Thankfully he did not mind sitting at the tiny airport for a few hours watching the old bi and single wing planes flying in and out so Carter and I could get a good start on our drive home.

I took over the driving from there so Carter could spend the car time texting her friends. It turns out that was a good thing since about an hour down the road a girl driving a red SUV in the middle lane decided at the last minute that she needed to take a left hand exit just past the actual exit. Since I was in the left hand lane I was in the direct line of this clueless driver. Thanks to my constant scanning sense for bad drivers doing worse things I was able to slam on the brakes while taking the same left exit as the red SUV and just barley averted a total crash.

It was an incredibly scary moment. The girl in red realized her almost fatal mistake as we passed by her and she mouthed “sorry.” Carter burst into tears. I was shaken up to, but kept the car moving and circled back around to get back on the south bound route. It was a good learning moment for a new driver. Being alert to the dumb stuff other people might do is as important as not doing dumb stuff yourself. I am just thankful that I was driving because we only averted disaster because my reflexes took over. I drove the whole rest of the trip making our half way home hotel without any other incident.

Now that Carter and I are tucked safely in our matching double beds spending our last night sharing a room together for the summer I am having a moment to contemplate how lucky we are. I know that if I had been at all distracted when the girl in red made that bad move we wound have crashed into her going 60 miles an hour. I hope tomorrow’s drive will be much less eventful.

The Sad End


Today is our final day at Medomak camp.  Last week the weather forecast rain for almost everyday we were here, but thankfully Weather Bug was wrong, wrong and more wrong.  Our only rain was one fast moving big storm on Wednesday when we were in the car heading back to camp after our Camden Hills hike and yummy lunch at Fresh in town and a little soothing rain at night on the cabin roof.

It has been Mainefully-wear-a-sweatshirt cool with patches of hot enough to swim in the warm lake waters.  I have participated in just enough activities to feel like I got my campfull, but also did my own thing often enough that I felt like I was on vacation.  I did not stress about Russ working everyday or about Carter lying on her bed watching YouTube rather than joining in any group activity.

I barely exercised other than land sports playing and the amount of walking it took to go from our cabin to the dining hall or the waterfront, but am thankful we had the farthest cabin from both.  I got to know some wonderful people from Germany, England, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon and Maryland. I felt no guilt that I skipped campfire most nights given that neither my child nor my husband would go.  I played games with many people who did not complain if I beat them, but were worthy opponents who I felt no shame to lose to. I ate the good cookies and skipped the not as good tasting desserts without too much worry.  Next week will be the piper paying come to Jesus time for that.

Tonight is the final campfire which I will attend to compete in the camp wide Hiku-off and talent competition.  Since camp is filled with many children this week I have to find a fairly tame story to tell as my talent.  This is difficult since most of my best stories are not PG rated.  I can’t tell the why-I-don’t-drink-anymore, or the Saskatoon story.  I guess I can cleanup Carter’s birth story enough to make if funny for grown ups and go over kid’s heads just fine.

So farewell to camp and Maine and summer as I have come to know it.  Tomorrow Carter and I drop Russ off at the airport and make the drive home.  Real life, responsibilities, discipline, and regularity are what’s ahead.  Sad face.

Be Careful What You Write Me



I love having a blog. I must since I write everyday, whether I have the time or anything to say. Amazingly some people read it, whether they have the time or anything to learn. One of my favorite things about the blog is the comments, e-mails, and facebook postings I get in response and the things I learn about other people.


Last week I posted a blog titled Lobstah! In response I got an e-mail from Sheppy Vann, the just retired head of the DA preschool. She surmised from one of the photos in the post that I was in Rockport Maine which was not that far from where she and her husband Dick live in the summer at the old farm house his grand parents bought to summer at in 1907. In her message she invited me to visit them.


Turns out Sheppy lives only a few miles from camp and that Dick had attended summer camp for many years at Medomak when it was a boy’s camp. Never being one to pass up a chance to spend some time with one of the best storytellers on earth I went to see Sheppy and Dick at their sweet house on St. George’s Lake.


Even though I knew Sheppy came to Maine in the summer we never discussed exactly where until she read my blog. It is just another example of how small a world it is that two families from Durham, NC end up at the same place hundreds of miles away from home every summer.


Thanks to Sheppy’s superior reading comprehension she had an iced tea with lemon all ready for me when I walked in the door of the kitchen with it’s restored wood burning stove and sink with a water pump which thankfully is not their main water source anymore. We took our drinks and our needlework and went out and sat on the Adirondack chairs in the back yard and she knitted and I needle pointed while I filled Dick in on what Medomak is like these days. I got to hear the story of how Sheppy and Dick grew up together in New Jersey and eventually married. It’s a good story that’s Sheppy’s to tell.


After a few hours together I had to get back to camp, but I had learned more about Dick and Sheppy in our visit than I had in the last 11 years of knowing Sheppy at home. There is a closeness I feel with people when I visit them out of context. Somehow the regular life stuff is out of the way and we can talk freely about anything. Not that either Sheppy or I ever had any trouble speaking freely. Dick was a good sport about listening and did not try and compete in the story telling arena.


So be this fair warning to all you readers. If you invite me somewhere don’t just do it to be polite. You never know where I am going to show up and I might just take you up on your kind offer.

Order of Importance

In the craziness that is my family this is the message I get on my blog today from my Dad.

I saw Forsyth Michie at Wukka’s funeral in Ivey, VA on Saturday. She looked great. She told Mom and me that your blog caused her to lose 50 pounds! Did you know that? She credits it all to you! Isn’t that wonderful? Hope camp is fun….XOO Dad

Back ground for my non-family readers, Wukka is my father’s cousin and Forsyth is his daughter.

First let’s start with what I did not know in order or importance:

1. I did not know that Wukka had passed away

2. Therefore I did not know about the funeral

3. I had no idea that Forsyth had lost 50 pounds

4. And I get none of the credit.

I do know that Forsyth reads my blog so publicly I want to say how sad I am for the loss of your father. He was a first class gentleman and character and a stellar example of what a real Michie is like.

My favorite story about him is when he was a history professor at Salem College and his afternoon class started before “As the world turns” ended thus causing some of his students to be consistently late for class. When he questioned them about their tardiness the girls told him that they were late because they were watching that show.

Wukka, thinking that “As the world turns” must have been a current events news show then told the girls it was fine for them to be late as long as that was what they were doing. During a school break Wukka was home at 1:00 and decided he would tune into this important world events show that so many of his students were watching. It came as quite a shock to him to discover that “As the world turns” was a soap opera.

When the young women returned to class from break he scolded them, but they replied that they had never misrepresented what the show really was. Nonetheless class started on time forever after that with no excused tardiness.

To all my other family members I want you to know in advance that if I miss sending you condolences on the passing of your loved one I am sorry. My sisters and I have have more times than not had similar messages from our parents about some family story and when we asked them where they heard it they tell us it was at someone’s funeral. Somehow the information that someone has passed got lost in translation.

Good Habits Can Easily Fail


For two and a half years I have mostly eaten a healthy diet almost everyday. I basically gave up processed sugar and most white flour even though, given my choice they would be at the top of my “what am I craving?” list. There is no other way for me to have lost 100 pounds and kept it off since my natural state is more balloon like than heroin chic.

I also have been fairly disciplined about working out, not because I like it, but because I like to eat and I know that of at this confirmed stage of menopausal middle aged white lazy ass life if I am not moving constantly I am gaining weight no matter how little I put in my mouth.

Now I am at camp which for most people would be an active-a-rama-thon of running, jumping, swimming and dancing. Well, maybe yesterday when I played SCAG a game of kicking a soccer ball through giant croquet like hoops 100’s of yards apart and scoring it like golf, that’s what the name SCAG stands for, Soccer, Croquet And Golf. Although it is some good walking it is a fairly slow game with lots of standing around waiting for your opponents to kick, so in essence it is not much exercise. Then I went for a two hour hike of the 300 acre camp. Again it was a slow meandering walk with an instructional talk so I hardly broke a sweat. In the afternoon I sailed, well you know how much movement was involved with that. By the end of the day I had gotten only about 18,000 steps, many thanks to the post dinner kickball game. Sounds good until you throw in the eating.

At camp we eat family style. You walk in the dining hall and the food is already sitting at your table. Although there are plenty of healthy vegetables and always a salad made from greens from their own gardens there is also usually a homemade bread and some potatoes and then a yummy and naughty dessert. If I were eating at a restaurant I would have no trouble keeping away from the foods that call my name but somehow at camp I eat what is on the table, even though I mostly stay away from those things without trouble at home.

Perhaps if I had a scale and got on it every morning and saw what was happening to me I might be better at passing the corn bread on to my neighbor. Today I hit an all time low. I ate a blueberry muffin for breakfast, even though there was homemade yogurt that comes from the milk of the camp cow, which I also ate. Then lunch came. Feeling the guilt of my muffin I skipped the bun for the chicken sandwiches and the cole slaw and just put the grilled chicken on my salad. Hooray, my normal-at-home-healthy-guilt-free-lunch.

I needed that since I had hardly moved all day spending morning activities getting a massage, needle pointing at fiber arts and cutting out my cheese board at wood working with an electric scroll saw.

Just as I was feeling like I was under control a large pan of gooey chocolate walnut brownies was placed right in front of me. Next to me sat Ruth from New Castle, England who I have come to learn likes sweets too and across the way was Micheal who said the reason he ran five miles that morning was to counteract his love of sweets. One small brownie led to another and another half and then some finger licking a cup of coffee with real cream and one more bite of brownie. How quickly hard fraught habits can disappear.

Feeling full and slightly sick I forced myself into a swim suit and walked to the lake to paddle boat myself to loon island a good forty five minute bit of work and then swam back and forth to the dock four times. No way I worked off even one small brownie. It’s time to not succumb to the allure of food that is just placed in front of me. God, it’s almost time for dinner.

Just Play Even If It Is Embarrassing



The first time we came to family camp five years ago it was because I was jealous of Carter’s time at Camp Cheerio and I wanted to relive my childhood favorite time of summer camp. Russ found Camp Medomak family camp for us to enjoy together. We have been coming back ever since.

At first it was great for Carter to be able to try activities with fun counselors we did not have at home like sailing, or archery. Russ and I also got to learn new things like paddle boarding without having the investment in equipment.

As the years go on what we do at camp has changed a little. We no longer feel compelled to participate in every activity. Carter may sit on her bed and watch her favorite youtubers and laugh out loud and that is just fine with us. It is her vacation too so she is free to go on and do whatever makes her happy.

One of the benefits I see now as Carter is getting older is her ability to share a cabin with her parents without much complaint. I figure that if she can sleep though her father getting up at six in the morning to go get coffee at the farm house and log on to his computer, or her mother getting up in the middle of the night to walk off a leg cramp and use the bathroom then she is going to do just fine in a dorm in college. No matter how hard we try to embarrass her she still hangs with us and for that I am thankful.

Since I like to participate in activities and Russ does not I am thrilled when Carter pipes up as Russ is saying he is not going to play kick ball after dinner with, “just humor her and play if you want a good night’s sleep.” Nothing makes me happier than my child doing something I like even if it is not her first choice. What is even better is when she finds out she really likes it. Even better than that is that her father joins in and has fun too.

So tonight by the luck of the draw we all were on the same team and played our hearts out. It is not often that a teenage daughter will cheer for her mother running the bases that surely is a sight no one wants to see. We may not have won the game against our opponents, but I feel like we won just for playing together.

Old Hand Good Heart

Today is our first day back at Medomak Family Camp in Maine. We have come four times in the last five years, only missing the year that Carter went to school in Taiwan during the summer. We are old hands at camp. Knowing the routines, the counselors who returned, the games, the rules. But of course there are new things, new people, and new activities to try.

On the first day the camp counselors do a great job at helping people get to know each other, learn everyone’s names and something about them to help you remember them. This session we have a large German family reunion at camp. That means there are some kids and grown ups alike who don’t speak English well if at all. I wonder if they knew what family camp was going to be like.

Jakie, the main head cheerleading counselor had us play a universal, not-much-English needed game of rock paper scissors. The twist to the game was once you played someone the loser of that game had to become the cheerleader for the person they lost to. Then the winner would play another winner with their cheerleader screaming their name behind them. The winner of that round would not only get the loser as their cheer leader, but all their cheerleaders had to convert to cheer for the new winner.

Carter was a big winner, with about 60 people cheering her name. There was one tiny little blond girl, maybe only about 4 years old who had about five people cheering for her left to play Carter. There was giant Carter looking down at this little Lou-who of a child. The cheering Carter’s name was deafening and probably very scary for this poor child. Carter knelt down so she could be eye to eye with her.

“Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot.” The giant cheering crowd for Carter were unaware of exactly who Carter’s opponent was, but they just kept chanting, “Carter, Carter.” Then Carter stood up and said the little girl was the winner. As the crowd dispersed for the next game Carter whispered to me, “I let that little girl win, she looked so scared.”

It’s these little chances to be your best self that camp offers that I love.

Playing Is Everything


I know my daughter is in a good vacation mood when she asks to play a game with me. At dinner tonight Carter announced to the table that I liked games more than her or Daddy. Our friend Warren, who we are staying with a great game lover too who I have been competing with over many games for almost forty years piped in, “Carter, that is not true, games are a close second to you and your Dad.” Warren is right. Husband, daughter, games. Or Carter would prefer, daughter, husband, games.

After a great dinner at Primo’s where they grow lots of what they serve including the yummy yard bird I had and a trip to Dorfman’s for ice cream Carter was in such a good mood that she demanded a Mexican Train Dominio game. So in the corner booth of the HoJo room Warren, Carter and I competed heartily while Russ looked at 1954 hardcover Rockport phone book. He read aloud the copy from the ads in the book deciding he liked the one for Russell’s Funeral Home that boasted “all modern equipment.” When I die I don’t really care what equipment will be used on me, I won’t be there to know.

After a few rounds of the game the magic disappeared and Carter left the game in favor of looking at photos on Russ’ iPad of at least ten years worth of vacations. Carter’s departure left me and Warren to battle out the remainder of the game. We came to the sad realization that this was our last night in Rockport with Warren at the Howard Johnson’s. It’s been a great few days. We walked the breakwater today, rocked in the chairs on the front porch, told stories and cooked at eaten way too much. These are the days that Carter talks about when she reminisces about vacation.

Sad as we will be to leave we are looking forward to family camp. It is best not to over stay our welcome and leave while our host is still having fun with us so we can be invited to come back. Being a good guest is way more important than being a good host. But having such a warm and thoughtful host who plans out all the meals, shops in advance of our arrival, makes the guest rooms the most comfortable and caters to our every whim is hard to beat. You would think I would let him win at dominos as part of my “good guest” plan, but no. Remember games are very important to me. Daughter, husband, games, winning, host, in that order.






It is no cliche to say that you have to eat Lobster when you come to Maine. I try and get it as often as I can, but I went two lunches and one dinner and a breakfast before I got my first one. It was worth the wait.

Warren has a local place he gets his lobsters from and I have to say it pays to have a friend as a local with a good connection. He took me over to pick up our BIG soft shells and the nice woman who owns the place not only had set aside the ones with the biggest claws, but threw in an extra one for free because it had a small deformity on one claw and she thought she would not be able to sell it. Who says Yankees are not nice?

After snacks on the front porch of the local cheese curd and Maine Blueberry soda for Carter we went to the HoJo’s room to enjoy our dinner. The things were so big I could only eat my lobster and a little zucchini. Warren put on the juke box after dinner and I was so drunk on my lobster that I danced behind the HoJo’s soda fountain singing “last dance” with Donna Summer into the ice cream scoop and embarrassed Carter to no end.

Hey, I need the exercise after my big dinner and there is nothing better than dancing the calories off. Now it’s time for some serious game playing. The perfect end to a great night.