A Hard, But Good Day



Last night as I was about to doze off the text on my phone buzzed. Russ was already asleep since he was going to be getting up early to fly to Philly to visit his younger brother who is home recovering from a serious heart attack. Carter was down in her room so I almost did not bother to rummage around on my bedside table for my reading glasses to see who was texting me so late at night. My normal mode of thinking is no late news is ever-good news and bad news can wait until the morning.


Something made me break habit and I turned on the light and looked at the message. It turns out that Carter had read a message on Facebook from my cousin saying that her father was nearing the end. I have known for a while that my poor Uncle Wilson had suffered enough with cancer and the pain was bad, but apparently in my effort to deal with my own grief I had not fully informed Carter of how bad it was.


“Mom, I need to go see him tomorrow.” She was right. Since my Uncle and Aunt live in the house next to my parents on their family farm they have been a fixture in Carter’s life, more so than most people’s great Aunt and Uncle. After much late night texting back and forth I begged her to go to sleep and we would go and see him in the morning.


Carter got up for her normal Saturday job at her barn, cleaning stalls and caring for horses and I texted my cousins. What I learned was that Wilson had finally decided it was time to go to Hospice and leave his beloved farm. I texted Carter that she needed to leave work and get right home so we could rush up there to see him, having no idea if he was lucid enough for our visit.


We got there before noon and found Wilson to be in great spirits and very awake. Aunt Janie Leigh was sitting on the sofa in his room with his bags packed and told us the EMS just called saying they had an emergency and were delayed in coming to get Will.


Uncle Wilson opened his arms and I was able to go and give him a hug and as the words, “I love you,” were coming out of my mouth the tears started flowing. He strongly replied, “I love you too, sweet girl. Thanks for coming. This stinks, doesn’t it?”


Stinks is not a strong enough word. Uncle Wilson and I have shared a lot of the same loves. He is an avid game player and at the beach in the summer we would carry on massive games of Risk. He was my first real photography teacher and he is the only grown up I knew when I was a child who openly proclaimed that dessert was important.


Carter got a good visit and felt better about seeing him while he was still in his own house. My cousin Brooks and his wife Sherri came in and it was like regular times telling stories and laughing. Then Will asked for some pain meds and soon after that the EMS showed up.


The hardest part was watching as they shut the door on the ambulance taking him from his beloved farm. My Dad, Aunt Janie, Brooks, Sherri, Carter and I stood teary in the driveway knowing this was the end of his long walk home. This was absolutely the right way for Carter to get to say goodbye. I’m still in denial because I have 54 years of memories of my life with Uncle Wilson and I know he will always be with me no matter what.

Car Troubles



I try and not use this blog as a venue to endorse or oppose businesses too often, but sometimes my life is just a little too dull to write about and the mundane happenings of the day are what you get. Despite the non-commerce philosophy of the blog I feel I owe it to AAA to give them a mention today.


For you foreign readers or people who live in New York City and may never own a car this blog is probably not for you. AAA stands for the American Automobile Association and is probably the best club I belong too, sorry Costco, Hope Valley and American Needlepoint Guild. Years ago when I was a traveling sales person I got a AAA membership and I can not count how many times they have saved my butt.


Just in the past week I have called them twice, once to tow Carter’s car to the dealership to fix a major problem and again today. After being stuck at home from the snow storm for the last two days I thought Carter was going to lose her mind if she did not get some teenage friend face-to-face time. Her friend Ashley wanted to go to the mall, get pedicures, do some girl shopping and have dinner. I was all for that happening since too had been stuck in the house with Carter.


Off she went in her recently fixed VW on roads that were now nothing but slush. I ventured out at the same time to the grocery since I had refused to go right before the big storm when the store had lines that wrapped the frozen section with people trying to check out. Just as I was pulling in our driveway, looking forward to starting my “House of Cards” binge watch walking on the treadmill session I got a call from Carter that the “low tire pressure” light came on in her car and she found a big screw stuck in her tire.


At the previous call to AAA just days ago I had gone ahead and gotten Carter her own membership, but her card had not arrived yet. I told her that I would call AAA to come and meet her and change her tire. “Please can you come and help me?” I heard over the line from a voice that was more reminiscent of pre-school than high school. Since she did not have her own card I said yes thinking that I would probably be sitting in my car at the mall for the next two hours waiting for help.


Boy was I wrong. I called the main number and asked for the service, got in my car and drove the ten minutes to the mall. Before I could even get there the nice man from Dave’s towing called me and said he was waiting by the car. The whole fix took ten minuets and he taught me all the secrets about the lug covers and lock that both Carter and I needed to know in case we ever had to change a tire ourselves.


The only way I ever see that happening is if we have driven the car deep into the woods where there is no cell reception because I can’t see owning a car and not having AAA. Yes, Carter learned how to change a tire herself when she went to defensive driving class, but doing it at the Mall on very wet pavement seems completely unnecessary when there is professional ten minutes away that is free since we already belong to that great club, the American Automobile Association. If you belong and want to add your child to your membership it is only $25 a year. That is the best piece of mind I can have because I know that I am not always going to be around the corner to help my new driver. Now that she has learned how easy it is she can call them herself next time.

Snow Day Play Date



It happened. We got the seven or eight inches of snow the weatherman was forecasting. It came in the middle of the night. It was the big wet heavy kind of snow. I woke up in the middle of the night when our power flicked off for a moment, but then miraculously came right back on. I don’t know how we lucked out there since so many of our friends and neighbors lost their power for much longer.


I slept late since I knew before I went to bed that school was at least delayed. I would have slept longer but I got a robo-call from school around 8:30 telling me school was canceled. Since it was already delayed until 10:15 I could have gone a little longer without that wake up call.


Once I was up I decided to go on and get some exercise by shoveling our walkway and doing some work moving snow away from cars. While I was out shoveling I heard a pig pop-pop from the transformer on the corner of our property and saw a big flash of light. I was sure our power had just gone out, but no. it stayed on. Russ came out to help me between work calls but then took the four-wheel drive vehicle into the office. Commerce must go on.


Since my regular day had been canceled I went to work doing two loads of laundry, changing sheets on the guest bed for a friend without power to use tonight, cleaned off the months of mail that had piled up on my desk, ran the dishwasher and got all my steps on my treadmill before 2:00.


That busy beaverness warranted me a play date with my friend Stephanie to catch up and play Bananagrams. With no visible work insight I had no guilt to take a couple of hours to play with my friend. Since she did not have power at her house she deserved a warm place to hang out too.


After we played a few rounds she tried to reach Duke power having been cut off by the automated system on multiple previous attempts to report the outage at her house. Finally she got through and the system voice told her that she could expect her power to return by 11:45 TOMORROW! I told her that her family was welcome to come camp at my house; we still have another unoccupied bed and plenty of comfy sofas the size of twin beds.


A snow day is only fun for one day. When it gets to be snow days without power then it is verging on too much little house on the prairie. I am praying for school tomorrow, not so much for me, but for all my friends with multiple little children. If you need a grown up play date tomorrow, call me. I’ve got lots of games we can play and no laundry left to do.

Snow Days and The Desire to Eat



I don’t know about you, but there is something terribly bad for me about snow days and being stuck in my house. It is not that I have lots of little children who need to be entertained. Actually it is quite the opposite, yesterday I tried to get Carter to play a game with me and she said absolutely not.


My problem with snow days is that I seem to lose all will power to not eat carbs when I am stuck inside. Now there are plenty of days when the weather is perfect and I am choosing to stay home voluntarily and I eat my regular diet of salad and salad and salad.   But let the smallest amount of frozen precipitation come out of the sky and I start searching the house for chocolate, cookies, cakes anything I have put in the freezer to keep from eating it and I just eat it frozen.


I have no excuse not to get my exercise since I have a treadmill, so on snow days I still get my steps, but then I negate all that walking with eating what I would not normally. Perhaps I am not the only person who has this problem and that is why when southerners hear it is going to snow they rush to the store and wipe the shelves clean of bread and frozen pizza.


I know of other friends who say that a snow day is the only time they bake and make cocoa. Yes, a hot drink is a nice warm-me-up when you come in from sledding, but why not a good ginger tea? What is it about snow that screams, “I need marshmallows melting on top of a creamy chocolate drink?


I guess that wearing all those layers of winter clothes hides the reality of my real body. Somehow I need to break this cycle because I don’t see the snow stopping any time soon. I may not have any control over the weather, but I do over my eating, I think. I am yet to hear any scientific evidence that snow really changes a body’s need for calories. If it did, then sunshine should have the opposite effect, and I am really no better at dieting in the summer.

Don’t Drink From Bottles

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This morning was my appointment to get my front teeth fixed and snow be damned I was going to get to the dentist so he could replace my old bonding on my front teeth. This was no emergency, but it was the day I had psychologically prepared for and I was not about to let the dusting of snow we had at 7:30 in the morning stop me. I knew if I did not go today I might have not rescheduled until I had broken off my old repaired teeth.


I have spent my whole life dealing with front teeth problems and I am always thankful for the brilliance of dental chemists who invent new and better ways to repair broken teeth.


It all started when I was five and climbing our chain link fence I chipped a front tooth. It wasn’t that bad, but back in the dark ages of dental care there was not much they could do about it.


Then when I was about 11 a boy on the school bus pushed me and I hit the metal bar on the top of the seat and chipped the same front tooth big time. By then there was some kind of fix our family dentist was able to do to it that at least kept the exposed nerve covered, but it was not a perfect match for my other tooth.


Then on New Years Eve my first year out of college, when I still had not figured out that drinking was not a good idea for me I chipped my other front tooth on a bottle of champagne. Thankfully my fabulous dentist in Washington worked out of his house and was willing to fix my tooth on New Years Day as long as I was willing to act as my own dental assistant and hold all the tools.


Lucky for me a new dental material had been invented called bonding so my Dentist was able to mold a new half tooth on both of my two broken front teeth. Over the years those fixes have had to be replaced this being the third and only voluntary time. The first two times I had to do a replacement it was because the bonding had finally given up and fallen off one of my teeth.


Although it was not pleasant to have to go around with a broken tooth it certainly made putting the new ones on easy since there was nothing to remove. That is why I was nervous about today. Although I was practically a pro having already assisted in my own fabrication of new teeth, I never had two perfectly good bonded teeth removed to make way for new ones.


I was doing it for precautionary reasons because my old ones had out lived their predicted life and they discolor differently than real teeth. What I really did not want to have happen was for my bonded teeth to decide to fall off when I was in a foreign country. Love travel, as much as I do I do not trust my teeth to anyone other than my American dentist.


Thank goodness my wonderful young dentist Andrew as well as his assistant were not deterred from coming into to work in the snow. I was able to lie down in the chair covered by a warm snuggly blanket and go into a Zen mode of mouth breathing while I ignored the machines used to remove the old and put on the new. In an hour I had new beautiful teeth that look so much better than the old. God bless people who invent this stuff and the ones who put it on. I have another fifteen years before have to worry about this again, I hope.

Is There a Nice Ranking For Colleges?



Tonight Russ and I have to go to college night for parents of sophomores at Carter’s school. It seems hard to believe that it is time for me to have a more meaningful role in where Carter goes next, but it also seems like we have been talking about college ever since she was in pre-k.


When I was a kid I don’t think I really knew what college was about. I just remember one day I would have a baby sitter and the next they were gone, where and how and for how long and are they ever coming back were questions that were never answered. Every once in a while I would just here the word, “college.”


Where I went to college was a little haphazard, although I think it was a great place for me. I remember going on a couple of college tours with my whole family in tow while we were on vacation. A memorable one was at Wake Forest when I must have been a sophomore and not really ready to think about what kind of school was right for me.


Here is the background, my father had grown up in Winston-Salem and had gone to Chapel Hill so he had a definite opinion about Wake. He asked our tour guide, who was an awkward young man, “What do you do for fun around here?” Now as an ex-college tour guide myself I know that questions like that coming from fathers are a minefield. Little did this guy know that my father thought having fun at college was very important, so as he hemmed and hawed for an answer that he thought a father of a daughter would like to hear, my father leans over to me and says, “You are not going here, they don’t know how to have fun.” (For the record, I know that is not true.)


My mother and I took a trip alone to look at colleges in Pennsylvania and it was a chance encounter with a professor at breakfast at Fay’s country kitchen that sealed the deal for me to apply early to Dickinson. That and the fact that three girls I had gone to Walker’s with had gone there and loved it.


The one thing I think that made Dickinson perfect for me was that I went to school with the nicest group of people. I totally credit the admissions office for choosing people who were generally nice. My friend Tommy Hurdman who went to a different, but very good school, used to come to visit and complain that his classmates were in no way as nice as mine and he wished he had gone to Dickinson. That is how his little brother happened to come to Dickinson.


Now that Carter is about to embark on her search for her next school I wish there was a “nice ranking.” Yes, we want academic rigor, or at least her father does, but I am probably more like my father and want to know, “what do you do for fun around here?” At the time my father asked that I was completely embarrassed, but now I see I have turned into him.

What Underwear Are You Wearing?



Since today is Academy Awards day the most asked question is, “What are you wearing?” Of course celebrities have been given the designer clothes they are donning on the red carpet so they are obligated to do their best job telling the world who designed and made the free things they have on.


Really the what are you wearing question is the safest thing for any journalist to ask. Imagine what a mess it would be if any one of the 1,600 worldwide journalist were to ask a real question like to Julianne Moore, “How on earth do you feel about going up against Meryl Streep for her 18th best actress nomination?” What could the poor woman say? If she said, “I think since Meryl has won three times she should give someone else a chance.” No way. No savvy nominee is going to say anything juicy before the statues are given out so discussing their clothes is about all we will get.


Given that premise what I wish the TV people on the red carpet would ask is, “What undergarments are you wearing?” I can figure out the dress on my own since we can see it, what I want to know is what foundational items are under the dress and how uncomfortable are they?


To me the secret to a great look is one that is as smooth as possible and not all those bodies are naturally smooth. Also give us the inside scoop on how those boobs are staying in place, up high with little chance of wardrobe malfunctions. So you think there is any body tape left in Hollywood? What if someone sweats a lot? Could that make the tape slip off? These are the real questions.


While we are on the subject of questions they don’t ask on the red carpet I really would like to know what kind of hair products are used on these women with perfect hair that is left down. Now I know the updo girls can get sprayed to within an inch of their life and that complex braided bun ain’t goin’ nowhere. But what about the star who where her hair down and long and flowing, how does she keep it looking camera ready?


Please take note Good Morning America, Kelly and Michael and Jimmy Kimmel and ask these things next year. The Guccis and Armanis of the world get more than enough attention at Oscar time, I want to know which model Spanx is making it’s way up to collet a gold statue.