Grease is the Word

  
When I was exactly Carter’s age I had my first boy friend named Charlie. Our summer dating in Wilton had very few options for age appropriate things to do. We played putt-putt, hung out at the pool and went to the movies over and over again. The big movie that summer was Grease and we saw it no less than five times. I had every line memorized by the third viewing.
On my way home from DC today I was talking to Carter on the phone and she said. “You are going to be home in time to watch the Grease Live event with me tonight?” I have not been a big fan of these movie remake live shows on TV, but I did not want to disappoint Carter and I had so many Grease memories.
We snuggled into the big sofa and started watching Juliane Hough as Sandra D. The singing and dancing was really good and the story followed the movie fairly closely. It was so true to the original Carter asked me who Rock Hudson was since they mentioned him in a song. I have obviously not done my job as a mother that Carter does not know him.
As I watch this show with Carter I remember how inappropriate the story is for young kids. I asked Carter if she understood the movie when she was little and she told me that the whole “bun in the oven” section made no sense to her then.
As I think back to it when I was watching it is was very racy in comparison to the putt-putt life I was living. I certainly never knew any Rizzo’s or T-Birds, all my friends were “Sandy’s”. And I never went to school with anyone who went to beauty school, or was a beauty school drop out, but I really love the song. The live versions with Boyz to Men singing the Frankie Valle “Beauty school drop out,” was not as good as the original, at least the way I remember it the five times I saw it when I was seventeen. Grease is the word and I love that my daughter loves it too.


The Sistas

   
 

My parents are going to feel really left out when they see this picture of my real sisters, my sister-in-law and my best guy sisters who I had dinner with tonight. It is a rare treat that we all are in the same place at the same time so I made sure we had dinner together.
My quick trip to DC has been one great meal with friends and or family after another. I started the day with my French reunion at the quintessential French bistro Le Diplomat. We laughed, reminisced, told stories and shared great food, but the best part was watching the little girl next to us discover the joys of eating French food. I hope her mother can get her to eat regular food after she gnawed on brioche slathered with foie gras.

  
After that long meal I knew I needed a good walk to prepare for the dinner I knew was coming. Thank goodness the sun shone today, it made the walking between the big islands of snirt-that’s snow encrusted with dirt, bearable. I made my way back to John and David’s for a short needlepoint session and refresh and went off to Range for dinner.

Margaret had gotten there first and was a little panicked because they did not have our reservation, of course she asked for Dana Carter’s table, forgetting my name has been Lange for almost 24 years. Once we got that issue settled we had a grand time visiting over many drinks and a long drawn out dinner. Margaret was a really good sport about the late arrival of her very blackened pizza. We insisted she send it back and she went with the fried chicken instead. That led us into her history of loving fried chicken– always getting the Swanson fried chicken dinner when we had frozen dinners on babysitter nights, eating fried chicken in bed at the Holiday Inn on our way to summer vacations in Pawleys Island and having fried chicken on every birthday. These are memories you only sisters appreciate.

Despite out best effort to stay at the table all night we eventually had to part. The end of a very fun day with way too much eating. I know that time to go home and get back on the wagon is coming, but I am not going to enjoy it half as much as my friend and family filled weekend.


Old Friends Are Worth The Trouble

  

A number of months ago my friend Wendy, who I went to college with and became life long friends when we spent a summer in school together in France, called me about a reunion with our other friend Steve. Of course I am always up for a reunion with Steve and Wendy. Our time in France was nothing but fun, especially if you ignore that annoying school part like I did. Since the three of us live in different cities we have to actually make an effort to get together. Sadly, we are missing our fourth, Herb, who passed away at a much too young age about fifteen years ago. The loss of Herb probably makes us try a little harder to stay in touch.
When Wendy found out that Steve was going to be in DC this weekend she suggested it as a good place for us to get together. I am always up for a trip to the place I spent my youthful first ten years out of college. I get to not only rendezvous with my French compatriots, but I am staying with my beasties, John and David who treat me like a queen. And as a bonus I also got a visit in today with my friend Jeanne who took me to lunch after my troublesome drive.
I was really excited about coming to DC this morning to see all these fabulous friends. I was first of all thankful that it was not last weekend when DC got a record amount of snow. I got up early this morning to get a full day of friend love in DC. Dropping Shay off at her sitters, I was on the road before eight with my iced tea and my Serius radio.  
About forty minutes into the trip the low tire pressure light came on in my car. I pulled off the highway to get air and as soon as I did the check engine light came on and flashed wildly. This did not give me a good feeling. I did not want to risk driving into the middle of nowhere Virginia and have my car stop working. I turned around and headed back to Durham to the car dealer to see if they could plug my car into the computer and tell me if something was really wrong. That was a pipe dream. The service tech gave me that “you have got to be kidding me lady” look when he told me it would be a few hours before a “hybrid” tech was free. Instead I drove home and got my trusty 16 year old Land Cruiser that does it have any fancy diagnostic lights.
When I went in the house to get the key I noticed an important item of clothing Carter did not get from the laundry that she would need for her basketball game today, so I texted her. “Oh Mom, I do need that.” So on my way back out of town, I ran by school and put said important clothing item in her locker. I was only two hours behind schedule.
With no satellite radio I channel surfed my way up the I’s 85 and 95 and made it to Old town in time to have a late lunch with Jeanne and still see her stop she works at, her favorite shoe store and her new house. Only a half hour late I got to David and John’s in time for a short visit and change of clothes before I ubered off to the Hay Adams for dinner with Wendy and Steve joining us for drinks after. Wendy had brought her journal from out trip and we relived some key moments. The whole night went too fast, but we are meeting again tomorrow for lunch. So with no sadness we all departed in our own taxis/ubers knowing we would do it again tomorrow.
I came home to the best turn down service at John and David’s happy to be with so many great friends, definitely worth the drive! 

  


No Sickness Diet

I went to a ladies who lunch event today and got to see a bunch of friends I have not seen since the holidays. I don’t know how January gets by me so quickly. Of course the three or four days of house-bound-snow days ate into any possible socializing, but that is only like a ninth of the month.
Two friends I had not seen much of both independently told me they had not been well. One had a cold/flu that held on for weeks and the other had oral surgery. I guess if you are going to be sick January is the best time because you are not missing anything exciting. Both friends said the same thing about being unwell, “the worst part was I did not even lose any weight.”
It reminded me of an old joke that was popular when I was in my twenties. A skinny woman says to a friend, “I’m just one flu way from my ideal weight.”
Losing a bunch of weight from a one day bug is something that only happens when you are young. By the time your body hits middle age it is unfazed by your not putting any food in it, or in the case of my oral surgery friend, only drinking your food. Instead of attacking your fat reserves, the older person’s body just shuts down unimportant functions to reduce the amount of calories needed when not many are coming in. No new hair will grow, your nails will stay short and stubby and your skin will be fairly lack luster. (Although my friends who had been sick looked pretty great today.)
The fact that my ill friends did not lose weight is also a testament to how important exercise is as you age. When you are sick you are probably not moving around much so you are not burning any calories that way. Right there is the answer to why you are not losing weight when you are sick. Now if you were riding that exercise bike with a bucket attachment with the stomach bug, then certainly you would drop a pound or two, but that visual is horrible and I’m sorry I out it out in the universe.
The line about being “one bug away from your ideal weight” does not apply to middle aged women. Being sick just stinks with no side benefit. So stay healthy and keep moving. And for goodness sake, don’t drink your calories — they really add up.  


What Your Body Needs

Today I got an email from a friend who has rheumatoid issues and at the suggestion of her doctor has been following an autoimmune protocol diet which follow closely to the paleo diet. My friend says that cutting out grains and gluten does make her feel better and greatly reduces her need for medication. She was reaching out to me for recipe ideas.
First, I had no idea she had been suffering from any ailments and I am sorry I was unaware. Second, I had a very limited knowledge of exactly what the Paleo diet included and more importantly what was excluded. Third, I had not even heard of the autoimmune protocol diet. I started researching to see what I could learn so I could suggest some different recipes to her, but quickly realized it was not a quick study to find out the answers.
This in someway reminds me of what my sister-in-law has gone through in the last ten months of trying to feed her husband heart healthy food. After his heart attack the amount of salt he was permitted dropped to a level that is practically impossible to reach since salt appears naturally in so many foods, not just processed foods.
More and more people are realizing that food is medicine. Yes we all need to eat to live, but to live our best you need to eat the best foods. What are best for one of us is not necessarily the same for another. I know for instance that refined sugar really makes me tired. The catch is once I start eating it I crave it, I eat it get tired and then my defenses are down so I give into the cravings more. I still have not gotten over my Christmas sugar.  
Now my need to not eat sugar is nothing compared to someone who needs to stay way from gluten so she can walk, but knowing what you should not eat and doing it everyday are very hard. That is why having delicious options that fit in your own personal regime are important.  
My friend is looking for new recipes for sweet potatoes, since that is something she can eat. She said the coconut and plantains are good too. Since these are foods I tend to stay away from for caloric reasons I am not necessarily cooking new and different recipes that might help her. If you follow the Paleo or AIP diet and have any good ideas I would love to pass them on to my friend.  
I wish there was some magical nutrition test that could give us a print out of exactly what our own bodies needed and what we should stay away from. All this testing ourselves by removing foods from our diets and adding things back is a life’s work. I have so many more interesting things to do than figure out if my body works better on chicken or an apple, I already know it does it work well on Oreos.


I’m No Slow Cooker 

  

I have never been a master of the the slow cooker. I guess that since I am mostly home I never saw a need to put food in a cooking vessel that I could leave while I was away from the house. I had a friend who told me when her girls were juniors and seniors in high school and playing sports that her slow cooker saved her. She would put a meal in it and then go watch them play and still have supper ready in a timely manner so they could eat and get home work done.  
Today I had a Food Bank meeting in Raleigh in the middle of the day, came home for a conference call and then went back to North Raleigh for a basketball game. With all that coming and going and a low stock of leftovers after snow bound eating at home, I decided today was the perfect day to try the crockpot. I looked in my pantry of rarely used items and knew that I could make a tomato sauce with the carrots and onions I had fresh, and canned tomatoes. I also knew there were frozen meatballs that could be added later so I thought I’d try it.
At nine in the morning I put onions, carrots, garlic, canned tomatoes, marjoram, tomato paste and beef stock in the crock pot and turned it on low. I left the house and when I came back five hours later I was underwhelmed with what had happened. I turned it up to high and gave it another two hours. A little better. I ran the stick blender through it and dumped in the frozen meatballs and a hockey puck sized frozen pesto from my summer garden. I turned it on low and left the house for another five hours.  
After Carter’s team won their game she asked for Chipolte for dinner. So much for the twelve hours of cooking. I had a salad for dinner and only Russ ate one meatball as part of his grazing on many things for dinner. He said it was good, but who knows. Eating dinner at nine thirty I think everything tastes good.
So much for my planning ahead. I could have done nothing and been in the same place come dinner time. So into the fridge the crock will go and hopefully someone will eat these things tomorrow.  
I am not sure that I am sold on this way of cooking. There is no caramelization of anything when cooking in stone wear. Thank goodness the meatballs were browned before I froze them. We only have a couple of weeks left in basketball season so I am not seeing a need to try and master the slow cooker this year. I guess I will just keep it to reheat soups and chili’s when I go to covered dish dinners at church. For me, I am going back to my trusty 30 year old stock pot where I know how to develop flavor.


January 25- Janie Carter Day

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For someone who hates winter as much as my mother it just seems wrong that today is her birthday. Winter and the fact that it is just one month past Christmas makes January 25th not an ideal day, but my Mom is certainly making the most of it. Last Thursday before the blizzard hit the east coast my Mom drove up to Washington, DC because why not go to one of her favorite places the day before the whole city is going to shut down with the most snow ever.

 

Now her favorite daughter, Janet, does live there as does her next favorite, Margaret, but Margaret had the good sense to leave DC for Miami, and that is why she is second favorite. Despite the travel ban my Mom said she has had a fun weekend going to a gallery and out to lunch before the snow hit the city and then playing bridge once everyone was trapped inside. Sounds like the perfect birthday weekend for my mother.

 

Today I am told that our friend Anne is having a lunch for her and the favorite daughter Janet is doing a dinner so perhaps my mother was right to run from the farm to the big city so she could be celebrated in style. She also left my father home alone to plow all the farm roads so by the time she will get home tomorrow everything at the farm will be perfect.

 

I found this picture of Carter and Mom in Washington DC in 2008 at her last big DC birthday party. Seems like her best birthdays have taken place in DC so to overcome the fact that it is so close to Christmas in the doldrums of late January, is cold and full of snow she is making the most of it.

 

I am just sorry that as second to the second most favorite daughters she is not here for us to celebrate her, but I guess that will have to wait until she visits in February. I can’t compete with galleries and fancy bridge parties. Instead we will go to lunch someplace good and then to the shoe repairman. Now that will be living big, but at 78 a good shoe repairman is practically like gold.

 

Happy birthday Janie Carter. Sorry your birthday is not during a beautiful month like May or September, the months you had your children. We appreciate you giving us good weather months to celebrate. Just know that all your daughters and your grand daughter love you.


Snow No Diet Days

Outside of the Super Bowl it appears to me that snow days, when you are stuck in your house for multiple days, are the worse days for your diet. Based on what my friends are posting on Facebook I would say that mac n’ cheese, chili, coco and brownies are the top items people feel a need to make when stuck in their house.
Now I agree that melted cheese in any form, whether in a grilled cheese or on top of a mug of hot chili is the best consolation for being home bound, but really too many days home with your loved ones should not be seen as a punishment. One of Carter’s friends, who shall remain nameless, said that her family was getting along by staying in their own sections of the house. That is certainly a better plan than trying to create peace with warm melted chocolate.
One friend posted that when her husband heard the storm was coming went to the store and bought frozen Sara Lee coffee cakes in multiples. So much for New Years resolutions. Of course the snow is the perfect excuse to break your diet. The lettuce in your house is getting old and who is comforted by an old orange when you come in from shoveling the snow?
I am not doing any better. I made myself some tuna salad for lunch and then put it on a slice of bread with some cheese on top and put it in the toaster oven. I can’t remember the last time I had a toasted sandwich, but apparently the snow drove me to it.  
I think I need to have lunch with my friends so that I get back into the salad swing. I also have to stop looking at what people are posting on Facebook. Even the images of Mac and cheese are making my mouth water. Thank goodness I feel the need to reserve what little milk I have for breakfast so I won’t be tempted to make a big casserole of homemade pasta gratin. I better not look in the pantry because I’m sure I have some evaporated milk and really, that makes the best mac ‘n cheese.


Why Don’t I Have Boots?

By Shay Shay Lange
I woke up this morning when my Dad got out of bed and despite the cold I went outside to discover the whole world turned white while I slept. At first I thought I was in an old fashioned movie, you know where the people are grey, because in the early morning light everything was black and white or mostly grey.
The white was hard and cold and I slipped around. I sniffed the air, smelling for deer or other friends who usually come play in my yard, but I couldn’t find any tale tale signs they had been around so I came back in the house to snuggle with my humans. I really like that daddy moves from one comfy spot to another so I have lots of warm places to sleep. Why I get up early with him I do not know, when I could have stayed in bed with one of the other girls and slept late where it was warm and snuggly.

  
After the Mom got up I had to go outside and play while she and my Dad pushed the white stuff off the car. They only did it on the big black elephant like car they only drive when the world is white or they have a lot of kids to drive around. My feet got cold on the white so I stood on my Mom’s boots. That made me wonder where my boot were. Shouldn’t someone have gotten me something to protect my little feet?

  
My Mom and my other Mom Carter went out in the big elephant car to the movies so I stayed snuggled with Dad. When they came back Carter took me over to the golf course to try and run, but hey, I still did not have boots and I slipped all over the place.

  
After that I was exhausted so I did not mind when my people left me to go out to dinner and to see some girl named Matilda sing songs about eating sweets when she grows up. Seems like the big black elephant car likes the white stuff and is able to get my people places others dare not go. I was not worried about them, but was still glad when they got home. I need them to snuggle with me. It is colder without them and I am just a baby, who needs some boots.  
  


Dancing Days

Our snow day turned into a sleet day, but the three of us were home together nonetheless. Russ ventured out on a walk to the store to buy eggs, but other than that it was a day at home, home, home. The sleet hitting the windows made and is still making, is quite a racket, but I’ll take a that over freezing rain clinging to tree branches that fall on the roof.
Carter convinced me to binge watch a show about teenagers in the eighties so she could quiz me about it’s authenticity. Even though I was not a teenager in the eighties I was still able to confirm that the shoulder pads and bright colors and big hair were the way we lived back in those dark ages.
In one episode the characters went to the Limelight, the church turned disco, in NYC. Carter was interested in my dancing past, which I only shared in a generality. The best thing she said was, “Where did you out your coat and purse, were there lockers?”
We both broke into hysterical laughter as soon as she said it, but then I got to thinking about what a good idea it is. The worst thing for those eighties years was freezing when we went out dancing because we did not want to wear our coats since there was no place to put them without fear of it getting stolen, spilled on or walked on when it fell on the floor. We never went places nice enough to have coat checks or with owners not smart enough to have lockers.
I certainly don’t miss figuring out the going dancing logistics, not just the coat issue, but where to put my car keys in an outfit without pockets, but I do miss the exercise I got from all that dancing. The clothes may have been terrible, but the dancing music was great. With all that sweating I guess we never needed our coats when we left a club anyway, but I still think the locker idea would be good.
Maybe I should open a disco in my playroom to help work off the holiday calories. It would be a lot more fun than working out and I have a big closet to store the coats.

 


Snowmageton?

  

In the 22 years we have lived in Durham Russ has some how been away for every major snow event. The worst one was when Carter was little and we lost power for seven days. I think Russ was in London for that one. I eventually made it to the farm after a couple of days with no power where amazingly my parents had electricity. Back in the olden days I could call my home phone and if the answering picked up it meant the power had come back on.
According to my scrapbooks Russ missed a number of snows in a row when Carter was two. I remember that the first night without power I threw a heavy duty extension cord out the window of my bedroom and plugged it into the power inverter in my jeep, not to run a heater or lights, but to power the TV since it was the final episode of Survivor. If Russ had been home I probably would not have wanted to watch TV, but if Russ were home it probably would not have snowed so much.
Tonight everything on earth has been canceled in anticipation of the storm the forecasters say we are getting in the morning. Not that I do not believe meteorologists, but really the odds of it happening with Russ home are next to none. Now I truly believe that Washington, DC is going to get a record setting amount of snow, but Durham, not so much. We could get a thin layer of ice that makes driving too dangerous and therefore the closings will be necessary, but I am fairly certain this is no snowmageton.
Russ could have gone to Philly this week, but since his brother has been moved back into CICU to help his body accept his new heart, he decided to stay home because he would not be allowed to spend time with David so as not to introduce new germs to him. If Russ had gone I would guarantee at least a foot of snow.
So enjoy the second long weekend in a row. If we do get a lot of snow it will break every rule of our marriage that says I should do all the snow shoveling.


Tzatziki Sauce is The Answer

  

Carter is addicted to tzatziki sauce. I can make almost any meat and even if she normally would turn her nose up at it, if I offer tzatziki sauce sudden it becomes her favorite meal. If you don’t know what it is you probably had it with a gyro.  
Tzatziki is a cucumber, yoghurt sauce that is much healthier than mayonnaise as a condiment. Tonight we had it on lamb burgers and everyone was very happy.
1 pint of fat free Greek yoghurt

1 large cucumber

3 cloves of garlic

Juice of one lemon

Sprinkle of dill weed
Peel the cucumber, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the cucumber into strips and then chop into a small dice.
Put in a bowl with the yoghurt, lemon juice and using a micro plane grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the dill sparingly and taste before adding more. Salt and pepper.
Good as a condiment, dip or salad dressing.


Paris Tea, Who Knew?

  
If drinking iced tea ever became something to worry about, like drinking a dozen beers a day might be, I am going to be in trouble. Iced tea is my drink of choice and has been for almost as long as I can remember. I don’t drink soda, gave up alcohol thirty-one years ago and only occasionally drink coffee. But iced tea, I wake up to it and have it all through the day.
I’ve got making a big pitcher of tea down to a science, knowing that eleven tea bags makes the perfect two quarts. I like lime juice as my first choice, but will settle for a lemon wedge when I am out in public and a sweet’n low pink packet is my sweetener of choice.
I have traveled the world making my own iced tea in counties, mostly former British colonies, that have frowned upon the inclusion of ice when it comes to tea. I can tell when a restaurant has kept their tea too long, before I even put my lips to the glass, by the smell.
With all these years of teaology today I was tea stumped. I went to lunch with my friend Leslie at a popular Durham lunch spot. As we ordered at the counter the server said to my request for an unsweet iced tea with lemon, “Peach or Paris.” Now I know what Peach tea is, but Paris? I was not quite sure I heard her so I responded, “I just want unsweet please.”
With no explanation of the difference in the teas, the order taker told me, “they are both unsweet,” like everyone on earth knows what Paris tea is. Since my ignorance seemed to be annoying said order person I just said, “Peach.” I turned to Leslie and asked her if she knew anything of this “Paris tea,” and she was equally stumped.
Suddenly I was questioning by years of teaology. From the way I was asked, “Peach or Paris,” I felt like I might have been a tea Rumpelstiltskin and been asleep for 20 years. I came home and Googled “Paris Tea.” Turns out it is one tea made by Harney and Sons with vanilla and caramel overtones. It has not been available for many years and is not made by other companies.
Phew. I was worried that a big thing in tea had gotten by me. At least that is how I was made to feel at lunch. Now the reviews of this tea are fabulous and I probably will go back and try it, even though reports say it is not good with lemon.  
What I wish is that servers would not assume that the iced tea ordering public knows everything and please describe things. I hated being practically dismissed when I asked her to repeat the choices. I certainly did not make the line behind me wait while I was given a lesson in the differences in teas, it wasn’t even offered. Perhaps I have passed into the old lady point where I just get dismissed for asking a question. Lord knows it is hard to find good help, especially ones who are nice to iced tea drinking old ladies.


Dry Heat Okra

  

Normally a summer food, Russ came home with a big bag of okra yesterday. Carter declared she did not like it, until I cooked this two ingredient dish and changed her mind.
This does not work with frozen okra, if you can even find such a thing. That should be reserved for gumbo or some other wet dish to hide the slime. Fresh okra, cooked in a hot dry pan with a sprinkling of coriander make okra lovers out of any hardened Yankee or finicky child.
1 lb. of okra

1 T. Ground coriander
Cut the stem end off the okra and cut each spear into thirds.

Heat a nonstick fry pan up on high heat and put the okra in the pan. Cook stirring often about 8 minutes until browned. Sprinkle with coriander and cook one more minute. 

Season with salt and pepper.


Football Nerves

When I was a child I was very thankful I was not a boy so I could avoid playing team sports. Watching pop warner football, seeing my classmates take hits and still not make the play made me nervous as can be. I was happy to swim or play tennis, sports that involved no contact and seemed far less dangerous than the hard hitting boy sports. I was a pre-title nine girl so the offerings for girls was more limited to begin with and all that made me happy. I felt uncomfortable even watching sports where people got hurt.
Since I went to all girls boarding school, the sports were obviously focused on girls, so I never had the opportunity to be drawn into even watching boys sports. I then went to a college which probably had the worst football team on earth. My apologies to any of my friends who played on the team, but I think in my four years there was only one touch down ever scored. That being the case going to watch the games was not something we even did. All the better, I did not have to watch anyone get tackled or run head first into other player.
Despite my dislike for playing violent sports or having any first hand experience watching live football much when the post regular season in professional ball comes along I oddly get drawn into the action. Perhaps it is the fact that it is a long weekend and we are home. This year the fact that the Carolina Panthers have the best season also helps peak my interest. Then there is the need to watch someone while I am on the treadmill.  
What I cannot explain is that once I finished my steps as the Panthers were securing the win, what made me feel the need to watch the Pittsburgh/Denver game? Maybe it was that I turned the TV on looking for 60 minutes, but once I discovered an hour delay I immediately got drawn into the game. As much as I enjoyed watching two football games today I don’t feel like I must watch next week’s games, but I still want Carolina to win and be in the super bowl.
I am thankful I don’t have a son and have to watch him in the violent sports. I am still a little nervous watching pros play. It is kind of like driving by an accident. I just can’t seem to help but look.


Can’t Please Everyone

I am a big proponent of eating home cooked food for dinner, rather than eating prepared or restaurant dinners all the time. Not only is is cheaper, it is practically the only way I can control the calories in my food. Don’t get me wrong, I like to go out to dinner or even better go to someone else’s house for dinner, I just can’t afford to do it that often.
If it were up to Russ and me we would be perfectly happy making one thing and eating it for a couple of days in a row. I have a little sickness that makes it hard for me to make small amounts of food. My attitude is that leftovers taste better than the original meal and it is much faster to just make a little more than make two whole different dishes. I don’t know if Russ came to our marriage this way, but he certainly is a good egg about eating something that is already cooked in the fridge, rather than asking me to make something new.
Sadly our child is completely the opposite of us. She would prefer to eat dinner out every night or if she does eat at home she wants something new and different every night. How did this happen? I am hardly the mother who serves the same seven meals every week; meatloaf on Monday, turkey on Tuesday, spaghetti on Wednesday, baked chicken on Thursday, fish on Friday, burgers on Saturday and lasagna on Sunday. I did not make that menu up, I had a friend growing up named Gail and that is what they had every week. Talk about boring… Of course that was what her mother was able to make.
As creative a cook as I am I am slightly hindered by what Carter likes to eat that is also healthy. If we were a family who did not have to watch our choices it would be easy. I could come up with a different pasta meal for each day of the year, but sadly we need to limit pasta to special occasions. That goes for rice based meals too. Russ used to survive on “rice bowls” in college, long before that was a thing.  
All this is being said because most nights I am disappointing my child when she asks,”What’s for dinner?” Not that I try and do it on purpose, but I know that if I had to gain agreement on what to have we would not have very creative meals. I also know that ultimately she is going to like what I make more than she thinks.
Tonight to my great delight when Carter came upstairs for dinner she happily asked in, “Are we having red wine vinegar chicken?” Without consultation I had made something healthy that she loves and happens to be in the mood for it at the same time. Now I did disappoint her on the puréed cauliflower side, but she ate the broccoli. I know we don’t have much more time of having her eating dinner at home, but I hope when she goes to college she realizes how good she has it at home.


Please Pray

I am not able to fully understand how prayer works, but I also truly believe that it does. I don’t think you can ask to win the lottery, proof is that most all of the people who bought tickets for the billions dollars didn’t win despite many of them certainly prayed to win. I do think that just praying for help does work.
I am asking for you to help by praying for David, Russ’ brother. I can’t go into the details why here, but please just pray for healing. While I am imposing, can you please pray for his wife, Tasha too.
Praying for him won’t win you the lottery, but it will make me eternally grateful, and you may win him the contest he is in.


Cleaning My Office is Like Dieting 

  
It just couldn’t be avoided any longer. I had to tackle cleaning my office today. I did not have anything else on my calendar that I could use as an excuse to escape my house and pretend that I had not used my office as a dumping site since Thanksgiving.  
At the start of the holiday season I shun my responsibilities and just have fun. That means the only mail that gets opened have hand written envelopes, projects that I have spent the previous ten months working on get shelved, or piled as is more likely the case and work, what’s work? As if all that avoidance is not enough, my office then also becomes the gift holding and wrapping center, Christmas craft making site and major menu planning and research area for all things holiday.
Around the first of the year I undecorate the whole rest of the house and that task is so horrible that I take a few days break from organizing because, quite frankly I can close my office door and pretend it is not there. It is kind of akin to wearing sweat pants after the holiday. You don’t really want to face the reality of what the holiday has done to you, or you have done during the holiday.
Well, come to Jesus time it is. I had to start to work on my office. First I knew that mail had to be opened or I might piss off some banks. Before I could open mail I had to find it, “Wow, how did this pile get stuck between the red and green tissue paper?” Then it he to be sorted, opened, (I really could have used an OPEX machine today), most of it got thrown away, then some of it had to be acted on.
Then there was the entering of new addresses from friends who sent cards this year. I did not send cards so I did not need the addresses for this season. Who knows if I will get around to doing a card next year. That might have been an unnecessary job, but I am old enough to think I need everyone’s address.
Then came my least favorite job, filing. I really need to clean out my files, but even if I had more organized files I would not like putting things in them any more. I finally put away the Christmas wrapping supplies. All this work and it hardly looks like I did a thing. There are still piles to be dealt with, bags of old hand bags to go to the goodwill, boxes of 30 year old photos to be, I don’t know what with, buckets of change to be sorted and deposited, hundreds of cook books to be reorganized.
I know I have at least a month’s worth of work in that room, but the thought… I also know that when it is done I will be so happy and will be much better at keeping it organized. My proof is my bedside table that I cleaned out last year is still neat. But cleaning out and keeping it clean need to be like a diet, done faithfully everyday. Somehow my diet is like my office. Overwhelming and a mess. The rest of the house is great, including every closet. Well, not the attic or garage, but really, everything else.
I think if I make a big push to do an hour a day in my office I can take care of business and in the end feel better about my life. Now my diet needs the same discipline. On Valentine’s Day, a month from now let’s see where I am.


Why English Matters

  
When we were in Charleston we went to dinner at one of the old line fabulous restaurants in downtown with my cousin Mary and her husband Ward. While we had a great meal with superior service I was especially tickled when the waiter brought the dessert menu.
The waiter dropped off the small leather portfolio with the heavy card stock “southern sweets” menu describing six different decadent offerings. From Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée to pumpkin Pie Tart, each on sounded more delicious and naughty than the next.  
I pursued the offerings with all the guilt of a person who need not eat another sweet. Russ offered to order one so I could have a bite, which is code for, his ordering and my eating. I think this is the key to a successful marriage.
What to do, oh what to do, Carrot Cake Trifle or Pecan Pie? Then I look a little harder. The answer to the question was starring me right in the face. No decision needed at all. At the bottom of the dessert descriptions between the Maple Brown Sugar Cake and the Ice Cream and Sorbet, printed in caps, “ALL DESSERTS 8”. As if it were a dream, every single one of those pastry delights, all of them, yes you get one of each for just eight dollars.
That is what it read. “ALL DESSERTS 8”. How could such a fine establishment make such a mistake, and in writing. Am I really the first person to notice and expect them to live up to their own offering? Thank goodness for my restraint. I did not demand “ALL” of them.  
Actually I did not even point out to the waiter the terrible error of their ways. Certainly they meant “EACH DESSERT 8.” I was tempted. Tempted enough to take a photo. I guess I am waiting until a day when I feel thin enough to go back and demand all six desserts for eight dollars. I hated to miss my chance, certainly someone else will let them know their mistake.


Salad Perfection

  

You know it is harder to make a perfect salad than you think. Getting the right ratio of flavors, contrasting textures and crunch is not that easy. Now a soup, that’s a cinch, you could throw practically anything in a pot and meld it into a happy place. I have almost never made a bad soup and I have put some very weird combinations together, but once I figure out a good salad I just repeat it because changing just one little things can bring harmonic imbalance.
Today, my friend Christy and I discovered perhaps the perfect salad. We went over to visit Nancy at the new Chapel Hill Needlepoint location. She was forced to move, but we are liking the new location because she is in a place that is mostly restaurants. Our plan was to do a little needlepoint and then sample the first of the lunch spots in a long line of choices.
Because both Christy and I are orderly types we started with the restaurant on the end and were planning on working our way down the line. I’m not sure we are going to stick to our plan. Lucia Tigre, the Asian Latin fusion spot we started at might have us so addicted we may never eat any place else. I am officially craving the salad we both got today and I just had it nine hours ago.  
It sounded ordinary enough, the “avocado citrus”, mixed greens, mandarin oranges, avocado, tomato, bacon and cheese– add chicken if you want, and we did. There was no mention of this ridiculously perfect cilantro dressing, which I ordered on the side as is my custom. Innocent as the description was, it in no way represented its perfection.  
The mandarin oranges were not canned, but perfect small supremes cut from fresh flesh. Just the right number of thin buttery slivers of bright green soft avocado. A small amount of both perfectly crunchy tiny chopped bacon to add just a hint of smoke and a touch of cheese, to not induce guilt, but just tease the palette. Then the chicken, moist and warm with some spice I never lingered over long enough to identify because when the whole thing was put together it was sublime. Oh yeah, and the lime green dressing that Christy announced she could drink, did I tell you about that?
Having that fabulous lunch makes me realize how inferior most other salads are. You can’t just throw a bunch of vegetables on a plate, cut any ole’ way and expect them to make my mouth sing. If Christy and I had not both felt the same way about this superior meal I would not wax on so long. Our only issue now is we are never going to get to try all the restaurants by needlepoint because, at least for me, my mouth is going to water for that one salad. I’m saying that wrong, my mouth is watering now for that salad.


Bulgar Wheat and Veggie Salad

  

Thanks to my friends giving me the leftover vegetable trays from a party on Saturday I was able to make a yummy bulgar wheat said with not much chopping for me. The bulgar is fairly low in calories and high in protein so when you add vegetable to stretch it out is is a fairly guilt free carb that is very satisfying. You can use any vegetables you have on hand. This combination of squash, peppers, mushrooms and shallots was really tasty together. It only took a bit to cook and could be served warm or cold.
1 cup dry bulgar wheat

1 t. Knorr chicken broth powder

2 cups of water
3/4 cup yellow squash chopped

3/4 cup of peppers- I used red, yellow and orange

1 shallot, minced

6 large mushrooms sliced
2T. Red wine vinegar

1t. Olive oil
In a sauce pan out the bulgar, chicken broth powder and water, you could use chicken stock if you wanted. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cover while simmering for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir to make sure it is not sticking to the pot.
In a fry pan sprayed with Pam, sautéed the squash and season with salt and pepper. You need only cook it a minute or two depending on how big you have chopped it. Once cooked place in a bowl big enough to hold the whole dish when done. Spray more Pam and add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds, then add the peppers and the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are done, about three minutes. Salt and pepper when done. Put those vegetables In the bowl with the squash and add the cooked bulgar and the oil and vinegar.  
Enjoy!


My Friends Are My Child’s Friends’ Mothers

  

I had a surprise today, a visit with my old friend Leigh. I first met Leigh when her daughter Stokes was in the same pre-k class as Carter. Together Carter, Stokes and their friend Campbell would demand a three way play date. Happily their friendship precipitated my friendship with their mothers’ Hannah and Leigh.
With the names, Carter, Campbell and Stokes, I used to call them “a friendship, not a law firm.” Certainly when we first got the class list it was hard to tell how many boys and how many girls were in the class when so many people use last names as first these days. In those early years of sitting in the pre-school great room waiting for kids to be dismissed it really helped if your child picked friends who had parents you also liked. Not that there were many parents I did not like, but since our girls were our first children to go to this school were all kind of in the same place at the same time.
Shared experiences make up a lot of friendship in those early school years, for both mothers and children. And now thanks to the shared need to look at colleges we got a chance to see each other today. Even though Leigh moved first to California and then to Atlanta years ago, we can pick up right where we left off as if we have been sitting in the great room awaiting our girls to run out to us.
I am wondering when our children go off to college where the next gathering place to make friends will be? I just don’t tend to “be” anyplace, with nothing to do, long enough to make friends with people who are sharing an experience with me. Of course the retirement home is the end spot to make friends, but that is a long way off.
When I think about groups of people I am friends with, be it at Mah Jongg or at the stitching table at needlepoint, church, or garden club, but most of my friends have come through children. It has been easier to recognize someone who I might like by the way their children act than any other way. At Mah Jongg you might be a good player, which is good, but you don’t have to have a good sense of humor to play the game, which, to me, is not good in any situation. But if my child likes your child than chances are I am going to like you.
Thank goodness Carter liked Campbell and Stokes because it brought me Hannah and Leigh. Even though Leigh is not here most of the time we can pick right back up as if she has been. Our time with our children at home is coming to an end fast, but at least we still have our friends. Our time to make friends with our children’s friends parents is ending fast. I don’t think the same thing works with grandchildren, not that I am looking for those anytime soon.


At Last Parents of Alumni Happened

After a first event of the year was canceled due to horrific rains in October, tonight we finally got the Durham Academy Parents of Alumni together for a cocktail party before the In The Pocket Concert. It was a nice turn out of parents whose kids have graduated in the last five years or so. The concert was a big draw since it is the performance when Alumni who are available come back and play with this year’s band.
I am not a parent of an Alum, yet, but I am the person who is on parent’s council who runs the Parents of Alumni. I do this for purely selfish reasons. In a year and a half I will no longer have any official role at Durham Academy. Although I have a child who is so ready to graduate and move on to the next place in life, I am not going anywhere. At the time when I will have the most time I will be losing the place where I spent a lot of my time for the last fifteen years. So for all that I am trying to get the Parents of Alumni off the ground.
If you fall into this category and missed the party tonight, you also missed the announcement of the first POA one night book club. Beloved upper school teacher Jeff Beirsach has agreed to hold a one night only class of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. The event will take place on the evening of February 24, and is open to the first 25 people who sign up. Seven or eight spots were taken at the party tonight. The announcement is going public on the POA Facebook site Monday or Tuesday, so if you want to join, and meet the criteria of POA member, meaning you had a child graduate from DA, send me a message and request a spot.  
You have about six weeks to read the book. Please plan on actually reading the book if you sign up. Jeff is a tough teacher and I would hate for him to have to send your child a bad report on how poorly prepared you were for book club. All kidding aside, it should be a fun night and I will make snacks.
I have to give a big shout out to Kay, Shelayne, & Theky who helped with the party tonight and to Martha and Sara for providing wine and food. Anyone else who want to help with POA let me know. The more the merrier at this point. Any Amy I’ve got you on the list.


Surprisingly Good Meal at HVCC

One of the worst things about being a good cook is that it is nothing for me to throw together a good meal. Russ always says the best food anywhere is in our refrigerator so why should we eat any place other than home. That is a nice compliment, but sometimes it just gets tiring to do all the cooking. This time of year, meaning one week into the diet season, I do start to get a little stir crazy from eating healthy food.
Yes, it is only a week in since I was eating “holiday food” and that is the problem, my mouth still remembers how good bread tasted. I may have broken the hold sugar had on me through the month of December, but somehow I never quite lose my taste for melted cheese. Going out so soon into the “diet season” can be dangerous.
Since Carter is away for the weekend at the mountains on her basketball team retreat and Russ has had a very hard week with his brother and I went to a funeral today it seemed like the perfect night to just go out to dinner. I wasn’t angling for a big night out when I texted Russ to tell him what the options in the fridge were for dinner, but I was happy not to have to cook tonight.  
“Why don’t we just go to the club?” was his text.
Since we live two minutes from our neighborhood club and we needed to use our monthly minimum, I agreed. Usually dinner at the club is not as good as dinner at our house, but then again, I don’t have to shop for it, cook it or clean up after it. That, and it is fun to see friends. Friends are the reason to belong to the club, not the food.
As I was looking at the menu I noticed a number of healthy options that sounded good. I needed to stay away from cheese but I wanted something more than a green salad with chicken. I decided to get something new and went with the squash and bulgar wheat salad with some grilled salmon on top.  
I am sorry to say I did not get a picture of my plate. See, I never thought that something I ate at the club would warrant mentioning in this blog. But tonight I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy my dinner was. When the chef came around to our table I practically gushed about how good my dinner was. Of course I had to tell him exactly what I had since there was no evidence of my dinner left on the plate.
It has been a long time since I had such a nice meal at the club. Russ enjoyed his dinner too, especially the baked oysters. The service was excellent, and the food even came out fairly promptly, even though the place was full. I am happy to report such good news. I am also thrilled that Russ did not walk away saying, “Why do we go out, your food is so much better?”  

I may be able to cook a great meal, but sometime I just like to be served and not be disappointed. I am doubly excited that I was able to get something tasty that I do not regret eating. Good job Hope Valley.

 


Thankful

I am thankful for all the prayers you have prayed for David Lange and our family. He has had a good day with his new heart — Got his breathing tube removed and started the first day of rehab.  
I am thankful for all the well trained and kind medical people who made this whole thing happen.  
I am thankful that Russ just happened to be in Philadelphia to help his family and share in the burden of waiting and supporting each other.
I am thankful for the donor and his family and their generosity during their time of sorrow.
I am thankful for all the kind words of support I received from friends and blog readers.
I am thankful that I don’t have such blog fodder everyday, or every month or even every year. I appreciate those who said yesterday’s blog was my best writing yet and I hope never to have anything ever again like that to write about.
I am thankful for my health and the health the rest of the family enjoys and I promise not to take any of it for granted.
I am thankful lunch with friends and a good walk in the cold air today to make life “normal.”
I am thankful that Carter had her best scoring basketball game ever on Varsity to make the day anything but normal.
I am thankful that I feel God smiling.
 


A Thank You Note To My Brother-in-Laws Heart Donor

Dear Man who signed up for organ donation when you were alive and well,
Thank you for that selfless act. I am sorry for your family who must still be grieving at your loss yesterday. I am praying for your family today. You have no idea that the heart you left in this world, when you went on to the next, just went into the body of my husband Russ’ brother David.
Your generosity is the best hope we have that David, a young 48 year old husband and father of three, has a chance to live a fuller life. Last February David, a cop, had a massive heart attack while doing hand-to-hand combat training. Because of a good detective friend who was there, David survived that heart attack. Unfortunately, it was very severe and he has been unable to work or do much of anything, while trying to gain back his heart function.
In December, after doing everything possible, David was put on the heart transplant list. Scary as that is, it was the best hope for David to live the full life he has. You should know that your heart will be going to a good home. Tascha, David’s fabulous wife, who has tenderly cared for him all these months so he could get well, will love your heart and keep it healthy for a long time.
David’s three children will have a chance to have the father that loves to play with them, back in full force. Marty, David’s father can sleep a little more soundly now that he knows your heart is beating in his son. Russ and his sister Nancy can worry less about their brother.
I know it had to be a shock to your heart to go from your body to David’s. We are all thankful for the many Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Transplant Coordinators, Drivers, Aids and anyone else who worked so hard to bring your heart from you to David and keep it working well.
It is a long road ahead for David to recover from the change from his old broken heart to your healthy heart. It won’t be easy, but I promise you that many people will be looking out for him and do everything possible to honor the sacrifice you made by giving your heart away.
Your life may have ended, and for that we are sad, but you have given life to a person who has been a community helper for over twenty years. Please know that although we do not know you, we love you and are eternally thankful. Bless you, you did great good by being an organ donor.


My Favorite Gown

  

Tonight at a basketball game I ran into my friend Kemi, who for the record, I don’t get to see enough. She said, “You looked nice the other night in your gown.” This coming from one of the most beautiful people on earth was a nice compliment, but I must have made such a face when she said it. See, most nights I am in my nightgown as early as I can be and I was fairly certain that Kemi had not seen me in my flannel.
I really had to rack my brain what she was talking about and then I realized I had seen her at the Deb ball where I was required to wear a gown while directing photographs, and not the night kind. If it were up to me I would spend most of my life in my night gown. I guess it could be up to me and I could become some kind of recluse, but I am afraid my extrovert needs would fight that from happening.
Girls boarding school was the perfect answer for a girl who likes to wear her night gown and be with friends at the same time. When I was at Ethel Walkers Lanz flannel nightgowns were the sleep wear of choice. I remember one night when we had a fire drill or perhaps an actual fire, which ever, all the inhabitants of Bever Brook dorm (yes, that is a very poor choice of names for a girl’s dormitory, that also happened to be on the corner of Bushy Hill and Climax roads- I promise I could not make this stuff up.) anyway, someone took a picture of us standing outside the dorm in our sleepwear. It could have been an ad for Lanz since every girl was swathed in flannel for as far as the eye could see.
Somehow I have never grown out of my love for a toasty warm flannel Lanz night gown. Although living in North Carolina means there are very few nights when it is actually cold enough to need it. I have never been able to make the change to PJ’s, which are much more popular now. My PJ wearing friends say they can’t wear night gowns because they get tangled up inside them. That is how I feel about wearing pants to bed. I guess I just don’t toss and turn that much in my sleep because my night gown is rarely twisted around me when I wake up.  
Now that I have to wear reading glasses all the time I feel like I look like the grandmother in little red riding hood in my nightgown. I guess if I wore a white cotton cap to bed that would really seal the deal. Poor Russ, Lanz flannel is just nobody’s fantasy. For now I think he should be glad I am not wearing the little white bonnet. Who knew my sleep wear could get worse.


No Salad For Breakfast

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Late in the fall we got a fundraising plea from our niece and nephew to buy magazines to help their school. I may work for a magazine that you can only get in paper format, but outside of mine I really only read magazines on my I-pad. Since I can get over 300 of them through my public library I don’t usually pay for them.

 

I did not want to disappoint the kids so I subscribed to Cooking Light and Real Simple. Unlike most fundraising scheme these came in record time, just as the Christmas mail was piling up. I let the paper issues pile up by my bed, the reason I stopped getting real magazines, until last night when I picked up a Cooking Light issue. Given that my house is on the healthy eating kick in earnest I thought it would not hurt to get a little inspiration.

 

I flipped open the book, (what people in the magazine business call them) to an article about breakfast salads. I am not talking fruit salad with yogurt, but greens or bean salads that all sound perfect for lunch. Now I am a salad-aholic. I do my best pound dropping if I am eating a salad for lunch and dinner. But somehow I just can’t bring myself to eat salad greens with vinegar for breakfast.

 

I really like a poached egg on a salad so that when you poke the yolk in runs all over the arugula and gives me that fat mouth feel, but even that is something I want anytime of day other than breakfast.

 

Russ really likes a strong flavored savory breakfast such as scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onions, chorizo and Sriracha, but I think even he has drawn the line at a breakfast salad. I have a hard enough time getting Carter to eat a cereal; I can only imagine the nose turning I would get at a salad for breakfast.

 

The article suggested to the reader to avoid overly strong flavors, but then the first recipe included radishes, not my idea of a mild morning item. Another suggestion was, “Keep it simple- you don’t have time to fuss with a lot of prep.” Absolutely right, so why is there a salad made up of cooked farro, which takes 25 minutes on it’s own.

 

I know how hard it is to come up with new and interesting healthy things to eat. One of the biggest problems with most diets is people get bored on them. But even I am going to have to draw the line at breakfast salads, except for fruit salad.

 

Creating a magazine is hard work, so good try Cooking Light. The salad recipes you came up with for this article are beautiful and sound delicious, just for lunch or dinner. For me I am sticking with my High Protein Special K with raspberries or blackberries. It satisfies all your suggestions; it is not an overly strong flavor, it includes protein, it is simple and has good texture. The only thing it does not do is add variety to my day. That’s OK with me. It only takes me 20 seconds to prepare it and that is the big bonus in my book.


Back To The List

 

 

I love Christmas. I use the whole holiday season as an excuse to abandon my master to do list. Not that I don’t have an extra busy holiday list, but there is no way to do Christmas and worrying about cleaning out the garage at the same time. Christmas is the best excuse ever.

 

Since today all of Christmas stuff moved up to the attic with the exception of one small pile of things I need to buy a new storage box for, I guess it’s time to get back to my regular list of things to get done. Actually now I have to add buying that hinged top box to the list.

 

I like lists. I am married to someone who likes lists. I am just too old to remember everything I need or want to do without a list. If I don’t put things on my calendar nothing would get done. If I forget to look at my calendar I almost certainly will miss something important I was supposed to do. I did not used to be like this, it is certainly a symptom of aging.

 

Currently I have a lot of things on my list that are carry overs from last year’s list. You know that means I really don’t want to do them, but feel like I should. Or they are things that other people have asked me to do and I said I would put them on the list. That may mean I am never going to do them.

 

My dream would be for my to do list to be full of all fun things I want to do and nothing that makes me feel bad about the fact that I am not doing it. I know this seems like an impossible feat since to do lists are really mostly chores. But most chores don’t even go on my list. I know I need to do laundry every couple of days. I don’t need that on the list. Garbage has to go out Monday nights. I don’t need that on a list, especially if Russ is home. I also don’t put working out on my list since I have to do it everyday.

 

In order to clear out my to do list I could spend the next month or two doing nothing but all the horrible jobs I have on the list and see if I could clear them out for good, or at least until I messed the garage up again. I love this idea, but then I have some time sensitive things that need to be worked on, like planning the spring break college visit route or writing my next Durham Magazine column.

 

I guess it is unrealistic to think that I could have nothing but fun on my calendar to look forward to, but boy it seems like the right goal to work towards. For now I am going to just keep praying that no one asks me to do any horrible chore so maybe I can make some headway. If you don’t hear from me for a while it is because I am cleaning out the attic — the one thing that has been on my to do list for the last twenty years. The only problem with that job is I know I will run across so many old things that will add to my list. There is no way to win this game.


Un-decorating Depression

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Sadly today I removed all the sparkle and glitter of Christmas from the house. If truth be told I started yesterday with all the non-tree house decorations and finished today with the tree. If truth really be told, I am not done with the tree yet, just all the ornaments off the tree.

 

This year before Christmas I gave my mother an artificial tree because I knew she would enjoy having a tree up without an of the annoying upkeep – watering and sweeping up fallen needles, a real tree requires. One of the huge benefits of a fake tree is it looks as nice on day 30 as it did on day one. My father so enjoyed the glow from the tree he asked my mother if they could just keep it up all year.

 

I’m with my dad. I love the light from the strings of small bulbs on the tree. Of course, with the 12,000 or so lights I have on my tree it is more like a beacon. But in the dark and dreary days of winter the lights ward off seasonal disorder. Not only does the house look bare and boring without the Christmas decorations filling every available space, but even the newly decorated rooms feel unfinished.

 

It hardly seems right to do all the un-decorating at the same time I am detoxing from Christmas sugar and flour overload. It’s like a one-two punch. I should have planned my timing better and either stated my removal of sugar from my system earlier or waited until I was in full-blown diet euphoria after losing the first five pounds to take the decorations down.

 

I wish that decoration putting away was more exercise then at least I would feel some sort of accomplishment from that. Sadly, going up the ladder to get the ornaments at the top of the tree hardly counts as many steps now that I use a basket to gather them in before descending to pack them in the plastic hinged-top crates.

 

The worst part of the job is the divorce inducing breaking apart of the fourteen foot tree. That job will wait until tomorrow when Russ and Carter will both swear they hate Christmas because it is so hard to pull the sections apart and stuff them into obese body sized bags and take them up to the attic.

 

Since they complain so much about this job I don’t dare ask them to help me do any of the decorating or un-decorating, since if it were up to them they say they would skip decorating all together. They say this, but I know they secretly enjoy the house in the shinny and glittery state. They just know not tell me how much they like it.

 

So hello to winter doldrums — The only good news is today was the first day without rain in Durham in quite a long time. Of course all that rain has put us squarely in the mud season. Only eleven more months until I can put the tree back up. I can hardly wait.


The Seasons of My Year

Happy 2016! I know the idea of resolutions is popular. I tend to have wishes rather than hard core resolutions. You can fall off a resolution wagon fairly fast, but a wish is something you can keep having. One of my wishes this year is practically the same wish I have every year–To be a healthy weight. I probably make this wish on New Years because of the way my year is divided up into seasons.
I don’t really have meteorological seasons, but eating seasons. Today is the first day of “hard core healthy eating, nose to the grind stone watching my weight season.” I know I am not alone in this season. This week is the number one week for Weight Watcher new member joining and health club sign ups.  
The reason this season even exists is that I have just left the “eating season” – You know the time between Thanksgiving and New Years. For some people it starts at Halloween, but I was able to hold it off this year until the crack pie came to town. This year’s “eating season” was more out of control that unusual because I stopped getting on the scale. That is never a good idea. I know that getting on the scale helps remind me not to let too loose during the eating season, but the mere act of putting sugar in my system makes me do crazy things.
The first few days of “healthy eating season” starts with the detox from sugar days. These are not pretty, but thoroughly necessary if I am to get back in the lower numbers. After the crazy getting off sugar ends then comes the jubilation from dropping five pounds fast.  
The “hard core diet season” usually lasts about six weeks then the “boredom with healthy food season” starts. This is the worst time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables. My only way to push through this time is to make a big list of healthy foods I like to eat and make lots of different dishes with varying flavor profiles. I don’t know why I need to be reminded that I really like cabbage and have no need for chocolate at this time of year, maybe the Easter bunny has something to do with it.
Spring brings the “outdoor workout season” that adds a new layer to the diet season. And just as I get myself back to where I want to be “vacation eating season” comes along to throw me off track. Of course I feel like I have been so deprived for six months since my last eating season so I give myself a little leeway.
Then I have that one last push of “back to school healthy eating season” in fear of what will happen when the eating season comes back around again. This year I really should have had more fear, or did my best to skip the eating season.  
I wish I could have a year divided up into winter, spring, summer and fall, but that is not the way I am wired. I really I wish that I could skip the “eating season” and just eat healthy all the time. That would mean I had gotten a lot smarter. Next year I guess I should add brains to my New Years wish list. I could switch to resolutions and resolve to use the brain I have, but that seems like asking a lot at my age.