Russ flew in on the red eye from the west coast this morning. He told me we were going to Bin 54 for dinner since he had been away all week. After he had a little nap this afternoon we looked at the menu online. I wanted all of the appetizers and all of the sides. Since our anniversary is Monday and my birthday is Tuesday I figured I would do a little celebrating tonight and eat what I wanted and not what I thought I should have, the only problem is that I wanted to order too much for just the two of us.
Little did I know that Russ had solved that problem for me by inviting a few friends to surprise me for a birthday dinner. When we got to the restaurant I thought it was a coincidence that I knew so many people standing at the bar. Should have guessed it was no coincidence.
I love surprises. I don’t understand people who don’t like to be surprised. How can it be bad to have your friends come out to spend an evening with you? It is especially helpful when they will share dishes with you, as my friends do.
Happy birthday to me, I got to have all sides as my main course, but share them with my friends since they were too big. Russ also snuck in a Thai Cafe coconut cake for dessert to complete the total birthday celebration. What a great husband he is. Jet lagged and all he still surprises me. I am one happy old lady.

Things Keep Breaking

As I am on the precipice of turning 55 it seems appropriate that all my stuff is falling apart around me. I wrote earlier about my six year old refrigerator needing replacement this week. Today, Mr. Boozer and Mr. Cameron showed up with my new, and apparently bigger fridge. It was quite an under taking to get the old unit out of my house and a complete dismantling and reassembly of the new one once it went through my smaller than needed doors. I am praying that this one lasts longer than the old one. Six years is too short.

The best part of the fridge delivery was that Mr. Boozer altered me there was a big black snake on my terrace and he could not walk there.  I went outside and looked at the harmless creature who was very fat in the middle from obviously just eating some rodent.  I told Mr. Boozer I would take care of it and went to get a broom. By the time I came back it was gone.  I told him I had moved the snake to the woods.  If I told him the snake had moved himself he might not have delivered the fridge.

Yesterday, on my way to an afternoon of back to back meetings at the Food Bank in Raleigh, I heard a strange and unsettling thunking sound come from the front of my car. It felt like it might have been a tire, but at 60 miles per hour on I -40 my car slowed a little, but no tire indicator light came on. My car, being high fangled, has indicator lights for almost everything and none of them came on. I went a couple of exits and knew I needed to stop and give my car the Dana mechanic visual test.  
Sure enough the front rubber baffle that protects the underside of the car from road shit going into the engine had come undone on the front side. The large rubber unit was hanging down and was folded back the wrong way. If I was not dressed up, it was not 87 degrees outside, I had gloves and a big ass roll of duck tape I could have fixed it. Well, fix is too strong a word. I could have laid down on the pavement and yanked the thing into the right position and taped it up on the front grill like some car in the third world, or Caswell County.
That was not what I chose to do. I called AAA and had them tow my car back to Durham. Thank goodness the executive director of the food bank, Peter took pity on me and came and picked me up. I was only ten minutes late for my first meeting.  
At the end of five hours of meetings I asked the roomful of mostly Raleigh people if anyone was going west on I-40 any portion of my trip to Durham. It was pouring rain and hailing at this point in the evening and I just did not think that it was a good idea for me to try and walk the 28 miles home.  
My friend Eddie, drove me to Cary where I had Carter come and pick me up. She had the fun of driving in rush hour traffic for the first time. It was good practice for when she is going to have to drive herself to camp this summer.
So, a car and a refrigerator in one week is too much upkeep for this old broad. I know these things usually come in threes, so I am trying not to use any other major appliances in my house for fear that I will break them.
I guess that machines going bad are better than me going bad, especially since my planed obsolescence should be happening any time soon. Seems like new fangled machines don’t work like they used to and humans work better than they used too. Why can’t we all just be better, last longer and work with fewer problems longer? Is that too much to ask for my birthday? 

Camp Cheerio Goes On

Monday night as I was making dinner Carter got a text from a Camp Cheerio staff member alerting all summer counselors that there had been a fire at camp. “The Hilton”, a building of four cabins and “the swamp” burned down. Carter had been a camper in the Hilton more than once and lived in the swamp with the other CIT girls one session last summer.
Quickly her friends and fellow counselors responded. One boy, JP, was first to ask if everyone was all right. “That is typical of him,” Carter said. “To be concerned about the people first.” Thank goodness no one was hurt.
After last summer’s terrible accident and now this fire it seems like Camp Cheerio has had its share of bad luck. But the spirit of Camp can’t be put down. They are figuring out the logistics of this summer and the rebuild. Russ and I both told Carter they might have something temporary for this season, but no matter what it is it will be fun.
Camp is not about a building. It is about the people. The staff and counselors are chosen because they love making sure that kids are having the time of their lives. Like JP, they are always concerned about everyone’s welfare.
Thank goodness this fire did not happen closer to camp opening or heaven forbid during camp. But Cheerio lives on in its people who I know will make sure that it is the best camp season ever. God bless “the Hilton” where many great memories were made. The swamp on the other hand could use a face lift since it was the cinder block basement of the Hilton only fit for CITs who are too tired to notice they are living in a cave.
For now I am praying that is the last trouble Camp Cheerio is going to have for a while. But even with the fire it is still the most magical place on earth.

Something Is Wrong In The Appliance World

In a tragic follow up to yesterday’s post the worst possible scenario came true. After many days, interrogations, interviews and proof that I was a registered American the repairman showed up today to look at the freezer on my fridge. He pushed many buttons, unscrewed multiple panels, had me help him pull the refrigerator out of the cabinets (which then involved my mopping the dirty floor) unplugged and replugged and after an hour declared that I should buy a new fridge.
“What? #%£. This one is only six yer old.”
“Well, it must have a leak somewhere. The part will cost $800 and we don’t guarantee it will work.”
That bit of advice cost me $95. The best part was the guy was from Affordable Appliance Repair, ain’t that rich?
So between the service call and a conference call I needed to be on, I went out to buy a new refrigerator. I told the salesperson under no circumstances did I want a Samsung since my last one only made it six years. “That is about how long refrigerators last these days.”
What is happening in the world? How could we go from fridges that worked nonstop for 20 years and never a service call to ones that only make it six years? The world has gone crazy. Seems like there is some work to be done in the keeping food cold business. At this rate I estimate that I am paying almost $3 a day, not including electricity, to keep milk at my house. 
I am certainly thankful that I don’t own like three of four houses, that would mean I was buying a new fridge every eighteen months. If I had to do that you would have to put me in a sanitarium. As it is I might go there now and let them worry about making ice.

Qualifying For A Service Call

It started with the slowing down of ice production, the loss of cold in my Samsung freezer. The flap on the ice maker door stays open and water drips out the hole onto the floor. I looked at the Samsung website to find service and filled out an online form. I never got a response — three months went by and I just kept living with the slow ice production.
Then I pulled a piece of ginger out of the freezer and rather than being the rock hard frozen root I needed to shave off into a sauce, I was met with a limp, soft, browning mess. The need to get a repairman got urgent. Back to the website, filled out the from with ALL CAPS. Two days later I got a call.
Hooray, I thought. I am going to get a repairman. The call starts with a man, clearly reading a script, asking me question after question, even though I had already filled out a lengthy form. Twenty minutes into the call the man tell me I qualify to speak to the service department. WHAT? I had no idea I had to pass a test to pay someone to come fix my out of warranty refrigerator. “Thank you,” I said sarcastically.
“Do you have a pencil, I will give you the number to call?” Double what? Why the hell don’t you just transfer me? Doesn’t work like that. I dialed the number and got a nice woman who begins to ask me many of the same questions. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Here is my case number.” I tell her. “I’ve already been through this. I just need a repairman.”
No dice. More questions. “Ok, you qualify. I will have a repair service call you in the next two days to schedule a visit.” WTF! I qualify for being crazy for buying a Samsung refrigerator. Who needs a system that takes one online form, two lengthy phone interviews and five days before I even get an actual appointment?
The service provider called me and the earliest available appointment was five days later. “You know you don’t have to go through Samsung since your refrigerator is out of warranty.” I explained that I could not find any information about their company online and that Samsung would not even give me their name and number. “Yes, it is a secret who the authorized service providers are.”
Tomorrow the secret agent repairman is coming to look at my freezer. I have little confidence that this is going to be a one visit repair. I can’t wait to learn about the replacement part interview. I am girding myself for the communist Cold War type interrogation I might have to endure before anyone decides if I qualify for a new compressor. I am considering going back to an old fashioned ice box, if only I could find an ice block delivery man.  

For My Protection, Yet Not

Tonight Russ and I went to the Bulls game with our friends Dave and Sara. We sat in our regular seats, the same ones we have had since the Bulls moved to their “new” ball park decades ago. For all those years we sat on the second and third row right behind the Bulls dugout on first base side and had the best view in baseball. We also were fairly safe there with only a few balls or bats coming our way during a moment of wild play.
This year the net that used to be right behind home plate was changed to extend it half way down the field on both sides. It was done to protect the fans. The old net used to also connect to the roof of the permanent covered area so if a ball ran up the net and it did often, it ran right back down on to the field. The roof netting has been removed because they made the netting higher.
Because of our seats being on the aisle that leads to the field and dugout the net has a little opening in it right by us. Tonight in the first ten minutes of the game a wild ball went off the bat of the hitter and few at 95 miles per hour right through the small opening in the net, over the heads of the two young boys in front of us and slammed into the seat directly in front of me where my pocketbook sat. Everyone came to check to make sure we were OK.
The protective net was not so protective. Through the rest of the game I counted at least eight balls that went up and over the top of the net and into the stands. Granted that they had slowed down a little after having climbed the net, but spectators still had to pay attention to the game if you wanted to ensure you were not hit by a ball.
I liked the old non-net view better. The net is only a false sense of security, and at our seats, with the opening not any safer at all. I think that one of the problems is a world full of nets. It takes some of your own personal responsibility way from you prematurely. You think you are safer than you actually are. Yes, a line drive hit off a ninety mile per hour pitch could hurt you and a net might slow it down, but from what I could tell it never stopped the ball, just drove it up and over the net.
I like when we have to all watch out for ourselves and not have some false sense of security. If I had not been paying attention, and that ball that went through the opening was just a inch higher I could have been hit, but I saw it coming and flinched in my typical not sporty way.  

I am going to continue to watch out for myself, net or no net, but personally I vote for the old net.

Family Night Out

Russ usually doesn’t like to go to the DPAC because his legs are too long. When our seat test offered us their tickets to go along with our for tonight’s Cabaret show I suggested that we just give Carter the four tickets. “In two months she will be gone for the summer,” Russ told me, “let’s all go as a family.”
So together with our bonus child Ellis, we went to dinner and the show. Actually we also killed time at Russ’ office between dinner and the show, where Carter and Ellis played fuse ball and took pictures of themselves running meetings in the conference room. The mood was light and we were having a great time. We tried to teach Ellis how to perfect chopsticks, but that was a longer term project than one dinner. We know these times are fleeting, but I hope we can equip Ellis with the chop stick skill before they leave for college.

Cabaret is no Mary Popins. It starts out racy and gets political suddenly with the introduction of Nazis in Germany. The man who played the gender fluid Emcee did a great bit at the end of intermission he called “audience appreciation” where he asked us if we got a drink or went tinkle during intermission. “I tried, but they wouldn’t let me,” he said in a nod to HB2, the ridiculous North Carolina law. The audience went wild.
Carter and Ellis liked the show, but the gravity of the subject matter hit Carter hard at the end. Keep an eye on your government because the party can be over before you know it. I couldn’t help but imagine Donald Trump in Cabaret.  
I am really beginning to lose patience with people who I know personally who are supporting Trump. They can’t exactly tell me why and that lack of concrete reasons to like him makes me feel like history can be repeating itself with Nazi Germany. Saying, “He says what I am thinking,” scares me even more.  
It may not have been the light hearted bonding evening Russ imagined, but it was a great night for serious issues. Our kids need to take hold of our country and make sure we don’t become a place none of us could stand to live. That and we all need to know how to use chopsticks.

No Water Pistols At Dinner

I rarely regret giving up drinking in the past thirty years. Almost everything in life is better sober, but I have finally found something that would be better if I were drunk; being constantly shot by a water pistol while trying to eat dinner. Russ and I were at a lovely party tonight with a Godfather theme. The table decorations included pistols and someone discovered they were of the water type.  
After a while I got tired of getting wet so I took two of the guns and smashed them with my foot. One guest, who does not know me at all, told me I should lighten up that I was ruining the party. I think I ruined his gun. What he did not understand was that was my lightest option for dealing with getting shot at. My first reaction was to flip a table over, or take down the shooter at the knees and hog tie them. Just smashing the plastic gun on the cement floor was a reaction that took great self control on my part.
Now if I were drunk I would have gone and gotten a cooler full of ice and pored it on someone, or pulled on the roof of the tent and let a flood of water fall in on the guests. There are so many other things so much worse that I could have done than end the spray of water, if only I still drank.
My reaction to my wet dinner is in no way a reflection on my advancing age. At any age I have not enjoyed getting wet while trying to eat all dressed up. So I guess I have always been uptight about that and will remain that way. There is absolutely no possibility for me to lighten up, never has been, never will be. But to the man whose gun I smashed, so sorry if I ruined the party for you. If you knew me better you would have laughed about my smashing the gun and would have seen the fun in that.

My Job As A Bouncer


Tonight Durham Magazine had it’s annual TASTE event. We rented the Durham Convention center, the old armory, and filled the place with top chefs and drink purveyors. The tickets this year sold out in record time so I was conscripted by my magazine colleagues to work the door as the ID checker with our art director Kevin Brown.
Twenty minutes before the event doors opened we started checking ID’s and taking tickets. No matter how old someone was I asked to see their government issued ID. The older someone was the happier they were to pull out their license. A few people showed up without any identification at all and I quizzed them about what year they were born and then asked them questions like, “who was president the year you were born?” Not that I actually knew if they were right or not. Since the police were watching me check I made it all look very official.
It was a fun job. I got to see a bunch of friends who had come for the food and drink. After an hour on the front door the crowd dwindled down and I was freed to go enjoy the party. Of all the things I tasted Andrea Reusing’s clam and shrimp dish was the best followed by my good friend Amy Tournquist’s deviled egg. I definitely do not need to go to one of these eating feasts. I skipped three out of four tables and still felt like I had more than a meal.
After a few hours on my feet I knew it was time for me to go home. When I got back to my post where I had been checking people in I saw my friend the cop still standing guard. “Have you had any food?” I asked. “No,” he said sadly. “I’ll go back and get you some,” I volunteered.
He wanted seafood so I filled a plate with shrimp and clams and fish from saltbox seafood. I threw in a slider that had looked good, but was too much for me to eat. I got a glass of water and brought it all out to my new friend. He was very happy. I didn’t have to ask for his ID since I did not bring him any wine. The one thing you learn in event management is always feed the cops!
Next year when TASTE comes back around you should go, but come hungry and bring your identification, in case I’m not the bouncer.

Buy This Book


As a cook I usually just make up recipes according to what I have on hand or looks good at the market. I do this because I have more than one life times worth of recipes in my head no a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of ingredients. I often look at cookbooks, but rarely use them as gospel. Every once in a while I come across a cook book that breaks that rule with me. A couple of years ago my needlepoint friends, who happen to be good cooks too gave me Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More. It is the most exciting vegetable cook book I have ever come across.  
I had some friends over for a cold supper that needed to be made in advance. I was making salmon and opened my Plenty More and was practically overwhelmed with the many options I was dying to make. Rather than pare it down I made five more things for the dinner, which was at least one or two more than I needed.  
One of my favorites was a rice salad with sour cherries. Since I did not create the recipe I can’t post it here on my blog, but I am happy to send you a photo of the recipe if you request it. Better yet, I want you to go buy this cook book. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Since I’ve had this book I have probably tried fifteen or twenty recipes from it and each one was more Delilah than the next. I can tell you that in my collection of at least 500 cookbooks I probably have not ever made 15 different things from the same book except for maybe the original Silver Palate cookbook and that was because I have had it since 1986.
Cooking wonderful and interesting vegetable combinations will be a skill that will make you meals more exciting. A plain meat will be enhanced by better sides much more easily than making the meat dish something special. So try this book. I get no revenue for. Your buying it, just your love and adoration for introducing you to the best cook book you will have this year.

Calendar Management 


You would think that by this point in my adult life I would learn to look at my whole calendar for an entire week, not just what event is coming up next. Maybe I do and I just don’t remember exactly where I am supposed to be and when. Maybe it is just that when I am in the throes of one thing I can’t think about the next thing. Yeah, that’s what I’ll go with.
Today has been a day of contrasting meetings. It started with a “coffee” that was advertised as a “making the transition to college” talk. Although the esteemed speaker was highly qualified, the topic was not exactly about the transition. It was more about how college has changed to be more globally focused and more about group work. This was not news to me. I was interested in how Professors, who wrote books for a living, were instructing students to be better collaborators and group participants, but did not really get an answer.
I went on to a lunch with a colleague where we talked about the failure of a project because “group working” was unsuccessful. The answer to make the group smaller for the next project was, in my humble opinion, exactly the wrong way to go. More people helping and buying in would be better.
From the lunch I went to have coffee with a young woman, Alex Z. I first met when I interviewed her for my column at Durham Magazine three years go. She is the program director for Student U. a very successful program aimed at enrolling middle school students with high potential but low opportunity to be the first in their families to go to college. It was clear that her organization is succeeding thanks to team work. I was sensing a theme to my day.
My final meeting at 7:15, my least favorite time to go to a meeting, was the Deb Ball society. It sounds like it might be superficial compared to my other meetings, but it is the model of efficiency and team work. A large group of woman come together and put on a year of wonderful activities culminating in a ball.  
Seems like college professors should have to work on a Deb ball if they want to learn how to get the best out of people when working in groups. None of the women in the group is getting paid so there is no personal incentive to make sure the group is productive, except that it is. Seems to me that the idea of group work has been something woman have been doing well for centuries, how can it be such a new thing at colleges? 
As I was sitting in my last meeting Russ texted me from San Fransisco reminding me that we were having a dinner guest tomorrow night. I wish that I had looked at the events for tomorrow today and he planned the menu and done the shopping today. What I really wish is that I had group I could call on to help me. Oh yeah, my group is my family. They are already booked up so I’ll be handling this one alone. Seems to me that calendar management and not group work is my issue.

What’s For Dinner, Again

The biggest mistake I ever can make is asking Carter what she wants for dinner. When I do that I am thinking, “Tell me what you want me to cook because I’m bored of planning meals.” No matter how good a cook I am her answer is almost always some foreign cuisine.  
“No, I meant like hamburger or chicken, not sushi or Indian.”
The food world has gotten so much smaller than when I was a kid. Outside of Italian I don’t think I had any ethnic food until I was about eleven. I remember the exact day I first tasted Chinese food. It was at my Aunt Eddie’s wedding in Greenwich Village. She had a buffet of fried rice and mini egg rolls. My sister Margaret was only about seven or eight so of course she did not like it, so my father took us to a hippie hamburger joint, no pun intended, and got us milkshakes.
I also remember the first time I ever ate sushi. It was is Washington DC when I first moved there after graduating from college. A woman named Susan Montgomery, who I had worked for in Pittsburgh the summer before, came to visit and we went to the big sushi restaurant on Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown. I quickly discovered that I loved raw fish.
Now when we take Carter to look at colleges most of the tour guides mention that sushi is available in the cafeteria. I can only imagine Dickinson college food service in 1979 saying, “What do you mean we don’t have to cook that fish before serving it.” Sushi was not a thing in Carlisle, PA back then.
Today our family’s favorite food might be Indian. My introduction to Indian came when my family moved to London in 1979. Curry houses were definitely cheep eats back then, but that was good with us. The food quality in the UK was not so great in the 70’s. They fed the chickens fish meal so they tasted fishy. Indian spices were the perfect answer to covering up a poorly raised chicken.
I wonder if Carter, having been raised eating exotic food as her first choice, will end up having a child who only likes meat and potatoes? I am wondering what part of the food world that is left to conquer. I’m just really happy that “space food” never stuck around, of course it has for survivalist, but not at our house. If a big disaster happens I am just going to die. There won’t be any reason to keep going without sushi or curry.

Homemade Myer Lemon Relish

A few weeks ago I wrote about this yummy Myer Lemon relish that Russ buys me from an Italian food online seller. Even though we have bought six jars at a time when he went to reorder it Russ found that it was not available. This caused us sadness, but was really a first world problem. I really can’t whine about not having an extravagant condiment.
Friday while I was shopping at Trader Joes I discovered a bag of 6 Myer lemons on sale for $1.99. Seemed like a deal so I bought them and tried to make my own version of the relish. It turned out fairly good, not exactly the same, but good enough for a first try.
Myer lemons have thin skins and you make the relish using the whole lemon, peel and all. I only made it and let it marinate for a day. I will let you know if it improves over time. Or try it yourself and let me know.
1 Myer Lemon

1 Shallot

2 T. Champagne Vinegar

1 t. Sugar

Big pinch of salt

5 T. Olive oil
Cut the ends off the lemon and discard. Slice the remainder of the lemon into paper thin slices. Remove any seeds and cut the lemon circles into quarters. Mince the shallot. Mix everything together except the olive oil and mash it up a little. Add the oil and mix well. Keep in the refrigerator. Enjoy of fish, grilled chicken, lamb or as part of. Salad dressing.

Prom Picture Post

An all pictorial post for now.  

Carter and her prom date John

 Carter and her gang.  They all looked so beautiful.

And then they had fun

T’was The Night Before Prom

T’was the night before prom and all through the house,

Not a sewing machine was running annoying my spouse;
The dress was hung in the closet with care, 

Carter was thankful it was done with no time to spare;

The nails had been polished, both fingers and toes,

They were shiny and glossy as everyone knows;

The shoes how they sparkle, ready for dancing at night,

Sandals that make her exactly the right height;

The earnings are diamond circle type hoops,

Not so big to make earlobes go droop;

The hair and the make up have been perfectly planned,

It’s sure to be anything other than bland;

The flowers are ordered, a boutonnière in white,

She’ll pin them on his tux, which will be quite a sight;

The parents will gather to photo the scene,

Then off to the party the kids will be keen;

And so one last rite of passage will happen tomorrow,

Means our girl will be going soon, that causes me sorrow;

But for now we will celebrate the Prom and it’s fun,

It’s a night to remember for each and everyone.

My Bat Cave


When I was a kid one of my favorite shows was the 1960’s cheeky Batman show. I loved the cartoon like fight “POW” and “KABOOM” exclamations with the Roy Liechtenstein like treatment to the graphics. The part of the show I thought was the coolest was the camouflaged bat cave entrance where the big rock draped in vines opened up so the bat mobile could zoom off to save the day.
I have made my own “bat like cave” opening to our garage, but instead of a rock I have a regular old rolling door draped in lady banks rose. It looks a little bit like bat man meets and English country manor. Perhaps it is what the bat cave would have looked like if Alfred, the English butler had designed it.
All year I live with the vine draping the opening. Most of the time it is just an evergreen mass. But right now, like today and if I am lucky this whole week, it will be a beautiful, lush full bush of tiny white flowers nestled in the new growth of green leaves. I would like to freeze my “bat cave” modified look as it is now.  
Yes, it hangs a little low so that the cars sweep the bottom of the vine, but neither the cars, nor the vine seem to mind. It completely softens what would normally be a large expanse of brick that looks boring without the vine.
I have a smaller yellow version over the front door and it too is perfect right now, but it just makes the entrance look more cottagy and does nothing to make you feel like you might be entering the home of a caped crusader and his side-kick ward, like the garage vine does.
The most tounge in cheek part of camouflaging our garage door to make you think bat cave is that when either of the two cars housed in our “cave” zoom out you have no illusion that they are coming to your rescue. Neither the roll skate like Smart car, nor the 1960’s robin egg blue woody station wagon going at their top speeds of forty miles per hour resemble the bat mobile in any way. Well, I take that back, they both are very cartoon like, but more like the Telly tabbies than Batman.
For now I just want to quote my favorite Batman character, Cat woman, when I say that my vine over the garage is “Purrrrrfect” right now.

My Poor Friend

  The phone call from my friend SW’s husband started like this, “Everything is going to be OK, but SW and our dog C were attacked by a pit bull yesterday.” (I am not using names here because there is certainly a law suit to be made that I don’t want to mess up.) He was calling me not just because SW is my dearest friend, but because we were scheduled to meet up in Charlotte tomorrow for the Mumford and Sons concert.
A woman was walking her daughter’s dog and not only could not prevent it from attacking my friend and her dog, but as my friend’s was bleeding profusely from her mauled hand injury while trying to save her dog from the jaws around his neck, the woman and her dog took off. Thank goodness SW was right near of her house and her husband was home. She called him and 911 and the ambulance was able to come and help her.
After the initial cleaning and repair of her hand, SW discovered all the puncture wounds on her black Lab C who also needed major medical care. That was yesterday. Today SW awoke to find her hand had ballooned up to look more like a grapefruit than a hand. Her neighbor, who is a pediatrician, looked at it and told her she had to get right to the hospital because she had a serious infection. She told her hand injuries, especially from bites, can get very infected and go bad fast.
As SW was seeing the hand surgeon and he was telling her that she was going to be admitted to the hospital overnight, she said, “I can’t be in the hospital, I have a plane to catch to North Carolina.” Well, obviously her hand health is more important than a concert, but we are all really sad. Sad that she got attacked, sad that her poor dog C was mauled for just being a cute and laid back guy, sad that we are not going to the concert we had been planning on go to for months, and mostly sad that we were not getting our 24 hours of just hanging out together.
The good news is they know the dog owner and were able to make sure that the vicious pit bull had a rabies shot, but the bad news is she is not taking the full responsibility she should. In fact she asked my friends to dial back the discussion about the attack because it was really upsetting her mother. WHAT! The woman who left the scene of the crime. 
I am keeping SW in my prayers for a fast recovery, but I think the pit bull’s owner owes us a Mumford and Sons concert experience. SW says she should pay for us to go to Prague, or Paris or at least Austin.  

Why Is Vietnamese Chicken Salad So Addictive


I have no idea what it is about the combination of fish sauce, lime juice and garlic, but the very light dressing on this cabbage salad is addictive.
1/4 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of fresh lime juice

4 packets of Splenda

2 garlic cloves finely minced

3 drops of sesame oil

2 T. Water

Ground black pepper
This will make enough dressing for four servings of salad
One serving of salad
3 cups Finley shredded Napa cabbage

1 cooked chicken thigh – shredded

10 cooked and cooled snow peas cut in thirds

3 green onions – chopped 

Handful of cilantro chopped

1/4 of Avocado – cubed
Mix together and dress. Enjoy!

Hyper Sleep Hearing

Recently I have notice that I am either awoken early or kept up late at night by various sounds. The early morning ones are things like people in my vicinity mowing their lawn at seven on Sunday morning, or the constant hammering of a new house being built behind us, even on weekends. I can live with those because it doesn’t hurt me to go on and get up and get my day started.
What is much more annoying are the late night sounds that are keeping me from falling asleep. For a number of nights in a row I kept hearing loud music playing right in my second floor bedroom window, which was tightly shut. I would get out of bed and go outside, but I couldn’t hear the music on the ground. Finally one night it was so annoying that I put on a sweatshirt and pants on over my night gown and drove around until I found the culprit. A house behind our’s that is up on a little hill. As I pulled up a guest was leaving and he confirmed they had been playing music, but now the host had gone to bed.  
For the last two nights someone has been blowing either a trumpet, which they do not know how to play, or one of those vuvuzela horns like they blew at the World Cup in South Africa. Now that is one annoying sound.
As a middle aged woman I greatly appreciate and need a good night’s sleep. One would think that at my age my hearing would start to deteriorate just enough that I could not be bothered by ambient sounds, but it appears to be quite the opposite. A neighbor playing basketball keeps or wakes me up. A dog barking inside someone’s home startles me. My husband listening to Car Talk with his ear phones makes me toss and turn.
I am worried that my hearing is becoming super human. Is there such a thing as sleep hearing hyper-sensitivity. I don’t feel like I hear any better in the daytime, just when I am trying to or actually sleeping. Heaven forbid I go visit a city I’ll never get a wink of sleep.

National Sibling Day

  Apparently it’s National Sibling Day today. I’m not sure where these holidays come from, but I’m glad to be reminded to be appreciative of my siblings. I come from a family of all girls, just like my mother. Three girls is a handful because it is just a lot of hormones over and over again, but now that I am past that hormonal first half century I am really thankful for my sisters.  
Since I am the oldest sister I am the one who did most of the torturing to my siblings. For this I would like to apologize. To my middle sister Margaret, who was not the best sleeper as a child, I am sorry I put those few grains of salt in your bed, which added to your difficulty in trying to go to sleep. It is not until I got old and had trouble sleeping did I appreciate how horrible it is. I hope you can forgive me.
To my youngest sister Janet, who used to clean my apartment in Washington to earn money while she was in high school, I am sorry I made you wash all my panty hose. I know it was a terrible job, but honestly, you were the best cleaner I ever knew.
When I went to look for pictures of the three of us I realized that we hardly have any pictures of just us. One of us is usually the photographer and that means that person is missing from the picture. I am going to try and make it a priority to get pictures with the three of us when ever we are together.

I found this picture of my Mother in the middle with her sister Susan on the left and Eddie on the right. When they were younger they did not look that much alike, but it is interesting how much they have grown to resemble each other.

The same can be said for my father and his younger brother Wilson. Here they are at my cousins wedding about ten years ago. They look so similar. I miss my Uncle Wilson and I know my Dad does even more since he passed away last year.
So It’s time to get some photos with my sisters so we can start to notice when we begin to look more and more alike. I wonder who we will look like. I hope it isn’t me.

My Last DA Auction

Thanks to my friends who came out and supported me in my last year as the DA auctioneer. Before the auction began Michael, the head of school, thanked me officially with a slide showing the seven auctions I have worked raising over $700,000 for the school. I always hope it could be more, but appreciate every bidder and donor so much. Thanks for seven great years. Good luck next year.
Pre-show rehearsal with Lee Hark and Michael Ulku-Steiner.
Kristen Teer, the uber auction co-chair who did the decorations including herself.

Auction action.


The paparazzi

Dumbest Driver


As I was driving down Hope Valley Road this morning, on my way to a meeting in Cary, I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed a young woman behind me holding her phone in the air in her car. Since we were both moving forward at a fairly good speed I looked back at the road in front of me and kept going. A few moments later when I glanced in the mirror I noticed that again she was holding her phone in the air and looking at it and not at my car in front of her.
We approached the first traffic light where I had free time to study her and determine that she was not holding her phone in the air to get a better signal, but to attain a more flattering angle for the selfie she was taking. The light turned green and I drove on, apparently she did not and the car behind her honked.  
We approached the next light and as we did I looked back to make sure she was paying attention so that she would not rear end me, and sure enough her hand was in the air, her head was tilted side ways as if she were looking out the passenger side window, which in fact meant she was not watching the light. It turned red and she stopped just in the nick of time.  
While the light was red I turned my head to look at her and waved my hands, basically signaling, “We can see you in your car, not doing what you should be doing.” She never noticed, too busy clicking away.
I could not imagine why it was so important for her to take so many shots while driving, but it obviously was a task that could not wait. At light after light it was the same scenario. As I was waiting at the light to turn on to I-40 I lifted my own phone and took a shot of her behind me. I had no idea if I got the shot. I certainly did not spend any time looking at while I was driving.
When I arrived at my destination I looked at the picture. Sure enough I could see her perfectly well taking yet another selfie. I was thankful that she did not cause an accident with me, but I fully expect that she will be in an accident someday soon.
It amazes me that people driving in their cars who have not tinted their windows that gangster black don’t realize that other people driving around them can see when they are doing something other than driving. If you live in Durham and drive down Hope Valley road, keep your eye out for a silver Pontiac Sunbird, if it is the same one I was with today, I can bet she is not keeping her eye out for you.

Ice, Ice, Baby

  When I was a kid we had two metal ice cube trays that you had to pull the lever on to release the sixteen or so giant cubes. Often someone in the family would unhinge one tray, take three cubes and then put the try back in the freezer with the remaining cubes. That was fine, unless you took a dozen cubes and put the tray back in with just four. I was fairly old before someone go the brilliant idea to put a plastic container in the freezer to dump the whole tray in when you opened it.  
The rule really was, if you used some ice, refill the tray and replace it in the freezer right away. I can’t remember exactly how long they took to freeze, but it was more than four hours. The worst family offense was putting completely empty ice trays back in the freezer. How many times did I go to the freezer on a hot summer day only to discover both trays were empty.
Ice was certainly at a premium back then. We only had two ice trays because that was how many came with the refrigerator. Why did it take us so long to realize you could have as many ice trays as you could fit in your freezer. Of course freezer space was at a premium since all our vegetables and TV dinners had to fit in there.
When we bought our house in Wilton in 1967 my favorite feature of our quirky house was a space aged looking contraption that hung on the mounding between two windows in the kitchen that you used to make crushed ice in. It had a box on the top of a metal tine area with a crank and a red see through plastic rocket shaped cone screwed into the bottom that caught the shaved ice.
It made a lot of noise and was very difficult to crank as you ground those big cubes into a crushed, not quite snow cone, consistency. But whenever we enjoyed a drink with crushed ice it tasted so much better than a cube drink.
My very favorite treat was to get a packet of powder whiskey sour mix from the bar in the little living room and mix it up with a full glass of crushed ice and a little water. Using half a tray of cubes for one drink was a decedent and selfish thing to do.
It is no wonder that I worship the ice maker in my freezer today. It has not been working as well as it used to and I have felt myself falling back to my childhood ice rationing ways. If I ever redo my kitchen I would nothing more than to have a stand alone ice maker. It is amazing how important frozen water is to me.

Happy Birthday to My A-Team Cohort, Stephanie



Years ago, like more than a dozen, I was lucky enough to be paired up with Stephanie Perun to co-chair the Caring House gala. We turned out to be a well match duo. It says something if you can share responsibilities for a big event and come out great friends.


Stephanie has been a big supporter of mine on my up and down the weight loss journey. The first time I did my “this fat lady plans to eat less, so many other can eat more,” weight loss challenge, Stephanie, a full time working mom, volunteered to take care of Carter every Monday night so I could go to weight watchers. It was well over a year of making sure that Carter did her homework and feeding her dinner along with her two kids, Leander and Drew. It was above and beyond the friendship duty.


We have had some adventures, but the best was the time we went to New York with two other moms and all our girls. It quickly became apparent that our two friends, who shall remain nameless, were directionally challenged. Stephanie dubbed the Lange/Perun team the “A” team since we always knew where we were going and how best to get there.


On her birthday I want to say that I am thankful for her friendship, love and kindness over all these years. Stephanie is still the “A Team” in my book. I look forward to many more years of adventures together.

New Walking Incentive


Between the eating holiday, you know the months from Thanksgiving to New Years, and then spring break travel and Easter, I got way off track in my eating and exercise. I stutter-stepped to get back on track, being good for a day or two and then falling off the wagon.  
The day after Easter I went whole hog into what I know works for me. Eating fruit, vegetables and protein and walking more than I sit. I am back in the grove of the downward movement of the scale, but realize that dieting is my profession. It takes most of my time to plan, shop, cook and exercise, especially since I need to exercise many multiple hours a day.
Over spring break my friend Suzanne introduced me to a great game Catan. I bought the real life version and then so did my game obsessed friend, Mary Lloyd. She and her son Jack and I played together this weekend. When I mentioned this to my friend Deanna, also a game enthusiast, she said, “They have an online version too.”  
This could be a bad news story, one where I spend all my waking hours playing this online game. But I discovered that while playing the game on my treadmill desk I have no recollection of walking whatsoever. The walking time passes so much faster playing this game than it does if I am working, watching TV, or playing something like solitaire.
Today I walked over eleven miles and I did not even notice. I did it at a good enough pace so that I got sweaty and had to take off my sweater. Over 23,000 joyful Catan playing steps and I think I can go further. The other great thing about playing this game is that I almost forgot to have lunch, it so took my mind off food.
Yes, it is trading one obsession for another, but at this point in life it is just about obsession management. I would still rather play games with live people, but I am yet to find a four person walking Mah Jongg Table — Perhaps in a Bocca retirement community.
I know that I am never going to be a person who can maintain my weight in a two pound range, but at this point if I can keep it in a one clothing size range I am doing OK.

Just Say No to Gum

At last it is here, the last game of March madness. For some of us it is the last game of the unproductive season. As a UNC fan I have had to stay with this tournament the whole way. If they or Duke had not made it into the final four I could skip this final weekend. But now, here I sit watching the teams while the national anthem is sung.
The one thing that strikes me is how many of these young men are chewing gum. I know that some athletes like gum, but I wish that these young men could watch the film of what they look like as they are getting their big time exposure on TV. I am just not a fan of chewing gum. There is just no way to chew it and not look a few IQ points dumber.
I never wanted Carter to pick up a gum habit when she was a little girl. To help curb her desire for a gum ball from those glass dispensers that you put a dime in and turn the handle, I just always told her the machine was broken. Yes, it was a lie, but she does not chew gum today.  
I also was protecting her teeth and am happy to say she has never had a cavity. I am not saying her good teeth are all due to not chewing sugar chewing gum, but it can’t hurt. Mostly it saves her from looking less than her best by not chomping on gum while trying to carry on an intelligent conversation.
Good luck, UNC. I hope you pull out a win. I hope that no matter the outcome the players won’t be chewing gum during their post game interviews. I want you to represent yourselves in the best light that you have earned.

Spain Advice


Planning travel is now a life’s work. Thanks to the overwhelming resource that is the internet you just can’t book a holiday without researching it to the nth degree. I am hoping to save myself some of that trouble by harnessing the power of the Internet to not read reviews from strangers, whose opinion I am not sure I should listen too, but to ask you, my friends what you know.
I am thinking of planning a trip to Barcelona and want to know if you have been there what you have to say. How long is a good time to relax and get in the flow? Did you take side trips from the city? If so where? Were they day trips or overnights?

What part of the city did you stay in? Where did you enjoy your best meals? What activities, sights, museums did you like?
Basically I want a Catalonian download. Save me time. Give me your knowledge.

Gracias in advance.

There Is No Magic

Yesterday being April Fools day I posted a joke about some nutty chocolate chip cookies that were dietetic. Apparently many of you fell for the joke and were quite upset that I had not stumbled upon a way to eat naughty food not just guilt free, but make it a weight loss vehicle. Sorry, it was just too good to be true.  
That’s the problem with losing weight. There is no magic bullet. There are no short cuts. There is just eating the right things in the right amounts all the time. Don’t believe those diets that tell you you can deprive yourself 80% of the time and eat what ever you want the last 20%. That might work for maintaining your weight, but you just won’t lose weight that way.
I know that I need to eat fruits, vegetables and protein, keeping other carbs off my plate if I want to reduce. Taking vacations from eating that way just results in gaining weight and the need to go back to hard core.
Now that I have told you there is no magic bullet, I did try some bison tonight for dinner and I have to tell you it is a great replacement for ground beef. It has less fat and is yummy. It cooks up better than ground white meat turkey. A four ounce bison burger is 200 calories and that is less than most beef burgers. We bought it from the Bison guy at the Durham Farmers Market, so not only is it healthy, it is also local.
I apologize for my successful April Fools joke. I got more comments, Facebook messages, texts, emails and even an in person assault for tricking you wonderful readers with that post than I usually ever get. It just goes to show that everyone really just wants chocolate chip cookies, especially from a diet blog. Sorry, they just don’t exist.

Dietetic Cookie


A couple of weeks ago I found an article from a Danish journal about the properties of combining almonds, walnuts and chocolate that cancel each other out calorically. I did not exactly understand the science in the article, but was intrigued with the possibility of getting to eat the nuts with chocolate. The article was actually claiming that when mixed in the right ratios the food not only did not did not make you gain weight, but became a fat burning vehicle.
At this point I am up for trying anything that might help me lose weight and still get to eat chocolate. So I followed the recipe included in the article and make a batch of nut and chocolate chip rich cookies. Of course it was not regular milk chocolate, but 70% cacao dark chocolate.  
I did not worry about the taste since the recipe called for a full cup of brown sugar, but I did wonder how something with so much sugar could be healthy, let alone help aid weight loss. I am usually skeptical of any “diet cookie.” Yes, there can be cookies that are not as fattening as most, but rarely are they actually dietetic.
For two weeks I ate three or four of these cookies everyday. I was in heaven. The sweet, crunchy, salty, chocolaty morsels satisfied every craving I ever had. I probably was playing with fire. There was no way I could eat cookies and not gain weight, let alone lose weight.
I stayed off the scales for the whole two weeks, waiting to see what effect the Danish cookies had on me. I have to confess in the last few days that I ate six or seven cookies daily. I ate the last one in the batch last night, so this morning I decided was a good time to see if I had lost weight.  
I got up and went to the bathroom, stripped off my night gown and got on the scale naked, as I always do. I was afraid to look at the number. I looked down and had to blink to make sure I was reading it right. I had lost 18.4 pounds in two weeks. 
Now I had put on a little weight prior to spring break, but to have been able to lose this much weight in such a short time and while eating so many cookies was amazing. I will post the recipe, but you need to follow it exactly. If you believe this you need to consider what the date is today. Sadly, if it sounds too good to be true you might be a fool.