Dear Home Depot,



You have a supplier problem. In April I bought six yellow squash plants and 6 zucchini plants that we supplied by Bonnie. The plants were clearly marked and displayed in flats with photos of each vegetable. The seedlings were small two leaf sprouts, but looked healthy. I was careful about choosing plants to ensure I had a good mix of squash to supply my summer garden.


The good news is my plants have flourished and have grown in to fine giant plants. The bad news is they are ALL yellow squash. Granted it is hard to tell one squash seedling from another, but these were in pots labeled with their variety. It was not that they were just put in the wrong flat, but they were mislabeled at the planting.


Now I like yellow squash, but quite frankly everyone else in my house likes zucchini more. It would have been so much better is the mislabeling had happened the other way around.


Of course I can make stuffed squash blossoms exactly the same way with the yellow variety, but zucchini bread is not in the cards this year. I can make yellow squash bread and hope that Russ does not notice, since it is mostly for him.


I still could plant some zucchini since I have space for one small row, but I have missed a big growing period and soon the summer vacation time will start when I won’t be around to water. Needless to say I am not happy about this mistake.


Yes, in terms of money it does not mean much to you, Home Depot. The plants cost all of $2.50 a piece, but if you add the value of my time to plant them, weed around them, water them and lovingly tend them it really adds up.


I figure that six zucchini plants tend to yield about 90 pounds of zucchini give or take ten pounds. So at $1.99 a pound, the summer cost of zucchini at the store, I think you owe me $179.10. I would settle for $170, a heart felt apology and a promise to never let this mistake happen again.


If you want proof of my purchase I have my American Express reference number for my transaction on April 24 in Durham, NC.


I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Shay’s Menagerie 

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives serving our country. Tell that to my puppy. For Shay Shay it is a day of rest and relaxation amongst the carcasses of her squeaker removed, limb torn off, destuffed animals. I wonder if there is ever a day to give thanks for those stuffed animals who gave their lives to make dogs happy?
Shay has a large collection of once perfectly good, now disfigured, babies, but heaven forbid we do away with any of them. She is attached to them in any state of disarray.

There is Gray Owl, who once had four limbs, but is now down to one.

Bushy Tail Squirrel, had his squeaker removed through an armpitarektomy. Obviously there were catheters in each thigh.

Snoopy, the giraffe was systematically unstitched at the shoulder and stuffing came out along with the squeak.

Pinto Pony was blinded during a violent fluff removal. Thankfully the other eye is still intact, but Pinto now goes by Flat Pinto Pony since no stuffing exists.

Skinny Snake takes his name seriously, but is concerned that the remaining bit of filling makes his butt look fat.

Pink Bun Bun lost his legs as well as his chin giving him a decidedly British look.

Well, Grey Wolf, what can one say, but poor bastard needs never pass by a mirror, it would scare him to death to see what has become of him.

Only Blue Skinny Dog remains relatively intact with just one stick of eye removed. How Blue Skinny Dog has remain unscathed for months and months we will never know. Perhaps Blue Dog has some dirt on Shay.

But for now Shay seems unfazed by it all. Happy to observe Memorial Day in her own way.

Guilt Cleaning

Since the rain was coming down in sheets all day and Carter was studying and Russ was working on a deck for work I felt guilty not being as productive as they were. I decided it was a good time to work on one of my cleaning-out projects.
Earlier in the week I got a good start cleaning out the garage, but was not interested in being trapped inside the humid cave today. So I decided I would work cleaning out one wall of kitchen cabinets. With a tile floor, the kitchen was left in touched in the great wood floor refinishing project of ’15. Thus nothing about the kitchen had undergone the scrutiny I had with all our belongings in closets last year.
I was not going to work on the cupboards where the plates and glasses live, that is a project for another day. Instead I decided to tackle the catch all cabinets where the little used items are housed. Such things as the pressure cooker, the funnel sets or electric knife, things that I like to have, but aren’t called into duty but once or twice a year.
The problem with the orphan kitchen items is that they get grouped together in cabinets with unlikely neighbors. Shay Shay’s tooth cleaning gel, with cinnamon cashews, or hand carved wood salad tossers next to the dough hook for the kitchen aid mixer, festive Christmas apron and the extra large heavy duty aluminum foil roll.   
Some of these things were first put in one cabinet and thus stayed there for life because that is where we knew it was. The problem with moving seasonal items is that when the season comes around you might not remember where you put it. But that was a long standing excuse to keep these misfits in the same place.
So today, without holding back, I cleaned out five major cabinets. Editing what really needed to be in the kitchen, rehousing some things, like all of Shay’s medicine to a better room, and taking out some things I had, but never used or frankly never liked. The whale platter went to the donate pile, and the dozen sports water bottles went to the garage.
I felt great satisfaction when it was all done. Russ came in the kitchen to eat his lunch and I announced the completion of the great clean out of the wall of cabinets, minus the two drawers. “Yeah, those drawers are the real mess,” Russ said.
So much for my feeling of accomplishment. He was right. The job was not close to being done. After lunch I pulled a chair up to the two large junk drawers and tackled the hard work. You know those drawers you have where everything you thought was important went. Turns out not that much was important in them. I reorganized the hundred or so batteries. If you need AA’s I have cornered the market on them. I discovered a pouch of Chuckie Cheese winner’s coins that Carter used to collect awaiting enough to trade in for a good prize. Apparently Chuckie Cheese did away with the coins years ago, and that Carter aged out of that place at least a decade ago.

In the end I grouped like things together, tape and stapler, matches and lighters, pie weights and pastry brush. The very last job I did was testing every pen and discarding any writing utensil that was not perfect. I sorted the pens, from the pencils from the sharpies, which even got their own compartment. Job done. Not bad work for a rainy day. I am working my way through the easiest clean out jobs so that I will eventually have to face the attic, but before that day comes every drawer and closet in my house is going to be perfect. I might be able to drag this out two or three years.

Teenage Vision

Used to be that we could go to the farm to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. Of course that was before we had a high schooler who needed to study for exams over the long weekend. Today Russ said this was our last exam studying Memorial Day. Next year at this time Carter will be a graduate with no exams. Hooray.
So since we are stuck at home we went to DPAC tonight and saw a play with Carter and her “sister E,” our bonus daughter Ellis. Life is better when we get to have Ellis with us. I love to hear the plans she and Carter make for the future.
Tonight they were talking about going to Mexico. Carter thinks they should go right after high school graduation and Ellis realistically believes they will have to wait until they are a little older, like 30. Carter’s response to that was, “We have to go before then because 30 is when our bodies give out.”
I have to say I have not been the best body roll model, but I hope their bodies last past 30. For now I am happy to just get to spend time with these girls because soon enough they will be off on their own and lord knows my body might be giving out making me incapable of visiting them.

It’s All About The Shoes

Today is a day of celebrations. First it is my very young friend Christy Barnes’ birthday and second it was the Durham Academy graduation. Since we are celebrating Christy’s birthday with a lunch next week I wanted to do something small to surprise her today. I bought a bunch of “happy birthday” Mylar balloons and was planning on surprising her at the gym, but I got her work out time wrong and by the time I got there she had left. First I want to say, who works out on their birthday?
Anyway, I knew she was going to be meeting her sister after the workout so I just tied the balloons to a lamp post outside her house. To me there is nothing happier than seeing balloons outside a house announcing, “something good is happening here today.” So happy birthday to Christy!

Although I did not have anyone graduating today, Carter was a Marshall for the ceremony and I know plenty of kids who were graduating. So I met Hannah Hannan at her office on the campus of UNC and we walked over to Memorial Hall where DA holds its graduation. It is wonderful to hold it there because it is big enough that anyone who wants to go can.  
Carter’s second grade teacher, Karen Lovelace, sat with us in the balcony where we were surrounded by many beloved teachers from the pre-school, lower school and middle school. It was so nice that they come and see kids who they taught over the years graduate. They certainly aren’t required to come since they are plenty busy enough finishing up grading and writing report cards for their own students.

The graduation was nice. Lee Hark, the funniest Upper School Head in America, gave a fabulous speech. It made me sad that he will not be doing one for Carter’s graduation since he has been promoted to assistant Head of school for next year. Maybe as assistant head he could still give a speech.  
Carol Folt, Chancellor at UNC, gave the official speech. It started off slow, but ended with six very sound bits of advice for the graduating seniors, which I wonder if they will remember by tomorrow? Then the diplomas were handed out. The clapping never stopped as each person’s name was read and they crossed the stage to accept their diploma from Micheal Ulku-Steiner, the Head of school.
With their caps and gowns on the only thing that made the girls standout from our vantage point in the balcony was their shoes. Many of them wore platform wedges, some high heels, some sensible cute flat Jack Rodgers. The best were the ones who had a small heeled sandals because they walked with the most ease and grace as the eyes of hundreds of loved ones watched them cross the giant stage.
I was sad thinking about the year of lasts to come. Last first day of school, last last day, last day with all those loving and dedicated teachers. I know that Carter will be rejoicing. I want to remember to help her pick the right shoes to wear with her cap and gown. It seems like it might be the last time I may have an opportunity to suggest school foot wear to her.

Nice Surprise

Today was our last school parent’s council meeting of the year. It is really not so much a meeting as a thank you lunch. I counted it was my twelfth time I have been to this lunch since I have volunteered to chair some committee since the second year that a Carter was at DA.
I parked in front of the lower school, since the lunch is normally held outside at the overhang and followed some very young mothers into the school. I recognized them as people who I knew when they were students at DA when Carter first started school. It made me feel very old.
 As I tried to get outside I was waylaid because the preschoolers were coming in from spirit day all in their matching shirts. Memories of Carter and her friends came flooding back. I felt like they were just that little a week ago, when they would be strapped into the car seats in the back of my land cruiser singing.
Eventually I found the lunch in the auditorium. I was definitely one of the oldest mothers. I sat with my friends Michelle and Chesley who both have juniors in Carter’s class. We represented the old guard in the room. Karen, the out going parent’s council president, got up to start the meeting. She called on Leslie Holdsworth, the director of development to come and give a special award. This was something different than usually had happened at any of the last twelve lunches of this kind.
She asked me to get up and she presented me with a cool piece of art to commemorate my seven years as auctioneer. It was a very nice surprise. She announced that I had been involved with raising over a million dollars. What she did not do was also credit all the hundreds of volunteers who work every year to make that auction happen. The auctioneer is a small cog in the much bigger machine.
I have one last year on parent’s council, still chairing parent’s of alumni, where I have a chance to get that community going before I officially become a member of it. Once Carter graduates, in exactly a year, I will no longer have any official relationship with Durham Academy. It is hard to believe that after fourteen years of volunteering I will just be the person who paid for my child to go there.   

Procrastination Exercises

Last year, at this time, I was busy cleaning out every closet in anticipation of redoing our floors. Although it was pure hell to go through it felt incredibly productive when it was all over. I vowed to continue the cleaning out process, but somehow a vow is not quite strong enough to keep me on that track. It is just like dieting. Good intentions don’t mean anything. You have to actually do it everyday.
I have been feeling guilty due to this lack of productivity so I thought I should get back to the ever giant and still growing list of things that need reorganizing. Attic- still on the list, crawl space – you can hardly crawl through, garage – growing mountain of things that need to be donated, Carter’s section of the house- forbidden zone, my office – the walls are closing in, kitchen cabinets- over flowing.  
I can hardly make a turn without seeing someplace that needs attention. Well, not exactly. The closets that all were all cleaned out last year are still in pristine condition. All the more incentive that I should get to work on the rest.  
Yesterday I had a virtually free day, just one conference call and one meeting. Nothing was holding me back from tackling a big job. Did I do it? Not on your life.
Well, my cleaning ladies were working so I did not want to get in their way. I needed to get my steps in and well, I was playing Catan. Feeling guilty I looked round my office for a job I could do that would count towards reorganizing and cleaning and my eyes landed on the four buckets of change that had been accumulating for the last year. I could roll all the coins! Wait, even better I could do it while walking on my walking desk.
Since our change sorting machine had corroded batteries I had to come up with a solution for putting the right number of coins in the rolls without counting everyone. My solution was to count one roll’s worth and then weigh it on my kitchen scale. A roll of $10 worth of quarters weighs 230 grams. Ta-da!  
It took me the better part of a day and 13,000 steps, but in the end I had over $400 rolled and ready to deposit in Carter’s college fund. Yes, it was a very minor job as far as cleaning out goes, yes, it only netted the value of one college text book, yes, it was the least painful of my jobs, but it was a start, small that it was.  
Peter Walsh, organizing guru would send me for time out for even considering this cleaning out, but in the words of my father, “it was better than a sharp stick in the eye.” I am not sure if I am ever getting to the attic, but maybe this summer I can at least do the garage and maybe my office. I figure I need to save some cleaning out for when Carter goes to college, otherwise I might have to get a real job.