Farewell Good Friend

I had to come home from Spain specifically for today. I had a hair cut appointment . It was not just any appointment, but the last day with my beloved hairdresser, Kathy Jacobs. After at least a dozen years of her doing my hair Kathy is retiring from hairdressing to move to a farm in Georgia.
Kathy has been my hairdresser longer than anyone else I have ever gone to. I have loved her not just for doing my hair, but as a sharerer of recipes, story teller, and friend.  
I am a well documented bad doer of my own hair. I grew up in the Marcia Brady era of straight hair parted down the middle. I have no skills when it comes to styling, being a spaz when it comes to folding a hair dryer and a brush at the same time. Don’t even get me started on the dangers of a curling iron.
Kathy appreciated all these things about me. She was able to cut my hair in a way that it could do itself when I got out of the shower. She never made me feel bad bout being a hair moron as well as never pushing me to do hair treatments, like coloring my hair. I am mousey brown and she was fine with that. Yes, color enhancement could do something for me, but Kathy understood I had little tolerance for sitting in the chair longer than an hour a month.
When Carter broke her leg and had a cast from her toe to her hip for six weeks it was Kathy who came to the rescue. She washed Carter’s adolescent hair every other day for those six weeks and saved my relationship with my daughter. For that and so many other reasons I am eternally indebted to her.
I know that she will go on to do great things, but I am going to miss her, not just for my hair, but for my friend. Good luck raising blueberries and restoring your old farm, Kathy. Just know that if you tire of the green aces life, the city and all your beloved customers will still be here missing you, with me at the front of the line.


It was an easy flight from BCN to JFK. Carter and Russ sat with each other in their introvert section and I sat across the aisle with a cute 85 year old mother of 10 and her number seven son who just toured Paris, Rome and Barcelona with his three college aged kids. She had a lot to tell me so it was good we were sitting in that configuration.
BCN is the first world airport compared to JFK. Customs and Immigration was fine thanks to global entry, but moving from terminal four to terminal two was a a third world experience. First you have to take the air train a very short distance, but then you take a tiny elevator to the ground level and walk a thousand yards across two streets and into a building that has no escalator and one elevator the size of a pack n’ play to get up to departures. 
For some reason Carter and I did not have seats so we have to check in again at the kiosk to get a boarding pass to get through security. The machine did not put pre-check on our boarding passes so we had to wait in the cattle line. None of this is good when it is eleven at night your body time.
Since we had a couple of hours we went to get dinner. Breaking ourselves of our Spanish orientation was hard. As our food was placed in front of me I said “gracias” to our server. Carter looked up at the wall behind me and in her jet lagged-used to being in a highly Catholic country-read the posted sign as “resurrection kit” rather than “resuscitation kit.”
I’m not sure how long Spain will stay with us, but I suspect I will be making Gazpacho tomorrow.

Last Vacation Day Chill

We awoke early in Seville after staying up late, late, late with our friend Shireen last night. We had gone to Contendor, a very cool restaurant in the Macarena district for the second time since it was the best food we ate in Spain. It was sad to be leaving Shireen after our two day reunion, but we had to get back to Barcelona where our flight takes off from and she has the rest of the world to conquer. 
The high speed train rushed up across the whole country and back to the very cosmopolitan city. I picked a different place to stay in for our last night so we could have a taste of another area. Our first accommodations in BCN was an apartment in the swanky Eixample neighborhood, in Seville we stayed in a tiny property right in to idle of the historic district with a terrace over looking the Cathedral.  

For our last night I picked a hip place called the Casa Camper right in the thick of the old city. I did not realize that it was a hotel run by the cool, Camper shoe company. I chose it because it had a suite where Carter could have her own room with a hammock as well as a bed, but I did not have to spring for a whole second room.

We arrived and they gave us a tour of the hotel. The 24 hour free food, the roof terrace, the snooker room, the Heath club. Since we had already done the city we decided to chill and do the hotel. We went to the food room and pick out our some lunch, salmon wraps, goat cheese salad, hazel nuts, cheese, watermelon and sweets, got drinks and took our trays up to the roof terrace where we were all alone to relax.

After our late lunch Carter chilled in her hammock and Russ and I walked the neighborhood. Now back for a shower in the fabulous multi he’d shower and out to dinner. A little rest before home. We have loved Spain. The people are chill, the food is yummy, the history is interesting, the weather is good. We are going to have to come back, but I might like to just come back to the Casa Camper and hang in the hotel. It is a real vacation.

Heathens Come to Town 

Sometimes we forget that these beautiful cathedrals we are visiting are churches. Today we went to the Cathedral of Seville which towers over our little eleven room hotel. We have been here three days and have enjoyed the glorious peeling of the bells multiple times. Of course they ring on the hour, and sometimes the half and every once in a while on the quarter, but they are a little fickle and sometimes they ring and ring and ring and it’s 7:20. We can’t figure them out, but they do work as an alarm for Carter to get up.

The Cathedral is a major money making operation. We waited in a long line today to get in at 9 euros a head. They would not give Carter the student rate since she did not have a student ID, there is no explaining that her school does not issue ID’s. As we were waiting in the snake of a line through the gift shop, Russ looks over at a shelves of books and asks, “Carter, who is that cartoon character over there?” She glances at the shelf with her young eyes and says in her most droll tone, “Jesus.”

This Cathedral is filled with fantastic works of art, mostly of Jesus and his mom, but some lesser known Popesand randomness nuns are also featured. One other famous person has his crypt in the Cathedral, Christopher Columbus, since this was the most powerful maritime location in Spain and the place Isabella and Ferdinand ruled from, sending Christopher Columbus off to the new world from this place 50 miles inland.
We walked all around the main floor of the Cathedral that has just a little seating for actual worship. As Russ passed by a four year old Asian girl, sitting on a pew, who was holding a giant I-phone 6 swiping wildly, he heard her muttering, “Wifi, wifi, why can’t I get any wifi?” Seems like the Catholic Church could charge an extra euro per head if they made the whole inside of the Cathedral a hotspot. Might also do something to get butts in the pews for services, but then again they might need more actual seats.

After finishing looking at the main floor we climbed the tower, known as “la Giralda” the 35 story minaret, that was built for the original Muslim mosque and was engulfed into the Cathedral when the Christians drove the Muslims out. The tower has ramps instead of stairs so the climbing is easier. It was built that way so that soldiers could ride up to the top on their horses. I can not imagine a horse making the turns on the narrow corners on the way up, let alone not slipping on the stone ramps on the way down.  

The climb to the top was worth it because we could see all of Seville and the surrounding countryside from that highest point in the city. Somehow we timed our visit perfectly because no bells rang while we were standing just feet below them.  
After the climb down we needed liquid refreshment so we went to a cafe with our friend Shireen and sat under the mist spraying umbrellas and did what has become our favorite afternoon activity in the heat of Seville, to talk and tell stories.  

Tonight is our last night in this beautiful town. We are going back to have dinner at our favorite restaurant, far from the tourist section of town. Hopefully the temperature will be below 100 when it is time to walk to dinner.

Surprise Spanish Reunion

Nineteen years ago I spent the best year of my working life going around the world making TV commercials with a fabulous group of people. One of my favorite people was my friend Shireen,my travel specialist, who is probably the happiest most easy going person I had ever met. We were quota pair, I was the hard ass and she was the magic fairy who always made everything good happen.  
Although we were working it was not bad to do it in South Africa, Bali, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Vancouver. The worst part about that assignment being over is that I did not get to work with Shireen again as I stayed in London and she went back to the states. Over the years we have kept in touch through the wonder of Facebook, but have not seen each other since she worked in LA.  

Fast forward to yesterday. Shireen quit her job and is two months into a year traveling around the world. When she saw we were coming to Seville she did too and we have had the best reunion. She arrived last night and we caught up at dinner where she got to meet Carter and see Russ, who she had only met when he came to two days of our Puerto Rico shoot. Carter took an instant liking to her, especially when Shireen told Carter that one of her best customer’s was Joe Jonas.  

Today we just folded Shireen into our family and did our touristy things. We started the day at the Real Alcazar. In this case “real” does not mean the opposite of fake, but instead means Royal. It is a palace of Seville that had once been an Islamic Palace, then a Christian Spanish one. After our great tour of Pompeii last year with a private guide I decided that we should do the same here since I did not know the history of this area very well. So we met Manuel at the Palace before it opened and had a wonderful tour where he explained all the complicated history of Seville to us.
After visiting the gardens Manuel walked us through the Jewish section abutting the Islamic palace and gave us the quick version of the inquisition. History is so much more memorable when you are walking in the place where it took place. 
Before parting with Manuel he pointed us in the direction of a non-touristy area for lunch. Full of gazpacho and tapas after lunch Carter left us to do her own thing and Shireen, Russ and I walked the city for hours. Exhausted and dirty we went to clean up before going to dinner at a most beautiful restaurant on the river that unfortunately had the worst food. The only good thing was the light was beautiful for pictures. We walked back to the area where we all were staying and said goodnight to Shireen with promises for our continued touring tomorrow. Russ and Carter said it was much more fun for me to have a friend on vacation with us and next year we should bring one for Carter too. Russ declined a friend. I’m just glad to spend time with my old friend.

Seville Equals Spain

When I learned about Spain as a child this is what was taught to me — bull fights, Flamenco dancers, gazpacho, hot days, beautifully painted tiles, sangria, oranges, dark haired beauties. This is the Spain we have found in Seville. Well, everything but the bull fights. That is something our animal loving selves can skip.

The morning was beautiful, not too hot so we walked to the Plaza de Espana, the beautiful Renaissance revival style building built for the 1928 Iberio-American Exposition. Try explaining what expositions were to a millennial internet child. The idea that countries would gather in one spot for a year to display new inventions, foods, and the like and promote themselves seems totally foreign to Carter. When we explained that the Eiffel Tower was built for an exposition and since it was such a hit they kept it she began to understand.

After wandering the outside we stumbled upon a cool military museum inside. It would not have been something we would have sought out, but loved it. That is the best thing about slow traveling. We are in no rush to see all the “top spots” so if we find something interesting we just do it.

On the other hand, sometimes it makes Carter crazy when I stumble upon something. Like the white dove I found in the Plaza. I wanted to get a picture of it and we to wait patiently for it to fly by me. After getting a still photo I wanted a video. It was worth waiting to catch it in slow motion.

After a lunch of Gazpacho and a little rest we went to a Flamenco show. Wow! From our front row seats we were practically at eye level with the dancers feet. How in the world this woman could tap her feet at different speeds at the same time I will never know. Russ was concerned about stress fractures.

Tonight we are meeting up with an old friend of mine, Shireen, who is traveling around the world and we somehow made it to Seville at the same time. This is the best surprise of the trip. I love traveling!

BCN To Seville By Ground

It would have been a perfect day to take a nap, but somehow I was the only one who did not. We were up at the crack of dawn this morning to catch the early Renfe AVE, high speed train from Barcelona to Seville. It was five and a half hours and Carter made good use of that time to nap. I, on the other hand, watched out the window so I could take in the whole of Spain since we were transversing from one corner of the country to the other.

I should have slept. What did I see? A lot of olive trees, and other fruit trees which were unidentifiable at three hundred miles per hour. Mountains, hills, plains, wheat, dirt, red dirt, brown dirt, yellow dirt and sand. Throw in some rocks. Every once in a while we might have seen a village, but mostly some deserted stone buildings with holes in the roof. Obviously the high speed line was put in the places that would disturb the fewest people. So no people at all.  
The strangest thing is in the whole way across the country I did not see any live stock anywhere. Now I know that the famous hams come from Iberia, where acorns are grown to feed them so it made sense that I did not see pigs, but no chickens, no cows, no lambs, no meat on the hoof anywhere. Maybe the train is bad for animals.
After arriving in Seville were made our way to our little hotel that has a view of the cathedral. That meant we had to be dropped off at the cathedral and meander on foot with our rolling bags down alley ways to find our spot. Only one or two fights broke out during that part of the adventure, of course it did not help that it was 2:30 and we had not had lunch yet.

That remedy came quickly and we completely over ordered at a fab tapas bar. Ordering food to share is great, but we never know how big anything is going to be. We need to start ordering one thing at a time so we can pace ourselves to decided if we are actually hungry. After lunch Russ and Carter both took naps. What was wrong with me? It was almost 100 degrees out and I certainly was not going to going sightseeing in the hottest part of the day.

Eventually everyone got up and we meander through the tiny streets. Still full from lunch we went to a fancy restaurant for late dinner. It was the perfect time to go to an expensive meal because we hardly ordered anything. Russ and I had the best salads that really hit the spot. But I was fading fast, just as nap refreshed Russ and Carter were ready to go. It certainly was cooler in the night air than it had been at five in the afternoon. We are going to have to really start to see Seville tomorrow, after I have gotten some rest. Looking at all those olive trees flying by today really took it out of me.

Barcelona Is For The Dogs

Literally, there are more dogs in Barcelona than almost any city I have seen. Everywhere we went people had their dogs with them. It helps that so many of the restaurants have outdoor seating so dogs are welcome. 
The first few days we just admired the cute dogs. It made us all miss Shay Shay so much. But then we realized that Shay was in no way Barcelona trained. These dogs are good. Many times the dog would not be on a leash and would follow at their owners heels in lock step. We did see one cute little yellow dog waiting at the opened door of a bakery while her owner was in shopping. When the owner came out the dog started a step ahead of her to go home and the owner stopped and spoke harshly to the dog who sat at attention feeling badly that she had gone in front and not behind.
It made Carter a little crazy when I started taking photographs of dogs. She said I was stalking them. For the most part they did not know I was taking their picture and no owners were disturbed. The interesting thing was the variety in dog breeds. I am not sure we saw the same dog twice, except for whippets, which I think I saw three or four of.  
Even our apartment hotel allowed dogs. I saw one in the lobby. But never heard a peep out of any of them. That was also true of all the dogs we saw on the street. They were quiet and well behaved. Nobody jumped up on anyone or begged. We have clearly done a very bad job of training our dog.

Besides seeing dogs, today we went to see Gaudi’s famous apartment building, Casa Mila, otherwise known as La Perdera, the quarry, which is just across the street from where we are staying. Gaudi was certainly ahead of his time. Thank goodness enough of his work survived to make a whole tourism center on its own. Other cities could only hope to have such a huge economic driver.  
Tonight is the festival of Saint Joan, so there are fireworks going off across the city. Of course the noise is not helping on the night we need to go to bed early to catch our early train to Seville. I wonder if there will be any dogs on our train? If there are Carter certainly won’t let me take their picture.

The Things You Do On Vacation That You Never Do At Home

We have totally gotten into the vacation mode. We have now been in Barcelona long enough that we feel little need to go look at anything, unless you count food. I knew that I had been pushing the cultural aspect of the trip to a point where I could have full blown teenage rebellion. So I searched on Time Out, the guide to what young people like, and found that The Pentatonix were doing a show in Barcelona tonight at a club.  
Going to any kind of club, other than Costco, is not something Russ nor I would usually do. Have you ever seen Russ dance? There is a reason for that. But in order to make Carter feel like this was her vacation too we bought tickets for this show.  
It was an all teenage day. Sleeping late, then Carter and I had a little cafe breakfast before doing some clothes shopping for her. Good egg Russ, worked while we played. The only thing we did without Carter’s consent was walk La Rambla and eat lunch at the Mercado de La Boqueria, the big market place. It was full of all kinds of stalls selling fresh fish, cooked to order, fresh fruit, Spanish tapas, ham, cheese, all things yummy. The part that did not make Carter happy was that we were not doing a sit down lunch. Oh well! It was hot, but that made coming back to the hotel and swimming on the roof even better.

We had our best dinner yet at La Pepita – early tapas, before going to this Club Razzmazztaz for the concert. It was packed, but we got there with only a few minutes to wait, packed like sardines before the concert started. Carter wiggled her way into the center of the room, while Russ and stood still in the periphery, still mushed between other people. The only good thing is that no one chooses to stand right behind Russ, for obvious reasons.  

The concert was really quite good since The Pentatonix are an a Capella group and there was no loud drums or bass. After it was over Carter amazingly found us and a taxi pulled right up and we jumped in, miracles. The best part was Carter announced it was the best concert she had ever been too. Teenage happiness. I killed her buzz a little when I told her we were going to the Casa Mila, the Gaudi building across the street, tomorrow when it opens at nine. What a horrible mother I am to make her get up on her vacation, but hey, she had today.

Strangely Attracted to Puzzles

Today Russ, Carter and I went to our early morning appointment to see Gaudi’s most famous work, the still unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica. As crazy looking as it is on the outside, with basically four different styles of facades, the inside is amazingly symmetrical. The stained glass windows are glorious and the various colors of the columns are harmonious.

Of course Gaudi gets most of the credit, although he was not the first architect on the job, nor will he be the last, but the craftsmen who have carried out his drawings are the unsung heroes. The number of artisans it has taken to work on the building since 1882 could hardly be counted. The work continues with the goal of finishing the Basilica in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. From what I can see it is going to take every waking minute to meet that deadline.
Thank goodness there is plenty of money pouring in from the throngs of tourists. At an average of 24 euros each and the tickets are constantly sold out there seems to be no shortage of funding. Carter especially liked watching the Asian tourists, who made up a large portion of the visitors, because they walked around filming the entire visit. Carter said, “When the hell are all these people going to watch these movies?” Good question, but I’m sure God knows they took them.

I took plenty of photos. I was strangely drawn to a sixteen square stature of random numbers. I did not know what it was, but I took a picture of it nonetheless. Sadly I took the photo at an angle that I could not see all the numbers. Later, in my tour of the museum underneath the temple I found the key to what the number statue was. It was a cryptogram, kind of like the precursor to sudoku, where in many directions a row, column, square or other pattern of four numbers always adds up to 33, the age of Jesus. 

It never fails that if there is a game or puzzle in something I am going to find it and study it whether I know it is a game or not. I probably could have spent hours in the Basilica looking for all the symbols and meanings designed into the building, but then I had other’s with me who were not as enthralled with figuring out the puzzle. Well, I also was surrounded by many short people holding up video cameras spinning to ensure they caught every angle. Maybe they like puzzles too and are going to go home and watch their films on endless loops looking for the hidden meanings. Maybe not, they probably have 650 hours of other videos from their whole trip to watch. Probably they just never will watch any of it. 

The Siesta Life

Carter and I have quickly adapted to the Spanish schedule. Russ on the other hand is still in full on work mode, although he refrained from working when his girls were awake. Of course since Carter and I slept late and both took naps that gave Russ plenty of time to do as he wanted.
Our first full day in Barcelona was the uphill walking day. I did not mean to trick Carter into this, but somehow I did, and she did not complain. It helped that we were going to the Parc Guell, Gaudi’s failed real estate development, now UNESCO heritage site, that Carter had studied about this year in Spanish class.  

We had tickets for the Gaudi house museum, but not tickets for the Parc. Since our timed entrance to the museum was in the afternoon Russ and I convinced Carter that we should walk there. Most of the walk was only a slight incline through a residential area. We stopped at a big mercato which was interesting to all of us with the various stalls of fruits and vegetables, ham, cheese, coffee and other foods. My favorite stall was the egg vendor who had not just chicken eggs, but everything from tiny quail to giant ostrich. The most unusual ones we’re the big black emu eggs, about the size of a grapefruit. If only I spoke Spanish I would have asked the woman where she got these eggs from, unfortunately my translator had already moved on.
As we continued up steeper and steeper slopes we still could not see the Parc, we turned a corner and saw high above us the edge of the Parc. According to our walking app, it was only about 20 flights of stairs up. Thankfully we happened upon an outdoor escalator that took us three flights up. Once we discovered that we also needed tickets for the monument zone of the Parc we bought those for the next available entry time, three and a half hours later.  

We wandered the free part of the Parc looking out over all of Barcelona to the sea. Then we walked back down the hill to find lunch at a small family owned place called a Bar Casi. It was not much to look at, but it was a great find. The owner was sweet and we had the best gazpacho which was a welcome and refreshing thing to have after our hill climb.
After lunch we re-climbed that steep hill to get to our appointed visit times for the museum and the Parc. Thank goodness Gaudi’s plan for a seventy house development failed because if it had not the world would not be left with the most beautiful view of Barcelona. The serpentine benches covered with mosaic of colorful tile are an inspired scene, only appreciated much later. The walk seemed worth it.
After a little shopping on our way home Carter and I fell into our beds for a good siesta. Russ who had been up since 5:45 went to the gym because the eight mile walk had not been enough. More Guadi tomorrow, but on the flat.

Father’s Day Barcelona Style

Of course my selfless father of my only child gives up his day to make his daughter happy. It is not unlike my own father who never got much a Father’s Day since he was usually doing things for all his girls. I guess you do marry your father.
I am thankful that my father gave me the love of travel. He took his girls around the world and exposed us to history, beauty and the joy of differences. Russ has done the same for Carter. Now all she wants to do is leave home and see the world.
We arrived today in Barcelona, a place I have never been. I have no Spanish or Catalonian language skills and I would say that Russ is, well rusty would be putting it mildly. This trip is all on Carter. She has to translate, communicate, navigate and direct.  
We checked into our apartment right across the street from the Casa Mila, one of Gaudi’s masterpiece buildings. Carter was in heaven recognizing things she had studied. After a lunch in a cafe on the sidewalk we took siestas. For me it was more like a good night’s sleep.
Sunday is a day of rest here so most restaurants are closed for dinner. Our concierge sent us to a place that was a nice twenty minute walk from our place that had seafood and live music. We arrived at nine and it was a little dark, but since the sun was still out we did not notice too much.  
Turns out the power was out. The emergency lights provided enough light so we could navigate. They said the power would be back on very soon so we just went with it since we had so few options at this point. We ordered salads and Paella. One by one the emergency lights started going out, just as the sun was setting. The staff scurried about finding small candles.

The food was good, thanks to gas stoves. We had a leisurely dinner and the only nod to Father’s Day was the fact that we were having a rice meal, Russ’ favorite. Carter also gave him him sock of the month club, the perfect gift while on holiday since it will have to come in the mail.
Sadly their was no music, just a bizarre meal in the dark, but we loved it. All together on Father’s Day, doing what we all like best, seeing a new place. Carter had to do all the talking with the wait staff and it was a new experience for me not to be in charge. All those years of Spanish are finally paying off. I only wish my father were here to enjoy it with us. It is thanks to him that I love going new places.
Happy Father’s Day to the wonderful fathers in my life. I am thankful for you both.


 It was a shit show at the airport tonight. We arrived early enough for our JFK flight that we were put on the delayed earlier flight. It was a good thing since our original flight was going to be late and we were happy to try and get to JFK as fast as we could. The only issue was the flight we were put on was already an hour late and it was full of people trying to make connections to European flights.

We were the last ones on the flight and as we sat down I felt the anger from the passengers around us, as if we were holding up the plane. Then we sat there. The old men sitting behind me kept yelling out, “Let’s get going.” For all the thousands of flights I have flown I am yet to know a pilot who decides to depart because someone told him to go, then again I have never been on hijacked flight.
We sat, and sat and finally were told that there was an air conditioning value that was stuck open and we were waiting to get it fixed. The old men, screamed, “we can live with a cold plane.” Again, no one listened to them. The wife of one of the old men kept asking the flight attendant to “Call New York and have them hold my plane to Prague.” These people really never fly much.
I know it is frustrating to miss your connection, especially for a valve problem, but screaming out from your seat never helps. The family in front of us was going to London and also had a lot of choice bits of advice for the flying professionals.
Seems to me that old people should not try and go to Europe during the height of summer vacation. The planes are more full, the flights get more delayed and they don’t have any patience for snafus. Old people have the luxury to go in the low season. As for the family, they probably have to travel during summer break, but maybe they should have planned a longer layover at JFK just in case of delay.
We finally took off and flew like a bat out of you know where to NYC in time for everyone to make their connections, but then when we landed there was another plane in our gate and we sat and sat and sat. The screaming continued and they were really choice words.
People jumped up from their seats well before we were at the gate and the flight attendants didn’t say a word. At this point they just wanted them off the plane. We stayed seated, letting the tight connectors off first. I just wanted to put as much distance between me and the screamers as possible.
Now we are safely on our Barcelona flight where everyone is in a party mood. My only problem is I forgot my eye covering mask, but no worries, I have NyQuil. 

A Chicken In Every Dog Bowl

Carter snapped this unattractive pic of me when she and I stopped in Costco to buy just one item, a rotisserie chicken for our dog Shay Shay. Yes, it may sound like we spoil our dog, but I want to make the case for our choice of foods.
Shay is a picky eater. Unlike most dogs she does not live to eat. She usually does not beg. If you put her food down, she stays on her bed for a respectable three or four minutes and then gets up to eat. When I say eat, she just eats enough to take the edge off leaving most of her food in her bowl.
Shay does not get purely rotisserie chicken for her meals. The majority of her meal is dry food. She gets just a few shreds of chicken on top which makes her even consider eating the dry food. Without the chicken, or in a pinch a few shreds of cheese, she would never touch the dry food and would rather mope around hungry for days.
This menu came about after many months and dollars of trying different dog foods. Canned dog foods, the types in little plastic bins, frozen, fresh, everyday food we made did not interest her. It was costing us a fortune to figure out what she might eat.
Then one day I brought home a $4.99 chicken from Costco. Shay went mad. I was thrilled. It is cheaper than dog food, smells better than dog food and does not stink up my refrigerator like a half covered half portion of canned dog food. When I get a warm chicken home I leave it on the counter long enough to cool so I can handle it. I put on a pair of disposable rubber gloves and shred every bit of meat off that chicken. I can get two quarts of Shay ready food that will last almost two weeks. One quart goes in the freezer until needed. That makes her chicken portion of her daily food cost only .35 cents so it is much cheaper than dog food.

I see this as an everyone wins situation. I am not grossed out opening a can of smelly dog food that I have no idea what is in it, I don’t need to have a separate dog food can opener and I have the happiest dog on earth. Yes, I do drive to Costco to buy her chicken because their chickens have twice as much meat as the $6.99 Harris Teeter chicken. Usually I am going by a Costco at least once every other week anyway.
So don’t judge me and the horrible picture Carter posted about chicken for my dog. I would do the same for you if you loved me as much as Shay does.

Friend Day

Once a year we have Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day and even administrative assistants’ day, but as far as I am concerned every other day should be Friend’s Day. I am glad that no one has created one day a year to celebrate friends so we can do it all the time.

Today was a particularly good friend day. It started out with a long planned trip to Chapel Hill needlepoint with my friend Lane and her assistant Sarah so they could learn to needlepoint. Lane and Sarah got a look at my big ass plastic box where I keep my needlepoint Christmas ornaments and declared they wanted to start making them for themselves. That was in October and we finally got around to scheduling their visit and lessons.  
My friend Deanna came along to stitch at the table with us and many other fun stitching friends stopped by while Lane and Sarah were conquering the basket weave. Thankfully Nancy provides the best place for friends who love needlepoint to gather. Everyday at Chapel Hill Needlepoint is friend day.

After that planned friend excursion I had a surprise Friend Day meet up. My Pi Phi big sister, Marlene “Bodene” Ostrow of Cincinnati, called and said she was visiting her sister in Raleigh. So I drove over and met her son Jordan, her sister and niece. They left us so Marlene and I could have a good two hours of old friend catch up time. We have known and loved each other since 1979, but there were many years, before the Internet and Facebook where we lost track so tonight was fun to fill in the gaps.  
Yesterday I found my old friend, Jay, from Washington days, on Facebook and we reconnected after twenty years apart. How quickly you pick up with someone as if you just went on vacation for a few weeks.  
I think that I would like everyday to be Friend Day, because then I would be assured of having nothing but fun. Today was way more fun than administrative assistant day, but maybe that is because I don’t have one. Friends are better than anything else anyway.

Shameless Plug

My sister Janet owns a business that makes gift boxes filled with beauty products that are sold at America’s big retailers. Part of her business also involves selling other beauty related products, like the Travelo, a small perfume atomizer that you fill with your own bigger perfume that you don’t want to carry around. It is cool.
Janet just posted that one of her products is going to be on Good Morning America on the Deals and Steals segment. She could not tell me what it is, but whatever it will be a big discount from the list price.  
The name of Janet’s business is Retail Reaction so of you are able to watch GMA in the morning look for her product. I will post on Facebook, which one it is during the show. If y miss watching live I am sure you can log on to GMA and see what the Deals and Steals are after they have aired on TV.
It is fun to see my sister’s products featured on TV. She has worked so hard to grow her business and she deserves every success. Yeah Janet!

No More Wisdom

I failed as a mother today. Carter went to the oral surgeon to have her four wisdom teeth removed. It was an appointment she has had since October. This being the perfect time, after exams and the ACT, before our family trip to Spain and her summer job as camp counselor. For months Carter has been waiting for me to film her as she is coming out of an anesthetic haze to see what crazy things she says.
With my finger on the red dot I was sure I was capturing those incoherent words, “Mommy, you look like the candy man in that stripped shirt.” Unfortunately, I was on pause and got nothing recorded for posterity. The good news is that Carter came through the surgery with flying colors. She was a little loopy, but sweet, not crazy mean, and she is still plenty smart, even without those wisdom teeth.
I got her home and on to the couch where she was able to watch “Bones” and hardly take a pain killer. She was a good sport about wearing her face bra, that holds ice packs to her cheeks. The incentive of the trip kept her following all the directions to the letter. The best thing she said to the nurse before leaving was “this is the smallest bra I will ever wear.” 
I’m sorry that I missed the video opportunity. I hope this is the last time Carter has to have anesthesia, it is not worth the risk just to get those few moments of true unadulterated honesty. Mostly I am thrilled that everything went so well. Looking forward to some uneventful, pain free healing days before our flight. The Dr. said it will be fine for her to go, good thing since I did not consultant him before hand. See I really am a bad mother.

The Other Disgusting News You Missed This Weekend

Our country is at a low point and perhaps the lowest act got little media attention because a bigger story took all the news time. I’m not arguing that the massacre in Orland is not one of the worst things to happen in this country since 9/11, but I feel that it is the act of one crazed, demonic, horrible person.  
The “news you might have missed” act I am upset about is the Republican Senator from Georgia, David Perdue, who at an event this weekend called The Faith and Freedom Summit asked the room to pray for President Obama a line from Psalm 109:8, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” The next line in the psalm goes on to say, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”
I find it disgusting that a sitting senator asks God to kill our president. What has happened to this country? It is no wonder that deranged people feel it is right to go into a night club and gun down innocent people when there are elected people who are espousing death to the President. What has happened to civility?  
If we are looking for what is the cause of great increase in violence look not only to the NRA, who stands in the way at every move of any discussion of common sense gun legislation, but to the people who are elected to govern who spout hatred. Their “religion” is not recognizable to me as the teachings of Jesus. The psalms are Old Testament and although many are beautiful poems, not all of the Old Testament are things we would embrace as good ways to run a so called evolved society. We gave up “an eye for an eye” a while ago.
So, Senator David Perdue, here is an idea that worked for many years in the Senate, try and talk to each other, try and compromise, try and listen to each other, try and put your self in the other sides shoes, try and actually legislate. Praying for God to kill the other side is not a legislative plan. I suggest you pray for God to give you wisdom, patience, and an open heart to find better way to run the country. You may not have spoken the follow-up line in Psalm 109, but your audience knew it and made the connection you laid out for them, “make the President’s children fatherless.”
If you are a Christian I would get down on my knees and ask for forgiveness because asking God to kill someone is not what Jesus would ever do. Then when you have finished asking God for forgiveness you should apologize to the President because the office deserves your respect, no matter how you feel about the holder.  

The Day After

Since I gave up drinking I can’t stay up late at parties. After a lovely wedding and lots of dancing I finally had to pull the plug and go back to our little heatless cottage and snuggle into bed. My friend David stayed to party on, but eventually walked the wooded path home after midnight. Apparently even David missed the late night drama that took place in the wee hours of the morning when after so many hours of partying things can go awry. 
We awoke to a blue sky day so perfect in its crisp beginning to learn of the tragedy that had taken place in Orlando. Wanting to stay in that blissful bubble of new love at a wedding I chose not to read any news stories and instead went to have breakfast with the wedding party at the grand house they had rented for the wedding.
We sat on the lawn with the sun shining on us and did the rehash of the day before. All deciding that Cory and Eric had thrown a glorious wedding. My dearest friend Wendie, the mother of the bride, was surrounded by her oldest and closest friends. Only a wedding brings out so many loved ones at the same time. The conversations go something like this, “Didn’t I meet you at Cory’s baptism?” Or ” I have heard so many stories about you from Wendie, at last I get to know you.”

The after part of a party is probably my favorite part. Cory and her sister Bonnie lay on the grass looking at the Instagram posts from all the wedding guests and loving getting the different perspectives of the wedding. It is such a new phenomenon. I handed Cory my phone and let her scroll through the photos I had taken and airdrop the ones she wanted right to her own phone.

After all the loving on each other was done David and I had to depart. On our way back north we stopped in Plymouth to grab a bite to eat since we were going to be on planes tonight. We parked the car and walked the tourist route passed Plymouth Rock. It was a rather small boulder, about the size of a wheelbarrow with the number 1620 inscribed on it. It was a good thing those pilgrims got there in 1620, otherwise they might have trouble finding a rock with 1621, or 1623 in it.
That was when the Orlando Massacre hit me. Those pilgrims came fleeing religious persecution and created a place where they were free to worship and now we have a crazy person miss using religion to persecute others.  
I had spent the weekend surrounded in wedding bliss, enjoying the obvious love that Cory and Eric have for each other, I want to ignore the horrible hate that happened else where, but can’t. I don’t know how we do it, but somehow we need to rise up in love and learn to all live in harmony.  

Wedding Day

There is something surreal about coming to a wedding of a someone you have known for 31 years, seen lots in the early years and not as much since she was seven or eight. I have the bride frozen in my mind as a little girl, when I lived close to her parents. As life changed and people move you keep up, but the images in your head don’t change. 
Of course it seems this way because the mother of the bride, my friend Wendie, has not changed one bit in 31 years, so the fact that she has a daughter, not only old enough to be married, but old enough to throw her own wedding took some time to register in my head.

The wedding was at a beautiful old house on the cape. The chairs for the ceremony were set up at the foot of a hill with a gorgeous stair case leading down from the house to a landing that acted as the alter. A big white tent was set up on the lawn, filled with tables strewn with wild flowers in mason jars. Yard games of corn hole and giant Jenga were awaiting people to play them.

David and I rented a house on the property and were joined by two of Wendie’s boarding school friends, Amelia and Margarita. It was a calm morning. David and I went to the beach before coming back to dress for the 3:00 wedding. Just as we were arriving at the big house the rain began. Guests mingled under the tent, enjoying drinks and meeting friends and family of the bride and groom.

After a while it appeared that the rain had stopped so chairs were toweled off and the ceremony began. About halfway through the rain started up again. At first just a drop or two and then a little harder. Guests who were smart enough to bring umbrellas pulled them out and someone handed one to the bride’s sister who held it over the bride. Eric, the groom, stood stoically in the rain as he read his heartfelt vows. Finally someone gave the best man an umbrella and he sheltered his brother as Cory read her sweet words of love and devotion to him.
Despite the rain, it was a truly beautiful wedding. I saw darling Cory, the baby I had known so well, as a calm and happy bride. I saw so much of her father, who I miss since his passing twenty five years ago, and know that he would love his new son-in-law and feel that Cory had made a great choice.
After the kiss we went back to the tent, talked and visited, then ate a big lobster meal before going to the barn to dance. It was a lovely, happy day. A perfect beginning.

Full Circle

Appropriately I am working on my needlepoint canvas entitled, “the wedding party” on my flight to Boston. I am on my way to the Cape for the wedding of Cory, who, along with her sister Bonnie, were the flower girls in my wedding to Russ.  
I am thrilled to be going to be with my dear friend, David, who is Carter’s godfather and my first friend in Washington DC. It was David who introduced me to Wendie, the bride’s mom, who became my bosom buddy. 
David lived in the apartment above mine in our brownstone in Dupont circle. He worked in PR with Wendie, who was married to Bob. Back then I was the youngster of the group. That was until Cory was born. We all fawned all over her, taking her with us everywhere, to the beach, the farm, on picnics. She was our communal baby. Well, maybe not David’s, he was more like the royal photographer, documenting every step, drawing up pictures of what she would look like dressed up in princess costumes.
When Cory turned one, Bob and Wendie threw a big party. I spent days helping Wendie make food for all the friends and family she was expecting. The highlight was four sheets of carrot cakes that spelled out “Cory”. It was at least six feet long. Thank goodness she was not named Elizabeth because I took an ungodly amount of shredded carrots just to make those four cakes.
In a circle of life way David and I gave Cory and her husband to be Eric a kitchen aid mixer as a wedding present. Turns out to have been just the gift since Cory is baking her own wedding cake. I’m glad it got to her at the right time so she was able to use it make the many layers of cake she needs.
Russ is staying home with Carter because she has the ACT tomorrow. So this weekend is going to be like stepping back in time twenty five years, just now we don’t have to carry Cory around on our hip. Sadly, Bob will be missed since he passed away when Cory and Bonnie were very young. I know his spirit will be there. I see him in Cory and Bonnie. He was one of the greats and I miss him still. But I am happy that I get to witness the beginning of this next step in life for Cory and be with Wendie and Bonnie. Oh happy day.

Cucumber Charred Onion Relish

On Monday night Vivian Howard, star chef of The Chef and the Farmer cooked flank steak with this relish on the side. It was yummy delicious. She demonstrated how to make the relish so this recipe is direct from her. My interpretation is only about amounts. I served it to my guests last night and even the most picky of eaters had second helpings. I not only served it with grilled beef, but also salmon and it worked perfectly on the two of them.
1 English cucumber- peeled in stripes so as to leave half the dark green on – then seeded

2 large red onions 

2 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup of sherry vinegar

1 T. Salt

2 T. Sugar

1/2 t. Red pepper flakes

Olive oil
After peeling the cucumber in stripes, and cutting it in half use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Cut each half into thirds the long way and chop the cucumber strips into half inch chunks. Place in a bowl.
Turn the grill on to high. Peel the red onions and cut the whole onion into 1/2 inch rounds. You may get four from each onion. Rub a little olive oil on the cut sides of the onion and place on the grill to char. It will take about four to five minutes per side.
While the onions are cooking mince the garlic on a micro plane over the cucumbers in the bowl. Add the salt, sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes and mix well.  
When the onions are charred on both sides add them to the cucumber bowl, breaking up the rings and toss around. Chill the relish in the refrigerator for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. Add a dash of olive oil right before serving.

The Intern Dinner

Last week Russ looked at me and said he was going to be out to dinner Monday night because it was the first day of orientation for the new company interns. “Well, yes you are going to be out to dinner, but with me at my Food Bank dinner. I told you about six months ago.” Yes, I told Russ, but I forgot to send him a calendar invite so technically, I was not on his calendar.
“To make up for your missing the intern dinner why don’t we have them for dinner?” I volunteered as my snafu make up. That was met with a resounding, Yes!  
Tonight the four rising college senior summer interns, came over with three other employees from the DC office and the wonderful head of talent, head of finance and Russ’ business partner. Carter got a whole evening of seeing what her future holds as a college student. It was fun to get to know these bright young people and listen to what they were interested in.
They were polite, showing up with flowers for me. They were respectful, engaged, curious, and clearly very smart. Everyone had excellent table manners and good social skills. It was nice to see that they could hold their own on the basics. I hope that they have an exciting summer living the life of consultants. Get to do interesting work, feel valued, find their voice and come away from the experience enriched. I also hope that they all love the work and want to be offered a job.
The world of internships is so different than it was when I was in school. I had an internship at the Carlisle Economic Development Center in college, but what I worked on was fairly menial. No one ever taught me anything, valued my point of view or even brought me lunch. I was seen as free labor.
The best part about having a small business is we have team members for dinner. I love getting to know these people and it is great for them to see Russ in non-work mode. Of course he goes right into work mode to do the dishes when everyone is done eating, but that is good for his home-life-balance.
For Russ, any excuse for me to cook party food is good for him. He now has a fridge filled with yummy leftovers. Secretly I know he is happy that the guests did not eat all the tomato pie. Now he is set with the perfect breakfast.

Welcome Summer

The notorious junior year of high school is over at our house. Hooray for survival. It was a hard year, but a good year. I am glad it is over. No more exams, AP’s, projects. Now the fun begins. Well, after the ACT on Saturday, then the fun really starts.
I am ready for sleeping in without fear that someone is late for school. Trips to far off lands and close by journeys. Visits with old friends and favorite family. Baseball nights. Floating in the pool. Lightning storms and nights cooled by thunderstorms. Fresh squash from the garden and at least one round of home grown tomatoes. Days spent playing a game or doing a puzzle without any guilt. Coloring books. Dinners on the terrace. Movies in the middle of the day. Ripe peaches. Time with friends.  
After a little down time, trip to the beach, wisdom teeth removed, trip to Spain, then Carter’s real summer begins. She takes herself off to her first real job as a counselor at Cheerio. Russ and I won’t make the trip to drop her off at the mountain, since she needs her car at camp. It is her happiest place.
I’m not sure exactly all that we will do while she is gone, but I know I will make the most of everyday the summer brings. I use the time to disconnect from obligations. Check out of meetings. Feel no guilt about not helping. It’s my summer vacation. I’m not sure how many years I get to claim summer vacation once I am not living on a school calendar. So I am going to take advantage of the time to be lazy.  
So hello summer. Long, light days. Suit case out. Nothing but fun.  

Vivian Howard Is My Hero

Months ago some members of the Food Bank board thought we needed to have a summer event to help kick off the kids summer feeding program. For so many kids summer is the best time of their year. Those are the kids who live in families that have plenty of food. For the children who get meals at school, summer can be a worst time of year. This year the Food Bank is serving 300,000 meals to kids in our 34 county area. That takes a lot of money, people and passion to do.
Tonight was the event those board members envisioned. It was called the Chef’s Feast. Three great local chef’s Eric Gephart of Kamado Grill where the event was held, Walter Royal of the Angus Barn and Vivian Howard of the Chef and the Farmer and star of the PBS series A Chef’s Life cooked for 250 people. Not only did they cook for us, but they gave cooking demonstrations of the food we were eating.
Vivian and her assistant Holly came up and spent the day at the Food Bank which was incredibly generous. I was lucky enough to have lunch with her with some of our key staff members. Her mother would have been proud of her perfect manners because unlike the rest of us at the table who ate our lunch while each person spoke, Vivian stopped eating and listened intently as each person at the table introduced themselves and told her what they did at the Food Bank. After lunch as we walked through the warehouse she asked if she could sit on one of the fork lifts. That’s when we took this photo of her “driving me” through the warehouse.
After spending all day doing things for the Food Bank, Vivian worked the event along with the other chefs. After the main course was served the auction portion of the evening began. Russ and I had brought our friends Chuck and Karen Lovelace who we had gone to the Chef and the Farmer with us last summer. The main auction items were different cooking/eating experiences with each of the Chefs. Vivian’s donation was a cooking class for 10 at her private test kitchen and lunch at the boiler room. The Lovelaces made bets with us what we thought the item would go for.

By the time the auction got to Vivian’s offering the room was buzzing from the amount already raised from the previous offerings. Our table had wanted to bid on Vivian’s item, but we bet that it would go for $10,000 which was too rich for us. We were almost right, but still half wrong.
As the two final bidders were at the $9,500-$9,750 bids Vivian stepped in and offered to give her item twice, once for each of them if they split the difference and both paid $9,600. WHAT? Not only had she spent her day at the Food Bank, done the dinner demonstration, and made a great auction donation, she did it twice.  
Wait, I forgot to mention the best thing I ate tonight was her squash casserole. She told us that at the last minute the planners wanted something else’s on the dinner plate and she offered to make 250 squash casseroles at The Chef and The Farmer and bring them to the dinner. This is not simple casserole. It was a four day cooking process and tasted every bit of it.
I can’t say enough good about Vivian. If you have not been to either of her Kinston restaurants, run, don’t walk. Her book is coming out in October and will certainly be worth whatever it costs, especially if it has the squash casserole recipe. Thank you to Vivian for your generosity. Many kids will have food this summer thanks to you, Chef Gephart and Chef Royal.  

The Kamado Grill gets an extra big thank you too!  They provided their fabulous space and servers for the event.  They are a cool restaurant in Raleigh that cooks everything on these special grills.  They were very cool about showing me, Chuck and Karen the whole kitchen when we asked.   Are going to have to go back and eat there to pay them back for their generosity too.

In the end lots of money was raised, lots of good food was eaten and many people supported the Food Bank.  Not bad for a Monday night.

Trying To Do The Right Thing

In my continuing effort to clean things out in the house we have lived in for twenty-two years I came upon a few prescription pain killers that we had not taken during various bone breaks, back aches and post surgery spells. A friend had recently told me of her sadness for having to let go a house keeper go because she discovered she had been steeling pain killers from their medicine cabinet.
I don’t think we had any oxy, but there were plenty of codons of various types. I knew that I should not throw the pills in the trash because it is bad if the drugs get into the water supply. So I took the prescriptions in their original bottles back to the pharmacy they came from.
Much to my surprise the pharmacist told me that it is against the rules for them to take old drugs back. I asked her what I should do with them and she told me that the police have drug take in events once in a while. That answer was not satisfactory to me and I asked her if that was my only option. That was when she told me I could put the pills in coffee grounds or kitty litter with some water in a sealed bag and throw them away.
Since we use coffee capsules and don’t have a cat I was a little frustrated with my options. I stopped in to Starbucks and asked them for some old grounds and they gladly gave them to me. I did as I was told, but still felt that it was not the best solution.
Considering the country wide epidemic of painkiller addiction I think we need a better way to dispose of old pills. The idea of keeping them around waiting for a police take back event seems dangerous and irresponsible. Perhaps the laws should be changed that prevent pharmacists from being allowed to take them in. Seems like those who are trained to dispense them are the best qualified to handle doing away with them.

Saturday Morning Ritual



As we usually do on Saturday mornings, Russ and I jumped in the Smart car early and headed downtown to the farmer’s market. Normally, since we are there at the opening, the place is not crowded, and we see the same familiar faces.


Today, as we pulled up I knew something was different. There were hordes of people everywhere holding big fist sized biscuits to their mouths with melted cheese oozing out.   Apparently we arrived just as the Bull City Run of some kind had finished and the uber healthy, skinny runners were rightfully treating themselves for their morning effort. Of course one 8K run hardly burns off enough calories to warrant a Pie Pusher’s breakfast pizza or an American Meltdown breakfast sandwich, but it is all psychological.


Most of the vegetable shoppers were the regulars since the runners were busy recarb-loading. We made the loop of the stands getting eggs, cabbage, squash and the last of the local strawberries. Russ carried the baskets and bags back to the tiny Smart and filled the truck with our bounty. Of course filling the trunk of a smart doesn’t take much.


We toddled out of the parking lot on our way to the next ritual Saturday morning stop, LOAF. Russ is addicted to the Polenta bread, but does not buy it from the stand at the farmers market, instead insisting on going to the store so they can slice it on their ancient bread slicer. Since I am carb-avoiding I stayed in the car so as not to be tempted by any one of the amazing smells inside the bakery.


Russ was inside for an extra long time. I thought he might be eating a blueberry cheese Danish inside the store so as not to make me crazy. When he came out I asked him what took so long.


“I was giving a Durham visitor some directions about where she could eat,” he told me.


“She was looking for eggs. At first I thought she wanted a store and I told her about Bulldega, around the corner, but when she said she did not want the Marriott fare I understood she needed a restaurant. I told her about Scratch, around the corner and the farmer’s Market around the other corner.” Russ paused and then told me what the woman’s response was.


“Everything in Durham is just around the corner.”


How true! And that is what we love about Durham. Whatever you are looking for, it’s just around the corner.



Vinegar Pusher

I am a balsamic vinegar snob. That sounds like an oxymoron. The fact that I am addicted to balsamic is snobby enough, but there is a great variation in balsamic’s or so called balsamic vinegars. The one I like the most, that I practically main line, is Argento silver.  
True balsamic must be made in Moderna, Italy. Russ and I once drove through Moderna, just sniffing, looking for a little old lady who had a barrel in her attic. We did not find any home brew, but I did discover a brand that I could get imported into the states.  
Now I order it by the case. This last order I bought three cases since I could get the shipping, a very pricey part of the deal, free.  
I have written about this vinegar in the past and talked about it with friends, so I thought that if anyone local to Durham wanted to get a bottle I would be happy to sell it to you. It costs $15 which is about six dollars cheaper than you can get it at a store, if you can find it. There are other balsamics sold in similar bottles, but the product inside is not the same. My friend, Michelle told me that the one at Fresh Market is a poor knock off of the one I have.
Since it is strawberry season for just a few short days it would be a shame not to try this vinegar with some fresh sliced berries and black pepper. I know it sounds strange, but trust me, it is sublime.
I’m not going into the vinegar pushing business. Three cases of vinegar will be consumed in this house easily, but I would like to share my passion with my local friends. Sorry, far off fans.
This vinegar is all I use as a dressing on arugula salad. It is not calorie free, but the few that it has are worth it and no oil is needed. Contact me if you want a bottle or two. Buon appetitio!

“I’d Like To Thank The Academy”



“Where are you?” the text message from my friend Kelly read.


I was sitting in my car in a parking lot waiting for Carter to come meet me for lunch. I knew Kelly was at school in the award’s ceremony because she had been notified that at least one of her children were going to be receiving an award.


“Why?’ I texted back.


“Carter just got a Spanish award.”


My heart sank. What? I was not notified. I missed it!


Carter went off to school with some dread today. Her AP Calculus teacher had sprung on her class that they might be having a final exam, even though two weeks ago they were told they would not have a final. They had a few days to do four very difficult problems and that would determine if they were having an exam or not and today was the day they would find out if they would have the exam tomorrow. It added a crazy amount of stress to an already stressed student.


“It is also awards day, and I hate this day because so few people get awards,” Carter told me. I felt her pain. I told her it is the teacher’s prerogative to give a final and there was nothing she could do about it, but work as hard as possible on those problems. I also told her that she should be proud of what a good year she has had and not to care about awards. Hard work is rewarding enough.


Turns out the e-mail telling me that Carter was getting an award went in my junk e-mail box! Why? I do not know, apparently the title “Surprise – Awards” is highly suspicious. I am incredibly sad I missed it.


Carter was unsure if I was in the balcony with the other parents who were hidden out of site, but she said she did not hear my laugh. “You are such a good liar Mom, I thought you might be there and just hid the fact that I was getting an award so well from me.” No.


Technology screwed me out of witnessing this happy moment. I guess I need to go through the 12,258 e-mails in my junk box. The only problem is they are only on my computer and not my phone or I-pad where I read most everything.


The good news is that Carter does not have a Calculus exam and she got this award. She is one happy camper.

Grilled Lemon

Today for lunch at Mah Jongg I braved ordering the special salad of the week. Usually I have to greatly modify the offering to make it something I would want to eat, but today the special was a grilled salmon salad nicoise, so I just went with it.  
Of course I did modify it somewhat asking for a grilled lemon in place of the truffle oil dressing. I can hardly stand much oil in a dressing these days. Oil is something that has been easy to give up, along with mayonnaise. I wish sugar was as easy. If I taste something with oil I don’t immediately start to crave it, instead I am repulsed by it, but if I eat something sugary it kicks my sweet carving into high gear. I digress.  
Today I want to praise the yummy deliciousness of a grilled lemon. I don’t know what it is about the slight caramelization of that tart fruit, but it makes a fabulous dressing all on its own. It is bright, but not sour.  
Salad really just needs some moisture, that is all that dressing is. Yes, it adds flavor, or over powers the tastes of the food in the salad. A grilled lemon squeezed all over the salad just improves the beautiful taste of the food on the plate.
Speaking of squeezing, I have to give a shout out to my army of lemon squeezers. I have a skin allergy to the juice in citrus fruit. I can eat it all day long, but I just can’t touch it and certainly can’t squeeze my own lemon. My friend Christy squeezed by lemon today. It is one thing to do a wedge for iced tea, but squeezing the juice from a whole grilled lemon was a big messy job. Thanks Christy.
I think I need to keep wet naps in my purse to give to my squeezers so at least they don’t have to be sticky on my account. I really appreciate the help because the number of calories I save skipping the dressing and going with lemon is significant.  
To make a grilled lemon just cut the fruit in half and place cut side down on a hot grill, grill pan, or a frying pan will even work. Let it sit there unmoved for at least two minutes or until the cut side gets some black marks. That’s it. You can grill them in advance and keep them in the fridge, but lemons are juiciest right off the heat. Trust me you will never miss the oil if you replace your dressing with grilled lemon.