Donald Trump’s Potential Defense

The following blog is satire. For those of you who love Donald Trump please don’t read it, or if you do please don’t send me any comments about it because they might reveal that you 1. Don’t know what satire is, or 2. Might not have any sense of humor at all. If you don’t like that I might comment on political figures stop reading now. I don’t write this blog for you, I write it for myself.

Donald Trump’s Potential Defense
Donald Trump went on a twitter rage starting at 3:20 this morning and kept at it for two early morning hours. Questions have arisen about what he was doing up at 3:20. Since I have a husband who is often up at those crazy hours I don’t find that so strange. But the fact that Trump himself keeps tweeting about this Miss Universe story is crazy, since he is the one keeping it alive.
His team needs to come up with some answer for these rants in the middle of the night and I think that they should blame Ambien. The insomnia drug has been blamed for people doing all kind of crazy things in their sleep, like eat entire sheet cakes or drive the wrong way down the highway.  
If Trump could come out and say that something other than his own brain is to blame for the telling the American people to check out a sex tape he might win back some of the voters he lost in the debate.  
Perhaps he also could blame his own weight gain on Ambien. I notice that not one news outlet has mentioned that it is a little like the kettle calling the pot black for him to call women fat pigs. I am certainly not one to ever say someone is over weight since most of my life I have been one of those women Trump would say mean things about, but come on Trump, have you looked in the mirror lately? Perhaps you are too distracted by the orange color to notice your stomach.
Maybe Trump’s wife could put some parental controls on his Twitter account. But then what fun would we have when we woke up in the morning without the crazy rantings of a self absorbed guy? I guess we are lucky that he doesn’t drive himself round because he certainly has the potential to drive the wrong direction on the highway.

When Shape Matters

No, this is not a blog about Donald Trump and his sexist and sizest comments about beauty queens. Instead it is about my love of “riced” cauliflower. If you have never heard of “riced” anything you have probably never been to a weight watchers meeting or read a diet blog.  
Ricing is the act of cutting something, usually an innocent vegetable, into the size and shape of grains of rice. Here is the miracle of ricing cauliflower, it makes it taste like rice? Whaaat??? How can that be?  
Riced cauliflower is not processed in any other way than the shape. The ingredients in riced cauliflower are one, cauliflower. So making it taste like rice is no magic of adding hydrogenated poly something, or saturated anything. It is just a trick to your brain because it is white and looks like rice. Aha! Then it must taste like rice. And it does, more than it tastes like cauliflower.
No way, you say. Cauliflower has a fairly distinctive taste. But cutting it up into tiny little pieces somehow changes the taste. Other good news is it does not change the calories. Or in the case of weight watchers, the points. Cauliflower has 0 points and one cup of rice has six. And two cups of cauliflower has 0 points and two cups of rice as 12 points. And… you get the picture.
So I’m now running for Miss Riced Cauliflower Queen. Maybe I have to be Mrs. But I am certainly promoting riced cauliflower. Trader Joe’s has it in the freezer section and the fresh veggie coolers too.  
It couldn’t be easier to make. Pour it into a non-stick pan sprayed with vegetable oil spray and sauté it for a few minutes. You can add any spice you like because it is like a blank canvas, just like rice. I made a yummy shrimp and tomatoes dish that traditionally would be served over rice and the cauliflower was an even better bed. How do it do it? One will never know.  

Back To My Roots

In my twenties, when someone would ask me what I did for a living, my response would almost always be, “I drive and I talk.” This was the easiest explanation for my job as a mail opening and extracting machine sales engineer. Of course if the person asking was an attractive guy I might have answered that I was in “male opening and extracting.” That homophone always led to an interesting conversation.
Talking was my the skill that brought me my fortune. The acknowledgment of its power was even apparent to young children. When Carter was four or five and needed a parent to intercede on her behalf at school Russ volunteered. She rebuffed his offer with, “Daddy, I think Mommy is the better discusser.”
Somehow I got out of the talking business and got into the writing business. It was all quite by accident. But I do not write in a vacuum. My favorite part of my job is getting to interview people I feature in my column at Durham Magazine. The talking part of my job is where the real fun happens.
Last month my long time beloved editor, Andrea Griffith Cash left Durham Magazine to go work at the non-profit Chris Rosati started, Inspire Media. Andrea had been the host of the Magazine’s Podcast. Suddenly there was an opening in the talking position. As a professional discusser I am happy to announce that I am going to be taking the seat as the host of Durham Magazine’s Podcast.  
My big boss, Dan Shannon, asked me to come up with a name for the Podcast. “I want you to have your name in the title,” he told me. My immediate response was, “Dana does Durham.”  
“I can never unhear that,” Dan said, as I could practically her him hanging his head in unease over the phone. People much younger than me won’t necessarily understand why he felt that way.
So, I am still searching for a name and am open to suggestions. I am also interested in hearing what kind of guests or topics you might want to listen to. That is if you listen to podcasts.
The first three episodes are all tee’d up and ready to be recorded. The jury will be out on how well I do as a podcast host. If I have lost my talking skills I always have writing to fall back on. I still have my column at the Magazine and a few blog readers I have not offended.

Trump Is No Republican

OK, I watched every word of the debate.  There is so much to say and so many others have already started, but I am quite surprised by what has not been said. Trump began the debate talking about “keeping businesses in America.” It is a nice idea, but really that is not what government does.  
Government does not control business in America, we are a free market. Business decides for itself. Yes, trade deals and tariffs made by government affect business, but in the end each individual business makes an economic decision where to produce and sell goods. Trump himself made his shirts and ties in a China and Vietnam. It was a business decision. The workers there we cheeper than Americans.  Many businesses chose to make things here because it is good for their business to be made in America.
So how in the world does Donald Trump think he can “make” businesses make things in America? That is not what Presidents do. How is it that no one seems to bring that fact up? If he were a Democrat the Republicans would be quick to point that out. Perhaps the Democrats aren’t calling him out on it because they like the idea of government being able to tell business what they can and can not do.  
Trump is the opposite of a Republican. His “I promise I can do that,” whatever “that” is, sounds like bigger government. His call to replace the entire infrastructure of every bridge, highway, airport and hospital would make government “Huuuge.”
Here is the problem with Trump… I am not going to say the misogyny, bigotry, racism or ego. It’s that he is a builder businessman who has never had a boss. He wants to build things. He want to be in control and do exactly what he wants, like he always has. He is not used to compromising. Don’t let the title of his ghost written book, The Art of the Deal fool you. If he didn’t like a deal he walked away from it or refused to pay for it. That is not what the leader of America gets to do. You have to have finesse. Not a word I would use to describe the bull dozing Trump.
Plenty of people are sick of the way government has gone, but Trump is not the answer. It is the lack of politicians ability to compromise with each other that has gotten us in this state. Electing a President who is a bully is not going to fix the mess that the do nothing congress has gotten us into.  
Republicans tried to change the government with the Tea Party, but aren’t those the same guys who let the government shut down for two weeks with no real plan because they couldn’t or wouldn’t pass a budget? Change for change’s sake is not the answer. Have we learned nothing about electing radical newbies? They just don’t have the experience to know how to reach across the aisle and come up with solutions that work. Electing a man who has no understanding that being President means being a servant leader is too big a risk.  

The Moments Before Debate

It is just half an hour until the first Presidential debate between Hilary and Donald. I feel like this is the time of innocence. Come two hours from now something will be different in America, but what I don’t know.
The new casters are guessing the viewing audience will be bigger than the super bowl. But will it make much difference? This election is so polarizing. Trump supporters will certainly say he has won and Hilary’s will do the same. I am just so interested in who those undecided voters are and what they are looking for.
I watched an ad that was run during the Johnson/Goldwater campaign of a white man sitting In a chair talking. He started off saying he was a Republican, had been his whole life, as were his father and grandfather. He said he always voted republican, but can’t do it this time. He could not support a candidate who was supported by the Ku Klux Klan. He went on to say the party made a huge mistake during its convention when they chose Goldwater. He announced he would vote for Johnson.
You could run this exact ad and replace the names Goldwater with Trump and Johnson with Clinton and the dialogue would be true today. Don’t tell me history does not repeat itself.
I am ready to watch the history that will be made tonight. Please don’t let it me a train wreck.

Goodbye Charles Osgood

Twenty years ago when Charles Kuralt retired from CBS Sunday Morning I bawled like I was a baby. Watching CBS Sunday morning had long been my tradition. I did not care for CBS news on any other day, but somehow the long format of in depth story telling they did on Sunday morning was addictive.  CBS Sunday Morning is the reason I never could become an early church goer.  It kills me in the summer when our church goes to one ten AM service.  Thank goodness for DVR, but I still hate inturpting the viewing.
Russ quickly joined in my addiction and we would watch the show in bed every Sunday morning. Russ comforted me when Charles Kuralt left and said it all would be fine. Which it was. It took me a little while to warm up to Charles Osgood. It helped that his name was Charles.
The change in anchors did not alter my devotion to the show. I eventually came to love the new Charles as much as the old. Then today he broke my heart, just as the first did and decided at 83 it was time to retire from TV. Twenty years after I shed those tears for the Kuralt departure I found myself doing the same for Mr. Osgood.
Although he is still alive and will be broadcasting on the radio, that is not where I was used to having him. After a show all about Charles they announced that Jane Pauley would be taking over the seat. I have seen her fill in during the summer and I know she will do a good job. But I wonder if I will feel the same way about her as I have about the Charles’. Since people tend to keep this job for decades I think I have some time to grow fond of her. I wonder if I will cry when she retires too?

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

I know a lot of people say summer is a non-eating time for them because it is too hot. Summer is the opposite for me. Too hot is not a deterrent to eating. Vacations and ice cream do my summer diet in.  
Fall is a better healthy eating time. Getting into a regular regime helps, but the real bonus is I think of fall as the start of the soup half of the year. There is no better way to feel full than eating a nice bowl of hot soup. Sorry gazpacho, as much as I love you, you don’t curb my appetite.
Today I looked around the kitchen to find what foods needed to be used up and I found a small butternut squash and a half a can of lite coconut milk. Perfect for soup.
Now small is not my normal regiment when it comes to cooking anything so of course I added some other ingredients to make a pot of soup.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into small chunks

3 shallots- peeled and chopped (you can use a yellow onion in place of shallots)

2 carrots- peeled and chopped

2 cups of chicken broth

2 T. Ground coriander 

2 T. fresh ginger- grated on the microplane

5 T. Light coconut milk

Zest and juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper
Put the vegetables and the chicken stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about fifteen minutes, until the vegetables are just soft.
Add the other ingredients and purée the mixture with a hand blender or in a blender.
Taste for salt and pepper.
This probably makes about four servings. Carter was shocked that I made such a small pot of homemade soup. She looked at it and said, “This is the right amount.” This coming from a person who does not like leftovers.

Physical Therapy First

A little over a month ago I woke up with a terrible back pain. It was one of those, “what did I do to myself in my sleep?” situations. Unfortunately it did not go away with my next night’s sleep,or the next or, you get the picture. I went to see my massage therapist who is more like a miracle worker. She spent the entire hour on my back and shoulder, but one hour was not enough. I went back the next week. Still no real relief. She suggested I go to see a physical therapist.
On her recommendation I went to see the people at NC center for physical therapy. The nice part about it is they are not so busy that they couldn’t see me right away and my insurance covered it without a doctor’s visit first.  
I told a friend about my back and she jumped right to, “You should go to the doctor first, you could have cancer.” I was fairly certain this was a muscle issue so I chose to ignore her.  
Two visits to PT and doing about ten minutes of exercises three times a day and my back is practically better. It is not perfect yet, so I am going to keep up the PT regime for a bit, but I am thrilled to not have the terrible pain I have endured for a month.
Sometimes you just don’t need to go to the doctor and look for something bigger. As my friend Stephanie always says, “When you hear hooves on the bridge don’t think zebras.”  
While I was at PT I mentioned that my right knee also hurt so we have been solving that problem at the same time. It was not such a bad pain, like my back, but one I had been enduring just because I thought I was getting old. Turns out that I needed to strengthen my inner and outer thighs. Huh, who would have thought that my biggest part was my weakest.
My new motto is, “don’t suffer pain.” If it hurts try a physical therapist. It is cheaper and easier than anything else you can do for yourself.

Walking Is The Answer

We have become a society much to dependent on driving. Tonight I have a meeting that is exactly one mile from my house. The person holding the meeting has limited parking and it turns out her neighbor is also having 40 guests at the same time. My friend having the meeting asked everyone to carpool. Since most of us live in the neighborhood the real request needs to be, “if you can, walk.”
If we lived in a city no one would think twice about doing anything but walk. Imagine how crazy you would seem if you hailed a cab or called an uber to go one mile. In New York City one mile is 20 North-South blocks, and those are the short blocks. Twenty blocks is nothing.
The gas crisis we have had here is affecting people getting out. Tuesday and today I went to lunch at very popular lunch spots, they both were practically empty. It was weird since you usually have to fight for a table. Both of these places are on the boulevard, close to many places of work and homes. Many people could have walked there if they wanted, but they didn’t.
When we have giant snow and ice storms plenty of people who can’t get their cars out walk to the grocery store from my neighborhood and that is in the cold and wet. Why not do it when the weather is nice? Granted carrying home a lot of bags is not that easy, but how many times do you run to the store for one or two things.
We can’t all be so busy that we can’t spend fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile. How much time do people spend getting ready to go to the gym, driving there, working out and driving home. If we just walked a little more to the places that are a little further you would not need to go to the gym as often, or you could eat and ice cream cone every so often.
My friend Jane says she walks so she can keep walking. Having lived with elderly parents who did not do any exercise she sees how quickly you can lose mobility from lack of use. I know that my parents living on a farm are in much better shape than they would be if they lived in a suburban setting.
So leave the car at home. Do yourself a favor and walk.

The Place Manners Still Matter

This is a cautionary tale that you need to share with your loved ones, but maybe not with your enemies.
Yesterday Russ was trying to get home from San Francisco. He took the red eye from the Bay Area to JFK, arriving at five in the morning. It seems like a good idea to get one long flight in on the first leg in the hope you might sleep, but not going to JFK. He was supposed to board a plane at eight in the morning for the quick ride back to North Carolina, but sadly that plane was having trouble. Russ texted me it was a three hour delay.
They eventually got him a new plane and once they put all the passengers on it they discovered that plane needed a new air tank. That was another hour. Finally they put all the passengers back on the plane and shut the door. Russ texted me that he was in his seat and would be going.  
Not so fast. A mother and her adult daughter started having a fight with another passenger to the point that the flight attendant told them she was going to call the authorizes if they did not settle down. They did not.
Russ texted, “We have to pull the plane back in the gate so the police can come on and arrest the mother.” The police did take the woman off the plane and her daughter followed even though she was not charged. More delays while they searched the hold for their luggage. 
The other passengers were getting restless. Now, a young man came up to the front to complain loudly to the stewardess about the many delays. She said to him, “Don’t make me call the police on you too. It is a $75,000 fine if they have to come on the plane and you are banned from ever flying on this airline again.”
Now that is a threat! I think all passengers should know how horrible the consequences are for bad behavior. It’s not just that someone might film you and put your acting badly on YouTube. No, it’s big bucks and permanent expulsion from all flights on that airline.
So no complaining once you get on the plane. And be nice to the flight attendants. Your being able to stay on that plane is completely up to them. Bad manners don’t just get you in trouble with your grandmother, they may cost you more money than you have.

Our Gas Crisis

For those of you who live in North Carolina you know all about the break in the Colonial Pipeline that practically cut off the delivery of gasoline to stations in seven states. If you don’t live in one of these mostly southern states count your lucky stars that you probably have a steady supply of petrol.
Last week, when the news reported that the pipe in Alabama had an epic failure and spilled millions of gallons of gas into a state which can hardly afford such a huge environmental disaster I knew things were going to get bad. I had less than half a tank of gas so I went immediately to fill up. It was the right instinct because now, six days later gas is practically impossible to find.
Since Russ also watches the news he filled his gas sipping Smart car up and between us were were set to drive a week or more without curbing our normal activities. What did I do wrong? I forgot to tell my “I get all my news from buss feed” teenager to fill her car.
Yesterday, it finally dawned on me to alert her to what the rest of the south knew. Of course she was already on the bottom side of a quarter of a tank so she stopped at a gas station late last night on her way home from basketball practice. 
Carter has one of the soon to be pulled off the road VW diesel cars. The station she stopped at had already run out of gasoline but the woman at the counter said they still had diesel. Only problem was Carter did not have her debit card. Home to get it and back to the station only to find she could only pump .2, that point two, gallons of diesel. The panic set in.
I told her that she could take one of the family fleet cars to school and I would get her car filled today, if possible. This is the type of thing your teenager loves you for.  
The thought of finding diesel this morning was not something I was looking forward to since I don’t even know stations that even sell diesel. So I turned to my smart phone and downloaded the “Gas Buddy” app. I was able to filter for stations that had diesel and reported having actual fuel, as well as see what time they reported that. Voila!
I drove directly to a station that was a mile from our house and although they had bags on all the gas pumps the green diesel ones were available. I pulled in, swiped my card, filled Carter’s car and was out in five minutes. The best part is I did not have to wait in any lines since they were out of gas. For once that naughty VW paid off.
Once at home my friend Lynn called from her car that was nearing empty. I pulled up my Gas Buddy and found her a station on her way home that reported having gas. She was car 20 in line when we hung up and I bet the tanks still had enough fuel for her because she did not call me back for a second station.
Our less than popular governor came on the news this morning to say that the pipeline may be fixed by tomorrow and it will take a few days for the flow of gas to get up to North Carolina. I think he wants credit for that happening so when the citizens of our state go to the polls in two months they think about this and not HB2, but sorry I am not giving him credit for the pipe in Alabama getting fixed.
I hope that you southern readers have enough gas to do what you need to do or can use this as a major excuse to stay home. I highly recommend Gas Buddy if you need to find gas. It is out there, it just is taking more work to transport it to the stations from further away. This is not a gas crisis, but a gas delivery crisis.  

Carter’s Dinner Request- Sour Beef Soup

Sometimes I forget that I even write a daily blog. Russ is boarding a plane in San Francisco at 11:30 and texted me, “blog today?” What would I do without him to be my memory. Sorry these last few blogs have been so lame.
The good news is I made a yummy dinner at Carter’s request. Really the good news is that Carter made a request that was specific and doable. I am happy to cook anything healthy, but sometimes I get sick of thinking up what that might be. To top it off, I hate being a mind reader to figure out if my family is going to like or feel like what I come up with. So hooray Carter sent me a text request early enough in the day that I was able to act on it.
She wanted a beef soup with noodles. I made a sweet and sour one that I just made some noodles on the side and added to at serving time. This way I could have no noodles and they did not turn to mush in the soup.
2 lb. of pot roast cut into small chunks

2 sweet onions diced 

4 cloves of garlic

2 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and the juice

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 T. Oregano

3 cups of beef broth

4 carrots diced

2 celery stalks diced

15 mushrooms sliced
Spray a big stock pot with Pam and put on high heat. Liberally salt and pepper the beef and place one layer in the hot pot, you will not be able to fit all the meat in at once. Brown on one side and turn the meat over and brown the other side. Set that meat aside while you do the rest.
Add the all the meat to the pot and add the onions and garlic and cook on medium high for five minutes. Add the to toes, oregano, beef broth and vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, covered for 3 hours. Remove the lid and keep cooking and add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms.
If there is not enough liquid in the pot add some water to make it as soupy as you want. Cook for another 30 mins.
In a separate pot boil some egg noodles. Place a spoonful of noodles in the bowl and laddle over the soup. 
Freezes well.

Rain, Though Be It Short Lived, At Last

The lush sound of rain pounding on the roof is something I have missed in the last few months. Tonight, finally, after this long stretch of drought I am rewarded with a sudden and harsh down pour. I know that it will be short lived tonight. The hard rain on the barren soil will hardly have a chance to soak it, but instead will roll off and run away to lower ground.
Perhaps this quick rain will prime the land for more rain to come tomorrow. We so desperately need the water. My yard looks like the brown prickly hair of a hedgehog. I refuse to pay to water it since I could easily spend a thousand dollars in a month and still not have green grass. Instead I chose not to waste the precious water on something so fleeting as grass. Nonetheless I am thankful for the rain.
Sadly the forecast for the week does not show many days full of rain, just Monday and perhaps a little Thursday. Whatever good this rain does will be wiped away in a day or two. For now I just want to enjoy the sweet sound the water falling from the sky makes. It is so easy to take it for granted.

Dog Self Diagnosis Diagram

Shay has not been well for about a week. It does not seem like anything serious. It started with some gas (sorry for the graphic nature), then lose stools, then she would be better. Last night she threw up, then she was better. We threw out her food in case that was what was making her sick. She ate, she would have some GI problems, but she never complained. She did not have a temp, she still walked and she still played. As she lay on the bed I could her her tummy gurgle in an unusual way.
Tonight she went to her basket of toys in the sun room and violently threw each one out of the basket and across the room until she found the yellow dinosaur she was looking for. I took this as a sign that she was feeling better. I know that might be reading a lot into my dog’s actions, but it is all I have to go on.
Not being able to tell me,”Mommy, I have a tummy ache,” is hard on us both. I wish that I could invent some dog picturegrams that described how she is feeling that she could go and stand on to clearly communicate how she is really feeling.  
Gas, might not be a big deal, of course as long as you are not on the smelling end of it. Runny poop is bad, but as long as it is not the symptom of something worse and she can make it outside to do her business then it is fine. But is she feeling at least OK? Her eyes are clear. Her breath is good. Her nose is cold. Her breathing is fine, no limping, no whining no refusing to eat or go out, but I want her to tell me, “I’m good.”
I guess this is what I am going to have to worry about in the future when Carter leaves home. I am going to be one of those crazy pet parents. Oh, I probably already am.

Mr. Soft Hands

The highlight of my magazine career was my exclusive interview with Colin Firth the summer he was filming the flop of a movie, Main Street in Durham. When I got home from my start struck time with him I told Russ that the thing that surprised me the most about him were his very soft hands. The fact that he was incredibly kind and generous with his time did not surprise me at all, he was Mr. Darcy after all.
My editor at the time, Matt, went on to title my article, “Dana Lange’s Diary”. You can google it because the official Colin Firth Fan club has permanently immortalized it on the internet. All this being said, when the new Bridget Jones Baby opened today it was practically a family obligation that we go and see it. Well, for me and Carter, since Russ still holds a little grudge against Mr. soft hands.
I don’t want to give a thing away about the movie, but I will say that Carter burst into tears more than once. The best part of the movie, which stars Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth in their original roles, but also Patrick Dempsey as a competing love interest, was a line in the movie about how soft Patrick Dempsey’s hands were. Carter and I felt like it was an inside joke for us that was actually just a coincidence.
I have to say that Colin Firth still has it. No slight to Russ. I am really looking forward to the next Bridget Jones installment, Bridget Jones Chooses a Nursing Home. I’m a sucker for a Colin Firth movie and am perfectly happy to watch him sitting in a wheel chair drooling.

My Favorite Night At School

Tonight was Parents’ Night (notice the apostrophe for all who were there) at Carter’s school. It is my favorite night of the year because it is when we get to go an meet the teachers and hear what Carter will be studying this year. Every year this is the night that makes me want to go back to school, but not any school, to Durham Academy.
This is my fourteenth and final Parents’ Night, but by far the best one because as a senior Carter has the most flexibility in what she gets to take and who is teaching her. Going to sit in her classrooms with teachers who are smart and passionate makes me interested in classes I wouldn’t even have considered taking myself. But I practically drool over the classes I would have chosen and am incredibly jealous that my child gets to do this everyday.  
Of course I am only envious of the learning and the intellectual banter. I wouldn’t even mind homework if I liked the subject, but I could do it all without the tests, or paper writing or grades.
I know that there is a lot of pressure on the kids to do well and get into college and do well, and get a job and do well. For now I hope they can appreciate the pleasure of learning. It is such a huge gift that is not available to many, especially at the level they are working at.
Parents’ Night always reminds me that we made a great decision when Carter was four years old to send her to this school. I know she is ready to move on to her next place, but When she does I hope she will look back at DA as the special place it truly is.

Super Power

At some point today I heard something about super powers and that got me day dreaming. I’m not talking about real super powers, like being able to lift twice your weight, or having the kind of memory that lets you recall every day of your life, but the cartoon kind of super powers, like flying without a plane, or web throwing.
Since I am not a comic book reader normally I don’t usually wonder or wish for an ability that is beyond my natural capabilities. But dreaming doesn’t hurt. My first inclination for a super power would be “consistent weight girl.” I could always be 140 pounds no matter what I ate or drank. I figured that consistent was better than being able to eat anything and not gain weight, because I could die from not eating enough then.
Then I thought deeper. Consistent weight does not get me any further ahead in life. It is a power that is only good for me, not one I could leverage. I could turn it into a job to maybe be a quality control taster for a bakery, but that would probably get very dull.
Being a crime fighter does not interest me, so being able to deflect bullets or run so fast that I could catch bad guys is not my thing. I thought about being super brilliant, but then when I consider the smartest people I know, they are not usually that fun. I certainly don’t want to have any power that makes me less fun.
I don’t want to be able to read people’s minds because I really don’t care what other people are thinking. Sorry. So what do I want?
As a natural salesman at first I thought I wanted the ability to convince people of anything. Wait, no. That could lead to all kinds of things going wrong. I could totally control all elections and I don’t need that kind of responsibility. Since the power was just to convince people, I very well might be sending people in the wrong direction, because I am not any smarter.  
Then it hit me, the super power I really wish I had, that of always having good judgement. I would love to never worry if I have done the right thing at the right time, because my super power would confirm that I was on the best path. I could advise politicians and corporations of what the best road to take was. That does not mean I would come up with the plan, but given two or three options I could tell them which one was best.
Being Good Judgement Girl is never going to get me my own Saturday morning cartoon. Do they still have those anyway? Good judgement is not sexy, nor thrilling, but it sure is solid. That’s what I want, to be solid. If I had good judgement I might also always be 140 pounds because I would make wise food choices. Hey, I think I’m on to something. This super power might be more multifaceted than I thought. Wonder how I get this superpower?

The Case For Weighing In

I know I am in trouble with my weight when I don’t get up every morning and weigh myself. Somehow, not standing on the scale does not negate the damage I might have done the day before. Vacation weight happens not because I don’t have a scale when I am traveling, but because I give myself permission to eat vacation food. The problem is that as soon as vacations end I should, no must, come home and get right back on that scale to access the damage.
I came to Jesus a few weeks ago and knew that I needed the discipline of standing on a scale in front of someone else. So I went back to my tried and true friend Weight Watchers. As a business that is in the business of helping people lose weight, they have changed the program since the last time I got my Ph’d in weight loss. The counting points is much easier since fruit and most vegetables are zero points. The big thing they did not change is the weighing in. 
I know plenty of people who say they don’t want to go and stand on the scale in front of another person. They say, “I’ll just do the online program myself.” To those people I say, “It is much harder to stay on track if you’re only answer to your self.” If you are someone who needs to lose weight you already have proven you are not successful at only answering to yourself.
Tonight was my weigh in and what I love most about having to go is that I know I am going to do everything possible to make sure that the scale goes down. Short of cutting off a limb, I am going to eat the right things, drink my water and do my exercise come hell or high water. Then knowing how hard I had to work to get that weight off I have to start all over again the next day so that the weigh in the next week can be successful.
There is no magic. Just hard work. I am good at hard work. I just want to remember how hard it is so that when I get back to my goal weight I don’t take anymore vacations from the scales. I know how good the coconut cake may taste, but I need to remember how many weeks it takes to remove the damage it does.  

And The Birthdays Keep Coming

Today is my good friend Lynn’s birthday. When I mentioned to another friend that is seems like there are way more birthdays during these first two weeks in September than normal she reminded me that it meant they were “Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years” babies. Since my two sisters have September birthdays it was a fact I did not want to think to hard about.
Today while we were having a celebratory lunch for Lynn we discovered that not her friend at the table of six also has a birthday on Friday. Thirty-three percent of us were “holiday” babies. It got me wondering why the most popular birthday in America is and it turns out it is September 16. That makes the conception most likely Christmas Eve. I guess I know what some people got for Christmas.
I have a friend who is from a big family of five kids and every one of them has a September birthday exactly two years apart. Now that is precision. I wonder what her Dad got for Christmas on the off years?
I know that most people don’t think about the circumstances of their coming about. When I taught sex education in college I opened each mandatory one hour sex-Ed class with the same question, “What was the first thing you trout when you learns what sex was?” Almost universally the response was the same. “My parents don’t do that.” Apparently they did, and all on the holidays.
So happy birthday to all my Virgo friends. Especially Lynn since today is her special day, but it is also Dan Davis’ and Cathy Pischke Zerblein’s, and thousands of others too. So September 12 is not that special, but you all are! Just don’t think about how you got this birthday.

The 9/11 Argument For Love

Fifteen years ago life changed in America thanks to the hate a handful of men had for something. Exactly what they hated we many never know since they chose to take their own lives at the same time they stole the lives of almost 3,000 innocent people. It was the blackest day in my lifetime for our country.
We have gone on to fight many enemies, seems and unseen, since that time. We have probably created more people that hate us than hated us before 9/11 because of the way we fight wars. We have spent billions of dollars doing it. As a regular citizen I have no idea how many attacks have been thwarted by intelligence, but certainly it has been many. Yet we still have people, both organized and lone wolves who strike us in random places.
Americans are not alone in these attacks. People in France, the U.K., Belgium and many more also have suffered. We have tried fighting and I don’t think we are winning. What if we tried love?  
Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I don’t feel like many in the religious right are espousing this tactic. Why not? I am yet to find a teaching of Jesus’ that says fight and kill those you hate.  
On this day of remembrance for 9/11 my hope is that we can turn towards love. Hate hurts the hater more that the hated. Love is not a a military plan, but is a human one. What if we stopped fighting and spending money trying to kill people, but love them instead?
I know some of you will read this today and will make comments that are in opposition to me. I love you, even if we disagree. That is how this starts.

Triangle Seafood Company

Tonight Russ and I had a dinner out with another couple. Russ and the husband had been trying to find a time when we could go out together which was incredibly difficult given the travel schedules of the players involved.
With plenty of time to get a reservation almost anywhere Russ started looking for someplace new for us to go to. I’m not sure what the need is for new places since we have so many great tried and true restaurants, yet we still want to eat at a new place once in a while. We live in such a foodie city you would think that we should never go out and have a bad meal–Until tonight.
The Triangle Seafood Company is a rather large restaurant in Brightleaf square that is in the location where CD warehouse used to be. Russ thought that seafood would be a Weight Watchers friendly choice for me as well as good for our gluten free friend.  At first he asked me about going to Blu Seafood and I nixed that idea because the chairs are too uncomfortable. This was a dinner to catch up and talk, not just eat and run.
The reviews on this new place were fine, certainly improving over time. I am not sure who those writers were. The food was not good. I had a starter of seafood stew that was mostly sweet potato and a half a shrimp in a tasteless broth. I followed up with a second starter as a main, with the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp tasted like they were just thawed frozen Costco Shrimp with a tiny cup of cocktail sauce. The only good news is I hardly had many points for dinner. Russ had an over dressed tasteless Caesar salad and a gummy seafood pasta. To top it off the chairs were not that comfortable.
Good thing we were going to this dinner for the company, which was great. I hope that our friends will try and have dinner with us again sometime in the future, but at our house where I know the meal will be good, the seating ample and the conversation lively.
Skip trying the Triangle Seafood Company. Go to Blu or any place else. It will be better.

Happy Birthday Margsie

Marg, brooks janet


I know it seems like I just posted a blog wishing my sister Happy Birthday and I did – my sister Janet. Exactly a week later is my middle sister Margaret’s birthday.


Margaret is five years and one week older than Janet. For so long Margaret was the youngest and it was a role she was made for. She was great at being the center of attention. She is funny and is a great singer. It had to be a real mind blowing event for her to suddenly be displaced as the baby when Janet came into the world.


Janet, it turns out, probably knew that being the baby was Margaret’s place and quickly became very self-sufficient and grown up. When we all became adults, people who just met us guessed that Margaret was the baby, perhaps because she looks younger than we do.


Margaret is the neatest person I ever met. When I was a kid my room was usually a disaster, with my closet being an even greater mess, if that was possible. Then there was Margaret. Things were in their right places, perfectly displayed and color-coded. No wonder she grew up to be a decorator with the best eye for color and a cleaver way to give clients a clean look.


I was about content and she was about look. We could not have been more opposite. I loved to cook and Margaret was happy eating the same thing, frozen broccoli with processed American cheese, every night. Janet was the bridge, wanting everyone to just get along. Somehow we all came from the same parents.


Well, today is Margaret’s special day. It never was an easy day for a birthday since it was just after Janet’s and right at the start of school. I hope that it is the best day. Margaret, now that you are on the back half of a century, I wish that you still enjoy bringing beauty into people’s lives, laughing, and singing out loud. You are a darling who will always be my younger sister.




I Just Can’t Help Myself

I have never been one who could hold my tongue when I hear some kind of BS. Perhaps it is my own gift for BS slinging that I developed at a very young age and have since more or less abandoned. When a I hear a load of crap, whether intentional or mistaken, I tend to call someone out on it. Sometimes it is just to let them know they are full of it and I am not falling for it, or more often that not, it is for educational purposes. I think the consultant in me is always teaching.
Yesterday was a prime example of what I am talking about. While playing Mah Jongg with my friends Kelly and Christy our new waitress told us about the special salad of the week. “Spinach, artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes…” And she went on. Since I am always interested in the salad of the week, but am often disappointed in it, I question the servers in depth about the ingredients.  
Yesterday my question was, “Are the artichoke hearts from a jar, packed in oil?” Since our waitress was brand new she did the proper thing and went to ask someone who knew the answer. Eventually a young manager came by to tell us.
“The artichokes are canned and and marinated,” he said. “But they have been made fresh again by poaching them.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me stop you right there,” I interjected. “There is no such thing as making something canned fresh again, so please remove that phrase from your description from now on.”  
He agreed with me that it was not an accurate description. And sounding more terrible than just canned artichoke hearts I ordered something else.
My friend Kelly turned to me and said, “I don’t know why you corrected him. I never would have done that.” It’s wasn’t said in a criticizing way, more observational of how different we are.
My response was that it goes against my every grain not to help people repeatedly say stupid things. It is part of my world improvement plan, that I know not everyone appreciates. Since this young man works at my club, I feel it is only right that I help him describe things in a way that will help him sell them, so it is my duty to correct him. Perhaps it is the sales manager in me. Whatever it is, I can’t just help myself.

Good Thing Cabbage Cakes

Not only are these a yummy good thing, but I call them a good thing because they are all I ate for dinner. It is also a good thing that Russ is away because I am not sure how my body is going to react to so much cabbage.
4 eggs

1/3 c. Flour

1 t. Soy sauce

4 drops of sesame oil

1 10 oz. bag of shredded cabbage

4 green spring onion- chopped
Beat the eggs in a big bowl. Add the flour, soy sauce, sesame oil and mix well. Add the cabbage and onions. Set aside for at least 10 minutes. Mix again.
Heat a big non-stick fry pan on high. Spray with Pam. Put a big spoonful in making a three to four inch pancake about 3/4 of inch high. You should be able to fit about four in a big pan at once. Cook for one minute on high and turn the heat down slightly. Cook for a total of three minutes on one side. Flip over and cook another three minutes. Serve hot with following sauce.
1/4 c. Soy sauce

1 t. Mirin

1 T. Rice vinegar

1 t. Water

1 t. Sriracha 
Mix together and taste. If you want it sweeter add a little sweetener.

Win Win

This morning I left the house early to get my haircut. When I arrived home I noticed an old car parked in front of my house. Rather than going in the house through the garage I walked up the front steps in my loudest me most forceful way in case I needed to scare some would be robber away. My house keeper was in the house working so I was not worried that anyone had actually broken in.
At my front door I found an old man who had done shown up every other year over the last decade looking for work in my yard. I knew him to be a good worker when he was given a job. I suspect that he lives right on the edge of homelessness, based on the fact that it looks like he might sleep in his car. “Do you have anything that my friend and I can do today?” he asked me when he saw me coming up the path.
Since I have a regular yard guy I don’t usually have much need for outside help, and my first inclination was to say no, but then I thought a minute. My vegetable garden is my domain. My yard guy has nothing to do with it. I had let it go completely wild with weeds this year since I had been away so much of the summer. A couple of weeks ago Russ used the weed wacker just to cut the growth down, but I needed to pull all the weeds out so I could prep the soil for a few fall crops.
“You could pull the weeds in the vegetable garden and till the soil,” I told him, walking him down to the driveway to show him the plot. We negotiated a price and he and his friend went to work.  
“Can I drink from your spigot?” 
“I have no idea what might be growing inside that hose,” I told him. I’ll bring you bottles of water from the house.
The two men worked for almost two hours without a break. When they finished I came outside with the cash to pay him. They had saved me from certain backache if I had tried to do it myself and I told them so. “No ma’am,” the old man told me. “You saved me from hunger today and the rest of the week.”
I asked if I could give him something to eat before they left and he declined. It might be another year or two before he will show up again, but today I was happy he stopped by. I got a terrible job done in my garden and he got to have the dignity of being able to go to the store and pick out his own food.

Non-Labor Day

For the record I am married to a work-aholic. Russ loves working. Even when he doesn’t love it he does it. He sleeps very little because there is always more work to be done. There are books to be read, news sites to scan and decks to be written. So getting him to take a day off is something to be celebrated.
Today was the perfect day for no-laboring. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out, but the it was cool. So to keep Russ in the no working zone we took him to the farm with our friends Lynn and Logan and their child, Ellis, better known as sister E in our house.
Sister E and Sister C, with one big dog, drove together in one car and the parents and the two smaller dogs went in another. We were practicing empty nesting for the car ride parts of the day. Shay Shay rode all the way to the from in Russ’ lap as she prefers to do. Having the love of his life sitting adoringly close to him, kept his mind off work.
Once at the farm the girls spent a good hour entertaining my parents with stories about senior challenge so us parents prepped a salad for lunch that we would enjoy later. We put on our swim suits and went and enjoyed a leisurely day by the pool. It was pure relaxation. Russ at one point had two of the three dogs on his lap and he appeared perfectly happy to not be working. I am not saying that he was not thinking about work, since that would mean his brain had shut down completely, but he did not have a computer, tablet or phone on for the better put of a day.
Sadly we had to leave the farm and come back to the real world. Russ is off in another room with at lest two or three devices and a work phone call. So much for his non-labor day. At least he spent the daylight hours work free and I hope that it gave him something of a break.
Hoping you and yours had a labor free day as well.

I’m Too Old to Dance So Hard

The birthday party of the century for Michelle Berrey recreated all that is Gatsby in a big way. We had a mansion, filled with arms full of glorious white flowers every where you turned. Beautiful people decked to the nines greeted each other on the terrace as cocktails flowed freely and young men glided past offering trays of nibbles. The night started in such a serene and sophisticated way.   

Then, like the twenties themselves things ratcheted up. The doors to the garden room opened presenting the guests with a beautiful buffet. We got our food and made our way to a sofa in a far off room to enjoy our dinner. Snuggled on the pillows with the birthday girl it was still an intimate party. But in the larger room, men dressed in tuxes and tails, threw dice at the craps table and pushed their chips forward on each subsequent hand of black jack. The gin was flowing freely and the flappers were coming into full bloom.

A young man in top hat rang a bell announcing the opening of the dance hall and all the guests followed the petite blond female trumpeter through the anti room with twelve foot tall flower arrangements with white hydrangea pompoms and ostrich plumes. Down the winding stone stairs the guests entered the ball room whose ceiling was a sea of white bubble like balloons.  
The dance floor itself boor the monogramed logo of the birthday girl just in front of the stage where the twelve piece band held court. Richard, our host and beloved husband of the birthday girl, gave a sweet speech commemorating Michelle’s birthday and she blew out the candles on her cake. Then all hell let loose.

The band began to play and we joined Richard and Michelle on the dance floor. It was flapper heaven. The gin was cold, but the music was hot. The band never stopped for three hours and neither did we. Save for one foray outside to try and cool off for a moment, Russ and I stayed on the dance floor the whole night.  

If our friend had gone to the trouble to throw this most beautiful party we owed it to him to dance all night. I stayed until the time the band stopped playing. It was very late for me. But like Cinderella, I had to skip the after party to get to my bed and write my blog before the clock struck midnight.
This morning our old bones got out of bed in time to go the the after party brunch, kiss our hosts goodbye and drive home. Exhausted I desperately needed a nap, but somehow was the only one in my house not to get one. Parts of me still hurt from shaking so much last night. I’ll crash early here, but still with the moving pictures in my head of my time at Gatsby Live. Thanks Richard, it was the best party ever. And Happy Birthday again to Michelle. Love you both.

Thank Goodness Michelle Had a Birthday

Four years ago on this weekend Russ and I went to the wedding of the century — That of our friends Michelle and Richard. It was a hot weekend in every way. When I got home I told Carter all about it. She said, “Mom, did you take notes for my wedding?”  
My response was, “Honey, we would have to win the lottery to have a wedding like that.”   
“Did you buy a ticket?”
I never did buy a lottery ticket, but tonight I felt like we won again because we just attended the best fiftieth birthday party for Michelle that anyone has ever had. Richard has been planning this Gatsby themed surprise party for over six months and he pulled it off. Michelle did not know that all her friends were gathered at the Graylyn Estate in Winston Salem, dressed in our flapper best.

The flowers, the decor, the food, the band, the dancing. We did it all like we were in our twenties, not our fifties. I am going to let the photos speak for themselves because I am too exhausted from dancing nonstop for the last two hours and I need to sleep in order to recuperate for the party in the morning.

I am hoping that these leap year celebrations are a trend because Michelle and Richard really know how to throw a party.

Happy Birthday Sista J

This is the week of happy. Yesterday Carter came home happy from senior challenge. Today is my baby sister Janet’s birthday, next Friday is my middle sister Margaret’s birthday. So much happy rolled into such a small time.
The thing about being the much older sister is that I remember everything about my sisters’ growing up during the time when they were too young to make memories for themselves. This is especially true for Janet since I am almost nine years older than she is.
I remember Janet when she was three and still would wear dresses, something she quickly outgrew as of about five. Janet should have been a child model she was so beautiful. Her big blue eyes and perfect nose made her a classic American child. If Ralph Lauren had made a Children’s line when she was little she would have been his type of model. But then was one major hinderance to her modeling potential, she hated to have her hair brushed.
Janet had thick beautiful brown hair. She could hardly tolerate it being washed under the faucet of our bathroom tub. As the older sister I think her washing was one of my responsibilities. Since she hated it so much I am sure I did a very bad job of rinsing all the shampoo out. And we had a life time supply of free shampoo since my Dad worked at Avon.
Once out of the tub Janet would run naked away from me and never, ever let me get near her with an Avon hairbrush to get the tangles out while her hair was still wet. This led to the original white girl dreadlocks. Janet would go to sleep with her tangled hair which meant that brushing in the morning was going to practically impossible.
Thank god for Dorothy Hamill, because by the time Janet went to elementary school short hair for girls was in fashion. That was also about the time that I went to boarding school and so there were two fewer hands to try and tame Janet’s wild hair.


In a big sense of irony, today Janet owns a beauty business where she makes gift boxes and collections of beauty products for major department stores. Her hair is still short, but she is quite a pro at doing it.
Janet’s busy season is Christmas, so sadly right now she is in California supervising the pack out of all her Christmas deliveries. I wish I was there to help her print labels for the thousands of cases she is shipping now.
Who would have guessed when she was out riding the mini bike in the woods that she would grow up to be a beauty mogul. Happy birthday to my Sista J. You are the best me I love you and am happy I never have to try and brush your hair while you are running from me again. You were always too fast for me.

Happy Ending to Senior Challenge

The buses bringing the kids back from the six days of camping, hiking and living in the woods for our seniors were late. Standing on the covered walkway by the auditorium in the humidity for an extra thirty minutes was killing me, waiting to get my arms around my girl and hear how the dreaded trip had been for her.
Not having any communication with or about our kids for six days was tough on the parents. Every once in a while this past week I got a random text message from a friend or two, “Have you heard anything?” Of course I had not. As parents we had no idea what groups, which route or how tough the week was going to be. The not knowing caused me some sleepless nights.
All day I was counting down the hours until I could go to school. I should have planned a busier day because these hours ticked by very slowly. I was not alone in my anticipation. The parents on the sidewalk were getting restless. We heard a loud vehicle coming down the road and were sure it was the twin buses, but sadly it was just a fire truck. At last we saw the big green buses coming from the wrong direction. They pulled up and as the door opened and the first kid emerged, wearing a clean senior challenge shirt and the gathered parent body broke into a spontaneous applause.
Carter came off the second bus and grabbed her pack, threw it up on her back and ran over to give me the hug I was waiting for. “It was wonderful,” she gushed before I could even begin to pepper her with questions. She was as happy as I have even seen her. As her friends gathered they mostly all talked about what a success it was.  
Then Carter’s spiritual sister E came up and said, “It was hell.” Apparently E’s group had hiked twice as far as Carter’s. They obviously were the advanced group, whether they wanted to be or not.
Normally E is the positive of the two sisters, so this switch in reviews was surprising. E’s mom Lynn and I took the girls to Chipolte to get some food. There they began the story telling of their different weeks. In response to the time of her life experience Carter had I said, “Everyone says this trip is the greatest.” In an emphatic tone I had never heard from E came, “No one says that, Mrs. Lange.”
I am sorry for sister E it was not the best experience. I am eternally grateful that Carter some how miraculously got the least hiking which meant the most bonding time. After eating, we parted ways with our friends so Carter could come home and take a serious shower, although I had to say she was not smelly nor dirty looking. She continued telling me the run down of all they did and how much she adored her group. 
When we pulled in the driveway she was still on day one. We stayed in the car for two hours while she finished telling me the whole story. It was a week with a lot of personal growth. It could not have been more worth it. Carter summed it up, “I’ll be telling these stories the rest of my life.” So glad it is such a positive one. I know that after a shower and a good nights sleep sister E will be singing the same song. Surviving something difficult is its own reward.