Not the TEEN Mom

“She’s the teen mom.” That’s what I thought I heard Carter’s basketball coach say as she was presenting the third and final award at the awards ceremony tonight. The first thing that went through my head is, “Who is the teen mom?”  
Then I realized she said, “Team Mom,” and she was talking about Carter for the Captain’s Award. It was a cherry on top of a fun basketball career. Carter was not the best player, but she was the coaches right hand.  
“She was the team Mom and organizer as well as a great listener and motivator. She always wanted to sit directly on my left shoulder on the bench in order to best communicate my thoughtsto the team and I also think she liked that seat in order to better communicate her opinion to the refs.” No one knows a player better than their coach. But Carter also studied what her coaches wanted and tried to help make that happen any way she could.
Being a TEAM Mom has been a highlight of her high school career. Thanks to Krista and Robert for being tough loving coaches. Thanks to the team for being a family. Good luck next season. Now who is going to be the new Mom?

How to Really Drive 45 Crazy

The news has been rife with polls showing that people who voted for Trump think he is doing a great a job and people who didn’t think he is doing the worst job ever. There is no middle ground. No “he’s our new President so I’ll cut him a break” bump that almost all previous presidents have gotten. Everyone is standing their ground, or at least the Trump lovers see nothing wrong in what he is doing.
High on my list of concerns for this POTUS is his slamming of all the press, save CBN or other far far right media outlets. An uneducated populous is his best friend. Yet, Trump is a guy who always wants to be in the media, the center of the universe, the most talked about. Given that no one is changing their minds about him I think the thing that would make him the most crazy is if all the news stopped talking about him.  
Imagine if Trump opened the newspaper, wait, not sure he reads, OK turned on the TV news and there was not one mention of him. Late night comics stopped referring to him ever. I know that Trump jokes are the low hanging fruit of comedy, but try it, just for a month. I can’t think of anything that would make him madder than to be ignored.  
I am not suggesting that the opposition stop working to improve the country, but just never mention the president by name, number or title. You can talk about the “administration” but not the man. It would drive him crazy. What if all the White House reporters just stopped going to the White House? They are already locked out of meetings, already ignored during question time, already told to sit down and be quiet. Rather than chase the man and give him the spot light, which he loves, go out and do investigative journalism on the issues, not the President.  
Now to Twitter… What if everyone just gave up Tweeting and retweeting and looking at twitter and reporting on what he puts on twitter for a month. He could be sitting on the throne in the White House screaming out in all caps on Twitter,”WHY AREN’T YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO ME?” and no one would respond.
We can’t let him go unchecked. We have to find other ways to fight him, but we don’t need to feed the ego that fuels him. Neither the news, nor comedians are going to change anyone’s minds, so let’s just drive him crazy with lack of coverage. This means we have to cover everyone else who works for him so that none of the stuff they are trying to do, like spend 23 billions dollars to build a wall, goes on without us trying to stop it, but just credit everything to an underling and not the POTUS. Soon enough the spotlight on the underlings will rub him the wrong way and he will turn on them.  
The only sad part about this plan is that if 45 called a press conference and no cameras or reporters were there we would not get to see him implode because no one was paying attention to him. Just an idea.

Surprise Baby Shower

Today we had the basketball team for lunch. Traditionally we this has been a farewell to the seniors, but today it was a surprise baby shower for their coaches, Krista and Robert.  
Carter did the inviting over group text which had me completely out of the loop, except that I had to be the shopper, cook and setter upper. Thankfully freshman center Claire Middleton generously offered to bring dessert. That meant I only had to make the main meal.  
As Carter was going off to Philly with Russ she told me that one girl was now a vegan and one a vegetarian. I decided to make pasta carbonara, one traditional with bacon, one veggie with peas and I had plain pasta for the vegan. I also had a deconstructed salad so the vegan could leave off the cheese and make a meal with the nuts and pears in her salad. She also had plain peas without butter or cheese. I am not sure if I could be a vegan. Thank goodness carbonara is easy to make for a crowd and the basketball girls are very appreciative and polite.
After lunch Carter invited the team to come up to the “gathering room,” the pretentious name for our family room. If this party was not at our house it might have been the time when the seniors were celebrated, but instead there were presents and a welcome baby balloon. Krista said she was surprised, but Robert said he thought this was what was going on.
Since the sex of the baby is a surprise the girls gave a great group of unisex presents. The most important one was a kid sized Duke Basketball signed by the whole team. Toys, books, a sleep sound machine and a boppy pillow were all things the new baby will use.
Krista and Robert have had lots of practice with many high school girls. It will be a change for them to have a baby. I hope that this baby likes basketball because it would be a terrible waste to have two parents with so much basketball experience not get to pass it on. Tuesday night is the winter sports awards and that will officially end Carter’s high school basketball career. The shower was a fun way for it to end.

Dogs Don’t Understand Weather Delays

Russ and Carter went to Philly for the last two days to visit the Lange side of the family. This meant that Shay Shay was getting two solid days of bonding time with me. OK, not her first choice. I know that Shay would prefer to be with Russ.
Every time a noise happens outside my bedroom window Shay thinks it is the garage door going up returning Russ home to her. So many times in the last two days I have had to tell her that sound was not Russ, which I know she fully understood by the way she would settle back down with a big sigh and look of disappointment.
Yesterday I had to be in Raleigh all day at a Food Bank retreat and Christy came by with her dog Lucy and generously took Shay on a walk with Lucy. That bought me a little bit of love when I got home rather than a huge guilt trip of “you left me all day.” Last night Shay slept on Russ’ side of the bed so she at least could smell like him.
This morning she gave me the “when, when, for god’s sake, tell me when he is coming back look.” I told her straight up. “He will be home at five thirty tonight.” She was happier knowing this and went about her day with less remorse than before.  
Russ and Carter got to the airport and were happily on the plane when they texted that weather was delaying them. Carter was unhappy since she wants to get home to go to a school dance. I did not tell Shay about the weather delay.
Five-thirty came and Shay started pacing in front of the front door, looking out the glass. I thought she wanted to go out and when I opened the door she just stood there. No going out, but instead looking down the road for Russ’ little car. She lay back down, nose to the glass. I decided I should try and tell her. “The plane is delayed, I don’t know when he is getting home.”
Shay howled at me. Honest to goodness, a sound like a wounded bear I have never heard her make before. I hugged her and told her he would be home. I went to get her some chicken to cheer her up, she just looked at it and went back to staring out the door leaving the chicken untouched. Such a broken heart for a two day trip. Don’t tell me dogs don’t understand everything, except weather delays. Next time I am going to tell her he is coming I later than his actual time just so I won’t have to live with such disappointment.

Arugula Salad Addiction

Since Russ and Carter went to Buck’s County to visit Russ’ family I have had the luxury of not cooking for myself. For the last two days I have eaten nothing but arugula salad and cereal, save the vegetarian lunch I had at the Food Bank today. I wonder if I were to live alone if I would even bother to buy anything other than chicken, pears, blue cheese, arugula, raspberries and special K? Oh yeah, I would need milk, ice tea and limes.
Despite my love of cooking I am perfectly happy to eat the same thing day in and day out. Especially when I am being extra good on my diet. When Carter goes to college and Russ is on a long business trip I am going to see how many days I can go eating just these things before I get bored. I predict it will be more than five days.
One reason I am happy to eat this arugula salad for two meals everyday is that I almost always have all the ingredients prepared and waiting in the fridge. I caramelize a couple of thinly sliced pears every few days. I cook 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs and keep them in the fridge. Thighs warm up beautifully in the microwave because they have more fat than breasts so they don’t get dried out. With those things prepped it takes less than minute to put the arugula in a bowl, crumble a little blue cheese on top, add the pears and the warmed chicken and douse with balsamic vinegar. It is a taste I hope I never tire of.
I remember when my Grandmother, Mima moved to a retirement home and I was in my early twenties. She had a little apartment with a small kitchen. She ate her breakfast and lunch in her rooms, but went to the dining room every night for a nice dinner. When I went to visit her at lunch time she always offered me the same thing, a small bowl of couscous with Parmesan cheese. She ate it everyday. I knew she had never been much of a cook, but I thought this lack of variety in her diet was not good.
I realize that I have turned into my grandmother. Perfectly happy to eat the same thing day in and day out, despite my well studied talent for cooking. I worry for Russ what life will be like in our house when it is just the two of us. He will have avocado toast with eggs and spicy sauce every morning and if he is given his druthers a kale salad and pizza bread for dinner.
I guess that you might say we will have variety in our house because we will have two different salad greens. I am going to have to give a lot of dinner parties to ensure I am cooking other things. Russ will be happy with any party leftovers and I can still have arugula.

Gratitude Tour Four – Sandhills Edition

I know I sound like a broken record, but I spent my day going to visit the Sandhills branch of the food bank and I was blown away by the people who work there. This gratitude tour started as a way for me to go and visit every Food Bank employee to thank them for the job they do, but it has turned into a much more inspirational tour for me.
One of the things the Food Bank does is called Back Pack Buddies where volunteers pack a bag of food for children who have very little food at home over the weekends. A wonderful woman in Southern Pines, named Joanne runs the program. She told me about the 1,100 children they provide a bag of food for every Friday in just Moore County alone. Nine hundred of them are homeless. This number broke my heart.  
Joanne said she had a dedicated group of volunteers who come in on Thursdays and pack the bags with food which always includes an apple for the children. On Fridays more volunteers come and drive the bags to the 28 school these children attend week after week. The Food Bank is great at gathering the right foods for these back packs and always making sure they have the right amount so no child goes hungry, but it takes these dedicated volunteers to pack 1,100 bags and deliver them.
I wish that my gratitude tour could include every volunteer who are helping feed children, seniors and those who need help. I was lucky enough to meet Austin, who is the Sandhills number one volunteer. He has been coming to the Food Bank every morning for twenty years. He told me today he can’t play golf that much of the Food Bank is the best place to spend his time. What a love.

Volunteering to help any worthy organization makes for a more fulfilling life. For my birthday this year I am going to invite my friends to come and do a volunteer morning at the Raliegh branch and have a lunch. Before I retire from the board (not from volunteering for the Food Bank) I want to show everyone the beautiful branch we spent the last five years making happen. Save May 4 to come and have some fun helping others at the Food Bank.

Arrested at the Post Office?

Today I had the fun errand of getting something notarized and then taking it to the post office to send it certified mail. Seemed like an easy enough job. What did I know?
After waiting fifteen minutes at my bank for the guy who is the official notary I was off to the post office. Since it was three in the afternoon I thought the lines would be short. I should have known that the lines are never short at the post office. I counted eleven people in front of me. I can survive that, until I noticed just one Postal guy working.
Seems like today no one was doing anything easy at the Post office. One woman was trying to mail two bras to her mother in France. Why you would send American bras to the country that invented beautiful lingerie? The number of forms she had to fill out about those bras made no sense to any of the people who had to listen to the whole embarrassing conversation.  
“Is there any liquid in this package?”
“No, as we have already discussed they are bras.”
“Are you sure there is no liquid?”
“Yes, they are not padded.”
This questioning went on for many minutes. You would think that the current administration had instructed the Post Office to start keeping tabs on all Americans to determine who is next for deportation, whether you are American or not.
I bonded with my fellow linemates as we took bets about how long we would all be there. I lost when I guessed twenty minutes and I was off by fifty percent. At minute twenty five a second postal worker appeared giving us false hope of a second line opening. It did not. I took a selfie while standing in line and this superfluous “worker” practically took my head off.
“No, photos in the Post Office,” he screamed at me.  
“Sorry, I don’t see any signs saying that.” I responded. He did not go so far as to ask me to delete it.  
I have not studied the law about taking pictures at the post office, nor about posting them. This may be my farewell blog post as I am certain to be dragged off to jail. It can’t be any worse than being at the actual post office.

Sick Child Diet

Poor Carter has been home the last two days with the crud. Apparently half her school has been out too. One of her good friends said it was terrible today because all the friends she eats lunch with were out, leaving her at school all alone.
With spring break coming I have been trying my best to get back on the healthy eating wagon with little will power. Today, with Carter not able to eat much I found it was easier for me to withhold. Since it is not the stomach bug, but an achy flu, she can still eat, but doesn’t have much appetite. I made artichokes for dinner. I know, not a normal sick food, but she was already tired of soup. Poor Carter ate part of one and was done with that.
Normally I would have finished her artichoke, but I certainly did not want to even touch anything she did. I had my artichoke and put the plates in the dishwasher and washed my hands well. Shay thought she wanted what Carter was not eating, but once Carter gave her a green leaf Shay thought better of her begging for it.
Now if I can eat the little amount Carter does while she is sick I may be able to shrink my stomach. I’m hoping for enough to ensure that a I am only eating enough to burn some of my stored fat and not take on more than I burn. I envision needing to exercise every waking minute to make my plan work, but realistically that is not going to happen. I certainly don’t have time to get the flu, but I wold like to get the flu non-eating desire. I pray that everyone in your house is well, but based on the school report that is not going to be the case for half of you.  

President’s Day — Not for Everyone

It’s President’s Day, formally celebrated on two days as Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays. When Martin Luther King got his own birthday holiday we rolled President’s into one. For the record I want to say it is not a holiday to celebrate all President’s. Many don’t deserve a holiday every year. I thought that we should have one holiday called Great Leaders Day and then we could celebrate everyone who actually was great. Washington, Lincoln and King would all be included, but you did not have to win an election to make the list.
Unless a stoke or some other dramatic brain transformation happens, I do not see 45 making the list of great leaders day. I got to thinking about fictional presidents I wish he would emulate since he loves T.V. ratings so much. Michael Douglas in “The American President” might be one 45 would like to copy. He is attractive and has a beautiful wife, things 45 admires.
Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” is another President that 45 might be attracted to. I am worried 45 is going to be more like Leslie Nielsen in “Scary Movie 3 & 4,” or Randy Quaid in the forgettable “Mail to the Chief.” The thing that scares me the most is that no movie, no matter how absurd would ever write a script even close to the craziness of the last four weeks.
On this President’s day I morn the loss of the really great Presidents we have had. I hope that the future holds more people who might make the Great Leaders list. We certainly still need them.

It’s Supposed to Be Hermitting Season

February should be snowy and cold and a time to hunker down inside your house with a fire and your loved ones. This weekend of beautiful 72 degree sunny days is ruining my hibernation. Actually, it is just making me feel guilty for hibernating.
Russ and I basically stayed home all weekend except for venturing out this afternoon for a movie, which is a form of hibernation. In our defense we had yesterday blocked off in case Carter’s basketball team made it to states and we’d have to go to Charlotte. When that didn’t happen I did not fill the time with other activities. Russ, who spent last week in New York, Boston and Washington was thrilled to have a down time weekend. I felt a little anti-social as we so enjoyed our alone time so much. Carter was here, but she was off with friends or studying. Russ and I decided this was what our future held, snuggling time with Shay.  
If this were regular February I would have no guilt about my utter joy in being in my house. Not that we never left the house. We had a glorious walk this morning in this beautiful weather, but I feel like we need some weather suffering so we can fully embrace the good weather months.  
Don’t get me wrong. I am not looking for winter. I certainly don’t want snow to come and kill everything that is in blossom. The daffodils are abundant, the forsythia has popped and the tulip trees look like Holland on a branch. I just want the excuse to be a hermit, this coming from an uber extrovert.
Perhaps my introverted husband has rubbed off on me. Or more likely I have some bear DNA and actually need a little hibernation. I wish that my hibernation came with an extended nap, but that sounds incredibly too decadent.

Aging In Unison

Yesterday Carter was talking to me and she suddenly stopped and said, “Oh look, you have a Stacey London stripe.” For those of you who are not “What not to wear ” fans Stacey has a stripe of silver hair in her dark black hair. Since I don’t color my hair I told Carter that this must have been the first time she had really looked at me since I have had a greying temple for a while. “No, Mom, it must be the way the sunlight is hitting your hair. I like it.”
This morning Russ went downtown to try and get a haircut from his very popular barber Tony. He had tried earlier in the week but the wait to see Tony is always long. Today was no different except that since it is Saturday Russ had time to sit their with the brothers and the fathers and sons.
Tony is a friendly guy and Russ asked him if he had a good Valentine’s Day since Russ knew he had a new girlfriend. When Tony asked Russ about his Valentine’s Day he said that he had been in NYC so we had to celebrate it early.  
“It was our 25th Valentine’s and it will be our 25th anniversary this year,” Russ said.
“Wow, your silver anniversary, like your hair!”  
Russ can handle this banter from his favorite barber, but he made sure to tell me about it.

I guess that it is perfectly expected that the two of us will both have some silver hair for our silver anniversary. I don’t see either of us doing anything about it. I can’t think of anything better than aging in unison.

Professional Audience Member

My job as loud laugher and professional audience member for Durham Academy plays is done as a parent. Tonight I went to the winter musical, “She Love Me” where most of the actors were seniors who I have literally seen grow up. As a person with no musical talent myself I make a very appreciative audience. I am especially useful at comedy’s since I laugh loud and quickly, often starting the ripple effect of laughter throughout the theatre. Tonight at intermission I saw Thomas Benson in the lobby on crutches. He would have been on stage it it were not for his knee operation and I told him I missed him up there. He said he knew I was in the house because he could hear me in the thousand seat room. A dubious distinction.
Some of the actors have only been around since upper school but in the case of star, Lily Tendler I have watched her in productions from Kindergarten on up. I knew she was someone to keep an eye on when I created books for the school auction from the kindergarteners. I asked each child to draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up and dictate a sentence about their dreams. Lily wrote that she “wanted to be on TV and in the movies because they made a lot of money.” She was the only five year old who even knew what money was then.
My favorite part of the show was when Lily and other female lead senior Ellie Dusek sang duets together. Ellie has the perfect musical voice that is able to blend with others. The show had many strong parts for boys and as always I loved Chris Villani. The ensemble cast was fun, but I wish we had more opportunities to have them on stage. I loved Liza Aldridge sitting on that boy’s lap and Libby Beirsach played the perfect December 24th shopper.
My job is done. Carter suggests that I could become a paid audience sitter, but plays in the future will not be the same when they are not cast with kids I have watched grow up and know so well.
Great job to the whole cast and crew on a very long and complicated production. The sets were beautiful, the music great and the show a success. Lily Tendler, I still like you best as a red head, although the brown wig was perfect.

Gratitude Tour Three


Today was my third visit to one of the Food Bank branches that are my gratitude tour to meet and personally thank every staff member. I had the pleasure of going to New Bern with Peter Werbicki, the CEO. I drove over to Raliegh early this morning to meet up with Peter. It was great that he still went even though he should have not come to work today as he is an immigrant. Peter hales from the U.K. and is the hardest working Food Bank CEO in America.  

If anyone want to know someone who is making America great, it is Peter, an immigrant.
New Bern is the newest of the Food Bank’s six locations. I have visited that branch about four or five years ago when it was first started because it has a big beautiful garden where they grow lots of produce to give to feeding agencies. It was nice to see how much the branch has grown in that time. They have increased their output over 900%.
Of course I went to see the important part of the operation, the people. They are the key to the success of the branch. Their commitment and dedication was evident. It made me very proud to get to spend time with them. A bonus of my visit was getting to present them with the plaque commemorating six years of no work place accidents.
The real highlight is getting the chance to talk to each individual and find out what they like about their job and to impress upon them how important they are to helping feed their neighbors. Looking someone in the eye, thanking them and telling them that you appreciate them is fun. I wish I had done this gratitude tour years ago. Next week I go to the Sand hills. After this tour is over I might have to stand on a street corner and give out hugs because I am going to need something to replace this gratitude tour.

Three Day Glasses 

I am not an extreme sport enthusiast. I don’t do crazy things like jump out of planes wearing my reading glasses. I like to sit and needlepoint and play Mah Jongg. You would think that a new pair of glasses would last on a person of my sedentary nature for years. Not so my new Eyebobs readers. Three days was all the lasted before the fishing line holding the lens in place broke.
Now these are not readers from the Dollar store. They are expensive for readers. I called up the company and spoke with the person who answered the phone. “My three day old glasses have already broken.” This news was not unusual to her. In fact the indifference I met on the phone was shocking. No apology, no sorry for your trouble, no offer to send a new pair before they got mine back.  
It will be another week, at the least, before I will get the replacements and I hope they come with an apology. I also hope the new ones hold up longer than this pair did.  
I understand why a business does not want to send out a new free pair until they get the old one back, but a little sympathy for the trouble I have to go through would have been nice. Not so from Eyebobs, based in the nice state of Minneapolis. I thought they would be better being in the Midwest. Not so much.
Three days. Really.

The Mama of the Mama Bear is Sad

The game ended in a hard fought loss. The end of the high school career in basketball was over. Carter came to find me in the stands and sobbed in our hug. Her job as team Mama Bear was over. The sadness was overwhelming for her. She loves this team, she loves her job as captain, psychologist, and ad hoc coach. She is not the best player on the team, but she will miss this team profoundly. It was the best place for her to belong all these years.
As the Mama of this Mama Bear I am equally sad. I will miss this team of parents who sat vigilantly in the bleachers together for the many months of the longest sports season. I made promises to come back and watch the girls next year when Carter is off in Berlin.  
I just barley got to know the freshman parents. I am thrilled that the team has such promise for the years to come with these young girls. I know Carter will want me to report to her the progress the Young’s ones make and the success of the juniors, then seniors who will anchor the team next year.
Congratulations to Grace and Carter who are graduating. To Izzy and Erin who made all conference. To Imani and Claire who started. To Nicole whose threes were key. To Audrey, Morgan, Jenny, Brooke, and Christina who were always there in support of the team. You are a special group of girls. As the Mama of your Mama Bear I will always be looking out for you.
Thanks to Krista and Robert, the best coaches. You gave Carter a chance to blossom and I know the lessons she learned from you will be carried into all she does in the future. The world needs more Mama Bears.

Strength Needed 

I consider myself a fairly strong person. I can fairly easily lift 50 pound bags of mulch and put them in my car. Not that fifty pounds is so much, but as a large unwieldy bag it is more difficult than its weight suggests. If a lid is stuck on a jar I am usually able to open it without resorting to the husband handoff. All that being said I might have met my match in a squash.
I have been having a little craving for some red sauce of the Italian sort. My issue is I am also having a hard time eating healthy in the post holiday diet season. So in my need to avoid pasta I was searching for something to satisfy my red sauce habit. I spotted the perfect answer to my dilemma at Trader Joe’s. A nice spaghetti squash for $3.29.  
I bought two last Thursday and brought them home in the hope of convincing the rest of the family that they thought squash was an acceptable substitution for pasta. Then one thing led to another and we ate out or enjoyed other things that were found in the fridge and the squash sat idly by on the counter. All this time my Italian craving was multiplying.
Tonight is the night I am going to satisfy my need for tomato sauce. Russ is on a business trip and when I suggested to Carter my plan she gave me the “what are my other choices?” look. Off she went to basketball with the promise she could eat any leftover in the fridge, but I am holding out the hope she will choose the “Italian.”
One of the beauties of pasta is you boil water, dump in the contents of a box and ten minutes later you have a blank palette ready to accept the artistry of any sauce you concoct. The squash route seemed like it was equally easy, just more time consuming because you have to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it in the oven for at least 45 minutes.

Ok, not too much trouble.  
I went to work on my sauce, using up some mushrooms I had in the fridge and pulling out the homemade turkey meatballs I had in the freezer. Fairly healthy if I say so myself. This is going to be a low guilt and easy to manufacture satisfaction. That was until I went to try and cut the squash.
I took out my heaviest cleaver hoping I could cut the yellow orb in two with one whack. Not a chance. I hardly scored the tough outer hull. I got out my wooden rolling pin to use as a hammer against the cleaver. I only dented the wood of the pin. I tried another thinner blade knife, no piercing at all. I rummaged around in the rare utensil drawer and came up with the meat pounding mallet. I used that heavy hammer to bang on the back side of the cleaver and was able to get the knife stuck into the squash just the littlest bit. I then was able to pick the squash up with the cleaver and slam it on the cutting board. Many hits later I eventually broke the vegetable on two unequal parts.
I am not envisioning using spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta into my old age, that is unless I get a kitchen band saw. No wonder boxed pasta has got such a hold on America. It is far easier to cook that a squash.

Let’s Start With Agreement

I’m tired of all the disagreement in America. As we become more and more insular with our own beliefs I fear that we are not listening to any other point of view. I know that I am not going to change anyone’s mind by just spouting what I believe so I want to change the whole conversation. Let start with a ground work of what we all agree we want in America. Beginning with the positive might get us to where we can all be happy.
I’ll start the list, but welcome you to add to it.
In America we all want or need:
Opportunities for good and fair paying jobs and a chance for improvement.

Education systems for all our children to learn and blossom.

Clean air and water in abundance.

Healthy food available for everyone.

Solid infrastructure to move us around.

Freedom to practice our beliefs.

Right to speak our minds without fear.

Control of our own bodies.

Available good healthcare nearby.

Peace in our country and our world.

Fair tax system.

Affordable housing.

Now what these things mean to you and how to get there are your point of view, but if we can start with principles we agree on we may see that we are more alike as Americans than different. If we consider us one America first and not that our neighbor is our enemy we can move forward.  

British Morris Makes America Happy 

It is a gorgeous, global warming is a real thing, day here in North Carolina. Sunny and 72 degrees. Sorry to my friends up north. Russ and I ate lunch on the terrace and with nothing else important to do we pulled the Morris Minor out of the garage to run the most mundane of errands.  
A dry and warm day is the perfect time to drive a car with little heat, no air, no radio, electrical outlet or retractable seat belts. Down Hope Valley road we went first to get gas for the baby blue car. Four gallons is practically filling the tank. As Russ pumped the gas I nodded to the other customers who came by with thumbs up or big smiles when they see the clown of the car.
We headed down to Southpoint to the Sur la Table store to recycle our coffee capsules. While stopped at a light an old guy with long hey hair in a beat up Trans Am pulled up beside us. I looked over at him and he gave me the “what up?” head nod, while checking out my car, and thankfully not me. When the light turned green he raced ahead. I laughed that he had an antique car license plate on the early eighties machine, while we sport just a regular ‘ole NC plate.
Once at the mall I just pulled up to a loading bay and stayed in the car while Russ ran the recycling in. No less than a dozen people stopped to say they loved the car in the five minutes he was gone. One lady said, “That makes my day.”
Two more errands for wiper blades for Carter and new house keys to be cut and dozens more happy people waving at us. I have decided that I need to drive the Morris everyday to make “America Happy Again.” Since I don’t have a radio I can block all the news of what is going on in the rest of the country and just concentrate on the few square miles the Morris travels.
If you are local and are having a particularly rotten day, give me a call and I will come take you for a ride. Nothing makes you happier than seeing the smiling faces of the people you pass. 

Happiness Is…

Blowing out the last regular season basketball game against Not Really Christian Academy
Every girl playing the fundamentals to the best of her ability
Making their coaches smile bigger than they have all year
Enjoying a fun family tapas dinner in celebration afterwards
Listening to Spotify “songs to sing in the shower” and singing all the way home
Loving that my daughter loves songs from my childhood as much as I do
Coming home to a sweet dog so happy to see us all
All of us spending quality time together while we are all in the same place 

Poor Nordstrom

Some business leaders have made the news for saying how great it is to have a President that is so pro-business. They envision a governance that takes away their taxes, regulations and brings us back to the wild west days of anything goes for a dollar.
Then there are the businesses who made the “Grab Your Wallet list” outing them for supporting any Trump related business. Nordstrom’s was the top of the list, why I am not sure because they certainly could not have been the biggest seller of Trump goods, nor was the list alphabetical. Many anti-Trump people let Nordstrom know they were not happy that they sold Ivanka’s clothes and shoes.
So without saying they were bowing to that pressure Nordstrom’s announced they were dropping Ivanka due to poor sales. That action unleashed the dragon that is the oh so powerful daddy. Not that he who shall not be named likes when anyone says anything harsh about his family, but harm one hair on the obvious favorite daughter and you are playing with fire.
So last night the twitter war against Nordstrom started. First from the personal account, the the POTUS, then Instagram and finally Facebook. Nordstrom’s stock dropped at the opening bell.  
So where is that pro-business president? All those CEO’s who think they have an ally running the show need to realize he is not pro-business for the good of their businesses, but only for his own. If your business crosses him or worse, his off spring, he is going to be more anti your business than any previous President ever was.
Then there was poor cross-eyed Kellyanne. Blindly trotted out to be the spokesperson for Ivanka. Did Kellyanne not read the conflict of interest memo when she took the job or perhaps she really does not give a damn about her own integrity. I love that the White House gets to do it’s own reprimanding of KellyAnne for breaking the ethics rules. I imagine she is getting a spanking in the Oval Office right now and likes it a little too much.  
But poor Nordstrom, damned if they kept Ivanka, damned if they didn’t. No one is safe. Be careful Macy’s, LL Bean and Bloomingdales. The last thing you want is to do anything that gets Kellyanne involved in your story.
Note to readers with little sense of humor.  Don’t bother me with with rebuttals,  this is satire.  Get your own blog.

Mah Jongg Tournament Report

Yesterday I went with my friend Deanna to my first ever Mah Jongg Tournament. It was a fundraiser for the Cary Area Hadassah so I was certain to be playing with some people that had Mah Jongg in their bloodlines.  
We arrived and found our assigned seats for the first round. The woman who was in charge of my table told me this was her 13th tournament and she was yet to win. With eighty people playing I did not want to tell her that the odds were against her. I would have thought that as a Mah Jongg player she would understand that probability. Wearing her Mah Jongg tiara she told me all about the weekly games she runs and how much she wins. I was not about to be intimidated.
For the most part it was a very nice group of people. My play was fairly good, but not good enough to be in the top 10% at the lunch break. My score was just under the scores they read out before we were sent to the buffet.
A kosher lunch of bagels, lox and kugel was exactly what I would have expected from a Hadassah event and it was fabulous. During lunch I was invited by some of my table mates to come and play Mah Jongg at their homes. It was a very cordial and inclusive group.
We played five rounds of four games during the whole day. The only disappointment was that they never let us know who won the whole tournament. Not that it mattered, there were no prizes. 
Although it was fun to compete with the sisterhood of Mah Jongg players I like playing for money so much better. I can tell right way if I have had a good day or not by the pile of quarters.  
For the tournament they scored somewhat differently than we do in regular play. There were serious penalties for being the person who gave Mah Jongg to the winner. This changed the game from an offensive game to more defensive. I watched woman give up their chance at winning a game, just to make sure they did not give Mah Jongg to someone else. If I were to run a tournament I would have to think twice about this scoring. If you always play defense you never win. I guess my life philosophy is like my Mah Jongg, always play to win and you will come out ahead, even if that means you help someone else along the way.

Senior Basketball Night

I wish I knew how many hours I sat in the bleachers, drove to far off games, cheered for every shot attempt, bought gatorades and bagels, all in support of the Varsity Basketball team. I would do it all again double. Watching Carter play, or just be the loud one calling plays in from the bench has been a fun way to spend her high school career with her.  
Tonight was senior night as it was the last home game of the regular season. Carter and her teammate Grace Drewry were the two senior captains graduating from the team this year. Carter’s coach Krista wrote that Carter is “considered the ‘team mom’ her maturity and leadership have been truly exceptional for the program.”
Basketball has been a fabulous place to learn for Carter. Hard work, team dynamics, psychology, perseverance, selflessness are lessons best learned young. Thanks to her coaches Krista and Robert who have believed in Carter, pushed her and developed her. Not that she will go on to any career is basketball, but she will use the tools she cultivated everyday as she goes forward to bigger things.
Belonging to a team has been the best benefit. Not just for Carter as a player, but for me and Russ as parents. We have an exceptional group of supportive parents who cheer each girl on as if they were their own. When Russ and I arrived at the gym we were met by Liz & Bennet Roberts and Liz’s grandmother who came to celebrate senior night even though Liz is now a Freshman playing basketball at UNC. We have missed them at every game this year and it was so generous of them to show up for senior night tonight despite having graduated from DA. That is the kind of family that this basketball team has been.
For her “senior night” game Carter made two perfect free throws. Well, I’m not sure they were perfect, but they went in and added points to the winning score. She played with heart and happiness. What more can a parent ask for?

47,628 Stitches

Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight stitches.

Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-twenty moments so dear.

Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight stitches.

How do you measure, measure a year?
In needles, in canvas

In colors of yarns

In birds, in hats

In never ending brown
Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight stitches.

How do you measure a year in the life
How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measures in love

Seasons of stitching

Stitching the love
Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight stitches.

Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight threads to be pulled

Forty-seven thousand, six hundred, twenty-eight stitches.

How do you measure the life

Of a stitching nut?

Super Bowl Rainbow Ads

Growing up in the sixties and seventies I rarely saw an ad that had anyone that looked like me. Although I am white, I was brunette girl and I was not the ideal that Madison Avenue used to represent their products. Most people in ads were men first, then beautiful blonde women and they all were white. They had perfect teeth and were always thin. It seemed that ad guys picked actors in the aspirational mold rather than the representational type.
After cooking all day I finished right in the nick of time to watch the coin toss of the Super Bowl. I know I missed a lot of ads that happened during the pre-game show, but I came to the TV right as the Coke ad was running showing the biggest rainbow of people of all looks. It made me feel good about America despite the current administration.
This Coke ad reminded me of the “I’d like to teach the world to sing” Coke ad. In 1971 when that ad came out it was ground breaking in the rainbow of people it featured. It was a changing moment for Madison Avenue. Finally regular people were staring in ads and we liked them and it made us feel good about ourselves.
Now beautiful people are not out of the business of selling us stuff, but I feel like the ads showing the many faces of America remind us that we are one country. A few minutes after the Coke ad, Ford had a really good one with faces of many colors. Then so did Air BnB.
Thanks Madison Avenue. Don’t let what is currently happening in Washington take us backwards in representing all kinds of people in ads. There is nothing wrong with being a beautiful skinny blonde white young woman, just that is not the majority of who we are.  
If I drank soda I would go buy a Coke just to support their ad campaign. I guess I will have to drive my Ford to the store and buy a Dasani water. Nothing supports policy better than voting with your dollars. I am going to take note of all the advertisers who are promoting kindness, diversity and inclusion and buy their products first.

Bad Calendar Management

I’m not always good at looking ahead on my calendar. I generally know what is upcoming if I put it on the calendar, but something’s get populated automatically. If you don’t use an electronic calendar you might not understand how this works. I use my Apple calendar and subscribe to things like Carter’s school info. This means that all the details for basketball games are automatically put my calendar.  
Today I realized for the first time that Carter does not have school on Monday. If I had looked ahead I would have known that it is a teacher workday. The day after the Super Bowl is becoming more and more a day that people don’t show up for work, so this might have been well planned.  
As soon as I realized it was a day off I decided it might be a good day to provide food for my cooking challenged friends. I also had a big bag of carrots and garlic that I needed to cook so I decided that chicken and veggie phyllo pie would be a good thing to make this weekend. So off to Costco I went. In the back of my head I knew that the Super Bowl is tomorrow, but it was not on my calendar.
As I waited many minutes just to turn into the Costco parking lot I kicked myself for bad calendar management. I generally don’t like to go to Costco on weekends or before big holidays but on a big holiday weekend, what was I thinking? I circled the parking lot looking for a parking spot. It was a little bit of a shock to my system was I was not able to get my regular, first row-right next to the cart corral spot. Eventually I got one after waiting for a man to unload a big screen TV into his Honda Accord, along with seven cases of beer.
Once in the store I dodged many groups of amateur shoppers who were lazily browsing the stretchy pants section. That is good planning on the day before Super Bowl. I squeezed my way past them skillfully using my cart as if it had a cow catcher on the front to part the oblivious shoppers. I made it back to the vegetable cooler, which much to my surprise of empty of other shoppers. Apparently people don’t eat vegetables on Super Bowl Sunday.  
Like a running back who just caught the ball on the way to the end zone I swiftly made my way to the fresh chicken cooler where I tossed in pounds and pounds of chicken. Gliding my cart to the milk cooler, which was also empty of all shoppers, I was on the home stretch to get to the checkout. Where were all the people who had filled the parking lot? The stretchy pant section was not that full.
As I rounded the aisle where the chips are I found them. A sea of humanity packed so tight they looked like passengers trying to board the life boats on the Titanic. I stopped and backed myself out of there since I was in no need of chips. I made a mad sprint down the middle of the store to get to the check out lanes that are often the shortest, but only seasoned Costco shopper know how to get there without having to squeeze around all the other lines.
Miraculously, I got behind one man buying nothing but water. “You must be from Chapel Hill,” I commented. He was. I was in and out of Costco in less time than it took me find a parking place. Buying real food that needs to be cooked is unpopular this weekend.
I can’t think of anything better to do on a Super Bowl Sunday than make chicken pies for my friends. Keeping busy cooking takes my mind off eating traditional cheesy, gooey, spicy, fattening Super Bowl snacks. I just need to remember to look further ahead in my calendar and plan accordingly.

Need Water?

Carter and I got home from her basketball game in Raleigh tonight and I went to the fridge and got myself a glass of ice water. It was easy. I put the glass up to the dispenser on the fridge and after the glass half filled with yummy crushed ice I switched it over to cold refreshing water and took a big gulp. That’s when it hit me. My friends in Chapel Hill don’t have any water tonight.
I was at Chapel Hill Needlepoint around noon today when the guy who runs my favorite lunch spot, Lucha Tigre next door popped in to say they were closing as were every restaurant in the whole town due to a water emergency. He followed that up by tell Nancy that all homes and businesses were ordered not to use any water, including flushing toilets. What!?!?!
The hope was they could fix whatever was wrong in four or five hours, but even that long is too long to go without water. I stayed at needlepoint a while and by one thirty felt like I should get home to Durham, land of running water. I told my needlepoint friend Nancy she was welcome to come to my house if she needed water.
Apparently I waited in Chapel Hill too long because the University let everyone go and the public schools were closing so everyone could go home and not have water at their own houses. As I sat in a big traffic jam trying to get home I called one friend to invite her to come stay at my house. “Thanks, but we have a well and septic and for once I am happy not to be on city water'” she told me. What good news.  
By the time I got home it was time to leave to go to Raliegh. On my way there I heard on the radio the water ban had extended for another 24 hours. Since I was walking into a game I did not stop and call other Chapel Hill friends to extend water to them. I got home late and now I feel a little guilty drinking this yummy glass of water. I want to throw it out there that any of my Chapel Hill friends who need water, the facilities or a shower are welcome to come to our house. I heard that all the bottled water was sold out in Orange and Durham Counties by two in the afternoon. 
I hope that they can get this problem fixed faster than that. Life without water is just plain hard, especially for a plumbing loving society like ours.  

The Groundhog Needed a Better Agent

Today is that festive day known as Groundhog Day. Not a holiday, nor a real celebration, yet everyone knows when and what it is. I bet if I asked you the actual date of Veterans Day you would not be able to tell it to me. It is quite a miracle that Groundhog Day is so well known.
Groundhog Day was started in the 1880’s by Pennsylvania Germans following some pagan folk lore about predicting weather. Scholars of such thing say it was more likely a badger or a bear who emerged from some hibernating place in the old country to predict spring. I think it is more likely they came out to go to the bathroom, get a snack and go back to sleep.
Regardless, the Groundhog part of the equation is a pure PR stunt made up by the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a way to get people to come to their “not much going on” town. They probably cold not find a badger and certainly did not want to wake a sleeping bear so they drafted the unsuspecting Groundhog, a rodent they could pick up and photograph.
The poor Groundhog of 1887 had no idea the reputation he was tying his wagon to by becoming the spokes animal for weather predictions. The idea that if a Groundhog sees or does not see his shadow is absurd. For all we know the Groundhog might not see shadows at all. They are not animals know for spectacular eyesight. Best we can do is tell if we see his shadow or not.
The worst thing you can be is a weather predictor prior to modern day climate science. One hundred and fifty years ago until really recently the Groundhog had a fifty-fifty chance of getting the prediction wrong. So the Groundhog was being set up to fail.  
The third thing against the success of this day is that the groundhog is not a cute cuddly furry animal like a rabbit. It is a prickly, pointy nosed rodent. Hard to be a good salesman for anything with those beady eyes. And don’t get me started on the need for a manicure.
The Groundhog needed better representation when he hooked his wagon to the non holiday day. The least the Groundhog could have done was demand some fabulous food also be associated with this day. Cupid got chocolate, the Easter bunny got candy and eggs, the turkey got, oh turkey, not a good example, but no food for the Groundhog.
We might like the Groundhog better if on this second day of February we were all given an excuse to break our boring winter diet because in celebration of the Groundhog we ate some yummy German coffee cake. I am shocked the enterprising Germans in Pennsylvania did not promote Groundhog soft pretzels or something else they could sell. Perhaps this is why they were the Germans who were run out of the country. They were obviously not the smart ones.  
They did not pick a cute enough animal, they had no food and they made it a ceremony that happens at sunrise, not a good party time of day.  
As far as I am concerned Groundhog Day is an example of a failed PR campaign. Yes we know what it is, but we don’t care what the outcome is and we can certainly live without it. “You are as slow as Groundhog Day,” said no one ever.

Power Lunch

Yesterday I met one of my fellow basketball mothers in the lobby of the opponent’s gym before our girl’s game. “I made a big pot of quinoa on Sunday and sent it in with her for lunch.” She told me. We have a running joke that her daughter plays her best basketball when she has quinoa. If her daughter has a less than stellar game her mother confesses there was no quinoa. Yesterday, was a big win. Tied in the first quarter, up a few points at the half and a blow out of a win by more than twenty points in the final. As my friend was crossing over me in the bleachers after the game I said, “Keep feeding that quinoa.”  
It may have started as a joke, but there might be something to that power lunch. The quinoa provides protein that is satisfying from a hunger point of view as well as supplying power in a more steady manner than just a plain old carb might.  
If I were smarter I would plan all my meals around what my up coming tasks were and not what I was craving. I always eat breakfast before I go work out. I know that I don’t get the most out of my training time if I go on an empty stomach. I usually eat high protein cereal, fruit and milk which provides a balance. That is the only time I think about what I am eating in relationship to what I need to get done.
If I eat carbs in the late afternoon, when I am already having a sinking spell, they will just make me more tired in the long run. Yes, I might get a small spike in energy if I have sugar or caffeine, but the subsequent crash is inevitable. Perhaps what I need is a little cup of quinoa to just take the edge off, and give me a lower fat protein boost. Of course I am not running up and down the basketball court. Hell, I am not running anywhere, but I still could use the boost.  
So I am going to try and keep a little journal of what I eat, when I eat it and how I feel and preform afterwards. Perhaps this will be the incentive I need to eat the right foods at the right time. If I can prove to myself that sugar is ultimately slowing me down perhaps I can steer clear of it. Oh the things I try and tell myself so I do the right thing. If only I had a mother making my lunch with just the right fuel! Oh yeah, I am the mother.