Immigrant Advantage

Living in Durham has great benefits. Not just that we have a world class university, or access to the best medical care, but those are important. It’s the large number of immigrants and the variety of foods they bring.  
Today I was cooking a dish for international day at Carter’s school. I needed corn tortillas. Not a mile from my house is a Mexican tortilleria where they make tortillas fresh all day. I used to drive to northern Durham to get fresh tortillas, but my friend Maricela, who is Mexican told me about this place, which is so much closer to my house. Not only are they closer, but the warm tortillas are cheaper at about $1.20 per pound, which is about a dozen tortillas.
It’s not just Mexican food that is available close by. A couple of stores away is a very fine Indian grocery store where I get big bags of red lentils less than half the price from the regular grocery store. Across the street is Li Ming, an Asian grocery superstore. Russ stocks up on frozen dumplings from his favorite Brooklyn dumpling maker there.
If Durham did not have so many people from across the world we would not have access to these specialty grocers where I love to shop. Walking the aisles of these stores is like going on a trip. I find ingredients I might have read about or eaten while traveling, but are not stocked at the Harris Teeter. Not only are can I get a better garam masala at the Indian store it is half the price.
Please God don’t let the current administration scare off people from far off lands with more interesting cuisines. They are not just good for our economy, but are better for our palettes.

Bring Your Balls Back To NC

3.5 Billion dollars, that is what it is estimated was lost in revenue to the state of North Carolina over the “bathroom bill” HB2. It was a discriminatory ridiculous law that singled out transgendered people trying to just do what is necessary, use the bathroom. One stupid governor staked his career on it and now says he can’t find a job after he was voted out of office. Seems like all the politicians in Raleigh who voted for this stupid bill need to have the same fate befall on them.
Citizens protested, and the small minded politicians did nothing. Concerts were cancelled, they did nothing. Businesses that were planning on relocating or expanding operations in North Carolina and they did nothing. The NBA all-star basketball game was pulled from Charlotte and they did nothing. Then the NCAA said they were not going to schedule any basketball tournaments in North Carolina for the next seven years, and they caved.
Strange bed fellows, college basketball and transgendered people. But thanks to the NCAA for finally putting a deadline that those small minded politicians wouldn’t ignore. The repeal of HB2 is not exactly a repeal, but a compromise. There is still discrimination in the bill but not in the bathroom. Improvements can be made, but it is going to take changing many of those legislators to do it.  
If you live in NC and you don’t care about the rights of transgendered people just think about the 3.5 billions dollars that was lost as well as what used to be the stellar reputation of a once progressive state. The cost of that reputation is way more than many billions of dollars.  

The big orange balls might be back in North Carolina but it is time to drive all the politicians and their little balls back out of Raliegh like we did to Governor Mc Croy.  

Just When You Have Them Trained

Tonight I had a social event to go to, leaving Carter at home to fend for herself. She had plans to cook dinner with a friend, which was a first. While I was enjoying myself at the party, talking to my friend Missy I got a text on my watch. Without my reading glasses on I could barley make out that it was from Carter. Worried that she had a cooking problem I asked my friend Missy to read the text off my watch.

“Shay went out to poop and had a little poop stuck on her butt…”. Missy was reading me out loud, thank goodness she is a close enough friend. “She got it on her bed. I took the zipper bedding off and put it into the wash on sanitize setting. Hope that’s OK.”
Despite the text being about my dog getting poop on her bedding I felt like a choir of angels had just sung while a rainbow appeared over a beautiful sunset. My child had not only let the dog out, but she noticed that she brought poop inside, and wiped it on her bed and she cleaned it up all without being asked. What planet am I on? I can go ahead and die now, my job as a Mother is done.  
This is one shining moment in mother world. She also paid close attention in “new washer usage training” and was able to pick the appropriate setting for the cleaning situation.  
Then it hit me. She is actually a very useful member of the household. For a while now she has been good at going to the grocery, or getting the oil changed in the car. Now with this washer usage for something other than her own clothes I realize I could have her doing more, but just as she has gotten fully trained I am about to lose her. So many years of teaching her how to be self sufficient and I am not going to get the benefit of her training. Who am I going to train now?

Why Daffodils Are My Favorite

With the early spring we have had my Daffodils have come and gone. I was thrilled to find bunches and bunches of the happy yellow flowers cheap at Trader Joe’s yesterday and treated myself to $4.50 worth. My love of daffodils is deep rooted in my history.
When I was just about four years old my parents moved us from Dayton, Ohio to New Canaan, Ct. We lived in a little house that was twice the size of out tiny Ohio house. I had a fenced back yard and a swing set and I spent many an hour outside alone since I had a new baby sister. One day while I was rooting around our garage unsupervised I came upon a bag of peat moss. I did not know then that it was peat moss since I could not read, but the smell made a big impression upon me and later in life when I encountered it again I recognized it as my four year-old first foray into gardening.
As clear as a non-pollen filled day I can remember dragging that half used bag of peat moss out of the garage to the strip of dirt the lay between the building and the fence that ran between our house and our neighbor’s the Smith’s. I dug out of the bag handfuls of the brown dirt and mixed it in with the lose soil next to the garage. I then went and got the hose and sprinkled water all over the area where I had put the peat moss. My memory stops there of that event, I probably got bored and left the bag and the perhaps the running hose and went off to swing on my swing set.
Fast forward a few months to spring in Connecticut and there in the very spot where I had sprinkled the peat moss and watered it grew up the most glorious wall of yellow daffodils. I ran and told my mother that I had planted them. Since it was our first spring in that house she had no idea that daffodils were there so she just believed me.
Three years later I was very sad to leave our little New Canaan house and move one town over to Wilton where we had a much larger house with lots of property and a beautiful stream that meandered down a hill to a lovely pond. Since we moved in the late summer and I did not have any friends in this new house yet I spent lots of time digging around the stream and letting little boats made of leaves go at the top of the stream and watched them float the hundreds of feet down to the pond.  
When spring came to our new house in Wilton I was delighted to see that the daffodils followed us from New Canaan. On the banks of the stream dozens of yards on both banks all the way down to the pond were thousands of daffodils. I used to go and pick great handfuls and take them to my teachers and it never made a dent there were so many.  
I was still young enough to think that my digging around in the dirt by the stream somehow had something to do with the flowers appearing. Year after year there would be more and more flowers I had no idea that they reproduced themselves. However it happened, they always made me happy and still do to this day. Even now when I smell that pungent, not very attractive smell of peat moss I smile and think of it as Magic flower making dirt. I’m so glad my mother let me believe I planted those daffodils.

Nice Sighting

Yesterday I was thrilled when UNC walk-on basketball Luke Maye made the winning shot in the game yesterday elevating UNC to the final four for next weekend. Not only did the nonstarter make the winning point, but he was named Most Outstanding player of the South Regional.
Imagine my surprise when My friend Hannah and I saw Luke walk into the little Franklin street eatery Sandwhich today at lunch. He was all alone, obviously looking for someone as he circled the tables. We wanted to congratulate him, but thought we should give him his privacy. A mother and her young son came in the restaurant and were standing right beside our table when Maye came up to greet them, with a pat on the back for the young boy. They were the people he was waiting for.
Hannah and I could not help but overhear their conversation since Maye was standing right beside me. He took off his final four hat, with the section of net from the winning basket tied to it, to let the little boy look at it. It was obvious they were friends, but were not related. Eric Montrose, ex- UNC basket star and now commentator, came in and joined them. Luke told the young boy that he was here for just today since the team is leaving for the final four tomorrow.
Hannah and I decided not to bother them and neither did anyone else in the place. Hannah showed me the Tar Heel report that had just been posted showing Maye at his 8AM class this morning where he got a standing ovation. It was so nice to see that someone who was the star last night on the court was just a student today. Yes, he was a student who had gotten a standing ovation, but he also was someone who was spending his one lunch back in Chapel Hill with a little boy. I hope that Maye continues to win, but keeps that humility that he appeared to have today.

March Madness Changes Me

This is the big weekend with the sweet sixteen and elite eight in college basketball. I came more about teams I never followed this weekend than I ever have before. The really big thing is how watching these games makes me opposite of myself in every possible way.
Today while I was walking on my treadmill watching the South Carolina/Florida game I found myself upping the speed to a full on run. I never run. I hate running. I am a terrible runner. I could have a large dog chasing me and I still would not run. I can’t explain why watching two teams I have no investment in run up and down the court on my TV entices me to run. But I did run. I ran the whole last fifteen minutes. Believe me, this was a miracle.
The final game of the weekend was the only game I actually cared about, the UNC/Kentucky game. Sadly our neighbors Laurie and Colin who have been living across from us for the last six months while they renovated their house were having a goodbye to Westover road party. It started right at the start of the game. Normally I would be thrilled to go to a party across the street. Many neighbors were there, the food and drink was great, but the game was on silently. I was not alone in being interested in it, but I missed the commentary.
I stayed for the first half of the game, but had no guilt leaving to go home and watch the final half all alone. Russ and Carter went out and Shay snuggled down with me for the last half of basketball for the big weekend. The elite eight made me antisocial. I didn’t want anyone with me. It is best I am alone when I am screaming these obscenities at the TV. 
The final four with only three games is not the same basketball orgy. Of course I will be watching my Tar Heels. Hopefully I can have the same running experience I had today. If this works out I am going to see what watching the Masters does to my treadmill work. Somehow I am not sure golf will energize me in the same way.

I Missed National Puppy Day

Apparently I was not alone in missing celebrating National Puppy day which was Wednesday. In the past three days I have seen many mea culpas on social media to four legged friends whose owners forgot to celebrate them. I was worried that Shay might get on Facebook looking for my tribute to her and give me a guilt trip over it.
Then I got to thinking, Shay is not a Puppy. Neither were most of the dogs that were belatedly honored. Does it make any difference? Isn’t your fourteen year old dog always your puppy? Just like my adult daughter will always be my baby.
I do have a number of friends who have recently gotten actual puppies. Is there anything better–the puppy breath, the high energy excitement, the way they pass out the second they come in from a walk. It is easy to love someone else’s puppy when you are not the one cleaning up the mistakes on the new carpet, or having to wake up in the middle of the night to go out.
Puppies make everyone feel happy, that is why they are brought in as a stress reliever to kids taking exams. So of course they deserve a day of celebration even more so than national pencil day or liver appreciation Wednesday. Ok, liver appreciation might also be on a Thursday, but celebrating puppies is a no brainer.
To all you dog parents who did not post a photo of your sweet love, don’t feel bad. Everyday is a dog’s day. They are never going to hold it against you that you did not throw them a party. Just rub their belly and all is forgiven.
To Shay Shay, you will always be our puppy, no matter how old you get. Happy day to you!