My Sneakers are Getting Uglier


When I was a kid we went every September to the Wilton Bootery to get new sneakers for school. It wasn’t much of a choice, either kids or PF flyers on either red or blue. I always got blue kids. They went with all my clothes and felt just fine on my feet. They were simple and no thought went into them except for the size. I stood on the little metal foot measurer and the man at the store just went and got the size that my big toe indicated I need.
Times have changed. Carter and both needed new sneakers so we went to Ninth Street Active Feet. The walls are covered with bight, metallic, glow in the dark sneakers with soles thicker than my whole original Keds. You don’t pick tennis shoes out by color like I did as a kid. Instead you have to walk for the salesman and he has to evaluate your arch, and maybe even measure you on the exact same little metal plate they did at the Wilton Bootery in 1969.
“Overpronation, high arch, this is the shoe for you.” No choice of color, or brand. I try it on and he is right. It fits my foot perfectly. I can practically run in it. But I hate the dark grey and the metallic turquoise swoosh. “That is the color for the year.” Not that I like the old model, light grey with purple, but I had gotten used to it and the light Great made my big feet look. A little smaller. There steel grey 2017 model makes my feet look like aircraft carriers. 
It is just tough luck. There are no simple sneakers, just blue or red. I could have gotten my model in the old folk home white leather walking shoe, but that was just too heavy for working out. So here I am with a shoe that clashes with everything I own in terms of work out gear.  
I guess I am going to have to keep an eye out for a year that has color combinations I like and buy many pairs at once. So far that has not happened. It’s just going to be an ugly sneaker year.


My Last Food Bank Board Meeting

As I was driving home tonight my car made a dinging sound that meant I had a text message from Carter. The car read the message aloud, “I’m home. Call me if you want. I know it’s a sad day for you.” I had just left the Food Bank where I had my last board meeting. For as long as Carter can remember I have been volunteering at the Food Bank and through lots of loop holes had been on the board for thirteen years. My heart was sad about leaving, but was comforted that my child had such compassion for me.
At the end of the board meeting, which is a long and very important one as it is the end of our fiscal year, our board chair, Eddie Story did the presentations to thank the board members rolling off the board this year. There were only two of us, my friend Matt Martin and myself. Eddie, read long lists of our contributions and responsibilities and then we each were given beautiful glass bowl, something I am glad I suggested as a parting thank you years go.
After the presentations I asked if I could say a few words. I figured as a past chair and vocal member of the board I could stretch the meeting out one more minute. I chose to explain why I was so passionate out the mission of the Food Bank, something I was not sure I had told these people before.
“When I was in my early twenties I had a side business as a caterer in Washington DC. Sometimes I had so much leftover food from parties that I would end up throwing some of it away in my rolling trash cart in the alley behind my house. One morning I went out to put something in my cart and I was met by a man who looked a lot like me. He was about my age and was wearing a blue blazer and khaki pants. ‘You have the best garbage in DC,’ he told me.   
What do you say to that? Thank you seemed inappropriate. I told the man that if he wanted I could leave food in a box on top of my trash rather than in the bin. He said that would be great and he walked away with a handful of cold hors d’oeuvres. It was then I noticed his clothes were a little tattered and he could use a shower. He was the first homeless man I had met who could have gone to prep school.
After that I always left good food on top, rather than in my trash bin. The box was always gone. Although I never saw that man again once or twice I found a scrap of paper that just read ‘thank you.’ It was then that I thought there must be a better way.
A few years later I moved to Durham and my minster Hayward Holderness was the current chair of the Food Bank. He told me I need to volunteer and that is how I got here.”
As I was telling this part of the story I was overwhelmed and my eyes filled up of tears. I tried to go on without sobbing, but it took an extra minute to compose myself as I tried to tell my fellow board members and executive staff what I wanted to say in my final parting.
“This is why this work is so important. This is a great organization that does amazing work. It is so important for all you board members to show up, volunteer your time and make big decisions. The staff are the best and the Food Bank has come so far in the seventeen years I have been volunteering. Thank you for all you do.”
My time on the board may be over, but I am not leaving the Food Bank. I have projects to work on that will keep me busy for at least the next year. 
After most everyone else had said goodbye I walked out to the lobby alone to leave and turned and looked at the words of our mission “No one goes hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina.” It made me happy to know that children don’t have to look through garbage cans to find food here, but then I wondered about that man in DC. I hope when I moved and he no longer had my boxes of food that he too found an organization like our Food Bank to help him. In this country of ours no one should have to eat from garbage cans.


The Cruelty of a Summer Cold

Today could not have been a more beautiful day. Low 80’s and no humidity, Carolina blue sky’s and no pollen in sight. With a day like today having a cold seems down right cruel. Some how in the dark fridge days of winter a cold seems in place. If the weather is miserable then it is no surprise you are too. So during these fleeting perfect days feeling bad is just mean.
The chapped lips and dry skin that I have in the winter are taking over my face. I am wondering if the cold medicine is drying out my skin better than drying out my sinuses. I have done everything possible to deny that I am sick. At first I blamed my sore throat on air conditioning. Then the stuffy nose and aches were harder to explain. No matter how old I get I will look for any reason for cold symptoms that are not cold related.
Today, after four days of fighting I finally admitted it is a cold and let myself take a nap. Not that it helped my cold, just passed the time. Carter has sweetly been offering care, but I can’t think of a thing I need except a good nights sleep.


My Machines are Making Me Crazy

I’m tired of being technology illiterate. No matter how much I learn about my machines and their programs/apps I will never be able to keep up. Recently my blog has been acting up. I write it, post it and it does not seem to automatically update on Facebook. I can sometimes do it manually, but sometimes it doesn’t work. I have no idea why something that has been working for six years suddenly stops when it has nothing physical to break.
Last week I bought an app on my iPad. I wanted to download the same app on to my phone, which should be free to do. For the life of me I can’t get it to work. I wrote the help desk and what they told me to do was written in a foreign technical language disguised as English. I asked Russ to help me. He is after all my IT department. Even with a masters in electrical engineering he could not make it work.
I feel like I am falling behind in understanding how to mange my technology. If there was a class in just my problems I would like to take it, but there is no such thing. When our friends then Lefflers lived here I could hire their then ten year old son to fix all apple products for some ridiculous tiny amount of money. Now I am looking for a young person, like maybe a nine year old, who can help me with my issues.  
I may be old, but I am not ancient. I figure I have mother thirty years of flight g further and further behind in being blue to make my own technology work. One of the beauties of having pole products is they were less technical than PC and more intuitive, but I think I have lost my intuition, with the hope of getting it back.


Bulldega

 
Some years ago, like thirteen or fourteen my friend Jane Phillips had a birthday party of a trolley tour of Downtown Durham. She had the head of Downtown Durham Inc. narrate the tour, highlighting all the goings on in the then, just up and coming downtown. Russ and I had been big fans of downtown long before this trip, with Russ putting his office in the then still considered sketchy center of town. Since we had both lived in cities for years we saw the bones of a thriving city.
During the tour our guide was touting the renovations of apartments for those brave urban dwellers. There were a few cool lofts and older buildings being repurposed into homes. Downtown also had the starts of what would come to be known as the hottest chef/owners restaurants in the country.
As the trolley took us from place to place I was able to ask a question of the verbose proponent of downtown living. “Where are the grocery stores?” I asked. The response was quick, “outside of downtown.” How do these city dwellers get there,” I asked in my reporter style follow-up question. “They get in their car and drive there,” I was told in a sit-down-kid-and-shut-up-you’re-bothering-me sort of way. Not one to be told what to do I pressed on, “People who live in cities walk to buy their food. If they even have a car, they don’t want to lose their parking space.” I was quickly told there were no plans for a grocery store of any kind. Short sighted considering the huge number of apartments they were building.
Here we are all these later and finally a fabulous little store called Bulldega has opened across the street from the city hall. Even though we have to drive to get to it, from the suburbs we live in, Russ and I try to support it because it is what downtown needs. It isn’t hard to like this store, with Fiirst Hand meats, local produce and Box Car cheeses. The best thing they have are their house brands of honey and the southern darling, pickled watermelon rind. The most amazing thing is they are very inexpensive.  
So next time you go to the farmers market, or after you have lunch at Pompeii Pizza around the corner, stop in to Bulldega. It is family owned and run and the money you spend there will stay in Durham. It may make you consider living downtown.


Tackling The Real Clean Out

I woke up with a summer cold. Not terrible, but sore throat and stuffy head. I decided it would be best for me to stay home and not subject my sick self to anyone. I took some Aleve-D cold medicine and it made me feel not only much less sick, but totally took away any appetite and gave me great productive energy.
With this big block of time on my hands and some crazy drug induced kind of adrenaline I decided it was the perfect day to start my summer project of a total clean out of my office. First thing you should know about my office is I have been using it for 23 years. When we first moved in it was my consulting office when I was not out of the country at a client’s site. Once I retired from real work it became my arts and crafts center, while still being the center of the family paperwork storage.  
Many things have gone in this room over the years, hundreds of cookbooks, all of Carter’s letters from camp, scrapbooks, stationary for every occasion, and every box that an Apple product came in. Many things came in office and very little ever left. Once in a while I would move an entire category of items out of the office, like every issue of Durham Magazine since the second issue when I started writing for them. As the stack grew too big I found space in the furnace room to inventory them. Why save them? I do not know. I doubt Carter is going to go back and read an article I wrote about where to get things fixed.
I knew that the job of total overhaul is a multi-week job. Today I started with the first layer – the most recent mail, some of the piles on my desk and the year of financial statements that needed to be filed. Once that was done I stepped into some of the cookbook overflow. I pulled a bunch of books I have not looked at or might never have used from the shelf and am planning on giving them to the DA used book sale. Then I found the stash of old iPhone, iPad and Mac computer boxes. I am not sure why I was saving them, but I did find a perfectly good iPhone 4s in one of the boxes. My recycling is getting full now that I have seen fit to part with cardboard.
I found a lovely cloth bag full of papers that I think came from my bedroom many years ago and got squirreled away in my office and never dealt with. It had a sixth grade report card for Carter, a DA directory from third grade, a book of Poetry written by Carter in fifth grade and a couple of sweet notes from Carter with dubious spelling that belied the straight A’s on the report card. Finding that treasure made going through all the boxes and books worth while.
I can only imagine what treasures I will find in files that have been untouched for fifteen years. Probably mostly owners manuals for items long since discarded and statements for airline rewards programs for companies that have gone out of business. Perhaps I will have to stay on this Aleve-D past the period of my cold to have the energy to finish this job.


Mexican Street Corn

We had some friends for dinner tonight. I had no menu planned at all and just went to the farmers market with Russ this morning. I decided to be inspired by what was available at the market. I got bison steaks which were quite good. Tomatoes which I served with basil from my garden and Burrata, fresh okra, cherry lemon almond bread and the best corn on the cob.
Since it was a very simple supper I thought I should juze up the corn. I remembered some corn we had in Mexico and thought I would make a version of street corn. It was incredibly messy to eat, but I could have made a meal of nothing but the corn I loved it so much.
Mexican Street Corn
Sauce- enough for 12 ears of corn
2/3 c. Mayo

2 oz. of feta cheese chopped up smaller than pea size

1/2 c. Grated Parmesan cheese

1 t. Chili powder

1/2 t. Smoked Paprika

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 t. Black pepper

2 T. Lime juice
Mix all ingredients together and let the flavors marry together in the refrigerator for t least an hour.
Husk corn and grill on medium high grill, turning the corn every three minutes until the kernels start to get black all over. Put the hot corn in a backing pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and cover tightly with foil. This will keep the corn hot for half an hour. You can do this in advance and reheat the corn in the oven on 350° for 15-20 minutes.
Slather the sauce on the hot corn and serve.

You might need two ears per person, it’s that good.
This is not my picture of my corn.  I forgot to take a picture and we ate it all, but this is what it looks like.