No More Meals With Just Men and Dogs For Me

Months ago my friend Lane invited us to the coast for this weekend. It is always our favorite weekend of the year, going out on the inter coastal, enjoying good friends and a very relaxing time. Sadly at the last minute Lane had to go to New Hampshire, but she implored Russ, Shay and I to come down anyway to be with her husband Jon and their three dogs. Well, we weren’t going to cancel on Jon, we love spending time with him.


He got in late last night so breakfast this morning was our first meal together. Since this is the weekend before Russ’ birthday I brought his favorite foods. We had polenta bread from Loaf in Durham for toast, avocado to go on it, eggs on top of that. It was a yummy and somewhat healthy breakfast. I was just sorry Lane was missing it.


After a lazy morning we went out on the boat with three of the four dogs outfitted in life preservers. The early fall still felt like a perfect summer day, at 76° and sunny. We traveled up the river to a boat-in restaurant. Turns out the dogs we welcome, in the downstairs bar where we were forced to chose between the two menu items, a pulled pork sandwich and steamed shrimp. We chose both. It was much more lunch than I needed after the fine breakfast I had started with, but eating with men and dogs you just are not going to get a salad.


Between the sun and the food, naps were required for everyone, but me when we got back to the house. Suddenly it was already time to eat again. For dinner we left the dogs at home and ventured to downtown Wilmington to a Belgian restaurant named Caprice. When going Belgian one must have mussels. They were delicious, but the portions were too big. I realized that if I had Lane with us I would have had a lady sized eater companion. Now, without a nap and with too much food I am exhausted. The lesson for the day is don’t try and keep up with dogs or men when eating.


Russ’ Dream

Russ has this long standing dream. We buy a sprinter van and travel around the country with Shay. Not that we have ever camped, or that we have even slept on a bed in a motorized vehicle. The whole scheme is that Russ gets to be with Shay 24 hours a day. Of course Russ says Shay gets to see America, but she honestly only has eyes for Russ and is not interested in the Grand Canyon.
Now there are some flaws in this plan. Russ, does not have one free hour, let alone days, no weeks, to drive around the country. We do not own a sprinter van and from all the YouTube videos Russ has shown me on the subject the beds inside are not long enough for a him. We have never been camping so it is not like we are great outdoors enthusiasts.  
The major flaw is Shay. First she likes to ride on the driver’s lap when going anywhere in a car. That is unless Russ is the passenger, then she likes to ride in the passenger’s lap. We have put one of her many beds in the back seat of the car and she may go stand on it for a minute and then wiggle finiggles herself back upfront. I have no idea how she would do in a big van, but we could test it out. She might like to travel on the big bed in the back since her home base is almost always our bed.
The number one problem is we could never leave her. Shay is the biggest cry baby when we leave her anywhere. Only now at six years old will she stay home with out crying all the time, but even now sometimes after we leave I can hear her crying in the house.
Tonight we came to our friends house in Wilmington. They, being Jon and his three dogs, are not arriving until later tonight. Shay has been to this house a few times so it was not a strange place to her. Russ and I put her bed in our regular room and she acted like she was at home. Then we left to go out to dinner. Barley down the steps and we could her her pitiful wailing. We were gone hardly over an hour and when we returned she was still in full out howling.
We entered the house and she came running down the steps from our room and jumped all over us. “How could you leave me?” Only then did she go to her full dinner bowl that we left before we went out and gobbled down her food. “I was too distraught to eat,” she seemed to say when she looked back at me.
So much for Russ’ dream. We could never take Shay on a trip where she was not with us 100% of the time. She can not stay in a hotel room alone as we would certainly be kicked out. I have tried to reason with her and tell her that if she wants more Daddy time she has to learn to be quiet, but as far as she is concerned crying got us to return.
This all may be good news for me. Although I love a good road trip, I can’t imagine pulling into a camp ground, let alone staying in one. My idea of camping is taking a nice walk in some cool woods, maybe dipping my toes in a beautiful stream and then going back to the Ritz Carlton and have a shower and some iced tea with lots of lime. Thanks Shay for crying, you have saved me from becoming a KOA member.


Shh- Vivian Howard Insider Preview 

I may have retired from the board of the Food Bank, but that does not mean I am not still working to help them eradicate hunger in North Carolina. One of the ways I am doing that is to chair a big event in March, the Chef’s Feast. This year Vivian Howard, star of the TV show A Chef’s Life on PBS and the chef and owner of the Chef and the Farmer in Kinston is the lead celebrity chef at our dinner. Fearrington Inn has graciously donated the use of the Barns for our location as well has their award Winning chef Colin Bedford as one of the chefs.
We are still in the planning stages for the event, inviting chef’s to join us as well as looking for sponsors. I am very excited about what a fun evening it is going to be, with a VIP reception before hand where special guests will get to meet the chefs and have their pictures taken together, a cocktail hour and then seated dinner. Yours truly will be the auctioneer for the event where some one of a kind culinary experiences with the presenting chefs will be offered.
Because you are a reader of this blog, you are getting this sneak preview that the event is going to take place on March 22. I tell you this because, as with all other Vivian Howard Chef Feast events, they sell out fast and many adoring fans of both Vivian and the Food Bank are left disappointed they could not attend.
If you or your company is interested in hearing about what being a sponsor gets you please give me a call. One of the benefits are guaranteed seats and entrance into the VIP reception. For individuals we will be selling tickets $225, with a small number of VIP tickets available for non-sponsors for $500 each. If you love Vivian, great food, fabulous wine and a once in a life time event let me know and I will put you on an advance list so you don’t get closed out when the tickets sell out right away. I can tell you from previous Vivian Food Bank events they are very fun and no one leaves hungry or disappointed.
One note:  the date is March 22, 2018!


My Nail History

I grew up in Connecticut, a place too Yankee for anyone to get their nails done, ever. When I would go into my father’s office at Avon in NYC I would see beautiful woman with polished nails, turns out they all commuted from New Jersey.
After college I got a job as a “sales engineer,” as my card said. I was in and out of VP’s of banks offices and I decided that I needed to up the appearance of my hands. It was the early eighties, the time of big hair, big shoulder pads and bright red finger nails. Since I had small, thin nails I started having acrylic put on them. It was fairly new then and the only place I found that could do it was in, where else, New Jersey. Since the headquarters of my company was there I would make special trips from Washington DC to the home office just to get my nails done.
This was impractical at best and after about a year I found a nail artist in DC, named Blythe, who had been a jewelry maker, but discovered her skills made her great at acrylics and earned her more money. I stayed with Blythe for at least seven years, until I moved away from DC.
I had trouble finding a manicurist I liked as much in NC and I eventually gave up acrylics as well as having my nails done at all. Then along came gel manicures. It was the strength of acrylics without the up keep. I loved the look, but found it did not hold up well when your hands are in water a lot. I went from salon to salon trying to find a manicurist I wanted a relationship with.  
One day I had a manicurist who told me about a powder called SNS that looked and acted like gel, but stayed on in water and lasted three to four weeks. I loved it, but found that very few manicurist were very good at applying it. Then I met Cindy. She was the bomb.  
Recently, Cindy left her old salon and opened her own place called Posh Nail Spa, not to be confused with Posh the Salon. I went today for my first visit. It is a very clean and well outfitted salon next to the Food Lion on Main st. Near Erwin Square.  
Cindy and her husband Tom, did a great job designing the salon. She had over 700 colors of polishes. If you are looking for someone good to make your nails beautiful I highly recommend Cindy. I need her to succeed at this new venture because it took me 23 years to find her.


What’s Good For Me

One benefit of having no child at home is I am available to answer the call for volunteers. Last week I worked the church community clothing sale. Today I volunteered to serve the Urban Ministries shelter meal. Having a chance to do things for other people is really the best thing for me to do to keep my mind off our empty house.
Serving the shelter meal is something I have done many times over many years so it is like riding a bike, something I could do with my eyes closed. Tonight we had a number of old hats and an equal number of virgins. After putting on my plastic gloves and downing my hairnet, it was up to me to instruct how to cut the lasagnas into 12 perfectly equal portions. This is when my quilting skills come in handy. The one skill I found the men lacked was that of using warn wrap.
After we had prepped all the food, but before the doors were open to let the crowd in we had to make up the late plates. Tonight there were 22 plates needed for the people staying at the shelter who had late jobs. We had to wrap the rolls and cookies in Saran separate from wrapping the plate of lasagna, salad and bananas. It became a Saran 101 class.
The doors opened right on time at 6:45 and I had Richard Myer and his wife Pru on my right manning the rolls and salad as I was scooping out lasagna with Bill Burig on my right. Pete McWilliams and Logan Toms handled bananas and cookies and Richard Watson and Brendon, the scout leader did drinks. We did a steady business of feeding about 300 people. 
As the line slowed down I went to a help mother with a three year old son and 18 month old daughter. I fed the little girl because this mother was clearly overwhelmed. I learned that her husband just disappears, she works full time and she doesn’t know what to do. It was heart breaking, but for a few minutes I gave her a chance to eat her meal. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had to offer.
Before I knew it the eight o’clock hour was upon us and it was time to close the serving line and go home. Serving the shelter meal takes away my appetite completely. I got home and could not think about having dinner. Maybe I should spend more time helping other people, if only I could find things that don’t involve a hairnet.


Family Day


I had a light calendar today. Besides my normal working out the only thing on it was having lunch with my Mom. Turns out it was a good thing I did not plan too much else.
My Mom had to take her car in for service so I picked her up at the dealership. When I pulled in I couldn’t help but spot her in her bright red pants and cheerful red and blue tunic. She could have been an American flag all on her own. She was holding two bags. One full of tomatoes from her garden and the other had three new night gowns. I inherited my love of nightgowns from my mother who I know got it from her mother.
My Mom had brought her night gowns for me to hem. So back to my house and my sewing room we went. She liked my set up and told me I could work in the back of a dry cleaners. Oh, when you Mom dreams big for you.
She sat in one of my comfy chairs as I made the alterations to her gowns. By then it was time to go to lunch so we went to Nordstrom Cafe so she was close to her dealership to pick up her car.
I thought I had a free afternoon, so I stopped at the fabric store to pick some fabric up for the backs of the placemats I am creating. Before I could get started on that project my Dad showed up at my door. He was in town for his first visit with his concierge doctor. I was thrilled to learn all about it and know that I was out of the concierge medical position I played for my Dad.
Just as I was about to go do some quilting I got a text from Carter who just wanted to talk. Of course I was free to talk to her. When you college child wants to talk you drop everything to get to have a few minutes with her. The timer on FaceTime clocked us at an hour and three minutes. It was a special day to get so much one-on-one time with so many family members.
Now Shay and I are sitting on the front porch waiting for Russ to come home. A rare Monday night and he is in town. I may have had a light calendar, but it turned into a great day.


I’m Taking A Knee

I lived in DC during the flag burning case days. I thought then, putting a flag before actual American people was a little ass backwards. Of course saying anything that sounded like you were not for the flag first and foremost was considered unAmerican. In fact, I thought being allowed to disagree was the most American of rights.
Now that 45 has made a ridiculous stand against NFL Players who are using the national anthem as an opportunity to make a nonviolent statement I am more determined than ever to take a knee for free speech. When we have a POTUS who does not speak out against Neo-Nazis, who are actually causing violence, but condemns football players for a momentary protest is unacceptable.
I was thrilled today that many players and more importantly, owners spoke out against 45’s stance. With all that is wrong in the country the President certainly should be working on real issues. Of course the only way he can get all the TV coverage he craves is to make more and more stupid comments.  
I predict next he is going to come out against children, then dogs and last Mother Teresa, it won’t matter that she is no longer alive. The man is begging us to relieve him of his duties. Actually being president is not what he thought it was going to be. He self admittedly said it was much harder than he thought. The FLOTUS is clearly unhappy about losing her charmed life and I bet has cut him off.  
We know he no longer wants the job because he came out against Steph Curry and only someone looking to be fired would do that. Steph is a national treasure. So I’m with Steph and all the people who are standing up, or taking a knee for our constitutional freedoms.