The Tortured and the Torturer

My job this week is to come and help my friends Warren and his sister Donna to clean out their childhood home and get it ready to sale. Both Warren and Donna inherited the collector gene from both their parents so it is a big task to deal with the what has accumulated in the house over the last 70 years.

I was supposed to be here at the tail end of this job that has been going on for months. Last week I got a panicked call from Warren that they were not as far along as they wanted to be before my visit. I told him it was my job to come crack the whip and hold their feet to the fire.  

When I got here yesterday Warren was not here yet due to the big storm that knocked power out at his house in Maine. Donna and I got supplies for the week then I told her she did not have to hang out with me and to go home and I started cleaning. I found great satisfaction in cleaning the appliances in the kitchen since I was going to be using them to cook. Warren eventually arrived just as I was settling into my sofa I was going to spend the week sleeping on since all the beds in the house were gone.

I awoke at the unnecessary hour of 5:30 this morning. It was a few hours before I was able to get to the task of the day, cleaning out one bedroom where many items had been placed from the attic. I was trying to enforce the OHIO method of “only touching it once.” This meant that I had to convince both Donna and Warren to throw things away, or put them in a pile to go to the Salvation Army, or keep something and then decide who would keep it.

Most of the valuable stuff had left the house earlier, but that did not make it any easier for me to convince them to throw things away. The biggest category of items today were the lifetime of games and toys they had pulled out of the attic. They had many original things still in their boxes. This treasure trove is valuable to collectors and was going to a friend to sell them all on eBay.

Just as I was the torturer saying, “throw those old pens, pencils and scissors that no longer cut away.” I was tortured because I was surrounded by a huge number of games, I would love to have been playing, and I was forbade even one round of password as my payback for throwing away dolls with missing limbs.

The good news is we finished the designated room, taking five body bag sized bags to the trash, and moving a dozen boxes of toys to the living room to be picked up tomorrow, bags and bags for Salvation Army and just a few items to go back to Warren’s and Donna’s. I can’t wait to see what job we will finish tomorrow.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This morning I got an early morning call from Carter in a panic. She is in Alicante, Spain and was unable to check in for her flight to Berlin tomorrow. I was busy trying to get ready for my flight to Boston and Russ was on a work call. 
After lots of calls found out despite having lots of confirmations that her ticket was bought and many e-mails from KLM about her upcoming flight, she actually did not have a seat and there were no seats to be had on any airline. Oh the joys of travel.
I found her a flight from Madrid through Munich with one last seat. Thank goodness she is flexible and is now having to take an early morning train to Madrid, an Uber to the the airport, and two flights tomorrow. There were other options from Madrid if I was willing to pay three times as much. There might have been an easier way than going through Madrid, but not one I could figure in the small window I had and not one Carter could figure out from where she was. I was not sure I wanted her to go through Barcelona given the state of the government and protests.
I have to admit that before Carter was invited to this lovely house in Spain, I had never even heard of Alicante. Probably the same way people i. Spain have never heard of Sea Island, Georgia. This mid semester break Carter has had has been a big adventure in travel. It might break her of her wanderlust.
As for me I am off on my “mission trip.” Going to Rutland, MA to help a friend clean out his childhood home since his mother passed away in August. Since Boston is having a nor’easter my travel of flying to Boston and taking a shuttle van an hour and a half out to Rutland hopefully will be less eventful than Carter’s, but you just never know. I also will probably not have any connectivity where I am so if I appear out of touch that is why. My friend has told me we have to go to the library to get WiFi and I have no idea how far that is. Just think of me in my red bandana and rubber gloves and absolute worst cleaning clothes for the next three days.

My Go To Dinner

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, invited me over for a mass produced frozen meal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to be invited, but I just as soon go for coffee and skip dinner if it is going to be Stouffers. The calories are too high and the portion is too small.  
I am not opposed to frozen food, but my frozen food is homemade. Yes, I have things in my freezer that are complicated meals I spent hours making and then froze. That is not what I ma talking about. My go to meal, especially if I am alone is a piece of pan seared salmon.  
I buy a side of salmon at costco and bring it home and immediately cut it into one person servings. I wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and place them all in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When I need something for dinner I take one out and let it thaw on the counter, which takes less than an hour. When I cook it up you wold never know it was frozen.
It is almost as easy to cook that fish and a vegetable as it is to cook a frozen dinner and it is way more yummy and has no where near the amount of sodium and lord knows what else.
This also works for chicken, steak, pork. Any protein, if you cut it when it’s fresh into a single serving size it will thaw much more quickly. It also acts as portion control when having dinner. If I only that one, that is all I have to eat.
Forget frozen meals. Try real cooking!

Pack It In Day

I spent the last two weeks mostly alone because Russ was traveling. Not that I was actually alone, since everyday I usually had lunch with someone and I always had Shay Shay, but I did not have Russ around. I was good at entertaining myself and felt like I was fine, that was until Russ actually got home. Not only did Shay basically lose her mind so excited he was home, I too was very happy.
We really packed in a lot of fun for one day. We got up early and went downtown and had breakfast at Scratch and then went around the corner to Loaf to get Russ his weekly polenta bread and a bag of cookies to take to the UNC football game. We got home just in time to meet our friends Lynn and Logan to go to Chapel Hill.

It was the perfect football weekend, cooler than it had been and sunny. Logan is the best tailgater in the world. He packs a cooler with more drink options than any full service bar. You want a Bloody Mary? No problem, do you want lime or lemon in it. Prosecco? He has bubbles to spare. He even has curated the best lemonade. My favorite surprise in his cooler is the rice pudding. Sadly no one wanted the pudding because they were too busy eating Hope Valley fried chicken and deviled eggs.  

Eventually we went to the football game where the Miami fans were all in their unattractive orange and green. I am thankful for UNC blue. I sat with Lynn, Susan and Kathi who all we were all into the game. Carolina played much better than predicted or Miami played worse, so it was a closer game than expected.

During the game Carter was texting me questions about how to cook a pork tenderloin because over in Spain she was making dinner for her nine college friends on vacation. She proudly texted me a photo of the dinner she made all by herself, pork, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and spinach. She was having a blast and announced she wanted to be a chef. Not why we were sending her to college. She did discover the joy or feeding people, not unlike Logan at his tailgate.
After our fun day Russ and I went to the Lakewood for dinner. I had thankfully skipped most tailgate food so I had no dinner guilt. It was nice to get more alone to catch up. I am not sure I could pack anymore in the day. I had gotten used to being alone, but boy am I glad Russ is home for the weekend.

Travel Training

When I was little my family used to leave cool Connecticut in August and drive for two days straight to Pawleys Island where the sand was often too hot to walk on. The drive was always in a giant Chevy station wagon with a boat load of crap tied to the top, and one sister laid out in half of the way back praying that the suitcases and bags on the other half would not fall on her during a turn.
The car, if it had air conditioning, never got to a real cool temperature and the smoke wafting from the front seat engulfed us in the back with no place to escape. Those two days of fighting with my sisters if one of them gave me the side eye trained me that this was the worst way to travel.
I wish that I had a time machine and could have taken Carter back to those I-95 nightmares, with some siblings for her to build up a resistance to bad travel. Instead I made Carter’s travel life just beautiful, flying to Hawaii in first class when she was six, by turning in frequent flyer miles. Yes, I wanted to go first class, but the worst thing I ever did was take her that way.
Now that Carter is in Europe she is having to do some travel that is not to her liking. First she had a school required trip to Dresden where they stayed in a sub par youth hostel. Then today she had a big scare, when her budget airline canceled her 10PM flight from Paris to Alicante Spain, along with her nine traveling companions.
I got some panicked texts. There was nothing I could do for her here so I told her to go to the airport and find out what the issue was. Thankfully the flight ended up being delayed and she did not have to spend the night in the airport. That is never a happy prospect, but especially after you have only had four hours sleep the night before.
I got a text picture of her legs on the flight. The space between seats was made for midgets and she said there wasn’t even a seat back pocket for cushion. The torture of budget travel and long legs. She announced she is going to work very hard and earn plenty of money so she does not have to travel like this very long.
Maybe it was a good thing she has been spoiled by traveling with me if it makes her work to earn her own money. I’m not sure how sorry I am when she is going from Paris to Alicante.

Does My Dog Make Me Unproductive?

I had to wake up early today so I could get Shay Shay to her groomers for her monthly hairdo. I know that we spend more money getting her hair done than the rest of the family combined, but everyone in the family is extra happy with her when she is clean and smells downright French.
Somehow when Shay is off at her spa day I am extra productive. I don’t have anyone to walk or beg to sit in my lap or snuggle and need petting or just someone to talk to, even though I always monopolize the conversation. So today while she was getting beautified, I noticed that I was like a whirlwind or dust devil or some quick spinning thing getting done tasks that I had been putting off for weeks.
I finished hand sewing the binding on my latest quilt, convinced two chefs to be headliners at the Chef’s Feast fundraiser for the Food Bank I am chairing, did many loads of laundry, paid bills that had been collecting dust all over my office, visited with a friend who came and picked up soup, cleaned out the refrigerator, made a quilt top placemat, made doctors appointments, put toilet paper in every bathroom, responded to 34 emails on various important and mundane topics, wished people happy birthday as well as condolences, wrote thank you notes that were so overdue the people probably had crossed me off their Christmas card list, made appointments for furnace repair and turned into receipts for payback on jobs done poorly.
All this was done in the five hours that Shay was being pampered. Once I was called to retrieve her all progress came to a halt. I whiled away an hour or two on my IPad while she snuggled next to me with that, “How could you have been without me?” look on her face.
I am beginning to think I need to find a play group for her to attend once a week so I can get things done. She is just the best excuse/distraction from being productive.  

My Mom’s Art

If you know me you might know that my Mom is a fabulous artist. She started painting in her thirties, teaching herself oils, acrylic and watercolors in days well before you tube. She has won every kind of award a watercolor artist can win.  
Proof of her artistic genius is that her style changes over time. Her early work was good, but never getting stuck in a rut she evolved and improved. Prolific is too mild a word for her. She paints everyday that she is at the farm, but there is not huge art market up in Caswell county.
Just in time for Christmas I am having a show of her work at my house November 12-14. If you are interested in being invited please message me. Please bring your friends. For anyone who brings someone who I don’t already know will get ten percent off any painting you purchase.
The bonus is you will also get to meet my Mom and enjoy some refreshments. She will provide the art and I will provide the food, that way we will be playing to our strengths.