Eye Follow-Up

Russ had an early morning appointment for the follow-up from his eye operations yesterday. Since he had both retinal and cornea procedures there were a lot of doctors interested in the outcome. No one was more interested than Russ and me.

We sat in the waiting in with a lot of other much older couples with one partner with a giant eye patch just like Russ’. Nurses would come out and call a name and they would go back to the examine rooms. One of Russ’ surgeon’s fellow came and got us from the waiting room. Russ sat down in the big eye exam chair in the dark room with a TV screen on the wall behind him with a giant letter “N” displayed on it. The fellow removed his patch and asked Russ to look at the mirror on the wall in front of him and tell her what letter was displayed on the screen behind him. This was the moment of truth. Could he see?

He looked in the mirror and said, “What screen?” I held my breath. The fellow realized that Russ was so tall in the giant chair that the angle of the mirror was off and he was looking at the ceiling. She adjusted the mirror and he immediately said, “N.”

“I can see.” It was exciting, he wasn’t made worse by the operation, but the N was huge. The the fellow changed the letters on the screen to be a little smaller. “Can you read those?”

Russ read out the three letters with no problem. “Z G T F H.” And again smaller, and again smaller. Until he got to what was the equivalent to 20/25 where he got four of the five letters right . He got 2 of the five in 20/20. Not only could he see, he could see better than he ever had in his whole life.

It was a joyous moment. The next fellow came in and did some more tests. Everything was going great. Then his retinal surgeon, Dr. Postal came in. He looked in Russ’s eye. Declared it a win. Lastly Terry Kim came in. It was not his day to work in the hospital clinic, but over at the Page Road facility, but he made the early morning trip especially to check on Russ. He declared he was better than they had ever expected.

This was a life changing operation. Russ pulled out his iPhone and read things without glasses. “I had no idea that the screen on this phone was so clear and look at these colors.” You don’t know how bad something is until you have something to compare it to.

Russ eye is still red and in recovery, but for the first day it is absolutely miraculous. The Drs gave each other a high five in the hallway. Nothing about operating on eyes is guaranteed, especially when you have to coordinate two different things. We are so incredibly grateful for their expertise, kindness and diligence.

I drove Russ home and he was amazed at things he had not really been able to see well that he was noticing for the first time now. Three years ago I redecorated the play room and when we walked in the house he said, “Wow, the playroom is really beautiful. I love the blues.” Neither of us had realized how grey his world had become.

I am so appreciative of all the messages of support and prayers we got yesterday. I am not discounting that there are bigger powers at work here.

We had to get him some glasses with juts plain glass in them to protect his eye from getting bumped. The only bad thing is now he can see so well he went right back to work on his computer in his office at home. I fear for his team now that he can see what everyone else is doing.

Not the Good Eye

Russ was born with one good eye and one non-working eye. Since that was all he ever knew his brain learned depth perception in ways different from those of us with two eyes. For the most part it was not an issue except for 3-d movies. As a child his mother guarded his good eye.

Then he married me and it was my turn to be the protector of the good eye. About ten years ago he had a serious eye problem in his bad eye and we weren’t that worried because what could happen? He was already blind in that eye. Recently his good eye has been getting worse.

He went to our good friend, world renowned Dr. Terry Kim and for months they discussed options. Russ tried to hide from me how bad his good eye was, but really there was no hiding from me. As his close vision got worse and worse he would hold his iPhone an inch from his face.

I begged him to schedule the surgery that was needed which now involved two surgeons of differing specialties, Dr. Postal and Dr. Kim. In the small world of Durham both doctors had daughters who were friends of Carter’s from school, so I ways happy to have that close connection.

Today was the surgery. I took Russ over to Duke eye hospital at 5:45, worried about the outcome of his only useful eye. Thank goodness for the wonderful medical team at Duke. Both Drs said the respective surgeries went well. When I was reunited with him in recovery he was in fine shape, except for the giant patch over the good eye.

I brought in a practically blind man and brought home a totally blind man. We won’t know how the repairs have worked until we go back first thing in the morning and they take the pirate patch off. Even then it will take a week or more for his vision to return.

So now I am nurse maid, email and text reader, driver and all things Russ needs. In a miraculous turn of events Russ’ previous useless blind eye, which does not have a lens is stepping up and working in a way never detected before. He is able to see a little light from it and can make out lights and darks in big swaths. It is not much, but it is much better for getting around the house.

Not being able to read is the worse part of this whole thing. Russ generally reads six to eight hours every night. So with no work to do, and nothing to read he insisted he needed to at least get his steps today. He got on the treadmill and did his 12,000 steps. I called him blind man walking.

I am ever so thankful for the friends who have helped us out. I did not say much about this before it happened, but this past week I finally had to let some people know. Thanks to Christy and Paige who dropped off food for us. I know it may seem like bringing coals to New Castle, but I really appreciated not having to cook on top of reading texts and emails.

The true test was I had to be Russ’ tech support and fix somethings on his iPad. He was ready to give up on me being able to fix his issues, but eventually I got it, of course with his coaching.

So I ask for your prayers for Russ’ continued recovery and the return of the sight in his good eye. And don’t send him any texts that say something bad about me since I will be reading them to him for a while.

Not Original, But A Good Start

I opened my Costco Connection Magazine to this story today. If only Acme Supermarket had a magazine in 1991 then this might have been me and Russ. I am very happy for this couple, Brian and Veronica, who got engaged in the Costco Parking lot. I am happy to verify that 26 years after getting engaged in a supermarket parking lot in Cinnaminson, NJ we are still going strong.

We did not have the added pressure of a shared Costco membership, but we did have a shared employer who my father was certain would fire both of us for daring to mix engineering with sales.

It is not where you start that determines the success of a marriage, but how you deal with the day to day stuff. What could be more mundane than doing the grocery shopping. The fact that Russ asked me to marry him in the parking lot, before we went to and decided chicken or fish, was a sign that he would carry the burden of the chores with me. And he has done more than his share everyday.

Although he was raised in a “dinner was on the table when Dad got home from work,” kind of house he never has held that there were women’s roles and men’s roles in our own house. It shows that equality is something that can happen without lots of pain.

Only once did I ever have to have an equality type talk with Russ and it was only out of blindness did it need to happen. When we first were married and had two houses one in New Jersey and one in Washington, DC. The Washington House was always immaculate because I had a house keeper. The New Jersey house was not, because Russ has terrible eye sight and could not see cat hair. So one weekend, after I had worked all week and arrived in New Jersey I had to clean that house because my eye sight was perfect. After a few hours of cleaning I broke down crying that I couldn’t keep two houses and travel all week working. Russ got a house keeper that week and made sure I never had to do everything.

I am sure the crying had a lot to do with it, but I think that starting out in the parking lot of the Acme, not a more mundane name for a store could ever be found, is the real tip off that he would shoulder more than half the burden.

Christmas Coupon

When you are a kid and give your parents Christmas present coupons for things like walking the dog, mowing the lawn and hugs you secretly hope they will not redeem them. It is the worst kind of kid gift. This year I gave my mother a coupon kind of gift, a king sized quilt where she got to pick out the materials. When Your Mom is 80 there is no waiting around to redeem her coupon.

We went to pick out the fabric she wanted the first day we could drive after the big snow storm. I had some ideas about the kind of pattern I wanted but I let my mother make the ultimate decision. So I got to work making the squares with her fabrics. I had set a deadline of finishing the quilt top in January which was ambitious since it is a big California King.

Realizing that I had a lot to do this coming week I decided I needed to finish the quilt this weekend so I could take it to my longarm quilter on Monday. I worked diligently all day yesterday. I was sure I had just a little left to do today. I was wrong. It took me all day today to finish it up, but I made it.

It helps that I binged watched a good series on Amazon called Good Girls Revolt about women who worked at a news magazine in 1969. After that I watched a Kate Winslet movie called The Dressmaker. Both shows had strong women standing up for themselves and seemed very timely given what’s been going on in the country lately.

The more the women got what they were fighting for the faster I pushed the sewing machine pedal. If it weren’t my choice to sew these quilts I might seem very old fashioned. Instead I consider my self lucky that my husband affords me the time and money to make these creations. Even when it is at his loss because I had no time to do anything else this weekend and he ate leftovers for every meal.

I hope my mother is happy with the finished product once I get it quilted and do the binding on the edge. This is one Christmas coupon that I am happy to redeem quickly.

Time to Start Some Thyme

I was looking at the bare dirt of my front garden this week. The place where I usually transplant Thyme to was devoid of anything living. Just a few brown twigs of my once robust thyme plants remained. I love cooking with Thyme, especially fresh, but sadly my plants only last about seven or eight months and then they are gone. This leaves me with a few months of no home grown fresh Thyme.

I usually buy plants from the nursery and no matter how many I buy I never seem to have as much Thyme as I want. It is disappointing since the plants are not cheap. Last year I planted about ten and they hardly covered much space to be good ground cover in the garden and I was not helping the situation by harvesting handfuls of the tender stalks and leaves to use in my cooking.

Upon looking at my Thyme area I decided I need to blanket the garden with Thyme this year. The only economical way to do this is to grow my plants from seeds myself. This is a project I have undertaken for various vegetables over the years and I usually decided that it is mor trouble than its worth, or I find I had started my seedlings too late and am disappointed in the lateness of my harvest.

Well, not this year. I ordered 500 seeds on Friday and they will be here Monday. I am bound and determined to grow my own Thyme crop this year. Given that my sends cost $4 with shipping and my plants usually cost $3.29 a piece I should be saving money. As long as I get more then two plants out of the 500 seeds I will be ahead.

The germinating is the easy part. It is the thinning of the seedlings and getting plants big enough to go outside along with the hardening off, otherwise known as acclimating the plants to the outdoors that is difficult. I am not going to be too ambitious and start lots of things from seeds. If I can master Thyme I will be happy.

Presidential Divorce?

I am wondering what would happen if the spouse of the President ever wanted a divorce? I am sure there have been plenty of times throughout history that either the First Lady or the President wanted out of the relationship. Being residents of the White House can not be easy on a marriage.

This week’s events seem to show some serious cracks in the marital life of our current POTUS and FLOTUS. I have been trying to limit my exposure to 45 because I find he is not good for my eating habits, so I missed the story about Stormy Daniels, the porn star who allegedly was paid $130,000 right before DJT entered the presidential race to keep quite about their supposed year long sexual relationship in 2006. The Donald having an affair is not news. Just look at his marital status history.

But this latest public reporting of the paper trail of paying off this porn star could have gotten to the current Mrs. since she canceled her planned trip to Davos, Switzerland and instead made a quick getaway to Palm Beach. And DJT’s wooden, read off the TelePrompTer, lack luster speech to the high and mighty at Davos made me think he had his heart on other matters, like how he was going to patch this mess up with the current Mrs.

Just attending Davos seemed like the invite DJT would always have coveted, but never would be invited because in the big world of real successful people he was a nobody. Only by tricking poor coal miners to believe he could save their jobs was he able to gain an invitation to the prestigious conference. Then Melania threw a big bucket of ice water on his potential moment of glory among the elite he always wanted to be, by refusing to go with him.

Sorry that having your way with porn stars might be ruining a life long dream come true, but you know that things will always catch up with you, when you least want them too. As for the current Mrs. You should know that if he cheats with you he will cheat on you. You are not so special that he will change. But you don’t have to endure him. Just because no President has never gotten a divorce before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We also have never had a president who has had three living wives before either. We all knew what we were getting, especially you, Mrs. DJT.

Wanna Meet Vivian?

Are you a Fan of Vivian Howard, Star of the PBS series A Chef’s Life? Have you wanted to go eat at her Kingston restaurant Chef and the Farmer, but not been able to get a reservation? Well, I have an opportunity for you to not only eat her food, but also meet her right here in the triangle.

Thursday, March 22 Vivian is staring at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s Chef’s Feast dinner at Fearrington Inn. She cooks, she talks, and trust me she is as nice in person and her food is as delicious and she donates a special one of a kind experience that you can try and win in the auction.

Colin Bedford, the award winning Chef of the Fearrington Inn is also one of the participating chefs. If you have never eaten at the Fearrington Inn this is the best of all worlds, getting two of the best chefs in the south cooking the same meal. If you have been to Fearrington then you know this is going to be nirvana.

Wait, you don’t just get two chef’s, there’s more. Durham’s own John May, currently chef at Piedmont, but formally of Chef and the Farmer is reuniting with his former boss Vivian for this special night. As well as Phoebe Lawless, award winning baker and chef will round out the dream team of chef’s making your dinner this night.

All of these talented artists in food do it for their love of feeding you to help feed our hungry neighbors. For the price of a ticket you can listen to the chef’s talk about what they make while you eat it. At the end of the dinner I will be the auctioneer for the one of a kind culinary experience donated by each of the chefs.

Seating is very limited. There are some tickets available at https://chefsfeastfearringtonvillage.eventbrite.com/. I also have one table in the station chef sponsorship category left for $3,000 for a table of 8. Trust me it promises to be an evening you won’t forget. If you have any questions feel free to ask me, but don’t wait long. I can’t get you in once the tickets Re gone.

Tomorrow My Mom Turns 80

It is hard for me to believe that my Mon is going to be 80 tomorrow. She has always been beautiful, but she looks extra fantastic for 80. She is still sharp as she has ever been. If you don’t believe me try and beat her at Bridge. She has always been a talented artist, but she has hardly ever been more prolific than she is now, still painting everyday.

I am thankful for all the good things she has given me. She has a strong faith, is kind and is fair as can be. Many Christmases I might get a check for something like $3.34 along with my presents. Why such a strange check? It was the difference in the cost of my gifts a compared to my sister’s.

My love of needlepoint definitely is a genetic thing I get from her. Unfortunately I am not as talented as she is, doing free hand needlepoint, meaning there is no painting on the canvas. She also passed on her love of doing laundry. Her frugality has also been passed down to me. She is a voracious reader, so her favorite place is the library. Why wold she ever buy a book when she could read it for free from the library.

She is not much of one for social media, but if you know her send her an e-mail tomorrow. janie@carter.net. Turning 80 with your mind and body still in tact is a good day. Happy Birthday Mom!

Baby Traumas

Today while pursuing through Facebook I saw a darling group of photos of my young friend Kim’s two month old daughter. The photos were darling but the words brought back horrible memories. Kim clipped her daughter’s thumb while trying to cut her nails. Of course baby Morgan is fine, but as a mother there is almost no worse job than trying to cut paper thin nails. The worst part about it is that if you don’t cut their nails it in a timely manner the baby can scratch themselves badly. So you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I can remember crying after cutting Carter with the nail clippers. I think I cried harder than she did. Why in the world was there not a baby manicurist? By the time I finally learned how to do it, she was practically old enough to paint her own nails.

There are somethings that I wish I had been trained in before becoming a parent. The on the job training is woefully inadequate. Despite reading many parenting books and having plenty of friends who had raised successful children I still made many mistakes.

One glaring example was the bottle. I somehow skimmed over the chapter about how long you give a baby a bottle. I don’t mean how many minutes when you feed but for how many months you allow her to still drink from a bottle. I never forgot when a friend, upon seeing Carter drinking from a bottle just before her second birthday, told me I was supposed to ween her from it by her first birthday.

100% over the recommended time was way off the good parenting mark. Since I had breast fed Carter for more than six months, the recommended amount of time back then I probably should have skipped the bottle all together.

Weening Carter was almost as painful as cutting her infant nails. We used platex bottles with plastic liners called drop ins. Carter only had a bottle at bed time and getting her to fall asleep without it was proving difficult. One night I was at a meeting and a Russ called me with the desperate message that we were out of drop ins. I told him to tell Carter she just had to go to sleep without the bottle because we had no liners, and she did.

When I got home that night and Russ reported that the lack of liners excuse pacified Carter I thought we were on to something. The next night I used the same excuse. “Mommy, just get some more at the store.”

The next day she asked, “Any liners?” I lied to her that they were out of them at the store. I knew then that I had to stop taking Carter to the Harris Teeter when I went shopping. For weeks she questioned about the availability of liners and even wondered how good a store it could be if they never restocked liners. Eventually she gave up and forgot all about drinking from a bottle. I knew then that the real reason to stop a bottle at one was it was before they could have discussions about it.

Those early problems seemed so big then. I hardly knew they were just a training ground to have to deal with harder and harder issues later. I know that cutting your baby’s finger clipping their nails kills you, but the good news is it doesn’t scare your child, physically of emotionally. Those things come later.

Smart Not Perfect

I have become way too dependent on my iPhone. I got a new one for Christmas and it has this feature where it automatically puts things on your calendar that are in text messages, or email. This is something I thought I loved, until today.

It was my friend Shelayne’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. As is our custom we planned a lunch out to celebrate with our friend Lynn. The confirmation for the date and time came in a text. My phone logged it in my calendar and once I saw it there I just assumed all the details we correct. Never assume.

I made plans with Lynn to pick her up at 11:30 for a noon lunch. Since I am now her lady in waiting, with her unusable right arm in a cast, we made a stop at the post office to mail a package. Plenty of time for that errand arriving at Thai Cafe right at noon.

After rejecting the first table offered us we settled in a booth and ordered drinks while we waited for Shelayne. After ten minutes I looked at my phone to confirm that we had the right place to meet. On my calendar it all looked right, so I decided to go to my text to see the original source material. Right day, right place, wrong time. Our lunch was at 1:00!

I asked Lynn if she knew that and her reply was, “I am just the B team, I depend on you to tell me where and when.” That is my roll, to get the details right, but I failed.

So we paid for our drinks and went out and drove around looking at houses for 45 minutes. It was actually very fun. We went back to Thai Cafe and Shelayne pulled up right after us. It was a lovely birthday celebration, but without coconut cake so we had no guilt.

Lesson learned, double check the details of the automatic things my phone does. I may lose my standing as member of The A Team if I don’t verify everything.

Tim Raue

Since I’m busy watching football I decided to give you some major eye candy for the blog today. This is in no way a healthy food post, and I had nothing to do with the creation of this food.

These are photos from the best meal either Russ, Carter or I have ever had. It was our last night in Berlin we went to Tim Raue for dinner. If you don’t know who Tim Raue is or why his Berlin self named restaurant is number 48 in the prestigious 50 Best Restaurants in the world. There is a fabulous series on Netflix called The Chef’s Table, where they do an hour on each of the chefs from these fabulous restaurants. If you watch the Tim Raue episode you will have an idea why we wanted to go eat there.

I had made the reservation when I booked our plane tickets to go to Berlin. It was a major Christmas present ourselves and I would do it all again. What I did not know when I made the reservation is we had been placed at the Krug Table, which was the Chef’s table where we could see into the kitchen. They gave us menus to take home so for all the dishes that were listed on out menu I have put the descriptions. Sadly I did not take notes on all the extra food they gave us between courses. Not that I cold ever recreate it, but I can’t describe it to you here.

We started with a number of fish and cashew appetizers that were off menu. Suffice it to say each one was more fabulous than the next.

The next item was Brussels Sprouts that had been lightly cooked and hollowed out and stuffed with Brussels spout purée, mashed banana, stock of kaffir lime leaves, smoked oil, coriander and wild peanut. Who knew mashed bananas go so well with Brussels sprouts.

An Ikarimi Salmon followed. And those light look like cherry tomatoes next to the fish, but they were round tomato like balls. Oil confined ikarimi salmon filet, buttered stock of tomato juice and marukan rice vinegar, compote of tomato and Star anis and green anis.

The best thing we had was the Langoustine wasabi Cantonese style. Stock make from fish sauce, mango and carrot, langoustine turned over in starch flour and deep fried in wok, marinated with wasabi mayonnaise and deep fried green rice. This description in no way describes how this crunchy on the outside and silky on the inside lobster tail like dish tastes. Trust me it is worth the trip.

Suckling Pig, dashi and Japanese mustard. Berlin knuckle of pork, cream of Japanese mustard, young pickled ginger and dashi jelly. The pork was roasted then fried. Decedent.

Veal Neck, water chestnut and black truffle. Veal neck marinated with rice wine, steamed for 12 hours and fried in hot oil, truffle husband topinambur foam, salad of water chestnut and topinambur with prim nam pla chili Brough, Piedmont hazelnut and picked grapes.

Peking duck- interpretation Tim Raue

-breast , crispy skin flavored with five spice, apple and leek, jus of duck feet, wafer cream

-duck liver terrine, pickled cucumber, ginger, leek cream, powder of duck skin

-brew, tongue, heart and stomach, winter melon, bamboo mushroom.

Yazusian cheesecake, caramel Berrey salé

Dulcet valrhona chocolate koi carp filled with spcheesecake mousse, caramel burre salé sauce and dulcet crunch, Yusuf sorbet and jelly organ lemon jam, lime cress leaves

As if that dessert wasn’t enough we had another mouse like dessert with a meringue crisp on top then some little sweet nibbles.

It was a night to remember.

The Joy of Staying In

I love being my age. One of my favorite parts about it is that Russ and I can chose to stay in on a Saturday night and not consider we might be missing a damn thing. Not that we ever really care if we are missing something because there is hardly anything that can go on that is more fun than being home. The only thing that might be better is being home with friends, as long a sit is our home.

Maybe we are really getting old because we did venture out today in the middle of the day and felt like that was all we needed. After taking a painting of my mother’s to the framers we went to the UNC basketball game with our friends Lynn and Logan. This was Baby Chick’s, that’s Lynn, first foray out into the world since her wing operation. She was instructed by Mack, her doctor extradinare, to be careful as can be, my medical term, not his, and not move her arm under any circumstances. I told her she needed to follow his advice since she was growing a bone.

So I acted as her body guard protecting her from well wishing friends who wanted to hug her, or ice she might fall on. It was a successful first outing. The boys dropped us off and parked the car. The walk into the Dean Dome was not too taxing for someone who was growing a new bone and the game was a winning one, even though the play was not spectacular.

Long chauffeured us home and Russ and I went to opposites sides of the house to work on our various hobbies. Then we ate leftovers for dinner and went back to our hobbies. Perfect day. We did not have to get dressed up, we spent time with the people we really like and our team won. Oh it’s great to be old and not give a shit about much else.

It Really Pays To Be a Good Customer

I joke around a lot about the fact that my friend Lynn lives on green tea lattes and movie theatre popcorn. It’s not every green tea latte though. Specifically it is Starbucks. This has been such a long term habit that we had a birthday party for her five years ago where everyone came with a Starbuck’s cup with Lynn spelled a different way.

Lynn doesn’t care how you spell her name as long as you make her drink to her exacting order. She is well known by legions of baristas throughout the Starbucks universe. I swear that knowing the Lynn green tea latte recipe is a requirement for passing the Starbucks employee training exam.

Today I went to visit her and check in on her healing broken wing. Her husband Logan was home with her, but working on a serious deadline for work. After I had been there an hour I noticed that there were no Starbucks cups on her bedside table. Concerned about her lack of calcium to help her grow a new arm bone I asked where her Starbucks was. “They have been closed due to the snow for the last two days,” Lynn said in a slightly desperate voice.

I jumped into action and said I would go that moment and remedy the situation. Logan, in a thankful pose thrust his well worn Starbucks gold card in my hand and told me to go to the drive through Starbucks. (It is usually Logan who picks Lynn’s drinks up, but they still know it is for Lynn.)

Off to Starbucks I flew. I ordered at the speaker and pulled around to meet Mike. He recognized the very particular order as Lynn’s and asked if it were so. When I told him that is was but that she was home recovering from an arm operation he went into a complete tizzy. “You should have told me this was for Lynn before I rang it up. It would have been on the house.” Then he got a glint in his eye and said, wait a minute. I had no other choice since he had not given me the drinks yet. He came back to the window with a little bag of treats. “Please tell her to get well soon, we miss her.” And he handed me her two Green tea lattes.

I delivered the healing elixir along with the gift from Mike to Lynn. I apologized to Logan that I had missed the opportunity to get the drinks for free because I did not announce in advance they were for Lynn. What I did note is that if you are so brand loyal and get the majority of your sustenance from one place, and are always nice to everyone who works there, as Lynn most certainly is, they will take care of you in a time of need.

I know this advice is lost on most of us because we will vary what and where we eat, but it is nice to know that the highest form of brand loyalty is rewarded. Also if you know Lynn’s secret and complicated order you might be able to get it for free if you tell the barista it is for Lynn, but that does you no good unless you want to drink it.

28 Chicken Pies

What is the best thing to do on a snow day? Make 28 chicken pies of course. Russ was in New England for work and I had all the makings and orders for the pies. So why waste a forced day at home and not be productive.

I always forget how much work making these pies is. Each individual ingredient has to be cooked individually to ensure that the pie is right. There is no recipe so making the right amount of green beans or chicken is an art and not a science. The longest ingredient to prep is the caramelized garlic cloves. I had made the whole soufflé dish full of garlic two days ago which made things easier since that alone takes six hours to cook.

I cooked the chicken and made the stock. Diced and boiled the red potatoes. Peeled, diced and roasted the sweet potatoes. Carefully cleaned the mushrooms, sliced and sautéed them. Cooked the green beans. Roasted the carrots. Steamed the broccoli. I thought I was almost done. I was not.

I had to make the sauce with a roux, the garlic, stock, and herbs. Am I almost done? My kitchen was beginning to look like a bomb had gone off it it. Every major pot I own was dirty and when I say major I mean like 24 quart pots. But I was not close to being done.

I had to set out 28 foil pans and carefully dole out each ingredient evenly among the lot. Then I had to spoon the sauce in. Done… NOT EVEN CLOSE. The worst part of the job was the making of the phyllo crust. I had to melt gobs of butter and then tenderly layer one sheet of phyllo on the top of the pie, butter it and then gently fold it over and repeat and repeat and repeat.

I was exhausted, and sore. I covered each pan in foil put some in my car to deliver to the home bound, since our roads still have six inches of ice on them. Some friends came by to pick theirs up and other asked me to keep theirs until they could get out.

Russ was flying in at 6:30 and I told him I would pick him up at the airport since he drove the Smart car there. He was a little late and declared that the smart cold have made it home. I told him dinner would be ready in half an hour since I needed to bake our pie fresh. He said he was happy to eat something else, but I told him after all the work that had gone into making these pies we were having that for dinner, if he wanted it or not.

Snowier Day Than Expected

At first this snow day was supposed to be a 1-3 inch event. No big deal. Then yesterday some weather guys were upping the top number to five or six. So Russ left town late last night to fly north for an important meeting that takes place tomorrow. That should have been the sign for me that this was going to be a much bigger snow. In the almost 25 years we have lived here Russ has missed practically every big snow.

My trainer has told me if there was any snow that she would not be in. I awoke to no snow so I texted her and she said to come work out. I was one of three people at the gym. We all were kind of laughing about why no one else had come, but then the snow started half way through my work out. Consequently I was my trainers only client today as she was going to leave after I did.

I had twelve people planning on coming to my house for Mah Jongg and lunch today. The perfect thing to do in the snow, that is as long as you can get here and you are not leaving young kids at home alone. Well the 12 got down to five. One walked through the snow with an American Girl Doll umbrella. One had her son drop her off and the others came together in a Suburban. It was a better thing to do than sit around and watch the snow pour down and think that you should make hot chocolate and grilled cheese.

After everyone had won and eaten cilantro chili lime shrimp salad they departed the way they had come except now two walked home. I put Shay’s new coat on her and out we went to get the mail, frolic with her friends Harry and Winston and do an initial shoveling of the walkway and brushing off of the cars. I measured what we had gotten then and it had passed the six inch mark. I knew it was premature to do that work because when I went out an hour later there was a new inch and a half on the cars.

Trying not to succumb to snow day food I made myself another salad for dinner and sat down to watch TV. That plan was a no go as the cable and the internet were out. Russ had told me to download some shows on my IPad, but I must not have done it right because they won’t play either. My back up to my back up plan is to watch some DVD’s. Thank goodness we still have some old fashioned players, as long as I can figure out how they work. At this point I am praying the snow actually stops and I make it through one movie without hot chocolate.

Snowier Day Than Expected

At first this snow day was supposed to be a 1-3 inch event. No big deal. Then yesterday some weather guys were upping the top number to five or six. So Russ left town late last night to fly north for an important meeting that takes place tomorrow. That should have been the sign for me that this was going to be a much bigger snow. In the almost 25 years we have lived here Russ has missed practically every big snow.

My trainer has told me if there was any snow that she would not be in. I awoke to no snow so I texted her and she said to come work out. I was one of three people at the gym. We all were kind of laughing about why no one else had come, but then the snow started half way through my work out. Consequently I was my trainers only client today as she was going to leave after I did.

I had twelve people planning on coming to my house for Mah Jongg and lunch today. The perfect thing to do in the snow, that is as long as you can get here and you are not leaving young kids at home alone. Well the 12 got down to five. One walked through the snow with an American Girl Doll umbrella. One had her son drop her off and the others came together in a Suburban. It was a better thing to do than sit around and watch the snow pour down and think that you should make hot chocolate and grilled cheese.

After everyone had won and eaten cilantro chili lime shrimp salad they departed the way they had come except now two walked home. I put Shay’s new coat on her and out we went to get the mail, frolic with her friends Harry and Winston and do an initial shoveling of the walkway and brushing off of the cars. I measured what we had gotten then and it had passed the six inch mark. I knew it was premature to do that work because when I went out an hour later there was a new inch and a half on the cars.

Trying not to succumb to snow day food I made myself another salad for dinner and sat down to watch TV. That plan was a no go as the cable and the internet were out. Russ had told me to download some shows on my IPad, but I must not have done it right because they won’t play either. My back up to my back up plan is to watch some DVD’s. Thank goodness we still have some old fashioned players, as long as I can figure out how they work. At this point I am praying the snow actually stops and I make it through one movie without hot chocolate.

Lynn Post-Op

My friend Lynn, who is as thin as a little bird, has had an injured wing for a year. After one last traumatic event trying to pull a suitcase out of an overhead bin she finally went to see a doctor. Her wrist was more hurt than she had let herself believe and she needed surgery. This was not the news she wanted.

Lynn has had too many days under medical care in her past and the idea of voluntarily going in for an operation did not make her happy. No surprise, who wants to put themselves through pain. The only good news is she had the best doctor possible to do the surgery.

The good news is she came through everything like a champ. The bad news is although her arm is fully casted and ready to begin healing she got something in her eye that she can’t get out. Lynn jokes that it is a bone chip.

I got a text from her husband Logan when she was in Post-op happy and not making a bit of sense from the meds. I was able to go visit her at home tonight and she was as chipper as a baby squirrel. The meds are still working well. She wold not allow any photographs of anything above her knees, so you have to trust me that she looks great.

If you have a chance drop her a note and wish her well. She can’t text since it is her right hand and she is not very good at answering the phone on any day. If you want to bring her any food movie theatre popcorn and a green tea latte from Starbucks are her favorite things. Just go in any Durham Starbucks and tell them that you want a green tea latte for Lynn and they will know her exact order as it is certainly part of the barista final exam.

For now just pray for Logan as her care giver and for Lynn’s quick recovery. It won’t really be quick, but compared to living with the hurt for a year it is relative. The best news is this should mean she will be back on the tennis court this summer.

Golf Today, Really?

Why is the self proclaimed “least racist man on earth,” our current president golfing on Martin Luther King, Jr. day rather than attending a day of service activities like previous Presidents? Perhaps he does not know what a racist is? He certainly does not follow the lead of Dr. King to be kind.

I find the current President’s day of golf further evidence of his lack of understanding what it means to be President of all Americans. Not honoring this day publicly is a slap to the memory of Dr. King and his teachings.

His most recent controversy over reportedly calling countries mainly of black people in Africa and Haiti “shit holes” shows his true heart. Let’s say he really didn’t say that, he did say he would rather have immigrants from Norway. Well, everyone in Norway is white, so he does not deny that he only wants whites as immigrants.

If 45 really did want to show how not racist he is he would have done something other than playing golf on this the one day of the year set aside to honor the greatest African American in our history. Tone deaf is nothing new for this man, but honestly.

I am trying my best to honor Dr. King and be kind, but I don’t know how much kindness I can muster for our commander in chief.

Dogs at Church

This Tuesday I went to a church finance committee meeting. Shay went with me. She loves a good committee meeting. Before the meeting began I was talking to Shay’s dog cousin’s father, Dave and I said that we needed a blessing of the animals service. Just then our minister Chris walked in the meeting and said, “Shay needs to come to the blessing of the Animals on Sunday evening.” Ask and ye shall receive. I have hardly ever had a prayer answered so quickly or succinctly.

Now for the record the Episcopalians do the St. Francis blessing of the animals Day is October 4 a much better time of year to bring your pets to church, but I was just happy that us Presbyterians were joining In.

Lynn and Logan brought Chuck the wonder chihuahua and came and picked me and Shay up to ride together. There was quite a good turn out of dogs of many colors. No dog was looked down upon because of his breed or lack there of. All animals were welcomed and affirmed.

We gathered in a circle in the courtyard and filled the whole big space. After some group prayers youth leaders came around and blessed each dog and thanked them for their love and service to their families. Shay liked the whole thing, but she is a big church goer herself. It was just another bit of evidence that dog spelled backwards is God for a reason.

I really wouldn’t mind if we got to have dogs at church all the time. I am fairly sure the dogs would like it based on today’s behavior.

Delaying Dinner

If I listened to my body I would eat dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon. But then my body would tell me to eat a second dinner at 8:00 PM then. Sometimes you just have to tell your body no. Those few hours between when I want dinner and when it is appropriate for me to actually eat it are my challenge hours.

It helps when Russ is around. I will gladly hold off eating until he gets home. He almost always calls me to tell me he is packing up at work. If he walked out of his office at that moment he should be home in 20-25 minutes depending on which level he parked his car on. But something almost always comes up between the time he hangs up from me and when he actually walks out the office door. I have learned never to start cooking the green vegetable until I hear that garage door going up, unless I am making southern long cooked green beans.

With Russ away visiting his father I am free to eat whenever I want, but I don’t want to eat whenever I want because that would be too many meals a day. Today I attended a lovely shower for Annie Giarla. A nice ladies who lunch meal was served at noon. I came home and went right to my sweat shop and sewed.

By four in the afternoon I noticed I was tiring of sewing, probably because I really wanted to eat. It was too cold to really enjoy a walk outside so I racked my brain for what might be the best non-food activity. I decided that cleaning all my bathrooms would be the perfect diversion.

I got my bucket of supplies, put on my disposable rubber gloves and went to work. Half baths are simple. Guest bathrooms, not that bad. Then I got to my own bathroom. That was a huge job for a tiny room. I have new found respect for my former housekeeper who somehow kept my shower glass sparkling clean.

An hour and a half later I had successfully kept my mind off food and was productive on not fun job. There is nothing more unappetizing than cleaning bathrooms. I have a feeling I am going to have spotless bathrooms this winter.

Efficiency or Laziness?

It’s just me and Shay at home right now. She has been showing her despair in missing her other people by lying by the door looking longingly outside for them to return. She is so despondent she has hardly asked to be fed. I wish that is what happened to me while I am waiting for my people to return.

I have done my best to stay out of the kitchen by locking myself in the sweat shop and working on my mother’s quilt. It helps that I am binge watching Big Little Lies. I know, I must be the only person who has not watched it yet. I just was waiting for the Golden Globes to confirm that it was truly worthy of my quilt binge watching.

Eventually I had to give into hunger and make myself some dinner. I have been working my way through leftovers so that Russ does not feel compelled to only eat old food when he comes home. I was having a curried cauliflower and kale soup that I made yesterday, but I felt I needed some serious protein to go with it. Tired of my standby chicken thighs that were already cooked I pulled a piece of salmon out of the freezer and sautéed it up.

Since I was having a bowl of soup I didn’t want to dirty another plate for just my salmon so I ate it right out of the pan. It made perfect sense to me, but then I got to wondering if this was really efficient or the height of laziness? I justified it by telling myself that I was actually eating a real meal sitting down at the bar, rather than just eating something over the sink. I further enforced my decision when I realized that the pan kept my fish hotter longer than if I had moved the hot fish to a cold plate to eat it.

I could have put the fish in my soup bowl, but I worried I would spill my soup. Either way I had a healthy and well balanced meal and was quite happy when it was over and it took me 20 seconds to clean up. Yeah I know it would have only taken 21 seconds if I had another plate to put in the dishwasher. I’m just a professional at justifying things.

I promise I am not going to take this plan any further and eat my cereal out of the box with milk poured in. I never liked those little Kellogg’s boxes where you could carefully cut on the dotted line and turn the box into your serving bowl. It took way longer to carefully cut and not pierce the plastic liner. That is less efficient than using a bowl and I’m all about efficiency.

Time to Learn to Play Mah Jongg

There is nothing I would rather do than play Mah Jongg. Sharing the joy of this game is something I have been doing for the last twenty years. Teaching people to play this game does not take years like learning to play Bridge. I can take a complete novice and they can play on their own after three three hour classes.

I am putting together my next class to start in a few weeks. If you are interested in learning to play send me a message and I will give you more details about when the class will be held to see if it fits in your schedule. It will be a daytime class. If I get a bunch of people who want a night time class I can start a second one.

This will be a beginners class. If you are someone who is a novice player and would like to take an advanced class let me know and I will try and put together a class for you.

Do something that certainly is good for your brain and learn a new game.

Mah Jongg Lunchroom Superfoods Salad

As the Mah Jongg Lunch lady I have to come up with a yummy, healthy relatively inexpensive lunch to satisfy my Mah Jongg group every week. This is a task I volunteered for after I got fed up with the poor choices offered at the last place we played. After years of complaining, cajoling, offering recipes, pointing out menus of other places that had things I liked, I threw in the towel when no one listened. It is so much easier just to do it yourself than to convince others to do it right.

Since it is January, everyone’s favorite diet month, I wanted to make sure I was maximizing the healthy component today. So I opted for a Super Foods salad. I made a bowl of mixed greens that hid many of the healthy parts. Then I offered the rest in separate bowls so everyone could make their salad the way they wanted. It was so good I had it not only for lunch, but also for dinner.

Three Mah Jongg friends came just for lunch, too busy to play, but not to eat. I think I can offer this service to other friends who want to come and eat on Wednesdays, no need to play Mah Jongg, just enjoy my lunchroom. Of course this won’t be what’s for lunch next week.

Superfoods salad

Greens bowl included the following:

Spring mix



Steamed broccoli

Shaved raw Brussels sprouts





Toasted walnuts


Roasted sweet potato cubes- with coriander, cinnamon and chili flakes



Pomegranate seeds

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Lime juice



Salt and pepper

I Sense A Theme

Last year my friend Christy gave me the square portrait of Shay Shay. This year my friend Lane had her talented daughter Isabelle do the bigger portrait of Shay for Russ for Christmas. What are the chances that two friends would both give us art of our dog with green backgrounds? Well, I guess the chances are great.

I know we are crazy for our dog and she does seem to make a good subject. I am wondering how many more portraits I can display of her. So far she has not out “posed” my college dog Beau. I shave a painting in the sun room my mother did of Beau and a Needlepoint pillow in the living room she also stitched for me. I guess I should Needlepoint something of Shay so she will not feel underrepresented in the pillow category. I do think I have a couple of Christmas ornaments where Shay is stitched, but they are more like brown dogs that could be any dog, not specifically Shay.

We are not the only crazy dog house. My friend Sara had a portrait done of Shay’s cousin Brady and gave it to her husband. It was a big hit in their house too. Maybe it is something that runs in Shay and Brady’s family.

We don’t have many family portraits, except for the one of my Grandmother and two of her sisters that hangs in the dining room. There is something about houses where they have no real art and just pictures of themselves. I will never forget going on a garden tour in Martinsville, VA and my mother and I got to giggling about the 40 years of giant photo portraits of the family. One included their white 1970’s Cadillac Eldorado with the Family posed all around it. Others documented the children going through awkward phases, hippies phases and even one where I could not tell who were the daughters and who were the sons since they all had long hair and bell bottom overalls on.

I think it is a good idea for me to stick to dog portraits. Shay does t seem to mind posing, as long as you rub her belly after a while. I am thankful for the talented people who capture our baby, but mostly I like having the real Shay to keep me company.

Back In My Sweat Shop

It was a quilt kind of Christmas at our house. I made a quilt for my Dad, the yellow and grey one I posted a photo of after Christmas. I made a quilt for Carter. The one in this photo. I couldn’t post it until I gave it to her. Then I gave my mother a future quilt, but along with it she got a day of going to pick out the fabrics and going out to lunch. Since she is an artist I knew that she would love to pick out her own materials. (I probably should have let Carter do that too.)

My mother wasted no time getting me to get back in the sweat shop. Last week right after I got back from Boston she texted me with three dates to go pick out fabric. I chose her first available date because I know she is chomping at the bit to get her own quilt. Proof is that she has already discussed with me three times how to wash it.

While Carter was home I did not go to the sewing room so she could use the space since it had been part of her rooms before college. I missed being in that room, especially since it is so warm and cozy. Happily Carter left the room perfectly clean and exactly how I had left it when I went to Berlin.

Today after I came home with my bag of fabric for my Mom’s quilt I sat down at my sewing table and planned out my pattern, did all my calculations for cutting my pieces and measured my material. I love the puzzle part of designing a quilt.

My mom turns 80 at the end of the month. I know I won’t have this done by then. This is her belated a Christmas present anyway. But now I am panicking about what to do for her birthday. I can’t make a second quilt and I am running out of hobbies to turn into presents. I wish she liked to eat, then I could cook her something.

Pork, Apples and Onions

If you are wondering why there are two blog posts today, it’s the internet’s fault. Last night I came home from the DPAC wrote my blog and was unable to upload it because the internet was down at our house. No one missed it. No one was waiting up late, not able to sleep until they read the blog.

By morning the Internet was back, so the blog about Watts Grocery counts as yesterday’s post. Today you get an easy winter recipe.

Pork is getting cheaper and cheaper as beef prices soar. So I try and find ways to use pork that are not terribly fattening. Considering how lean the pork is it is not very fattening, but then it also is a little dry and flavorless. To counteract that you need to add lots of flavorful items to help the pork. Today I used onions, apples, and sage.

4 pork chops

2 sweet onions -chopped

2 apples- chopped

1/2 cup apple cider

1 T.butter

1 T. Olive oil

2 T. Rubbed sage

Salt and pepper

Season the pork on both sides with salt, pepper and ground sage.

In a big fry pan put the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and apples and cook for ten minutes until soft. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside in bowl.

In the same pan turn the heat up to medium high, add the seasoned pork. Cook on one side until brown, flip and brown the other side. Add the apples and onions back in the pan. Add the cider a little more salt and sage. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add the butter. Cover and cook until the pork reaches 160°. How long depends on how thick the chops are, but it is not that long.

It is even better as leftovers.

Thanks Watts Grocery

You know what January is? The month of deprivation eating. It’s not just the post holiday cleanse that I need, but the post first year of DJT eating. 2018 has got to be better. After spending the first week of the year getting Carter settled in Boston and dealing with the coldest temperatures I have seen in a long while it is time to concentrate on being in control of my own life.

The cold doesn’t help. All I really want to do is make some homemade hot chocolate and a grilled cheese. It took all my will power today to eat a salad for lunch, but I know the eating madness has to end.

Unfortunately life happens while you are trying to to be healthy. Tonight we had tickets to DPAC to see “Get On Your Feet.” Our friends we sit with had a sick child so Russ and I went to Watts Grocery to have dinner before the show alone. Our server told us about the specials and Russ looked at me longingly when she mentioned the Lobster Mac and Chesse. “Do you want to split it,” he asked. I declined by telling our server, “It’s January, can’t do it.”

I got something else that was not quite as bad for you, the Seared yellow fin tuna over poblano short grain rice with curried kale topped with roasted peanut romesco. It was absolutely divine. I in no way missed the lobster mac and cheese.

It was the perfect meal, I was happy and I left without guilt. It was a very cold walk from the garage to the show, but it was worth braving the cold for. I have never been much of a Gloria Estefan fan, but the show was fun. The music fit perfectly in the story and the actors were all superb.

Although the show was good I don’t need to see it again, but that Watts Grocery tuna is worth a revisit, especially since it is on the healthy, but yummy side.

Shay Shay the Royal

After seeing every type of dog in Germany sporting winter coats, Carter and a Russ insisted that Shay needed one too. Given the frigid temperatures we are experiencing right now I am actually glad that this new coat arrived today.

I am sure we could have gone to the local Pet store and gotten her a sweater or inexpensive fleece jacket, but that was not what Carter thought she deserved. Wanting both a fleece on the inside and waterproof jacket on the outside Carter determined that a Barbour jacket was exactly what our princes should sport.

Given that Barbour’s are the official outdoor outfitter for the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles it only seems fitting that our own royal added her standard to the famous outdoor clothing purveyor. Thankfully the dog versions are not as unreasonably priced as their human counter parts. That seems perfect for the British. Let’s spoil our dogs, but not our children.

Shay did not object to trying the jacket on so I hope she will find it is helpful during her long weekend walks with Russ. He too will be sporting his Barbour, but his was a hand-me-down from my father. Just like the royals, we keep our coats for generations.

The End of The Season Of Sparkle

I came home last night from Boston, a day early, to avoid the blizzard they ended up getting today. The parent orientation at Carter’s school needed up being canceled as well as the student orientation so it was a good call on my part. Russ stayed for work, but no meetings were held today as the twelve plus inches of snow fell. Carter is a little bored with no school work and her room already full organized.

I had only been gone one night, but it felt like a week. Since today ended up being a snow day in Durham and I had nothing on my calendar anyway, since I wasn’t supposed to be here, I decided I would make the most of it and take the Christmas down alone. This meant that I went to the attic and retrieved the 20 crates for all the non-tree ornaments that I put up. If I had put the tree up there would be no way I could do this alone.

Undoing Christmas is the least festive thing in the world. There is no “Christmas is over” music. Unstringing lights is a thankless job. Cleaning off the glitter and snow from tabletops where Christmas villages once sat is a pain. Vacuuming up needles is soul crushing. Ok, maybe not soul crushing, but not fun in the least.

After it is all undone, and put away and the regular furniture is back in place the house is dark and dull. The sparkle is gone. Even Shay seems to mope around, but perhaps that is because both Carter and Russ are not here and I am just her regular human, not her lover pies.

I hope that tomorrow when I wake up I will see the spartan regular house as clean, rather than lifeless. To think I only have to wait eleven months until I can do it again.

Easiest Move-In Ever

After hearing nightmares of friends moving their children into college I was prepared for the worse. Boston is cold, the streets are snowy and salty. We had breakfast and wedged Carter three suitcases of clothes into the already full filthy SUV.

We knew approximately where Carter’s dorm was, but how to get to the parking lot beside it was still confusing to us. I looked at the satellite map on google and thought I knew how to get there. What I did not know was that there was a gate blocking that entrance into the parking lot. I pulled my Yankee driving U-turn and pulled into the circle where a Northeastern police car sat.

“I’m trying to move my daughter into Stetson East, and I can’t figure out how to get to the parking lot,” I said through my opened window.

“Follow me, I’ll take you,” the kind officer replied.

I pulled up behind him on the circle and he pulled onto the street, turned on his flashing lights and gave us a police escort to the lot entrance. Such service! It was a complicated route, but still.

We pulled up to the gate and a nice attendant told us we could park for a few hours. We got the number one parking place and a team of seven young strong moving men descended on our car with two huge hampers. They had all our belongs out of our car before I was even out of the front seat.

Three of them wheeled the hampers down an icy sidewalk around a building and up into her dorm all the way to her third floor room. They then unloaded all the hampers and were done in a blink of an eye. There was no waiting for elevators or carrying things up stairs, or fighting for a parking space.

To our great delight Carter’s roommate Olivia and her mother Kelli were already there. The room was much better than we could have hoped. With a big southern exposure window and two good sized closets and more storage than I have ever seen in a dorm.

After the unpacking of all that we already had, we made a return trip to Target to finish getting the baskets, lights and trash cans we forgot yesterday. Carter and Olivia both were very excited about creating the perfect nest. The only draw back to the room was the butterscotch colored wall where the closets and door are. I am never sure who picks these colors out or if they are paint company seconds that Universities get for cheep.

Due to the impending blizzard that is coming first thing tomorrow morning, Orientation is now canceled tomorrow. I thought this might happen and last night I changed my flight for tonight and not tomorrow. Unfortunately, Russ has an important business meeting here in the morning. I am not sure the meeting will happen, but he is staying in Boston nonetheless. I am a little sad to be missing dinner tonight with Carter, Olivia and her Mom, but am thankful Russ is still here with her.

Right now I am a little worried about the move out of the dorm. The amount of stuff that is already in that room would fill a small u-haul. Oh, I’ll think about that tomorrow. Today I am just wishing a good semester for Carter and that Russ gets home.

Dorm Shopping

When I went to college I drove there. My Dad drove a rental station wagon full of my stuff and I drove my bright yellow Sirocco, also full. He dropped me off with all my worldly goods and kept driving right down to Dulles airport to fly back to London where my family lived. I organized everything myself, checked in, went downtown to the local phone company and ordered a phone to be installed, talked my way into getting a car registration even though freshman were forbidden to have them.

The next day a phone installer showed up at my dorm with a two foot drill and bore a hole in the outside wall of the dorm and installed my phone. Only a day or two later when my RA heard my phone ringing did I find out that phones were also forbidden in dorms. I wasn’t trying to be a rule breaker. With my family living in London I needed a car and a phone. I don’t know how, but somehow I was able to keep all my stuff, no matter how illegal.

Today Russ, Carter and I flew to Boston in preparation of moving her into her dorm first thing in the morning. Earlier in the summer I had driven all her bath and bedding up here and left it with cousins Mike and Andrea. Carter packed two big and one small suitcases that flew up with us today. I was amazed that was all she had for college.

The plan to go shopping today for the last few things she would need for her dorm seemed simple. Ha! Due to the cold weather we rented a big SUV because at only 11° it seemed too cold to walk to the stores and back. Well, turns out the cold was the least of our issues.

First we went to Bed Bath and Beyond, where we filled a cart, but only got about half the things on the list. Due to the cold, the elevator from the store to the parking garage was broken so Carter and I carried four body sized bags around a shopping center, up three flights of stairs and across a parking deck. Did I mention, Russ was at a work meeting?

That purchase filled the back of the SUV. Then we retraced our steps to go to a Target, a couple of blocks away. It was so cold that I forgot how to walk and did a slow motion fall on the sidewalk. Thankfully my well padded hips, and long down coat protected me from the fall. I slammed my head on the sidewalk, but since my hood was up and snapped on I did not get hurt. A nice woman came running over to see if I was still alive and together with Carter they attempted to brush all the salt and dirt off of me.

We were mere steps from the Target so I went in the ladies room and cleaned myself off before Carter and I continued the dorm room shopping extravaganza. This was one giant ass two-story Target, which makes all the Durham ones look pitiful. Our favorite thing about it was the cart escalator. You push your cart on it and then you get on the person escalator next to it. The person one runs slightly faster so you get to the top before your cart does!

We filled a cart in Target and those bags took over the back seat of the SUV. Then we drove out to Newton to the cousins to pick up the linens. We were just able to stuff them in the back. Looks like we are going to have to do some very tight packing to get her suitcases in the car in the morning and get everything over to school. So much for the idea that she was hardly taking anything to college in comparison to me.

I guess the best news is she won’t have a car, legal or otherwise and I already has a phone. I don’t know how any college student could live without one.

First Day of the Year – Last Day Home

My parents finally returned from their Christmas trip to Florida with my sisters. It was just in the nick of time to come have lunch with their only grandchild before she goes off to Boston. My father had already sent Carter her a Christmas gift, but I had not given my parents their’s yet so it was also my chance to give them the quilt I had made.

My dad surmised he getting a quilt from reading my blogs about my making quilts. At least I was able to surprise him with what it actually looked like. He thought he should hang it on the wall because he was worried that it was too nice for his bed. No! Quilts are made to be used. I encouraged him to use it. What is he going to save it for at 79 years old?

We had a nice lunch. Carter’s friend Cait was with us and she used her expert photography skills to get a family photo for us. My parents do not get why we take so many pictures. They’re free!

After my parents went back to the farm Carter had to get down to her serious packing. She had set out her piles in her old office, now my sewing room. It came in handy that all my equipment was set up because I was able to mend clothes with small tears for her before she packed them.

It has been much too short a break. I have not yet tired of having her home and now she has to go again. Russ and I are getting the full move Freshman into a dorm experience a little late. This flying to college and buying stuff there is so different than my move to college with trunks and a stereo system that had wooden speakers the size of two dishwashers.

This is a good way to start 2018. Had my family together for the Nw Year and now we are settling Carter into her new world. Let’s hope that 2018 is a big improvement on 2017. Happy New Year to all of you.