College Check-In

Carter could hardly wait to get back to Boston. Since last semester she was only here during times of terrible snow and cold she was completely shocked by the beautiful trees and flowers. People sailing on the Charles brought a giddy sound of glee.

Our flight got in around 1:30. With great difficulty we dragged three coffin sized suit cases, two carry on roll-a-boards, one back pack and one tote bag on the bus to the car rental building. We were not alone as other Northeastern kids were doing the same thing as us. Sitting across from us was a freshman who was moving into the dorm Carter lived in last year. We told her she would have good storage and that made her smile.

Carter was skeptical about the car I rented until she saw the suv that easily held all our bags. We made a beeline to her on-campus apartment. I found a parking place on the street which Carter thought surely meant I was going to be towed away. Since it is still Freshman move in time the streets are packed with families who looked like deer in the headlights trying to find their way around.

The plan was for Carter to go check-in and then we would look at her room. Since we had to walk by her building Carter thought we might just go in and look at the hallway. When she used her ID card and room code she was able to open her apartment door. Her building is an old apartment building and we were unsure of the size of her room that she will share with her sweet roommate Olivia. We opened the door into their foyer and were happily surprised with it. She has one closet in the hallway. A bathroom with a claw foot tub. A kitchen with a fairly new refrigerator. A bedroom which is bigger than her room last year. The lighting is poor, but overall it was fairly clean and certainly workable. The closet space is the only drawback, but we are going to buy an additional clothing rack.

The door to the bedroom was not attached at the top hinge, but it is an easy fix. We made a list of things that would make it more homey, then explored the rest of the building. It has a nice laundry room and really nice common room with study rooms. Overall I think it is a hit.

We walked around the corner to check in. It was now after four and since we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast we went to have lunch at Eataly at the Prudential center. I told Carter that she certainly goes to college in a much nicer area than I did, but that she can’t afford to shop there regularly.

Carter was so happy to be back in Boston. We did a tiny bit of shopping for beauty products then came to check-in at our groovy hotel. Carter promptly took a nap. Tonight we are going shopping at Target for cleaning equipment then are going to go back to her apartment to start dropping stuff off. Oh, the fun we are having!

West Wing Binge

For the last two weeks I have been binge watching the West Wing. I have stopped watching all things Washington on the real news in favor of watching a fictional White House. The West Wing story lines seem so much more real to me than the tweets of the current office holder. There are some themes that have not changed. One is the issue of white supremacy, another is gun control. Even though West Wing originally aired starting 19 years ago it so sad to see we have practically moved backwards on these issues.

My favorite part of the show is the playfulness that C.J. Craig, Whitehouse Press secretary, has with the press. She is able to joke with them and they have good back and forth conversations. It makes the current press secretary, SHS look like a kindergartener playing at her job. Perhaps the current White House could hire Aaron Sorkin to write their scripts.

In the West Wing there is no Fox News. The government did not love the press, but they we treated respectfully. The whole campaign about fake news is just a 45 smoke screen.

I occurred to me that 45 might have come up with it because he watches so much Fox. The word Fox sounds a lot like the French word Faux, which means false, or fake. Perhaps Fox News actually means fake news in French.

I digress. If you want to live in the illusion that America is being run competently, just watch West Wing. It has helped me sleep better at night. I know I am just tricking my brain, but frankly having a brain is exhausting in this administration where it appears no one does.

If this made you mad, I don’t care. I am living in the Bartlett administration, if just as a break from reality.

Original E-Mail Address

From time to time I get an e-mail message from a friend asking me to delete their old e-mail address because they are changing their address. Usually the reason is something like, “I get too much spam,” but secretly I am hoping that it is something more salacious than that. Perhaps an old flame has found them and is sending tawdry messages. No one ever admits to that, especially in a big group message.

I should not doubt the spam excuse since I get over 350 junk emails a day. I agree they can be annoying and every once in a while I go on a big “unsubscribe” binge. But I have never gone so far as to even consider giving up my 25 year old email mail address. Granted I have more than one e-mail address, but my original one is the most important to me.

It is not for sentimental reason, but just for memory. See, every account I have ever opened is tied to that e-mail. If I signed up for a loyalty program, that is the e-mail I used, if I opened a sign up genius account, it is with that e-mail, if I opened a stock trading account, that is the e-mail.

My fear is that when I lose my account numbers, user names, or passwords I still know the email attached to the account. See, I often forget I have even signed up for an account and only find out I did when I try and create a new one using my tired and tested old email account. It is amazing how much stuff a person signs up for in a lifetime. It is also easy to forget about it.

Tonight I was trying to make a reservation at a hotel chain I have not stayed at in years. While on their website I discover that if you are a member of their loyalty program and make your reservation through their system you save $15 on WiFi. Of course I did not know my account number or password, but I did know and still have my e-mail address, so a new password could be sent to it.

I am trying to be better about keeping track of all my stuff, but lord it is hard. I miss the days when I only had a library card and ATM card to keep track of. For now I am counting on only needing my original email address for the rest of my life. It may be full of junk, but every once in while it really saves me. If I started using a different email I would have to remember my old and new one. If I could do that I could just remember my account numbers and passwords.

Anticipating College Move-In

I have loved having Carter home these last few weeks and now I am going to have to readjust to her being gone again. This time last year we were preparing her to go off to Germany for her first semester. I didn’t get the normal college drop off experience. It was just a quick wave goodbye as she went through security at RDU. It was fast and clean, and maybe easier, but then she was so far away.

This week she and I are flying up to Boston to move her in to her on campus apartment. Not only do I get the full move-in experience, but I have to outfit her kitchen with her. Not to have to be on the meal plan is a huge bonus for her, but she is used to cooking with my equipment and I am not leaning toward spending that for college cookware.

The one thing I am not prepared for is Boston moving day on September first when apparently 60,000 students move from one apartment to another in a 24 hour period. The flaw in the system is they have to be out of one apartment by noon on August 31 and can not get in the new one until noon, September 1. I have read that there are college students sleeping on the street with all their belongings. Thankfully this is not our situation, this year, but we are going to be trying to move in right in the middle of all this.

In the spring Carter did a great job of moving herself out of her dorm without me, so I am anticipating this might be my last move in. My parents never came to college for move in or out after my initial drop off Freshman year. That was also the quickest move-in in history because it was just my father with me and he had to drive to Dulles to catch a flight back to London. I remember walking around campus alone while everyone else still had their parents. I was wondering what their parents were still doing there.

Thankfully some things are better about moving Carter in than I ever had. She does not have a stereo system, with turn table, receiver, tape deck and two wood case speakers the size of large end tables. There are no milk crates full of record albums. She does not have a Refrigerator, since one is provided in her kitchen. No television, since she watches everything on her computer. No reference books like dictionaries, both English and one for your foreign language as well as thesaurus and Little Brown style guide. As far as I am concerned, College move-in has got to be a breeze compared to mine, except for that Boston thing.

Proof He’s Petty

This morning my friend Suzanne’s sister posted the White House phone number on Facebook, asking people to call about the flag not being at half mast over the White House to honor John McCain. I have not agreed with everything that McCain did in all his 60 years of selfless service to the country, mostly in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, but I do think he deserved more than 36 hours of a flag at half mast. The norm is for the flag to only be raised after the internment of the body.

I feel like 45 was just being petty to rise it all the way up when every other flag in DC and probably the country were at half mast. So I called the White House. I had to dial 11 times before I got anything other than a busy signal. When the phone did pick up I got a recording and I waited 7 minutes for a live volunteer to answer my call. I politely said, “I am concerned about the flag over the White House not being at half mast.” A very nice women said, “I will let the president know of your concern.” I then asked if she was extra busy today, and she said, yes. It was a cordial and short call, but I felt better registering my concern.

I was happy to see that late this afternoon the White House lowered the flag. The office of the President is more than the man who sits behind the desk. It is small minded of him to use something like the flag to register his dislike of someone who deserves to be honored. The only thing the flag did was make the president look childish.

I took some heat from someone who is a supporter of 45 about my calling out people who I feel have lowered themselves to stick by someone who acts this way. She says that people voted for him because they are fed up. I understand the idea of not liking politicians and wishing things could change. What I don’t understand is sticking by someone who acts this way. There is something about not wanting to admit you might have voted for the wrong person. I voted for Bush the younger, but when he went south, I had no trouble saying I no longer felt like he was the right guy for the job.

45 not honoring a great republican is something I just don’t get. I am not sure how people in the party can jive with this.

When Friends Know You

In the last couple of days I have come home to surprise gifts from friends. One was from my friend Kelly. Her son Adam left his car and his college stuff at our house and when he came to pick it up before move in he left me this bag from Kelly. I didn’t notice it at first, but when Kelly asked me about it I searched around and found the perfect gift, a bag of “45” dog toys and paraphernalia. My favorite is the poop bag dispenser with bags.

Nothing makes me happier about scooping than if I can do it with someone’s face on the bag I feel poopie about. So thanks to Kelly for the very thoughtful gift. Although it is unnecessary since we are happy to help Adam out any time he needs it.

A much less controversial gift, but just as thoughtful, was the card game Christy left in my mail box. Christy knows me as the game master and apparently this was a game she and her family liked, so she knew I would too.

My response to a gift of a game is, “Will you play it with me?” That is a true grift to me. Of course Christy said, “Yes.” I can hardly wait to try this game out.

Usually I have to import game players since my immediate family is not hot on games. That was until yesterday when I knew Carter had to be totally bored. She challenged me to Monopoly. Praise be, you know I dropped everything else I was doing to play a game with her. We probably should have picked a shorter game because after all the properties were bought up and the houses were going up fast, Carter got bored and the game ended.

Now if anyone wants to give me a gift, and I am not suggesting anyone ever get me ANYTHING, but if you are looking to do something nice for me come play a game with me. You don’t have to buy me a game, or bring a game, I’ve got plenty. Just come and sit at the table and play. After we play, we can walk Shay and use the appropriate poop bags. That makes for the perfect day.

Sally Came to Town

I love college move in time of year. With so many good schools around here I am sure to have a friend of two come to visit when they drop their kid off. Today was an extra special visit from my great Ethel Walker’s friend Sally Peck. Sally’s youngest son is a sophomore at Elon so for the last two Augusts I have had a chance to catch up with her.

Since Sally lives in Silicon Valley I had not seen her for years, but thanks to the draw of a nice North Carolina school I am blessed with a visit. Today I invited Sally to meet me half way between Elon and my house since she came all the way here last year. We were meeting for breakfast so I could think of no better place that the best gas station restaurant in North Carolina, the Saxapawhaw General Store.

Thank goodness Sally is so down to earth that she did not mind meeting me at a gas station. We had a wonderful visit and a yummy breakfast. I got to hear about her wedding in March to Herb and their five grown children now blended into a new family.

The big thing we talked about is our 40th high school reunion next May. So, calling all Walker’s girls from ‘79. Sally and I talked about getting a big Air bnb so we can all be together. Frankly, one lunch back at EWS is enough, but a good night of friends together is really what we want.

So spread the word. I am going to start looking for a place to stay. Suggestions are welcome from anyone in or around Simsbury. It is not exactly the vacation capital so we hope we can find something big enough.

The nice thing about our 40th is no one cares what you look like, who you are married to or not, how successful you are or anything else that people use to measure themselves against. We just want to have a chance to laugh and tell stories and maybe laugh and eat, and laugh. Just like we did when we were at Walkers.

It was great to see Sally and I am happy that I know I will have a couple more years of visits.

Grown Up Permission Slip Needed

Remember when you were a kid and you needed a permission slip to do something out of the norm. Not like getting out of school early to go to the dentist. That was just a plain old note from your Mom. No, a permission slip was for something fun or dangerous, like going on a field trip to a zip line. Once you had that permission slip signed by your parent or guardian (which was a word I never really understood since everyone I knew had parents), you were free to do something without worry.

Sometimes I wish there was a permission slip for grown ups. Yes, one of the beauties of being a grown up is being able to do whatever you want. Like my friend Lane says, when you are an adult you can eat ice cream for dinner, not that she realized that until she was well over thirty.

But there is a modicum of guilt that comes with doing whatever I want.

Yesterday I cleaned the house, did four loads of laundry, picked up Russ’ prescriptions, did some office work, had a meeting, wrote a dozen necessary emails, and called three workmen. Today, I did a puzzle, finished a fifteen year old cross stitch, and binged watched the first season of West Wing. I had a lot of guilt about my day today. I did hand wash one shirt and machine wash one quilt, but other than that, well.

I might have felt better about things if I had a permission slip for the puzzle. I’m not sure who I should ask to sign it. I could fax it to my father since I usually had parents sign those things, even though my parents usually told me just to sign it for them. For the record, I highly objected to forging permissions slips on my parents’ orders so my mother usually signed with a dried up orange magic marker that she had to lick since the cap had been lost ages ago. Russ could have sent me a permission slip electronically, since he might actually be my guardian now. I would have even felt better if Carter had signed it for me, just as long as someone else knew I was goofing off.

Now, I never feel like I need permission for Mah Jongg, or bridge. Since I don’t go shopping that is a non-issue in my house. Somehow starting a puzzle that has taken over the living room game table feels decedent. I am not trying to hog it. Anyone who walks by is welcome to work on it. No one else in the family uses that table. We have plenty of other tables available, and they are all clean.

I know plenty of women who feel no guilt about reading a book all day and night. How is doing a puzzle different, especially since I was listening to a book on podcast while I did it?

Maybe I just need a little confession. Next time I work on the puzzle I will hang a little sign on my front door handle. Of course it will be tomorrow. I have to finish this puzzle before Wednesday when I have Mah Jongg here and we need the table.

Moral Flexibility is Not a Good Thing

After coming home from a five day news break I was bombarded with the latest news of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort’s days in court. What followed was 45 on Fox talking about Cohen flipping, meaning he made a plea deal to turn in a bigger fish, namely 45. The most shocking thing to me is 45 saying, “I’ve known all about flipping- for 30 or 40 years…I’ve had many friends involved in this stuff…”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I know or have ever met someone who is a flipper, let alone have many friends who have been on one side or the the other of a flip. See, a flipper is a criminal. Only someone being charged with a crime needs to flip someone else on a bigger crime. In essence, the president has just said that for 30-40 years his friends have been criminals.

Before you jump all over me, it’s 45 who said right on TV… “Many friends.” I am not inferring any thing, just quoting. He didn’t say, “I know one guy, who might be my in-law, who flipped.” Just “many friends.”

I know politics is a dirty business. If we look closely at many politicians we are going to find stuff we don’t like, but what I can’t get over is the moral flexibility the Trump supporters seem to have to stick with him.

I remember when the far right used to be the self named “moral majority.” They weren’t just the run of the mill, good ‘ole republicans who believed in small government and states rights. No, these were people who used the Bible selectively to try and squash people’s personal rights, like marriage equality and the right to chose what to do with our own bodies, and equal rights. They claimed the moral high ground.

Well, you moral majority, why aren’t you using your bible to point out that robbers, thieves, and adulterers, who are in power now are doing anything wrong? How quickly you abandoned true morality and lay down for this person who as far as I can tell has confessed to many immoral acts for years. 45 is exactly who he always said he was. But you moral majority, you are the flippers now.

What I wish for is for all the republicans who want to save whatever morality and backbone they have to start a new party of centerists. And perhaps many of the center leaning democrats will join you. It can be a party of common sense. Conservative on spending, and liberal on rights. Sticking with a guy you wouldn’t leave alone in a room with your beautiful daughter is not a good idea.

Really Easing Back Into Reality

After five days of friend and vacation time, today could have been a shock to my system. I had to get up at 6:45 to go to the gym and as I was getting ready Russ asked me if I could get the plumbers to come fix the only original toilet left in our house. Just those two things alone could be considered a slap in the reality face.

Since I was too tired to eat breakfast I just went to workout without eating and did just fine. I called the plumbers on the way there and left a message. This made me feel like I was having an uber productive day in re-entry.

Since it is Mah Jongg day, and most people are away on vacation I asked my three friends who were coming if we could go out to lunch after playing instead of my cooking them lunch. They all agreed so my Mah Jongg was all playing and no working.

During the game the best plumbers in Durham, the Whaley Brothers showed up. They not only fixed the toilet, but they showed me where a water cut off valve was that neither Russ, ever knew about for 25 years of owning this house and they diagnosed a problem with our tankless water heater that has been plaguing us. The last two things were free!

After the brothers left I joined my friends for lunch at the newly renamed Bull and Bean, formally Bull Street. This game playing and lunching out was reminding me of being on vacation. That being the case I felt like I needed to go home and take a nap. Just as I was getting my feet up Carter came home and asked me if I wanted to go to the movies and see Crazy Rich Asians with her. Sure! This is kind of like a vacation day. So off we went.

The movie is fun and definitely worth seeing. It was Carter’s second time to see it in four days so I knew it was going to be good.

After the movies, Carter and I made dinner with me teaching her how to make risotto as one of her college cooking lessons. Now I am back to putting my feet up. The day might have started out on a taxing note, but it quickly slid back into semi vacation mode. I wonder how long I can ignore reality? It is so much nicer this way.

Friendship Slam

When you are a guest at someone’s house it is always best to leave early and have them pine for your return than late and have them wish you had gone earlier. It also works that as a guest it is best to leave while you are having a great time before you discover you over stayed your welcome and never get asked back.

So sadly I left Bald Head today, leaving my friends to continue their family vacation without me, but not before we packed in all the fun we could. Since I was the fourth, or in lots of cases, the third for bridge, Suzanne, Jack and I decided that we should waste no time doing anything else this morning, not breakfast, not walking on the beach, not swimming, but just get as much bridge in as we could.

Since we were playing three handed we were fairly lenient on each other and so we had lots of good learning moments. Even though I had to pack and Suzanne had to get dressed since she was playing in her pajamas we kept playing “one last hand.” We ended our five days of bridge playing between my house and Bald Head with the best hand ever. Suzanne opened 3 clubs and the bid ended up as a slam at 6 spades, which she played beautifully. It was the perfect ending to our time together and an excellent metaphor for our friendship. All things good and always fun.

Since now it was lunch time and we hadn’t eaten anything all day we loaded my suit case, and two coolers and Scout box I was bringing home, on to the two golf carts and the five of us went to the harbor to grab lunch. I had no time to get sappy about how sad I was about leaving them because just as we finished lunch I realized I could make the next ferry that was leaving in four minutes.

Racing the golf carts over to the ferry the boat guy generously took all my stuff and put them on the boat, I hugged the Farleys goodbye and the boat guy let me get on with one second to spare. It had been a fabulous little get away for me and I was leaving while everyone still liked me.

Driving off alone in my car was a little shock to my system because I didn’t have anyone to tell stories to. I stoped at the fish market in Southport and got a bunch of seafood right off the boat so I utilized my coolers. As I was driving the boring part of I-40, listening to the radio reality was coming back to me. I had avoided all news while I was away and that made for a lovely Trump-free few days.

The good news was I was coming home to Carter, Russ and Shay who make everything in life better. When I got home I told Carter that Suzanne and I thought our whole families should have a vacation together and she said that sounded like a great idea, especially since we had not had time with Suzanne’s oldest child Grace on this vacation.

So thanks to the Worden/Farley clan for including me on their vacation. It was absolutely perfect. I hope the rest of your time on Bald Head is schmired!

Great Day on Bald Head

Things I love about being on vacation with the Worden/Farley Family:

Being treated like a queen, with coffee brought to me in bed.

Great morning walk with Suzanne and the dogs where everyone on the beach is happy to greet the Labrador’s.

Being one of the family.

Playing bridge after breakfast.

Playing banana grams after lunch.

Never being without someone who wants to play a game with me.

Spending ocean time with my bonus boys, Jack and Oliver, jumping in the waves.

Driving the golf cart with Suzanne and the boys listening to Oliver’s curated music of Sting, the Grateful Dead and others from Suzanne and my era.

Sharing the friendliness of North Carolinians with the Farley’s.

Sitting on the porch with Suzanne and Steve, listening to ocean and loving the waining afternoon light, telling stories.

Laughing, Laughing, Laughing.

Napping Please

When on vacation it is often necessary to take a nap. OK, maybe not necessary. How about preferred? Preferred is not quite right either. Perhaps, shit, I never get to take a nap at home and between walking on the beach, being in the sun and staying up too late the night before I need a nap. Add to that, I am much nicer with more sleep than less sleep and I am a guest so am have to be nice. Also, everyone else was napping.

All this being said, I went outside on the porch and lay down in the hammock to nap. It was in the shade. A lovely breeze was blowing. The ocean was off in the distance just enough to make that white noise sound. I had pillows and a cover and it was a Pawleys Island rope hammock, my preferred brand.

I closed my eyes. No sleep. I had some random thoughts. “Where did Suzanne live in college? I couldn’t remember her room. I tried to sleep. Then the banging started. What was that banging? Every thirty to forty five seconds. I tried to ignore it. After about half an hour I got up to see what it was so I could stop it. It was a door that opened on the porch, but the casing had come undone and was blocking the door from closing. It was too tall for me to fix. I gave up on my nap.

Then the air conditioning in the house was not working. Well, it was working, but the door that kept banging open was letting so much hot air in it overwhelmed the system. Then the gas grill wasn’t working.

Since I am Suzanne’s handy friend I went to work to fix everything. None of it was hard, but at least now the doors close, the house has cooled down and the grill is fired up to cook dinner. Sadly I did not have my nap, but I did have a fun day on the beach and in town at lunch and at the game table. I just pray I don’t get grouchy before dinner and the next round of games. I live my life without naps, I think I can do it.

Moving the Game East

Today was my Sherpa day. Suzanne, Jack and Oliver put their two big dogs in their car and drove east to Deep River to catch the ferry to Bald Head. Steve, Suzanne’s husband, was supposed to fly in from NYC, but his flight got canceled. Thankfully he was put on a later flight. My job was to pick Steve up at the airport on my way to Deep River with two of their coffin sized suitcases, a cooler, my suit case and whatever Steve brought. The plan was that Steve and I would take a later ferry and catch up with Suzanne and the boys on the island.

Somehow all the stars aligned. I sent Suzanne to the farmer’s market on their way to the coast an hour before I left home. Steve’s flight got in 45 minutes early and he got his bag and stepped out on the curb just as I was pulling up. We decided not to stop the car for any stops and just book it to Deep River to try and meet up with everyone else. It was a great time for me to catch up with Steve.

We pulled up to the ferry dock and five minutes later Suzanne pulled in behind us. Somehow we had gotten ahead of them. All our bags, boxes and coolers made the ferry crossing and the transport got us to the beautiful house they are renting for two weeks.

My job as way station master and Sherpa was done successfully and now I am being rewarded with a few days at the beach and lots of laughs and many games to be played.

Before dinner Jack and I busted out the Banana grams and it was a true match where we both finished at exactly the same time. The game was decided on one non-word that disqualified that board. It was practically as exciting as the finish of the Indianapolis 500.

After a yummy dinner out we came back to the house to play bridge. We had about 30% Slam hands which made it a big night at bridge. Exhaustion finally ended the game, or rather just put it on pause until tomorrow.

So much fun was had and it’s just the beginning. I will gladly volunteer as Sherpa anytime.

A Bag Full of Tricks

Russ is the master of picking up the check. He had to learn to be quick and devious when he married into my family. Tonight we went out to dinner with our house guests, Suzanne and her two sons, Jack and Oliver. We had a big day here and I knew I was going to be too exhausted to cook so we had a reservation at Vin Rouge.

Being the mother of one girl I was not actually prepared to feed boys the quantities of food necessary to keep them upright. I got up early this morning after all the dogs in our house barked at any movement. I made two big trays of candy bacon and some scrambled eggs for Suzanne and I before the boys emerged from the newly created man cave.

When they did arise they mowed through some breakfast, it was their first encounter tee with my candy bacon. Oliver and Suzanne were going off to tour Duke so I drove them over so they didn’t have to worry about parking. On the way out the door Jack asked if he could cook some salmon for his mid morning snack.

After I dropped them off I stopped by the grocery to stock up on some lunch and snack food. Jack was happy to enjoy the tortilla chips with the limes he was eating. It was practically noon before Jack, Carter and I got to sit down and play Catan for the first time today. Half way through the game it was time for me to go back and pick up the Duke tour group.

This also meant it was time for people to eat again. The best thing about having such close friends visit is I told them all to make their own lunches and everyone found something they wanted. Full and tired from barking dogs at night naps were in order for a few.

I lay on my bed for half an hour just to recharge before Suzanne and I went out to Whole Foods for her to stock up on food for Bald Head. She was just going to get some meat and wine and two carts later we were rolling our way back to her car with a dozen bags.

Suddenly it was time for us to eat again. When we sat down Russ whispered something to the waitress that I recognized as the heads up to give him the bill when dinner was over. Suzanne said dinner was their treat and she and Russ had a small tug of war, but I knew Russ was already on it.

Oliver had already decided on the mac and cheese for dinner before we got to the restaurant, but once there thought a second entree of steak tartare would hit the spot. Carter and Jack had matching dinners of oysters and steaks, but Carter took half of hers home. As we hardly thought we could eat another bite Jack got up from the table and disappeared.

Apparently he texted Suzanne during dinner that if she gave him her credit card, he would go pay the bill in advance. When Russ learned of this slight of hand, Oliver gleefully, with hands in the air shaking, announced, “We are a bag full of tricks.” It really does take a bag full of tricks for someone to get one over on Russ Lange. Thanks to the Farley Magicians for dinner.

One Mom, Two Sons, Two Dogs

It took some doing, but I spent the better part of today rearranging Russ’ home office to fit an additional queen sized inflatable bed in it. Tonight my best college friend Suzanne arrived with her two very tall sons, Jack and Oliver and their two labradors, Chance and Esme to spend two days with us on their way to Bald Head.

So many times the Lange’s, one, two or all three of us have crashed at the Farley/Worden home in NYC. And when I say crashed, I mean we are feted, fed and entertained in luxury. If I ever call Suzanne and say I am driving through New York, she always says, “How long can you stay?” It is about time I returned the favor.

When Suzanne planned this family vacation she knew that the logistics of moving everyone to Bald Head were going to be complicated. Suit cases had to be fed ex’d, golf clubs had to be shipped. Dog crates had to go on roof racks. Her daughter had to fly in from San Francisco, her husband had to fly in from NYC. And since the dogs are an important part of the vacation they had to be driven.

I was thrilled when our house became a vital stop. This meant that I was going to have some quality time playing games with the Farley’s. Oliver and Suzanne are going to look at Duke tomorrow, but other than that, I bet we will get in more than one round of Catan. Even Carter, who normally won’t play a game with me, was happy to join in the first game of Catan tonight with Jack and Oliver and me.

The young people worked as a team against me to give Oliver, the youngest the victory. Oliver reminded me that I made him cry when he was little and we played Monopoly, so he lives to beat me. What a horrible human I was to make a little boy cry over a game. It made him a much better competitor today.

Shay is the only one who is slightly traumatized by having two big new friends in the house. They came in an drank all her water, then out came their big stainless bowls to be filled with more water and that is when the splashing really got started. It is clear that Shay is much more “Oodle” than “Lab” for she is nothing like a Chance or Esme. But by the time dinner was over she was happy to hang with them, even crying a little when they went in their room to sleep.

I hope that everyone sleeps well. We have a lot of dog and game fun planned for tomorrow.

Shrub Suggestions

Earlier this summer we had to have five large pines removed from the back out our house. In order to reach them our entire side yard of wild hedges had to be removed. Well, they didn’t all have to be removed, but once they started disturbing one section the leftover just looked messy. It was a better plan to have the men with big machines go ahead and remove them than wait and have me do it.

We have a scorched earth area in our yard now that is at least 100 feet long and thirty five feet wide. My Dad saw pictures of it and volunteered to bring a number of his tractors and implements along with Bill, his best guy, to help me fix up the side yard. Of course the best time to do this is in the fall so I have lived with the mess all summer.

Last weekend while I was at the farm my Dad and I went to look at bushes at his good nursery. We estimate that I am going to need at least 16 good sized, fast growing bushes to recreate the screen we need between us and out neighbors. As luck would have it our neighbors have been doing a major lawn overhaul for the last six weeks so they pulled out all their screening shrubs on their side so right now none of us can go in either of our kitchens without being fully dressed.

I am looking for shrub advice from all you fabulous southern gardeners. I m considering a combination of holly and laurel bushes, but don’t have exact varieties worked out. I am not wed to this plan, so I am open to suggestions.

Also I am looking for a reliable vendor who delivers. I want to start with specimens that are between 3-4 feet tall, but can get up to ten. I don’t need to say that I am looking for a good price.

Right now the inventory is low since it is a terrible time to plant, but by mid September I need to get moving on this. Please message me with any and all suggestions. The best suggestion will win a pie of your choice.

Hated Six Months and a Day Rule

For most of our marriage we did not have dental insurance. We just went to the dentist and paid for it. Life was easy. Then, right after I finished paying for Carter’s braces we got dental insurance. It’s good. They pay a good amount. But there is one rule I hate. You are entitled to two teeth cleanings a year, but they must be at least six months and one day apart.

Technically you won’t get two teeth cleanings in every year based on that math. As example let’s say you got your teeth cleaned on January 2, since the dentist is closed on January 1. The next day you are eligible to get your teeth cleaned is July 3, six months and one day later. The next time you re eligible after that is January 4, then July 5. OK if you start at the first of the year it works out you get two. What if your first cleaning is June 30 so the next day you can go is Dec. 31, but the dentist is closed. So you have to wait until January 2, a new year. You only got one in the first year.

This issue really didn’t bother me until I had a child who goes to college far from home. First it is next to impossible to get her an appointment on a day I know for certain she is going to be home and then what are the chances she is going to be home even close to six months and a day when she is allowed to get her teeth cleaned again. It would be so nice if the dental insurance plan would just let us get our teeth cleaned twice a year and when those times are was up to us. Sometimes it might be five months apart and other seven. Not a big issue in the scheme of things, but is it?

See in their current rules they are banking on the fact that you are going to not always get two cleanings in every calendar year as long as you have to wait at least six months and a day. Most people can’t get an appointment on that exact day, it might be a weekend or a holiday or your birthday and you don’t want to go to the dentist that day. So you push it back a few weeks. But every time you do that it means you are pushing back the next appointment.

I used to make a year’s worth of appointments at a time and always knew which months I would go to the dentist. Not now. I hate this rule! Damn those smart dental insurance people.

Don’t Walk Abreast at Costco

Today was errand day. Since Shay was out of chicken I had to make a Costco run because we spoil our dog more than our baby. It was only once I had parked my car did I realize that the start of college move in had started. I was the lone North Carolina plate amongst cars from a New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. I thought there was a higher number of Range Rovers than is normal for our Costco.

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town flanked by two other college towns, but this time of year is not it. Once inside the giant box I was accosted by parents and their college aged child walking abreast with not just one cart, but also a flat bed cart. I know that it is not official move in day so I am assuming these were either athletes, or upper classmen outfitting off campus apartments. From the number of flat screen TVs I saw being purchased I might have thought they were people building sports bars.

One family had three different TV’s. I saddled up beside them pretending to be interested in a smart TV just so I could figure out why they were buying three.

Daughter: I think that 55 inch is good for the living room and the two 32 inches can go in my bedroom and on the porch.

Father: Do you need one for the kitchen?

Daughter: No, I can see the the living room from the kitchen.

Porch TV? I didn’t see any weather proof TV’s. With all these TV’s how does she have any time left over to study. I wonder if she is majoring in television production?

The worst Costco college shoppers are the international students because they don’t have parents with them and they appear to have unlimited funds. I watched two young men from an Asian country argue in their native tongue as they tried to load a leather sectional onto one of those flat bed carts. I was dying to know if they Ubered to the Costco.

I tried my best to maneuver past these large groups of students as they loaded up on paper products. As I was on the back stretch of the store, with a long clear aisle all the way to the pharmacy area I thought I could make some good time to the cash registers since the students we not there buying number ten cans of tomatoes. Just as I was nearing the pharmacy a lone very elderly woman pulled out of the detergent aisle right in front of me. I thankful I was not pushing a flat bed full of TV’s because I would have run her over.

She slowly weaved back and forth down the aisle making it difficult for me to pass her. God, where are the New Jersey families when I need them to push her out of the way. The old woman paused at the pharmacy and I was able to make a quick curve around her by the vitamins and make the 100 foot slide on into the checkout just behind three other people.

By the time my cart reached the belt I turned to start putting my chicken and salmon up I noticed the old woman was coming up behind me, “You passed me and got my spot in the line.” I looked at her with a puzzled look since that was at least three minutes before. “I’m sorry,” I said “I didn’t realize the line started at the pharmacy.” I wasn’t trying to be cheeky, but really, I did not know there was a no passing zone. “Well, I would have gotten here before you, but I had to come down another aisle because all these kids were blocking the detergent aisle, so I should have been in line in front of you.”

She had to be kidding me, but I looked at her with sympathy and said, “I know, all those back to college shoppers.” I took my chicken and salmon off the belt, even though they we all the way at the cashier at this point. “Please go in front of me.” Shit, not just the college shoppers annoyed me at Costco, but so did the old lady locals.

Life Among Quilters

My fabulous quilting friend Frances convinced me to join the Triangle Modern Quilting Guild which she has been a member of for a while. In the spring when I went to my first quilt show in Raliegh her guild was there so I signed up to join. They meet on Sunday afternoons once a month so I have not attended any meetings because that is not the most convenient time.

This month Frances was going to be giving a talk about the evolution of Modern Quilting so I really wanted to go. Frances helped me out by saying I could go with her because the meetings are held in the pool house of some subdivision in a no man’s land area kind of between Durham and Raliegh. Despite the awkward location, the meeting was exciting, and inspiring.

Other than Frances, and my friend Julie in Maine, I don’t know any other quilters. Apparently, quilting attracts many more introverts than extroverts so I might know some other quilters, but they are keeping that skill to themselves. I have taught myself how to quilt with the help of You Tube so I haven’t had the chance to talk about quilting with live humans.

I went to this quilt show in Raliegh in the hopes of meeting live quilters so I could maybe pick up some useful information. That didn’t happen. I walked around and looked at the quilts, most of which I did not like. The only people who talked with me were sewing machine salesmen. No help.

So today’s meeting was a fist for me. A room full of people who actually quilt. Thee was some business discussed and then Frances gave her talk which sparked a lively discussion about how people learned to quilt and inspiration. After a snack break it was time for show and tell. Frances told me to bring a quilt to show.

The head of the meeting started with the people in the back and asked anyone with something to show to come up. It was fantastic. About a dozen women had something to show. Each one was different, but I was thrilled because unlike the show, I liked all the pieces that everyone showed. It was also a little intimidating because clearly there were hundreds of collective years of experience in the room. But the quilters were friendly and encouraging and treated me so nicely when I showed my quilt.

I am inspired to keep working at this art, even though it is a lonely existence. At least now I have found some kindred spirits thanks to Frances.

Summer Saturday

As a family we believe strongly in gun control. We can’t imagine why automatic guns are needed for anything other than the military. The only thing we like is sporting clays. Russ and Carter are good shots. And Carter really got into shooting at Camp this summer. When she got home she asked if we could go to the farm and do some shooting.

My father, as the provider of all fun outdoor toys, happily obliged. Sadly most of our sporting guns were stolen and the only one left is my grandfather’s old 20 gauge. It was good enough for Russ and Carter to break some clays over the pond.

While they were shooting my Dad and I went to scout out new shrubs for our side yard. I am in the market for some holly and laurel bushes to create a screen along an 80 foot section of our yard. My Dad has generously volunteered to bring his tractors down and help me with this project.

Between providing toys and tools I am very lucky that my Dad is around and so spry and willing to help. To thank him we invited our friends Lynn and Logan to come up to the farm and take my Mom and Dad to lunch with us.

After lunch we spent the afternoon swimming while my Dad told Logan stories. It was a practically perfect way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon with two 80 year olds. The best part was none us of shot anyone.

Summer Corn Salad

What do you do when you discover once beautiful farmer’s market corn in the back of the fridge that you should have made two weeks ago? You make corn salad of course.

My hate of wasting food is well known. I am an expert at repurposing and reconfiguring food that I have previously made. I don’t ever cook anything that might be questionable, but I do find ways to improve ingredients that might be just past their prime.

I had four ears of what once were juicy, plump sweet corn on the cob. Rather than serving it in its natural state I cut the kernels off the cob to cook so I could improve them. I heated a fly pan on high until it was very hot, sprayed it with a little Pam and dumped the kernels in. I let them start to turn slightly brown before I stirred them once. Then after one good stir left them again. After about five minutes in the pan I sprinkled them with a little sugar and salt and cooked them another minute. Once cooled I tasted the corn and it was yummy. The perfect start to a summer corn salad.

Cooked corn kernels

Cherry tomatoes- halved

Cubes of soft ripe avocado

Balsamic vinegar – just a splash

Fresh basil leaves- chiffonade

Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper. Good with everything summery!

Exercise or Friends?

Just as I was finishing up getting my steps today an article came up on my IPad from WebMD about exercise. Now I know that WebMD can be likened to Entertainment Tonight or People Magazine, superficially informative, but not really an authority. Nonetheless I still read the article.

It was making the point that exercise if good for you. So far not news, but it went on to say that it is only good for you to a point and then it is bad. To say it more succinctly, 45 minutes 3-5 times a week is good, over three hours a day is bad. Thank god! What would I have done if the numbers were switched?

According to WebMD and some more reputable medical journal they were quoting, exercise can reduce the number of poor mental health days you have on average from 3.4 to 1.9 a month. I don’t tend to measure things in mental health measurements, because I have other measurements to worry about, but even so I like the outcome.

The article went on to say that team sports and activities with other people were the most beneficial — just because being with other people is good for you. Not that being with other people on the subway is good for you, but interacting with real humans out like is good.

I think that sitting around the stitchers table and visiting with friends, or playing Mah Jongg does the same thing for you. We just aren’t getting any exercise, but the health benefits of friends are better than exercise.

When I was a kid in the sixties no women exercised. Oh, they might have played tennis, but mostly doubles. No one was out walking, not like people do now. The only exercise machine that existed then was that strap that shook the fat around your bottom, which certainly did not work. But they all had friends.

My mother talked on the phone every morning to her best friend Shelly regardless if she was going to see her in the next hour or not. Back then friends got together all the time. My parents never ate a meal at home on a Friday or Saturday night, unless they were the ones throwing the party. Everyone was thin and no one exercised. I can’t tell you a thing about their mental health, but everybody drank like fish so who could tell.

I think exercise has replaced friends and that is not a good thing. People need to exercise because they don’t have anyone to talk to. I like friends better than exercise, but I think I need both. Maybe I should start a study to show that friends reduce the number of poor mental health days. I do know one thing, if I exercised more than three hours a day I wouldn’t have time for any friends and that would cause me poor mental health.

Happy Birthday Mary Lloyd

Yesterday was my darling friend Mary Lloyd’s birthday. To celebrate it Christy and I took Mary Lloyd for afternoon tea, all our favorite meal. Christy and Mary Lloyd are my very young friends. When Carter was little she used to ask me why my friends were the grandmothers. I would tell her I liked people of many ages.

There is nothing better than having an older friend to tell you what you can be expecting and a younger friend to explain what all the new fangled stuff is. I am thankful for friends of many stages. I especially cherish Mary Lloyd on her special day and am ever grateful to have such a kind an compassionate person who likes to do many of the same things I do like needlepoint and Mah Jongg.

So happy birthday Mary Lloyd. Thank you for keeping me young. I hope you got to put your soft clothes on early.

Cauliflower Quinoa Yumminess

A couple weeks ago I went to the very delicious Elements in Chapel Hill with some friends. We all decided the cauliflower quinoa dish was divine. So today my friend Nancy asked me if I had recreated it yet, because she was waiting. So I made my version for dinner tonight. Even Russ, not a cauliflower eater, said it was good. To top it off it is also vegan.

I changed a couple aspects of the original recipe. I roasted my cauliflower in the oven for ease, rather than grilled. I also used regular quinoa and not red, because that was the kind I found in my cabinet first. I did not make crispy quinoa because I did not want to add the calories or time. It was all just as good.

The key was the Trader Joe’s Marcona almonds because they have a touch of rosemary in them. I made a soy reduction sauce from sugar, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and it was the bomb. Thankfully Carter wanted Greek salad for dinner so I have a whole leftover meal I can have another day.

1 Head of cauliflower broken into florets

1/2 cup of quinoa

1/3 cup of Marcona almonds

1/4 cup of dried cranberries

Soy reduction sauce

2 T. Sugar

2 T. Soy sauce

2 T. Rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam. Put the cauliflower florets in a single layer on the foil and spray them with Pam. Put in hot oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

Put one cup of water and a little salt in a sauce pan on high heat. Add the quinoa and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover the pot. Cook the quinoa for 16-20 minutes, until all the water is cooked out. Just be careful not to over cook it so it sticks to the pot.

Put the cranberries in a small ramekin with 2 T. of water and microwave for 30 seconds to reconstitute them. Drain of any remaining liquid.

In a very small sauce pan put the soy reduction ingredients. Heat on medium and swirl the pot around until the sugar melts.

Assemble the dish by putting the cauliflower in a shallow bowl, sprinkle with as much quinoa as you want. Add almonds and cranberries and drizzle the sauce over the top.

Make three servings.

Unfinished Treasurers

As the great clean out continues I feel lighter and lighter. Even though I only do one or two cabinets a day it still stakes me quite a long time to deal with what I find. Today’s treasures unearthed include the invitation and gift list for our wedding. It was tucked neatly inside a stationary box that held the last few envelopes from our first formal Mr. & Mrs. stationary. It was such fun to read through the list and recollect who gave us what.

Less fun, but interestingly in the same cabinet was every checkbook, both personal and many businesses and all their deposit slip pads. I am not sure what some banks think, but for one account I came across five hundred deposit slips for one account. I have no problem disposing of checks from accounts long closed, but held on to the deposit slips for the active accounts even though I make all deposits on my phone.

The one bit of anxiety all this cleaning out does is it creates many new chores. One item I found today is a large 98% completed counted cross stitch sampler. I can’t remember when I started it, but Carter commented that she remembered me working on it when she was in Pre-school. It definitely was a multi-year project. What I want to know is why I did not finish it back then especially since I was almost done?

So after the days organization was done I sat down to work on this sampler. I realized that all the cross stitching was done and all I was left with the back stitching. Granted it is my least favorite part, but it is not so horrible to just give up on the whole project. I am glad that since I started needlepointing I have never started and abandoned a project. I have bought canvases I have never started, but once a stitch goes in I keep working at it until it is done.

It won’t take me more than a week to finish this cross stitch sampler and when I do I will feel like that is a big check off my 15 year list. Of course I could have done it long ago if I hadn’t lost it in the disorganization.

I am ever hopeful that once these areas are organized they will stay that way. Once when Megan Ketch was still our full time baby sitter, like fifteen years ago, I paid her to reorganize our linen closet. She thought it was a horrible job but she was an expert organizer and needed the money. The linen closet was also the storage area for all extra health and beauty items, so she had to go though years of first aid kits and tiny shampoo bottles from hotels around the world. I have to say that Megan would be happy to know that the linen closet has remained organized since her first big purge.

This is my goal. Get my office done and keep it done for the rest of my life in this house. Once it is complete and the weather gets cooler I promise to tackle the attic. I think it will be about January.

The First Sort is Easy

With Russ off in DC for the day and Carter staying quiet in recovery at home I continued the great clean out of my office after Church. My office has built in book shelves with cabinets and a huge stand alone bookshelf also with cabinets beneath. I have four filing Cabinets and six drawers. Then there are the endless decorative boxes and baskets all filled with random you know what. The goal of this great organization has not been speed, but thoroughness and thus it is moving very slowly.

If you were to come in my office you might not notice how much work has been done at first glance. Yes, you would be hard pressed to look at it today and say, where did the nine garbage bags of stuff already removed hide? It still looks full. It is amazing how much stuff a cabinet can hold. From one I removed two dozen software boxes containing, user manuals, CDs and other documentation for programs I used five or six computers ago. Why did we still have them? Russ thought they were needed for the computers we still had that used them. Why do we still have those computers? Since they are not in my office that is a question for another month’s clean out project.

As I sort and dispose of the unneeded and unwanted I often come across something I keep, like many random photos. I put those aside in another place in my office awaiting the “second sort” where I will put all photos and memorabilia in chronological order and then into scrap books. This is where the real work will begin. I think I stopped printing photos about 2006 so all these photos I am coming across now are pre that date. Sorting them is going to be a brain taxing event.

I do feel better than now I have all three of my glue guns and their associated glue still housed together in one clear plastic shoe box so I can find it when Christmas decoration making comes around. Also sending ten boxes of giant paper lips and an unopened box of industrial sized binder clips to Russ’ office is a better place than at my house. Not much paper is getting clipped here these days.

I hope that I don’t give up on this clean out and reorganization project until it is all done, but I fear even getting to the second sort. Along with photos I have not done my files. This is not as daunting as the photos, but still requires an attention to detail I can’t do while walking on the tread mill. Filing has always been my least favorite task and I can see that my life time of ignoring it is going to catch up with me here. The one thing I know is I don’t want to leave this mess to my child so I figure if I start now I can get it all done before I leave this world. Pray I live a very long time.

The Only Thing About Jersey

There was a very short period of my life when I lived in South Jersey. It was early in our marriage and I moved from DC to Russ’ small house in Palmyra. It was a cute four square house that Russ and I renovated so we could sell it and move to North Carolina. We lived between Jim the lineman for the electric company and Jim the lineman for the telephone company. Needless to say I was madly in love, but ready to move because I was just a little bit of a fish out of water in South Jersey.

There were no good grocery stores, no farmers markets, no one without big hair. The best restaurant in town was the Red Lobster so if you wanted to see a marriage proposal all you had to do was be there on Friday night. The staff was great at hiding the ring inside a lobster tail or a cheddar by biscuit.

There was hardly anything about South Jersey that I thought I was going to miss when we thankfully moved to Durham. I was wrong. I miss the Commerce Bank. Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly happy with my bank here, mostly because my Banker is my friend, but no bank here had what Commerce Bank had, a coin sorting and counting machine in every lobby of every branch. And it was free to use, even by non-bank customers.

This was long before Coinstar moved into grocery stores and started charging a ridiculous percentage to count and sort your coins. On Saturday morning at Commerce the machine was busy with kids and their coin jars. It was a brilliant marketing tool. Once a kid poured his jar of coins into the machine and got to watch the works as it sorted and counted their money, with a small slip of paper produced at the end with their total which they took to the teller, they were hooked on this bank. I was hooked too. I would carry in a big sack of the coins Russ and I collected and loved turning that annoying change into twenties.

It was a free service. Girl Scout troops would bring their cookie money in, as would people who had yard sales. If I had played Mah Jongg back then I could have brought in my Mah Jongg winnings. Now that we live in a North Carolina I have to sort and roll my own Mah Jongg winnings. I refuse to pay CoinStar a percentage of my hard won gains.

So today, as I rolled my coins I pined away for Commerce Bank and South Jersey. I wonder if the two Jims still live on either side of Russ’ little house. It wasn’t a place that people moved away from, but that was just because they didn’t know they could and they too loved Commerce Bank.

The Only Thing About Jersey

There was a very short period of my life when I lived in South Jersey. It was early in our marriage and I moved from DC to Russ’ small house in Palmyra. It was a cute four square house that Russ and I renovated so we could sell it and move to North Carolina. We lived between Jim the lineman for the electric company and Jim the lineman for the telephone company. Needless to say I was madly in love, but ready to move because I was just a little bit of a fish out of water in South Jersey.

There were no good grocery stores, no farmers markets, no one without big hair. The best restaurant in town was the Red Lobster so if you wanted to see a marriage proposal all you had to do was be there on Friday night. The staff was great at hiding the ring inside a lobster tail or a cheddar by biscuit.

There was hardly anything about South Jersey that I thought I was going to miss when we thankfully moved to Durham. I was wrong. I miss the Commerce Bank. Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly happy with my bank here, mostly because my Banker is my friend, but no bank here had what Commerce Bank had, a coin sorting and counting machine in every lobby of every branch. And it was free to use, even by non-bank customers.

This was long before Coinstar moved into grocery stores and started charging a ridiculous percentage to count and sort your coins. On Saturday morning at Commerce the machine was busy with kids and their coin jars. It was a brilliant marketing tool. Once a kid poured his jar of coins into the machine and got to watch the works as it sorted and counted their money, with a small slip of paper produced at the end with their total which they took to the teller, they were hooked on this bank. I was hooked too. I would carry in a big sack of the coins Russ and I collected and loved turning that annoying change into twenties.

It was a free service. Girl Scout troops would bring their cookie money in, as would people who had yard sales. If I had played Mah Jongg back then I could have brought in my Mah Jongg winnings. Now that we live in a North Carolina I have to sort and roll my own Mah Jongg winnings. I refuse to pay CoinStar a percentage of my hard won gains.

So today, as I rolled my coins I pined away for Commerce Bank and South Jersey. I wonder if the two Jims still live on either side of Russ’ little house. It wasn’t a place that people moved away from, but that was just because they didn’t know they could and they too loved Commerce Bank.

Premature Ending

Yesterday while I was at lunch with my friend Francis I got a FaceTime audio call from Carter. I excused myself to take the very bad connection call. Between cutting out and my saying,”I can’t hear you,” I learned that Carter’s knee was acting up, even in her giant brace. It has been an exceptionally wet and muddy week at Camp so that does not help my crippled daughter climb up and down the mountain.

Eventually we resorted to texting and she told me the Camp doctor would look at it last night. So when I got a call from the Camp nurse at 6:30 I was sure it was about her knee. “She is all right, but you need to come get Carter,” the conversation started. It was not about her knee, but another wack on her head. Carter’s summer as a camp counselor was over.

Since it was storming terribly and late to drive to and from the mountains we decided to wait until morning to go get our poor girl. She had to stay in the health hut, which was no way to say goodbye to her life long friends. She was so sad. One text to me said, “I’m not done being a counselor.” This was a job she loved, even when she was only working on half her cylinders.

I too was sad for her. I couldn’t eat dinner last night as I was texting with Carter. Sleep was not something that was successful last night as I worried about her. Russ and I were in the car before six this morning to drive out to Camp. We needed both of us so I could drive Carter’s car back home.

It was the rainiest foggy morning on the mountain as we pulled up as the campers were heading into the dining hall for breakfast. Carter’s campers were saying goodbye to her. They went into eat and Carter was left hugging her wonderful co-counselor Morgan. Morgan was a new Junior Counselor this year Carter lucked out to be paired with her. Morgan had packed all of Carter’s belonging and put them in her car so there was nothing left for us to do except stop by the barn and get her riding equipment.

I was thrilled to get my hands on Carter and spend the hours driving home with her to see exactly how hurt she is. Having a month at home will do wonders for her recuperation. Hopefully after her MRI we will know what the plan is for her knee. I think her head is not bad in the scheme of things. It is time for Carter to take care of herself and it is hard for her to end early. She hated leaving the people, but she just couldn’t handle the mountain anymore. Tonight I will sleep well with all my peeps under one roof.

Not Lost, Just Misplaced

In my deep dive cleaning out of my office, which I swear is going to take the rest of the year to really do properly, I have unearthed some treasures. The best thing I have found so far is our christmas elf. Stop reading this now if you are under ten years old. For the rest of you, our Christmas elf came to us via Barbara Collie. Carter was about three the Christmas that he came. She loved that elf. He visited us every December until one year, about four or five years ago he didn’t show up.

Carter was distraught. Where was our elf? He was a good elf, who moved every night in December, never missing a move. How could such a fabulous elf leave and not say goodbye? A new elf came to our house the next year, but he was not “our” elf and Carter never took to him. He was not as creative about the places he moved to, never hanging from the chandelier like our first elf. Some nights he even was too lazy to move.

I racked my brain to try and figure out where our elf had hidden himself. I knew he could not have escaped the house and I was right. In an “organizing” box in the cookbook corner of my office, under a package of decorative file folders I found our original elf. He was just as good as new. No worse of the wear, having lived in that organizer box for half a decade or more.

I rejoiced in a huge way. Since I don’t want that elf to hide until December, where he might get lost again, I asked him to hang out in my office until December. He agreed, if I promised never to misplace him again. I promised.

Shay’s New Groomer

We have reached a new level of pampered pooch at our house today. A few weeks ago I got a call from Shay’s groomer telling me she was closing her store. It was bad news, especially since it was two days before Shay was due her hair cut. I called a friend’s daughter who had opened up a mobile grooming service, but did not hear back from her because she was on vacation. At last we connected and set today as her first visit.

Mobile pet grooming is fantastic because there is no stress on Shay to be somewhere in public while she has all her work done. Shay has never much liked going to the groomer because there are other dogs there and she thinks she is a person. She would much prefer to go to my salon and sit in the chair for her hair cut.

Georgiana, showed up right on time. She set up her table in the garage and we discussed Shay’s limited options since her hair was out of control. Shay didn’t mind at all to stand on the little table with the collar to hold her in place. After an initial cut with the clippers she got a bath in the bathtub and then went back to the table for the finishing work.

In two hours she was practically perfect. No ride in the car shivering out of fear. No long Day at the groomer. No work for me. The grooming at home is the bomb. Georgiana is coming back! If you are interested is using her here is her card. Just say Shay sent you.