I’m No Co-Signer

Carter’s future apartment co-signer lease arrived today. It needs to be signed notarized and sent back by next week. It is a simple form. Just wants the name and address of the co-signer as well as employer and salary. Turns out I am no help in this case. With no real salary and no good employer I would not help Carter qualify for her lease. Thank goodness for Russ.

When my mother was filling out an application for a retirement community she called me because they had a question about salary and she thought she was not going to qualify since neither she, nor my father have a salary or employer anymore. I told her that it was a silly question for retired people. She qualified without the salary.

I remember years ago when I was purchasing a house before I was married. I had a sales job, so my “salary” was not enough to qualify me for my mortgage. Most of my income was commission, but that was looked down upon by the bank. I had plenty of money in the bank and should have had no trouble qualifying. When the banker called with their concerns I had this discussion. “Why do you only care about someone’s salary? They could lose that job tomorrow and then have nothing. Why don’t you care about someone who is a good saver with a great record of earnings even though it wasn’t just salary?” I eventually “sold” the guy on giving me the loan.

That banker said the bank cared more about salary than actual cash on hand. Seems silly to me, but it w the eighties, hopefully that thinking has changed. Despite being a good saver I am not qualified to help my daughter out. At least no one else will ask me to help them. I’m no co-signer.

Cohen On TV

It’s seven thirty at night and my house is finally warm. The HVAC guys came at 9:15 this morning to install a new system and it took quite a while, but at last I have heat. I had Mah Jongg at my house to keep me entertained for the first half of the day while trapped here. Unfortunately no one was able to stay for lunch so I sat down to watch TV while I ate.

I hit the jackpot when I discovered the Micheal Cohen testimony was playing. I missed his opening remarks, but got many hours of watching his questioning by house members on the oversight committee. Since I had to stay home with the furnace guys I had the best excuse to binge watch this house circus.

It was long enough questioning that I felt like I got a feeling about Cohen. First I felt like he was fairly honest, for someone who had lied before Congress before. He owned his previous lying. He didn’t make excuses. He indicted the President on some things, but didn’t sound like he was out to get him. I say this because he defended the president on other things.

For example, he did say the President did lie about knowing a Russian mobster Felix Sater, who actually had an office in Trump Tower, NYC on the same floor at Trump himself. Cohen said that Trump did cheat on his taxes by giving lower valuations of properties. But when questioned about an alleged tape of Trump hitting Melania in an elevator, Cohen, said that tape didn’t exist and that he never could believe that Trump would hit Melania, that he was not like that. If Cohen was just out for a hatchet job, he could have let the “hitting Melania” rumor languish out there, he didn’t need to add that the Donald “wouldn’t do that.” Of course he did testify that Trump had him lie to Melania about paying off Playmates and porn stars. I almost rather would be hit than that.

The big thing I took away from his testimony is that Southern District Of New York is actively involved with investigating Trump. I can’t imagine that any good District Attorney can’t find lots of thing Trump did wrong as a real estate developer. The guy boasted about not paying taxes. There is something there. The question is will his children go to jail for his sins?

Of course the best investigating will be done by Mueller and that report has got to come out soon. But based on how most republicans on the house oversight committee defended Trump today I don’t think much will come of the report unless the ties to the Russians are indisputable. Trump being a liar, a cheat, adulterer, racist guy are not news. He has practically admitted to all those things. The question is will the country stand up for better values.

Since I am related to and friends with many Republicans I expect more from the party. Like why don’t you throw Trump out of the party and let him run independently since he really doesn’t embody the things that good old Republicans used to stand for. Get a backbone and stand up to the bully. At least learn from Micheal Cohen that standing by him will hurt you in the long run. Trump is not for you. Trump is only for Trump.

All Star Team Jeopardy

I love Jeopardy. It’s not the questions, or Alex as much as it is the strategy. If you are an aficionado of the show you will understand what I mean. For example, when someone is in third place during final Jeopardy they hardly have a chance of beating the other players if they all get the right answer. They have a much better chance if none of them get the right answer if they don’t bet any money, counting on the people in the number two and one positions who are forced to bet some dollar amount in order to win.

The other part of Jeopardy I love is following contestants who win multiple days in a row. Austin, the bartender from NYC, was my favorite contest of all time. He was not always the most knowledgeable, but always was the quirkiest.

Well, Jeopardy has come up with a brilliant new twist on the game, All Star games. Top players of the last decade are grouped into teams of three. Each time a team plays one of the team plays regular Jeopardy, one plays double and one plays final. The best part is the audience gets to see their strategy about who plays when. It is adding a big new layer to the game and the winning team gets a million dollars.

The championship started last week and continues through this week so you are not too late to get on watching this exciting show. It is going to make going back to regular Jeopardy a little dull, but then again we need a whole new group of champions for the next team game. I just hope we don’t have to wait ten years to have another.

Old Lady Spot Heating

Russ left the house at 5:00AM to go on a business trip. when I got up a bit later I thought our bedroom was a little cold. True to form the furnace was out. Even more predictably I need to replace the whole HVAC. The reason it is predictable is yesterday I signed a contract to replace the rest of our roof and fix our chimney. Our new roof has continued to leak, something it never did before it was replaced. Needless to say I am going with a different roofing contractor, but all this rain is not helping my ceilings, or the roofing calendar.

Thankfully my other HVAC unit is on so I have heat in half my house, just not the half that holds my bedroom. I could go sleep in Carter’s room, but I really want to watch the DVR in my bedroom so I set up a heater. I feel like a little old lady who only heats right where she lives. OK, I’m not little, but I am feeling old. Taking care of all these house issues is aging me.

Happy Smell Memory

I passed through my kitchen this afternoon and suddenly I was transported back to being an eight year old girl. Growing up in Connecticut we had a meandering stream that flowed over rocks down a sloping hill to our big pond. After long cold Yankee winters the happiest time of year was when the thousands of daffodils that naturally propagated all along the stream and up the banks grew and bloomed. The sunny yellow faces and bright green foliage gave hope that winter was over, but the best part was the fresh smell that filled the air.

Those daffodils had been planted years before by a previous owners of our house. Since my parents did not plant them they never fussed at me when I would go and cut some to take to my favorite teachers at school. I could hardly make a dent in those flowers, but I was always careful to cut one flower from each grouping so that I could enjoy the hundreds of bunches of bulbs peppering the natural area of our property.

Carrying those beautiful smelling flowers on the school bus made that long ride not just bearable but memorable. So here I am almost fifty years later and as I catch the whiff of my jonquils I feel eight years old again, and happy! There is nothing better than a good smell memory.

Simply Great

As a real cook I don’t often use recipes. By now I have built up a collective knowledge of culinary information that I just cook. Throwing different things together and tasting is my modus operandi. Baking is a different story. I have learned that to be a successful baker I need to use a recipe and measure.

Although I may not cook from recipes I do appreciate reading them. Sometimes I read something so complicated that interested me that I actually follow the recipe. There are certain food writers who are better at writing recipes than others. Ina Garten is always reliable to write a good recipe, but most of what she writes about or cooks I already know.

A few years ago Russ gave me a cookbook called Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli chef living and working in London. It quickly became my favorite cookbook when I wanted to make something new and exotic. His middle eastern flare was a refreshing take on vegetables, as the book was all about vegetables. The recipes were often complicated and included many hard to source ingredients, yet I still persisted in cooking his dishes.

Over the years Russ would give me all his cook books and I often would just read them for inspiration as they all were equally educational. This Christmas Russ gave me his latest book Ottolenghi Simple. At first it seemed like a step backwards, like learning the Hebrew alphabet after you already were fluent in Hebrew.

Tonight we had our friends Dave and Cynthia for dinner as their kitchen is being remodeled. I decided to look for dinner ideas in the Simple Book. Although the recipes are quicker than those in previous books, they are no less delicious. I did use them as a starting point from which I tweaked and added my own twists. So Lamb meatballs with pistachios, feta and arugula, green lentils with roast eggplant and cherry tomatoes, and beets with preserved lemons and red onions made a tasty dinner that hardly took me anytime to prep.

If you have never tried anything from Ottolenghi start with Simple. It won’t disappoint you and most certainly will introduce you to a whole new flavor palate. If you like it move quickly to Plenty More, still my favorite cookbook of all time.

Biblical Rain

Since our government is no longer concerned with the actual science of climate change perhaps we should put what is going on in biblical terms. Minnesota has had record snows this year. So breaking a record in a snowy state is something, perhaps not surprising, but it snowed in Hawaii and LA. That is biblical. I am not sure what the biblical term is for unexpected snow since it rarely snowed in The Middle East and I can’t think of any bible stories around snow. There should be.

But we have had unprecedented rain this year in North Carolina and I feel like it has been way more than 40 days and 40 nights. Does anyone in the federal government remember a little guy named Noah? At some point we need science to be embraced and help us understand how we are going to survive all this rain. I am in no mood to learn to build a boat.

Shay would have been one of those animals clamoring to get on the ark. She hates the rain. Normally if it is raining out she stands in the front door and refuses to go out to potty even though she knows she needs to. Having day after day of endless rain can not be good for her bladder and kidneys. Today she stayed up on my bed the whole day, moping.

I don’t blame her. I too am sick of rain. The front yard is a lake, the driveway a river. My three different rain coats hardly dry out despite rotating wearing them. Apparently we are going to have a whole weekend of continued rain. I suggest we all start praying for a dove with an olive branch. Actually I would prefer a federal worker with a science budget.


My favorite title ever is that of Speaker. There is no truer description of me. When Carter was little she came home and said I me and Russ, “I need someone to come into school to talk to my teacher.” Russ volunteered and Carter replied, “No, I think Mama should come, she is the better discusser.”

Tonight, I was the “speaker” at a board retreat for a Non-profit where I gave the Governing for Non-profit excellence talk. They are a great organization which makes the board’s job easier, but it also makes them not know what could go wrong. At one point I felt like the voice of doom as I discussed potential things that could go afoul and how to prevent or fend them off.

Learning to be a good board member is hard, but learning to be a good board leader is even tougher. As I think back to some horrible board leaders I have had I feel sad that time was wasted not doing more important work. It is not that people don’t have the right intentions, it is mostly that they just never have been trained. I also have been lucky to have some great board leaders who I learned a lot from. Too bad they don’t get graded so board members can know what they are in for.

Giving this governance talk just barley skims the surface of how to run an effective board. I think I should develop a questionnaire for these boards to measure where they are on basic things like succession plans before my talk and then retest them a year later to see if they have followed through.

I think tonight’s group has high promise. They were engaged and good active listeners. That is the best thing for an active speaker like me! I can talk about board work for a very long time. I might need a life.

Day of Mah Jongg Firsts

If you know me you probably know that I have been playing serious Mah Jongg for almost 25 years. I used to fly home from London the day before my Mah Jongg game and fly back out the day after. Carter spent many infant hours in her stroller sleeping in the dark of the very old ladies Locker room at HVCC while I played in the card room. Sometimes I played while nursing her.

Today two things happened at Mah Jongg that I have never had happen before. The first was the less exciting. I was playing with Christy, Deanna and Morgan and we had three wall games in a row. For the non-fluent in Mah Jongg that means that no one won the game, the “wall” beat us. When we have a wall game we each put a quarter In the pot and that pot goes to the winner of the next game. After three wall games the pot was up to $3. This is high finance in Mah Jongg.

As the fourth game was progressing it appeared that both Christy and Deanna had a big chance at winning. My hand was a long shot and Morgan was past long shot. We got down to the last few tiles. “Oh, my, we are going to have a forth wall game!” This is something that has never happened. Then I picked a tile that entitled me to exchange for Deanna’s joker. There were only four tiles left and I needed another joker to win. Deanna picked and did not win. Morgan picked and did not win. Christy picked and did not win. One tile left and it was mine. I said, “I hope this is a joker.” I picked and it was! I screamed “Mah Jongg” like I never have in my life. Not only did I win the wall money but everyone paid me double bringing my winnings for one hand to $4.50.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, it was not the only first or biggest miracle of the day. I was sitting out a game and Mary Lloyd was in. I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready and Christy called me into the living room. The players were just finishing the first Charleston and Christy had a question for me. She was East and wanted to know if she could stop the passing and declare Mah Jongg for she already had a winning singles and pairs hand. She was in luck that she was east and got the tiles before the start of the second Charleston! I have only ever seen someone have Mah Jongg once at the end of both Charleston’s but never in the middle. It was very exciting and seems like she should have won more than $3.00 for that miracle hand.

If you don’t play Mah Jongg and want to learn, or if you play and feel like you need an advance lesson let me know. This is the most fun game. I will be having some new classes based on demand.

Union Member House

Russ is kind of like Clark Kent turned SuperMan. When I met him he was that wrinkled shirt, big glasses wearing electrical engineer. Now he is a cool Marketer who always knows what the latest new thing is and keeps up with the most diverse group of interests.

He just joined a new “club” downtown called the Union Member House, a co-working meet up, place to grab a drink and bite to eat and join a group lecture or event. Since he just joined he asked me if I would like to go and check it out with him tonight and sit in on a lecture on “How to start a podcast.” Since I had hosted some podcasts for Durham Magazine I was interested in learning about the technical side, which I had nothing to do with.

The Union Member House is in and old building across the street from University Pres. Downtown. It is slightly hidden as the entrance is on the back of the building and it has a very unassuming small sign that is oh, so clubby. We walked into the “lobby” area where a Triumph Convertible sat inside along side a grouping of sofas and chairs. A nice young man greeted us and Russ had to sign his official “club” contract and get his finger scanned so he could get in the door by using his finger print. It was very “Get smart.”

Once the official work was done we were invited to literally go behind the velvet curtain into the big club room which featured one long meandering table down the center with many smaller conversational group seating areas on one side and a bar on the other. Immediately I was greeted by Meredith Martindale, whose parents live next door to us. She is working there and had seen Russ’ membership come through. Then Banks Anderson came up to say hello, the son of our across the street neighbors, who is also working there. Obviously this is where the hip young adults in Durham, work, belong and hang out.

Russ and I got a drink and went to sit at the back of the room where the presentation was going to take place. I met the guy sitting next to me who was interested in starting a pod cast about educational issues as he and his wife run a test prep business. The presenter was Danish, but had been living in Durham for three years since his wife is American and they prefer Durham over Denmark. That is high praise since Denmark is rated as having the happiest people.

We learned a few things about Podcasts and looked around a little more. The vibe of the place is very similar to private clubs in London that cater to specific industry groups, like the advertising club. It means that locals can have a place to go where tourist won’t over run them. I wonder if Durham has come to that?

It will be interesting to have a place to interact with the younger up and comers in Durham. I am glad Russ is so hip that he was able to join. I will just have to go as his guest. I am not so hip.

Celebrating Today as Washington’s Birthday

When I was in grade school I loved this big book in my grade school library about the White House. It was full of black and white photos and drawings illustrating the designing, building and rebuilding of America’s home. I wasn’t as interested in the men who occupied the building as I was in the men who built the building and worked to maintain it. I must have checked that book out of the school library a half dozen times.

When I was in sixth grade my parents gave me a present to go on a School sponsored trip to Washington DC over Christmas break. I had never been to DC, but was thrilled to be getting to go and see the building I had practically memorized. Sadly, President Truman died the day after Christmas and his funeral was held in DC right when my trip took place. So we did not get to visit the White House or many other official sites, as they closed for Truman’s service.

It was not until I was out of college and living in D.C. that I had a chance to visit the White House and by then I had long forgotten all the little facts I had memorized in that big book. Still I held the house in great reverence.

As the years went on I went back every so often. Carter got to go when she was in seventh grade on her school trip to DC. It did not matter who was living in the house, the house itself was a draw to me.

Sadly now, on this President’s day my feelings about the house have changed because I so dislike the current occupier. If I were invited to visit the White House today and were allowed to visit all the behind the scenes areas I would decline. I would not want my love of the house to be tarnished by visiting when 45 lived there. It may sound unpatriotic, but I wish that President’s day could be selective to only celebrate honest Presidents. So I am thinking of today as Washington’s birthday, the original President’s day.

Getting Older

Since today is my best college friend Suzanne’s birthday, whom I have known for 40 years I can say that we have seen each other literally getting older. Of course Suzanne hardly looks any older as she is probably more beautiful than she was in college and she was gorgeous then. But as a I was talking with her today about her almost 100 year old father she said, “Sometimes I feel old too.”

Now officially we are not “old,” not for this time. If this were fifty years ago we would be considered ancient, but now 70 is the new fifty. Despite not being old there are changes that come with age, some good some bad. The shrinking of my gums is something I don’t think is so good. Despite my teeth being fine, weird stuff like the tiny branches on broccoli trees gets caught in places that won’t come out with flossing or brushing.

Dry, wrinkly skin is also an aging sign. I can moisturize until I resemble a greased pig at a county fair, but that just makes the wrinkles stick together. At least my eyesight is so bad that I can’t see any new wrinkles, brown spots or hairs. Th other day I was sitting in my car in full sunlight and I put on my reading glasses and looked in the rearview mirror and scared myself. Oh my god, what young people can see when they look at me. At least young people don’t look at me. Thankfully I also was not moving because I practically scared myself to death.

Last week the tops of my feet hurt. What in the world is that about. I read something that it was probably my shoes and since I had been wearing the same pair of cute, flat, no-arch-support sneakers for a few days I changed into a more orthopedic shoe and sure enough, the tops of my feet feel fine. I might as well throw most of my shoes away since I have reached the all orthopedic-all the time period in my life.

As long as I can still walk and my brain works well enough to win at games I am good. And if I have my friends aging along with me at least we can keep each other company. Who cares what we look like and what we have stuck in our teeth, we can’t see it and we still are laughing.

The Most Susan Sprattiest Birthday Ever

A few months ago my friend Susan texted me and said she was going to have a performance birthday and invite all her friends to come and sing and dance for her party. Susan is a big time Doctor, but her real passion is singing and dancing. I replied to her text in my normal flippant way, “I can’t sing or dance. I can only tell jokes.”

Susan took me seriously and when the invitation for the party arrived, I was listed as a comedian. Now I was in trouble. Susan is a very earnest person and she took me seriously. So I worked up a set, it was dirty, but some funny stuff.

So tonight rolls around and Russ and I go to the party with our friends Mack and Elizabeth and Hannah and Mick. We arrived as a little girl was playing the violin accompanied by a man on the keyboard. Oh shit, there are children here. I looked around and noticed quite a few kids. I couldn’t possible tell the dirty jokes I had planned.

Susan sang a couple of songs as well as some of her other friends, her son Max tapped danced with a girl and all the while I was racking my brain about what I could do now that I had to do a PG set. I couldn’t back out since this was Susan’s dream party. Her husband even said it was the “Most Susan Sprattiest Party ever.”

As we waited in line at the buffet, I looked around for material. I picked up a whole lime that was one of about six that were on a cheese platter. I wasn’t sure what the lime on the cheese platter was for, but I thought I might do some routine with the lime.

Then it was my turn to go. I went up to the front and just started talking. I told one of my stories about going to Saskatoon. It got laughs. Russ taped it and I listened to it afterwards and I was happy. I was especially happy I didn’t do what I had planned. I would hate to have parents have to explain why I was joking about a cat, using a different word.

I hope that Susan liked her performance birthday. It was right up her alley. A party I will never forget. Next time I agree to tell a few jokes I am going to get a little more info about the audience first.

Here is what Russ taped. You are missing a few visuals of me patting my self down, but mostly you can get it.



Party Going Habits

Russ is an introvert and I am not. When we first got married he would stay at a party with me until the bitter end, but then he would be out the second his head hit the pillow and I would be up all night, energized from “the people.” In the middle years, he usually escaped a party and just went home to bed and I would come home later. Now, after 26 years together I don’t want to stay at the party and Russ and I both escape together early, especially on Friday nights after a long work week for Russ.

Tonight was the perfect example. We went to a party that started at 7:00. We stood up at the cocktail hour talking to people. Sat down at dinner and enjoyed our table mates. Ate our dinner, but as soon as desert came we departed.

I am too old and it is too loud at most parties for me to stick around, no matter how much I love the people. If it were a small dinner party at someone’s home and we were at their dining room table I could stay all night, but big parties no longer interest me. I have not crossed over the introvert line, I have just gotten tired.

This news thrills Russ. Of course for the people who go to all the work to put the party on, I am sorry we are so lame. Perhaps if we just go to a nice Brunch, or lunch or even afternoon tea. But nowadays, 9:30 comes and I hear the siren call of my soft clothes and bed. I think that Russ and I could have another 25 years together and he will be happy about my change in party going habits.

Shay’s Valentine

Shay loves the days when friends come by to pick up their dinners. She stands at the glass door looking down the walk way and as a friend walks down she opens the door and lets them in.

As I was up in the big room working on a puzzle I heard the door open and then close. I called out to the person I thought was coming in, but there was no response. I walked down stairs and saw Shay standing outside the glass door with a new friend.

My friend Laurie had brought her new puppy, Boston, a thirteen week old lab to meet Shay. It was the perfect Valentines Day surprise for Shay. Boston was very well behaved and Shay seemed more interested in him, than she is in most dogs. I, Of course was in love with the soft puppy right away. Too bad Laurie no longer lives across the street from me for Shay and Boston could have quite a good neighborhood friendship.

I hope that everyone gets a visit from a puppy for Valentines day. I just wish Shay could go visit Carter to give her some Shay kisses. As Charlie Brown says, “Love is a warm puppy.”

Cooking For The God Father

I cook food for other people. I don’t usually do it on demand, just as I have time and the mood strikes me. I am not a restaurant or caterer, just a friend who shares my cooking with other friends. But that is not always the answer people want.

Th either night I went to pick up a friend to go to a meeting. She got in my car and her husband slipped out of the house behind her and as she was about to shut the door he stopped her and leaned into car

“I need you to make black bean soup,” he said in an almost God father like voice.

Before I could reply he said, “You haven’t been making the soup fast enough. I need the soup.”

“Sure,” I replied. “That’s easy. I can do that for you.”

“Vegetarian, no meat,” he went on in his best Marlin Brando impression.

He shut the door and I drove off, laughing with my friend. We got to our meeting and another friend came up to me, “Have you dropped me from the friend food list, I need some food?”

“No, certainly not. What do yo want?” I asked her.

“The Senegalese Chicken stew.” (She didn’t call it by name, but we figured out that is what she wanted based on her description of the chicken with coconut milk, peanut and veggies.)

“No problem.” I told her.

So today I made the God Father his soup. I will make Senegalese Chicken stew in the next day or so.

If you are a food friend and have a request please tell me what you are interested in. I am happy to take some suggestions.

Call Your Friends

While having a belated birthday lunch with my friends Shelayne and Lynn we got to talking about the lack of conversational skills among young people today. Social media has led to people actually being less social and not meeting new people face to face. It’s not just young people, but people of all ages.

Back in the olden days, when we had to pay for long distance, we still called our friends and family. Short of driving to visit someone, there was nothing better than a good old fashioned phone call. Now that most of us have cell phones, there is no such thing as long distance inside the US. You are paying a flat fee to call anyone, yet we call far fewer people than we used to.

There was a report last month that fifty percent of all phone calls made were robo calls. Yes, I hate robo calls, just like the next person, so I often don’t even answer my phone. But I do love to hear from a friend or relative I like. (No comment here, Mary Mundy)

My friend Lynn is one of my friends who still calls on the phone rather than texts or emails, or just plain does not communicate. It is one of things that keeps our relationship close when we share the mundane things we might have done that day.

After lunch I got right on my phone and called up Carter, just so I could hear her voice and catch up. The timing was good since her classes were canceled due to snow in Boston. Then I got to thinking about who else I had not heard from. I called my friend in Maine, who is not onFacebook and had not emailed in a while. Turns out he had been very sick, and didn’t want to bother me while my Dad was sick. Thankfully he is better now, but I feel guilty I did not call for so long.

I know I write a daily blog, so many of my friends who even slightly follow me know more than enough of what is going on with me, but that does not mean I know what is going on with them. I am going to make a concerted effort to call one different friend everyday for the next three months, as long as I am in the country and the calls are free. I want to bring back the old fashioned way to keep up. There is nothing better than hearing your voices.

Bed In A Box Advice

Carter is going to be moving into an apartment next semester. We broke down and agreed to this so that hopefully we would not have to move her in Boston again. Of course we still have to move her out at the end of this semester and in again in September, but after that…

Now that she is getting an apartment she will need a new bed and a sofa. I am not going to drive a truck from North Carolina to Boston just for those things so this means she needs to procure them in Boston. Moving anything in Boston at the first of September is akin to having your finger nails pulled out slowly. Thus a I am not interested in going to a store there and hauling it to her apartment. Hell, I am not sure you could even park long enough, near enough to her building to throw something off a truck.

The answer appears to be ordering a bed in a box and having it delivered. Thankfully there appears to be over two hundred bed in a box manufacturers now all with at least 100 days sleep tests, so if you hate it…

For the life of me I can not imagine buying a bed I have not laid on. I can not picture ordering something and if it is terrible figuring out how to return it and get something else, so those sleep test periods don’t really sell me.

While we have a little time before Carter actually needs the bed I want to gather as info from anyone I know who has ordered a bed in a box. Ideally I would love to come lie down on your bed, but that sounds a little provocative, it’s not.

If you had a good, bad or so-so experience with ordering a bed online I want to know about it. Do you love your bed? Why? Our Consumer Reports Magazine just ran a story about beds, but it isn’t information enough for me. I am hoping Carter can get a bed she can use for more than three years. I know that means we will have to move it out of Boston, but I can think about that tomorrow.

Oh if anyone has had good luck buying an inexpensive sofa online, I would like to hear about that too, but is is not as important as a bed.

I’m Not Agile Enough

In the continuation of procrastination Russ and I skipped church and went up to the farm today. We gave my parents Fire Sticks for Christmas but since we never opened presents on our way to the hospital Christmas Day, Russ never had a chance to install them on my parent’s TVs.

Considering it is almost Valentines Day it seemed like it was about time to go do TV work with my parents. Now installing a fire stick, in of itself, is not something you need an electrical engineer to do. Training two fairly computer illiterate octogenarians how to access all the expanded channels requires someone with superior training. Russ, as my parents primary IT guy, is just who they needed.

While Russ worked with my mother on her TV, I talked to my Dad. While we were waiting for Russ to come work on my Dad’s TV, he and I saw that the Westminster Dog Agility Show was on TV. We watched some fabulous dogs and their very fast handlers run through very complicated routines of jumping over poles, running through tunnels, balancing on teeter totters and weaving through upright poles. All these things are tasks Shay has done, but not at the speed of these Westminster dogs. The one thing I knew from watching this display of athletic ability is I could never keep up with my dog the way these handlers keep up with theirs. So no agility competition for Shay.

Russ missed watching the dog trials as we turned them off so he could work with my Dad on his TV. We left my parents with more channels than they can look at in a lifetime and notes about how to access them. Whomever came up with calling things HDMI-1 and HDMI-2 never thought about teaching their parents how to use them. My father had gotten his remote control needs down to two until today and now he is up to four. Please lord help my parents to remember which remote does which function and in which order. I probably could get to be a dog agility handler before I could train my parents about TV technology.

Perfecting Procrastination

As the whole country is obsessed with Tidying Up Marie Kondo Style is have perfected my procrastination to tackle my big cleaning out jobs. For most of my public rooms, my house is cleaned out, thanks to the big floor refinishing of three years ago. Yes, I might have a drawer of scarves that could be Kondo’d, that is not the kind of Tidying Up I need to do.

The daunting task of the attic, crawl space and garage seems so big that I keep finding excuses not to start. My friend Lynn has spent an entire month with professional help and trucks of “Got Junk” and is still not done with her attic. Listening to her tales has made me even more committed to finding alternative tasks.

Today would have been a perfect day to start. Russ and I had a free day. So what did I do? I went to my sweat shop, where I had not worked since before Christmas and started a whole new project. I decided I needed a new set of quilted placemats so I made the tops for a set of six, as well as cut the backs out and made the binding. I would still be working on them if only I had the right color thread to quilt them.

Now I am at an impasse, while I wait for the thread to be delivered. Tomorrow is a promising day to start cleaning something out. I can start right after church. I could even go to early church so I could start sooner. But Russ mentioned his need to go to the farm to set up some TV things for my parents. Maybe I need to do that tomorrow. My parents having access to more channels is so much more important than a clean crawl space. Isn’t being a good daughter more important? How many other things can I find to do? I think at least 365 more things.

Playing With Flowers

I have a number of friends who are big time into flower arranging. Some have major flower studios at their homes and do flowers for others. It appears to be “the” hobby these days. My first friend to do this is Morgan, who started by getting trained in all things horticulture at NC State before traveling the world learning arranging from the best and then coming back to teach us a North Carolinians.

Morgan’s husband Mike built her the best studio space in their house in Hillsboro by buying the fixtures from antique hardware store in upstate New York. He installed a wall of beautiful wood drawers where Morgan keeps all the tools and supplies needed for her classes at the West Queen Studio, the name of her now business. One end of the studio is a garage door that opens to the outside making bringing flowers in and out easy.

Today Morgan was taking son number two to look at college two time zones away. The timing was not good since Valentine’s Day is next week and she was expecting her big flower order. Some of the flowers arrived yesterday so she could unpack the large cardboard boxes and process the flowers. Unfortunately two boxes did not arrive before she left for the airport so I volunteered to go meet the shipment and process the flowers.

Since it was a beautiful 70° day I worked in the studio with the garage door open enjoying the sunlight and the sounds of seagulls. Why the seagulls are this far inland I don’t know.

Processing flowers is the least fun part of working with flowers. You unpack each bundle, remove any excess foliage, cut the stems, dip them to sanitize them and then put them in water which they have been deprived of during shipping. Despite the rote like work, just being around the beautiful buds was very rejuvenating. I understand why this hobby is growing at such a fast pace. Of course it helped to have a purpose built space to work in. Processing makes a big mess so I had a lot of sweeping to do after I was done.

If you have any interest in learning about flower arranging Morgan holds classes all the time. I promise you will come away much more confident in how to create arrangements you love as well as taking home your handiwork. Of course if you just love having flowers around, but don’t want to arrange them yourself, Morgan does that too.

Visit www.westqueenstudio.com for all the 911.

Climate Change Is Right Under Our Nose

I know our denier in Chief does not believe in climax change, perhaps because he is inside watching TV all day, or in Florida playing golf where the climate does not ever change. If only he would go outside in Minnesota last week where the polar vortex took over or in Durham today where it was 85° at 2:56 according on my very reliable car thermometer.

Yes, it was a glorious sunny hot day similar to one in June, but today is February 7 and this is wrong. We officially broke the heat record for this day here. The bad part about that is the trees are budding out and my daffodils are up and blooming. When the 25° day comes Sunday it will kill all these things.

You may not care about a few flowers, but this swing in temperatures is very bad for agriculture and I bet you eat something that is grown outside.

I don’t care what political party you are in, climate change effects all the world we live in. It doesn’t just happen in a blue state or a red state. It is time to rise up and demand our government to pay attention to science. This isn’t a creationism vs. Big Bang fight. It is not religious, or race related. It’s is science. It applies to all of us the same. The evidence is right under our nose.

You Have Got to Be Kidding

With all the news about the SOTU or Dis-State as I felt it was, I needed something light in my news reading today. When I saw a story in the Boston Globe about a cat I thought, “At last! Something non-controversial.” I was wrong

To summarize the story, a woman adopted a cat from a shelter. In her adoption contract she promised that the cat will be an inside cat. Then, one day she takes the cat outside-on a leash- and posts a photo on Facebook. The head of the shelter see the photo and sues the woman to get the cat back because she has breached the contract by taking the cat outside. The cat owner pays a lawyer $3,000 to fight the case.

OK, so much wrong with this. First, the cat was in a good home, evidenced by the cat leash. Who has a cat leash? If a shelter wants to encourage people to keep their cats inside so they don’t become rescues again, OK, but suing over taking the cat out on a leash seems like harassment. Why the hell was the shelter owner even looking at the cat owner’s Facebook.

If that shelter ever wants to get anyone to adopt their cats again they are going to need to change their ways. Also funders need to consider if suing adoptive parents is a good use of resources.

The cat owner should have pled the case for herself because I can’t imagine any court upholding this contract. People have to be allowed to take their cats outside if they are ever going to get them to the vet for checkups. Right there the request is unreasonable.

The good news is the cat owner won the right to keep her cat, but how ridiculous that so many people had to waste time and energy even discussing this. This type of litigation should have a cost to the person who brought the suit. We have real problems in America and taking a cat outside of a leash is not even in the top 1,000,000 of them.

What Is It About Socks?

Our dog Shay loves socks. When Russ returns from a trip Shay stands guard at his suit case waiting for him to pull out his laundry bag. She sorts through the various items in the bag and gently takes the socks out and tries to bury them. She usually does this one sock at a time, but if she feels that there is the likelihood that they might disappear, read, be put in the hamper she will stuff one sock in her mouth and then retrieve another.

Now Shay is not picky. She likes clean socks just as much as dirty ones. When I bring the laundry basket upstairs full of clean clothes she tries to sneak a sock or two out of the basket while I am folding the clothes. She is not too tricky about taking the sock off to hide it. She often cries as she is carrying a sock away. I often wonder who she is crying for, herself, the sock or me since I have to find it.

She particularly likes to have a sock on our bed at all times. Today I washed one of my quilts and replaced it with another. When I did it, I took the two clean Carter socks Shay likes off the bed and put them on a chair. I came back in the room and Shay was lying on the bed with one of the socks I had removed under her chin. There was no hiding it, just putting back on the bed where she thinks it belongs.

Shay can tell the difference between socks, dish rags and underpants, and when sorting through the laundry never takes anything but a sock. So how does she know? And more importantly what is the draw of the sock?

She never chews on socks. She does not try and rip out a seam looking for a squeaker, which of course are not in any of our socks, but are in every other toy she plays with. I just wonder if your dogs have this same affinity for socks or is Shay special this way?

My Life Time Sound Track

Last week Russ called me and asked if he should accept tickets for the Simon and Garfunkel story at DPAC for tonight. I don’t usually like to go to shows on week nights. Hell, I don’t really like to go to anything on any nights, preferring to be home in my flannel nightgown with Shay. But Simon and Garfunkel are the sound track of my life so I said yes.

Since we were given these fabulous Row B tickets we thought we should look up what the show was as neither of us had heard a thing about it. We didn’t find much information so my enthusiasm was low.

We arrived at the theatre and realized we were clearly bringing down the age average. As others came in to find their seats I saw more and more people I knew, including more than half our row. How is it that everyone knew about this show except us?

It was a bare bones production. Two young men played Simon and Garfunkel. They looked and sounded the parts telling the story of Art and Paul in words and music. They had a back up band of a guitar player, bass, key boards and drums. The bass player was a young Asian guy who was clearly having the time of his life.

As “Simon and Garfunkel” worked their way through their catalog of sounds I was reliving my childhood. The first and I think only song I ever learned to play on the recorder in third grade was “The sound of silence.” “Bridge over Troubled water” came out just as I got my own “Realistic” stereo from Radio Shack and I played it non-stop.

After they broke up I still followed both Art and Paul dedicatedly. Grafunkel’s “Fate for breakfast” album was the only cassette tape we had in our Volvo station wagon in London in 1979. I would drive through Surrey singing “Bright eyes” board out of my mind because I was an 18 year old stuck with my 13 and 8 year old sisters.

Then, when I got our of college Paul Simon came out with perhaps the greatest album of my whole life,”Graceland.” And I went to see him at Radio City Music Hall with my college friends Suzanne and Hugh. Walking home to their apartment they shared we sang,”Diamonds on the soles of our shoes.”

The “Simon and Garfunkel Story” is not exactly the same as seeing the real Art and Paul, but it was a very fun way to relive so many decades of my early years. It was worth going out on a Monday night, and I figure if all those old people who were there with me could do it, so could I.

No Super Bowl Eating

Last year I was swept up with the Super Bowl Eating fest. All the cooking shows and TV commercials made me crave nachos and all things melting cheese. It was a huge mistake to think I could eat nachos of any form. Those nachos last February led to valentines chocolates and Easter coconut cake and just never ended.

This year I tried to come to Jesus about what I can and cannot eat, which is basically just fruits, veg and lean protein. To not be sucked into wings or seven layer dip I had to stop watching TV for the last few weeks. Even the nightly news does segments on things to eat while watching the Super Bowl. In reality they should change the name to the “eating bowl” as it appears that the whole reason for the big game is not to decide which team is best, we all know the Patriots have that title locked up, but it is about what bad for us food we can all eat tonight.

Thank goodness Russ does not fall prey to eating events and is happy to have turkey meatloaf and balsamic glazed Brussels Sprouts for our Super Bowl celebration. No Velvetta covered items in our house. OK, there never have been anything Velvetta here, but also nothing dip-able. I hope you enjoy the bowl, whichever type you partaking, be the food of the football one. Just don’t let one foot ball event derail your whole year.

Friends From College

Russ was flying the red eye home last night so I started watching a series that turned into a binge. It’s called “Friends from college,” about six friends from college who all end up living in NYC when they were in their forties. It stars Keegan Micheal Key, Fred Savage, and Cobie Smulders among others.

I am so glad I did not look at rotten tomatoes before I started watching. I loved the show, even if sometimes I did not like what the characters were doing. Needless to say I binged all of season one last night and got up this morning and watched all of season two before Russ got home and while he was taking his nap. Then I looked at rotten tomatoes to see if a third season was planned. No word on that new season, but I saw critics gave the first season a 23%, while audiences gave it an 80%. Sometimes I wonder how critics and audiences can vary so greatly.

One of the things that resonated with me is that I have a wonderful group of friends from college made up of three guys and three girls. This picture is missing my friend Janet, but the others are Suzanne, Hugh, Dave and Doug. I am happy to say we are all still friends, and have no where near the drama the TV friends have.

I was thinking about a TV show that could come from our friendship and rather than it being about us it could be about our children. All together the six of us have 14 children, seven boys and seven girls all between the ages of 24-18. Our TV show could have all our children marrying each other making all my friends from college related as in-laws. Then we would all share grandchildren and retire to live in the same place.

I would not want the same drama the TV show “Friends from college” has, but a good name could be “Friends from college, in-laws in life.”

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf

Using ground turkey breast to make meatloaf is a healthy option, but it needs added flavor. I always add a bunch of veggies to add moisture to my meatloaf, but today I wanted more. I turned to my jar of Harissa from Trader Joe’s. It did the trick to give my turkey meatloaf high flavor without adding fat.

1 lb of ground Turkey breast

1/2 red pepper -chopped

3/4 cup of carrot shreds

1 sweet onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 slice of bread- pulsed into crumbs in cuisine art

1 egg- beaten

1/4 cup of Harissa

1/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 400°. Cover a cookie sheet with foil.

Mix everything together in a big bowl. Put on cookie sheet and form into a loaf. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 175°.