March Sadness

When the brackets came out for March Madness it looked like there was a very good chance for an all ACC final four. I filled out a bracket for our church charity and had Duke, UNC, Virginia and Florida State in the final four. Well my bracket is busted because only Virginia has made it into the final. Despite UNC, and Duke also being ranked number one in their regions they were taken down by lower ranking teams. I foolishly discounted number one Gonzaga just because they were not in the ACC.

I watched many hours of basketball in the last few weeks and the one thing I feel never gets enough discussion from commentators is that these players are kids. Yes, most look like grown men and have been trained to be eloquent speakers in media training 101, but they are still college students.

The brains of young men are still developing well into their 25th year. The pressure and hype of these games has got to get to them. And remember these are games. The players are not robots. Just because they have been an 81% free throw shooter during the regular season in no way guarantees they are going to make one particularly important game deciding shot for all the marbles.

The thing about March Madness is 67 teams are going to be disappointed and only one will not. That also means that 67 team’s fans, families, schools, coaches and anyone who bet on them are also going to be experience the losses. Perhaps we should rename March Madness to March Sadness.

The only bright spot is that as humans we learn more from our losses than wins, if you decide to examine yourself. Maybe March could be considered personal growth month for basketball players and not the month they didn’t win the big dance.

Shay Likes Bars

It was a lovely warm day. Russ and I replaced five shrubs while Shay ran around the house checking for critters and jumping in and out of the long grasses. Apparently she knew it is a Saturday and was celebrating.

Since it was such a nice day we decided to take the Morris Minor out for a drive with Shay. The car needed gas so we stopped and filled up. We drove through the dry cleaners and picked up shirts. Our options on where to go with Shay were limited so we decided to stop at the Barley Labs, the dog and beer bar. We had never been there, but thought what the heck, bars are not usually where we hang, but this one was for dogs.

Being as it was three in the afternoon the place was fairly empty. There was one dog and owner sitting outside and one two human couple sitting inside at the bar talking to the bar keep. Shay trotted right in as if she was accustomed to going into to stores regularly. After sniffing the perimeter Shay greeted the humans and allowed them to love on her as if she were Norm from Cheers.

I took a seat at a table and Russ ordered a beer. Shay accepted the barley biscuit and came and sat with me. The place had a big table of games and puzzles and Russ suggested he might play one with me. BIG RED LETTER DAY! Russ rarely plays games with me.

We played Quidler and another woman came in and met a man with a dog who just had come in. It was apparent they were on a first date. Good place to come on a first date. Shay watched Russ and I play the game while I eavesdropped on the first date couple and his dog looked at Shay.

All in all Shay liked the bar. She got lots of attention from both humans and dogs. She was asked to be photographed sitting at the bar and she posed proudly. I am sure Shay would like to go and visit other bars. We will have to research her options. I’m just glad I don’t have to go on first dates.

Jicama Chips!

When Carter and I were in the DR we watched a movie that had one of my favorite lines of all time. A man was quizzed about his favorite vegetable and his answer was “table side guacamole.” For some reason this just tickled me. Unfortunately, it also got me craving guacamole.

There was no Mexican food at our resort any where to be found. I came home and have tried to satisfy that Mexican food craving with a Mexican salad this week at Mah Jongg, but that did not quite scratch that “table side guacamole” itch.

Not wanting to have a big batch of tortilla chips around I bought a jicama today. After peeling it and cutting it in half I cut it into thin chips. I made a fresh batch of guacamole, which technically should be called “counter side guacamole.” I served it on the jicama chips and it was perfect. The jicama is crisp but not sweet making it even better than a chip.

I can totally see why “table side guacamole” would be a favorite, but I am not sure I can qualify it as a vegetable on its own, but once you add the jicama, then it qualifies.

Where is Spring?

I am cold. I am tired of being cold. My fingers are still white on the ends from being so cold. My feet slightly numb still need socks. It is almost April and in North Carolina we should be warm. This is not Maine, or Vermont where cold doesn’t really leave until late May. At least today we had sun, but it only looked like it should be warmer, but it wasn’t.

My early daffodils have come and gone and my late ones are about to bloom, but the lack of warmth has slowed them down. It is too cold for me to even do garden prep, let alone plant some things. Shay snuggles close to me in bed, too cold to stretch out alone.

In less than a month I will be taking my road trip North to collect Carter and visit friends. I expect it to be cold there, but not here. Come on spring. I would like to enjoy a little bit of my favorite season, but I think I am going to miss it. One thing I am not going to miss is this never ending winter. I am tired of being cold!

Really Regular Mah Jongg

Twenty five years ago, when we first came to Durham, I was taken in to a Mah Jong group by some women who would become my very good friends. I was working full time, but always knew that when I was in town on our regular Mah Jongg day I would have a place and people to play with. I got to the point that I would plan all my work travel around Mah Jongg day, flying in from London the night before game day and out to Mexico, Canada or even back to London the day after.

Life is much easier now that I just have Mah Jongg and no work travel, but I keep up the regular game and still to this day play with my friend Judy who was one of the originals who took me in.

The best thing about such a long regular game is that my friend Jan, from the group twenty five years ago, knows when Mah Jongg is. Even though she moved to Texas nine years ago, she still plans her travels back to Durham around Mah Jongg day, like I used to.

Jan arrived here yesterday. I picked her up at the airport and brought her home so she was here ready to play bright and early today. We had a good group today playing what we thought was the last time with the 2018 card.

After a morning of playing and lunch I went to the mailbox to see if the new 2019 card arrived. Sadly it was one of the days that our local post office neglected sorting any first class mail, which is a regular occurrence. The only thing in the box were a couple of catalogs and no new Mah Jongg cards!

Jan will be here tomorrow and we decided we could do a back-to-back Mah Jongg and have one more day with the old card. It may not be our regular day, but since she flew in for Mah Jongg we need to take advantage of having Jan here. Two days in a row of Mah Jongg is really not a hardship.

Do You Want To See Vivian Howard In Person?

Vivian Howard is as much fun in person as she is on TV. This is a photo from the first time we met when she came and headlined the Chef’s Feast for the Food Bank three years ago. She wanted to see what driving a fork lift would be like. Thankfully she did not have the keys.

This year’s Chef Feast is on a Thursday April 18 at Fearrington barn. The evening starts at 5:00 with cocktails and dinner will be prepared by Vivian, the renowned Fearrington Chef, Colin Bedford and pastry chef Andrew Ullom, formally with Ashley Christensen’s pastry chef. Chef Paris has volunteered to help in the kitchen this year so I know things will run smoothly.

There are a limited number of tickets available at $225 a person. All the proceeds go to the Food Bank since everything is donated. I will be the auctioneer again this year and am hoping to see many friendly faces out in the audience. It is a fun and yummy night.

If you want to come here is the link to buy tickets. I will make sure you sit with people you will enjoy. Thanks for your support of our Food Bank which cares for so many people in 34 countries in North Carolina.

Kathi’s Needlepoint Birthday

Today is my friend Kathi’s birthday. She started needlepointing this year and has taken to it in a big way. Since she is someone who likes to drive in head first in an activity she created a stitching group of a few expert Needlepoint friends and we gather at her house to stitch. This is her best way of getting Needlepoint lessons on a regular basis and ours to catch up.

For Kathi’s birthday we had a stitching session. She says she would rather Needlepoint than go out to lunch. No wonder she is so thin. I would never turn down a birthday lunch. Then again I would stitch and eat.

Our stitching group could not let a birthday go uncelebrated, Needlepoint or not. I made a lemon pound cake and the others brought gifts on a theme. You might have though they would be Needlepoint themed, but they were flower themed, another passion.

Kathi learned three new stitches, had cake and lots of good conversation. A good birthday as far as I can tell. I love when I get to celebrate someone else’s birthday doing things I love too. Then again, I don’t really need an excuse to do what I like to do. It’s what I do all day.