Women of Achievement

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Women of Achievement lunch at the Carolina Inn. The lunch is the time to publicly acknowledge the women who are honored in Chapel Hill, Chatham and Durham Magazines Women’s issues. This is the seventh year of this event and by far the best program they have ever had.

There were two fabulous speakers, Katie Loovis , the Vice President for External Affairs for the Chamber of Chapel Hill- Carrboro and Jesica Averhart, the Executive Director of Leadership Triangle. They could have not been more different, but equally impressive. One thing Jessica said stuck with me, “Pay attention, be astonished and tell about it.” Perhaps it resonated with me because I have this blog where I am constantly sharing the things that astonish me, both the good, bad and the weird.

My two favorite winners from Durham Magazine this year were Susan Ross and Mary Moss, partners in Moss and Ross. Susan and Mary spend their time helping non-profits and organizations raise money, improve their operations and learn to be more effective. Something I am passionate about myself.

At most lunches of this type I am usually ready to bolt when the lunch is over, but not today. I stayed and visited with the always fun Treat Harvey and a number of other women I met for the first time. This group gives me lots of hope that the world my daughter will be entering in a few years is supportive and kind.

Celebrating Christy

May is certainly the month of birthday celebrations around here. My dear friend Christy had her birthday on Memorial Day. That certainly doesn’t stop us from celebrating. First we had special lemon cake Carter made for Christy at Needlepoint last week. It was our fourth citrus dessert to celebrate a birthday in six weeks.

Then today Mary Lloyd and I took Christy to the WaDu for her birthday lunch. Her birthday was a great excuse to wile away the afternoon enjoying salads, telling stories and laughing. Sadly the time together is never enough and we all had to return to the real world.

We had so much fun we forgot to take a new birthday photo, but since we celebrate each other’s birthdays together every year we had more than one old one to chose from for this post.

There is nothing better than good friends. Christy and Mary Lloyd may be younger than me by quite a bit, but I cherish their wisdom and points of view. I’m sad that the month of birthdays is almost over, but August will come soon enough when we start all over again with Mary Lloyd’s.

Northern Neck Crab Made Into Cakes

One of the benefits of going to the Northern Neck of Virginia was our ability to buy fresh local hand picked crab meat. Finding American crabmeat is a not the easiest thing around here. It is also very expensive since it is such a labor intensive product. After our breakfast on Memorial Day Russ and I stopped at the Jim Dan Dee seafood market and picked up a pint of Oysters and a pint of lump crab meat and a pint of special crab meat.

We ate the oysters that night because the fresher the Oysters the better, but the crab night was coming.

Last night I made crab cakes using half lump and half special crab meat, but only half of each. Tonight I made corn and crab chowder using the left over crab. Boy, they really have some yummy crab up in the Northern Neck. Tonight I am doing the crab cake recipe , later will come the chowder recipe.

Crab cakes

1/4 cup of mayo

2 T. Lemon Juice

1 egg

Squirt of Sriracha

Glug of Worcestershire sauce

Mix these ingredients well.

1/4 cup of oyster crackers well crushed.

Add cracker crumbs to the sauce and then gently fold in the special crab meat followed by the lump crab meat working so gently as to not break the lumps. Set the bowl of crab cake mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Scoop out crab mixture and form into patties about an inch thick.

In a non-stick fry pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat. Add the crab cakes to pan and cook on one side for three minutes and gently flip and cook on the other side for two minutes.

I like a real horseradishy cocktail sauce with my crab cakes, or just a good squirt of lemon. Nothing better. But then there is the chowder …

Raw Salad

Yeah, I know most salads are raw, but not usually the Brussels sprouts. This salad may be a little out of season, but I made it for dinner tonight and I want to remember what was in it because it was so yummy.


1/4 cup lemon juice

1 large garlic clove grated on micro plane

1 small shallot minced

1 T Dijon mustard

Black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil


10 big black kale leaves with the stems stripped out, chopped

10 Brussels Sprout, shaved

1 Apple, cut into thin slices

1/4 cup hard Italian cheese, like Romano or Parmesan

Pumpkin Seeds

Mix the dressing ingredients up to the black pepper in a small jar. Add the oil and place the top on tightly and shake it up well for a whole minute. It’s longer than you think.

Put the kale, Brussels and apple in a bowl and toss with just enough dressing. After dressed sprinkle with cheese. Can keep the salad this way only add the seeds at serving.

Memorial Day Adventure

Russ and I woke up in Irvington after our fun weekend with friends. Russ went off to the local Ace hardware to buy some tools to use to put together David’s bike he had won five years ago and was still in the box. My old Dickinson friend Blair and her daughter Isabelle departed our little shared house. It was great to see her after so many years. After Russ finished the bike assembly we bade farewell to David and John who had been the best hosts.

Russ and I made our way to the next town Kilmarnock, to have breakfast at the Car Wash Cafe. Exactly as named it was a tiny cafe attached to a working car wash. Luckily we timed our arrival perfectly as there was one free table and then a long line of waiting diners soon after us. After a yummy breakfast of soft shell crab we stopped in the seafood shop two doors down and bought some oysters and crab meat to bring home. It is always a good idea to travel with a cooler.

We headed back towards Irvington to make our last stop of the trip at Christ Church. It was built in 1735 by King Carter, certain relative of mine. The glorious brick church was very impressive and Russ and I lucked into a private tour just before the Memorial Day service was to begin. We saw very old men who still fit in their uniforms come in for the service and the local high school ROTC honor guard followed by a bag piper. It was fitting to spend a few minutes remembering those who served and gave all.

We tooled home to Carter and baby Shay. We finished up the evening with oyster tacos made with the bounty we brought home from the Northern Neck. A lovely reminder of a great get away. Thanks to all the friends, Karl, Brian, David, Blair and John who took this photo for a fun weekend.

Life of the Party

My old, old friends John and David are always the life of the party. As such they have made a fun eclectic group of friends here in Irvington. Last night their darling house, Sunny Mac was filled with people from age 15 to 90. People arrived on foot, by golf cart, bike or Rolls Royce. It has been such fun getting to know their rivha friends.

This morning the core group of nine who are visiting from far off places gathered back at David and John’s for some slow scrambled eggs and toast. It was a nice easy start to our day on the rivha. Their sweet neighbors Ellen and Jeff were taking us all out on their big boat to see Irvington from the water. It was clearly the best way to get your bearings as there are many coves, creeks and fingers of water.

Jeff was a great captain and narrator of the history of the town and waterways. Ellen a former Miss. Virginia, was just all about fun. So for three hours we toured as they served us drinks and snack. Such hospitality for people they had never met.

After our time in the sun on the water we needed a little lie down and then it was back to Sunny Mac for a reboot dinner of the night before. It was been such a fun time to be with old friends and make new ones. Now, exhausted we are falling into our little beds with sunburned noses and happy memories.

To the Rivha, For a Party

My friends David and John have a darling house in Irvington, VA. They have invited us many times to visit and it just hasn’t worked out that we could make it, until this weekend, for a big party they were throwing. So off to the Northern Neck of Virginia Russ and I drove.

We arrived after lunch to join my old college friend Blair Phillips and her daughter in a house two doors down from John and David. As we drove down King Carter road I recognized David and John’s house from the many photos I had seen on Facebook. We stopped first at their house to see how prep for the party was going and drop off the cheese cake I made for them to serve.

John said everything was ready except for those last minute food prep that couldn’t be done until an hour before the party. Then he pulled four bags of frozen shrimp from the freezer, “When should I thaw these?”

“Honey, you should have called and asked me that question yesterday,” I told him. There was still time to do a quick thaw. Russ and I went off to explore Irvington and I promised to return at five to do the last minute catering.

At the appointed time I came back to lay out the cheese trays with the special cheese David had brought back from his last trip to Belgium. John showed me the now thawed shrimp. “How do these smell?” he asked. I told him I would smell them after they were cooked.

“They are cooked, aren’t they?” I looked at the bowl of giant raw shrimp and said, “Umm, no.”

“But I ate one already.” Thankfully, John is still alive. So are all the other guests because we cooked those shrimp and iced them down before serving dinner.

The party was quite fun with a mix of Irvington folks and friends from DC and a Charlottesville. The cheese spread was a hit, the dinner delicious with us sitting on the lawn at tables in the cool evening air. The dessert spread was orgasmic. I didn’t eat any of the Belgian chocolates because they were too pretty to disturb, but other raved about them.

It was a delightful evening and a good start to what is certain to be a fun weekend at the rivha.

I’m Addicted to James

If you have been living under a rock for the last two months you have an excuse not to know who James is. James Holzhauer is the current reigning champ of Jeopardy and has been for the last 27 shows. That in itself is impressive, but not close to breaking Ken Jennings streak of winning 74 days in a row. It’s not the streak, but the amount of money that James has won, $2,065,535 in those 27 days or an average of $76,501 a day. Jennings won a total of $2,520,700 for an average of $34,063 which is less than half James’ daily average. I worry that James is going to bankrupt Jeopardy, but then when you think about the ratings of that he is getting for the show, I hope they are charging more per ad minute as long as James keeps winning.

James is exciting to watch as he jumps all over the board looking for the daily doubles and betting odd amounts. I knew I liked him early on because after he had won a few hundred thousand dollars Alex asked him what he was going to do with the money. He replied that he, his wife and child were going to take a year off and rent a place to live in a different city each month all over the world. Now that is a cool thing to do with a few hundred thousand. I wonder what he is going to do with two million plus?

I am not sure how long the Jeopardy Season lasts. We did have to suffer through a boring two week hiatus for James while the teacher’s tournament went on. Now I love teachers, but they were not as exciting as James. Can he win until there is a summer break and then have to come back in September?

I pity to poor contestants who have to go up against him. Eventually he will lose, but I bet he will break Ken Jennings money record first. When are they going to do another champions tournament? I would love to see him versus Ken Jennings. James is a game changer.

Drawn to Fellowship

Last year I was on a church committee to help raise money for the replacement of our over fifty year old fellowship hall. Rising money is something I do naturally. I thought that would be the end of my job on this project. Then in a meeting to find people to be on the building committee I found myself volunteering to be part of that committee, “As long as I don’t have to chair it,” I gave as my caveat. After recruiting a fabulous team of construction professionals from the congregation it was clear that I was the least qualified to be on the committee so I was appointed to be the chair.

Our committee has spent the last six months working with the architects, designers, contractors and engineers to bring a plan to the congregation we loved and could afford. Yesterday, I went before our governing body, the session, to ask them to approve the going forward to build this building along with my partner, Dave Pottenger, who chairs the committee doing the financing. The session passed the plan. Now we have to inform the congregation about the details so next month they can vote to borrow the portion of the money we did already raise.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this building and one thing always comes back to me, it is called the fellowship hall for a reason, it is where we celebrate being friends. The building could be called the all-purpose room or the community center or the dining room, theatre, play room, gathering room, but no, it is the fellowship hall.

It will house our largest kitchen, which will be a huge improvement on our old one. We will share meals together there as well as prepare food to serve to others elsewhere. We will, for the first time, have a large covered outdoor area so we can gather outside and eat, something that you should do often if you live in North Carolina. There can be plays or musicals preformed here as well as lectures. Of course the building will be perfect for meetings of all types, from adult, to scouts to pre-school, but all of them involve friends or people who come as strangers and leave as friends. It is all about fellowship.

Perhaps I was called to do this project. From the start of raising the money to completing the building I will probably spend three years doing it, but I am drawn to fellowship so it will be time well spent.

I pray that in the next few weeks I can communicate everything the congregation needs to know to approve the financing. We already have two-thirds of what we need and a solid plan on how the money portion should work. I just want people to feel the love of friends whenever they enter the fellowship hall because that is what it will be for.

Love At First Sight

I know I already reported on Shay’s birthday present stuffed dog, which she picked out for herself at Pet Smart, but the total adoration continues. She has had this blue dog two days and it has hardly left her side. I took these pictures all at different times.

She snuggles with it night and day.

It has squeakers in the ends of the paws and Shay has not done her usual precision undoing of a seam and removal of the plastic squeaker. Instead she has wrapped the animal around her snot and kissed it.

I have never seen her fall so totally I love with an inanimate object so quickly, but of course she did pick it out for herself.

I don’t feel like I am personifying her at all, just recognizing her own autonomy, likes and desires. I wonder what else she would chose for herself if we let her? I don’t think we should take her car shopping with us.

Farewell Susan

The first time I met Susan she was a senior at U Maryland. I can’t even think of how long ago that was. She thought I didn’t like her. She was wrong. Eventually she realized I was on her side and we became friends.

I was by her side when she first went into labor with her first son George. In fact I am credited with slowing down her labor because I was making her laugh too much. Who knew laughing did that?

We have lived through many parts of life together. Children, wives of working husbands, travel together. For many years we have lived in towns next to each other so we saw one another regularly, but were not always in exactly the same circles.

Today I went to have lunch with Susan as she waited for the moving van to come and take her furniture to Denver. She is setting out on a new adventure. I know she will be successful wherever she goes. It will not be the same to not have her in the next town, but our intertwined lives will keep us together somehow.

Susan, the one thing you can always count on me for is a good laugh. And to paraphrase Sally Field, “I like you, I really really like you.” Good luck, old friend. You always have a place here with me.

So Many Birthdays

Today Shay Shay turns eight. It is hard to remember what our family was like without her. She is definitely the princess and we are the ladies and gentleman in waiting for her. Carter took Shay to Pet Smart so she could pick out her own birthday treat. Carter reported that Shay looked all around the store and picked this ridiculous blue dog. Carter tried to entice her with other toys with more squeakers, she would have none of it. She tried to give her the pink version of the blue dog and absolutely not! She kept picking up the blue dog.

When Carter took the blue dog and Shay to the checkout, Carter told the lady it was her birthday. The clerk asked to give her a treat. Carter said, “You can try.” The lady asked Shay to sit and she did, then handed Shay the generic dog biscuit. Apparently she took it gently from the clerk and laid it on the floor at her paws. “No, thank you.” PRINCESS.

In a less princessy, but equally Royal scene, we had Christy’s needlepoint birthday today. Needlepoint Nancy came to join us, at Kathi’s. Our birthday celebrations are turning into critiques of lemon or lime desserts. Today we had a lemon cake Carter baked for Christy with some yummy berries and whipped cream from Karen.

It is the beginning of Christy’s birthday pageant month as her real birthday is not until Monday. It would be so much easier if Shay and Christy shared the same day. But I am not going to take Christy to pick out her own stuffed toy for her birthday.

My father’s birthday was last Friday. I was at my reunion and all my boarding school friends wanted to wish him a happy birthday. He was always very popular with the Walker’s girls. We called him Friday and he didn’t answer and his voice mail was full. I texted him, but did not hear back. We called Saturday morning, same scenario and again Saturday night. I still haven’t wished him a happy birthday, but not from lack of trying.

So happy birthday to Shay Shay, Christy and Dad.

Women Friends

This morning a handful of us at our reunion had breakfast together before we bade each other farewell. We had enjoyed two wonderful days reminiscing, sharing and rekindling friendships started forty-two or forty-three years before. One of the women at the table said, “I realize I just don’t have that many women friends now, and I miss that.”

This woman is one of the kindest and most fun people I know. She went on to say, “I really like my husband and spend time with him.” She also has three twenty something children, a farm full of animals, a successful business with lots of clients and is a published expert in her field.

Earlier in my trip a friend’s college age daughter asked me how she is going to make friends when she is out of college as well as keep her old friends. I hate the idea that friends of mine are worried about having friends.

There is one wonderful rule about friends- to have a good friend you must be a good friend. Well, that is easier to do once you actually have a potential friend in your universe. First you have to find a person you might want to be friends with. In today’s world this seems to be the start of the problem. How do people get out from behind their screens and actual meet live people and get to know them?

At breakfast I suggested to my friend that she learn a game with a group. I have taken great joy in my many Mah Jongg friends. Some come and go from the game, but the friendship is sustained over the tiles whenever people are around the table. The wonderful thing about Mah Jongg is you can talk to each other while you play. It is the same for people who golf together or play tennis, although yo can’t really share a funny story while serving at tennis.

Facebook has given people the allusion that you are friends, but there is not a lot of give and take in that being the only facet of a relationship. In the end you need to actually spend time with people to truly be a friend.

I suggested to my breakfast mate that she consider visiting old friends if she feels the need to spark her friendships. Don’t visit for long. One night is usually enough with people you haven’t seen much of over the years. First you have to see if you still like them, have anything much in common and sadly, now-a-days, can stand to be in the same room with them if politics come up.

The thing about friends is it is not the quantity, but the quality. Try and not hold friends too close, but instead share them. The friends of your friends usually make a great match. The one thing I have learned over the years is if you remember someone fondly as an old friend, they probably feel that same way about you. It is never too late to reach out, but never stop considering new people as friends. You just can’t have too many, but you don’t want to end up with none.

Old Girls

There is something special about relationships you make when you attend and all girls school. There is a deepness to your friendships and a shorthand of shared experiences even with acquaintances. After forty years apart it is comfortable to fall back into those patterns of fun-times and deep support.

This reunion was a blow out in terms of numbers of people who showed up, depth of conversations, laughs bellowed, kindnesses shared, dances done, songs sang, photos taken, memories relived and made.

Thanks to Miss Polcer for her hard work nudging so many to return. Kudos to Cathy Terry for coming in a wheel chair with two broken legs and a broken arm.

Big shout out to Karen Appel Brown for driving Cathy Terry and Mary Derbyshire. Thanks to Mary for teaching us how to walk.

Well done Kelly O’Leary for redecorating Beaver Brook Lobby and getting a plaque in the lobby to commemorate it.

Loved having Nancy Mack as my roommate again and always.

Thanks to Stori Stockwell for hosting me and driving me here and back to Boston and being a great friend.

Sarah Brand, whose laugh is always with me was rivaled by a Cynthia Reed. Sally Peck, wins furthest distance and was oh so beautiful. Thanks to the dinner gang, Lisa Danforth, Ellen Gerry, Karen O’Callahan, Dar Reiner, Lela Schaus, Ashley King, Mae Hurkert, Nila Hollfelder and last minute show up, Kemi Lickle.

Always good to see Angie Heughan and first time back at reunion Elizabeth McKee, Henrietta Cheng and Anne Haviland. Good job Dina Cathey and Bristol Voss for making it today.

While at Walkers my friends Kar, Anne, Nancy and I were known to each other as the shadows. Kar found a photo in the yearbook of the four of us taken at my parents house and we updated it to the fothy year later version. So glad we’re were all together again for the first time in so many years.

It was also wonderful to spend time with Kit O’Brien who was a freshman when were were seniors. We knew then that you would go far and heading up the board of trustees does not surprise us in the least. You go Girl, ‘cause Walker’s girls can do anything.

Love you all. Next reunion we need to have jointly with the classes of ‘77, ‘78, ‘79, ‘80 & ,’81.

Forty Years, Are You Kidding?

Forty years ago and forty one and forty two, on this very weekend, as a Ethel Walker student I remember seeing all these old women come back to school for their reunion. My friends and I would look at these preppy old women hugging and laughing having the time of their lives and wonder if we would ever be that old.

Fast forward and at least a third of my class returned to Ethel Walker school for our 40th reunion. Suddenly we are the old ladies laughing and hugging. But we are not old, we are still our youthful selves. This is a big turn out for a boarding school reunion. Friends came from California, Florida and North Carolina, oh that’s me.

Thanks to our class agent, Miss Polcer, we had many people come to the reunion who have never come before as well as the cohorts of friends who show up every five years. A huge group of friends rented a house and volunteered to have our class dinner at their house. It was so generous of them to bring enough food to feed the whole school three times over.

The best thing about a 40th reunion is how loving we are all with each other. People who hadn’t seen each other in all this time told stories, shared photos and caught up. Two of our teachers, Paul Davis and Warren Erickson also joined us at our dinner.

The funniest story came out when Ashley Smith, looked at Warren and said, “You taught Religion, right?” He nodded. “The first day of class you asked us which religion we were and I said, ‘prostitute.” The roar came from the whole crowd of reunion friends. Ashley continued, “You nicely told me the right thing.”

I can hardly wait to see all these friends in the light of day. More stories, more love.


Tomorrow is my Dad’s 81st birthday. Last week my Mom e-mailed me to ask me if I was going to be surprising my Dad on his birthday. I wrote this back to her. “Sorry Mom, I am missing Dad’s birthday. I have my Walker’s 40th reunion this weekend.”

Later she called me to remind me to call my Dad. “I’m going to be at My Ethel Walker’s reunion.”

“Oh, that’s what your Walker’s reunion is,” she said. “I thought you were going be with a group of people walking.”

She only sent me to that school for three years. Granted it was 40 years ago.

So I flew to Boston today and my friend Stori picked me up at the airport along with her wonderful daughter Sam who was coming in from college in Colorado. We have had a gr at day together and tomorrow we will drive down to Walker’s together. We might do some walking, but that is not why I am here.

Say happy birthday to my Dad tomorrow if you know him.

Boycott Alabama

I am outraged about what the Alabama Legislature has done. Twenty five white male republican Alabama state senators voted in the most restrictive women’s reproductive health bill ever and only three woman had a vote in the bill. There was less than two hours of discussion.

For years I have said that women should be the ones to make decisions about our bodies and not men. But in Alabama today men decided that even in the case of rape or incest, women must carry on with a pregnancy against their wishes. So if a family member rapes a thirteen year old child she must carry on. What were these 25 men thinking?

If someone does not believe in abortion they never have to have one. There is no law that makes people have to get one. Anyone who is pro-life can always be pro-life for themselves. But why is it that people feel they should have a say in what someone else decides is best for them.

It amazes me that the party that believes in smaller government with fewer regulations wants to regulate the most intimate and life impacting part of a woman’s life. If this were something that was about men I can’t imagine they would ever enact a law to regulate men’s bodies.

The only way to punish a state who feels they can take this kind of action against women is to boycott the state and things made in the state. It worked in North Carolina when the archaic legislature here enacted the stupid bathroom bill and that was just about where people could pee.

Making Alabama feel this in their pocketbook is the only thing people outside Alabama can do. Of course, I was probably never going to Alabama, but there are plenty of companies that make things in Alabama and I am going to let them know I am not buying their products as long as they manufacture in Alabama. For instance Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai all have plants there. The one thing that makes politicians nervous is the loss of big manufacturers.

I am tired of old white men thinking they can make decisions about women’s bodies . We have to stop them now. Let women decide for themselves.

Garden Club Year End Picnic

One of the very few clubs I have elected to stay in is my favorite, Garden Club. It is a group of fifty neighborhood women, some of whom actually like gardening and all of whom like to get together and chat.

Our year goes from a September to May and culminates in an evening picnic with our husbands. Tonight was the perfect night to spend outside at a Pokey’s house with her beautiful tented terrace and lush gardens.

The picnic is pot luck and is the best food you will have. Anne Bradford always brings her patio beans and I made sure to have them as they are a favorite. Anne was celebrated this year for being a member of the club for 51 years. Somehow we missed celebrating her fiftieth last year. I am not sure I can live long enough to make fifty years in Garden Club.

Missy McLeod was also honored for being our treasurer for the past ten years. If she ever decides to retire from that job we will have to disband. This year we were within $30 of our proposed budget. That is practically a rounding error.

The hostesses did a fabulous job with the floral center pieces— We are a garden club after all. The food was delicious and the company divine. Garden club is such an easy club to be in, not much work and lots of fun and really good company. I think I’ll stay.

2557 Blog Posts And Counting

Today is the birthday of this blog. I have written a post everyday for the last seven years. It started as my accountability for my weight loss challenge to raise money for the Food Bank. It worked for that. I lost weight, have gained weight, have lost some again. All along the way I have used this blog as my place to be answerable for my actions. I have also used it to justify things, thank people, be my memory, hold my recipes, retell inspirational things I have encountered, tell funnies, rant and encourage.

When I finished my challenge to raise money I thought about stopping the blog, but some friends encouraged me to continue. I know that the title of “Less Dana” is tongue in cheek as the whole thing is way more Dana than anyone really needs.

I appreciate you, the readers. I have days where a hundred people read and ones that get thousands of eye balls. Very few things I write about deserves that much attention, but once in a while something happens that draws people in.

For now I am going to continue. This is my second strongest habit, after drinking iced tea. If you told me when I started that I would write a few hundred words everyday and post it for the world to read I would say, “Forget it. That sounds too hard.” The act of writing something when nothing might have happened that day is a discipline I have come to enjoy.

Sometimes I write things that make people mad. I often wonder why people continue to read if I piss you off. Just know I am not trying to be controversial and I really write only for myself. I need constant motivation to do the right thing. That doesn’t mean I do it, but holding myself accountable and laying things out in public is good for me.

When I was looking back at the stats on the blog I laugh about things that get searched on which brings new readers as am amazed at all the countries they come from. I just hope that they figure out that sometimes what I write is satire.

So happy birthday to “Less Dana.” I know that I wrote yesterday that the celebrations about me are over. I consider this blog to be more than me, with a life of its own. Thanks to all of you who inspire me to write about you. After 2,557 blog posts I need new material.

My May Celebrations Are Over

I hate that I have my anniversary, birthday and Mother’s Day all in a ten day period. By the time Mother’s day comes around everyone is sick of me. I am embarrassed to have any more celebrations about me, so we didn’t. Six months from now I wouldn’t mind a little pampering.

Carter was at Cheerio working this week so she was not home until late this afternoon, so I didn’t have the person around who caused me to be a mother anyway. To replace Mother’s Day I had confirmation day at a church with my mentee Allison Prebble. It was a lovely way to spend the morning. After church we took some pictures and since I had been both Allison and her older brother Jack’s confirmation Mentor I wanted a photo of the three of us.

After church I called my Mom to wish her happy Mother’s Day. No gifts, flowers or cards, just a call. That is always how Mother’s Day has been with us, except maybe breakfast in bed when I was younger. This was not much of a gift, but it was all the was.

Carter is cooking dinner tonight and the three of us will be together. All the celebration we need. And then the month of me is over. Everyone will be glad.

Finally Aged Into My Hobbies

“Why are you friends with all the grandmothers?” Asked two year old Carter when I took her to preschool.

“Well, the grand mother’s are my friends because we like to do the same things.”

“Like what?”

“Play Mah Jongg, Bridge, make scrapbooks, do puzzles, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking. You know all the things I like to do with you.”

Carter was a little confused that the things that pre-schoolers liked were similar to the things that the grandmother’s liked and also what I liked.

For my birthday one of my younger friends gave me a beautiful puzzle. I really like to work on puzzles, but I do it on my game table in the living room. This means I have to wait until Mah Jongg is done on Wednesday afternoons before I start a new puzzle and I have to finish it by the following Tuesday afternoon.

I started this one Thursday afternoon. Despite being 1000 pieces I have made good progress. I am so happy that I have finally aged into my hobbies. No one asks me know why I like to do the things I like. I figure I am set with all the hobbies I need for the rest of my life. My young friends are finally aging into my likes.

I Can Do It Myself

Oh the glamorous life I lead. From my Harvard Non-profit group yesterday to landscaper/handy-person today. My yard guy quoted me a crazy amount to mulch my garden. I wasn’t looking to much our entire property, but the amount he said should cover every foot of our yard three inches deep.

Since I was not looking for four truck loads of mulch I told him I would do it myself. Last week Russ and I picked up ten bags of mulch from Home Depot for $20. It only took me an hour to spread it in my herb garden. Granted I could use another ten bags, but the important work was done.

I continued inside doing lots of handy jobs myself. I am gearing up for my big project of the summer- painting my kitchen cabinets. I have studied, gotten paint samples and have set aside July. This will be no mulch job, but I am certain I can do it myself. Oh the satisfaction!

A Surprise New Job

I have been fairly good at not getting a real new job. I am busy enough with my volunteer jobs that there certainly is not time in the day for a paying job. Plus I like to have time in my day for my real job, Shay, friends and family. Oh yeah, and games, puzzles, Needlepoint, quilts and cooking.

Today was a good example of my average day. I had a meeting at church and Shay went with me. Shay loves to go to church. She likes meetings and all the people there who worship Dogs.

I then had a long birthday lunch with my friends Mary Lloyd and Christy. We could easily stretch lunch from mid morning to mid afternoon and still not have covered all the topics we need to discuss.

I came home and started my new birthday puzzle that Michelle gave me. I got the whole boarder done minus one piece and divided all the pieces into color groups.

By then it was time to make the long trek to Raleigh for a Harvard 100 dinner. The trip, which in non-rush hour would take 30 minutes took and hour and a half. When I got to the Renaissance North Hill’s the ballroom where the dinner-meeting was being held was full with over 200 triangle nonprofit leaders.

One of my friends there gave me the heads up that I was being named the VP of Programs for the newly formed executive committee of the Harvard 100. It was a surprise new job for me that I had not run for, but one I am happy to work on since I love this group and it’s mission to help Non-profits in the triangle work together and improve. I was esciall

At the dinner I was lucky enough to sit with my favorite Janice McAdams, from SECU Family House. The new website for the Harvard 100 was launched. If you have a non-profit and are looking for information it will hopefully be a resource for you. Of course, that is once I populate it with some programs. Visit harvard100.org If you are a triangle non-profit interested in training let me know.

A good day— friends, puzzles, meaningful work and Shay. Sorry Russ, I didn’t see you much. I promise not to get anymore jobs.


It’s Mah Jongg Day. I got a call from my friend Morgan this morning saying she wanted to try re-entry back into life and Mah Jongg felt like the safest place to start. Morgan is the aunt of Riley Howell who was murdered at UNNC while he took down the gunman. Morgan had returned yesterday from her home town where she has been for the last week with her family holding the funeral and being together. “Of course,” told her, “Where better to ease back than Mah Jongg and your friends here.”

It would have been nice to stop playing and welcome her with open arms, but as it would happen, Morgan came into my house as one table of friends we playing and I was frantically on my computer trying to buy Carter concert tickets since she is in the mountains without good connectivity. Instead of stopping everything and focusing on Morgan, she jumped in and helped me manage multiple devices, and communicating with Carter via text, while I kept refreshing the web site.

Eventually that project was completed and Morgan got some hugs and went to join a table. Our friend Kim, who had been away for the last two weeks did not know about Riley and Morgan explained the story to her. I was sorry I had not briefed everyone and apologized to both Kim and Morgan, but Morgan said it was a good way for her to practice how she is going to tell people who don’t know the story.

Morgan is a consummate story teller so she was able to share lots of anecdotes about Riley, the service and her family. She tasked me with asking anyone who had newspaper clippings if they would share them with her. Morgan is putting together a book of the stories for her family. She has all the digital media, but would love any hard copies. If you saved something from a newspaper, I am collecting them for Morgan.

In a life goes on moment, as we were about to have lunch a text came out to all the Middle school parents that the school lost power and they needed to pick their kids up. Morgan at least had lunch before she had to go pick up a Suburban full of kids. Nothing like kids to get you back into regular life.

So, Morgan is back and is able to tell you a good tale of her nephew. Mah Jongg was a safe re-entry, but I think it will be a little up and down as with all things in life, nothing is a straight line.

Pie For Lunch

There were five of us in our neighborhood needlepoint group. Four of us have birthdays in a less than two month period. That is turning our group into a “dessert instead of lunch” needlepoint group.

Today was the celebration of my birthday. Christy made a most spectacular key lime pie with ginger snap crust. As the lover of all things lemon and limes it was right up my alley. We are getting quite spoiled at our gatherings the last three times that we stitch a little, bitch a little, share tips a little and eat a decadent dessert and open gifts.

Next meeting is Christy’s birthday and then we take the summer off. Good thing since we don’t have any summer birthdays and Karen’s is in September. I am going to have to find something unusual to bake for their birthdays since they give the best of gifts.

The other day someone asked me if I missed having Carter in school in Durham and all the commitments that went along with that. I honestly said, “I really don’t miss that at all, I just miss Carter.” It is nice to get to pick what my “committees” are now, rather than doing things out of a sense of obligation. Neighborhood needlepoint is so much better than fundraising.

Not to say that I don’t have responsible things to do, like build the new fellowship hall at church. Since I have church meetings four days in a row this week I feel like Needlepoint is justified. Of course I have a Ph.d in rationalization. That’s how I got away with key lime pie for lunch today.

Baptismal Babes Birthday Lunch

OK, for alliteration we should have gone to brunch. Elizabeth Aldridge’s Birthday was a couple of weeks ago and mine was last week so we joined together with our friends Hannah and Lynn to celebrate together. Since our daughters were baptized in pairs at Westminster or Duke we now call ourselves the Baptismal sister group.

There is nothing better than having lunch with your friends and outside at the Wadu on a beautiful day is even better. The best part about being my age is the birthday celebrations go on and on. This week I have three birthday events and next week I have two. So much better to string it all out rather than have one big party and be done with it.

Russ and Carter gave me a Ring door bell for my birthday. Since our house is old they had to fabricate a very special box that fit around the curved molding around the door to mount it on. Now I can see a video of anyone at my front door. The best part is I can also speak to them through my phone, or “voice threaten then away” as they say in the home security system ads. It is the best birthday present.

So the birthday pageant continues, but today I had the honor of sharing it with Elizabeth. What a treat. I wouldn’t voice threaten her away.


One of the joys of belonging to my church is being asked to be a mentor for a confirmand. For a thirteen year old to commit to spending nine months to weekly confirmation training is a big ask. Being ask to mentor someone through this journey is easy in comparison. This year I had the pleasure of being Allison Prebble’s special grown up. I had done this job with her older brother, Jack so I was thrilled to be asked again.

Allison is a stellar young woman, kind and compassionate. She is thoughtful and a good friend, especially to those who need one most. As a mentor I often learn more from my confirmand than I think they learn from me.

I was honored to walk this faith journey with Allison. I hope that what she learned this year will guide her through her whole life as faith is something that grows and changes as we do.

Today was the final confirmand examination by the session and the blessings ceremony. Next weekend is the dedication Sunday where the confirmands make their promises and are welcomed into the church. I am proud of Allison for making it through. I loved the times we got to spend together and hope she knows I am always available for her. My commitment as mentor does not end here, but just begins.

I love all the Prebbles and hope I am still around when Wright is thirteen. Maybe I can make it a clean sweep of all the Prebbles.

Double Celebrations

Today was a day of two big celebrations. First, was the retirement party for Carol Van Hise after 50 years as the director and then the financial director of the Westminster school for young children. Second was the big Derby Party.

I got pulled into the committee to celebrate Carol probably for my publicity connections and catering background. It has been many years since Carter was a student at Westminster. Turns out that there was a very fun group of people on the committee and I had a great time working with them.

It seems like you can hardly do enough for someone who is retiring after 50 years. We did a lot. The teachers at the school had each of the 125 students do a life size outlines of themselves and those dancing children lined the walls of the fellowship hall. We had finger sandwiches of every southern type, hundreds of cookie and the two biggest cakes on earth.

The committee members were all part of a skit depicting all the hats Carol wears. I had to be the square dancer. The only thing about it is it was better than being the Mother Goose that Jennifer Feiler had to be. The turn out for her celebration was wonderful and I hope she felt the love from all her fans.

From that party I had to turn around and go to a Derby Party out at Kathryn White’s. Lynn had gotten me a fascinator to wear so I was dressed appropriately. It was a good chance for Russ to wear his white bucks. After working the retirement party it was nice to just be a guest and enjoy the party. Stephanie Perun did a great job organizing it. Thankfully the rain held off until after the race.

Two parties in one day a lot for me, but thankfully Russ only had to go to one. Now I really would like to go to sleep, but a neighbor is playing music so loudly it is like being at third party. I am partied out.

My Birthday Sisters

Today is my birthday. Birthdays are so different now with Facebook. Back in the day, you wondered if anyone remembered your birthday. You came home from work hoping there was a message on the answering machine from someone who remembered. You were happy if you got a card in the mail. It didn’t matter how many good friends you had, they certainly all didn’t know exactly when your birthday was, or in my case what today was. Now with social media we are reminded when our friends’ birthdays are and then we can easily send a message of good wishes.

Back in the day your birthday could be a productive day, like any other day. Not now. Facebook has changed the whole day. You spend your day reading nice things from old friends you might not have seen in forty years. It is practically overwhelming how many people reach out.

One of the things I have always been able to count on is messages, calls or cards from my birthday sisters, those people who I share this birthday with. My cousin Sarah was born on my fifteenth birthday and it is great to share this day with her. I got a message from her today and sent one right back at her.

My bridesmaid Tricia Reilly who went to college with me was born not just on this day, but the same year. She messaged and called today. We never have enough time to catch up, but I always try to connect on our birthday.

My friend Gussy, who is my best friend from college Suzanne’s next older sister and one of my favorite friends was born today, just nine years before me. She and I e-mailed back and forth all day and she included a very extensive horoscope for our year ahead, which sounds like it’s going to be a great one.

All these birthday sisters were at my wedding which was the day before our birthday. That was quite a gathering of May 3 girls.

I also have a Durham friend, Beth Sholtz, whose birthday is also today. That’s five friends all with the same birthday. I am very happy to share the day with people I love so much.

Thanks for all the well wishes and kind words. I am not always good at remembering people’s birthdays, not because I don’t love you, just that I don’t know what the current date is. I will try to do better because I certainly appreciate the sentiments from you all, especially my birthday sisters.

Happy 27th Anniversary, Russ

The other day I wrote in this blog that my 26th anniversary was coming up. Russ told Carter he was sad that I had chopped off a year. In my defense it was not that I wish one less day of being married to Russ, just that I don’t know what year is currently on the calendar. The only way I can figure out how long we have been married is to subtract 1992 from the current year. When I wrote that we were going to have been married 26 years I thought that this year is 2018. He should be more worried that I don’t know what year it is right now!

26, 27 or 47 years, they are not enough. Russ should never worry that I am not appreciative of what a wonderful husband he is, because I am. I have witnessed plenty of other husbands and there is hardly a trait anyone else possess that I wish he had. I am not saying he is perfect, just perfect for me.

So on this day 27 years ago I am thankful that he went against his mother’s advice and married me anyway. It has been a beautiful partnership and I hope continues to be for at least the next 27 years. I probably won’t be able to tell him then that it will be our 54th anniversary because by then I will have no idea what year it is. What I will remember is why I married Russ and how every year has been better than the one before.

Two Sad Degrees Of Separation

I believe it the six degrees of separation. Six is actually quite far and for most things that is fine. Today I discovered a sad two degree of separation from the hero student at UNCC who was shot yesterday trying to stop a gunman. Riley Howell, was my friend Morgan Howell Moylan’s nephew. We was a junior at UNCC and when the gunman burst into his classroom with thirty students in it and was firing at them, the witnesses say, Riley ran towards him and gave his life to save many others.

As this happened while I was traveling I did not pay as close attention to this continuing senseless gun crime. I must admit I have become somewhat numb to these shootings after all the calls for smart gun legislation falls on deaf ears of our spineless politicians. Sadly now this is closer to home than it has been in the past.

It is not enough to send “thoughts and prayers” to the Howells and Moylans and all the friends of Riley. Of course we do that, but we can’t stop there. These shootings are too common and deserve attention to figure out the complicated reasons they happen.

Two young people died and four were injured in Charlotte yesterday. Probably a lot fewer than could have, according to the police who called Howell a “Hero.” But Riley Howell should not have had to give his life while sitting in a college classroom.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many people are killed in each episode, 26 at Sandy Hook, 17 at Parkland, 12 at Columbine, 32 at Virginia Tech, 58 at Las Vegas, we do nothing. Just two were killed in Charlotte, but one was the loved one of someone I know. Two too many.

If you do the degree of separation eventually you will figure out that you know someone, who knows someone, who knew someone who was senselessly killed by a deranged person with a gun. How many degrees of separation does it have to get to you to want to do something about guns in America? Is two degrees too close? What about one? What if it was your child? We can’t stay silent. It is our children.