Crying at Church

I am a Presbyterian, although I come from two long lines of Episcopalians. Either way, both denominations are not known for showing great emotion at church. We don’t raise our arms up in the air and sway, or call out “Amen” loudly when we agree with the preacher. For the most part we sit quietly, stand when told and are fairly good at praying in unison if the words are printed in the bulletin.

I diverge from most of my brethren in that I laugh loudly. My preachers have told me it is good and they like the feed back. About the only time we speak back in church is when someone from the lectern says, “Good Morning,” and pauses. Most everyone in the pews says “Good morning,” back.

One of the best parts of our church is the music program. Being unmusical myself I am very appreciative of those who share their gifts. One of my favorite singers is Davis Bingham. As a spry almost 90 year old he sang a solo today in church.

A solo from Davis is about all anyone needs as a way to celebrate the glory of God. Davis brought it on home today and as soon as he finished the congregation broke into a huge applause and then stood up and continued the ovation. This was an unheard up display of emotion from the frozen chosen. We rarely clap in church, no matter how warranted it is.

Of course, this spontaneous out pouring of affection was warranted. His singing brings me to tears. My friend Sarah High was sitting behind me and she was crying too. We remarked that we could just gone home after that because that is as good as church gets.

We didn’t leave though because our friend Rebeca Mattern was visiting and guest preaching. Davis was a tough act to follow and Rebecca did great. She had been our interim youth leader years ago and is finally going off to seminary. We wish her good luck.

After I took a photo of Davis and his sweet wife Joan after church, Davis told us he is doing another solo on July 21. If you ever wanted to visit Westminster that is a good day to come. I can promise good singing from Davis. I’m bringing tissues to church that day.

“I’ll Gut You”

On my way to do errands this afternoon I was listening to a show on NPR about why politicians can’t apologize. Joe Biden has had the “non-apology” spot light on him with Kamala Harris calling him out about bussing. His defense was that he said he felt like it was a state’s rights issue, but sometimes just saying, “I’m so sorry that effected you negatively and for whatever role I played in it.”

It’s not just politicians. We all have difficulty actually showing others true remorse rather than being defensive. The radio show talked about how parents try and get siblings to apologize to each other and mean it. I can remember getting in trouble for hitting my sister and having to apologize. I am certain it just made me do something worse to her after the “apology.”

I finished listening to the radio story just as I pulled into the Costco parking lot and parked behind a white Lexus with a sticker in the window that said, “I’ll gut you.” I thought it was an odd sticker. There was a loose shopping cart right beside of my car so I took it into the store with me rather than let it stay there and possibly ding my or other cars.

After getting Shay’s chicken I went back to the car and two attractive young women were loading their groceries into “I’ll gut you” car. They were just finishing and the driver pushed her cart into the space in front of my car and behind hers. What the hell? We were six cars from the cart corral. So I spoke up, no surprise there.

“Are you leaving that there?”

She didn’t like my asking her that question and tried to deflect her bad cart manners by saying, “I don’t know where the carts go.”

I pointed in the direction of the corral and said, “It’s six cars that way.” I tried not to sound accusatory, but I must have and the woman went off on me.

“Mind your own business.” I think it was my business if she was going to push her unneeded cart into my car. I just stood there and looked at her. I didn’t say a thing. She didn’t like getting caught and didn’t like getting called out. Rather than apologizing for being a bad citizen she went into attack mode. She had started with the “dumb” defense and then went postal.

She was still screaming at the top of her lungs as she pushed the cart to it’s rightful place and I got in my car. All she needed to do was say, “Sorry.” An apology for attempting to leave her cart against my car, which is a real driving no-no, was either easy thing to do. Not only could she not apologize, she couldn’t even acknowledge it was wrong in the first place and instead threw a fit. Her friend stood by with an embarrassed look on her face.

Her prophetic window sticker of “I’ll gut you” is not something to be proud of. Too bad she missed the NPR story. It probably wouldn’t make a difference since even nice guys like Joe Biden have trouble apologizing.

It is a story that stuck with me though so I just want to say “I’m sorry.” If I ever did something to you that warrants an apology, you got it. Just let me know what it was so I won’t do it again, after I apologize to you. We all do things we have no idea are hurting someone, just learn and make amends. Stop trying to justify your wrongs.

I Need to Go to Community College

The other day I way browsing the Durham Tech course offerings. I was looking for something for someone else about becoming a notary, but once I started browsing I just kept at it. Most things didn’t interest me, like “gathering crime scene evidence” in the criminal justice department, but then I came upon “basic home electrical” and I thought I should take that. Russ knows that stuff, but he is at work when I need to fix something or just diagnose a problem.

Today I really wish I had taken that course. I relate this story for your own future protection. Last December we had to get a new HVAC system. It was after getting a new sewer line and new roof and I was just over home repair.

When I compared HVAC units I decided to go with the more robust two stage systems which were more energy efficient and had a ten year warranty. I lived through the installation and had heat up and running when the installer left. The unit worked and the city inspector came out to verify that he installed in such a way that it would not kill us.

So it has been getting much hotter this week and of course Russ was away. Last night I noticed that my air conditioning was not keeping up. As my bedroom got hotter and hotter I called my HVAC company so they could come first thing this morning. I hardly slept a wink as I tossed and turned in my sweaty sheets, and I was all alone.

Without a warning call, a tech rang my door bell at 8:00 AM. Even though I was still in my nightgown I was thankful the tech was there so early. I threw on my clothes and showed him to the furnace room. He looked at the unit and declared that it was a frozen block of ice and would have to thaw most of the day before it could be looked at.

I waited home all day for a tech to return. At 3:45 another did and he declared that the problem was due to poor installation, by his own company, and that a warrantee tech had to come out. After some choice words he got his boss to find me one who was here by 5:30.

He looked at the unit and the water in the pan and gasped. Never a good sign. After an hour he told me he found the problem. My two stage unit had only been wired for one stage, in both heating and air conditioning. So all that energy savings I was supposed to get had not been happening and when it got so hot the unit was incapable of keeping up.

Now is when I wish I had that basic home electrical course. I knew enough to buy a two stage unit, but not enough to know to even ask if it were wired correctly at installation.

I finally have air, but you can bet that Monday I’m going to be having quite a conversation with my HVAC people. I’m tempted to go walk in the office to have it because I am so much scarier in person.

Oh, the life of the home owner. Russ did get in from airport right after I got the air working.

Test Sanding

There is a scene in an old movie, perhaps, The Sting, where some guys are contracting painting a large number of chairs. They paint the sample chair with a brush to see how long it takes in order to determine how much to charge the chairs’ owner. The owner stands by watching the painting with a brush and notes that it took nine minutes and agrees to pay the painters based on all the chairs taking nine minutes each.

After the owner agrees to the price he walks away and the painters throw down their brushes and pick up a spray painter and do the job at two minutes per chair. It made a big impression on me about pricing a job.

Today I am not only the painting contractor, but also the chair owner. I wanted to do a test about how long it would take me to clean the cabinets and do the first sanding. Since I am not ready to totally tear my whole kitchen apart I tested on the sides of the cabinets and shelf around the stove and the sink cabinets.

I used Kurd Kutter and wiped away years of grimy build up even though I had cleaned all the wood surfaces with Murphy’s oil soap last year. Then I got out my mouse sander and sanded every surface and edge. Then I wiped then all down again with another wet rag. The whole job took less than an hour. This gave me great hope about how long prepping 27 cabinet doors will take. I figure taking the doors down will be the longest and hardest job. I wish I had someone to charge for my work.

After finishing that test I cleaned out a cabinet finding things at had not seen in at least ten years. They all got thrown away. If I haven’t needed them for the last ten years I don’t need them now. This project is so much more than painting the cabinets!

Duke, Mah Jongg, Steel Magnolias

Some days you just can’t pack more in. Today was that kind of day. My Dad needed some tests at Duke so I took him over to the hospital at six in the morning and stayed with him until my Mom came and took over later in the morning. One test he was having required him to have someone with him in case he freaked out. Despite that requirement I just had to stay in the waiting room.

Thankfully he did not freak out and when it was over he came out a happy man praising his techs who did the test. I got him a wheel chair and rolled him from the radiology clinic over to Duke North to the 7th floor to the cath lab. “How do you know how to get from this place to the next?” he asked me on our long walk through the various hospital buildings.

“I spent 12 days here with you at Christmas and I have been all these places with you then. You just don’t remember.” Thankfully his tests were good.

It was nice of my mother to come and trade off with me because I had Mah jongg today. I really wanted to play because I am not going to get to for the next two or three weeks depending on how long the kitchen projects takes. My Mah Jongg group is like a therapy session and you shouldn’t go too long without one.

Morgan brought her flowers in from the car while we played so the flowers cold stay cool. It’s amazing how much Shay looks like those chocolate Queens Anne lace.

Tonight Mary Lloyd, who is my young friend and Carter’s old friend came over to watch Steel Magnolias with us. It is part of my great movie education for Carter. She had never seen it and I wanted to share it with her. Mary Lloyd pointed out that when it first came it she felt like “Shelby, the daughter” but now feels like “Melynn, the mother.”

I never felt like either, but more like Wheezer and Clairise. Carter loved Steel Magnolias, more than Gone with the Wind. She felt like Wheezer and Clairise are the future Carter and Ellis. I can see it. Those women friendships are so important.

Tomorrow I am planning less. Maybe that means I will get more done.

Woodworking Child

As I unsuccessfully tried to drill a big ass hole on the inside of my kitchen cabinet Carter stepped in. “You have the drill going in the wrong direction.”

Thank god that those engineering and love-of-wood-working genes got passed on from her father. As Carter drilled three large holes in the cabinet for me she asked, “Did Dad approve this project?”

Why in the world would she think that I needed Russ’s permission I do not know, but I reassured her just that same that he was in on this. “This” being, moving our microwave from the kitchen counter to the cabinet above the oven and taking the doors off the cabinet and having open shelves above the microwave.

The thing about moving the microwave was where to plug it in? I solved that problem by drilling two big holes, one from one cabinet into the cabinet next door and another on the bottom of the second cabinet so the cord could run to the plug under the cabinet.

Once Carter got the drill going the right way it only took three of four big holes, two chisels and a hammer, a rasp and a sanding block to get the whole thing done. I wanted to do this before the painting because I knew it would be messy and I am not looking at adding large sawdust to my kitchen when the cabinets will be wet with paint.

I am certain Russ will be happy with the whole thing because, one, the microwave works and two, he didn’t have to do it.

The next wood working job is putting a knife insert into a drawer so I can do away with my counter-top knife block. I wonder if Carter could make this for me before she leaves for London? I guess I should ask her.

Chomping At The Bit

In my younger years when I got a wild hair to try something new I would jump right in, often without the required preparation. In college I got an off campus house in the summer of my sophomore year. It was in rough shape as the previous tenants had been, let’s just say, not the cleanest people.

Since I was going to be living there with three roommates for the next two years I wanted to make the place as nice as possible during that summer before everyone else moved in. Our land lord was letting me live rent free during the summer and was paying for the materials if I would do all the work fixing the place up.

I started with the kitchen floor. The original floor was something so gross that I had to rip it out. Being impatient and not that knowledgeable I did not put a new sub floor in before I laid down red and white linoleum tiles with mastic. Why red and white? They were the colors of Dickinson college. I could have used with a lot of advice from a professional, but I was too excited to get started to bother with it. Needless to say it was one horrible floor job.

You would have thought I learned my lesson from that one job, but I did not. I was constantly tackling projects for which I was unqualified for. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. Over the years I have gotten much better at DIY. Thanks to being married to Russ I have seen every episode of the 40 seasons of This Old House, at least twice. Now with You Tube I am able to find an expert to teach me how to do almost any project I dream up. I learned to quilt by watching it.

This winter I decided I was going to paint my kitchen cabinets myself. This is a huge job, done right, but one I wanted to do. Thankfully I knew that the right time to do it is in July when Carter is in London. Given that I had so much time I have been able to study the right way to do this job. I have watched countless videos, read many blogs and practically became a professional member of the website, “top coatings” where house painting professionals share advice with each other.

I have ordered equipment and planned out the job. Russ and Carter crafted me a drying rack to hold the cabinet doors where they will dry between spray coats. Even though July is a week away I am chomping at the bit to get started. I have been moving things around in the kitchen, trying to figure out better configurations for all my small appliances in the hope that I can have less stuff on my counters when I am done.

For now I am just praying that all my studying will pay off and I will not repeat my college floor fiasco. At least I am not winging this project.

Surprise Sunday

For the last seven years Lynn and I have been wanting to watch “Gone with the Wind” with our daughters. It kind of blew our minds that they never had seen it. So we set today as the day we would finally do it, but did not tell the girls.

Then my sister called to say she was going to have two hours before a flight out of RDU and wanted to come surprise Carter and have lunch with us. So I had to tell Carter that she needed to be free without giving away the surprise. So I told her we we going to watch the movie.

After church Russ and Carter were busy in the garage building me a drying rack for the cabinet doors I am going to be painting. Carter loves doing wood working so she gladly volunteered for this project. It was perfect because it kept her busy while I waited for Janet to drive up and surprise her.

True to form, when a big grey GMC Tucson pulled in the driveway Carter said, “Who in the world is stopping by now?” She might have used saltier language which also would be in keeping. It totally threw her off when my Sista J emerged from the driver’s seat. SURPRISE!

It was a short visit with a quick stop at Eastcut for lunch. They have a lovely seating area for dogs in the back and brought a dog bowl of water for Shay. I wish we had more time, but the surprise worked well.

As soon as Jan was off for the airport Lynn and Ellis showed up the movie. Not surprisingly Ellis and Carter found it too long and at 3 hours and forty five minutes I agree. But they didn’t love it like Lynn and I did, as we could recite practically every line in the movie.

After GWTW, we decided they needed to see Steel Magnolias as it is the 30th anniversary of that. I hope they like it as much as we do. I can’t promise another good surprise before the movie.

Puppy Protection Program

Shay is a pro at growing hair. Bald men around the county would like to know her secret for growing hair, fast and thick. The issue with such superior growth is it takes lots of grooming to keep it presentable. If she doesn’t get a regular coif it can get matted or in the case of very long growth turn into dread locks.

A doodle in dreads is fine for undercover work, but not very princess-like. Therefore, regular hairdos are a must for Shay. She is not a “pamper me all day” kind of girl, so grooming day is not one she looks forward too.

It used to be worst when she had to go to the groomer, but now she is so fancy she has a concierge groomer who comes to her. Since her hair was on the dead lock side and being summer, she got a close cut today. Her beard had also gotten a little long so I asked for it to be taken down a bit.

What emerged from her beauty session was a totally different dog. It is amazing how a change in hair cut can totally change one’s appearance. Shay is ready to go into the puppy protection program because she is practically unrecognizable. She might be moving to Indianapolis and getting a job at Walmart.

Thankfully she is the same lovable girl who adores her snake and blue puppy. I am just not going to walk her by and big plate glass windows because she might scare herself since she looks so different.

Good Neighborhood

The toughest commandment is not “thou shall not kill.” Not killing anyone is fairly easy. The truly hardest commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving your neighbor is one thing, but as much as you love yourself, now you are talking impossible.

To help you follow that commandment you should follow the old saying that “good fences make good neighbors.” Let’s add one more cliche, “familiarity breeds contempt.”

Consider we have lived in the same house for 25 years we have seen our share of neighbors come and go. Some sadly, many happily. In the last ten years we have not gone one day without at least one of our neighbors doing major work on their house and along with that work comes the noise and annoyances of contractors around.

Suddenly, for the first time in a decade things are quite around here. My last backdoor neighbors have finished a major indoor and garden renovation. They have been very kind during their project, being aware of noise.

Now that they have finished they had a party last night to thank the neighbors for patience during their work and show us their glorious garden. It was a thoughtful way to end their project and one that was so fun for us neighbors. I didn’t have much time last night as I was running from one meeting to the party, but once I got there I had such a good time I stayed much longer than I had planned.

The gardens are so gorgeous and the neighbors had so much fun we told our hosts we are planning on gathering there at least once a quarter. It makes such a big difference to have such nice neighbors.

Three Handed Mah Jongg

Of course Mah Jongg is most fun with four people, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out. The National Mah Jongg league says that when you play with three people you just omit the Charleston. That is no fun at all.

There have been many rouge ways developed to play three handed and still do the Charleston and this way is the best in terms of keeping the game most like four handed.

Build the walls the way you always do. I will call the empty seat wall “Ruth” in honor of the past long time president of the National Mah Jongg League.

You determine one real player to be East and deal the tiles out to the three live players just like you always do. When needed you push Ruth’s wall out for her. One thing to keep in mind with three players is after everyone has taken 12 tiles, East does not take “One and three” because the “three” tile would not be their 14th tile. So when you get to the point of needing to take your 13th tiles, East just takes one, the person on her right takes one, the person on her right takes one and you are back to East and she takes one more making 14.

You do not give Ruth any tiles in the deal.

So the real players rack their tiles and find three to pass to the right as in a normal Charleston. You pass them to the wall directly to the right of you including Ruth. That means that the person to the left of Ruth puts her tiles in front of Ruth’s wall. The Person who would be receiving tiles from Ruth does NOT take the tiles that were put in front of Ruth, but instead takes three random tiles out from a Ruth’s wall.

That is the only time more tiles are taken from the wall. The tiles in front of Ruth now get used in every passing. In other words you pass to Ruth and you get tiles from Ruth.

Now it is time to pass across. The player across from Ruth puts her three tiles in front of Ruth and takes the three tiles that are already there, having been put their by the first passer.

Next pass to the left, works the same way. The person receiving from Ruth takes the ones in front of her and the person passing to Ruth leaves her three tiles in front of Ruth. This continues all the way through both Charleston’s.

At courtesy the person across from Ruth can exchange up to three tiles with the three tiles in front of Ruth.

If you play garbage, Ruth’s three tiles get included In the garbage. At the end of garbage, or courtesy, if you don’t play garbage, Ruth’s three tiles get placed back in her wall randomly and the play begins.

To make the game as fair as possible after three games the person who was East first moves seats to sit give a new player the chance to pick the first three tiles from Ruth’s wall. There is the smallest advantage to be that person because you have the opportunity to pick a joker, but the chances are so small it is not much of an advantage.

Enjoy playing three handed and feel free to pass these instructions on to other players. It would be much easier if we all played the same way.

I am available for questions and lessons.

Dogs Aren’t Getting Botox

I love what researchers study. I can imagine some graduate students sitting around trying to figure out what to do their thesis on that hasn’t already been studied. This week a study was released explaining that dogs developed the ability to use their eye brows to make their eyes more expressive and thus communicate with their humans.

This “puppy eye” effect is like a silver bullet to the heart. A dog can get their owner to do almost anything when they give them that puppy look.

Researchers say it is all in the eye brows. The eye brows control that pitiful look that both humans and dogs make to get their way. That being said, humans should think twice about getting Botox and losing the ability to use their eye brows in an expressive and effective way.

No one is looking at any wrinkles on your forehead or between your eye brows, but they certainly are noticing that you can’t plead your case with your eyes. Dogs know the power of the eye brows and are never going to do anything to guilt you into giving them a treat. Proving once again, Dogs are smarter than their owners.

Let’s Confess Our Failures

As I was driving over to Chapel Hill to meet my friend Hannah and her mother for lunch I heard a story on NPR about the perfect lives people put out on social media and the harm it is doing. I’m not exactly sure that was the gist of the whole story because my mind started wondering about my life on social media.

As an eight year daily blogger I put a sh#$ load amount of stuff about me out into the universe. It started as a way to raise money for the Food Bank and turned into, “what the hell did I do today?” I don’t write this to try and make my life seem perfect. That would be a futile exercise.

I do it for accountability and to be real. Granted I don’t often write about the absolute worst thing that happened that day unless it was very funny. I never publish my real weight or if I found an unwanted hair someplace on my face.

I get that many on social media touch up their photos or use flattering lighting wanting the world to see them at their best. So to combat this fake social media world I am going to publish what I fail at as often as I can to show that life goes on exactly the same way. Actually life is better if you fail at something regularly. Not the same thing, but something different every once in a while.

You really only learn from your failures. If you did everything perfectly the first time you tried you would not have any reason to keep doing that thing. You would not have the satisfaction of improving.

I did not try anything new today so I don’t have a big failure to confess. But I didn’t put my clothes away for the last three days and have let them pile up on my vanity. I spent two hours in the middle of the day watching you tube videos trying to figure out what brand of primer I need to use when I paint the kitchen cabinets next month. I purposely avoided running into someone I saw out of the corner of my eye when I was out today and I didn’t cook any new food and just made my family forage in the fridge for leftovers for dinner. Not big failures, but nothing to be proud about.

Let’s turn social media into the place people can come and feel good about themselves because they were way more productive today than somebody else. Tonight, more unproductiveness, Needlepoint and Netflix, but boy am I happy.

My Next Year

After five very Presbyterian years my church’s congregation approved the last detail needed to build a new fellowship hall. The amount of work to get to that vote yesterday is hard to measure, but Dave Pottenger, Chris Tuttle and I had a huge sigh that we jumped that hurdle.

Now after five long years I have a fast four weeks to get the old fellowship hall emptied so we can begin the tear down. This is going to involve all the volunteers I am able to get as many groups store their “Stuff” or another word that begins with SH, in that building.

It is confirmed that my next year is going to be spent working on building this building, although I will not be the one picking up a hammer. This clean out is the hardest part.

If you go to Westminster and want to help with the great move out please let me know. The kind members of the La Nueva Church have volunteered to help which is so kind. This will be helpful for the actual moving, but many decisions and organizational things must get done first.

Watch this space as I post progress. It will be an exciting year and I am so thankful for all the people who have worked so hard to get us to this point. The new space is going to be so much better than the old. I think this means I will be doing some cooking in the new kitchen in the future, but first, where to keep 300 plates?

Father’s Day Honesty

Poor fathers. Your day is not close to the pampering that Mother’s Day is, at least not around here and I am guessing not at most houses. If someone has an amazing father’s day, I can bet that their wife had a doubly fabulous Mother’s Day.

Now this is no reflection on how much I love my father or what a great father Russ is too Carter. It is just the way it is. Last night I asked Russ if I could make him a special breakfast this morning. “No, I already set the coffee up and have a plan for the the egg bowl I want to make.” Then not only did he get up and make his own food so he could have it exactly the way he wanted, but he made my breakfast and brought it to me in bed.

I had told Russ his father’s day gift from me was my taking his shoes to be repaired. That is all the credit I could get since I used the money he earned to pay for fixing them. Then Carter told him we were giving him the gift he really wanted, a load of gravel for the driveway, with a card that said, “love you a ton.” Russ liked the joke, but Carter didn’t even realize she had made one.

Getting gravel is no gift at all. It is almost worst than giving your wife a vacuum. But around here, on father’s day that gift rates. Getting you old shoes fixed and some rocks, special day for sure.

As far as my own father goes I got him no gift at all. At 81 you just need to be getting rid of stuff, not accumulating it. I did call him to wish him happy Father’s Day and we had a good long talk about his health. Now that’s the gift I keep on giving.

Sorry father’s for not making such a huge deal about your day. Nothing can compare to growing a baby in your belly for nine months and then pushing it out. Us Mother’s milk that our whole lives. Yeah, I know you go work everyday and provide for everything everyday, for the rest of our lives as well as being great father’s. Maybe we should give you a “good providers day.” Then you might get the celebration you deserve.

Carter Adulting

I keep hearing about children’s failure to launch. In some cultures it is worse than others. Like Italian men who refuse to marry because nothing beats their mothers. Yes, we all want our children to like us, but only so much. Eventually they need to fly the nest and succeed on their own.

Carter is only home a couple more weeks before she goes off to London for a summer program and some Scandinavian travel she has been working hard to pay for. She knows her time with parental attention is short so today she cornered the two of us to teach her some adult things she has been wanting to know. This is nothing new, she is constantly asking me financial questions and other things adults need to be responsible for.

The first thing Carter wanted to learn today was how to drive a stick shift car. I truly believe it is an important life skill. You never know when you are going to be stuck in an Eastern European country and need to rent a car and the only thing available are manual.

Russ described the theory of driving a stick and then I pulled the Morris Minor out of the garage to take her on the road and give her the practical. The only problem is that our only manual car is British, 52 years old and you have to shift with the wrong hand.

With Carter in the passenger seat we drove all around Hope Valley with me explaining how you feather the clutch out as you gently push the gas in. It is not easy on a modern car with a good clutch, but on a Morris it is even harder. We pulled into the St. Stephen’s parking lot and switched places. She tried to start the car three times and the third time she let her foot off the clutch and the car jerked forward slightly. I thought she was laughing about it, but she was crying.

We switch seats again. So we drove around some more, this time with her hand on the gear shift with mine on top and she got the hang of shifting. Tomorrow we will try driving again.

When we got home she wanted to learn how to use the weed wacker. So Russ got her safety goggles and taught her. She was quickly successful at that adult task and cleaned up the side gardens.

The third thing she wanted to learn was how to make a tomato pie. This was something she already had all the skills for, but she had never put them together in one pie. So we made homemade crust and she made two beautiful pies. I wonder what other life skills Carter is going to want to master in the next two weeks? How about cleaning out the attic?

Why I Gave Up Shopping

At the start of the year I made a commitment to not buy anything new unless it is a consumable, like toothpaste or milk, or a gift for someone else. Nothing new for me all year. I have succeeded so far with the one caveat that is if I was given a gift certificate I could trade it in for something new for myself. That being said, the only new thing I have gotten are two needlepoint canvasses. So I have not bought any clothes or shoes or things for the house and I have not missed it one bit.

Today I had to make a trip to go to Crab Tree Valley Mall to take two pairs of Russ’ shoes to a store so they could be sent off to be repaired. Since this is the only shoe maker who makes his size shoe I am not going to name them here because it is important for us that they stay in business, but that is the only reason. Russ mainly orders online since no stores carry size 14AAA and that is a good thing because if we had to go in this store again I might lose it.

I entered said store with a big canvas tote carrying the two giant pairs of shoes. There was an elderly man trying on shoes and a middle aged man with his teenage boy looking at shoes. Another well dressed man loitered and there was one clerk, who strongly resembled a straight Cam from Modern Family, with an untucked checked shirt, khakis and casual shoes from this manufacturer.

At first I thought the well dressed man might work there because he had the nicest shoes on. Turned out he used to work there and was just stopping in to say hi. I waited by the counter since I was at least third of fourth in line to be helped. I understand the hierarchy of helping customers and took note of my place. That being said I was not used to being completely ignored to the point that it was very difficult for the Cam-like clerk to not look in me in the eye, let alone just say, “Hello, I will be with you in a minute.”while he looked things up on the computer at the front counter where I stood patiently.

I stood waiting quietly and you know how hard that was for me for over three minutes, I know because I started my watch timer as soon as it was apparent that the sole clerk was not interested in my business in the least. I just waited in the same spot. There were times when I could have asked as question like, “Should I come back later,” but I didn’t. I just wanted to see if I ever was going to be acknowledged.

Did I have a big blinking sign on me that said, “She’s not buying anything this year?” I think not. I was well dressed, clean, had a nice pocketbook, good shoes and jewelry. Nothing about me screamed, homeless person. Eventually the clerk turned to me and asked “Are you looking for something.” I made no comment about his superior skill at not looking at me until that moment. I did not want to jeopardize getting these valuable shoes repaired. I did my business with him, which took less than two minutes, paid with my platinum card and left the store. I was going to look for a father’s day gift there, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I walked in the store next door because I saw something I thought would be a good gift for someone I was looking for. I picked up the item and went to the counter to ask a question. One clerk was checking out another customer, but a second clerk was talking to her. I waited, again patiently. The free clerk did everything possible not to look me in the eye. WHAT THE HELL. Two stores in a row. She walked right in front of me skillfully adverting her eyes. I had my eyes right on her, As she bent down, I did the same mirroring her body hoping to get her attention, or at least make her feel like the ass she was for not even speaking to me.

Eventually after she turned her back on me twice she spun around and said, “Do you need something?” HONEST TO GOD? I looked at her and said in my sweetest voice, which you know is so hard for me. “I was considering buying 10 of these, but I have had plenty of time waiting here to decided I don’t think I ever want to buy anything in this store. So I guess I DON’T need anything.”

Oh lord, I am not sure I will ever go back to shopping again. Being away from stores for six months I have forgotten how horrible they are.

I Should Have Bought The Pattern

I like aprons. I cook enough that I wear aprons often. Most of them are what are considered Chef’s aprons. They have a strap that goes around your neck and they tie around your waist. They are fairly good at keeping me clean, but I often find that my neck hurts after wearing one for a long time.

I saw a Japanese apron in some show that is made of one piece of material that criss crosses in the back with no ties or extra straps. The weight of the apron is carried on the shoulders rather than the neck and I decided that would be an improvement.

I set out to figure out how to make such a garment. Of course I found lots of help on Pinterest and you tube with many entrepreneurs offering patterns for the simple apron. Some patterns are simply downloads which you then print out on your own computer and tape together. Think of printing out 50 papers and taping those all together.

I decided I could make this apron without a pattern. It seemed simple enough. One large piece of material that is only sewn at the shoulders. I laid the material out and cut the first prototype out freehand. I basted the shoulder seams and put the apron on. It was much too big. I cut some of it down before I ironed the raw edges and sewed them twice turning them I to prevent unraveling. I also put some pockets on the front.

I tried the apron on again, too big. And the pockets were in the wrong spot. Carter walked in as I was trying it on and declared it a fail. I should have gotten a pattern. Now this prototype will serve as a pattern for what not to do. Oh well, I can always wear this one when I paint the kitchen.

Blue and White Striped Shirt Salad

We have no Mah Jongg Uniforms. No memos are sent telling players what to wear, but this morning the first three players to show up, Deanna, Christy and myself, all showed up wearing blue and white striped shirts and white pants. A little while later Carol showed up in a blue and white striped shirt and jeans. Without coordination it became blue and white striped shirt day!

Sunday I saw a recipe in the NYT for farro, mint and goat cheese salad. It was my inspiration for the salad I made for lunch today. It was deemed a top favorite by those who had lunch today. In fact, Morgan, who had to take her lunch to go just texted, “That May Be the best salad I have ever had.” Well, Morgan can be known for hyperbole, but it was good enough that I need to write down how I made it now, or it will be lost forever.

So now it is called Blue and White Shirt Salad – That Name won’t mean a thing to you, but for those at Mah Jongg we will remember.

1/2 cup of Farro

1/2 cup of orzo

2 bay leaves

2/3 cup dried cherries

15 Oz. Baby Spinach leaves

30 fresh mint leaves, chopped

30 fresh basil leaves, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1/3 cup of thinly sliced red onion

1/3 cup of chopped cashews

3 Oz goat cheese, crumbled

3 pan sautéed chicken thighs, chopped after cooking (or any rotisserie chicken)


Zest of two big lemons

Juice of two lemons

1 T. Salt

1/2 T. Fresh ground pepper

1/2 pepper flakes

1 1/2 T. honey

1/2 cup olive oil

Cook the farro and orzo as directed on packages with a by leaf in each pot. Drain, remove bay leave and put in a Tupperware together with the dried cherries and 1/3 of the dressing. Mix well and chill. Can be done the day before.

Mix all the other ingredients with the chilled farro and orzo and dress. Serve immediately while wearing a blue and white stripped shirt.

A Real ID

For the last few months Russ has needed to get a new real ID driver’s license. North Carolina had an online license renewal, but if you did it that way you could not use your driver’s license to get on a plane. Since Russ’ passport is running out of time he needed the real ID so he could fly while he sent his passport back for renewal. This whole system is such a pain in neck.

Russ does not have a social security card so we had to find something official with his social security number printed on it. Now a days nothing has your whole social , just x’s with the last four digits. Then we had to have an official piece of mail addressed to Russ. We no longer get any bills in the mail, not that they were ever addressed to Russ. We are paperless on most statements so I really had to work to find the required documents for Russ. Finally we had gathered everything and he is ready to go tomorrow morning to renew his license.

After finding all this documents for Russ I went to the bank to cash a bunch of checks. I hardly ever go to the bank anymore since I do mobile deposit, but I just wanted to cash these to have some mad money. I signed them all and waited in line with my bank card and driver’s license. The very young teller took everything I shoved under the bullet prof glass. She scanned all the checks and then informed me that my license had expired last month and she couldn’t cash the checks.

What???? All this work on Russ and I paid no attention to the fact that my license was more than a month out of date. Thank goodness I wasn’t trying to fly somewhere. I gathered all my documents and got up at the crack of dawn and went to the DMV this morning. It opened at 7:00 AM. I arrived at 7:15 and was 25th in line outside. All the chairs inside were full and the clerk only called one person. From theout door line as a chair became available.

I had brought needlepoint to do while I waited, but couldn’t do it standing up. Instead I talked to the people in line with me. A nice woman who had moved from AZ to be closer to her grand children, a young man from Nigeria who works at GSK, a young girl trying to get her first license who was alone and a family of from India, who just moved here. It was a very interesting group.

Good thing I like to talk to strangers because it took over two hours to get my license. It would have been quicker if I were inside from the start because I was my normal bossy self making sure when they called a number to be served people paid attention and went to their appointed station to be served. It really irks me that people waste time when they finally get called. It is not just the DMV that makes the process so slow, it is the customers. I have suggested to Russ to go an hour before they open so he can be first in line. He doesn’t like to talk to strangers.

Hope For The World

Two things happened today that give me hope for the world. One involves Carter and I am not going to disclose what she said, but it involves helping have a smaller carbon foot print and making decisions that help the planet overall.

The second happened at a meeting I went to in Raleigh. I was invited to speak to a group of women in non-profit leadership. They invited me to dinner before my talk. As a I took my seat at the table I noticed I was the only person who did not show up at the meeting with my own reusable cup to drink from. These women came from Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh and were all younger than me. Most of them did not know each other, yet still they all independently showed up with their own cup.

Truth be told, I had my reusable cup in the car, but by the time I realized that everyone brought a cup in, my hostess had already gotten me a disposable cup filled with my drink. I felt like I was being bad for the planet.

I didn’t point out the cup issue to the group, but certainly took note that bringing your own cup with you wherever you go is now the thing to do. I wonder if I could drive through a fast food place and hand them my cup and ask them to fill it rather than having them give me a new cup? It might make filling my order take a minute longer. I almost always have a cup in the car. I just don’t want them to make the drink in a disposable cup and then just have them pour it in my cup and then throw their cup away. That would defeat the purpose.

It may be a small thing to not create cup waste, but if I consider how many cups I could throw away in a year, especially plastic ones I feel bad. Now I need to go on a crusade to get restaurants to use my cup as my to-go option.

The World

Two things happened today that give me hope for the world. One involves Carter and I am not going to disclose what she said, but it involves helping have a smaller carbon foot print and making decisions that help the planet overall.

The second happened at a meeting I went to in Raleigh. I was invited to speak to a group of women in non-profit leadership. They invited me to dinner before my talk. As a I took my seat at the table I noticed I was the only person who did not show up at the meeting with my own reusable cup to drink from. These women came from Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh and were all younger than me. Most of them did not know each other, yet still they all independently showed up with their own cup.

Truth be told, I had my reusable cup in the car, but by the time I realized that everyone brought a cup in, my hostess had already gotten me a disposable cup filled with my drink. I felt like I was being bad for the planet.

I didn’t point out the cup issue to the group, but certainly took note that bringing your own cup with you wherever you go is now the thing to do. I wonder if I could drive through a fast food place and hand them my cup and ask them to fill it rather than having them give me a new cup? It might make filling my order take a minute longer. I almost always have a cup in the car. I just don’t want them to make the drink in a disposable cup and then just have them pour it in my cup and then throw their cup away. That would defeat the purpose.

It may be a small thing to not create cup waste, but if I consider how many cups I could throw away in a year, especially plastic ones I feel bad. Now I need to go on a crusade to get restaurants to use my cup as my to-go option.

Out to Dinner

Carter and her friend Ellis went to the movies and dinner tonight leavening me and Russ home alone with the same leftovers we hav eaten the last three nights. Actually, Russ has been eating those leftover the last seven nights. So to escape the chicken Shwarma at home Russ invited me out to dinner.

I was not exactly dressed for dinner and didn’t feel like changing. He suggested a new Indian place and said I could go in my shorts. Since I love Indian, I agreed.

We drove up to ninth street and parked the car. We were quite sure where the place was, but ninth street is not that long. After walking the length of the street it turned out we parked at the totally wrong end. We moved the car to be closer since it was going to rain and when I got out of the car the second time I said, “I can smell an Indian restaurant. We must be close.”

As we rounded the corner I saw the sign for Lime and Lemon. If I had known there was a restaurant called Lime and Lemon I would have gone there the first daytime opened regardless of the kind of food. Lime and lemon anything are my favorite.

Just before we got to the door Russ said, “Don’t tell Carter we are going here. She has been dying to try this place.” Wait, how did she know about it and I didn’t and you want me to lie to my daughter? I convinced Russ that it would be OK that we came because she went to the movies without inviting us.

We ordered our standard Indian fare so we could judge the quality. The Bhindi Masala was not as good as Sitar’s, but the butter chicken and lamb vindaloo were better. Russ texted Carter a photo of the the food. Her response was “What the f#*&.” No worries we hardly made a dent in it and brought it home for her for tomorrow.

From now on I guess I have to check with Carter before picking a place for Russ and me to go alone. I can’t imagine we are going to find a place she doesn’t care about going to, but it is just too bad, we are going anyway.

Dana’s Childhood STUFF

Since yesterday I “raved” about Russ’ childhood stuff it seems only fair that I out some of my own “stuff.” My mother was not half as sentimental about any of her children’s junk, due most certainly to the many moves my parents made over the years. The things my mother did save were special notes, drawings, photographs and other ephemeral bits of paper. Many of these things are framed and displayed in her various bathrooms where guests can linger alone and laugh.

Two items in the powder room at the farm are things from my childhood that seemed to foreshadow my future self. One is a check for a dinner I cooked at Pawley Island when I was probably about ten or eleven. The items served to my parents and Uncle Wilson and Aunt Janie-Leigh are written on a paper plate, with my poor spelling in full display. I was cooking for other people for money at a very young age, the plate proves it. My sister Margaret was the waitress and so my uncle wrote us a “check” on the “bill”. Too bad I did not also know that I could have cashed that check, but I am glad now that my mother saved it all these years as I find it much more valuable to me than $14.00.

I do noticed that I reduced the price of the slaw. I remember those negotiations with my Dad and Uncle on the pricing. What I don’t remember is if we got any tips, despite the plea right there at the top of the plate.

The second bit of stuff my mother saved was a carbon copy of my family Newspaper, “The Carter Star.” I had been given a typewriter that Christmas and liked having something to do with it. True to oldest child status I am listed in the masthead as, Dana Carter- Everything. My sister Margaret did make an appearance as a guest poet in this issue. I can’t imagine I was giving away any jelly beans other than the black ones.

What I really liked was the “Society” section. We had quite a few guests that day with the Lawsons and the Huggins and my sister Janet’s five year old friend Nancy.

Again the spelling and the grammar leave a lot to be desired, but the idea that I was producing a publication at such a young age foreshadowed my future self.

Quite frankly I never would have remembered doing either of those things if my mother had not saved my “Stuff.” I hope I have saved the right stuff for Carter. It will be interesting to see what she becomes and see if her stuff holds clues to her future self.

Russ’ Childhood STUFF

This morning my neighbor texted me that a big box had been delivered to her house yesterday by mistake so she left it on my front porch this morning. I went to retrieve the unexpected package from the outdoor table. It was addressed to Russ from his father.

I asked Russ if he was expecting a box from his father. Apparently Russ had been holding out on me that his father was cleaning things out in his house and was paying good money to send this stuff to Russ.

Tonight I opened the very skillfully and precisely pack box. You might have thought that the items were hand blown glass of great value. The first thing I opened was a separate box with a string art boat wrapped first in acid free tissue then newspaper for padding. Russ thought he might have made it one weekend in the Poconos when it probably was bad weather.

Then I opened another box marked “SKULL”. It was a skull from Walt Disney World still with the $4.99 price tag on it. Just the memento you want from a fun family trip.

There were boxes inside boxes with trash and trinkets, a small unopened package of archer fuses, a penny, an unused .20¢ stamp, a compass, two locks, Two liberty bells, one Russ made out of wood and foil, the others cast metal replica. Russ’ Dad was cleaning out his house, just to make Russ decide what to do with these “treasurers.” Now they sit on the kitchen counter. I am not sure how long that will last.

Half and Half Day

I awoke this morning in Morehead to hold my last Mah Jongg class. Three days of class is really the best way to learn to play this game and three days in a row is a big bonus. After reviewing important facts about the game they began to play. As a teacher it made my heart feel good that so many students made Mah Jongg. The beginners can officially say they are Mah Jongg Players. Now they just have to keep playing.

After so many hours of teaching Reba determined I needed a very Morehead special lunch. So she took me to El’s drive-in for a shrimp burger. El’s is a kind of drive-in like nothing I have ever seen. There are no designated parking places in the half paved, have dirt parking area. Reba pulled up under a large live oak tree and magically a young woman sauntered over to our car and took the order, along with three other vehicles orders on the way.

My shrimp, slaw and cocktail sauce burger was divine. Thanks, to Reba’s husband Jim for suggesting she take me to El’s! After that lunch it was time for me to hit the road for home. It had been a great week at the beach, but I needed to get home to be with my people, and by people I also mean Shay.

My drive home was not as exhausting as my drive to the beach and I got home just before Russ. Shay greated me at the top of the stairs with her happy shake and took me to find Carter who was napping in the play room. It was a good reunion.

When I went up to our bedroom I found a very special present left on my pillow under my quilt…three different old socks. Clearly Shay missed me because socks are her favorite hoarding objects. When she steals them she carries them around the house crying looking for a place to hide them. I guess I was missed.

Mah Jongg Boot Camp

I have spent the last 48 hours teaching 24 women how to play Mah Jongg. Granted I have not taught all 24 at the same time. We have had two classes, absolute beginners and people who have played before, broken into morning and afternoon groups. Mah Jongg is a joy in my life and I love sharing it with others,

With the exception of my friends Anne and Reba I did not know these women before I started teaching them. Many in the non-beginner class came to my beach Mah Jongg class last year, so I have met them, but I don’t really “know” them. That also means they don’t know me, so having me as a teacher can be some what a shock to those who might be more delicate.

Learning anything new is tough, especially something like Mah Jongg which is a little like learning a foreign language. You have to learn the vocabulary and the structure before you actually get to play the game.

I tell all my new students it takes three classes for it to click. The first class is a mess and they leave confused and not that excited. The second class is much more fun as concepts start to reveal themselves to the, but the third class is the time when it all comes together and they usually get hooked.

Today being day two the students actually played a few games and we had some people win. It was so sweet how the other table mates would cheer when an opponent would beat them, making Mah Jongg for the first time. I love how supportive these women were of each other.

Tomorrow is the last day of the lessons. I am exhausted from teaching for so many hours so many days in a row. Today after class I came back to Reba’s place and passed out on my bed and took a quick cat nap. I look forward to making sure everyone who plays tomorrow wins a game and catches the Mah Jongg bug. It is my joy to spread this love around.

Potatoes and Cole Slaw

Day one of my boot camp of teaching Mah jongg is in the books. This is not boot camp for the students, just the teacher. Reba would schedule me to teach morning, noon and night if I would let her. Thankfully I stopped her at just morning and afternoon and she let me have a break at night. I will report on the classes at the end of them, but for now I would rather relay the story of our dinner.

After a long day of sharing my love of Mah Jongg with two dozen women Reba, and my star beginner student Neppie and I went out to dinner at a place called Full Moon on Atlantic Beach. The weather could not have been more perfect to sit outside on a deck overlooking the water. We had a table in the corner in the sun and with the steady westward breeze and absolutely no humidity it was heaven.

Reba had told me that on a previous visit to this same restaurant she had seen people enjoying bread with their dinner and had asked the waitress if she could have some. The waitress had told her that bread came with pasta meals and instead of bread they served potatoes and cole slaw. Reba, just wanted bread that night and not liking the answer about the potatoes and cole slaw went without. Neppie, Reba and I laughed about the idea that potatoes and cole slaw were a bread substitute. Have you ever heard such a thing?

After we had our drinks our waitress tonight took our orders for dinner. We each ordered a seafood salad. “We don’t offer bread or hush puppies here, in place of that we bring potatoes and cole slaw,would you like that?” Our waitress asked us. We had ordered salads for dinner and potatoes and cole slaw didn’t seem to go with that, but purely for blog purposes we said yes. We just had to see this for our own eyes.

Fairly quickly she was back with plates with two small bowls of each item for both of us. Still somewhat in disbelief that this is what the restaurant gives away instead of bread we took a photo of it. Since we were hungry after our long day of Mah Jongg we each took a bite. I didn’t want to say out loud how good the potatoes were, it Neppie did. We tried the cole slaw. Also good. Surprisingly the combination was a hit.

Suddenly we found ourselves eating our potatoes and cole slaw and loving it. Bread would have been cheeper, but we decided not as good. We had become believers. Sometimes you just have to trust.

Extrovert’s Curse

I can not imagine being anything but an off the scale extrovert, but every once in a while I wouldn’t mind a little balance. Today I spent most of the day alone trying to unstop the clogged drain at our house. Not the most scintillating exercise. By 2:00 I was not sure if I had fixed it, but I had to get on the road to come to the beach for my week of teaching Mah Jongg.

Between being alone all day and driving three hours in the afternoon it was all I could do to stay awake. I arrived at my friend Reba’s exhausted. Reba is my best Beach Mah Jongg agent. She gets me students, hosts me to stay at her home, cooks my meals, provides snacks for the classes and entertains me in style. I can hardly ask for anything better.

After dropping my suit case in my most beautiful and comfortable room I had a little time to visit with Reba before the guests arrived for dinner. Reba had invited two of my students from the beginners class to dine with us this evening. One was my friend Anne Eberdt from Durham. I still can’t believe she has never taken Mah Jongg from me at home, but I am thrilled to have her in class here. The second was a lively friend of Reba’s named Neppie from Smithfield.

Now that I was with people all my energy returned. We enjoyed drinks on the porch over looking the water in the rare perfect cool of a June evening. Then we went inside to have Reba’s yummy clam dinner. The highlight was a lemon and lime panna cotta like dessert Reba had made. Neppie and Anne are fun as they can be. I am certain this is going to be a great class this week.

After so much fun at the table we hardly noticed how late it was. Everyone needs sleep before classes tomorrow, especially me since I have a three hour beginner class followed by a three hour advanced class. I know I need to go to sleep, but now that I have been with fun people I am all wired. Certainly tomorrow will be even worse after being with thirty people and talking the whole time. Oh, the curse of the extrovert.

Too Many Sunday Events

I used to say that May was the busiest Month, but so far June is kicking May’s butt. This morning Russ and I went church. Technically that is not an event, but we had to stay after church so I could present at the fellowship hall information session. Russ was a good egg at setting up chairs and being a general cheer leader.

These info sessions are important because we have a vote in church on June 16 to borrow the balance of money to start the fellowship hall project. So far the people who have come to the sessions have asked good and thoughtful questions. I will be away Wednesday when the last info session will be held, but Dave Pottenger can represent.

After church I had to finish cooking for the Intern dinner. There are four new summer interns, one six month intern and one new hire, along with the rest of the company who comes to the dinner. It was nice to see three past interns who are flourishing as full time employees. I did not have time to get all the cooking done and I had to depend on Carter to do the bulk of the work while I went to my next event. Thank goodness for Carter.

Around four I went over to Chapel Hill to a Food Bank event for generous friends. I met a number of interesting people who are very supportive of the work the Food Bank does. God Bless these good souls. I could only stay an hour, because I had to get home for our own party.

The interns we right on time. I only had one surprise extra guest who I was not expecting. The dinner was well received, the conversation lively and by the time dessert was over I was dead. Carter and Russ got to work on the dishes and I washed the silverware. I thought I heard water running, but Russ said it was the dishwasher. It was not. The sink in downstairs bathroom had gotten clogged from food in the upstairs sink. Water ran all over the bathroom. I was done. Carter and Russ are now cleaning that mess up. Too many events, planned and unplanned today.

Cooking Ahead

I have spent the whole day cooking for the intern dinner tomorrow. The summer interns for a Russ’ company have been coming for dinner on the first night of their summer program for the last few years. It always proves to be a fun evening. The interns’ managers also come and it is a night of young people who make me hopeful for the future.

This year there are fifteen coming and I really wanted everyone to sit at the same table. Since I can only squeeze 14 around my table I had to improvise by adding a card table at the end. Russ calls it his kid’s table and volunteered to sit at it. I am yet to decide who else has the honor to sit there with him.

Usually the interns are a diverse, well traveled group so I try and make an interesting meal. Since the managers come year after year I don’t want to ever serve the same thing. I have learned that they eat a lot at this dinner, as if they haven’t had time to eat for a week, so I make lots of food.

This year we are having a Mediterranean dinner – Hummus, moussaka, chicken Shawarma, Greek salad, orzo and feta, homemade pita bread. The only non-Mediterranean thing is dessert. Carter asked me to make the cheese cake I took to the river last week and Russ bought the most fabulous strawberries at the farmer’s market.

Since a couple of the interns are underage I wanted to make a fun non-alcoholic drink. Even if they are of age I am not sure how much they want to drink at the boss’ house on the night before their first day of work. I decided on a watermelon cooler. I puréed watermelon in the blender and mixed it with lime juice and ginger simple syrup. I put that in the blender with seltzer and lots of ice and blended it into a slushee. To add a little kick I sprinkled the tiniest bit of cayenne pepper on top. I loved my sample I tried. I hope they will too.

Thankfully Carter is here to help with the last minute cooking since I have a busy day tomorrow. At least the majority of things are prepared today.