Shay’s Giving Out The Candy

I think that Shay likes Halloween better than anyone. Our big neighborhood little-kids Halloween parade took place right next to our house. Shay stood in the window and watched as hundreds of costumed kids and their dressed up parents streamed by.

We had our first trick or treaters when our friends the Howells stopped by after the parade. Shay was certain the kids came to see her and not for the candy.

Since I didn’t want to remain tied to the front door I put the candy out on a table in front of the ring door bell camera. Shay stood at the glass door willing tweens who were going down the street to the big trick or treater street, skipping our house because our walk way was too long.

Our friend Wright came by and I got a photo of him for Carter, since she was his babysitter. He knew that hanging at our house was cutting into his candy gathering so he set off. Rain is on the way causing a sense of urgency to the kids.

It is now fully dark, but Shay stands at attention awaiting more kids. I too hope some more will come and defy the “please take two” note. I am ready to give all the candy to the next group that stops and turn off all the lights and hide in my room. This is going to cause great dismay for Shay. She waits all year for random kids to come visit her. She obviously loves Halloween as much as any Woody, Buzz Lightyear or Dorothy.

Making a List, Off and On Again

In this world we are broken up into either/or groups. You are either an extrovert of an introvert, a morning person or a night owl, coffee or tea. In reality, you can be both, or one sometimes and the other another time. The exception is I am always an extrovert, but I know plenty of people who straddle the middle line.

I am a middle line straddler when it comes to making lists. I know people who have lists for everything. My husband is one of those people. He has an ongoing master list of things that need to get done around the house. They are not necessarily things he needs to do, but includes things for me and for professionals I need to find and manage. He doesn’t share this master list with me all at once, but parses out suggestions to me when he feels it is safe. I take his suggestions and draw them out based on money, trouble and time, not in that order.

I used to always make lists, back in my filo fax days of keeping a paper calendar, paper address book and paper to do list all in one little leather notebook. Anything I wanted to know about my life was in that little book. Then I got an electronic “filo fax” way before the internet or smart phones. It was convenient because it didn’t get any bigger. Eventually everything went to my phone as my phone got smarter.

The phone is great for my calendar, and my contacts, but not as good for lists because I don’t see them right in front of me. I like that I can make a list on my phone and go back months later and find it, but it doesn’t prompt me to work on that list. Yes, I know there is an app for that, but I am tiring of learning new apps.

Today my friend Christina said she puts everything on a list otherwise it doesn’t get done. For example she even puts “check email” on her list. That would certainly give me satisfaction for crossing things off as I did things.

I realized that for the last few months I have stopped keeping lists because I didn’t feel like I had that much to do, consequently I wasn’t getting that much done. I have found myself thinking of all the things I should have done right before I go to bed, but forgetting about them until bed the next night. This system is not working.

So during Mah Jongg I made a short list of a few things I have been needing to do. After everyone left I got right to working on that list and so far have completed 80% of it before six at night. This is a huge victory.

I think I am going to have to adopt Russ’ master list habit and just start keeping track of everything I need to do and looking at it regularly. Maybe “look at list” needs to be on the list. It will have to be electronic because everything else in my life is, but I think if I make a habit of looking at it every morning I can be more productive. No more straddling the middle line of list making for me.

House Imperfections

When you live in an old house you learn to deal with repairs. For the record I consider my house a used house as it just under 70 years old. I grew up in a truly old house, made up of two barns both multiple hundreds of years old.

In my current house the handle on my front storm door has been acting finicky. Russ attempted to fix it on Sunday, only to leave me for the week without a handle at all. I can still open and shut the door as long as I don’t push the latch in.

For someone who only lived in new house this might be considered a pain, but compared to my childhood house it seems mild. My childhood home could not really ever be locked. There were multiple doors that were just too far out of square for any lock to work on them. Many windows never opened and or could not be locked.

I never remember there ever being a key to our house. When we used to go on vacation we just left the house and hoped no one came to visit. If they did they would have had no trouble walking in and making themselves at home.

As Russ is in LA, I hope staying away from fires, It is up to me to study You tube videos about fixing door hardware. I ma not sure this is going to help get the door fixed. Given my history of living in an imperfect house I might just settle for a rope through the hole in the door hardware.

Climate Change Halloween

When I grew up in Connecticut you practically didn’t need a Halloween costume because by the time you went trick or treating in the dark of night, thanks to earlier daylight savings time and regular climate, it was freezing cold. The weather meant that you almost always wore your winter jacket covering any possible costume.

I don’t know why we didn’t plan our costumes around our down jackets. Michelin men were a thing back then. It would have made the perfect costume with a white down jacket. I was way above throwing a sheet over me and being a ghost. Of course there were no such thing as extra sheets in our house so I would have been in big trouble for cutting eye holes.

I had a lot of friends who went as bums, but it was the late sixties and everyone already dressed as bums in normal life, with rust and harvest gold colored clothing and Jean jackets. That was before jean jackets were a fashion staple.

Things have changed, one because I live in North Carolina where it is warmer to begin with and two because now daylight savings time does not change until after Halloween. The biggest change is global warming, this year being exceptional. It is so hot in my house right now I should turn the air conditioning back on, but I refuse to do it this close to Halloween just on principle.

Now, rather than figuring out a costume based on your jacket, you need to find one that involves your bathing suit. Please god. Wearing a bathing suit and eating a ton of candy doesn’t go together. At least in your down jacket you didn’t noticed that third snickers bar.

Thank goodness no one expects me to dress up. I could really scare some kids in my bathing suit.

My Mom’s Art Show

My award winning artist mother is having a big art show up at the farm. She is such a prolific painter that she has hundreds of works and is running out of space to store them. Rather than keep so many paintings when every wall in all her houses are full she would rather sell them. Her work is so under priced just so she knows they are going to good homes.

Her show will be three days, Friday November 15- Sunday the 17. I will be there all day on Saturday to help since the paintings will be showing in three buildings at the farm. My sisters are also coming to help.

It takes exactly an hour to get to the farm from Durham and all are welcome. If you would like to come to the show, please message me and I will give you the details about how to get there.

Acorn Squash Dinner

I went to Harris Teeter to get my flu shot today and pick up a few groceries. I had to waste a little time while my nice regular pharmacist got my shot ready. I went to the deli to buy some turkey. The line was very long.

I abandoned my spot in line and went over to the veggies and on my way to the cheese I passed the poultry section. I saw fresh whole turkey breasts were on sale. I looked at one and did the math. Five pounds of turkey with a breast bone for $11. One pound of deli turkey without a bone, $11.99. I put the turkey in my cart and continued shopping.

After paying for my groceries and getting my shot I went home and cooked the turkey breast. It took under two hours and I figured I had at least four pounds of meat that tasted much better than any deli meat. It was ready for my dinner concoction.

Acorn Squash- cut in half, with seeds scooped out.

2 tablespoons sour cherry preserves

6oz. Of turkey breast

2 balls of Burrata

Splash of good thick balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°

On a foil covered sheet pan, sprayed with Pam, place acorn squash cut side down. Place in oven and cook for at least and hour until the squash is tender.

Once done sprinkle liberally on cut side with salt and pepper. Put a spoonful of preserves in the cup of each squash half. Tear up turkey and put on top of preserves. Top with a ball of burrata and drizzle balsamic vinegar on cheese and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper.


No Sugar Fish For Us

After Russ had a very busy week at work and I had a very successful day at bridge we decided to go out for dinner tonight. Friday is such a popular night out that it makes it hard to find a table at a place and time we want to go. That being said, Russ picked a place in Chapel Hill that had been on his radar for a while, Fish Fusion.

We are sushi lovers and the reviews of this place in the old One location in Meadowmont made it sound like it was right up our alley. We had a choice of seats and chose to sit at the sushi bar since it was just the two of us.

Russ got a work phone call right as we were seated so he left the building. The waiter came to introduce himself to me and see if I wanted a drink. I immediately recognized him as a waiter who had served us breakfast two weeks ago in Durham. I asked how many restaurants he worked at and he said, “just two at a time.” Considering that makes him a professional, I didn’t remember the service as being exceptional before. This should have been an omen.

We looked at the mostly sushi menu and had a hard time with lots of menu items, especially the special rolls. Each one seemed to have something sweet incorporated into them. One had pineapple, another mango, a few had a “sweet glaze.” Sweet is not normally what we want in our sushi. Where was the spicy?

We ordered a couple of things to share, none of them very good. Even though we were trying to stay away from the sweet it somehow permeated each dish and not as an improvement.

We decided the Fusion was code for sugar and who likes sugar fish?

We can cross this place off our list as a place we will revisit. Russ commented that it is still a lot of work just to have a mediocre restaurant. It’s a tough business and food that is cooked at our house is almost always better. I guess no matter how good a day I have at bridge I still have to cook dinner.

Historical Breasts

Warning this blog is about one part of the female anatomy. If the words or the photos might possibly offend you stop reading now. You have been warned.

Today I had the pleasure of attending one of Ruth Caccavale’s wonderful tours of an exhibit at the Nasher Gallery of Art. If you have never been to the Nasher in Durham it is worth a visit. If you go inquire about when Ruth is the docent because she is excellent.

Today she was showing us the “Art for a New Understanding – Native Voices 1950’s to Now” a modern look at Native American and First Nations artists’ work. It is a traveling exhibit curated by the Crystal Bridges museum in Arkansas and worth the effort to see.

I got to the Nasher early because Ruth had warned us of potential parking issues. Since I had an extra half an hour I chose to look through the Collection Galleries of works owned by the museum. The gallery had all kinds of art, from old masters to modern, sculptures and Greek artifacts.

One thing that struck me in the first room I went in was a painting of a nude woman reclining with a bunch of odd items sitting on her body. I was not phased by the fact that she had a lamp sitting on her pubic area, or a wine glass on her stomach. What struck me first was the fact that her breasts stood so perfectly proud as if they had no movement, or that one did not sag to the side even just a little even though she was tilted that way.

I walked around the corner and encounter two more naked women, one in a painting and one a sculpture who despite no visible means of support had breasts which stood at attention, upright and straight on. They were fairly modern works and the woman portrayed were young. Perhaps it could be considered possible.

I turned the corner and came upon an old master of a heavenly theme, there in the bottom of the painting was a muscular woman whose naked breasts could have two halves a ball cut in down the middle and placed on her body. Although she is leaning over her boobs are not.

All these naked breasts that in no way resemble the fall to the side ones I am more accustomed to. Then I went to the Native Art and although Ruth did not talk about these works I saw two pieces with saggy long breasts. At last, breasts for the over 35 crowd were represented in art. It was refreshing. These boobs represented the old joke, “What size bra do you wear?” “36 long.”

Through out history, mostly only the perfect or idealized are represented. Well, wake up people, the Natives at least accept reality.

Pinterest Productive

Wednesday’s are usually my day of play. Mah Jongg started off the day, but it was a light day of players and we ended by 11:30. So I turned to my Pinterest list and got to work. The first thing I did was bake maple Apple pie bars for Russ. He loves an Apple pie but I did not have enough apples to make him a whole pie so I tried this recipe. I haven’t tasted it, but they turned out beautifully. I hope Russ is OK eating leftovers for his meal now that I have this treat for him.

Then I went to my sweat shop. The first thing I made was a Japanese apron. I tried to make one this summer without a pattern. It was a fail. It turned out too big and I gave up on that project. My friend Morgan brought me her store bought Apron so I could use it as a sample.

I layed it out on my cutting table and created a paper pattern by taping together note book paper since I didn’t have any big butcher paper. Once I had the pattern, I pulled out some navy linen I had purchased this summer. Thanks to Morgan’s apron I was finally able to make the perfect apron. Now I need to make one for her with a leather pocket for her garden tools. Off to find leather my sewing machine can handle.

Once the apron was done I started making a Christmas table runner. I created a pattern on graph paper so I could count exactly how many squares and triangles I needed to make. I cut them out and sewed my half square triangles. I pressed them open with my iron and began trimming the half square triangles to be perfect squares. I couldn’t wait to do them all before I started laying the pattern out to see how my color choices looked.

Creating your own quilt patterns is like doing a puzzle. That combines two things I love, fabrics and puzzles. Although I did not finish that quilt today I got a really good start on it and can easily finish it tomorrow.

It was a very productive afternoon and that makes for a great day.

Not as Smart

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The current occupant of the White House likes to portray himself as the smartest guy in the room. I have no need to even discuss that. Everyone has plenty of evidence to make up your own mind as to if you believe that or not. It appears to me that in 45’s desperation to hold on to his “I’m the smartest” position the only way he can do it is by surrounding himself with people who he can possibly beat in an intelligence contest, namely Rudy and Mick. Based on their appearances on TV to shore up 45 they have done him no favors, except in the “45 is smarter than we are” category. This can be the only reason I can see that 45 keeps them around since his ego demands that he be seen as the best.

With the five ring circus that 45 has turned the presidency into I have come to wonder if he keeps doing these these totally moronic and more outrageous things just to see if he can get away with it and shore up his own invincibility in his mind.

“Let’s see, what the most outrageous thing I can do? Take innocent children away from their parents and lock them up? Hey, I got away with that. How brilliant am I to get to do that without even a slap on the wrist.”

“Congratulate China on 70 years of Communism? It’s like my brain can hardly think of a thing I can’t get away with. No one around me is smart enough to do that.”

“Pull the military out of supporting the Kurds without notice or a plan? I must be a genius, I got to do that all by myself.”

With the “brain trust” that 45 surrounds himself with I think it is just one big game for him to see what outrageous thing after another he can get away with.

Finally one event went over the line. The idea of hosting the G-7 conference at Doral. This is so clearly against the law that some idiots finally pushed back. I think the real reason is no one wanted to have to face bedbugs.

Please, everyone who has anything to do with 45, let’s end this game and show him you are smarter than he is. He has gotten away with one upping himself long enough.

Feet and Eyes

The older I get the more I notice the loss of my best parts. For most of my life I had better than average eyesight. Actual eye doctors measured one eye at 20/15 and the other at 20/10 for years. I loved having eyes that saw well and did not appreciate what a gift that was. That was until I started needing glasses. Now I notice that I do see well at both distance and up close and I morn the loss of my younger eyes.

Of course most everyone I know needs help with corrective lenses eventually so I had no trouble adopting glasses all the time, at least around my neck. What I was not prepared for was the loss of my good feet.

As children we ran around bare foot all summer. I could run on pavement without sneakers and as I came of age could wear high heels all day. Beautiful shoes were a major part of my wardrobe. Oh, how I long for days.

Now I judge a shoe not by the way it looks, but by its comforting factor and if I can walk longer than half an hour without pain. Discussing orthotics has replaced oohhing and ahhing over jewelry with my friends. Lane turned me on to some German orthotics and I ordered them within minutes based on her recommendation.

Barefoot is no longer an option. I am not alone in this. I must discuss plantar Fasciitis twice a week with different people. Thankfully I have not suffered from it in a while due mostly to my preventative orthopedic footwear. There is nothing that looks good enough to make me hurt my feet on purpose.

If you have good eyes and happy feet cherish them. There most likely will come a day when you will mourn their decline. Embrace good, but ugly shoes sooner rather than later. You will appreciate it.

Gillian’s Island

After a big night of stormy weather where the rain and wind awoke each of the four of us at different times during the night we rejoiced in the morning sun. Russ and Lane took the four dogs for a morning walk and Jon and I resumed our ongoing Pitch card game tournament. After we all reunited to take the dogs out on the boat.

Our friends have two his and hers boats. Hers is small and easy to anchor at a beach. His is comfortable and fast. We were going to a deserted Island where the dogs would be free to roam and not all eight of us would fit on the hers boat so we took the his.

The sun was shining as we cut through the water, just a ten minute ride to the island. Jon threw out the anchor and pulled the boat as close to shore as he could so we could jump out of the boat into the water and not get our clothes soaking wet.

After all dogs and most people we safe on the soft sand Jon and Russ went about repositioning the anchor so that the boat would be in the best spot when it was time for us to leave. Lane and I started out on our walk with all four dogs running circle around us as they chased birds and flirted with the surf.

We had gotten a good ten minute start on our long legged husbands, but they we able to eventually catch up with us. We searched for special shells and talked as we walked on the beach we had all to our selves, save four teenagers who were surfing . Suddenly a woman appeared on top of the dune ahead of us. She was waving her hands frantically, trying to get out attention.

Jon, being a doctor ran fastest toward her and Russ was close behind with three of the four dogs. It turned out the emergency was not hers, but ours. Jon’s boat and broken free of it’s anchor and was floating toward a sand bar.

Lane and I took the remaining and smallest dog, Rosie and walked quickly back the way we came so we could pick up the bag Jon had left on the beach. As we crossed over the dune Rosie took a turn of her own and got lost in the dunes.

Now, with a loose boat and a lost dog things were on a down turn. Eventually Lane spotted Rosie and we got to the sound side of the island where we could see the big boat 500 yards off shore, but thankfully not going anywhere. Jon hitched a ride close to his boat and swam to get on it. It pays that he is an almost Olympic swimmer.

Other boaters in the area offered help, but it was apparent that the boat was in a difficult shallow area. Jon called Tow Boat Us, his boating equivalence to AAA. Russ and the three dogs were in a cove area that Jon asked us to wait in. So Russ and the three dogs walked halfway to meet me and Lane and the forth dog and we all walked back to the cove to wait.

It was a scene out of Gilligan’s Island. We had the Captain, Jon and his little buddy Gilligan, played by Petunia the pirate dog. Lane, the most glamourous with her red hair was clearly Ginger. Russ was the professor. Shay was Mary Anne and Lane’s two inseparable dogs Clementine and Rosie were the Howells. That left me, Sherwood Schwartz, the producer of the show.

What started out as a little tour turned into our stranded island adventure. Thankfully the Tow Boat came in about an hour and pulled Jon off the sand bar quickly. After we were retrieved from the island and were headed home we all gave the Tow guy a big wave of thanks.

I asked Jon what happened to the anchor and he said it broke at the carabiner. Proving once again you are only as strong as your weakest link.

The Coast

Our friends Lane and Jon invited us to their house on the coast this weekend. October is really my favorite time of year to be here. It was great boating weather yesterday and most of today. Lane took me out on her little boat yesterday and we wore our selves out with fresh air.

Today Jon took us on the big boat. We rode around and surveyed the damage from the last two hurricanes and assessed the repairs. There can hardly be enough contractors to fix things after hurricanes. If only there were more dock builders.

Lane and Jon have three very sea worthy dogs. Our one is the opposite when it comes to water. She is a nervous wreck on the boat and refuses to go in the water. But everyone was most happy when we dropped anchor at the spoils island and hiked out into the middle of it where there is a pristine white sand crater. The dogs ran and ran all around the dunes and down the crater.

As a big storm was coming in for tonight we decided to go to dinner early in town. Russ has been dying to try Vivian Howard’s restaurant in Wilmington, Benny’s Big Time pizza. Despite being there at five o’clock we still had to eat at the bar. We didn’t mind as it was comfortable and the bartenders we entertaining. It lived up to Vivian Howard standards.

After dinner Jon and I continued our big Pitch card game tournament we started earlier in the day. Jon is currently up by one, but there is still tomorrow.

It was an exhausting day, so now all the dogs and humans are snuggled in their beds. We will sleep through the big storm hopefully to awake to another beautiful day at the coast.

Happy News

When Carter was looking at colleges she fell in love with Northeastern University. There were three things that differentiated it for her. One was she could spend her first semester abroad. Secondly, they embraced students who were undecided and helped guide them through finding the right path rather than expecting them to apply to a certain college within the University and hope that is what they really loved. The third and biggest thing is that Northeastern students all do Co-op’s, which are six month real life jobs, that they must find, interview for, be offered and work. Russ and I embraced Carter’s choice and thankfully Northeastern embraced her.

This semester is the one where Carter is taking her Co-op finding course. She has learned to write her resume, search for jobs, interview and follow up. I wish I had this course in college of real life skills.

Carter had some big criteria she was looking for. As it was her first Co-op of the two she is going to do I was unsure what kind of offers would be available to her. I know she is a great worker, but until you have had something more than a summer job it is sometimes hard to show your worth. It’s that old problem of you need experience to get a job, but you can’t get experience until you have a job.

As a parent there was nothing I could do except offer moral support. Last week Carter texted me and Russ in all caps that she had gotten her first interview. It happened to be with a fabulous company. She loved the people she met. They called her back for a second interview.

Then she got two more interviews with two different departments and another fabulous company. Things were happening fast. I was thinking at the least she was having good practice interviewing.

This Tuesday after Carter’s second interview at her first fabulous company she called and said she really hoped she would get this job and that they were going to let her know by the end of the week. They let her know two hours later. She got the job!

She was over the moon. I was over the moon. Russ was understatedly over the moon. So today Carter posted it on Facebook so I think that means I can say that she will be working at Bain Capital in Boston come January. I am thrilled that this all worked out so quickly for her. I know the experience will be invaluable. Way to go Carter.

From Mundane to Fun

Today was one of those rare days when I got to stay home all day. Unfortunately it was not to do something fun, but I spent the day doing all the things that have been on my list that I seem to skip over. You know those things that you know you must do, but really have no interest in. Like changing the sheets, or figuring out that computer program that you need to understand in order to do another equally boring task. Or phoning people you don’t want to talk with, but must. (That doesn’t apply to the FRIEND I did get to talk with today.). I know things are bad when I chose to mop the kitchen floor to avoid doing something else.

I really need to change my attitude about these things because once I get to cross them off my list I have such a sense of peace that they are behind me, but not really all of them. I have to change the sheets again next week.

Just as a I was thinking it was a pretty boring day I walk outside my front door and encounter a big blue gift bag. No one rang my door bell. My ring doorbell never rang me saying someone was on my porch. The bag was a total mystery to me.

Since I don’t know of anyone trying to do me in right this minute, I brought the bag inside and pulled sheet after sheet of tissue out of it Berrey I came to an envelope with a card and a gift wrapped in even more tissue. I opened the envelope and discovered a funny card about missing me from my friend Kelly. The gift was a lifetime supply of new beautiful dish towels for my newly renovated kitchen.

I texted her immediately and she told me her son Adam aphid acted as her delivery elf, my words, not hers, but she had gotten them for me in the summer and only now was getting them to me.

Hey, a surprise any day is welcome, especially one as thoughtful as this. So thanks to Kelly my most boring and mundane day turned into one where I got a big surprise that I loved. Thanks for making my day.

Moving Friends

When I was a kid and a friend moved away because their father got transferred it was sad, but you just made a new friend. There was little keeping in touch. Sometimes they moved in the middle of the summer and you never got a chance to say goodbye, or really never knew exactly where they went.

This life of living in a place where friends moved away from often taught me that it is important to try and stay in touch with friends no matter where they lived. Going to boarding school helped solidify this skill of keeping in touch with friends who are far flung long before Facebook existed.

As a I have aged I appreciate my friends wherever they live, but I really miss when they move away. The older you get the harder it is to make new friends.

Almost five years ago my friend Jeanne and her husband David moved to DC. It was a sad day when they left, but at least in DC I could see her and they had lots of reasons to come back to Durham to visit.

Unlike my childhood friends who moved away, never to be seen again, the impossible is happening and Jeanne and David are moving back to Durham. They don’t have an exact date since David is still working in DC, but they have bought a fabulous condo in downtown Durham. Tonight I got to go see it before Jeanne and I went to dinner.

This is like a dream that I never dreamt t could come true. A friend I adore returns and we can pick right up where we left off before. Now if only my other old Durham friends would move back. I’m talking to you Jan. Durham is the place to retire. It’s where your friends are.

When Did Sleep Get So Complicated?

Sunday my dad stopped by our house on his way home from Macy’s at the mall. He wanted to buy a new mattress. His current one is a memory foam and instead of a box springs it has an actual wooden box as a base. He complains that it is impossible to make the bed because he can’t get his hand between the memory foam and the wood box. The fitted sheet comes off in the night because it isn’t tucked in right and he ends up with his face on the foam which is hot. Sounds terrible to me.

In my father’s perfect fashion he knew exactly what kind of bed he wanted before he went to test any of them. Then after an extensive internet search found that Macy’s had the exact mattress on sale. Apparently it was not possible to order it online and required a store visit.

He drove all the way down to Durham, waited 40 minutes for sales help only to be told that they don’t deliver to his farm. He said he would pay and they still said no. Now the search has to continue to find a local provider.

I don’t remember when the mattress business got so complicated. There are thousands of choices. I also don’t remember when sleep became such a big issue for so many people.

There was something on TV this week that said that almost a half of couples don’t sleep in the same bed. None of this surprises me. Many beds get slept in at our house thanks to the moving from one bed to another in search of elusive sleep. I am not sure what anyone in my extended would do if they didn’t have extra places to go sleep.

When I was a kid no one replaced their mattress. You got a mattress that fit your bed and you might just die in that mattress. I have slept in many a guest bed that was more like a nest than a bed based on the divot in the center.

I personally hate our current bed, but Russ loves it because it is hard as a rock. It doesn’t help that I also hate all my pillows. It must be me and not my bed or pillows. Whatever, sleep just seems harder for more people than it did in the olden days. Or perhaps we just aren’t so dead tired from chopping wood and washing clothes by hand and raising our own food and carrying water inside to heat it up. If I had to do all those things I would probably not complain about sleeping on a bag of straw or whatever acted as a mattress back in the day.

Things Not to Make Myself

Since I have been back in the sweat shop toiling away for a week I have gotten the sewing bug. I made two presents this past week and am on the search for my next project. Kind of like being a four year old, I am making presents. But being 58 I can’t just press my hand into a plaster of Paris mold and when it is dry paint it with tempura paint.

I only want to make useful as well as beautiful things, which really limits me because I want them to be close to perfect. I turned to the big time wasting inspiration Pinterest and started searching. No one on my gift list needs a pin cushion in the shape of a bird, even if it is really cute. Aprons might be good but there is only one person on my list who cooks and wears and apron.

Once you start searching Pinterest gets a mind of its own and the algorithm starts showing me ideas. The craziest one I got today was a group of sites showing you how to make your own bras. If there was ever something I would not make it is a bra, for me or for anyone else.

Well, if I were going to attempt to make one for me I would have to learn welding first. If I learned welding I would be more likely to build my own car, rather than my own bra.

There is a line I draw at things I want to be homemade; medicine, televisions and light bulbs are at the top of my list, but undergarments are right up there.

Rain At Last

We have been close to twelve weeks without any measurable rain at our house. Yes, it sprinkled once or twice in that time, but those were nothing but cruel reminders of what rain looked like. Today I was the lector at church so I was sitting up front. Russ came in a separate car because he had a meeting after church. As I was waiting for church to start I got a text from Russ on my watch, “It’s raining!”

If I weren’t Presbyterian I would have shouted “alleluia!”

It was a good rain that was still drizzling when we came out of church. I had not brought an umbrella, but I gladly would have gotten drenched, but it was not that kind of rain.

All day it rained. It was very light most of the day, but hey, after 12 weeks it was welcomed. Then it picked up a little and now it is full on thundering. At first I asked Russ if that sound was a dump truck. It had been so long since I have heard thunder I didn’t recognize it at first.

We have been awaiting the building permit for our new church building for weeks. We have a big dry square of dirt that has just been sitting awaiting the permit so we can put in a foundation. All this dry weather, perfect for building but no permit. I am certain that the permit will come tomorrow and it will rain more this week. All I can say is God works in mysterious ways.

When The South Africans Come to Town

Our friends Mark and Kelly, who live in Atlanta now, came to Durham for the weekend to visit their son Adam. Never ones to miss a chance to throw a party, they invited a few friends to a local Zimbabwe restaurant, which was as close to South Africa as they could get.

It just happens to be Kelly’s birthday tomorrow and Mark’s in two weeks, but Kelly said this was not a birthday party. I just want to wish her a big happy birthday anyway.

Kelly is wonderful at gathering interesting people and tonight was just another example of that talent. It was so fun to see people I haven’t seen since Carter graduated. And Russ immediately connected with the other introverts he recognized up against the wall.

Getting a chance to visit with Mark and Kelly is always fun. I wish we were not so far away or that Russ was not so busy so we could visit. There is nothing like a South African friend. Once you have one you always have a friend.

Back in the Sweat Shop Suspicions

I took about four months off from my sweat shop due to painting the kitchen cabinets and Carter being home during part of the summer. My sweat shop is attached to her bathroom and bedroom. It used to be her “office” when she moved down there and took it away from Russ. When she left for college I claimed it and cleaned out her stuff and installed all my sewing stuff, but I promised her I would not hang out there when she was home. I think it is the only room in the house that has changed hands and been used by all of us for different purposes.

When Carter called yesterday she asked me what I was doing. I told her I was back in the sweat shop working. She didn’t ask me what my project was. Then today she texted as I was working and I told her I was sewing. I think this got her nervous.

A few hours later she sent me her Birthday/Christmas list that I had been asking for. Her grandfather will be asking us for her list any day now and I prefer to be prepared.

I got the e-mailed list and opened it. Three items, and one was sock and another money. She followed up with a text. “My space in Boston is tight. I don’t want any random stuff. My list is short because anything I really want is too expensive and I would rather not have stuff I don’t love.”

I think she was worried I might be making her something, something random, something she did not pick out. I get it. I agree I don’t want random stuff either. I am happy she is not a pack rat. So I am going to tell the relatives not to get her anything, except those socks or cash.

For the record I was making a baby blanket for a baby who is coming in December. So to put Carter’s mind at ease this blanket is not for you. I am not planning on making a baby blanket for Carter for a long time.

An Imaginary Phone Conversation

Oh, the never ending Ukrainian/Giuliani/45 story keeps on unraveling. I can only imagine how the conversations between 45 and his nut job lawyer are going. Here is a sample of how it might sound if we could listen in on their phone calls.

45: Rudy, you know your friends, those Uke thugs who donated all that money to my super pac?

Rudy: Yeah, I did a great job getting them to funnel that foreign money to you.

45: The fake news hasn’t found those guys yet, have they.

Rudy: Well… they might be on to them. I think those Dems might be trying to get them in to testify.

45: Damn, Rudy. You can’t let that happen.

Rudy: I know, I know. I’ll buy them tickets out of the country and take them out to lunch, explain why they have to scram and then take them to the airport.

45: Just get one way tickets, no need to spend more money on these guys.

Rudy: Got it.

45: Also take them to my hotel up the street for lunch, I might as well make some money on their lunch while you are giving them the news.

Rudy: Got it. Can I put the lunch on your tab?

45: No way Rudy. You have to pay for your own lunch.

Rudy: Donald, I’ve got a great idea how you can throw everyone off this story. You should pull the military off the program of helping the Kurds and guarding the Isis fighters in their prisons.

45: Good idea Rudy. You really come up with the biggest plans to throw people off the scent.

Rudy: Thanks. I also have an invoice coming your way for all my Ukrainian work.

45: Look Rudy, I’m not going to pay any invoices and if you don’t like it there is nothing you can do about it since you can’t sue me as a sitting President.

Rudy: I’ll just send the invoice to Putin. He’ll pay your bills.

Cheating AND Bad Customer Service?

Today I stopped by a food store, which shall remain nameless. It was late and there were very few customers in the store at the time. Despite the low number it appeared that all three of us were headed to the deli counter at the same time.

As the three of us stood waiting for the one clerk to acknowledge us I watched as she filled containers with chicken salad, one after another. At first I thought she was doing this to stock a display. I thought something was fishy about what she was doing when she put a small box of yellow stickers up on the scale and created a “chicken salad” price sticker that weighed in at less than three ounces and attached it to each container. She set those containers aside and finally offered to help the man in front of me.

As I was still waiting I watched as another employee came by and thanked the deli girl for the containers and took them away. Finally the deli clerk turned to me and I got my order.

I went to the check out and that same clerk who took the under priced chicken salad was there ringing up her own chicken salad. I didn’t say anything because I have no idea what the store’s deal is with employees, but it all seemed very fishy because of the box of stickers being used as the weight on the scale, rather than the actual chicken salad.

I am not accusing the clerks of cheating, but at the least it seems like they should wait on customers before they wait on each other. It is not normal to use some lighter weight item to create a price sticker for things that must be weighed, and it certainly should not be done in front of customers. I’m not sure I will visit this store again, or perhaps it won’t matter because I’m not sure how long they can last with these kind of employees.

How Does She Do It?

I know I have called out my sister Janet before for the cool work her business does, but today takes the cake. Janet owns a business called Reaction Retail, which makes gift boxed sets of beauty products for stores like Macy’s and Ulta. If you aren’t sure what that is, think of a set of ten perfumes in a gift box.

Janet is a genius and has the coolest people working with her to design these things and then assembles them and ships them to stores in time for the holidays, all the holidays.

Today on You Tube there was a beauty vlogger who did an in boxing review of one of Janet’s products, the Macy’s beauty advent calendar. I had no idea there even was such a thing as a beauty advent calendar. I watched this You Tube with my mouth open.

It was amazing, not the You Tuber, but the box. Just take a look at how cool this thing is.…this

I have to say I am one proud sister! If you want to buy one of these things just search advent calendars at Macy’s. My Sister is the bomb. If your u don’t want to watch the whole ten minute video, the vlogger gave it a big thumbs up.

The Pinterest/YouTube Rabbit Hole

Before there was Pinterest I never knew how many crafts, quilts, pies, table decors, wreaths, fonts, monograms, yada, yada, yada, things there were for me to learn to make. Then once I discovered a new thing I wanted to make, I never knew there were so many YouTube videos to teach me how.

I realized yesterday that Christmas is two blinks of an eye away and I have not done a thing about gifts. I am doing my best not to add the the “piles o’stuff” that all my relatives already have, but still want to show my love. I consider something hand made, as long as it is not a clay ashtray, or something consumable that is yummy, is a better gift than anything except cash. Well, no one except Carter will get cash so I got right on researching things I might make.

That was a twelve hour search and it could go on forever. Once I found something on Pinterest I wanted to make I had to try and learn how to make it. I never knew that there were so many thousands of people filming themselves teaching strangers all their crafting secrets.

What I really wish existed is a rating system of all the videos that show who is the best teacher. I have found myself watching one for ten minutes when I realize the teacher wasn’t making sense. The amount of conflicting advice is huge. So I watch multiple YouTubes hoping to aggregate my knowledge.

All this Pinterest searching and You Tube watching is eating into my time to actually making presents. I pray this research equips me to be proficient and prolific. The only issue is now I have discovered more things I want to learn that have nothing to do with making Christmas gifts. When will I get to do that?

Dog Spelled Backwards

Today was the annual Blessing of the Animals at Church. Shay, being a regular at church, jumped right in the car when I mentioned the blessing. As the mascot member of the Finance, Ways and Means and New Building Committees she feels right at home at Westminster.

About two dozen dogs and one hedge hog came for the blessing. There were big and small dogs, one ones and puppies, well behaved and wild. All children of God.

Today’s blessing was a chance for some youth to practice their blessing skills. Shay was blessed by Shannon as well as getting blessed by Alex the official new youth pastor.

Shay acted as if she were the one doing the blessing. Perhaps her familiarity with Westminster makes her feel like she is on staff, or maybe it has something to do with Dog spelled backwards.

Whatever the reason our family is blessed to be loved by Shay, even if she loves in uneven ways. We all take what we can.

A Habit We Should Have Broken

When Shay was a wee one and we adopted her into our family we wanted to train her right. Carter and I took her to Pet Behavior Classes and we learned to “treat her” to train her. This involved carrying around a small baggies of “treats” like small bits of turkey or cheese. We could get Shay to walk right beside us and not pull on her leash as long as we were giving her a treat every once in a while.

The big thing I was concerned with was potty training her to go outside. The last thing I needed was a dog who went inside the house. So we used the “treat” method. Every time she went potty outside we would bring her inside and she would stand or sit on her green bed and get a treat.

Shay, being a brilliant dog, learned quickly that the whole outside was her toilet and never had an accident inside, so she got used to having her treat. Even after she was certified in potty training she continued to get the treat. We just kept giving it to her.

Today she goes outside and she runs in and flys onto her bed and stands at attention awaiting her small freeze dried liver cube. Yes, she considers that her favorite treat. It has been eight years and we still treat her.

I know we should have given this up as soon as she was trained, but none of us could deny those eyes that liver. Now in her defense, she never asks to go outside just to turn around and come back in and get a treat. She always uses the potty and then comes in. I hate to stop treating her now and have her give up going outside, not that I think that would happen. I just don’t want to be the mean one and stop giving it to her.

Here is my justification. Shay has weighed exactly, almost to the ounce, the same weight for the last seven years. I think the treats are not hurting her so as long as she is good I am going to keep giving them to her.

I promise I will do better on future dogs. I also add this caveat, that I may not remember this promise when I get a future dog.

Clap Back Vs. Slap Back

Today I went to play duplicate bridge. For the most part, most of the people who play where I do are kind, generous and polite people, but not all. For the record the issue I am bringing up here had absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened today at Bridge.

After my kind and patient partner and I finished playing our two boards against another team fairly quickly we had a few minutes before we had to move to the next table. One of our opponents brought up an issue of a player who she has faced who feels compelled to give her unsolicited advice and not in the most constructive way.

My kind partner suggested, “You can just say ‘thanks for your superior wisdom’ as a clap back.”

I replied “Or you can say, ‘I not interested in your opinion,’ as a slap back.”

That got me thinking about those who slap back and those who clap back and if any of it registers with people who make unwanted comments. Clap backs make the clapper not feel as bad because they aren’t so overt in their rebuke to the original offender, but they might not get it. Slap backs may get to the person being rebuked, but make the slapper look equally mean, thus perhaps giving the original offender justification for their original rudeness.

I used to tend to the slap side, although I have always loved a sideways dig, that makes the person have to wonder, “Was that a compliment or a condemnation?” One of my favorite sideways comments for those who like to puff themselves up over nothing was to say, “First among idiots is no prize.” My father used to say, “You are all you will ever be.” Both of those are really big slaps, but it takes a minute to get them, if ever.

Southerners are particularly good at the clap back. Although now the whole world knows that “Bless her heart,” is usually mean spirited.

There is an old joke that goes:

There are two Yankee women sitting in a cafe in the south, talking smack about southerners. A local woman does not recognize them as locals and approaches their table with a friendly smile and says, “Hi. Welcome to our town. Where are y’all from?” One of the Yankees responds, “I am unaccustomed to answering a question that ends in a preposition.” Smiling, the Southern lady responds without missing a beat, “Where are y’all from, bitch?”

Please don’t take the portrayal of Yankee’s in this joke as a commentary on Yankees, it’s just an illustration of the southern clap back that has been around a long time.

If you clap back or slap back you probably are never going to change the actions of the original offender. So what are we to do?

I wish I knew the answer. Clapping back gives you some satisfaction, slapping back may blow back on you, doing nothing may make you fume and grit your teeth in your sleep. For now, since I can’t control other people I am going to do my best to just not be one of those offenders and pray that I can hold my tongue when someone offends me. Ha, I might as well pray to win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.

Too Hot!

ONE HUNDRED DEGREES! That’s how hot it was on my car thermometer when I got in it after lunch with my friend Hannah and it was parked in the shade. If I hadn’t just celebrated Russ’ birthday yesterday I would have sworn it was August 3, not October 3.

We have had 72 over ninety degrees this year and the average is 42. For all you climate deniers I would like to take your air conditioning away September 1 and not give it back until June 1 and see how long to cling to the anti-science view that the planet is not changing and fast.

Also we have been without rain for two months. This is the more serious issue. I am wondering if we need to invest in cisterns for our roof. Not that I water anything in my yard, I gave that up years ago. I am worried about flushing the toilet.

I face timed with Carter in Boston and she had on a sweater and long coat. It made me so jealous.

My replacement watch came back today. I was able to verify how hot it is, still 95° at 5:55. My watch may be mocking me, but at least it is alerting me that it is Holly Schmidt’s birthday tomorrow. It will be seven degrees cooler, but no rain. Happy birthday Holly. Hope you get a new bathing suit for your birthday suit. You may still need it.

Happy Birthday Russ

It’s Russ’ big day

Double nickels for him

He’s hardly aged at all

He’s still tall and slim.

I met him when he

Was just a young pup

Who knew that smart guy

Was such a cutup.

He works and he works

At CMG all the day

And wakes in the night

Thanks to his dog Shay.

Generous would be

The word to describe

How he treats every person

Who are all his tribe.

As a father he rocks

As he advises his daughter

She knows she is lucky

And is always his Carter.

No cake for this boy

He’d rather have pie

And if you tell him it’s Apple

He’d vote with an “Aye”.

To this birthday boy

I’d just like to say

You are the best husband

And this is your day.

Private Party Shakedown

A few weeks ago I was invited to a private party at a private club. As I was a guest at a party I didn’t think to bring any cash. The host was generously providing the food and drink at the very nice event.

Everything about the party was lavish. The passed hors d’oeuvre were extravagant, from the jumbo shrimp, to the mini crab cakes. The dinner was delicious, and no one had trouble finding something to their pleasure from the beef tenderloin, lobster tail pasta or the chicken Provençal.

It was apparent the host had thought of everything and was generous, with one exception. When I went to the bar to get a club soda the bartender had a big glass tip jar on the bar full of ones and fives. At first I was embarrassed to ask for a drink and not give a tip, even if it was just club soda. I slinked away from the bar after apologizing for not having money on me.

Then I got to thinking. I bet the host had no idea that the bartender was practically soliciting tips, even though I am certain that the host was paying for service, including a tip on their catering bill. The bartender was taking advantage of guests at a private party because a tip jar is usual at a bar where you are paying for drinks.

I was not going to bring this to my host’s attention, but it made me aware that when having a private party with a bar tender you need to be explicit that they should not have a tip jar. Imagine if you had hired a bartender to work a party at your house and they put out a tip jar. This is the same idea when you are having a private party at a public place. It might be different if it were a fund raiser and the bar tenders were volunteers, but even that scenario troubles me.

If you ever come to a party I am throwing and see a tip jar on the bar, let me know right away. Those ones and fives will go nicely towards paying the catering bill and the tip that is already worked into my bill. I will tip the bartenders, guests should not be expected to do so.