Goodbye 2019, Let’s Hope 2020 Brings Us Clear Vision

As with all years 2019 was sometimes good, and sometimes bad, but it felt like it was more bad than good just based on the stress the news causes.

2019 could not have started with more stress for me as I was the at post, guard for my father in the hospital. It was not the 12 days of Christmas I was looking for when he was admitted on Christmas day and stayed in the hospital for almost two weeks where I was with him the whole time. The good news from that start is he got a new valve and is in much better health today because of it.

Carter’s best college friend Olivia went off to London in January and Carter got a terrible replacement roommate. This caused us all enough stress that Carter talked us into letting her get her own apartment starting in September. She found a great one and thankfully Russ was able to accompany us to Boston to assemble the world of IKEA furniture.

In other good Carter news she secured a fabulous Co-op job at Bain Capital that she will begin this January for six months rather than taking classes. Here’s hoping that she loves working there.

During the summer I took on painting my own kitchen cabinets, a job everyone thought I was crazy to do. It was a hot and hard two straight weeks, but I am thrilled I did it. The bad news came in the tile back splash for the kitchen. After I finished painting I found a great tile guy through my best plumbers, the Whaley Brothers. I picked out a tile and he ordered it. I told the clerk that he was going to order it for me. We were both told it would take 12 weeks to arrive.

At the 13 week mark he called the tile supply house to discover the clerk had left her job and no one had checked her orders, or lack of orders as was our case. So I am looking forward to finally having my summer kitchen project finished in January 2020.

I had a great time getting to see my Aunt Edie three times in August and September. First during a trip Carter Russ and I took to the mountains, second two weeks later on a four day visit to her house in Blowing Rock with my mother and then at the wedding of her son.

Russ has had a busy year at work and has not gotten as much time off as I have, but he has the devotion of Shay Shay to keep him happy. I hope for more fun for Russ in 2020 and more travel with me.

Carter and I had two fun mother daughter trips to the Dominican Republic and Asheville. Carter has already scheduled me for a long Boston weekend mother daughter trip in February so 2020 is looking good.

My friends have been wonderful this year with a new needlepoint group, my stalwart Mah Jongg crowd, my Bridge partner, travel friends, my EWS reunion, and those I lunch with regularly. There is nothing bad to say about that aspect of 2019. So at least as much friend time in 2020.

My big wish for 2019 is we have less MAGA and more MASA, (MAKE AMERICA SMART AGAIN). I am hoping for clearer vision by all of us since 2020 should be the year of perfect sight.

So goodbye to 2019, the good and the bad. I don’t think I will miss you. Look forward to “SEEING” you all in 2020.


“You Looked Like You Could Use a Seat.”

It’s been a big day of all things Biltmore. Carter really wanted to see the Downton Abbey exhibit and asked me if it could be one of her Christmas presents. I have never seen Biltmore decorated for Christmas and thought it was a good plan for me so here we are.

Going to see Biltmore is a big enough job. As I have only gone when the gardens are in bloom that has been my favorite part. But that was years ago, long before all the hotel and auxiliary villages were built. We drove in this morning through the familiar grand gate house, winding our way through the Fredirick Law Olmsted designed park with perfect little streams flowing alongside the road.

After three miles we got to parking area C where all of humanity was parking. We walked to the transportation center to wait for the first of many buses and or trolleys we would ride today. As our trolley made the corner into the main drive to the big house Carter exclaimed,”It’s not as big as I thought it was.” This from a child who is used to touring the grand castles of Europe.

The place was packed. They did a good job to let us in at exactly the appointed times, but that still meant that inside the house at points things were quite crowded. I did think everything looked so wonderful with the Christmas decorations up. Each and every room had multiple Christmas trees.

As usual, Carter and I both liked the downstairs with the kitchens and the servant areas the best. After the house we took another bus to see the Downton exhibit a the Deerpark area. Then another bus back to the main house where we were having lunch at the stables. After lunch we had one last stop to make at Antler Village to see the Downton Costumes. The line for the busses was so long, like 300 people long.

Carter and I decided to skip the transport and walk to our car in parking lot C. We had made the trip three times on the bus and thought it wasn’t that far. We walked past A and B1,2,& 3 lots. C a would be next. We rounded a big bend and then as we looked through the woods at the winding road we both realized that C was a long, long way off.

Carter took the lead on the trek on the single lane road. As we headed down a big hill a car from Ohio stopped at the bottom of the hill, pulled over and waited for us. A nice young Pakistani couple leaned out the window and asked if we needed a ride. Carter thought No, but I said yes. The young woman said, “You looked like you needed a seat.” She was right.

They cleared out their back seat and we got in. It was a good two miles to our car. Thank goodness for their kindness. We got our own car and drove to the last exhibit, our favorite, of costumes. We had really gotten our moneys worth as we were at Biltmore until after five. I am most glad I don’t have to take another bus anywhere.


“This is a Good Day to Be Alive”

It’s a really good day when Carter says this to me when we are alone. It has been a really good day. We sadly left Russ standing in the driveway with Shay Shay in his arms as we drove off to Asheville this morning. Although the weather was poor the road was not crowded and we made great time.

We stopped in Black Mountain to have lunch at a bar called The TrailHead. Our server was a nice as a person can be and since the only person we know from Black Mountain is our minister Chris we figured that Black Mountain grew good people.

As we made our short leg from lunch into Asheville and turned off the highway onto city streets we commented on how empty the streets were. It is Sunday, (I finally figured out what day it is) so we thought that might be coming to the ghost town. We drove no further than seven blocks and suddenly we were surrounded by hoards of people walking the sidewalks of downtown Asheville. Obviously we are not the only ones who thought a little post Christmas trip would be fun.

We drove past our hotel and made a little loop exploring the area. We stopped at a cool glass blowing gallery where a guy was demonstrating. It was very interesting and beautiful, but I did not see the need for a $500 vase or the $2,000 standing lamp that Carter liked.

Checking into the hotel that Russ had given us with his hotel points the clerk thanked Russ for being a good customer. Carter said, “We thank Russ too.” Since he is such a good customer they had upgraded us to the best suite on the top floor. Nothing makes Carter happier than a gorgeous hotel suite with a giant ass bathroom, soaking tub and bath salts.

We walked around a little and then went to the bar in the hotel and played backgammon and Mancala. It was nice of Carter to volunteer to play games with me.

Our big event today was dinner at Cùrate, the famous tapas restaurant. It did not disappoint. My favorite thing was the ham croquettes. Something I am never going to try and make at home. Carter had some funky spanish Cider, which she loved. Who knew they made cider in Spain?

Now we are snuggled in our big bed about to watch a movie. We had so much fun telling stories today. I can’t wait to see what stories we will create tomorrow.


What Day is It?

There is something about these days between Christmas and New Years which are so unproductive. With Christmas coming on a Wednesday this year I have lost all count as to what day of the week today is. Seems I am not alone in this loss of calendar. Carter asked me what day it is too. Not that it matters. One day during the Christmas holiday is just like the rest after Christmas.

The only thing that matters to me and Carter is what the date is. On December 29 we are going to Asheville for a little mother daughter trip to see the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Biltmore House.

Given that little trip I got a little worried that today might be the 29th and we were missing our trip. Thankfully my phone told me that today is December 28. Well that bit of news precipitated the need to do laundry, fill up my car and throw away the trash.

I am thankful for something fun and memorable to do on these last days of 2019. It means I am not wasting time waiting to take the Christmas decorations down and welcoming the season of darkness. I am praying that 2020 is a much better year than 2019. I hope you know what day of the week it is.


Run See Little Women

If Little Women director Greta Gerwig does not get an Academy Award nomination it’s will be a crime. Carter and I went downtown to see the movie at the Carolina Theatre. It was sold out at Silver Spot so we thought it would be packed at the number one screen at the Carolina. We got there 20 minutes early and we were he first people in the big room.

Eventually about fifty women joined us. All women, mostly older than me. This is a movie that should be seen by everyone, not just women.

Gerwig, who also wrote the screen play from the favorite Louisa May Alcott book, did an amazing job changing up the way she told the very familiar story. She played with the timing, jumping back and forth over a seven year time period.

The casting was inspired. I loved each member of the March family and the men that loved them. Although I enjoyed previous movie adaptions, I always felt like one or more of the sisters were move lovable than the others. Not in this version. The costumes also contributed to the beautiful film.

If you have time to go to the movies, go see Little Women it will make you feel great and given all we have endured in the real world the least the movies can do is help you escape for a few hours. See it at the Carolina if you are local. The seats are more comfortable and you can get wine if you want it. But bring tissues, you will need them with or without wine.


Puzzle Guilt

Christmas has come and gone. The big show is over. We are not day after Christmas shoppers, hell we are not shoppers at all. Unfortunately Russ and Carter still had to go to the mall for an Apple genius appointment as Carter’s computer has not been fixed in four visits in less than a month. Poor things.

I got to spend the day not cooking, not wrapping, not decorating, but yes to puzzling. Russ got me a puzzle of the month present. I got to chose the size in terms of the number of pieces. He also got me a starter puzzle of London busses. It is only 500 pieces.

Since it is a day of no commitments, and the only thing I really needed to do was run the robot vacuum I decided to start my new puzzle around 1:00 this afternoon. After sorting all the pieces into edges, red ones, green ones, sky ones and brown/yellow/grey ones I got to work. It took me less than three hours to finish it.

I decided then that as my puzzle of the month I am going with the 2,000 piece count other wise it will be too easy. It’s not like I need new puzzles. I have plenty of old ones that I can redo. Really I should do something more productive anyway, but this obsession as no calories. It also does not burn any calories.

So I think I am going to have to set time limits on how much I can work on a puzzle. Since it only took three hours to do 500 pieces I think I can finish one 2,000 piece puzzle a month and not feel too guilty. There will be plenty of of things to feel guilty about I am sure.


Breaking the Bad Christmas Streak at Last

After a few really bad Christmases, one when I was too sick to get out of bed, one where Russ, Carter and I were alone while my family went to Florida and last year with my Dad being rushed to the hospital on Christmas Morning it was a new low Christmas point. After such terrible Christmas days my expectations have been low. My sisters and I agreed not to do any presents this year because it just adds stress to the season.

So I was expecting a low key day today. Russ, Carter and I got up and opened our presents and had a little breakfast. My parents and my sister Janet showed up at our house right on time at 11:00 this morning. I was in the kitchen cooking the Christmas meal. People sat around the kitchen talking to me or visiting in the living room.

I prepped the tenderloin for the grill, assembled the cherry tomato salad, and made the cheese soufflé. Carter cooked the peas and assembled the fruit and lemon tarts on the tart crusts she baked yesterday. Everyone got along. Everyone was healthy. It was the most pleasant Christmas we have had in years.

All the food finished cooking at the same time and lunch was down right perfect. Between the main course and dessert we had a few presents, mostly envelopes from my Dad who did not get the no gifts memo. He said he was never told and wouldn’t have obeyed that rule even if he did hear it.

After the presents and the tarts Russ took a Carter family photo. My parents had stayed for close to five hours, a Christmas record! They went back to the farm and Janet stayed another hour until she went to the airport to go to Mexico with Sophie.

Now Russ, Carter and I are watching a Christmas movie. It has been a wonderful Christmas breaking our bad Christmas streak. I hope that you and yours have had a wonderful day too. Merry Christmas.