Parting People From Their Money

See those poor unsuspecting people eating behind me. Most of them had no idea what I was going to do to them once they finished their lunch. Thankfully they didn’t object once I started doing it, probably because they are Methodists and they are a nice bunch of people.

Today was the UNC Wesley Campus Ministry fundraiser. They invited me back to be their auctioneer. I had done this job for them two years ago, but last year was on vacation with Carter and was unavailable.

The first year they were not as used to this brazen Presbyterian telling them they were here to raise money and so not to be shy about giving it. It was a little shocking to them. So when they asked me back I took it as a good sign.

As charity auctions go this is the most polite group of people I have ever auctioned for in the last 20 years. They sit quietly and pay attention. So I have to push them to have a little fun while the bidding is going on. Since most of them know each other I give them permission to bid against their friends. It is for a good cause.

Once they got loosened up they got good at the giving and during the “Fund-a-Ministry” section when I just ask people to give money because it feels good they raised their paddles willingly. I was very happy about the number of $1,000 donors this year. The first year I did this with them they were a little bowled over about being asked for $1,000.

The UNC students I met today could not have been nicer. So thank to Wesley for having me back. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new friends today and parting them from their money for a cause they clearly love.

Avoidance Continuance

As I have not become an infectious disease Dr. since yesterday, nor a stock market expert I needed to continue my avoidance of news as this week is one I don’t want to affect my overall well being. My work on the quilt and the puzzle only gave me so much relief so I added the ultimate picker-upper and went out to lunch with my friend Sara.

Sara’s husband Dave and I work on many committees together and I had commented to him often that as much as I enjoy his company I really would like to spend time with his wife. So at church on Sunday we made a lunch date and thank God it was for today.

We went to our old stand by Thai Cafe. You can count on getting exactly what you thought you were ordering as nothing about Thai Cafe has changed in eighteen years. After we had enjoyed our lunch with a nice long gab afterward I looked up towards the front window and thought I saw my old a friend Dottie coming to the table next to us. Since the sun was behind her I could only make out her shape and as she got closer she came into detail I saw it was her.

Dottie moved to New Bern years ago and so I see her much less than I used to. She introduced us to her fiancé Robbie, who I had heard lots about, but never met before. Then our friend Lynn came to join them for lunch and then Stephanie.

Sara and I continued to occupy our lunch table and visit with our friends stretching our lunch out over many hours.

Spending time with friends did not change what was going on in the world, but it did make passing the hours much happier. There is not much I can do about big pandemics or stock market melt downs, but I can enjoy the little pleasures of people I love and keep in perspective that we are all personally fine.

In the good news front, Shay is getting better. Her hot spot is smaller and she is more herself. My hope for you is that you too can ride out the week without having it affect your psyche.

Avoidance Therapy

Between CoronaVirus and the Stock Market I needed to do everything possible to avoid the stress inducing news. I was home today nursing Shay who is still uncomfortable with her hot spot so I decided I needed to add color to my day and keep busy.

I spent the morning working on the quilt my mother requested I make for her. I have been doing it for over a month so far and I barley have a third of it done. It is very complicated, but that makes it so much fun.

There is no pattern, but a random gathering of sandpipers. It is a lot like coloring with fabric, which makes my inner child so happy.

After my daily walk I needed to do something beside sewing so I started my new 2,000 piece puzzle. I sorted the pieces into color groups while finding the edge pieces. I think I can officially say that working on a puzzle is as close to putting my head in the sand as I can come.

I hope that things in the world turn around because there is only so much avoidance I can handle.

Democrats Need Past Presidents to Negotiate a Slate

Go to NYTimes to read Thomas Friedman’s OP-ED today

Thomas Friedman wrote a fabulous Op-Ed in the New York Times this morning called, “Dems, You Can Defeat Trump in a Landslide.” It laid out the strategy that all the Democratic candidates agree to be in the cabinet and work together as a team of rivals. It is a brilliant idea to shut Trump down by saying, “We are smarter working together.”

I want to take this idea one step further to actually get it done, sooner rather than later. I would like Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter, the only living past Democratic presidents to convene a meeting of all the candidates, including some who have already dropped out. Lock everyone in a room and hash out who would be best for which job and present themselves as a slate right now. Not after the primaries.

Instead use this election time to work out real plans about how to fix all the things Trump has dismantled as well as the hard stuff Trump just runs away from like health care and climate change. Then the “cabinet” would campaign in unison to beat Trump.

Democrats talk about being a big tent and this would be the best way to keep everyone in the tent and not alienate one or more factions of the party. But this takes leadership and the only way I think it could happen is if the past Presidents step in to negotiate the whole thing.

If four or more candidates would agree to this plan all the rest would have to come along. It would take ego out running for President and we all know what ego has gotten us. It would also stop the Democrats fighting in debates which is not really helping anyone.

Being a good debater is not a very important skill in being a good President, except for getting elected. I would rather have the best managers running the country. Who knows Barack, Bill and Jimmy and could get them on this right away? Can someone call them? We really can’t wait any longer, especially now that Trump just punted fighting the CoronaVirus off to Pence. Talk about not qualified.

Fat Tuesday for Good

It’s a busy day in Durham. How do I know? It took forever to get downtown for Russ and I to get to a Planned Parenthood event at the Rick House. The Donna Summer musical is at DPAC and we had to drive through those people trying to park. Just as we got past DPAC we ran into a huge parade of twinkling light wearing people marching from the Bull towards Central. Turns out it was a Mardi Gras Parade. Since we were going in the same vernal direction we turned away from the parade and made a detour. At last we reached the Rick House, but all the businesses around it were also full of party goers.

Our friend Michelle Berrey is on the board of the South Atlantic Planned Parenthood and invited us to join her and her husband Richard at this fun event. Chefs from all around the area donated their time and food to support women’s health services.

Planned Parenthood provides important services that need protecting while men in Washington have done everything to defund Planned Parenthood. What these men tend to forget is they all were born to women who needed prenatal care.

Given all the fun options in Durham tonight I was happy that we pushed through the crowds to support Planned Parenthood.

No Cone Sleeping

First I must confess that we are the kind of people who let out dog sleep on our bed. She is small, doesn’t shed and is a lovey. I know the world is divided up between those who make the dog sleep in the mud room and those who let her sleep on the bed and we are the bad kind of puppy parents.

Usually this is not an issue. She snuggles with her chosen human and even moves beds when one person leaves one bed to go sleep in another. Well, as long as that human leaves before five AM. After five she stays put in her original bed.

Yesterday Shay developed a bad hot spot on her left flank. These things always start on weekend when her vet is closed. It was a bad one, so we bought her a flexible cone to keep her from licking at her hot spot. The cone was fine while Shay was up and about, but come bed time she was a mess.

Russ migrated beds early leaving Shay with me. The only problem is Shay could not get comfortable and she moved around the whole bed from ten until one in the morning. When I couldn’t take it anymore I took the cone off and she left and went to sleep with Russ. After all the trouble I endured you would have thought she might stay with me.

Thankfully this morning the vet saw her. We put the cone back on for the daytime, but the vet said she did not have to sleep in it. Good thing since she could not sleep in it. Besides the regular antibiotics and anti-itch meds we also got a mild sedative so she can sleep tonight. I should have asked for one for myself. After last night I need a good solid night’s sleep tonight.

First Cone of Shame

It never fails that Shay gets a hot spot on a Sunday when the vet is closed. She had been acting strangely yesterday, but we didn’t notice where she was licking the hair off a place on her backside until it was raw. I sent Russ to buy her a cone of shame after Church today.

Shay has never had to wear a cone before so she didn’t find us putting it on her, but once it was on she looked at us as if we betrayed her. I tried to tell her is was a softer cone with windows for peripheral vision than most, but she wasn’t having any of it.

Shay kept running into walls as she tried her best to navigate the house. Between the hot spot and the cone getting comfortable was not easy for her. The only good thing is she had no trouble eating her food as the cone fit over her whole bowl.

Morning can’t come fast enough for me to call the vet and get Shay seen. Being a puppy Mom is normally joyful, but sometimes it is hard when you can’t explain why you appear to be torturing her.

Don’t Be Lonely

I’ve been reading a lot about how lonely people are these days. There was a sad news story about a man who died alone in his house and no one knew for weeks because he had no close friends or relatives and no one checked on him. This loss of belonging to any sort of community is not just an American thing, but it certainly will continue to add to the down fall of America.

Some people blame social media for making us less actually connected. Yes, it is easy to not have to talk with real people if you can just read about them, but that cannot be the only cause of the increase in loneliness.

I feel like we live in a delivery world. If you want something, someone just brings it to you. People don’t have to go to a restaurant to eat or the movies to see a film and they just get lazy and stay home. Being lonely is something that happens to you when you don’t work at being friends and making new friends gets much harder the older you get. Also, as you age your friends don’t always live as long as you do and there is not much you can do about that, except get younger friends.

There are lots of places you can go to combat loneliness, like the senior center, if you are old enough, the YMCA, clubs, the library, you can volunteer at non-profits, or you can join a church. Church membership is way down. I first blame the evangelical movement for pushing out people who are not right wing or sheep-like followers. Some churches attract people of narrow vision and are not welcoming to people with varying opinions. This has hurt church membership as a whole.

I feel very lucky (notice I did not say blessed, a term I feel has been co-opted by the right) that we have a church made of many different kinds of people with a spectrum of beliefs. No one at our church tells you what to believe. The one thing I particularly enjoy about our church is that we are a community. I know more people, of all ages I would never have any other contact with if we did not go to church together. My church is one of the best antidotes to loneliness, not that this has been an issue for me yet, but I am getting older.

No one is going to create a community for you. You have to do it for yourself. Don’t wait until you are all alone. Make sure you join something and belong. No one should die and not have no one notice.

Don’t Preempt Regular TV

A touch of winter finally came to North Carolina after we have had spring for the last eight weeks. The snow paranoids came out if full strength even though the temperature was 39 when the snow started falling at 4:30. The ground was so warm that despite snowing for the last three hours nothing is sticking to the roads. This constitutes a rain event to me.

Yes, the grass is white, but no shoveling is needed since every hard surface is just wet. Given this situation it is fine for everyone to stay home and eat all the bread, eggs and milk they went to the store to buy. They will be fine since they have at least a dozen rolls of toilet paper that they picked up with the bread.

I went out at five to get my nails done. Driving was not an issue going or coming home. While I was out I thought I should pick up some lemons for the soup I made earlier in the day. Thank goodness for the express lanes. There was only one man in front of me because we were the only people not stocking up for the “snow storm” and I use that term loosely. He was buying emergency olives. I guess he already had vodka for martinis. Some people don’t think French toast when the weather man says we are getting snow.

Russ and I met up at home and enjoyed the soup I made for dinner, except for one thing that really makes me crazy here. The local TV station preempted the National News and Jeopardy to run local snow coverage. What the F$&#! It’s not even sticking. Show us what is going on in the real world.

It’s not a weather emergency. No hurricane is coming in. There are no tornadoes. It is at most two inches of snow and that is only on the grass. Please God, shake some sense into the local TV stations.

Just to prove how unimportant this is as a weather issue they just spent two minutes showing people how to make snow cream.


Today was a day that I did a lot of number crunching, writing and meeting about financial things for organizations and thus did nothing fun, nor productive for myself or my family. I am not begrudging my work on behalf of others, just feeling guilty for what I consider to be a lack of productivity. It’s that Protestant work ethic thing, which is misnamed because I think most religious communities encourage hard work on behalf of others.

Anyway, by the time I got home around seven from my last meeting I was tired and went up to my bedroom to change into soft clothes. My house was perfectly clean, everything in sight was in its rightful place, I had nothing to feel too guilty about for not doing any house work today.

That fantastical thought was totally dispelled when I opened my closet to hang up my clothes. There strewn across the floor of my little closet were all the shoes I wear regularly in a jumble. I looked up on the wall of the closet and there in perfect order are my perfectly organized never worn shoes.

This is insane I thought. I have racked shoes that I have not even tried on to consider wearing taking up the prime real estate in my high rent area of my closet and the tried and true always go to shoes I wear weekly are thrown in a pile, mixed up together. Tomorrow first thing I am going to make a change.

I am removing all the never worn shoes and am going to do something with them, give them away, sell them, donate them, anything but allow them to live in a beloved state they don’t deserve. Then I am going to take my comfy, go-to pairs and elevate them to a place of honor on the rack.

I think this is a common occurrence for me. I need to consider what I cherish and discard what is realy unimportant. I need to value things for not what they cost, but for the joy they bring. I may not have actually been productive today, but I did achieve clarity and there is something to that.

Recovered for My Friends David and John

There are some days you just have to be well for and today was one of them. Four or five months ago my friend of 35 years, JohnMcLarty called and asked if he and my friend David, friend of just 32 years, could come and visit and go to see an Opera Recital on this day. Of course I said yes. John and David had told us about this tenor Lawrence Brownlee whom they follow all over the world, so we got tickets.

When I got sick in Boston my first thought was of this long planned visit from John and David and would I be well enough for it. Thankfully they were not staying with me since John works for Hilton and they love hotels. The plan was for me to pick them up today at 2 and come back to my house, then to dinner with Russ and the concert in Raliegh.

I was not 100 percent this morning so I laid low, ate a little apple sauce and saw how I was doing. I was beginning to feel better, but did not want to push myself and relapse. I had a little chicken broth and I thought, I’m good.

John and David are like brothers to me. They came and played with Shay and we talked and I knew I was fine, but I still kept my distance from them for their own sake. We had dinner at the irregardless cafe and Russ made it on time to join us. There was a lovely girl singing there tonight and that was a good warm up for us. I ate some real food and all was good.

We went off to the Fletcher to hear Lawrence. It was a heavy show of German in the first half and the English half was called Cycles of my Being, a very atonal and dark group of works. He is a fabulous tenor, but it was not an uplifting performance. Lawrence did two happy encores which lifted the spirits in the audience.

I dropped John and David off at their airport hotel as they have an early flight and all too quickly our little visit was over. With it being such a short one I am so happy that I recovered just in the nick of time for it. Now they just have to come back for a longer visit with some happier music.

Lost Day

It’s been a terrible 30 hours, but thanks to Carter for taking care of me. Yesterday we had a fun morning going to brunch and then the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. Carter had been skeptical that it was worth our time since the Museum of Fine Arts is right across the way and is a fabulous museum, but we did end up loving the Gardener. It was very crowded, but as we waited in lines to get into different rooms I was able to tell Carter about the big art heist from the museum in 1990.

13 works of art were stollen in the middle of the night by two men posing as police. The value of the works stollen is over $500 million dollars. The museum keeps the empty frames up to show where they will go if they are ever recovered. Mrs. Gardener left the museum in her will with the stipulation that everything in it remains exactly where she left it so I don’t think the museum could put other paintings in the place of the stolen ones anyway.

There were two things I loved about the museum, the court yard with beautiful orchids and the birds, both sculptural and live. Gardener had to be quite a pistol. One quote she is famous for is, “Don’t spoil a good story with the truth.” If your name is Isabella you get in the museum for free.

After our time at the museum we went back to Carter’s and it was then that I started to feel bad. I took a little nap and then sadly told her I couldn’t go to dinner with her best friend Olivia. So Carter went without me. I continued to decline feeling like I could die, but it was not until midnight that I was the most violently ill I have ever been. Not wanting Carter to have to deal with it I cleaned up after myself. Thankfully I was able to go back to sleep.

This morning Russ got me an earlier flight and I somehow made it home. It is all a little fuzzy, as I slept on the plane and came home and went right back to sleep and just now woke up feeling much improved.

It was a terrible way to end my shortened visit to Carter in Boston. She was sweet to take care of me, but next time I guess a I should stay in a hotel just in case.

Sick in Boston

Hi Everyone! This is Carter, Dana’s daughter who she is visiting. Somehow my mom began feeling really ill this afternoon, so I am writing this blog. She missed a lovely seafood dinner with my friends. While we missed her, I really do hope she feels better. I was sick last weekend and it was horrible. Luckily she is not alone.

So if you nice people could send her some notes and thoughts of getting better it would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully she is better by tomorrow as she has to fly back to NC.

I’m sure she will update you all soon, once she is better.

Fun and Cold Boston Day

Carter asked me if we could sleep late this morning and I promised her I wouldn’t wake her up as I usually awake so early and then I slept as long as she did. This is quite a miracle I am sure was caused by the almost nine miles I walked yesterday.

We had a full calendar today, but at ten degrees outside we put off leaving the apartment as long as possible. First stop this morning was the Boston Public Market to buy fruits, veg and seafood. With two pound of asparagus for a dollar And a pint or raspberries for ninety-nine cents I was very jealous of Carter’s shopping opportunities.

We returned home to leave the food and went right back out to the Boston Public Library to go for tea. Tea for lunch is our family favorite and the Library is an extraordinary place to visit.

Our tea was lovely. After a month and a half of not having sugar I skipped eating the desserts, but did love the scones. During lunch Carter described a BBC mini series about life in Victorian England. Her description was so enticing we decided to that we would watch it when we got home.

After the tea we visited the map room exhibit. We could have spent all day in that room, but decided we needed to do a little shopping on our way home. So we stoped at the Pru and made a few purchases and walked home to watch “24 Hours in the past”.

The break was a welcome respite but before long it was time for us to head off to Cambridge to a wonderful restaurant Carter picked called Harvest. It was a very full, cold, fun day. I think I will sleep well again tonight. I can’t wait until tomorrow’s adventures that Carter has planned.

Boston Valentines

Happy Valentines Day. I am having an unconventional valentines as I am in Boston visiting Carter. Russ was here earlier in the week and took Carter out to dinner Wednesday night and now she has me for three nights. Russ is back to Durham so we just passed each other.

When Carter came back in January she invited me to come for President’s Weekend and valentines happens to kick the weekend off. Missing Russ, but so excited to be with Carter.

I flew up in time today to go visit Carter at her office at Bain Capital and have lunch in her fancy dining room. I met two of a Carter’s bosses and I was thrilled with what they had to say about her. Everyone couldn’t have been nicer.

Carter introduced me to Hakim from Algeria who checked us in for lunch. He was so sweet and told Carter to take good care of me because mother’s are important and he wishes he could have his mother come visit him at work.

The view from our table at lunch at Bain

After we had finished eating a group of other Co-op coworkers came and sat with us to have their lunch. They are Carter’s squad at work and it was interesting to hear about the kind of work they are doing at Bain.

I am proud that Carter has made friends with all kinds of people at work, not just the bosses, but the support people as well.

While Carter stayed and finished her work day I walked to her apartment and ran errands for her. She had four packages, which needed to be returned. Two to the UPS store, one to a store in the Prudential center and one to Fed-ex. Did I say it was twenty degrees here? So I walked 16,600 steps today, all outdoors. I better have burned off a lot of calories doing these errands.

We walked to our favorite HoJoKo for dinner and now I am snuggled into the sofa bed we got for Carter’s apartment in a September and are watching a movie. At last I am getting a chance to enjoy all the furniture I put together. It will be a fun weekend of pampering Carter.

Congratulations to Shelayne

I finally got to celebrate my friend Shelayne’s birthday today with a little lunch. She was in Australia visiting her latest and fourth grandchild over her real birthday. At last she has a granddaughter, but she’s not keeping count. I am certain she will be having more grandchildren before she is done and boys or girls make no difference to her.

I am most happy to say congratulations to her as she was recently elected to the board of the Food Bank. She has been a fabulous supporter and did good work as a volunteer on the development committee. It didn’t take long for the powers that be at the Food Bank to recognize her expert board skills as she has served so many great organizations over the years.

Shelayne never stops giving to the community and I am especially thankful for all she does for educational causes and social services ensuring the next generation is better off than the previous.

So Hooray for Shelayne, a new granddaughter and more good works. You are an inspiration and the best looking grandmother around.

A Good Grandmother Moment

My mother is a very accomplished artist. She has been painting since I was a child and her body of work is extensive. I can imagine she has done well over 20,000 works in her life time. She sells everything she can, but because she paints so much there is always more.

My house is full of her art, most of which I have had to purchase from her, but I am happy to do so since it is her work. So many of my friends have her work and I forget about them until I turn the corner in someone’s house and encounter one of her paintings.

Her style changes often, which is wonderful for her so she doesn’t get bored painting the same way, but it does mean that if there is a painting I love I better buy it fast because you never know how long one style period is going to last.

Carter is all about original art in her apartment. No tapestries, or posters for her. Recently my mother posted an oil painting of “Harrods’ Sale” on her Facebook page. Carter was immediately drawn to it. She commented to my mother that it was her favorite. Carter asked me if I thought her grandmother would give her a discount. I told her the standard family discount, 10%.

Carter was not sure she could afford the painting, but then it became a moot point because someone else bought it. Carter was dismayed, knowing that she missed her chance.

Carter got the best surprise two days ago. The first buyer returned the painting because it did not fit in the room she wanted it for. In a very generous grandmother moment my mother texted Carter and told her that she could buy the painting at a 96% discount. Woo Hoo for Carter.

I texted my mother that she had made Carter so happy. Not mentioning the greatly reduced price. My mother texted back, “I am like Maggie Thatcher in that I think everyone should pay something.”

Next time I want a painting I am going to ask Carter to see if she can buy at the Carter price rather than my price. Oh, it’s nice to be the only grandchild.

Not Much Gardening, But Best Garden Club Program

Today my Garden Club had our monthly meeting. The program was provided by our own club member, Pam Harris. She gave us a fabulous talk about her six year circumnavigation of the globe on a sail boat with just her husband and her cat.

I have known for a long time about Pam and Joe’s six year trip sailing around the world, but I never really thought about what committing to such a trip really meant. Before her talk it seemed like a difficult thing to do, but now, after hearing the details first hand, I know it was an extraordinary effort.

Pam described two storms they sailed through. One where the boat surfed on swells they estimated were at least 30 feet through the night. And by surfing I mean the boat goes up the thirty foot swell and then crashes down the other side. The second storm where their sixty foot boat was struck by lightening during a thousand mile passage between New Zealand and Figi, taking out all their electronics, including the auto pilot, radar, navigation equipment and communications equipment except a ham radio. They had to sail for three days through the squall taking two hour shifts each holding the wheel and keeping the boat on track using just their compass, while the rain pounded on them.

I wanted to cry just listening to it. I could not imagine what that feels like out in the middle of the ocean with no one to help.

Of course Pam shared some of the stories of the interesting people they met when they were on land. She showed us beautiful photos of their smiling faces. We did see some gorgeous island flora and fauna which qualified her talk as a garden club program.

I asked her what she brought with her that she discovered was a waste of space. “Hair spray” was her answer. After listening to the storm sailing stories we got a big laugh out of the thought of hairspray.

I walked away very impressed that she made this trip with just her husband and cat, but I knew that I have no desire to ever do that. I am so glad Russ did not hear her talk because he probably would feel the opposite of me and would want to start sailing now. Thank goodness we can’t afford it.

Dinner with Jeanne

My darling friend Jeanne is in the process of moving back to Durham. This makes me so happy. When she and her husband a David moved to DC a few years ago I was secretly hoping they would hate it and come back.

They didn’t hate it, which is good, but they still didn’t love it as much as Durham. So they bought a place here and are coming back permanently at the beginning of April and I couldn’t be happier.

Since they have already closed on their place here, Jeanne has been back a few times to have work done on it. We usually go out for dinner while she is here, but this week I thought it would be so much nicer to eat dinner at our house. I made lemon chicken, smashed new potatoes and green beans which was the simplest dinner, but much healthier than going out.

Russ took Shay for a walk before Jeanne got here and when Shay came home she ran to the sofa to greet Jeanne with enthusiasm that she hardly ever has for me. I guess Shay is happy Jeanne and David are moving back too.

One of the things she wants to do when she moves back is finally learn to play Mah Jongg so I will be having a beginner class starting in April. Let me know if you want to learn.

The Oscars

Tonight is the super bowl for non sports lovers. You could be an actual movie lover and tonight is your night. You could be a fashion lover and tonight’s your night. You could be a celebrity watcher and tonight’s your night. Or you could be a betting fanatic and tonight’s a big night for you.

I have always loved the Academy Awards since I was a little girl. I have loved movies and movie starts and competition. But I have so many questions about the Academy Awards which I wish they would answer at the show.

First, I know that the “Academy” votes for winners, but who picks the nominees? I think you are in the “Academy” if you won an Oscar, but are you in it if you just got nominated? Are there other people in it? How did they get in? Are you in for life, or is there a time limit?

I would like some input for the order of the awards. They get you right up front by doing something big like supporting actress and actor, but then we have to sit through a lot of insider awards like Make up or cinematography before we learn who the winners are for the categories most of us care about. So many years I have fallen asleep before the best Picture is handed out. Not that it matters by that point.

I think the nominees should have to audition their acceptance speeches and the one with the most entertaining speech can win. That would make the show so much better.

I do enjoy the red carpet, but I am interested in some of the behind the scenes things like, how many handlers does each Star have? How long did they have to wait in the limo line to get to the red carpet? It would be interesting to know how many hairdressers are imported into Hollywood for the academy awards. There should be an awards show for getting the stars ready for the show. Maybe they could do a TV show following all the best actress nominees the weeks before the show and show us what they go through to get ready for tonight.

I know I am not going to learn any of these things tonight. I just hope for some interesting speeches and maybe a surprise or two in the winners.

The Travel App I Wish Existed

Today I have spent almost all day trying to plan a little trip for Russ and myself. Russ has not taken a vacation in so long. He just lets me go on vacation and that has got to stop. Given that he can hardly stop working I am not looking for a long vacation, just four days. When something is that short you want to spend as little time traveling and maximize your time being there.

Since I am flexible I am looking at late spring so I won’t be fighting spring breakers or summer vacationers. So far availability has not been an issue. The worst part of looking is trying to figure out if we can get short flights to a place and not such a long trip from the airport to the property, but not so close that we hear airplanes.

This is a life’s work. Just as soon as I find a cool location, like a jungle resort in Belize, by the time I figure out the transport I have spent 45 minutes researching and then discard it as an option because the travel is too horrible.

The App I would like is to be able to put in my home address and then tell the app, starting from here find me vacations including all the transport. The App could tell me how long the drive is to the airport, the flights, the transport to the property as well as describe the location and Activities and how far they are.

Trip advisor could add this feature. It is possible, but I know it would take a lot of work because it take me so long to do it myself.

My big time traveling sister spent a big part of today sending me suggestions. Seven email with hundreds of links later I still am not sure of where we might go. When the world is your oyster it is hard to narrow things down.

I am open to all suggestions, especially from locals here who might know if the trip part of the suggestion is easy. I guess I should have thought of this project months ago based on how long the planning is going to take me.

Helpless Mother

I don’t know which is worse- being a well mother far away from your sick child, or being a sick child all alone away from your mother. Carter got sick in the middle of her work day. She called me from her office and I told her she needed to go home.

For the rest of the day I have had an hourly call from her and it is killing me as a Mother that I am not there. Not that I can do anything more than I am telling her to do on the phone, but just to be her mommy.

Once when I as in my early twenties and lived alone in DC, I got a stomach virus that was so bad that I was delirious. I went to bed and woke up two days later and had no idea where the time had gone. It was very disconcerting to lose days like that.

Back then we didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t text or even have email. I was too sick to dial a phone and if mine even rang I probably was to sick to hear it.

Carter lives alone, but she did make sure to check with me that I had her best friend’s cell phone in case Carter didn’t respond to my calls. I don’t think she has anything like what I had, probably the stomach bug, but I am still sorry I am not there. Once a mother always a mother.

Two Weeknight Parties in a Row

This can not become a habit, but I had another party tonight. I am too old to go to a party two weeknights in a row. Actually, I didn’t go to a party tonight, I hosted a dinner meeting of a ladies club I’m in for 50 people at my house. I’m not exactly sure if 50 showed up, but that was what I was told to prepare for. Technically I didn’t go to a party but stayed at a party my house, which is five times as hard as going to a party.

My darling friend Stephanie was the outgoing President of this club and asked me long ago we could have the meeting at my house. I would never say no to Stephanie because she has done so many wonderful things for me over the years. Turns out to have been a good day with Russ in Chicago.

I didn’t have to cook as Chef Paris Catered. I just had to heat stuff up and dress salad and set it out. I am thankful for my true reliable friends Sara and Lynn who jumped in to wash dishes. Everything was cleaned up and put away by 9:00 so it was not so hard on me.

Tomorrow night Russ will be home and he probably will not want to go out so I can finally have a regular night. I can’t keep up all this weeknight partying.

Sneaky Mah Jongg Birthday

My beautiful friend Anna is the most gracious hostess of all times. A few days ago she sent an email out inviting a few friends to come play Mah Jongg at her house tonight. “I’m just going to order in some dinner.”

Sounded casual and fun and I don’t need any excuse to play Mah Jongg, even though I also was playing in the morning too. What could be better than a two Mah Jongg day?

A follow up email said, “come at five we will play a little then break for dinner and play some more. If you want wine bring some.”

Sounds like just a game and a little dinner. Well, that is never the way things are with Anna. After we started playing it was revealed that is was our friend Carol’s birthday in two days. I knew this, but did not put together that this Mah Jongg might be a birthday celebration.

Then after some play and Chinese food, (which is of course the only kind of take out you wold eat at Anna’s) she announced we were celebrating Carol’s birthday and she had a beautiful cake from the best bakery, Meil BonBon. I had to pass on the cake, but was told it was divine.

Then in perfect Anna fashion she had party favors for us all of cook books from her friend and fabulous chef, Ann Willan.

It was just like Anna to sneak a birthday party into a Mah Jongg game like it was no big deal and it was the perfect way to celebrate Carol. So happy Birthday Carol. You are eternally young. And thanks to Anna for getting us all together and giving us such a fun night. It didn’t hurt that I had good tiles too.

Please Recycle That

After Carter turned eighteen and before she left for college she got herself a lawyer. No, she wasn’t in any trouble, but we wanted her to get a medical power of attorney and some other important paperwork that adults need. If your child is over eighteen they are legally an adult, and even if they are on your health insurance no doctor can talk to parents about your adult child’s medical situation without the child’s permission.

This is all well and good if the kid has the flu and is conscious so they can give permission, but if they are not, you need this paperwork to get any info about your child’s condition. Oh, HIPPA, the amount of billable hours you have given to lawyers.

So Carter went off to Raleigh and met with her lawyer and got all the grown up things done she needed to do. We paid.

This week a letter came to Carter from her lawyer. Russ sent her a photo of the envelope and asked her what she wanted us to do with it. She said,”open it.” It was a form letter from her lawyer informing Carter of a change in the law concerning retirement plan designations.

One of the things Carter must have done with her lawyer was her will. Just let that settle in for a minute.

Anyway, Carter’s response to the photo of the letter was, “Please recycle it.” Not, “throw it away” or “That is not important to me right now.” No, recycle. I can tell she is an adult now, with a will, because she is concerned about something bigger than her, the planet.

Things I Hate That I Can Control

There is so much in the world that I can’t control, coronavirus, the stock market, all politicians, so I may hate some of those things that is a waste of time. On the other hand there are plenty of things I can control which really aggravate me when they go wrong.

For example I really hate when I hang a freshly laundered wash cloth on the towel rack above the toilet and it falls off into the bowl. Then I doubly hate that I have to reach in and take it out. I hate when the maple syrup falls over in the refrigerator and the sticky liquid seeps into cracks in the fridge.

I hate when Shay comes in from outside and jumps on the clean white quilt on my bed and leaves her signature paw prints all over it. I hate when I go to Costco for my once a month trip and then come home and discover that I am out of tea bags or toilet paper or one of the staples I buy only at a Costco.

I hate when I am in the shower totally drenched and that is when I realize the shampoo bottle is empty. I hate when I forget to smell the milk before I pour it over my cereal and berries and only up after it comes out a little chunky do I realize I just ruined my breakfast.

On the other hand, I am happy to have plumbing and a Washer. At least when the syrup falls over in the fridge it just means that I will get a cleaned out fridge, which it probably needed anyway.

I consider Shay a very important member of the family and I wouldn’t trade her for anything so what’s a few dirty paw prints. I know I am lucky to be able to afford to buy things in bulk because I have enough money to do that.

It’s just not that hard to put a towel on and go get a new shampoo, because I may be out in the shower, but I always have back up. And if I ruin my one bowl of cereal It is never the last thing I have to eat in the house and I consider myself blessed that I don’t have to worry where my next meal is coming from.

Even if I can control things, I need to keep perspective when they go out of control.

It’s Big Eating Day In America

It Super Bowl Sunday. No news reporting here. But in all the hype leading up to the game my favorite stat I heard is that people’s favorite part about the Super bowl is not the game, it’s not the ads, nor the half time show, no, none of those things. American’s favorite thing about this day is the food. This might be what is wrong with America. We use a television show as an excuse to eat stuff we know we should not have.

Perhaps it’s that the game is a month after the January 1 resolutions. Maybe people can no longer live on kale and just want some nachos. Well who doesn’t want nachos.

Here at our house we did not succumb to the desire for wings, pizza, guacamole and chips. No, I did a major fake out on Russ. I served spicy chicken sausages and spicy roast butternut squash. Russ found this hot Korean sauce called gochujang chile paste. It was hot, hot, hot.

We felt like we we having hot wings.

I hope you are enjoying the game, the ads, the half time show and and not acting like the majority of Americans and are not over doing the food. Your resolution is still out there.

The Final Touches

The thing about redoing anything is that once you do one thing you are going to find five more to do around it. You know the saying about pulling that thread. That is what the kitchen redo has been.

It started with the cabinet and drawer handles and pulls. I hated my 1950’s curved handles. I looked for years for ones I liked better that didn’t cost $18 a piece since I needed forty handles and 12 pulls. Finally I found ones at Wayfair of all the places. I think all of them cost only about $150. Cha Ching.

Buying the handles was the start of the painting the cabinets project. Then tiling the back splash. The most recent thing to change is what to put on the round shelves that are under the counter by the stove.

I used to put oils and vinegars there because the shelves are tall and could handle my collection of exotic vinegars in odd shaped bottles. I didn’t like the look of them there, but since I hated my whole kitchen it didn’t much matter. In the reorganization I moved the vinegars and oils to the pantry.

I have been living with nothing on these shelves for eight months and I finally decided to put four matching glass canisters there. I like the cleaner look of having matching glass. I bought two gallon size jars because they fit the space nicely.

It was a no brainer to put flour in one and sugar in another, thus freeing up space in a cabinet where containers of these two items lived. Now the dilemma of what to put in the other two. I could go with powdered sugar, but since I am more or less off sugar right now I am not using much of it. I like the white theme and I could go with rice, since Russ eats so much of it and I usually buy the ten pound bag from Costco. Salt would fit nicely in my white theme, but who in the world needs two gallons of salt. I am really going to have to think about this.

My next issue is trying to find matching scoops to the two blue ones that match the tile. I think I bought those scoops at the Williamsburg pottery outlet in 1985. Why didn’t I buy four?

And the next thread that needs to be dealt with are my kitchen stools. They are green and really need to be painted a different color. Here I go again, another painting project. I better start studying You Tube to find the best advice about what paint won’t chip when we hang our feet on the rungs of the stool. So many threads to pull.