Zucchini Bread Pudding

And now a moment from summers past…figuring out what to do with all the zucchini coming in at once. I like zucchini. I like to grow zucchini. It’s easy and as an added bonus it appears to be the one thing the deer did not eat out of my garden. Due to stay at homing I planted som elf my garden early. I might have planted some of my zucchini too early. Then in a moment of panic I planted more a month later. The specimens planted last have had much more yield than the early plants. So the moral is don’t try and rush Mother Nature.

All that being said, I am now getting zucchini faster than I can keep up with. To top it off I don’t have an inch of space in my freezer so I need to cook it and eat it in real time. So tonight I made up a new recipe that was quite yummy, using a bit of leftover baguette and leftover caramelized onions. The dish was the perfect meal, no need for any meat.

2 zucchini about 6-8 inches. Quartered and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

Fresh thyme leaves- about 10 stems pulling the leaves off

10 inches of French bread cubes

3 eggs- beaten

1/3 cup of half and half

1/2 cup caramelized onion

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese

2 shakes of red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350°

In a non-Stick fry pan on medium high heat place the zucchini in a single layer and cook for five minutes Without stirring. Sprinkle black pepper over while cooking, but not salt. At the five minute mark stir, add the thyme and cook another five minutes or until the zucchini is browned. Turn the stove off and let zucchini cool.

While the zucchini is cooking mix together the eggs, half and half, red pepper flakes in a big bowl and add the bread. Stir around so that the bread can soak up the liquid. Add the onions and cheeses.

When the zucchini is cooled add it to the bread mixture and place in a greased shallow baking dish. You can do all this part in advance and just chill the unbaked dish if you want.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown if you do it right away add about ten Minutes to the cooking if you are cooking it cold from the fridge.

Enjoy this non-Covid moment as if were any previous summer.

Fire Patience

We wanted to have an outdoor fire tonight as a diversion. Carter volunteered to start the fire, but did not realize the wood was wet and did not have any kindling. So it took a while to get it going after recycling four paper grocery bags and still it was never a roaring fire.

I have obviously done a very bad job of teaching Carter good fire skills. Growing up my sisters and I were fire experts. We had three fire places, one big enough to stand in. As our house was so old and big and drafty we used the fireplaces for heat through much of the winter.

It helped that we had hundreds of acres of old growth forest who were constantly giving up their oldest inhabitants. My father and sister Janet were constantly cutting up the fallen trees and hauling them home with the tractor.

My job was to collect kindling whenever possible and we had our weekly town newspaper the Wilton Bulletin to start the whole fire off. Everyone in our house, including my mother could start a fire anytime.

Sadly these skills are not genetic, but a learned talent. So I have failed as a mother that Carter cannot start a fire without help. It only took two hours, but eventually we had a fire that was able to toast three marshmallows. So much for survival skills. Thank goodness the microwave was invented.

My Newest Obsession

During lock down I need all the non-caloric obsessions I can find. Games are at the top of the list. Sadly the people I am locked down with really don’t like playing games with me. I can tell when Carter has reached the peak of boredom when she offers to play a game with me.

I saw something on TV about a game that has become the most popular one sold and thought I should try it. It’s called “Ticket to Ride.” Like all successful games it has multiple versions. After reading the reviews I decided that the European version might be my best bet to get my family to play with me. Also, since it is built around creating train lines I thought I could lure Russ in as he loves trains.

When the amazon boxed arrived Carter opened it and started crying. Turns out she had played this game before and it made her cry. Oh Shit, so much for something we can do together I thought.

Well, by some miracle Carter and Russ decided to play with me. The game is not really about trains at all so Russ’ level of enthusiasm was as low as possible. I made the mistake of playing hard and by chance I won. I thought that would end the family play forever.

After retiring to bed I discovered an online version. Ah ha! Now I have played this game all day. To my surprise Russ and Carter offered to play the board version again tonight. I think I should hang back if I ever want them to play with me again. What do you think the chances are of that happening?

Lunch Out

Today Russ, Carter and I went out to lunch for the first time in three months. We have been safer at home, but we had something to do and so we had to eat out. We could have done a drive through and eaten in the car, which would have been an extension of staying at home. The idea of eating in the car was unappetizing to say the least. So we found a place that had a covered patio with tables spaced far apart.

We had to wait about ten minutes for one of the few tables, but the masked hostess had told us it would be 30 minutes so the wait seemed like nothing. Once we were seated a shy masked young man came to take our order. Without a mask he might have been audible, but with a mask his soft spokeness made him hard to understand.

We ordered with our masks on and when our drinks arrived we took them off. I felt very uncomfortable being in public without my mask. I put it back on before our food came. Carter and I both got Mahi tacos and I have to say they were delicious. Perhaps it was eating something I did not cook or the freshness of the fish and radishes that made me happy, but just for a minute.

As soon as I finished eating I used my hand sanitizer and put my mask back on. I went to take a sip of my tea and realized I couldn’t do it with my mask on so I skipped it.

Despite the good company and yummy food I didn’t have any euphoria about eating at a restaurant. Instead I was wary of the people around me, even though they were far from me and we were all outdoors.

My heart breaks for restaurant owners and workers. What used to be such a source of joy and fun is now just a scary place. As much as I would love to go to lunch with my friends I don’t think that I will until there is a vaccine. Thank goodness I can cook. I can’t imagine what a terrible year it would be to only eat at home with a bad cook.

Before our current situation Russ always said that food was better at our house than anyplace else he could go. Good thing because that seems like it is going to be where we will eat for the whole year.

Karma’s A Bitch

Two news stories about people not wearing masks made me so happy. Both stories involved people who were in places where wearing a mask indoors in public was required by law. The first one was about a non-mask wearing man in Texas at a Lowe’s. A cashier asked the customer if he had a mask. The law there requires all people to have them or the store could be fined a $1,000.

The man without a mask said no, he didn’t need to wear one. Then a mask wearing customer behind him attempted to give him a business card. The non-mask wearer hit the card out of the man’s hand. Turns out that man with the business card was a judge who upheld the law about mask wearing. The guy without the mask was then charged. Karma’s a bitch. You don’t know exactly who you are assaulting when you refuse to follow the law.

The second story was from California. A woman went into Starbucks and when the barista refused to serve her because she was not wearing a mask she took a photo of him before leaving the store. She then went on to post his photo, name and location of the Starbucks to say he wouldn’t serve her since she refused to wear a mask.

This kid is a hero! The author of this post deserves the blowback she got. And who calls the cops because they can’t get coffee?

Someone who saw her Facebook post started a go fund me page to tip the Starbucks Barista for protecting us all by following the law. So far $25,000 has been donated to him. Now the woman who wouldn’t wear the mask has been bullied by people and is getting death threats therefore she is demanding some of the go fund me money. F#$& that Bitch. So glad her attempted shaming blew back on her. Wear the damn mask.

People who don’t wear masks are putting us all at risk and keeping the virus spreading. This is not a freedom or rights issue, but a public health issue. It is not a red or blue issue. It is a human issue. Be human, follow the scientific based laws and rules. Don’t act like you know better (I am talking to you anti-Vaxers.) Call people out who are not wearing masks. They deserve to be ashamed. Maybe if they can’t go into any stores or get their coffee they will break down and wear masks.

Down The Rabbit Hole

There are some tasks that seem like they are going to be quick. They appear innocent until you get into them and suddenly you find yourself going down the rabbit hole. Pulling fibers from my stash for a needlepoint project is the perfect example of that.

I started this Christmas tree canvas two days ago. I had been putting it off due the the many colors, nine different greens and ten different brown and taupes, not to mention the other colors. As I already own most colors of the rainbow in needlepoint fibers I knew I just needed to go through my fiber boxes to pull the threads. My boxes are already organized by color so how hard could it be?

I thought I had pulled the needed colors until I got to stitching these taupe acorns. Are the bodies brown, green or yellow? Depended on the light. I realized I had not pulled the correct colors and went back to my fiber boxes to find exactly what I needed.

Despite my fibers being divided into color groups I realized that my skeins could use further grooming and organizing. So I took each group of 30-40 shades of each color and made sure the skeins were neat and even and sorted them from light to dark. This task is not as easy as it sounds. I had to divide the browns into three groups, True browns, reddish browns and greenish browns then from light to dark in each tone. Then blues into true blues and aqua blues. True pinks and coral pinks, and so on.

It took me two hours to organize everything and eventually settle on the three taupes I was missing for the Christmas tree. Only during “covidtine” is this an acceptable amount of time to spend doing something this unimportant. Of course now I am very happy with my organized fiber boxes. My only issue is I think I should have made a fiber index with a sample of each color and the name so I will know what I have. Oh Goody, a project for another day.

The Black Gloves Did Me In

The worst invention are black latex disposable Gloves. Maybe not the worst invention, but the worst choice to have to wear in the 90° sun on pavement. I was volunteering to pass out boxes of food at the Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel church with other members from my church. The job I signed up for was to direct traffic out of the parking lot, but my job got switched to directing traffic on the Intake side. I had to hand out some flyers to each car and thus needed to wear gloves.

But let me back up. The job started with my parking four blocks away because when I arrived at the church on Roxboro road the line of cars waiting to get boxes of food already was two hundred cars long 45 minutes in advance. I found a place on a side street and donned my mask and straw hat and walked to the church. Since I was early I packed some food boxes in the cool basement of the church.

Each box had a bag of apple, a bag of pears, six onions, four sweet potatoes, four yellow squash, some cucumbers, a cantaloupe, a box of black berries and a grocery bag of other food that included rice, beans, crackers and things I could not see since they were pre-bagged. The food had mostly come from the Food Bank, but the rice and beans had come from members of my church who had Re-bagged them into family sized servings.

Packing boxes with black gloves on was not an issue since the basement of the church is air conditioned. Once it was time to go direct traffic and hand out flyers I put on an orange safety vest over my white shirt and pants. The first hour was easy. I was paired with Alex Dunk who is a superior teenager. Sometime after the first hour mark I noticed my hands were roasting inside my black gloves. I had purposely worn lose fitting, all white to reflect the 2:00 in the afternoon heat.

The people coming through the drive up line were so thankful and nice. I wonder how long some of them had been sitting in their cars waiting for the distribution to start?

As the line of cars passed the two hundred and twenty mark I started to feel like I was going to be sick. My hands had heated up so much. I told Alex I was leaving the line and he handled the last of the cars. I had to go sit in the shade and I took off the black gloves and a quarter cup of water spilled out of each glove.

My pastor Alex brought me a cold bottle of water and I sipped it and talked to him while I recovered. As the last car looking for food came through the line I had recovered enough to walk the four blocks back to my car. I took off my mask and sanitized my hands. I think that if I had white gloves on I could have made my whole shift. Next time I volunteer to do this job I will bring my own gloves from home.

Non-Touch Tool

A few months ago, at the start of the pandemic, one of my only outings was to go to the post office to mail masks to far off friends. Every time I was frustrated by the demand of the postmaster that I pick up their community stylus attached to the touch screen pad to check off the box that said I was not mailing any liquid. I would just stand there in my mask and answer the question verbally refusing to touch the unwashed pen which had been touched by every other customer of the day. It made the post office people furious, but I stood my ground and told them I was answering the question, just not touching the pen.

I am not normally a Howie Mandel level germaphobe. As a baby, I let Carter touch everything in the hopes that she built up immunities starting as young as possible. But Covid is not something I thought I could make my own immunity to without possibly getting very sick.

So I stood my ground at touching things in public places and using a napkin, paper towel or my sleeve to open doors. When the weather was colder I almost always had a sweatshirt on, which I did not mind slipping the sleeve down over my hand to protect my skin. Now that it is hot I don’t usually have a long sleeve to turn into a mitten.

I read that copper and it’s alloys are more anti-microbial than other things so it was no surprise that people have made “touch keys” out of them. When I saw an offering for two-for-one deals on these tools I decided to order them for my family. The key can be attached to other keys or just kept in your purse. I tried using it on my iPhone and it worked like my finger. I was able to open doors that have push and pull handles, but not door knobs. It also works on push type keys like at an ATM.

Evidence about the spread of Covid is showing that it might come more from droplets from the mouth or nose of the person who has it and not as much from touching surfaces. My feeling is you never know if the person before you was picking their nose right before they pushed the keys on the Grocery store key pad. So why take chances on touching a surface someone else actually just touched.

I know I will this non-touch tool. Russ’ response was , “I don’t have a Key chain.” Meaning, “I am not going to use that dumb ass thing.” As long as he is working at home, locked away in the bunny rabbit room I am fine with his shunning. Carter has been working and has not seen hers yet. Since she is going back to Boston next month I am hoping she takes to it. Giving the tool is the only thing I am able to do these days. I have no sway over making anyone use them. I am just happy that now I don’t have to have a stand-off with the people in the post office.

Best Smelling Day of the Year

One of the benefits of spending all my time at home is that I tend to take stock of the little things. Read another way, I am so bored I study the minutiae. Also, since I am here everyday I am not away and missing some of the best parts about living in North Carolina.

Today as I was out front of my house I took a deep breath in and was washed over with gorgeous fragrance. The gardenias, lavender and Magnolia are all on bloom in a ten foot area. Alone I love each of these scents, but the overwhelming sensation of the three together brought instant happiness.

Smell is an under appreciated sense. The proof is that my mood was instantly lifted when I took in those floral smells out front. I wished that it was not so hot because I would have set up my work station right in the triangulation of these three flowers. It helps that the gardenias are so heavy with blooms. They don’t last long, but when they are in full force they can’t be ignored.

The lavender is more subtle. Usually I have to run my hands along the flowers to take in the fragrance, but there were so many bees drinking in the life of the buds they were releasing the sweetness into the air.

The magnolia is an exclamation point on the scent of southern summer. It was a glorious experience and I hope to enjoy it all week. If you are out walking just come on down my walkway and take a deep whiff as you get close to the front porch. It will change your day.

Father’s Day at the Farm

Russ being a superior father agreed to share his day with my father. So I made a flavor filled lunch of Chicken Satay, orzo salad and hummus and took it up to the farm. Covid has kept us away from the farm for the most part, but social distancing while eating and swimming seemed safe enough.

I was happy that one of my father’s girls could come and celebrate him on this day. He has been an extraordinary father. He always supported me in most of my crazy endeavors, like selling jaw breakers in third grade or selling cable television in college. Because of him I got a chance to work all over the world doing interesting things I never would have dreamed of just because he believed in me. There is nothing better for a daughter than a father who is you biggest cheerleader.

Thankfully the father I picked for my only child is also the best father ever. He challenges her, pushes her and is always in her corner. His being a great father makes my job easier as a mother. I am thankful for him as my parent teammate.

Evidence of the bond between Russ and Carter is that they both showed up this morning dressed in matching outfits without discussion. My father and I did not dress alike, but our bond is no less evident. The only good thing about Covid is that we were all together. This is something that may not happen again as Carter would normally be working somewhere else.

Father’s Day deserves to be at least father’s week. I am lucky to still have my father at 82 so I count these years as special. I am looking forward to decades more father’s days with Russ.

Garden Destruction

I’ve had a good season with my vegetable garden this year. Although bunnies ate all my green bean bushes, my squash, okra, cucumbers and peppers had faired well. I enjoyed watching as the little cucumbers grew to harvest size. I encouraged zucchini and picked hot peppers each day for Russ to eat for breakfast.

I took stock each day of what needed to be picked and what could benefit from another day on the vine. So this afternoon when I went out to get some cucumbers I was dismayed to not be able to find s few I had been monitoring. Then I looked further and saw that each of my pepper plants had been denuded, not just of the hot peppers, but also of the leaves. Zucchini were bitten off and okra plants were eaten to the ground.

It was heart breaking, but what I feared would happen without a deer fence. I took my chances, but as usual nature wins. I really have been fighting a fence because I don’t like the way they look right next to my driveway. I am not going to cry, but am hoping that the deer who ate all those peppers is having a hurt tummy. Deer are too dumb to learn what makes them sick, but smart enough to find easy garden targets.

I still have herbs and arugula and am just going to enjoy my zinnias. It all just goes along with the rest of 2020.

Don’t Threaten Your Fellow Americans

I am so tired of having our so called leader think of anyone who might disagree with him as a lowlife. I am tired of having the current occupant of the White House only care about people who fawn all over him and kiss his ass. Civil discourse is met with threats. This is unacceptable from anyone, but especially the leader.

I am tired of having a liar in Chief who does not know the term “servant leader.” I am tired of the worst example of humanity having such a huge bull horn to spew hate. One who ignores science and gathers people together just to stroke his ego, despite it being the worst thing people can do during a pandemic. I am tired of having someone in charge who knows no history and therefore repeats mistakes over and over again.

I knew 2020 was going to be a long and tiring year, just because it was an election year, but being trapped at home and having this person in charge is almost more than this human can bear. Fellow Americans don’t have to agree on everything, but I hope we agree that we all have the right to disagree and say so peacefully and not be threatened by someone who was merely elected, not anointed.

Such A Deal

I grew up in a house with a mother who loved a deal more than just about anything else. She also loved beautiful clothes, but no matter how fantastic something looked on her, and everything did, she didn’t love it if it wasn’t a bargain too.

I remember one Christmas my father went to Nora Zandre, the fanciest woman’s clothing store in New Canaan. He picked out four gorgeous outfits as presents for my mother. As the happy sales clerk wrote up the receipt my father asked her to write down that everything was 80% off. Of course right before Christmas back then everything was full price, but my father wanted my mother to think he got everything at a discount. So he strategically left the receipt in the bottom of the box and had the store wrap it all up.

I remember my mother opening those presents on Christmas morning and kvelling over the dresses. Then she found the receipt and you would have thought she had found an extra thousand dollars cash in the box. Thinking my father had gotten such a good deal made her love the dresses even more. My father just winked at me, which was code for “never tell.”

Today I got a deal that my mother would find particularly thrilling. As I have not really bought any clothes for a year a half I stopped looking at catalogs and emails advertising things. I don’t know what made me click on a Talbots email this morning, but I did. One of the first items I saw was a cute shirt marked down from $69.50 to $29.50. I thought I might get it. As I looked further into the email I found I had a $25 reward as well as 15% off for paying with my Talbots card. The way the discounts worked is the 15% came off the 29.50, which was like $4.73, then tax was added on the item, minus my $25.00 and as I was doing curbside pick up there was no shipping. In the end I paid $1.14 for this shirt.

Picking it up couldn’t have been easier too. I drove up, called the store and they walked the bag out to the back seat of my car. My mother will be thrilled to hear this story and this shirt will be her favorite item of clothing I own. It’s all about the deal.

Make of the Day

Still in quarantine…still looking to be productive, yet have fun… still in the sweat shop. Today’s make of the day is a request from Carter. She had an old sheet set that wore out, but she loved it. So she asked me to repurpose part of it into an old fashioned apron for her.

There is absolutely nothing easier to make than a 1950’s apron. I think it was the first thing we made in home-ec in seventh grade. Back then the most complicated thing we learned was how to thread the machine. I think my friend Wendy MacLea’s mother was our teacher for that class. She could do it all, sew, cook, bake. Now people have you tube for home-ec.

I hope this apron is exactly as Carter ordered it. If not, I’ll just make another. It’s something to do. I wish I remember more from metal shop and wood working class. Since it was the early seventies they made boys and girls go through all the same home-ec and shop classes. I could be using all this time home to make furniture and fireplace tools and maybe build a car, or at least a wagon. Considering I only made a cutting board and metal candle holder I don’t think I have a good skills foundation in those areas. Maybe I can make apron/lampshades.

The Need To Create

As the months of staying at home I have an ever increasing need to create useful, beautiful things. There is only so much organizing, cleaning and polishing I can do. So the desire to make art is the one thing that takes my mind off everything else going on around me.

So the last three days I made some place mats that coordinate with another set I made last year. It started as an attempt to learn to make the flying geese squares that are the colorful part of each placemat. It wasn’t much to learn, but doing it and doing it perfectly are two different things.

I also want to up my quilting skills, but doing it perfectly is a life’s work. Nothing about quilting is perfect, but I do like how these simple placemats turned out and I am happy to add them to my collection. Mostly it is a good way to spend my days so that I have something to show for this strange time.

My Father Was Right

When Russ and I first moved to Durham our house was half the size it is now. It was a perfect little three bedroom with a small square dining room. My father decided now that we finally had a dining room we needed a dining room table and chair set for 12 people. I a told him it was too big and he said we would need it eventually. We certainly did not have the room to use any leaves, let alone the three that the table came with and we had to scatter the 12 chairs about the house.

Eventually we decided to put an addition on our house which included doubling the size of the dining room to accommodate our table and chairs. It has been a joy to have such a big dining room table and big comfy chairs as we love having people come and sit around and enjoy a meal with us.

The last few months have been sad indeed as it is just three of us in the dining room. Russ and Carter have taken to eating breakfast in there sitting at one end staring at the painting my cousin Sarah did of my Grandmother and two of her five sisters. Russ and Carter call them “The supreme leaders”based on the scary looks on their faces.

Tonight was the first night we have invited anyone inside our house. We had our friends the Toms, who are really more like family than anything else. Since it was just the four of us we had no problem social distancing, with them sitting together at one end of the table and us sitting at the other 10 feet apart.

I was able to serve the plates in the kitchen and put them at each persons place before a calling them to dinner. Afterwards everyone came and placed their own plate in the dishwasher and the napkins were put in the laundry.

This never would have worked if we had a tiny little dining room and a small round table. That giant table my father insisted we have is the perfect way to enjoy our close friends but far apart.

Public Notice For Deer

Attention all Deer! You don’t like tomatoes. You think you do, but you don’t. Stop biting them and then discovering you hate them. Once you have bitten one you know you don’t like it, the next one you bite is going to be just as horrible. Heed my advice now and stop biting tomatoes.

I really hope the many deer that live at my house are reading this blog. We have never been good at growing tomatoes at our house. There is something in our soil that kills the plants. So I gave up trying years ago, until the stay at home order.

Right before the quarantine I purchased a large potted tomato plant that did not require replanting. We put it on the terrace so it was away from the tomato killing garden and the buffet loving wildlife. It flourished. We have harvested five beautiful red tomatoes, which are sweet and yummy. There are more green ones on the vine doing nicely.

This morning Russ brought up a handful of tomatoes that were lying next to the turned over plant. They had deer bite marks in them, but no bites out of them. Damn stupid deer. Now they are coming up the terrace stairs. So tonight russ surrounded the plant with chairs and then cover it with a towel in hopes the deer don’t get it. I don’t want to spray Deer Off on the terrace as it stinks so bad and we are really enjoying eating out there during this nice weather.

Just as I finally thought I had found a solution to my tomato black thumb, the deer do me in. UUUUUUGGGGHHH!

Mask Grammar

Wearing a Mask in public is not a red or blue issue. It is not about “freedom.” It is about smarts. Smarter people than me say we should wear masks. It protects me, and you and everyone else around us. As far as I can tell from listening to people who are not wearing masks is that they are just not that smart.

Who wants to be know as dumb? Don’t be a dummy and wear your mask.

I made a new mask for myself today that serves multiple educational purposes. It demonstrates the difference In “Wear” and “Where” as well as “Your” and “You’re.” I am less concerned with some of the non-mask wearing people’s grammar, but just putting the mask on so they may have a future and the opportunity to improve their grammar.

No one wants their obit to read, “Never a good student, too bad he was too dumb to listen to people more educated. If only he wore a mask.” Standing up for the right to be an idiot is going to kill you.

Dust Happens

The other day Carter did a deep dive redecorating of her room. She was tired of it the way it had always been and moved her bed to the only other wall it would fit on. While she was at it she took things off the wall and reorganized her belongings. When she was done she invited me in to see you work. It was wonderful, except for the dust she had uncovered. I asked her if she wanted the lambs wool duster.

Not only did she not recognize the duster when I brought it down, she did not know how to use it. Of course this lack of dusting instruction is completely my fault. Let’s not talk about where else dusting might not have taken place.

I thought about this lack of dust awareness and realize that I probably did not notice dust until I was well into my twenties. Felling the need to regularly dust probably started sometime in my thirties. Dusting between the housekeeper coming happened in my forties and now in my fifties I dust something everyday. I don’t like to look into the sunlight as it streams through the windows because all I see is dust floating in the air and wonder where it is going to settle.

Face it, Dust Happens. I figure we have all been staying home for the last three months. Some people took to cleaning their homes like an operation was going to have to be preformed in their dining room. Some just let things go. I have friends who never cleaned their own house, but now couldn’t have their house keeper come in. I have advised more than one person how to use their vacuum. I realized I probably should have given dusting lessons.

So if you are cleaning your own house I suspect that now is a good time to dust. It is really an easy job, if you know how. First, don’t bother with any product, like Endust. The best thing you can get is a lambs wool duster because the oils from the wool capture the dust. You can use a micro fiber cloth, but it’s not as good. You should always dust before doing any other cleaning and dust from top of a room to the bottom as dust falls down. Make sure you move things on table tops to get all the dust off and don’t forget places like framed art work and window mullions and sills.

After you have finished dusting, take your duster outside and bang it against something hard a few times and the dust will fall off. Seeing that dust outside your house and not in is a very satisfying thing. It might start you on being a regular duster, no matter how young you are.

Family Size Doubled

We are looking for good news around our house to keep our spirits up from the pandemic and George Floyd news. One thing we have been following daily for the last few weeks are the baby birds on our front porch.

We first noticed the tiny nest built behind the top of our porch light two weeks ago. I reported then that we had five eggs. We stopped using the front door so as not disturbed the mother. If anyone came up on the porch she would fly off leaving her eggs.

Not going on the porch meant that we didn’t monitor the progress closely trying to give the little family their privacy. After ten days I just had to know what was going on. Since the light is well above my head I have to bring out the step stool and hold my camera above the nest to see what is inside.

That day I got a photo that showed no eggs, just some little fluffy balls. The photo not good so I couldn’t tell how many babies there were.

Today I got another photo which shows at least three babies. I am not sure if there are more, but we are happy to have at least these three. Since the nest is built above our porch made of hard quarry tile I am worried about the mother pushing these little ones out of the nest. Russ and I discussed leaving a cushion on the porch, under the nest so if they fall the six feet to the ground their fall is not so bad.

We figure they will fly away in the next week. It is going to be sad for us to have them grow up and move away from home. I am looking for what good news we can follow when they are gone.

It’s the Law

As of Friday it will be the law in Durham County that everyone must wear a mask while in public. It is also the law in Orange County. Thank God! The evidence is high that in countries where people all wear masks in public the virus’ spread is curbed.

Cases are going up in red states, including in North Carolina, which I hope is really a purple state. In the very red county of Alamance, NC over 2,000 people gathered unmasked at the speedway to watch cars drive around in a circle. Really? You are willing to risk your lives for that? Well, you won’t be allowed to do a thing like that in Durham and I hope people understand it is for every bodies good.

If you can’t wear a mask, stay home. If you have to go out and think you can’t wear a mask don’t breathe, talk, sing, sneeze, or cough. In other words, wear your mask.

I am going to have to practice talking quietly because they say that even loud talking can spread the virus. I would fall in the super spreader category as my super power is being able to be heard without a PA in a large crowd. That’s good if you are an auctioneer, but bad when it comes to Covid-19.

No one loves wearing a mask, but just buck up and do it. The better everyone is at doing it, the faster we can get through this, and it’s not going to be fast so get used to it.

Jeopardy! as Escape

Today I heard that the TV show Jeopardy! is running out of pre-recorded new shows that they made before the shut down. Soon we are going to be back to watching reruns. Jeopardy! is a safe TV escape these days. It is rarely political, except in a historical context. It is some what educational, as I always learn new facts and it is fun.

Jeopardy! is my refuge from the news I have just watched. Nerds excelling and my trying to beat them to the right question is a way to ignore the ugly in the world.

These days the bad is all around us. I feel lucky that I have a way to escape as I am healthy, am not one of the forty million Americans who are unemployed and I have grown up with privilege just because of who I was born to. I don’t have to teach my child how to stay alive when out in public, as I assume she will be treated fairly. Discrimination is not part of our daily life.

I am lucky that I can use Jeopardy! as an escape because what I am escape it is really not that bad. We have food in the kitchen and don’t worry that it might run out. I do worry about Alex Trebeck’s health and his ability to last long enough to make more TV shows. But more than concern for one man who has had a good, long, successful life, I worry for all the children who are disadvantaged who need a level playing field to have a chance at any life. This worry is so overwhelming that I need a little Jeopardy! escapism. But like all the crap that 2020 has brought I won’t even have that soon.

Space Force Branding

The other day I watched the first episode of Steve Carell’s new a Netflix show, Space Force. It is good and the perfect vehicle for Carell’s comedy. It does a good job of poking fun at places I enjoy being needled these days.

Then today as I was driving behind a Jeep I noticed a “Space Force” bumper sticker. At first I thought, “That was fast, Steve Carell already has fans who are willing to out bumper stickers on their cars or his new show.” At closer glance I noticed in tiny letters on the bottom of the bumper sticker the word “Trump”

After getting home A news story came across my phone saying that Netflix had trademarked “Space Force” months ago, beating out the government to ownership of the name. So from the looks of it I think that Trump owes Steve Carell a royalty for every bumper sticker. If he hadn’t been so vain and put him name on them Steve would have more trouble knowing who to go after, but the vain-one-in-chief historically likes to put his name on everything. I am surprised he hasn’t changed the American flag to add his name somewhere.

The only thing about that bumper sticker I found odd was the tiny font of Trump. Someone at the bumper sticker maker is going to get in trouble for that mistake.

Love that smug look on Steve’s face, thinking about all the Trump Space Force Merch he is getting a cut on

Speak Truth to Power

My very favorite Hans Christian Andersen Fairy tale is The Emperor’s New Clothes. I am certain you know the story. If not, I’ll give you the synopsis.

Two weavers promise the emperor, a vain and silly man, a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. In actuality they are scamming the emperor and not making anything at all and just pretend to give the emperor new clothes. As they pretend to put these beautiful new clothes on the man they tell how great he looks in them.

The Emperor doesn’t see anything, but does not want to admit that for then it will prove he is an idiot. He goes out to parade his new suit of clothes amongst his subjects, no one dares say they don’t see any clothes and then be considered stupid. Finally a child speaks the truth and screams out, “He is not wearing anything at all.”

My favorite take away from this is that people need to trust their own eyes and speak up, for not doing so makes you look stupid. I am thankful this week for General James Mattis for playing the role of the child and screaming out that the emperor has no clothes. Then for John Kelly for saying Mattis is right.

We don’t have an emperor is this country and we can’t let our elected leaders act as if they are emperors. People need not be bullied into not speaking out on what they know is wrong, because they are afraid for seeming stupid or bringing down the ire from someone above them. Instead people need to speak out for fear of what not speaking out says about them and because it is the right thing to do.

Now is the time to say the emperor has no clothes. Trust your own intuition on right and wrong and do right. No one wants to be a sheep like the grown ups in the fairy tale. No one wants to be on the wrong side of history. General Mattis is opening the door for people to follow him and speak truth to power.

Maker Therapy

This week has been mentally exhausting. I needed a little therapy today to take my mind off this sad terrible week. As Carter volunteers at her stable on Saturdays I was able to get a big block of time in the sweat shop, which has reverted back to being her office since she is working from home.

I had a couple of Masks to make, which I am sick of making. There is little creativity in making the masks. I am happy to do them for people, but also wanted to have some fun.

I looked at my scrap material and decided I had enough to make a new tote bag. This is not an item I need as I have enough bags for a lifetime. It just was the act of producing something beautiful that I needed.

I was almost done with it and Carter arrived home. That is usually my signal to close up the sweat shop and get out of her space, but she obliged me the few more minutes I needed to finish up.

It felt good to be productive and not look at, read, watch or listen to any bad news.

I Could Have Worn Worse

Life in a Covid-land means not caring about what you are wearing. For the first couple of months, when it was cold and rainy I wore my navy yoga pants and one of three coordinating work out tops almost everyday. Then warm weather came and I have shifted to shorts. Equally unattractive as my yoga pants, but just as easy to step into every morning.

Why does it matter what I am wearing I am only seeing my family who are also wearing similar outfits? That is of course unless they have important Work Zooms, they they are wearing business shirts and Nike shorts. I am certain that you gentle readers are mostly wearing the same things too. You get a Covid-Uniform and stick with it.

Today when Carter encountered me in the kitchen she found me wearing a white shirt and white shorts, somewhat in the vain of what a British Croquette official might wear. She said, “Isn’t White for after Memorial Day?” I laughed and told her that Memorial Day was two weekends ago. Not that it matters, I am not following ANY antiquated fashion rules. No we are in Covid fashion anarchy.

I am hear to say proudly that despite my unattractive outfits I have worn a bra everyday during quarantine as well as changing out of my night gown everyday at least before ten in the morning. I consider this level of dressing a huge undertaking considering I could have just worn my nightgown for the last three months.

I Hate Disappointing People

Last year at this time I was teaching Mah Jongg at the Coral Bay Club on Atlantic Beach. The classes were sold out and had huge waiting lists which no one got off of, causing great consternation. I came back later in the summer and did it again, but the waiting list remained. So the club scheduled me a year in advance to come three times this summer for six different classes of two to three days each.

My first two classes were supposed to be in two weeks. Sadly Mah Jongg is not something that can be done in a social distancing way. Despite pleas for me still to come I had to cancel these classes and follow the governor’s rules for gathering.

Mah Jongg is the definition of non-essential. No one needs to be at risk to learn to play. Besides it won’t do anyone any good to learn and not get to play and practice right away.

No one is more sad than me. I love to go stay with my friend Reba and have a few days at the beach doing what I love most, sharing the game of Mah Jongg. I just can’t be responsible if someone gets sick by doing it right now.

My July classes are still on the calendar and we will reassess the situation then, but no one should plan their life around getting to come to Mah Jongg class. If you don’t learn this summer I will be back next summer. Just chill at home with a good book and good health.

Safe In The Car Too

I know I am safer at home. I am trying to do my part by staying home almost all the time, but today I did venture out. At last, in Durham, Hair salons were allowed to open two days ago. My darling hairdresser Suzanne called last week to give me an appointment to get my hair cut for this morning. You would have thought it was Christmas.

She owns the salon and I have been very worried about her business being closed for so long. Weeks ago when I was supposed to have a haircut I put my haircut money and tip in a ziplock bag. Then again last month on the date of my regular Appointment. So today when she was finally able to see me I gave her the bag of money for all my haircuts. It is important to me that she is able to stay in business.

I felt very safe getting my haircut with her. I waited in my car to be called in for my appointment. Everyone was required to wear a cloth mask the whole time. Only half the stylists can work at one time so there were very few people there. I had to answer some screening questions and have my temperature taken before I could continue. I had my hair washed and cut with my mask on and it wasn’t an issue.

Suzanne is working seven days a week from 8-2 so other stylists can come in on a shift 2-8. It is a lot of logistics to reschedule all of us who had already made our appointments for a whole year. I asked her how long she thought it would take her to catch up and she figured six weeks. Of course that was catch up with getting everyone’s hair done, not earning what she lost.

After the adventure of going out in the world for a haircut I came home and did some work and then Shay got very antsy. Having to supervise Russ on Zoom calls all day can get monotonous. As she was wiggling with me by the steps to the garage I asked her if she wanted to go in the car. She sprinted down the steps and bound out to the car. I could barley get the door open before she jumped in and assumed her position on the center console.

So Shay and I just drove around a bit. She looked out the window and smiled. Two teenage girls pulled up beside us and waved at Shay. She threw back her head toward them.

We know we are safer at home, but today it felt like we were also safe in our car. It was just nice to see a different part of the world, even if it was less than a mile from home.

We Need Hope

Hope is something I hold dearly. I was born an optimist and have honed those skills of ignoring the bad and elevating the good. There is a fine line between being a Pollyanna and just seeing the good more than the bad. This does not mean I stick my head in the sand when confronted with something unpleasant. I am more likely to call out the bad to challenge it.

This weekend Russ and I had the pleasure of meeting our friends M & S’s first baby boy A. There is nothing like having a baby in a Pandemic to take your mind off what is going on in the world. Although we certainly couldn’t get close to the darling boy, we were able to bring him a quilt and a casserole for his parents. There is nothing more hopeful than a new baby. Not to put any pressure on him, but he could grow up to be a great President or spiritual leader.

Tomorrow I am going to be a guest on My friend Carl Johnson’s Facebook Live show Optimistic Opportunities. I used to work with Carl at Durham Magazine and he is a highly optimistic person as he has spent his life in sales. I am not sure exactly sure what we will talk about, but neither of us have ever had trouble talking to each other.

Carter has recently had a huge dose of hope. She started a running campaign three days ago to help raise money for things connected to George Floyd and equal Justice. In three days she has raised over $1,300 and some big pledges based on how far she runs. This has bowled her over because the money has come $5 -$10 a time from poor college students and some bigger amounts from kind adults, some she hardly knows. It has been a big bag of hope to her that there is good in the world. I am thrilled that this is the lesson she is getting from this.

For now I am going to stay on the sunny side that all these protests will help improve our country. I am hopeful Covid-19 will teach us some lessons on how to be better humans and I am Optimistic that we will survive and thrive again.

Everyone Deserves Equal Justice

The police reaction on George Floyd trying to buy cigarettes with counterfeit money was to send four officers who eventually threw him to the ground and one large police officer kept a knee on his neck for eight minutes until he was dead. It was an over show of force for the crime, even if he didn’t die.

45 calling protests over George Floyd’s death “act of domestic terror” that may have him call in the military to stop them is an even bigger over reaction. Our military is to protect our country not fight our own citizens. 45’s lack of compassion, leadership and any heart whatsoever is making an already terrible situation so much worse. Gassing peaceful demonstrators is not the American way.

True leaders take responsibility when times get tough. We have someone who has shown no ability to say,”I hear you, I feel for you, I understand you, I hurt for you, I want to make it better.”

Not acknowledging bad things, except if they are being done to him is his modus operandi. That will never change. I am tired of narcissistic leaders. Please, please look for new leaders who have some kind of heart. Who understand that having teams of smart people with them is important, who make plans and contingency plans and contingencies for their contingencies, who understand that making things good for most is good for each individuals. If any are oppressed it is bad for all.

Of course looting and destruction of property is bad, but if no leaders sit down work with protestors things will never get worked out. All people deserve equal justice. I fear under 45 we will not have any dialogue and frustrations will just continue.