Scissor Love

Yesterday I finished the baby quilt I made for Carter’s co-worker. The photos don’t really show the colors correctly. When I first photographed it the main background color looked almost black. In fact it is a charcoal grey. I tried to color correct the photo today for my record.

This little quilt is a favorite of mine, even though I have only met the mother once for five minutes. I sent it off in the mail to Carter so she can have the fun of giving it to her. I will never see the quilt again, but I will always have the happy memories of getting to create it.

Quilting for me is just art with fabric. I have always loved fabric and paper and creating different pieces of art with them. It must have something to do with scissors. When I was a kid you would be hard pressed to find any scissors in my house and when you did they were dull or worse sticky.

Because of my PTSD over childhood scissors I am never more than an arm’s length away from scissors and usually more than one pair. I have at least 40 pairs just for paper. There are the regular paper kinds and the decorative edge ones. Small scallops and zig zag, deckled edges, you name it and I can cut it.

Then there are scissors just for fabric and once again there are straight and pinking (think zig zag). And I have embroidery scissors Including a favorite pair that was a gift jus to cut Turkey work, which means turning yarn into fur. I have folding scissors and tiny travel ones. You never knew so much about scissors did you?

I have kitchen shears, the Costco ones that come apart and can cut a penny in half and ones for cutting card board or into plastic clam shells. Hair cutting scissors and nose hair cutting. Those are two different kinds along with three different kinds of nail scissors Then there are the children’s scissors with blunt noses because I wanted to make sure Carter had her own tools and not have her use mine and possibly cut paper with fabric scissors, the biggest no-no there ever was.

These were just the scissors I could reach on my bedside table without opening any drawers or getting up from writing this blog. They probably represent ten percent of what is in house.

Now that I have finished this baby quilt I am not sure what my next Covid art outlet will be, but I can guarantee you it will probably be something that involves scissors since I already have the right tool.

Give John Lewis the Spotlight

Like a child who is stamping his foot and pouting in the corner of the room because he perceives he is not getting the attention he deserves, 45 today tweeted out the most outrageous thing he could to draw attention away from John Lewis’ funeral to which he was not invited. There in Atlanta at Ebenezer Baptist Church were three of the living Presidents, Bush, Clinton and Obama all asked to speak. President Carter would have been there as he was invited, but at his age with Covid it was not a good idea for him to attend.

So there all the revered adults were in the same place, Democrats and Republicans (at least what real republicans used to be) and 45 was purposely excluded as he can’t play nice with others. Rather than letting it be the day for John Lewis, he had to try and one up and tweet.

The childishness of this selfish, self centered man is no fun. His complaining that other people are more popular than him, ie: Dr. Fauci and Dr. Brix and his whining that the supreme court doesn’t like him when rulings don’t go his way are the acts of a spoiled child. Today the world does not revolve around you 45, no matter how much you think it should. Saying and doing more and more outrageous things to get attention does not instill confidence in the electorate.

Stop being a baby. Step back and let the adults honor a truly great man on this day. I know you worry that not that many ex-presidents will come and wish to speak at your funeral. Instead you might be lucky to have brilliant orators like Peter Navarro. Too bad Herman Cain came to your rally and died from Covid, he might have spoken at your service.

As for today, I was buoyed by the speeches of past Presidents in the hopes that they inspire a new generation of bright young people to take up the mantle of John Lewis and bring America out of the depths.

North Carolina State Fair Canceled

Agriculture Commissioner Troxler took to the airwaves to announce that he was not allowing the fair to take place this October. Despite obvious observation of Coronavirus as the reason we can’t go to the fair he failed to mention the real reason — North Carolinians have already gained all their fair food weight during quarantine.

Commissioner Troxler could have talked about the loss of fried Oreos, fried turkey legs, fried Ice cream or fried butter that people will be missing at the fair, but it was clear to him that everyone had already tried to make all those things at home when no one was watching. We may not have put corn dogs on sticks at home, but it looks like corn dogs have been consumed nonetheless.

When Troxler said he was considering the health of citizens when considering holding the fair he easily could have meant, “Everyone is already too fat. We don’t need to add to our public health problems by tempting everyone with NC Pork Council pulled pork sandwiches.”

So no caramel Apples, just eat an apple without the caramel at home. No corn on the cob soaked in butter, running down your hand as you walk mummy style among people who are missing some of their important teeth. You can buy Kettle corn at the grocery store, but sorry there is no substitute for a fair funnel cake. If you are really craving that “Only at the fair food” you can make your own Krispy Kreme burger, by buying two donuts and a cheeseburger from Cook Out. Replace the bun of the burger with the donuts and have at it. I suggest you only do this if you have not already gained all the weight you usually gain going to the fair.

For most people, the Covid 19 weight gain means we might have to cancel the fair for a couple of years. Thanks Commissioner Troxler for looking out for us.

Last Will and Wishes

With all that is going on in the world Russ and I finally got off the pot and are having an appointment to redo our wills. We have successfully raised a child to an adult so it is a little easier than it would have been if we needed to change guardianship. Now it is about our wishes. There is so much to think about when making a will and medical directives. How can we possibly set something up for every possible scenario.

I was discussing it with a Carter yesterday. As far as medical issues I told her that it boiled down to, “If I am incapacitated to the point that I would have a shitty life and If keeping me around would cause her to have a shitty life I don’t want to stick around.” Then I added, “I don’t want you to have to deal with my shit literally or figuratively.” Russ and I have not had this discussion yet.

The other thing Carter and I discussed was who could help her if she needed help. It was very eye opening whose opinions she valued. The one thing I told her was everyone I ever knew who inherited a bunch of money young ended up blowing it all and dying young themselves. Carter thought that no young person should be get a large sum of money and not have incentive to work. Thank goodness we are on the same page there.

Now I am interested in getting advice from my friends about your experiences with good and bad wills. One thing I have learned this week is don’t keep it a surprise if you include someone in your legal documents. I am going to make sure to have conversations with the people I designate to make decisions for me if I can’t make my own. So what about you? Please pass on all your wisdom. Now is the time before we see the lawyer. I don’t want to do this again.

Why Play Baseball?

I know people are wanting sports back. I know some men who finally realize they are addicted to watching sports because they have had terrible withdrawal symptoms from the lack of sports. Even I watched golf on TV Sunday just because it was a novelty to see a sport.

Golf seems like a relatively safe sport to come back, but baseball seems more problematic.

I do not understand how you can social distance while playing baseball unless everyone hits a home run. Now just days after professional baseball started back up some of it shut down because the Florida Marlins have a dozen players and coaches who have tested positive for Covid-19. Is it a surprise? Miami is a terrible hot spot of the virus.

There is no reason to try and play this game. People can’t go and watch it. Players should not be sacrificed for other’s entertainment. When is everyone going to realize that we are not getting things like baseball back until there is a vaccine.

People need to do their best to stay home. If you go out, wear the damn mask, stay away from others and don’t gather inside or out with many people. For goodness sake don’t go to a bar, a party, a church, a wedding, or a meeting. We can’t kill the virus, but please do your best not to get it. I had a Zoom today with someone who had it and is finally recovering after four weeks. He is a shadow of himself and said, “No one wants this thing.” So please, don’t play baseball, it’s just a game.

Murphy’s Law

With Russ away for a few days I am back to doing the regular house upkeeping without him. No big deal. I have lived here for 25 years with him off traveling for work more of the time than not, except this year. I obviously have gotten quite used to having him home.

Yesterday afternoon, just as I had fallen asleep for a little nap as I had only gotten four hours sleep the night before, I heard a loud sharp chirp. Did I dream that? A minute later another loud chirp. Shay, who was sleeping beside me, was up and shivering looking at me quizzically.

I went out in the hall and noticed the Nest was blinking and then chirping. Oh lord. This had happened last week when Russ was home and he took care of it by removing it and vacuuming it. I got the step stool and the vacuum and tried that trick. No luck. Shay was a nervous wreck.

The device was just beyond my reach, even on the step stool, so I jumped and was able to pull it down. The regular chirp one minute apart made me think the device needed to have it’s batteries replaced. So I went to our battery drawer and found six matching Costco batteries and put them in. I then replaced the box back on it’s holder on the ceiling.

A hour later Russ called me from DC. The Nest had sent him an email complaining that I had not put alkaline batteries into the box. Really? Now that complaining bitch. Those were new good batteries. How dare she complain to Russ.

He told me that he had just ordered the right kind of batteries and they would come Monday. “Should I jump up and take that thing down now?” Russ told me not to bother, it should be fine.

I went about my evening after I finally got Shay calmed down. I fell asleep around ten, having not had more than five minutes of sleep during my nap. CHIRP! Was I dreaming again? CHIRP. Shivering puppy licks my face. I wake up. It was midnight. That damn machine really hated those batteries. I had to get up, go get the step stool and jump up and rip it off the ceiling. Of course it had to wait until I had taken the edge off my exhaustion. Took another hour to fall back to sleep, but at least Shay had stopped shivering by then.

Quilting Outlet

Russ is in Washington so I have had time alone just to create. Carter has a co-worker who is having a baby so I have been making a quilt for her. I asked Carter what colors and she said, “Grey, pink and white.”

I am certain Carter thought I would do sweet baby colors. Instead I did bold and dark colors. I also did multi sized wonky stars. One reason I did this was to be able to work some symbols into the quilt. I recreated the Bain Capital logo in greys, and one small cross and the initials of the parent’s first namesi. The center squares of stars. Most people would not see these symbols, but I like knowing that the quilt has deeper meaning that just a blanket.

Now that I have finished the top and made the sandwich of batting and a backing with it I will start the “quilting” process and then finish with a binding on the edge. A baby quilt is my favorite thing to make. It takes days not months. I hope that Carter’s friend will use it as it is not meant to be so precious that it sits on a shelf, but instead is laid in the yard for the baby to lie on, or is dragged around the house and becomes a lovey.

For me it is a creative outlet during this lonely year. I don’t know what I would do everyday if I did not have ways to make art with fabric or fibers. When I am done with this quilt I probably should start on Christmas gifts as I don’t know of any other babies coming.

The Kind John Lewis

I’m late to the arena to post my memories of John Lewis. I am sad for our country to lose such a great and kind leader during these troubling times. I say kind from my personal interactions with him.

In the late eighties when I had a side business as a caterer in DC where I catered for Congressman Lewis. I got the job because I cook cook “southern” in a time when hauté cuisine was the thing.

I met Lewis’ AA during my one year in the junior league. She was the only African American in my small group and she and I became friends as we were very different from most of the much younger women whose only ambitions appeared to be to marry and have babies. One evening I brought some peach bars to our small group meeting and she told me her boss would love them, so I let her take the leftovers from the meeting. I did not know at the time her boss was the esteemed Congressman.

Later she called me and asked if I could cater a stand up reception for her boss. Back then Congress had a rule that they could not do sit down fundraisers and all food had to be finger food. It was then I realized I was being asked to cater for a Congressman.

In Washington there are A, B and C list congressmen. Most are C list, people no one knows or recognizes outside their home districts. Not that they might not do good work, but they were not recognizable to me. John Lewis was, even back then, an A list a congressman. I remember the first time I met him he said, “You are the famous Peach bar baker.” I could not believe he connected me to the leftovers. Thankfully that night I had made pecan bars which he loved more than the peach ones and requested them at each reception I worked for him after that.

As a caterer you are just “the help.” Hardly anyone seeks you out to spend time with you at events. Your job is to feed people good food and make sure everything runs smoothly. I could really tell the difference in people’s character by how they treated me and my staff. At jobs I did for John Lewis I often was just dropping food off and not running the party so I was not always there for the entire event. So it meant even more that he would come out of his office and thank me and tell me what he really enjoyed that I last cooked for him. If you look up the definition of kind in the dictionary his picture is next to it.

When Carter went on her seventh grade school trip to Washington DC she knew of my fondness for John Lewis. While at the Capital she spotted him and since he was walking nearby she ran over to him and shook his hand. I was so happy she had the gumption to do that. She knew my stories about working for him 25 years before and knew he would treat her with respect.

He really was a towering man when it came to treating people right. I am sorry that we did not have cameras phones back then. I never got a photo with him and I wish I had, but I will always remember him fondly.

Call Out Bullies

I don’t care what AOC’s politics are, I am just proud that she spoke up against Ted Yoho for calling her a “fucking bitch.” This is something that other over heard him say, but now he is denying saying it. Frankly, he might have thought he just said it in his head and not realized he said it out loud, but nothing excuses him from the whole incident in the capital.

Yoho, a tea party congressman from central Florida, who in 2015 mounted a campaign challenge to John Boehner for Speakership, got only two votes out of 435 according to Wikipedia. As far as I can tell he has no legislation to his name which has gotten passed. So to me his success as a congressman is questionable. No wonder he speaks profanity to an successful woman of color who is much younger than he is. It has to be so hard to be an aging white man who can’t get anything done.

Politics aside, I would bet that if this man’s grand mother was alive she would be appalled at this kind of talk, especially at work. Woman need to call men out who think they can do this and get away with it. AOC did the best thing by putting it into the Congressional record by talking about it on the house floor. This guy Yoho, who before today did not have much of a congressional record, will forever now be known as the rude, potty mouth congressman who disrespects a woman fellow congressperson.

For my daughter and other young woman in their work places I am happy that AOC is standing up against such a bully. It is what small minded people who are in a position of weakness do to strike out. It certainly does not advance him in anyway and AOC took away his power by calling him out on it.

I stand with women who have the courage to speak out to their bullies. If a man does not like the policies a woman stands for calling her names is not going to change her. It just makes him look like a small minded spoil sport. I hope his grandmother is looking down ashamed of him.

Shay Loves Quarantining

Out of everyone I know Shay is the being that loves everything about quarantining the most. She spends most of her days supervising Russ in his bunny baby room office. She has three beds in there and jumps up on his lap to see all the people during Zoom calls. I hardly see her all day since I hardly see Russ. She actually gets a little pissy if he leaves his office and comes sees me.

Rarely does she join me on any of my Zoom calls. Granted mine are not revenue generating and I think she adds monetary value to Russ’. Today I had two Zoom’s. She ignored me on one, but when it came time for my church Ways and Means call she miraculously appeared and jumped up on my lap where she stayed for most of the meeting.

Shay is a member of Ways and Means and almost never missed an in person meeting at church. She would sit in my lap with her head on the table and look at Sharon whom she loves. I guess that when she heard all her church friends on the zoom she came downstairs to join me not wanting to miss any of the action.

I think maybe we should put Shay on the stewardship committee and she can shake people down for pledges. She is thoroughly versed in all the monetary issues of the church and is too cute to say no too.

Emergency Contact

My family moved to London, the first time, when my youngest sister was eight years old. Back then, in my family, eight years old meant you were old enough to take care of yourself. Janet was allowed to skateboard and ride her bike most anyplace she wanted to go alone. She walked to school a few blocks alone or with our middle sister Margaret.

One day it occurred to my mother that Janet was often about the city alone and since she was eight she had no id of any kind. My mother told her to write down her name and address and put it in her coat. Janet wrote, “My name is Janet K. Carter. I am the one in this green jacket right now. And put her home address.”

It was good advice for not just an eight year old, but for all of us. What if something happens to you and you are alone? If you are carrying your wallet you probably have your driver’s license, but what if you are out on a walk? I don’t take my wallet on a walk, but I do take my phone.

If you have an IPhone there is a place in settings to put an emergency contact so if someone needs to get you help they know who to call. The best part is that no one has to know your password to call your emergency contact from your phone. Make sure you update your information or at the very least write a note and put it in your pocket saying who you are and who cares for you if you need help.

Leftover Make Over

With Carter back in Boston Russ are I return to eating “weird experimental recipes” I make up using orphan ingredients. Today’s ingredients to be used up, a ball of pizza dough, two old raw zucchini, a container of ricotta cheese. So I told Russ I was going to make him a pizza. He was thrilled until he came down stairs and saw the white circle. You see, to Russ the red sauce is the best part of the pizza.

Reluctantly he cut himself a small square. “This is delicious.” Whew. He had more and didn’t even think about going to the refrigerator for some red sauce.

1 ball of Trader Joe’s pizza dough, or some other form of homemade crust

1 pint of ricotta cheese

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

1 t. Lemon juice

Sprinkling of sumac

Sprinkling of dried shallots

Sprinkling of red pepper flakes

Sprinkling of garlic powder

2 small zucchini sliced into 1/8 inch rounds

Five slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Preheat the grill to very hot and clean the grates. Roll the pizza dough out and place on hot grill and close the lid. Cook for two-three minutes until the dough releases from the grates and flip it over on The other side and cook another two minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°. Place the cooked pizza dough on a pizza tin. Mix together the cheeses and spices and slather it on the pizza. Cover the whole thing with zucchini and place the pizza In the oven and cook until the zucchini starts to wither and the ricotta browns, about 15 minutes.

Removes from oven and sprinkle bacon all over the top.

Don’t tell people it’s pizza if you are going to get push back about the sauce issue. Instead tell them it is flat bread.

No More Driving

I was away from home 36 hours, 24 of them I spent driving. That was a slog.

Last night Carter generously volunteered that I could sleep in her bed rather than on her pull out sofa bed. I gladly took her up on that offer knowing that I needed a good night’s sleep to make the quick turn around trip alone back from Boston.

It was sad not to be able to spend anytime in New England while I was dropping Carter off. It was even sadder to drive straight home by myself. I woke up at 5:15 and was pulling away from Carter’s at 5:45. I felt OK leaving her there as everyone we saw on the street was wearing masks, even those people riding bikes and running. No wonder the state’s Covid numbers have gone way down, especially when most of the country’s are going the other direction.

I had driven the twenty year old Land Cruiser up to a Boston since Carter had a bunch of stuff to bring back. I was thrilled that the old tank made the trip without incident. The only issue was the amount of gas it took and the fact that it does not have any blue tooth capability or Sirius radio. I listened to pod casts on the return trip, but missed my traveling companion.

The traffic was bad in lots of places. I am not sure how much quarantining is going on.

The only excitement on the whole trip was around Ashland Va. I passed a couple of guys towing a Ford Country Squire station wagon. It was the exact model, except for the color, as the new car my father brought home on my fifth birthday.

About twenty minutes later when I stopped for gas, the Country Squire crew pulled into the gas station to put air in the trailer tires. I took a photo of the car and then asked the gentlemen what year it was. It was the same year as my parent’s Navy station wagon. Nick and Andrew, were the guys names and we talked about cars. They told me they had commented on my classic land cruiser when I passed them on the road. Turned out Andrew had a website called corvair wild and I told him that both my grandmother and father had covairs. It was a good social distancing break in my boring drive.

When I finally pulled in the driveway at home Shay and Russ come out of the garage to welcome me home. Well, Russ welcomed me. Shay went to the Land Cruiser to welcome Carter. She stood there for quite a while waiting for her to emerge from the car. Disappointed, she gave up and came and said hi to me. I think it is going to take a while before we are used to Carter being gone again.

Home Again, Home Again

Up at five in the morning, Carter and I pulled out of the driveway at 5:45. Three stops for gas/bathroom/food in 12 hours and we pulled up to Carter’s apartment in Boston. The drive was not as easy today as it was when I picked her up in March. That trip only took 10 and a quarter hours which was an unheard record as I was practically the only car on the road that day.

Upon entering Carter’s apartment the first thing we noticed is that a set of three hanging pots and fallen off the wall and broken all over the floor, then we noticed one of her lama painting had fallen off the wall, but not hurt. Then we went in the kitchen. Something was not right. There were fruit flies all over the fridge. Then Carter opened the freezer. Thankfully she shut it quickly.

The traffic today was not terrible except in Connecticut, but not as bad as the normal I -95 traffic. I was able to get a parking space right in front of Carter’s building as we started the unpacking.

Apparently her fridge stopped working sometime in the last four months. She called her management company and they said it would be Monday or Tuesday before they could get her a new fridge.

So Carter and I went to the True Value down the street. I got bug spray and heavy duty tape. We cleaned up all the bugs and I taped the fridge shut all the way around. The only good news is Carter had some sour dough starter she was worried might have exploded all over her kitchen and it had not.

After the initial mess we got to installing Carter’s new air conditioner. That was a job, but we did it. Now we have cool air and I am going to sleep to be up at 5:00 tomorrow to head home.

Think Outside the School Box

With all the news about schools opening or going back to online learning I am thankful that my child is old enough to control her own learning. I feel for my friends and family with younger children who are still faced with the uncertainty that the fall will bring.

I got to thinking about how the fall semester could be something exciting and different rather than the same old curriculum forced into an awkward way of learning. What if you just didn’t worry about traditional subjects and used real life as the tool for learning this year. Kids can still keep up with math and reading, just in different, practical ways.

What if you and your child learned how to do every adult thing you need to learn to survive; how to do your own tax returns, repair a dish washer, change the oil in a lawn mower and sharpen the blades, cook a soufflé, hem a pair of pants and sew on a button, read a balance sheet and evaluate stocks, research political candidates stances on issues, grow vegetables, make and can homemade strawberry preserves, create a budget and live on it, learn to code, refinish furniture, paint a room, learn how to answer the phone and carry on a conversation, interview an older person about their childhood, learn how to make change, how to put the chain back on a bicycle, how to take someone’s temperature with an old fashioned thermometer, how to do CPR, how to service a vacuum, change the air filters in the house, how to stop a leaking faucet, make a family tree with a description of each person, debone a chicken, read music, do the laundry including removing stains, read a paper map, navigate with a compass, identify trees, learn every bone and organ in the body, do calligraphy and the list goes no forever.

If your child has a passion for something they could do a deep dive into one subject and really master it. They could build a one room building, or make a documentary, write a cookbook and test every recipe or design and sew a wardrobe. With you tube there are experts out there you can teach you anything you want to know. For kids they would develop good research skills. As long as they treat the time like a job and work at whatever they do for a good portion of everyday.

Another idea to flip learning on its head for older kids would be for them to read the 100 great books. They might not have time to read and discuss all of them, so maybe read ten of the greatest books a month.

It seems like we could also harness regular TV to teach kids. Rather than having thousands of math teachers trying to do Algebra instruction over zoom, we could get a couple of the greatest to make TV programs and show it on regular broadcast TV which almost everyone has access too.

It seems like there are a lot of things educators could do differently in this different time. I know it all sounds like a lot of work, but just don’t stress and learn anything. If there is an issue that kids might be missing out on a grade specific skill they should be mastering this year just plan now on repeating that grade next year. Since everyone is in the same situation it won’t really matter. If there is one thing this year has taught us it is that life is not a race. It is OK to adjust your plan to suit the situation. I bet that kids of every age would remember and use what they learned during the pandemic for their whole life if they change up what they are learning.

Out of Character

I’m not sure what is going on at my house. Perhaps that comet in the sky is affecting my family. Before dinner Carter asked us if we wanted to play the Ticket to Ride game. This is a practically unheard of occurrence. Normally I have to beg Russ and Carter to play a game with me and usually it only happens if there is a power outage and all the batteries have been drained from every device in the house.

Not only did Carter ask, but Russ agreed to it before I had a chance to say a word. I feel like they know that I have a terminal disease that they are not telling me about and are just humoring me in my last days.

This is Carter’s last 36 hours at home until the holidays, but offering to play a game seems a little out of character. I did buy her some wine to take back to Boston, but she is 21 and has a full time job and can buy her own wine. She can’t be buttering me up to send her to Paris since no one is going to Paris this year. (Oh, what I would do to go to Paris without other Americans there, but I digress.)

I don’t know the reason, so I am just going to have to enjoy this momentary game playing event. Once Carter is gone Russ will not volunteer to do this. Carter is just trying to make me miss her even more.

Velveteen Puppy

In anticipation of losing my in-house groomer, Carter gave Shay a big time haircut. It’s hot and Shay’s coat had grown thick and was on the verge of getting mats. Since we lost our paid groomer, I bought sheers in March and Carter has taken care of all Shay’s beauty needs.

It has been wonderful, but now Carter is returning to Boston. Thankfully she cut Shay very close so I will have at least two months to learn to cut her hair myself.

I have gotten to be an expert cutting Russ’ beard with the trimmers so hopefully I can take care of Shay. Now her hair is so short her coat is like velveteen. It has to be so much cooler for her, but she looks a little bit like a character out of a Harry Potter novel. She is not complaining because we are petting her constantly with this short soft coat.

Shay does not realize how much she is going to miss Carter because she is a much better groomer than anyone else in this house. I know how much I will miss Carter.

Give Deplorables Their Own Country

Four years ago Hillary took a lot of heat for calling a group of American’s “Deplorables.” She didn’t name any names or put photos up of who they were, but we all knew they existed. The racists, homophobic, misogynistic, science haters, lovers of being uneducated. Then the deplorables got behind Trump as one of their own and took over the White House. Now I am not saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a deplorable, but do consider if you had to go on vacation with the people who voted the way you did would you have a good time?

So today my friend Eric posted a video of a woman who reportedly was from North Carolina in a restaurant recently. She was getting food to go and was not wearing a mask indoors, which is the law here now. She got called out for it by another customer inside the restaurant and went on a raging tirade saying Americans don’t wear masks. She ended her potty mouth rant with “Trump 2020.”

To me she is the exact definition of a deplorable. No concern for anyone else and screaming like she is in the right to not follow the rules and be a decent human being.

I posted on Eric’s page that this woman does not represent all of North Carolina, but I would consider starting up a fund to have her move somewhere else.

Perhaps one of the very red states who love Trump so much would want to become The country of Trump, actually it’s own country. We could help them out by moving people like this woman there and Trump could be the dictator of his own nation. It might cost us a little to do this, but I would be willing to pay to live in a deplorable free state.

Watch the woman and you decide if you would like to be in the same club as her. I don’t even want to be in the same state as her.

Christmas in July

Southerners are known for pushing the limits when it comes to Christmas. The only people I know who decorate their wwwhhhooollleee houses during the holidays are southerners. Southerners often will have theme Christmas decorations that change from year to year. That is an expense I can not afford.

The most organized Christmas lovers have their shopping done in August. Gifts are wrapped in September and they are planning their holiday meals in October. Leaving November open for decorating and baking. That way every moment in December is available for celebrating.

Given some southerners love of all things Christmas it should not have come as a surprise when I got an email from Southern Living encouraging Christmas Cookie baking now. July, five full months before baby Jesus birthday.

I don’t care if you have a cryogenic freezer, it is too early to make cookies for Christmas. It is even too early to make cookie dough. I know that Southern Living is just trying to find something to write about given all the crap that is going on. They can’t write about travel or throwing a party, so the only thing left is baking. Sure, plenty of people have already baked their weight’s worth in bread in the last four months, so why not turn to cookies?

King Arthur Flour reports they sold more flour in April than they do during the baking season (Thanksgiving and Christmas, in case you live under a rock). At the rate people are baking we are not going to have any flour left come the baking season.

Don’t fall for this push for Christmas cookie production now. It just means you will eat all those cookies before we even get to Labor Day. You might want to go ahead and stock up on cookie decorations now, because I will bet you three dozen gingerbread men we are still going to be home at Christmas and you are going to be needing activities to do with kids then, like now.

If you want to get started practicing your cookie making why don’t you try and make some flower cookies. Just don’t bake something you save for five months and then give away. Unless you are trying to get rid of that friend or relative.

All I Want Is Sleep

The last few nights I have not been able to fall asleep. Usually if I have one sleepless night it is followed up by a hard sleep the next night. Not the situation for about four days in a row. I have been up until 2:30 and then awake at seven, sometimes able to fall back to sleep until 8:30, but not with any quality.

Why is this happening now? Nothing, and I mean nothing, in my world has changed. I have not started drinking more caffeine. I have no new stressors than anyone else. I haven’t gone anywhere or seen anyone or had any big extrovert events. Based on my extrovert personality with all this alone time I should sleep like a baby for 12 hours because I should be tired because I don’t have human interaction.

Have I actually turned into an introvert who is gaining energy being alone? I don’t want to take a sleeping pill but I am desperate to sleep tonight. I don’t want to try and go to bed too early in case I wake up in the middle of the night. I just want a normal night’s sleep. Is it too much to ask?

Good Home Cooks

I am so thankful for the other cooks I live with. Today I did not prepare one meal. Russ and Carter were on Asian kicks so they made chicken dumplings at lunch time and froze the majority of their output for future cravings. And then Russ used the leftover dumpling filling in fried rice for dinner.

It was so cute to see Russ and Carter sitting together at the dining room table crimping their dumplings. It is nice that we don’t have to worry about going out to satisfy a craving and who doesn’t crave dumplings?

Carter cooked up a few for us to enjoy and even made a delicious dipping sauce. No dumplings in Durham could beat them.

Russ got out his old college wok for making the fried rice. He chopped up every old bit of vegetable he thought needed using up, except zucchini, which he refused to consider. Too bad, I like it in fried rice and we certainly have plenty to use up.

I was not going to complain since I did not have to do any of the cooking, or even the cleaning. How I lucked out of that I will never know. Sadly this is our last Saturday with Carter home as I am taking back to Boston next weekend. Russ is going to have a less varied diet without Carter here. I am already sad, but have cherished this special time to have her home for so long.

Shay’s the Only One

During these last four months Russ has gone into his empty office once a week to water the plants. Sometimes Carter with go with him. Once Russ and I met our friends there and had a socially distant lunch. Mostly it is just a Russ, watering the thirsty plants.

Today Shay and I went with Russ. The campus is still empty. The man made river is turned off making the complex eerily quiet. The parking garage is sparsely filled. The building is locked and Russ is only able to get in what his card key. No one is in the lobby. There is no waiting for an elevator as no one is using them.

Russ, Shay and I get in the “magic room,” as we call the elevator and than Shay is allowed to have her leash removed. The door opens on the fourth floor and she runs around the corner to the door of CMG. She prances outside the glass door, awaiting Russ to come and unlock it for her. She scrambles inside and slides the length of the wood floor of the big giant room.

Shay is thrilled to be out and about, even if it is just alone with us. We water the plants and Shay pretends other CMG team members are there to pet her and play. It takes only minutes to complete the needed tasks and we are back in the magic room. Back in the car and off to home to stay safe and alone. A once a week outing to the old life is short.

Store Bought Best

In my eternal quest to use up the zucchini growing in my garden I am making a different zucchini dish every other day. Russ is a good egg about eating them in leftover form day after day. I made five giant loaves of zucchini bread from the two bat sized veggies and gave them away because there were already five loaves in the freezer.

Thank goodness I own a mandolin because it enables me to slice thin ribbons of flesh. I made a lasagna using the squash ribbons in place of the pasta. It was good, but not lasagna good. A better use of the ribbons was this roasted vegetable torte I made. I used yellow squash and zucchini from the garden along with potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes, basil and goat cheese.

I knew it needed a sauce, but after slicing and roasting all those vegetables and layering them into a loaf I didn’t want to invest the time to make a homemade sauce. I thought a roasted red pepper sauce would be nice. If I had a jar of roasted peppers I could have whipped one up, but alas, no jars in the cupboard.

Instead I turned to a container of Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I heat just enough soup to coat the bottom of the dish and placed the warm torte on top. The soup, turned sauce, was the perfect addition to the vegetables. In fact it was the best part of the meal.

The icing on the cake was the container is recloseable and I put it in the fridge to be used the next day with the leftover torte. I think I could just put some sautéed zucchini in that soup and it would be good. Russ liked the soup so much he just drizzled some on top of a piece of bread and declared it a winner.

I have no guilt that a store bought soup was the star of my meal. Now I just need to find other ways to incorporate it into new dishes.

Don’t Blink

You would think with my vigilance about staying home I would have no problem keeping up with the smallest chores. I don’t have that much to do and what I do have to do is easy. So why did I not go look at the garden for two days?

We did have rain the last few days and that is all the more reason that I should have checked to see if anything needed to be picked. Today, between storms, I went out to get the mail and that is when it dawned on me that I had not harvested. I looked towards the garden and I could see a baseball bat sized zucchini peeking out from beneath the giant leaves. Shit.

I went and got my cutting shears and found many, too large, green bats. They are too big to cook into something healthy. These babies are pure bread making zucchini. At least this kind of harvest gives me a task to do tomorrow.

I think I need a check list of the boring and mundane jobs I am sick of doing just so I don’t zone out and forget to do one of them. There is no excuse for the orchids not getting watered every ten days, but when the days drag out ever so slowly and you have no reason to even know what day it is you can forget to water.

So I am going to try and keep my eyes open and not blink. If only there was something more stimulating than watching zucchini grow to do around here.

45 Doesn’t Offer You Cover

The current occupant of the White House is pushing an ever increasing racist agenda. He has never been shy about it from the start of his “birther” questioning, but as his poll numbers go down he is not trying to appeal to a broader base, but is doubling down to appeal to the racists among us. His strategy, not that I think he has strategy, is his choice. He will be judged in history for all his actions and those are not my immediate concern.

What is troubling to me is that people I know are openly displaying their own racism. I do not know if they feel emboldened by what 45 says. If they are strong supporters of his, like him, voted and will vote for him, then they feel it is OK to sound like him. To me, it is not OK.

As my previous Pastor, Haywood Holderness says, “God didn’t make no junk.” So in God’s eyes we are all good. Regardless if you were born with brown skin, yellow skin, white skin, love people of your same gender, are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, Buddhist, Hindi, have one leg, are blind or deaf. No one chose how they came out. Holding yourself above another for the color of their skin is something they had no control over and is racist.

Very few people think of themselves as racist, or at least didn’t admit it, but now with 45 spewing hate more and more people are saying things that sound like him. I am noticing and so are others and it is disturbing.

Today a note was posted as a teaser for a news story on WRAL tonight about the Wakefield Neighborhood in Raleigh. The note was supposedly left at the home of a white woman who is married to an African American man. It is shocking how one neighbor has no trouble threatening another. You can read it here.

This open racism is not OK, but neither is the subtle racism, like saying, “all lives matter,” or “Bubba Watson should apologize.” Maybe you don’t realize how racist it makes you sound when you say things like that, because the guy you like in the White House says it.

If in your heart you aren’t racist then learn how not to sound like it. God has given you grace to grow and learn. If you are white, that was a privilege you were given by birth. Don’t act like it makes you better than anyone else. You didn’t have anything to do with it.

Safe On Home Base

If there is a thunder storm Shay needs to get to Home Base for safety. For the record, home base is my bed. It does not matter where she is when the storm starts she starts shaking and shivering. It does not matter than she is protected inside the house. It makes no difference if she is on the lowest floor, furthest from potential harm.

Shay shakes so badly until you bring her upstairs to be placed on my bed. Once there, despite the storm continuing outside, she stops shaking and shivering and is one happy puppy.

Shay won’t go there by herself. You must carry her to the home base for it to have such magical powers. I don’t have to stay there with her, but she is happier if I do. I too am happier at my home base. I wonder if I got it from Shay or if she got it from me? I guess our bed is Shay’s thunder bed. No shirt needed to help keep the anxiety away.

Crack for Squirrels

Out in front of our house today a squirrel ran from a tree in the middle of the yard to the magnolia grove. A few minutes later he ran back to the tree in the middle and got a friend. The two of them scurried over to the Magnolia. Then another joined them. Then one ran back to the middle of the yard and stood on its haunches and squealed. Soon another squirrel ran down the tree and they went over to the magnolia.

Russ looked out the window and said, “what do you think is going on outside with those squirrels.”

“They have discovered bacon,” I told him. “I poured some bacon grease in the dirt under the Magnolia.

I imagine the squirrels were saying, “Have you guys tried this dirt?” This is the best dirt ever.”

“Who knew dirt bound taste this good. We have been wasting out time gathering but when we just could be eating dirt.”

I looked at Russ and said, “I think I just threw off an entire ecosystem.”

Bacon can do that.

Non-Celebratory July 4th

Everything so far this year has been non-celebratory, so Independence Day is no different. I’ve had plenty of Fourths where I was out of the country and therefore had no celebrations. When I worked in the UK sometimes my friends there would ask me why we celebrated July 4th. It was always a little awkward to say, “It’s the day we declared Independence from you. So we are celebrating being free of England.”

I wonder if the British are going to add a celebration for the day they left the EU. Seems a little early for them to declare it was a good thing so maybe they should hold off on making it a bank holiday.

As a kid July fourth was a day at the riding club with fun swim activities, a picnic, men dressed in madras shorts and a square dance. It was a fun way to spend the day until all the old people drank too much and got inappropriate. I was the days of Mad Men.

Our little town had a parade in the morning and only once did I ever go to it because watching parades was not something my parents ever participated it. My one time was when I was a Girl Scout and our troop was in the parade. It was a little spooky because we had to gather at the big cemetery on the north side of town and march down Ridgefield Road into the village. I can’t remember if we did anything more that march. It was a small town parade with kids on bikes decorated with streamers and old men driving convertibles. Seems kind of lame now, but I was happy to actually witness the parade once.

The best Fourth of July parades I ever saw were at Pawley’s Island. People would actually make floats and decorate cars. We would sit in my cousin Mary’s driveway in beach chairs and the people in the parade would throw candy to us. Now that is a parade.

2020 is not a parade kind of year and certainly not one where anyone is throwing candy. There are no fireworks at the ball park or Boston Pops playing to fireworks on the Charles, except maybe in reruns.

I guess I am happy we are our own country and that deserves to be celebrated. Having Boris Johnson as a leader would be not improvement on our current disaster. What I really hope is that people can try and remember back to a time when we did what was right for our fellow Americans. If we all tried a little harder to do what is good for the collective rather than just ourselves we might go back to living in a country worth throwing a parade for.

Thanks Disney

Today is the one day chance to get to watch Hamilton on Disney+. Carter and I watched it this morning and now I am watching it again tonight. It has brought me great joy. So much that I forgot who was our President. I forgot about Covid ravaging the world. So this blog is very short so you can stop reading and quick buy Disney + right now and still have time to watch it. Disney thanks for taking my mind off everything! Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius.

Stupid Alert

It used to be that you couldn’t tell someone’s intelligence just by walking by them on the street. Sometimes you would look twice at the person standing next to a guy wearing an “I’m with stupid” t-shirt with an arrow pointing at them. Mostly that t-shirt says more about the wearer and not how bright the person is to have them as a friend. But just looking at a person, not hearing anything they say or witnessing anything they do, you have no idea what their IQ is.

Times have changed. Now there is a sure fire way you can tell a total idiot from six feet away. They are not wearing a mask inside the grocery store. Yesterday my cousin had an unfortunate encounter as she was going into a TJ Maxx in Raleigh, NC. Here in a North Carolina we have a statewide executive order from our Governor that mandates people wearing masks inside public places. It is the responsibility of the business to require customers to do so, which is tough, but not impossible.

Back to my cousin, these are her words of what she encountered.

I walking into a TJ Max (that’s probably the first mistake) wearing a mask. A young white couple were walking out without masks. The woman loudly and ragefully said while walking towards me and then past me, “Stupid f-ing woman, wearing a f-ing mask. What a f-ing stupid idiot!” I just walked past and shook it off but if you really stop to think about it, it will get to you. The excess of aggression and displaced rage on a total stranger because I’m wearing a piece of cloth over my face. A piece of cloth to stop more deaths, to prevent her from getting sick, and frankly, so my kids can go back to school before I go stark raving mad. God help us. Nothing but love, kindness and compassion needed at this time.

My cousin is kinder than I am. Not only was the woman just plain old trash to speak that way it clearly speaks to her lack of intelligence. Mask wearing is not political. It does not infringe on your rights. (I am really tired of that excuse.) You can breath and do normal activities while wearing it. Brilliant doctors can preform eight hours of complex surgery while standing up in a mask.

That rude and stupid woman who my cousin encountered might object to her doctor not wearing a mask while performing brain surgery on her, although I am not sure if there has ever been a successful brain transplant and that is what this woman needs.

So spread the word that not wearing a mask in public is a big flashing advertisement that you are a moron. Perhaps people would like to go back to being anonymously stupid at least if they are not standing next to someone wearing a t-shirt outing them.

As for the TJ Maxx that did not enforce the mask order, shame on you. Perhaps we need them to get a ticket everyday and then maybe they will do what Costco and Trader Joe’s does and politely ask people to put their masks on.

Everyone wants things to open back up and the only way that is going to happen fully is for there to be a vaccine and for people to take it. Until then, WEAR THE DAMN MASK, don’t be stupid.

Different Summer

Russ, Carter and I went to the mountains for a few days for what is probably our only vacation this year. We went to stay at an air B and B that we stayed at last year. It was the perfect social distancing get away. Except for one lunch on the way to the house we stayed away from all other people. Hiking on out of the way trails helped. The weather was not great so there were fewer people in the woods.

It was a lovely respite from Covid life. We did not watch TV or read the news. We did play games and sat by the fire and ate good meals. The only way it would have been better was if Shay were allowed to go with us.

This is the first summer in twenty years that I am not taking a road trip somewhere. Instead I am looking at this summer as the year I do all the chores. Usually I take summer off from chores because I am not at home. With no excuse I have to tackle the decades old list of things to fix, clean or get rid of.

Today I did something I have never done before. I mopped the garage floor. Not all of it, just the part around the washer and dryer and door way. It was rather satisfying. Not as good as a road trip, but better than cleaning out the attic.

I am happy to stay home and do my part to knock down the spread. The more we stay at home the less chance we have of getting sick or making others sick. I may not be spending money on gas to wander off and visit friends so instead I may have to buy a new mop. One for the garage and one for the house.