A Long Sad Day

When I was a kid, perhaps, nine or ten years old my Dad started many words of wisdom with the line, “I have to tell you this before I die.” It was very discomforting as a child because I often missed the wisdom and just worried that he might die soon. Today I can no longer get to hear his advice because he died in his bed at home.

My Dad was bigger than life in everything he did. People either loved him or hated him, no one was ever indifferent to him. And if he loved you, you knew it and you were the greatest, smartest or funniest. But if he hated you, you were the nothing more than a Cromag, or his favorite insult, “you were all you would ever be.”

He defied all the odds by living to 83 in spite of the hard and fast life he lived. He outlived all his contemporaries and that made life lonely. He suffered many ailments over the last few years, but beat every odd and kept living in a body that he had worn out years before.

Ever the optimist he had planned to have an operation on his elbow in five days so he could qualify for a knee replacement. He bought a new car two weeks ago, when he also had a truck and shouldn’t have been driving either of them.

Yesterday my Mom called me and said he was doing poorly. I drove up to their new house he just finished building and found him disoriented and in pain, but had no idea that his end was so close. I stayed in the room across from his last night listening to his pain and then he unexpectedly got out of bed and fell on the floor. It was hell. The paramedics came and checked him out and put him back in bed, saying he was safer here than at the Covid filled hospital. Apparently he wasn’t safe anywhere.

My Mom and I are still in shock, fueled by our lack of sleep. We aren’t having a service right away, but are waiting until all the people who were important to him can be together. It’s been a long sad day, one I am happy I did not have to suffer when I was ten, or twenty or even forty. I was so lucky to live sixty years with Ed Carter always giving me advice.

People Aren’t Mind Readers

I have to admit that I watch the Bachelor in all it’s forms. I am addicted to the editing. I love to see who the editors are going to make the villains and the angels. I love to see them build someone up, just to have them let us down. Sadly these are real people who suffer the consequences of the Machiavellian minds of the producers.

There is one constant in these television shows that I find to be as true on TV as it is in real life; Most people don’t tell people exactly what they want or how they feel, but expect others to read their mind. Then they are disappointed with the outcomes.

One thing I have learned in my sixty years is there are no mind readers. If you want something you better make it clear. Conversely, it is the same for things you don’t want. Holding back the truth or expecting people to pick up on subtle cues rarely gives you the result you are hoping for.

No one is thinking about you as the center of their universe. They are thinking about themselves. So despite how close you might believe you are to someone, don’t leave things to chance. Tell them what you need, or want and wait and see how they respond. You may not like what they are willing to do for you, but at least you’re not waiting around or being constantly disappointed by others.

Along the same route, if you feel slighted by someone, don’t take it so personally. Usually the slight is not about you, but is about whatever that person is dealing with in their own lives. Remember, you are not the most important thing to them. No matter how close you are, they still have other things on their minds and usually they did not mean to hurt your feelings or ignore you. If you aren’t that close, take a chill pill.

Jeopardy Matt

I have been loving watching Matt Amodio, the current 30 day winner on Jeopardy. Tonight he had a really impressive win of $70,000 bringing his total winnings to over $1,074,000. That’s a lot of money for 30 show’s work.

Filming Jeopardy is grueling as they tape five shows in one day. Apparently they are taping 15 shows in three days so if Matt continues to win like he has been it will not only be amazing for his breadth of knowledge, but his stamina as well.

He certainly appears to reserve as much energy as possible and answers all questions with “What is…” regardless if the answer is a person, place or thing. At first it sounded odd to hear, “What is Lincoln,” rather than “Who is Abraham Lincoln” as the answer to “was the president during the civil war. It may be awkward, but it is perfect legal in Jeopardy rules. Matt’s judicious use of words is a strategy that works for him.

Having a long running winner makes the show so much more exciting for me. Every night I have to watch to see if he can hold on to the title. The hard part is watching the other contestants whither as Matt is able to ring in before almost everyone all the time and get the answer right at least 96% of the time. Keep up the good work Matt. Your calm demeanor and humility makes you someone worth rooting for.

It’s “What to Wear?” Season

If you are lucky enough to live in the triangle of North Carolina you would have to admit that we have been enjoying some absolutely beautiful weather the last few days. The temperature has been hovering between seventy-one and seventy-eight with the smallest swing between the high and the low. There is little to no humidity and the sunny skies are the perfect shade of Carolina blue. The autumnal equinox officially arrived a couple days ago so it is officially fall.

All that good new being said I find this time of year to be the hardest for deciding what I should wear. Technically I should have put away my summer linens and spring pastels, but those are the perfect things to wear now given the temperature. There is this arcane rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but I already make a big exception for that since summer runs into the end of September. But this fall’s entrance with perfect weather I still want to and think I am going to be wearing white.

Traditional “fall colors,” like brown, rust and gold are horrible on me. I don’t have a wardrobe of light clothes in dark colors. I have a wardrobe of colorful clothes, most considered more summery.

Until the weather actually turns reliably cold I am going to keep wearing my summer clothes. We should do away with the stuffy and ridiculous rules about what is appropriate for which season and wear what we want based on what makes us feel comfortable. Perhaps the pandemic has already done that. Maybe I should just buy a capsule wardrobe of all blue and white and wear it year round. If you see me out in white pants and a linen shirt in October don’t bother to remind me it’s fall, even if it’s 72 degrees. I’m not paying any attention to the calendar, just the weather.

The Slowest Quilt Ever

This summer I decided to make a scrap quilt with all the leftover bits of fabric I have leftover from previous projects. I can’t stand to throw away a six inch by 12 inch piece of fabric, when I know that EVENTUALLY I can use it.

This summer was eventually. I designed a pattern that uses tiny slightly wonky stars so that perfection is not an issue. I calculated that I needed 180 3 1/2 inch stars, but when I went to assemble the stars into bigger squares I discovered I needed 20 more tiny stars.

Making each tiny star is exhausting. They each use 17 little bits of fabric, which all must be cut, sewn, ironed and then squared up, meaning cut again. That’s 3400 pieces of fabric.

After a couple of months of that I finally started assembling the star squares into nine patch blocks with the stars making up five of the nine blocks and plain white material as the other four. That’s 800 more squares. More cutting, sewing and ironing, but so much faster than the tiny squares.

To get an idea of the pattern I had designed I laid out the nine patches on a design wall board. I will be adding plain white blocks between the nine patches. Only 30 more squares for that. More cutting, sewing and ironing.

I would have felt happier about my progress if I did not have to double back to making 20 more tiny star squares. Somehow having to do more of the tedious cutting and sewing makes me crazy, when I thought I was done with it.

All this and I will still have to design a border and back and then get it quilted. This project will officially be my slowest one ever. I pray I like it when it’s done.

Finally, a Wedding in Sight

It’s national Daughter’s day. Not a real holiday, just one that gets us to post pictures of our daughter’s. Now I have a great daughter, but since I am not with her I got to spend time with someone else’s wonderful daughter today.

To me, it was “spend time with your favorite bride and mother of the bride to be,” Tatum and Sara Pottenger. Tatum, like so many, has been a bride in waiting for years due to Covid. It used to be that one could get engaged and plan a wedding in six to nine months and have the day of their dreams. Then the time line got longer due to unavailability of wedding venues and the long lead times for things like dresses. So once people got engaged, if they wanted a big wedding, they had to wait a year and a half to two years.

Then Covid hit and brides who had planned their perfect weddings started postponing their celebrations. Tatum did that. She postponed everything exactly one year. So all her friends and family are very excited that her wedding is going to happen this winter.

I loved getting to talk about the plans and we are all hoping that there will be a lull in Covid activity around her date. After all the waiting she deserves a fabulous celebration.

But Covid also changed weddings for many who just went ahead with smaller, more intimate weddings. My sister got married on Zoom with just the clerk in Annapolis who performed the ceremony. It was not the wedding of her dreams, but she is happily married nonetheless.

I hope that Covid will not add more years to the timeline that people have to wait to have their weddings. Waiting a year or two is long enough. Thanks to Tatum and Sara for sharing the plans with me and letting me share some daughter time, when mine is far off.

Deceptive Advertising from L’Occitane en Provence

There is nothing I hate more than deceptive advertising. It is probably from my time of working in Marketing. I feel like lying to customers costs you so much more than you get in sales. Today I got a Facebook ad for L’Occitaine en Provence offering 20% off full priced items with a photo for a “Premium Advent Calendar” right under the banner. I have been a faithful l’occitane customer for many years.

I thought that the advent calendar looked like an interesting gift and I am a sucker for 20% off. Since I like L’occitane products I clicked the shop now. I signed into my account as I purchase from them regularly. I put the code of FRIENDS in the promo code and immediately was met with a red box, “This item is not eligible for this promo.”

Frustrated I dialed customer service and got a young man who told me that the website was right. Of course the website is right, but I wanted to register my frustration with the deceptive advertising.

The first young man passed me to a supervisor who was not interested in my point of view and just wanted to batter me with the mice type in the terms and conditions that “clearly” stated in the middle of the dense paragraph that Advent calendars were not eligible for the discount.

He did not get that I wasn’t trying to get the discount, but something bigger. I wanted them to know that I was most unhappy with the ad featuring the advent calendar as the first offering under the 20% off banner. They should have only put products that qualified for the discount in the ad.

The supervisor wasn’t listening and just kept reading the terms and conditions. I can read. I knew all that. It was not his job to create the Facebook ads, but it was his job to try and listen to my complaint. No listening. So now I complain to the world.

Companies need to be honest in their advertising. Yes I could get 20% off something else, and that is what they should show first. Poor form l’occitane. Too bad, I really liked your shampoo and hand cream that I have used for years. Time to look somewhere else.


Thanks to my newest Mah Jongg class agent, Marty Peterson, I had another Mah Jongg class today in Raleigh. This one was a strategy class and was generously held at the lovely home of Amy Jo.

Sorry I missed someone when I took the photo

The class was made up of all friends who already play Mah Jongg together, although they have not been playing too long. That made teaching them very satisfying as they were eager to learn. A nice surprise for me was that two members of the class had been in my beginner class at the beach this summer, so I already knew they were more than competent players.

Devoting your whole day to learning how to better your Mah Jongg is the level of commitment that makes me happy and these women were excellent and attentive students.

After a full morning of lots of information we stopped for lunch. Everyone had brought a a “lunchy appetizer.” One women said she googled what a lunchy appetizer might be and only got chicken fingers as an answer. Amazingly, no one brought chicken fingers, but there was a huge spread of all kind of yummy finger foods. The winner was Jayne, who brought the cutest Charcuterie in a mason jar. It really could have been a meal all on its own.

After lunch it was back to work, learning and eventually time to play a game or two. For me it was a chance to spread the love of Mah Jongg to a group of new friends. I hope they remember all the tips and tricks I taught them and feel like they can take their game to the next level.

Detailing Day

The more and more I hear about supply chains issues, the better I want to take care of the things I have. Lord knows how long it would take to replace something. My friend Kate bought a new sofa. The original estimate to get it was 20-36 months. Thankfully that has been reduced, but really 2 years? I could build a sofa faster than that, and that was after I grew the wood and raised the sheep for the wool batting and the flax to weave into cloth and the plants for dye and the silk worms for thread.

The pandemic continuation of cleaning up and taking care of everything we own today was a big day. Shay went to a new groomer. Her last groomer, the mobile one, lied to me about canceling her appointment the day-of, saying the truck was broken and would take six weeks to fix. I found out it was a lie from a friend who also used them because they told her they were just dropping our neighborhood as part of their route. When the six weeks came around the owner called and told me the truth about dropping our neighborhood and I told him I had already heard and wished he had told me the truth six weeks ago. Lying never gets you anywhere. So I highly don’t recommend Indigo Spaw mobile pet groomers.

Shay went to a chain groomer, Woof Gang, today for her personal detailing. I had given her an at-home poor grooming this summer to make up for Indigo Spaw not showing up, the haircut was fine on her body, but not her feet. Apparently the hair grew all around her pads making her feet slip on our wood floors. I asked the vet if there was something wrong with Shay’s eyes because she stopped wanting to go the stairs on her own. Turns out it was her lack of groomed feet. Thank goodness it was not her eyes. Today we got all that cleaned up.

Continuing the detailing theme I also took my car to the Ritz to get detailed. I don’t think I have ever had it detailed before. It came back looking just as good as Shay. I had to wait a bit for an appointment, but it was worth it. Thanks Ritz car wash. You guys rock.

So things around here are looking good. We just need to keep everything in working order because we can’t replace things, especially Shay.

Cheating on Shay

Tonight I went to my friend Kate’s new house to play Mah Jongg with her, Nancy and Jeanne. They all just finished lessons and wanted to practice what they have learned. Such great students who have fully embraced the game and are getting addicted.

Since we were at Kate’s house I got to spend some quality time with her two labs, Lucy and Salty. They are big and friendly so by the time I left I was full of “other dog smells.”

Shay was so excited to see me when I got home. She is not used to me being out of the house at night. She jumped up on her hind legs and did her happy wiggle, waving her paws in the air at me. Then when I got closer she got a whiff of me and my “other dogs’ smells.”

Shay promptly dropped down to all fours and gave me a good sniffing over. “Who were you with? Why were you with other dogs and not with me?” The sniffs were down right accusatory.

I was cheating on Shay. I didn’t go to see other dogs, they just happened to be there. Sadly Mah Jongg has no smell, so I couldn’t prove that is what I was doing instead of playing with dogs.

Her unhappiness with me didn’t last long. As soon as I changed my clothes washed was better and promptly snuggled up to me and fell asleep. So sorry Shay. I promise I wasn’t cheating.

Mah Jongg Classes All Day

Some Mah Jongg Students take to the game bigger than others. This summer I had over a hundred different students at the beach. They were an enthusiastic and delightful crowd. One, Marty, really took to the game and asked if I would come and teach in Raleigh where she lives year round. No brainer for me,

When people ask me if I will come and teach in their town they don’t always follow up. Not Marty. She contacted me to ask me to teach at the Carolina Country Club. First it was two beginners classes, then a strategy class. Those classes filled and she said their was desire for an evening class. That filled and then a second class had to be added, all in two weeks.

In record time Marty had filled five classes for me, secured spaces to hold them and ensured that all the students bought their Mah Jongg Cards in advance. Between Marty and Reba (my agent at the beach) I have had a very busy few months.

Today was day 1 for the morning and afternoon beginner classes. I forgot to get pictures of the lovely women who came to learn. I took this photo by mistake during the break in the afternoon class.

Mah Jongg is so much easier than bridge. It can be learned in three three hour lessons. Then after playing a while you can take the strategy class to step your game up. Learning to play Mah Jongg by sitting next to people who are playing is no way to learn quickly.

I had some very enthusiastic learners today. Six of whom all bought mah Jongg sets before they left class. Spreading the Mah Jongg love makes my day. Thanks to Marty for organizing these classes.

Restaurant Changes

The last couple of restaurants I have gone to have done away with menus. They also have done away with humans I get to interact with when ordering. Instead, I have had to scan a QR code attached to my table that then brings up an online menu. I scroll through the whole thing and order everything myself, put in my credit card and then am asked how much I want to tip and I pay before I have even been given a napkin.

At one place today I had to get up and go to a central station to get my own napkins and water and I had to clean my own table. Now I have no issue with taking care of myself. I have done plenty of food service work in my life. What I do have a problem with being asked to tip before I have gotten anything at all.

I love tipping people an extraordinary amount who provide great service. I believe in rewarding excellent behavior. What I don’t like is being asked to tip on hardly any service at all. When I do my own ordering, my own table cleaning, both before and after a meal and getting my own drink I begin to wonder why the person who comes and drops a bag on my table deserves 20% or even 15%.

I don’t mind online menus as they save paper and are cleaner because lots of different people are not handling them. I also think that not printing menus give restaurants the opportunity to change the menu more often. My issue with online ordering is I have no chance to ask questions. Like, “Which is better, the chicken or the fish?” Or “What do you recommend?” This is all part of the service.

What if I order something online and the bag with my food gets dropped in front of me and I never see a server again.? What happens if I don’t like something or the order is wrong. At the place I went today I could not tell you what our server looked like because they dropped the bag from behind me and I never saw him or her again. For this I tipped 15%.

Also ordering with a group is slow and difficult on the app. If everyone does their own phone scan and orders their own items they don’t necessarily all come at the same time. It also makes paying an individual thing. What if I want to treat someone? It just takes a lot longer to place the order.

Covid has caused all kinds of changes in food service. I want restaurants to stay in business and hopefully in the future we can have an actual conversation with a person working in a restaurant. What I think needs to happen if I am going to do all the work as the patron is tipping needs to go away. The restaurant can raise their prices to pay their workers a living wage. Something I wish had happened long ago. People should not have to depend on tips to make enough money to live. Tipping should be for exceptional service in place where service actually exists. Tipping should also happen after a customer has been delighted, not at ordering.

As someone with food service experience I will continue to tip upon ordering if that is the way the system is set up. I know what can happen to someone’s food if there is a no tip order. I am not interested in pissing people off. I just don’t want to tip someone else if I do all the work.

Same Dinner Thirty Years Later

The old adage, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” was not true in my case. Yes, cooking is my best skill, but Russ asked me to marry him on the way into the Acme supermarket to buy veggies to cook him dinner for the very first time. Yes, it was a surprise to me. No, he had not planned on asking me at the Acme, but he said he couldn’t wait.

After returning home engaged, without a ring, I did cook him a yummy veggie pasta. He said he hit the jackpot since he had not eaten my cooking before hand. See, he grew up with some very average American food, so life with me was a totally new adventure.

This morning, with the garden full of the same vegetables I made that first dinner from, Russ asked if I could remake that first meal.

It was even better tonight than it was thirty years ago because I grew it myself and it was much fresher than anything we could have gotten at Acme.

So here’s to thirty years and a month of a half from the day Russ asked me to marry him. Thank goodness he liked that meal and didn’t change his mind about marrying me. (You know the dinner was the lock.)

Anger at the Unvaccinated is Boiling Up

In the spring when Vaccines were made available to most adults many of us did not have any problem with the vaccine hesitant because it meant that there was availability for us to get our shot faster. There were days when three million people got vaccinated. Then once all the people with brains had gotten theirs the lines slowed down and at some pints there were under 400,000 people a day getting a vaccine.

The news told us to be patient with the skeptics and give them time to come around. Well as far as I am concerned TIMES UP. The vaccine has been fully approved. It is not experimental and nothing in the history of medicine has more data given how many people around the world have been vaccinated.

Speaking of data we also know that if you don’t get the vaccine you are 11 times more likely to die from Covid, but you will not die from the vaccine. So given all the data it is time to stop being nice and put the hammer down.

If you don’t get the vaccine your health insurance company should immediately quadruple your premiums. Hospitals should build tent wards for unvaccinated Covid patients and real hospital buildings are for everyone else who is vaccinated and needs care. So if you have a heart attack and are vaccinated you can get care, or you are in a car accident. Health care workers should be prioritized to care for vaccinated patients.

Unvaccinated people should not be allowed inside any buildings where large groups might gather. It’s their choice not to vaccinate, but why should the rest of us be exposed to them.

If people don’t get vaccinated for religious reasons then their religious organization should pay for their health care if they get sick, or even better do the caring for them and make their own Covid hospitals.

Being nice to people did not get them to come around. It just gave the virus more hosts to continue to spread and get stronger. We are losing over 2,000 Americans a day (really a lot more, because Florida is not reporting their deaths), and most of those people are unvaccinated. Too stupid to save themselves. I have little sympathy for their stupidity.

Spreading the Joy

Today was day two of my needlepoint Mah Jongg class. Jeanne and Lisa brought the most fabulous “snacks” which turned out to be a huge meal for dinner. We had to have a little class before I let everyone take a break for dinner.

The group actually played their first real game and just when Kate thought she needed to be refreshed before she could go on she won her first Mah Jongg game. There is nothing more thrilling than losing your Mah Jongg virginity.

After a lovely dinner we went back to playing. This is a competitive group who all want to win and everyone did a superior job to night. Even people who did not Mah Jongg were so close.

Nancy made Mah Jongg and I have never seen her so excited in her life. It was a true celebration, especially since she has been wanting to learn for years. She announced that there will be a lot more Mah Jongg Needlepoint at the store after this!

Kate knocked it out of the park winning the third game in a heart braking steel from Lisa because Lisa had been on call for one last tile for two whole walls and Kate had her tile.

I predict everyone will get their first Mah Jongg at their next lesson since they all are progressing at record speed. That pattern recognition skill from needlepoint definitely translates to Mah Jongg.

From the Garden to the Platter

I am really going to miss the summer growing season. So quickly I became accustomed to cooking from the garden. Planning my dishes based on what was ripe. I definitely made some new combinations of foods because of what I had available.

Tonight we had a young couple over for dinner. As I am busier this week than I have been in months I had to make things that were quick. Since both Russ and I had to be on the same Zoom call for the hour before our guests arrived I needed to make everything in advance.

I settled on making a room temperature meal to simplify life. I did some cheese, hummus and veggies as nibbles with drinks. Then I served this platter for dinner. It was roasted vegetables of eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts. I garnished it with fresh basil from the garden and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Some pan seared salmon, not from the garden. Then a tabbouli of bulgar wheat full of fresh parsley, mint, tomato and cucumber all from the garden. It was fresh and easy.

I am dreading winter and having to eat store bought veggies. I have not planted fall vegetables yet as my summer ones are still taking up space. As long as they are producing I am going to keep them. My tomato yield picked up a little this week. It is going to be cruel to lose fresh tomatoes.

Back to School

Today was like a day from 2019. It started with Garden Club actually meeting for the first time in person in eighteen months. We had a small turnout of faithful mask wearing members outdoors at Pokey’s pavilion, which is the most perfect tented area out back of her house.

It was kind of like the first day of back to school when you have a class made up of all your friends with no smelly boys. It was nice to get dressed and talk about things other than Covid, even if what we talked about was garden club budget. I am very thankful that Missy McLeod continues to be our treasurer.

Following up my back to school theme today I held the first class of my needlepointers learning to play Mah Jongg. Needlepoint Nancy, Jeanne, Kate and Lisa all came for the first of their three classes. Nancy and Jeanne have been waiting through more than the whole Pandemic to learn. They were all excellent students and Kate only got distracted two or three times.

I had warned them that they will not know how to play Mah Jongg after the first class and they didn’t believe me until the last fifteen minutes when I threw some hard concepts at them. It’s Ok. Thursday they come for the second class and then they will get to actually play.

Oh, today felt like the old days, even though I wore a mask at garden club.

Canada Rules

I hope you have Apple TV, because if you do please watch “Come From Away.” It is the musical based on the true story of the people of Gander, Newfoundland Canada who took in over 7,000 people on 38 flights on 9/11. I watched the film of the musical on 9/11 and it made the heaviness of that day lift off me.

Thirty years ago I was lucky enough to get to work with all the Canadian Provincial telephone companies for two years. Although the headquarters for the work was in Ottawa, my specific role meant that I got to visit every province at least four or five times. Some places I went to more often. It was never a hardship to have to go to Vancouver, or Toronto. Those cities are still some of my favorite places, but there is nothing like Moose Jaw.

I got to know lots of really wonderful Canadians. Some I am still in touch with today. One of my favorites, Stuart Wright from Bell Canada, even invited me to have dinner at his home and meet his family. Since then he and his wife Saundra have come to our house on their way to play golf down south. One of my clients in Calgary made sure to schedule my work with her during the stampede so she and her husband could take me to see what life there was really like.

I went to St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland a couple of times, but never got to Gander. They gave me a bottle of Screech, a local favorite, and I never had the heart to tell them I had given up drinking long before. I think they might not have trusted me if I told them that. But the people In St. John’s were a fun group.

Watching Come From Away I felt like I had met all those people before all over Canada. It made me miss going there. I feel very lucky that I had those years there. I pray that if the tables were turned and we had to welcome a large group of strangers we could be half as hospitable as the people of Gander.

Watch the musical. It is a treat, with great music, but mostly a story about kindness that we all could be reminded of right now.

Never Done

When we were in Maine I made a spur of the moment purchase of a new rug for the living room when Russ was not with me. It was a little out of character, but I was so drawn to this rug that I just had to have it.

When I got back to our friend’s house where Russ was hanging out, instead of shopping, I told him about the new rug. “Huh, I didn’t know we needed a new rug.”

Need is the key word here. We did not need a new rug. In fact I now have my old needlepoint rug put aside and am not exactly sure what I am going to do with it. It is in perfect condition, but I have had it for twenty three years.

I am of the mind that you need to constantly be redoing rooms in your house. It does not mean you have to do everything all at once, but recovering, repainting something every year. A few years back I got new window treatments for the living room and I thought I would redo the furniture soon after that, but somehow got side tracked. I am so glad I did, because now I am going to work around this rug. I chose the rug because it went with my new window treatments.

It is so easy to become complacent with things they way they are, but things get tired, faded, worn or out of date. Freshening up your surroundings is like instant happiness. I know people who move houses because they are tired of looking at their old house. They could just reupholster the sofa.

I have a list of things I want to do at my house. Like I want to change my entry hall, but have not figured out exactly what color I want it to be. I guess now I’ll wait until I pick out new fabric for the living room and then decide. You know the old saying, “If you pull one thread…”

In my case it was a new rug.

200 Times Worse than 9/11

I’ve lived exactly one third of my life post 9/11. Before that date bad things that happened in our country were just bad, but we got over them. I grew up watching the TV news in the era of Vietnam. Every night Walter Cronkite would open the news with the number of dead Americans in Vietnam that day. To my small person’s perspective I thought the news was the report of everybody that died in all of America, but the number was small, a dozen or so.

We had the assignation of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy’s. Then their was the Challenger explosion. I felt like those were the worst tragedies I would ever see. 9/11 changed all of that. We came together as a country in our collective grief and we supported each other, because we had a common enemy.

Covid has been a tragedy of more than 200 times the magnitude in the sense of deaths, but somehow Covid has divided this county unlike any terrorist. I wish that people would learn to come together like we did after 9/11.

The idea of getting a vaccine and wearing a mask to protect your neighbor would have been a no brainer right after 9/11 if that would protect the county. Where is that American spirit today?

After 9/11 I thought that would be the biggest national tragedy I would witness is my life, but Covid has overtaken that spot. We didn’t know 9/11 was going to happen, but we did work to ensure that terrorists could not use planes as bombs again. We can slow Covid and give our health care workers a break if we all take the scientifically proven measures of vaccines and mask wearing . It is patriotic to do what is right for the collective good of America. Children under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet. When in modern American history have we not tried to protect children? Not getting a vaccine and wearing a mask puts children at risk. I know no one thinks of themselves as child killers.

Let’s feel that good feeling of coming together for each other. Let’s do what Dolly Parton wants us to do. Get the vaccine and wear a mask. There is nothing more American than that. I don’t want Covid to be 400 times worse than 9/11.

The Slowing Harvest

I knew that when I went away in August I would be missing the bulk of my harvest. Thankful for my friends who got all the butternut squash and cucumbers and beans, but sad that it was the end of those.

I have lots of green tomatoes, which are reluctantly ripening and an abundance of banana peppers, but the variety that was my garden is dwindling. Everyday I cut a couple of okra that keep holding on, but no cucumbers or squash. The eggplant are so slow growing it is almost like they are fake, like baby plastic eggplant attached to the plant.

It is time to pull things out. My garden does not get much fall sun. I want to plant some kale, arugula and herbs like cilantro and dill that like the cooler weather. My enthusiasm for daily garden work is waning, even though there is still lots of work to be done.

My compost is so depleted and the fig tree that so promisingly had tons of figs waiting to ripen got wiped out by deer in one night, right before I was about to harvest.

Overall I am thrilled with the output this year, with the exception of summer squash and zucchini that were ravaged by boring worms. Next year I will have to try every organic method to save the plants, starting with putting them in different beds.

What I am going to miss most is not having to buy vegetables. But having a garden gives me an even bigger appreciation for all that farmers do.

Dogs Love The Pandemic

Sometimes I wonder if dogs are secretly keeping Covid going so they could keep their humans home with them. I don’t know how they might be doing it, but it seems plausible.

Today Russ left extra early to fly to Washington for the day. Shay stayed snuggled in bed late into the morning. When she finally woke up she went on a hunt to find Russ. Her first stop was in his office, where Shay serves as his work supervisor. As he was not there this got her upset so she went to the kitchen to see if he was just getting his coffee, no Russ.

I watched as she visited every room in the house, even crying at a closed door to Carter’s room until I opened it to show her he was not there. How could he have snuck out of the house without her knowledge, and where was he?

I offered myself up as a candidate to be supervised. I had a long morning zoom, but Shay chose to stand and lookout the front door, pining for Russ. She had no interest in helping me sort socks, her normally favorite task.

I invited Shay to come to the sweat shop while I worked. Turned down cold. She barley asked for meals as her despondency increased. Russ is not due home until ten tonight. I am certain that she will have worked herself into a full on anxiety attack by then. Thank goodness this is just a one day trip.

Happy Birthday Margsey

Tomorrow is my sister Margaret’s birthday. For the longest time it was just me and Margaret. We wore sister dresses and tortured each other. We were fairly old, 8 1/2 and 5, when we got our surprise third sister Janet. Despite Janet’s arrival Margaret was always my “little sister.” I am sure it was not a position she prized.

Margaret’s birthday is just a week after Janet’s so she lost having a whole birthday month to herself. Top it off, her birthday was right after the first day of school which was not the most celebrated thing in a class of new kids you hardly know.

Margaret has always been more stylish than any of us. So I can imagine it was quite a horror to her that she had to wear my hand-me-downs. It was made even worse by having to wear what looked like the same dress for three or four years because she would first have hers and then my matching dress.

The worst thing about being the “little” sister is when we got two of anything she automatically got the smaller one – Like easter baskets. The Easter bunny would leave me a big basket and Margaret a little one. They might have had the same amount of candy, but I don’t think so. Especially since I always got up earlier and rearranged the candy giving her all the stuff I didn’t like, which she also did not like.

Why give us two different sized baskets? She could tell mine was bigger. Why not give us two that were the same size, but different colors. When Janet came around I think all the baskets were equal, but the damage of the small basket years was done.

I want to say I’m sorry to Margaret for anything I ever did that made her feel like the “little” sister. This is Margaret’s first Birthday as a married lady. I hope that Pete is treating her like a Queen.

I can’t fix the childhood issues, but at least I can get as many people as possible to wish Margaret a Happy Birthday.

Greg Abbott is Full of It

Today as Texas Governor, Greg Abbott was signing a terrible restrictive voting rights bill he was questioned about last weeks abortion bill he signed. The question was about the bill not making any provisions for rape victims who become pregnant. Abbott’s response was, “Let’s be clear, rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Really? First, Texas is the 15th highest state for rapes in the country per capitia. There are over 55.2 rapes per 100,000 per year and those are just the ones that are reported. Last year over 8,000 women in Texas reported a rape, but the statistics show that only about one in ten rapes ever gets reported.

So let’s guess there were 80,000 rapes in Texas last year. How in the world can Abbott prevent rapes from happening when the number is that big? Most women are raped by people they know. There is no way to lock someone up before they prevent a crime so how can Abbott say he is going to protect women from rapists. If he were going to do that why has t he done it already?

It’s just another ridiculous response to a terrible law. Abbott is not about protecting women, but controlling them.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

I know Cilantro is a taste that divides many, but if you are not a soap taster of it this dressing is yummy. It is easy to make and was perfect on this corn, shrimp, okra, tomato, avocado salad.

It is easy to make this in a blender or with a stick blender. No need to chop anything.

1 bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves

1/3 cup of lime juice

3 cloves of garlic

2 dried red chillies, or big pinch of red pepper flakes

2 T. Honey

2 T. Rice wine vinegar

1 T. Grated ginger

1/3 cup olive oil

Big pinch salt

Put everything in the blender and pulse until cilantro is minced.

Too Late For “Story Teller” Business Cards?

When I was kid I was often asked the common question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is an unfair question to ask most kids because we have no idea what all the jobs out there are, let alone what new jobs are yet to be invented. But today at Church I learned of the most important job, one that actually would be my dream job.

Alex, our youth pastor, was preaching today. He told the congregation that there was something more important than anything else on earth, stories and story tellers. Being a story teller is a job. I am not exactly sure it was laid out that distinctly, but that was my take away.

Shoot, I thought. Finally at the age of sixty I hear of the job that is best suited to me in every way, and I had no idea it was a real job. Now I have to admit that I have listed “story teller” as my occupation on more than a few forms, but that just was covering up the fact that I actually was not working for pay.

As a child, if you were labeled a “story teller” it meant you were a liar. No wonder I never thought it could be my actually line of work. Of course, when I was a sales person or a marketer, telling stories was my line of work. I would tell clients stories about how what I had to sell them would improve their life, their bottom line and even make then appear more beautiful. It had to be a really good story to make someone believe that a Mail opening machine would affect their appearance, but it worked.

For our entire marriage Russ has numbered my stories based on how often they get told. My top most repeated story is number one and so on. Of course the numbers on the stories change depending on my audience and the relevance of the material. How many of my friends have asked me to tell “Saskatoon” over and over again.

Sadly, I am still not sure how I can earn a living as a story teller. Yes, writers are story tellers, but writing is not my best skill. I do much better with a captive live audience and that is something that does not seem to be coming back anytime soon. So perhaps I missed my chance to have a really important job. I still will keep telling stories, just try and stop me. I just don’t think I will get business cards that say “story teller” on them.

Remind Me, I Need Low Profile

When it comes to beds, I am particular and Russ is not. He says he is happy to sleep on a piece of plywood and I am closer to the princess and the pea, minus the crown. With all the staying home over the last two year, my mattress became more and more important to me. I have hated our last bed for a long time, but had not told Russ until recently.

When we went to a hotel in June for a memorial service I had a great nights sleep and decided now was the time to break down and buy a new bed.

It took me a couple of months to actually go to the mattress store, but after all my research I was ready for some side-by-side tests. I decided to go with a Sterns and Foster, the first time I have bought this brand. The only decision my salesman gave me after I picked the mattress was box springs or adjustable base?

Since the adjustable would mean that Russ and I would have to agree on degree settings I went with box springs. Today our bed was delivered right on time. The young men brought in the two box springs and then the mattress. The combination, when placed on our frame, are so high that I practically need a step stool.

I called the salesman and he said he made a mistake by not asking if we wanted a low profile box spring. Nice of him to admit his mistake. The new, thinner box springs will be here Tuesday. Until then I will just have to jump.

As for Russ, who never went for a test visit at the mattress store, he promptly lay down on the new bed and fell asleep for a quick nap. I think it is way better than a piece of plywood.

What Can I Do About Texas?

I don’t live in Texas, but I have a few friends who do. I love my friends, but I don’t love their government. The list of things I am upset about Texas about keeps growing. Their anti-choice law, allowing guns everywhere, not allowing mask mandates, it all makes me crazy. But it is not my state. As just one person it is hard to make an impression on a place as big as Texas that I am never going to support anything they do.

Sure, my never traveling to Texas will not make any difference. My choosing products that are not made in Texas, will not change things. But what if everyone who thinks like me boycotts all things Texan? Texas is the size of most big European countries. They can stand on their own, but Texas is not content to just sell to themselves.

When my own state of North Carolina enacted the stupidest bathroom law ever seen in this country, others boycotted NC. When we lost the NCAA basketball tournament that seemed to really make an impact on NC and we got rid of that ridiculous law.

I can’t vote out people in Texas who think they should force women to have unplanned babies, but I can let Texas know that I don’t support them. There are laws of unintended consequences. I can only imagine how clogged up Texan courts are going to be with child support cases for all those babies needing the fathers’ to step up and pay for the next eighteen years.

The majority of Americans believe that women and their doctors should make decisions about pregnancies. Just because there is a heart beat at five weeks gestation does not mean that a fetus will be a viable human, but in Texas that is not considered. Well Texas, I don’t consider you for anything.

Indisputably MY Best Family Member’s Birthday

Quiz anyone about my family and everyone in and out of it agrees that my sister Janet is the most outstanding family member. None of the rest of even come close so there is no jealousy, just admiration. This fact has been true from the moment she came into the world.

Janet was the most beautiful baby. And even a more stunning toddler, but to make us all not fell inadequate she shunned bathing and brushing of her hair. In spite of the lack of grooming she still outshone us all.

Her physical beauty was minor in relation to her athletic ability. She could out throw, hit, swim, ski and score everybody.

Loyalty has always been her hallmark. The only people who do not like her were those who were intimidated by her and insecure themselves, and they are few and far between. She is even nice to those people.

Janet is the hardest worker I know, even as a child. If there was grass to be cut, or logs to be chopped, she was the only eight year old doing that. That trait has lasted her whole life. Today when she goes to sell a department store products she does not take no for an answer, always finding a way to make things work for everybody.

Considering her superiority I feel like September 2 should be a national holiday. Since I can’t make that happen the least I can do is let people know that this is her day. My most wonderful sister Janet’s birthday.

Random Knowledge

Over a lifetime I have accumulated a lot of random knowledge. I wish my memory for french verb conjugation was as good as my memory for cleaning tips. School life would have been much easier. Sadly I have never taken an AP stain removal test, which I am certain I would have gotten a five on.

A couple of days ago, after our long road trip to Maine and back, Russ looked at my car and said I needed to have my headlight professionally cleaned as they were slightly foggy with some crazing. I was planning on having my car detailed anyway, but since I could not get an appointment until the end of September I went ahead and cleaned the headlights myself.

Russ had already hand washed the car and was unhappy with the headlights. I told him that the answer was tooth paste. I can’t tell you where or when I learned this trick, but it works great.

I bought the cheapest tube of white tooth paste I could find. Turns out Pepsodent is only .99¢, while the most expensive Crest is over $7. I ran a big bead of tooth paste on the plastic lens of my headlight. Then, using an old tooth brush, I rubbed the paste all over the lens in circular motions.

After the brushing I rinsed the headlight with the hose. The lights were greatly improved. No fogginess and I could not see any crazing.

I looked online after I had already used the toothpaste and found many products for a lot more money than .99¢ to do the same job. I don’t know where I learn these things, but it is great when the cheep home remedy works so well. Thank goodness for a random knowledge brain.