Tonight was the first big “all cousin” get together of what my cousin’s wife Meredith calls MichiePalloza. Everyone here at Pawleys with us is either a descendent or married to a descendent of one of six Michie sisters of Charlottesville. Some of us are siblings, some first cousins, most are second cousins and their offspring are third cousins, but you would think we were all siblings. Well, most of us. Like all families there are some outliers, but that is just part of the entertainment.

My sister Janet and Meredith created swag bags for us all and we had a fabulous barbecue tonight at Harry and Meredith’s cottage. In the small world that is Pawleys, the cottage they are staying at is the same one my college boyfriend and his friends rented the spring break we all came to Pawleys, which was exactly 40 years ago.

This morning I spent two hours in the ocean with my cousin Leigh, her two daughters and French exchange student Jeanne, like we used to do when Leigh and I were kids. The wonderful thing about Pawleys is that it is so timeless.

This afternoon we started the family Mah Jongg lessons. Games have always been an important part of our family trips here. I used to play hours of risk with Leigh’s father, my Uncle Wilson and my cousin Brooks.

My mother is the only one of her generation to be with us, as a spouse of a Michie. There are only two Michie cousins left in my father’s generation, Big Harry and Ben, sons of the youngest Michie daughter Nancy. There was a remarkable connection among those first cousins, that created this great loving bond we all have for each other. I am certain that my father, his brother and their cousin Johnny would be so thrilled that we are here together having so much fun. This was the place we all came to see each other together and carrying on that tradition is proof of our love for each other.

A Big Family

I barley recovered from Elton and today we packed up our old land cruiser to come to the beach for a big family reunion. This beach trip plan was started when my cousins and I complained at one of our parents funerals that we only see each other when someone dies. Now that most of the generation ahead of us has passed on we realized it is up to us to make plans to be together.

So it started organically. My cousin Mary, who just sold her house here, rented a house and invited us to stay with her. Mary’s sister and family were already going to be here for two weeks and had a house. So Meredith rented another house and invited her husband’s sister. Then my sister got another house and invited our Mom and our other sister. My cousin Leigh rented a place, but Mary told her to come stay with us because she had room. Then people’s kids said they could come, including one 13 year old French exchange student who is going to have a very warped view of Americans after a week with us. So we have my Mom as the only representative of her generation at 84 down to Haidee’s youngest son who is going to be six. There are 23 of us and three dogs. All the dogs are at our house.

It was a long day, as driving to the beach on Saturday is the worse. Shay had to practice riding harnessed in the back, since that is what we are going to do when she and I drive to Maine. She wanted to be up sitting on Russ’ lap, but I said no. She is still exhausted from staying at her sitter’s Mary, who had at least 8 other dogs with Shay.

Leigh made dinner at home and carried it down here so we had a big dinner tonight at home with more than half of the family. Since almost all of us spent ours summers here together for our whole lives it feels very familiar. Except not to Shay.

Shay found our bed in our room and staked her claim. Russ and I had to make up the bed, but she was having none of that and refused to get up. We made the bed around her and now she is passed out hard. Russ walked her on the beach and he came back and said she did not like the ocean. So he walked her on the street and a big fire engine came by and scared her.

She and Russ are going to have a very exhausting week with all these people and loud noises. I think that if I can not find them I will know they are sleeping on the bed. Shay is just going to have to get used to having a big family.

Packed It In

I am rarely too tired to blog. Yesterday I should have written before Carter and I went to the Elton John concert, but I was too busy to fit everything in. My day started with my High school friend Stori coming into Boston to play with me. We walked from Beacon Hill to the needlepoint store off Newbury st. We hadn’t planned on spending as much time and other kinds of spending there, but we did. It is amazing how much a needlepoint store can fit into a tiny space. I was happy to see they had my Friend Karen’s Tout Le Monde canvases there.

After our fill of needlepoint we walked down Boylston to Atlantic Fish for a lovely lunch. From the looks of the people dressed in suits it feels like the business crowd was back. All this walking was not great for my bursitis. I had been doing so well, but Boston seems to be bad for my right leg.

After Stori time I had to go join Carter for our adventure to Gillette Stadium to see Elton John’s final farewell tour. We took back roads to get there and had no trouble at all. It was a packed house. Elton did not disappoint. He came on stage at 8:09 and we sang and danced until 10:30. He mostly played songs the whole stadium sang to, with a few exceptions that actually gave me a chance to sit down.

About 9:30 it started raining and the whole crowd stayed and sang in the rain. As is the case with big stadium shows the leaving is the worst part. I limped through the rain with Carter to our zip car where we sat for an hour until it as our turn to exit the parking lot.

We could not take the back roads home because we were not allowed to turn off route 1 so we stayed in the traffic of the 65,000 concert goers and took the highway back to Carter’s. It was after 1:30 before we got in and making the five flight climb to Carter’s apartment was a killer. My good daughter dropped the car off and walked home uphill herself!

It was well after two before I could go to sleep and was awoken at 6:30 due to the lack of curtains in Carter’s sunny living room where I was sleeping on her pullout couch. I dozed on and off until 8:00.

Carter and I went down her hill to Charles st. for breakfast and a little plant shopping before I set off for the airport. I was ready to get a good nap on the plane, and I almost did until the pilot came on and told us we were not going to be allowed to land because there had been a plane accident at RDU. Russ was flying home from Philly at the same time I was and I panicked that it might have been his plane.

I texted him and got no response, so I texted three friends at home to see if they had seen anything on the news. Before they could give me a definitive answer Russ texted asking if I was OK. Turns out it was a little plane, which went off into the grass.

All good. We are home together with Shay. I am going to sleep very early. Tomorrow is a new adventure.


I can’t post a whole blog because I’m sitting g in a car with Carter trying to leave the most fabulous Elton John concert at Gillette.

I’ll post tomorrow

The Fifth Floor

I woke up early this morning to see if I caught a snake in the trap the snake catcher put in my washer. The trap had no snake, just the eggs left as bait. I hope that the snake eventually gets hungry and goes for the eggs. I’m just not there to check the trap.

I flew up to Boston to visit Carter. About this time last year she invited me to come to see Elton John at his fifth and he says, final farewell tour. Of course this was an invitation I accepted, taking the bet that Carter would still be in Boston.

This is my first visit to her wonderful new apartment on Beacon Hill. Being on the fifth floor is the only challenge since it does not have an elevator, but once you get to the fifth floor it is very worth it.

Carter went to work in the Seaport today and I went down to have dinner with her. Since the Seaport is totally new in the scheme of Boston I had never been there. WOW, is all I can say. We had dinner at a wonderful farm to table place called Wood Hill, over looking Boston Harbor.

After dinner we walked to Carter’s office and she showed me around before coming home. There is nothing more fun than visiting Carter and seeing her grown up life here in Boston. I told her the benefit of her living in a better and bigger place is that she lets me stay with her, so instead of spending money on hotels I can buy her plants.

She said the better part of living on the fifth floor is no snakes. I agree.

What’s in the Washer?

I have a new rule. Make sure you don’t wait to do your laundry until the last minute. The reason? You might not be able to use your washer because there is a snake in it.

I came home from a meeting today and as I was approaching the washer, which thankfully is in my garage, I noticed this thick black cable reaching from the light switch to the open washer. Wondering what this black cable was I noticed it start to move as I got closer to it. That was when I realized it was a black snake.

It slithered into my washer and I shut the lid. I looked down into the glass lid and there was no snake in the basket. It had slithered into the inner working of the washer.

I came in the house and called NC Snake Catchers. Amazingly a guy was at my house within 45 minutes. Sadly he could not get the snake. He put an egg in a plastic dish inside the washer, hoping the snake would come out to eat. Right now I am waiting for his coworker to come and bring me a snake trap. Please god let this snake get caught in the trap tonight.

I like black snakes because they eat rodents and I hate rodents more, but I really don’t want this snake living in my washer. How would I ever know if he was still in there?

So for tonight I will not be doing any laundry. You know these things only happen when Russ is away.

The Rush

Some time in the mid 90’s had had the best job I will ever have. I was in charge of a advertising program for a large British company that gave away trips of a life time to a winner. The winner, chosen randomly was given a trip for themselves and 29 of their friends and family to an exotic location. On the trip we made commercials of the winners. I got to pick the locations, plan the trips, go on the trips and the very best part of the job, was I got to go to a radio station and call the winners and inform them that they had been chosen. I got to do this 12 times.

What a rush it was to call someone up and tell them they won a huge prize. The second best part was going to meet the winners the day after I called them to see them in person and explain all that they had won. One woman said, “I didn’t believe it at first, but then knew it had to be true because you are American.” I never thought that giving away a big prize was such an American thing.

Today I had a job that was similar in that I got that wonderful feeling when telling someone they have won. I am part of an organization which annually honors one deserving person who has given tirelessly to the organization. I am chair of the committee that chooses the winner and after meeting to discuss all the potential awardees we vote on who it shall be given to.

After the meeting I called the unsuspecting winner and told him of the award, which will be officially be made at a big ceremony in their honor. The winner, humbly did not think they were worthy, which is typical of the winner, who is more than deserving.

Making that call makes my day. There is nothing I love more than telling someone they are valued and recognized. It makes me want to do it everyday. I hope that everyone I know gets that privilege to honor someone else. It’s a rush I can’t match in any other way.

Cucumber Fest

Cucumbers are like the Elon Musk of my garden. They keep reproducing and reproducing with no regard to how many they have already made. Two days ago I picked ten cucumbers. Today I picked eight. They are full size big cucumbers.

Cucumbers are the things I planted this year that I am least interested in. The whole reason to have a garden is for tomatoes and those have all died. Russ found information for me about a tomato plight this year. “Shit,” is all I can say about that. Without tomatoes I don’t need so many cucumbers.

The deer have come and eaten most of the cucumber plants that grew outside the fence and I still have an Elon sized crop. Imagine if the deer never came by. I would have a full Morman temple, one in Salt Lake, number of cucumber offspring.

I am finally getting hot peppers, but have little time to make hot sauce. The butternut squash is taking over all the pathways. At this point I don’t care. It’s to hot and too wild to work in the garden. Right now I have to figure out what to do with all these cucumbers.

Don’t Look Up

Since I have had a hurt leg for two months I have taken to wearing just two different pairs of shoes that feel the most comfortable. Actually in the last three weeks I have only been wearing my fit flops which far surpass any other shoes. It’s amazing that I really don’t need or want other shoes.

My hamstring is now better and my bursitis is practically healed. I think I could wear other shoes if I wanted to, but now that nothing hurts I am not inclined to try other shoes. I am not sure if other shoes might put me back where I was and I don’t want to find out.

In spite of needing only my allbirds and fit flops I will have hundreds of shoes in my closet. They cover the floor, they spill out of a laundry basket under some hanging clothes, they fill wall racks and as if all those are not enough… they are in shoe boxes on shelves.

Tonight when I was putting away laundry I happened to lookup in my closet. That is when I spot the pile of boxes in the back corner. I wonder when the last time was that I even looked in those boxes. It takes getting out a step stool, and clearing a path on the shoe-strewn floor to even reach one of those boxes.

I know it is time to just get rid of them, but that is work. I would much rather needlepoint or play Mah Jongg. Those shoes aren’t hurting anyone up there in an out of the way corner.

The one thing I know is that when I travel I only need two pairs of shoes, except when I go to Maine, when I’ll also take my water shoes too. So for now I am going to just not look up when I open my closet. Really I always have to look down so I don’t fall over due to the shoes on the floor. I could get rid of the shoes on the shelf and move my floor shoes up to the shelf, but as I know, once they go on the shelf they never get worn again.

Backhand to the Arrogant

Nothing made me happier than the guilty finding of Steve Bannon today. The trice-shirted, pompous blow hole met his match in a DC court. It is about time that Trumps cohort have to answer to the same laws as the rest of the country. If you receive a subpoena from congress to come testify you only have so long to pretend that you don’t have to listen.

The case was so open and shut the prosecution only put up two witnesses and Bannon’s team didn’t bother to present a defense. How could they? Bannon is indefensible.

He did appear to have cut his hair a bit and showered at the first day of the trial, but one shower was all the guy could muster. So when he was found guilty he was just as greasy in person as he is in spirit.

Just being a white man does not give you a get out of jail free card when you are so flagrant at your thumbing your nose at the law. He thought he could fight the law, but the law won.

Thank you DC jurors who are doing more than your average share of holding January 6 law breaker’s feet to the fire. Three hours deliberation is an open and shut case.

Bannon could get up to two years in jail for these two crimes and Biden will be President for the whole time so no pardon for you. I hope that he is ready to bend over plenty in prison after all the harm he has done to our country.


The hardest thing about gardening, after the heart break of failed plants, is dealing with an abundance of fruit all at the same time. Yes, I could just give it away. In the case of my tomatoes, which gave one fruiting and the plants died, I want to keep them all since I didn’t get many. Ideally we would eat them just after they had ripened, but that never happens. So I have to process what we can’t eat before it goes bad.

Today I am oven slow roasting a pan full of red and yellow tomatoes. This way I can keep them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or even freeze them. I would never put a fresh tomato in the refrigerator as it zaps all the taste out of them, but once roasted the flavor is sealed in, in a concentrated way.

I also cook some zucchini and eggplant on the grill pan and together with the tomatoes they make a beautiful antipasto like you see on a table in a good restaurant in Italy. I would be happy just having that and skip the pasta. If I add a ball of buratta to the roast veggies I have my favorite summer meal.

Slow roasting tomatoes takes a long time. How long depends on the size of the tomatoes and their water content. I put the pan of tomatoes, sprinkled with olive oil and salt and pepper in a 250° oven.

At hour three they still looked like they needed another couple of hours. The temperature is so low you can be off by an hour and it won’t make much difference. You need to make sure to drain any oil left in the pan into the container with the tomatoes. It helps preserve them and the oil tastes great later.

I’m tired of making pickles with my cucumbers so I’ll make some more cold cucumber soup with yoghurt and dill tomorrow. It doesn’t keep like the roasted tomatoes, but I can give some of that away.

Just Call Me Granny

Bursitis. That’s an ailment I think Granny on the Beverly Hill Billies used to have. Well, that’s what I have. I am thankful to know what it is and that I can even do something about it.

As I described to the Dr. the timing of my leg pain she definitely thought my five days in Boston at Carter’s graduation, when I walked a total of 32 miles over five days, as the precipitating event. So just because I can walk 11 miles in one day does not mean I should. I also did have a hamstring injury, which is tied up in this, but PT has fixed that.

So now I am icing and using Voltaren and still going to PT, but with a plan of exactly where to concentrate my efforts.

Getting old is not for the faint hearted. I am going to fight it every bit of the way.

True to form though, I called the ortho Doctor’s two weeks ago to get an appointment. My original appointment was supposed to be last week, which meant I still had to wait a week. Two days before I was supposed to go I got a text telling me the Doctor was going to be a grandmother on the day of my appointment so they pushed me back another week. This weekend I noticed a noticeable improvement in my knee.

I’m not complaining, but if figures that once I waited so long to go to the Doctor it would start getting better before I even see her. Still glad to have an official diagnosis. Just call me Granny.

The Friend of My Friend is My Friend

Tonight I got a call from one my boarding school bffs who lives in Massachusetts. “Hi Stori,” I said answering her call. “I just met Suzanne Worden!” Stori exclaimed over the line. Suzanne is my bff from college.

This morning, in our morning wordle exchange, Suzanne reported that she was going to Manchester-by-the-Sea today to see our other college bff, Janet. Janet used to live there and she and her husband were back for a visit.

In the small world Janet and Stori knew each other as their girls attended the same school at one point. So when Stori got off the tennis court at her club and went into the club house she was surprised to see Janet, who had moved to Arizona three years ago. Then Stori saw Suzanne, whom she had only seen and read about in this blog, but she recognized her immediately.

Stori told me she said, “You are Suzanne Worden, Carter’s godmother.” So they took a photo together and Stori sent it to me as proof that friends from different places in my life are meeting each other randomly in the wild. That made me very happy that they all met and were kind, as they always are.

My two college bff’s meet my birding school bff and I’m not there!

Such a better example of hospitality than the encounter, or lack of encounter I had today. I was out to lunch with two friends to celebrate one of their birthday’s early. Someone we all know walked by our table and we didn’t see her until she was passed us. After her lunch the same woman walked back by our table without stopping or saying hello. This woman may be a friend of some of my friends, but she certainly does not subscribe to the rule, a friend of my friend is my friend.

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Russ and I had a yummy corn dip out one night and I thought I could recreate at home. This came awfully close and is a keeper, so I must memorialize it here.

Four fresh ears of corn, but I’m sure a bag of frozen corn would be almost as good

1 brick of cream cheese, softened

1/3 c. Mayo

3/4 cup of feta cheese or even better Mexican cotija

1 fresh Jalapeño seeded and minced

1/4 t. Cayenne pepper

1/2 t. Smoked paprika

Fresh lime cut into wedges

Handful of cilantro leaves

Corn chips

Grill the corn and let it cool enough to be able to handle it. Cut the kernels from the cobs. (If using frozen corn, cook it in a frypan on high until is starts to get brown spots.)

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayo, feta, jalapeño, cayenne and paprika. Add the corn and mix well.

Place in an oven proof dish and bake at 350° for 25 minutes

Serve with cilantro, lime wedges and corn chips.

Waiting Room Abuse

We had an unplanned visit to the er tonight. A friend had an accident and I was the one called. Thankfully the friend is fine.

The bad part was sitting in the waiting room with a very loud TV blaring. Most of the people waiting had kids and were in a separate waiting room. So it was just me and Russ waiting.

I said out loud to Russ, “I wonder if we can turn the sound off?” From out of the blue the woman who man’s the door, who was two rooms away, came in and said. “Other people are going to be coming in to watch that.”

“Oh, I thought this was a Hospital, not a TV showroom.”

She went back to her post. As she did I noticed this sign saying “This is a healing environment.” It went on to mention what abusive behavior is. I wish I had a sharpie to add “loud noise” to the list. The show that is blaring has Simon Cowell on it. I think I could win in court that it is an abusive noise

I hope that the door watching women does not feel abused by me. I’ve hardly gotten started.

Airline Hell

Russ was supposed to come home from DC last night. He texted me from the jet bridge that it didn’t look like they were going to make it. The flight was delayed originally an hour because there was an aircraft with an issue in their gate and the plane they were going to take was stuck without a gate to come into. That hour, plus too much time unloading that plane when it finally got a gate pushed the pilot into overtime. The airline begged him to fly anyway and he refused. There were no “extra” pilots hanging around who could fly the plane.

So at 11:30 at night Russ had to go to a hotel and come back in the morning for a 9:30 flight. It didn’t take off on-time because there was only one working runway at Reagan because there was a pothole in the other runway.

This past week Heathrow Airport put a limit of 100,000 a day on the number of passengers who can travel through the airport. Apparently they can’t find enough staff to handle bags. There were thousands of bags that aren’t getting sorted and are just stuck at the airport. Delta had to fly a plane with no customers, just a thousand suitcases from London to Detroit just to try and get people back their lost luggage.

Heathrow is a major hub airport, but now with the 100,000 person cap they are going to lose a lot of routes. Who wants to try through Heathrow anyway if you can’t be guaranteed you will ever get a checked bag back.

I predicted things like this would happen when you restrict immigration. It was clear to happen in the UK with Brexit. They did this to themselves, the lack of airport workers or lorry drivers to deliver fuel and goods. We have the same issue, with the backlash on immigrants, but it was not such a public one day change as it was with Brexit.

America and Britain used to be places that people from other countries wanted to move to and work because we had more opportunities. Well, when the people in those countries become hostile to people from other countries they stop coming. So we can’t fill all the jobs we need filled. Like enough pilots, or baggage handlers, or pot hole fillers.

Our economy works when we have enough people to work and right now we don’t. Thankfully America did not have a Brexit situation, which legally makes it difficult to let workers come in. But we have obstructionist politicians who do nothing and don’t work together to fix our immigration policy. Both parties need to come together and work on the issue of immigration, which is not all about illegal immigration.

As Americans we must become a lot more welcoming to people from all different countries because we need them. All of us came from someplace else at one time or another. Just because you have been here for seven or ten generations doesn’t erase the fact that your people were once Germans, or Italians or Irish or Nigerian.

I am sure that Delta would gladly take a bunch of German pilots right now, but there is no way they would leave Germany to come to America the way things are going here.

I do suggest if you have a kid who like video games, perhaps they might like to learn to fly planes. I think there will be a lot of jobs available for a while. We aren’t going to get out of this problem this year, or the next, or the next.

Face Not Recognized

In an effort to make our lives easier, some technology platforms have adopted Face Recognition instead of passwords. I, for one, was thrilled not to have to remember anyone of my millions of passwords. My face happens to be something I keep with me absolutely most of the time. Naturally I signed up for every app as possible to use my face to log me in.

What I didn’t know was my phone can’t see my face in the dark. Come on iPhone, you have a light. Just shine it on me and look at my face. I promise it’s mine. Then there are the times when I can’t actually put my face in front of my phone. Like when my phone is in the holder on the dash board of my car. I have decided it is much to dangerous to try and lower my face below the dashboard while driving in order to turn my phone on. Actually, I don’t even think I can contort myself to get my phone to see my face.

The most frustrating thing is when I am in bright light, standing still and I hold my phone up and the message comes across “Face not recognized.” What the hell? I am unsure what is going on with that. Was I not smiling? Was I smiling too much? We’re my eyes crossed? Was my mouth open too wide?

I am thinking I might have to go back to passwords. Lord, I don’t remember what they all were.

Effing Squirrels

My garden has not been anywhere near the success this year as last year. The weather, my lame leg preventing me from spending hours tending it, and the worst problem of all, some undiagnosed tomato plant killer. Russ found an NC State lab where I can take my failed plants long with a quart of dirt, to have them analyze and hopefully diagnose my issue.

Despite my failing plants, the few which are left had plenty of fruit on them before I left for a quick two days to the beach. I came home, ready to harvest, only to discover a squirrel or more likely a platoon of squirrels had decided they wanted to eat those ripening tomatoes. I found no less than six, big, either fully ripe or partially ripe tomatoes half eaten, strewn around the garden. One was up on top of the garden fence, one was dropped between a fence and a outside raised bed box, one was just upside down in the bed.

There’s a half eaten tomato on the top of that board -12 feet in the air

It might not be so bad if the squirrels ate the whole tomato and left no evidence. No, instead they eat a small portion and leave the rest of a once beautiful fruit now decimated. If my plants were still healthy and producing I would not be so stingy about feeding wildlife, but these are the last precious fruit from a very poor season.

Those squirrels have not taken one bite out of any of the thousands of cucumbers, which have been my bumper crop, no just the prized tomatoes.

I first have to figure out how to successfully grow tomatoes for next year’s garden, but as soon as that education is complete I am going to turn how to keep the squirrels away. I am not opposed to electric fences.

Pull Over or Keep Driving?

After a most excellent day of teaching Mah Jongg Strategy to people I have really come to enjoy I got in the car to make the three hour drive home. I don’t really mind driving, especially if I am listening to a good book. This week I am listening to Lessons in Chemistry and I highly recommend it.

So there I am easing on down the road, nice weather, not too much traffic, even during the rush hour. I am looking forward to picking Shay up at her sitter’s house and getting home to my own bed. Russ is at his DC office so I knew I did not have to cook dinner or even talk.

As I got to Cary I noticed a few rain drops on my dirty wind shield. Good, it needed the cleaning. I turned my wipers on slow intermittent. Three exits later the rain started to pick up. Wipers on low, not intermittent. Then the lightening show started and the rain turned into sheets. Highest wipers, hazard lights and slowing down.

I was in the left lane, which I found helpful because then I had a yellow line to guide me as to where the road was. I don’t think I have ever driven through such a volume of water that was not in a body of water. Thankfully there were not too many cars on the road, but it was very scary.

I considered pulling over and stopping, but my fear was I would then be a sitting duck for someone to run into the back of me. It was almost impossible to tell where the three east bound lanes of I-40 were, let alone the shoulder of the road. If I were to pull off the pavement into the grass, my car could have sunk into a mud pit, or just filled up with water.

So I carefully kept driving and when no one was anywhere close to me I moved to the right lane so I could exit. Once off the highway I could see that the trees were blowing and bending at unnatural angles. Do I stop and stay in one place and have a tree fall on me, or do I keep going and have a tree fall on me?

I kept going. Picking up Shay, who was not happy to be driving in the storm. We did not take the fastest route home because that would have taken me by the golf course where there is often flooding. Instead I took a longer, but higher route. I pulled into the driveway which was a little like a small river, but at least the sheets of rain were now mere buckets.

Enabling Other’s Addictions

I’m back at the beach this morning to teach two strategy classes, today and tomorrow. Teaching a two day class is a quick trip. I got up at 4:30AM to drive down, always getting in earlier than I need to. I never know what might happen on a three hour trip and I would hate to be late. But an early morning drive, followed by six hours of class makes for a long day. Thankfully my strategy students are all friends I have taught before. For some this is their fourth or fifth class with me. Those people don’t really need the class, but I love that they come and participate again and again.

The thing about teaching to the same audience is I have to tell then new stories. If you know me or you read me, you know that I can make a story from nothing, that certainly is what this blog is. Someone recently told me they have read over 13,000 of my blog posts and she likened it to watching all the seasons of Seinfeld. “You mostly laugh, but when asked what it was about, you really couldn’t say.” That’s high praise for me. If you do nothing but get a chuckle I am happy.

That being said, I don’t have anything particularly funny to write about tonight. I do want to give a shout out to my friend Kate. I am staying at her place at the beach, but she is not here as she is having her second knee operation. Now that is one nice friend who will let me crash in her lovely guest room. I do have the company of her very old, sweet lab Lucy.

One issue with making an early departure is I left the plug to all my charging cables at home. There is a USB port in the bedside clock, as Kate is a superior host, but my iPad has some new “fangled” lightening plug so my life is limited with my iPad. So much for playing Catan before I go to bed. As much as I love Mah Jongg I also love Catan and I blame that addiction on my friend Suzanne. As I said to my Mah Jongg students who came to class today blaming me for their addiction to Mah Jongg, “Hey, at least Mah Jongg is calorie free.”

Mexican Fiesta

Twenty five years ago my friend and decorator Lane did my living room. We have loved our living room. The yellow was calm and happy. This winter I told Lane I had bought a new living room rug and painted the walls green and needed to recover all my furniture. Her husband Jon asked her why we were redoing the living room since he thought everything still looked good. We told him 25 years was long enough.

Original Living Room

A few years back Lane had changed the window treatments from the very 90’s balloon shades to something more modern. So I was working with my kind of new blue window treatments, my blue and pink and green rug from Maine and my green walls. Lane and I started discussing what I was looking for and I said colorful to go with all my other colors. She boiled it down to Mexican Fiesta.

So we picked out fabric for the sofa and club chairs and a French chair and Martha Washington Chair. Today the sofa and two club chairs came back. They are just the Fiesta I was looking for. I can only imagine what it is going to be like at Christmas! The best thing is all my cushions got re-stuffed. It is so worth buying well made furniture to start and recovering it, if it needs it or not!

Mexican Fiesta Living Room

When the Martha Washington chair comes back I am going to design needlepoint seat covers for my game table based on that fabric. I am going full on color bomb, no monochromatic for me.

Everyone Needs A Dog

I don’t understand people who don’t like dogs. Yes, someone might have had a scary encounter with a dog when they were young, but that can be worked out. When Carter was five we were at some friends house and their dog snapped at her. Thank goodness it did not have any long term affects.

Russ has been away on his longest business trip in years. Rarely is he away on a weekend, so this has been a real exception. My weekdays are busy and booked in advance, but I usually try and leave weekends open for Russ. So when I found out he was going to be away I purposely left the weekend free so I could hang with Shay.

I had some plans with her, but then the rain and my still hurt leg kept us at home. Shay does not like to go outside when it’s raining or even wet. I have had to force her to go out to potty, which she does under protest.

So the two of us have had one big snuggle fest. She has taken to staying in bed until noon, regardless if I am in bed or not. When she does get up she will have a little bit to eat and then hang with me as close as possible. So when I was doing laundry she helped by carrying the socks down stairs. When needlepointing, she’d sit next to me acting as an armrest. When I was processing the garden harvest she stayed on her kitchen bed supervising. Shay is quite disappointed I don’t raise chickens because she much prefers that to cucumbers.

You are never alone if you have a dog. Everyone should have one. It would make people much kinder if they treated everyone the way their dog treated them.

Every once in a while Shay would stand at the top of the garage stairs and look down, hoping Russ was coming through the door. I wonder if she will wake up the second he comes in tonight. She may have been the perfect companion for me, but I am still second fiddle for her.

Top of the Hill

It is terrible to be so happy about the constant and continuing alerts about bad weather. We are so behind on rain that I will take this deluge. Not that getting to much rain at once fixes everything. It mostly will run off and thus the potential for flooding. But some will soak in, especially on the flat places.

My friend from college, Doug, always told me what his father told him, “Buy on the top of the hill.” It’s not for the view, but for the safety of having the water run downhill.

When we built the addition on our house 25 years ago our fabulous contractor who was all about water management. He ran drain pipes thirty yards away from our house for the runoff water in the down spouts. When we get big rains like this I am thankful for Joe.

I have a neighbor who lives on the downhill side. She complains about her driveway getting wet from runoff from property up the hill. I have tried to explain to her there is no stopping water, but she thinks there should be. She wasn’t friends with Doug, nor did she have Joe as a builder.

So pass the lesson on to all younger people. Water runs downhill. You can’t stop it. When it comes all at once, like it did today, you can get flooded. So live at the top of the hill. You are not being elitist, you are being smart.


I might as well write my blog as I am sitting in the “cell phone lot” at the airport waiting to give friends a ride home. I have been here an hour and so has their plane. Unfortunately right when they landed this huge storm came in making it unsafe for airline employees to drive the jet bridge the 50 feet to the plane. It is also unsafe to unload baggage so we wait.

I brought Shay with me because she has been despondent that Russ is away. What a mistake. Now she is despondent about the weather and demanded to be let out of her seatbelt harness. She stands pushing on my legs panting. She has refused water and is worrying like an old woman, panting and looking out the windows.

My friends told me to leave, but I didn’t see a reason to drive through the dangerous storm, so I’ve stayed put. This might be my excuse why I got so little done today. Not that I was planning on vacuuming tonight, but I might have.

For now it’s just waiting…waiting…

Nothing Makes A Teacher Prouder

My goal as a Mah Jongg teacher is to enable all my students to be able to beat me. Now there is some luck in the game so beating me once is not enough. Twice is good, but three times in a row means my work is done.

Today my friends and students Nancy and Jeanne invited me to come play with them. Russ is away so Shay Shay and I took this perfect opportunity to go over to Nancy’s store and play some after hours games.

Jeanne and Nancy have taken to Mah Jongg. They have a regular group, which meets often. Every once in a while they text me a question, but for the most part they are fully trained players.

All players can go through a dry spell where they don’t win. I like to remind all new players that if you are playing with four people you only have about a 22 % chance of winning. It is not 25% because sometimes no one wins and you have a wall game. New players have more wall games than experienced players. So if you play four games and don’t win you are not outside the norm. This bit of information makes some people feel better than others.

I try and not beat my students right away, but sometimes I can’t help it. That happened this afternoon. I won the first game fairly quickly. Nancy commented that she had not won in a number of weeks. I told her that her time would come. Jeanne won the second game. Good for her. Then Nancy won the next three games in a row!! WooHoo! It makes a teacher so happy when her student beats her.

Congratulations to Nancy for superior play and adjusting her play on the fly. I can say you have more than graduated. My work is done.

My Garden is Failing

Or maybe I am failing as a gardener. It’s been bad weather for my garden. Too cold a spring, too hot and dry summer. Those excuses are not the reason my garden is failing, but I don’t know why yet.

For years I was unable to grow tomatoes. The plants would grow and I would get one round of tomatoes and then the plant would whither and die very early. Last year, with the advent of the new garden I grew tomatoes well into October. I don’t know what has happened, but I am back to my old tomato’s problem. I had two plants barely produce. A third was weak. Four others looked to be doing well, but now are succumbing to the same problem. I have to dig one up and take it to NC state to have it analyzed.

Last year I had an over abundance of peppers of all kinds. This year I have six plants and only one with fruit. My squash all got a Boring worm and one by one they are going. My successful crops have been cucumbers, of which I have had hundreds and butternut squash.

No green beans yet. A Few okra and two eggplants today. I have some potatoes a friend gave me, but I have not dug them up yet.

With my hurt leg and the crazy hot weather I have not been spending as much time out there, but I am not sure how I could have saved things.

Damn squirrel

To add insult to injury that is a squirrel who has come to taste the few red tomatoes I had on the vines. I have taken to picking the tomatoes when they are just blush to save them from the critters. It is all very discouraging

A Surprise for Shay

Today is the kind of traumatic day that Shay Shay hates. It started with a very early morning visit by her groomer. Shay is unaccustomed to people coming to the door before eight in the morning. She barked to let me know someone was outside and then hid behind me shaking when she saw it was her hairdresser.

The groomer is very sweet and Shay just doesn’t like anyone cutting her hair. Sadly she had to have a serious cut due to too many thick curly tangled locks. She came in after the buzz cut and snuggled with her Daddy.

The second trauma of the day came when she saw her Daddy packing his suitcase. He had a late afternoon flight to Chicago. Shay lay despondently on my bed after the little Smartie reversed out of the garage, and the door went back down. I tried to console her, but she blamed me for all her bad luck today.

About forty minutes after Russ left I received a call from him. Sure enough his flight was canceled just as he pulled into the parking garage. He had checked if it was on time before leaving the house and verified that the aircraft he was taking out was on time in. There was no explanation about the cancelation and the worst part is he can’t get a new flight until Thursday morning. I knew that afternoon flight was going to be risky.

So Shay doesn’t know it yet, but her dreams and wishes are about to come true when her Daddy is going to walk back in the door. So glad her day can end better than it started .

Americans Need a Common Enemy That Is Not American

Even since the fall of the Berlin Wall Americans have turned ever more inward to find enemies. This has caused an ever growing rift in our country. Today being July 4th we celebrate our Independence from Britain. We all celebrated together the fact that we are self ruled.

I worry that we forget that we are all Americans. Some Americans act as if they are more American than the rest. In fact, the most American are our native peoples who are often treated the worst.

I might have thought that with Putin’s unprovoked attack and war on the Ukraine we might have pulled together a little more as we could all see him as a common enemy. Sadly there are elected officials who seemed to have some allegiance to Putin and aren’t afraid to say so.

On this fourth my wish for America is that we work to see our neighbors as ourselves. If someone is a different religion, or skin color or orientation or political party, try and find what you have in common rather than concentrating on your differences. A homogeneous society is not an interesting one.

Let’s try and not find enemies within. Our enemy does not have to even be another county or person, but it can be a situation, like hunger, or climate change or cancer. Let’s fight for the betterment rather than the breakdown. Happy Birthday America. Please let us be better next year and the year after that.

It’s Hot and Muggy

It’s not such a nice day here. It was very hot and very muggy. Sadly that did not mean a thunderstorm, which we really could have used. Proof of the mugginess is the baby squirrel who took up residence on our front porch. This little guy didn’t care that I was just on the other side of the glass door. He hung out for quite a long time. He stood, he reclined, but he didn’t leave.

There is a big hawk that lives in our yard, and flies between our house and our neighbor’s the Anderson’s. I am happy to have a hawk because he can keep us clear of little critters, although not voles who rarely surface. I wonder if this squirrel feels safer on the porch with us than he does out in the open yard where the hawk can get him?

I’m ok to let him stay protected on the porch as long as he doesn’t want to come inside. If he felt how cool it is inside he would never leave. Then I would have to invite the hawk inside to catch him.

Couples Therapy

One night I was driving home late from teaching Mah Jongg. I was on an unlit section of a particularly dark road. I felt like my headlights were not on. I clicked the brights off and on and did notice a difference, but even with brights I was not getting the amount of light I was used to. When I got home I checked to make sure that none of the bulbs were burned out, something my car usually tells me. All the bulbs were working.

In the daylight I looked at my headlights and found that the plastic covers were a little cloudy. They did not have any condensation in them, just the outside had lost that crystal clear look. I alerted Russ and he said we could fix it.

After some study I tried using toothpaste and a tooth brush on them. That was a waste of time, but at 99¢ it was worth a try. I turned to consumer reports and learned that this Sylvania Headlight Restoration kit was the way to go. So that was the exciting couples activity Russ and I did today.

I was thankful to have him because it was not a minor processes. We each took a headlight and followed all the steps. It started applying with painters tape around the light as the first step. Activating, washing, sanding with three different grits of sand paper for five minutes each. You never recognize how long five minutes is until you are sanding in a circular motion. Washing again. Compounding, that like sanding, but with a liquid, another five minutes. Washing again. Drying well, activating (that’s spraying something on for 30 seconds and wiping it off.)

Drying and then applying the clear coat. Waiting six hours for it to cure. That goes by much more quickly than five minutes of sanding. I forgot to take a before shot, but the after shows the light covers to be much less cloudy.

I can’t wait to go drive someplace very dark to see how much better the lights work. Oh the exciting things that happen at our house on a holiday weekend. Russ gets big marriage management points for doing this with me.

Check Your Voter Status

Yesterday my friend Jan alerted me to a topic that was treading on Twitter. Apparently lots of people have been removed from voter rolls in many states. It is not unusual for clerks to update voter rolls. They are supposed to only remove people who have died or moved. Some overly active clerks could remove people who they should not. If this happens to you, you would not be notified and might not find out until you go to vote and it might be too late to do anything about this, thus being denied your right to vote.

I have a friend in Georgia who in the 2020 election had quite a lot of trouble with their voter registration as well as that of their adult children. It seemed fishy then that they had been registered and then suddenly were not. Of course they only found out after it was too late to do anything about it in time to vote.

Your voter registration is a public record. It is important to check your registration and verify everything is OK.

Here is a step-by-step guide about how to do it.

First go to USA.gov

On the home page scroll down just a bit and click on Voting and Elections

On the next page click on Voter registration

Next page click Confirm you’re registered to vote

Next page click Confirm you voter registration status

Next page click How to Check your voter registration status. When you expand that click the “Can I vote” link

That brings you to the can I vote page and click voter registration status

This bring you to the page where you use the pull down menu to find your state, and from there you will get to a place where you input your name and info to check to see if you are registered.

As in all things government it is way too many steps just to verify if you are registered, but it is worth doing regularly. Especially at least a month before any primary or election.