Thankful for Westminster Presbyterian

This is my one day off. I had to get up early to go get a medical test that lasted two hours. Nothing is wrong with me, just checks. I had unpacking, laundry and repacking. Nothing exciting, but nice to have nothing exciting.

Then, in a moment I was home between tests the door bell rang. These days I never know if it is my doorbell or one on the TV that was on, but that I was not paying attention to, that is really ringing. Thankfully my ring camera came on and I saw my friend Raynor in the picture. Guess it really was my door bell.

Raynor came by on official church business, to bring me these beautiful flowers since they knew of the loss of my friend. Belonging to a wonderful church like Westminster Presbyterian makes me happy on a regular day, but in times of sadness it is extra wonderful.

Usually if you lose a close family member people think of you, but not a friend or even a pet, except if you have a church like mine.

I think about what we do for families when they have a funeral at Westminster. As part of the funeral committee I love that church members make and serve the refreshments and arrange the flowers for the reception after the service. We set up the tables and chairs. The church makes the bulletin. We do this out of love. Also it is just a terrible time for the family to have to think about all these arrangements so we just don’t for them.

I feel the love from so many kind messages from my church family and I am thankful for them all.

The Need to Recharge

After the very emotional last few weeks today I had a sweet time with Carter and her girlfriend Claire that brought me back to a happy place. I was exhausted yesterday after the service. A quiet night and a good night’s sleep recharged me to go on.

Carter and Claire met me at a cute restaurant in Carter’s neighborhood. We lingered over eggs and drinks as I go to know sweet Claire, who I really liked. Being with Carter is always a bonus for me. Sadly I had to head back to Logan after a bit and fly home to Shay and an empty house. Russ is in Philly visiting his Dad and we are like ships passing.

I am home one day and then I go to teach and he comes home just after I leave. So tonight I am going to try and wind down as I have a busy early day tomorrow.

Honoring Stori’s Sweet Life

My Walker’s roommate and dear friend Nancy drove up to Boston yesterday to go on this journey of farewell to Stori with me. We were all part of the same pack at Walkers. At an all girls boarding school you needed to have those closest friends who would always be there for you as you managed those hormonal years.

This morning we drove out to Essex for the celebration of Stori’s life. Stori’s daughter Sam messaged me that I was going to be the first of the five speakers at the service. Thankfully Nancy and I arrived early at the Essex Country Club so I got a chance to spend a few minutes with Stori’s husband John, Sam and Stori’s sister Lilea, brother’s Jeff and Pel and Mom Diecy before the throngs of Stori lovers came pouring in.

There was a display by the door of some needlepoint bricks and balls of yarn and knitting needles that brought my first tear. I took a photo of it but then felt it needed to have Stori in the picture. I couldn’t bring myself to take another picture since she was not there to make a funny face.

God gave us a perfect day. Blue sky, just turning leaves, a crisp feeling in the air. Perfect, except for one thing. Stori was missing from the biggest party, with all the people she loved. There were many photos scattered around of Sam, Stori and John. I kept thinking she was going to pop out from the room that was set up for bridge and introduce me to a bartender she was friends with.

Sam had told me she wanted the remarks to begin at 12:30, but there was still a line of a hundred people just waiting to get in the club and then sign the guest book. In my regular bossy way, I told the queue to not to wait to sign the book, but to go on in and sign the book later.

It was time for me to give my remarks. I had written a remembrance of Stori, but since I was first I had to get everyone’s attention and thank them all for coming on behalf of the family. To most of them I was a stranger, but we all had the common bond of our love for Stori.

I spoke from my heart, veering of my script often as Stori’s spirit moved me. After me Lilea spoke and seeing her, with the very Stockwell facial features, I was overcome with the feeling Stori was with us. Two more friends, Cammi and Kennon colored in the portrait of Stori we all knew and loved. Lastly, Sam bravely paid tribute to her sweet mother. There was laughter and heart break.

All the while John stood by thanking everyone for coming.

After all the speeches were made the celebration continued with food and wine and the reconnecting of old friends and the meeting of people who had only heard of each other through Stori. A cute older couple introduced themselves to me. He asked me if I hired out to speak at funerals and wanted to know how much I would charge to talk at his. I told him that I needed to know him and love him for 45 years like I did Stori.

I got to see Elliott Buck and her clan and Henrietta Change Mei who came up from Lexington and generously gave me a ride back to my hotel. So many Walkers friends sent messages that they wish they could come, but weddings and moving parents into retirement homes got in the way.

It was a celebration Stori would have loved. I am including my remarks as they were written, but without the heartfelt ad libs that the spirit moved me to say.

Stori Stockwell Cadigan is well loved. We all were witness to her short but impactful life that ended too abruptly. She would want to us to go on and be kind to others, as she always had been. She would want us to not take ourselves too seriously and love one another. And so I shall.

Losing Stori

I have known Stori since the fall of 1977. That means all of our grown up and almost grown up years, although I would say Stori fought growing up better than anyone I knew.

We went to a boarding school called Ethel Walkers together. Stori came to Walkers as a junior, one of three new girls in our tight class of 88. She broke into the class with her big smile, laser focus of paying attention to whomever was speaking with and her silliness.

As I look back at photos of Stori through the years she is always the one making a face, sticking her tongue out or making bunny ears behind the person next to her. She never tried to make herself look beautiful in the photo, giving her best side or pushing towards the front. She never really knew how beautiful she was.

Stori was someone who kept her light under a bushel.  At Walkers she was a great sports woman, but she never told you that she saved the game by stopping the ball with her face.  She was a great student, but no one would have thought to vote for her for top of the class because she never tried to out shine anyone else.  She was a great artist, but she didn’t display her work or look for accolades. She wasn’t the head of a club, but was a diligent Lieutenant, always there for support with great ideas she would whisper in your ear.  She never demanded credit or the lime light.

There was one particular day in December of our senior year that I remember as the big days Stori burst out like a rocket. We used to have a morning break in our classes between second and third period called “milk lunch.” Tiny cups of milk and trays of cookies were placed in the basement of our school, near our mailboxes. Practically all of the girls would come by the tables grab a cookie, check in with their friends and and look to see if they were blessed with a letter in their mailbox or even better a package.

This day Stori reached into her mailbox to find a letter from Bowdoin announcing her early acceptance. Stori screamed in delight and clutching the letter, ran upstairs to let the college counselor, who had told her she had no chance of getting into Bowdoin, how wrong she was. Word spread quickly through the crowd that Stori had gotten into Bowdoin. It was quite a coup. Some were surprised, I was not.

Stori was always more capable than people imagined. She was more capable than she imagined. She could play any sport, out ski you, out ride you, out score you, but she never told you she could. Then, when she did she never mentioned your loss or her win.

Stori had nine lives. Over coming heath scares that would have crippled a lesser person. So when I first learned of her accident I prayed, please let Stori have one more life in that bag.

What I can’t believe is that now all those memories we would reminisce about at reunions are going to not include her special point of view. All the needlepoint and knitting she knew how to do won’t get done with her special artistic way. All the people she taught art to won’t get to learn from her and have their lived enriched by her knowledge, skill and eye.

I am sad that John won’t have Stori to be a steadfast partner and mate. I am sad for Stori’s family who won’t have her at holidays. I am sad for her friends who she was intensely loyal to, won’t have her checking in on you, commenting on our Facebook postings. I am sad she didn’t get to vote, for she was staunchly for fairness.

I am mostly sad for Sam who did not get to have a long enough time as a grown women to know her mother who loved her so strongly in the best way she could.

I hope that we can always remember Stori and the light she brought into the world, the light she focused on each person she met,the light she never knew that shone all around her, the light that no bushel could ever hide








The Journey to Goodbye

Sitting at RDU after my three days in Kinston. I am waiting for my flight to Boston to go and say goodbye to my friend Stori. Her daughter Sam asked me if I would speak. Anyone who knows me knows you could keep me from speaking, but its better to be officially asked.

My advanced class, minus Suzanne and Nancy. Love all these women!

I am thankful that my last three days were packed with the sweetest friends in Kinston. They were a tonic of love. I did not have a minute to think about this journey. When we were in the last class today, they all said I had to leave class early in case I met traffic. The only traffic I had was a small accident in Kinston in front of the Mc Donald’s on 70. It didn’t take long to get around, but I thought how prophetic it was of the Kinston gang.

When I got to the Delta lounge I ran into my friends, Rich and Mary Lee, who also had just had a sad loss of a young family member. We all agreed you never know how much time you have so make the most of it.

Spend time with your friends, love on your family, go experience exciting things you have always wanted to do. Play games and laugh.

I will not be going on this journey alone. My roommate from Walkers, Nancy is meeting in Boston tonight and together we are going out to Essex in the morning. I am ever thankful for all the kind words from friends and will deliver all the hugs from you to Stori’s family.

Life is short. Make an impact in your own special way.

The Gem of Kinston is it’s People

As a Mah Jongg teacher I traverse the state of North Carolina visiting cities small and large. I can honestly say that people who want to learn Mah Jongg are some of the nicest people I have ever met, with one exception of one drunk student, I have loved them all. After all these travels I have to say that the town with the nicest people hands down is Kinston.

I am here for my third round of classes in the year. I get to stay with the most darling couple in the world, Jane and Warren Brothers. The Kinston Country Club provides a fabulous place to hold classes. The students are sweet and attentive. My friends, as they are now, secretly buy my lunch and won’t tell me who has done it. Kristi Blizzard organizes all the classes and does all the work to set every thing up. On top of doing all the work, tonight she threw a dinner party in my honor in her most beautiful home.

When I asked Jane where I should get flowers to bring to Kristi and her husband Ken she said, “We can go cut them from Warren’s flower bed he grow at the farm to sell.” So after class we visited the farm, the same one made famous by Warren’s role on the PBS series “The Chef and the farmer.”

I know that there are nice people in every town in North Carolina, but if you want to convince me that your town is friendlier than Kinston you are going to have to work pretty hard.

It Goes on

Losing a lifelong friend at my age is a shock. I’m not young, yet I’m not really old. Of course when I was young I would have thought that someone my age is old, but the older you get the the greater the number for old grows.

I haven’t had a lot of free time to contemplate the sudden loss of my friend Stori. We were together in July. She commented regularly on my blog and my Facebook. She posted numerous statement about the idiocy of 45. I should have known something was wrong when she did post something about Bannon getting sentenced to prison. I didn’t notice, because I just assumed she was busy, not injured unable to communicate.

In the days since Stori’s passing I have been busier than my normal busy self. Yesterday I taught two Mah Jongg classes in Raleigh, the last one ending at nine at night. As I was finishing up with the last class of 16 young mothers who are friends I wanted to say, “check in on each other daily.” I didn’t. It unrealistic to think you could text every friend just to make sure they are still breathing.

So I go on now a little more worried about my friends than I used to be. It’s a little ridiculous. I don’t think any of them are riding horses and might fall off, but some ride bikes, or drive in cars, or cross the street. We just don’t know what accident might be around the corner and I certainly don’t want to live like there is danger lurking.

Instead life has to gone on. So this morning, after getting home at ten last night I woke up at five thirty. I showered, kissed Russ goodbye and got in my car and drove to Kinston to teach Mah Jongg to thirty four more wonderful people for the next three days. It is what brings me joy.

I am thankful that my friend Jane Brothers puts me up at her house while I’m here. Her sweet husband Warren cooked us a yummy dinner. And I go on. So take care of yourselves dear friends. I can’t change how I live in the world. The world just goes on and we have no idea how long we will go on in it.

A Changing of The Guard

Yesterday we held a Roundtable meeting at the Food Bank. We hadn’t met in person in over two years so it was great to see old friends. The main purpose of the meeting was to say Farewell to our beloved President and CEO Peter Werbicki and welcome our new leader Ashley McCumber.

Pictured Earline Middleton, Barbara Oates, Ashley McCumber, Peter Werbicki, me

Peter has been a stead fast humble leader for 25 years. He has marshaled the Food Bank through tremendous growth and leadership in the anti-hunger community. So many initiatives about the way we think, help and provide for people in need have come from Peter. The Food Bank has never been in better shape than it is now.

So finding a successor was no easy task. Peter gave the board two years notice of his impending retirement and it still took all that and more to find the right person to fill his shoes. They called Ashley McCumber, a North Carolina native living and working in San Francisco to come home and lead us. Ashley had been the head of Meals on Wheels in the Bay Area. When I heard that I called my friend Mike Papas, head of the Interfaith Council in SF and asked if he knew Ashley. Mike gave me a glowing recommendation and said he was also a good friend. That gave me a good feeling about Ashley.

Meeting Ashley in person was a very positive experience. He listened attentively to our meeting and at the end gave us excellent remarks about how he plans to lead in the big shadow of Peter. Peter was his normal gracious Peter.

It’s a changing of the guard. Something that was always inevitable, but hopefully will also be positive. Farewell my dear friend Peter. We will always be friends, which is much easier to be since I was not your boss for the last few years. Although being your board chair was never hard.

Welcome Ashley! You have many Food Bank supporters who are cheering for your success.

Loving Stori

She was a new girl my junior year of boarding school at the Ethel Walker School. New Juniors were a tiny group, usually spectacular students and people to be able to elbow into our small school late in their high school careers. Stori was placed in a room with two friends of mine so we got to know her quickly. Stori was bright, but not nerdy. She was most often silly.

Christmas cadets senior year at Walkers. Stori, Nancy, me and Sarah

There was hardly anything that we had in common that would lead you to think we would become fast friends. She rode horses and was good at every sport, I was not. I started a supper club with a house parent so I could cook, food was not her thing. She was a diligent student who would work late into the night perfecting her assignments, I would quickly finish my work and talk my way through class. As an oldest child in my family with a father who told us we could do anything I was overly confident in my abilities. Stori had many more abilities than she gave herself credit for. Despite all these differences we shared a sense of humor and a love of art and crafts.

After Bowdoin

Stori was the friend I would bring home to spend weekends with my family. She would go on vacation to Pawleys Island with us. She was folded into my bigger family, spending weeks with my Aunt and uncle in North Carolina and their three children. When my cousin Leigh was a teenager she went to Boston to visit Stori.

Karen, Nancy, me and Stori, always holding on

I would visit her family in Massachusetts and her sister Lilea came to Walkers as a student in our senior year. Stori’s Mom Deicy helped me with my Walker’s senior project letting me stay with them while I was photographing workers in Newburyport and Boston.

With Cathy

For 46 we have been friends. We always made sure to go to Walker’s reunions together. There were busy years when our daughters were little when we did not see each other, but then when I started driving to Maine each summer she would insist I stop and visit her on my way north. We needlepointed together, would practice bridge hands, go on walks and talk and laugh.

Causing trouble in Chapel with Mary

I got to know her husband John and her fabulous daughter Sam. Every visit was as if we had never been apart. Every time I went to Boston to see Carter in college Stori would insist I come see her too, no matter how little time there was. This summer Stori came in to Boston to spend the day with me while I was visiting Carter.

I never thought that the walk we did through the public garden and the lunch we ate on Newbury st would be our last. I figured we would be teaching each other new needlepoint stitches forever.

Always laughing. Front, Cynthia, Kelly, Sally. Back, Mary, me, Stori, Sarah

A week ago Stori was riding her beloved horse. A loud noise spooked her house and she fell off, hitting her head, but she got up and went on. She had no idea that it was such a bad accident. At lunch she told her husband she didn’t feel well. Rushed to the hospital it was bad. She was not conscious for her last week and she was finally freed from her hurt body on Saturday, October 22.

It was a terrible horrible week. Lilea kept me in the loop as we rehashed all the story’s of the years. We cried and laughed.

I eventually let our Walker’s friends know the sadness that Stori, who brightened every reunion with her silliness, was gone.

The realization has not settled in me. Losing someone you loved for 46 years does not happen easily. Stori Stockwell Cadigan was a bright star who will live in our memories forever.


Yesterday we got our flu and COVID Booster shots. I moved my arms a bunch right after I had them hoping that would stave off side effects. This afternoon I feel tired. That could just be the effects of something else, but either way I am under the weather.

Since Russ and I are both in and out over the next week I forced myself to get up and go out and vote today. There was no line at the Eno Unitarian church so we were in and out. I wish I could put up a big sign that said, alley voted, stop sending me emails, or showing me Tv commercials. Too late to change my mind, not that I would.

Make sure to go vote. It is the most important thing. We do as Americans and we need to keep that right along with democracy. So no matter how bad you feel vote early in case something happens to you on Election Day.

No Words Today

No Words Today

As a person who blogs daily I am rarely at a loss for words. Today has been one of the saddest days and I am not going to write about it out of respect. It would be trivial of me to write about anything else, so this is all I am posting today.

Delivering Liquid Love Far Away

I am not one for food delivery. It costs too much to have it delivered and it is a slippery slope to eating things you probably shouldn’t because it is too easy to get it. If we want take out we order from the restaurant and go pick it up. At least we have to do a little work to get it.

My one caveat for food delivery is using it to send something to a friend who is far away. My friend L had her surgery and got home last night. So I researched the best Jewish Deli’s near her and found one that had a Matzo ball soup with good ratings. As far as I am concerned a good Jewish chicken soup is the best medicine there is. When you have had any surgery that involved cutting skin you want to eat things high in collagen and protein. Those chicken bones used to make chicken stock are perfect.

So I ordered L some food online and had it delivered to her house with instructions to leave it at the front door and ring the bell. The driver took a photo of it in front of her door to prove delivery. I didn’t alert L it was coming, but I did text her the photo and said, “I hope this is your front door.”

Her husband had already retrieved it and the name on the slip was Donna so they were trying to figure out who that was. So many times my name gets spelled Donna, I was not surprised.

So hurray for food delivery as a way to send a consumable gift, my favorite kind. Please continue to keep L in your prayers as she is not out of the woods yet. With all my friends who are sick I am happy to have one partial win to celebrate today.

Praying For So Many Friends

For so many reasons I can’t write the particulars about so many friends having issues, but this has been a fairly horrific day. The only thing I can hope is that everyone I know loves on their friends as much as you can. Friends are so important. They know you in different ways than your family does. You keep their secrets. They cry with you. You can vent about people to them. They celebrate you when you least expect it.

Right now I am praying extra hard for four friends. That’s a lot at once who need support. It’s hitting me hard to have so many friends with more than they should have to handle. I am feeling a little helpless and overwhelmed and am looking for some miracles.

One in particular had a horrific accident and is very bad. Please let the light shine down on her, as well as all my other friends. It’s too late for me to make a friend who will know forty-five years of my stories. I just want to keep all the ones I have.

Welcome to Durham Mom!

When my Mom signed on the dotted line to move to Croasdaile I had a plan. A plan for her to meet as many nice people as soon as she could. Moving when you are older than 35 is hard for anyone. How will I make friends? Where will I shop? Will I like it there?

Mom moved to a place that I knew was populated with so many nice people. So I called on one of those people I knew from Church, Carol Walker and asked her if she would help me introduce my Mom around. She enthusiastically agreed to. We met in the summer to strategize and Carol generously offered to host a luncheon at her house and invite women she thought my mother would like. With such a generous offer I said I would make the food.

Today was the day! I had made a shrimp, artichoke and broccoli salad, a mushroom bread pudding, arugula and caramelized pear salad and sea salt brownies. Carol made her delicious fruit salad and all the drinks. I arrived at Carol’s at 10:00 and her whole house was set up ready for an influx of women, except for one thing.

Months ago Carol had contracted with someone to recover her cushions on her sun room furniture. They were supposed to be ready weeks ago. Many calls transpired between Carol and the seamstress, with the date and the time of this party being the deadline. The cushions finally arrived half an hour after the guests did and mere minutes before people were going to need to go sit on them to enjoy their lunch. I know that gave Carol a lot of extra heart burn.

Thankfully it in no way impeded the enjoyment my mother had meeting so many darling people. The good news about people in retirement communities is that a Wednesday luncheon is the highlight of your day so everyone came on time, ate heartily, asked for recipes, were as friendly as they could be, made plans to have dinner with my mother and stayed just the right amount of time.

After most people had gone, Carol, my mother, Ginger Smith and I all sat in Carol’s living room and rehashed the party. Ginger lives in an apartment on my mother’s hall and she was able to answer lots of my mother’s questions about living there.

It was a delightful day and I hope a good beginning for my Mother. I am eternally grateful to Carol for all she did to host such a wonderful party. It was exceedingly generous and means the world to me.

Vote Like Your Daughter’s Life is on the Line

I’m not sure what dystopian world house republicans are living in, but this summer 194 of them voted against a bill to allow access to contraceptives. The idea that republicans might want to not allow people to have contraceptives goes against the very idea of what being a conservative used to mean. Republicans used to be for smaller government that was not involved in every bodies business. Not now that they vote against access to contraceptives. Why is it any bodies business?

This bill only passed in the house and the senate did not pass it. The scary thing is there are republicans who want to take that right away from you.

We must be very careful not to allow even the idea of government getting more involved in people’s personal lives as the maga crowd of the republicans seem to want to do. Along with deciding what books people can read things are sounding more like a certain government in the 1930’s.

I implore regular republicans voters to think hard about your votes this mid term. Listen to Liz Cheney, a true conservative, about what is happening to our democracy if more maga people get in control.

At this point women are fighting for our lives, because the outlawing of abortion and possibly contraception means more women die. Vote as if the life of your wife, daughter or granddaughter depend on it because that is literally what we are up against.

Surprise Lunch

When you do your job as a parent the goal is to raise a fully grown adult who can survive in the world without you. When you do your job well you are happy, but you are sad at the same time that you don’t get to see your child because they have lives of their own.

Sometimes you get a surprise from a surrogate child and that is what happened to me today. Carter’s sister E came for the weekend to see her parents and I go to have lunch with her and her mom Lynn. Nothing makes me happier than seeing that Ellis, who is like a daughter to me is doing so well in the big world. Like Carter being gone, so is Ellis, so getting a chance to catch up with her in person makes me exceptionally happy.

Happy day for me! It would have only been better if Carter had been home to see Ellis too. Thanksgiving is around the corner and we will have some quality time all together. Oh Happy Day!

Hobby Love

Yesterday Carter sent her father a text of a clock her Grandfather made for her and she was sobbing. It meant so much to her. My father-in-law is a fabulous wood worker. He wanted to make something for each of his grandchildren and so he designed this clock and made six of them, calling them the cousin’s clocks. I know it is a treasure Carter will cherish forever.

Having a hobby is one of the great joys. I have always had a lot of hobby’s; needlepointing, quilting, gardening , playing Mah Jongg. My hobbies change over the years. I used to do counted cross stitch, but found needlepoint more creative.

I find that having a hobby gives me focus. I am never at a loss for something I want to do because my hobbies are always with me. You shouldn’t wait to retire to find a hobby. It would be nice to already have an activity you know you enjoy so you have something to look forward to in retirement.

I like when my hobbies overlap, like is the case with this Mah Jongg ornament I just started needlepointing. The best part about hobbies is the friends you make in doing them. I have made hundreds of new friends teaching Mah Jongg. And I spend quality time regularly with my Mah Jongg friends playing. I have multiple stitching groups in needlepoint. Spending time together sharing our hobby is more regular than time just spent randomly with friends.

Quite frankly I have way more hobbies than there is time in the week. That does not mean I am about to cut any of them out. It just means that I have hobby seasons. Like gardening, done mainly in the spring and summer. I don’t plant a fall garden because I need a break from that hobby and have a back up of projects to do.

This week my friend Suzanne said she met a new neighbor who is going to reteach her to needlepoint. Sharing your hobby by teaching it to a friend is the best thing you can do. The second best is making things for others as my father-in-law did.

I have to stop writing now because it is time to get back to my needlepoint.

The Ghost of Autumn

I had to drive up to Danville today. It was a beautiful clear day. The leaves were starting to turn once I was north of Hillsborough. It’s amazing how few miles it takes to be in a different weather zone. The colors are not vibrant reds and yellows yet, but I still had the feeling that fall was finally here.

After my appointment I stop by my Mom’s house to pick up some furniture for her apartment in Durham. She was off playing bridge so I had to figure out how to load a heavy table by myself. After a few different lifting techniques I finally succeeded in get the long table in the old land cruiser resting on the folded down back seats since that is the only way to have it fit.

With the furniture in I walked around the house to look at the landscaping that was put in after my Dad passed away. He would be so happy to see a green lawn and shade trees taking root. The shrubs survived the hot summer thanks to the extensive irrigation system my father did install as his last act.

I looked out at the pool in the back of the house and saw the most beautiful yellow tree I had seen all day. I imagined how much my Dad would enjoy sitting on the back porch in one of his rockers looking at that tree. He probably would have a cocktail to really make it an enjoyable moment.

We’ve come a full circle of seasons without him, but I still see him in familiar places.

Some Things Suck Better Than Others

At this point in my life I have many vacuums. My oldest, and probably the best is my trusted 35 year old Electrolux vacuum. Despite being the best it is relegated to the downstairs closet where it gets used the least. I think years ago it needs to be serviced and so rather than servicing it I bought a new vacuum. That vacuum is the most hated, dyson Animal. I don’t know why I thought I needed a vacuum that was good for pet hair when I have a dog that does not shed.

The dyson is heavy, awkward and difficult to clean out. It was so heavy many people were unable to carry it from one floor to another in my house, even though every floor is only separated by six steps.

Eventually I got a debot, robot vacuum. I love that I don’t have to do any work, but hate the battery life and the fact that it is not the right machine if I just need to clean up some milk bone crumbs Shay has left in the living room.

So for those quick spot jobs I got a stick vacuum. It did the job well at first, but as time has gone on the hinge to the canister has broken and the battery life keeps me from being able to get all the dust in one session.

In my heart I know I should get my Electrolux serviced and start using it as my everyday vacuum, but I know that getting it in and out of the closet and plugging it in, dragging it around are not going to happen just to spot pick up the crumbs.

Perhaps the shortened battery life is just telling me not to stress about dust, or that I should clean every day and not just once a week. I think that based on my many and varied vacuums there is not one answer to my dust problem. Maybe I should just take my glasses off.

Prayers Needed

I just found out that one of my favorite people on earth has cancer. There is a treatment plan that includes surgery, and for that I am thankful for the plan and hopeful for a full recovery. But, this friend does not live close and it makes me feel helpless. She is strong, with an amazing husband and lots of wonderful children. I want to do what I can. I know I can pray, because I believe in Prayer.

Until there is a need for me to go help I am asking all of you readers to pray from my friend. Pray for L., her husband and her children. Pray for her doctors and her care givers. Pray for researchers who can come up with treatments and cures. Pray for all who suffer with cancer.

I am a doer. I like to make meals for friends who are sick or grieving. I like to go sit with people during treatment or go to the store for them. I am not good not doing something. If you or a loved one went through cancer treatment please tell me what would have been most useful or comforting for you during that time.? I need suggestions on how I can be helpful from afar.

But for now, please pray with me.

No Time to Think

I really packed it in today. Started the day with Garden club. I am president for a second time so I have to be prepared. That meant I needed to gather supplies and name tags and get to our hostess, Beth’s house early to set up.

It was great to be with my garden club pals. With the pandemic we have not seen each other much and I realized today how much I missed them. We had a business meeting to solve some club issues and sadly I had to run out to walk Shay. Russ is away and I was going to be leaving Shay for ten hours so I wanted her to get a good walk before I left.

Then I ran over to Raleigh to teach two Mah Jongg Classes. The first one started at one and the second at six. That gave me a good break of an hour between them. I was so tired I literally pulled my car into a Parking lot and set my alarm and took a little nap.

My last class was the final class for a group of young Moms. I was sorry to finish with them as they were so much fun. Despite the fun I was having I needed to rush home to let Shay out. She was happy to see me, but is already back to sleep after going potty and having her very late dinner.

I wish I could go to sleep so fast. I need sleep so I can survive my many night Mah Jongg classes I scheduled this month. What was I thinking? Now I need to have a few free moments to come up with the item I am going to make for the garden club Christmas auction. The pressure is overwhelming. There is no time to even think.

Over Scheduled

I am paying the price now for a month in Maine. While I was away I got tons of calls about people wanting Mah Jongg classes. I had a bunch of fall classes already scheduled from earlier in the summer, but suddenly when Sept 1 came around people got frantic about wanting to learn. So I scheduled as many as I could fit in.

Without being fully aware I scheduled four night classes in a row in Raleigh this week, plus two day classes. Along with Garden club and a doctor’s appointment I also had to fit in an emergency dentist visit for a chipped crown that is annoying my tongue. Now I not only have all these classes, but I am not speaking normally.

I felt like I had a very relaxing weekend, but now I am slammed. I was exhausted all day and tomorrow will be worse. So I am going to try and force myself to sleep and pray I don’t have strange and disturbing dreams like I had last night. Wishing you a calm and restful week. If I can’t have one I hope someone else does.

Best Son-in-Law

Tonight I had to go to Raleigh to teach Mah Jongg. Russ decided on his own to call my Mom and see if she would like to go out to dinner with him. What a wonderful son-in-law and even better husband to do this. My Mom is not settled in to her new place. It is hard to be a widow and be alone even when there are people around. People around she doesn’t know don’t help.

I got home late and Russ was already asleep so I have no idea how their dinner went, but I do know he took her to a very nice place. Now I am going to have to think of something really nice to do for him.

I am seeing my Mom first thing in the morning, so maybe she will tell me how wonderful Russ is, because he is.

Immigration is the Solution

Everywhere we go we see signs, “please excuse us, we are short staffed,” Restaurants, the dry cleaners, the grocery. Unemployment is very low. Businesses can’t handle all the work they could have without more people. We can’t wait for Americans to birth more babies to fill these jobs, there aren’t enough nurses and health care aids to do that. There is one simple solution, the same solution America has turned to through out our history, immigrants.

When we built the railroad across the lower 48 we did it with Chinese workers, when we needed men to dig coal in Pennsylvania we did it with Germans immigrants, when wealthy people in the 1800’s needed house servants we did it with Irish girls. Of course when southern plantations needed workers they did it with slaves, immigrants against their will. But the history of this country is full of American growth on the labor of immigrants.

Those who say they don’t want immigrants now are not seeing the big picture. Who is going to cut lawns, re-shingle your roof, sort packages at UPS?

Florida, the state with the governor who spends state money to fly asylum seeks from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, could probably use a raft-load of strong men to help clean up and rebuild hurricane damage. People who were able to walk all the from Venezuela to America can probably carry lumber to frame houses.

It’s not just Florida, it’s the whole country that is short staffed with a big generation of workers retiring. We need workers and we need workers willing to work at less desirable jobs and that means immigrants. Any American who wants to work can get a job. They might not get the job they want, but there is a job for them. If Americans can’t or won’t fill all the low level jobs I can bet there are immigrants who will. They pay taxes and social security with no guarantee or benefiting from it in retirement.

Stop electing people who say that immigrants are the problem, they are the solution.

Perfect Day With Shay

Shay and I had some quality time today. Russ went into the office and I was not teaching. Shay took full advantage of my at home day. She snuggled me in bed for a long time this morning. “Just read your online news next to me Mom, we don’t need to get up.”

When I did finally get up Shay suggested I do some needlepoint by draping herself over a favorite pillow. “Come sit by me on this sofa, the light is good to work on the black stitches you need to do.” So that what I did. Did I have guilt to be needlepointing in the middle of a weekday? No, Shay demanded it.

I did disappoint her for a bit when I had to run out to get an orchid for our friends who lost their lab this week. Shay made sure that I came home first to pick her up so she could go and pass on her condolences for their loss. Shay is good at wishing people future dog happiness in spite of their current sadness.

After that condolence visit we went home and Shay thought we should play in the front yard since the sun was shinning, but it was not hot. The perfect day to be a dog. We explored all the smells. Well Shay smelled them. And I encouraged her not to roll in the smelliest ones.

Shay got to hide some socks while I was folding laundry. There is never a dull moment when we get into bed as we have the surprise sock tucked in between the pillows.

Then shay got an early dinner of part of a left over angus barn hamburger. She was especially happy that a client of Daddy’s sent us those burgers since he doesn’t eat meat. She knew the client was sending them to her.

It was pretty much a perfect day to be Shay. I was glad I got to spend it with her.

Farewell St. James, We Hope Not Forever

From the moment the St. James Restaurant opened in 2017 it has been a favorite of ours. It was announced at least a year before to be replacing the very smelly and terrible Fish Mongers on Main Street. We were a little skeptical that the new place could get the old fish smell out of the building, but they did it and with such style. The white tile walls and navy leather banquets were anything but fishmongery.

Whenever we thought about going out to dinner the St. James was always top of the list. Then, not two years after opening it was closed due to a gas explosion around the corner in a building attached to theirs. The explosion actually happened in the old Studebaker show room which had been the offices of Durham Magazine for a while where I worked.

Patiently we waited for the St. James to reopen. It took almost three years. It was just as good. We brought friends from Raleigh to eat there and they were looking forward to coming back. Then suddenly word came down that their lease was not being renewed as someone is going to tear down the last three remaining places on the block that survived the explosion to put up something newer and most certainly taller.

So with mere days left to still be a restaurant we went for dinner tonight. The place was packed with well wishers. The staff said the St. James will re-emerge in a new space that is yet to be determined. It’s so sad they lost all that time after the explosion.

The funny thing is tonight we were seated at the same table we sat at the night before the explosion. We look forward to seeing you again soon St. James. Your motto is so Durham, “quality seafood. Reasonably Good-Times.” It’s been so much better than reasonable. It’s been just great times!

Driving Miss Jane

Today I went to see my Mom’s new digs at her retirement community. They are really very cute. One of the things she needs to feel comfortable in her new home is to be able to get around town. Mom drives, but she has no sense of direction and does not do well going to places she has never driven to before.

I went to pick her up and we did a big driving tour of places she wants to visit regularly. The first place we went was her Harris Teeter. I had no idea there was one so close to her place. Check that off the list. She can get there and back in mere minutes.

The second place we went was the bridge center. She is desperate to play bridge like three times a week. We went there and even went it. I am going to introduce her to the owner who can help her find partners. That will make her very happy.

The third place we went was a church she is interested in. She didn’t think it looked enough like her other churches, but I told her she wasn’t choosing it for it’s looks. I need to ask my cousin to take her one Sunday. She is not about to leave the Episcopal church and do the heretic thing I did and join the Presbyterian church.

Fourth we went to Tuesday Morning, looking for an iron. No appliances were available there’s but we found a really nice chair. It fit in my car, we went to cava for lunch then back to Croasdaile where a nice man named Lorenzo helped take the chair to her prime time. It was a very successful day. A few more like this and I hope Mom is going to feel like she is at home.

The Stupidest Political Ad Ever

The midterms are quickly approaching and there is no escaping the overwhelming presence of ads for all sorts of politicians. I am more than a little concerned about the rights of women to have control of their own bodies and making medical decisions with their doctors. It is a slippery slope to a dangerous place if we allow politicians to make medical policies without any medical training.

There is one young man running for congress named Bo Hines who wants to ban abortions. He does not live in the district he is running for. He is young, which is not a crime, but he has no experience in much. Since he doesn’t have a record to run on, other than being endorsed by Trump, he had to call on his grandfather to make an Ad for him.

His grandfather talks about the lesson Bo learned working with him on his farm like “ picking up rocks and pulling stumps. North Carolinian values.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think being capable of picking up rocks makes you qualified to be a congressman. I know there are plenty of them who are as dumb as rocks, but if this is as much as you grandfather can say about you, you don’t have much.

When I went to read about this ad I discovered that this grandfather doesn’t even live in North Carolina and his farm is in Indiana, where the ad was shot. So Bo doesn’t even know ‘bout picking up North Carolina rocks.

For god’s sake, North Carolina has finally made it so the embarrassment of Madison Cawthorn can’t run this time we don’t need to replace him with the rock picker Bo Hines.

Least Favorite Days

There are certain days of the year I love and others I hate. Not all of them are scheduled. Days I love are easy, like Christmas, my birthday, and the summer solstice. Days I hate are Fall back, when we lose an hour of sleep (don’t get me started about why I would do away with changing the clocks), and today. Today is not a day on the calendar I hate, it is the day we finally had to turn on our heat.

Switching over from cooling to heating used to be a month or two apart. We could stop using air conditioning, and just open the windows and live HVAC free. Not anymore. Now we have hardly a few days between needing air conditioning or heating. September has become the most difficult month to get dressed because more the half the month I want to be wearing a white summer sundress.

It rarely gets cold enough to need the heat in September, but come October suddenly, Bam, it is too cold to live in the house without a little heat to take the edge off. Starting up the heat you smell the burning of dust. It’s not actually burning, but it is not my favorite smell. I just hates that once you turn the heat on it means winter is actually coming and we have months to go before we can wear sandals again.

I knew this day was coming. Yesterday I took all my sandals out of my closet and put them in storage. Actually I just put them in a laundry basket under the bed in Russ’ office, but he doesn’t know that. It was my way of admitting that summer was over.

Now that I have gotten this least favorite day out of the way I only have fall back to endure and then I can look forward to some favorite days. It’s only 83 days until Christmas!

Happy Rechargeable Birthday

Russ is officially still younger than me. He is still in a different decade than me. He always will be. At least he is old enough to only want birthday presents, I really mean only one present, that is rechargeable. Thanks to Russ’s Dad, Russ gets what he wants, A big ass, rechargeable light.

Shay and I are trying to make sure Russ has a nice special day, but he doesn’t make it easy. He says he has everything he ever could want, especially now that he has this light.

So if you know him, reach out and wish him a happy day. He’s young, so it is still a good day.

Leaving the House?

Thanks to the pandemic Russ and I got really good at staying home, thus Shay got used to us being home with her all the time. Because of Covid we started accessing risks related to going out. Now we look at everything in relation to how risky it is.

This is Russ’ birthday weekend. Our friends had invited us to spend the weekend at the beach with them. Actually they had invited us for last weekend, but we were too tired from driving home from Maine to drive to the beach. Being such nice friends they gave us a reprieve for a week.

When hurricane Ian was seen heading our way we had to decide if we were going to drive to the beach. Pre-pandemic we might have gone on and done it. Post-pandemic we don’t take the same risks, especially with Shay going with us.

There is no reason to be on the road in bad weather if our lives did not depend on it. Our friends lost their power and internet so it was a good plan not to go. Thankfully they got their power back, but still no internet.

Thankfully we did not lose power here. Nothing too bad happened at our house, but we were in the house for 48 hours without going anywhere. We are pandemic trained, it was nothing.

Tonight we decided to actually leave the house so we went downtown for dinner, leaving Shay home alone. We were gone less than two hours and when we got home Shay was on our bed throwing us some shade. “How dare you leave me alone. You didn’t even tell me you were going out to dinner.”

We need some post pandemic retraining here. It is likely we are going to leave the house again sometime, maybe.