#Don’t Tell Dana

Nothing makes me happier than having successful students. I had a class first thing this morning in Rocky Mount. It was day two of beginners and they are catching on. I had an evening class in Raliegh as the third class with a group of young Moms and they definitely have caught the bug.

As I had five hours between those two classes I arranged to meet friends who I met first as students to have lunch and play. One of my favorites, Holly Childs has come to a number of classes and along with her cohort of Dell, Julie and Sarah they laugh all the way through class. Today Holly, Sarah and Martha, who just learned, played with me. Holly won three of the five games we played. It was a great triumph. I could not have been prouder.

We finished up and I made a pit stop in the ladies lounge and was invited to sit down with Dida, Helen and Dorothea and play a hand with them and Dida won in record time.

That cup says “don’t tell dana”

While I was in class tonight Spencer alerted me to the instagram of one of my students, cute Etta, and she had made custom Mah Jongg drinking cups and one of them said, “Don’t Tell Dana” in reference to when people play non-standard rules. She also used the hashtag, #DTD. I got quite a scream out of that. So fun to spread Mah Jongg Joy across the land.

Ode to the Independent Grocery Store

I taught this morning in Rocky Mount, NC. Since it was a one class day I finished at noon. I looked at my map (still call GPS a map). To see what was around the club where I was teaching. As I squeezed my fingers closer together giving me an ever wider view of the surrounding area I noticed the name of Dortches.

One time when I was staying at the beach with Reba Huckabee she said that her husband Jim was making a detour to the Red and White in Dortches on his way to the beach. I had never heard of Dortches, but I have had some good local shopping experiences at various Red and White stores through the years.

Jim arrived with store made sausage and barbecue, store made jams and cheeses. When I say store made you should think homemade, by your grandmother. I tucked that bit of information about the Dortches Red and White in the back of my memory and when the name popped up on my map I decided a trip there was in order on my way home.

Thanks to my “Map” I had no trouble finding the store, whose actual name is Smith Red and White, which I think makes up all of Dortches. I went inside and it looked like most grocery stores, until you looked at the giant display of cheese straws by the front door labeled Smith Cheese Straws.

I rambled by the vegetable displays, putting a bag of $3.99 sweet potatoes in my cart. I had mentioned to Russ that I might make a sausage , sweet potato and kale casserole and since this place was known for its sausage I got the requisite sweet potatoes. The display of pork offerings was overwhelming. Since I did not bring a cooler and we are not home that much I held off.

What I did enjoy was the huge display of Smith branded pickled and preserved jars. There must have been 300 different things from cling peaches in jars, homemade sauces and dressings, fig and damson preserves to the pickled jalapeños and okra I purchased for Russ. Giant quart jars for under $8.

I sashayed passed the sweet potato pies and Carmel cakes for $14, looking a lot like the $65 version of Caroline cakes. I skipped the cole slaw, looking like it had too much dressing, on the way to the barbecue, an easy choice for dinner with some homemade sauce, homemade at the store and not at my home.

I did pick up one non-store item, some red pepper flakes we ran out of last night. The small side trip on my way home seemed like it was a good idea. The cost was minimal and the variety was huge. It was a store my father would have loved. Local produce canned and put up just the way his mother did it.

As I was wielding my way back towards the front of the store to pay I lingered at the canning supplies aisle. I have my own produce I grow and could put up, but after seeing the prices at Dortches I decided it’s not worth my time. I am better off teaching Mah Jongg and buying their “homemade.”

Grow Basil – It’s a Command

If you grow nothing else this summer you should at least grow basil. It is the easiest herb to grow. You can buy a small pot for a few dollars and out it in almost any soil. It is not fussy. Can withstand almost my amount of neglect, yet still give up the best taste of summer.

So many summer foods are improved by a mere sprinkle of a few torn fresh basil leaves. Your BLT never tasted so good with a bit of basil. Tomato soup is inspired with just a bit of basil. Macaroni salad has a chefiness about it with the addition of some chiffonade of basil running through it.

Herbs are easy to grow and are a good way to get into gardening without much trouble. Deer and bunnies don’t eat basil. Please god, don’t tell them how good it is. You can go on vacation and don’t have to worry that you aren’t harvesting.

It is good to cut it regularly, but you can always make pesto and freeze that. A bouquet of basil brought to a hostess is a welcome gift. It will stay fresh on the counter in a glass of water for a week.

The plants work well in a flower garden. Make sure to cut the tops down to below the next leaf pairs. When they start to get white flower tops cut them back so the plant does not grow to seed. basil will last among time in the green if you keep cutting it.

From eggs to shrimp, basil is your friend. No one will know you are serving a store bought meal if you add your own fresh basil right before putting it on the table.

Trust me, you will appear to have turned into a great cook overnight just hobby growing and using your own fresh basil.

Need Binge Suggestions

It has been a terrifically rainy Memorial Day Weekend so far. I am not complaining because we definitely need the rain and it has given me a great excuse to needlepoint.

I am about half way through stitching the first seat of my four game table chairs. Since I am doing it freehand I did not bother to paint the canvas. Working on the background is so boring. The seat is 26”x23”. That’s just big.

I have been binge watching shows that I can follow well without having to look at the screen a lot. That means no foreign shows with subtitles. At this point I am running out of ideas of things to watch. I just finished LOVE AND DEATH, but I had to pay close attention to the last few episodes since my cousin Meredith was in it.

Sadly I have finished The Marvelous Mrs. Mazel and am going to miss Midge forever. I think it was one of the best written shows. I am all caught up on Ted Lasso and tonight will finish Succession.

So what should I watch? Please share any titles you love. British anything is good with me, but not typical Bravo fare. I am hoping that I can knock this seat out by the forth of July. That’s a lot of series. Waiting for your recommendations.

Stop Me From Buying Any More Ribbons

When I was younger I fell in love with ribbons. There was a store in New Canaan that just sold ribbons. I can’t remember the name of the store. It was on South Avenue near the Pratt and Lambert Paint store right before Elm St. I would save my pennies and go in that ribbon store and buy single yard pieces for hair bows and to use to make ribbon belts.

The Preppy Handbook came out when I was in high school so hair bows were acceptable, even into college. When I cut my hair and no longer had a pony tail or a ribboned head band I did not give up my love of ribbons. I just had to find other ways to incorporate the glorious grosgrain or luxurious satin into my life.

Eventually I transferred all this love to ribbons for gift packages. A beautiful bow elevates a humble jar of jam to an occasion. If I get a good ribbon on a present I save it and often reuse it for someone else’s gift.

Today I cleaned out my wrapping closet and discovered that I had eight extra large plastic containers of ribbons and bows. Some are single strands and others are whole rolls of ribbon. I guess that I am going to need to start giving a lot more gifts with a lot more ribbons on them to use up my entire stash of ribbons. These 8 bins are not the entirety of all the ribbons in the house, but I did not dare look to consolidate all the sewing room ribbons, needlepoint ribbons, Christmas ribbons and scrapbook ribbons into one closet. For that I would need a good sized RV.

I am imploring my friends and family to stop me if you ever see me thinking of purchasing any more ribbon. I have an account at May Arts, a ribbon dealer, which I am canceling. I promise to not linger near the Christmas bow on section at Home Good ever again. I am fairly certain that ribbon shop in New Canaan is gone, but I promise not to ever drive down South Ave looking for it. I accept this is a problem in my life and will try and do better.

Layers of Spiciness

I have a bunch of spinach and a bed of arugula that we have not eaten quickly enough and they are bolting. The arugula gets spicier the larger it grows so I decided to make a soup tonight utilizing both greens and some cilantro from the garden I need to use up before it turns to seed.

My friend Kim Fox brought me some spices that were too hot for her so I used the Arab masala in this soup. It made a spicy soup which was cooked with a dollop or Greek yoghurt. Served with a hunk of Union special sour dough and it was a yummy and healthy supper.

Spinach Arugula Soup

2 sweet onions chopped

4 cloves of garlic

2 T. Olive oil

1 T. Masala spice. You decide spice level.

1/4 t. Nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 large potato – peeled and diced

6 cups of chicken stock

Five big handfuls of spinach leaves washed

Five big handfuls of arugula leaves washed

1 big handful cilantro leaves and stems washed

Greek yoghurt for garnish

In a big pot put the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for five minutes stirring often. When onions start to get to be translucent add the spices, cook another minute. Add the potato and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for ten minutes.

Add the spinach, arugula and cilantro and cook for five more minutes.

Using a Stick blender blend the whole thing until smooth.

Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Jean Harris, the ex Madeira Headmistress and murder of Herman Tanower, the Scarsdale diet Dr. (Imagine those two things are always mentioned when your name comes up) was a wonderful writer. She penned one of my favorite sentences; “One day I put my arm in my coat and out came my mother’s hand.”

Sometimes horrifying for a daughter to realize that she can not escape some traits of her mother’s, the good or the bad. I got my penuriousness directly from my mother and am thankful for it.

Carter’s Garden

Yesterday Carter sent me photos of her little fire escape garden in her fifth-floor Beacon Hill walk-up. If I had to carry groceries up five flights of stairs I would certainly try and grow as many vegetables as I could.

My Garden

As I was watering my garden today I thought my hand has come out of Carter’s coat when it comes to our love of gardening. She also recently started stitching a needlepoint pillow canvas and playing Mah Jongg. Maybe both of my hands are appearing. At least those are fun things to come from me.

It’s Too Soon

Thank god I was teaching Mah Jongg tonight. I am not ready to have the news cycle dominated by presidential candidates and I’m not good at ignoring the news. I know it might be better for my mental health to not pay attention, but not paying attention gets us crap leaders.

Thirty years ago I said, “Anyone smart enough to be president is smart enough to know they don’t want to be president.” I am not ready for the caravan of clown cars full of want-to-be’s giving speeches.

I wish we could limit the amount of time that parties had to pick a candidate to a month and then one more month to have them face off in an election. Two months of this shit is about all the people should have to endure. The only good news is I don’t live in Iowa or New Hampshire. I also think that political ads should be limited to two months also.

While we are at it let’s outlaw yard signs and flags. I don’t care who you are voting for because all it makes me do is wonder why you are voting that way and I would like to think better of you. I also think it needs to be against the law to fly flags that use the f word. Please, doesn’t anyone care about children?

I’m not a Twitter head because of the Twitter head so I can ignore that big mess. What I really miss is the old days of FCC regulations on news that meant the news had to be the truth. Now with cable, social media, bots and AI nothing ever has to be true. Please bring back Walter Cronkite. We never knew his personal view on politics. It was just the facts and they were real.

Laughing Out Loud

Carter sent me the best card the other day. “Sorry for what I said when I was a Teenager”

One of the best things about being an older parent is I have forgotten most anything horrible that Carter might have said or done when she was a teenager. Nonetheless it is really nice that she has outgrown teenage tendencies to say mean things to your parents, not that she ever really did.

Probably a better card from her is “Sorry for the mean stuff I thought, but never said, when I was a teenager.”

I think that Carter inherited the ability to keep things to herself from her father. It is a great trait that she does not tell people what might hurt them. I certainly think she could have said worse things to me, but she didn’t.

It took me many decades to learn to hold back. I wish that I had learned that in my teens.

To Carter I say, “no need to apologize, I think you are the greatest and I have forgiven any little slight that was caused by the normal hormonal changes we all have to endure.”

I still got a great laugh out of the card.

A Little of Everything Today

The birthdays just keep coming this week. From Shay’s and my friend Jan’s yesterday to celebrating Christy’s today and tomorrow my friend Warren. It appears that so many people and creatures I adore were born in the same week.

My stitching group celebrated Christy with a lovely flourless almond orange cake made by Karen. Considering that I stitched all morning I was happy to go and stitch some more, but with cake in the afternoon.

Then I had to pay the piper and go to work tonight. I had a new group of sweet ladies in Raleigh and one young man. Joey came in his stroller with his Mom to class. He was the most well behaved student in the class and picked right up on how to read the card. I think I can now advertise that I can teach anyone from 8 months to 88 years old how to play. I hope Joey grows up loving the sound of tiles clacking together.

I came home from class to watch the latest episode of “Love and Death” on HBO. Carter watched it this afternoon and sent me a photo of my cousin Meredith who was a member of the jury on the show. So fun. A wide ranging day.

Happy Birthday to Shay Shay

Yesterday was Shay’s 12th birthday. She refused to celebrate until Russ came home today.

“How can I have a happy anything when my best human is not here?” Her words coming from her eyes.

At last she got her birthday wish and Russ came home today.

So happy Birthday to the baby Shay. You will always be our baby even if you are a senior dog.

Permission to Be Less Productive

Russ is in PA visiting his father. That has given me a rare few days alone at home. Before the pandemic these days were regular when Russ traveled so much for work, but zoom still has a hold on consulting so he is home more than I am.

I always have plans of things I should clean, but these couple of days have gotten away from me. Today I spent all morning packing rice and beans at Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel. There was a good group of older and younger folks from church doing the work. I was paired up with Rayner’s granddaughter Issi while Raynor and her grandson Parker maned the station at the other end of the table.

Issi and I were a superior team. We packed 500 pounds of beans into two pound bags before we exhausted the available beans and had to switch to rice. Beans are easier to pack because they don’t stick to the outside of the bag the way rice can.

Iglesia has a drive through weekly food pantry which serves 650 cars in two hours on Wednesdays. They give a lot of food to those who need it and beans and rice are an important staple. It was good hands on work to help our neighbors. Because I felt like I had accomplished something I gave myself permission to needlepoint all afternoon.

Consequently none of the chores around the house got done. I probably can mash them all into the time I have tomorrow afternoon, but I am not going to bet on it. I have months of needlepoint to do!

Unwanted Long-Windedness

I inherited my father’s gift of being able to make small talk with anyone. Curiosity about other people is a strong gene. I am happy to learn where people are from, what they do, how long they have been doing it and what they would rather be doing.

Today I met my match in the most inconvenient of places. As it was a free day for me I scheduled my mammogram. The tech was right on schedule, which was a bonus. I put on the requisite half hospital top opening in the front and was ushered into the squishing room.

The tech was a friendly woman. I learned about her one hour commute, her daughter’s educational history, current job, seven year boyfriend since high school, her scientist husband all while standing half naked.

This scenario is one where I would normally not interview the person I was in the room with, hoping to shorten my naked time. The tech, who also volunteered her ADHD diagnosis, talked my ear off as I was holding my breath with my breast pinched between two giant lucite panels.

For once I was wishing for an introvert as the pressed flesh throbbed as she told me her story. It did feel like I was clamped in longer than I needed to be just so she could finish her tale and release me.

I am certain techs feel like small talk takes away the awkwardness. Honestly I could care less about the nakedness, but the clamping pain being shorter is all I want. Just for fun I also scheduled my colonoscopy today.

Four-Wheeled Convert

I have been a traveler for as long as time. Every job I ever had required traveling. So luggage has been important to me. I believe in traveling light. Carry-on only is a must.

In spite of the amount I travel I also keep suitcases until the wheels fall off, literally. Until now.

Russ decided that I needed a four wheel carry on to replace my two wheel version. My trusted old suitcase was not worn out. It has been around the world and been stuffed to the gills doing it, but always at a tilt.

On my last flight with Russ he noticed I had to bear the weight of the bag as I rolled through the airport while he just steered his four wheel version. Thus the idea for a new suit case for me was born. He researched options and surprised me with this beautiful bag.

This week my new suitcase made its maiden voyage to the beach. Although I did not have to roll it down the aisle of a plane I did give it a go in the car. I admit that four wheels are so much easier than two. I am not sure why I never saw the need for four wheels before, but I am never going back. Thanks to Russ for recognizing my unnecessary struggle and making my like simpler and more beautiful.

Feeling Like the Most Important Person

Today would be my father’s 85th birthday if he were still with us. The fact that he made it to 83 is quite a feat. I am so sorry that he is not still around to hear about my adventures all over North Carolina teaching it Mah Jongg.

He would have loved that I spent his birthday in Morehead City, a place of great shenanigans for him in his VES and UNC days. He always told me never to take a drink called Purple Jesus if it was offered to me based on his dirty rush experience.

He would want to know all the names of all my students and he would tell me that he had gone to school with their father or was the Marshall for their aunt. He would know who everyone was when I never know who anyone is.

To me all my students are just nice people I get to teach. Whenever someone says, “Well, you know who she is don’t you?” I always respond, “No, and I really don’t care.” I either like you for you or I don’t like you for you. Who your people are is of little consequence.

My father was that way too. Even though he did know who everyone was, he really didn’t care. He just liked nice people. He would have loved these sweet friends Scottie had over for cocktails tonight after class.

I hope my Dad is smiling down knowing that we still tell “Ed stories.” His body may be gone, but he will always loom large in the memories of those who knew him or even those who just encountered him, like a waitress or a taxi driver he would take great interest in. He had a way of making each person he met feel special, like they were the most important person in the room.

I wish that I had that same effect on people, no matter who they are. I wish that everyone always felt like they were the most important person in the room.

Congratulations to Carter

Tomorrow is Carter’s last day at her first job out of college. She was not challenged there much so she decided it was time to move on. It was no surprise it was not hard enough after the semester in college she went to school full time, worked full time at Bain Capital, was a TA in two different classes and worked her on campus job as a coordinator in the explore program. That was nuts. But Carter also thrives when she has lots to think about.

I am so proud that she got her next job. She found the listing on LinkedIn, five weeks after it was posted and after 115 other people had already applied. She had weeks and weeks of interviews and was told she got the job beating out people who had all the right experience, which she did not, because of her business acumen and her core values that aligned with the companies mission.

She will be the full time hr person for an up and coming company in the field of synthetic biology. Yeah for Carter. I know that your last day of your first job will go smoothly and I am thrilled you are taking a little time before jumping into your new and exciting job at a place that is so exciting with people who are so interesting.

I can’t wait to see how this adventure stretches you. You made this happen all on your own. This is one proud parent moment. Sorry for the gushing (I actually held back quite a lot.).

Joys of Mah Jongg Friends

The best thing that comes from teaching Mah Jongg is making new friends. As far as I am concerned you just can’t have too many friends. Playing a game with someone is a tried and true way to make friends. We learned to do it as children and the same rules exist into adult hood.

You like people you are fun to play with. You like those who are kind and helpful. You like people who are fair and honest.

Teaching people something that is fun is the best way to make friends. I count myself as nothing but lucky as this is what I get to do with my time. One of the side benefits to me is how kind and generous these friends are to me.

Today I drove down to Morehead city to spend three nights with my friend Scottie. We first met because her husband Barry and I were on the food bank board together. He is a favorite of mine and I loved Scottie the first time I met her, but really got to know her through Mah Jongg. She generously invited me to come stay at their house as I am teaching at the Dunes club this week.

I also got to spend a little time with my friend Mary Jo today, who took me to her favorite store where I got a cute dress. I never would have gotten to know these sweet women as well as I did, if at all if it weren’t for Mah Jongg.

I am not discounting my old friends, who I love and lean on regularly. Today I had lunch with dear Shelayne before I made my drive. I have not gotten to see her as much as I would like, but with her 10th grandchild on the way she is more than busy. I will probably never have anything close to 10 grandchildren so I am just going to have to keep collecting Mah Jongg friends. The good thing is I never have to wipe their noses.

Mother of All Days

In my childhood we were not good at celebrating Mother’s Day. I can remember going to church and other mother’s had orchid corsages on. My friends’ families would be going out to lunch after church to celebrate mother’s day. My mom was lucky if we drew her a picture.

I blame my lack of Mother’s day celebrating on my Dad. He wasn’t big on birthdays either. Christmas was the big gift giving day. He kind of gave you gifts when he thought of it or you needed it. He gave my mother every Saturday off by taking us three girls out of the house early in the morning and doing all the errands with us. She also got coffee in bed every morning so that everyday was like Mother’s Day for her.

Thankfully Russ and Carter are much better at acknowledging Mother’s Day. Carter sent me beautiful flowers with the best note and Russ gave me a trip to visit Carter.

I on the other hand called my mother, continuing the no gift Mother’s Day of my childhood. I should do better. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there. Everyone deserves to be treated well everyday, but it is nice to have one day when the guilt gets you at least breakfast in bed. (For the record Russ brings me breakfast everyday so I am well spoiled.)

I hope my mother knows how much she is loved, even though she never got an orchid corsage or a lunch out.

I Can Make It Rain

All week I have been praying for rain. I was too busy to properly water my gardens. I had to ask Russ to do it at 6:30 one morning when he was too busy to water. I like when Mother Nature waters for me.

Today rain is predicted, but later at night. I wasn’t sure I could wait to see if that actually happens. See, if it doesn’t then my poor plants are that much more stressed.

I waiting until the late afternoon to see if the rain came. It didn’t so I went out to work in the garden. I have a few new zucchini plants to put in as the last of the squash plantings. I had six more bush bean seeds to put in as part of the successive rows of beans. Weeding and pruning and the harvesting to spinach for dinner. I got a good amount of those jobs done except for all the weeding of the pathways. Then the rain started.

At first a few sprinkles. I kept working. Then a little stronger, not drenching, but more than sprinkles. I thought, “Well, now I won’t have to water.” I decided I should come inside and not ruin my freshly washed hair.

Shay was with me and we sashayed into the garage. I changed out of my garden clogs, took off my gloves, stowed the pruning and harvesting shears. Once inside I looked out the window on the other side of the house. The rain was heavier on that side. I swear my house is the dividing line between plenty of rain and barley any.

As soon as I was settled inside working on a new project I glanced out at the garden. No rain. Yes, the cars were wet, but I could not see any new drops coming down.

I can get it to rain if I go out and work in the garden, but I can also make rain stop by coming inside. I’m now going back to the garage and put on my gloves and my gardening clogs and am going out and turn on the hose. That will mean we will get plenty of rain in the middle of the night.

I Forgot I Write a Blog

I was just about to go to bed and I realized I had not written my blog today. How could this happen? Todays blog will be the last one of my 12th year as tomorrow is my blog anniversary starting my 13th year of writing it everyday.

You would think a twelve year daily habit would actually be a habit, but even so I almost forgot. Perhaps the toll of a busy work week, or my punishing needlepoint push to make progress on this giant seat cushion is what caused me to up and forget to write.

When nothing too exciting happens it makes it hard to find a subject to write about. Not that nothing exciting has been happening, but I am just not allowed to report on some thing until I have been given the all clear.

Please excuse this lame post as I am down right exhausted, have no new recipes to report and no great photos. I will leave you with this photo from early morning at my “Raleigh class site”. I did have a great group of women this week and this was the calm before they all showed up to class to soak up the Mah Jongg Knowledge.

Happy Friday.

Dangers of Appliances with Heating Element

This morning one of my Mah Jongg students came into class saying she was exhausted due to a fire in her house last night. She turned her Viking dishwasher on late at night, just before bed. Once asleep she was rudely awakened by some kind of blaring alarm. Thankfully it was a smoke detector attached to her home security system.

Turns out her dishwasher had a short of some kind and the heating element malfunctioned causing a fire. Thankfully she, her husband, visiting daughter and grandchildren all got out of the house safely and three fire trucks came and out the fire out and pulled the dishwasher out into her driveway.

I make it a rule not to run my clothes dryer unless I am home. Now I am going to have to make that same rule for the dishwasher. You just don’t need a revolt by your appliances to cause you to lose your whole house.

Thankfully my student’s situation was not so bad that she missed Mah Jongg class, but now come the nightmare of trying to find a new dishwasher and fix the damage from the old one. She said getting the burning plastic smell out of the house might be the worse. God bless.

Nothing to Complain About

I left the house at 7:45 this morning. Plenty of time to get to work in Raleigh. Not half a mile from home my maps rerouted me. Accident ahead. I changed routes. Three miles later, another reroute, traffic backed up. I changed routes. My arrival time kept getting later and later. Then it happened again. This time the traffic was at a dead stop. I inched along to a place I could turn off and changed routes. I eventually arrived. My commute had doubled.

I found out the last detour was due to a tree down across a major road. Thank goodness my other detours delayed me long enough not to be hit by that tree. That is the way I looked at it. Not that my normal 30 minutes had taken a hour, but thanks to that extra time I was not on my normal road right as a tree was going to fall and hit some cars and stop traffic all together.

Sometimes you need to pull back from a scene and see the bigger picture. I wasn’t late for class because I always leave plenty of time for the unexpected. I wasn’t happy to constantly be rerouted and spend more time in the car, but it really wasn’t that much of a hardship. I got to listen to more of the wonderful book I am listening to.

I think about how my younger self would have reacted to all this rerouting and doubling of commute times. I am certain forty years ago I might have been screaming in my car. Who I was screaming at I do not know since only I could hear myself. I love that with age comes the acceptance of what we can not change. With age you see that maybe little annoying things are ok if it means you don’t have terrible horrific things.

Maybe I am just a little delirious from my fourteen hour day, but I am thankful for it also. I look forward to getting up early and doing it all again tomorrow, but only two classes instead of three. Nothing to complain about.

Garden Club Graduation

An unnamed husband was overheard saying, “I love the Garden club picnic. it is the best food of the year.” His words were echoed by two Garden Club ladies not ten minutes later.

Tonight was our final meeting of the garden club, the traditional year end supper with our husbands. There really isn’t much of a meeting except the passing of the torch. I got to say farewell as the President and Stephanie Perun officially took over. She presented me with a big pot for my hose, a gift I had asked Russ for and am glad I did. I also got a beautiful orchid.

Outside of that bit of business the picnic was a big yummy affair. The hostesses grilled steak and chicken and made a giant salad which was a lovely main, but ohhh, the appetizers, side dishes and desserts made by all the members were the real hits. At my table the ooohing and aahhhing was all about the puréed cauliflower. People went back just for seconds on that.

Sadly Anne Bradford had been assigned the dessert category so there were no patio beans. I alerted Stephanie that next year we need Anne to be assigned Patio Beans. Don’t ask me what they are, but they usually are my favorite thing at the garden club picnic, which I now realize I have been coming to for 23 years.

Thanks to the hostesses, Laura, Jane, Emmy and Mimi. I know it is a lot of work, especially with the threat, and non-threat, and threat again for rain, which thankfully never came.

It was nice to be thanked for being president, but it is not that hard a job. I am just happy that it was a fun year, with fun people and no drama and a yummy farewell.

Packing Boxes Right Is Hard

My sister had a business making boxes for beauty products, packing them and shipping them. Packing liquids takes extra care. It means being nice to your employees so they pack the boxes correctly. Poorly packed liquids are a recipe for disaster. My sister knows that and does it right.

Today a box from a national beauty and fragrance company arrived at my door. I knew when I opened the door and there was a small puddle of thick liquid under the corner of the box there was a problem.

I turned the box upside down and carried it to the kitchen counter quickly. Many ounces of liquid hand soap had already coated the inside of the box. It had covered the boxes of the gifts inside what were not bubble and plastic wrapped, but just thrown in the cardboard box in open top plastic bags. There were two small pillows of air, hardly enough to hold the four heavy glass candles from shifting, crushing one of the two large plastic bottle of hand soap.

Almost everything was ruined.

I photographed the evidence, having to wash and dry my hands between each removal of a slimy box. I called the manufacturer. They did not seem surprised and quickly sent me confirmation of a reorder as well as an email to send back my evidentiary photos.

The person you pay the least in your company can cost you the most. Packing items correctly may not seem like the most important job, but it is. Everything liquid and breakable should have been wrapped in bubble. Not one square inch should be left inside the box so that items don’t shift. Shifting items is what causes breakage. When you are in the logistics business this is lesson number one. You need to train your people and inspect their work. You need to treat them well and pay them enough that they care. If they don’t care, or worse yet, don’t like you, they cost you money and customers.

It took me thirty minutes to clean that mess us. I will never order from them again. I hope the replacement box is packed better.

The Card’s The Proof

Today at church our minister for youth and families, Alex, talked about plans he was making for the summer. Go to the beach, pick blueberries, become a saint. Nothing special, normal summer stuff.

Alex is not someone with a grandiose personality disorder. He was encouraging the whole congregation to become saints. Nothing big.

As I left church I spoke to Alex. “I grew up in the era of business cards,” I told him. “If you got a business card with a title, then you basically were whatever the title said you were.”

Alex liked this short cut. Sainthood via printing. So I mocked up a little card. No phone number or email needed. If you are a saint then you have a direct line where ever you need to go.

I encourage you all need to go get cards for whatever you dream you want to be. Think big. Jeez, Alex started with Saint. Carter made me cards as a Christmas present and gave me the title Mah Jongg Sage. It was big. Now I am a Mah Jongg Sage. I have the cards to prove it.

Go on. As the ad used to say, “Be all you can be.” It only takes the cost of a card.

Coronation Day

My very Anglophile stitching group celebrated Coronation Day with a breakfast get together that was fit for only the toniest royals. Kathi did not disappoint with decorations and flowers that Charles would have appreciated. Since he was busy at the actual coronation Kathi had his stand in at the ready.

We had the most lovely tea service for which Kathi is famous for. You could visit with her everyday for a month and never drink the same tea twice. I made an egg dish, Michelle baked yummy perfect scones and brought short bread directly from London, Nancy provided clotted cream and strawberry jam, Kathi whipped up her mother’s almond laced whipped cream with perfect strawberries and Karen made coronation chicken salad tea sandwiches. It was a feast.

We enjoyed our breakfast and then our lunch as we watched the BBC’s coverage of the big day, which Steve had taped for us. I was most impressed with tori MP Penny Mourdaunt who carried the sword through most of the ceremony. It never appeared to waiver or drop. I can’t imagine how tired her arms are tonight.

No matter how you feel about the royal family it was an impressive display of pageantry for which there are no equals to the Brits. True to our stitching group, Karen brought us each a commemorative tin of Fortnum and Mason coronation tea and and Nancy gave us each a Fortnum and Mason Coronation tea towel. I will treasure these mementos of this glorious celebration with such sweet friends. God Save the King.

Fiesta Time

It really takes a good reason for us to go to a party these day. Tonight was a good one. Since the pandemic we have turned into such hermits we hardly see anyone. It was so fun to be with lots of friends tonight at the club. The best part was all us old people wondering who all the young people were.

The highlight was the Anderson’s bringing their twin grandsons. The double decker stroller gave us all amble viewing time.

For once I was the one dragging Russ out early. I have a coronation party early in the morning. Too many parties in one 24 hour period.

Thank You Apple Maps

When I go anywhere that involves highway driving these days I use my maps app even if I know exactly where I am going. I don’t do it so that the app can tell me how to get to my destination. I do it so the app can alert me if there is a problem on the road.

Tonight I went to Greensboro to teach at Lesley Tuck’s house. It was a late class. She had invited me to spend the night, but since it was only an hours drive I declined and was just coming home after class.

As I was driving down I -40, talking on the phone to Russ, I said, “ I have to get off the phone, the map I showing a big red section of highway up ahead.”

At ten at night the only reason that the eight lane highway would be red is an accident. My app put up a big warning sign then added seven minutes to my trip. The good news was it was only seven minutes. At least that meant the highway was not completely closed.

Sure enough as soon as I reached the crest of the hill I could see many flashing lights. The three left hand lanes of the highway were blocked. Traffic slowed, but did not stop as we all merged right. I passed fire engines first that were blocking the lanes, then police cars, then a car that was totaled with people sitting on the road. At least they were alive. Further down the road more damaged cars and trucks. I am not exactly sure how many vehicles were involved.

It was a very bad accident. I am lucky I did not leave Lesley’s house 15 minutes earlier. I am also glad I had prior warning of the accident by the app because of the topography I would not have seen it coming as soon as I did.

Please be careful driving and use a Maps App when you can. This is one of the good things about crowd sourcing information. I am happy to have big brother alerting me to upcoming danger.

I did get home safe and sound. It just took me ten minutes longer.

My Birthday Twins

When I was in third grade there was a girl in my class I did not like much who I later came to discover shared my birthday with me. Sharing your birthday in third grade is not much fun at all, but especially with someone who was more like an enemy.

When I was fifteen my aunt Janie Leigh had a third child, Sarah on my birthday. What an improvement over the the third grade birthday twin. I have loved sharing my day with my cousin.

When I went to college I discovered that one of my favorite friends and sorority sisters Tricia and I shared the same day. Adding yet another great person to my birthday group was a pleasure.I liked her so much she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, even though it was the eve of our shared birthday.

While in college my dearest friend Suzanne invited me to go on spring break to visit her sister Gussy in Puerto Rico where she was living. Gussy and I became fast friends and knew we were sisters separated at birth because we both where born on May third, just nine years apart.

When I moved to Durham I met a great friend at garden club, Beth Sholtz and we discovered we were born five years apart to the day. I was in great company with Beth sharing the same day.

I love having close friends as my birthday twins. It seems so wonderful to share a birthday now, not at all like having to do it with someone I didn’t love in third grade.

So to all who share this as their special day, I hope you have had a day filled with loving messages, presents, parties and cake. May 3 is a great day because you came into the world then.

A Good 31 Year Start

My friend Karen had been cleaning out her boxes from storage a few months ago in preparation for moving to her new home in New Hampshire. Apparently she came across a trove of photos from my wedding and she put them in a card to send me, then packed the card.

It was uncovered while unpacking at her new place and she sent it to me arriving today, on our 31st anniversary. It is so fun to see new photos to me from this very day 31 years ago when the terribly young Russ Lange changed my life.

If I had to make a prediction on that day of how our life might go I would never have guessed the great adventure it has been. Little did I know we would soon move to North Carolina and set down such strong roots. I might have thought we would have a child named Carter, but could only have hoped to have such a perfect blending of the two of us.

The big thing is I never dreamed of having a husband as supportive, kind and loving as Russ turned out to be. You decide to marry someone and it is hard to know all their potential, let alone that you will grow in compatible ways. I am so thankful Russ took such a big chance on me as I was so different from anyone he had ever met before.

Happy anniversary to the best husband for me I could ever get. Thirty-one years is a good start. Let’s see where we go in the next 31.


Carter and Claire had one last day in Durham. Carter had work so there was that. The one big thing they did was go on a little Durham tour and while out they filled the Land Cruiser with gas and ran it through the car wash!

That was Claire’s idea and it was big. The Land Cruiser had a layer of pollen on it that I was worried would never come off. It was a very thoughtful and kind act for them to do before they left town.

It was so great to have them here. Carter said it was so fun to come home as an adult and that she should do it more often. Since we are at about two visits a year I would love it if she were home more often. I just forget that Boston is her home now.

Shay was particularly sad to see them go. She loved having two dog lovers to fawn all over her. She put the blue ribbon on that came with the gifts Claire brought. It looks particularly good with her brown coat and her pink Hydrangeas.

I think Shay is going to be standing on the front porch looking for Carter for a day or two. I’m with you Shay.