Shannon’s Treasure Trove

It’s been one very busy day. Shannon took me to breakfast in Fort Worth at one of her favorite ‘ole times places. Shannon has always been a tried and true Texan. In boarding school she wore this belt with “Shannon” embossed across the back. In 1978 this belt was not something found in New England, but Shannon would tell us in her strongest Texas Drawl that, “99.9% of the people in Texas wore shannon Belt.” She pulled it out today and it looked exactly as it had all those many years ago. She even wore it in her senior photo.

That was not all she pulled out today while I was teaching Mah Jongg. After dinner we went through her boxes of photos, scrapbooks and memorabilia from our Walker’s Days.

She had the school handbook, which I got quite a kick out of reading all the rules I broke. Like no cars on campus. The paragraph about advisors “serving as her special adult friend,” is a questionable wording. I was quite shocked to read that we had a Yacht Club I never knew about and wish I had taken advantage of.

One of the best things Shannon saved was a small mimeographed plea for money for the Northfield League, to buy new Hymnals. “Contributions could be made to Dana Carter, Emily Davis or Shannon Young.” I was the head of the Northfield League, but I never remember buying any new Hymnals and I wonder what special kind of scam this was.

It has been so much fun rehashing those days. I am so glad Shannon is of pack rat because she had two student handbooks from my senior year and she gave me one. I am going to have to go through more carefully and see exactly how many rules I broke that I never got caught for.

I’m in Fort Worth Now

After being friends with Shannon Young Ray for 45 years I finally come to visit her in Fort Worth. I flew in today to get some time with Shannon before my Mah Jongg class tomorrow.

In true Shannon hospitality she picked me up at the airport and gave me the big tour of Fort Worth. I saw many districts, from the cultural, to the hospital, Westover Hills to TCU. Shannon showed me so many beautiful neighborhoods, each with two or three relatives living on every street.

We eventually wound our way to her beautiful house where I finally got to meet her darling husband Breck. We had a lovely afternoon sharing Shannon stories before Shannon and I went to dinner, leaving Breck to go to a different commitment.

As Shannon and I were being seated for dinner she turned and saw one of her cousins and her family at the table behind us. Yes, she is related to everyone here. Her cousin is a big Mah jongg player so it was fun to talk with her.

I understand why Shannon had to come home to Fort Worth after going to school back East. This truly is her town. She is a great tour guide and I already know I am going to have to find another Mah Jongg gig to bring me back because there are many museums I need to visit and more time with Shannon is going to be necessary.

Beyond Beginners Mah Jongg

If you are new to Mah Jongg or you have been playing for a while your game can benefit from learning how to maximize your hand by improving your Charleston. I teach a class that goes by two names, “Advanced beginners” is the three day version and “Strategy” is the two day. In both you learn tricks to play better. How to “think” about your hand and make good decisions based on this year’s card.

As the card changes so do the best and worst neighborhoods and hands. You could have great success with one neighborhood last year and a terrible time with it this year. I can help you identify what’s good now and learn how to win more often.

There are open spots for non-club members at the Coral Bay Club June 13-15 in the afternoon class. If you have a place to stay on or near Atlantic beach and want to improve your Mah Jongg let me know and I can help you sign up for class. Beginners Mah Jongg class is sold out that week.

I’m off to Texas in the morning to share the Mah Jongg Magic there so if I am slow to respond it is because I am tied up with Texans.

Big Doings

My friends Jane and Warren Brothers invited us to come with them to a screening of a documentary made by the Director and crew who made the tv show “A Chef’s Life.” Warren brought Miss Lillie and her daughter Emma too since Miss Lillie and Warren were principles in the TV show and these were all their friends.

The documentary made by Cynthia Hill is called “Burden of Proof” and airs on HBO this Tuesday. We got to watch the first of the four episode at the Carolina Theatre this afternoon and now I am going to have all the other episodes to find out the answer of the question of what happened to this girl.

After the screening we all went to the surf club and I got to meet so many of the talented documentary film makers who worked on this show as well as “A Chef’s Life.” One of the most interesting Malinda Lowery, who was a producer, and a member of the Lumbee Tribe, as well as a Professor and all around most accomplished woman I think I have ever met.

After the reception Russ and I took Jane, Warren, Miss Lillie and Emma to Rue Cler for dinner. Jane had brought her dog Lucky and thankfully the Manager at Rue Cler, Tony took a liking to lucky and took care of her.

Miss Lillie is quite a picky eater and was pleasantly surprised with how much she loved their salade Verte. It was a lovely dinner enjoyed by all. After dinner Warren brought out a giant bag of veggies he brought me from the farm. He called it a deluxe variety and I have to agree. When we unpacked it at home I was overwhelmed with the amount of produce Warren showered on us.

It was such a fun and different day. I was so happy that Russ finally got to meet Jane and Warren who have been such kind and generous hosts to me in La Grange when I go to teach in Kinston.

I would not be doing my social media best if I did not tell you to watch Burden of Proof on HBO this week, or follow Miss Lillie on Tic Tok @ Ma_Lillie, or Warren at his farm on instagram, @NC_goodness. All great characters, but Jane is the best, you just have to know her to love her.

Ted Lasso, How I Love Thee

Ted Lasso came around at exactly the time I needed him. Exhausted from the pandemic and political fighting I welcomed the happy and uplifting show. As Apple TV would eek out each episode I would gobble them up. Waiting out the dreary months between seasons.

I sobbed as the last episode flashed across my TV screen this week. A good Cat Stevens song alone would have gotten to me, but then add it all the sad goodbyes to Ted and I was a puddle.

As I watched it I realized the episode was full of Easter eggs, but my mind could hardly take them all in. So today I started rewatching Season one of Ted. Right off the bat I saw the kid who took the “ussy” ( as opposed to the selfie) with Ted in the airport leavening London in the last episode. He was in the first episode on the plane taking an “ussy” with Ted.

Ted tells Sam to be like a gold fish and have a ten second memory in episode one, repeated by Ted’s son in the finale.

Then in the second episode Nate had the box, which he made with his niece to collect money from the team. “You put the money in the mouth.” It was the same box he used to collect fines from the team in the last episode.

I am so enjoying reliving all things Ted as I can not part with him. I can see that this will be a forever show for me. One I can rewatch over and over and never tire of, that way I don’t have to face the fact that Ted may not come back. Thank you Ted Lasso. You have been a bright spot which I am going to keep on as long as I can.

The Covenant of Water

I had a lot of commuting time in the last three days. I spent more than three hours in the car each day and it was a pure pleasure thanks to the most fabulous book I am listening to, The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. I am only 15 hours into the 31 hour performance, but since Verghese is the reader it feels like no time at all.

A decade ago I loved reading his novel Cutting for Stone, so I had high hopes for this one. So far I have not been disappointed. I don’t usually recommend a book I haven’t finished, but this one is a true exception.

Thirty-one hours is a long book, but I feel like I really get my money’s worth for one audible credit. So much better than an eight hour book for the same money. I knew that with all the travel I have this month it was a good time to take on a long listen. I was right. This afternoon when I got home from Rocky Mount I sat in the driveway finishing a chapter. I knew I could have continued just on my phone, but I was loving it so much I didn’t want to turn it off even to just get out of the car. I am so in owe of Abraham Verghese’s talents, in writing and preforming.

#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.

When in Durham

Our day started with a breakfast delivery from the Tom’s because Ellis and her boyfriend Kevin were in town and we had a rare chance to all be together. Kevin and Claire were good sports as we told stories about Carter and Ellis growing up. It was such a treat to have everyone together.

Later in the day we had plans to go to the ball game. When friends come to Durham in the spring you take them to a Durham Bulls. When Carter comes home you definitely take her to the bulls. We have been going to the bulls since she was four months old. It is part of her.

When we got to our seats the long time on-field announcer Jatovi McDuff looked across the infield at Carter and made an “OMG” Face. He looked to me and mouthed, “How can it be?”

We have been buddies with Jatovi for so many years that he still thinks of Carter as being that nine year old girl who, with her friend Ellis, used to scream at Pat the bat boy so he would look at them. Jatovi came over to our seats to give Carter a big hug, meet Claire and the best thing was hug my mother. She didn’t have a choice, he said to her, “we are huggers.”

The game was not the bulls best showing when the Redbirds scored eight runs in the second inning. It felt like it would never end, and that was just the second inning. But it was a beautiful night. The rain had stopped and the sun came out. The park was not too full thanks to the earlier rain.

We didn’t stay until the end, but went to Thai Cafe for dinner to round out the full Durham Experience. We did have to take my mom home and get back to play some fast Mah Jongg. Such a Durham day.

Sharing the Obsession

I’ve done it now. Introduced Mah Jongg to Claire. Carter has known how to play since she was practically a baby as I sometimes needed her to sit in. Claire has wanted to learn since she likes games of all kinds.

This afternoon I gave Claire a lesson. She was methodical at learning what the tiles were. She had little trouble learning how to read the card. She took right to it.

Carter, Claire and I played a game before dinner. We took a quick break to eat dinner outdoors on the perfect night to enjoy the spring weather. Russ cleaned up so the three Mah Jongg players could return to the table. Carter and Claire both won a game and now are hooked.

I had to retire and left them at the game table plying Siamese Mah Jongg. I might have created a problem by sharing this obsession. I am planning on going to Boston to teach their friends. As long as they promise to still go to work I can think of worse things to do. Mah Jongg is good clean fun.

Welcome to Durham Claire

Carter and Claire arrived today for a four day visit. It is Claire’s first visit to Durham and we are very excited to show her the place Carter hails from. They took a very early morning flight. They said they met at Logan at 5:30 in the morning, which makes me tired just thinking about it.

I picked them up at the airport and on the way home Carter and I told Claire about some of the things she would see on the way to our house. Our favorite thing we described is the ugliest house in the neighborhood. As we rounded the corner near it I just said, “Look to your left.”

“Oh my, so much worse than you described.”

Once at home Carter had a good reunion with Shay, introducing her to Claire who has a sweet doodle named Norman. Thankfully shay took right to Claire. We gabbed for a while, then had a little tour of the garden where I harvested some arugula and lettuce for our strawberry salad lunch.

Carter took Claire downtown to Russ’ office and showed her American Tobacco Campus and the Bulls Park. Carter had a two hour zoom conference she took from Russ’ office. I met them all downtown for a quick dinner at Dashi.

The very early day was catching up with them and me by association. Russ had been up since three, but that is normal for him.

We are calling it an early night so we can go the the farmer’s market in the morning and then get some good game playing in. At last I have another game lover in the family. Thrilled to have Claire here to encourage game playing. Tomorrow Mah Jongg lessons will be given and at least a few games of Catan. Can hardly wait.

What a Mistake

I awoke to the prospects of free rainy day ahead of me. Carter and Claire are coming for a four day visit tomorrow. I want to make sure everything in the house is clean so I got out the robot vacuum and set it lose. I scrubbed the kitchen counters and dusted the dining room table. I doubt we are going to sit at the big table for twelve when we are only four, but I want to remove any visible dust, not just for Carter and Claire, but for me. I am happier when there is no dust.

As I went about my day inside the rain started to subside and I saw an opportunity to get out in my garden before the rain came back. I was taking stock of my green beans sprouting, noting how many beans did not come up at all so I could get a new bean from the packet to replace the failed one, when my phone rang.

It was one of my Mah Jongg students, whose house I have been teaching at. “Dana, are you on your way?”

“Sarah, Oh NO, I have you in my calendar for tomorrow. ”

We had changed the date for her her class and I did not have it right in my calendar. I have never missed a class before. I have never even been late.

“I am getting in the car right now,” I said. “I will be there is half an hour.”

In my gardening and cleaning clothes I drove to Raleigh. On the way I called Sarah back and asked to be put on speaker phone. I apologized profusely and then gave the class some instructions on something I was planning on teaching them tomorrow.

By the time I had arrived the class members had each down loaded the app I wanted them to, created user names and shared them with each other. Thank goodness my terrible gaff gave them some time to do that. I told them they all could come to new card class for free next year.

We started the class 42 minutes late, but everyone stayed almost an extra 42 minutes and got their full three hours of instructions. It was no consolation for my mistake and their lost time. Bless these sweet ladies who were so kind to me after I made them wait.

Thank goodness I was home just working when Sarah called. I am going to double check all my classes at the beginning of each week for a while now. I can’t endure a mistake like that ever again.

Setting a Goal

Working is really getting in the way of my needlepointing. And don’t get me started on quilting. I haven’t sat down at the sewing machine in months. Thank god it wasn’t too cold a winter and we didn’t all need many new quilts. Not that I quilt for comfort, but for art.

I recently started a giant multi-year needlepoint project. I am making seat cushions for my game table chairs. I am free hand needlepointing four different flowers, one per chair. I started with the easiest flower using a fabric that is on another chair as the inspiration for my flowers. I had to size the flower up to be one big dramatic bloom.

The canvas is so large I have to roll it up like a giant roll of wrapping paper when I am not working on it. Today was one of the first days I have had time to run by Chapel hill needlepoint to pick out a color I needed to go between the round parts.

I wish I had time to work hours on this canvas everyday, but I don’t. I need to set a time goal to get it finished, perhaps before we leave for Maine. I am worried that when I get to doing the background it will be so boring I won’t push through. My friend Michelle suggested I just do one side of the flower and then the background on that side so I break up the background into two halves. I like that idea. I think I could finish half the flower in the next two weeks.

I’m putting that out in the universe. Maybe that’s all I need to do is hold myself accountable through the blog. So here is a photo of where I am today. I’ll report back in two weeks.

I Hate Inefficiency

I really should have been an efficiency expert. I remember reading Cheeper by the dozen and loved that the father was an efficiency expert. It is so hard for me to watch people wasting time, or steps or movements.

When I plan my teaching days I try and have as little time between classes as possible. So I standardize the times I teach. Nine to noon is the morning class. One to four is the afternoon and six to nine PM is the the night. Every once in a while I break down and let people pick their own times. I really should not let that happen because then it just leads to me wasting time.

Today I had a class in Raleigh at 11-2. This was a moment of weakness on my part letting them change their time. Turns out to have been a bad idea for them too because a bunch had to miss class.

The problem with a class from 11-2 is I had four hours until my six PM class. I planned to eat my lunch/ dinner combo them, but still it was a lot of time to kill. I hate shopping, but I did need to pick up some organic fertilizer for my garden so I did that. I thought ahead of who I will need a birthday present for and shopped for that friend a month in advance.

Other than those errands I could think of nothing else that had to be done. So I went to set up for my second class an hour early and did some work while I waited.

I hated feeling unproductive. Not that I was, but it felt that way. I have so much to do at home and if I had scheduled better I could have gotten more done at home and not had time to kill away from home.

So lesson learned. No adjusting class times. I offer them when they fit in my calendar. I can’t let work drive me crazy because I am not being efficient. Productivity comes first. There are only so many hours in the day and I have to make the most of them.

It’s Monday, Must Be Greenville

As my friend Nikki says, “Greenville is my second favorite eastern NC town.” I don’t mean for my Mah Jongg towns to compete to be my favorite, but they sure do try. Last week I walked away from Kinston with the following gifts: hand made Mah Jongg soaps from Nancy, a loaf of homemade banana nut bread with home grown blueberries from Debbie along with half a dozen printed photos, a special Stanley straw from Heather, a place to stay at the beach from Ann, an invitation to stay with Sylvia at a future visit. Not to mention the dinner parties Becky hosted for me while I was staying with her. The outpouring of love was over whelming.

Today I was in Greenville to do the new card class for those friends. Lee Vann showed up with beautiful yellow Peonies from her garden. I don’t want people to think they need to do anything to get to be the teacher’s pet. You all are my favorites.

My favorite part of new card class is when I invite people to take photos of the slides of the easiest hands. It is like a rush to get Taylor Swift tickets. As I was taking a picture of students taking pictures Nikki took a picture of me.

Thanks Nikki for organizing the Greenville crowd and bringing Mah Jongg to your town and inviting the Rocky Mount Girls. It was a fun day with friends.

More and Bigger

My Dad did everything big. He always ordered two beers as soon as he sat down, or two vodkas or two gins, you get the idea. He repeated phrases to make sure you understood. When he shopped he would buy the shirt in every color.

A few years ago when I visited him at the farm he asked me if I wanted some zinnia seeds as his internet order had arrived. I said, “Sure,” and he handed me four bags that totaled two pounds of seeds.

FOUR POUNDS of zinnia seeds could be a three acre field of zinnias! Think of a thousand of those little paper envelopes of seeds all dumped into a bucket.

I planted handfuls of those seeds. They made a beautiful bed in front of our house. I gave handfuls of seeds away. I planted more the next year, gave more away.

Seeds have a shelf life. I tried to use up those bags or give them away as fast as I could. It was so like my father to have bought twenty times more seeds than any of us could possibly plant.

Today I pulled out my last giant bag of zinnia seeds. It was easily at least 7 ounces still left. My Dad has been gone a year and a half and the seeds still exist. Russ and I added compost to my zinnia bed, which has gotten bigger every year. I lay out six long rows of seeds, sown heavy, since I have so many and am unsure if they might still germinate. Even with this bigger bed I still have seeds left. So like my Dad, more than anyone could ever use.

I hope that I get some flowers to have one more summer of my Dad in my garden. Eventually I will have to order my own seeds, but for now I still have the gift my Dad gave me.

I’m Lonely

I’m taking over my mother’s blog today. See, I’m lonely and want friends to visit. I do have my babies on every bed in the house as well as in my big basket in the sunroom. I like my babies, but I have silenced most of them by removing the squeaker. I don’t mean to hurt them, I just love pulling the squeaker out. I think I need professional help to not hurt my babies, but my parents haven’t gotten me any therapy.

My Dad says walking would make me happier. Some days I will walk with him, but some days I only go to the end of the street and then turn back to home. Today he tried to get me to walk, but what was he thinking? The ground was wet and I am a pure princess and don’t like my paws to be wet.

I stood on the porch looking for friends walking by, but did see any. I guess they don’t like to have wet paws either. My Dad should realize I am not alone in that no walking in the rain rule.

Mom and Dad left me home alone this morning. They said it was because they were going to the farmers’ market where dogs are not allowed. I hate that rule. Dogs like farms. It was OK because they came home with a chicken for me. Not as a pet, it was cooked.

I hope the sun shines tomorrow. I am not promising I will go on a walk , but I will be happier when I go do my business in the front yard. Someone should build a covered area for me so that I never have to get wet. Mom? Are you reading this?

Home for Shay

Russ reported that while I was away Shay kept going to the top of the steps to look down to the garage door. She was looking for me to walk in and be with her. So sorry sweet Shay, eight classes this week kept me away from you.

April is my big month. I know Shay wishes I would just stay home with her, but I have to make hay while the sunshines.

Russ did an excellent job holding everything down at home. He even watered my garden and flowers in all the pots.

Now I am home snuggling with my girl. I am tired and she is happy to take care of me. I am not sure who is supervising Russ in his office since Shay is with me, but she will have plenty of time to do her office job next week when I am away again. Oh, April.

Big Kinston Day

Becky Darst has been a most wonderful hostess to me. We had a free morning since classes were not until the afternoon and evening. We started the day with Becky showing me six of her favorite games. I would have been happy to stay home and play all of them but Becky wanted to give me the big tour of Kinston. First we drove around to see everyone’s houses. If you want a beautiful house move to Kinston because you can get the best house for the best deal.

As we were touring we happened upon my friend Ruth E.’s mother and cousin who were out walking and stopped to say hi and ask how Mah Jongg was going.

Then Becky took me into to town to see the O’Neil hotel which had been her husband’s office when he worked for First Citizen’s Bank. The boutique hotel has seven fabulous rooms with the most wonderful art. I know this because Becky knew the manager who showed us the whole property.

Our favorite room was the one that had twin bunk beds built into a bank vault. Christopher, the manger, could not have been more fun and was kind to show us everything.

Back to Becky’s we went to grab a quick lunch before we went to the club for Mah Jongg lessons. The advanced class lamented plenty about the difficulty of the new card. The night class did not know the difference and everyone in the class Mah Jongged at least once, thank goodness. It made the wins even sweeter for the girls who did it later in the night.

Thanks to all who make my trips to Kinston so memorable. I could not do this without Kristi Blizzard, who was missed today. I also missed Jane Brothers. Just means another trip is in store. I have a whole new group of cute players. Thanks Kinston, your never disappoint.

Big Kinston Day

Becky Darst has been a most wonderful hostess to me. We had a free morning since classes were not until the afternoon and evening. We started the day with Becky showing me six of her favorite games. I would have been happy to stay home and play all of them but Becky wanted to give me the big tour of Kinston. First we drove around to see everyone’s houses. If you want a beautiful house move to Kinston because you can get the best house for the best deal.

As we were touring we happened upon my friend Ruth E.’s mother and cousin who were out walking and stopped to say hi and ask how Mah Jongg was going.

Then Becky took me into to town to see the O’Neil hotel which had been her husband’s office when he worked for First Citizen’s Bank. The boutique hotel has seven fabulous rooms with the most wonderful art. I know this because Becky knew the manager who showed us the whole property.

Our favorite room was the one that had twin bunk beds built into a bank vault. Christopher, the manger, could not have been more fun and was kind to show us everything.

Back to Becky’s we went to grab a quick lunch before we went to the club for Mah Jongg lessons. The advanced class lamented plenty about the difficulty of the new card. The night class did not know the difference and everyone in the class Mah Jongged at least once, thank goodness. It made the wins even sweeter for the girls who did it later in the night.

Thanks to all who make my trips to Kinston so memorable. I could not do this without Kristi Blizzard, who was missed today. I also missed Jane Brothers. Just means another trip is in store. I have a whole new group of cute players. Thanks Kinston, your never disappoint.

New Day, New Town

It was a glorious day to visit New Bern, NC. I was lucky enough to be invited to the New Bern Golf and Country Club to give a lecture to a wonderful group of women. I have not taught Mah Jongg in New Bern, but had many familiar faces from the Coral bay club.

For those virgins to my classes the first one can be a little bit of a surprise if you are not used to my animated style. Thankfully these women were not to shocked.

It was a big group of 45 so I needed all the tech to work, which it did not always do, but in-spite of some poltergeist like trouble having slides project the information was conveyed.

After the lecture we adjourned to a lovely lunch overlooking the river and then we got to play some. I love when students I have taught beat me because then I feel like they learned. And beat me they did.

I had to get back to Kinston to teach the evening class. Thankfully they are a darling class. Now I am retired to Becky Darst’s house where I am well taken care of. Thank goodness, otherwise this schedule would do me in.