Rain, Rain, Rain

It’s 56° and rainy today. Did anyone tell mother nature that it is May 19? It is going to be like this the rest of the week. It is one thing to stay home when it is sunny and beautiful, but it gets a little tiresome when you also have to stay inside because it is so miserable out.

Since I still have room in my vegetable garden I thought I might want to fill it up. I thought today would be the perfect day to look for some starter plants since no one else wants to shop for plants in the cold and rain. I was right. I went to For Garden’s Sake and they had a fabulous collection of vegetables and herbs and no other customers. It was easy to social distance and get some squash and cantaloupe. While I was at it I got a few hot pink geraniums.

Now all these plants are sitting in the garage awaiting a break in the rain so I can plant them. Looks like it won’t be until Friday. Two more full days of rain night and day might wash my garden away.

Please don’t let all this rain flood people out of their homes. We can’t handle more natural disasters during the mother of all pandemic disasters. So stay safe out there. Make sure your outdoor drains are not blocked by leaves and debris. If you have a basement that could potentially get water in it make sure your sup-pumps are working. And always remember not to drive through standing water. Just your public message for the week.


When Your World Shrinks

As most of us have shrunk our world to be just our homes I am wondering what others have found to focus on. I have developed an obsession with getting my shower floor tiles and grout sparkling white. It is a ridiculous thing to care about, but yet I still have spent hours figuring out the absolutely best ways to clean every part of the shower.

I have removed the clear silicone at the glass wall and replaced it. I have tried many different cleaners and home remedies to whiten old grout and finally with the last application of Clorox to cloth strips that sat on the grout for hours I have turned my old shower into dazzling white reminiscent of Lyle Wagner’s smile on the Carol Burnett Show.

It is not just my shower that has occupied hours of my time. I have five sheet pans from my catering days. I bought them from my Sysco rep in 1988 when they were on sale for $5 a piece. They are the best pans and have served me well. If I could replace them with new ones for $5 each I would do it, but similar ones of suchheavy duty quality now go for $85 each.

These pans get daily use year after year and have not been sparkling clean since I got married. What better way to while away hours stuck at home than by trying to restore these pans to their original gleam?

Many pintrest sights tout a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide recipe to do just this job I want done. So I tried that. They said time was the secret. I’m not sure if they meant decades because after many nights I have been unable to completely clean these pans. The thing that worked best was a Brillo pan and elbow grease. I am still not half way through working on these pans, but I figure I am going to be here for a while and can spread this job out over multiple months. I might have to resort to a power tool, but that is excitement for another day.

As my world shrinks smaller and smaller I am looking for even more obscure things to clean to perfection. I have my eye on the crystals of the front hallway chandelier. Of course I have actually cleaned that before so it is not the perfect subject of my cleaning obsession.

I would love to know how you have been whiling away the weeks and what ridiculous projects you have found to work on. I can’t be the only person who has fallen into this hole.


On This Day

On this Day in 1756 Britain Declared war on France, on what was called the seven years war.

On the same day in 1792 Merchants formed the New York Stock Exchange.

May 17, 1875 the first Kentucky Derby was run.

On this day in 1938, Ed Carter was born.

It is appropriate that he arrived on the same day as these previous events because he always liked the British so much more than the French. He believes in capitalism and all things the stock market represents and has never shied away from a good excuse for a drink like they do at the Kentucky Derby.

It is quite amazing that my Dad has made it to 82, although he looks almost exactly the same as he always has. He is the most generous and hard working person on earth. In fact when I spoke with him today he was busy helping his “hay man” load 192 12-foot diameter round bales of hay on trucks.

So please wish my father a happy birthday. He doesn’t do face book, but I will forward any well wishes on to him.


Graduation in The Driveway

This morning Russ and I went to a surprise Driveway drop-in to say congratulations to Leander Perun for graduating from Denison. Her brother Drew is due to graduate from Cardinal Gibbons in a week also, but this celebration was for his sister.

The loss of graduation is sad for the family, but to me the loss of those last sweet weeks of college is the saddest. Spending time with your best friends made over the last four years is something you can not replace. Never again, not at any reunion, wedding or other get together will you ever have all your friends and those carefree last days of college.

I have great memories from those weeks senior year of college packing in as many memory making activities as we could. When I graduated from college we were in the middle of a terrible recession. Jobs were hard to come by, people were worried, but not so much that we didn’t revel in spending time together.

The actual graduation was the least exciting event of the senior year. It was bittersweet. Yes, we had accomplished fulfilling our academic requirements and for our parents they had completed paying for it, spending the last hours with our class of friends was sad, but we were together.

For this year’s class of graduates they had no warning that those last few days in March would be the last time they would be together. They didn’t get to have heart felt talks with friends, or final chances to confess a crush on someone, or make up with someone you had harsh words with. Granted young people are more connected electronically now. We only had letter writing and expensive long distance calls to keep us together after college.

The class of 2020 got robbed and nothing can change that, but don’t let that hold you back from having lifelong connections with your college friends. You may have more free time right now to communicate, since few of you are rushing into jobs right now. Those too will come. Pandemics, like recessions eventually subside. It is part of the ebb and flow you will experience many times in life. Learning to ride it out is a skill that you can draw on. Realizing that things go up and go down helps prepare you to be resilient.

So congratulations to Leander and all the graduates out there. The fact you did not have a real graduation does not diminish your years of hard work.


Dirty Jobs

When you have lived in the same house for over 25 years there are chores that stay on the to-do list year after year. Covid has provided time to work through that list in a way that feels productive, but not fun. No, I have not cleaned out the much written about attic. Since that job will involve many trips to donate things and to the dump I have an excuse to not work on it.

In the last two days I tackled a job that has been growing for at least ten years- the refinishing of old teak furniture. We acquired this furniture when Carter’s god father moved from Washington to Chicago. I think it was about fifteen years ago, because he lived there about four years and since moved back to DC and retaken his rightful place as prince of the city.

The furniture was in perfect shape when it came from him. We put it on our deck off our gathering room and enjoyed it greatly. Sometime about ten years ago I noticed a spot of lichen on a leg of a chair. Then another and eventually the furniture was looking like that Character Groot from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. We just stopped using it.

Yesterday I took out a plastic scraper and scraped off all the lichen and other things growing on the wood. It was a disgusting job, but it was just the start. Today I put on my respirator, which I purchased for the kitchen redo last summer. I pulled out the mouse sander and I sanded four chairs and a dining table. It took over two hours and I finally had to stop because my hand was vibrating even when the machine was off.

Tomorrow I am going to finish cleaning those items by washing them. After great study on YouTube I think that will be enough since I have read you don’t oil teak outdoor furniture. I still have a few more pieces of furniture to work on, but at least I made a big dent. The deck itself needs attention, but I am hoping for some other job to make itself known so I can put that off for a little bit longer.


Need Elastic?

Eight weeks ago I went on Amazon to order some quarter inch elastic for mask making. It started because one friend texted asking me if she could commission me to make her a mask. I was happy to make it for her with materials I had on hand. Fabric and thread I have for days, but then I only had three yards of elastic. Another friend asked me for nine masks and she found me 30 yards of elastic. Then more and more requests for masks came in.

I needed more elastic. I went online and sure enough it was sold out everywhere, except for some people charging ridiculous amounts. You would have thought they were selling super bowl tickets.

What I did not realize as I was pursuing different vendors on Amazon was I was inadvertently ordering from them and agreeing to eight to twelve week deliveries. I tried to cancel the orders, but could not. One spool came in four weeks ago. I have since used it up and made over 175 masks. Now a second giant spool arrived today and another is expected in the next few days. Probably followed by two more in the next weeks.

If you are wanting to make your own masks and need elastic feel free to contact me. My mask making has slowed down. I am very thankful to all the people who made donations to the Food Bank in trade for masks. The Food Bank has let me know who made donations so if you still need to do that it is not too late.

I will still keep making masks, but I don’t anticipate needing all the elastic in the world. If I can get some time in my sweat shop between Carter’s work calls I am going to try and make some fun masks with different materials and maybe even some with embroidered smiles, or words that read “thanks for wearing a mask” or “Masks Mean You’re Kind.” Those are better than the things I think when I see people out in public not wearing masks.


Sweatshirt Period

Picasso had his blue period and I have my sweatshirt period. I will look back on these last few months of my life as the time I wore a sweatshirt almost everyday. Granted when we started quarantining it was March and kind of cold, then we had April and with just a couple of warm days I wore a sweatshirt everyday and now we have had one of the coldest May’s ever so far and I am still wearing the same thing.

There is something about staying at home that makes me need the comfort of one of my four quarter zip sweatshirts. I only have them in patriotic red, white or blues, but they have become my go to thing to throw on. Granted they go perfectly with yoga pants and those too have been part of my Covid uniform.

I have had these sweatshirts for between 10-20 years. I probably have not worn the white one in three of four years, but somehow it has gotten into the rotation. Forget wearing sweaters. For some reason they seem too formal for stay at home activities. Even on my once a week adventure to purchase food I wear my sweatshirt and look as unkempt as I ever could.

Maybe the lack of professional hair care has done this to me. Perhaps the shrinking of my wardrobe choices is in relation to the shrinking of my world. More likely I am taking comfort in my discomfort.

I laugh at the catalogs that arrive at our house from retailers advertising dresses and blazers. Where on earth would I ever need to go dressed in those? Even shoes without rubber bottoms seem absurd these days. First, you really can only wear sneakers when you are wearing a sweatshirt and second I am always wearing a sweatshirt. I wonder if my feet will ever fit back into dress shoes again after three months of this? What about after six months?

I am worried about what my uniform will become once warm weather finally gets here. Obviously it will have to be a red, white or blue t-shirt, the summer equivalent of the sweatshirt, but I don’t think I have ones as old and beloved as my sweatshirt collection.

I guess I liken my sweatshirts as the equivalent of a baby blanket. Maybe I should just make myself a baby quilt and carry it around with me, then I could wear real clothes.


Regressive House Wife

Today I felt like I was channeling my inner 1940’s House Wife. Not that I set out to do that. Everyone else in my house was busy working, locked away in their respective offices, interacting with other humans electronically. I had no such excitement so without a plan for the day I just started in cleaning various things.

As most major things have been cleaned and re-cleaned during the last eight week lock down I had to turn my attention to the rarely or difficult to clean items. I started with the glass wall of the shower. As I had stripped out the ten year old silicone beading on the bottom of the glass wall yesterday and replaced it with new, clean silicone I needed to polish the glass. I have finally found the right combination of vinegar and Dawn mixed with a touch of water and a micro-fabric covered sponge as the way to clean the shower glass. It takes two or three passes between the vinegar/Dawn mixture and clean water before squeegeeing the whole thing. Oh the satisfaction of clean glass and fresh silicone.

Once I had that gallon jug of white vinegar out I turned to another cleaning job I have never done- deep cleaning my washer. I had noticed a “tub clean” setting on my top loader. In my whole life I have never cleaned my washer, but what the hell. I poured two cups of vinegar in the machine and ran the tub cleaning cycle. When it was done I ran a second cycle to ensure no vinegar lurked anywhere in my washer.

My robot vacuum ran all over the house all the while I was doing these other jobs. Then I got out a set of mops. I used my hardwood mop and cleans the wood floors. Then I turned to the tile floors. Next I dealt with every toilet. I was on a roll.

Lastly I took on the burners of my gas stove. As I have starfish burners and the gunk tends to turn black on the corners of the stars. Despite cleaning the stove daily when I wipe down the counters I never get all the stuff off. Channeling my inner 1940’s house wife, who had nothing better to do than keep a perfect home, I took a Brillo pad to the stove and scrubbed until my fingers nails were black. I got most everything off the corners of the starfish, but a few stubborn black marks persist. I am going to have to research the best way to remove them in tight spots.

As I had pulled out some stainless steel cleaner to work on the stove I finished up by polishing all the appliances in the kitchen. Only then did I realize I could have been cleaning the oven. Oh thank goodness I have something to do tomorrow. It is still going to be the 1940’s here for a while. Maybe I can pull out my old Electrolux vacuum and I can vacuum the lampshades and all the sofa cushions. If only I could get my hands on some good beef bones I could make my own soap and gelatin.


Cover a Your Mouth AND Nose

I try and stay home. When I have to go out I try and go on an off weekday time, hoping there are fewer people out. I believe the scientists who say no contact and good face covering and hand washing are the best way to not contract or spread Covid. It is not inevitable that we all have to get this thing in the next two years if people do the three easiest things, stay at least six feet apart from everyone, except those who you live with, wear a mask when you are in public, which does not mean when you are taking a walk in your empty neighborhood, but are in a store, and wash your hands, lots.

Last week my outing was to Trader Joe’s. They have this system of keeping us safe down pat. ALL the employees are wearing masks that cover both their nose and mouth. They only have enough carts in use to keep the numbers low inside the store and they disinfect them between each customer. They have employees at the door managing the line outside and have little “x’s” on the sidewalk incase you really don’t know how far apart six feet is. They also only let in customers who are also wearing masks and you can’t bring your own bags. I feel safe shopping there because of all these things.

Unfortunately today I had three errands to run I had been putting off. The first was to Home Depot. Big Mistake. They have a sign at the door telling people to wear masks but half of the idiots in the store were not, and that includes employees. There was a greeter getting carts from outside and giving them to customers inside, but he was not cleaning the cart handles. I asked him why there were so many customers coming in without masks and he just shrugged. You can bet I told a few of those customers to put masks on, but they looked at me like they were on the way to an NRA rally. I even saw a pregnant woman shopping without a mask.

At one point I witnessed three employees without masks who were as close together as people could be talking to each other. I could practically see the water droplets come from their mouths as they talked face-to-face. I will not be going back to Home Depot as they are clearly OK with killing off their employees and customers.

The next stop was a national pharmacy where not only were the customers unmasked, but so were the Pharmacists and shelf stockers. Pharmacists are highly trained professionals and it was shocking to see them with their masks casually around their necks, they certainly know better.

The last stop was the Post Office. They had a sign on the door that said that everyone was to be masked per the USPS, yet the two of the three workers had their masks below their noses. Now I am certain that wearing a mask all day at work can be annoying, but the Post Office workers come in contact with every type of person. Like the woman in front of me who brought in $1,300 is cash in small bills to get a money order. Talk about germ spreading. Cash isn’t even allowed at Smoothy King.

I came home and wrote all the corporations where I had witnessed poor behavior by employees. I know these people are essential workers who are working at stores so we can get needed supplies. I want them to stay healthy along with the rest of us. More places need to follow Trader Joe’s lead and do things right. We are in this for the long haul. Things are not going back the way they used to be for years until we have a vaccine and everyone has gotten it, including all those anti-vaxers.

So not only should you wear your masks correctly, you need to call places out that are not. Change only happens with pressure. Knowing you might lose customers for a lifetime because you are only paying lip service to the necessary precautions is the only way to make businesses be good citizens. I am keeping a list of the good places and the bad places and am happy to write to all the presidents and board chairs of offending companies. Let me know of your good places. I want to call them out for doing the right things.


No Mother’s Together for Mother’s Day

This is the loneliest Mother’s Day for so many people this year. I am not able to see my mother, although we did make plans to try and see each other in a few weeks, but not to get to hug.

I have had a nice day with Russ and Carter, but it is not so different than the last sixty days. I am thinking of people who can’t visit their Mother or whose Mothers are no longer on this earth.

Mothers who are living in assisted living, that are rightfully not allowing any visitors to keep their residents safe, can’t be visited by their kids. Mothers who live far away and can’t be visited because we are sheltering at home and not traveling. Mothers whose children are working at essential jobs such as nurses and doctors and don’t want to expose their mother’s to any potential germs, can’t be visited.

What this Mother’s Day reminds me is to spend time with your mother when you can because even if they are healthy, you might not get to be with them. We just don’t know how long we have with our Moms. So Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet mother. Thanks to my family to spending time with me today too. It’s not a normal Mother’s Day, but it makes me appreciate being one.


Back to 1970’s Delivery

When I was a kid we would pour over the FAO Schwarz toy catalog which came in a September. It was the Christmas wish book for us. Every year I would marvel over the same two items which cost the most in the whole book and were essentially the same price, a live pony and a rolling life sized stuffed pony with cart. How could they be the same price? I wondered if they had the live ponies in a cage at the warehouse where all the other toys were stored.

The catalog came in September so that parents had plenty of time to mail in their order form and wait the few weeks for the toys to be delivered. You really had to be organized back then. There was no way to phone in an order and there was no overnight delivery.

We thought nothing of waiting weeks for something ordered from a catalog. Perhaps that is why we mostly shopped at local store where we could have instant gratification.

Fast forward fifty years and we have practically instant gratification while ordering from Online catalogs. Of course they are nothing like the FAO Schwarz way of shopping where all the items had a long descriptive copy written beside the tiny photos. At one point I thought I might want to be both a copy writer and an art director because I loved reading catalogs.

We have become so spoiled with nearly instant delivery. Companies, in order to compete, were practically forced into offering inexpensive overnight delivery, no matter what it actually costs. Enter Covid-19.

Now that we are staying home we have no choice but to order online and wait for things to be delivered, but suddenly everything is taking so much longer. I understand that warehouses might not have exactly the same staffing they had before and that maybe employees have to be further apart, but the actually delivery mechanism that has been in place for years now has slowed down to 1970’s levels.

I had to order more plain fabric to make masks and it took three weeks to arrive, when two months ago it would have taken three days. My friend Suzanne said that she son’s “Welcome to Brown” big college acceptance envelope came five weeks after the email giving him the good news of his being offered a spot. The post mark proved it.

I have been awaiting elastic I ordered in March. Unknowingly I ordered five different spools from five different vendors. One arrived two weeks ago and I have used it up. A second should come this week, eight weeks after the original order. The other three are coming weeks from now. These deliveries are akin to ordering the live pony from the FAO Schwarz catalog. I figure if I am going to be getting anyone a Christmas present I better start shopping now. Should Carter get the love of stuffed pony?


Oh Lord, I forgot I write a Daily Blog

This life of nothing to do has made me forget the only thing I do. One day runs into the other and nothing happens. Sorry I have no blog today. Just as I am falling asleep I realize I have not written today. Tomorrow hopefully I will do better


Growing Dog Anxiety

Shay has always been partial to Russ. She has always loved him more than me and Carter, but she still liked us plenty. When he worked downtown at his office she would spend the day with me, but as soon as she heard that garage door open she would wiggly wait at the top of the stairs until he opens the door. Then she would stand on her haunches and dance for him.

Eight weeks ago Russ stopped going to the downtown office. He moved into his home office in the bunny bedroom. I wonder if his Zoom mates can see the running bunny boarder on the wall?

When Russ moved into that room, so did Shay. She has a tiny bed next to his desk and the big regular bed to sleep on. At first she would go in while he was on calls and hang out with him, but would still come around and see me and when Carter got home he would visit her, a little. As the weeks have gone on she has stopped visiting me and Carter and stays exclusively with Russ.

When he tires of the office he moves outside to his office bench in the front yard. Shay goes with him. She did not like to sit on the slatted bench without a towel because she felt uneasy about falling through. So Russ brought two towels to make her comfy. Then he found an old cushion for the bench, but she also wanted the towels. Now she never leaves his side.

Today he had a call and needed to concentrate, so he went outside and left her inside. I got a text, “Did you let Shay out?” She had figured out how to let herself out and sat on the bench with him. She peers over the seat back watching walkers as they go by. We have started calling her Gladys Kravits because she is so nosy about people in the neighborhood.

Shay stays by Russ 24 hours a day and refuses to let him out of her sight. Carter try’s to get her to sleep in her room and she will have none of it. If Russ gets up in the middle of the night, as he does every night, she goes with him. She has even stopped going to the kitchen for breakfast if Russ has an early morning call, instead going right to her bed by his desk. Officially she has become the CDO, Chief Dog Officer.

I am getting a little worried what is going to happen to her psychologically when Russ does get to leave the house. I think we are going to have to start practicing because it is not going to be pretty.


Chickens At Home?

As the news of meat shortages hit the airways in the last couple of days there is one business who saw this as an opportunity. Wayfair e-mailed me today with the headline of Chicken coops for sale. As a company I usually think of for sofas I was curious about what kind of chicken coops they had.

This model still only holds two chickens

I was astonished to find they had 36 different models on offer. My favorite part of the descriptions was how many chickens each coop held. The majority were two chicken coops. Lord, it is a lot of work to keep just two chickens. Two chickens hardly produce enough eggs for one person.

Most of these coops are for laying hens so that does nothing for the meat shortage. When I was a kid my father used to tell me about the chickens his family raised during and after the war. They had both laying hens and eating birds. My Dad as a very young boy, say five or six, would be in charge of catching and wringing the necks of the chosen dinner bird.

It used to make my dad really mad that on Sunday when the preacher would come for Sunday dinner after church the family would have one chicken and the preacher would have a whole one just to himself.

I can’t imagine having to clean a chicken I raised, much less wring it’s neck. Having laying hens is great, as long as you are stuck at home. It is going to be interesting to see how long people keep their chickens once they are allowed to go on vacation. Can’t you see the Animal Protection Society now having to accept chickens.

Rather than investing a few thousand dollars in a chicken coop large enough for seven birds it might be a good time to lean in to veganisim. This Covid thing is really doing everything good for the planet. No travel, to cut down on pollution. Less meat to cut down on pollution. Maybe it can cut down on bad politicians too.


Thanks for Birthday Persistence

My friend Shelayne and I always celebrate our birthdays with a lunch. Shelayne was not letting social distancing change our tradition completely. She called me up and invited me to tKe a birthday walk with her and the have lunch on her back porch with our friend Lee. It seemed like the perfect plan.

Thankfully the rain held off for a mid morning walk around Shelayne’s neighborhood. Since they have sidewalks and very wide roads it made the walk easier than walking at my house. It was nice to have a change of scenery and it was a great chance to catch up with Shelayne.

After the walk Lee came over to Shelayne’s with a delicious quiche she had made for us. Shelayne donned a pair of rubber gloves to bring the plates out to the porch. We sat at their giant table six feet apart like guests at a royal banquet. Shelayne had thought of everything to keep us safe. We had extra napkins to use if we needed to pass anything and we each had our own serving spoons to dress our salads. At no point did we get close to each other or touch any common items.

Starved for each other’s company we stayed on the porch for a couple of hours and filled each other in on the goings on for the two months. We decided that we are not ready to go back to restaurants for a long while and found lunch on the porch far apart to be better anyway.

Shelayne declared that she did not want to miss sharing a birthday and this was a lovely way to do it. I am so thankful for wonderful friends who find creative ways to show love. We are going to be going at this for a while and I see I am going to have to expand my terrace table to have people far enough apart to keep the social in social distancing.


I Have A Beef With Hasbro

For the last two weeks Carter and I have been playing a never ending Monopoly game. It stays on the game table in the living room and every day or two I get a text from Carter, “Want to play Monopoly.” Happier words she has never texted me.

This game goes on and on because we have a similar amount of properties and housing, but Carter is amassing a much greater amount of cash than I am. My beef with Hasbro is they in no way provide enough cash in the various denominations to play this game with any skill level. As we are playing the “Here and Now” version of the game the top denomination is $5,000,000. Think of it as equivalent to the $500 bill in good old original Monopoly. The second most valuable bill is $1,000,000. When you pass go you get two of these.

Carter and I are constantly having to turn in the million dollar bills as the bank runs out. We trade in five and get a $5,000,000 bill in exchange. Then the bank runs out of those. So we have to start a secret second bank where are money is just a number written on paper. Currently Carter has $120,000,000 in her credit account and I only have $50,000,000. This does not include the cash on hand we both have. You can imagine that Carter has much more cash than I do.

At one point Carter had every $5,000,000 bill in the whole game. She counted it up and it only totaled $100,000,000. I don’t know who at Hasbro ever tested this game, but they just don’t provide enough cash to play to game with any skill. Carter and I looked online to see if we could buy more Monopoly money to supplement our under capitalized bank and it is not sold anywhere.

Hasbro needs to get into the spare parts business. I understand that we have a limited number of houses and hotels for strategic reasons, but more money is not going to change the way the game is played. If lightening struck our house and Russ wanted to play with us we would hardly have enough money for three players to play long enough to buy all the properties.

So Hasbro, if you are listening. Sell us some cash infusions. It could be a nice revenue stream and makes playing the game so much more pleasant because we don’t have to constantly be turning bills in because the bank is broke. We hate playing the 2008 version of banking.


Really, The Best Birthday

Low were the expectations I had for this birthday. Of course no one has had much Celebrating for the last seven weeks. A birthday is not like a wedding, or graduation so having an “ehh” day was not a big deal. I had Russ, Carter and Shay Shay, so I didn’t need anything else.

My friend Christy had dropped flowers off at my house earlier for my birthday and it was nice to have thee beautiful Lillies to remind me of my friend.

Russ and Carter and dribbled my gifts to me over the last few weeks because a need would arise. Like I got new earbuds so I could listen quietly while they worked. And when Carter wanted me to teach her how to make hollandaise sauce she gave me the pair of tiny whisks she had bought since I was only making enough for one person. With getting those gifts early I was certain today would be not so much.

I was wrong. When I woke up I got a couple of new gifts. I especially liked the tiny spatulas to go along with my tiny whisks. Then the messages started coming in from friends and family near and far. The best thing about Facebook is the birthday reminder function. My parents and sister Janet all called and we had a great time talking.

I had a nice walk on the treadmill while watching church online so I felt productive. My neighbor Lucy dropped off fresh picked Strawberries. Then I took an outdoor walk with the whole family. On this absolutely perfect day we had to do it. When we got back from the walk I discovered more flowers from a friend Nicki, who had come by to pick up masks.

Carter gave me time in the sweat shop so I could work on a baby quilt I was making for some young friends. While wearing my rubbery quilting gloves as I pushed the quilt though my sewing machine, Russ came down and said I needed to come outside, there was a parade outside. Throwing off my gloves I ran outside to discover a large contingent of my garden club with signs, and beads, honking and waving out of their car windows. Since there are three of us in the neighborhood who share today as our birthday they were parading to all our houses. So happy Birthday to Susan and Beth too! It was a fun surprise and good just to see so many friendly faces I have missed.

I went back to the sweat shop and no sooner had I finished the quilting and putting on the binding when I was called out again. Nine of my friends were social distancing on my terrace with flowers and coconut cake. Lynn and Hannah had organized it and it was the best thing that has happened to me all year. Thanks to Stephanie, Christy, Mary Lloyd, Sara, Karen, Amanda and Kathi who joined Lynn and Hannah to surprise me.

Sitting far apart we shared what shows we were binging and other things we have been doing to stay busy while we have not seen each other. Thank goodness they came over because Russ had bought a whole coconut cake without telling me and that needed to be shared.

Tonight Carter is making us dinner and then we all are watching a movie. If I had designed a perfect day, under regular circumstances I would not have beat today. Thanks to all my friends and family for making it so special.


Twenty-Eight and Pretty Great

You know that saying, “When you make plans, God laughs.” Today Russ and I had planned on being in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize… someplace warm and tropical. Someplace to celebrate 28 years together. Russ had not been on a vacation is a long time and I had been researching someplace wonderful for him. This would have taken the pressure off him for this weekend.

This is the worst weekend for him, our anniversary and my birthday back to back, followed quickly by Mother’s Day next weekend. He considers it “my” weekend, but today really is “our” day. A trip away, planned by me, would mean he didn’t have to do any work and it still would have been a great celebration for me too.

Sadly, God laughed. So my trying to relieve the pressure of my weekend back fired and Russ is now trying to make up for the quarantine on the big weekend. Not what I wanted this year. See, Russ makes every weekend “my” weekend. For twenty-eight years he has always thought of others before himself.

I am not quite sure how I got this lucky, but I try and not take him for granted, because he really is one of a kind. There is no one else I can think of who would make all this staying home so easy.

It is sad that my plans to take him away to celebrate him got cancelled, but it is no tragedy. We have Carter home and we are all healthy. It is a beautiful weekend, exactly as it was on this day twenty-eight years ago when I announced loudly in church that “I will” marry Russ Lange. I am certain he had no idea what life with me was going to be like. Thank goodness he stayed.

Sometime, when the world is different than it is today, I hope we can go away, but not get away, because there is nothing to get away from as long as Russ is with me. Happy Anniversary to the best.


Leftover Parade

With Carter home the containers of leftover seems to be multiplying like rabbits. Russ and I had gotten into a good rhythm of eating the leftovers and keeping the rotation of the food in the fridge under control. Then Carter came home. She is a good cook, but she does not like leftovers and she often does not want the dinner I make so she makes her own.

Tonight Russ took about a quarter of the leftover containers out of the fridge tonight to figure out what he was going to eat. He found four homemade salad dressings, most made from similar ingredients. There were two different quinoa containers and he didn’t even take out the other half of the stuffed squash up with quinoa. There were unlimited vegetables in small quantities.

I am going to have to do a better job of eating the leftovers with Russ. The only problem is tomorrow is our anniversary and Sunday is my birthday so that means two dinners of new food. No one wants celebratory leftovers. I wish I liked squash for breakfast. I may have to throw some things away.


Back To Being Productive

After my lack luster day yesterday I had to finish something today. So I finally finished the quilt my mother requested I make. At Christmas she saw the sandpiper placemats I made Carter and asked for a sand piper king sized quilt. It was quite an undertaking.

I told her I would do it if I got to pick out the materials. She just wanted one that would go with the rug in her bedroom. So I picked fabrics in her rug colors, but also ones that have something to do with my mother. Since she is an artist I found a fabric of a palette. One of London Bus, as that was her favorite mode of transport when she lived there. I loved this very orange fabric since my mother grew up in Knoxville, TN and is a Lady Vol lover. I found a cute fabric of socks on a clothes line since my mother love to wash and some others that go along with all of those.

The quilt is completely random with different sized sand pipers and blocks. As I got to the bottom I needed to make it even out and my favorite parts ended up being three little matching sand pipers in the corner to represent myself and my two sisters.

My long arm quilter, Tina, did the quilting for me in a flower pattern all over as my mother likes to garden. After I got the quilt back from Tina I had to hand sew the binding on which finishes off the quilt and this project I spent the front half of 2020 on. I am thankful to have had this project to work on during quarantine. I can’t wait until we are released and I can bring it to my mother to go on her bed.


Bored, Bored, Bored

Monday I was so bored that I out on real pants for entertainment. I thought I had reached a new low, but now I know I have no idea how low, low can go. Today, in anticipation of a huge rain storm tonight, I cut some of the peonies in my front yard. The excitement low of the day was spending a good amount of time pulling tiny ants off the flowers. I washed the flowers, shook them in the sink, looked for ants and killed them as I found them. Then I repeated the whole process again and again.

Then I just sat, staring at the flowers. Sure enough I found more ants. I kept at it. I certainly am sure I brought ants in the house and have not found all that are hiding in the feathery petals. On any other day this would have been an aggravating experience. Today it was something productive to do.

It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do, I just don’t want to do those things, especially the things I have been doing over and over again. I used to say that my favorite vacation would be to be alone in my house for a few days. Not now. Not that I am alone, but with Russ and Carter working I feel alone.

I am tired of being productive. I am tired of cleaning things up. I am tired of making healthy food. But I should be grateful. We have a lovely place to shelter in. We have food. We are healthy.

I am not so bored that I think things should be reopened. Keeping more people well is the most important thing. So I am willing to be bored. I will try and be productive. I will try and not sound like I am whining. I just needed to vent a little. I bet I am not alone in feeling this way.


Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tonight was a “eat what is in the fridge night.” Russ is always good at scavenging and creating new meals out of previous ones. Carter was unsure of what she wanted as there was not a huge stock of protein choices. I looked around at what needed to be eaten and focused my eye on a lone acorn Squash. I decided to make a stuffed squash and was very satisfied with the outcome. Half was a perfect meal.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 Acorn squash – cut in half with seeds cleaned out

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 honey crisp apple diced into 1/2 cubes

1/4 cup of Caramelized onions

1 large fresh sage leaf minced or 1/4 t. Dried rubbed sage

2 T. Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of Quattro formagio or any Italian cheese mixture

Preheat oven to 400°

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam.

Lay cut side of acorn squash drown on foil and put in oven and cook for 30 minutes.

While squash is cooking mix quinoa, apples, onions, sage and Parmesan together. At 30 minutes remove squash from oven and turn it cut side up. Sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper and then put half of the quinoa mixture in one squash’s cavity and the other half in the second one.

Place back in the oven and cook for 15 more minutes. Sprinkle the four cheese mixture on top and put back in the oven until melted.


Sewing Flash Back

Seems like all I do is sew this year. Before the Covid crisis I was sewing a giant quilt for my mother. It is the most detailed and beautiful quilt I have made to date. After I finished piecing it it went off to my long arm quilter to be quilted. While it was gone I went to sewing masks. I have sewed over 120 masks so far.

My quilt came back and so I am taking a mask break and I am putting the binding on the edge of the quilt which will complete this project. The binding is the slowest part of the job because first I have to create the binding by attaching two and a half inch strips together end-to-end, ironing it in half and sewing it with the machine all around the edge of the quilt. Then comes the hand sewing where I fold the binding over the raw edge of the quilt and attach it to the back.

Tonight as I was sewing tiny invisible stitches to the binding and quilt I had a flash back to fourth grade. I was on the blacktop of the play ground and I was sewing something by hand. She I liked to sew back then more than I liked to run around. I remember one of the teachers, Mrs. Baldwin who was a short stout woman with salt and pepper hair who looked a little bit like a turtle came over to me while I was hand sewing something. I am certain I must have been making big, unattractive stitches. She told me a story about two tailors. One who made tiny stitches close together, which took him longer, but produced beautiful clothes that lasted forever and a second tailor who made big long stitches and finished making the clothes very quickly, but they fell apart and were unattractive.

This one very short story changed the way I hand stitched forever. I try and take tiny stitches, mostly hidden at the edges and have been happy with the outcome ever since.

Mrs. Baldwin was not my teacher that year, but was the next year. I can’t say what else she taught me, but I do remember liking her as my teacher. I am certain if she we alive today she would not remember telling me that story of the two tailors, but it is a lesson I use often. Teachers are so important.


No Beauty School Dropout

A few weeks ago Russ ordered a beard trimmer. It took a while to get here and as the Covid weeks went by his beard of many colors grew and grew. Along with his beard, his hair and my hair must have enjoyed the healthy home cooking because our locks were acting like those of young people hair and grew to healthy lengths.

This morning as I was trying to needlepoint I was having trouble seeing through my fringe so I took to the bathroom with a pair of scissors. I gave myself a business cut up front, but left the party out back. It is one thing to cut the hair I can see, but I was not about to hack what I couldn’t, or try and do it backwards in a mirror.

Feeling like I had succeeded at cutting my own hair I took to Russ. He sat on a stool on the patio with a sheet wrapped around him. I took out the newly charged beard trimmer and went to work on him. Carter sat nearby giving me style advice.

I cleaned up his neck and eye brows and trimmed his beard into a nice looking style. Then I pulled out Carter’s second grade scissors I had used on myself and cut Russ’ hair.

I am not planning on being Russ’ sole barber as he likes Tony and wants to support him, but I can do in a pinch. As for my hair I am looking forward to the day Suzanne can safely cut it herself, but I’m not in Georgia state of mind and can wait.


Ice Guilt

As I was working in my garden this morning I had a number of lovely conversations with friends and neighbors taking their walks. It was a wonderful way to keep my mind off weeding and to see actual people. One theme among my friends was that they are fine and can’t complain when we have nice houses to stay in with plenty of food.

We collectively feel for those who are in tougher situations and each person mentioned a different way they were trying to help. I have been touched by the generous donations people have been making to the Food Bank in exchange for the masks I make them. Making each mask is an act of love for the person I am hoping to protect. One person just want to pay me and I said, “This is my way to help hungry people, please just give to the Food Bank.” She said, “How will you know if I give?” I told her I trust her, but I don’t think she realized that I also get reports on giving as a member of the development committee.

I feel guilty that this time has been one of joy to have my family together enjoying each other. One of productivity and creativity between making masks, quilts and needlepoint. One of better health having lost weight during the quarantine. One of centering myself with cleaning things out, putting in a garden, reading and just concentrating on what’s important.

Not everything is rosie, we have no idea how this time will impact us financially and we are missing time with friends and family face-to-face and would love to travel, but we have each other and our health.

If there is one selfish thing I could wish for it would be a stand alone ice maker. With three of us home all the time the ice runs out faster than the freezer can make it and Russ hardly ever has any ice. I can’t imagine what it is like in homes where there are five of six people all the time. There just can’t be enough ice in the world. But ice is a luxury and I am grateful for it. I am trying not to feel guilty about using up the ice.


Veggie Safe

Six weeks ago when we started social distancing the weather was fabulous. We prepped our vegetable gardens for planting. I put in some arugula seed, a couple of kale plants and three random pepper seedlings along with some old bush and green bean seeds.

Just as I was on the look out for some other seedlings to transplant the weather took a turn and it was too cold to plant the things I wanted to plant. The arugula came up and is tiny now, the kale has flourished, the peppers just survived, but the beans did nothing.

The standard wisdom around these parts is you don’t plant your warm weather garden until after April 15. I should have followed the standard and not felt like global warming had changed the date.

Now that it is almost ten days past the safety time I feel like I can go ahead and plant the rest of my garden. That being said I have had a hard time finding the vegetables I want. I looked at Home Depot and they did not have much. I waited a few days, since I really should be staying home and then I went by Lowe’s, also not much there. A friend told me For Garden’s Sake was doing curbside pick up and I went on their website and could not order as all the curbside times we filled for the next few days.

Russ looked at Stone Brothers and Byrd’s sight and thought it looked promising. So we made a little essential trip there this afternoon and hit the jackpot. They had almost everything I was looking for. Now it is not the same variety I get at the farmer’s market, but I was able to get zucchini, okra and cucumbers, things I have successfully grown in the past. If you want tomatoes they have many. Sadly I have trouble growing tomatoes.

Tomorrow I am going to put in what we got along with the new green bean seeds. It’s a good year to try and garden as You probably won’t be jetting off to Spain or Italy this year. It’s not too late to start and you can grow most stuff in pots if you want to start slow. There is nothing better than going out to the garden and cutting your own salad for dinner.

Now If I can get the rabbits and deer to social distance from my garden I will be most happy.


Play the Long Game

As a person who was born in a North Carolina, grew up in Connecticut, spent my twenties in Washington DC and moved back to NC in my thirties I have witnessed how non-southerners have thought about the south in the last fifty years. When I was a kid Yankees thought southerners were sweet, but not always bright. I knew that was not always true. I knew plenty of mean, brilliant southerners.

Over the years the image of the south has improved thanks in part to cities like Atlanta where many companies have grown up to be great businesses and great universities attract bright people from all over the world. Now with one incredibly stupid Governor in Georgia the reputation of the south is going down the drain overnight. To be fair, it is not just Georgia that is doing this, the Governors of South Carolina and Tennessee are helping.

In my humble opinion Georgia is leading the race in stupidity. Yes, the whole country wants to reopen, but not at the expense of our public health. The idea that bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, nail salons and massage parlors are worth spreading the virus is ludicrous. The livelihood of the people who own those businesses is important, but so are their lives and the lives of the people they come in contact with, knowingly or unknowingly.

Georgia has not had a decrease in cases of Covid -19, so this opening up can only go one way and when it does the reputation of the south will be set back fifty years. If you are concerned about the economy of your state don’t be an idiot and open up too soon. No smart business will ever pick you as a place to have an operation if you are the state that killed more of your citizens due to stupidity.

None of us can keep a virus in or out of a place and so as Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee stop being careful it will infect us all. Please, to any friends who live in these places, stay vigilant. Atlanta could become the next New York and it could have been helped.

This is not just about the short term economic pain, but the long term economic future of the region. These three states are shooting themselves in the foot.


Good Day

Tonight I had a zoom church Ways and means committee meeting. One usually does not think of a group who looks after the finances as a fun bunch, but to me this is a wonderful group of people who I miss seeing face-to-face. Our fearless leader Dave started the meeting in a new way by asking us for any good news we had. It was nice to hear people’s uplifting thoughts.

I carried that feeling away from the meeting up to the kitchen where Carter had volunteered to make dinner. She asked me if I would just keep her company while she cooked. Talk about uplifting. I was a guest sitting at the bar in my own kitchen with no work to do. I find this such a bonus to our quarantining. We never would have this much time with Carter if it weren’t for this terrible virus.

She was in an excellent mood as she had a very good day at her work from home job. The support and positive reinforcement she gets from her supervisors is heaven sent. I am thankful that this work experience is so valuable and rewarding.

Dinner of chicken and rice with saffron was a huge hit with all of us, especially Shay who wanted a plate of her own. We ate in the dinning room and enjoyed every minute of each other’s company. Then Russ and Carter did the dishes. I really can’t complain about having to stay home with the ones I love and have a good time. I know that everyday is not like this, so I am going to hold on tight to this one.


New Pants

As I flip through my various social media accounts over the last two days there is a definite theme in the paid content posts. Marketers think we all need new pants. Now marketers study trends, data and other social media posts and there is one thing they think: you have either gotten too big for your old pants or too small, either way you need new pants.

They are not wrong. Early in the quarantine many of the posts I saw were about the bread people were baking, sour dough, banana, chocolate babkas. All that bread adds up, especially for people who rarely ate bread before the quarantine.

Searches on what to do with Pasta soared. Carbs were making a comeback like, “if I am not going to be around long at least I am going to enjoy some spaghetti.” I ran into a friend at the grocery and almost did not recognize the person because they had taken the Covid-19 to mean gain 19 pounds.

Then there are the worriers. The people who were afraid they could not go out and buy new food so they rationed out the food they had. They also are extreme exercising because they don’t know what else to do. Just remember that you can’t go have PT if you pull something so back off a little.

Either way, both of these camps may be in need of new pants and marketers know it. Thankfully here in our house we have many sizes of pants and are able to change them out as needed.

I think we are going to be home for a while longer, at least I hope in NC we don’t follow that fool in Georgia’s lead. So there is still time to get back to your original pants size, if that is a good thing. Or if you are like me and are happy to go to a smaller size, now is the time to embrace it. I bet pants are still going to be on sale in a month or two. It would be a great thing if people didn’t recognize you because you are in better shape rather than the opposite when we finally get to emerge. Pants marketers are counting on you needing new pants one way or the other.


Hair, Hair, Flowing Everywhere

If ever there was a product whose time has finally come I would nominate the Flowbee. You remember the Flowbee from infomercials of the 80’s. It’s the attachment for your vacuum that cuts your hair and sucks away all the small hair cuttings at the same time.

I don’t remember ever seeing anyone with a good haircut with the Flowbee. I think the best style it could handle was a bowl cut. Not that it matters right now since we are all without any haircuts, good, bad or bowl right now.

Russ ordered a beard trimming kit which is back ordered for a while. He can always just shave if this Covid Beard gets too annoying. But as far as haircuts go we are out of luck. I could probably cut Russ’ hair as long as it doesn’t get too long and he needs a “style”. I could probably cut Carter’s hair, but long straight hair can just keep getting longer. My hair is another story. It is beginning to resemble a bowl cut.

It is too short for a pony tail but getting long enough that soon I will need a barrette. I am certain the only ones we have might be from when Carter was two. Perhaps I can take the clips off my orchids and use those.

If only I had a a Flowbee. I saw one on EBay for $299. I am certain the original cost was something like $29.99. Maybe they just put the decimal in the wrong place.


Pack Rat Payoff

Being a bit of a pack rat eventually pays off. Today I was packaging up the masks I made for friends and family in far off places. Since I want to get them to people as fast as possible I wanted to mail them in envelopes. From my years in the mail opening business I became intimately familiar with the post offices mail handling. The system for envelopes is much faster than the one for packages.

I didn’t want to use giant envelopes because those are just like packages in the eyes of the post office. So I looked around my various stash of envelopes and discovered a box in my craft shower. Yes, you read that right, my craft shower in the bathroom by my office is an old fashioned metal shower. Since no one in my house was ever going to shower in it I put shelves in the shower and store little used supplies in there.

The box I came across was the perfect example of pack rat-ness. I found the invitations from my fortieth birthday. That was almost 19 years ago. The unsent invitations had big envelopes and that was the jackpot I hit.

The masks, put in ziplock bags fit perfectly in the party invitation envelopes. Then I weighed them. They were more than the one ounce a standard first class envelope is allowed. Since they were barley over I only needed to add .15¢ for two mask envelopes or .30¢ for three masks.

Yes I could have just put two forever stamps on each envelope and be done, but my stamp supply is getting low. Then I stumbled upon a roll of .34¢ stamps I had, the last first class amount made before the invention of forever stamps. Hooray! A use for those odd stamps.

So I packed up eight packages to mail and three for local delivery. Satisfaction on so many levels. Now if I can just finish sewing the last 17 masks I have promised.


Sweat Shop Well Named

I am in the middle of my 74 mask orders. I made an initial group two weeks ago and after my blog a couple of days ago I got requests from many friends near and far. Each mask takes four matching pieces of material so cutting all those pieces for so many masks takes a while. I thought I had enough white material with the bolt I had in my sewing room, but I have gone through the whole thing.

I have also gone through thousands of yards of thread as well as hundreds of feet of elastic. I reordered more material and thread today so I am prepared for more mask making.

Making each mask takes about forty minutes not counting the time spent pre-washing and ironing the fabric. Today I completed 13 and only have 26 left from the 74 already promised. One thing I do for each mask is machine embroider each person’s name on the inside of the mask this way family members know whose are whose. It also gives me a little feeling of connection for the person I am sewing it for.

Today as I was sewing the names in I realized how many I was making for high school friends. We have been friends for over forty years now and I it makes me happy to think these masks will keep them safe. I also realize that going to a boarding school meant no home economics and none of those friends probably even has a sewing machine or knows how to sew. Thank goodness my father bought me my first machine when I was 12 along with sewing lessons.

So I sweated away for my friends who generously donated to the Food Bank. Thank you so much for that. Tomorrow I hope to make a big dent in the last 23 and will mail everything out Monday morning. For local people I will contact you about getting you your masks. Somebody will be getting light blue ones as I have run out of white, but they are just as protective. Stay safe and stay covered.


The Best Diet Machine Ever

In a moment of weakness at Costco a few weeks ago I was talked into buying an air fryer. While we are stuck at home cooking all our own food I thought it would keep the troops entertained. We have used it twice. The first time we made french fries. They were fine, which was a good thing because it meant we didn’t need to make french fries everyday.

The machine sat on the counter for two weeks, unused. I wanted to move it to the appliance world down stairs, but I was voted down. Tonight Russ and Carter decided to make potato chips. They got out the serious french real mandolin and sliced the one small potato which was slightly bigger than. A golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. They soaked the slivers of potato in water and the dried them. At last time to air fry them.

Carter laid out a layer of the translucent tubers on the rack and added a second rack and repeated the whole operation. I entered the scene a little while later and asked how the chips were. “They are still cooking.” It was at least 12 minutes before the chips were ready. That whole process produced about 16 small chips.

Carter sprinkled a bit of salt on them and we tried them. Delicious, but not crispy all over. The crispy part were very dark and the paler parts were more wobbly potato than chip. There was another round of frying.

It took at least an hour to do the whole one small potato. After eating my allotted eight chips I felt like I had enough. I have a new found appreciation for chip makers. Granted they deep fry them which would be a whole lot faster, but the prep work is also time consuming. I am not sure that I like chips enough to spend this much time for such a small amount of food.


Making Masks for a Food Bank Donation

At the end of March when it became apparent that all of us need to wear masks out in public I went to my sweat shop to make a mask. A couple of friends and family members with great needs for masks asked me if I could make masks for them too. I took stock of my supplies. As I am a big collector of quilting material I had more than enough high quality cotton perfect for masks. What I was missing was enough elastic.

Immediately I went online to order some 1/4 inch elastic banding. As a I searched through Amazon finding everything sold out I did not realize I was accidentally ordering hundreds of yards for future delivery. A few days later a friend sent me 20 yards which was enough to make the masks that had been requested of me.

As I was looking at my Amazon orders for something else I discovered my mistaken multi orders for elastic which I was unable to stop. So today the first bolt of banding arrived. Now I am back in the mask making business. I have orders for three masks that I will make tomorrow. If you need a washable well fitting mask I am taking requests. I am not charging for them, but ask you to make a generous donation to the Food Bank of CENC in exchange for the mask.

I am happy to mail them to you or drop them off if you are local. Since Carter is home and I share my sweat shop space with her my time is limited as to how fast I can make masks. I can give you an estimate as to delivery time. I won’t me taking hundreds of orders so I will have limits as to how many I can offer, but as more elastic arrives I will resume sewing. I do want my friends and family to wear good quality masks to protect yourselves the best you can.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home.


Slowing Productivity

Russ hit the Christmas present giving jackpot with me when he gave me a puzzle of the month club this year. That was before we even had an inkling that we would be stuck at home for weeks on end.

I chose the 2000 piece program wanting to have the most difficult puzzles to work on. The first one arrived in February and I took almost the whole month to complete it. At the very beginning of the suggestion to social distance I passed it on to my friend Mary Lloyd. Right on time my next one arrived in the mail.

It was a harder one of ice cream with not many hard edged color lines. I started slowly and thank goodness I did because about two weeks ago I got notice that the puzzle company was stopping work and my shipments won’t pick back up until the stay at home order is lifted.

I really slowed down my work. Some days just putting in a couple of pieces. It was hard on me to walk away from a puzzle dying to be solved. Yesterday, with maybe only 100 pieces left I couldn’t take it anymore and I went ahead and finished it up. There it was, many ice creams, none of which was able to eat. Puzzle done.

So today with no new puzzle I sorted my socks. Not half as much fun as a puzzle. I am not to be pitied for I have plenty of old puzzles I can pull out, but it’s not the same as a virgin puzzle, never solved before. Just my general productivity seems to be waning and my spices are already alphabetized.


Refrigerator Management

Now that we only go to a store once a week managing what’s in the fridge has become an actual job. At least it is something to do. With Carter home we need to have different choices as she likes to eat new food at each meal, where Russ and I could eat the same thing over and over and not care much. One on going problem in our house is that I have trouble cooking small amounts so we always have leftovers. There are dozens of container of leftovers. This is why management is an issue.

Understanding all that this is how the conversation went at dinner tonight.

Russ, after finishing his rice bowl: I only finished one container from the fridge tonight.

Carter: I finished one container of cheese at lunch.

Dana: I didn’t finish any containers and sorry I add two new ones tonight.

Carter: Shit, a net zero change in containers today.

I am not sure I see a change in our situation anytime soon. Now I am using containers to grow new food from the scraps of old vegetables. I am hoping to add some Romain to the fridge in two weeks.


Stitching Table Advisors Go High Tech

Today my friend Kate got our needlepoint gang of Stitching Table Advisors together for a Zoom. Seven of our group were able to join. None of us were wearing makeup and most of us were wearing clothes you could go to the grocery store in. We missed our advisors who were unable to join and hope they know that they can join us without video next time if they don’t want to be seen.

Not being able to sit around the needlepoint table is one of the things I actually miss. Learning what people are reading or watching all while we stitch is a joy. Sharing recipes or advice in our multi-generational group means I always learn something. Zoom is good, but I have not learned how to lay beads into a canvas on Zoom.

One of the things I learned today from Needlepoint Nancy is it is a good idea to get your finished canvases into her early this year. The finishers are going to be swamped with all the works people are doing during the stay at home period. Nancy is still taking orders and mailing people threads and fibers they need. She can order you canvases and pull threads. We need to make sure that Chapel Hill Needlepoint stays in business for the long haul.

Now is the time to make that Christmas Stocking for the one family member who still doesn’t have one. Stitching is a comforting thing to do when you have little control in other parts of your life. It is basically coloring with yarn, but unlike a coloring book you have an heirloom when you are done.

My heirloom is the gang of Stitching Table Advisors. Looking forward to our next Zoom and even better when we can sit around the table together again.


He Is Risen, Just At Home

Easter is a favorite of mine. My parents usually come for Church and Easter lunch with our friends the Toms. Usually I am the lector at church on Easter, which ensures a I have a good seat. My favorite part of the Easter service is our Church Brass Ensemble which plays all the hits beautifully along with a Monica on the Organ. We sing the same Hymns year after year and I can sing loudly because I am drowned out by better singers around me in the choir.

This year was different. My parents stayed at the farm. We got up and watched the streaming of our church service on the big TV in the gathering room of our house. Monica had played many Hymns which were filmed by Anne Vann weeks ago when people were allowed out. There was no Brass Ensemble. Our three ministers were filmed in their back yards, by their family members. We had all the parts of the service we normally would, but just with birds singing in the back ground.

I have a disdain for televangelists. Mostly because I had many of them as customers when I sold mail opening machines. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker all were my customers. As a I trained their employees to use my machines I would see millions if not billions of dollars of checks from little old ladies with shaky hand writing being sent into their “ministries.” It seemed more like a scam to earn money than a real Christian way help the world.

Today as I watched my ministers on my TV I felt comforted. Suddenly I had a change of heart about church and TV together. One of our newer ministers Alex came across on TV in a big way. It was not about the TV but about the message. Cherie, our newest minister dId the children’s message using the story of the Grinch which was a perfect corollary for this time. I texted Chris our head pastor to not leave us for TV after he gave a beautiful sermon. The thing about having them big as life on 80 inches of plasma is I felt like they were talking just to me.

In the end It did not matter if I was at church with my friends and family. It did not matter if we had on our Easter clothes. I got the message. He is risen, he is risen indeed. I got the Easter people feeling, I just got it at home.


Recipe Exchange Laxness

As proof that the world is really a small place and getting smaller I have received the same recipe exchange chain email from seven different people in the last week and a half. The first came from my friend Warren in Maine, then Kathi up the street, Cynthia my high school classmate in Massachusetts was next. I had not responded to any of them as another came from Cecily, in Chapel Hill, who I met because I was the auctioneer for her non-profit. Margaret, down the street sent me the same email as well as Jay down the opposite end of street and yesterday Needlepoint Nancy went it to me and I notice that Kathi had sent it to her.

All these people wanting to share quarantine recipes and I was very lax in responding to any of them. Not that I don’t have hundreds of recipes I created myself and have already shared on this blog, just that I couldn’t bear to send the chain on to twenty people.

I promise I will send this recipe to everyone on the list of all those requests I have gotten, but I can’t continue the chain. Based on how many I received I am certain many people are sending it on.

Today I taught Carter how to make my favorite scone recipe. She did all the work and I just photographed the steps as she did it. The ingredients in the recipe are in weights by grams so you need a kitchen scale to make it. (Really all baking should be measured by weight so if you don’t have a kitchen scale order one this week.)

Perfect Afternoon Tea Scones

Just the thing to make you feel better while you are stuck at home

250 g Cake Flour (you can use All Purpose if that’s all you have)

45 g white sugar plus a little more for sprinkling on top

1 T. Baking powder

1/4 t. Salt

90 g Unsalted Butter- very cold and cut into small cubes

150g -one egg and heavy cream

Dried fruit is optional. We used 10 dried apricots chopped and dusted with flour. You could use raisins, currants, dried cherries or ginger.

Preheat the a Oven to 400°

Using the kitchen scale put a measuring cup on top and zero out the scale. Add the egg and then add enough heavy cream to make the total weight 150g. Whisk the egg and cream together in the cup and set aside.

Measure out 90g. Of butter which will be close to 6 1/2 table spoons.

Place a medium sized bowl on the scale and zero it out. Add the flour, the baking powder, salt and then zero our the scale again to add the sugar.

Remove the bowl from the scale and add the butter. With clean hands working quickly, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles sand. Add the egg and cream mixture mixing it just enough to make everything wet. If you are adding fruit, do it now.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured cold surface like a stone counter or marble slab and just push the dough together enough for it to hold together. You want to pat it into a rectangle that is solid.

and place them on the cookie sheet about an inch apart. You can reform the scraps of dough from the first cutting and cut some more, but rework the dough as little as possible.

Once you have all the scones cut out brush with a little heavy cream and sprinkle a little sugar on top.

Place in the hot oven and bake for 14-17 minutes.

Serve warm with your favorite jam or lemon curd.

Place a silpat on a cookie sheet or use parchment paper. Using a biscuit cutter cut scones from the slab of dough


How Things Have Changed

As Easter approaches so slowly I thought I should go to the store this morning for my once a week shop so we can have something that resembles an Easter meal on Sunday. I am doing my best to stay home and when I venture out I wear my mask.

I went to Trader Joe’s early and was there by 8:40. They have senior hour from 8-9 and those of us in the non senior hour line have to wait for them to get through, and they are slow. When I arrived my place in line was well past the Ulta, and I guess there were about 40 people appropriately spaced in front of me.

View from my place in line.

I was wearing my mask which makes it impossible for my face recognition to work on my phone. So I had to keep putting in my code to read the messages coming in this morning. With my mask on and my voice quiet I am unrecognizable. My friend Kurt arrived to the line about five minutes after me. I had to text him to say hi!

We waited in our line with no movement for at least 30 minutes. Well, I was moving. I kept walking back in forth keeping my distance and place and line, but getting some steps. By 8:55 the line snaked all the way from Trader Joe’s around the back or all the buildings and over to Bruegers.

The way the employees kept track of how many people were in the store was through the use of a few carts. You got a cart to go in the store and they took it back from you at your car after you had unloaded you bags. Then the team member ran it back to the store so a new person could go in. If you only use 30 carts you know exactly how many shoppers are in the store.

The store was well stocked and they bagged the groceries because they are not letting you bring in your own bags. They also have plexi-glass shields up at the check out. It was all very organized.

The grocery is not the only place social distancing. Today the Fed-ex man delivered a package and left it only halfway up our long walkway. I guess he figured we would see it eventually and that we certainly must be home. I am glad it wasn’t raining, but am not sure it would have been too dangerous for him to come all the way to our porch. I am not complaining because I want him to keep working.

Look down the brick walkway to see where my package was left. Can you find it?

Great Neighbors Mean Everything Right Now

During this stay at home time things you wish you had changed about your house long ago become more evident. For us, it would be nice to have a paved basketball court. As we have a gravel driveway I never wanted to add more impermeable surface to our property and pave over it. So even though Carter played basketball for years we didn’t have a net of our own at home.

When our wonderful neighbors Al and Lucy moved in next door they made all kinds of improvements to their property. One was a basketball net right next to our yard. Their kids were grown and they offered us the use of the net.

Basketball is a loud game. Just bouncing the ball on the black top makes a lot of noise. We never wanted to annoy such good neighbors.

Then Carter came home three weeks ago. Being cooped up with us is not good for any of us. Since Russ and Carter love playing basketball against each other I asked Al and Lucy if they could play on their court. Gracious to a T, of course they said yes. So everyday Russ and Carter would go play for a bit. It is saving our household.

Eternally grateful, tonight I made ham and bean soup to bring to Al and a Lucy to thank them. There is nothing better than having good neighbors. I am certain I am not as good to them as they are to us, but I am going to do my best to try.


Faith

Today was a beautiful day in Durham. Stay at home order was no hardship when I went out to work in my garden. The only bad part is not having the plants I want to put in to my driveway garden. Since this is probably one of the worst weeks for the spread of the virus I wanted to do my part and stay home.

So I looked in my seed drawer in the garage. It’s not that I have an official seed drawer, it’s just the junk drawer of the garage when I would stash packets of seeds. Some of them were open and I had only planted some seeds and some were new as the day I bought them.

Seeds are dated on the package. Seed purveyors only guarantee seeds for a year and that guarantee is usually only for something like 80% of the seeds in the packet.

Now I have used only seeds before and when I say old I mean like seeds that we’re 15-18 months old, and they grew. I have no idea at what percentage they grew, but I got something. Today I sewed some over a year old arugula seeds. They will probably yield something. Then I out in some two year old bush beans. Let’s see if half of them come up.

My real test is a handful of green beans from 2014. I planted them with a lot of hope and faith that they even germinate, let alone flourish. I don’t have anything to lose since I already owned them and if they don’t come up in two weeks I can plant something else int their place.

Perhaps my seed drawer will yield results. Technically I never should have kept any seeds, but Mya e my little horde will pay off.


Easter Bunny is Essential, She Said So

In the good news from a world leader category today the winner is Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand. She gave a message to the children of New Zealand that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are considered essential workers. She went on to explain that they are also busy taking care of their own little bunnies while they are home, so if by chance they miss your house please understand.

This is the same Prime Minister who single handily in one swift move got rid of all assault weapons after one shooting in her country. She is one to emulate.

Decisive action as well as compassion and concern all rolled into one. This children of New Zealand are lucky to have a leader who understands kids have worries and concerns too and finds a way to reassure them, without causing more pressure on their parents.

She added that kids should create Easter egg hunts in their neighborhoods by placing drawing of colored eggs in their windows. Then kids can take a walk with their families on Easter and search for the eggs. I suggest we take up her plan and do the same thing here. We have had a heart on our front door for to over three weeks for that scavenger hunt. It’s time for a new hunt. Please join me and reassure kids the Easter bunny is an essential worker.

Bravo to Jacinda Arden for showing us what great leaders do, remembering even the little ones.


Zoom Birthday Surprise

Social distancing did not deter us from having a birthday surprise Zoom for Stephanie Perun. Lynn Toms organized it, but still needed daughter Ellis to be the AV Department and get it up and running. Leander, Stephanie’s daughter was able to make the connection and call Stephanie to the computer so we could surprise her.

We all wore something festive, liked hat so it felt like a birthday. I think the hats mostly covered up people’s covid hair so that was a good plan.

Even though we had this Zoom for Stephanie we still need to have a lunch when we are able. I figure that by the time we can go out to eat again we will be celebrating at least half my friend’s birthdays all at the same time.

Social distancing does not mean we don’t celebrate! So thanks to Lynn for organizing and Hooray for Stephanie!


No Snuggling With Friends For Shay

Social distancing is affecting all the beings in our household. The introverts are doing a little better than the extroverts. Shay seems to be the most depressed today. She is wondering why she has not gotten to go to any Church meetings where she is the honorary chair. She looks longingly at the car and wonders why we never open the doors, let alone let her jump in the back seat and take her stance on the console like a Captain on the bridge of her ship.

Not that she is not getting walks. Russ has taken her out twice or three times as much as she normally gets. She has even gone running with him. Something she would never get with me alone.

While Russ works in his outside CMG office, the bench in the front of our house, Shay social distances and watches him from the grass. I came up from working in the sweat shop and found Shay lying on the front porch all alone. She was not barking at the walkers or even lifting her head as canine pals passed by. She knows she has to keep her distance, like all of us. She just doesn’t like it. She is a social animal and is looking forward to the time when she can greet you and snuggle.


What Day Is It?

While I was in sewing on this beautiful day Russ created a new CMG office out on a bench in our front yard. He sent me these two photos of him in his new work spot. It not that he didn’t want to show you his whole corona beard just that he’s not too good at selfies.

After seeing his “work” photos I mistakenly thought today is Friday. Not that Russ doesn’t always work everyday, but I usually know when the weekend is because he works at home on the weekends and not at the office. This working at home everyday for the last three weeks makes me feel like everyday is a weekend, so no wonder I don’t know what day it is.

This is much to close to my favored Dame Maggie Smith Line from Downton Abbey, “Weekend, what is a weekend?” If everyday is the same in your life you have no need to separate out week days from weekends. Although I haven’t gone to real work in a really long time I am looking forward to a schedule of work days and fun days again someday, even if all I do is fun all the time.

I also am looking forward to a ton of belated birthdays to celebrate. Although I am happy to let my birthday slide without any celebration, I miss the birthday lunches with friends as our way of keeping up. Now I wish people good health on their Facebook page on their birthday. Not much of a celebration, but really there is nothing better to wish someone.

April is going to be a really long month. Here’s to knowing what day it is and if it is your special day I wish you good health. Hell, if it isn’t your Special day I wish you good health also.


Diversified Sewing

With Carter home my sweat reverted back to being her office. Since she is working from home for her Co-op and they have been so good to her I can’t really complain. When she is not in “her office,” but in her room I can’t use the sweat shop because it it too noisy. So my sewing has taken a big back seat these past two weeks.

I have tried to make some masks. Since I had just a little elastic I was only able to make myself a prototype and one that requested from me. I also made three cloth masks for my niece who is an ER nurse to cover her N95 mask. Since she has to use it day after day the cloth masks help protect her mask, while her mask helps protect her.

I am awaiting a bunch more elastic and as soon as it comes and I will try and make more masks. Don’t ask me for them yet because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I will let you know if I have enough elastic to make extras. Elastic is at a premium these days.

The big news is I was able to finish the top for my mother’s quilt. She saw some sandpiper placemats I made for Carter for Christmas and wanted a quilt with sandpipers. It is by far the most complicated quilt I have ever created. I tried to get a photo of it, but it is so big that even Russ and Carter could not hold the whole thing up. It didn’t help when the wind blew.

When I get the quilt back from my long arm quilter and I put the binding on it I will get a better picture of the finished product. I am happy to put my sewing skills to good use at this time.


I Need A Zoom Wig

Another day and another three Zoom meetings. I know I do not have a good Zoom set up. First the angle at which my iPad sits is the least flattering, all chins all the time, angle it can be.

Second the lighting is unflattering and if there was a thing I learned from years at Durham Magazine it is all about the lighting. Not that I really care what I look like since it really isn’t going to change, just that I have to look at myself and that is downright distracting.

The third thing is my hair in the time of social distancing has gone to hell. It’s not about color as it is for so many of my friends who have serious relationships with their colorists. For me it is the lack of styling skill on my part as well as the need for a haircut. My reading glasses when on my face, make little wings stick out above my ears.

I think my best option would be a wig I could slip on before I log into those daily Zoom meetings. I imagine I would look something like Gladys Cravits from Bewitched. Won’t be an improvement but at least I can give my zoom mates a chuckle in this grim time.

I am happy to have a chance to see the beautiful faces of my far flung friends I am zooming with. Thanks Suzanne and Janet for the fun visit today.

A note about my sister’s company that I blogged about yesterday: Last night I asked many of you to spread the word about my sister’s company selling knife sharpeners on GMA this morning. Thank you so much for all of you who shared the message and those who bought or tried to buy from her. She got over 8,000 orders and sold out of all her stock. It was a life saving event for her. This means she can make payroll for all her employees and rent for the next two months. Thank you so much to all of you. Sorry to those who were unable to get one. Thanks for trying.


Please Help My Sister

I know I just posted a blog today, but then I got a message from my sister Janet. She is a small business owner who like everyone else has had her business created by Covid 19.

She is trying to save her employees. Since all her customers are retailers who are now shut down she has turned to Good Morning America to sell one of her products, a great knife sharpener. I have one and love it. It is really good for garden tools as well as knives.

Please consider watching her deal on GMA in the first hour of the morning new tomorrow. These make great Christmas presents. I appreciate your sharing this with your friends.