Dog Science

While the storm was all around us, Shay shivered between me and Russ on the sofa. Shay does not like loud storms, especially thunder and lightening. Russ, trying to reassure her that it was going to be over soon, showed her the radar map on his IPad.

Shay could have cared less. Russ went on to tell her it was science and that we believe in science in our house. Shay was hearing none of it. Russ looked at me worried that we might have a science denying dog. How could this have happened?

Shay has never been allowed to watch FDN (Fox Dog Network). She does not subscribe to anything involving Tucker Carlson’s dog, if he has one. Who could trust anyone who does not have a dog?

Shay appears to like Dr. Fauci so we know she leans into science with a medical slant. She faithfully takes her heart worm and flea protection so Shay is not a complete science denier.

We hope we can rehabilitate her on the weather front. I think she understands climate change is real and perhaps she can spread the words to her dog pals. I suspect none of them likes Thunder unless they are the dogs of our former neighbors who created the Thunder shirt.

For now I am hoping my brown dog Shay knows that she is loved and is safe hear. I will keep at teaching her as much about science as a dog can learn. We don’t need more ignorance than we already have.

Back to Reality

I had three days of yesteryear with my friend Jan. As she was vaccinated months ago and quarantined over a week before I visited we were able to be in her house without masks. I quickly fell back into old life ways. It was wonderful.

As she lives in an area where there are no other people for miles it felt safe from the Covid big world. Today we awoke to a beautiful day, but we still got up and worked on the puzzle we started yesterday.

Shay and I said our goodbyes in the middle of the day. I stopped on the way down her mountain and collected moss for my garden. I passed streams and rivers full from the previous day’s rain.

As I headed home the first fourteen miles of the trip were on windy mountain roads. Although it was the middle of the day I did not pass another car, making the trip seem surreal. I stopped in North Wilksboro to get gas and put on my trusty double mask. Although every other pump was occupied I was the only person wearing a mask. For a moment I thought I had woken up from a bad dream where the world had been in a pandemic for the last year. Then I realized it was not a dream, I was just in a rural area full of pandemic deniers.

I was fairly certain I did not come in contact with Covid in the last few days, but I was not going to stop wearing my mask in public now. I had just had a taste of my old life and I liked it. Russ and I are due for our second shot in the next week, so it would be terrible to risk it all now.

Shay was happy to see Russ, as was I, but we are looking forward to the time when we can go back to visit Jan in the mountains and escape reality.

Perfect Mountain Day, Except For The Weather

Rainy days are not a problem for me and Jan so when we woke up in a cloud we knew that it would probably be a good day for a puzzle. Before I get to that I must report that we finally ate our pizza dinner last night at 10. The idea that it only took the pizza oven two hours to heat up was off by at least two hours. We went ahead and made the pizza at the four hour mark even though the oven could have been hotter.

It was worth the wait. Our arugula, pear, blue cheese and prosciutto pizza was great at ten and equally good for lunch today and the reheating only took fifteen minutes.

After lunch Jan got out a Liberty wooden puzzle and we started working it on the kitchen island because it had the best light. It is a very hard puzzle as the pieces are the wildest shapes. I think we will be up late working it, but thankfully we have already had dinner and can concentrate.

Jan’s dog Crocket and Shay have been very well behaved together, but they did not get any exercise today thanks to the rain all day. Tonight while we work on the puzzle the dogs are working on their raw hides. Shay is going to want to come visit more often after this raw hide.

I’m going to want to come back more often too.

Perfect Mountain Day…Almost

Sleeping is easier in the Mountains. Shay and I stayed snuggled in our comfy bed under a heavy down comforter. It is like a real vacation when you sleep in. Staying with Jan is a real vacation. When the sun came out we took the dogs out for a forest hike.

Shay was in heaven bounding over fallen logs as we went up and down the mountain. It was dog heaven. Later in the day Jan took Shay and me out on the Polaris for a tour of the area. The trees have not budded yet so we could see the mountains all around.

Tonight Jan is teaching me how she makes pizza in her pizza oven. She started a big fire inside the baking oven and is getting it heated up in preparation of putting the pizza in the oven…

So the heating of the pizza oven is taking much longer than we thought. I am going to have to post the actual pizza tomorrow. For now I am signing off as I am too hungry to keep writing.

Off to the Mountains

My darling friend Jan has finally left Texas and is living at her house in the mountains. As she was fully vaccinated ages ago and has been all alone at her house in the mountains for over a week she thought it would be safe for me to visit. She invited Russ and Shay, but only Shay was free enough to make the trip with me.

I was so excited to pullout my suitcase this morning, even though it was very dusty. For all my adult work years I had a travel job. Then when Carter came along and I wasn’t working I had the free time to travel. This last year of not traveling has been hard so I was so excited to be off to the mountains.

Shay and I got in the car in Durham after lunch and went west. Our only stop was to Drive though Sonic so I could get a diet Cherry limeade, the ultimate road drink. Jan’s new house is in Todd. She told me to call her when I was in North Wilksboro since that was the last place I would have cell coverage to give her my eta.

I did that just before I started to climb the big mountain on the outside of town. Waze said I had an hour to get to her house, but if I looked at the map it looked like it was only about nine miles. It is amazing what how long windy roads make the trip take.

Soon after heading up the mountain I realized I might have missed my opportunity to use a restroom. It was only an hour, I could wait.

After many hairpin turns up and down valleys and hills I came to the turn off for Jan’s house. There I was met with a gate with a “no trespassing” sign. A gate? Jan had not mentioned a gate. I tried to phone Jan only to discover no bars, not even that tiny little dot of a bar. I looked at the map to see if there was another way to get up to her house. Nothing.

I pulled my car over to the side of the gate road and Shay and I got out and walked around the stone pillars that held the gate. Shay took this opportunity to use the bathroom as I jumped up and down in front of the electric eyes that open the gate from the inside. Apparently I am not as big as a car, but this was not a comforting time to learn this.

I put Shay back in the car and I waited to see if any cars came by, perhaps someone else might be going in or out of her neighborhood. Not one car for fifteen minutes, not even on the main road. That being the case I decided it was safe for me to go down closer to the river and go to the bathroom.

As I squatted behind a group of trees I prayed that now not be the time for a car to come because I had waited so long to use the bathroom there would be no way for me to stop. I think the last time I did something like this was on my way to homecoming at Dickinson my first year out of college when Hugh Braithwaite and I drove up to Carlisle and stopped to go to the bathroom at an apple orchard. I got my car stuck on a fence post and I swore I would never stop to pee outside ever again.

Seeing no other solution I turned the car around and drove back the way I came looking for phone signal. Nothing for five miles. Not just no phone signal, no people, no stores, no nothing. Eventually I came to an intersection and saw a volunteer fire dept. No one was there. Then I saw a sign for a Post office. I pulled in and saw that it was open for ten more minutes.

The tiny post office had a lobby where the mailboxes were and another door to go in to see the postmistress. Another customer was standing in the six foot area by the postmistress talking to her. They talked and talked. Being Covid times I waited patiently out by the mailboxes, but in full sight of the customer talking. She eventually finished her conversation which had nothing to do with Mail or stamps and left. I came in and the postmistress had already departed the front desk. I called out to her. “Excuse me, do you know if there is pay phone anywhere?” She came back to the counter and I explained my predicament. She kindly picked up the cordless phone on the counter, cleaned it off and handed it to me.

I called Jan, who was horrified she had forgotten to tell me about the gate and the code. I drove back and got in no problem. It made for a very adventurous trip.

Getting to visit Jan at her beautiful home is well worth a slight detour and peeing outside. An added bonus is I am getting to sleep in a bedroom with an antler chandelier. I feel like I am in Beauty and the Beast as Gaston uses antlers in all his decorating. They didn’t have cell phones in Beauty in the Beast either.

Lost My Painting Arm

Last night I was having a hard time falling asleep. Nothing new about that, but the reason was new, my arm hurt. It was my right arm and I did not think it was a heart attack warning since everything else about me felt fine. Why in the world? I wondered as I tried to find a comfortable position. Then it dawned on me…my painting arm was out of shape.

After my summer of painting all my kitchen cabinets I thought that I had an invincible painting arm. Now I was feeling my frailties. I think that trying to paint the inside of the lectern shelves, with the weird angle I had to hold myself at caused me strain on my painting arm. I was definitely in the minor leagues of painters since I had only primed the lectern.

This morning I got up, arm healed and ready to go, and went back to the garage to knock out the top coats. I took a preemptive aleve and got to painting. I put the first coat on. Looked good, but definitely called for a second. I let that one dry throughly and went back for the second a few hours later. It was looking good, but I needed it to dry to judge if it was done. I came out and looked at the lectern in the afternoon sun that was streaming in the garage.

Looked like I needed one more coat on the big flat surfaces. Of course no one is ever going to look at this thing in direct sunlight, but I had the paint and my arm was holding on. One last coat on the outside. I did not see the point to add a third coat to the inside, which really very few will see.

And now it is done. I am letting it harden for the next five days before Russ and I attempt to bring this over to church. Cabinet paint really hardens up over weeks, but I think it will be good enough to move next weekend. Tonight I am taking some painkiller before I try and go to sleep. I don’t need two nights of sore-arm-no-sleep.

A Handy Husband

Being handy or good at fixing things should be a prerequisite for a husband as well as a wife. There is nothing better than having someone who can help me make my dreams real. I showed Russ a design for an expensive lectern and said, “I think we can make this and better than this expensive one.” He did not even blink.

Thanks to having every power tool known to man due to years of Christmas and birthday presents from Russ’ dad we were able to make this thing. Yesterday we finished the raw wood version which I helped make and Russ turned it over to me for finishing.

Today I sanded, primed and caulked. Tomorrow I will do at least two coats of cabinet paint. It’s starting to be better than my dreams and one tenth the price.

It has a place for the microphone holder to be attached, and a covered hole for cords to run down through the three shelves. The front wheels are regular swivel and the back are locking swivels. I think it will serve its purpose. It is all thanks to that handy husband.

It is never too late to learn to fix of make things. Thanks to YouTube there are instructions for everything. Don’t raise children who only know how to golf or play tennis, but make sure they also can build a simple box, fix a running toilet and rewire a lamp. Both boys and girls should know these things.

I probably had the skills, but not enough hands to do this myself. Getting Russ involved meant that it is perfect, square and strong. Thanks for being the handy husband.

The Smell of Spring

Oh, how I wish I had Smell-a-blog. The aroma of spring has surrounded my house. My Clematis Paniculata has encased my secret garden with a profusion of white blossoms and a scent that makes you feel like you are on a tropical island. I could sit outside and totally forget the whole last year if I just closed my eyes and took deep breaths of the citrusy floral perfume.

If only I could grab this smell in a bottle and open it up in the winter when the days are dark and dreary. For now I have to go outside on my terrace as often as the blooms are still on the vine and make as many smell memories as I can.

In the vegetable garden the scents are mostly of wet good dark earth. Last week I scattered a handful of arugula and mesclun greens seeds. They have germinated and the pair of cotyledon leaves have emerged from beneath the soil. It has been cold for the last couple of days, but not enough to hurt these babies. I expect the warming trend of the week to come to help turn the tiny buds into viable plants.

There has been a trend of eating micro greens, but that steals all the potential from the baby greens to come. Since I have plenty of beds I will just keep throwing out seeds every few weeks so that I can cut all the arugula I want regardless of size and not feel guilt that waiting a few more days might bring in a greater harvest.

For now, without any real food growing I am just going to have to drink in the aroma of the flowers. Thank goodness smells have no calories because I have binged something terrible on this clematis.

Shrimp Burger Fail

All the dark parts of the pan are shrimp burger parts stuck to the pan

In proof that even good cooks can fail I took this photo of tonight’s dinner. I was trying to make shrimp burgers no not the ones made up of fried shrimp like they have in Morehead.

I was just making it up as I went along. I pulsed one third of the raw shrimp in the Cuisineart to get a paste and I chopped the other shrimp into thirds. I probably should have quartered them, but I want real bites of shrimp in my burgers. I made bread crumbs from a King’s Hawaiian roll, but maybe I did not use enough bread crumbs. I minced two shallots and that was probably the only thing I got right.

I mixed a raw egg with a tablespoon of mayo, some lime juice, Dijon mustard and sriracha and then mixed everything up together. I did not chill the already cold mixture, which most certainly could have helped.

I heated a non-stick pan, but did not add any butter, another mistake.

I took handfuls of the mixture and patted it into lose patty shapes, but they started to fall apart soon after touching the pan.

I tried to flip the piles of shrimp and that was an epic fail. Much of the mixture stuck to the pan, but I served the shrimp mess to Russ just the same.

I put come cocktail sauce on my pile o’shrimp next to my asian Coleslaw and took a bite. DELICIOUS! It looked like a hot mess, but the flavors were perfect. The shrimp were not over cooked and the mess was nicely seasoned with the sriracha.

I had some of the mixture left over so I put it in the refrigerator and will try again tomorrow with a cold mixture, a hot pan and a little butter in it. Even if I can’t make it into a burger I know I will like it.

Late to the Schitt’s Creek Game

Carter loves Schitt’s Creek and she implored me to start watching it. I think I half watched one episode years ago and then didn’t really give it a chance. Three days ago, when I had nothing else to watch while needlepointing I started Schitt’s Creek. Thank goodness nothing else is going on in the world because I have been addicted ever since.

I am not saying that I watched TV all day. I did do laundry, cooked some stuff, cleaned some things, wrote some things, read a book, walked on the treadmill, covered the cars in case of hail, played words with friends, but all as a way of staving off my desired to watch more Schitt’s Creek.

Now that I have finished season one I know I am fully addicted and am already worried about the day I finish all the seasons. I am starting a list of non-TV things I can do so that I slow down my Creek consumption. Boy, do I ever need the Pandemic to end.

Isn’t Ireland Lovely?

My father, giving Carter and art history lesson. I can only imagine what he said.

Happy St. Patrick’s day to all, Irish or otherwise. In celebration of today I went back to look at photos of a trip my father took us on to Ireland in 2007. Carter, all happy toothed, was all of eight years old and it was her first trip to Europe, certainly giving her the bug of travel.

This was a purely adult trip with my two sisters, my parents and us, so very little was done to entertain Carter differently than the rest of us. She did a great job rolling along with us. One of my favorite artifacts from the trip is a video clip Carter made while we were riding in the car along the Bay of Bantry. There was nothing but green countryside, and rocky coast, yet Carter exclaims, “Isn’t Ireland Lovely?”

What a happy time that was, before the crash of 2008, before the Pandemic. Yes, Ireland is lovely. I look forward to the day we can travel like that again. I miss the innocence of Carter discovering the bigger world for the first time, but still love to see it with her.

With my mother in Kenmare

Shay Test Day

My mother came to spend a few hours with me today so I could wash her quilt and have lunch together. As Russ had a busy day of calls and a meeting with clients he decided he would go downtown to his empty office and make his calls before going to the clients. He also needed to water the office plants so it was a good plan for him. It was not such a good plan for Shay.

This was the first day Russ was away from Shay in 12 months. She has reveled in being his constant shadow. She has three beds in his home office and we have taken to calling her the supervisor. In the morning, Russ may be in his office as early as five AM, but Shay keeps banker’s hours. She likes to sleep in until 8:45 when she usually pops up and goes right to work by Russ’ side.

With him out of the house today she was at a loss what her role was. Who was she supposed to herd? She kept by my side all day, but she did not have any opportunity to appear on zoom calls.

After my mother went back to the farm Shay lay by my side as I needlepointed. With every little sound outside the house she perked up thinking Russ might be coming home. It was a long sad day for her, but hopefully we can do this a couple more times before she has to go cold Turkey and be without him all day. For the record, I missed him too.

Where Are The Flowers?

I love daffodils. Growing up In Connecticut, where it seemed like spring would never come, the appearance of the thousands of daffodils that dotted the woods on the hillside of our creek gave me a glimmer of hope that one day I could stop wearing my wet itchy wool mittens my grandmother knit me, that chapped the inside of my wrists.

Daffodils were also the flowers that appeared next to our garage in New Canaan when I was four after I had “planted a bunch of peat moss” the month before. Since it was our first spring in that house I told my Dad that I had planted those flowers, explaining about the peat moss episode. He never corrected me and let me believe for at least a decade that I had planted those flowers.

Every house I have ever lived in has has daffodils. In my last house in Washington, DC I had a lovely long garden between my row house and my garage. (I still can’t believe I had a house with a garage at my young age. So much upkeep.) In order not to have any grass to cut, as I knew that would be a fail, my garden was all patio and flower beds along with a big gold fish pond. In my beds I had daffodils for spring, that then got over planted with herbs and summer flowers.

Here I have daffodils. I plant some every year, but unlike the ones in Connecticut, which multiplied every year, mine disappear bit by bit. I am yet to find the underground culprits who must be eating the bulbs. This year not only are many of the bulbs just gone, but most of the plants that did come up don’t have any flowers at all. This is a most distressing situation and I am not going to suffer letting the foliage hang around until it has been fulfilled to grow again next year.

So much for feeding voles, or moles or some other rodent. I am going to have to find another way to have my favorite flowers. Just as I think I have critters controlled with my new vegetable garden this happens. Nature is daunting. It was so much easier when I was four.

Russ to the Rescue

I have spent the last few years raising money, working on plans and supervising the building of our church’s new fellowship hall. Because of Covid I basically made all the design decisions, which is quite frankly was easier than doing it by committee, which is what Presbyterians do. The last item we needed is a new rolling lectern to go with our fancy AV system.

I looked online at thousands of lecterns. They are the most over-priced things I have ever seen. I ordered one, but it was horrible so we sent it back. So I did what I always do when I can’t find what I want, I decide to make it myself. I showed Russ a design I wanted to do and asked if he would help me. It is more like I would help him and of course he said yes.

I thought it would be a weekend project. I purchased all the materials and we were ready to go yesterday morning. We got started, then Russ had to leave in the middle of the day for an appointment that took almost three hours. We got back to work and then got the call about getting vaccines, so we left for another hour. By last night we had not gotten as far as I thought we would have.

This morning we got started early, skipping watching church so we could work for church. Thanks to Russ’ perfectionism we have gotten it almost done, except for some trim and the top. We finally gave in and said we would have to finish tomorrow. That just means he will be done constructing it and I will then take over with the sanding, filling in the screw holes, priming and painting it. That will take me the rest of the week. When it is all done it will have cost me $200 in materials and will be so much nicer than those $5,000 ones made out of chip board.

I never could have done this without Russ. I just couldn’t put some ugly lectern in the beautiful building I spent five years working on.

Shot Surprise

Russ and I were working away in the garage building a lectern for church when an unknown number from Durham was ringing my cell phone. Against my normal habit of not answering my phone I did. It was Darius Russell, owner of Russell’s pharmacy wondering if we still needed a vaccine.

“Yes, we do,” I answered enthusiastically.

I turned to Russ, “We can go get vaccinated right now.” He nodded calmly and I thanked Darius and said were would be right over.

“Can you get here in half an hour, I have some for you.”

Darius and his wife, own this pharmacy over by the Durham Branch of the Food Bank in East Durham. It has been a rough neighborhood, but is improving. Two years and a half years ago they opened in an old bank. They met when they attended the high school of Science and Math and have called Durham home for the last twenty years after going away to college.

Getting our shots there was a nice experience and Darius is a friendly guy. I heard about him from our friends the Prebles who also got vaccinated there as they had been on a waiting list for leftover vaccines.

Dr. Darius Russell

We got the Moderna vaccine and Darius will call us in three weeks to schedule our follow-up second shot. Anyone can be on the list for extra vaccines, so if you are in Durham and don’t mind venturing over to East Durham call Russell’s Pharmacy at 919-908-1060. They have lots of space to sit and wait your fifteen minutes after your shot and you will be supporting a local small business. And plenty of parking behind the store.

Now we have to cancel our appointments for shots next Friday, but we don’t have to drive all the way to Greensboro, twice.

Hard to believe that we have started our shots and by my birthday we will be fully vaccinated.

Greensboro FEMA Vaccine Site Has Appointments!

My friend Deanna just alerted me that the FEMA site giving Vaccines has lots of appointments. Russ and I went on line and had no problem scheduling appoints at the drive thru at the same time next week.

They are giving 3,000 shots a day. Half inside the old Dillards and half in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Mall. It is easy to get there as it is right off 40. The shots are Pfizer first shots for the first three weeks, the second shots the next three weeks and then two weeks of Johnson and Johnson.

Here is the link to schedule an appointment – click return to home to start your appointment.

Sharpen Your Cutco Knives

Today is the official one year anniversary of the Pandemic in America. Who would have thought that when the lockdown was declared we would still be here one year later. Although Covid been worse than I ever imagined the fact that we have 3 vaccines being rolled out is a miracle thanks to those who work in science.

Sometime before the lockdown my friend Denise told me about her big job of individually wrapping her Cutco Knifes in cardboard to send them off to the factory to be sharpened. As a proud Cutco owner I thought that was a big job I needed to do too. Then the pandemic came. At first Cutco was closed since it is in NY, so no sending knives. Then with all the Pandemic cooking I was doing I just couldn’t part with even half my knives. So I just kept using them at not optimal condition.

Last week I got a Facebook notice that there was a Cutco Sharpening event this week so I signed up for an appointment. For people who are very important to me I sometimes give Cutco as a gift so I knew I might do a little shopping.

I wrapped up 28 knives in dishcloths and arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn for my allotted appointment with Cody King, a very knowledgeable Cutco expert. He was able to work magic on my 25 year old knives. A couple have to be sent back to the Factory because they are too far gone, but that lifetime Warranty is the beauty of Cutco.

One of the best things I learned is how to use an odd thin knife I never understood was for melons and pineapple. I just happen to have a pineapple I need to cut tonight so I am going to test out my newly learned knowledge.

I adore my Cutco knives, even dull they are better than any other knives, but now that they are freshly sharpened they are a dream. I did have to warn Russ to be careful since he has had cutting accidents in the past.

Since we all have been stuck at home cooking for ourselves for the whole past year I want to remind you to sharpen your knives. If you want Cody’s info contact me. Sharp knives make every pandemic easier.

Dirt Day One

At last I think today is the perfect day to start an inaugural crop in my new garden. The frustration of finishing the build of that garden just as growing season was over has finally come to an end.

It has been warm here for a few days and at last we have gone more than a week without rain. The temps should be in the seventies for a few days and then only down to the sixties as highs so it should be fine to grow some mesclun and arugula.

I used my Japanese hoe, which is a tool with a hoe side and a claw side that is about eighteen inches long. Perfect for loosening up the winter soil. I sprinkled some seeds across my rich earth in one raised bed and then gently crumbled dirt on top to just lightly cover the tiny specimens.

I didn’t want to heavily water the bed so I filled a new spray bottle with water and misted the area where I had sown the seed. It is nothing to look at today, but hopefully in five or six days we can see some tiny sprouts and then by Easter there will be edible greens growing in the raised bed.

I am going to plant these same crops again in three weeks so I have a continuing supply for lunch. If you have never tried to grow arugula you should try. It is the easiest plant and there is nothing more tasty than fresh arugula from the garden with a drop of good olive oil and good squeeze of lemon, a few big shavings of fresh Parmesan and twists from the pepper mill. Really I could live on that. Only a month to go.

Good Weather Makes Everything Better

Sometimes the littlest things can totally lift my day. It’s an extra bonus when it happens first thing. Since it’s Tuesday I had my weekly outing to Loaf to pick up our club bread. Today’s was a rye and red durham wheat. On the way downtown I drove through the dry cleaners to pick up Russ’ shirts. The nice girl who helps me was extra friendly and when she brought the shirts to the car and was hanging them in the back she said, “No charge today, you have coupons in the system.”

I love the system! I never have a coupon for anything. It may have only been $10, but it made me particularly happy.

Then I had to go to Lowe’s to pick up materials to build a rolling lecture for our new fellowship hall at church. I had ordered one online and it was deemed a “piece of junk” so we sent it back. I searched every possible lectern seller and did not find any I liked u dear $5,000. That is just crazy. So I recruited Russ to help me build one we based on a design of an expensive one we liked.

I had a really nice clerk help me load the materials on my cart and then into the Land Cruiser. I didn’t ask for help, this person just volunteered. That never happens.

Lastly I went over to church and finished putting the kitchen equipment away and made a seven page layout document to show everyone where everything belongs. One other church member has volunteered to make the labels, but now she knows what they should say and where they should go. This was a project I was happy to check off my list.

I came home and since it was in the seventies I weeded my garden in preparation for coming planting.

I am thinking that the good weather, and the coming vaccinations is making everyone a little nicer. At least it felt that way today. Tomorrow’s forecast is even better than today. Imagine what I can get done!

International Women’s Day Needs to Be Longer

Hurray, it’s International Women’s Day. A day to foster equal rights. Wait, we are still having this fight. When I was in junior high school we were fighting for equal rights. The ERA spent years trying to get ratified and you are telling me it’s still not done.

We don’t need International Women’s Day, we need International Women’s years until we have equality. Sadly I think we are are going backwards. Misogyny is more prevalent than ever. And now misogyny bleeds into white supremacy and those two best friends have been happily trotted out into our National life thanks to 45.

The pandemic has thrown a body blow to women, who have stepped back to take care of children at home, or parents at home or just because they were already in service industry jobs, which went away.

To hell with one day! Women make up more than half the population so why are we settling for one paltry day? We need to make everyday about fighting for equality. The strong men I know agree and are not afraid of powerful and smart women. Russ would love to get about another dozen strong women in his firm today.

To all the men who think women are less than you, or should serve you, just a reminder you didn’t spawn from nothing. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your mother’s. Trying to keep women down does not raise you up.

Thanks to all the strong women who have fought for women’s rights, but we are not close to being over. Don’t let International Women’s Day be a once a year thing. Keep the fight alive everyday.

Needlepoint Christmas is Coming

I have more than a little guilt about the number of hours I needlepointed this weekend. Then I justified it by saying, “This might be our last cold weekend.” Yes, Christmas is coming, at least in needlepoint world.

The good people that finish needlepoint, that means turning stitched canvases into the ornaments they are meant to be, are still backed up from last year. Every year the Christmas deadline to have your stitching done gets earlier and earlier. I remember the day when you could finish a canvas before Labor Day and still get it back in time to spend the Christmas season on your tree.

This year you better have your canvas’ done by June. So this weekend I pushed through on this 6×6 Santa. It is bigger than the normal ornament, but I like varying sizes. I plan on finishing the last bit or gold boarder during the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah tonight. No guilt in needlepointing while watching royals.

Tomorrow I get started on the ornaments I have to do for my needlepoint exchange groups. The time is getting short. I know I have taxes to do and writing projects to finish, or actually start and then finish, but somehow those deadlines don’t feel as overwhelming.

Somehow Christmas is always coming at our house.

Old Enough to Be Back in Style

Russ started laughing out loud as he read something on his iPad. He turned to me and said, “We are cooler than I thought.” The barometer he was using was an recently published House Beautiful article, “10 Things From Your Grandparents’ House That Are Back In Style.” As he read me the list I laughed. We are actually the grandparents in scenario, we just don’t have a grandchild to spoil.

Here are the things they listed as now back in style:

1. Chintz

2. Floral wallpaper

3. Needlepoint

4. China Cabinets

5. Pink Tile

6. Ornate Frames

7. Decorative Plates

8. Colored Glassware

9. Quilts

10. Pintuck Pillows

For the record we only have 9 of the ten. You might think that the hardest one to come by is “Pink tile” but we have a whole full bathroom of it. It is the only original bathroom left in our house and it is in such perfect condition I have not pulled it out. You can’t beat the old craftsmen who out that bathroom in 65 years ago so I am so happy to learn that it is actually back in style.

Both an ornate frame and pink tile in one room

In just one photo of our living room you can see both decorative plates and needlepoint. Just a couple of years ago I replaced the Chintz pillows on that sofa. Perhaps I should get them out of the attic. Russ was laughing most about the needlepoint and quilts since those things have been with us for forever and are continually multiplying. The only thing we don’t have are pintuck pillows. I never liked those so there can never be a comeback.

That middle pillow is needlepoint

I always say, just wait long enough and it will come back in style.

Chapel Hill Wegmans

The rumors started when the car dealerships on 15/501 started moving, a Wegmans was coming to Chapel Hill. Or was a Wegmans’ coming? Years we waited. First the old buildings for three car dealerships with all the parking lots surrounding were torn down, then the land lay fallow. Through multiple springs and summers nothing happened. Finally last year small stakes appeared on the empty land and then a foundation, some walls and acres of parking.

Yes, Chapel Hill, it is a Wegmans. It opened last week. Everyone I know went. I heard that despite the cavernous size people were shoulder to shoulder. So I stayed away. My friend Kathi and her husband Steve, who really don’t cook, even went as if on a date, perusing the whole store for hours.

People asked me my opinion. I had none. I hadn’t gone. The advice I got was, “go early on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds.” So I did that this morning. The parking lot felt very full, but perhaps because of the circuitous route you have to take in it. The store had lots of shoppers and it seemed like an equal number of workers, but I was able to social distance from them all.

The produce section was big and full of fresh fruits and veg, but it should be since the store just opened. Russ needed chili peppers and the selections were slim on those, but the mushrooms were plentiful. I was able to get two packages of our favorite Lion mushrooms and previously I have only gotten those from the mushroom grower at the farmer’s market.

As I was looking for miso paste I was directed to the “fermented foods” refrigerator case. I have never been in a store in the US with a whole case dedicated to fermented foods. There was also a huge case of horseradish with six different types. Usually I am hunting for the only horseradish between the refrigerator canned biscuits and the individual servings of cozy brand rice pudding at the Harris Teeter. One thing I loved was a “G” scale train that ran on a track suspended from the ceiling above the fermented and fresh pasta cases.

I window shopped the large selection of vegetable based meats in the freezer since Russ loves those. Across from the vegetarian/vegan freezer cases was the gluten free aisle. It certainly did appear that if you have any special diet Wegmans has an aisle for you. On the other hand I had a hard time finding the eggs and when I did I had to wait for three other people in front of me to make their selections because the eggs were in a small glass door case. Seemed like horseradish was given more space than eggs.

I did not go down all the health and beauty aisles or the canned goods, but I wound my way over passed the cheese, deli, charcuterie sections on my way past meats/game/poultry on my way to seafood. I was there to find a good fish for dinner and I was not disappointed in the selection. I got two hunks of mahi mahi. The fish monger could not have been kinder. I am going to have to take Russ over to shop the “smoked fish” display which is its own tall refrigerator case. I skipped the bakery and just did a drive by of the Poké bowl station and all the other lunch type foods of pizza, made to order subs and the like.

The store is really perfect for people who don’t cook as it seems like you could get any meal you might want pre-made. I would like to get to spend a little time with the right glasses on going up and down the aisles just looking at what is available as inspiration for new recipes, but I think I need for the newness of the store and perhaps the whole pandemic to be over before I can do that. Wegmans will certainly give other stores a run for their money, but since nothing was very cheep, except the large container of cherry tomatoes, it is going take the top end shoppers from Whole Foods and Fresh Market. I think Food Lion shoppers will still be Food Lion shoppers and quirky Trader Joe’s devotees may stop in at Wegmans, but still love TJ’s. Bottom line, while everyone is still cooking at home most of the time due to the pandemic Wegmans will be busy.

March 4 is Grammar Day

Today is Grammar Day. I would like to dedicate this day to my cousin Mary Hayward Mundy, who is the best grammarian in my family. If I had my act together I would write my blog and send it to Mary for editing before I post it everyday. Since I limit myself to twenty minutes of writing and then straight to posting, I sometimes don’t even proof read, let alone really edit my stuff. In the world of daily blogging I subscribe to the adage “perfect is the enemy of posting.”

I digress. I am so happy that the Three Precenters did not try and over shadow Grammar Day by trying to take over the Capitol again. I think that plenty of the insurrectionists should spend this day with a Little Brown Handbook. Have you read what those Q Anons write? They might not be so confused if they used correct grammar.

I have two pet Grammar peeves. The first is newscasters and TV reporters who don’t know when to use “she” or “her”. I think that it should be the number one test news directors give applicants. Then there should be a three strikes rule, which includes he and him. They say the wrong thing three times and they’re out.

My second peeve is the correct use of “fewer” and “less”. It is a really easy rule. You say “fewer” for things you can count. For example, “I should have fewer shoes.” Each shoe is distinct and I can count them, given enough time. You use “less” for things you can’t count. “Please put less water in the batter.” You would not say, “Please put fewer water in the batter.” You could say put fewer tablespoons of water in the batter because you can count the tablespoons.” It’s not that hard, but it seems to be the one thing that I always catch when someone says it incorrectly.

As it is Grammar Day, I would love to hear what your favorite grammar mistakes are. I bet that “can” and “may” are on the top of some lists.

Open Letter to Ed Bascome at Epcon

Hey Ed, I had the pleasure of touring one of your 55+ communities. You seem to have a good niche market there as I learned that you have communities in twenty-eight states. I was looking for a friend as my husband is never leaving our current house.

The guy who was showing me the house was a real man splainer. While looking at the living room I asked him about these tiny walls that were no more than nine inches deep that came out from the longest wall in the room. Man Splainer told me they were “wing walls.”

Looking at them I could tell they were purely decorative, and not load bearing so I had a follow up question of, “Why would anyone want those wing walls.” Man Splainer did not have an answer, he wasn’t a decorator so I forgave him. I asked if someone buying a new build house could have those tiny, useless, wing walls left out.

Man Splainer practically prostrated himself at the wing wall and told me, “Under no circumstances could you get this model house without the wing walls, because Ed, the President insists they are built into this model.”

“Really? So you have to build these little walls, drywall and mud then, paint them, then lay a floor that goes around the walls, which is a lot more trouble that laying a floor along a straight wall. If someone doesn’t want them you wouldn’t just not put them in and save yourself the time and money it takes to have them?”

“No, absolutely not. Ed insists.”

Since I was having so much fun with Man Splainer I continued. “So, once someone buys this house and they own it, can they redecorate the inside anyway they want?”

“Yes, the only rules about redecorating are about the outside.”

“So, a new homeowner who might have a big, long sofa, which they may want to place against this wall, who owns those wing walls now, must pay someone to come take them out, patch the floor that was underneath them trying to match the floor that goes throughout the rest of the house, repair the wall they were attached and repaint, just so they can put their big furniture against this wall?”

Man Splainer, was so embarrassed to have to say, “Yes, that is what would have to happen.”

Ed, you are being blamed for this ridiculous policy. This entire conversation reminded me of Jack Nicholson in the movie Five Easy Pieces. Jack was in a diner, where he wanted some plain wheat toast with his omelette, instead of the roll it came with. The waitress said no substitutions. So Jack ordered a toasted Chicken salad Sandwich on wheat with his omelette, hold, the Mayo, lettuce and chicken salad, just so he could get the toast.

Ed, don’t be the waitress. Let customers hold the wing walls.

May is Just Around the Corner

On January 25 I wrote a blog called “We need vaccine manufacturing to increase. You can reread it here if you want.

In it I suggested that Biden could use the war powers act to get Merck to help manufacture vaccines. I just want to say to the White House, “Good on you for listening to me!”

Now in all seriousness, it was not that creative an idea, so I am certain many other people also suggested it, but I am just thrilled that it is actually getting done.

This means that there will be enough vaccine produced by the end of May for everyone to get vaccinated. The faster the better because we need to shut down the hosts for the vaccine to continue to live and mutate. By the way, everyone who has not had the vaccine is a host. So don’t be one. Get the vaccine.

And don’t be like Texas. Continue wearing your masks until everyone is vaccinated. Now is not the time to let your guard down. There were 5,053 Covid cases in Texas today. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks after Governor Abbot of Texas has removed the mask mandate and allowed all business to open. It’s just a little premature. May is so close.

Waiting For Falling Food

The summer between my sophomore and Junior year I adopted my dog Beau. He was a sweet mixed terrier mutt and was eternally grateful to be saved from the shelter. I did not want a dog who begged for food from the table so I trained Beau to sit quietly while my three roommates and I ate at our dining room table.

Being a college student I certainly was not the best dog Mom I could be. Beau’s food was nothing more than kibble and he longed for whatever the humans were eating.

The nicest room in my college house was our dining room. We bought a used Victorian dining room set from the local used furniture store. We had a side board, table and four matching chairs. Dinners were about the only time all four of us might be home. We had a rotating schedule where one of us was in charge of cooking dinner for the house Monday-Thursday.

When we sat down for dinner Beau would come and sit in the dining room with us. As the dinner conversation would get underway we noticed that Beau would move around the table and stand beside the person who was laughing the hardest. We came to understand that Beau was doing this in hopes of having some food fall out of the laugher’s mouth. Begging was forbidden, but Beau was allowed to be our canine vacuum so any food that fell off the table, or out of your mouth was fair game.

I can’t remember much food falling out of anyone’s mouth, but it must have happened at least twice since the Beau could be counted on to be the laughers sidekick. That trait stayed with Beau his whole life and thus he especially liked when I had parties because that was his only chance for laughing food loss. Who says dogs are not brilliant?

Where’s the Remote?

This is a rare photo, one of all three TV remotes for just one of our TVs all in the same place. I could be a much more productive person if I didn’t have to spend so much time trying to find one of these devices. Allegedly I should be able to control this one TV with just one of these items, but that requires a Ph.d I don’t have.

The black one is the remote that came with our cable box. It is my go to remote. Right now half the buttons on it are not working. I can exchange it, but that involves going to the Spectrum store. Enough said.

The big silver one is the remote that came with our TV. I am only using it to do one action I can’t do on the cable remote, which is change from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2. Who names these things?

Once I get to HDMI 2 I use that tiny apple remote to run our apple box where all the streaming channels live. Now searching for a show on one of those channels is a nightmare as this little remote is old enough that it does not have a speaker function on it. But with Covid restrictions what else do I have to do than type in every letter on the search? It’s a first world problem.

My real issue is not the poor functioning of all these remotes, but just being able to find them at least ten minutes before I want to watch something. It’s not that I don’t have a bedside table where they usually live, but that they somehow can get up and walk away without explanation.

I think it is time to do away remotes all together and just be able to yell at the TV and have it turn on to the right channel at the right volume, like my Dad could when I was a kid. Kids were the remotes of the 1960’s and we were so much more reliable than these little boxes, plus we were harder to lose.

All Travel Versus No Travel

Carter texted me this afternoon because she wanted some photos from 2007 and 2008. As I was scrolling through the thousands of photos I noticed a theme in those year, travel! In 2008 we took 12 different trips. When I say we, Russ was on a few, Carter was on most and I had one alone. But still 12 trips in one years.

Carter and I riding bikes on the wall in Lucca

The length of the vacations varied from two weeks in Italy to two days in Williamsburg, but it appeared that we hardly stayed home that year.

Fast forward to this year. One three night stay at an air B & B in the mountains in June when we thought things were improving was our only vacation. Then there were my two driving trips to Boston and back to get Carter and bring her home. Those hardly count as trips since each trip was a thirty-six hour affair that consisted of driving 12-13 hours on back to back days.

Looking at the spring break photos of warm beach climates and the summer road trips to visit friends made me nostalgic for travel. I know I could get in the car now and drive someplace where I stand outdoors and look at something, like a tree or a rock. But I am not interested in eating inside and getting takeout and eating in a motel room sounds like the worst kind of travel ever. In fact it sounds too much like my days as a traveling salesperson and might cause me to have nightmares.

I am excited to hopefully get vaccinated this summer, but I am not sure when travel is going to come back in the picture. I feel like it might be OK to welcome visitors into my house once we have all had the vaccine, but when will I feel like it is safe to go to a foreign country?

I am not sure I will have 12 trips in one year anytime soon. I just know that I miss travel and I miss visiting friends. I was planning on making some photos books for Carter of trips we took together, but it seems sad and tortuous to do it now.

Blame It On The Moon

Last night I was desperate to go to sleep. I started at 10:30, but when I was still awake at 11:00 I pulled out a book to help bring on drowsiness. I put the book down at 11:45 only to toss and turn for almost three hours before I finally fell into a nightmare filled slumber.

Of course I can’t recall what I was dreaming about, just that they were so disturbing I kept waking up to get out of the story that had taken over my brain.

Usually I only have nightmares if I have eaten beef for dinner, but since I gave up red meat last year I can’t blame the nightmares on that. I hadn’t drunk much caffeine and certainly not later than two in the afternoon so that was not my issue.

I woke up at 7:45 and despite still being exhausted, coupled with no morning appointments, I could not go back to sleep.

I wander through my day, hoping that I was making myself tired enough for a big sleep tonight. As I was going through email after dinner I read a blurb in the Fast Forward report from the Boston Globe about the full moon and lack of sleep. Turns out that the night before a full moon many people have trouble sleeping. They take an extra 30 minutes to fall asleep on these almost full moon night. I wish I had only taken 30 minutes, instead of the four hours it took me last night, but at least I know the reason.

Now I am going to have to track the moon more closely and plan on taking a sleeping pill on those approaching full moons. I can’t take four hours tossing a turning even once a month.

Jicama Tacos

For many years when Carter would eat dinner at her friend Ellis house she would come home as make me guess what they had to eat. Since Ellis’ Mom Lynn always served something healthy I would say, “Turkey tacos.” Nine times out of ten I was correct.

As I was shopping at Trader Joe’s yesterday I saw a product I thought Lynn would love to add to her Turkey taco night, jicama wraps. Inspired by Lynn I went ahead and bought them along with a pound of ground Turkey breast.

Now I am a big flavor cook so tonight when I went to make the parts of taco night I had to go bold. I triple seasoned the Turkey meat as I browned it and then added water and cooked it down so the spices could take over. I chopped a whole big onion and sautéed it, added canned black beans and so much cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper you could. smell it outside. Then I made a little slaw with rice wine vinegar and carraway seeds. Add the hot Pico, sour cream, cilantro and avocado and it was a lot to fit into that little jicama wrap.

The wrap was a little slippery, but once I folded everything inside and took a bite it was a winner. Since it was just me and Russ, being messy eating it made little difference. The jicama takes all the guilt out of taco night.

I can’t wait until I can serve one to Lynn. They may never eat anything but Turkey tacos ever again.

I think that tomorrow I might try and slather a little hummus on the jicama wrap and shred some carrots and a slice of beet and see how that is. Maybe some grilled shrimp and cherry tomatoes with a bit of guacamole. The possibilities for these things could go on and on.

Great GMA Deal and Steal Right Now

My friend Shelayne and her husband Frank have a business that makes really cool laces for your sneakers call Lock Laces. You swap our your tie up laces with these that you just slide closed.

This morning they were featured on Good Morning America’s Deals and Steals. You can get a three pack for half price – Only $9.99 and FREE SHIPPING! Visit

I can attest that these laces work great and practically make my sneakers slip on but also fit perfectly.

Creative Exercise

Today was a gorgeous day here in Durham. It was sunny and I think we got into the seventies. It was the kind of day that people take the day off from work to enjoy. Proof that people were not doing mundane things is when I went to Trader Joe’s mid morning I was able to walk right in the store and not have to wait in a long line. Then, when I finished filling my cart I had several TJ Team members vying for me to check out at their register.

Even though I had to spend some of this beautiful day grocery shopping I wanted to do something productive outside. That is when I remembered that there were ten giant boxes at church that needed to go into the dumpster.

Last month we took delivery of 20 six foot round tables. Each one came enveloped in a huge box. We unboxed the tables but the boxes were piled on the porch. A group of teenagers were enlisted to carry the boxes from the porch to the dumpster, a walk of about 300 yards.

Teenagers need really good instructions. Like “Move ALL the boxes.” Those were not the instructions given so they moved half the boxes. Perhaps the dumpster was full. Maybe they had Zoom school.

Since the boxes being there were driving me crazy I decided today was the perfect day to use moving those boxes as a good exercise opportunity. When I opened the dumpster gates I discovered a bunch of boxes that were sitting beside the dumpster instead of being inside. Sadly, they were too wet for me to lift the two feet over my head to get them inside. I hope that if we have another two days of hot and sunny weather those boxes will dry and I can get them in the dumpster. I will still need exercise in two days so I think I’ll go back and try and finish the job.

The Joy of Leaving the House

Russ and I are now at the point that we fight over going to the grocery store just for bananas. Each of us is wanting the excuse to leave the house. Russ works more than 12 hours a day so when he asks if he can go, I just let him. How can I say, “Stay in Carter’s old nursery turned home office another hour.” ?

After Christmas Russ joined the Loaf bread club. Loaf is our bread bakery downtown. It is the only place we get bread from. When Russ used to go to the office it was easy, since it is three blocks from his office. Now one of has to make a trip on purpose. No one is complaining.

I am not sure how many weeks this bread club is lasting, but so far it has been great. We get an email on Monday night telling us what the loaf will be and the treat that goes with it. Last week if was a marbled rye that was more rye than marbles, but truly fantastic. This week it is a special Italian bread called Pane Altamura, fashioned after one from the Italian city of Bari on the Adriatic coast.

I drove downtown late morning and the sun was shining. It was such a treat to be out and for it not to be raining. I didn’t even have a coat on and I was perfectly happy.

This warm and sunny day and a place to go seems like such a gift. I was practically giddy getting to talk through my double masks to the baker, telling her how much we liked the rye loaf.

As I think forward a few months to a time when we, and therefore most people around us, have received the vaccine I hope that I can remember these days when just a trip to the bakery makes me so happy. I hope that I will appreciate all that I have learned by being mostly home non-stop. I know that having Russ home all the time is the only way we have have a loaf of bread a week in the house. We are going to have to go back to two loaves a month when he leaves the nursery office.

Over 500,000 People

Almost a year ago Dr. Fauci predicted that between 250,000 and 400,000 Americans could be lost to Covid. The office holder at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. did not like the optics of those numbers during the election so he leaned on Fauci to reforecast the numbers down.

As Americans died at a rate greater than any other country that office holder did not acknowledge the loss of life. He never offered a comforting word to the American people. He just said, “like a miracle it would be gone.” What a heartless way to ignore the tragedy.

Today President Biden came on TV at six PM to offer words of condolence for the over 500,000 Americans who have succumbed to Covid. His compassion and his encouragement to stay vigilant were what our country has been needing for a year. Viruses are not political and they never should have been. We are all in this fight together.

The President had the bells at the National cathedral chime for the lost Americans and had candles lit at the White House while a moment of silence was observed. Flag will fly at half staff for the next three days.

Just consider that if each person who passed away is mourned by twenty people that is ten million people who are missing someone important to them. But I think 20 is a low number. What if each person who passed is being missed by 50 people, then 25 million people are in mourning.

We must not become numb to this loss of life. It can’t become normal that a thousand people die a day due to Covid. Each person who dies was loved by someone and all those someone’s are hurting.

Have We Met?

Yesterday my friend Sally sent me a Facebook posting asking me if I knew the writer. By all intents and purposes I should have, but I didn’t. As Sally is my age we got to talking about people who we should know, but can’t really remember them.

I admitted to Sally that I have friends who comment on this blog or the Facebook page related to this blog who I am not sure if I know them or not. With a blog, readers can stumble upon it so there is no telling if I know the reader or not. But sometimes I would like to know if a person going to the trouble of making a comment is someone I really do know.

So I am asking you, dear readers, who have commented, could the next time you leave a comment, or this time, just tell me if we have met and where, or some memorable story I might recognize. This will save me some future embarrassment.

Now if we never have met and you just read this blog I would love to know where you are from and maybe how you got here. This is just for my own interest.

I feel like I have a fairly good memory, but it certainly is not going to get any better. I know there are people I have met who made a big impact on me, but they have no reason to remember me at all. I am just trying to tie together threads that I am not even sure are untied.

So send me a message, tell me a story. I look forward to hearing from you.

Projects Galore

I like projects. I like series. I like making things. I always have. Way before Covid I did things like needlepoint, quilt, sew, garden, read, do puzzles, play games, but now with Covid it seems like that is all I do.

At any given time I may be working on three or four different things at a time. It works perfectly to move from project to project through the day to ease boredom and keep me from more mundane tasks. I like 2000 piece puzzles because they take a long time and good long books because once I know the characters I want to keep with them.

Today I finished four different projects, a puzzle, a good (not very long) book, a TV series and a needlepoint ornament. I hate that I finished all four on the same day. This means tomorrow I have to start new projects.

Starting is my least favorite part. I dislike sorting the puzzle pieces, but it is the only way to do such a big puzzle. I usually don’t love a book in the first few pages and need to get into it before I am hooked. And I would rather work on a needlepoint I have all the fibers pulled for than go through my stash and kit out a new project.

I could have saved the ending of any of these projects for tomorrow so that I didn’t end up with nothing by the end of the day, but when I get close to the end I work more furiously because I want to complete it.

Rather than getting up from the puzzle when I still had 200 pieces left, I just kept at it since it is so much easier at the end when you only have a few choices. As I was reading my book I couldn’t put it down with only 30 pages left. At that point I wanted to know what happened.

After finishing both those projects I turned to my needlepoint and it took just a bit to finish this canvas while I finished watching the TV series Lupin I was binging. If I wasn’t nearing the end of the series I might not have finished my needlepoint, but since I was wanting to know what happened on the show, I just kept stitching.

Now I am left with no puzzle, no book, no TV show and no needlepoint already started. It might be a sign that maybe I should vacuum the whole house or scrub every bathroom. I don’t have any fun projects started to distract me from the drudgery.

Had a Cold?

For a few summer months when I was in college I sold Electrolux vacuums door-to-door. It was an education unlike any I would ever receive in class.

For those of you unfamiliar with Electrolux models of the early eighties, they were very expensive canister models with a long suction wand that could reach almost anywhere. The wand made them usual in cleaning world dominated by inferior upright Hoover’s.

The key to selling these vacuums was just to get in the door of a house. Once inside I could convince most any woman that she had to have this vacuum. Not to be sexist, but men cared less about the features I illuminated. The best way to sell this machine was to ask when the homeowner last vacuumed their mattress. If they owned an upright the answer was “never.” If they owned a canister is was never 99% of the time.

After asking that leading question I followed up with a second question I was absolutely certain to get a “yes” to. “Has anyone in your house had a cold in the last year?” In 1981 everyone, especially people with children, had at least one family member who had suffered a cold in the last twelve months. From there I went into a disgusting demonstration of vacuuming a small section of their mattress and dumping out the dust that came from it. I made the questionable connection of not vacuuming your mattress and getting a cold or some other worse illness.

They bought the vacuum on the spot and quite frankly loved them, as they told me when I would stop back to take their testimonial and ask for references for other potential future Electrolux owners.

Now think back to your house this year. Have you vacuumed your mattress? My bet is the answer is no. Now has anyone in your house had a cold in the last year? If not, have you been a family of loyal mask wearers and hand washers?

Most likely you can thank your mask for keeping you well from the common cold as well as the seasonal flu.

I am certain that vacuum companies do not use mattress vacuuming as their selling points these days. It is a good thing because rather than getting people to cough up thousands of dollars for a vacuum to keep them from getting a cold, as well as having a clean house, you could just sell them a ten dollar mask. Unfortunately, wearing a mask won’t do a thing for getting rid of dust under the dining room table.

For now I hope that people will keep up their mask wearing and hand washing if just to keep from getting a cold.

Monograms Are Not For Yards

When Russ and I were first married he lived in South Jersey not far from Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill was the home of the biggest Mall, not surprisingly known as the Cherry Hill Mall. As this was the early nineties the styles they sold in the Cherry Hill Mall were of the big hair, big shoulder pads and long fringed pocket book types. The natives also had an accent that really grated on Russ when I would imitate it. All in all there was not much classy about the Cherry Hill Mall.

As bad as the gum snapping teen-aged girls with purple eye shadow in high waisted jeans and cropped tops were inside the mall they were nothing compared to one particular house that was adjacent the mall. It was a white ranch house with a front yard that had a barge berm covered in white rocks with a big script “L” in black rocks on top. The tacky letter was at least ten feet by ten feet and looked like the giant “L” on Laverne’s left breast.

Every time Russ and I drove by that house I made him promise me we would never live in a neighborhood where people monogramed their front lawns. Thankfully he agreed and we left Jersey as fast as possible. I am sorry I never got a photo of that house because my description only pales in comparison to what it actually looked like. The tackiness of the Cherry Hill Mall was nothing compared to the House with the initial out front.

Chicken for Friends

I have a ritual of making my grand mother’s fried chicken for friends who have had a death in the family. The only time I make it is for a death and so when Russ walks in the house and smells it he says, “Somebody died?” And thus the chicken has been renamed “Somebody died? Fried Chicken.”

Bringing the chicken and rice and gravy that goes with it is my expression of love. Sadly it seems like I have more people to make chicken for these days than ever. The hardest thing for me is trying to show my true condolences to my friends who are too far away to get the chicken.

Making the chicken is an ordeal and it is yummy. It is not like KFC, not crispy, but a chicken that is fried and the steamed making it so tender. The real treat from it is the gravy. My friend Nancy who lost both her parents in a year got the meal twice and now asks me if there is any extra gravy available when I make the chicken for others. This from a woman who wouldn’t normally eat gravy.

I am racking my brain to come up with an appropriate way to love on my friends who have lost a parent who are far away. A scratch and sniff chicken card doesn’t mean anything to them if they never got the chicken to begin with.

For now, I hope that everyone stays well. That there is no need for me to make anymore chicken. For my friends far away who have lost a loved one, just know that when the day comes that I can be with you again I will be making you chicken. Chicken delayed is just as sweet when you get to enjoy it in memory of your loved one.

Tomorrow’s Suzanne’s Birthday

I’m getting a jump on wishing my Matron of honor, dearest friend Suzanne a Happy Birthday. Tomorrow is her big birthday and with Covid It is certainly not going to be the celebration I normally would have participated in.

As we are are locked in our own homes far from each other I wanted to give all our common friends a heads up to wish Suzanne a Happy Day on February 17!

Suzanne and I have been friends for 42 years. I can’t imagine how I would have made it through all of life’s milestones without her. One of my favorite things about her is how supportive she has always been. Like our senior year of college. It was second semester and I needed two gym blocks to graduate. Gym in college was all about showing up and second semester I was busy with interviews so in order to ensure I did not fail any gyms I took “self paced gym.” You could do this if you wanted to do an activity that the college did not already offer.

Bowling was not a class at Dickinson, so I created one. If you create a self paced gym you have to also offer it up to the whole college to join you. This is the catch that kept most people from creating their own gym classes. When I started this bowling class it instantly became a hit and 140 people signed up for my class. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a gut gym class became a nightmare of me running a bowling league at the Carlisle Lanes. I had to get us “coaches” who actually knew how to bowl.

One day after I had gone to bowling class I arrived at lunch at school. I got my tray and went to the table where Suzanne and I ate with our friends, Janet, Hugh, Doug and Dave every weekday lunch. As I put my tray down I announced, “I bowled a 167 this morning.”

Suzanne immediately responded, “Oh my god, this is getting embarrassing, you are getting good at bowling.” She was right, bowling was certainly not something I was ever going to use again, but at least I graduated.

Some years later, our lunch group all came to Washington and we caravanned to my family farm for a big weekend party. On the drive down the traffic was terrible so we decided to make a stop at the Culpepper Lanes, in Culpepper Virginia to play a game while the traffic thinned. As I threw strike after strike Suzanne admitted to me that she wished she had taken bowling class.

I think it is never too late for us to get that bowling coach. She will certainly be better than me at bowling as she is better at every sport than I am.

Even though we are not getting to be together for her milestone birthday and we will probably not be together for my milestone one this year too I hope the pandemic will ease while we are still in this milestone year so we can be together to make more fun memories, maybe not bowling, perhaps bridge.

Happy Birthday Suzanne!

Ice Cube Variety

When I was a kid ice cubes at home had to be a pre-planned item. We took the aluminum ice cube tray and filled it with water and placed the divider with the handle in the tray and carefully walked it over to the top freezer where we carefully slid it in between the little boxes of frozen peas and the Stouffer’s Spinach soufflé hoping not to slosh more water out of the tray than we kept in.

It was a real test of childhood strength to be able to pull the handle up on the frozen cubes and be able to release some of them to put into our kool aid.

The worst sin you could commit was putting an empty tray back in the freezer since we only had two. Similarly to leaving two squares of toilet paper on the roll and not replacing it, you could get in real trouble for leaving one cube and not refilling the tray with water.

If you wanted crushed ice at home we had a wall mounted ice crusher in our upstairs kitchen. It had a metal funnel with teeth inside it on the top and a red plastic cup screwed on to the bottom, and a handle. You put the cubes in the funnel and closed the lid. Cranking the handle the ice inside the funnel would be crushed by the big metal claws inside depositing small enough shards to fall through the teeth. It was a lot of work to get crushed ice, but boy was it a big treat.

Then the 70’s came and we got an ice maker in our refrigerator. There was a love hate relationship with that ice maker as sometimes our ice tasted oniony. We never solved that mystery.

Carter is back in the sixties as she has a freezer, but no ice maker. She let me know that she only has one ice cube tray as we threw away all her old trays this summer when we returned her to Boston to discover he refrigerator had broken while she was home.

When I went to look on Amazon for ice cube trays I was accosted by the hundreds of different choices for ice cube trays. You can get ones that make big giant cubes for cocktails. You can get octagon shaped cubes and you can get mini cubes that are as close to crushed ices as you can make without the wall mounted machine.

I decided to get her the mini trays. There is no one for her to blame if the trays are not filled so I don’t think she will have that problem. I am certain that a fridge with an ice maker is a life goal for Carter.

Valentine’s Gone to The Dog

Like most Pandemic days, Russ and I were home alone with Shay for Valentine’s Day. As with most Pandemic days Shay spends her day supervising all that Russ does. I am a mere after thought for her. The only time she leaves him and comes to be with me are those few moments he goes to the office once a week to water the plants.

Since it is Valentine’s Day, Russ and I purposely planned to spend some time together, despite Russ having lots of work. Shay had other ideas. While Russ and I tried to watch a taped episode of This Old House, Shay made sure to place herself right between us. If Russ tried to hold my hand, Shay nuzzled her nose right inside our two hands, prying my hand off.

She sat on Russ’ lap, on his chest, on his head. Any place she could send the message, “You belong to me first and foremost.” So this was really a happy Valentine’s Day from Shay to Russ. The love is real. Thank goodness I am secure in my love for Russ for I could never compete with Shay’s adoration. I understand. He is pretty great. I don’t blame her from wanting him to be her Valentine too.

Gotta Love Jill

While I was glued to the impeachment proceedings Jill Biden was signing her giant heart Valentine messages to the country. The hearts were put up on the White House lawn and Jill showed Joe yesterday on their early morning walk of the first dogs.

What a wonderful reflection of our first family. Out with their dogs before going to work, enjoying their coffee and sending sweet messages of love and unity to the country.

Now that the hearings are over we can concentrate on unity. We don’t need to suffer the embarrassment of personal injury lawyers from Philly and their client any more. They can go home and try and collect their fees. Good luck with that.

We can all move on and follow the words of Joe Neguse, the youngest house impeachment manager, who in his closing said he is following the words of Dr. Martin Luther King and chose Love. So between Jill and Joe N. we are reminded we all need to give a lot of love. Jill is portraying that love to everyone and I hope we all can feel it.

Trifecta of Holidays

This weekend has three minor holidays to chose from and since we have nothing else to do we might as well have some minor celebrations.

Today is Chinese New year. Thank god the year of the rat is over as I hate rats and I hated last year. Tonight starts the year of the Ox, which happens to be my birth year. As a Taurus born in the year of the OX I get a double dose of all Ox like traits, like stubbornness, but also hardworking and honest. If you haven’t had dinner yet, make some longevity noodles or dumplings. You can still do it tomorrow. It’s celebration weekend!

Today is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, thus no discussion about the impeachment in honor of the greatest Republican. Although Lincoln’s birthday is no longer an official holiday, Monday is Presidents’ Day. Washington’s Birthday is the following Monday and the two of them got smushed together into one Presidents Day. But let’s be clear, we are not celebrating all Presidents. Buchanan does not get to get in on this holiday.

Sunday is the biggest day this weekend since it is Valentine’s Day, or Galentine’s Day, if you are single. Russ and I have been together for enough Valentine’s days that we don’t exchange big gifts. Russ feels a little burned since our first Valentine’s Day he gave me a lens for a camera I did not like. It crushed him, especially since it was too extravagant a gift for young Russ to afford to begin with.

Now we are so romantic that when I has having trouble getting the automatic garage door to go down to day he texted me, “For Valentine’s Day we can give each other a rewriting of the opener.” It’s better than a lens since I open and shut that garage door many times a day.

So I hope you celebrate something this weekend. At least eat something that could be considered part of one of these holidays, from stir fried green beans (green food means money), to lobster for valentines or a Cherry Pie in honor of George Washington and that pesky tree.

Senators, Be Leaders, Not Politicians

As I watch the impeachment hearings I am dismayed to learn that there are fifteen Republican senators who are not even in the room listening. I know that impeachment is a purely political trial, but an idea came to me that could turn it into a trial about leadership.

It would be a very bold move if all the Republican Senators got together and decided to vote as a block to impeach Trump. It would take the political out of the trial, but instead make it about leadership. Upholding our democracy is the most important thing the Senators must do. If they all voted together to stand up to the insurrection it would give them all cover.

Yes, some Trumpers will cry about it, but for Republicans the only hope of saving your party is to stand together against the clearly illegal events of January 6 that Trump is uniquely responsible for.

Consider what not voting for impeachment as a block will do to your party. You will lose even more members than the 140,000 people who have already gone to the trouble of leaving the party. You may break into two parties. Those who support Trump and those who don’t. Two smaller parties will not serve you well in the long run. Trump does not have a bright future as there are still other legal troubles he has to face. If you want to retain any power whatsoever you should stand up to him as one group. He can’t fight all of you. You hold the power to do the right thing and protect America.

Senators, please be leaders and not just politicians. You are stronger as a leader.

The Evidence is Damning

Perhaps you were working on January 6 and were not glued to the TV like I was watching the insurrection live. Perhaps you voted for Trump and have stood by him. Perhaps you are a life long Republican and automatically pull that lever without considering anything else. If you are not enraged by the video shown today at the impeachment trial showing the mob battering Capitol Hill police, perhaps you are not human.

There was nothing patriotic or American about what those people did. There was nothing Patriotic about the man who systematically spent months programming his supporters to storm the Capitol. And now the Senators who are not paying attention, or putting their feet up on the chairs next to them while videos are shown of the Capitol being desecrated are not doing their jobs.

There is no excuse not to fully consider the evidence. Support of this ex-President because you are afraid he will primary you is nothing but cowardly. You should be afraid of not standing up to a bully because we will remember who you are that stand by him despite the overwhelming evidence of causing and insurrection.

You may think you live in a strongly Red state, but at some point citizens will turn on you and say your lack of values does not represent me. Please pay attention to the presentation of the case. Judge the evidence fairly and not through the red lens of Trump. His actions were indefensible and do you want to stand on the wrong side of history by supporting him?

Trump Setting Up Legal Malpractice Claim

If you missed day one of the impeachment hearings you missed one of the greatest shows of a lawyer who was out of his depth in Bruce Castor, in my humble opinion. Never in my life have I see someone so unable to tell a story. Now he didn’t have much to work with given the facts in evidence as we all witnessed on January 6. And he admitted that he was not going to say what happened at the Capitol was not horrible, but what he did say was the worst word soup of garbage that made no sense whatsoever. I can imagine that there are a lot of broken fake gold statues at Mar-a-lago right this minute.

The follow up lawyer Schoen tried to mke some actual legal arguments, but in doing so made it perfectly clear that Trump legally already lost the election so you know that is not the story Trump wants told either.

On the other side of the room were the House impeachment managers who did a masterful job of laying out the story. The thirteen minute movie boiling down the events of January 6 should make us all furious. There is so much clear evidence of insurrection.

The part of the presentation that had me sobbing was when Chief House Manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin closed with a personal note. Raskin had buried his only son on January 5, but came to work on January 6 because “it was his constitutional duty to certify the electors.” He brought his youngest daughter who was 24 and his new son-in-law who is married to his oldest daughter so they could witness the peaceful transfer of power. They asked if it was safe for them to go and Raskin told them, “Of course, it is the Capitol.”

Raskin’s kids were in the gallery when the intruders stormed the building. They were not with Raskin as he was rushed from the house floor. For almost two hours they were separated, hiding in different places from the mob. When they were reunited, Raskin promised his daughter that the next time she came to the Capitol is would be safer and she said, “I am never coming here again.”

I burst into tears. How can we let the desecration of the seat of democracy stand? Adults should not fear going to our Capitol. The most important thing we can do is to not allow any President to incite mob riots on their behalf.

I fear that Trump’s hold on the GOP senators will prevent them from holding him accountable for what is clearly the worst crime. Even if they do, I fear that Trump can claim incompetent council based on today’s opening statements.

Progress Happens, Always Has

I find it so interesting that Anyone is fighting the Green New Deal. Green energy is progress. It is an evolution from dirty energy. Use to be that Republicans loved new commerce. It was a chance to make money. Why would anyone want to fight to keep coal. For years the people who mined coal fought about the terrible working conditions and black lung disease they got from doing that work.

New energy production requires new workers to make it. New energy does not happen without workers. It is just different work. People have always had to change the type of work they did as progress happened.

When we stopped driving horse and buggy’s and went to cars we no longer needed people to pick up horse shit in the streets. It was a terrible job. Instead they might have gone to working at a filling station and pumping gas. Remember the old days when a gas attendant pumped your gas for you, now that only happens in New Jersey. We also did not need as many farriers to shoe horses, or black smith to make those horse shoes. Those people might have learned how to make or fix cars.

When we got electric street lights in cities we no longer needed lamp lighters to go around and light the gas street lamps. When we got refrigerators we no longer needed people to cut ice out of frozen ponds in the winter and store it. There was no need for ice men to come to your house and put a block of ice in your icebox.

Before computers offices used to have rooms of women who were they typing pool. They would type all the letters and invoices that companies sent out. Now companies don’t have typing pools as well as having far few secretaries. Everyone knows how to types and does their own correspondence.

Change is going to happen. With that change comes new opportunities. Why fight about keeping carbon emitting, ozone killing energy systems? The new technologies will still require workers to make and run them and the jobs might be cleaner and safer too. Don’t fight about keeping people under ground digging coal or on oil platforms in the ocean drilling for oil. It’s time to change like they did from the horse shit picker upper. Who would fight to still have that?

Dull, Dull, Dull

In the third quarter of this Super Bowl I am wondering what second rate football team is thinking that they could be the next Buccaneers if they could only pay Brady and Gronkowski enough money to come play on their team. This game has been fairly boring thanks to good defense by the Bucs to keep Mahomes from doing anything. Brady certainly deserves the GOAT award.

It seems like it would only be fair to spread the Brady/Gronk team around to more football teams. Age appears to not be an issue. Brady looks like he has at least a few more years of football in him. This one sided game is boring.

The game is not over yet, but it is not looking good for KC. The penalties are killing them. I am not sure I can stay with it long enough to write a longer blog. The commercials aren’t good enough.