Moving Off Campus

In a couple of weeks Carter will be moving into her first non-school apartment. This is real grown up life. She got an agent to rent to apartment, which is common practice in Boston. The place comes with heat and hot water. While Carter was away I got to thinking about the other utilities she needed to secure. I mentioned electricity to her and she had been unaware that she needed to do anything to get an account.

When I was Carter’s age I too moved off campus to a house with three roommates. In Carlisle, Pennsylvania we did not need a real estate agent to rent a house. We just walked down the street and saw a hand written sign and called the owner.

To get a telephone installed we walked over to the telephone company on high street and put in an order to have a phone installed. It was a one line phone installed in the stairway on the first floor with a very long cord so my roommates and I could pull the phone into our rooms on the second or third floors as needed.

We called the electric company and had them put the account in our names on the start of our lease. Actually, speaking of leases, I don’t remember having anyone of our parents look at it before we signed it. Of course our rent was only $350 a month for the four of us. That meant we each paid $87.50.

The only utility we had any trouble with was oil, which was needed for our furnace. The tank was in our dirt floor basement where our washer and dryer also resided. Every once in a while one of us would look at the little float on the tank to see if the oil was getting low. When we were at a point that our tank might run dry we would call the oil company. As a cash customer one of us had to be home with the money to give the driver when they came and filled the tank through pipe in the front porch. I can’t remember how much it cost, but we did wait until the last minute every time.

We got a water bill every once in a while, but it was inconsequential. Garbage was free in our town and of course there was no recycling. We also had basic cable which I think cost us $14 a month.

Carter will not have to worry about phone, oil, or water, but she has internet which I am happy her father will help her figure out. So much adulting when you move off campus. I at least had roommates to help remember to check the oil. Carter won’t have that, but at least she can get her bills electronically and can pay online and won’t have to worry about buying stamps to pay her bills.


Hold My Mail

I got the mail today. Same old crap. A three hundred page catalogue for shipping supplies. Two other random catalogues from stores we have never been to. A coupon for something we will never buy. A letter from a car dealer wanting to buy my car and the best thing a letter to Russ from Melanie Trump. I don’t know what “fake mailing list” the RNC was buying, but someone is wasting their money.

Due to spousal rights I get to open all mail that beautiful women send my husband. No prejudice here, I also open the mail all ugly women send him too. I needed a little comedy this afternoon and I was certain that I would get it from this particular letter.

As a retired Marketer I am very familiar with direct mail. My father was the king of direct mail for years and I loved to try and shorten many of his voluminous offerings. So I read these things with an editors sensibility.

Two things caught my eye in this mailing. The first and most glaring was the big Melania Signature which looks incredibly similar to that of her husband, Donald. It made me wonder if she did not learn to write until she met him and he taught her hand writing. If that is not the case, then I wondered if 45 was sending out this mailing for her and signed it himself. Either way, I have never seen a couple with so similar a signature.

The second thing I found amusing was that the call to action form (that’s the thing you send back with a big check) actually wants people to pledge to the President because the Democrats and the media are out to “destroy you Personally” (meaning destroy the Donald personally). Never in my life reading fundraising mail for anything have I seen a plea from a politician for money because someone was trying to destroy them personally. I am so tired of 45 thinking the whole world revolves around him.

This officially kicks off the nightmare of a long political season. I am wondering if it would be OK to have the Post Office hold ALL our mail until after the election?


Building News at Westminster

Today at Church I gave a minute for mission talk abut the fellowship hall we are tearing down and replacing with a new and improved one. As the chair of the building committee It is my job to communicate what in the world is going on. This is the only reason why I am the chair, as the other members of the committee are far more seasoned building professionals. If you go to my church and missed it today this information is important to you, if not you might just take away the meaning.

This past week we started the asbestos abatement in the fifty year old building. That means absolutely no one is allowed in the building. While that is being done a fence is going to be errected all the way around the building cutting off the main walkway between the back parking lot and the rest of the campus.

I instructed the congregation all the routes to get into church that will be left for them. I also asked that if you are able bodied to park in the far off spots and have a nice walk into church.

The big thing I tried to impress upon people, which might be useful info for us all, is that parking is going to get tighter and to consider car pooling to church. Also for those families who drive multiple cars to church because they can’t just get it together to all be ready on time, try and come in one car.

I ended with the plea to have patience and be kind, something we should have all the time with each other.

I seemed to hit on to something that the congregation liked. It might have been my humorous delivery, but after church I had more than my usual cohorts give me a thumbs up. The information I was relaying was fairly boring, but people responded positively. I had more than a handful tell me they discussed carpooling with a pew mate. I had suggested that perhaps carpool groups might even go out to lunch together after church and that sparked a few plans.

I walked away feeling like people just needed an excuse to get out of their solitary bubbles and do something with other people. I hope that next time I have to update the congregation on the progress of the building they respond as well. It’s going to be a year and I fear when winter comes and they are sick of walking the long way into church they might not be as generous with me.


A Girl and Her Dog

I think the only reason Carter came home was to see Shay Shay. She asked if we could bring Shay when we picked her up at the airport last night. The way Shay pulled on her lease to get into the airport you might believe that she knew we were going in to pick Carter up.

Shay stood at attention at the place where arriving passengers emerge from the gates. She jumped up on her hind legs when she saw Carter in the pack of humans coming towards her. Russ had to carry Shay on the escalator as we went to get Carter’s bags and they enjoyed a loving reunion.

At home Shay still sticks with Russ as her human of choice, but she has spent plenty of snuggle time with Carter. Tonight Shay lay on her bed that we dragged into the dining room while we ate the dinner Carter requested as her only dinner home before departing in the morning. After dinner Shay and Carter went to the sun room and played tug of war with Shay’s many toys.

Obviously Russ and I don’t do this enough with Shay because a few minutes after the rough housing ended Shay threw up her dinner in one big pile. Nothing like having Carter home to add throw up to the house.

I know it is going to confuse Shay so much when Carter pulls out of the driveway in the morning. Just as her puppy is used to having her home… Shay, you will just have to settle for me.


She’s Home!

I hate to say this in case I jinx something, but Carter spent the last six weeks in Europe and all her flights were on time. This is a big happy dance at our house after her nightmare of canceled flights home from Germany four days before Christmas year before last and her canceled flight to the Dominican Republic in March. I have not had as many canceled flights in my whole life as Carter, and I used to travel for twenty years of working.

Carter had a fantastic month in London studying the Scientific Revolution. Of course she inherited the Anglophile gene from my family and now she is more determined than ever to go back and work there. At least she was before she went off traveling to Stockholm and Copenhagen all by herself. She loved them both, but I think Stockholm was the winner.

In March Carter made a PowerPoint presention to me and Russ asking if she could go traveling by herself after she finished her courses in London. She had researched the cost of flights and youth hostels, made a budget for food and the cost of sight seeing. It was well laid out. I don’t think she was thinking we would give her the answer we did.

“Of course you can go travel by yourself. You just have to earn all the money to pay for it.”

So she did. She worked hard the first half of the summer and made more than enough. Not only was the trip a fun adventure of her own design, but it was of her own making. That part makes me so proud. She really took advantage of every minute and went and did and saw as much as she could. She also met and made new friends from Australia, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, the UK and Austria.

So her trip was a balance of introverted things of getting to go at her own pace to only what she was interested in and then spending time talking to new people and learning about them and sharing meals and drinks with them. What a wonderful growing experience.

And she flew from Durham to Boston to London to Stockholm to Copenhagen to London to Atlanta to Durham all by herself and didn’t have an issue. Thank goodness for all that.

Shay, Russ and I went to get her at the airport and now we have her home for 36 hours before she is off again. I am going to make the most of the few hours she will be awake.


Travel Toiletries

As a life-long, practically professional, traveler I have learned some lessons, yet there are still things I can I improve on. I keep my travel drop kit packed and ready to go all the times. It is filled with the normal toiletries and some speciality ones for travel, like mole skin for foot boo boos, and band aids and little neosporin packets for all other boo boos. The travel sewing kit in there provides the needle to help remove a splinter on more than one trip.

A small old prescription bottle filled with baby powder is just what you need for chaffing skin in a hot climate and another old pill bottle holds more than enough Eucurin cream to take all your mascara off and soothe chapped lips.

I have travel sized tooth paste because TSA loves to take your Crest that just happens to be over the 3oz.limit. And travel mouse can make any hairdo in any climate.

The one mistake I make over and over again is I continue to buy travel sized deodorant because I want as small a container as possible, to fit in my small dopp kit, to fit in my carry-on only one suit case, as is my rule for air travel. Travel sized deodorant has approximately 1/2 an inch of deodorant in the tube when it is new, although the container is 2 1/2 inches tall. The mechanism inside the tube that cranks up the 1/2 inch of deodorant takes up an inch and a half. Why in the world do we need a screw type deodorant mechanism to push up half an inch of deodorant. It could just be a push-up thing we do manually. At least then we could have an inch and a half of product in the same sized package.

After being away this week and running my travel sized deodorant down to the nub I vowed to make room for a full sized deodorant in my kit. It is only 2.3 Oz so the TSA won’t take it away, but it is three times the size of the travel one. My only problem is something else in my kit is going to have to go. As a person who hardly uses any products anyway I am not sure what I can drop from the basics I already carry. I guess it will have to be the powder, but never the Eucerin. I can chafe, but never chap.


Coral Bay Mah Jongg

Teaching Mah Jongg right is a three day production. The first day you teach people what all the tiles are and how to identify patterned and read the card. The second day you start to let them play and it takes three hours to play two games. By the third day if they are going to “get it” they have. From a teacher’s point of view the third day is the easiest to teach, the first day is the second easiest and the middle day is the hardest.

Today was the middle day. I taught for over six hours. “Can you help me?”…”I have a question.”…”Am I doing this right?”…”Can you tell me what to do?”

It is a good day for getting all my steps, but they are in a very small room. Thankfully I have had two dozen very good students, but I am looking forward to tomorrow’s class since it will be the easiest on me.

The Coral Bay club has been a lovely host to me as a teacher. They take good care of us with drinks during our classes and by 2:30 in the afternoon class they show up with a plate of cookies because the students need to keep their blood sugar up.

I have had a one hour break each day for lunch that the club has given me. Today I had a treat of seeing a bunch of old friends from all over at Coral Bay. I saw Diane Wade who was taking a bridge class. Lucy McLeod who served me tea at lunch who had been working here as her summer college job. I saw Cynthia Barnes who was playing bridge with Lou Uzzle from

Durham and two Moorhead friends and I saw Katherine Kruger who lives in Charleston now, but who was visiting her sister here.

I think I saw more people I know at Coral Bay than I see in a Durham on a normal day. Of course I also was with Reba, my host and all my new students, who tomorrow will be my old students.

This is a friendly place.