It’s Not Too Late

Yesterday was a sad day in America. To me it was sadder than 9/11 & Pearl Harbor Day because it was American’s attacking our democracy, spurned on by a man of such great delusion. I looked back at my blog posts of the last five years and stopped counting when I got to 100 different times I wrote about Trump.

My blogs started in disbelief that anyone would consider the reality TV personality with more bankruptcies and ex-wives than all other Presidents put together as a potential leader. Over the years I have written about his lack of a conscience for separating children from their parents, and then losing track of them all together, of his constant lying, of his totally lack of understanding of any of the Ten Commandments – yet crazed devotion by many blind Christians. His praise of white supremacist as very good people, his adoration for dictators like Kim Jung Un and Putin, his demand for total devotion, the list goes on and on.

I have lost friends because I continued to speak out against him, try and point out his psychosis and the danger he posed. I’ve heard from people they liked how he spoke his mind, or believed in the same things he did. In my heart that told me that those people were either racist or selfish or both, but I did not tell them that. (That does not mean I believe all Trump voters are racist or selfish.) I just continued to point out what I felt were fatal flaws in Trump as the leader of our country.

To me, regardless of your political agenda, your first responsibility is to ensue that we have a sane leader. Clearly, 70 million people did not consider that as a high priority when they voted this year. I am wondering how many people who cast a Trump ballot this year might have had their minds changed after yesterday?

Sometimes people vote for the lesser of two evils. I don’t think that you could consider Trump less evil than anything now. What I am hoping is that finally, after the treasonous acts of this week, both the phone calls to Georgia election officials, which would have been bad enough, but especially the rally to send his most devoted followers to storm the Capital, that some of you who voted for Trump have had a change of heart. I am not saying that you have to say you would have voted for Joe, just that you understand the dangers of having Trump as President.

I am not asking you to change parties, just recognize that compromising your values and making excuses for bad leaders is dangerous. I believe we are more alike than different and want for us to learn how to compromise, but there can be no comprise that Trump is dangerous for America and must be removed.

The best way to heal will be for us to give Joe Biden a chance and try and listen to each other. Then when it comes time to chose leaders of all kinds try and pick people with some sort of integrity, because I think all sides want that in our leaders. It is never too late to be good people.


Allowing Lies to Stand is How We Got Here

Two days ago in my blog StopSupporting Temper Tantrums I wrote, “45 encouraging people to protest with potential harm on January 6th is the worst crime of all. That is tantamount to starting a civil war and I pray it does not happen.” Clearly you all do not want to depend on my prayers to get anything, based on the tragedy that played out at the Capital today.

Let’s call it exactly what it was, a riot of sedition caused by the President. It was not a peaceful protest, but a criminal war on our democracy. The Capital may be the people’s house, but that does not give just any American the right to barge in and tear up the place.

His lips were moving so you know he was lying

Trump should be held accountable for everything that happened today, but that is for tomorrow. Today, I hold everyone who did not call Trump out for every lie he ever told responsible to getting us here. Allowing Trump to control the narrative through lies is how we got where we are.

His election was not stolen. It was the most verified election in history. But every time he said he actually won, he was grooming these criminals who gathered at the capital today.

We have to learn this lesson that we must continually hold people accountable for truth. We have to make sure the record is correct. Facts need to be verified as facts and not fantasy.

Of course good people can have different opinions, but we need to agree on basic things like 2 plus 2 equals 4. Trump’s lack of any form of understanding facts is the basis of his being able to divide our nation.

We no longer should be polite when someone states something so in correct, but it is all our responsibility to call them out and not allow liars to tell the story over and over again until people don’t remember the truth.

Today was the saddest day in American History, even though Georgia came through with electing two unlikely Senators, an African American pastor to John Lewis and and thirty year old Jewish man who had worked for John Lewis. I am sorry that John Lewis did not live to see this, but glad he did not have to witness the storming of the Capital.


Emotional Support

Today American Airlines has banned emotional support animals in the cabin of planes. I guess I am never going to have to endure a peacock or Komodo dragon under the seat next to me. I have always found it absurd that someone could claim a chicken was their emotional support animal, but not as bad as watching people put live chickens in the overheads on flights from Miami to San Juan.

I don’t fly with Shay as I am certain it would make her an emotional wreck. She does not like loud or strange noises so I can only imagine how she would shake and shiver at take off of a plane. If Shay were ever to fly she would need to be allowed her emotional support animal, Russ. If she couldn’t bring him she would need her second best thing, her emotional support king sized bed.

Given that we shouldn’t really be flying, this animal ban will not bring up the ire in that many people. I bet that this bit of news got by most people as our minds are on the Georgia Election, the certification of Biden’s win tomorrow and the impending arrest of people trying to start a civil war in Washington tomorrow.

I just don’t want to be at the airport when the guy with the emotional support rat is told he can’t board with his Willard. I am worried that he might let his rat lose on the airline staff and I could be emotionally scared by seeing that.


Stop Supporting Temper Tantrums

I know many of you hate when I write political posts. Stop reading now. Don’t complain to me about what I write about, for I have warned you this might make you mad. But I am mad and sick and tired of the toddler in the White House and worse yet the sheep who keep enabling him.

I truly believe that the psychological make up of 45 is one that can not accept reality if it is not of his liking. As a bully he has been use to changing reality. Unfortunately for him, he can not change the reality of a fully vetted election. This appears to have pushed him to the edge and he is on the verge of a full blown psychotic break. None of that is new. He is who he is and it will be up to his family to live with him in that state.

What I really object to is the people who surround him who continue to coddle him in his delusions. The phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State was not surprising to me, but the fact that there were two Republican lawyers and Mark meadows in the rooms allowing that to happen makes them complicit in 45’s felony to encourage election fraud.

Then there are the legislators who are willing to stand with 45 in questioning the certification of the electoral college votes. What reality are these people living in. So far none of the Pennsylvania Republican Congress people who were elected at the same time are saying that their elections was fraudulent even though they are saying that 45’s was on the same ballot.

The emperor has no clothes and not only are these people not saying he doesn’t they are stripping down naked and joining the crazy parade.

I understand that people are upset when their candidate loses, but that is what happens in democracy. Someone wins and someone loses. You don’t get to intimidate people, or gather with weapons and threaten people if you don’t like the outcome. Or at least that is the way America was supposed to run.

45 encouraging people to protest with potential harm on January 6th is the worst crime of all. That is tantamount to starting a civil war and I pray it does not happen.

The news reports that upwards of 80% of 45’s supporters believe that the election was stolen from him. Why? Because 45 tells them that without one bit of evidence. Talk about sheep. It is time that we speak out and support Biden and democracy and overwhelm the sheep with truth. No fraud took place. Biden won far and square and no amount of temper tantrums from the spoiled current office holder will change that. Stop enabling that brat because it is bad for America.


Flip Tree Review

Carter left for Boston last night. I purposely put off the un-decorating until after she left. Usually the taking down of the tree is the cause for lots of bad words in our house and some hurt bodies. I bought a new fangled artificial tree from the over priced home of trees Balsalm Hill. They have featured something called a flip tree. The bottom section of the tree which comprises about 70% of the total is permanently attached to the rolling stand. It flips upside down for storage.

Putting up the tree was extremely easy. We flipped it up and plugged in the top two sections which included all the electrical connections for the lights. Then we used the remote control to turn the lights on and off. Compared to my old set-up of seven extension cords, plugged In throughout the room, this was king! We got the led lights, which could be set on all white, (my favorite), or colors and white, (Russ’ favorite) or just colors, minus white or yellow, (no one’s favorite). The remote also had a dimmer so your choice of ambience was unlimited. For that reason alone the tree was worth it.

But I have to admit that the taking down of the tree takes the prize. Let me set the scene for what it used to be like. Russ would put the 12 foot ladder up and go to the top. He would wrap the orange moving straps (things guys who move Refrigerators for a living use to pick them up) around the pole at the top section of the tree with Carter’s help. Then he would throw the straps over his shoulder and Carter and I would pull on the straps, digging them into Russ’ shoulder as he stood at the top of the ladder. Swearing, screaming, and crying would ensue. Eventually we would be able to dislodge the top section, then we had to do it six more times.

Tonight Russ went to the top of the ladder, and with no straps he just pulled the top section off and handed it to me. Then he did it again with the middle section. Then we flipped the tree over. We put everything in the bags provided. Russ and I did have to muscle the biggest section down to the storage room where it was too tall to go very far into the room, but at least it fit.

There was no swearing and Russ did not get strap welts in his shoulders. Carter wasn’t even required. In my next house I am going to build Christmas tree storage room right next to the place I display my tree so I can roll the tree in and out of the room and never have to take it apart and decorate or redecorate it again. It may be hidden behind a moveable bookcase or go by an elevator to a storage room directly below, but it will be easy. I don’t know why all houses aren’t designed around “Where to keep the Christmas tree.”


Last Hours at Home

As the hours waned for the time we had Carter at home she did some little things to make both me and her father happy. For me she created a little spa. We did moisturizing masks, while she had spa music playing on the TV. It was as close to a spa as we could get. I felt pampered and relaxed as we lay back on the giant sofa listening to the tinkling of bells.

After she finished with me she took her ultra moisturized face outdoors to play basketball with her father. Thankfully the rain had stopped and the sun came out so they could enjoy one last game before she left us for Boston.

We have had an enjoyable three weeks home together. Adult children are so fun, why couldn’t they have been like this when they were in middle school?

Despite the surge in Covid, Carter is ready to go “home,” which is what she considers Boston. She starts back to work full time at Bain Capital, but is only doing co-op this semester so she will not be half as over worked as she was last semester. She still is taking one class online because she knows she can handle four, so why not take one?

I hope that the pandemic can slow down, we all get vaccines and Carter can eventually go back to work at the office. I want to take my annual road trip to New England at some point this summer or fall. I think it is going to be a long time before I can see her in person again. For now I am going to cherish this Christmas holiday we had together, as well as my at home spa.

Good luck Carter. We loved having you home.


What Will Children Remember From This Time

Carter and I spent a few hours today looking back at photos from her first trip to Italy when she was nine. We spent two weeks in Tuscany and the memories of that trip were still strong for Carter. She could name restaurants we ate at in Lucca and sights we saw in Florence. She relived the horror of seven mile hikes on the Cinque Terre when it was over 100 degrees out, something she has not forgiven me for and exactly where Russ lost his wedding ring.

When I think back to my childhood the memories that stand out the strongest are those of travel. Going to new and special places are seared in my brain, unlike the humdrum of normal days doing things like going to school. I have big swath or memories of doing yard work, or riding my bike or going to the Riding club and going swimming, but I can’t tell you precisely when I did what and at what age.

Trips are different. I can give you exact details of my sixth grade post Christmas trip to Washington, DC. Our bus from Connecticut stopped at the Cherry Hill mall where we ate lunch at a cafeteria and I got red jello squares. We stayed at a Howard Johnson’s across the street from the Watergate, although I did not know it was the Watergate until two years later when I saw it on the news. That Howard Johnson’s had an indoor pool on the top floor and the chlorine was so thick that your eyes stung when you opened the glass door into the pool area.

During summers my family would take the two day drive to Pawleys Island for our vacation. We would stop for lunch on the first day at a Schraff’s on the Baltimore Washington Parkway. I always got the Chef’s salad with French Dressing. If you asked me what I had for lunch any other day of the year I could not tell you, but on a trip in made a lasting memory.

I am wondering what kids growing up during the pandemic are going to remember. Since there are no trips, or very few, and hardly any special occasions that deem family photos, what might get seared in a child’s memory? Will the Pandemic be one big wash of sameness that gets relegated to “nothing much to recall?”

I suggest that for the next few months parents might want to have a couple “special” days where you do things out of the ordinary. My Dad used to surprise us with “Children’s Day” every once in a while. We never knew it was coming, but he would wake us up and announce the surprise, which started with a trip to the international House of Pancakes for breakfast. That alone could have been the whole surprise and we would have been thrilled as we never went out to eat, let alone for breakfast. Breakfast was just the start as we went off to places like Mystic Seaport or the Car show in NYC.

As Carter and I scrolled through thousands of photos today the happiness of travel was the theme. We won’t be traveling much for a while still, so try and discover exciting things at home you have never done. It is the best we can do to make some good lasting memories during this last slog through the pandemic. It would be terrible to have a whole year of no good things to remember.

Happy New Year to you! Or as I have been saying, Happy Better Year!


I’d Rather Count My Lucky Stars

As 2020 finally draws to a close I would rather look back on the good things about this year than the bad. The bad is low hanging fruit and is best to let rot on the vine. For the good we have to look a little harder and cherish it, because now we know how bad things can get.

For me the best thing about this year is I got to spend more quality time with Russ and Carter than I ever thought I would have. When Quarantine happened in March, Carter was bound and determined to stay in Boston and ride it out. After two weeks of her being all alone I told Russ that I couldn’t take having her there without any support system. He said, “If you go and get her, she will be home for two months.” That was very optimistic. She was home for four months. I had long given up on having such a long block of time with her. Russ and Carter have been my brightest stars.

Other positives for me were the things I built this year. The fellowship hall at church was not physically built by me, but every brick, board and tile were chosen, supervised and worried over by me. It was probably easier on me to do it without the weekly supervision of other church members. I didn’t get a lot of questions about, “Why that color?” or “Which flooring treatment are you going with?” Now that it is over and everyone can see the whole project my decisions are not up for discussion and thankfully I have not been drummed out of church for them. I consider that building a big star.

The thing I actually built, my garden, with its forty foot retaining wall, 32 yards of fill, seven foot deer fence and eleven raised beds was the hardest thing I have ever built myself. If it weren’t for the pandemic I never would have attempted such an undertaking. As long as I live here I have something big to show for 2020. The garden should be my star that will keep on giving.

I created a couple of spectacular quilts this year, one for my mother and the other a collaboration with my friend Carol on her Africa quilt. Although I don’t have either of those quilts in my house I consider them stars out in the universe shining brightly on others.

The twinkling stars of the years have been the friends I reconnected with this year, or spent more time zooming with than we talked in the last few decades. I have read books with friends, played games with friends, taken walks and needlepointed. Even things done virtually have been blessings.

I hope you have more good to take stock of in 2020 than bad. May the stars shine brightly on all of us in 2021 and may the sad parts of 2020 fade in our memories as we moved forward towards the light.


The New Year Won’t Be Normal on January 1

I can’t think of one person who won’t be happy to see 2020 pass into the history books. We started the year with an impeachment and before our TV’s had even cooled off from watching hours of testimony the pandemic hit us. As if being stuck at home was not bad enough we had the one-two punch of it being an election year so we were trapped with unending political ads and chatter.

We did a good job of flattening the curve in the spring, only to have too many people get the virus now and health systems in every state are struggling. Today in NC we had over 8,500 cases, our worse day yet. There might have been a problem with reporting yesterday where we only reported 3,500 cases then, but even if you average the two days it is still over 6,000 people a day testing positive. Those numbers do not include all the people who are sick, but do not get a test.

We need to get back to being extra vigilant to flatten the huge curve we have now. Our health care systems and workers can’t handle these rates.

New Years Days is day after tomorrow. Yes, we are going to rid ourselves of the worst year in our collective lives, but an additional digit in the year is not going to change anything yet. We will be just 20 days away from a new administration, and for me that will give us a lot to be thankful for, but it won’t solve the pandemic.

Please stay safe. There is no reason to let your guard down now that we have vaccines in sight. Normally January is a down month in terms of travel and celebrations so you wouldn’t normally be missing anything if you stayed home and stayed safe. Keep wearing your masks. Don’t forget to wash them. Stay far apart from as many people as you can. If we want 2021 to be a MUCH better year we need to stay alive and help others to stay healthy. Please don’t feel some false sense of relief because you made it out of 2020 alive.


Butter Pecan Ice Cream

For Christmas my family wanted Peppermint Ice cream for dessert. I have made this many years with great success and that is why they wanted it. For the record I actually make frozen custard, since I use eggs, but for simplicity we just call it ice cream. I made the custard base in advance so it could get good and cold then I mixed it with cream and peppermint extract and crushed candy canes and out came a beautiful smooth ice cream of perfect texture. Sadly it tasted like lotion. I only used two drops of my extract, but it obviously had gone off.

I had leftover custard base, because I thankfully only made one frozen bowl of the peppermint ice cream. I asked Carter what other flavor ice cream she wanted because I was not going to let that leftover base go to waste. She requested Butter Pecan. I had never made butter pecan before so I just winged it. Turns out to be the very best ice cream I have ever made. So quick to the blog to immortalize it before I forget how I did it.

This makes about a quart and a half

Custard Base:

2 very large eggs

1 cup of sugar

Big pinch of salt

1 1/2 c. Whole milk

To make ice Cream:

1 1/4 heavy cream, very cold

For the butter pecan

2 T. Unsalted butter

3/4 cup of pecan, broken up

2 T. Brown sugar

2 big pinches kosher salt

A day ahead make the custard base.

Warm the whole milk in the microwave just enough for it to be hot, not scalded or with any bubbles. In my microwave, which is on it’s last legs, it is about a minute.

In a sauce pan put the sugar, salt and eggs and whisk for about a minute until it is like a pale yellow ribbon coming off the whisk. Start to drip In the milk and keep stirring with a wooden spoon. After you have incorporated all the milk put the pan on a medium low flame on the stove and keep sitting, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot the whole time. You are slowly warming the custard to a point that it coats the back of the spoon. You never want the mixture to simmer. It may take as much as twenty minutes of slow heating to get it to the right consistency. It will not be thick like pudding, but just holding together. You know it is right that when it coats the back of the spoon you can run your finger down the middle of it on the spoon and it keeps that cleared path.

Put the custard mix in an airtight container and chill it in the coldest part of your frigid For at least 12 hours. You can do it up to three days in advance.

At the same time make sure you put your ice cream freezer bowl in the freezer so it can spend at least 12 hours getting frozen.

To make the butter pecan part melt the butter in a small frying pan and add the pecan pieces and toast in the butter over a medium flame for three minutes. Take off the flame and add the brown sugar and stir and sprinkle with the salt. Put this mixture in the fridge to chill.

When you are ready to make the ice cream set your machine up with the paddle in the freezer bowl. Take the custard base out and using a fine mesh strainer pour the base through the strainer into the freezer bowl. Add the very cold heavy cream and put the cover on the machine and start churching.

If you have done everything right it won’t take but about ten to fifteen minutes to turn into ice cream. You will see that the volume has increased and if has frozen waves as it churns. When it gets to that point add the pecan mixture and let it spin in the churn about thirty seconds. You just want it to mix in, but not crush the nuts up.

Take all the I cream out of the freezer bowl and out into a plastic quart container with a lid and put it in the freezer for at least four hours. Remove from the freezer and let sit on the counter for ten minutes before serving.

You can see that you really have to plan ahead to make ice cream right, but it is so worth it. Carter says you can taste the toast in the pecans, which really makes it.


Delayed Christmas

Since Christmas Day was so cold, we delayed the visit to my parents until today. It was a lovely day to drive up to farm. This is probably the last time Carter could see the farm, as my parents have sold it and are building a new house down the road.

We sat on the porch, and exchanged gifts. Carter and I wore our masks the whole time. I do not want to be responsible for getting my parents sick. My Aunt Janie Leigh also came up and joined us for our outdoor visit.

My Dad took us to see his new project, the house he is building for them to move into. He is the only 83 year old who builds a new house for himself. It is coming along nicely and he predicts they will move in around April. It is going to be something to move from the farm where they have a big house, a guest house, an office barn and an art barn, two garages as well as two huge tractor barns.

The cleaning out of all those places has not moved at the needed pace. When we went into my Dad’s office barn to say goodbye and to get a photo with Carter I noticed the amount of stuff on the desks and tables was about normal. Covid is not helping this situation.

For Christmas my mother let both Carter and I pick out a painting from the art barn. With hundreds of paintings in her studio space I probably should have taken a dozen paintings, but that was not my gift. Carter did get a painting of Trafalgar Square that she had been coveting. I am happy it is staying in the family. I am getting “Ladies of the links” a water color I have always liked. I have to wait until Dad’s farm workman can bring a ladder to get it off the wall as it was hung 10 feet off the ground.

I hope my parents get the Covid vaccine soon so I can go up and help them organize this move. It may only be down the road, but as it is down sizing some hard decisions must be made. You just can’t keep everything.


No Post-Holiday Let Down

I have finally found something good about the Pandemic – No post-holiday let down. Normally on December 27th I have some sadness about the holidays being over. See, I don’t consider January 1 a holiday.

Every other year all the build up of anticipation for Christmas has ended. The parties are over, the decorations are starting to look tired, the excitement for the gifts I am giving has been replaced with the realization that I have to come up with new ideas for next years gifts.

This year is different. With no parties to give or go to there is no sadness about them being over. We are not sick of eating party food leftovers because we don’t have any. I didn’t have to come up with any cute holiday outfits to wear or even an ugly Christmas sweater. Instead we got to wear the same clothes we wore all through March, November and December, the pandemic uniform of yoga pants and sweatshirts. It makes putting laundry away non-existent. I just rotate the same three outfits on my body or in the washer.

There were no family fights because we didn’t see any family. Any possible political disagreements were avoided as well as old grudges or childhood complaints.

By now, in any other year, I would be bored trying to figure out what to do during these down days between Christmas and when everyone goes back to their normal routines and I get to have the house all to myself. Not so this year. We have no down days, as they are all the same. There is no going back to a routine and I most certainly will not be having the house all to myself anytime soon.

This Christmas was most like every other pandemic day, except that I had Carter home, so it made it like half the pandemic days. With no big up we have no big down. So I consider this December 27th better than my average day, two days after Christmas. I’ll take a win where I can find one.


Goldilocks

The job of building the fellowship hall will probably never end. We have had an issue with our hotbox where the new water connection is made by the street. Apparently there is a small heater in the hotbox, which comes on when the temperature goes way down to keep the above ground pipes from freezing. If the heater does not come on it has an alarm, which sends a message to a central station and they call our minister and front desk manager.

The central station has called them at 2:00 in the morning multiple nights. You can imagine that makes everyone unhappy. I have been working to figure this problem out. Today I met the electrician at church and he needed to get into the sanctuary to check that breaker box. Thankfully I have a card key that still enables me to get into all the building so I can take care of these issues.

While the electrician was working on the breaker box I hung out In the sanctuary for the first time since March. As a member of the Church for 22 years it was all very familiar, but it was still strange to be there by myself. Russ and I have regular seats we always sit in, the second row on the lectern side. As I was waiting I took advantage of my alone time to check out what it would be like to sit in another place.

I tried the front row on my side, the middle on the other side, the last row, the balcony and the choir loft. It was kind of like being Goldilocks, looking for the most comfortable bed. I decided that our regular seats are still the best.

When the electrician finished he told me he figured out what the problem was. One of the phases on our 3 phase service from the electric company was not working. Now we are awaiting Duke energy to fix that. They better get it done before the temperature drops to 23 tonight. I am praying they don’t need to go over over to church and bring my card key after I put my nightgown on.


Merry Christmas to You

Our little pod of three plus Shay has enjoyed being together for this holiday. We cooked a lovely leg of lamb dinner for Christmas Eve and enjoyed spending time playing a game around the dining room table. Watching Christmas Eve service on TV meant we had the best seats in the house and didn’t have to worry about getting to church early enough to beat out the infrequent visitors.

Christmas morning brought Santa gifts to everyone except mom, just as SNL predicted. Unfortunately Shay did not like the biscuits from Santa, but Russ and Carter were happy. Thankfully I didn’t get a robe, but did get things for my garden and some wonderful books.

Carter and I did a big Wonder Woman binge. Watching the first Gal Gadot film followed by Wonder Woman 1984. It was five hours of pure ass kicking and very satisfying.

Shay and Russ walked the neighborhood in the cold while we watched. Shay came back to snuggle with us in her winter coat and scarf while we finished the movies.

It may have been quiet, but it was a lovely Christmas, keeping the health of our family at the forefront of our thoughts. The true meaning of Christmas was easy to hold close.


‘Twas the night before Christmas 1972

‘Twas the night before Christmas and I was eleven,

Our house was full of people aged 90 to seven.

Our Christmas Eve party in 1972

had hundreds of friends and their relatives too.

My father he made the famous Christmas Oyster Stew

While Children ate ham biscuits and lots of cookies too.

After everyone left full of Joy and nog

We stoked the fire with one last log.

My father too full of bourbon Milk punch,

Woke me from from my slumber to help him a bunch.

A big wheel from Santa was causing him pain,

He needed my young, less polluted brain.

“Leave off that noise maker,” he said in a stupor

So I threw it away, thinking that would be super.

The next morning when my sister discovered her toy,

She jumped right on it and rode off like a boy.

“It’s broken,” she cried as she rounded a corner

Her sad face gave her the look of a mourner.

“Your sister can fix it. She’s better than Santa.”

I gave him a look that was no hosanna.

So through the garbage and trash, from the party I sorted

The number of liquor bottles should have gotten us reported.

Under the last bit of crackers and Brie I spotted the thingy,

Which made the click sound that made a Big Wheel zingy.

It took me all day to undo all the doing,

To fix the toy that had set Santa stewing.

So the moral of the story is clear you can see,

Don’t drink lots of drinks until all the toys are under the tree.


Christmas Flexibility

This is the year for going with the flow, no matter where that river is taking you. We stayed home and had Thanksgiving via Zoom with Carter in Boston and my Parents alone at the farm. It wasn’t so bad. We had a good time visiting and talking on the computer and then we each ate the thanksgiving dinner we had at our own homes. The good news was we were safe, distanced and healthy.

Now comes Christmas. Carter did come home. She had back to back Covid tests the day before she came home and the the day she flew, then tested again three days after getting home. We have been spending a lot of family time, with Carter doing her job with me close by not doing much, but together.

Our normal tradition is to have Christmas Eve with our dear friends the Toms and then go to church together after between dinner and dessert. We sing silent night and raise our candles above our heads and I am usually brought to tears by the beauty of the whole thing. On Christmas day my family usually comes here for presents and lunch.

This year we are flexible. Tonight the Toms came over and sat on our terrace while we exchanged presents and sat socially distanced, only pulling down our masks to take a sip of our spiked hot cider. We did it tonight because it is going to pour down rain all day tomorrow. We will “watch” church at our own houses after we eat our own dinners, but Lynn and I should be in the candle portion of the video as we went to church earlier in the month to film that for silent night.

We had planned on going up to the farm on Christmas Day to see my family for two hours on the porch with our masks on, no meal, just visiting. Now it is going to be too cold. We are not going to do that since I know people don’t want to sit on the porch when it is freezing. Hopefully another day next week is warmer and we will go then.

I would rather be flexible this year and be safe. It is not the end of the world to not eat together with people other than our tiny living pod. It is not the end of the world to not exchange presents on Christmas Day. It would be the end of the world to lose one of our loved ones to a virus we could prevent if we are smart and don’t foolishly do something unnecessary.

This is the go with the flow Christmas. I know it will make us appreciate future Christmases. So much better to be thankful for what we have then think about what we cannot have. Merry Christmas to all.


Old Pots, Like Old Friends

Carter pulled my soup pot out of the cupboard so I could make clam chowder. “How long have you had this?” I looked at the Dansk stock pot and said, “At least 37 years.” I bought it along with two sauce pans in Williamsburg at an outlet. I have used these same pots everyday for all these years and they are good as new, save some discoloration that serious scrubbing could remove.

Today I got out my middle sized le cruset Dutch oven and realized it too came from an outlet 35 or 34 years ago. It is as good as the day I bought it.

Then I pulled out the only speciality pot I ever use, my rice cooker. My cousin Flo Heyward sent it to me after I asked about hers at her Pawley’s Island House. Her’s was a white enamel pot that was at least fifty years old, but made perfect rice. She sent me a more modern version and to this day it is the only way I make rice as it is perfect every time. The pot is at least twenty years old now, and is good as gold.

I am making a guess that I will never need to buy a new pot. The ones I have most certainly will last me my whole life. They have thick bottoms and strong handles. I am not sure anyone else will want them when I am gone, except maybe the le cruset.

Buying good pots, even though they came from an outlet was a good investment. I think I paid $60 for my soup pot, which amortized over the years, has been a hundredth of a penny per use. I can hardly think of anything else I have that has served me so well for so long, except for friends.

I can think of sweaters I bought that cost double that, which I might have worn twice and decided I did not like them. I wish there was a way to look into the future and see how much use you will get out of something so you can make your decision to buy it based on how useful and how long a life it will give you.

Invest in good pots and you won’t have to think about it again. It’s a good lesson for so many things in life. Like friends, many of whom I made 35 to 45 years ago and I still like them. My investment in my friends has really given me a good return. It was like the pot investment lesson. I learned early on to carefully pick good friends who would last and would be there when I really needed them. So far as I can see I am certain I will keep these friends until my end. Unlike my old pots, I am certain that they will be cherished by others when I am gone.


Christmas Dog, Christmas Star and Tim

Today Shay received a Christmas bandana, with her name on it, from my friend Mary Lloyd. She happily put it on and modeled it all day, posing for photos around the house. She even wore it outside to look at the Christmas “Star” with us.

We went out at around five thirty and looked southwest in the sky and there it was, Jupiter and Saturn very close together shining brightly down on our sad and hurting world. Four hundred years ago they were close, but it was in July and 800 years ago they were close, but it was in March. It is special to see both planets so close together, but extra special this close to Christmas. The great conjoining of the two planets in the sky is sometimes called the Star of David.

So many friends of mine all were out looking to the heavens for the “star” and I got photos from them showing what they were viewing as Shay, Russ and I looked into the sky too. I take this great conjoining as sign for good things to come, like the Star that led the wisemen to Jesus. Please let wisdom reign on our planet and for us all to act as Jesus by being kind to each other.

Yesterday On CBS Sunday Morning I saw a story about how one of the worst things for homeless people is not being called by their name because no one knows them. As Carter and I were out picking up groceries I was stopped at a light where a nice man in his mask held a sign asking for help. I rolled down the window to hand him a bill and I asked his name. “Hi, I’m Tim,” he said. “Hi Tim, sorry I don’t have more cash, but have a Merry Christmas and God Bless you Tim.”

He leaned down and said thank you to me and to Carter and said “God Bless you,” to us. It felt right to call him by his name, to acknowledge him. I was sorry I did not have a scarf with his name on it to give him, like the scarf that Shay wears now so people could know his name and call him by it. I hope that Tim saw the Christmas Star in the sky tonight. I hope he is warm and has food. I hope that kindness pours down on him and us all and that the Christmas Star heroes the start or better times.


A Different Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year in the longest year of my life is not like any Winter Solstice I have ever had. Today is my Grandmother Mima’s birthday. I think that if she were alive she would be a 108, but at my age I can’t quite remember. She always hated her birthday because she said she was cheated since it was so close to Christmas.

She was such a gracious and kind older person that I am sure the dislike of her birthday was a big carry over from childhood. No wonder since she didn’t have a mother and not the nicest father. I am sure that her birthday was not celebrated much. She also lived in Wesley Hills just outside Boston so this day had very little sunlight and most probably was very cold.

Today is also my friend Richard’s birthday and he is as nice as my Mima, so I tend to like December 20th as I like the people who were born today.

In a normal year we would have most certainly been going to a party or two on this day, had gone to church and would be behind on our Christmas wrapping, and preparations for guests on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Today instead, with all our few gifts wrapped already and even the laundry done and the house clean I watched church on YouTube and worked on a 2000 piece puzzle.

The puzzle is of Portofino, Italy. When I finished it this afternoon both Carter and Russ looked at it longingly. “Can we go there soon?” Was Carter’s response to it.

Now we don’t need to plan any parties or dress for any parties or plan any trips or pack for any trips. Usually on the shortest day of the year I would be scouring the Internet for good places to go for a spring vacation. Not this year. Now I just look to see who will be up next for vaccinations and long for a return to normality.

I know that my grandmother Mima would have weathered this year with the same positivity she met every challenge, except her birthday, with. We can’t go to parties or see our friends, but we have our whole little family home, safe and healthy. The darkness might have started early today, but we have the warm glow of Christmas mights throughout the house.

We can’t go to Italy right now, but we have many memories of many previous trips. We have food and heat and a puppy who looks at us lovingly. On this winter solstice we have nothing to complain about. The days will now start to grow longer and eventually warmer. We are on the downhill side of the mountain of this year.


People Came, They Saw, They Clapped

Today was the first opening tour day for our churches new fellowship hall. I was the designated tour guide since I knew each and every little detail about the building. It felt like a normal day at church, except with mask standing far apart from each other. But just seeing people was the most exciting part.

All the ministers were there, greeting parishioners in the court yard as they arrived. John Lockhead, representing fellowship, manned the front door and made sure we only had nine people in each group. Jami Howell, from global missions encouraged people to not forgot that there is need around the world.

It was exciting to introduce our new space to friends who came to see it. Kim Garcia took these picture I borrowed from her of the view looking out the building on to the courtyard. In the old building you could not see out that direction which was really a loss.

People seemed to love how everything looked, which was a relief for me. They also appreciated all the thoughtful touches we included, like the built in drinks station and the thirty plugs for crock pots along the serving line. What really brought us into this century were the rest rooms, with heat! It’s amazing how hard it is to pee when you are freezing.

The kitchen was the biggest upgrade. I can hardly wait to start cooking some big meals. We have enough oven space to cook 25 lasagnas at the same time. I do need to get a step stool so short people can turn the fan on to the hood.

Thanks to those of you who came and saw today and were complimentary of the job we did. I look forward to decades of fun to be had in the fellowship hall.


Don’t Take Your Mask Off to Talk on the Phone

Today I made my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s. I go there because they are very strict about how many people can be in the store at the same time and they also ensure that people have masks on before they let them in. Since it is Trader Joe’s they do it in the nicest possible way so people are not that crabby by the time they get in the door.

I did notice that today there were a larger number of old men outside in the “waiting to get in the store line” than normal. A couple of them were grumbling about having to wait. They obviously had not been to Trader Joe’s in the last nine months because you always have to wait.

The most grumpy was one person behind me and he got it right after me and pulled his cart up to the bananas where I was. Right as he got very close to me, blocking me in, he got a phone call. He pulled his mask off to answer the phone.

As he started to talk, mask free, I stopped him and asked if he could put his mask back on and let me out from the banana area where he had me trapped by his cart. He moved, but kept talking sans mask.

People, you can talk with a mask on. People can still understand you with the mask on. Doctors and nurses have been performing complicated surgeries for decades with masks on. Don’t take your mask off at the grocery store. What don’t you understand about a mask mandate. Especially you very old people. You are already the weak link.

And don’t block people in with your cart. Next time I might just back up by mistake and then you might fall and break a hip and we all know that is the beginning of the end for you old guys. I’m just looking out for you.


Punch List Done

It’s official, the punch list is done and the fellowship hall project closing out just in time for the first tours on Saturday. Yes, five years after the first meetings to determine if anyone liked the old fellowship hall to now. We could have skipped the meeting to find out if anyone liked the old one. The too small a space, the too small a kitchen, the really too small a bathrooms, no heating, no windows not enough seats, at least in the bathrooms.

Did we need this new building, absolutely. Are people excited about it? I think I can say unequivocally, Yes. Sadly, we can’t use the building for large gathering because we can’t have large gatherings, not yet.

I can’t wait to show everybody the new space and I hope you ll love it. There are a few things which are not done. The new furniture is not here yet, the landscaping still has a few plants to come and there are some new parking spaces by the cabin that still need to be paved.

But Saturday we are having small socially gathered tours for people who have signed up in advance. I think there are a few spots still available for this Saturday, but lots of spots for the January 10 tour. I am not posting photos of the inside so you have to come to the tour to see it!


Gingerbread House Day

Making gingerbread houses has been an activity Carter and I have loved doing together for as long as she can remember. We don’t really make the gingerbread house, we just assemble and decorate them.

I waited this year to do my Trader Joe’s house for when Carter got home. She is having a gingerbread house team Zoom event tomorrow and each of her co-workers were sent a house kit from Micheal’s. As Carter is the facilitator of the event she ordered all the houses to be sent to homes of her work team. Then she sent instructions about putting the house together a day in advance of decorating.

Since decorating in front of a camera is difficult her team decided that it will be a contest to see who made the best house so they each had to finish their house before the zoom tomorrow. Not that I am competitive, but I was very excited that Carter could win this contest given her twenty year history of house decorating.

Carter set me straight that as the facilitator she was not allowed to win. This was greatly disappointing to me, but it did not stop us from going to town decorating our houses.

As we squeezed out icing from piping bags and carefully placed tiny candies on our houses we discussed our best house decorating experience. We quickly agreed it was when Carter was six or seven years old. Our club had a house decorating event and they made giant mansion like houses. It took a very long time to fully decorate our house. As I remember it the kids gave up half way through and just turned to eating the decorative candies. I, of course was not about to take home a half finished house, so I guarded my candies and continued working.

The next year the club had learned it’s lessons and did not make such large homemade houses. We all were very disappointed to discover the ranch sized house down grades. It was the beginning of the end of the club as far as I was concerned.

Maybe one day I will try and bake my own house, for now we will be satisfied with kits.


Vaccine Priority List

Talk among my friends the last few days has been where we think we are in line to get the Covid Vaccine.  According to the New York Times interactive estimator I am number 94 out of 100 in North Carolina.  Basically at the end of the line.  

I understand that.  I agree with health care professionals going first.  Lord knows they have sacrificed for all of us and will continue to do so for the next few months.  Old people in Nursing homes should go next or in tandem with front line workers like police, Fire and EMT’s.  Then people with underlying conditions.  How about grocery store  and Pharmacy workers.  

Then it starts to get muddled.  I  wish that we had been keeping tabs on who wore face masks and social distanced.  Seems like people who followed the public health rules should go before the mask or Covid deniers.  How about people who stayed home and did not go to big public rallies, or bars, or giant church gatherings.  Why should people who said the whole thing was a hoax go before law abiding people.  The governor of South Dakota should maybe go last in all the Governors.  She never had a mask mandate, but instead encouraged the Sturgis, SD biker rally to take place.  No wonder South Dakota has one of the highest rates of spread despite being harder to spread in very rural areas.

I am all for the vaccine. I want every person in this country to take it so we can starve Covid out from hosts and kill it. I just wish that rule followers would be rewarded for once. I am tired of having to be nice to the selfish people in the hopes they would care about someone other than themselves and do the right thing.

In the meantime, kept wearing your masks. We have a good long time until we are safe, if you have gotten the vaccine or not.


Easy Latkes

In solidarity with our Jewish friends, my family thought we should have latkes on this fifth night of Hanukkah. Since I had a side of homemade gravlax in the freezer awaiting Carter’s arrival home I thought it was good timing.

Russ had forwarded me a recipe in New York Times cooking for Pure Potato Latkes. I thought it was an interesting technique so I went that direction. I modified it slightly for the size and type of potatoes I had. I will give you my recipe, but you can log in to NYT to see how theirs varies. It worked perfectly.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Latkes, but they sure are good with sour cream a a slice of lox. Our house could be called Russ and Daughter tonight. (If you have never been to the lower east side that might go over your head.)

Latkes

Small Yukon gold potatoes

Salt and pepper

Canola oil

Pre heat oven to 350°

Wash potatoes and dry. I used potatoes that were slightly bigger than a jumbo egg. If you use larger one, adjust your baking time accordingly.

Two small potatoes will yield one large latke. Place as many potatoes as you need in the oven and bake for 17 minutes. You are not cooking them through, they should be half way to baked potato.

Add at least one more potato than you need because you are going to lose a little to the food processor. For us, three latkes each was a meal.

After you have baked them a little you want to grate them in the food processor with the grating blade. You don’t want mashed potatoes, so I put three potatoes in the feeding tube at a time. I just grated the whole potato included the thin skins because they add fiber. If you don’t like skins you can peel them before grating.

After you have grated, let the mixture cool a little. Add some salt and pepper. When the mixture is cool enough to handle scoop out a heaping spoonful and form into patties about a half inch thick. Put the latkes on a plate and refrigerate for at least an hour, or covered overnight.

When you are ready to cook them, heat a fry pan hot with a good coating of oil, add the latkes to the pan and turn the heat down to medium high and fry for about four minutes per side. They should be golden brown, not black.

When done place on paper towel covered plate to let them drain a little.

We had our with a dollop of sour cream and. Slice of cured salmon and a good squeeze of lemon.


Best Ornament Ever

My friend Kathi and I exchanged needlepoint ornaments with each other this year. Kathi came to needlepoint after me and we meet often to share information on fibers, canvases or stitches. She is like a sponge in search of all the water so she can learn everything there is to know about needlepoint. I caution her it’s a life’s work.

When we decided to do an ornament for each other I never expected her to design me something that would mean the world to me. I made her a cute “Merry Christmas” round that I thought would compliment her collection. She made for me an ornament of my Food Bank’s new logo and had my Award monogramed on the back. Kathi’s was so much more thoughtful and meaningful than mine. I loved the one I made for her, if fact I think I want to stitch another one for myself, but it was nothing compared to hers.

Making a needlepoint ornament for someone else is an act of love. I really only do it for my child, and for my other stitching friends who also do it for me. When an acquaintance sees me stitching something they like, I have been asked, “Are you making that for me?” I have not quite come up with the perfect way to say, “I don’t usually give you a two hundred dollar gift that took me many hours to make .” So I have to just say no, without an explanation.

Now I think I need to step up my game in my exchange with stitching friends. It gets harder and harder to find the perfect gift for someone. I am just going to have to go the route Kathi went and design my own canvases. This does step up the stitching game quite a bit.


Saffron Chicken and Rice

Carter is home so we have to make real meals. No just eating leftovers like Russ and I do when we are alone. In honor of Carter’s video on The physiology of comfort food we are having Chicken and rice. Not just any Chicken and rice, but Saffron Chicken. Only issue is that Russ had to send us photo’s of every item on the grocery list to make sure he was getting the right thing. For the record they all were right and he didn’t need to text us the questions.

It is an incredibly simple meal, but so yummy

8 -bone in, skin on Chicken thighs

2 large yellow onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

2 cups of rice

12 Oz. Bag of frozen peas

4 cups of hot chicken stock

Giant pinch of Saffron

Juice of a lemon

Preheat the oven to 450°

Heat a large skillet on high. Dry the chicken with a paper towel and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Place the skin side down in the hot skillet and cook until the skin is crispy and releases from the pan, about five minutes. Flip the chicken over and brown the other side about four minutes.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. You want to keep the skin crispy so do not pile it up, but keep in a single layer.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet with the reserved chicken fat. Cook on medium for about three minutes, add the raw rice and mix together, toasting the rice. Add the peas, hot stock and saffron, which you rubbed between your fingers as you put in the pan. Bring the whole thing to a boil and then pour it in an oblong baking dish. Nestle the chicken, crispy side up and skin not submerged into the rice. Place in the hot oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice on it then serve.


Sitting is Shit

I don’t have a life where I have to sit all day. I don’t have a job that requires me to be in meetings all day. I don’t spend that much time on Zoom, and when I do it is usually for some fun reason. Today was not a normal day for me. I had a mediation that was an all day thing on zoom. I can’t say what or who it was for, but I can say that I had to sit in one place for the better part of the day. That was hard.

I have new found respect for my poor husband who sits at his home office desk for anywhere from ten to fifteen hours a day. I know this is the world most people live in now, but sitting is the shits.

Sitting is exhausting. I would take working in the kitchen and standing up for twelve hours over sitting in one place for six hours any day. This and I have no form of ADHD a or ADA, or any of those A’s at all. I can not imagine how people who are in the least bit hyper do it at all.

Now I have a great old Herman Miller office chair and it is as comfortable as any chair in our house, but there is something about sitting in one place. The worst thing is I was sitting in the room with my walking desk, but I couldn’t walk on it and be on the zoom at the same time.

To all you desk jockeys, you do not get enough credit for what you do. I am thrilled this mediation got finished today because I don’t think I could have sat there another day. Tomorrow, a lot more walking.


My Cautious Child Is Home

Carter choose not to come home for Thanksgiving, making that decision months before the actual holiday. She said that it was too risky to fly when others would also be flying. I was happy to zoom for Turkey day and stay safe.

Carter determined that flying today would be a good choice in terms of the lowest numbers of travelers. Any students who came back to college in Boston are still there as exams are just beginning. Carter also opted for the middle of the day flight thinking it would be the lightest.

She has free Covid testing at school so she was tested yesterday and was negative, but in a belt and suspenders kind of way she went and got tested again today. That negative test result came back tonight.

Carter went to the airport and took this photo of the practically empty terminal. She said she counted only 10 people in the whole place. I can hardly remember a time when I could get a seat in the gate area at Logan.

Carter texted me as they boarded the plane, all 20 of them on a plane that holds 150. She had her own row with no one in front of her and everyone wore masks the whole time. I picked her up from an empty RDU sidewalk and she sat in the back seat with her mask on an me with mine.

Now she is home social distancing, but at least she is home. She has been gone for six months and I think that is the longest we have gone without seeing each other. She will be here three weeks and since we can’t go anyplace else we will see each other a lot, if at a distance for a while. She still is working full time and has a couple papers to write so she will be occupied.

The weirdness of 2020 continues, but at least the vaccine was approved today and we can see progress towards normality way off in the distance.


Love of Good Heating

As the nights are getting colder it is beginning to feel a little like winter. Perhaps it is only feeling like late fall, as we have had such an unusually warm fall.

Today as the heat from my new HVAC was gently warming my toes in my bathroom I was reminded of what heat was like in my childhood. I grew up in Connecticut in a house that was never meant to be a house. It was two barns that had been put together and converted into our wealthy neighbor’s “party House, carriage house and servants quarters.” We were only the second family to occupy it as a home, the first being a very quirky family of Swedish decent. Being Scandinavian they didn’t mind freezing inside their house.

My southern parents bought our house in the summer of 1967 so they had no idea that the heating in our house was woefully undersized for the drafty barn siding and no insulation walls. The windows were antique, and the ceilings upstairs were twelve feet high at the ridge line so any heat we had was way above our heads.

We had a furnace which I described as “Spot” from the TV the Munsters. Spot was a fire breathing dragon like animal that lived under the stairs. In our house the furnace room had a 10 x 10 foot cast iron fire box with a window where we could watch the fire burning. It was like a bad Hansel and Gretel scene about to play out.

Despite the giant furnace burning up outrageously priced oil, our house was always cold and drafty in the winter. We had many fireplaces and a beloved Kerosun kerosene heater we huddled around while watching reruns of I Love Lucy. But if you really wanted to be warm you would go to the guest room bathroom which sat directly above the Herman Munster furnace.

The tiny bathroom had no heat register in it, but the floor was like a little volcano. You could fill the bath tub up with hot water and stay in the bathroom for hours. Since it was the guest room’s bathroom no one ever really knew you were in there. I can remember sitting on the rug with warmth radiating from the floor doing my homework.

Cold is something I never got really took to living in that house. I am so thankful to live in North Carolina where the number of really cold days is small. I am also thankful for a house and not a barn, real insulation and forced air heating. I don’t ever want to live in a place where a Kerosene heater is required again.


You Shouldn’t See the Tree

I am of the Christmas tree school that it’s all about the decorations. Lights come second and then the actual three is third. My perfect tree is so chock-a-block with meaningful ornaments collected over decade. I like to be able to tell a story about where each one comes from.

This year I downsized my tree by two feet. I thought that would mean that I would finally achieve my ideal tree. Only my most beloved ornaments would be on it and every inch of the tree would be covered in a two or three ornament depth. Amazingly I did not achieve my ideal.

Today I found a bag of a half dozen ornaments I purchased and not yet put on the tree. The one I was most excited about was a sweet blown glass bee hive. As I was strategizing exactly where to hang these newest arrivals, I dropped the bee hive, smashing it on the floor.

I would say I am not even close. It takes about twenty ornaments per square foot of tree to achieve the look. As I sit and look at my tree from different angles I discover more and more bare branches, heavens forbid.

I finished putting the others on and took an assessment of how many ornaments I will need to each tree nirvana. Looks to me like I need at least another hundred decorations of various sizes. I guess it will be at least seven more years before I get there. Check back in 2027 to see if I have my perfect tree.


Three Fun Zooms Today, Feels Like a Holiday

Today was the annual Needlepoint Christmas exchange. It is always the first or second Monday in December where a dozen of us gather to exchange the needlepoint treasure we have made for one special friend whose name we drew out of the hat in January. Normally we have a lovely lunch and give each other little gifts. It is one of the Christmas traditions I look most forward too.

Covid changes everything. This year we had our exchange via zoom which had it’s logistical issues. We all had to bring our gifts to one place over the last week. Then today we had to pick up our individual bags of goodies and go home to have the Zoom at three. Since I was providing the homemade scones and mini jars of jam so that we could at least pretend we were at a tea party I had to get up early and bake.

It felt very festive to package up a pair of scones in a tiny bakery box with a little glassine star shaped window. With a dozen of us on Zoom we took turns opening our ornament that was stitched for each of us in secret. Each person held their treasure close to the camera so we could “ohhh and ahhh” over the choices of stitches and fibers the maker had chosen.

This is the cute one I received from Amy

It was not the same as being in person, even though Ann wore her traditional red plaid turtle neck to make us feel like it was a normal year, but it was fun to be together, each eating our scones and sharing our love of needlepoint.

My second zoom was a group of college friends who had all read the same book. It’s funny how different opinions can be about the story, but my love of these friends makes me appreciate all their points of view. My favorite line from the book was “To end a friendship, it just takes someone willing to throw it away.” I found this to be especially apropos with this group, some of whom I have not seen much in thirty years, but thanks to Covid we have rekindled our friendship. I just love the idea that you are always friends, through time and space, as long as you don’t willing make it end.

My last Zoom was the happiest, the birthday celebration with Carter. Although I had already face timed with her earlier in the day I got the bonus double chance to see her face as she opened her birthday presents that had been accumulating in her apartment. If you can’t be together you can at least make sure she has things to open that will make her smile.

In three days I get to see her in person, but I’m glad she had a fun birthday today.

Three fun Zooms today, feels like it was a holiday.


Tomorrow is Carter’s Birthday

Twenty-two years ago tonight Russ and I could hardly sleep. We were waiting to get up at four in the morning to go to the hospital so Carter could be induced. We had waited a long time to meet her so it was no surprise we couldn’t sleep.

Tomorrow is Carter’s birthday, as Russ says, a day that will live in infamy. I like to think that as it is Carter’s birthday we can reclaim the day, at least in our family as the happiest day in our life.

Carter was an excellent baby. She was a great kid and she was a teenager, enough said about that. But she is a wonderful adult who makes us so proud.

2020 is the worst year of birthdays for everyone, but as Carter says her birthday is especially tough in college as it falls during exams. I hope she can salvage some bit of fun, but messages to her would be lovely.

I am especially proud of her this semester as she has worked full time, while taking a full course load and TAing two classes. It was a more than full schedule, but some free time is in sight.

Happy birthday to my fabulous daughter. Being your Mom is the best job I ever had.


The End is In Sight

Something like three or more years ago I started working on the plan for a new fellowship hall for Westminster. My first job was in choosing a consultant for our Capital campaign, then with my friend Sara, chairing the major gifts committee (I think that was what it was, but hell, it was so long ago I can’t exactly remember.) It did involve having people in groups of 25-30 for dinner at our house, the same dinner, four nights out of five in a row.

Then I was on the committee to choose the building committee. I said I could be on the building committee if I was not in charge, and then I was in charge. That was two years ago. The committee started strong with seven or eight members meeting regularly as we worked with the architect and builders. Thanks to the wonderful Robert Sontolongo and Susan Straw of DTW architects.

Around August of 2019 we tore down the old fellowship hall and began the rebuilding. I will tell you that the last eighteen months have been the rainiest consecutive 18 months ever. Eventually our builders, CT Wilson got a structure out of the ground and we were on our way. Our Project manager Nish Evans, Construction Manager Red Staley and head honcho Chuck Wilson kept everything moving forward. Slowly my committee dwindled down to the ever present Nathen Swiggett, to whomI am eternally grateful for his expertise and me.

The building was scheduled to be done September 1, but thanks to Covid and mostly that record amount of rain it took an extra three months. I had to visit donors who gave speciality gifts, and calm church goers who wanted to use the building before it was done. Along the way I gave talks in church asking people to pay their Capital campaign pledges, and giving updates on the building. Chris Tuttle, our pastor and I have given video tours of the progress just to remind people that a new building was coming, even though they were not allowed on campus to see it.

I have had billions of zoom construction meetings and many walk throughs to discuss choices and designs. I even had a really bad dream last week that the foundation had been ripped out, while the building still stood. I have argued with landscapers and made people mad because of my expectations for perfection. I wore my pink “mean lady” hard hat with pride.

We have been awaiting our Certificate of Occupancy for two weeks now. We have passed every inspection and Friday, when our CO should have been issued I was told it wasn’t because the main building inspector, who has to sign off, was taking every Friday in December off. So Monday! Monday we should get a CO. And Wednesday we have our owners meeting where all the vendors for things like the industrial dishwasher and the big ass range with griddle will teach us how it all works.

Of course just because we get a CO on Monday (god willing) I still will have some clean up work, as we have parking spaces to get finished and landscape to enhance. But the furniture has been ordered. And with the expertise of Tim Vann the wifi has been run. But the end is in sight.

I am thankful for Sharon Morgan our business manager, who has taken care of all the money coming in and going out and for all the Capital Campaign donors. We still need your pledges paid off. This was a very big project, but a good one to do during Covid. I am looking forward to the official unveiling for the whole church. Of course with Covid, it will only be a few people very socially distanced at a time, but it’s a big ass space, so it will be safe.

One day when I was building my garden, Chris stopped by my house for a meeting in the driveway. I told him I was building this garden so I had something to show for Covid. He said, “You have a whole fellowship hall to show.” No, that fellowship hall belongs to everyone. When we gather together there sometime after we have all been vaccinated, I hope people feel at home there because it is a space meant for everyone. My big question is, “What can I build next?”


Is There Such a Thing as a Coincidence?

Yesterday, while the furnace men were replacing our HVAC Carter called and we face timed for a while. She showed me a video presentation she made for a psychology course. It was about the correlation of comfort food and happiness in children. Part of her video had Carole King singing the Chicken Soup with Rice song based on the poem by Maurice Sendack.

I told Carter that I used to read her that poem from a tiny little red book which was one of four in a Maurice Sendack collection called the Nutshell Books. She said she had felt something familiar when she stumbled upon this Chicken Soup song, but couldn’t quite place how she knew it.

Later in the day when I was searching for the lost key to the crawl space I pulled out some boxes on a shelf in my linen press in my bedroom. The boxes contained a lot of random stuff, like all the little envelopes and bags of extra buttons that come with clothes, a dresser set of brushes and powder boxes with the name Daisy, empty boxes that good jewelry had come in and two little red books.

The Books were half of the Nutshell library collection, one, The Chicken Soup with Rice and the other Pierre, a cautionary tale in four parts with a prologue. I don’t think I have looked in these boxes in ten years. What are the chances that I find the very book Carter and I talked about the day she is using it in her presentation?

I FaceTimed her back and read her the book. My favorite part was:

In February

it will be

My Snowman’s

anniversary.

With cake for him

And soup for me.

Happy Once

Happy Twice

Happy chicken soup

With Rice.

Carter Suggested I hang those little books on the Christmas tree. And so I did. I don’t think it was a coincidence, but exactly what it is I can not name.


Merry HVAC Christmas

Didn’t get to travel this year? Spending every waking and sleeping moment in your house? Seems like the right time to replace that ten year old HVAC unit.

Just when I told Russ I didn’t have many gifts for him for Christmas, so he wouldn’t worry about getting me anything, along comes the perfect gift to give each other. A 17Sear new HVAC unit with new and improved duct work.

We could have waited for any of the many wearing parts in the old unit to stop working all together, but given the planned obsolescence of all appliances these days we decided not to chance it and have it break down while Carter was home for Christmas. It might have worked another three years, but that is something we will never know.

Now I have shinny and bright new duct work in my crawl space along with a big maxi filter and a second nest thermostat since this is our second HVAC unit. At least now I can change the temperature settings all over the house from bed.

The only bad thing happened after the crew was here all day working. I went downstairs to be shown their work at a social distant space and as soon as they walked out my back door I shut the crawl space door and it locked from the inside. When Carter went to high school I moved all the alcohol in the house down to that storage place and locked the door and hid the key. Since her room was also down there I did not want her and her friends to be tempted to lift any of it.

I went to find where I had hidden the key and couldn’t find it. I texted Carter and asked her if she knew where the key was. She said she never knew and was never able to take any alcohol. Too bad! I really wished she knew where the key was.

Thankfully Russ came down and found the key. We left it in the door because now we are too old to hide things because it would mean we were just hiding it from ourselves.


Advent Vespers

We have not been allowed to go to church for nine months, until today. My church just started doing outdoor, socially distant advent vesper services. We had to sign up in advance to keep the numbers down. Russ had work and was not going to make it so I invited Lynn to take his spot.

We were asked to arrive fifteen minutes early to sign in for Covid protocol. I was early, but was probably the last to arrive. It was obvious that the small group was anxious to get to see other congregants. Chairs were set up in the courtyard in family group sizes, of four, two or one far apart from each other.

We had a fire pit, but most people brought blankets. Sadly neither Lynn, nor I did that. We had live music from some friends of our youth pastor Alex. It was nice to be with people, even though we all had masks and were far apart.

At the appointed time Chris, our Pastor, stood at a microphone and welcomed us, gave us the instructions not to sing and told us how these vespers would work. The last time I had gone to vespers was when I was a camp counselor at Camp Idlepines in New Hampshire. It was summer and later in the evening as the sun did not set until nine. Tonight we sat in the waining light at five and the cold descended upon us. Chris read us the advent lesson, we had questions to ponder, music to listen to and prayers to say.

After the service we were asked to be filmed in our “family” groups passing the light from candle to candle like we do on Christmas Eve, so the film can be used in our Video service that night. Lynn and I stood side by side in our masks and passed the light from one candle to another lifting our candles high as we always do on Christmas Eve. The woman filming us asked if we were related and in unison we immediately answered, “Yes.” When you share Christmas Eve together every year you are family. We didn’t need to explain how we were related, but we are.

Sadly, due to the restrictions on numbers, that was the only Advent Vespers I can attend. It was a moment of normality, although we have never done vespers at Westminster before. Just seeing familiar eyes and being together was moment of hope and happiness. Just like Advent.


It’s Giving Tuesday

If you are reading this you probably don’t live under a rock, therefore you might already know it’s Giving Tuesday. In case you don’t know, let me help you. Today is a day where people are encouraged to give to their favorite charities and non-profits. It could be a school, a Food Bank, an organization that helps homeless people, one that helps animals, the list is endless.

If you are lucky enough to have dinner tonight and a warm bed to sleep in and a dog to snuggle with and can read and comprehend a book you probably had someone in your life who helped you get where you are. None of us grow up with out the encouragement of some person. It might have been your parents, a teacher, a grandmother, a friend at church, or all those people.

If you had many people who encouraged you, you were lucky. If you were born into a family which did not worry about buying you new sneakers when you out grew your last ones, you were lucky. Now some people say they got where they are by their own hard work. I am not discounting hard work, but no one gets places alone and those who grew up with privilege need to understand that it was just luck that they were born into that family.

For many people non-profits fill the gaps for people who are just not as lucky. They might be as smart as you and as hard working as you, but they might have grown up in a town with a school that was not as good as yours, or they might have had a parent who lost a job at a bad time, or worse, lost the parent.

Wherever you are now, do you have something or someone to be thankful for? If so it might be a good day to donate to a non-profit in that person’s honor as a way of thanking them for all they did for you. Or give because you are thankful for the luck you had and want to pay it forward so someone else might be helped right at a time they need it.

Let’s not waste the potential we have in our own communities because a child is hungry and can’t concentrate on learning. Or let’s try and alleviate the burden someone else has to carry because it is the right thing to do. Give today. It doesn’t matter where, you pick something that means something to you. If you can, give again tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be money. Give again the next day. I promise you it will make your life happier. You may never know exactly who is helped by your giving, but they will always be grateful to you. We all need help at sometime.


The $34,482 Vote

Trump just spent $3,000,000 donated by his faithful to get Biden 87 more votes in Wisconsin. That’s $34,482 per vote for Biden. This is not surprising. It’s just like a Trump run Atlantic City casino. Take other people’s money and use it to run a business into the ground. I hope that Wisconsin got that $3,000,000 to do the recount up front because if history is any predictor Trump will run out on the bill and when Wisconsin comes after him for the money he will tell them to sue him for it.

We shouldn’t hold our breath for Trump to realize he actually lost this election. He has no shame in declaring six of his business bankrupt and act like he did nothing wrong. He never admits defeat. But we can stop paying any attention to him. There is nothing he hates more than being ignored.

He does not care to be right as long as he has the spotlight. Like those ridiculous claims that Covid was a hoax and we would stop hearing about it the second the election is over. If ever there was one of his claims I wish wasn’t a lie it was that one.

I just hope people who can ill afford to give him money stop wasting their time and dollars. His claims to keep fighting this already decided election is just a way to fleece people for more money. Poor dopes, have they never heard of Trump University?


Voting Out Cyber Monday

On New Year’s Day 2019 I vowed not to buy myself anything except consumables for a year. It was easy. I did not buy any clothes, or books, or shoes, or pocket books, nothing. What I had already was good enough. New Year’s Day 2020 I did not make the same vow. I needed some underwear and a new nightgown, but not a whole lot more. Then Covid hit and here we are staying home, seeing no one. So what did I need this year, NOTHING.

Watching the news tonight all they can talk about is cyber Monday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Too late for me, I have already organized most of my Christmas, small that it is. I am trying to encourage my family to not get me anything. What I proved last year is that I really don’t need anything. How many shirts or sweaters does a person need? When you just stay at home it doesn’t matter if you wear the same three things.

The one thing I got this year is my garden. Even though I built it almost all by myself I did spend a good amount on the materials. Now I have something big to show for the year of Covid. I expect this garden to last as long as I am in this house. If we live here another thirty years that garden will be a good investment, at least in keeping me healthy working outside.

Christmas is for children, but even they should not get too much. Give them the one big thing they really want. Don’t load them up on a lot of junk that gets cast aside by four in the afternoon on December 25. That saying, “The one with the most toys when they dies win,” is the worst saying ever coined. It came out of the over indulgent 1980’s. Please let’s not go back there.

If we learned nothing more from the year of Covid let it be that we returned to a simpler time. Save your money. Don’t over extend at Christmas. You will remember your credit card debt long after the people will recall what “things” you gave them. As I always tell Carter when she asks me what I want for Christmas, “Just give me a heartfelt letter you wrote by hand.”

There is no reason that in this year when so many are suffering from the loss of jobs, businesses, loved ones or their health that we make this cyber Monday the biggest shopping day in history. If you do feel like you want to give your loved ones a personal gift give them something you already own that they adore. Think how much more meaning it will have if you give them your Grandmother’s portrait, or your mother’s ring. Don’t wait to leave things in your will to people, give your prized processions while you can see the joy it will bring now. You can give without shopping.


Christmas Decorations Officially Make You Happier

According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology people who decorate for Christmas earlier are happier. No, I don’t subscribe to this magazine, but Real Simple reported on it and that is good enough for me. I don’t need any PhD to tell me what I already know…Christmas decorations make me happy.

The study hypothesizes that in a world full of stress, Christmas decorations evoke strong feeling of childhood. That assumes you grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas and you had more happy Christmases than unhappy ones. I am more simple than that. My theory is that the shiny and bright over come the gloom of short days. I am not sure if Christmas decorations take on the same affect in the Southern Hemisphere.

Today two friends reported that they have been decorating all week and fully enjoyed have Christmas decorations for thanksgiving. With as much work as decorating for Christmas is why not enjoy it for at least 30 days?

Another friend’s husband has a self imposed rule that no Christmas tree can be put up until December has double digits. At last their youngest child, who is a senior in high school, revolted and said she was not going to suffer this season without the sparkle. For the record the actual tree is not up, but all the other house decorations are done. I’m encouraging a full blown revolt and go on and put that tree up.

You are stuck at home, go on, decorate. You are not going to your decorated office, or should not be speeding much time in a festive mall. Your home is your shiny and bright place. Fly that Santa flag and give yourself a much needed jolt of childhood happiness.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, string up some lights and call them the winter solstice decorations. You deserve some bright in this darkness too. We all need to be happier.


Dog of Routine

I know that all dogs have routines of one kind or another. Shay likes to have her dinner right at 6:00pm, which is 5:00pm when the time changes. We have a very hard time pushing her back to 6:00 and convincing her we are not cheating her. It does not matter what we are doing at 6:00, she comes and finds us and insists we get to the kitchen.

After she has her chicken and kibble course, which she only eats the chicken out of she nudges us for her second course, which is a tablespoon of shredded cheese on her kibble. Somehow she is able to vacuum out just the cheese and then asks for her second cheese course where she will eat her kibble. Such a continental dog who has cheese as her dessert.

Then, we are allowed to have our dinner. She usually doesn’t beg for our food, but the second Russ puts down his fork she is all over him to get up. It is time for him to play with her in the sun room where her basket of toys are. He might not have finished dinner, but she drives him crazy to go in the sunroom where he lies on the floor and throws toys into the air. Shay will either catch them mid air or bounce them off her nose.

There is a donut in the air, the blurry brown thing by Russ’ head, that Shay is going to catch

The ones she catches she might play with for a moment before digging in the basket to get a new toy for Russ to throw to her. This toy routine is as strong a habit as her dinner routine. She feels like she has not been payed her attention due without the toy time after dinner.

Who says you can’t teach a old dog new tricks. Russ was in his fifties when Shay taught him to come and play with her after dinner. There is nothing sweeter than a boy and his dog at play.


Decorate, Zoom, Decorate, Zoom, Eat a Little

Happy thanksgiving to all! We have had the most family filled Thanksgiving and it has just been Russ and I with trusty Shay by our sides all day.

We slept in just a little, read, Shay and I slept until eight. Russ of course was up early. We enjoyed some homemade gravlox for breakfast and then got to work bringing the rest of the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Why not decorate on Thanksgiving when we had no one to cook for?

Carter and I face timed some this morning to discuss her cooking and other items then I got to work decorating the house. It felt leisurely to decorate with the tree and the needlepoint already done. As I unpacked things I cleaned them and did some needed repairs on things that had gone unfixed for years. I listened to Alice’s Restaurant twice just because I could.

Around one-thirty I took a break to have our first thanksgiving Zoom which Carter had set up with the Carter side of the family. We had my sister Janet and her Partner Sophie, who is also celebrating her birthday today and by miracle both my parents making their first Zoom appearances. My sister Margaret was unable to join, but the rest of us had a marvelous time catching up. Unlike a normal Thanksgiving there was no fighting, no driving, no dishes. Practically perfect.

Then back to decorating. Around four-thirty I put our Turkey in the oven and joined the Lange family Zoom, which Carter had organized. All the Langes were there except our niece Bree who is an emergency room nurse who was working. It was my father-in-law, Marty’s first Zoom too so Carter was batting 1000 at getting all her grandparents on the 2020 communication program.

After that zoom it was back to decorating and then around six I took our Turkey out of the oven. Thanks to Amy at Sage and Swift we had more food than two people could possibly eat at four meals, despite us purchasing the dinner for two option. Russ and I made our plates and sat down at the dining room table at six-thirty and started our third Zoom with Carter with a blessing and then she showed us her plate of all her favorite thanksgiving foods she had made herself.

The three of us had Virtual Thanksgiving and stayed on the Zoom for an hour and half. Carter even got to witness Shay begging for Turkey. All this Zooming and introvert Carter was exhausted. Thanksgiving might have been “too peopley” as Russ and Carter like to say.

Russ did the dishes and put the food away and all in all it was a perfect thanksgiving. Even Shay is exhausted.

We hope that you all stayed safe and healthy this Thanksgiving and feel grateful that we are still here. It may have been a different Thanksgiving, but that is not bad.


Not Cooking

It’s amazing what you can do if you don’t spend time cooking. For the last three days rather than making pies or stewing tomatoes I have been in my sweat shop sewing some Christmas presents. It has been so productive to just work away at the sewing machine, something I should have done earlier in the year. The garden wall kept me too busy to be making Christmas presents, so the lack of Thanksgiving prep gave me some much needed time.

Instead of making rolls for thanksgiving, I was watching the Great British Bake off while I sewed. It was the perfect way to feel like I was cooking without any of the work.

I was not the only one who decided not to cook this year. Amy Tournquist’s parking lot at Sage and Swift was hopping as so many people pulled in to pick up their Turkey dinners. I was thrilled for Amy to have so many happy customers. We may not get to be at big tables with our families, but at least we can have yummy things to eat without any of the work.

I did not get a cooked Turkey as I still prefer to roast mine and eat it hot and fresh from the oven, but Amy did all the prep and it is ready to pop in oven already seasoned and ready to go. I think that cooking the Turkey qualifies as cooking something even though it is the easiest thing to cook.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all you friends. I hope you have a calm and simple day tomorrow. That is something we all can be thankful for. At least if it is just me and Russ we don’t have to wear masks at home alone and we can eat in the dining room, with Carter on Zoom eating her Thanksgiving she is cooking herself. We may not be in the same room, but we will be together for dinner.


WARNING: NC is Alerting You to Stay Home

Historically I try and not visit a grocery store this week as I usually find them full of amateurs. You know, the husbands who have been sent to the store to pick up one strange ingredient they have no idea where to find, let alone what it even looks like. Or the newly home from college student who wanders the aisles with all the time in the world blocking power shoppers like me from sprinting through our shopping. Or the mother with her children out of school in tow just trying to keep superfluous items out of her cart.

Since I am not cooking for Thanksgiving I did not do my big Turkey shopping last week and have not been cooking one item each day for the last week. Russ and I are getting our Thanksgiving from Sage and Swift. This is first time in our marriage that I have not cooked anything, except for may be our first Thanksgiving when we went to his parents for Turkey day. Given what we were served I think I had to cook after the Turkey meal when I got home so we could have something good to eat.

As I did not shop last week I realized that I needed to buy a few fruits and vegetable today to carry us through the holiday. I broke down and went to Trader Joe’s this morning. Thankfully with the vetting of the number of customers allowed in the store at the same time it did not matter if there were too many armatures, except for the one woman who kept wandering the store with her cart going against the stream of shoppers.

As I was standing by the bananas both my watch and phone started blaring a terrible warning sound. I heard the same sound coming from every phone on every person in the store. I looked at my watch and saw the words “Public Safety Alert.” I was worried something like a plane crash had happened. I put on my glasses so I could see the text.

Covid 19 warning was what everyone had received all at once. It was the very first alert of its kind I had gotten. I was worried that it was alerting me that someone in the store had Covid. Thankfully it was not. I finished my shopping and heeded the warning and went home.

Then I got the same warning again late this afternoon. North Carolina is serious about us trying to reduce our Covid numbers. I hope that people listen. Don’t send any armatures to the store. If your normal Thanksgiving provision gathering happens by going back to the store a dozen times in two days, try and make a list an only go once. If you have a college student home, ask them what they want to eat and buy all their favorite foods for them when you do your shopping and if you are a mother with little kids, ask someone else to pick up your groceries so you don’t have to drag extra little people to the store.

Even better, order take out for your Thanksgiving. You can pick it up tomorrow and not have to go to the store at all.


The Drip, Drip, Drip of Christmas

In a normal year Christmas throws up at our house the weekend after Thanksgiving. It is an all out assault. 46 hinged crates come down from the attic all at once. The tree is assembled with lots of swearing. Non-Christmas decorative items get packed away in the attic to make room for the glass village, snowmen display, various Santa’s and general holiday cheer. I work fourteen plus hours those days to get it all done. It is exhausting, but needs to be completed to make room for the entertaining preparations for the no less than six events we hold at our house in the month of December.

This year I am really enjoying doing the Christmas decorating bit-by-bit. The tree was up last weekend. With the new tree we have new tree technology, mainly in the remote control for the lights. Russ got his hands on the remote and discovered that with the press of a button he can change my tasteful white lights to multi-colored lights. He declared that the colors are pure “northeast Philly.” So we have been toggling the colors on and off to feel like we are traveling, while still staying home. For the record I don’t ever need to go to northeast Philly.

Yesterday I spent a leisurely two hours putting up the needlepoint garland. I was exhausted after doing it and couldn’t imagine doing more decorating after I finished, like I do in a regular year.

So now I am enjoying a few days revisiting all my needlepointing before I move on to the rest of the house decorations. After I am done there will be no parties to cook for, no guests to have over, just Russ and I wandering the house sitting in rooms we usually don’t even use just so we can enjoy the Christmas decorations.

It’s a different year, but honestly it is an easier year. I don’t think I can convince Russ to let me put Christmas up before Thanksgiving normally and certainly Carter would object. For now I am just going to revel in the shiny and bright.


Inspired by a Friend’s Humanity

Last year I reconnected with a high school friend on Facebook. I had not seen her since she graduated the year before me. I haven’t spoken with her or seen her, just read her posts.

She lives on a small island in Maine and day before yesterday I read this that she posted:

We are now a solid 8 months into this. If you are not working/not getting a paycheck/struggling to make ends meet and run out of food or necessities…please don’t let yourself or your kids go to sleep cold or with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I am more than happy to help you and your family out. I will drop and go, or order for delivery. No one has to know and I will pretend it never happened. What’s understood never has to be explained. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you need anything for a family dinner or anything at all, message me. Stays private.

What humanity. I knew she was an extraordinary person in high school and was kind then, but this is beyond kindness.

She inspires me and I wanted to share her generosity with others incase it inspires you. We have had a horrific year, but many of us have not had to face homelessness or hunger along with all the depression those bring on.

Reaching out to those around you and just letting them know you are there might be just the thing someone needs. I am here for you if you need me. I thank Dinah for reminding me that it is our responsibility to care for those around us.


Leaning in on Veggies

Now that the stress of the election is over it’s time to get back to healthier eating. Following the lead of the others in my house I am not eating any red meat. That really isn’t much of a change, so I am trying to eat more vegan options.

This morning Russ suggested we get take out from Rose’s in Downtown Durham. Rose’s started out as Rose’s meats and sweets, a strange combination of butcher and baker. They took the meat out and morphed into a noodle house/bakery when they had great success with their Raman’s at lunch.

So Russ and I ordered a vegan Raman and I got a winter squash salad and Russ got a vegan steamed bun. If I tell you it was all so yummy I am holding back. It was fantastic. We each ate half of our dinner so we could save it to have again tomorrow.

Shay was not too happy that we didn’t have anything on our plates she wanted, but thankfully we still have chicken for her.

I am not giving up chicken or fish, but I will try and cut way down on cheese. If only my garden could produce in the winter it would make eating vegan heavy much easier.


Is Your Toothpaste Tube Safe?

In our house we all have our own personal tubes of tooth paste since we all brush our teeth in our own bathrooms. As I was squeezing my squirt of paste across my bristles I got to thinking about how gross our toothpaste was a kid. In our very old house we had very few bathrooms, none that could be considered luxurious by any stretch of the imagination. I shared the worst bathroom with my two sisters. We had one tiny sink where our tooth brushes all lay on the laminate covered counter with one usually well squeezed tube of Crest tooth paste.

It never seemed to matter how old the tooth paste was, it was always squeezed in the middle. Back in the sixties toothpaste tubes were a kind of bendable metal and once you mashed the middle up it was hard to squeeze the tooth paste from the far end to the cap opening. We never learned, we squeezed the middle first every time.

Putting the cap on the tooth paste was also something we were not good at. Given the nine years age difference it would be a lifetime before that was a skill we all had. So when you came in at bedtime there was a better than fifty-fifty shot that there would be some caked paste seal on the end and you had to squeeze extra hard to give enough pressure to break through the tough hardened paste.

One thing for sure was we all dragged our own tooth brushes against the end of the cap while we were trying to catch the paste as it came out. Now that I live in a Covid world and look at everything in terms of what their potential viral load might be, I look at shared tooth paste tubes as a ground zero for spreading germs.

I am thankful that in our house we all have always had our own tooth paste, but I think it was a proximity issue rather than a cleanliness one. I am wondering how many of you shared tooth paste with your siblings? If you have a house full of children now do they each have their own toothpaste? If they share a bathroom even if they have their own tubes do they not accidentally use someone else’s?

Seems like tooth paste manufacturers should make a place on the tube to write you name. Perhaps we could cut down on the sharing of the common cold if everyone had their own tooth paste. Maybe I have this all wrong. I have never heard of people sharing toothpaste being singled out for transmission of anything. If it had I am certain that the marketing departments at Crest and Colgate would tell us to buy a tube for every member of the house. Or perhaps they don’t want to imply that germs could live on the tube. Someone please tell me the answer to my questions about the cleanliness of our toothpaste.


I Know It’s Early

It may be a whole week before Thanksgiving, but 2020 Thanksgiving is not going to be much this year. So I threw out the rule of no Christmas before Thanksgiving and I put up my tree. The need to get the coffin sized box out of my front hallway had something to do with it, but my love of decorating my Christmas tree was the overwhelming reason.

Despite being a slightly smaller tree than my old one it still took me half of yesterday and half of today to decorate it. I did cull some unloved ornaments from the rotation, but saved a couple spots for new ornaments to come during this season.

With darkness descending on us at four-fifty the glow from the tree adds needed light to our evenings. We spend more time in our big room during Christmas than any other time of the year and that is all tree related. Sadly there will be no needlepoint Christmas exchange or garden club auction or Chinese auction so that friends come over and enjoy my Christmas decorating.

I may have to do a Zoom tour of Christmas just so I can see everyone’s trees. There is nothing I like more than Looking at people’s decorations and having them tell me stories about where they came from and which ones are their favorites.

Send me a picture of your tree when you put yours up. I know it might not be for a couple of weeks. Most of you are not as crazy as me. For the record, I have not out any other decorations up, not even my needlepoint garland. Maybe this weekend.

On a different note, this afternoon my friend Christy and I were going out on a walk to get our needed vitamin D. There was a big black suburban parked by the end of my driveway I did not recognize. Christy said it wasn’t there when he pulled in my driveway three minutes before. Then a friend, Anita, came out from behind the car and said she left me a little surprise. We talked a few minutes and she got in her car and Christy and I went on our walk.

As we walked away I said, “I wonder what the surprise is? I hope it’s some chicken poop for my compost.” Anita keeps chickens. When we got home we walked down the driveway. I didn’t see any poop. Christy looked in my mailbox and only saw mail. Then I saw something fluttering and looked up and found a gold star balloon tied to my garden. What a cute friend! Thanks Anita.