October Second – The Day God Made Me Smile



Little did I know that on this day forty-nine years ago a baby boy was born who would grow up to make me happy everyday.  Yeah, I was only three so I did not know much.  It took me a few years to recognize Russ Lange as the quality human he is, but once I did I knew I had to spend my life with him.


I owe Russ’ parents a big thank you for raising such a genuine, kind, brilliant, hard working, loving man.  I owe Russ a lifetime of devotion because he makes all things good for Carter and me.  Really devotion is not a strong enough word to describe my love and affection for my husband.  But the word does not exist in English to convey how much I cherish him.


So on his birthday, a day he would act is like any normal day, I want to send out to the universe this message, “Russ Lange rocks!”  October second is not just a regular day; it is the day that God made me smile.  Like me, you might not notice his super powers at first because of his quiet steadfast demeanor.  Perhaps that is because he lives in an air space above most of our heads.  But if you are ever lucky enough to be invited to visit the place Russ exists in you will discover new possibilities about the world and yourself.  Not everyone gets that invitation.  I’m just glad that I did and I did not miss the big party that became my life living with him.

Hooray for Sista J

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It’s my youngest sister Janet’s birthday today.  She is my sister who can do anything and does everything.  When we were kids, and by that I mean when she was a kid because I am over eight years older than she is, she was the worker bee of the family.  As the baby she in no way was the coddled one, quite the opposite.  Janet could drive the tractor at age five, would stack firewood, run the snow blower all without complaint.


She still is the hardest working person I know, but now she is also the best taker of holidays too.  Janet is a professional traveler and makes the most of her off time by going on the best vacations.  If I ever need a travel recommendation she is the one in the know.  If I mention I went somewhere cool she say, “Oh yeah, did you swim with those nice dolphins there?”  Because without my knowing, she had already been there before me.


Janet is a most important member of our family, always looking out for anyone who needs something.  Although she has no children of her own she is a very cool Aunt to Carter.  Christmas with Janet is like having an extra Santa in the family.


Fun is always close by with my Sista J, one of the many nicknames she has.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone who does not like her.  Unlike me, if you are not her cup of tea she keeps it to herself, a trait I wished I cultivated long ago.  Janet is funny and at the same time thoughtful.  I can honestly say I can’t think of a time we had a cross word.


She has always been exactly who she was born to be without any apologies.  When she was in middle school and would wear English driving caps to school and get beat up on the school bus for doing so, but she would not change her hat.  She would get right back on that bus the next day, hat on her head and face off any bully.  Being able to stand up for herself also made her great at standing up for others.  She is the person I always want by my side.


So on this her special day I want to tell the whole world that she is an amazing sister.  If you know her give her a shout out, if you don’t you can give her one here if you want.  I hope that you are lucky enough to have such a great sister as I do, but I have to say it would be hard to, that is unless you are my other sister Margaret.

Birthday Folklore

H & D is disguise back in the day

Me with my college friends Suzanne, H & D in disguise back in the day


When I was in college there was a famous gut course called Folklore. Although I myself did not take this course two of my great friends, whom I shall only identify as H & D, to preserve their academic standing, did take it.   How I missed taking a course, which is more or less about story telling and more importantly, how I missed taking the easiest class offered at my school, where very few courses were easy, I will never know.


Although I was not enrolled in Folklore, I lived ever class through my friends H & D because they would retell class stories at lunch everyday.  Being a friend-group of storytellers we loved talking about how stories got started and continued through generations.


The only real difficulty in this class was at the end of the semester each student had to turn in a paper with 50 original folklore stories from their family.  Now most families in America had similar folklore, like Santa and the Easter bunny so the idea that any one student could possibly come up with 50 original ones seemed outrageous.  We were sure this professor was collecting all these stories for a future book of tall tales college students wrote.


Since we were second semester seniors when H & D took this course no one took this assignment too seriously, but in actuality coming up with and writing down 50 stories, including the 5 W’s about each story, is harder than any of us thought a gut deserved.  The worst part was that any folklore that had been discussed in class was off limits.  So things like baptizing babies, or jumping over brooms at weddings or even Price Charming was done, documented and untouchable.


Because I could type quickly and owned a typewriter, (yes I am so old that typewriters where the best technology available. Computers were just printing out on green and white striped paper back then) also because I was good at making up or enhancing stories, I was conscripted into helping D & H with their papers.  I can’t remember how many hours we sat in H’s room like Morey Amsterdam, Rosemary and Dick Van Dyke writing the Alan Brady show, but it seemed like days and fun days they were.


We were writing at the time of a friend’s birthday so we came up with one bit of folklore entitled, “Cry on your birthday, cry all year long.”  It was the story of how a girl who whined and cried about having a bad birthday doomed herself to have an entire bad year.


Although we completely fabricated this story for the paper, “cry on your birthday, cry all year long” continued to be a phrase my group of friends repeated often.  It also became somewhat of a superstition with us that we did not want to test.  So it may have started as a whim, but has since actually become folklore.


I used to hate my birthday feeling like it was more disappointing than celebratory.  But after working with H & D on folklore I never tempted fate with being unhappy about my birthday again.


So on this day, which is my birthday, as well as the birthday of my cousin Sarah, my friends, Gussy, Tricia, Beth, Ashley and many more I am sure I am forgetting here, I am going to celebrate and promise not to cry.  Tears of joy do not count.

Body Opposites

Today is my dearest college friend Suzanne’s birthday!  She is Carter’s Godmother, and we were each other’s maid and matron of honor at out weddings.  It is hard for me to believe that we have known each other almost twice as long as we have not known each other.


In our decades long friendship one thing has remained the same.  While my body has changed multiple times, Suzanne’s has not.  More of the time than not we would have what be what I call “Body opposites.”  Suzanne is very tall and perfectly thin.  I am neither.  People often mistake me for being tall, but I correct them by saying I am just loud and thus appear taller than I am.


When Suzanne and I were in college she used to describe our bras as a fruit cup and a salad bowl. That has not changed; although I think now the better description might be a fruit cup and a salad spinner since my boobs can take any shape they are molded into, except for bowl shape.


Suzanne loves food, a common interest we share, but somehow she is able not to overeat or gain weight.  The only time I can think of her being concerned with her weight was sometime after the birth of her third child.  She told me she asked a doctor what might possibly be going wrong and after a few probing questions the doctor discovered that Suzanne was eating her cereal out of a bowl that held three or four servings.  Soon after that realization Suzanne was down the few pounds that the cereal had left her with.


Suzanne is an adventurous eater.   One of her favorite things to do is make a sandwich out of all the leftovers in the refrigerator.  “A meal between two pieces of bread.”  One of the best habits she has is that she always washes fruit when she brings it home from the store and keeps what is not perishable on her kitchen counter so when someone in her house is hungry the fruit is the first thing they see.  I have happily snacked on more than a few grapes while cooking in her kitchen.


One thing that is wonderful about being Suzanne’s friend is that no matter where I am on my weight continuum she is never judgmental and is always supportive. That is a great sign of a true friend, one who loves you just the way you are.  So today, on her day I would like to thank her for all the fabulous years we have spent together.  We may be body opposites but I will always consider us hearts alike.

Janie Carter Day

Today is my Mother’s 75th birthday.  That is a lot of birthdays.  Three quarters of a century.  She’s doing great.  She is an exceptional artist who paints most days and continues to win juried show after juried show.  When she is not painting she would like to be playing bridge.   Playing bridge and having lunch with her friends, that is a perfect day for her.


For her birthday today she was supposed to playing bridge, but then the snow and bad weather happened.  Not only was bridge on her birthday canceled but also so was lunch with friends.


So for my blog today I am asking anyone reading this to do me a favor.  Please send my mother, Janie Carter a happy birthday e-mail.  Her address is Janie@Carter.net.


If you want to look at her website and see some of her artwork go to Janecarterart.com.  My mom is not one who is big on cake, but having people enjoy her paintings is something that would make her happy, almost as happy as playing bridge — Maybe not as happy as winning at bridge, but happy none-the-less.


If you have enjoyed reading my blog at all do me this favor.  I am the way I am in part to the mother I have.  Because of the weather and the sickness that still engulfs our house I can’t go play bridge with my mother and make her birthday all better, so you, wonderful reader are my best back-up plan.


I hope you are staying warm and safe on this cold January 25th.  Enjoy a glass of wine in honor of my mother.  She would like that too.

Happy Birthday Russ!

Today is my husband’s birthday.  So if you know him and see him somewhere wish him a happy birthday.  Now I can’t promise that he will know you, at least he might not know your name although he is getting fairly good at pretending he knows your face.

Once he came home from the grocery store and was quite excited to tell me that he had seen my friend Jean at the Harris Teeter and told me he said “Hi” to her.  I was so proud of him, not only because he recognized Jean who had just had us to her lake house, but also because he actually spoke to her.  My pride bubble was quickly burst when the phone rang two minutes later and my friend Carol said, “I just saw Russ at the grocery store and he called me Jean.”

Please don’t be offended that I did not invite you to a big birthday party for Russ.  His idea of a great birthday is to have two other guys come over to our house, each with their own reading material.  They go into separate rooms and read for a while and at some point gather in the kitchen to get a drink, tell each other something interesting that they read and go back to their own rooms.

We are not even celebrating that way this year since Russ has a work meeting and dinner tonight.  At least he will have a meal he enjoys without any guilt that I cannot share in the same fattening goodies.  For his home celebration Carter is making him his favorite apple pie and I will have some baked apples in solidarity.

So I would like to raise a virtual glass to my wonderful husband who makes everyday with him a joy.  His constant support and promotion of me is unmatched.  I wish that I were half as good a wife as he is a husband and father. Happy Birthday Russ Lange, you are the best!