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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter People

Dear Mom,

We had a wonderful Easter in Charlotte. You would have been so proud of Leigh Ann! She invited the whole extended family to her house for lunch. 

Everybody brought something. The table looked so pretty with Grandmama's table cloth, and all of your silver and Mimi's silver, which LA was up until midnight polishing! (I do have a photo of that, but I will spare her the joy.) 

We had ham and turkey, Grandmama's hash brown potato casserole, Patsy's carrot soufflĂ©, beet salad, deviled eggs, tomato and cucumber salad, green salad, fruit salad, rolls, etc. Everybody wanted the recipes for Sarah's beet salad and Patsy's soufflĂ© (it's in the RFM cookbook for the Quincy crowd). 

She said she goes easy on the mayo and adds a little extra vinegar. 

For dessert I made banana pudding, and Aunt Tillie brought a chocolate cake. Leigh Ann got her neighbor to come over, and we took a group shot. 
LA wanted an updated version of this photo from Bruce's 65th birthday, when the kids were little. (I was in Brazil on a mission trip and missed out!)
Now...some people may be wondering: how did two girls from Quincy end up with all of these relatives in Charlotte? 

Well, Aunt Tillie moved to Charlotte after Converse College, and she married Uncle Jim. Tillie's girls are Cindy and Mary Beth. Cindy is married to Anne, and Mary Beth and K.B. have two kids, Ellie and James. K.B.'s parents are Joyce and Bruce, and his sister is Laura. Laura and Ken have Elizabeth and Kenny, and Joyce has a sister, Emily. 

Several years after Uncle Jim passed away, Tillie began dating Harry, the father of Mary Beth's friend Sarah. Sarah and Ladson have twin boys, Crayton and Mills. 

Leigh Ann's house looked great, so it was fun for her to have everybody over. 

Everybody stayed and visited for a while, enjoying the sunshine and the nice weather. And we took a few more photos. 
Leigh Ann with Anne and Cindy.
Ellie and James.
James wearing LA's bunny ears and Anne in her Masters sweater from her 40th birthday round at Augusta National.

We scattered some of your ashes by the Saint Francis statue from your yard, which LA now has.
James and the twins helped with the ashes, and James offered up the sweetest prayer afterwards. It was really special. 

Leigh Ann and I crashed to rest after everyone left, as we were pooped from getting up early to beat the crowds at church. We hit the 8:30 service, which was about 70% full when we got there at 8:10. Then we had to get our photo! LA humored me and wore a coordinating outfit...
It's too bad the flowering cross doesn't get early morning sun, so we did one on the brighter side too...
I'd flown in on Friday and spent the whole time visiting with friends. Xanie had me and Lisa over for pizza on Saturday night, which was a ton of fun. Of course her house looked fantastic, as always. We were bummed it was raining, so we couldn't enjoy her gorgeous garden, which you loved so much that time we met her for lunch. 
It was a wonderful weekend, and I stayed over through Monday for my condo's HOA meeting, where I finally managed to pass the crown of president. Mary Beth is going to help me try putting it on the market when the current tenants move out this summer.

As you know, Charlotte is so gorgeous in the spring when everything is in bloom, and I definitely remembered how much I loved living there. Leigh Ann's azaleas looked gorgeous! 
But I am still 100% glad I took the leap and moved to NYC, as Charlotte will be there if/when I am ready to move back. 

By the way... We sprinkled a few ashes in front of that duplex you'd picked out! So, you did end up with a "place" in Myers Park after all. 



P.S. Miss Litty made "your" fruit and granola yogurt parfaits for the Centenary breakfast. We told Marisa how much you love that creation. She and Matt hosted a brunch for the church gang, which we were sorry to miss. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Dear Mom,

It is FINALLY starting to feel like the long winter is over...even though it was 40 and rainy early in the week. I haven't yet retired the boots and tights but am hoping both will soon be on their way back into storage. 

I kicked off the weekend by doing my taxes on Friday night...which is a "geez, I am middle-aged, aren't I?" moment for sure. Although I was annoyed at myself for procrastinating, I'd just felt overwhelmed by other chores most weekends.

Anyway, it was great to get them done, and I celebrated by watching Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Yesterday, I got to meet the McKeowns for coffee, as they were here to celebrate William Hugh's inclusion in the American Watercolor Society show at the Salmagundi Club. They met me at Amy's Bread, where, funny enough, I bumped into a colleague who has inspired me and is someone I hope will be one of my mentors. She and I chatted while we waited in line, and it seemed quite poetic to between two women who have helped me at different life stages -- as you may recall, I'm not sure I would have gotten into Duke if it hadn't been for the huge bump in SAT Math I got from Sara Ruth's pre-calculus class! She was really a phenomenal instructor, and I still think of the problems she had us work to understand the way interest is compounded. 

We popped up to my roof to check out the view... 
Then we went on the High Line...those photos are on their camera, but maybe I will get them once they settle in at home. 

I loved seeing them, and of course you would call William Hugh a "poster child" for self-reinvention during retirement. It's quite remarkable what he's accomplished as an artist in the last decade or so. 

After that little outing, I met Kathleen at Grand Central to take the Metro North line to the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx for the annual orchid show. 

We were both sorta fascinated by this lady...

...which inspired a selfie...


I snapped this because I want to read up a bit on orchids, as I guess they are essentially an androgynous flower? I'm trying to recall if Susan Orlean got into that at all in The Orchid Thief.

This is going backwards because of the way the photos uploaded from my phone, but before the exhibit, we hit Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for lunch -- a/k/a "The REAL Little Italy." This took a bit of wrangling, as cabs were not exactly plentiful. It was probably a doable walk, but we didn't really have a sense of the lay of the land.

It's definitely ripe for a return trip, as we loved strolling around the market and window shopping at the bakeries.

Our pal Julia suggested we hit Dominick's for lunch. It was fun. There's no menu, and the tables are all long and shared. The old couple beside us was very interested in providing suggestions, which irritated the waiter. Kathleen went old-school mobster to protect her white jacket...
We both really enjoyed the food, and though I wouldn't say it was any better than most Italian-American joints, the atmosphere and no menu aspect added a lot, and we can't wait to recruit more friends for our return trip.
Continuing the "backwards theme..." Friday afternoon, 53rd Street was closed for President Obama's motorcade, which I caught as I headed home.  
Monday night was my first session with my new hypnotherapist. I think it's going to be really good for me. It's stirring up a lot of writing-related stuff. The phrase "the story you have to tell" is starting to feel really resonant for me. I snagged these quotes from something Page shared.

 On the book note...I started reading this, which several people have recommended.
Aaaand -- Tulio was in town this week from Brazil! He brought his friend Fred, and I invited them over for dinner on Tuesday night. Just a simple salmon with mustard sauce and herbs, with rice and veggies.
 I used my napkins from Aunt Debbie and Holle's preserves for the appetizer spread.
They arrived on Sunday morning, and we spent Sunday afternoon strolling around, as it was just gorgeous outside. We grabbed a bite at a place on Hudson Street in my old neighborhood. Kurt met us for a few minutes to say hello.
 Naturally, I took them on the High Line...
They wanted to go to B&H Electronics, which I didn't even know about. It's an electronics super store on 34th Street, and it's owned/run by Orthodox Jews. Since they get a lot of foreign customers, they are very accustomed to Brazilians, and the guys were waited on by Portuguese-speaking guys with quintessentially Jewish names like Shlomo, which I found rather hilarious.

 Fred has bad knees, so I tried not to wear them out with too much walking, but you know me...
It was a lovely weekend, as I spent most of Saturday afternoon just strolling around Central Park by myself and enjoying the sunshine...

Okay, that's all for now. There is some other "news" I would tell you if this weren't public. And, truth be told, it made me kinda sad not to be able to call you and tell you when it happened on Thursday. But it's a good thing in the big picture, and I can kinda sense what you would have told me you thought I should do anyway.

So, more to come on that, but for now I am off to church for Palm Sunday. Miss Betty sent a sweet text yesterday to show us that the palms at Centenary today are in your memory from her, Patsy and Karen. Extra special for sure.

Too bad the donkey costume is long gone! Benjamin and William, Owen and Anna would be almost big enough to wear it.