Monday, November 23, 2015

The cows are coming!

Ten years, seven months and 18 days. That’s how long I’ve been a full-time resident of the Mitten State. And that’s ten years, seven months and 18 days of living in a land without Chick-fil-A. After having immediate access to the golden chicken goodness for the first 35 years of my life, being without has been a shock to my system. The absence of The Original Chicken Sandwich, waffle fries and the best diet lemonade ever (yes, I see the irony) has propelled our little family on many road trips. Need to know how to get to the closest CFA? Just ask. We can tell you where to go in Toledo (the absolute closest – first exit after the Ohio border), Ft. Wayne, Mishawaka, South Bend, and now, Chicago.

When we first arrived in the Land Chick-fil-A Forgot, I wrote letters. I emailed CFA headquarters, asking when they planned to open a store in Michigan. Each response was met with, “Michigan isn’t one of our target areas right now.” But they did send coupons for free chicken sandwiches. Those coupons were spent on our road trips home South. But after a very exciting announcement last week, it looks like they could now be used just twelve miles from where I’m sitting in the great white North: 

Chick-fil-A moo-ving into Lansing.”

Holy cow.

Y’all, for the decade I’ve lived here, I’ve heard rumors about the impending opening of a CFA in Detroit or Grand Rapids. Each rumor has been built on hope, but in the end, was only wishful thinking. But now. Now. The local paper is quoting a real, live actual CFA employee saying CFA is coming to Lansing. There’s an actual address. I know RIGHT WHERE IT IS! This is more than a rumor – this is REAL!

The news came a day before we were hit with our first snow storm of the season. The thought that chicken nuggets and cole slaw are within reach in the next year made the nine inches of the white stuff almost tolerable.


But today there's no snow in the forecast. And it looks like this week's temperatures will be high enough to melt the snow. And my college kids are coming home for a long holiday weekend. And I remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer. AND Chick-fil-A is really, really coming to Lansing. 

My list of, "Things I'm Thankful For" just keeps growing. 

Chick-fil-A, thanks for finally making your way up here. Your Southern manners and fabulous food will be welcomed by those of us who've been without your goodness for too long. 

And it will be my pleasure to keep your Lansing store in business. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shots and wrecks and compassion

Experiences that allow for empathy are good things.

In theory.

Last year about this time, I needed a steroid shot. I hadn’t had a shot in forever, which meant I’d forgotten how much it can hurt. It’s been a year since the blazing pain passed, but I am still keenly aware that I need to offer compassion to anyone enduring a similar delivery of meds. 

Last week about this time, I wrecked my car. I was pulling out of a parallel parking spot and didn’t see the Chevy Malibu turning the corner at the same time. Thankfully no one was hurt, but our cars certainly didn’t come out unscathed. The front of his passenger side ended up in the front of my driver’s side, blowing out my tire and doing a major job on both our cars.

I like to think of myself as a pretty good driver – fast, yes, but I’ve never hit a moving vehicle before. (We will not talk about the stationary things I’ve hit. That’s not indicative of my driving ability, just my poor spatial reasoning. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Even now I have no idea where that car came from. I’ve replayed the incident over and over and I cannot figure out what happened. I looked, checked my mirrors and looked again, but I totally missed him. Honest-to-goodness, I did not see him coming.

As I surveyed the damage and looked at the tangle of tires, I was reminded of the steroid shot. I wasn’t happy to have the shot, but the lesson was good and has lasted. Similarly, I am NOT happy I had an accident. I hate that because of me, someone is now dealing with a rental car, body shop and the insurance company. I know I’ll hate my next insurance bill when it comes with that inevitable bump in rates. But the good news is that if anyone else in our family has an accident – hopefully not, but if so – I will remember that accidents are called accidents for a reason.

And I hope to offer as much compassion as Sean did when he hugged me and said, “These things happen.” 

If only my insurance guy felt the same way.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Random Thoughts

For the first time in 21 years we didn’t have a Duffy child Trick-or-Treat. Having the two oldest graduate from high school and go to college marked big changes. But to have not a single kid go out and get candy… that was definitely different.

Of course, different isn’t bad. We spent the day in the Windy City, doing a little shopping and seeing a show. And getting a little Chick-fil-A. Nothing to sneeze at for sure!
Can’t go to Chicago without getting some deep-dish pizza, and over our pepperoni pie we talked about Halloweens past. Sean brought up his favorite Trick-or-Treat story: when Amy went as a ghost. She cut the eye holes a bit too high which meant she couldn’t see. So at one of their very first houses, five-year-old Amy tripped up the walkway, bonked her head and decided she’d had enough.

Pretty sure it wasn’t Amy’s favorite Halloween memory.

As much as we loved dressing up the kids and walking around the neighborhood with the little beggars, we really enjoyed the time with our NACs (Nearly Adult Children).

The bummer is no candy.

I suppose I can go to the store and buy some, but that does take the joy out of charging our Parent Fee, which Sean and I gleefully enforced. His fee: Mounds. Mine: Snickers. Or Milky Way. Or Twix. Or Almond Joy. Basically, I was good with any chocolate.

My sister’s family is serious about Halloween. We went Trick-or-Treating with them one year and couldn’t keep up the pace. If it were an Olympic sport, they’d take the gold each year. So when my sister sent me a picture of my nephew’s haul, I wasn’t surprised:
Wonder if there's an Aunt Fee I don't know about...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Picking music is tricky business

We are having a problem at our house right now. Sean is in the process of picking music for the adult choir to sing for Christmas. He’s digging through all his music – and there is a lot of it. He’s got music dating back to the late 80’s when he sang with several different church choirs. He’s got stuff put together by his dear friend Wade who could make the most average singers sound glorious. He’s got music that he collected from times he accompanied for random choirs. The amount of music he has stored around this house is insane.
This is only a fraction of the music he's accumulated over the years. 
All those notebooks - full of music.

And it all seems unnecessary to me because I have already provided several excellent (if I do say so myself) pieces. All of mine have composers named Grant and Smith – quality, quality composers. But nothing he’s pulling have those names in the upper-right corner.
I don't know why he's looking any further than this...

I’m sure the composers he’s picking have written some good stuff. He played some through some pieces with titles of, “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World.” Classics to be sure. Then he played something by Rutter – sure,  he’s done some decent work. The Cambridge Boys Choir sing his pieces so he’s definitely got that going for him. But has his work been performed by the Nashville Symphony? 
Fine. It's a classic. I'll give him that.

I mean, yes, Sean is incredibly gifted in the music department. No doubt about that. He can look at a piece of sheet music and know exactly what it will sound like. Just the other night, he was helping Rebecca tune her ukulele just by humming the correct pitch. So it seems deferring to his judgement would be the wisest course of action. But I play a mean iPod and feel my selections should be in the running.

Discussions are on-going. Updates to follow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Who would ban books?!"

Rebecca and I stopped by our local library on Monday. She wanted to check out the Harry Potter audio books and I just love being around all those books so it’s not hard to get me in there. As we sat and read a bit, she noticed this sign:

And she was appalled.

The books highlighted on the shelf included Moby-Dick, The Diary of Anne Frank, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “What do you mean these books are banned? I’ve read some of them!” she cried.

“The sign on To Kill a Mockingbird says it’s a filthy, trashy novel! Who said that? Have they read it?” She was really, really hot.

My heart soared. My dear child knows how wrong it is to ban books, even books she might find disagreeable or offensive. My child lives in a world that doesn’t have a category for banned books. The libertarian in me was thrilled!

We spent some time talking about why the books were banned and/or challenged and what books were commonly banned, like Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye and, on a more recent list of banned and challenged books, The Giver.

“What?! The Giver is all about not letting people think for themselves! It’s all about government telling you what to do. It’s just like this, just like putting books on a banned list.” She was truly astonished.

And then she said, “Why would the library want to ban books?!”

Oh. Apparently we don’t talk about Banned Books Week in our home school…

When I explained the purpose of Banned Books Week she was beyond relieved to learn her beloved librarians weren’t out burning books in the library dumpster. But she was astonished that people, in this day and age, were still trying to ban books. “If you don’t like it, don’t read it,” was her response.

Sounds like a good slogan for Banned Books Week.

I may have neglected to tell her about people who want to ban books, but at least I passed on my libertarian leanings. I’ll call that a win.
Glad we got this cleared up!

 Banned Books Week is this week, September 27 - October 3. Want to read up on the week? The homepage of the celebration has lots of good info and links. Go read a book! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

We know sexy

After 23 years of marriage, we know how to celebrate our anniversary. We go somewhere for a weekend, get good food, then walk for miles to work off that good food. And then we head back to the hotel room, get cozy under the sheets and map out our calendars for the rest of the year.*

Oh yes, friends. That is exactly how we spent the better part of last Saturday afternoon on our anniversary trip to Chicago - figuring out what the next three months of our lives look like.

As we looked out the window of our lovely hotel room that overlooked the Water Tower on the Magnificent Mile, I worked our master Google calendar on my laptop and Sean updated the calendar app on his phone. We cranked through Rebecca’s and Amy’s upcoming performances and our plans for the car show at Michael’s school. We mapped out a schedule for rehearsals for a children’s choir we’re starting at church. We wrote in the potential Saturday rehearsals for the Christmas choir. I reminded him of the bi-monthly meetings I have with a friend from church and he reminded me of the meal I need to provide for his work luncheon (that’s today!).

As a result of the calendar coordination I wrote a mile-long to-do list that I’ve been working through all week. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finish it by the end of the year.

Or not.

Twenty-three years ago I never dreamed that coordinating calendars would happen on an anniversary trip. How unromantic. I also never dreamed I’d become a list-maker. How un-spontaneous. But after 23 years of marriage, getting our lives on the same page so our bodies end up in the right places feels spectacularly romantic to me. Sexy, even.

Happy Anniversary to my planner, who’s pulled me, ever so slightly, to the list-making dark side. I’ll gladly sit on the bed and make lists with you any day.

*For the record, we were on the couch. He'd have been at a desk if we'd had one. Please - you think the engineer could do that kind of work on the bed? But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to terrify my offspring - I'm sure they thought I'd say, “And who knows what else will come from that calendar-and-list-making session…” I do enjoy this part of motherhood.

The guy at my right shoulder is married to my sister. The guy on my left is married to Sean's sister. I thought they'd like a picture to remind them of their hair.

Other than a little piece of cake, we didn't eat at our reception. There were so many lovely people to talk to! We drove through Wendy's on the way to our hotel.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Put down the white shoes and nobody gets hurt

In honor of Labor Day, I wore white pants yesterday. And last night, I threw them in the laundry basket to be washed and put away until Memorial Day. Because all Southern girls were taught not to wear white after Labor Day.

some ecards
Now I realize this is a fashion decision that has decidedly fallen out of style. Everywhere people are saying this old fashioned idea should be put to rest. I can’t count the number of fashion bloggers who are declaring this tradition dead. The fabulous Stacy London suggests wearing winter white. Even the writers for the imitable Emily Post have chimed in to say the tradition is past its time

Stacy and Emily’s desire to end the tradition did give me pause. But it wasn’t until Tim Gunn chimed in that I had real heart palpitations. When asked if wearing white after Labor Day should be allowed, he said:

“Oh absolutely! All those rules need to go away. All of them, absolutely. In fact, winter white is stunning, it really is.”

Now y’all, I love Tim Gunn. I absolutely adore him. I got to know him on Project Runway and fell in love with the way he tells it like it is when needed but also loves on the contestants when he senses a breakdown in process. Plus, his fashion advice is classic and classy. So to hear him say this rule I’ve known, loved and lived by since I was a mere babe should be tossed into the garbage heap of fashion history is disarming to say the least.


As much as I love Tim Gunn, even his words of recommendation aren’t enough to get me to pull out my white pants from the summer storage bin. The tradition is too ingrained in me to toss completely. I spent the first 35 years of my life in the South where I was trained not to wear white pants or shoes after Labor Day; not sure a few blog posts or words from a fashion mentor can drive that training from my brain or heart.

That Southern training goes deep.

So no matter what my fashion and etiquette gurus say, my white shoes and pants will be safely stored until next May. At which point, I’ll pull them out, dust them off and say, “Summer already? Man, time flies.”

Just a reminder not to wear  white after Labor Day  or Crocs, ever.: