Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Velcro Mystery

John Glenn in the Friendship 7

(Thanks to

Velcro. What David letterman always refers to as "The miracle fabric of the '80s." It's funny to think that velcro was once new to me, and yet, so many young people have never known a world without it. The odd thing is I SHOULD have known about it all my life.

I recently acquired a big pile of old National Geographics. I was reading through a June 1962 article about John Glenn's famous orbit around the Earth in the Friendship 7. This passage really caught my attention:

"The inside of the capsule hatch is covered with a pad of fabric lined with thousands of miniature loops. Each piece of equipment has its own pad with countless tiny hooks.

On the ground the camera would be too heavy to hang on the door, but, weightless, it needs only to be pushed against the pad, and it sticks like a burr in lamb's wool."

And that's all it had to say about that. No mention whatsoever of the word "velcro" and, you know, they were actually EXPLAINING what velcro is. So NASA was using velcro in 1962. I was BORN in 1961. Why did it take so long for me to hear about velcro? Was it a secret?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Getting Excited About My Trip (Ya Think?)

The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park

I couldn't sleep this morning and My Sweetie was playing a video game on the TV so I decided to do some more perusing of New York stuff. It will be a very short trip so I want to pack in as much as possible without it feeling like work. I think I have a plan now. (I'm too casual to call it an itinerary, besides I don't want to look up how to spell it. It looks okay to me, though.) My plane will land on Friday (the 8th) at 4:10. This seems like a very bad traffic time, so I have no idea how long it will take to get to the hotel (and did I mention our hotel has smoking rooms! It's the only place we will be able to smoke indoors in the whole city). The good news is I will have a car and driver to meet me. That's so much better than having to get a cab. One of My Sweetie's business associates is going to take us out to dinner so that will also be nice: No thinking on our part. No plans after that. It will be a VERY long day for me, so I'm hoping to go to bed early (for me) because Saturday is our only real day there.


My Saturday plans are to wake up, get ready, and grab a cab for Robert F. Wagner Jr. park. There we should have great harbor views (meaning Ellis Island and Liberty Island) and I'm going to take my binoculars. We will also visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which will probably make me cry, but that's okay. Next, we will take a cab back to our hotel to rest my feet, smoke and drink some beers (Hey it's MY vacation too!) and drop off the binoculars. Times Square will be our next stop, because although I did the whole New Year's Eve on Times Square back in 1978, My Sweetie has never been to New York. That's also why we are going to go to that park to see the Statue of Liberty - I went all the way up it back then. Thank goodness he hates boats and doesn't actually want to take the ferry over there. (Wow. I never thought I'd appreciate the fact that he hates boats. I LOVE boats.) After Times Square we are off to the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park - for more drinking of course. The view. I meant we are going there for the view. We plan to walk from there through Central Park to the Met. We LOVE art museums. I imagine we will be there for many hours. And did I mention it has a bar? Actually I think it has two or three. How perfect is that? Look at fine art, have a glass of wine, look at fine art, have a beer. I could do that for hours. And the museum is open until after 8:00 p.m. That's the part of the trip I am most looking forward to. After that, we have no plans at all. We don't even have dinner plans. I like it like that.


Sunday, we really won't have much time between check-out and having to get to the airport, so we'll probably find a nice outdoor cafe to relax and rest our feet. It will go by pretty quickly, so I hope to take good pictures. My next post about this trip will be about our hotel and celebrities. Oh NO!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Art Envy

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, but I must admit to art envy. When I see posts by people of their paintings (and you know who you are!) I'm a bit jealous. I can't help it. I grew up with a big brother that could sketch anything he saw. My brother is an incredible artist, although he's done NOTHING with it. If I had his talent, oh well, I'll not go there. The painting above is an oil of my Dad, done by an old friend of mine. She did it in 1992. He never had it framed so when he died suddenly in 1998, my brother and I decided to have it framed for his memorial service. His service was on Friday afternoon. We went to a frame shop on Thursday. We walked in, picked out the perfect frame and they said, "Okay, this will be ready on Monday." I burst into tears, explained our situation and they said, "Well can you come back in 2 hours?" It just so happened there was a Chili's in the same parking lot, so that was not a problem. But I digress.


I guess I'm just naturally attracted to artists. Most of the stuff in my house is by people I know and love. I even have a rare (or the only) oil painting in existence by my Mom. I have a lovely pastel by my step-mother and a few drawings by my brother. I have THREE paintings by the artist that painted my Dad, including one of her self-portraits. She and I met in a ballet class and took several dance classes over the years. Unfortunately we lost touch about 4 years ago. She's a professional artist and her paintings are very expensive so I guess I got lucky (although Dad did pay for his portrait). His portrait now hangs in a prominent spot in our library. I have pictures of that somewhere.


Back to art envy. To be fair to myself, I can be creative. Some of my stuff: killer personalized birthday cards, bathroom wall sponging, a nice shadowbox frame of Hawaii mementos, a really cool panda and bamboo drawing on the thigh of a pair of old jeans (yes, it was the early 90's) and my very favorite: I used S-shaped styrofoam packing peanuts and gold acrylic paint to replace a missing corner of a gold ornate frame on an old painting of my Dad (not the one above). The thing is, I can't just paint a picture of something. So even though it's a deadly sin, I have to tell you artists that I am jealous. Okay now I have to show you one big thing I painted. Several houses ago, my daughter's closet door and bedroom door were next to each other in the corner. I decided to paint this Snoopy and Charlie Brown on the doors (you can see the doorknobs). So this is my one painting:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Population: 2?

Everybody has that little voice in their head. I don't mean the one Oprah calls God. I mean that innocuous little voice that says things to you like "Don't forget to water the plants today." or "After this, you should unload the dryer before you clean the kitchen." Sometimes the little voice is very helpful and inventive like "Maybe you should add some fresh minced green peppers to that." This voice is also called your "internal dialogue." Today mine was a little weird. I was getting ready to go to the grocery store and I said (in my head) "Well do you want to stop by Papa G's for a beer on the way to the grocery store?" And then the answer (also in my head) was, "I don't care, it's up to you." If that wasn't weird enough, I then said (OUT LOUD) "Hey! There's only one person here!"
On the other hand, I also tried to turn down the TV with the phone today.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pictures, I have Pictures!

This one was taken on my birthday. This is Kate and me out partying at the Main Street Arts Fesival.

This a picture of the turtle my Mom gave me for my birthday last year. The dianthus was one of our "annuals" that came back this year. It was in a box like the one on top of the bench in the next picture but the box was busted from the hail.

This is the the trellis I attached to the end of the bench and my new tomato plant. The planter box on top of the bench has a bunch of baby dianthus plants coming in, but you can't see them from this angle.

There's my first little tomato. The plant on the left has four tiny babies now.

This picture was taken on Sunday afternoon. Early Monday evening it started pouring rain. Then the wind started going crazy and the next day all that was left of the umbrella was this:

I didn't mention it before because it seems like all I was talking about lately was the weather. Speaking of weather, when I got this last set of pictures, I still didn't have the hailstone pictures. There was ANOTHER disposable camera! It still has a lot of film left, so I guess those pictures will have to wait.


I probably mentioned before about a possible trip to New York. It is now a done deal. I'll be there the weekend of June 8-10. We'll be staying at the Soho Grand. I looked it up on the internet and it is VERY NICE, but I must have laughed for 20 minutes when I read through the amenities:

"If travelers cannot bring their pets, the Soho Grand offers surrogate animal companionship in the form of a goldfish in your guestroom."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sick Day for My Sweetie

My Sweetie started feeling poorly yesterday and by last night he was full-blown sick. He stayed home from work today. He sounds terrible and even had a fever, poor guy. The thing is, when he stays home sick I always feel unusually productive, so I got A LOT done. I tackled two projects that I needed to get to. One of them was hanging a corkboard in my laundry room. I'm very sentimental and hang onto all sorts of souvenirs like tickets to shows, movies, sports events and museums. I also keep postcards. Keeping stuff like that in a box is not very gratifying because I can't see it. On the other hand, that stuff can be pretty junky looking, so about two years ago I came up with the idea of a corkboard in my laundry room. Laundry rooms are generally not very entertaining. They are places where we HAVE to spend time doing chores. So about two years ago I got my board started. It filled up pretty quickly. Today I added a second board just for postcards, so I was able to spread out the tickets and things on the other one. It really IS nice to be in there doing laundry and be surrounded by these little pieces of paper that bring back pleasant memories. As for My Sweetie, I think he should stay home again tomorrow, but he's a bit of a workaholic, so I guess it's a "wait and see" situation. Although I hope he feels better, I kinda hope he will stay home so I can get more projects done.

The Camera Story

I've mentioned before that i should get a digital camera. Well here's what's going on with my cameras and pictures and whatnot. I take all of my pictures with disposable cameras. I have a perfectly nice Pentax elfina camera. Perfectly nice except it makes me look like I weigh 250 pounds. Two or three Christmases (is that a word?) ago, we were finishing up a disposable camera and the Pentax so My Sweetie took a bunch of pictures of Lolo and me in front of the Christmas tree. Well the difference was CRAZY! Like 75 pounds of crazy! Seriously. They are practically the same pictures, but side by side? Not-slim me vs. grossly obese me. I would show you the difference, but I am too vain to show the Pentax ones. Since those were developed I have only used disposable cameras for people pictures. Well going back to that, the reason I did not post my hail pictures is because apparently we had TWO disposable cameras floating around the house. One of them was not finished, so I got only the one developed on Friday. There were FOUR great pictures of My Sweetie and me from his birthday downtown, but since he does not want to be seen, there is no point in posting those. The cute picture that I thought was taken of my daughter and myself that night? Well, either I imagined that or someone else there took that with their own camera (or phone or whatever). There was one odd picture of Kate and me standing onstage behind My Sweetie at the Karaoke bar. I have no idea what that was about. Anyway, there were 11 left on the other camera, so I took several pictures of my new tomato plant and my newly cleaned deck (I did that on Saturday), so I should be able to get that film developed soon. Yeah, I really do need to get a digital camera. This is just getting silly.

I had a perfect Mother's Day in that it went exactly as I imagined (how often does THAT happen?). My Sweetie dropped me off at Kate's - actually my Mom's house. In case I haven't mentioned it, Kate lives there now because my parents spend most of their time at their retirement place in North Carolina. Kate made a giant spread of everything you might want for chicken tacos. Before that we watched a movie (Big Business) that we used to love watching together when she was younger. It was a great day. It was like having another birthday. Oh I've explained this all out of order. My Sweetie dropped me off, we chatted, watched the movie, then My Sweetie came back for dinner with us. And we watched the "Survivor" finale. And I forgot to take pictures until the very end of the night. I think I took one of Kate. I REALLY need to get a digital camera.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


This seemed an appropriate picture for a Mother's Day post. This represents 4 generations of Mothers and Daughters. If I had to guess, and well I guess I do, I'd guess it was taken in late spring or early summer of 1991. The lady in pink is my grandmother who died last summer. She was not a pleasant lady. She had 5 children and obviously favored the eldest two: her only son and her first of four daughters. My Mom was the middle child. My parents met when Mom was 14 and Dad 16. My Dad was a very domineering and jealous person, but Mom actually preferred him to my grandmother and so they were married in 1955, just after she turned 17. My brother was born in July of 1957 and I came along in April 1961. I remember my first memory of my Mom. Dad had gotten my brother and I up very early to decorate the kitchen for Mom's birthday. I remember sensing the excitement and trying to figure out what was going on. Mom worked nights and would be coming in very early from work. She walked in, we yelled, "Surprise!" and I remember thinking, "Oh, THAT'S Mom." (She hates that story.) It seems she worked nights and slept during the day. We had a lady that stayed at the house during the day to clean and watch my brother and me. Like a duck I had attached to my brother and he is the first person I have clear memories of. In all fairness to my Mom, I was probably either 1 1/2 or 2/12 when that birthday party took place and was just starting up the synapses in my brain.
We were not close when I was a kid. Mom always worked and when she wasn't working she had to be a wife. My Dad set all of the rules and those were the rules. Dad made all decisions regarding the children although Mom was allowed to cook for us. And do our laundry when we were very young. She had no interest in my friends or my Barbies. I remember one summer night when I was 12, I came in around 10:00 or 10:30. Dad was in the Dominican Republic for the summer. My brother was 16 and was who knows where. The house was quiet. Mom walked out of her room and said, "Where have you been?" I said, "Jeanette's. I'm always at Jeanette's." She said, "Do you always stay out this late?" I remember thinking it was the oddest question. Later she told me she thought she may have been suffering from depression that summer.
At the end of that summer, my Dad changed careers and that November we moved to a much larger town 70 miles away. The pressures of his new job and the lifestyle changes took their toll on him over the next few years and he became more abusive to my Mom than ever before. In the spring of 1976, Mom finally made her escape. My brother was away in the Air Force and was kept in the dark about all of this until almost Christmas because "they didn't want to upset him." Meanwhile as part of Mom's escape plan, she accused him of asault (he did) and took out a restraining order so that he could not come back to our apartment. Unfortunately, Mom was in another town and the only person in the apartment was me, trying to finish up 9th grade. My Dad called my boyfriend's mom and they took me in for several weeks until Dad could find a place for us to live. So my first important shopping trip for a dress-up gown, for the Drama Club event at The Village Dinner Theater (we saw "Oliver!") was done with Mrs. York. Also I was in a play that ran for three nights and no one came. The last night of the play I burst into tears. No one knew what was going on except my friend Joan, who was also in the play. She told everyone and they all gave me their flowers. Man I felt so pathetic. It was sweet of everyone. Even the popular cheerleaders, who played saloon girl extras, gave me their flowers.
There was no custody hearing or anything. I just knew I had to live with my Dad or my Mom would never be free. She needed a clean break and that couldn't happen if I were with her. I knew Dad would use me as an excuse to see Mom. I didn't see her a lot after that. She stopped by Sears a few times when I worked there when I was 16 and she once came to see me sing (in school chorus) at the mall near her apartment. Sometimes when my High School Boyfriend and I were going to Chapel Hill, we would stop by Mom's to say hi and a few times she invited me over for dinner. Then at the beginning of my senior year she called to tell me she was moving to Texas.
I was already spiraling down into my anorexia when I got this news. I went to school for half a day, went to work at a job I hated (selling shoes at Montgomery Ward) and took ballet once a week. My diet consisted of a small glass of orange juice every morning with a vitamin and during the day, crushed ice. I did drink Pepsi, so I guess I was getting some calories there. When I felt hungry, I ate crushed ice. Sometimes I would eat some lettuce. I think Dad noticed something but didn't handle it well. I would come in around 10:00 at night and he would say he had made dinner and make me a plate. I would push it around and he would yell at me so I would cry and go to my room. In early January, I called my Mom and asked if I could come to live with her. I posted some of that here.
After my freshman year at UNCG, I spent the summer with Mom. I was a chicken and didn't tell her until near the end of the summer that I wasn't going back to school. She did not take that news well and we were not getting along very well, so I went back to N.C. to live with my Dad. That's why I was in N.C. for the car accident. That next summer I came back to Texas for good. I went to the community college at night and worked for my step-dad full time during the day. At the end of that school year, when I was 21, I finally moved out on my own (okay, well, with a guy). The next year, I met Kate's dad and moved in with my brother and him. I got pregnant that winter and Mom was okay with it. One of her country club friends gave me a baby shower! I knew Mom did not like kids, so in an attempt to create some bonding, I named my daughter after my mother. The biggest surprise of my life came after the baby was born. My Mom, who is terrified of freeways, drove over to my house in Dallas every morning to help me. She would leave just before my husband got home, with dinner cooking and instructions on how to finish everything. She was awesome and I think that's when our adult bond as mother and daughter truly began.
With the exception of my two divorces, we have not had any bumpy times and have become the best of friends. (Yeah Mom gets mad at me when I leave a husband - fortunately that won't happen again!) I really love my Mom and I'll miss her a lot on Sunday. They will be back in a couple of weeks and I did send her a nice gift. I want to mention that when I started this post, I did not mean for it to go in this direction and be so revealing, but that's where it went and that's where it will stay. I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some Follow-ups

I thought I'd post some follow-ups on stuff from former posts. About that trellis I attached to the end of the built-in bench on my deck: I put a large square container there and planted two container tomato plants in it. They are doing well and one has a little tomato already about the size of a large grape. I have no (memorable) experience with tomatoes. My first husband and I grew some in the ground back in 1986, but I guess he did all the work. Or I just don't remember much about it. My SIL stopped by on Sunday and told me we should get some special tomato plant food. I was just going to use miracle grow, but maybe I will check out this special food. I also planted verbena in a pot by the mailbox. We have a brick mailbox with a built-in planter, but I have never been able to grow anything there, so I put a pretty pot in there. We also had an odd spot in a bed out front where a bush used to be. I put a squat wide flower pot there with zinnias. They are doing well. Now I just need to take care of the rest of the backyard.
The tendonitis in my shoulder seemed to be improving and then last night as I was reaching for something I had a sharp stabbing pain that made me cry out. That has happened many times today and is annoying as hell. This has put a crimp in things such as yard work and painting.
About the painting: The base green is on, I just need to touch up spots that came up with the tape. I was going to do that on Saturday and then sponge on Sunday, but it was too humid. And I was tired from all of the noise and mess because of the roofing.
The roofing: Our phone rang at 6:58 a.m. Saturday morning and since I had been asleep approximately 3 hours, I was in no shape to properly answer the phone. Then it rang AGAIN!!! It was our neighbor the roofer who asked if we could move my truck so they could park a trailer there. And they were out there waiting! They started a little before 8:00. It was noisy as hell, but I made myself sleep through it. I had really weird dreams, though. Because of the clear skylight in the master bathroom, we couldn't use that one all day. We now have a new roof, three new skylights and a new vent thing (for the attic fan) - another good thing if we ever have to sell the house. It was drizzly outside and with the skylight being off at times it was WAY too humid in the house to paint, so I will do all that next weekend.
I'm going to drop off two rolls of film on Wednesday so I hope to have some good pictures to post at the end of the week. I'm looking forward to seeing the pics of the hailstones in the backyard and the pictures from My Sweetie's birthday downtown. I think there may be a good one of my daughter and me.
The dress: Yeah that dress I ordered was a major disappointment. 1) it was not tapered at all like in the picture. It was one big rectangle with sleeves. and 2) the material was thin and cheap. If it had cost $15, I would keep it and have it tailored, but it just was not worth the price I paid, so back it goes. Sigh.
I think that was everything that has been left hanging. If I forgot something, just ask.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

By Request

Josie wanted to hear my "Red Truck Story." It's my only metaphysical experience. Here it is:
The custody arrangement for my daughter gave her dad summer custody. I got Kate every other weekend and for "up to 10 days of my choosing." It was summer, and it was my weekend, so on an early Friday evening, I hit the road to head for southeast Dallas. It was about a 39 mile trip during rush hour heading east on Hwy 30. There was a place I always stopped for beers (it was actually legal to drink and drive here back then) that was just a few miles from my house. This little store was just off of 820 south. I grabbed my beer and headed down the service road to get back on the highway. At the top of the hill before the access ramp was a 4-way stop. To the left is a bridge that crosses 820. Because of the hill of the service road and the arc of the bridge you really couldn't see much on the bridge. I pulled up to the 4-way stop, stopped and looked to my left. A large van pulled up at the same time. I was on a one-way service road so I only had two directions to check: my left and my right. There was no one on the right and just the van from the bridge on my left. This is where it starts to get weird.
I've ALWAYS been one of those people that when at a 4-way stop, when the order is fuzzy, I shoot a certain look at the other driver and take off. Well, I looked at that driver and didn't move. Then my internal voice said, "What are you doing?" Then I looked at that driver again and they were looking at ME funny. So again, I was thinking "Why aren't you going? Why are you just sitting here?!?" It was like my brain couldn't figure out why my foot was not moving to press the accelerator and it was confusing the hell out of me. Then a small red truck came barreling through the intersection crossing right in front of me. They were in the lane to the left of the large van. I never saw that truck come across the bridge. I didn't see it until it flew right in front of me at about 45 or 50 mph.
The van driver and I met eyes. We both had crazy eyes. I waved her through. Then I very carefully pulled through and very cautiously entered the highway. I was SO shaken up. I kept replaying that moment over and over in my head. If I had just proceeded as usual, that red truck would have slammed RIGHT INTO ME. And then: What made me hesitate? Why was I frozen and confused? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Although I was careful for the rest of that drive, I felt safe. I KNEW it wasn't my day to die.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Just another wacky Wednesday

As usual, my Wednesday was long, but it was all really funny to me. It started out bad. The phone rang 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off (don't you HATE that?) and it was the insurance claims lady. I've mentioned before (probably 800 times) that I AM NOT a morning person. She was all explaining stuff and asked for the name of our mortgage company. I felt stupid for not knowing. I've had various fiscal responsibilities in my 3 marriages from doing everything to doing nothing, and I'm at the doing nothing phase again. So I told her to call My Sweetie at work and then I couldn't think of his number and had to get out of bed and go all the way across the house to find it on my cell phone. I bet she was rolling her eyes the whole time. MOW went fine, "Lenny" was back home from the hospital (he had had diabetic complications) and my 97-year-old lady was out of bed and sitting in a chair for the first time in a month. You know the old saying, "out of the mouths of babes?" well "and very old people" should be added to that. She seemed so happy to see me and then looked at me funny and in her thick accent said, "Why does your face look fat?" Her son seemed embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious. I said, "Well I do feel kind of bloated. My rings felt a little tight when I put them on." I thought that would be the end of that. Then HE said, "Are you having your period?" Oh. My. God. I still can't believe he said that. I just looked at him cooly and said something like, "Pfffft, I'm too old for that."
Yesterday, Lolo and I were discussing the pros and cons of having a camera phone. Then I saw something today and decided I need to get one. Two houses down from one of my MOW stops was a house with EXTERNAL bamboo blinds. That was weird. I have got to get a camera phone. Speaking of phones, I sent my second ever text message today which was "call me" and it took me about 15 minutes. I did figure out how to put the space in there, so I was pretty proud of myself. Slow and steady wins the race. That's my new mantra. I find it very calming.
I always stop at this dive bar for two beers before I go to lunch and the bartender who is A YEAR YOUNGER than my daughter was in there with her 12-day-old baby. The crazy old man from last week came in while I was over looking at the baby and sat in MY seat. I said, "You're in my seat!" and he moved. He's very odd. Just as I was leaving he said he had five children aged 7 to 33. That was too weird. I wish I had not told him I was there every Wednesday. I have a feeling he will be there every Wednesday now. He's okay, he just has weird mannerisms. At least he gave up the barstool.
I went to Friday's for lunch and ended up in a rousing trivia game (the NTN game) with the bartender and another man. The bartender kinda reminds me of Cheech (and/or Chong). He was pretty serious about his trivia though. And the other man had the most annoying voice. If I had to guess, he was one of those 60's hippies. He spoke in a flat monotone and spoke QUITE OFTEN. I kept expecting him to add "dude" at the end of each sentence. Oh, and I won all the trivia games.
I went to Italianni's after that and found out my favorite old bartender is back (he had moved to Colorado). I also invented a great drink. I think I'll call it a "Washington Apple Splash." It's a Washington Apple on ice with a splash of club soda. Yummy. It was so funny when I asked the new bartender (not the Colorado guy) if he had met my daughter yet. Two different people said, "She was in here Monday night." Small world. My Sweetie called and asked where I was. He was freaking out because there was another tornado watch. I wasn't worried because it was very light outside.
I hit the grocery store on the way home (shudder), made it home, and shortly thereafter we started with "The Weather" again. All of the local channels were discussing 90 mph winds and tornado conditions. My Sweetie was freaking out, but after that hail storm from hell, none of it bothers me anymore. I was on the phone with my friend Kim (see side note*) and my daughter called on my cell phone. She was concerned about "the weather" and had a long drive home. I told her to stop by to wait it out. Sure enough, it started to get bad. There was no hail and no tornado but the straight line winds and flooding caused LOTS of damage. It was weird seeing all the cars in the water on the news. Who are these people that drive into water? Flooding kills more people than any other weather condition. Geeez.
I'm sure I left out a bunch of stuff I'll think of later, but on *A SIDE NOTE: I got a gift box from my friend Kim yesterday. It had three smaller boxes inside. I was on the phone with Lolo as I opened the boxes. The first box had a really cool cell phone holder/clip with a Duke logo. The second box had a lovely gardenia-scented candle. I opened the third box and said, "What the hell is this? It looks like drug paraphanalia?" I described it to Lolo and we had a good laugh. It was a ceramic ring that you place on a light bulb and gardenia-scented oil to pour into the ring. Seriously, if you've never seen that type of thing before, you'd be confused, too.
One last thing: Blood Diamond: Good movie.