McCarter's 2011 Look Back

Odd number, odd year, odd array.
We just keep on keepin' on.

  Life seems to just keep moving on at a quicker pace every year, with fewer opportunities to slow down and reflect. This past year was no different as we try to balance job, profession, health, and family. Here is a quick look back at 2011 from the jmac and kmac POV.  


Kelley's mom has thrived at her new residence in the north side of Richmond. Her position at the Echo Shop continues to keep her busy along with the role of "welcome wagon" for her floor. She changed her membership to the Episcopal church closest to her home and quickly became integrated in the choir. Her health is stable and she continues an active life with her annual trips to the beach, and to her homeland in South Carolina to see the rest of her clan.

Jim's mom is a busy as ever with stitchery projects and conferences. She ran a correspondence course through the summer keeping her instructor status in tact. In 2011 she continued her efforts to see the world with another European cruise and this time was joined by her brother, Dave. She is already planning on some additional trips for 2012: at least one cruise, trip to NC, and the next Moffat AGM in Fairfax, VA.

Both moms came together with us for a trip to Lexington, KY to participate in the Moffat AGM. Jim's mother flew to Raleigh and and spent a few days as our house guest, then we rented a comfy minivan and drove to Richmond. After staying over that night, we grabbed Kelley's mother early the next morning and drove west for a little over 11 hours to Lexington. The first day was spent site seeing. Kelley and her mom took in the Headley-Whitney Museum and all the Kentucky blue grass estates you can imagine. Jim and his mom participated in a bourbon tour by chartered bus (Maker's Mark; Heaven Hill, and Woodford Reserve). Jim's uncle (his mom's brother) also traveled from California to be at the AGM. The bagpipes, haggis, kilts and dancing made for a fantastic Scottish weekend.

We never get enough opportunities to spend time with siblings, but Jim was able to visit with Judy and her family in June and we made a half dozen trips to Richmond during the year. Seeing Jim's Uncle Dave from California was a rare treat in July. Christmas in Florida was a full house with 14 McCarter relatives from Illinois, New York, and North Carolina.


PROFESSIONAL PURSUITS Waikiki Beach from our room at the Hilton

This was quite a busy year for FEOP, the NCSU unit where Kelley works full time and Jim works part time. Business travel included many corners of North Carolina and a trip to Charleston, SC in February. The highlight of the year came in November for the national SAF convention -- a week in Honolulu, Hawaii. The convention was held in downtown Honolulu, and the lodging was in the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort on Waikiki Beach. Travel to and from Hawaii is arduous when you live on the Atlantic Seaboard, but it was a great experience.

Jim has his time spread across 2 universities, some consulting, and volunteer service to the Appalachian Society of American Foresters. At NCSU he sits on several graduate committees, guest lectures in undergrad and graduate level courses, and recently was asked to participate in a special session hosting a Nobel Prize laureate from India. In early summer he was relocated temporarily to the FEOP office, and in November assigned a new office in an adjacent building. This location is closer to the department head office and other faculty with whom he collaborates. Jim has made professional presentations at 3 conferences this year and authored or coauthored 3 journal papers. His CV and his new 2-sided business card are both getting quite extensive and he continues to take on and develop new projects while completing the existing ones.



This section of our year in review may not be appropriate for those averse to geek speak and all things tech. Reader discretion is advised.

2011 included some fun and productive technology upgrades and paradigm shifts:

  • iPad 2 purchase (for Jim) - 2nd iPad in the family, Kelley inherits the original.
  • MySQL/.php web page upgrades to Kelley's FEOP site.
  • Blue-ray DVD player upgrade.
  • Kelley starts using Facebook, Kelduf McCarter.
  • Kelley upgrades to first ever smart phone -- gets hand-me-down Droid X from Jim.
  • Jim upgrades phone to a Droid Razr -- faster, more memory, lighter, 4G, cool. Did I say faster!?!.
  • Jim begins to learn Android programming (also looking at iOS).
  • Toshiba Portage laptop with SSD -- 'Shiba' boots like lightning!
  • Jim did an SSD upgrade for his work laptop computer over the holiday break. After an initial setback (initial SSD drive stopped booting) everything is working great now. Sweet!
  • Retiring old computers:
    • Dell D600 - the workhorse that saw Kelley through unemployment, wedding planning, many trips, and scrapbook picture scanning
    • 'Lenny' the Lenovo Netbook.


Reorganization of our living space is a annual activity as we try to balance our house with furniture we own or want. A home theater system was rigged up for our living room at the end of the summer. The clutter of the living room and dining room had become unmanageable and fortunately we had friends willing to adopt our jetsam. The flat screen Samsung (circa Christmas 2010) now sits proudly on the mantle while the faux fireplace is covered by 4' tall bookcases. It actually works well!


Our gardening and landscaping took a leap forward on several fronts in 2011. Kelley built a formal, crescent shaped flower bed in the front yard. It was filled with colorful annuals and perennials all summer. This was the final piece to the "green screen" to block the headlights of cars going in an out of the driveway across the street. The crescent shaped bed borrowed from the garden bed outside the front porch. As part of that activity the front beds were reduced in size and Kelley began colonizing them with ground cover plants to reduce the maintenance of the beds. The burning bushe and nandina hedges continue to mature and grow faster than we can keep up.

Garden colors in the front yard  

Jim's hops bore flowers this year (their second year), but alas a hurricane blew most of the flowers off before he could harvest them in September. The picture to the right shows the hops flowers develping on the wood and rope trellis we constucted.

Tomatoes, basil and Asian peppers were in abundance most of the summer in our raised bed garden located on the sunny side of the house. We also tried our hand at onions, shallots, and chives. The garden was winterized after Thanksgiving. We are talking about adding an additional raised bed for next year's growing season. Now we just have to decide what to put in that one!


Sadly the vacant lot adjacent to ours is now gone for good. A new home being erected on the lot resulted in the accidental clear cut of a 1/4 of our property by a trespassing land developer. This lot was a haven for the deer herd and many birds, as well as a privacy zone adjoining our naturalized side yard. The picture to the right shows the area where everything to the right of the property line (row of trees) WAS a developing woodland garden until the clearing in February.

The damage was major and only one tree was recoverable, a 8 foot western red cedar (gifted to us) that we were able to upright and brace the day after it happened. Trees lost were 3'-6' tall with calipers up to 4". We were forced to start our woodland garden all over again (almost 4 years of cultivation GONE). We planted another 20 seedlings, cut new trails, and established a very obvious property boundary. Features added this summer include longleaf pine, landscape stones, berms, and bench areas. Fortunately some of the hardwoods have sprouted after the mowing, but they have been set back years. No compensation from the builder, but we have moved on...

Our buffer and woodland garden GONE!


Our other woodland area, alluvial in nature, is located in the back yard. We added a western red cedar, more hostas and hellebores, and ferns. As with the rest of the yard, our investments in time and sweat are maturing. It's fun to see the work pay off and the plans develop.

Many of the plants in our yard are acquired from local producers when possible. One of our favorite sources of plants is Plant Delights Nursery @ Juniper Level Botanic Gardens -- we are fortunate that Tony Avent's property is less than 5 miles from our house. We try not to miss the opportunity to visit on his open days. Even friends from as far away as Seattle have ordered plants from Tony.



Finish line at the Raleigh Jingle Bell 5KKelley has won the battle with type 2 diabetes for the time being. Each of the 6-month checkups in 2011 showed improvement with an overall weight loss of just over 15 pounds. The November 2011 checkup results placed Kelley outside the range of ALL Diabetes indicators (otherwise known as remission). She feels confident that she now knows how to keep the disease at bay. She did her first 5K run/walk in 20 years in early December (Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis Foundation). She has also begun resistance workouts at home with the addition of a weight bench in the play room. At the top of her healthy life reading list this year was the e-book, "Younger Next Year".

Jim has lost weight through the use of the health maintenance App and website and adjusted his diet to be more nutritionally beneficial. He got good marks at his annual physical and continues to have good lab tests every six months. However, he still struggles with physical fitness since his university research positions keep him glued to a computer 6 days a week. During the Christmas holiday in Florida Jim invested in new cross trainer shoes and took 1-2 daily the challenge is to to keep it up for the coming year.

The only health "crisis" in 2011 for us was the fire ant reaction that Kelley experienced in August. Although both Jim and Kelley have endured a few bites each year, this was more serious. Sixteen ant bites in the space of 1 minute was too much for Kelley one Sunday afternoon in the back yard. A trip to the ER, giant hives, a full systemic response, and finally an Epipen plunge turned into an overnight stay at a local hospital. Fortunately, subsequent cardiology tests showed no heart damage, just the need for an Epipen Rx and stern warning. It took Kelley a little while to get comfortable working in the yard again after the incident.




In late March we did a long weekend of MLB spring training in Ft. Myers to see Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, and Twins games. Thanks to Jim's mom, we had a place to flop between games and lots of sunshine and warm temps to keep our spring fever under control.

The new Red Sox's park is under construction (we snuck a look) and we hope to get down there again this spring to check out the new stadium.

  We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary with a long weekend in New Bern, NC on the waterfront. The harbor side view was quite nice, although the weather was rainy most of the weekend. We enjoyed a special invitation-only, seven course Chef's dinner with wine pairings, which was spectacular!  

Before summer got cranking we drove down to Beaufort, SC to help Brenda and Stu move to their new home. It was the usual moving party with a big rented truck and lots of boxes. We only had a couple of days to contribute to the effort but it was great fun. We returned in October to see the fruits of our labor and spent a weekend as their house guests.

  This year's addition to our dining hangouts is Angie's Restaurant in Garner, NC. Angie Mikus has been serving breakfast locally since she was 16 and we have followed her from one restaurant to another for 4 years. This summer she took the big leap into restaurant ownership with her own Southern style diner, Angie's Restaurant. The menu may not have any surprises to those accustomed to this genre of restaurant, but the atmosphere is extraordinary and lives up to the restaurant's motto, "A Taste of Friendship". We are so proud to be regulars and one of the many "Likes" on the restaurant's Facebook page.  
  To get us into the holiday spirit, the Triangle Chapter of Society of American Foresters held its holiday pot luck dinner in Chapel Hill in early December. Jim and Kelley conducted a wreath making workshop for all the participants. This is the third year we had live music provided by Alex from the band Tripp ( Getting into the holiday spirit at the Triangle SAF Wreath Making Party  

Our Florida holiday was full of sun and fun with all of Jim's nieces and nephews. The Richmond holiday visits included activities with Kelley's family and re-connecting with old friends. The New Year's Eve celebration at Terrafin Station was a blast again this year, with Brenda and Stuart joining us for the holiday weekend.


A Healthy and Blessed New Year to us All!
Jim and Kelley McCarter