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Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm a Scrabble-loving nerd queen

So when I saw that the YMCA Literacy Initiative was holding a Scrabble tourney as a fundraiser, I had to enter. I'll be boning up on my Scrabble skills until the event takes place on May 18th. I don't think I'll win. I'm pretty good, but there's a quasi-professional league in town. Something tells me any one of them could easily best me.

I'll be playing in honor of my late mother, who was a Scrabble fiend and a huge 100% literacy advocate. So much so that when she died, we asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to RIF.

Try as I might, I never did manage to beat my mother at Scrabble. Ever. I challenged her one last time when the cancer had spread to her brain - I thought that just might give me the edge I needed - but she saw straight through it, snorted, and said if she had to die, she was damn well going to die undefeated.

I love you, Mom. This Scrabble's for you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

5 things I Just Knew as a child

When I was a child, I Just Knew

1. That the man who married me would fall in love with me because the freckles on my shoulders made them, in my eyes, resemble Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. Also, my knees. But it was the shoulders I believed would be the clincher for my suitor, rendered powerless by my intoxicating chip-freckles.

2. That if I used Oil of Olay every day without fail from the age of 20 onward, I'd never ever get wrinkles. Ever. But if I ever forgot, I'd look like a Shar-pei by sunset. I also obsessed a lot about Porcelana Medicated Fade Cream, though I can't remember what my theory was on it.

3. That although my fate was already sealed through my Mom's loose fruit policies, if I never ever allowed my future offspring to eat apples, they would never die. One taste, though, and they were goners.

4. That I would be more beautiful at 40 than at 25. I told people this one, too, which is the most appalling thing about it.

5. That I had The Gift, you know, the one for seeing the true beauty in seashells. I, and I alone, had The Seashell Eye, an ability to say This seashell is far superior to that one you are holding and not be lying. I alone could walk onto a beach and pick out the One Most Beautiful Seashell. Or Six Most Beautiful Seashells. Or whatever. Basically, anything I had in my bucket was better than anything you had in yours. Because you didn't have The Gift. I did. End of story.

(I kinda sorta maybe secretly still believe the fifth one.)

BONUS: (I just remembered this one.) I just knew if I looked from between my dog's pointy ears, I would see any spirits walking about. So every time he would wake suddenly for no apparent reason or otherwie look like he was concentrating on something, I'd grab his head by his ears (think motorcycle) and forcefully turn his head, scanning the whole room.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pa? Fa? Pufa?

From the very first, I found Michelle Pfeiffer's name intriguing. It's the Pf thing. A silent P followed by a sounded F? Silent P followed by the sounded S, of course, we're all comfortable with: psalm, psychiatry, psoriasis... But the Pf combo felt new and... pfresh.

Especially in light of Pfafftown, a local town here in Forsyth County. It's pronounced Pahf-town. One out of three Fs is silent. That just seems wrong.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Wooo Nooo

Without exception, there is no good reason, ever, for a woman to stick her head out of a vehicle window and yell, "WOOO!"

In fact, I'll go so far as to say the female Wooo noise should be done away with completely. Males don't make this noise. If they are jazzed about something, they actually yell, "YEAAAAH!" That's at least the semblance of a word. Wooo is a sound effect; it's how the children imitate a train whistle, for goodness sakes.

Last night, a somewhat tussled-looking young lady leaned her head out of a pickup truck window on Stratford Road and yelled, "Wooo!" Then she yelled it again, like it was a double-wooo moment. The second Wooo was still hanging in the air as the truck in which she was a passenger turned and headed into the Arby's parking lot. Not only do I dislike Wooo, I can't understand the reasoning for a celebratory noise of any type involving Arby's.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dubya - A - R

Although my street is clearly residential and has a posted speed limit of 25 mph, drivers regularly treat it as a speedway.

Tomorrow I am calling the police, the office of city planning, and whomever else I have to to get something done.

I'm hoping for a sting operation with speeders executed immediately by the roadside and their cars crushed and left as messages to other would be villains.

...But I'll settle for a stop sign being put in where my street meets another ("yield" is routinely performed at 45 mph there) and/or a few speed bumps. I'd preferably like them unmarked so they tear the hell out of speeders' chassis*, but I'll settle for the ones painted white and with warning signs in advance.

What I won't settle for is being practically mowed down again while walking one of the dogs with the youngest. And I'm terrified what could happen to the oldest, who is severely hearing impaired.

Mark your calendars and clear some room in Guantánamo . This means war.

*Yes, I looked this up. Put it in the column with fish and moose. The plural form is the same as the singular.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What the he...

Ah, the Piedmont in the springtime... The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and a light breeze gently caresses the blooming azaleas.

And then in roughly 90 seconds flat, the sky takes on an ominous simultaneously-overcast-yet-luminescent-yellow glow, the winds begin to howl, and buckets of rain appear out of nowhere. My umbrella nearly turned inside out, and I wasn't even carrying the cheapo one.

It was over in 20 minutes, and if you had been asleep, you would never have necessarily known it happened at all. It went back to the whole bird-sun-azalea thing.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


A friend is reading me my detailed, "personal" horoscope over the phone. I am only half-listening, as I don't really believe in horoscopes. Still, my mother unfailingly clipped the If You Were Born on This Day horoscope for me every year on my birthday, so in memory of her, I am at least letting my friend read this.

"Wait a minute. What did you just say?"

"You are ruled by your anus," she repeats.

"My what?"

"URANUS. The planet."

"Oh. Haha. Sorry. Continue. Please."

She goes on about my airy nature and tendency to flee as my mind begins to wander again.

I really need to touch up the paint on this trim. It's getting sort of beat up looking after two years. The kids, I suppose. The kids do a number on paint, on carpet, on the lawn. They probably will continue to do so until they're all grown up.

When I pull my mind back, she has moved on to the qualities the various planets give me.

"Your anus is about all things strange and unusual."

And now I am laughing because I'm not sure I'm completely grown up myself.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Your lucky numbers 3 17 23 34 6 11

I'm back at the cafe at Borders with my friend E. We're readying ourselves for some shopping at Thruway Shopping Center, which has three of my favorite food-related places, Fresh Market, Dewey's Bakery, and Moe's, as well as at least 25 other stores.

We have plenty of time and no children in tow. The weather is glorious.

...And if we had been given a shopping fortune cookie, it would have read "You seek but find nothing."

We tried. Oh, how we tried! But alas, Thruway was a bust.

(Guarantee you the next time I have both kids with me and not a minute to spare, I'll see a hundred things I like.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hello, ASPCA?

I'm not like turbo-crunch, but I am a little treehuggy. I have huge issues with the fuel efficiency of large vehicles, especially when most SUVs have a seating capacity of 5, the same as smaller passenger cars. I have been known to give Hummers the finger if the kids aren't with me. And I definitely am a recycling snob. I truly believe it should be mandatory.

But here's something I don't think should be recycled: taxidermied animals. I'm assuming that's what happened when SciWorks decided to decorate. I'd hate to think all those animals lost their lives specifically for third rate exhibits.

We're talking multitudes of taxidermied animals in one room, with a Hall of Horrors* just off it, featuring small exhibit cages with live animals: snakes going mad to get out, an owl cooped up forever with absolutely no private area in which to escape the prying eyes, a large number of grouse who will never see daylight again, and an iguana whose nails got stuck in his wire bed as we watched, leaving him temporarily stuck above the newspaper-floor of his enclosure.

Let's not forget to take into account Huey, the macaw, who was left to fend for himself (in a small cage in the room chockablock full of dead animals) against tormenting teens and screaming school-aged kids eager to make him squawk in distress, no museum employee in sight to monitor the bird, much less move him to a safe location when he was clearly distressed.

And all of it was ours to enjoy for a mere $32 for our family of four!

*Not the actual, official SciWorks name.

Monday, April 10, 2006

That sucking noise? Fabulousness leaving.

Some recycled buildings are amazing, like the conversions of former tobacco factories into cool, NYC-worthy lofts. But others fall flat, usually due to the sucking out of any charm, any character. Such is the case with the Reynolda Manor branch of the public library.

Housed in a former movie thater, it has the exterior potential to be retro cool. But then one enters and realizes it's just another beige, beaurocratic rectangle.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Stumps? More thrilling.

This morning, I called my husband, who is out of town for work, and told him excitedly about how well the new laundry basket I bought was functioning. Furthermore, I then shared with him my plan for the day: a trip to Harris Teeter. When I got off the phone, I thought to myself, without a trace of sarcasm, "Hey... I think I'm going to mix it up a little and take the boys to a new Harris Teeter!"

It was at this point that I realized I had reached an all-time low, the nadir on the Curve of Pathetic, if you will.

...And I'm fairly certain that using the word nadir cinches my place in history as The Dullest Woman Ever.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I think they were at Borders Cafe

I read a recent New York Times article about Winston-Salem, extolling a few of the city's more touristy virtues. (Here is a link to the article at a non-registration-required website.) When I read the first paragraph, I thought the journalist had clearly driven through the intersection at Patterson and 28th and picked up a little specialty homegrown to smoke.

WINSTON-SALEM is a place of unusual juxtapositions. At cafes, immaculately coiffed Southern socialites sit beside pierced and tattooed students from the North Carolina School of the Arts...

But today at the Borders on Stratford, at the outside seating area, I saw that very juxtaposition. And despite the gusts of wind, at speeds up to 25 mph if weather.com is to be believed, the socialite I saw's hair never moved. I don't think it's a coiffure; I think it's a battle helmet.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Our babysitter may be bolting

She's due to graduate from Wake Forest in mere weeks, no immediate plans thereafter, and she thinks she might move home. Her parents' home, not our home.

Which is a six hour drive from here.

Which would crimp our plans for her sitting for us every week from now until forever.

Tonight my husband and I went to Adventure Landing Miniature Golf while she minded the boys at our home. We played four rounds. At one point, a large contingent of fraternity-looking guys showed up to play. No girls, just guys. It was weird, but I took it for all it was worth, and, upon returning home, I tried to sell Winston-Salem to the babysitter as a hot, happening place full of large groups of preppyish men.

My husband just shook his head.

She can't leave.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Nobody clogs your arteries like

I find it completely hysterical that the corporate sponsor for the Women's Center at Forsyth Medical Center is Sara Lee. Let's face it, they aren't exactly known for producing healthy dietary choices.

But their new blueberry crumble breakfast bread is about the tastiest thing going.

(I found it at Harris Teeter, in the bread aisle, for $2.49 a loaf. Holy.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I will not drive a minivan

Will not, will not, will not.

But I fear I am doomed to someday soon get a larger vehicle than my sweet VW Passat. I am fine with 2 kids in it, but add in a guest child, and one has to ride up front, as three boosters won't fit acros the back. Or let our family of four take my father somewhere, and I end up wedged in the back middle, with both children gleefully poking me and my husband trying to see above me in the rearview mirror. We could take my husband's car, I suppose, but it's yet another Passat.

I have no idea what I will end up with, but it cannot be a minivan, and it cannot be a VW Touareg, for the sole reason that the VW logo on the hood is roughly as large as a dinner plate. Completely ginormous and quite pimpin'.

Whatever it is, it will no doubt be from Carmax, though, as the last three vehicles we've purchased have been through them, and I cannot get over how easy it was.