Thursday, November 30, 2006
This one, on the other hand, is utterly unique. However, I wouldn't care to live in it for an entirely different reason: I'm tired just thinking of the stairs.
Also, something about it reminds me a lot of the cover of the copy of The Swiss Family Robinson I had when I was a kid.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Right, right, I ended up with the big, white, rental Caddy as a result. Yeah, so I returned that today because the other household car came out of the shop where it was being inspected and having a few minor things done to it. And the one that died went into the shop. Got that? One in, one out.
So today my husband was out of town again. I was driving down Reynolda Road again. I had the kids in tow again. AND ANOTHER CAR DIED. I kid you not.
By "died", read "totalled, from a financial standpoint, in terms of repairs needed to even get the car safely near a roadway ever again."
Don't even ask me what we're going to do. We don't know yet. My husband has his truck, and I've borrowed a loaner from a friend's husband who works for Flow Motors, but only for tonight and tomorrow morning. I just couldn't bear to go right back to puffy rental marshmallow land.
I do know that whatever we do end up doing, I will hereafter avoid the Reynolda Triangle, which, unlike traditional, malevolent geometric shapes, is defined not only by location but also by circumstance.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
But since my car is still in the shop, I drove the rental Caddy, which is roughly 33 feet longer than my usual vehicle. Also, I remind you that before Saturday, I had never driven an automatic, and I surely had never parallel parked one. So I planned to see if there were two spaces in a row, but, failing that, I was going to drive around the library and park in that garage on the back.
And then I remembered: I, Esbee, am The World's! Best! Parallel Parker!
So when I saw a space right out front, a single space, I went for it. And, given my skill, my intrinsic parallel parking prowess, it was no surprise to me when the Caddy slid into that space like Cinderella's foot into the slipper. Bam! Like it belonged, man! Like it was, you know, being driven by The World's! Best! Parallel Parker!
Nor was I surprised that a pedestrian stopped to watch, then walked to the place on the sidewalk just next to the car and bent down to look through the passenger window at the marvelous, magical being who had pulled off that superb parking job. I don't blame him. It's not every day people get to see you-know-who, much less driving a big ole Caddy.
When I got out of the car, I smiled to a few people who were standing on the sidewalk, seemingly watching my every move. Really, who can blame them? Some even looked like they'd been stopped in their tracks by my stunning steering maneuvers.
To get to the sidewalk myself, I walked around the back of the car so I could surreptitiously glance down as I walked past the car and see just how perfectly aligned the wheels were.
When I saw that my wheels were indeed perfectly aligned RIGHT UP ON THE CURB, the watchfulness of the pedestrians seemed perhaps a little different. Poo.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
And so we followed that old adage: Gather pinecones while the sun shines. Because I'll ride a donkey down Hanes Mall Boulevard before I'll pay for pinecones when they're lying all over the ground everywhere I go.
In a little less than thirty minutes, we found about 50 good ones, which is roughly half of what I'd like. It's also worth $11 to $12, if one goes by these people's prices. Amazing.
Our pinecones will be put into baskets to be played with, be attached to wreaths and greenery about the house, and perhaps made into an ornament or two.
One year, though, I'm going to attempt to make one of these, but minus the moss.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Well, now. This is what I needed.
Just for kicks sometime, just for fun, try to find a car repair place that will look at your car late on the Friday afternoon after a major holiday. For added fun, have your husband be out of town until late that night. And all your friends until Sunday. Haha. Hahahahahahahaha.
So that whole Enterprise thing? True. They picked us up. Sadly, they didn't have a Murcielago for rent as the oldest was hoping, but we will be bouncing around town for the next few days in a rather large, white Caddy with buff-colored, leather seats you sorta sink into. And the whole thing, from the moment of pickup to our walking in the house with the
PS: If you see me driving around town, maintain a safe distance. I've never driven an automatic transmission before.
PPS: There's actually at least one Murcielago in town, a yellow one. The oldest and I have seen it three times now.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Kidding, completely kidding. About the shopping that is. I've never been a Black Friday shopper, an Early Bird shopper, or a Midnight Madness shopper. In fact, I will go out out of my way to avoid shopping in crowds. This is especially true of Christmas crowds, which, in my experience, are the surliest, product-grubbingest people alive. There's nothing that says Peace on Earth quite like a wild-eyed woman, wrapped in what appears to be the afghan from her couch, barking, "I had it first! That's MY Frymaster!"
So here I sit, planning out what I do do the day after Thanksgiving: decorate.
I have nutcrackers to unpack, light strings to check, and snowflakes to be made with the children. I have Christmas ornaments that must be brought up from the basement or down from the attic (I can't remember where I put them last year). I have holiday ribbons that must be examined, ironed, and, if necessary, replaced. I have Moravian stars to hang. The front door needs a wreath.
So no, there will be no gift shopping today for me. I will not wade into crowds who have been at it since half-past four. I will not listen to Christmas Muzak as I contemplate electronics. I will not fight over a parking space in the thirtieth row.
But if you did? I'd love to hear about it. Tell me the place, the time, the purchase, and, most importantly, whether or not it was worth it.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
When the oldest was a few months past his fourth birthday, his Sunday school class made turkey feathers out of construction paper. On each feather, the child would write something for which he or she was thankful, then attach the feather to a turkey cutout. When the children came out of the classroom, most of the other children had turkeys with six or seven feathers in their hands. The oldest's turkey only had two. One read BROTHER, and the other read MONSTER TRUCKS.
This morning, I tried to explain Thanksgiving to the youngest. I asked him to name something he was thankful for, figuring maybe, just maybe, I'd get a mention this time. He was silent for a few seconds, then said, "I thanks for boots."
"Boots?" I asked, not sure I'd heard him right.
"Boots," he confirmed, nodding.
I hadn't really thought about it, before, but I guess I'm thankful for boots, too.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Last week, I was Classroom Reader in the oldest's second grade classroom. One of the books I brought with me, and the class favorite, was How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. When I closed the book, I gave each child a copy of the very easy Apple Pie recipe in the back of the book. Then I asked each to name a pie he or she had made in his or her house. One of the children offered up Watermelon Pie, which I'd never before heard of, as a family favorite. It doesn't sound particularly good to me, but here's the North Carolina Department of Agriculture website's recipe:
Quick and Easy Watermelon Pie
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cups watermelon balls
4 ounce container refrigerated non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
Fold together milk and topping. Add lime juice. Fold in watermelon balls, reserving about 5 balls for a garnish. Pour into graham cracker crust. Place remaining watermelon balls on pie to garnish. Chill for 2 or more hours before serving.
This morning my friend MPB detailed the myriad of dishes she is preparing for not one, not two, not three, but four, count 'em, FOUR huge family meals she has in the next four days. One of them was Coconut Pie, as requested by her father-in-law, I believe. I'd never heard of Coconut Pie before, either.
MPB suggested that this unfamiliarity with Coconut Pie made me suspect. She went so far as to intimate that I possess an un-American streak, by drawing a comparison between Apple Pie and Coconut Pie.
I pointed out that my pies will have homemade crust. Hers will not. I'm fairly certain storebought crusts are the calling cards of communists the world over. That's all I'm saying.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Tired doesn't even begin to describe it - I'd been up half the night cradling said child's feverish, little body. Driving down the still-dark streets, I cranked the radio in hopes of staying more alert. But my beloved Hitz 94.1, which played awesome wonders from the 80s, was replaced a few weeks ago with "new programming", of which I am not a fan, so I hit the channel search.
And then my ears were assaulted. As the dial stopped on 102.9, out of Charlotte, an announcer threatened me with "Continuous Christmas Favorites". And the horror began.
Thankfully, my outrage over yet more Christmas prematurity, more Other Holiday Preemption, kept me awake the rest of the way.
Monday, November 20, 2006
NOVEMBER TWENTY-FIRST, BABY! YEAH!
Don't look at me like that. Don't you know what tomorrow is?
No, I'm not joking.
Ahem. November 21st, 1789 is the day that North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution, becoming the twelfth state in the Union.
HAPPY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTEENTH! WUP-WUP-WUP! BAM! BAM!
Gifts? Gifts? OK, yes.
Have a map! Bird's-eye view of the twin cities, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 1891! It's rather cool.
As it's part of the repository of The Library of Congress, access to it actually already belongs to us all, so basically I'm giving us what is already ours. Isn't this a great country?
Tomorrow celebrate becoming part of it.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
When I came in for a closeup, I realized he didn't look so much sweet as drugged. It was then that I realized the wee children's voices were singing some insane, indoctrination-sounding ditty.
The snippet I heard went something like "I belong to you, Harry! I am happy with you, Harry!"
Then, all through the store, my darling child was singing part of the song over and over, but unfortunately his speech isn't very clear, so all I could make out was H! A! R-R-Y!
He's going to smother me with free cookies while I sleep or something. I just know it.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I rarely go to the doctor, so I don't have a private practice practitioner. The last one I had, I waited two hours past my quite-well-in-advance, scheduled appointment, and then he couldn't understand why I was irked when he breezed into the exam room without so much as an acknowlegement that I'd been left waiting inordinately. Like I should just be grateful he even got to me.
I'd rather just take my chances then at Primecare, as infrequently as I go. The care is good, and I don't get irked at waiting as a walk-in.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Dear Esbee: I sent you a store suggestion. Why isn't it over there?
One of two reasons: I haven't yet added it, or I wasn't able to find any information about it online. There were at least two stores like that. I'll update the list later tonight or tomorrow. Let's say if you don't see it up by Monday morning, it falls into the second category.
Dear Esbee: I cannot believe you named your hamster after Aunt Jemima! How insulting to syrup makers/black people/me!
Sorry, but you have the wrong Jemima. Mine's named after Jemima Puddle-Duck, a Beatrix Potter character I've loved since childhood. I swore forever I'd name a daughter thusly (as well as about five other names, including - no joke - Lulabelle and Matilda), but since we have all sons, I've started using my girl names for animals.
Dear Esbee: I loved/hated your bra post. It's so good to know where to go!/It was so unladylike!
Thank you./Oh well.
I also have some correspondence of my own to send out.
Dear The Fast and the Furiously Festive on Country Club:
I see you took down the inflatable turkey already to make room for more premature Christmas decorations. No, really, this is a superb idea! Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving! I mean, chop-chop already! Let's MOOOOVE the calendar along, people! Who was it who said, "Don't put off until tomorrow what holiday decorating you can do today!" anyway? Someone smart!
Accordingly, please make sure you have a ginormous heart, riddled with arrows, and accompanied by an oversized, winged infant in a diaper, up no later than next Monday. We really must move along if we're to squeeze in St. Patrick's day before the first snowflake.
Cracking the Holiday Whip,
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
In my mind, it's not enough to just say that white people used to think black people inferior. That doesn't even begin to convey the magnitude of the injustice and the sheer terror inflicted on people just trying to live their lives.
And so I used our reading time. The last half hour before the oldest goes to bed is reserved for me to read aloud to him, but we often have deep discussions in the lull.
Last year in first grade, he developed a love for biography and autobiography. It therefore seemed best to me to let someone who lived it tell it. We finished reading the book I chose last night and, when I finally turned out the light, the oldest, appropriately, was somber and pensive.
One additional note: What that review doesn't mention (but I knew in advance from reading others) is that on Leon's fifteenth birthday, his father is purposely mowed down by a car full of drunken, white teenagers, who then turn the car around to hit him again. Leon is watching as his father is killed.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I was in the toy aisle at TJ Maxx, scoping out ideas for the boys' Christmas, when it happened. Another woman, there with a toddler, asked me if I saw a particular toy. I was mid-answer when I saw her eyes drop and widen. Simultaneously I felt the front fastener of my brassiere burst open. What on earth? This has never happened before.
Turning my back to the other woman, I reached up the bottom of my shirt, thinking to refasten it. Instead, I felt the pieces of the broken clasp fall into my hand. Good goose on the loose, I do not need this.
I snatched a toy drum from the shelf in front of me and clutched it as a shield, my mind turning furiously. Must get out, must get out, my brain chanted. As I passed the redlined linens, I exchanged the drum for a rectangular tablecloth marked down to $3.00 Have I mentioned we have two dining tables at our house? An oval and a circle.
I did a fine job of crossing my arms - sadly quite low - at the checkout, and thankfully the TJ Maxx bag with my tablecloth inside was huge, but then what?
You see, like most women, I have a Favorite Bra. Make that had - mine had just died. The others, in my top dresser drawer at home, were adequate, but Not Quite It.
It was then that I remembered the hushed conversations I'd heard in lingerie departments all around the city, every one of which contained the same words: Hanes Mill Outlet.
The Hanes Mill Outlet, on Mill Street just off of Stratford is, indeed, directly underneath the factory. Here's what this means:
1. You will hear large, wheeled bins or some such being pushed over your head.
2. You will know that you are shopping in a basement.
There's little effort made to pretty it up - I found six previously unseen grey hairs with that lighting. But at all times there are certified bra fitters there, at all times there are half cupsizes there, at all times there are hard-to-find sizes there, and at all times you can expect to save somewhere between 20 to 30%.
Within my own size, I found bras to minimize, bras to push them up to a freakish elevation, bras to make me look like I was packing twin torpedoes, bras to make me look like I wasn't wearing a bra but gravity hadn't yet been so cruel, and, thankfully, a new Favorite Bra. I bought two to be prepared. I may carry an extra one in my purse at all times, the whole TJ Maxx thing was that traumatic.
I also bought a new sports bra. The package assures me that it's versatile enough to wear on its own as a top. With no shirt over it, do you understand? Let me tell you now, that will never happen. You're welcome.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The youngest sat on one seat of our larger wagon, a bowl of popcorn on which to snack in his lap. The remainder of the wagon was taken up with boxes and tins to deliver. I pulled that wagon. The oldest pulled another, smaller wagon with more boxes and tins and The Clipboard, which is my organizational system of choice.
And so we stayed to the sides of the roads where there were so sidewalks. And where there were sidewalks, we used them happily, but they stop and start indiscriminately in this city. And often there are poles planted in the middle of them, making it impossible to get a wagon, even the small one, around.
We almost died roughly 6,723,483 times yesterday. Such a pretty city, but completely unsafe for pedestrians. This is probably my chief complaint about Winston-Salem.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Esbee: Who is this, please?
Woman: Who is this, please?
Woman: (speaking away from phone) It's some woman. You talk.
Man in Background: Just hang up on her.
Woman: This is (Esbee's cell phone number).
Esbee: Yes, you've reached that number.
Woman: No, I haven't.
Esbee: I assure you you in fact have.
Woman: Where's Beryl, then?
Esbee: I don't know anyone by that name. I'm afraid you've reached a wrong number.
Woman (speaking away from phone) You were right. She is rude.
Man in Background: Tell her Beryl needs to call and then just hang up.
Woman: Beryl needs to call.
Esbee: Again, I don't know anyone by that name.
Woman: Then stop answering his phone!
Woman: (dramatic sigh) (disconnects)
Herewith is my public plea: Beryl, whoever you are, wherever you are, call. Not me. Them. Never, ever call me.
Friday, November 10, 2006
That's how many times I've driven past The Golden Apple on Robinhood (to the right of Ace hardware) without knowing there was a whole cafe in the back, serving fat deli sandwiches made to order.
I had lunch there today with my Aunt E. After I ordered the roast beef, she informed me that my Uncle B. always orders the peanut butter and jelly, which comes with jelly beans.
Delicious. And while leaving, stuffed, I saw some beautiful hostess aprons that I have to go back and check out.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Sweet. This whole scenario needed one more bit of mayhem.
It's Wednesday morning, and I'm driving to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with my oldest son, now napping sweetly in the back seat, his stomach full of Denny's. We left Winston-Salem at 5 am, and we have about another hour and a half left, having lost 30 minutes to the Denny's stop. It's 8 am, and I still haven't seen the sun today.
The exit for Foothills Parkway comes up suddenly, and I realize when I try to turn that I have a deathgrip on the wheel. Tell me again why I'm going. Yeah, yeah, the kid will love it. But why am I going?
Oh, I love it here! Indeed, it's ticky-tacky to the nth, and the attraction ticket hawkers hassle you, and there are seemingly only two types of non-chain eateries: Pancake joint and candy store.
But the air! The air is heaven, crisp and moist and completely clean. And the leaves? Love them, with their myriad shades of brown. And there's a sweet, old Episcopal church, named, what else, Trinity. And there are some lovely old buildings scattered here and there.
Our hotel room has a balcony overlooking a creek. Normally, I'm told, the creek is calm and sweet, but today, due to the recent rains, it's a muddy torrent of whitewater. And it doesn't babble; it roars. The oldest's whole face lights up when he sees it.
So we did the aquarium (wonderful), Guinness World Record museum (ripoff), Treasure Quest minigolf (meh), the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum (cool, actually), an outdoor minigolf with local history markers (very cool), and some "gem mining" on an outdoor flume (the oldest's favorite - he "mined" an arrowhead).
We also did the Pancake Pantry, the Pancake Log Cabin, and the Parkway Pancake House. We tasted fudge at at least eleven candy stores. We ate "mountain taffy", which is inferior to saltwater taffy, I'm sorry to have to tell you.
But ultimately, the thing that made Gatlinburg a place we have to go back to, was the Motor Nature Trail, which is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I cannotcannotcannot convey to you adequately what an amazing thing it is. We stopped the car and got out at least twenty times. The absolute highlight was seeing three deer drinking from a creek, all of thirty feet away. And the water smelled so good I had to resist the urge to just stick my whole head in.
And so we'll go back. We'll probably avoid the strip for the most part next time, and we'll most likely rent a cabin - creekside would rock. But we will go back. Oh, and, for the record, Pancake Log Cabin for food, but Pancake Pantry for service. We just won't talk about the Parkway Pancake House.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I only got Jemima at the end of January, and it's only a smidge past the end of October now. Nine months is roughly a third of a hamster's life expectancy, so I was within reason to expect to have her longer. But Jemima had two foibles:
1. She was a Hamster Houdini, a master of escape, able to scale any cage, walk upside down with ease and speed, and fit her enormous body through seemingly impossibly small openings.
2. She liked to stick her head out to the side as she ran on her hamster wheel, pulling it in only at the last millisecond as the brace approached.
A few months ago, I ran across an intriguing term: chakba. Wikipedia only had this to offer:
In Classical Mayan culture, chakba was self-decapitation.
That was it. And so, honestly, I wondered how. What were the logistics of such an act?
And now I know: The Classical Mayans built large, metal exercise wheels, with sharp-edged support braces, then stuck their heads out the sides when they ran on them.
Yes, that's right - my hamster committed chakba. And yes, I had awful Dixie Classic artificial wreath flashbacks when I found her.
(Due to the unfortunate nature of Jemima's demise, her remains had to be disposed of in black plastic. But usually, we use Central Carolina Pet Services to cremate our beloved furries.)
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Accordingly, I've decided to compile a list of stores you won't find anywhere else. Forsyth County has its own local flavor, and these stores are a part of it. However, I know I don't know every local boutique, Mom n Pop, and indie store in the county. So although I threw the names and hyperlinks to a few up in the left column, I know there are many, many more, and I want to hear about them!
Give me - via email or by commenting here -
1. the name
2. the address (physical and/or www)
3. a brief description
of any locally based store you think I (and others) would enjoy shopping at this holiday season, and I'll add it to the list.
It's worth it in my mind to support as many small businesses as possible, lest the entire county one day end up looking like a Hanes Mall Boulevard strip mall. If you are a local shopkeeper, self-promotion is not only acceptable, it's heartily encouraged.
Friday, November 03, 2006
So my husband has gone to Sears, because Sears is man heaven, with the large-screen TV department, the appliances, the tools, the sheer untrendiness. Because he's going to Sears, and because the youngest manchild went with him, he's driving his truck.
I'm home, doing laundry, vaccuming, and feeling, as the mother of only sons, very much A Girl.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I've never attended one before, so, while I expected to see a few other parents of scouts there, I was not prepared to see so many others unrelated to the scouts - aging veterans in their VFW hats and dark suits, their spouses, families with small children, and just ordinary people who came out in the dark to pay their respects.