Hello Hello

Sunday, December 31, 2006


Years ago, my late mother went through about a three month stage where she was obsessed with "bringing closure". I think she heard it or saw it on some talk show. She seized upon the concept as an important part of communication. Each telephone conversation, she would say, "To bring closure, here is what I said, ____________, and here is what you said, ______________. " And then you'd have to listen to the highlights of what you just finished saying all over again. This wasn't even just for disagreements; she did this every conversation. So you'd agree to meet her at 2 pm at her house, and then she'd "bring closure" by repeating that you'd agreed to meet her at her house at 2 pm. Every conversation lasted twice as long as necessary since everything was repeated in summary form at the end pf each conversation. If you tried to cut it short, you would be met with silence followed by her going back to the very beginning. It was a wretched stage, and thankfully, it didn't stick.

My definition of "bringing closure" is entirely different. I consider it to be finishing a topic so that it never need be discussed or rehashed again. And so I present to you...

Blogging Closure
Topics I will Never Touch Upon Again, 2006 Edition

1. Wal-Mart. They are the scourge of civilized business, end of conversation.

2. The ridiculous cardboard recycling requirements in Forsyth County.

3. Hitz 94.1. Because they're gone.

4. Premature holiday decorations. I feel I've made my position clear.

5. Tim Clodfelter's alter-ego. The picture is awful, period.

6. The Dinner Belle's fixation with a certain lettuce. She seems to have dropped it. Yay! Her reviews have actually been much better recently, save that the majority seem to be of eateries in Greensboro. Come back to Forsyth, DB!

7. Pottery Barn. Just Say No.

8. My Very Important Customer card. I think I've pretty much covered all the angles.

And now a topic upon which I have never before commented, but I'm going to throw down my two cents now and then never say anything again...

9. ATTN: News Outlets: I don't actually need to see pictures of Saddam Hussein with a noose on his neck. I don't need to see his dead body in a shroud. I don't need coverage of how his body looked as it fell. This is sensationalism at its worst, and I'm seeing it from almost every news source. Guess what? It's backfiring. I'm actually turned off reading news websites and hard print, because click a link or turn a page and LOOK IT'S SADDAM HUSSEIN DYING! LOOK AT HIS FACE! LOOK! LOOK! There is absolutely no news or editorial value to the pictures and information you are currently disseminating, just titillation value.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


All yesterday, I convinced myself that I wasn't really getting sick, that I was just mourning. I don't know why I thought sadness could cause swollen glands and a progressively worsening sore throat, but dismiss the symptoms I did.

By ten oclock last night, I no longer could so I went to bed. Midnight found me back out of bed and walking about the house whining. Somewhere after two in the morning, I was able to fall half asleep. Come six-thirty though, I could no longer swallow, so I got up and started getting dressed to be at Primecare by eight when the doors opened.

At eight-forty this morning, I was pulling into the first pharmacy, prescription paper for two meds in hand.

CVS pharmacist: We have one of these. I would have to order the other one. It would be here by Tuesday. Probably.

Esbee: Thank you, but I'll try elsewhere.

Walgreen's pharmacist: (without checking the computer) I don't have these.

Esbee: Um, could you call the Walgreens on Cloverdale and see if they do?

Walgreen's pharmacist: (without calling) They don't.

Eckerd pharmacist: I have one of these. The other one may have a generic; let me check. (works with computer for a minute) Yes, it does, but in several strength combinations, and I'm not sure which one he means. I'm going to call your doctor and we'll figure out which one is best for you. You go home and rest while I do this; it sometimes takes a little while. My name is Charmaine; I'll give you a call myself when I've heard back from him.

Esbee: I love you.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Four years ago today

I lost my mother.

And I wanted to say so much, but now just seeing those words, I can't.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


"So we wondered if you'd like to join us," S.'s mom finishes.

"We do! I mean, we would, but today is a barn day, so we can't. How did you find out it's open to the public today?" I ask.

"I saw it in the paper, in an ad," S.'s mom says. "I think we could also do it tomorrow, but I've already promised today, so we're going to go ahead. Let me call you later."

I'm sad. What a perfect thing to go do on a cold day. But we'll be at the barn. Specialized footwear, yes, but no hot chocolate, no music, and nobody being taught to draw lemons with their feet to go forward, limes to go backward.

Information about ice skating at the Coliseum

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How to Grocery Shop with Children

Plan poorly for the holidays. Plan so poorly that for the vegetable portion of supper on Christmas night, you ask each child to "pick a can, any can."

Early the day after Christmas, you will need to go to the local Harris Teeter, of course. The cat will be wailing plaintively from not being fed at 7 am on the dot, and the dogs will no longer be coming inside when called, tired of being rewarded for their obedience with flour tortillas. Animals aside, think about the children, who this morning didn't seem to enjoy your flour tortilla French Toast overly.

Realize you have to take the children with you since your husband is at work and your babysitter is at Disney World. Consider waiting to go alone when he gets home that evening. Consider waiting until she gets back from Disney World in five days. Quickly realize these options, while attractive, aren't actually feasible unless you want the children to acquire a taste for canned foods. Plus, you've run out of flour tortillas. So just before lunchtime, go to Harris Teeter with the children.

When you get to Harris Teeter, decide to send the oldest for the dog treats and the cat food. Tell him you'll meet him in the soup aisle. He'll go, leaving you picking apples and carrots. Don't be lonely; for company, you will still have the youngest, sitting happily in the seat of the cart.

Fresh produce! You will be almost giddy after only one day on cans.

When you get to the soup aisle, the oldest will walk up with one small can of cat food and a package of gourmet dog treats costing $12. For four treats. Remind the oldest that the cat eats dry food and your dogs would bankrupt you inside a week if you fed them $12 treats. Send the oldest back to the animal food aisle with these items, telling him to this time get DRY cat food and CHEAP dog treats. Tell him you will meet him in the cereal aisle.

Put three cans of soup in your cart and go to the cereal aisle. Remind the youngest he likes granola bars now. Try not to scream when he denies any such thing and demands Pop Tarts instead. Hope nobody is looking as you put Pop Tarts in your cart instead of the more healthy granola bars. Resolve to be a non Pop Tart Mommy in the New Year. By this, mean that you resolve to stop sneaking them from the pantry for yourself, not to stop buying them for the children. Grab two boxes of Cinni Mini Crunch and put them in the cart. Try to shush the youngest, who is now chanting POP TART POP TART POP TART.

Watch in disbelief as the oldest walks toward you with an enormous, stuffed dog toy and a bag of Senior Cat Formula. Before he even gets to you, start shaking your head. Remind him the dogs do not need any more toys. Remind him they do, however, need treats. CHEAP treats. Remind him the cat is barely two. Show him the place on the bag where it says this food is ideal for cats aged ten and up. Send him back to the animal food aisle with the toy and the old cat food. Tell him you will meet him at the free cookies, just in front of the deli.

Rush through the meat section to pick up more flour tortillas; you're short because of the dogs. And the French Toast. Which nobody ate. Wonder not for the first time why flour tortillas are in the meat section and not the bread section. While you are doing this, grab a loaf of wheat bread on the way to the free cookies.

Notice that now Harris Teeter gives you a choice: regular sugar cookies or low-fat sugar cookies. Pretend you don't see the low-fat cookies. Take a full-fat cookie. You get one bite - the rest is for the youngest, who is watching his brother struggle towards the cart. Rush to help the child as he gasps, "I got everything you asked for, Mom." Ignore the woman just beside you who is now shooting withering glares at you, the go-get-my-groceries-son-while-I-eat-free-cookies Mom.

Look down at what your son has brought. Realize that he was struggling because along with the small bag of cat food and the small bag of treats, he was carrying a gigantic box of Goldfish crackers. Say loudly for the sake of the withering glare lady, "I see you got yourself a gigantic box of Goldfish crackers, dear! How splendid!" Then head to checkout. She will get in line just behind you in a few minutes. Use those minutes to practice indignant looks. When she shows up, shoot her a good one, then promptly relax your face and assume no expression whatsoever.

Go home and unpack the groceries. Realize you forgot to buy the following things: milk, toilet paper, and deodorant. Put away the things you had no intention of buying: Pop Tarts, Goldfish crackers, and the enormous, stuffed dog toy, which somehow made it into your cart after all. Decide to wait to go back to Harris Teeter until your husband gets home that evening.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Goodbye, Uncle James

My friend A. called me this morning. First, she said, "Merry Christmas!" Immediately, she changed her voice, "And I'm so sorry for your loss."

James Brown died today. I liked to refer to him as Uncle James. In the great Southern tradition, I give honorary familial titles to those for whom I feel great affection. In a slight deviation from the tradition, I disregard whether or not I've ever actually met them.

After a respectful moment of silence, A. continued, "So, um, Luc, is that all of them? Cousin Celia and Uncle James, I mean?"

"No. I have two left. Aunt Charo and Cousin Morris."

"Ah, yes," I could almost hear her nodding. "Can't forget them."

And in a flash, we are launching into Jungle Love, both of us giggling at the other's imitation.

"Wait. Did you know I actually once saw My Late Uncle James sing live?"

This is true. On New Year's Eve of my ninth grade year, so 1985 turning into 1986, a group of about six of us, including my friend Becky and I, somehow walked right into a black tie affair at the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, DC. On stage was a fantastic looking man sing-shouting, plus about six male backup singers/dancers. The song was Living in America. I was mesmorized by his hair and his rhythm and the flashy, matching outfits all the men on stage wore. Becky urged me to keep moving, as she couldn't hear what the boys we were with were saying, but I was rooted to the spot. That night Becky got a boyfriend, but I got an Uncle.

At first, A. is quiet when I finish telling the story. Then I hear her quietly sing-say, "Get on up!" and I can't help myself. Next thing I know, we are giggling as we throw out snippets from a whole mess of songs, a sort of mini-eulogy for My Late Uncle James.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And in this next slide, you can see...

Pictures of the vistas from the reader-recommended trip I took with the oldest to Gatlinburg this past fall.

Click on each picture for a larger image.

There will be no such amazing trip this coming school year, as the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System has done away with Fall Break in next year's calendar. THANKS A LOT, GUYS!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Light in the Night

"Lucy, I was mortified," my friend K. drawls. "Last year, I drove around your neighborhood and mine and realized ours was the only house without them! Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I'm sure anyone who even noticed remembered you came here from Tennessee. You couldn't have been expected to know."

"Mor-tuh-fied," K. repeats, enunciating each syllable for emphasis. "Anyway, this year I have twenty-four. I am prepared."

I crack up. This is K. at her finest. If a Christmas tree could be lit with two strands of lights, she puts ten on. Her tree doesn't merely twinkle; it blazes. And so it seems right that her road frontage and driveway will be adorned with twenty-four luminaries when half that number would do.

My own luminaries wait in their kits by my front door. Tomorrow afternoon, I will set them up. Tomorrow evening, I will light them. Tomorrow night, I will tell my children to come out on the front porch and look down the street. They will ooh and ahh and tell me the street looks like an airport runway, and I will revel in their joy and wish for the same for the families helped by the luminaries.

More information on The Light A Luminary Project, benefitting the Winston-Salem Ronald McDonald House

kits contain everything needed: sand, white bags, candles, and directions

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eight? It's been EIGHT?

That's the oldest, eight years and a few months ago, still too small for an infant carseat at almost a month old. This evening, that same tiny, yellow baby announced he had written a poem.

When the white snow falls,
clouds sometimes are gone
and sometimes are here.
We play in the snow.
When we have hot cocoa,
that makes us warm.

I know eight years seems like a long time, but believe me when I say it has leapt past me, startling, and leaving me dazzled in the wake.

Charlotte or Bust

My husband has just taken a position in Charlotte, set to begin early next year. No, we're not moving, not if we can help it.

Help us help it. Gimme your insider information on routes to take, routes to avoid, shuttles, carpools, high-speed trains, lowest-priced gas in town, and the like.

And while you're at it, tell me your favorite thing about Winston-Salem. Justify the commute.

"Life in Mecklenburg", which someone suggested, just doesn't have the same ring.

It's snowraining!

It should be snowing. It's late December, and we live in a major Christmas tree growing state, so it should be snowing.

Instead, we have rain. Gobs of it.

You can't sled in the rain. You can't make rainmen. You can't throw rainballs.

This ground should be white.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas from E & E

My family had Christmas at our house this morning. What? Yes, early. We have our reasons.

What? A gift for you? OK. A little competition of sorts. You get the gift of vote.

Background: Esbette and I were at TJ Maxx on Robinhood when we were struck with the urge to dress each other in the most special way possible: a Stylist From Hell Smackdown, if you will. The rules were simple: each person had to make the most unattractive, complete outfit for the other. All clothing had to be in the dressee's actual size.

ESBETTE'S RESULTS: Esbette had a very strong showing. Remembering my personal rule, Gauchos are Gauche, she selected some for me, guaranteeing to double my width and halve my height instantaneously. She added a shapeless black sweater with odd, black beads that looked like small tumors all over it. However, Esbette loses points because the actual fabric of the gauchos wasn't repulsive. I could have rocked it at least to "almost passable" by adding a wide, low-slung belt and a fab, elongating scarf, plucking off the tumor beads, and wearing some kickin', high-heeled black boots. But as it stands, she fashioned me into a dowdy, dwarfin Weeble Wobble, and that's tremendous. Cost of outfit: $60.

ESBEE'S RESULTS: I did amazingly well, turning Esbette's well-toned figure into a gawky mess. For her blouse, I chose a wretched, mushroom colored lycra-poly blend, with unattractive ruching up the front and a see-through back. This blouse not only made Esbette look cheap, it made her look like she was suffering from consumption. Continuing my lycra theme, I added cropped leggings, with bizarre, piratelike ties at the meatiest part of the calf. Arrr! As an added bonus, they were a dingy shade of red, looking old and forlorn even with the tags still hanging on them. Overall, she looks like a contagious elf on the make. It would be impossible to make this outfit work, even with Esbette's splendid figure. Cost of outfit: $25.

So who wins? I'm pretty sure I do.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today's Blog Comment Outage

...was brought to you by a Blogger upgrade. I had no idea it would take so long. Thank you to those of you who emailed me to alert me, and to those of you who wondered if I had somehow broken the entire blogosphere, thank you for your faith in my ability to wreak mayhem.

Still bookmark-short,

Unlicensed to Kill

I am the most dangerous woman alive, clearly.

A few weeks ago, I killed not one but TWO cars. Then, last night, I killed my computer. Utterly. My husband, a Senior UNIX Sys Admin, was stumped and asked over and over, "But what did you do to it?" Alas, I did nothing. I just have The Touch apparently. You'll want to stay on my good side lest KABLAM!, I take you out, too.

So here I sit, typing on a new laptop. With an empty bookmark file.

Help! Help! If you think you know any of my old bookmarks, please, please, remind me.

I had the best bookmarks. And now they're gone.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Silas Creek Crossing

The Christmas Meanies. It's a disease, I swear. And it's what you'll find at Silas Creek Crossing. It isn't the merchants, and it isn't the wares; it's the shoppers. They've morphed completely into gift-grubbing, sneering, violence-prone freaks.

I kid you not, a fiftyish year old man blew up at me for having the car door open all of forty-five seconds to put the youngest in his carseat when he, the fiftyish year old man, was in a hurry to back out of his parking space. He actually revved the engine of his Ford Thunderbird, then rolled down the passenger window and yelled, "YOU DON'T WANT A FIGHT WITH ME!" Inside the store, the youngest, who was sitting in the cart, quietly clutching a package of purple construction paper, and I drew instant glares for... I have no idea for what. For being, I suspect.

Certainly, one older lady was delightful, offering to take my cart back to AC Moore for me. But she was just arriving, you see. And I was leaving before I could be infected, making a mental note not to return until after the holidays, for clearly Silas Creek Crossing is a hotbed of ill will contagion.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Past

When I was a child, I would get excited every year when we opened the Christmas ornaments. It was like catching sight of long lost friends watching them come out of the boxes. Breathlessly, I would ask my mother, over and over, Oh, Momma, do you remember this one? And she would smile and nod. Every year. And the tree topper, oh, I thought she was the prettiest angel ever, with her gold wings and her crimson gown. I felt badly for my friends who had stars topping their trees, but downright awful for the little girl at the end of the end of our lane. Her family's tree had a bow at the top. A bow! And all the ornaments matched, and she wasn't allowed to touch them. Ever.

My favorites were six cardboard snowmen sprayed with glitter. They had pipe cleaners for arms and beards. I pretended they were brothers, and the pink one always managed to take offense, run away, and get lost. Each clearing among the tree branches was a different room the remaining five might go into and have to ask an angel or a skier or a camel or someone for information.

I think we all probably remember ornaments and decorations from childhood. (Well, except for the little neighbor girl, who probably only remembers that stupid, perfectly tied bow.) I'm lucky enough to still have a few of the ones that I had growing up, and I hope my children will someday have their childhood ornaments on trees beside ornaments their own children make.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

We found it

We were driving down Miller Street when the oldest pointed out the obvious: You know what, Mom? In the daytime? The super decorated houses look kind of junky.

Finally, finally, he understood why I said no to a kablillion inflatables, a plastic snowman, and some large wire reindeer. Hallelujah.

And so we began to look for the ultimately decorated, local house that satisfied both my requirements, to wit,

1. relatively tasteful
2. does not look trashy during daylight hours

and his requirements

1. looks fun and festive
2. nighttime visibility

In the last two weeks, we drove by many House Beautiful designs, with wreaths on each window and white candles in each window, but the oldest found those houses "yawn." And I wasn't willing to bend on my daytime non-foolishness requirement. And so for a while, it looked like we would never agree.

And then, last night, we finally found The House.

From Polo, take a right on Robinhood, so that you are heading away from town. Just as you pass Olivet Church Road on the right, look to your left. There, in the night, you will see a house where someone has used multicolored lights to outline the lines of the house. That's it.

The oldest loves that it looks like a gingerbread house, and I adore the multicolored lights when they aren't competing against any yard nonsense. I'm going to try to head that way toward dusk so I can get a picture to post here. It's lovely, y'all.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who gets what

I have a lot of stuff that needs to find new homes. When we lived up north, I knew where to take everything. Here, not so much. I need permanent (as in, not a one-time drive) suggestions for where I can drop off

1. Non-perishable food

2. Gently used children's clothes

3. Gently used adult clothing

4. Furniture

5. Gently used toys

6. Gently used children's books

7. Gently used adult fiction

8. Gently used bird books

9. Gently used art books

I don't need receipts. I just need to know that it's being put to good use, not having to be tossed because I've sent the wrong stuff to the wrong place.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Yo. Asparagus Lamps in Da HOUSE.

This morning, I met Mary K. at Mary's of Course right as the doors opened at 9:30 am.

1. Mary's Breakfast Burritos are not just tasty; they also keep you sated a loooong time. It's 5 now, and I'm still not hungry. And I never felt crazy full, either. I think they may just be the ultimate food for marathon days.

2. The asparagus lamps rock.

3. So does Mary K. Wildly.

4. Steinmart, however, despite Mary K.'s valiant attempt to prove otherwise, most emphatically continues not to rock. Perhaps a vague hint of wobble, but nothing more.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


One evening when I was in fourth grade, my former third grade teacher called my Mom, a fellow teacher, and said, "Remember that stray puppy Esbee liked so much when she was here at the farm for the holiday party? If you want him, come get him, because he just killed thirteen of my chickens, and if you don't, I'm going to shoot him."

So my mother and I got into our blue, wood-panelled station wagon and drove on out to Seneca, Maryland, and picked up the dog. On the way to his new home in the city, he threw up the mortal remains of those thirteen chickens. But my mother let me keep him anyway, and I named him Brownie because, well, he was brown.

Brownie was a so-ugly-he's-cute mutt, and he lived through my freshman year of college, then he went on to Greater Doggie Glory. And I've never seen another dog that looked quite like him.

Until now.

Meet A119156, aka "Peter", which is entirely the wrong name for that face. Forsyth County Animal Control has him up for adoption, but we're full up.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hang 'em high

I'm at the Filling Station, sitting across from SueMo, who is funny and warm and, thankfully, understanding, when my cellphone rings. I glance at it, then motion that I have to take it. It's my husband - he never calls my cellphone unless something's wrong. And indeed, he is stuck at the license plate issuing place on Silas Creek, having locked his keys in his truck.

So I cut short an enjoyable chat and head out, first to pick up the youngest early from preschool, then home to grab the extra key, then over to the DMV on Silas Creek, because I misunderstood my husband when he told me where he was stranded. When I finally do make it to "the shopping center with IHOP and Office Depot", my husband is standing in the parking lot next to his truck, and he's laughing. He points at a car three spaces away.


Friends, don't do this. Not even a little.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Someone clever asked where I was going that I was at Wachovia and Brookstown. OK, I'll tell you, but try to keep it quiet: I went to the best kept shopping secret in Winston-Salem.

At the Winston-Salem Visitor Center, among other items, you can find tasteful books of local postcards, tasteful Moravian star kits, tasteful Moravian star ornaments that turn over into candleholders, tasteful pewter ornaments of the coffeepot and other local vistas. Yeah, you can find this stuff elsewhere in town, but the prices at the Visitor Center are incredible. Seriously.

You can also find things you will not be able to find elsewhere: local items with some kick. Yes, these are Winston-Salem shotglasses. Spoon collector? No worries, you're covered, too.

My favorite items the Visitor Center sells are copies of vintage postcards made into greetings cards.

But best of all, the Visitor Center is home to an Art-o-Mat. And I was finally able to find a Herbert Hoover cracker! Hurrah!

Dear Winston-Salem Journal:

I cannot believe the Local section isn't fifty pages long every morning. I see amazing things and people all over the place! If at any point you have a blank space as you're doing the paper layout, email me. I will happily share a multitude of possibilities that someone should cover because they are spectacular. Sadly, I don't always have the time (read: childcare arrangements) .


PS: Loved this morning's profile of Carolina Pet Services, but how about adding a hyperlink whenever possible to the JournalNow edition of the paper? It wasn't difficult to find one when I blogged my hamster's chakba.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Wachovia and Brookstown

I completely love this building. It is a perfect triangle, backing up to S. Marshall. I hope someone buys it and restores it rather than tearing it down to make way for yet more downtown condominiums, which seem to be multiplying like bunnies. Nymphomaniac bunnies. On Ecstasy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lock 'im up

My four year old son just wiped his face on my shirt assaulted me.

At least, by the standards of this Texas school.

Oh, dear

The oldest woke up this morning with the full-on winter virus: the cough that sounds like he's gagging, the sore throat, the nose that likes the nightlife, it likes to Boogie.

I've dosed him with some children's cold medicine and bundled him onto the couch and now...

Well, not to be selfish, but I cannot get sick. Cannot, cannot, cannot. I have exactly three more days when both children are in school, and all three days are precision choreographed to a level befitting a professional ballet. I've not one spare minute to be slowed down by sickness.

And so here's what I need: I need every drugstore and/or home remedy you swear by. I don't care if they sound stark raving mad, I want to have them. I want to know what root to dig next to which tree, which stones to wear tied by what kind of string on my left wrist, and which moon to dance under clad solely in gingko leaves. OK, well maybe not that last one. It's still awfully chilly.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tap, Tep, Tip, Top, Tup

'Tis the season to tip your service people! Or not. The Washington Post had a rather good article, which the Journal picked up, detailing the pros and cons on each side.

Myself, I tip the following service people at Christmas:

the garbage men (3)
the recycling man (1)
the postman (1)
the gardener and his crew (3)

I was thinking of doing Harris Teeter giftcards this year.

1. Too boring or nicely practical?
2. Am I forgetting anyone?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dear Gentleman Standing on the Raised Median

at the intersection of Robinhood and Peacehaven:

I almost killed you today. I wasn't trying to kill you, but I almost did. I understand that you are there with your bucket and your sign collecting money from drivers for something, a church program, an outreach, yourself, who knows. But seriously, you're going to get hit if you keep it up, this swinging of the bucket and shifting and such. It just isn't safe.

Please stop,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

pajamas and kindness

I was in my pajamas early yesterday, my declaration that I was done with the outside world for the day. I didn't plan to shop. I was just going to eat my little dinner, read a few blogs, put lights on the Christmas tree, watch Top Chef on Bravo, and go to bed.

Enter Mary K. It's her fault.

She posted them, and I had to have them. Had. To.

Behold, the asparagus lamps.

But I was already in my pajamas, and the lamps were way over on Waughtown. What to do? WHAT TO DO?

Mary K. put on her boomerang tiara, her cuff bracelets and her bustier, got into her invisible jet, and went to get them for me.

She did this for me, even though she has never actually met me. I'd love to say something about the season and the spirit of giving, blah-blah-blah, but I suspect she is this lovely all year long.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Southern Cooking

My mother is dead. If she were not, I would have called her with this. This often happens, this wanting to call her and ask her something. This month marks four years since she died, and I still need to call her for things, which pretty much stinks. Anyway.

I have an impressive hambone that is left from the ham we just finished. Please suggest what I should cook with it. I called three friends from non-Southern states, and they all just told me to throw it away or give it to the dogs.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hancock Fabrics, Reynolda Manor Shopping Center

When I was growing up, not only was our milk delivered to a metal box beside the kitchen door, a knife and scissor sharpener drove by our house twice a year. He would drive really slowly and clang a deep bell - you could hear him a few blocks off. My mother's head would jerk up when she heard that bell. She'd run to the kitchen and grab a heap of knives she must have already put aside. Then for two or three days after he came, every time she used a knife, she'd tell you to watch and remark, "Isn't it sharp!" in a tone of utter disbelief.

Bringing new meaning to Ho, Ho, Ho

There are a lot of Christmas details that have dual schools of thought. Like, tree toppers: star or angel? Stockings: all family members or just kids? And, until recently, Santa: Old World (long robe) Santa or American (red suit) Santa?

And then today, at Home Goods on the despised Hanes Mill Road, I realized that somewhere, sometime, a third school of Santa thought has bubbled up.

My friends, my message to you this holiday season is...

Just say no to Pimp Santa.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I'm a Mom and this is a blog, but this isn't a Mom blog

This isn't supposed to be a Mommy blog. But, having children, I often write about events that involve, or even star, them. And I've had two reactions.

1. Please go back to non-child-centric posting. Please don't turn L.I.F. into a Mommy blog. A lot of us don't have kids and can't relate. And a lot of us do have kids but don't want to read kid-kid-kid stuff every other time we visit.

2. I really enjoy it when you post about taking your kids somewhere. As a local Mom, I'm not only interested in what you find, I also feel validated, like what we do with our children matters and is worthy of being written about.

And those two reactions don't leave much room for compromise. And I've been concerned about it for a while, as I don't want to alienate anyone. However, nor do I want to have to avoid the topic of my children completely. But I was loathe to commit to one position or the other.

And then something fortuitous happened: I was approached by Piedmont Parent, which is a local publication that is a wealth of local parenting info. Piedmont Parent said they were putting together an e-zine and a comprehensive website, and they asked me to write about parenting locally.

My blog there is called... (drumroll)

It launched late Friday, as did the whole new Piedmont Parent website, concurrent with the December issue of the paper Piedmont Parent hitting the stands.

And so now I will have two blogs: one local parenting and one local non-parenting. Ta-da! I cannot promise there will not be any future mention of my children here, but I can promise that my children will be discussed there. Rampantly.

Click here to go to my parenting blog at Piedmont Parent

I had to prewrite the first entry so they could play with format, so to my eyes it doesn't read very fluidly, but from here on out I will be blogging same day, thankfully. Expect new entries 4-5 times a week there.

I'd love any feedback, positive or negative, that anyone might have. I'm very excited about this, as it eliminates a major source of concern for me recently.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Of course, we said

We'll move our cars. You can use our driveway. No trouble at all.

The son of the older lady who lives next door is having a tree taken down in her backyard. He's concerned that a limb might break off and fall onto her house. I don't question this.

But when the tree company man in the bucket of the cherry picker, parked now in our driveway, begins cutting branches off of our trees, I'm outside in a flash.

Hey! Those trees aren't to be cut!

We have to cut some branches out of the way to get to that one, a man in a grey cap says, pointing to the old maple that's coming down. Else it takes longer.

No. I can feel my jaw set.

He looks at me, sees that I'm not going to be budged, and turns to speak to the man in the bucket, now waiting. No toque esos árboles. The man in the bucket nods. I say thank you and go back inside.

Later, when they are finished and the cherry picker is gone, the men rake my driveway, then head back down it on foot. I'm watching from the window as the man in the grey cap stops at my small flower garden in the tire, cocks his head at it, and smiles. Then he reaches into it and takes out a few leaves, leaves that couldn't possibly have come from the treework.