Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sadly, I saw no works featuring my beloved hippopotami.
J. Baxter McFarlin
(If I could find a website for My Cousin Vinny's, it would go here.)
Monday, July 30, 2007
The Hanes Park Classic has been a premiere cycling criterium in Winston-Salem since 1977. This event has long been a fixture on the North Carolina cycling scene and boasts numerous world and national champions as past victors. Spectatorship has increasingly grown with our highest turnout last year with over 1000 spectators and participants.
The Hanes Park Classic is a day of fun and entertainment the whole family can enjoy including a Bicycle races all day along for people of all ages and abilities, a Community Fun Ride around Winston-Salem, Kids Bike Race, Kids Bike Rodeo, Family 1 mile Fun Run, Hanes Park Classic 5K and activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Meet Charlotte. She's my assistant gardener, in charge of keeping my heirloom tomato plant pest-free. I find her slightly intimidating, though, so it's probably good that the plant hasn't borne any actual fruit (though it has many yellow flowers currently).
Alternative Methods of Pest Control from the NC Cooperative Extension
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
But for today, each boy just got a "summer haircut" - shorter than normal, to keep the heat off.
Refresh your memory of the old house here.
Here's what's taking its place:
Still, I'll take razing and rebuilding intown over expansion of city sprawl any day.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Those are still the best things at Krispy Kreme - the doughnuts.
The oldest and I went by to try their new Ice Kreme, and, to be perfectly honest, it's not good. It looks pretty enough:
But, well... remember when that one time when your mom argued that all ice creams were the same, that this ice cream on sale, the brand you'd never heard of, tasted just as good as the known-to-be-excellent one you wanted her to buy? And your shoulders slumped, but you went along with it, because her other option was no ice cream at all? And you wanted it to taste the same, but then it didn't at all, it tasted like ice milk with a twang, she was so wrong, and you were left almost less satisfied than if you'd never had ice cream at all?
Yeah, well, Ice Kreme is that offbrand ice cream come back to haunt you.
previous post here
I grew up with a sister who was confused, in a time when doctors couldn’t tell the difference between one mental condition and another, when parents were blamed if a child was ‘not right,’ when mental illness was whispered about in the privacy of kitchens and in secret family meetings. I grew up in the years before talk shows broadcasted from every channel on TV, when people didn’t divulge their heartache, their disappointment. I grew up in a time when private grief was the only kind around.
Being a child of that time, I learned my lessons well. I kept silent when I watched my sister, Becky, mash her food to a sloppy mush before eating it, something she does to this day. I kept silent when she ripped the heads off all her dolls, arms and legs, too. We’d find body parts strewn across the floor or tucked in some corner, the plastic flesh brittle and cold. I didn’t speak the night my parents and I came home from grocery shopping to discover my sister had filed her front teeth into sharp points against the stone mantle over the fireplace. She was fourteen and we’d only been gone a half-hour. And I kept silent when she went to an institution, her little girl body pressed against the window, watching my parents and me drive down the road.
Now, after forty years, I'm ready to speak.
excerpt with permission from the author
Yes, I immediately sent an email suggestion to our own Forsyth County Sheriff Schatzman that he do the same here.
This is a great idea, only slightly less pleasing than my previous one. You remember, issuing bazookas and permission to use them to Child Support Agents. I somehow felt it best not to submit that one to Sheriff Schatzman.
*Hat tip to previously-local-but-now-alas-not Joe Jon
10 places to stay
60 places to eat
55 places to shop
I wonder if anyone in town has eaten in all 60. A downtown dining guru, if you will.
I've eaten in (counting now)... eek, only 14.
Yellow fairways, short holes, an overgrown practice green, grassy sand traps, broken cart paths... the list of complaints goes on and on.
Now, I have no idea if those are valid criticisms or not, because I don't golf. But if I did, I would appreciate at least ONE thing at Heather Hills.
You can send your opinions out on the web right from the clubhouse, apparently.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
this massive clump of rotting, black-stalked mushrooms, which I swear on a stack of Bibles were not there yesterday morning. It's hard to make out the fine mist of various, scary insects feasting in this photo, but, oh, yes, they were there.
Also affected by the recent spate of nightly rainstorms is my front walkway, which has a fine, green patina that will require some sort of remediation, as it's quite perilous when wet now.
(This somewhat reminds me of a Ray Bradbury short story I read a long time ago about a planet full of rain, where men were looking for a Sun Dome, or some such, in which to take refuge. When one man died (purposefully? I can't recall), plants began almost immediately to grow over him.)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
We cannot drive east on I-40 without them begging me to stop and pretend we are tractor trailer people, just out looking. I'm thinking we'd have a devil of a hard time fooling anyone, although the oldest would probably speak reasonably intelligently on the topic.
(I'm actually quite tempted by those retro-looking, silver Airstreams myself.)
Esbee: Is it special tonight?
'Bette: I dunno. I don't think so. Check Warthogs.com.
Esbee: Checking... OK, it's Goodwill Night, but I can't find anything anywhere that says what that entails. Goodwill, one word.
'Bette: Goodwill like Goodwill Industries.
Esbee: Maybe you have to park there and walk.
'Bette: Haha. NOT.
Esbee: It's can't be a worse giveaway than that dehydrated meat product night.
'Bette: Bwah! Only eight more months until the expiration date on them!
Esbee: Anyway, enjoy the game. And the Goodwill goodies...
A An airborne fungus, called aspergillus, can sometimes cause a "blush" on your kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The fungus is commonly found in household environments. Aspergillus thrives in moist areas such as bathrooms. Chlorine bleach, or cleaning products that contain bleach, are effective at getting rid of the fungus.
Q What causes the "earthy taste" that sometimes affects our water?
A This occasionally occurs in the winter when tap water tastes "not so fresh". Organic materials from lakes and rivers are making the water smell and taste musty. The compounds, geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB), aren't easily removed during the purification process. The water is safe to drink even if the water doesn't taste the way it usually does. The unappealing taste is more common in the summer, when heat increases algal bloom in Salem Lake, which along with the Yadkin River, supply our raw water.
Monday, July 23, 2007
The weather today was unexpectedly glorious, due in large part I suspect to the crazy thunder and quick shower this morning.
The oldest and I spent some time playing Lejos y Recto, a quite addictive marble game from Spain that only requires one marble of any size per player, while the youngest played with the marbles themselves, taking each one out of the dish to hold it up to the sun and exclaim at the colors.
(note to self: check all shorts pockets before loading washer.)
As for the game itself, I think all minor disagreements between two parties should be handled with a quick round of this:
First player, place marble of choice anywhere on baseline, then shoot marble as far down triangle as possible WITHOUT TOUCHING EITHER SIDELINE.
Second player, do the same.
Winner is the one whose marble goes furthest down the triangle without touching any line.
Play one round or best of ten or of twenty or what have you.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Example #292 of my having married wisely: my husband can make churros - real ones - from scratch. And holy, are they good.
I'm sorry to say that the only fresh ones I've seen here in Winston, to wit those offered by Krispy Kreme and Costco, aren't terribly authentic. And having been spoiled in multiple Spanish-speaking countries, I guess I am a churro snob.
The perfect churro snob accompaniment to churros, carried by Lowe's on Robinhood but not by the nearby Teeter: Nestle Abuelita
(If anyone knows of a local, genuine churreria, for those unfortunate times when my immediate churro needs are thwarted by my husband's work schedule, please let me know.)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
That's what it was called, though the ratio of race to destruction was about 10:1. ABC45 presents Night of Destruction at Bowman Gray Stadium!
1. Wow, is the people watching good. So, so good. Someone explain to me the reasoning behind leaning over a rather low wall, directly above the path of fast-moving vehicles, to issue a doublehanded, one-finger salute. Does that particular gesture mean something else on the racetrack, like Break a Leg in the theatre?
2. That said, everyone with whom we had personal interaction was terribly, terribly helpful, from those in the parking field who told us the best way to walk to the ticket taker who told us where he liked to sit to the peanut vendor who gave each of my children a free bag of cashews because he liked their smiles.
3. We left at a smidge past 10, and it was still going strong. There wasn't the slightest hint of the Demolition Derby yet (Phase II of promised Destruction), and another heat of cars was preparing to race. What time do those things go 'til?
4. As the parent of a hearing impaired child, I ask you, pleasepleaseplease, if you go with children, take earplugs. They are readily available at CVS and they are much cheaper than hearing aids, believe you me. You adults are welcome to abuse your own eardrums as much as you like as far as I am concerned, but please equip your children so that they needn't do the same.
5. Oh! This goes back to #2. The lady who sang the national anthem forgot the words. TWICE. The second time, everyone just started belting it out in her place, continuing to the end. Quite charming, to be honest.
6. I have never heard the Racer's Prayer before. Those last lines, wherein "sinner" rhymes with "winner" are amazing.
Pics below: on the left, one of the two Monster Trucks that crushed cars (Destruction Phase I). On the right, my husband, just after laughing himself silly at the wee, mobile winner's circle photo prop.
Here, he brings his own panache to his older brother's costume from last Halloween. I suppose the youngest's lava formation is more aerodynamic for optimal bike riding.
Should you ever need a kickin' costume on the fly...
Friday, July 20, 2007
If I hadn't had the youngest with me, a book of his choice already promised, I would have turned right back around on the doorstep. There must have been 500 people inside, clotting and clumping in every aisle, deep orange wristbands firmly attached, waiting to have cheeks painted, waiting to play some version of cakewalk, but mostly just waiting for midnight.
In DC, there used to be a wonderful place called Au Pied du Cochon. (Vitaly Yurchenko defected back to the USSR from there, I'm not kidding, escaping his CIA handlers in the bathroom and walking right up Wisconsin Avenue to the Soviet compound. And in the early 90s, in a village halfway around the world, I learned from a four-day old USA Today that Au Pied du Cochon had been gutted by fire, which was quite surreal to read.) Anyway, in addition to amazing cafe au lait, they served Eggs Benedict
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY,
SEVEN DAYS A WEEK,
365 DAYS A YEAR.
They came with ratatouille and pommes frites, aka fries. Friends, I am here to tell you that salty fries dipped in Hollandaise sauce is, no exaggeration, heaven on earth.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I'm a fool to have believed the hype! I just... I just... well, the idea sounded so good - stretchy trash bags, hello! - that I stupidly purchased a box of Glad Force Flex, forsaking my classic Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags though they'd done no wrong.
I've learned my lesson, I assure you. Never again will you open MY trash can to find thin, flimsy bags that look like stretched out pantyhose and leak like sieves.
I offer a thousand apologies. To you. To my trusty Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags. To the savvy consumer world at large.
Shaking one fist at the Glad company for producing such lying TV ads while using the other fist to beat herself just below her throat for falling for such balderdash,
From the Women in the Fire Service FAQ:
Who was the first woman firefighter?
As far as we currently know, the first woman to be paid for fighting fires was Sandra Forcier, who was hired as a Public Safety Officer -- a combination police officer and firefighter -- by the City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 1, 1973. Forcier moved into a fire-only position four years later. Battalion Chief Sandra (Forcier) Waldron retired from Winston-Salem in 2004.
From the Winston-Salem Professional Fire Fighters Association:
Retired Battalion Chief and Local 682 member Sandra Waldron is listed on the web site for Women in the Fire Service as the first female career firefighter in the US.
...IAFF Local 682 supports and represents a skilled, motivated and diverse workforce that includes both our brother AND sister members.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Today, for example, the farrier was there with his amazing, fold-up workshop. Plus there was a cool, quite dangerous looking implement hooked up to a tractor. But the clear winner in terms of excitement (as judged by small to medium boys) was one stalk of corn growing unexpectedly in a discard dirt pile.
But if you have "a productive and practical idea for improving Winston-Salem city operations," the fine people of the city government would like you to submit it via this form.
Check out the scenic trip your suggestion will take!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The children and I just lost the entire afternoon to Lego. I looked at the clock as we brought the lunch plates in from the backyard, and it was 12:30. I just looked at the clock again, and MY GOD IT'S THREE O'CLOCK. AND I'VE ACCOMPLISHED SQUAT TODAY.
(...unless you count the construction of a kickin' lego fortress and some sweet fantasy vehicles, one of which is designed to defy many of the laws of physics.)
I love Lego. It has to be one of the greatest toys ever invented.
These Carolinians think so, too.
Monday, July 16, 2007
I don't know why I didn't take a picture of them, but the programmed water fountains outside of Discovery House are amazing.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Sincerely, when the Secret people come around, do you ever even ask them what on earth "mystic rain" is? Do you ask them what on God's green earth it has to do with the 1970s, afros, independence, and, you know, ARMPITS?
Because I have to tell you, I grew up during the 70s, and the predominant body smell of the 1970s that I remember, beyond Jean Nate, is baby oil. Ah, yes, baby oil, that sweet smell of summer in the 70s.
Our babysitter's name was Ann. Her father was an astronaut, but although he went to the moon, HE NEVER GOT OUT EVEN THOUGH HIS TWO COHORTS DID. That still seems like a ripoff to me. Anyway, Ann used to oil herself up and lay out on the dock in Maine while I tried to catch flounder with a line that wrapped around a wooden square. When we sold the cottage, I left it on the living room bookshelf. I wonder if it's still there.
What? You want to know what this has to do with the deodorant? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You know, just like the 70s and psychic blizzards and what-have-you.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
The youngest runs across a field at The Children's Home to where the oldest, dressed as a pirate, is, and where the Old Hickory Council Cub Scout Camp (theme: pirates) picnic was being held.
The youngest at the last minute declared that he, too, wanted to dress like a pirate. As you can see, he looked exactly like a pirate!
Yes, he was wearing a polka-dotted, silk scarf, in shades of teal, chocolate and taupe, on his head. HE STILL LOOKED LIKE A PIRATE. A SLIGHTLY GLOSSY ONE IN LAST FALL'S COLORS BUT A PIRATE NONETHELESS.
While on our reader-suggested trip to Gatlinburg last fall, the oldest discovered Press-A-Penny machines and promptly started yet another "treasure collection". Since then, he and his brother have added quite a few, but none from around here.
Has anyone seen a pressed penny machine locally? If so, where?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Esbee, is everything OK with the boys? You've had almost a child-free blog this week. I miss them!
Yes, everything is dandy. We've just had a nice, low-key week. Pictures below. I have to go whip up a heat-friendly, pirate costume now (don't ask).
from top to bottom: chocolate milk bubbles, pig mask, tin can constellation, eating watermelon with inexplicable riding helmet wearage
Go back outside on the front porch. You passed them as you came in. ENORMOUS watermelons picked fresh. Go back inside. Ask any of the men how much they are. You will be told $6 apiece, and that the gigantic cantaloupes on the counter here are $2.50.
Buy both. And the soap. Trust me.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
"No, you did not!"
"Lucy, I had to. She just wasn't wearing the right shade of pink."
When my mother was dying, she went over her wishes with me. She wanted cremation, then to be placed in the columbarium at our family parish. So simple, so clear, these final plans.
I sat in the funeral home office, putting these directives in motion, and I tried to opt out of listening to a detailed description of the cremation process, something the funeral home lady in front of me told me was required by Virginia state law. "I understand," I said, "this was her decision, to be cremated. Let me just sign." The funeral home lady continued to read aloud, finally initialling that she had gone over the process with me and motioning for me to sign next to her initials.
That dry, clinical moment of legalese was far removed from my lovely, fabulous, perfect mother. Thus, when the funeral home lady handed me a catalogue of urns, it became imperative that she have the loveliest, most fabulous, perfect urn possible. I flipped past wooden boxes. I flipped past pewter urns. I didn't know quite what I was looking for, but when I saw it, I knew. And so I spent a large sum on a blue, cloisonne urn done in a pattern called "Thousand Flower", an urn that would be seen just once, at her funeral, then placed behind a marble wall forever. Because I loved her. And I had to.
Many months later, I bought a pair of vases in the same pattern somewhere. I gave one to my brother and kept one for myself. It is on the far right side of the uppermost bookshelf in my bedroom. I look at it every night before I fall asleep. It soothes me.
"I do understand, MPB. Your Merle Norman Tawny Pink Glace lipstick is my blue Thousand Flower urn. Because you loved her."
"And so you had to."
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Among other contractors, we had an incredibly skilled carpenter at our house for a period of time when we first moved in. On about Day Five or so, this man, now a grandfather, told the children and me about being raised in the 1940s and 1950s at The Children's Home on Reynolda Road. He was very matter-of-fact, seeming neither happy nor sad about it, as he told us about the school, about the farm, about living with other boys.
When he left that day, the oldest, then six, asked me what a children's home was. I told him that once upon a time, it was a place where children who had no families, or whose families couldn't keep them, went. He immediately suggested we go over and pick up all the children and bring them home with us, which is exactly what I suggested to my own mother during my own childhood when she defined "orphanage" for me. I suspect this is every child's reaction.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Esbee: I'm trapped in downtown Winston-Salem.
'Bette: Trapped as in how?
Esbee: OK, so Jon Lowder and I finished lunch at the 'Shroom, and now I'm trying to get home, but all the roads are closed.
'Bette: They can't all be closed.
'Bette: Get on Fourth. Can you get on Fourth?
Esbee: Yes, I can get on Fourth. I may have to drive across the Hanes Park playground, though. Stay on the phone with me. I don't want to die.
'Bette: You are in WEST END, for God's sake. WEST END.
Esbee: Lookin' a little tight all up in here with all this construction is all I'm-
'Bette: SUCH A BOOV-
Esbee: SHUT UP I AM NOT.
Esbee: OK, I'm turning onto Buena Vista now. We can peace out.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Winston-Salem Cinema Society
Best Doughnuts in the World
And so I turn to cold plates. Sometimes, to amuse the children, I mix it up a little bit.
Esbee's Summer Kabobs
Ingredients: Chunks of fruits or melon balls, hard cheeses, and cold, cooked meats.
Supplies: wooden kabob sticks.
Directions: Make kabobs. Don't cook. Best served outdoors, with lemonade or sweet tea to drink.
(I like to make two kabobs per child, one of just fruits and the other of meats alternating with cheeses. For myself, though, I like honeydew alternating with ham.)