Hello Hello

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Home + School

Thruway Shopping Center, 12:18 pm


The homeschooling community is quite visible in Forsyth County. There's a large group called Forsyth Home Educators, which organizes activities and puts out newsletters of interest to homeschoolers. Calvary Baptist has a large homeschool group, I've heard. Even Sawtooth Center for Visual Arts has classes specifically for homeschooling families.

I've met a number of homeschooling families, and, without exception, I've been impressed and tempted.

Jon Lowder also blogged about local education today.

More information on homeschooling in North Carolina

Car Magnet and other homeschooling accoutrements

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I must not love my dogs

For if I did, I would be at Harris Teeter spending $4.99 a box on this.


Doggie Cereal, people. Doggie Cereal.

Glenn Avenue

roughly the 3000 block
Glenn Avenue
Winston-Salem

Putting the bits in obits

Rchl emailed me a link to this amazing obituary, prewritten by the deceased, from the Winston-Salem Journal.

It brought to mind the New York Times' online feature, The Last Word. Art Buchwald, being interviewed for his own obituary, knowing the tape will air upon his death, looks into the camera impishly and announces, "Hi. I'm Art Buchwald, and I just died!"

Stunned by the grace of the first and the good humor of the second, I sat down last night to prewrite my own obituary. In doing so, I discovered that there are still several things I need to do in life to really give it oomph

OK, I lied. There's just the one thing. Everything else is pretty much amazing.

Monday, January 29, 2007

... and she lands with a thump

I feel badly for C. I really do. She met me for lunch at Camel City Cafe, where we put away a prodigious amount of food. But whereas I get to come home and slump slack-jawed in a mental stupor until my food coma wears off, she has to go back to work and act smart enough that her company will want to pay her.

Shockingly, we opted not to request a table on the patio.

Spinning, spinning

1. I keep hearing rumors of gas under $2/gallon here in town.

Where? Where?

I just paid $2.10.9/gallon at the Exxon on Robinhood (near Peacehaven).

2. If, out and about, you see a person who appears to be spinning, not unlike that cartoon Tazmanian devil, but in a pink sweater and pearls, 'tis I. I'm a tad frazzled today.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

From the Inbox

You're invited to join John Edwards this Monday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

WHAT: The Wake Forest University School of Law presents "A Conversation with John Edwards".

WHY: John Edwards is participating in the Wake Forest School of Law's "Conversation With" series.

WHEN: This Monday, January 29th at 4:00 PM. Doors open at 3:30 PM.

WHERE: Wait Chapel, located on the Wake Forest University campus in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Fliupsy Numpors

Whaa? Oh. Really?

Funny head. Funny. Foggy. Funny Fog. Haha.

Gimme one more minute.

~~~~~

Ah, that's better.

Those who know me well will almost instantly guess that once again, I have very nearly killed myself in pursuit of craft glory. And yes, once again, the craft in question is for one of the children*.

This time, I failed to work in a well-ventilated space, primarily because I was hiding from the children. Yes, I almost died in the process, but I can say without equivocation that my entry for the (Mommy or) Daddy Derby portion of the oldest's Cub Scout pack's Pinewood Derby is sincerely well on the way to rocking.

Photos when complete.

*OK, technically it's my entry, but really, it's for the child. My making the most kick-butt entry ever shows maternal interest in his activities. It has nothing at all to do with me being a crafting goddess and everything to do with my love for my child. Really.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Yeeeeeeee-haw

I spent the day in nearby Stokes County with MPB, whose family has a big ole hunk of beautiful land there. Yes, that's her family's skeet thrower below.

Sadly, the fine vehicles above, including the old bread delivery truck and the imitation General Lee, but with the added bonus of a rebel flag on the hood and oversized truck tires on the wheels, do not belong to MPB's family.

But I brought back some nice river rocks.

Multimedia message

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bag Lady

"Oh my GOD! It's HUGE! How?"

"I'm just blessed," my husband smiles.

"Gimme a ruler," I snap.

He laughs, incredulous. "You're going to measure it?"

"Nooo," I say patiently. "I need something for scale. I'm going to photograph it."


Dear Chick-Fil-A on Peacehaven People:

Why is it that when I go through the drive-thru, it's like it's a game to see how much food you can cram into one bag? It always topples over on the way home and spills, because you don't leave any room at the top for me to even fold the bag over. So as soon as I pull away and make that first left turn around the indoor playplace thingie, BAM! It spills.

Is there a big bag shortage of which I am unaware? Are your bags perhaps spun with precious metals to make them stronger but thereby rendering them too precious to part with? Perhaps we should all start bringing our own bags, maybe those string ones that are supposedly all the rage among eco-conscious Europeans but look awfully like recycled fishing nets?

(One time, I went inside to get food to go, and I asked you for a larger bag, but I might as well have asked for goat's blood for my waffle fries, so horrified was the cashier's face. And the manager, standing just behind, said, "Oh, no problem at all!" but then the cashier gave me that same small bag and said, "WelcometoChickFilAHowcanIhelpyou?" to the next person as he gave it to me. He knew what he was doing. You'll never convince me otherwise.)

But my real outrage is that when my husband goes through the drive-thru, it's like a game to see if you can find THE LARGEST BAG POSSIBLE to put his food in. He doesn't even ask for a large bag. You just give it to him. EVERY DAMN TIME.

Tired of my husband finding the whole thing oh-so-hilarious,
Esbee

PS: He always gets an extra straw, too. An extra! Suffice it to say, when I go I am lucky if I don't have to slurp my Diet Coke out of the little x-hole on the lid.

Pink Cocktails at 2pm

angina: Angina (angina pectoris - Latin for squeezing of the chest) is the chest discomfort that occurs when the blood oxygen supply to an area of the heart muscle does not meet the demand. In most cases, the lack of blood supply is due to a narrowing of the coronary arteries as a result of arteriosclerosis (see below). Angina is usually felt as a squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightening, or aching across the chest, particularly behind the breastbone. This pain often radiates to the neck, jaw, arms, back, or even the teeth.

esophageal spasm: The cause of esophageal spasm is unknown. Very hot or very cold foods may trigger an episode in some people. It can be hard to tell a spasm from angina. The pain may spread to the neck, jaw, arms, or back.

Thankfully, I have the second. I have never had non-heartburn chest pain before, and I hope to never have it again.

Did you know my beloved Primecare has EKG machines and radiology right there in office? So handy.

Oh, yes, the pink cocktail is a concoction of about twelve meds, including lidocaine, they give you to drink to relieve the spasm. Works almost instantaneously, too. Sadly, it tastes foul.

And how was everyone else's day?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

God Save the Beauty Queen

I think we all knew about the tape remedy for wardrobe malfunctions, but this? This here is a priceless gold local beauty tip.

Before going to bed, Miss North Carolina Elizabeth Horton puts hemorrhoid creme on her thighs, wraps them in plastic wrap and puts on pantyhose.

"It's for cellulite," she said.

(Warning: This treatment should not be performed on thighs also covered in self-tanning creme. Irregular streaking may occur, Horton said.)

source

Elizabeth's thighs are from High Point, y'all!

To The Person Who Designed this House

Wow! You certainly made some perplexing choices. This morning, I'd like to talk about your decision to put chair railing around the entire bedroom hall.

I just spent HALF AN HOUR cleaning chair railing in a hall that guests rarely see because the bedrooms are off of it. There are EIGHT doors off of that hall, but then, you know that, since you designed this house. Your chair railing plus your layount creates, count 'em, TWENTY little creepy chair railing corners for dust to settle in. Have I mentioned how hard it is to clean those little corners? Have I mentioned that it takes a good thirty minutes every week? I just did? Well, it bears repeating.

I took almost two weeks off from cleaning them in protest. Then this morning I found the youngest with his fingers jammed into the corner next to a door. I said, "Honey, what are you doing?" He shrugged and said, "I tink I petting da cat, Momma." Then he pulled his hand back and looked at it. A thick, furry dustbunny clung to one finger. He begged me to let him keep it, but I couldn't hear him over the roar of the Dyson as I fired 'er up and attacked the corners anew.

So thank you so much for your interesting decision to put chair rail all the way around the bedroom hall. Lord knows what I would do with that extra half hour a week.

Love,
Esbee


Where the Wild Things Are

Another White Van

I've received three versions of the email so far, with long threads of addresses, names, sometimes phone numbers for authenticity attached. And my child has heard the most horrific stories at school, on the playground and in the lunchroom. His eyes are wary as we drive home, scanning the streets, left to right.

Another white van.

Years ago, living in Washington, DC, I grew fearful of white vans after the then-reported-to-be lone, white male sniper was reported to be driving one. Shooting people from one. When they caught "him", of course, he was a they, and they were black, and they weren't driving any vehicle close to a white van.

Now years later, in Winston-Salem, a white van is reported by email to be shadowing places children play. In one version of the email, the owner of the van is a failed-to-register child sex offender with a warrant out on him. Another declares that children living in a neighborhood off Peacehaven have actually seen a shadowy figure in the van wearing large sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt. My nervous reaction is to laugh and think of the wanted poster of the Unabomber.

But then I remember the first white van, the Sniper van, and how I never realized there were so many white vans on the road as I did when a lone, white, male shooter was behind the wheel of one of them. And that fear I drove with for weeks, and I mean sweating, palpable fear, ended up being not accurate. All along I should have been scared of another vehicle entirely, of other men.

Here is the least alarmist of the three emails, with personal details X'd out.

FYI: Safety Alert for W-S kids / White VW Van / Case Numberbelow

THIS is IMPORTANT!!! It looks to be VERY real. It seems a child predator may be casing kids & homes along Peace Haven Road. ~Start with thebottom/first email & read through all the emails & see the evidence. Pass italong to EVERYONE and tell others. If anyone hears more information please pass it along as well. I am also sharing it with others not along PeaceHaven Road but who have kids in between here & Greensboro.
XXX

*********************************************************************
Everyone-
Thank you for sharing this information. It is of great concern to me.After searching for this vehicle information on
this particular tag is registered to XXX (date of birth XXX) for a 1990 VW van. Of course, I do not actually know if XXX was the driver of the van on the dates in question. However, the tagnumber you provided in the email we received is registered to XXX who has also (according to 4NCRecords.com) been charged with engaging in sexual intercourse on a public street (G'boro XXX). I have the case number forthis particular offense and will see if I can get a copy of the G'boro police department report to see the specifics of this charge. XXX is listed in 4NCRecords.com's records as a white male. The latest address Icould find for him on 4NCRecords was from a 2004 speeding ticket case and was XXX which is off of Northwest Blvd(according to! Map Quest).


We should all be extremely alert in light of this information. Also, has the person who made the police report talked with Officer XXX to see what additional information he has learned since the initial report was filed and whether he has actually spoken with the owner of this van? I will let you know if I am able to get a copy of the G'boro police report.

XXX

*********************************************************************
XXX writes: XXX XXX has sent this to many mothers of children in the
neighborhoods along Peacehaven. The van described below is under
investigation and the police say there IS reason to be concerned.
They have endorsed this grass-roots neighborhood watch. Please pass
the message along to others in your address book.
***********************************************************************
Good evening everyone,
A few days ago, I sent out an email about a white van that seemed to be "casing" the neighborhood. It came by at least 3 times last Monday and slowed down whenever it was near children playing or walking in the neighborhood.
Today (Thursday), it came through again. It came into the neighborhood at XXX and Peace Haven, turned left into the cul de sac on XXX, slowed near the XXX's home where kids were playing. One of the children told XXX and she hopped into her car and followed the van down XXX where it U-turned at the end of the street and proceeded back up XXX slowly. She did manage to get the tag and we have reported this to the police. This van is white, an older model Volkswagen - squared top with tinted windows. No one has gotten a good look at the driver yet. If you see this van in our neighborhood, please call the police at 773-7700. The case number is: XXX and the officer's name is XXX. The tags on the van read: XXX North Carolina Plates. If anyone knows anything about this van, please reply to all and let us know. In the meantime, please keep an extra eye out and be sure kids travel in pairs or even groups. Please forward this info to anyone who may not be on this email list. Thank you!

XXXX

EDIT, 8:03 am: Jay put this new email in the comments.

Dear Friends,

Officer Walsh just left my home. He has thoroughly investigated the White VW Van that has been spotted in our neighborhood. The records found and distributed were incorrect. There are more than one person with the same name and according to police based on either drivers' license number or social security number, this particular individual has a clean record. As to why he was in our neighborhood he was here with his girlfriend to pick up a dance student at the home across the street from ours. This is why he slowed down near our driveway as he was looking for the correct house number. Unfortunately, this family was not on the email loop at that time.

I would very much appreciate it if you would again forward this message to anyone you may have previously forwarded the alerts to. I would hate for this man's reputation to be ruined. I do want to tell everyone how grateful I am to live in a neighborhood and town where so many parents are empowered to keep our children safe. The rapid way this email got around was unbelievable and quite effective! I for one am very pleased to know that this person is NOT a threat and that we can all relax just a bit.

The intention of the original email was as a tool for awareness and protection for all of our kids.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

LunchRockFriendStar

E. giggles. "Oh, Luce, he was awful. "

E. is single again for a few years now, which means to say divorced. I'm so glad not to be back in that whole dating mess like she is that the least I can do is help her find humor in her awful dating experiences and keep an eye out for catches for her. And now that we've dispensed with her most recent date horror story, we've come to that very thing.

E. looks hopeful and dubious all at the same time, "Meet any nice single men for me recently?"

I'm quiet. This is not my natural state, so E. looks at me quizzically.

"Lucy?"

"It's so weird, E. Yes but no."

"I'm not interested in weird, Lucy."

"No, he wasn't weird. Well, maybe a little. No, that's just being catty. The situation was weird."

"Like weird in what way?"

"OK, so he and I have pretty much one mutual interest which is how we run into each other. So we somehow decide to have lunch, right? Like you and I have lunch."

"You talked about shopping and the hell that is my dating life?"

"Um, NO, but I mean it was a friendly lunch, and casual."

"So what's weird about that?"

"OK, so we get our food and sit down. Basic chit-chat. And after a few minutes, I bring up the thing we have in common. And he gets this look on his face like I've committed this HUGE faux pas, and clearly he doesn't want to talk about it."

"Uh-huh."

"So I begin to feel awkward, but we keep talking. Only from time to time, he asks questions that make me feel like he's straining for conversation, like he's resorting to a bag of tired, old questions you might ask out of habit at a bogus work function or when meeting people at your husband's high school reunion or something like that. Filler questions."

"Huh."

"And so I ask him, because he apparently has been a lot of kooky places, where's the weirdest place he's been. And then he asks me the same, so I say Mahabaleshwar."

"Holy crap, Lucy, where is that?"

"India. When I was with my brother and he was getting engaged. But so this guy looks at me sort of miffed and says I set him up to ask me that, like, again, another HUGE faux pas."

"Lucy, why on earth did you for one second consider setting me up with this man?"

"I'm making him sound worse than he is; it was just that one second that I was like What the hell! Wait."

E. sighs, then cracks up at her own dramatics. "Go on."

"So now I'm feeling really awkward. But we start talking about travel and about my Dad and we get onto geography. And he tells me a country is where it isn't."

"Lucy, tell me you did not correct him. Sometimes you put people off when you know so much. You know it's true."

"I do know that. We've talked about that, thank you, I do remember. But, E., he is not some rube. So I gently, I mean gently, corrected him once. Not like 'You're wrong, fool!' but like, 'Um, that country's over there."

"You offended him!"

"I did not! So he repeats that the country is where it isn't."

"Tell me you let it go."

"I did! I did! I just sort of nodded and said, 'Uh-huh.'"

"So what's weird about that?"

"I am giving you an example of how polite and wonderful I was, so you'd understand how weird it is what I'm about to tell you."

"Today?" she pokes fun at me.

"So, long story short, the rest of lunch seemed fine, and I sent him a thank you email and he replied back let's do it again some time and then nothing."

"Nothing?"

"NOTHING. I've emailed him a few more times but only got one reply and it was of the curt variety. And it's so weird because holy crap, I'm not good enough to have as a lunch friend?"

"Are you kidding, Luce? You are a damn rock star of a lunch friend!"

"I know! I know! You are too! Which is why I was going to try to introduce you."

E. holds her hand up, like a crossing guard. "Wait. Let me make sure I understand this. He wasn't coming on to you."

"No! It wasn't that at all!"

"And it wasn't a job interview."

"Nope."

"Just a friendly lunch."

I nod.

E. giggles. "It's kind of funny actually."

"What is?"

"You aren't actually in the dating scene, yet you got the blowoff as if you were. "

"Hilarious, E." I start to giggle, too. "So the short answer is no, I have no nice, new single men to whom to introduce you.

E, tilts her head, considers for a minute, then nods quickly, her mind made up.

"Dodged a bullet."

I stick my tongue out at her. "Plenty more to hit you, E."

She snorts with laughter as she takes a sip of her hot chocolate.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Been there, Done that

Read This

A list of places in Forsyth County where the youngest pitched fits, back when he was a 3 year old:

1. Harris Teeter
2. TJ Maxx
3. The doctor's office
4. Central Library
5. Wendy's
6. The Children's Museum

The difference, of course, is (with the exception of the doctor's, where he was pitching one because he had pneumonia and felt like hell) I removed him promptly from all these locations. Myself. With no input from anyone else.

Thankfully, he never pitched one in a place where it would be terribly expensive or terribly problematic for us to leave, like an airplane.

But goodness, I think the airline is being more than fair. Reimbursement of fares PLUS free tickets? All I ever got out of the youngest's fits was acute mortification.

I wuv butterflies!

However.

Scariest, reputable article about Forsyth County ever

Monday, January 22, 2007

Complete and Utter Hearsay

Word on the street:

1. Fresh Market will supposedly be closing their Thruway location as soon as their new location off Robinhood is complete. Rumor has it that the new store isn't to be a second Fresh Market; it will be a larger, only Fresh Market.

2. Tongues are wagging over the old Whitaker homestead, which rumor says was purchased at less than real value and broken into multiple lots a little better than a year ago. One lot has the original house and a bit of land, but does not connect to any road currently on maps. One lot is 78 acres that surrounds the farmhouse. There is a great deal of speculation as to what might finally end up on that land; the whispers are that it will most likely be a development of upscale homes.

All of this nothing more than gossip, of course. It will be interesting to see if any of it comes true.

I'm a Recycling Fool

I'm totally excited to learn of this.

"Goodwill Industries and Dell partnered to create RECONNECT, a free program for consumers to reuse and responsibly recycle unwanted electronics. "

IMPORTANT CAVEAT:
"You are responsible for removing data from your hard drive. Neither Dell nor Goodwill Industries takes any responsibility for your data."

In Winston-Salem
3500 Yadkinville Road (Loehmann’s Plaza)
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

4550 Kester Mill Road (Wal-Mart)
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

1000 Hanes Mall Boulevard (Home Depot)
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

3476 Robinhood Road (Leinbach Plaza)
Mon-Sat 8:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

1415 S. Hawthorne Road (Food Lion)
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

698 Hanes Mall Blvd (Bank of America)
Sat 9:00-6:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

426 S Stratford Rd (Bank of America)
Sat 9:00-6:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

2136 Cloverdale Avenue
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

1200 W. Clemmonsville Rd (So. Family Market)
Mon-Sat 9:00-7:00, Sun 1:00-6:00

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Save the drama for your mama

Actual weather newscasters' statements I've heard in the last few days

"THE PIEDMONT IS EXPECTING ANOTHER WINTER ONSLAUGHT!"

onslaught
noun
1. A violent attack.
2. An overwhelming outpouring.
"onslaught." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 21 Jan. 2007. http://www.answers.com/topic/onslaught

"TEXAS IS BEING STALKED BY ANOTHER STORM!"

stalk
verb
1. To walk with a stiff, haughty, or angry gait: stalked off in a huff.
2. To move threateningly or menacingly.
3. To track prey or quarry.v.tr.
4. To pursue by tracking stealthily.
5. To follow or observe (a person) persistently, especially out of obsession or derangement.
6. To go through (an area) in pursuit of prey or quarry.
"stalk." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 21 Jan. 2007. http://www.answers.com/topic/stalk

For goodness sake, why don't the networks just stop using cute little snowflakes for graphics and draw angry black clouds carrying automatic weapons and throwing up gang handsigns?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hunters and Gatherers

By the time the DirecTV installer leaves, I only have forty minutes left to myself. Ten minutes later, I pull into TJ Maxx and make a beeline for redline housewares.

Two other women are there, not together but both looking at curtains while I hunt the elusive oval tablecloth. The thing about TJ Maxx is that while tablecloths are all together, that's the extent of the sorting. Color, pattern, shape and size have to be found by the shopper. My skill level is "high", which means I can sort through the most densely packed shelf quickly AND remember what I've seen.

So when I see one of the two women stop and stand back and begin to scan, I automatically look at her arm. Ahhh... taupe striped wide with gold and red at intervals. I immediately stick my hand on the same curtain I'd just passed, mis-stocked among the tablecloths. "This?" I ask.

"Yes! Thank you!" We hold them out and consider them, suddenly shopping for the same team. "The room is kinda beige. I don't know..." she waffles.

"Throw pillows?" I offer. "Bring out the red accent and it won't matter a lick if the taupe is slightly off. Also, it will strengthen the fabrics' impact."

"Oooh," chimes in the other woman. "I saw - wait here." She heads toward pillows, leaving the first woman and I examining the red and deciding if it is yellow-based or blue-based. The other woman is back almost immediately, two different pillows in her hands.

"This one," I say, taking the more yellow-based red, as the first woman nods. "Lovely, almost a shantung." The second woman heads back to put the other pillow away, returning with three more of the first pillow, plus two smaller contrast pillows.

Ten minutes left now, plus five minutes to check out and five minutes to get to the youngest's preschool.

But the second woman is now admiring the first woman's curtains. The second woman has chocolate panels in her arms. She sighs and puts them back. "Those are all wrong," she says, her mouth ending in a small moue. Ten more minutes disappear as the first woman and I help the second woman find lighter curtains, pillows, and a tablecloth.

And now my time is gone, my lovely while-away time. But we three strangers chat happily about the Maxx versus Marshalls as we walk toward the registers, where those two get in line, and I continue on, pushing the door out into the sun.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wanting Winter

"It's not the heat; it's the humidity," is a quintessential Washington, DC catchphrase, used to describe the local weather in summertime. Literally, you can walk up to anyone who has ever lived in Washington and say, "It's not the heat..." and he or she will say back, "It's the humidity" automatically. And mean it if it's July or August, because Washington's summers are, in fact, miserable not so much because of the heat but because of the humidity.

And then there is winter here. So promising, the air this morning. So fat, those first flakes. So...

And there it went. That was it. Hope you didn't blink and miss it.

I'm sorry, but this winter here is as miserable as Washington's summer, though it's a case of complete underwhelm rather than of overwhelm.

We need a catchphrase, something to sum up how bereft of good winter we are, a saying future generations can haul out in future overly temperate years.

I want to be ninety years old one day, rocking away on a front porch while a blizzard swirls around me, and say to my great-grand, "THIS is a winter! Not like back in oh-six-oh-set when we only had one hour of 'wintry mix' . You know what they say: _________________. " <--insert catchphrase here

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WINTRY! WINTRY!


Did you hear? Did you hear? The weather people are predicting WINTRY MIX for tomorrow! Hurray!

Sadly, though:
SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN LESS THAN AN INCH AND THEY SHOULD BE CONFINED TO GRASSY AND ELEVATED SURFACES. WARM SOIL TEMPERATURES SHOULD PRECLUDE AND SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATION OF SNOW ON ROADWAYS. A GLAZE OF FREEZING RAIN... AVERAGING AROUND A TENTH TO TWO TENTH OF AN INCH IS EXPECTED ON ELEVATED EXPOSED OBJECTS SUCH AS TREES AND POWERLINES. SCATTERED SLICK SPOTS MAY ALSO DEVELOP ON UNTREATED BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES. (National Weather Service in Raleigh)

But that won't stop us, no-Sirree-Bob! We will strip the grocery shelves of bread and milk as if thirty-six inches of accumulation is expected! We Winston-Salemites are superb at hyperreaction to threatened weather non-events!

(Plus, we've all been waiting this long for anything remotely winterlike to happen, so we might as well make a go of food-panic lest another occasion not arise this year.)

Boom Boom Boom Boom

That's the sound my blood is making as it pounds against the inside of my skull with little, metal hammers.

Don't give me any guff about the scientific impossibility of that statement. I know what I'm hearing.

I was up entirely too late last night tending to a congested child. As a result, I moved more sluggishly this morning than usual. The mocha that I usually have well before 7 am did not get in me until 9 am. I never read the morning newspaper at all. Still haven't.

As a result of the delay - in the caffeine not the news - I developed a wicked headache. This is what happens when you allow your body to develop a reliance on something then fail to deliver it up as usual.

I've taken the Advil. I've taken the mocha. And it's eased up a little bit - if I'd typed that title this morning, it would have been in all caps. But most likely the pounding will not fully abate until I go to sleep tonight. And Wednesday is usually my late night, for my show is on. No, not that one. This one.

Boom Boom Boom Boom.

Little, metal hammers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wiki-what?

Wikipedia defines itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Generally, it's well done, and sometimes one can learn a thing or two. For example, here's a bit of the entry on our own local Reynolds High School:

Reynolds is also known by the nickname "Society Hill" and is often thought of as home to the children of Winston-Salem's economic elitè -- to some extent this is true, as the school is situated in the midst in an upper-middle class neighborhood and many of the students come from upper-middle class homes. This fact, however, is tempered by the substantial presence of middle- and lower-class students.

R.J. Reynolds is a long-time chief rival of the nearby and much newer Mount Tabor High School. This rivalry is fed by the fact that many students developed friendships across school lines. The schools are close enough that neighborhood friends often wind up split between the two schools.

More recently, a rivalry has formed between Reynolds and the new Reagan High School due to several students and teachers having left Reynolds to attend or teach at Reagan. Also, there have been accounts of Reagan students vandalizing Reynolds, further fueling the newly formed rivalry.


See, I didn't know about the Reynolds-Reagan rivalry, probably because my children are much younger, and I certainly didn't know about any rivalry vandalism at Reynolds. But it would appear that actually West Forsyth has the larger problem with vandalism, at least wiki-vandalism.

West Forsyth had also been noted for their exceptional amount of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. They currently have the highest STD rate in the state with approximately 67% of students contracting diseases

Something tells me that's not quite accurate.

Occasionally a small bit of personal opinion creeps into an entry, though only temporarily; Wikipedia's users almost always remove such content upon discovery. Also from the West Forsyth High School entry:

The cafeteria sells a decent variety of food yet finds it nessesary to charge extra for more ketchup.


Myself, I'm not a registered Wikipedia editor-person, nor do I intend to become one, but I do think the entire concept is kind of fascinating.

Nurture and Nature

FACT: I can take the scraggliest, littlest plant and stick it in a pot in my kitchen window, and it will live forever.

I've picked up forgotten geraniums, left on top of trash cans when their owners were done with them. I've taken in discarded mums, half-dead from lack of water. Poinsettias are never relegated to "last season, throw it out" in my house, and I will stop my car on a dime to pick up one left at the curb for the yard waste truck.

I nurse these plants, these lowly, "common" plants, because I cannot bear to see living things pushed aside, sentenced to death, when they still have life to them. And this is why I will never be a good gardener.

To be a good gardener, you have to be merciless, ruthless, culling inferior plants, cutting off branches that don't have a pleasing shape. You can't be charmed by the dotting of purple violets in your lawn. You can't let your children plant any old seed they come across - apple, pumpkin, entire Magnolia seed grenade - wherever they want.

I know that I cannot be a good gardener, that I do not have what it takes, and yet every January, I sit down with the copy of Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas that my brother gave me when I moved here. I say, "This is my year!" I draw diagrams. I go to Lowe's and look at garden pavers. I point to a place in my yard and say, "The butterfly bush should go there, I think."

But then I realize that to put the butterfly bush there, I'd have to pull up that plant, the one that's flourishing, the one that seems to say, "Look at me! I have no pedigree, but I'm happy! And I have pretty fuchsia flowers in the fall!" And I just can't do it.

It would be much easier if my yard was already full of fancy plants, because I am great at inadvertently killing fancy living things.

The science fair experiment fish? The one that was haphazardly bred by some child who then abandoned it when the fair was over? Yeah, it's still alive and thriving under my care. Oh, but the fancy, "easy" Betta fish MPB gave the youngest for Christmas? Dead and flushed within five days of entering my home.

My first cousin is an orchid grower of some renown. He and his family came for Thanksgiving two years ago, my cousin bearing a beautiful orchid in bloom. He gave this lovely plant to me with simple directions. A month or so later on the phone, I told him how impressed I was with myself, that I had kept the orchid alive a good three weeks past its bloom before it up and died on me. A lengthy silence followed my announcement, then he said faintly, "Good for you." Suspicious, I went online after we hung up, where I discovered orchids are supposed to live pretty much forever, and that the particular one he gave me was quite hardy and quite sought after. Eek.

And so even while I make my drawings and pore over seed catalogs, I know it's not going to happen. I will not have the garden that stops passers-by in their tracks. This will not be my year.

Or maybe it will. Maybe my unpruned quince, my muscadines, the pumpkin vine that will come up where I kicked my pumpkin off the stoop, and I will have a great year. Maybe my children will bring me little bouquets of violets from the lawn. Maybe I'll buy wildflower seed from the county and just let pedigree-free plants flourish at will.

And when it gets warm enough, I'll go into my kitchen and get the pots. I'll transplant the adopted geraniums, the mums, the poinsettias. I'll put them in my dirt so that they can be a part of it all.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Like a Pulsing Beat

It's the recurring motif of my life.

It's in my garden.
It's in my city's litter.
It's in my mailbox.

Everywhere I look is rife with reference to it. I see not plants, but entries. I see not debris, but material. I see not mail, well, OK, actually it is mail, but it's sometimes from The Dixie Classic. And today I had an email about The Dixie Classic.

(And the beat goes on: Dixie... Classic... Dixie... Classic... )

Fabulous reader SY found and sent this link, so that those of us who live, breathe, and sleep Dixie Classic can eat Dixie Classic. Specifically, Dixie Classic Candy Apples.

It's only now, away from the heady perfume of the Classic, free from the intoxication, that two thoughts strike me.

1. OHMIGOD, YOU MEAN I SPENT SIX BUCKS TO BUY AN APPLE AT THE FAIR, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

2. I'd give good money to buy the Dixie Classic Maple Sugar Cotton Candy by mail, however.

Please help me. I've Googled myself silly, but no luck. To the person who finds the www link to this treat, I will give... something. I've no idea what. We can work that out later; I'm too mesmorized by the idea of maple sugar cotton candy to think about it right now.

(edit, 5:15 pm: So I've been thinking about these six dollar apples all day. And it occurred to me that they would make amazing valentines. And the oldest, who loves to buy them at the Dixie Classic and has never seen them outside of the fairgrounds, is going to shriek with delight when I give him one for Valentine's.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Must take nap now

My dear friend MPB and I went to brunch after church today. No children, lovely weather, and a hankering for Eggs Benedict led us to Zevely House, where we could dine in the garden.



Notes from the meal:

1. The pumpkin muffins were fantastic, but the biscuits were forgettable. They weren't awful by any means, but after the muffins, the difference was marked.

2. The Eggs Benedict were spot on, and the potatoes were sublime, but the sliced apple concoction seen up front in the below picture was revolting. I literally held my nose to swallow the bite I took, and I would not have had my napkin not been cloth, if you know what I mean.



And now I am home, feeling quite full, and trying to convince the children that a nice, Sunday afternoon drowse is just the thing we all need. Sadly, they aren't in agreement.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE GREENSBORO COLISEUM

And that means it's time for

MONSTER JAM!

Check out my new, oh-so-rocking hat. Flames, people. Pink flames.

When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut

One more year.

The youngest has one more year of half-day school after this one, though next year he will be going five mornings a week instead of this year's three. Then he joins his older brother in full-day schooldom. And I will be (trumpets sounding) Getting a Job.

In preparation for this, I've been doing a lot of thinking and self-examination. And to be honest, it doesn't look especially pretty.

* I've been out of the work force since February of 1998. Any office-y skills I had are antiquated. If you think I'm kidding, follow me into Kinkos one day.

* All my super contacts? Either lost from contact, at home with children themselves, or so incredibly high up in the food chain they wouldn't be in touch with the positions for which my skills might possibly qualify me.

Ah, yes, my skills.

1. I know a tiny smidge about everything, but I am an expert in nothing. This makes me an outstanding cocktail party guest, as I can find something to discuss with anyone. Unfortunately, there are very few openings in Winston-Salem for "paid cocktail party guest".

2. I was qualified as a Junior Bowman while at summer camp in Transylvania County. Yes, it's been, oh, twenty-five years, but I still feel pretty good about this. Sadly, I lost the little badge decades ago, or I could sew it onto the pocket of a blazer and really nail interviews. Or maybe not - I can't say as I've seen want ads for Junior Bowmen in the Journal.

3. I'm good at removing clothing stains. I appear to be the only person wildly impressed with my prowess, though.

Wow, I think that about covers it.

I have then roughly 19 months to get some skills that might possibly make employers clamor to have me join their ranks, in spite of the fact that I will want to work only during school hours and I have no desire to actually work in a school.

It's a shame that my three-prong career plan from when I was ten no longer seems feasible, hourswise. It still sounds really good.

1. stewardess (now called flight attendant, I hear)
2. attorney
3. fourth Charlie's Angel

So, any fab ideas? I pick up on things fast. I'm just not sure what to aim to pick up.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Latin Name: Idonticus Knowicus

Someone brilliant in the area of gardening please tell me the name of this lovely bush. It appeared after the neighbor pruned away all the overgrowth that was reaching into our yard and covering it.

Woooo! WOOOO! Woooo!

On my list of things to do today is this gem

*Earplugs for Sat - everyone

Saturday night I will be surrounded by a chorus of woooo!s I'm hopeful the earplugs will block them out. But mostly I'm hoping they dim the noise from

MONSTER JAM, LIVE AT THE GREENSBORO COLISEUM!

I'm fairly certain this makes me The Best Mother Ever.

(For those who haven't had the experience, this is Monster Jam.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eek

From a Forsyth County news release:

Last year 520 rabid animals were found in North Carolina.

Lest you think it's getting better...

There have already been 13 rabies cases identified in the first days of 2007.

In this area, though?

Guilford County reported the most rabies cases with 37. Other counties with high numbers included Orange (26), Wake (23), Yadkin (23) and Cleveland (20).

Although raccoons are the most common rabid animal in North Carolina, other rabid animals were also reported in 2006, including 20 rabid cats and eight rabid dogs. There were also some unusual rabid animals reported last year. Buncombe County recorded the state's first rabid ferret. Buncombe and Guilford Counties each reported a rabid coyote. Henderson and Davidson County each reported a rabid cow. *

For the geographically challenged...



And an important detail I did not know? Even though our pets may be vaccinated for rabies, as required by law,

Vaccinated animals need to receive a booster shot within 72 hours of exposure.

*Forsyth County, for its part, was no rabies slouch last year, logging a grand eleven documented cases in 2006. Details, including type of animal and location within county, available here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This is the way my brain works

I have this thing, see.

If I have fifteen minutes extra and I'm in my car and I'm going to go past a favorite store, I decide to Leave It Up to the Fates. So if I'm on Robinhood, say, I will drive into the shopping center where TJ Maxx is. And if there is a parking place right outside the Maxx? The Fates clearly want me to park and go in.

So today when the children were in the car with me, and we got on Stratford? Only Stratford was blocked off by police while a utility crew worked on the utility poles and lines just in front of Thruway Shopping Center, so that we, in fact, were obligated to turn around somewhere or cut through somewhere? I knew it was The Fates talking to me.


It would have been so incredibly wrong to ignore The Fates' desire that the children and I have a festive afternoon snack.

Deep Roots



1451 Ebert

Built in 1860

Still owned by an Ebert

This is the house that goes with the barn you see from Silas Creek Parkway. If you are heading South, the barn is on your left as you pass Forsyth Tech on your right. The house itself is only visible from Ebert, but it's well worth the detour.

Click on image for larger view, but it really should be seen in person to be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Can I Get an Amen

My husband and I have been touring houses of worship recently. He really wants us to join this one he found. It's called "Best Buy".


A Devout Best Buyian

The primary tenet of their faith appears to be ownership of a large screen TV. All over the Electronics Chapel, you can see the faithful praying that they will fulfill this obligation sooner rather than later.

Amen

When they get really fervent, they start speaking in tongues, and the air is filled with songlike phrases like "dee-pee-eye", "aych-dee-tee-vee", and "ell-cee-dee". We have also visited the churches of Circuit City and Costco, but they don't speak to my husband's heart the way Best Buy does.

Monday, January 08, 2007

"Pweschool is so stwessful!"

View through the frosted glass of Spa La di Da, a "pampering retreat for girls", which recently opened at Hanes Mall

Dear God:

Thank you for giving me boys, so that this needn't even be a question.

Love,
Esbee

Dreams

My husband starts his new job today. Maybe it's because of the Washington Post article that was in the Journal last week. Maybe it's because of the subsequent post on Otterblog. But honestly, I think it's the new job that has me dreaming crazy dreams. In the last two nights alone, I have

1. had a parent teacher conference wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear. I kept trying to get away to pull on pants but I couldn't

and

2. had a posse of nightclub dancers protect my home from a deranged veteran who wanted to kill me. When I called 911 for help, the operator said that veterans were allowed to do this.

At this point, I would be tickled to have a dream as innocuous as a tentacle in a coffee mug.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Dinner

The youngest went with me to church this morning, a longer service than normal because there's Communion the first Sunday of the month. That four year old was quiet as could be the duration of the hour and a half long service. He fidgeted and rocked, but he really never spoke aloud. So when he asked afterward if he could have a biscuit, I jumped in the car with a quickness and headed for the KFC on Reynolda.

The drive-through line was long, so we went inside to order. There we saw at least thirty senior citizens in their Sunday best, each with their own plate of Sunday Dinner, couples at their own tables, friends sitting together at other tables, everyone saying hi and how do to one another. It was like looking at a high school cafeteria if everyone were clean and nice and 60 years older. And I want to tell you there is something unexpectedly delightful about a tiny bird of an old lady drinking out of a KFC beverage cup that is larger than her head.

If you ever have occasion to mosey into KFC on Reynolda on a Sunday at about 12:30ish, do. It's utterly charming.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mt. Airy

I went with my dear friend MPB to Mt. Airy today. I was promised great and wondrous things.

Let's just say Mt. Airy failed to deliver.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Vote

From a press release from the Forsyth County Board of Elections:

The Chair of the Board of Elections has announced in the first half of 2007 the Board will take advantage of a lull in the four-year election cycle to hold a series of topical meetings aimed at getting community input on how we might improve our procedures.

I have an idea! I think the county should look into forcing registered voters to go to the polls at gunpoint. Not to vote for specific candidates, mind, because that would be wrong. Just to vote period.

I find it appalling that last May, only a smidge better than 10% of registered voters could be bothered to show up. In fact, here's another idea: instead of those little I voted! stickers with the flag? They should give out stickers at the polls that say

90% OF YOU NEED TO
KEEP YOUR MOUTHS SHUT.
THE OTHER 10% OF US VOTED.
Tuesday afternoons, when these meetings are to take place, are chockablock for me, but if anyone else is going to the Board of Elections meetings, feel free to pass off my suggestions as your own.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Domestic Goddess

I feel badly for SAM. You know, the Straight Answer Ma'am. Someone asked her for help removing clay mud stains from clothing. Here's SAM's answer:

A. As with mud on carpet, let the mud on the clothes dry first. Use a brush to remove as much of the dried mud as possible. (Delicate fabrics shouldn't be brushed with stiff bristles.)
Soak the garment in warm water with an enzyme presoak or a liquid-detergent booster for 30 minutes. Wash the garment as usual. If the stain remains, try bleach (regular or color-safe, depending on the fabric).


Sigh. If she'd only known. See, SAM went to an expert, one Deborah Womack of the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service, when the question was about mud in carpet. But SAM failed to go to the proper expert when it came to clothing.

Hi, SAM, my name is Esbee, and I am a Laundry Expert with a specialty in Carolina Red Clay.

Let me lay out my qualifications: I have two boys who would happily live outdoors if they could. The oldest is an enthusiastic mountain biker and also enjoys driving horse drawn carts and riding horses through mud (a sub-specialty of mine: Clay Manure Mix on Clothing.) The youngest enjoys digging through sand and mud to China. We also have three Shepherd mix dogs who enjoy digging in thw backyard clay, then jumping up on us in glee.

But qualifications, schmalifications. The proof is in the pudding, they say.

OK, here's what the oldest did yesterday afternoon.

(An explanation of what you're seeing can be found here.)

Here are his pants coming in the door from said activity.


And here are his pants after I laundered them. Once.

I don't normally lay my clean laundry on the brick patio outside, but I wanted the strongest light possible so my work could be properly scrutinized.

And now, my recommendation for clay on clothing: add 1/2 cup baking soda to your regular detergent (I use ALL Small and Mighty myself). No bleach needed, but wash items in a small load with water level set to a large load.

(Baking soda is also amazing for removing odors from clothing - cigarette smoke, wet dog, manure... And it doesn't harm colors or fabrics.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Eats

Today is our wedding anniversary. We want to celebrate with good food. Tell me where we should eat. If there are specific dishes that need eating, tell me those, too. The food needn't be swishy, just outrageously tasty.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Goodbye, fair tree, goodbye!

The poor tree's been lying there since well before the New Year.

Every day the youngest looks out the window at it and asks, "It's Christmas over?" And I say, "Yes, honey."

And then he asks, "They come get my tree in the truck and chop it into little bits?" And I say, "Yes, honey."

And then he asks, "And it will go to tree heaven?" And I say, "Yes, honey."

I choose to interpret "tree heaven" as code for "a municipal flower bed somewhere here in Winston-Salem."

more information about tree recycling in the city

Monday, January 01, 2007

Flood warnings

From weather.com:

First warning:

FLASH FLOOD WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC 716 AM EST MON JAN 1 2007

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RALEIGH HAS EXTENDED A
* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR... FORSYTH COUNTY IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
* UNTIL 1115 AM EST

* AT 710 AM EST...LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS REPORTED VERY HEAVY RAIN OVER FORSYTH COUNTY WITH WIDESPREAD LOW LYING FLOODING. OVER THREE INCHES OF RAIN HAS FALLEN IN THE WINSTON SALEM AREA SINCE 2 AM. MILL CREEK AND GRASY CREEK ARE EITHER AT BANKFUL OR OUT OF THEIR BANKS. MORE HEAVY RAIN MAY THREATEN THE WINSTON SALEM AREA BETWEEN 8 AND 9 AM WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR ANOTHER HALF TO ONE INCH OF RAIN

* LOCATIONS THREATENED WITH FLOODING INCLUDE WINSTON-SALEM... KERNERSVILLE...CLEMMONS AND BELEWS CREEK.

MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN AUTOMOBILES. NEVER DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. FLOOD WATERS ARE USUALLY DEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR. JUST ONE FOOT OF FLOWING WATER IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO SWEEP VEHICLES OFF THE ROAD. WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED ROADS...TURN AROUND...DONT DROWN.

EXCESSIVE RUNOFF FROM THIS RAIN WILL CAUSE FLASH FLOODING OF CREEKS AND STREAMS...HIGHWAYS...STREETS AND UNDERPASSES. DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. MANY ROADS AND INTERSECTIONS IN THE AREA WILL QUICKLY FLOOD THREATENING MOTORISTS.

LAT...LON 3624 8005 3603 8006 3599 8043 3629 8049

Second warning:

FORSYTH NC- 1005 AM EST MON JAN 1 2007
...A FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1115 AM EST FOR FORSYTH COUNTY...

AT 1000 AM... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO SHOW MODERATE TO HEAVY RAIN MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHEAST ACROSS THE TRIAD AREA. AT THE SMITH REYNOLDS AIRPORT IN WINSTON-SALEM... OVER THREE AND A HALF INCHES OF RAIN HAS FALLEN DURING THE OVERNIGHT AND MORNING HOURS. ANOTHER QUARTER INCH OF RAIN IS POSSIBLE OVER THE COUNTY BEFORE THE RAIN TAPERS OFF TOWARD NOON.

FORSYTH COUNTY OFFICIALS REPORTED THAT EVACUATIONS COULD BE NEEDED AT AN APARTMENT COMPLEX IN THE BETHABARA PARK AREA IN NORTHWEST WINSTON-SALEM. SOME ROADS IN THE CITY OF WINSTON- SALEM REMAIN CLOSED DUE TO HIGH WATER... HOWEVER ELSEWHERE IN THE COUNTY... ROADS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY CLOSED HAVE BEEN REOPENED AS THE WATER HAS SUBSIDED.
PEOPLE TRAVELING THROUGH FORSYTH COUNTY... AND ESPECIALLY WINSTON- SALEM... SHOULD WATCH CAREFULLY FOR EXCESSIVE PONDING AND HIGH WATER ON ROADS. NEVER DRIVE THROUGH AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD... OR WHERE THE ROAD HAS BEEN CLOSED. IF YOU LIVE IN A FLOOD PRONE AREA... SUCH AS NEAR A CREEK... CONTINUE TO WATCH WATER LEVELS AND TAKE ACTION IF HIGH WATER THREATENS YOUR AREA.

LAT...LON 3624 8005 3603 8006 3599 8043 3629 8049

And now my own, personal warning...

MOTORISTS SHOULD AVOID DRIVING THROUGH LARGE BODY OF STANDING WATER IN MY BASEMENT.

Egad, I hope it's really over.