Hello Hello

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dear Costco:

How is it that you stock "Cashmere Gray Marble Eternity Pet Keepsake" pet urns, though sadly STILL not for North Carolinians, but you do not carry otoscopes?

in need of an otoscope

PS: This is an otoscope. Can you please just check the Back Room?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Can you hear me now?

The summer before your oldest son starts kindergarten, move to a new city. New school, new house, new pediatrician, new everything.

Tell the new pediatrician you will need a new referral to a new pediatric ENT. Your oldest will be in between the second set of tubes and the third at that point. He had the myringoplasty in your old house, in your old city, with your old ENT. Get really good at rolling these medical syllables off your tongue. Oe-toe-lare-en-gah-loe-jest. Mare-in-go-pla-stee. Tim-pan-oe-pla-stee. Forget which of those last two your son had. Wonder if it makes a difference in the retelling of his medical history. Hope it does not.

Your son will have a wicked infection partway through kindergarten year. When it is gone, he will be left with moderate to severe hearing loss in one ear. It will be his right ear. Start referring to that ear as his Bad Ear. Start referring to his other ear as his Perfect Ear. It is, after all, and he will rely on it a lot.

Go through the whole rigmarole. Get him a digital behind-the-ear hearing aid for the Bad Ear. He needs it for school. He will hate it. He will be exhausted when he comes home every day. The audiologist will tell you this tiredness will ease. Believe her, for it will.

Ask pointed questions of the ENT. The Oe-toe-lare-en-gah-loe-jest. She will say this sometimes - rarely, but sometimes - happens with viruses, this hearing loss. She will classify his hearing loss as sensori-neural. She will offer bad news and good news. Bad, there is no fix for the loss, only amplification for what hearing remains. Good, there is no reason to think this will progress. Later on, you will wonder if she really said that, did you maybe misunderstand her. But that day nurture this small tiding, this kernel of good.

Years will go by. Two, to be exact. During this time, your son will have his third set of tubes, T tubes this time, followed quickly by a fourth, again T tubes. Tee-toobs. He will also have periodic audiology exams. His hearing will never change, but his ears will grow so his aid will need new earpieces.

When you go for the six month follow-up for the fourth set of tubes, smile when the ENT says when these come out, and one will come out today, we won't replace them unless he starts having infections bam-bam-bam again. His ear bits have grown enough, she feels, for infection to clear them. She won't say ear bits of course. She will use more syllables. Yoo-stay-shun toobs. Decide since you are about to graduate from needing her, you don't need those syllables. Decide to stick with ear bits.

Start the new school year, as you do now, with another audiology appointment. The audiologist will take a new mold of your son's growing ear so the hearing aid won't fall out. She will also comment on how much the rest of him is growing. Beam. You will like this woman. She will tell you she doesn't need to see him again until spring unless you have an issue with the hearing aid or something. Decide this is how your relationship will be now, two visits a year. She will wish your son luck in the second grade, and he will show off for her in some way. He will like this woman, too.

In the dead of winter, your son will casually say his hearing feels "weird". By now, two years later, you have had the hearing aid fixed and/or adjusted several times. You will assume this is the culprit, this small electronic device. You have never trusted electronics entirely. Later that same day, you will watch someone talk to your son with no background noise, and you will see your son nod and smile, and you will know he is faking it, that he does not hear her. Curse the hearing aid. Not aloud, though.

Make an appointment with the audiologist. Take the youngest with you. Your husband will be at work, no reason for him to take time off for what will no doubt be a quick send-off of a dead aid.

The audiologist will greet you and your boys warmly. She will like you, too. She will look in the oldest's ears and check the ear pressure or something with a little device stuck inside his ears while you keep the youngest entertained with a magazine from the waiting room. The youngest will behave brilliantly while she does this and only look up briefly when his older brother goes into the soundproof booth for an audiogram. Pay no attention - you've done this a thousand times before. OK, maybe twenty. Twenty-five. But still.

Realize a few minutes into it that the audiologist is doing a longer evaluation, with more opportunities for your son to respond correctly. Realize she then is doing a beep test, too. Begin to get not nervous, but, well, OK, get nervous. But just a little.

You won't be able to try to make eye contact with her. You will need to keep the youngest quiet, which happily will not be difficult.

When your son comes out of the booth, she will give them both little plastic jars of bubbles to blow. For a second, you will be distracted, thinking about how charming they are. Then she will turn to you. She will have an odd look on her face. Try to decipher it.

When she begins to speak, time will go to slow-mo. Several times, you will wonder if you are really here, really having this conversation. This is what you will take away: Bad Ear gone from 30-40% to 10-20% hearing. Sound fluency down from 80% to 60%. You will slow-mo nod, and slow-mo say, it's worse then. She will still have an odd look on her face. Continue to try to decipher it.

When her mouth opens again, this is what will come out: thee-left-eer-is-all-soe-bee-geh-neeng-too-looz-hee-ring. Translate these syllables and say, "Wait. What?" When she tells you that his Perfect Ear is down to 80% hearing, that low tones are completely gone to him, try not to scream. In an ironic twist, thank God your oldest is too hard-of-hearing to have heard her say that.

She will dodge your questions, of course. She can't explain it or say how far it will or won't progress. No, he hasn't had an infection, she understands that. Yes, his tube in that ear is still in place and open. She will say you need an appointment with the ENT, who usually books a month or two out. The audiologist will make an appointment for you to see the ENT seven days out. She will tell you to get your son's IEP changed to include an FM system. Nod. You will be too stunned to say goodbye, but since you will also see her in seven days, you can do that later.

Take the children to Baskin-Robbins. Sit them inside at a window table, then step outside, inches away, and call your husband. Stun him. At his place of work, he will go into slow-mo mode, too.

When the children finish their ice cream, take them home and let them play in the backyard. Stand at the kitchen window and burst into tears. You will do this a lot in the days to come. Some tears will be angry, some will be fearful, but most of them will just be sad.

You will also, I am sorry to say, wake up in the night to throw up. Multiple times. Multiple nights. This is how stress affects you; you knew it would happen.

Spend the next few days thinking of nothing else. Research in the day, research in the dark. Wonder how something non-progressive could turn into something progressive.

Stare at your son a lot as he sleeps. Whisper, "I love you," and feel the pain like a dagger in your heart when he doesn't stir, blissful in his slumber, unaware how desperately you need him to hear you.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Something quite devastating is going on. I cannot think to blog, I'm so sorry.

I'll be back when I can.

Black Beauty

The wind howled yesterday afternoon and evening. The maple entered my consciousness sometime around 4 pm. Thereafter, I checked it obsessively, hoping it wouldn't fall over in a gust of wind and kill my whole family.

When we bought this house two years and some ago, the maple was one of my favorite things about the house. Fully mature, it offered a leafy canopy of shade during hot months, a veritable bonanza of brightly colored leaves during fall, a stage for squirrels and birds during winter.

And then the lightning hit last summer.

After that, the bark started turning, well, black. And now it looks like this, and no, that's not all shadow.

I wanted to wait until spring to see if leaf buds formed, but those holes in the above picture are woodpecker holes, and last time I walked by, the fresh ones had water under them, so I think the tree may be waterlogged inside, i.e. rotting. I think sob we may have to put my maple to sleep.

I need an arborist recommendation, y'all.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From the National Weather Service

Severe Weather Alert
Wind Advisory





Someone, please define HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES, because all I'm picturing is pimped out low-riders, with metallic paint jobs, spinners and a lot of chrome, and I just can't see where the wind would be more dangerous to them.

Oh, and please pray my maple doesn't finally come down and kill us all.

OK, thanks.

The Winston-Salem Journal

A local viewpoint...

Thank you to Life in Forsyth reader and eagle eye cameraphonographer, Stace...Ashley's Mom, for sending this intriguing graffiti she noticed outside Central Library.

Say it with clenched teeth

Whenever we go out walking with our three dogs, inevitably we are stopped and asked what breed they are. You see, in spite of the fact that the first came from Friends of the Shelter, the second from the Guilford County Shelter, and the third just showed up at our house, they all three look very, very similar. They share the same size, the same coloring and fur length, the same shape, and all three definitely have, well, similarly "dubious parentage".

When I reply, "Oh, they're mutts," in response to the breed question, I am often met with a confused look, then a rewording, "No, I mean what TYPE of dog are they?" And so, I have come up with a name that speaks to the need.

Behold. Learn. Say it with clenched teeth.

The Germalian Black and Tan

This one's fresh from a dental, bath, and brushout at Reynolda Veterinary Hospital.

One day, we'll take Westminster.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Like an early adventure game: "Two Roads Stand Before You"

Everytime I drive into Thruway to shop, I am amazed that at least daily, someone doesn't die in a head-on collision from prematurely turning right onto the exit ramp of I-40 instead of into Thruway's parking lot.

There oughta be a law

Dear Neighbor's Adult Children:

So. Mom's in a home now. Time to get moving getting her house fixed up to sell, huh? Except the only thing you seem to have done is CHOP DOWN THE GORGEOUS MAGNOLIA TREE that grew to the left side of the lawn.

Your mother's yard looks buck naked now, and that enormous tuft of pine straw where the Magnolia used to be looks ridiculous.

In favor of prison for such crimes against beauty,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sounds like Movie

"Who?" my lunch companion asks. "I mean, what was that word you just used?"

"Boovies. From Buena Vista." I smile as I chew my ice chips. Awful habit. I'm going to kill my enamel if I keep it up.

"But... but you're one yourself!" His reaction, as best I can gauge, would be described as stunned.

"I am not!" Complete indignation.

"You're wearing pearls right now." Smugly.

I roll my eyes. "So is Barbara Bush, I guarantee you, but that doesn't make her a Boovie. Plus, I don't technically live in Buena Vista. Ask a Boovie." I smile, then continue picking at my lunch. "I might blog it, you know."

"You should." Sheer amusement now.



A person, usually a woman, who can answer yes to EACH of the following three questions:
1. Do you reside in BV?
2. Do you declare to have no interest in living in any other neighborhood in the city forever and ever, as long as both BV and you shall live?
3. Do you feel negatively toward those people who live just outside true BV, as you define it, who refer to their homes as being in BV?
Bonus, optional questions
4. Can you name each house on Stratford, "good" Stratford that is, by family?
5. Have you ever wanted to say Buena Vista 27104, much like Beverly Hills 90210?

You see, Boovie isn't just about location. It isn't about what a person wears or looks like, though there are definitely some correlations, especially in Spring/Summer (see Pulitzer, Lilly). Boovie is a mentality, a way of life, that clearly divides the world, or at least the city, into Buena Vista and Not Buena Vista.

This is not new or unique to Winston-Salem, either. Many, many Parisians view France in terms of Paris and The Rest of The Country, Which Shall Be Called Les Provences, All Of It. Almost every native New York City resident I've met has felt that way about NYC, too. Like the world outside the city just hasn't figured out a way to get in yet.

Don't get me wrong; I think Buena Vista, the neighborhood as I loosely understand the boundaries, is marvelous. Its houses are often gracious and sidewalks run rampant. I just don't think Buena Vista's the end-all, be-all of this city. And neither do most of the residents of Buena Vista I've met.

But a few do look down at non-Buena Vistans for being non-Buena Vistans, for not living on the "right" streets and gasp, for not caring. Sadly, those few are very, very vocal about it, which casts an unattractive shadow over the sloping, green lawns, the Magnolia trees, the pottery shard porch floors, and the generous crown mouldings. And those, my friends, are Boovies.

Todaaaay is the daaaay

Well, here it is. The new and improved Life in Forsyth. Look around! What do you think?

I asked you for your suggestions, and you emailed them to me in droves. And at the end of the day, the general consensus was...

Please don't change a thing!

Can do. I feel slightly lazy not doing anything to the layout, but, as one astute reader pointed out, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Thank you all for a wonderful year and for all your comments and emails. You've made writing this a complete pleasure. Happy day to all of us.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Position: Child Support Agent II

Job Identifier: 747
Department: Social Services
Starting Salary: $30,638
Closing Date: 2/23/2007

General Description: A highly energetic, highly motivated person needed with great organizational and communication skills in our Child Support Enforcement Program. You will be interacting with custodial and absent parents, legal and judicial professionals, employers, county and state employees. You will also be responsible for enforcing civil orders, employment wage withholdings, attachment of State and Federal income taxes, referrals to credit bureaus, revocation of occupational and/or professional licenses, revocation of driver’s license and/or vehicles registration, liens and judgments. You may even be asked to testify in court and verify all information provided. Automated Collection and Tracking System will be used to provide better service to our customers. Need good computer skills.


You know, it's a shame I'm not looking for fulltime work for another year yet, because I tell you what, I could rock the hell out of this job, especially if it came with a bazooka and I was authorized to shoot non-payees in the face.

"YOU WANNA BE DEADBEAT, YOU GONNA BE DEAD MEAT!" I'd yell as I squeezed the trigger seven or eight times real quick.

Yes, I know it wouldn't solve the financial issues for the child, but it would save the state of North Carolina a lot of money in paperwork.

Some Depressing North Carolina Child Support Enforcement Numbers

408,956 cases
$631.6 million in collections in 2006, compared to 597 million in 2005, and more than double over collections in 1994.
82 percent of non-custodial parents currently have a court order for child support, up from 78 percent in 2003 and 39 percent in 1993.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Breaking News

There's a news van parked regularly at the tire place near Chick Fil-A on Peacehaven. I think it's a WXII news van. Or maybe FOX8. I can't remember. I only know it's not one of these news vans, which I saw parked yesterday morning on West End Boulevard.

Cheerwine was my treat beverage of choice a lifetime ago when I went every summer to a camp in Transylvania County.

Friday, February 16, 2007

ATTN: Sherwood Flower Shop


New paint job, huh.


The thing is, if you painted the brick behind it white, it could be fun, like you chewed up Lilly Pulitzer and then spat her at the letters.

But as it is? Playing off the brownish, variegated brickwork? Well, the lettering doesn't just catch the eye; it stabs at it with a fork. The trim does the same, only the fork has a flaming marshmallow on it this time, and the eye melts.

Popping Advil,


Winston-Salem's Freecycle Group

I've tried to get into this, but I just can't. It seems easier to just donate serviceable items than post them, wait for someone to claim them, wait for someone to come pick them up, then post again that someone has.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Harris Teeter on Peacehaven

That's where I bought our most recent jar of Peter Pan Plus peanut butter, whose number on the top of the lid starts with 2111, which means it is part of the recall due to salmonella.

Yes, I said salmonella. In peanut butter. Please don't ask me how.

Here: read this.


I got an email recently from a regular reader in which the reader expressed a preference for posts "with a point of view" on Life in Forsyth. Specifically, this reader prefers my more, um, opinionated posts. Yes, that's code for complaining.

Believe it or not, it's hard for me to complain every day. I'm typically pretty happy. I tend to assume the best of people, Chick Fil-A employees notwithstanding. But now that you ask, there are one or two little things I maybe could mention...


Dear Local School:

Did you actually put out this handout reminding me it's Teacher Appreciation Week next week, with compiled lists of gifts my child can bring each teacher, as well as a reminder to bring gifts on specific days? Please tell me not. Please tell me the PTA did this and forgot to put their seal on it. It's more than slightly gift-grubby if you put it out yourselves.

Say It Ain't So,


Dear JournalNow.com:

It's no good to just revamp blogs. One has to actually post to them. That new Pop Culture blog? Nothing since February 1st. And I have a theory, which is that Someone Biggie decided the Journal needed a blog about xyz, then grabbed Someone Smallie and said, "Here. Write about xyz!" It feels unnaturally forced. And that's sad, because I'd love to see quality bloggage other than the editor's come out of my local paper.



Dear God:

Please make the marshy wetland off Reynolda Road bigger. Much bigger.



That pretty much covers it, I think.

Buckle Up

In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, which is being observed in North Carolina this week, the Winston-Salem Police Department and Safe Kids of Forsyth County are sponsoring a free child safety seat check in the parking lot at Babies R Us, 975 Hanes Mall Blvd., on Saturday, Feb.17, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
more info

North Carolina law on safety seats changed in the last few years. Especially among parents of second-graders, who typically turn eight that year, there seems to be mass confusion.

Who by N.C. state law has to be in a booster? Is it eight years old OR eighty pounds or AND eighty pounds? And what's this whole twelve years old thing I keep hearing snatches of on the radio? Twelve for what? How old does a child need to be to sit in the front seat legally?

Find answers to those questions

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hahee Alenine Ay

Which is to say Happy Valentine's Day but with no lip movement. I've burnt my lower lip pretty decently. I look like I went completely crazy-mad for collagen injections. My husband keeps calling me Angelina. He thinks it's hilarious.

And typical. Let's face it - anyone who knows me well will not be surprised. I constantly have marks on my hands where I've cut myself using a knife. I've turned walking into walls/doorways/mirrors into an art form. I've given myself a black eye more than once. Stitches? Yes. Broken limbs? But of course. Concussion? Oui! I have a wide range of talent.

So those of you who can still move your mouths well, enjoy your Valentine candy. I'll be attempting to gum Jell-O cubes with dignity. Hahee Alenine Ay!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bye-Bye, Beige (fingers crossed)

So the hot Buena Vista Road trend for exterior house color for the last few years has been beige. Boring, boring beige. House after house on Buena Vista that's been reno'ed or rehabbed has been painted beige, with darker beige shutters, with only the occasional foray into a different color: newborn poop green (corner of Buena Vista and Robinhood, plus corner of Buena Vista and Merry Acres). I've loathed every second of it.

Recently the owners of the house on the corner of Buena Vista and Oaklawn started doing a lot of work. The house was a dark red brick, unpainted. I waited, knowing that most likely one day I would drive by and find it painted. And I knew that if they kept within the Buena Vista box, it would be boring, boring beige.

Today, my friends, was that day. But to my delighted surprise, the owners painted it white, with green shutters and a green roof, a local hat tip to Reynolda Village, and an utterly charming one. It looks lovely, and I completely covet how neat and clean it looks.

I just hope it's enough to break the Curse of Buena Vista Beige for future home renovators.

Wherefore art thou, wireless in Winston?

So if I understand this correctly, eventually this whole city will have wireless capability. Key word: eventually.

I know about the Central Library, Starbucks (but is it all Starbucks or just some?), and Moe's.

Where else in Winston-Salem is currently, as in today, right now at this moment, wireless capable. And is it free?

I'd love to haul my laptop around town. 'Twould be handy. So, so handy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What's in a name?

What a cool quiz I found! Here's the quiz. Below are my answers.

1. Winston-Salem
2. Clemmons
3. Kernersville
4. Pfafftown
5. Rural Hall

I can't believe none of those answers were right. Sure, only Winston-Salem technically qualifies populationwise, but HELLO, those are amazing names to give babies.

"Shhh! Little Pfaffy's sleeping!"
or "Would you like to hold Kern Junior?" ...I can hear the mothers of such name-blessed infants now... "It's so dear - her two year old older sister calls her Wuwu Haw."

Charlotte? Austin? Alexandria? Oh, please.

Top 5 Baby Names, 2005

In The U.S. North Carolina, Boys
1. Jacob William
2. Michael Jacob
3. Joshua Joshua
4. Matthew Christopher
5. Ethan Michael

In The U.S. North Carolina, Girls
1. Emily Emily
2. Emma Emma
3. Madison Madison
4. Abigail Hannah
5. Olivia Abigail


The Social Security Administration website has some pretty cool data. For instance, it has rankings of the most popular 1000 names for each year. Using the table for my birth year, I was able to determine that when I was born, my name was in the top 500, but barely. And the comparably popular boy name was "Monty", which is slightly disconcerting for some reason.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Speaking of morphing blogs...

I see that the JournalNow T.E.C.H. blog seems to have been replaced by a pop culture blog written by the same parties.

old blog

new blog

The teaser on JournalNow for the new blog, followed by the blog description on the old blog:

Can't get enough of Pop Culture? Check out our blog by Tim Clodfelter and Brad Thomas. They'll be debating, debunking and declaiming the best and worst of Pop Culture, TV, Movies, Tech Gadgets and General Stupidity.

Can't get enough of all things techie? Check out our new blog by Tim Clodfelter and Brad Thomas. They'll be debating, debunking and declaiming the best and worst of gadgets, Web sites, stuff on the Interweb, video games, Web technologies and more.

It sounds like an expansion of theme, still including technology but not strictly devoted to it. Sadly, it also sounds like a thousand other vaguely general blogs out there.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Nineteenth of February in the Year Two Thousand and Seven

That date will mark Life in Forsyth's... anniversary? Birthday? Anyway, it will mark one year of Life in Forsyth. So, to celebrate, I'll be making some changes around here. This is where you come in.

For starters, I'm thinking of a new photo to replace the one of the Shell Station. Suggestions? It should be a suggestion for what a photo should show, not an actual photo unless it's your own photo and you are granting me use of it.

I have a few other ideas, but if you have any suggestions of your own, I'll take those as well. You can email me or post suggestions here in comments.

Whatever I do, I promise not to make any changes to any comic strips that currently appear on this site. I full well know how that kind of crazy thinking can lead to kerfuffles, at least in this town.

Never before

I went to Durham this morning, spent ten minutes there, then came back to Winston. Don't ask.

1. On the way, I noted that Salem Funeral has at some point added a digital clock - it read 8:11 as I drove by it on I-40 Classic (as opposed to I-40 Sprawl).

2. I saw something I have never before seen.

It's a brand-new garbage truck. That's what they look like before they're used. There was another one in front. Wild to see that particular type of truck so immaculately spotless.

Good times on I-40. Goood times.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Foreign Languages

I speak one or two. Languages other than English, that is. English I also speak, unless I've been fooling myself all these years.

Recently, this website got a largish number of hits from an unfamiliar referrer. So I went to see who was linking to Life in Forsyth and in what context.

And I have to say, it looks like English, but I must not understand English like I think I understand English. Because if I understand English like I think I do, well, I don't even know where to begin.

1. Register for Facebook, and no, you do not have to be a student to do this.

2. Then click here.

Or maybe I do speak English, but I'm just old and out-of-touch. Which is fine. So fine.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Dear Neighbor:

Please stop letting your two dogs out loose to wander and poop in other yards. Not only is it against city regulations, they are in real danger of being hit by a car. The small, squishy-faced one that likes to waddle and yap all the way up my driveway is especially tempting.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dear Thief

To the person(s) who stole 20 computers from one of the elementary schools with the least amount of computer access for students in the district:

Rot in hell.


Number of Students per Instructional Computer
The number of students per instructional computer in your school and district and in the state.

Our School



Number of Students per Internet-Connected Computer
The number of students per Internet-connected computer.

Our School



Percentage of Classrooms Connected to the Internet

Our School



Take time to smell the roses and to, um...

The bizarro national story right now is that of the female astronaut, married with children, going after the woman she believed to be her rival for the affection of another astronaut. Part of the story's on MSNBC's website. Part of it was even in the Winston-Salem Journal this morning.

But to find the truly most troubling detail, the crux of concern, if you will, one has to read the full, AP wire story.

Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers in the car so she wouldn't have to stop to go to the bathroom, authorities said. Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

That right there, my friends, should be automatic grounds for remand.

Camel City in 20 degree weather

It's a touch crisp out today, no?

Here: tour the city (in warmer weather) from your desk.

Rock on

The oldest, my natural science boy, wasn't with me when I went to neighboring Stokes County with MPB roughly ten days ago, so I hunted around her family's creek, grabbed a few rocks, and brought them home to him. They were all that Carolina clay color, though I tried to pick ones with different textures or shapes, hoping that when we washed them, the differences might pop out.

And how they did. We got some sandstone, some quartz, one mess of something but with a perfectly formed crystal imbedded. And then we also got one that, when washed, looked like a slice out of one of those yule log desserts.

(Forgive the wacky color levels, but the cameraphone has no flash, and direct sunlight or lamplight reflected crazily.)

It appears to be a ribbon of garnet.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"I'm majoring in thug, with a minor in intimidation."

This certainly seems to speak well of Wake Forest University!


I loathe mosquitos. Detest them.

At the annual Home and Garden show at Benton Convention Center, I am constantly looking at the information about ridding property of mosquitos. I leave hopeful, but then research on the web always debunks the info I've been sold or tells me that I am going to spend an astronomical sum for something that will either work brilliantly or not at all, with 50/50 odds.

And so I spend winter months on the lookout for ideas, preferably ones free from chemicals that are dangerous to dogs and kids. I was tickled to find this

Control mosquitoes by eliminating standing water around your yard. Plant mint and use citronella and pennyroyal oil as mosquito repellants. Erect a purple martin birdhouse.

on the Forsyth County website. I love mint! I can plant the hell out of mint! Yay, mint!

Purple Martin birdhouses sounded familiar, but I had to Google to be sure. And sadly, that's when I found this.

...the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). These two aggressive "pest" species, the avian equivalent of Gypsy Moths, Norway Rats, and Crabgrass, increased rapidly in number and gradually spread across the continent, wreaking havoc on the Purple Martin. Starlings and House Sparrows are often referred to as "the vermin of the air," and are harmful to many native birds...

And in a flash, my primary objective changed from creating a pleasant, mosquito-free environment for my children to creating a pleasant, mosquito-free environment for the completely maligned Starlings and House Sparrows, which that evil letter later mentions SHOOTING.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sorting People

MPB's husband confirms my suspicion: since MPB has been up all night trying to soothe a small child with his first ear infection, MPB wouldn't be able to make it even if said small child wasn't, quite naturally, clingy and resistant to his mother leaving him. And so this morning, MPB will not be at church.

Church, additional region-specific definitions of
A. What Southerners do on Sundays
B. How people here sort each other

Yes, there's more to it, but really, those two are the first that strike people new to the area.

(1) It is assumed that you will be in church on Sunday.

(2) Whereas in Washington, DC, the most popular question when meeting someone new is, "What do you do?", the opening salvo here almost without fail includes, "Where do you go to church?" Not "Do you?", but "Where do you?" See (1) for explanation. And then if the questioner knows anyone who also goes to that church, the next question will most likely be ,"Do you know so-and-so?" Because church of attendance is a very important method of grouping people here.

Jon Lowder explores the DC/W-S church issue further.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Five hours at best

1. The lock-in was a roaring success, I think. Since I was part of the lock-in cast, this is especially pleasing.

2. The oldest's car took first prize for design, as voted by his fellow Cub Scouts.

3. As a purist, I refused to add weight to my very light vehicle to bring it to the max weight of 5 ounces. Consequently, as the other Mommy/Daddy derby cars whooshed down the 45 foot long track, mine appeared to be out slowly cruising for girl mice. Style over speed, baby!

4. Five hours is not nearly enough sleep when one is sleeping on the floor.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Equita Caseum*

And here it is, the nearly fatal Mommy-Daddy Derby entry. The flag at the back says RIDE THE CHEESE. Details shown below.

Derby's tomorrow evening. I'll let you know how it goes. Not that it matters, since I'm just doing this as an expression of support for the child. I certainly didn't get caught up in a veritable craft frenzy. At no point was there a maniacal wildness to my eyes and/or a twitch to my right shoulder. No, Sir.

* "Ride the cheese" in Latin, of course.


Forgive me for being so absent today. My children and I have been enjoying the major winter storm.

For starters, we stood outside, heads tilted back, mouths open, tongues stuck out, to catch snow, you know? After seven minutes, a single, solitary snowflake fell, so we all ran toward it and crashed into each other like the Three Stooges. And really, does it get any funnier than that?

Then I lay down and showed the children how to make a snow angel. Mine was brown. The oldest said, "But that's just dirt. And your coat is all muddy now." I said, "What are you talking about? We are having a major winter storm. Didn't you hear? This is snow. Lots of it."

After a while, the snow stopped, so we took the shovels and gathered all we could from the backyard, which is about a quarter acre, so it took us a while, as you can imagine. We made an enormous snowman out of this massive snowfall. Thank goodness we have such a large freezer, because we brought it inside to save it, you know, so we could show people later, and they'd gasp and say, "It's a wonder you survived! That must have been a hell of a storm!" And you know what? It was.