Hello Hello

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Note To Self

From: Esbee
To: Esbee

When buying eggs for the children to dye, it's best to get the ones that don't have expiration dates printed in pink right on the eggs.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Fuzzy, thick caterpillars

I was a beautiful baby (this is what my mother always told me) but cranky.

As I grew up, I didn't feel as beautiful (I think this is normal), especially standing next to my mother, who was so lovely she modelled for a local department store while at Salem College (Montaldo's? Thalhimers?).

But one thing I did havethat she did not: naturally well-shaped, separated eyebrows. Even after I was a full-fledged adult, I never had to pluck them, pencil them, or put them through any other indignity that my mother suffered.

And then recently I looked in the mirror and realized that something had changed.

Here is what I saw.

OK, so that's an exaggeration.

Here's a recent picture of me.

I need HELP, people. My mother NEVER taught me the art of brow - she didn't NEED TO - and now she's DEAD and I don't want to try it myself, lest I end up with THIN PENCIL LINES on my forehead where my eyebrows USED to be. You KNOW what I am TALKING ABOUT.

I need suggestions for local beauticians who aren't afraid of caterpillars.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dear Forsyth County Animal Shelter:




Breaking News Update

I lovelovelove the breaking news emails JournalNow sends out, I really do, but this one about Hanesbrands closing the Stratford Road factory leaves out one CRUCIAL bit of information:



We're at the light at Peacehaven, waiting to turn left on Robinhood, when the oldest spots it. The car in front of us, a sleek, gold Mercedes, sports a vanity tag with a word he's never seen: BLUFFS.

"Mom, what's bluffs?" he asks after a few seconds.

"You mean that license plate?"

"M-hm," he nods.

"It could mean a few things. Bluffs can be cliffs. Or they can be attempts to deceive."

"You mean lies," he clarifies.

The light changes, and we make our turn. The gold Mercedes in front of us has moved into the right lane. The driver is a well-dressed older man who keeps his eyes on the road as pass him.

"Cliffs or lies," the oldest murmurs, lost in thought.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Egg Houses

I love that a good number of houses in the West End are as colorful as Easter eggs. Sure, there are other houses in the city with great paint jobs, but the highest concentration of fanciful confections seems to be in that neighborhood.

Plus, it's the best time of year for Cafe Gelato, before it gets so hot you can't savor the flavor, you're in such a rush to get the cold down your throat.

Also, it's perfect weather to rummage through the secondhand furniture shops in front of Hanes Park. My favorite one is Cookie's, primarily because Cookie is crusty as hell, and I have a thing for crusty as hell people. I plan to be one myself one day.

Ahhh, West End...

Weather is HILARIOUS. Who knew?

At the oldest's last Cub Scout pack meeting, Lanie Pope, chief meteorologist of WXII, came and spoke about how weather events are formed and what you should do in case of inclement weather.

Dear God, I have not laughed that hard in ages. Almost all the adults had tears in their eyes multiple times; as well as being smart as a whip, Lanie Pope is a scream.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fallopian Cancer

That's what killed my mother.

It's very rare, and she had a very rare form of it - carcinosarcoma.

We used to laugh that of course she had something special - she was special - but in actuality the rareness caused problems. There were no studies of similar patients, no known risk factors, no established protocols, no support groups. We winged treatment. For a while, we were winning, but then we weren't.

And then she died.

And just like that, I became one of them: women without mothers. Some of us are mothers without mothers, and some are young women without mothers, and some are women who never ever even had mothers, but all of us feel it. And it hurts.

So when SueMo sent me the email, announcing she was running in the local triad Race for the Cure in honor of her late mother and her late mother, two thoughts went through my head.

The first, I'm embarrassed to say, was one of jealousy, that there's no race I can run for my mother's kind of cancer, that there's nobody even really aware of it, this horrible, awful cancer.

The second one was go, SueMo. Run, baby, run. Because this club, this I Have No Mother club, is a terrible club to join. Do it for your mother and her mother and my mother and all the mothers who didn't even die of cancer. Do it for all the mothers who are still alive, whose children need them.

Know that somewhere in heaven, my mother is nodding as I type this. As always, she has a perfect pedicure - she died with fire engine red polish on her toenails. I like to think her hair has grown back in with its natural wave. And her front tooth that slightly overlaps the other, well, she never thought it perfect but I did, so I like to think when she smiles, you'd still see it.

Anyway, know that on May 5th, she will be cheering you. So will I.

SueMo's Race for the Cure page

More information on the NC Triad Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dear Peoples:

Sorry so quiet today, but last night, just as the sun went down, I went outside barefoot. Lovely, yes? The weather was fab, the moon was low in the sky, the evening breeze teased with daffodils.


Ew, ew, ew. I can't seem to wash my foot enough. I have like a foot-memory of the wet squish right where the bottom of my heel meets the arch. Ack.

I may need therapy.


PS: WAIT! You know what? Yesterday a bird pooped on my shoulder at Polo Park.

Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Death by Eggs Benedict

MPB and I had brunch this morning. After much discussion about what we wanted to eat and where, we decided to give the River Birch Lodge another try. It's never been bad, just underwhelming, but neither of us had eaten there in some time, so off we went.

If a menu offers Eggs Benedict, invariably I order it. They did so I did.


I almost wept with joy.

While we ate, MPB and I had a discussion about the ENORMOUS lamp you can see in the photos on their website. I expressed a concern that if it fell, those under it would die twice - once by being crushed by the massive metal frame and again by being impaled by the horns attached to it.

I am telling you it might be worth it if I could be eating those Eggs Benedict when I went.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You've Got Mail

I just got a birthday card from MPB's mother! Isn't that sweet? She lives, oh, about five miles from here by road, maybe three as the crow flies.

Anyway, my birthday was at the beginning of February, so I was a little confused until I looked at the postmark. It was dated seven weeks ago.

I figure that means I need to get my Christmas cards out by Halloween this year.

Door to Door Evangelists

When I opened the heavy front door this morning, there was a woman standing on the other side of the screen door.

"I'm in the neighborhood today inviting people to a Memorial Service on the day of Jesus' death," she said, holding out a piece of paper.

"Thank you, "I smiled, opening the screen door to take it. "We'll actually be going to services at our own church, though."

She smiled back and nodded.

Then she turned as I closed the door.


This is roughly the same scenario that plays out at my front door twice a year for Jehovah's Witnesses (sometimes one woman, sometimes two), once a year for Mormons (two young, earnest fellows in place of the women), and about three more times during the year for various, locally-based churches*.

The people at the door vary. The pieces of paper they hand me vary. But what doesn't vary is that they are, without exception, polite, and they, without exception, don't badger, harass, or linger overly. I take the papers inside, flip them over to see which church it was, then recycle them.

And so I am always stunned when people share "horror stories" of door-to-door church visitors, tales of church visitors who sneered or wouldn't leave, even when asked to do so, even when threatened with guns and/or dogs. Having never experienced any church visitor even close to this, I wonder about the truthfulness of such tales. In a word, I think they are, at best, exaggerated, at least in frequency if not in detail.

And I think this is done to bolster what comes next in the telling, which is inevitably the "So I showed THEM" part of the stories, gleeful regalings of inviting church visitors inside, or merely engaging them on the porch, for the sheer amusement of insulting them, arguing against them, and hopefully (!) offending and upsetting them. Somehow, this is supposed to be funny to listen to, funny to do.

In my mind, church visitors are people doing what they believe their faith requires them to do, nothing more, nothing less. I would no more ridicule them than I would point and sneer at persons with gray smudges on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday. I would no more try as hard as I could to offend them by opening the door in a state of undress (Ha-ha-ha! Take THAT!) than I would wag a BLT under an Orthodox rabbi's nose.

"But they come to my DOOR!" is the first justification always offered up. So? You can choose not to answer it. You can elect to politely say, "No, thank you." Or you can decide that (adding it up now) roughly twenty minutes a year of being pleasant to strangers at the front door isn't really worth getting one's hackles up.

"That church? The one they come from? Is highly intolerant of _______!" is another popular justification for rudeness, which always seems to me the equivalent of a parent beating the tar out of a child while screaming, in between blows, "I! Said! Stop! Hitting! Your! Sister!" If one's issue is tolerance, one could stand to show that quality oneself.

And so I started this morning with two or three minutes of church visitor politeness, the first of the year. The pamphlet today was from the Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman who handed it to me believed doing so was incumbent upon her. And because my personal belief system adores the Golden Rule, being polite to her, being tolerant and respectful of her, was incumbent upon me.

*One of which sends out Church Ladies every spring in pastel skirted suits or floral dresses, with flamboyant hats. Hats! I look forward to this visit, to be honest, just to see the hats.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring is upon us!

Spring! Glorious Spring! Season of milkshakes!

Season of ice cream cones!

Season of stinky Bradford Pear trees, which inexplicably reek of fish!



Last fall, I put a stone owl on my father's gravestone. The oldest, seeing the small stature of the statue, dubbed it Owlito.

And so the oldest, catching sight of the picture on page A2 of today's Winston-Salem Journal, immediately shouted, "Owlito!"

They are indeed the same size.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Happy Camper

"No to magic. Do they have rock?"

The oldest and I are planning his summer, looking over camp listings in Piedmont Parent's April mag, remembering what others have told us about previous years, planning short jaunts we want to take ourselves, and leaving lots of free blocks for Just Being.

"Rock? Like music?"

"No, like rocks. You know. In the ground?"

Ah. He wants some stuff for budding geologists. That may be harder to find.

"And I get at least one Sawtooth, right, Mom?"

Sawtooth camp - heaven for any child who names his or her favorite class at school as "art".

"Of course."

This is somewhat self-serving; I get the best art from his time at Sawtooth.

He lies on the floor on his stomach, the camp pages under his elbows, kicking his right foot happily in anticipation, as we contemplate the days after June 8th.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nine days

The Julian Collection: A Passion for Arts & Craft
March 2nd-30th
Free to the Public
Eleanor Davis Gallery, Sawtooth Building

Selected pieces from the collection of Ruthie and Ira Julian.

Enter Through Gate 5

I'm fairly certain I'm going to rock at tennis ball decorating.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blind or Batty

Me. I'm going one or the other. I must be. Those are the ONLY possible explanations for what I saw when I looked up just now in my living room.


I feel faint.

Pep, Salsa, Pinochet, and Hadley

All household beasts are fine.

All dine on pet foods that were not part of the recall.

(Plus an untraceable, auxiliary diet, of course.)

Complete list of recalled dog and cat foods

The story behind the recall

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bush Hog?

I have no idea what a Bush Hog is, but for those in the market...

There's one for sale.


When I opened the back door last night at 10 to let the dogs out one last time before bed, I could smell impending frost in the air. And indeed I found such at 6 this morning, when I went out to the car to retrieve the youngest's backpack.

Both times, I was thinking of the lost Boy Scout from Greensboro. Both times I was hoping that child had a really warm coat and a whole mess of survival sense.

Both times I got an awful feeling at the bottom of my stomach, imagining how helpless and desperate his mother must feel, knowing that even if he is twelve years old, he is still Her Baby.

Search efforts continue.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

And this one

Yet another pup at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter has me thinking of something else.

Tell me that puppy wouldn't fit in really well here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

But We're Not

I'm at Home Depot with the youngest when it happens.

He has confessed his fear of the master bathroom toilet to me. We're here looking for a new toilet seat, a youngest-approved toilet seat. Our eyes are on the display, where the toilet seat he wants, although out-of-stock, tempts him from the top row.

"I could pinch ya!"

I'm startled by the sudden voice behind me. I turn around to see a heavyset woman with frizzy hair. Her mouth is upturned in a slight smile, but her eyes are deadly serious. My face must show my confusion, because she repeats herself.

"I could pinch ya for not wearing green!"

I'm still not getting it, lost in toilet seat thought as I am.

"I'm sorry?"

"It's St. Patrick's Day. You gotta wear green! So does he!"

She's waving a finger at me, half-accusing, half-chastising.

"Actually, no. We're not Irish."

I smile slightly and begin to turn away.

"Everyone's Irish today! Hoo!"

She's not leaving. I'm getting annoyed. This time I don't bother to turn around. I'm here to look at toilet seats, not be accosted by some would-be, overgrown leprechaun.

"But we're not."

There's silence for two beats. Then she addresses the youngest, sitting placidly in the cart.

"Hmph. Your mom's a party pooper."

Maybe it's the fact that we are in the toilet seat department. Maybe it's because she used the word pooper. Or maybe it's just because he's four.

"Poopyhead. Poopyhead. POOOOOpyhead. Poopyheadpoopyheadpoopyhead."

I turn around to see her staring at him open-mouthed. Before I can say anything, he implores her.


"Who's there." Her mouth is grimly set. I put my hand up to my forehead, fairly certain I know where this is going.

"Poopy!" He's beaming. I was right.

She stomps off as he calls to her, "You need to ask poopy who! Poopy who!"

He looks at me. His eyes are hopeful.

"Poopy who." I wait for it.

"Poopyhead." He dissolves into giggles.


1. re: Can you hear me now?

The oldest's MRI was "unremarkable", so now we wait for his appointment at Brenner in early April.

2. re: Do I know you?

The Poky Little Puppy lookalike was adopted two days after the post.

3. re: Wiki-what?

The Wikipedia content for West Forsyth High School continues to be vandalised, then corrected, vandalised, then corrected. The entry changes often, with the newest trend being Wiki-savvy persons slipping in fake school clubs (KKK, West Forsyth Red Neck Club).

Friday, March 16, 2007


(I wish I had a larger version to show you; the original is a full half of a page of newsprint.)

This is the front of yesterday's Relish section of the Winston-Salem Journal. It's an incredibly well executed image, with slight shadows from the buildings on the underside of the basketball, and the texture of the basketball coming through the letters in relish.

Someone in town has crazymad graphic talent.

Only 76 more days until May 31st, y'all

This mug makes coffee taste better.

Which is the Scrabble fundraiser.

Which is for the YMCA Literacy Initiative.

Amazingly fun fundraiser.

Amazingly needed program.

"Approximately 20% of the adults in Forsyth County read below 5th grade level, well below what is needed for most jobs."

$35 a person to play <-- super-fun

$105 for a team of three <-- mega-fun

$20 per non-playing spectator <-- still fun

I played last year and had a blast. Accordingly, I'll be there again this year, and yes, I am as much of a mess in real life as I come across here.

Please consider attending, playing, or forming a team with your friends, family, or coworkers. I have an online, early bird registration form I can email to anyone who'd like one.

More information, including sponsorship information and volunteer needs, can be had by contacting Sandra Pennington.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jana Rowell is dead

Shot multiple times by her estranged husband, who then turned the gun on himself, their bodies left for their children to find when they came home from a Davie County Middle School.

I don't pretend to have known her well, but our paths did cross here in Forsyth County, courtesy of our children's love of horses, courtesy of the barn.

Here is what I can tell you about her: she was pretty, very vivacious, had a marvelous figure, an infectious laugh, wore her Allen Tate nametag religiously, and seemed not to have a care in the world.

Yesterday afternoon, another mother who did know her quite well spoke of her shock at the news. The estrangement from her husband wasn't a secret, but this other mother repeatedly stated that Jana Rowell did not believe herself to be in danger.

The truth, which we all now know, is that in fact Jana Rowell did know her husband's dangerous side, was well aware of the strength of it, had taken legal steps to shield herself from it.

It's easy to think that domestic violence only happens in squalor, that it only happens to ugly women, to women who let themselves go, to women with too many babies too young, to women who Aren't Like Us.

It's easy to think that if someone was in danger from a partner, her friends would absolutely know it or she'd tell them or they would see it in her kids.

It's easy to think that if someone was in danger, if she could Just Get Out, the danger would be gone.

But the fact is that Jana Rowell is dead, and that disproves everything.

Jana Rowell's Obituary

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

UPS store
Peacehaven Road
11:17 am

This is the exact color VW Bug my father drove when I was growing up.

Wait for it


I'm waiting for one of the dogs to poop. Or keel over dead. And whichever dog it is, it's his or her own damn fault. I have NO SYMPATHY.

Yesterday afternoon was glorious, and so the children barely came inside. My children live for outdoors, for fresh air and fresh dirt. The oldest came in to do his homework in record time, and periodically one or the other would wander in to get a drink, but otherwise, we kept outside yesterday.

And then about 5 o'clock, I came in to make dinner. I had taken a package of steak out of the freezer earlier and put it in the fridge to thaw. Now I took it out of the fridge and set it on the stovetop, pushed all the way back from the edge so it was out of easy dog reach.

I was reaching into the fridge for something - I forget what - when I heard an awful sound through the open kitchen door, a thwack of sorts. This was followed by what parents the world over recognize as "too much quiet". I poked my head out and saw the oldest cradling his four year old brother. Mommy adrenaline kicked in and I bolted out fast, all business.

"What happened?"

The oldest looked like a deer caught in headlights. "It was an accident, Mom, I swear."

"I don't care. I need to know what happened."

"I was playing baseball and he walked into the bat when I was swinging. Hard."

"Where did you hit him?"

"I don't know. You need to ask him."

Throughout this exchange, the youngest was sitting, stunned, quiet but awake. When he turned to look at me through eyes best described as "loopy", I saw the blue bruise beginning on his cheekbone. I grabbed him and yelled to the oldest, "Get in the car. We need to go."

During the wait at the ER, the youngest began to come back to himself. By the time my husband got there to get the oldest, the youngest was acting completely normal, which of course made me feel like a raving, overreactive loon to have brought him. The doctor agreed that it was probably a luckily angled hit, diagnosed a possible hairline fracture for which they wouldn't do anything anyway, and sent us home around 8 o'clock.

At 8:30, during the retelling to my husband of what exactly had happened, I remembered the package of meat.

We both looked at the stovetop. Nope.

I said, "Well, maybe I stuck it back in the fridge." Nope.

We looked in the microwave, in the oven, and in the freezer, though the last seemed unlikely. Nope, nope, nope.

We began to make the rounds of the house, looking for the meat packaging, Saran wrap with a pink, Styrofoam butcher's tray. Nope.

So at this point, the only logical conclusion is that a dog ate the meat, packaging and all, and is apparently digesting it. Not one dog looks ill, not one dog has been ill, and not one dog is giving up any information about the perp's identity.

My suspicions are centered on Pep, who can leap about six feet vertically from a dead standstill, and who also has a history of eating things I didn't want eaten, to wit an entire tube, including cap, of Neosporin, a burrito from Moe's, complete with tinfoil wrapper, and a good portion of the hemp rug I found on sale at Home Depot.

The maddening thing is she is acting just fine, looks great. They all do. Like why do I even throw trash away, when apparently dogs can digest and compost anything on earth? We should feed them old tires. No more landfills, just dogs.

I don't have all day. They are outside. They ate their food this morning just fine. Nobody said, "Oh, no thank you, I'm full from the two pounds of beef I ate last night, plus the delicious Styrofoam butcher's tray." And so I am waiting, making phone calls, writing out checks for bills, and watching through the window for the telltale hunch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bulk Trash Pickup has BEGUN

It started March 5th, apparently. I know; I didn't know either.

I loooooooooooove bulk trash pickup.

Of course, I think the entire thing is a ruse. I think the city tells you to have your bulk items on the curb on such-and-such a date. Then they wait a week to allow the scavenger people to come take as much as they want. Only then, a week or so after such-and-such a date, do the actual city trucks come down your street, taking only what didn't pass muster with the "independent recyclers".

Find your own such-and-such date here.

In any event, I love it. I get rid of so many items. And it is a point of pride that when the city trucks do make their way down my street, they never have to stop at my house.

My bulk trash is good pickins. My bulk trash is always gone before the first city truck rounds the corner.

Of course, that takes skill and strategy.

More info on bulk trash pickup, including limitations.


When it came out last year, my husband, then looking to switch companies, pored over the pages as if they were the tablets given to Moses, put back together again.

Tired of routinely working 12 hour days and being paid for 8 hour ones, tired of endless afterhours calls and pages, tired of sad benefits that included overpriced dental insurance accepted by no local dentist (the closest was in Cana, Virginia), tired of being scheduled to work every major holiday, he - and we - were all ready for a change.

So when I saw last fall that Piedmont Parent had an article on the forty most family-friendly companies in North Carolina, as nominated by employees, I grabbed a copy. It made a home for itself in a drawer of our dining room hutch, among the telephone directories for the kids' schools and the Cub Scout paperwork. As companies called my husband for interviews, we would refer back to the issue as another resource.

And now Piedmont Parent (or their parent company, I should say) is again compiling their list of places parents want to work, 2007 edition. You can nominate your existing employer.

Nomination forms

(Yes, it says the deadline was yesterday, but I checked, and they are actually accepting nominations for a few more days yet.)

I'll be reading this year's list of awardees as studiously as my husband read last year's, as I will be returning to the workforce thereafter, and obviously I would like to work for a firm that is family friendly.

(And if anyone knows a workplace I should avoid like the plague, shoot me an email.)

Monday, March 12, 2007


In the faded, color photographs from my mother's graduation from Salem College in the early 1960s, my grandmother is standing off to the side, yet it is she who commands the eye. She was a startlingly beautiful woman, to be sure, but that isn't what draws one's gaze to her. No, it is my grandmother's enormous, incredible hat, a crowning magnificence that declares her to be a fabulous woman with a fabulous event to attend.

Today, such hats are generally limited to Easter and Horse Racing, but back in the day, a woman wasn't dressed for daytime festivities without a fanciful confection on her head and soft gloves on her hands.

My friends, isn't it time to at least bring back the hats?

Good Middle-of-the-Night!

You know, I would be much more in favor of Daylight Savings starting so early if it actually meant we got up with the sun. But as it is, we wake in pitch blackness, we dress in pitch blackness, we eat breakfast in pitch blackness, and many of us get on the road in pitch blackness.

Be careful out there: there are also many children standing, waiting for school buses, in pitch blackness.

Local sunrise today: 7:37 am

Local school start times for 2007-2008. Fourteen elementary schools will begin before 8 am.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Hypothetically speaking, if you dropped your cameraphone in water, this might be the photo you'd get of the children looking for rocks along a creek.

Hypothetically, you'd also be my husband.

I think it's hilarious how sensible and logical it is that now his photos look like watercolors. Like some color photos + water = equation.

Do I know you?

Something about the puppy that appeared on the Forsyth County Shelter adoptable pet list was tickling the edge of my memory, reminding me of another dog in another place, but I couldn't think why.

Then it hit me.

By the way, the Dollar Store on Cloverdale, in the shopping center with Harris Teeter, has amazing giftbags that look like oversized, Little Golden Books. Including this one. $1 each. Run, don't walk.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I have absolutely no photographic proof, but this evening, for the first time in my entire life, I bowled two strikes in a row. Then I followed them up with a spare. And no, the gutter guards weren't up, thank you very much.

Sincerely, I'm fairly certain this means I'm destined for greatness. Right? I don't think the fact that, even with that amazing run, my score was in the low 120s is relevent. The important thing is that the TV screen above our lane flashed Double X!

I did take one photo tonight.

This is the oldest standing so that you can see the festive wall art, with bowling pins taking off like rockets, which is kind of scary if you think about it too hard.

We bowled here. (I may be missing it, but is there even another bowling alley in town?)

Public Service Announcement

Please note that although Primecare is indeed set up to treat many situations that might otherwise necessitate a trip to the Emergency Room, it is not, in fact, the destination of choice when you have severed part of a digit and are clutching it to the remaining finger stump, your entire hand and lower arm swaddled in a plastic bag.

In that situation, you really should go directly to the ER.

Helpfully Yours,

PS: Not me. Nor one of mine.

PPS: I cannot believe the man was even standing upright.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Aren't you special.

It boggles my mind that some people get up in arms over the above sign, and yet I have now overheard not one but two heated discourses about it.

Good for you that you don't consider pregnancy a natural occurrence, not a debilitating disease! Good for you that your mother at age seventy-three can walk just fine, in fact 18 holes last weekend, and would be insulted by the assumption that she could not! Good for you that the DMV can issue temporary handicapped placards for the injured if they are really so badly off as to need special parking!

Actual comment overheard: "Did you know it's not legally enforceable anyway? Maybe I'll just start parking there. Why should I have to hike?"

I just don't see where one parking space in a sea of hundreds is so precious that a courtesy sign is upsetting. So what if you don't need it?

Mind, neither do I, but I just can't imagine getting my dander up over it.

No news is good news

The evening before the MRI, you will get The Throat. Note it, and know that you are going to be sick, tomorrow of all days.

The morning of the MRI, wake up believing it to be a Really Bad Cold. Stop at CVS and stock up on Cold-Eeze and Contac and Cepacol lozenges. No slouch, you. Take THAT, virus!

The MRI will go fine, in spite of the fact that you told the oldest there wouldn't be any needles and in fact there is one, a contrast agent for the vascular system you're told. Apologize profusely to the child, who quite seriously will say, "I think we can work through this." Wonder if the school has started showing Dr. Phil episodes in lieu of recess on rainy days.

You won't get any results right then, of course. The results will go to the otolaryngologist, who will convey them to you a few days from now. And don't even think of relying on eye contact and/or facial expression as indicators either. These nurses all have incredible poker faces; their expressions are almost painted on, they're that static.

When you and the oldest pick up the youngest from his friend's house, where he went after school, the friend's mom will ask if you are taking Airborne. Wonder if you are missing some key ingredient in your combo, if you have doomed yourself.

By 4 pm, know that this is not a cold. Your temperature will register 102.4. When you cough and put your hand up to shield your cough, your breath is uncomfortably hot on your palm. And your knees hurt. And in your right ear, you hear a whooshing, as if you're holding a seashell up to it.

Collapse on the sofa. Put a video in for the youngest. Tell the oldest to do his homework. Clutch the phone in your hand, then decide to just stick it on the table in front of you. If the doctor calls today, it means the MRI results were sped up because they were so bad. Lie on your side on the sofa, the youngest nesting in your tangled lower legs, and hope the phone doesn't ring today.

It won't.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One, two, cha-cha-cha

Yesterday I called the WS/FC school main line, confirmed that incoming gmail was blocked, and promptly made a stink about the whole thing.

Today it works.

It may be coincidental timing, but I'm just so tickled I can email my son's teachers again, I could dance a jig.


Monday, March 05, 2007

dootdootdootdoot! Breaking News...

...of the pollen variety.

Daily pollen emails, brought to you by the good people at Forsyth County Environmental Affairs, are starting up again.


And make sure you don't miss the daily pollen pinup!

Dear WSFC School System Powers That Be:

So it would have been nice if you'd told the parents, especially those of us who communicate with our children's teachers via email.

You, out of the blue and with no announcement, blocked incoming email from Gmail accounts.

May I ask why? Because all I know is that all of a sudden, my son's teacher can email ME, but my replies to her are just - poof! - gone . No return to sender, no notice to sender, no notice to recipient, nada. My emails look like they've gone through, but actually they've disappeared into a swirling, bureaucratic vortex of nothingness. And nobody ever sees them again.

This frankly does NOT give me great faith in your communication.

I would email my concern to you, but, as you know, it would disappear.


Not impressed,

Sunday, March 04, 2007

4800 Block of Westmoreland Drive

What the HELL was going on at the above address?

From the Forsyth County Animal Control Found Pet List, which includes impounded animals:
















Count with me people: FIFTEEN.

From looking at the photos, I can tell you what was NOT going on: SPAYING AND NEUTERING.

Dear "Girl Scouts" Outside Harris Teeter:

Or whoever you really are:

How do I know you are genuine Girl Scouts when you don't even have on uniforms? You're wearing flared jeans and layered tees from Old Navy. I'm pretty sure that certifies the possibility that you are a Skipper doll, but a Girl Scout? Not so much.

I know, I know, you have cookies on a card table in front of you. So what? I have cookies and a card table myself. Maybe I should start up a business in front of Harris Teeter.

Look, if you are going to shout to me while I am going in and then again while I am going out, so that not once but twice, I have to make the effort to decline while acting like I find your youthful pushiness charming, I'd like you to at least sport some Girl Scout gear. A baseball cap or a beret or something really wouldn't have been that much of a hassle.

More willing to do the dance - twice - if you'll wear the stupid tutu,
who has a sordid Girl Scout cookie past

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Glorious weather today. I swear I could smell Pilot Mountain on the breeze.

It was a day for long bike rides and rock hunting, two of my children's favorite things to do. And now when I stand at the sink washing dishes, I have Mica winking from the windowsill in front of me.

(Mica is common here, but today's finds were the best ones to date in our household. )

Find crazy loads of information on rocks and minerals in North Carolina here.

Little known fact: Formica was originally created as a substitute for Mica.

Friday, March 02, 2007

May 31st

Everyone, please put a big asterisk on that date. You have plans. In the evening. Good plans, believe you me.

Please mark your calendars accordingly.

PS: Yes, I know it's a Thursday. You won't be too late. Promise.


5 am found me standing alone in my backyard, looking up, as impossible-looking clouds hurled themselves across the sky, and a cool breeze ruffled the wisps of hair that had slid out of my barrette during my night tossing.


We met with the otolaryngologist this morning. We got no answers. No cause, no prognosis, no expectations, no cure, no relief.

We got a referral for an MRI, as of yet unscheduled. Our insurance requires it to be pre-certified. Circumstances require it to be an open MRI, since we will have to use visual cues instead of audio cues to give directions.


My eight year old's face is blotchy in the rearview mirror.

"Baby?" I query.

"I can't even hear you!" The words burst out, angry. "I can't hear you and I can't hear Ms. ________ and I need my ear back." These last words collapse into tears.

I pull into the first parking lot to the right. A sign announces that this lot is for Gastroenterology. An old man is being guided to a car by an equally old woman in a bright pink windbreaker. I take off my seat belt, turn the engine off, and turn around in my seat.

"Baby, can you hear me now?"

He looks up, nods. His hair is sweaty and ruffled at his temples, and I want to smooth it but I don't.

"We will do this together. TOGETHER. I need you to trust me. I am on your side. If there is a way on earth, I will find it. Do you understand?"

He holds my gaze for a few seconds, then nods and drops his eyes. Behind him through the back windshield, I see another man come out of a side door, another woman guiding him with a hand at his elbow.

"I love you."

"I love you, too, Mommy." Defeated. Deflated. Asea.

He does not look at me again.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


NEW YORK The Associated Press decided to give up a major vice last week: its addiction to stories about Paris Hilton. In the past year, Hilton has appeared on the wire an average of twice a week.

The wire service's entertainment editor Jesse Washington sent a memo to staffers on Feb. 13 that said, barring any major events, the AP would not run any mention of Paris Hilton on the wire, according to the memo, which was obtained by the New York Observer.


About time. I only hope that the Winston-Salem Journal's Newsmakers column, with its longstanding tradition of publishing Paris nonews, is next on the chopping block.


"Some more Diet Coke?" The waitress is chirping again. She seems almost obsessed with C.'s and my fluid needs. She looked so forlorn when I initially ordered coffee but didn't need water as well. I again saddened her by not taking her up on her offer of a coffee refill a few minutes ago. That was at least her third beverage query.

I decide in a flash.

As she sets C.'s new Diet Coke down next to the one that C. has drunk maybe a fifth of, I look up and smile.

"I think I will have that water now, if I may."

"Sure!" She is beaming in her beverage element.

C. and I are at lunch, a lunch scheduled BTHT (Before The Hearing Thing). When she heard about THT, she asked what she could do. I said she could still go to lunch with me, only now I was going to need to eat comfort food, which for me translates to breakfast food. C. offered that due to work stress, she could use some therapeutic pancakes, so here we are, before us plates of omelets and pancakes and bacon and many, many beverage cups. So many.

The waitress comes back with my water and a look of utter happiness to be carrying it. I know it's wrong, but I can't help thinking that she has the same look on her face as my Salsa gets when you throw her ball and she's run after it and is now carrying it back to you. It's a look that says, "THIS is what I was born to do! Yes! I'm RETRIEVING! Look at me!"

Our breakfast food is eaten now. I'm a member of the Clean Plate Club. C., alas, is not.

When we leave, C. goes back to her office, and I head home to continue researching, preparing myself for Friday morning. But first I take Salsa out in the backyard and throw her ball as far as I can. It arcs deep to the left, and she bounds after it, her coat shining in the sunlight. As she comes back, her ball in her teeth, a look of boundless pride on her face, I crack up.