Hello Hello

Monday, April 30, 2007

With local temps expected to climb into the low 90s tomorrow...

...the youngest has decided to rock this look.

Country Club & Pine Valley

It stood at the corner of Country Club and Pine Valley for over fifty years, the low-slung, reddish, modern house behind the fence.

In February, it was sold. The new owners promptly tore it down, leaving an enormous, red clay pit in its stead.

Finally, something else appears to be going up, albeit incredibly slowly, and with what appears to be a much smaller footprint.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


The North Carolina Collection is made up largely of materials about North Carolina or by North Carolinians. These materials are considered rare and special, so they have to be used in the building. None of these items can be checked out.

If you haven't yet visited the North Carolina Collection at Central Library, you should. So long as a book pertains to North Carolina, it belongs there, including Brittain's Poems, a spectacularly bad collection of poetry published in 1918 by one I.J. Brittain, "an old, disabled Confederate Veteran" and a resident of Winston-Salem.

They tried her and Christie,
They tried them as a pair,
They were both proven guilty,
And sentenced to the electric chair

The world became excited,
About poor Ida's fate,
They sent hundreds of letters to the Governor,
It was more for the credit of the State.

-from The Tragedy of Ida Ball Warren and Samuel Christie, a poem about a Winston-Salem landlady who was the first woman in North Carolina to be sentenced to death (but never executed - her sentence was commuted).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

She's got a gun

When I said I was otherwise occupied Saturday, many assumed I meant I would be going to the Junior League Rummage Sale, a mainstay of pearl-wearing women the whole city over.

Close! OK, actually not!

I was at the huge Boy Scout/Cub Scout shindig at The Children's Home, where courses were offered in archery, geology, art, soccer, flag football, and many other areas.

And I have this important message for you: if you ever see me pick up a gun and aim it toward you, you will want, for your own safety, to meander away. You can even mosey. Go as slowly as you like; I stink.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I was in my car, hurtling down S. Marshall toward Academy, when I saw a For Sale sign next to this amazing building.

Someone please buy it quickly. I almost wrecked my car from letting go of the wheel to make giddy, frantic motions with my fingers as I contemplated the amazing interior possibilities.


Today feels like one of those 437-cups-of-coffee days.

Seriously, I barely feel like I've slept, though I was in bed by ten.

And so while See Mommy Run might be good for some, today I feel like a better-fitting group for me would be See Mommy Glaze Her Eyes Over and Yawn.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

On the CatDogwalk

Alert reader "shell" notified me that in addition to great crafts and foodstuffs, this Saturday's Craft festival at Tanglewood's Amphitheater will feature a Doggie Fashion Show from 12:30 to 1.

Sadly, I will be otherwise engaged, but I encourage liberal cameraphone usage for those who do attend.

I think we can all agree that it is imperative to stay abreast of canine couture trends. Perhaps if we are lucky, our very own local fashionista bloggers will cover this.

(There is no charge for admission to the festival, which is from 9 to 4.)

There is a Dubya-A-R on, afterall

"You'll find that wine in in the main dish and with it is a happy discovery - steps up full flavor, and food enjoyment, to the full."

"There's a welcome in the moderate glass of Sherry that's served before the meal begins. Sherry, like the Table Wines, and the after-dinner-glass of Port or Muscatel, is a natural companion of food"

"Before all else - BUY BONDS"

Ahh, wine and war. they do go hand-in-hand, don't they? Cook with it! Drink it with your meals! Serve it to your guests!

Say... aren't we at war now? In fact, we are! And so experts recommend copious amounts of wine.

Luckily for you patriots who need to stock up, the North Carolina Wine Festival at Tanglewood is coming up June 9th. If you weren't already planning to go because you love wine, plan to go because you love your country! W-I-N-E! er, U-S-A! U-S-A!

"What's more, there's still tasty food to be had for precious few ration points. Give a careful look, for example, to the main dishes on this page. Simple - yet real "praise the cook" eating! Try them."

"There's relaxation in it, and good morale."

all quotes and images from page 17, LIFE magazine, March 13, 1944

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Rumor has it

that a TCBY is going here...
...and that this restaurant will never reopen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Help a Woo (and an Esbee)

My friend "Woo" and I want to go to a plant nursery Friday morning. She's heard about one waaaaay out Stratford, but we only really have time for one, so we want to make it a tremendously good one and not a hardware-store-that-happens-to-have-plants, either. My preference is for some hidden gem that is pure local knowledge.


Raise your hand if you planted a tree last week

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! HERE! We planted one! We planted one!

And then today I raced out to tell the gardener that it was, in fact, a purposely planted tree, not an errant seedling that needed pulling. And so he did what all good, Southern gardeners do to trees.

He pine needled it.

Behold my mighty tree resting in its nest!


I am in search of...

1. More boldly colored sidewalk chalk. The oldest really feels that his streetracer drawings don't look as good in pastels.

2. A chipmunk crossing sign. We have a wonderful colony that lives under our front yard. I adore them. There are about 30 of these holes in various places in our front yard.

(We used to have wild rabbits in the side yard, but I think the dogs barking from the backyard drove them away. I've planted veggies in the side yard, to which the dogs have no access, in an attempt to woo them back. If they don't come back, I guess we at least have veggies to eat.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

He's mine now

Uncle Ben, I mean.

I kept gnawing and mulling on the idea of someone whose body lay unclaimed (and on display) for 18 years, and, well, I'm claiming 'im.

Accordingly, I have sought out my new relative's grave, which was donated, as was a bronze marker.

Hereafter, I will be honoring it appropriately.

Two Years

Tomorrow marks two years since a three year old girl disappeared very quietly from Winston-Salem. No press conferences were called. No ribbons went on lapels. Businesses didn't put posters in windows.

She's five years old now and still missing.

Where is Evelyn Perez?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's gorgeous outside

...and I made the fundamental error of walking into Edward McKay's with a ten dollar bill, a small fortune given their prices.

I could spend entire days in that store.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I want to get to both these events today.

1. Reynolda Gardens Big Spring Sale
Saturday April 21 / 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
A new look for this popular sale, with an expanded selection of exciting perennials and unusual annuals, as well as leftovers from the Tuesday vegetable sale. Sales will be held, rain or shine, near the greenhouse. Cash or checks only; bring boxes.

2. Festival - Maple Springs UMC
Please join us Saturday April 21st for a day filled with fellowship, food, games, live music, and fun! We will also have a charity yard sale from 6:00a.m. to 10:00a.m. to help feed hungry people. Charity Auction, 10 am to 3 pm.

edit, 4:15 pm: I bought some amazing plants at Reynolda Gardens, including two varieties of heirloom tomatoes I'd never heard of before: Anna Russian and Aunt Ruby's German Green. At 50 cents apiece, they were a steal.

The whole family enjoyed the festival at Maple Springs, and I may have accidentally bought more plants there. Children in bouncy thingamabob (obstacle course?) in photo at top.

Friday, April 20, 2007


(I find it hilarious that I have received nearly as many emails asking for a barbecue update as for an update on the oldest.)

Update: The youngest still hasn't tried it.

When I asked for recommendations for local barbecue, I was planning to take him that weekend, i.e. last weekend, while my husband and the oldest were away on a camping trip for Cub Scouts. Alas, a prediction of monsoon-esque rain intervened and the camping trip was postponed. Since said monsoon-esque rain indeed occurred, this was a fortunate decision, but it did tumble my plans to introduce the youngest to barbecue last weekend.

Speaking of barbecue, why have I not paid attention to the sign for Sherwood Bar-B-Cue on Robinhood Road until now? I feel incredibly stupid asking this, but are those two pigs supposed to be, um... making piglets, and that's why they never run out of bar-b-cue?

(Awful photo, so sorry, sun refraction)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

(insert theme from Chariots of Fire here)

What could make a child run into the hospital at breakneck speed?

Why, the promised outdoor playground on the twelfth floor, of course!

The overall concept is music, so there are interactive, educational exhibits all about with that theme. The oldest quickly discovered that if he pushed the button for "modern" (pop) music, he could really get into the zone pretending to be a stunt rider.

The oversize, transparent music box is brilliant.

And the view's not too shabby either.

The oldest was wonderful during a very long day yesterday at Brenner's. He held still during the CAT scans so he could avoid a needle. He concentrated during audiological exams. He patiently sat with a microscope in his ear for a very long time.

The results of his tests aren't fully interpreted yet, but so far, they are fairly rotten. On what he sees as a happy note, he no longer has to wear a hearing aid on the right side; there's simply nothing left to amplify.

Thank you to all who have sent emails asking after him. I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


In light of the fact that the dark marks on the above tree were not, as I thought, patches of damp, but instead this

and this

I feel compelled to repost the Forsyth County venemous caterpillar warning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I can't drive past it without chuckling.

My late father, planning what to do, remarked that almost all his friends had moved into either Arbor Acres or bought houses in Coventry, an upscale development just off Country Club Road. He wasn't sure he was ready for Arbor Acres, but he couldn't get past the idea of being Sent To Coventry.

Every time we drove down Country Club and passed it, he made this joke. Ev-er-y-time.

Finally one day, exasperated, I said, "Daddy, it's named for the city in England. You know, where Lady Godiva rode."

Bam! He swung his entire body around in his seat to face me, a mischievous grin on his face. "You mean they have naked ladies there? Turn right! Turn right!"

Thereafter, that was his joke when we passed it.

D is for (whispering) Disney

Mapquest puts it as a nine hour drive from Winston-Salem to Orlando. We're going this year; we just don't know when. Certainly not summer, when we'd roast alive.

Thanksgiving or Christmas, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Of course if that stupid Beach Counties Rule The Entire State Law SL 2004-180 hadn't passed, we could have gone during Fall Break, but those self-serving fascists SL 2004-180 killed that possibility.

I am for this.

Wandering Mind

My heart goes out to those affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech, but even as my heart goes out, my head is thinking about the debris on my lawn.

I try to pull myself back to thinking about that awful event, but my mind is pulled away by the noise of the wind, by my noticing how certain branches of my trees bend in it, by my figuring which branches will break first.

I feel small and provincial.

My lawn matters not one whit, but I am physically anxious to get the branches and sticks cleaned up, ready to put this wind behind me, even while families are making funeral arrangements.

32 students dead, 33 if you include the shooter, whom I notice news outlets are beginning to subtract out, and I'm sitting here wondering when the wind will die down and whether or not I'll need to take a Claritin today.

And for some reason, this story has affected me more than the Virginia Tech one.



Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

I went one time. My mother, having completed her Master's in Mathematics Education, toured us around the campus after her graduation ceremony.

In the lone photo that survives from that day, I am fat, newly so, which means it was the spring of my sixth grade year. I am shown blurrily standing behind my brother and father. My mother is merely an arm on the way out of the frame. A few weeks after the photo was taken, my parents sat my brother and me down and announced they were separating. I stayed fat through seventh grade, but I know the photos are from sixth, because my hair is still a child's hair, not yet the oily limpness that seventh grade brought.

As my mother showed us around that afternoon, I kept touching her Master's hood, which was black lined with a hideous burgundy. Or maybe another color, and I've just substituted that burgundy in my mind. Dusty blue? In any event, I was fascinated much more by that hood than by the buildings shown to us on the campus.

VPI was strictly her domain, a place she drove down to two evenings a week for class, leaving Washington and all things Washington behind. There she wasn't our mother, she was a student. Even her walk was different there, somehow buoyant.

I felt out of place on that campus, a chunk of extra weight my mother didn't need to heft around. I didn't understand why we needed to see those buildings, on this campus that was no part of us, to which we would never return. I kept waiting for my mother to express thanks she'd never have to come all the way back there.

In the car on the way home, my mother draped the hood over my knees. I toyed with it and drowsed. Sometime during the ride it fell to the floor, where I stepped on it, leaving a smudgy wedge of footprint on the yellow, it was yellow, lining. When she saw it, my mother's face fell, defeated, exhausted. I wanted to melt into a puddle.

The hood hung in her closet for years, though I never again touched it. As much as possible, I avoided looking at it directly, which wasn't hard, as it hung at the farthest reach of her closet, beyond faded gowns, back in the shadows.

The hood disappeared at some point and was not among her things when she died.

Check Check Che..oh

When I saw all the debris on the driveway as I was leaving this morning, I made a mental note to check all the important outdoor areas when I came back.

The youngest took over my recycled tire planter, so I went to check that first.


The oldest really digs the potted plants, so next I checked to see that they were still upright.


Last but not least, my husband's beloved DirecTV receiver.

Oh, dear.

(Amazingly enough, it still works.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shelter from the Storm

If this storm worsens and circumstances necessitate, we'll go down to our basement, which has about, oh, 2 inches of standing water currently.

But hey, here's another option in Forsyth County: an ancient poplar tree!

A man hid his cow and calf there to save them from Union Soldiers during the Civil War.

Ooh, a historical tree!

It gave travelers shelter from the rain...

Ahh, a useful tree!

... and couples called it the "Loving Tree".

And ick.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

(big booming voice) ESBEE

I've explained my thinking before, how if when I am driving by TJ Maxx, there is a space available, right in front of the door, it is A Sign From Above. And last time I drove by, well, clearly Someone Important wanted me to go inside the Maxx. Specifically:

What? What's that? Shoe department? OK!

Love them. Total throwbacks to the Iberian Peninsula, circa 1987. We used to buy these at the outdoor markets for about $7 a pair. You can't wear them when it rains, because the soles are actually pressed fabric, but they are so cutecutecute, that you just file them in your brain with sandals and espadrilles, weatherwise. We also used to wear a Keds-looking sneaker*, without socks, and with ribbons in place of laces.

*nobody uses this word anymore. Seriously, try dropping it on an 8 year old. Total confusion.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tax Party

Believe me when I tell you that in Washington, DC, there are no Post Offices located in hardware stores.

I sent off our taxes this morning, taking them to the Post Office counter inside Ace Hardware on Robinhood. Quite a set-up there. More stores should be open to it; on the way out, I accidentally bought $30 worth of plants.

In Washington, we used to wait until close to midnight on the night of April 15th, when we would drive down to postal headquarters. Just outside, and for blocks around, postal workers stood on the sidewalk medians, holding out large U.S. Mail bags into which the drivers would throw their envelopes, having held onto the money until the last possible hour. And even though people would be grumbling and sometimes cursing the "money-grubbing government" aloud, there was something decidedly festive about the whole thing.

Look! It's Charlie Brown!

4 soccer fields + 1 parking lot + 4 tennis courts = 1 HUGE area with 0 tall trees, perfect for flying 1 kite

We had a glorious time! The winds were gusting, the sun was shining, and nobody else was about.

If you were driving north on Silas Creek Parkway between 3:30 and 5, you may have seen us if you looked to your right as you approached Shaffner Park at the corner of Yorkshire.

And if you looked right at precisely the right moment, what you saw was the oldest chanelling Charlie Brown, as he caught the kite in an itty, bitty 7 foot dogwood at the very edge of the fields.

Thankfully, the tree was so small that it was easy to get the kite down.

Note the youngest using his vast experience as a kite pilot to skillfully direct the retrieval efforts.

We had marvelous fun. Everyone should keep a kite in the closet for days like yesterday. (I have no idea where one would buy a kite in Winston, however.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I have one shot. I can succeed, or I can fail. There are no other options.

I'm talking about the four year old and food. He will try a new food exactly once. That's it.

If he likes it, it goes on his list of possibly-today-acceptable-but-tomorrow-not foods.

If he does not like it, he will never ever ever again try it. He has a mind like a steel trap and, years later, can look at something he tried once, in the dark, while he was feverish, and say, "I tried dat! I member! Idon'tlikeit."

Idon'tlikeit is one word in the youngest's vocabulary. A favorite, too.

Now before anyone offers up advice or admonition, let me point to the oldest, who will try anything and everything, whose favorite vegetable is spinach, who enjoys spicy. I believe that's what's known as Exhibit A in the I Am A Good Mommy Museum.

The youngest was born screaming, with colic, with strong opinions, with the ability to hold a grudge. In a word, he's mini-me, and I love him for it. And I understand it, and so I don't try to fight it. I work around it, and in this case, that means knowing I have one shot.

Bar-b-q, people. (Barbecue, for the sophisticated.)

He will try it exactly once. Please help me make it a roaring success. Tell me which BBQ joint in town has the best chance of winning him over.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

La Empollona

La Em-poy-oh-nuh.

That's what the friends I knew in Spain called me. It roughly translates to The Bookworm.

I carry a book with me constantly. I read to sleep at night. When I got to college and discovered there was a whole major devoted to books, I got giddy-nervous, certain someone would realize it was a racket and shut it down. They didn't, thankfully, and I took every Literature class I could get my hands on. Electives, schmelectives.

I'm just about to finish my book, tonight, most likely. I'm looking for some recommendations as to what I should read next.

1. I prefer British style mysteries to American (killer revealed at end, murder neat and tidy, object to discover solution, not to outshock with gore). I'm not a huge gore fan, and while I think Stephen King is brilliant, his work really won't send me off to sleep easily.

2. I love fiction from other cultures. If you haven't read Anita Desai, you should.

3. I will not pick up any book with any of the following three things on the cover:
  • a high-heeled shoe
  • a martini glass
  • Comic Sans font

4. I do love a good short story collection, so long as the author has written something else. I like to read all of an author in a row, and I get peevish if all I can get is small tastes.

5. The last three books I've read are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (finishing now), Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Love in the Time of Cholera is my favorite book ever, bar none), and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

6. For sleep purposes, I need a work of fiction. I long ago discovered non-fiction doesn't let me drowse off.

7. Also, I kinda need it to be available in the Central Library right now.

Please help. If I finish my book and don't have another one ready and waiting, I won't sleep for hours. I know this from experience.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I just took a week off from reading the Winston-Salem Journal. Not with any plan and not purposefully, mind. It just kinda... happened.

And then this morning I sat down with seven orange-wrapped papers and decided to skim them to see what I'd missed.

I read the news online directly off the AP wire several times a day and have for some time, so I didn't miss national and international news.

I did miss local news stories, though I suppose I could get those at the Journal website if I decided to discontinue home delivery. In fact, I can get all the content online.

What I cannot get online:

1. The feel of paper in between my fingers while I drink my coffee.

2. The ads. The glorious, glorious ads. Not including the Sunday inserts, I learn as much about this city from the ads as I do from the articles.

This past week, for example, by not reading the physical paper, I missed an ad announcing that my sons' primary care doctor had affiliated with Forsyth Medical Group. which is GOOD INFORMATION TO KNOW.

I also missed the ad for the Winston-Salem Warthogs Family 4-Pack Day, which was LAST NIGHT.

I also missed the ad telling me Invitations Only was offering free printing on all in-stock notecards, WHICH I NEED.

In short, I missed a whole mess of stuff. I didn't especially miss the full-page farticles (fake articles) trying to sell me special gold/special coins/special stamps as a "good investment - HURRY!", but I missed all the other ads.

And oh, yeah, I missed the feel of paper in between my fingers while I drank my coffee.

Monday, April 09, 2007

(Behold the dreaded bunny ears behind her)

Esmerelda has had a long day.
Me, too.

Esmerelda would like to just lie on a couch tonight.
Me, too.

Esmerelda still has hasn't lost all her pregnancy weight.
Me, too.

How-do Wave

MPB's brother nods.

"There's also this one, you know. Driver to driver."

D. holds his hand as if gripping a steering wheel, then quickly extends two fingers.

"I get that one a lot, especially when I drive my truck."

"What are you talking about?" D's wife asks.

"The wave. You know, when you are driving and hold up one hand to wave to someone walking or sitting on their porch. How they almost always wave back here. People don't do that everywhere. D., you get one from other drivers, you mean?"

"M-hm. Especially from those in trucks. Oh, and when I drive my car. I have a late-model Crown Vic. People think I'm a..."

His last word is drowned out by one of our sons walking in, but I complete the sentence in my head. A cop. People think D. is a cop when they see a man with short, brown hair neatly cut driving that car, and they wave accordingly.

The conversation changes as another of MPB's brothers and his family leave.

We begin the process ourselves of gathering our children, our coats shortly thereafter. As I'm getting in our car for the drive home, I see D., his wife and her parents get into his Crown Victoria, and I feel a pang of jealousy that other drivers don't give two-fingered waves to people driving Hondas.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mt. Tabor U.M.C.

I find it very poignant when one spouse dies within a few months of the other, as if the marriage was so complete that without the other, the one remaining simply withered away.


That is just really wrong, that title is.

So is this weather. It's wrong to be dressing the four year old in a turtleneck for Easter, and it's wrong that my head would better be served by a wool toboggan than a lovely, pastel Easter hat. I find this as depressing as the sight of little children's costumes covered up by parkas on Halloween night.

Accordingly, I think both Easter and Halloween should be moved to August. For fashion purposes.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Miller House

Click here to view The Miller House, 1410 Seneca Street

There was a very pink house on 49th Street in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Washington, DC when I was growing up. When we'd drive past it on our way to the A & P, without fail I'd say to my mother, "One day when I grow up, I want to live in a pink house."

My mother would always blanch slightly and grip the steering wheel of her faux wood-panelled station wagon a little harder; the house on 49th was pretty much an electric Pepto Bismal pink.

The Miller House is a much more subtle pink*, but I bet that little girls riding by in cars still ooh and ahh and dream of one day living in pink houses themselves.

* Call me crazy, but I actually like this color. It suits the house well.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Among the very interesting items in the NCGenWeb Project is Peter Pfaff's will, probated in Forsyth County in 1865, and which reads in part

4. I will to my son Peter Edwin the remaining part of my home tract of land, and the remaining part of my Buffaloe branch tract, and for the above lands the said Peter Edwin is to account to my Estate at the sum of Four Hundred and fifty Dollars. And I also will to my son Peter Edwin one sorrel mare, he now claims also the saddle; bridle and saddle blanket he now claims, also one cow, also one bed and furniture.
5. I will to my son Philip Henry a certain tract of land known by the name of John Krause's place, adjoining Benjamin Pfaff and Joseph Conrad's lands, on Muddy Creek, for which lands said Philip Henry is to account to my Estate at the sum of Three Hundred and Sixty Dollars.
6. I will to my beloved wife my negro woman Matilda, and her daughter Sarah Ann, and all her increase as long as wants them, but after her death all said negroes are to fall back to my Estate, and by her consent at any time. My Executors shall sell them or any of them privately to a good master, but not to a trader, and the proceeds of said negroes shall be divided between all my children, share and share alike.

Those interested in tracing local geneaology may want to attend a meeting of Forsyth County Geneaological Society:

Regular meetings of the Society are held on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:00 PM in the auditorium of the Forsyth County Public Library on West Fifth Street in Winston-Salem. We provide programs of genealogical and historical interest. Visitors are always welcome!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

And the wind said, "whwhwhwhwhwhwh"

What: Kite Day

When: This Saturday, 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm, rain date Sunday

Where: Historic Bethabara Park

Incredible book having to do with kites but not Bethabara or anything else remotely relevent to this post: The Kite Runner

More: Upcoming Events at Bethabara Park

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Attn: Helen Losse

Hadley sends you her best from her favorite hangout: the inside of my shirt.
I think she may be part opposum. Seriously.

David Bare, where are you?

Dear David Bare,

Last Saturday, the oldest and I went to Reynolda Gardens. It is the perfect season for visiting, when all the trees are in bloom, when not a mosquito is in sight. The oldest was enchanted by the inside of the greenhouse and the gardens.

Then he decided he wanted to walk around the man-made lake a bit. I was wearing flats, not really the right shoes for walking, but I figured ten minutes on a dirt path wasn't too awful. Right?

And oh, the wonderful things we saw! First, of course, was the man's face birdhouse high in a tree near the lake. We were invigorated by the charm, so on we went.

As we walked on the prettily laid paths, we saw ground-covering plants I've never seen before.

One had leaves that looked like frogs' feet.

Another had six sides on some leaves, four on others. That one grew in profusion on the side of the path away from the lake, but only here and there lakeside.

We saw flowers with both pink and
blue blossoms on one stalk. How does that happen? It was wild to

As we walked, the oldest asked me questions about the plants, questions I couldn't even begin to answer. I told him there was a man named David Bare who wrote a column in the paper about gardening, who also worked at Reynolda Gardens. I said we'd look online to see if there was any information from Mr. Bare about the plants we were seeing. The oldest said Mr. Bare had a cool job if he got to walk these same paths and look at these same plants and get money to do it. I said I thought Mr. Bare was primarily involved with the greenhouse, but that I thought he might know what these plants were.

I don't know quite when it changed, Mr. Bare. One moment we were on a lovely walk that somehow had stretched over a half hour now. The next moment, the path changed. Gone were the wooden edgings. Gone were sweet looking plants. Even the trees somehow started to look sinister.

I started to laugh a little nervously.

"Sweetheart, I think we should turn around. I don't want you to become the Cub Scout who got lost in Reynolda Gardens."

"March, soldier!" the oldest ordered, his face beaming.

Soldier? Was this fun for him? I decided we'd walk on for five more minutes, then turn around.

"Five more minutes. Then we need to turn around, or we'll miss dinner."

"We can find food here, soldier."

I looked to my right and saw evil-looking berries protected by spiked leaves.

"I don't think so, General."

He giggled. Then stopped.

"Mom? What kind of plant is that?"

"Oh! I know this one from summer camp! It's a Christmas fern! See how each of the leaves is shaped like a stocking? Isn't it sweet?"

"No, Mom," he shook his head, his face a mask of distaste, as he extended one finger hesitantly. "That."

I stared at a plant with nightmarish whorls that was nestled just behind my Christmas fern.

I swear on all that is holy, David Bare, it moved. Menacingly.

I backed up slowly until I felt a tree behind me. When I turned around, I saw that all of its leaves were dead. Oddly, they were all white, like something had... scared them to death?

The General looked at me.

"Soldier. ReTREAT!" he yelled over his shoulder as he took off at a dead run. I caught up with him only when he stopped briefly to consider cutting across the lake.

We made the return trip in thirty-five minutes, though it had taken us fifty-five minutes to go in.

When we got out, we bent over to catch our breath. An older woman walking two dogs stared at us curiously as she passed. When the oldest could speak again, he said, "Mom, why didn't he come save us?"


"The greenhouse man."

"David Bare?"

"Yeah, the whole time I was running, I was waiting for him to come save us."

So there you have it. David Bare. You let my child down. I know you had no idea your job description included rescuing small children with military leader complexes from the malevolent plantings on the far side of the lake, but there you go. Please try to do better next time.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The library, the symphony, and A.C. Moore

Am I missing something? Is there an unwritten rule that all craft supplies must be purchased in complete, small-child-free silence? Is talking to one's children, along the lines of, "Could you put this back, honey? I got two by mistake," an A.C. Moore no-no?

For the second consecutive visit, my children and I have been on the receiving end of Stink Behavior for... for... I have no idea, actually. For being? The children were not loud at all, they were not misbehaving in any way, they were merely present and communicating in response to me. Actually, only one was.

"Here, Mom?"

"Yes, thank you."

And I turned around to find a woman with curled bangs and a floor-length denim skirt glaring at me from one place up in line. Denim woman then turned to her husband and teenage daughter, who was dressed in another floor-length denim number, and said, not lowering her voice, mind, "Can't people be quiet?"

At which point I may or may not have given the finger to her back.

Wisely, she chose not to look at me again, or I might have had to do something unladylike.

In One Sentence

"During the ceremony, the bride carried a bouquet knitted by her mother."

"He is currently on leave as the result of the situation he finds himself in from the death of Casey Bokhoven due to Tolly’s running over him while impaired."

" 'Well', he replied, 'If the second brownie kills me, you tell that SOB I died happy.' "

"Evangelist Maria Rowdy Earl, 46, of Winston-Salem was blessed to ascend to Heaven to be with the Lord on Thursday, March 29, 2007."

"Challenges include dealing with irate citizens, resolving a wide variety of unusual calls and ability to refer callers to other appropriate agencies."

"The face is exotic and international, framed by long, wiry hair tied in a competitor's ponytail."

"As an adjunct to the Trash Busters program, hidden cameras will be placed at sites that have been repeatedly used for illegal dumping."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The art is in the devil

"So, 3-4 dozen deviled eggs, I think," MPB decides. "Oh! Um. Do you make them with..."

"Relish? I most assuredly do not," I quickly say. "I'm a huge believer in the classic deviled egg, thankyouverymuch."

MPB laughs.

"Some of those recipes sound good, actually," she offers. "Onions. I'd eat a deviled egg with onions."

"Absolutely not." I am firm.

"My brother was telling me about making them with butter."

I'm speechless for a second.

"My God! Why? Like they aren't already bad for you!"

"I know," MPB giggles. "D. was calling them Little Heart Attacks."

I crack up.

"Let me know if he ever deep fries deviled eggs, and I'll really be impressed."

MPB and I laugh for a few seconds, imagining such a gastronomical nightmare, then she gets back to business.

"So 3-4 dozen, OK? We're ten adults for Easter, maybe eleven."

"Oh, hell, MPB, are forty-eight really going to be enough?"


Esbee's Deviled Eggs

1. Hardboil a dozen eggs.

2. Chill in shells 25 minutes (makes for easier peeling).

3. Peel eggs. Discards shells.

4. Cut eggs in half, lengthwise.

5. Take out yolks, stick them in a bowl, and mash them.

6. Add a glop of mayonnaise, half a glop of mustard, a small splash of vinegar, a smidge of sugar, and liberal salt and pepper to bowl.

7. Mix all the stuff in the bowl together. Taste. Add a bit more of this, a tad more of that.

8. You need to get the mixture the right thickness to pipe back into egg halves through a hole in a baggie, because, really, who the hell keeps pastry bags on hand. Add more mayo, if need be. You like mayo.

9. Pipe mixture back into white halves via aforementioned hole in sandwich baggie.

10. After yolk mixture is added back to eggs, sprinkle tops with paprika.

Serving directions: Pass rumor among guests that eggs are slightly poisonous. Eat all yourself.