Hello Hello

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Multimedia message

The scene at the Scrabble fundraiser

Multimedia message

By some miracle, I made it to my beloved Scrabble fundraiser! Here Esbette and I totally amuse ourselves by taking cellphone portraits to celebrate this most fortuitous turn of events.

Curse the conspiring Fates

1. I am having severe childcare issues for this evening. As in REALLY severe. As in there's a 99% probability I won't be able to play in my beloved Scrabble fundraiser for the YMCA Literacy Initiative. I've looked forward to it for AGES. I'm almost in mourning because of this.

2. Brace yourselves. There appears to be - sob - poison oak - sob - growing in my... my... muscadines. TOTALLY living it up deep within my bumper crop. And even if I try to put Round Up only on the poison oak, with my luck it will dribble into the soil from whence my muscadines draw nourishment, rendering my Boovine deadly. Or at least maimy.

I'm sitting here shaking my fist at the heavens and wondering when the third leg of the Trifecta of Doom will kick me*.

*Bad things come in threes. My mother taught me that.

You decide

Alert reader Sam emailed to point out that my on-the-fly shot of Greensboro from last Sunday looks a lot like Winston-Salem looking downtown from Broad Street. I've put those two vistas next to each other above.

Click on image for larger version.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spotted Around Town

You can't quite make it out, but the license plate reads NOSUV4ME.

No, it's not my car, but it is one of my personal points of pride that I've never owned an SUV. Or a minivan, for that matter. I've had no need of one.

(Please don't get in a snit, now, if you own four SUVs and three minivans. I'm sure you needed them all and that you have your own personal points of pride that I would fail to meet.)


For the last Pack meeting of the year, the oldest's Cub Scout Pack had this fellow come to speak. He's a cameraman from our own local WXII whose name is poking tentatively at the edges of my brain.

He brought many, many gadgets and admitted to once dropping a $50,000 camera that didn't belong to him, which pretty much is the recipe for cool to a bunch of 7-12 year old boys.

This is the best shot I got of him. Note the facial expression. Note the bizarre angle of the door behind him. This is why I am NOT a cameraman.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Winston-Salem Sail and Power Squadron

Bet you didn't know such a thing existed, didja?

It does.

My family had a boat when I was growing up. We kept it in Annapolis. It was a wee sailboat, named Polliwog, that slept two. Oh, yeah, and my brother had a dinghy in Maine. With an Evinrude motor. With like 2 horsepower. Maybe 3.

If I had my druthers, I'd buy a fishing boat. I like them. Or a tugboat. Or a canoe. But never, ever, a cigarette boat. Those are the boat equivalents of Corvettes, in my opinion.

There are 56 power outages in Forsyth County right now

This is how I know.

And I am geekily hoping for a big storm sometime soon so I can look at this.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Memorial Day used to be hard for my father. While a US Navy officer during World War II, he lost so many friends, some of whom he had known since his childhood on Summit Street, others who were his fraternity brothers at Duke, and still others whom he had never met before the Pacific theater.

He rarely talked about the war, but late at night when he was visiting us in Washington, I'd find him watching The History Channel in the dark, and then he'd talk. His sorrow was palpable when he did.

Eventually he'd remember some funny moment from the war and laugh while telling it. Then I'd kiss him goodnight and turn off the TV, hoping he'd fall asleep off the smile.

Happy Memorial Day, Daddy.

So, tomorrow morning,

whom do I call?

I've no idea if that's a power line or a phone line or another type of line entirely, but it's being covered with vegetation, and it's on my back property line.

Does anyone know whom one calls about this?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

$12 for 4 people

We had a marvelous time at the Greensboro Children's Museum today. Sunday admission is a mere $3 per person, the place was fairly empty, it being a holiday weekend, and the kids find something new everytime we go.

I wish it were not the case, but both boys much prefer it to the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem.

Multimedia message

Greensboro outing

Directions, Winston style

I was doing some research on something completely unrelated and came across this marvelous sentence:

Go about two miles past a "Dairy Freeze" on the left and take a right at the church onto Booger Swamp Road.

Love it.


Saturday, May 26, 2007


Starting June 1, the city will begin enforcing a $50 fine for each sign that is illegally posted in the right-of-way at street intersections, along streets, and on trees, posts and utility poles in the right-of-way.

The only exceptions are directional signs for yard sales and real-estate sales or open-houses, which may be posted at noon the Friday before the event and must be removed by noon the following Monday.

read more

Last week I actually watched some fool get OUT OF HIS CAR in the left lane of SILAS CREEK PARKWAY across from the hospital to plant some computer scam sign in the median at the mall light. $50 is a bargain. He's lucky he didn't get mowed down.

define "tool"

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office has an email notification program that automatically emails neighbors who've signed up when a sex offender moves to an address within one mile of them.

See slideshow presentation explaining why

But what the notification program doesn't do is say which offenders are really awful and which were nineteen year olds with fifteen year old girlfriends. I understand that for liability reasons, they can't say, "Look, this guy really isn't as dangerous as that guy," but I do think there should be some way of disseminating additional information so that those receiving the emails can decide for themselves how to view the notification.

They don't tell you when the offenses occurred or link you to legal definitions, so that the one offender within a mile of our house, who committed "14-202.1 - Taking Indecent Liberties with Children" sounds scary as all, but for all anyone knows this is the nineteen year old and his fifteen year old girlfriend scenario, even though the offender is now in his forties. It's just impossible for the casual subscriber to know how valuable or not the information is.

Sign up for notifications here
Search for sex offenders within one mile of an address or in Forsyth County here

So a while ago, I took the above information, the man in his forties, over to the NC DOC Public Access Information System and found out this offense occurred ten years ago, when the man was in his thirties, so clearly it is not a nineten year old/fifteen year old situation, but what exactly is it? Because the sentence handed down was probation/parole, a suspended sentence of 60 months, and registering as a sex offender.

Did he harm a child or not? Is this someone I need to be concerned about or not? This is what I'm saying - the notification of neighbors process needs to be overhauled. As it is now, it leaves more questions than answers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Multimedia message

This is the line of North Carolinians for Home Education Convention peeps waiting to get their Starbucks fixes at the Fifth Street store. There were a good fifty people in line behind these. One man in line excitedly told me there were 10,000 homeschoolers at the convention. Apparently roughly 500 of those homeschoolers were also caffeine addicts willing to wait in a 30 minute line.

My friend, S., and I were not. We adjourned to Sin, where I snarfed down something called a Mexican Mocha over ice. It was superb! However, it was still not worth a 30 minute line.

I save so much it's like I earn money

I'm so pleased with my amazing find that I had to share it. You may find this tacky if you wish, but to me it's pretty much my equivalent of shooting some enormous animal, then sticking its head on the wall for everyone to admire. Except my way is much less bloody. AND TOTALLY SO MUCH MORE AWESOME!

One good thing about living here is that while pink and green, faux Pulitzer skorts fly off the racks, genuine designer goods often go unrecognized - at least by the Maxx crowd - so I can then snag them at RIDICULOUS savings like the above.

So... I'm thinking of making earrings out of the tags. My right ear could say $195, then I'd turn my head and people would see my left ear said $26. And then they'd gasp. And I'd smile happily yet sadly, happy for the accomplishment but sad that the quest for this particular trophy was behind me.

I hear that's a common hunting emotion, that happysad, free with every kill. Bet you didn't know you could get THAT at the Maxx. You can. But I can get it for less.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


North Point Boulevard
University Parkway (thx, anon)

PACU stands for Piedmont Aviation Credit Union, but seeing the letters on this building always makes me think of specialized hospital units.

I love the old Piedmont logo letters on their website, though. Takes me back.

For those who have always hankered to join a credit union, according to the website, "Anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or does business in Duplin County, NC, Forsyth County, NC, Guilford County, NC, Iredell County, NC, Mecklenburg County, NC or Rockingham County, NC is eligible for membership. "

So pretty much if you are reading this blog, there's like a 99% chance you qualify.


I'm glad we squeezed in a lot of this over the last few weeks:

Because I just found this on the youngest's neck:

The first mosquito bite. The tip of the plague of mosquitos that afflicts our backyard every summer.

I wonder if it's possible to buy dragonflies over the internet. In bulk. Really hungry ones.


"I'll meet you at City Hall South."

"My office is in the Old Courthouse."

"I'm coming from the Bolich Building."

Best map ever for downtown Winston-Salem building names

Thank you, DWSP

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Won't you be, please won't you be, won't you be my chicken?

Whole Foods
Miller Street

Joyce Foods

Has anyone tried one of these chickens? I'd be tickled to find a chicken with some taste. I won't even use chicken breasts anymore; they're just big dense clumps of nothing.

Multimedia message


Hippo Hippo?

I cannot tell you how many questions I get about my email address, which you can find in the lefthand bar. The short answer I give is, "I collect hippos," which is true enough. And some people take that answer and delightfully send me pictures of hippos they come across in their travels. This one was just sent to me from South Carolina.

But the longer answer is that it also refers to a poem I wrote ages ago, in college, in French for a French course with an instructor from France, who thankfully and Frenchily didn't notice that it was a bad knockoff of Ogden Nash in style and even a bit in content (though his hippo poem requires an incorrect pronunciation of the plural).

So ages ago I wrote the poem, and one age ago I translated it into English, keeping the meter intact, no less. And now my French is fading, it's bumpy and hell, Southern, but my hippo poem survives and thrives in my email address.

Ode to the hippopotamus!
I wish there was one for each of us
But you.
I love you so, you see,
You deserve two hippopotami.

hippo.hippo. In our house it means I love you.

L-O-V-E love

It's on Miller, on a corner with a light, but don't ask me the cross-street. I love everything about this house.

I like to imagine picking it and plunking it down in various locations, and I am telling you it works everywhere. It would look great in a city, in a desert, in the middle of a huge field, on a densely wooded lot, at the beach, blanketed by snow.

I'm fascinated by the windows, the way they wrap around the corners. In my head, I have added that feature to my Dream House. So much light! I'd have to fight the dogs to sit in that corner, but I would.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dear Winston-Salem Journal

While I recognize that in all likelihood the decision to change the font used for obituaries was an economic one, the particular font you have chosen is so small and tightly clustered that it's nearly impossible to read, even for me. And my eyesight is good! In my experience, a good percentage of the people who regularly read the obituaries are older folks, who are more likely to have less than perfect vision, so this kind of seems like stabbing your audience in the eyes, figuratively speaking.

The boxed Deaths list especially is almost illegible.

Much like Cliff Claven

Obscure minutiae... in a bar... on a regular basis...

Pub Trivia
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
6:30 pm
Location: Finnigan's Wake on Trade Street

Test your trivia knowledge against the best of the best in the Winston-Salem Jaycees and beyond. Our monthly pub trivia competition happens every 4th Tuesday at Finnigan's Wake, 620 Trade Street. Bring your trivia team of up to five people and compete for prizes. Registration starts at 6:30 p.m. The questions start flying at 7 p.m.

more info

Monday, May 21, 2007

3 of 'em

While checking on my tomatoes, I saw fireflies for the first time this year. Last year, I had nothing into which to put them, so the boys had to make do with catching them, cupping them in their hands, and then immediately letting them fly off, but this year, we are ready.

Firefly Trivia, including a reference to Boone, NC's Firefly Festival

211, 254, 356

The Washington Post ranks the nation's public high schools by a "challenge index".

Local school RJ Reynolds comes in at 211th in the nation, Mt. Tabor at 254th, West Forsyth at 356th.

How schools are measured.

Multimedia message

I hate coming to the hospital to find the helicopter there, then finding it gone upon leaving. I'm very aware that while I was inside the building, somewhere else a family's world collapsed suddenly and horribly.

I also hate seeing this helicopter in the air over town, for the same reason.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I named my Muscadine Wine. Granted, it's not quite ready yet, but, you know, for when it is.

Multimedia message

It is the perfect day to be barefoot.

No. 55

That's the gun, I've no idea what type, outside the local American Legion building. Winston Salem Post 55 is on Miller Street. I drive by it all the time, but I've never been inside.

From the sign outside I know the hall is available to rent, and that Post 55 holds weekly dances there.

From their website I know that Monday and Thursday are Dollar Beer Days.

Winston-Salem Post 55

Friday, May 18, 2007

I keep a lot of mental lists

Reason #43 I will be happy when Fresh Market moves* from Thruway to its new location on Robinhood:

my beloved Bit-O-Honeys** will be even closer.

* currently slated for September according to the Fresh Market cashier to whom I spoke this evening
** best candy ever made

Multimedia message

Sherwood Plaza Center

This is Beef O'Brady's.

edit for the 14 people who have emailed me so far: Yes, it is safe to open that link at work. No, it is not bow-chickie-bow-wow. Yes, I realize the name Beef O'Brady makes it sounds like it should be.


I went outside this morning to find them. Overnight, I have been bestowed with a bumper crop of backyard muscadines.

Accordingly, I immediately sent off for this.

But really, the muscadine competition only uses a few, and see those little balls? Each of those is an entire CLUSTER. And I have HUNDREDS OF THEM.

I was wondering what to do until I went down the driveway to get the paper. It was folded with the front page of this morning's Living section facing out, which was clearly a message from A Higher Authority.

You see it? Yes, that's right. Muscadine Wine!

Now I just need to think of a snazzy name for my vineyard.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Pizza pie.

The youngest wanted it for dinner last night. We hadn't had it in a while, so I said yes and called Papa John's to order it. Only the Papa John's that normally delivers is closed for renovation, so calls are being forwarded to another Papa John's. That Papa John's forwarded me to yet another Papa John's, where I was put on hold FOREVER. I hung up.

After unsuccessfully suggesting an alternative dinner to the youngest, I ordered from Domino's instead. The pizza came quickly, but, well, it was meh. So-so.

I need local recs for the pizza pie. It doesn't have to be a place that delivers so long as I can carryout. A basic pepperoni pizza is all we're looking for here, though other delicious suggestions are always welcome.

Sadly, I was all set to go try that new pizza place next to Sawtooth tomorrow for an early lunch, but the friend with whom I was going to eat has a funeral to attend. Is that place any good?

Kopper Stopper?

The Kopper Kitchen is letting their health rating slip precariously.

Freeman Commercial has a picture of the building with the word SOLD across it on their website.

Someone tell me what I've missed. Is the Kopper Kitchen getting ready to klose?

If so, I wonder if the pig and bull statues will stay downtown (perhaps on a korner!*) or be hoisted in another part of the city, a la the old Staley's bull.

*sorry, I can't help myself

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Did you see this??? WOW!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Wildfire blows smoke over Winston-Salem
By Titan Barksdale

Give your opinion on this story

A wildfire raging more than 500 miles away in Florida and Georgia has caused smoke to drift into Winston-Salem, prompting telephone calls to local emergency agencies, officials said this morning.


Reason #632 why Winston-Salem is a fabulous place to live: our local paper has articles by a reporter named "Titan Barksdale".

Sincerely, that name is amazing. I'm completely jealous and wish I had a name so vivid. That name is like romance novel hero-worthy!

Titan Barksdale leaned over his antique Cartier typewriter. He pulled the linen sheet out of the glossy black machine and laid it in a leather folder. "There," he thought as his muscles rippled under his hand-stitched dress shirt. "That article is frontpage worthy." Finished with this task, he stepped to the French doors leading onto the balcony off the library of his Gothic, stone mansion just outside the Twin Cities. A smoke-filled breeze ruffled his mane of luxuriant hair as Titan opened the doors wide and smiled sadly at the sunset.

See? That name works.

Local FYI

After 20 years of serving morning, noon and night,
we have decided to shorten our day to
breakfast and lunch only...

We apologize for any inconvenience or
disappointment and thank you for
your faithful patronage.

-excerpt from sign posted on door of Midtown Cafe & Dessertery

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ATTN: City of Winston-Salem

Great park you have there, Shaffner Park, at the corner of Yorkshire and Silas Creek Parkway. Tennis courts, a playground, soccer fields... Real popular with the pint-sized soccer crowd and fams on weekends.


It is virtually impossible to get past most of the day Saturday. Once the small lot is full, cars line up and park all along BOTH sides of Yorkshire, which is but a two lane residential road. Cars block the bike path. Cars block the crossing area. Large numbers of pedestrians cross seemingly randomly and without so much as glancing to see if cars are turning off Silas Creek.

Someone is going to get killed. I am not exaggerating.

And I am not the only one noticing.

This past Saturday I note that three of the four calls to the police for PARKING COMPLAINTS are at that location. I also note at least two TRAFFIC ACCIDENT reports in the corresponding block of Silas Creek. Perhaps because those wishing to turn onto Yorkshire have to slow from 45 down to about 5 to avoid colliding with cars trying to come down Yorkshire?

And yet an easy solution exists: enforce safe parking. Direct overflow parking to park up Yorkshire the other side of Silas Creek, at Sherwood Forest Elementary. There is a pedestrian tunnel that will bring them to the park side of Silas Creek.

Require those renting the soccer fields to pay a parking deposit to be used if parking becomes so hazardous that police need to be sent to investigate and/or direct traffic.

Why should the soccer people have to pay? Because it's ridiculous for public resources to be used for what is a continual - yet solvable - problem.

Whatever you do, do something. Because, as I said, someone is going to get killed. I'm not exaggerating.


That's the airport code for Piedmont Triad International, the closest airport to Winston-Salem into which you can fly.


...you learn to fly a plane yourself, which you can do at our very own Smith Reynolds Airport.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

We had both. Plus hot dogs. Um, and the oldest had some of those frozen dot, ice cream thingies, which I tried for the first - and last - time.

And although we were almost killed by foul balls about 11 times when some fellow named C.J. Long/Lang/Lung batted, the Warthogs won, which as we all know doesn't happen often enough.

However, win or lose, I am fairly certain they are still the rockingest team ever, and I'll tell you why. THE MASCOT THROWS UP GANGSTA HANDSIGNS IN FAN PICTURES. That pretty much seals the deal.
Winston-Square Park

Opening Tomorrow

"During the month of March, 50 Photography I and II students at the Career Center in Winston-Salem were given a unique assignment. Look around you and photograph a story you feel passionate about."

"The results range from a 14 year -old who is training to be a 3rd generation firefighter to a 16 year-old's fight with bone cancer to a personal look at a stay-at-home mom. "

May 15th - June 8th

Sunday, May 13, 2007

How to Knock Off The Dessertery

from the Kids' menu at Midtown Cafe & Dessertery:

Eight miniature pancakes shaped like a caterpillar with
chocolate chip eyes plus a bacon slice.

from the Mother's Day menu at my house:

Mothers Pancakes
Pancakes shaped like mothers

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Clemmonsville & Midpines

Look, do you see? Llamas! LLAMAS!

There were about six of them grazing in an enormous field.

On a side note, my husband has determined that I am easily amused.

Friday, May 11, 2007

That's the WHOLE yunivers, people

I love this time of year.

The Onion Church

Maple Springs United Methodist Church is locally known as The Pumpkin Church for its annual pumpkin sale. Mount Tabor United Methodist Church is today hawking a more common yet seemingly stranger commodity - Vidalia Onions.

Ten dollars per ten pound bag, today, right now, at Mount Tabor UMC, 3543 Robinhood. Not only is that a good price, the Mount Tabor men selling the onions are delightful.

Rain, rain, more rain

The weather this weekend looks grim.

Saturday, 12-8
Sawtooth Center
free admission

Enjoy Indian food, cultural programs on various festivals from India, henna tattoos, saree wrapping, yoga instruction, and demonstrations of musical instruments from India.

More information

I will weep with joy if they are offering Limca.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ebert & Cherokee


Even if the lane that leads right up to the window is empty, I always pull up to one of these at the bank, and I still get all dorkily excited when the containers come and go.

I have no idea why.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Playing the market

The fresh corn market, that is. One of my favorite perks of summer is the low price of fresh corn, with 10 ears for $1 being the lowest I think I've seen it.

Last week, fresh corn was 8 ears for $2 at Harris Teeter.

Today, the price of fresh corn was back up to 3 ears for $.99, which I gladly would have paid a month ago, but now that I've been spoiled by the 8 ears for $2 deal, that seems absurdly high to me.

And yes, I realize I am cavilling over 8 cents an ear.

Really fresh corn (and more)

Wanna meetup?

Meetup.com offers a geographically-based way for people with specific interests to find one another and form groups.

Within the immediate Winston-Salem area, there are, among others, The Clemmons Pug Meetup Group, The Lewisville/WSalem Bunco Babes League, The Old Goat's All-Terrain Biking Group, and The Winston-Salem Homebirth Meetup.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Winston-Salem Police Department

Although I wish they would spend more time on my street executing stopping speeders, it appears they are keeping busy elsewhere.

Number and Nature of Calls WSPD Responded to Yesterday

  • 1 50B VIOLATION (no idea what that is)
  • 21 ALARMS
  • 24 ASSAULT
  • 2 DUI
  • 16 E911 HANGUP
  • 6 ESCORT
  • 3 FRAUD
  • 18 ID TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES (again, no idea)
  • 15 LARCENY
  • 3 MV THEFT
  • 1 RAPE

Choo-Choo, m-Choo-Choo, YEAH

Looking east from Miller

Starting at 4:30 am this morning, and continuing for a good ten minutes, a nearby train blew its horn loudly and nearly continuously.

Lying in my bed, I came up with two theories.

Number 1: the tracks lying parallel to Stratford Road were overrun with a herd of wild oxen.

Number 2: a four year old was allowed to man the train horn.

edit: I swear I'm going batty. I'm hearing lots of train hornage now, at 7:50. Are the train horns stuck in my head? Is it like having an annoying song stuck in my head? Do I need to hear another loud, repetitive noise to free myself?

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Opera", huh

In Washington DC, "private club/members only sign" plus "not merely frosted but in fact no longer transparent windows" equals "gentlemen's club" and by that I do mean, "bow-chickie-bow-wow".

Someone told me the same is not true in Winston-Salem, that in fact this is an English pub type place.

Right there

See it? Look! About, oh, eight-thirty in the picture!


I'm so excited that my magnolia tree is the first. I guess my magnolia is just smarter than the others. Or maybe just more advanced. Anyway, better.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I need names

1. A local piano tuner. One who will tune my ancient Wurlitzer spinnet to the best possible... tunage? One who won't tell me what I really want is a new piano, and coincidentally, he sometimes works at Bob's Big Music Barn, where they coincidentally happen to sell them.

2. Men. Men recommendations, I mean. Wait. OK, the oldest is very into biographies right now, but the only ones I remember reading at his age were "girl" ones: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Dolly Madison, etc. And I do remember this age; it's important to him, as it was to me, to read the right gender. So I gave him Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, and I'm looking for a really good Thomas Edison, and the man at the library reminded me about Benjamin Franklin's inventor-hood. But the oldest isn't into athletes unless their lives are compelling for other reasons, and I am all out of men ideas. So I need names of men whose lives were interesting. They needn't have ended up crazy famous, though I'm finding biographies of the crazy famous are easier to find.

Insider Information

I love those little local factoids that you can only learn by looking around closely wherever you go.

For instance, until I looked out the window from a decently high floor on the right side of Brenner's, I never knew about the message painted on the roof of the Shell station on Cloverdale.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sunday, May 20th

The last time we were at the barn, my youngest saw where a flat-blade had been used to dig in the Carolina clay that we have in place of soil here. "Bricks!" he said, pointing. Indeed, with the earth cut so smoothly, it did look like bricks baking in the sun. "Brickmaking goes back a long way here, " I told him.

A new city historic marker will be unveiled at the George H. Black House and Brickyard on Sunday, May 20, 2007, at 111 Dellabrook Road in Winston-Salem. The marker honors Black’s contribution to historic preservation. He was a nationally and internationally recognized brick maker. Up until his death in 1980 at the age of 101, George Black made bricks for Winston-Salem’s finest houses, churches, businesses, and for restorations in Old Salem and Colonial Williamsburg. The unveiling ceremony will begin at 3 p.m.

In addition, Black will be the subject of a display at the main branch of the Forsyth County Public Library, at 660 W. Fifth St.


Black, sometimes referred to as "The Last Brickmaker in America," lived and worked on this property from 1934 until his death in 1980 at age 101. The son of a former slave, Black moved to Winston-Salem as a boy and hauled brick for a white brickmaker. He married Martha Jane Hampton in 1897, and in time had eight children. Black soon started his own brickyard and established a national and international reputation for bricks of quality and durability. As early as the 1920s Black's work was sought-after for his traditional 18th and 19th century craftsmanship and techniques. Black made an exceptionally important contribution to the 20th century by sustaining traditional handcrafting of bricks, when most brickmakers abandoned this practice for more efficient brick-making machines. In the 1940s, Black established a brickyard approximately 100 feet behind his residence, which he continued to operate until the 1970s. At the request of the State Department, in 1970, 91 year-old Black traveled to Guyana to share his age-old craft with villagers of that country.


Friday, May 04, 2007

How to Encourage Communication from Other Parents in Your Child's Class

Step 1: Volunteer to throw a Cinco de Mayo party for your child's second grade class. On the Cuatro de Mayo, of course, since the Cinco isn't a schoolday.

Step 2: Plan it out - video explaining holiday, book to read aloud, two crafts (paper lanterns and tissue paper flowers) and snack (Mayan chocolate ice cream, Dulce de Leche ice cream, and gaseosas, carbonated fruit juices, to drink).

Step 3: Ask two other parents to help you.

Step 4: Day of party, watch the children's eyes light up as you take the supplies from your bags. Begin to hear whispers as you pull the tall, green glass bottles of gaseosa out.

Step 5: Halfway through serving gaseosa, hear one word of the whispers become audible: wine. Understand that the children think you are serving them wine. Attempt to convince them otherwise. Fail.

Step 6: After party, go home. Wait for phone to ring.

Ha Ha Ha! Oh.

For weeks, I found it funny. Everytime I parked in my spot in the driveway, after I turned off the car but before I opened my door, a brown, white and black bird would land on the driver's side door, look at me, then turn and admire himself in the sideview mirror. In the beginning, he would stay for just a second. Then, as he realized I (and any small child passengers) would stay put as long as he needed, he began to get comfy and linger, staying first a few seconds, then a few more, and recently about half a minute.

Sweet, huh? Until today.

And I know he is the guilty bird because I WATCHED HIM DO IT. Appropriately enough, I had A BIRD'S EYE VIEW.

ew, ew, ew.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Effective April 1, 2003 all residential/business alarm owners must apply for an Alarm Permit from the City of Winston-Salem. There is no fee for an Alarm Permit. However, if Police or Fire responds to a “false” alarm at an alarm location without an Alarm Permit, the alarm owner incurs a $100 civil penalty for failure to obtain an Alarm Permit.

Huh. Who knew?

The Winston-Salem Georgel

The Journal appears starstruck by George Clooney.

Like just in the last two days?

Yesterday's edition featured this front page article about a local woman leaving her children with a sitter to better seek him out. A page one of the business section article about a local drycleaner doing work for the film production also managed to work him in.

Today in the print edition, there is a large pair of colored photographs of Mr. Clooney on the front page of the Local section. Just 'cuz.

He's very nice to look at, yes, but I'm not quite sure he should be that fascinating on a daily basis to a professional news source.

(And in light of how many movies are filmed in the Piedmont, I wonder why Clooney in particular makes the paper swoon so.)

Other movies filmed, at least partially, in Winston-Salem itself

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Til 9, I think. Maybe 10.

You have until then tonight, I think, to get the 2.5 oz cone for 31 cents at Baskin Robbins on Stratford. Plus the firefighters are giving out those Junior Firefighter badge stickers.

And placemats to color. And firefighting coloring books. Top value for your quarter, a nickel, and a penny (plus tax). (In honor of National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.)

ANSWER: 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 minutes

QUESTION: In Winston-Salem, how long does it take to drive to either hospital, any movie theatre, at least two branches of the library?

I love how close things are here. The infrastructure in Winston-Salem is superb. None of my DC friends believes me when I tell them 90% of the city is within ten minutes driving time of my home.

This is especially wonderful when regular unleaded gas totals look like this:

fillup today - Shell at Peacehaven & Robinhood



It happened to us, oh, three months ago?

At 3 am, the dogs began barking. They don't bark unless someone steps onto our property. I woke in a flash and ran out to the living room to find them growling along the front wall of the house. Then the doorbell rang.

I didn't open it, of course. A male voice asked me to open the door, pleaded he was lost, suggested maybe I could give him a ride, offered to pay me $10 if I would open the door. Blurry from sleep, I announced, "No! I'm calling the police!" Then I did.

They came quickly, but he was gone.

The next day I shared the story with a few neighbors. I also started double-checking locks, looking out windows more. I didn't sleep well for weeks.

Two more neighbors I know of have been visited by Mr. Late Night Ring since then. Both called the police. The one visited this past weekend said the police told her they know who it is, but that since it's not actually illegal to ring doorbells in the middle of the night, they can't really do anything.

Although I know this is factually true, it's somehow unsettling.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Oh, good, it's cooling off. Earlier today my car said it was 95 outside.

Yesterday was getting there, but today was the first day I really felt like I was walking into an oven when I opened the back door.

I actually look forward to this weather first, the oven heat, much like I look forward to the first soupy fog of the year, the first scary-in-ferocity thunderstorm of the year, the first ice. It's a timestamp of sorts, a way to define where in the year we are.

And so while in a few weeks I will crank the air conditioning in the car, today I drove with the windows down, embracing the heat, relishing the day.

It's all Greek to me

Salem Cemetery

The Greek community's deep roots in Winston-Salem are the most visible at the annual, springtime Greek Festival, scheduled this year for May 18th - 20th.

My stomach growled just looking at the menu.

(I studied Attic Greek a lifetime ago. I remember exactly one word: ho klops - the thief, from which the word kleptomania is derived)