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Friday, August 31, 2007

Pa-BAM!



My muskies are pretty (but still small, grrr), but actually this is a test post. My husband got me a new cameraphone a week or so ago, and I finally figured the thing out. Maybe.

Does this picture look better quality than the one below? The church one, I mean.

The entry form one I took with this phone, but I had to send it to myself, then resize it, etc. This muskie one I sent from the phone straight to the blog. Whee!

Anyway, this is my new phone with my old number. The inside and outside together have about fourteen thousand buttons. I still have no idea what most of them do, but I think I've figured out almost all the ones I need. My phone is indeed orange like in that ad. My husband thought that might keep me from mislaying the blasted thing quite as often.

PS: If you are in the habit of sending me text messages, don't. I still haven't figured out that part yet.

PPS: Don't leave me voicemail, either.

Lost

There are hurt, angry people on both sides of the Reynolda Presbyterian Church expansion issue. There have been accusations, lawsuits filed, media coverage... all the detritus that comes of well-meaning groups who feel passionately yet can't agree.

Personally, I found the exterior of Reynolda Presbyterian Church one of the most aesthetically pleasing in town. The building and surrounding grounds were clean in line, neat in appearance, and very, very harmonious.


This is none of those things. And I'm so sad because it used to be.

The only thing left to do

...is fax this puppy.

In light of the youngest's demand for the most complicated Halloween costume ever, I am limiting my Dixie Classic Fair entries this year to three. I realize this limits my chances of finally achieving my Life Dream of ribbon winnage, but I really must get cracking on this costume, so I haven't tons of time this year to scout out trash at Thruway and such.

I needn't do a thing for my Muscadines or Scuppernongs (Black) Plate of 25 other than cheer them on and hope they fatten up.

As mentioned previously, the theme for the best decorated apple is Dinosaur Days.

Don't ask me what sort of artistry and originality will show up in the doorstop; I haven't the foggiest yet.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Best Column Exit Line Ever

"She was yelling, "Kick his ass, pookey, kick his ass,'" Phillips testified.

Missing MPB

I love MPB. I do, I really do. That said, there is something that comes between us every year about this time: her job. MPB is a teacher.

It's nothing against teachers as a rule. My mother was a teacher. My dear friend N., who has honorary Auntie status with my boys, is a teacher. My sister-in-law was in and may return yet to the field. I consider much of what I do with my children teaching. So it's not anti-educatorism.

The problem is that when MPB is teaching, i.e. from August until June, she is impossible to reach five days out of seven. I can't call her at school. For starters, she doesn't have a direct line. For seconds, she wouldn't be available to talk even if I could reach her, her classroom being full of children that she is supposed to, you know, teach.

If I call her late in the afternoon, I have to wait until what I refer to in my house as "the witching hour", the time when small children (hers and mine) are prone to attention-requiring behavior - so I don't call - and then my family is eating or hers is eating - so I don't call - and then it's time for her to put her kids to bed and I mine - so I don't call - and then when I do finally get a minute to call, she's ASLEEP ALREADY. Because she's tired from teaching. And she has to go right back the next day; this isn't a cushy, one day gig.

She can't reach me either. If she tries to call me before plummeting into her slumber coma, inevitably it's Cub Scout Night or our school's PTA Night (MPB teaches at a different school than the one my oldest attends) or Mineral Club night or some such.

The last time we spoke, it was Sunday afternoon. She was getting ready for a classroom of new students, and I was getting ready to send my student into a classroom with a new teacher. And then...!!! Nothing.

There's no solution that I can think of, so my plan is to just pout until next June and catch her on the weekends, a sad downturn from this summer when my phone would ring almost every weekday morning around 8 am, and I'd hear MPB's chirpy "Good morning!"

Harrumph.

Ready, Set, Go

"He's not ready. I know this, but still..."

My husband and I are at the dining room table. He's eating what is for him a late supper, it being nearly eight o'clock. I haven't asked, but I'm betting the traffic from Charlotte was horrendous. And so I sit across from him, keeping him company by neurotically and lengthily second-guessing keeping the youngest out of kindergarten for a year of Readiness.

And I do know the youngest isn't ready. Not only would he be on the younger side chronologically, having just turned five this month, he is small physically, still prone to the strong emotions of the age of four he just left, and he tires quickly. All day kindergarten would be the worst thing for him. It would set him up to fail. He would no doubt be held back and rightly so. I know all these things, but still.

"Come here, please," my husband calls out to the youngest, who just at that moment is passing by on his way to the den. The youngest gallops over and beams at the big guy.

"What, Daddy?"

"Hold up your left hand... Now bend it over the very top of your head... Nono, not around the back, RIGHT over the top. Now reach down as far as you can. Very good! OK, see?"

This last question is directed at me. I'm not sure what exactly I'm supposed to see.

"Thank you, sweetheart, you can go."

The youngest gallops out, his slippers slapping against the floor.

"What was I supposed to see?"

"Did you see how his left hand didn't reach his ear?"

"Yeeees?"

"In Mexico, when I was growing up, that was how they used to check for entry into school. To see if you were old enough. He's not."

I reach my own left arm over the top of my head and easily touch my right ear.

"Congratulations, honey. You're ready for school."

My husband's eyes twinkle in amusement.

"But he's not," I say decisively.

"No."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wear Pink

Funeral services for Miss Lillie Boyte will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, August 31, at First Baptist Church. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Salem Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions in memory of Lillie to The Loneliest Road Campaign, 9962 Brook Road, Suite 617, Glen Allen, VA 23059

The family asks that everyone wear pink to the funeral. Pink was Lillie's favoritest color ever, especially in cupcakes.

And the envelope, please...

If pressed to make a nomination for Ugliest Street in Winston-Salem, I think I'd put up this section of Stratford Road.

Someone told me these train tracks are never even used anymore. Is that true?

PS: Could there be more wires? I'm not sure it's possible.

Input Needed

The Forsyth Cooperative Extension Service is seeking your input to better address the community's needs. They ask that you print out the questionnaire, complete it, and fax or mail it back.

NEEDS ASSESSMENT (PDF)


(facsimile number and street address at bottom)

About the Cooperative Extension Service

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lillie

Thank you all for praying for Lillie Boyte and her family.

I had a call a little while ago that she is free from pain now. She passed away around 2:30 this afternoon.

Sweet dreams, sweet girl.

Lillie's CaringBridge site

The sign has a big Z on it


This house on Reynolda, just up from Polo, must have finally sold, because it has a notice of proposed rezoning sign up. It was on the market forever. Our veterinarian is just next door, so I spend a good bit of time right there. I'm assuming it is being rezoned commercial, but who knows. I think it's a pretty house, though.

Also on the market forever: that FSBO house on Stratford in Buena Vista, the ENORMOUS one almost to Five Points intersection. I'm reminded of it because everytime I drive by, I think it would make a nifty B&B, which I assume would also require rezoning.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day Festivities


In a break with our traditional, first day of school Krispy Kreme jaunt, we celebrated the day by going to Cold Stone Creamery for the first time. I've been seeing their tempting TV ads for something called the Strawberry Blonde for some time, but I didn't realize the sheer magnitude of the possibilities until they sponsored a Quickfire Challenge on Bravo's Top Chef.

Esbette, who knows CSC well, joined us there. She wisely made a left onto Country Club upon exiting. I made a right turn, which gave me plenty of time to sit in construction zone traffic and think about the wisdom and health implications of eating peanut butter ice cream with Reese's cup mashed in.

School Eve

"So I guess I'll just have to wait for it to wear off," the oldest says hopefully.

He's talking about the long-term tattoo he got, a garish, orange dagger entwined with a rose, while on a weekend jaunt to Busch Gardens weekend before last.

"You are not wearing that to school, sweetheart."

"But, Mom, it only comes off with baby oil, and we don't have any!"

He tries to look upset about this fact, but the edges of his lips are trembling with glee.

"Baby oil, huh."

I think for a moment, then open the spice cabinet. I grab the can of butter-flavored PAM cooking spray that's been there God knows how long, so seldom does it get used.

"Hold out your arm, please."

He holds it out and giggles as the first spray hits his skin. A swipe with a paper towel reveals that the spray is working, the tattoo is coming off, though it takes two servings of PAM to finish the job.

"Now go take a shower and make sure you wash that arm well."

"Do I have to do it right now?"

Salsa meanders into the kitchen, sniffs the air and licks her lips.

"I think you'd best," I laugh.

He bumble-stumbles to the shower, still giggling and referring to his arm as "my buttery goodness", half-little-boy, half-big-boy, my third grader.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Where do YOU live?

Because I live here. In Winston-Salem. Forsyth County. The Piedmont. North Carolina.

And yet today's Living section of the Winston-Salem Journal thinks I live anywhere but.

  • AP wire article on apple festival in Nebraska? Check!
  • LA Times overview of trendy neighborhood in Washington, DC? Check!
  • Washington Post column with tips for taking baby to India? Check!
  • AP wire article on wheelchair accessibility on Vermont nature trail? Check!
  • No less than 3 other syndicated columns from elsewhere? Check! Check! Check!

The ONLY locally-written or even locally-based content to be found in today's Living section is the wedding announcements and Kim Underwood's column (which was, as always, superb). Oh, and there were some ads which I didn't even look at because my eyes glazed over from all the useless filler from elsewhere.

The Journal is doing away with its Business section it announced recently. Can't help but think the Living section is next. If this schlock-from-all-over is the alternative? Good riddance.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Going Grape Guns

I cannot believe how well my muscadines are doing in this heat. Grow, muskies, GROW!

I have no sense of muscadine time, though, and can only hope they are at their peak come September 27th, which is when the judging of small fruits takes place.

I'm also entering a few other contests, of course. I want to maximize my bedecked-in-ribbonsness*. I haven't quite nailed down which ones, though I'd best get a move on. Deadline for entries (September 1st) looms.

The Dixie Classic



*OK, I just want to earn one ribbon. JUST ONE. Then I can die.

Now hear ye

I've been asked for an update on the oldest's hearing. It really hasn't changed that I'm aware of, so he's still profoundly deaf on the right side (and will remain), and his hearing on the left side is slowly drifting away (but very slowly, thankfully). Prognosis: who knows?

Mostly this is a problem in noisy situations (because he can't separate voices from background sounds or even from one another) and in situations where he can't see a speaker's mouth (without being aware of it, he has begun to read our lips when we speak).

Open House was a bit of a challenge just because of the noise involved. He shook hands with the principal in the main lobby, which was a mash of people, all talking, and I'm not sure he heard a word she said, but he was able to carry on somewhat by watching her mouth and guessing what she was asking.

In the car on the way home, he sat in the backseat while I drove.

Me: Oh, I really think you are going to have a good year. Your teachers are so organized. You are going to learn so much.

Him:

Me: Honey?

Him: I think it's wrong. It's not fair.

Me: What's wrong?

Him: I shouldn't have to learn Dutch!

Me: No, honey. You are going to learn so MUCH. Not Dutch. So MUCH.

Him: I don't have to learn Dutch?

Me: Not unless you move to Holland.

Him: Holland?!?!

Me: That's where they speak Dutch. Dutch is their language.

Him: That's weird. They should call their language something else.

Me: Like what?

Him (after thinking for a minute): Holly!

-FIN-

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spotted at the Teeter

Peter Pan peanut butter is back!

This is the brand with which I grew up, so I got a warm fuzzy when I saw it back on the shelves.

(It was gone for a little while there because of this.)

I note at this time that the only protein that hasn't betrayed me is bacon. There is no such thing as pandemic bacon flu. No mad bacon disease. No recalled jars of bacon. I'm fairly certain that makes bacon The Perfect Food, one we should serve at all mealtimes. No, no, please don't argue with me.

Oh, Ken

I first met Ken through a friend of mine, D. He bought one of those turn-by-turn direction, GPS thingies that goes in your car and set the voice to one of the free, factory-installed ones, one called Ken. Here's a photo of Ken I found:

I grew to adore Ken's voice, his use of the word "motorway" in lieu of of "highway", his gentle persistence when his directives were not followed properly. I began to recognize his speech patterns and find them hilarious when I (or D., who developed a wicked imitation of Ken) could predict them. But then D. loaned Ken to someone and then Ken's battery was dead and next he was in the trunk under something heavy or some such. In short, Ken faded out of my life.

Today I was sitting at the top of the ramp off Silas Creek onto Stratford when I heard the unmistakable, dulcet tones of my dear Ken. I was confused because usually one doesn't hear sounds car-to-car, even with windows open, and Ken's not much for high volume as I remember. Then I saw him.


I'm just glad to know he's alive and well.

87 Hawthorne Street

When I lived in Washington, I often had the slightly odd experience of reading books set in my city, knowing the intersections being discussed, being able to pick out the discrepancies, which ranged from artistic license to outright error.

In the last three years here, the only pop culture-meets-town moment has been in a movie theatre while watching Thank You for Smoking. As soon as the name Winston-Salem fell out of a character's mouth, the audience started whooping loudly with joy, a reaction that startled me, so used to the sensation of "Hey! That's my city!" was I.

This past week, I ran across Winston-Salem again, this time in print. Brooklyn author Paul Auster sets a bit of the storyline here in his book, The Brooklyn Follies. Unfortunately, the smidge set here involves a "church" that's closer to a cult, spousal imprisonment, and assault in the name of religion. Oh, and it takes place in a rundown house with a dirt driveway.

Still, Auster tries. He uses the name Hawthorne but makes it a Street rather than a Road. He calls the local shopping venue Camelback Mall. He gets the airport right, flying into Greensboro rather than placing that here in town.

But still, I'm sad. I'm sad that as rarely as this city snags a mention from authors from other cities, this time it's for something tawdry, repugnant, and completely fictional. Not that aspects of DC never got raked over the coals, but there were a lot of good references, often in the same work, to balance out the coverage. (I'm sorry to be the one to disclose though, that goverment agents running down streets shooting at each other doesn't happen nearly as often as you might think.)

Lillie's home

She was so excited she talked about wearing them to dance class. She talked about how she could start to walk in them then run. It broke my heart to know, none of this was going to happen. She paused for about 15 minutes then said matter of factly, "Mommy, I wish I could walk".

-Lillie Boyte's CaringBridge Journal

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Car as soapbox

"I'd rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me" -George S. Patton

After Iraq, Bomb FRANCE

BURR

-as seen on the SUV ahead of me, 3 bumper stickers (out of about 10) I had time to read while waiting to turn left onto Silas Creek Parkway

I'm guessing the driver's not one of the other seventeen.

Open House

We're looking at the names on all the desks, trying to sort out which ones are morning and which ones are afternoon. This year, third grade, is the first year the oldest will switch classes partway through the day.

And then we see a name on one desk that we've heard attached to life-threatening peanut allergies.

"Send a snack starting the first day," this teacher is saying to another family, and when she turns her smile to include us I ask.

"Peanut free?"

"Please," she nods.

And all of a sudden I have a hundred questions about the yellow handout that states "Only healthy snacks. No candy or junk food will be allowed." Like do we need to make sure whatever we send wasn't prepared in a facility that also processes peanuts and what about other nuts like almonds and does this mean we also should avoid peanuts at lunch or just at snack.

But it's Open House, really just a meet and greet, not the right time to try to try to pin down the specifics of a food allergy that doesn't even belong to us. So we wander off to find the afternoon classroom, and as we navigate the crowded hallways, all I can think about is how that other mother finds the strength to trust the rest of us everyday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mondays and Foreign Films

The Library is pleased to offer free screenings of a series of foreign films in the Central Library Auditorium.

Monday, August 27 @ 7 pm.
Man on the Train
, from France. Rated R. A brief friendship between two very different men gives each of them a chance to review his life and to consider what might have been different.

Monday, September 10 @ 7 pm.
The Way Home
, from Korea. Rated PG. A seven year old, forced to stay temporarily with his grandmother in a remote village, learns respect and the importance of family.

Monday September 17 @ 7 pm.
Osama
, from Iran. Rated PG-13. Filmed in Afghanistan and based on a true story, this Iranian film follows a young girl who must disguise herself as a boy to survive the Taliban’s oppressive regime.

If the Dryer Had Not Broken

If the dryer had not broken, I wouldn't have had to call not-one-not-two-but-three repairmen, none of whom were available, all of whose outgoing messages promised to "call me back", none of whom have.

I wouldn't have finally grown frustrated with having clean laundry sitting damply in the washer, dirty laundry piling up in the baskets, new laundry being created hour by hour by my little dirt-demon children.

I wouldn't have piled the children in the car and hauled off to Ace Hardware on Robinhood to buy a clothesline, an honest-to-God, old-fashioned clothesline, plus all three packages of clothespins Ace had on the shelves.

I wouldn't have spent twenty minutes in the heat hanging the clothesline in the backyard, hanging the clean, damp laundry from the washer on the line, feeling the sweat roll down my back as I raised my arms to pin each garment up where a breeze that doesn't exist might grab it.

And I wouldn't have looked down when I dropped one clothespin to see this, this amazing, beautiful butterfly who in spite of missing a large portion of one wing, was able to deftly fly away when he grew bored of having his picture taken.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy As Pie

Am I. (Peach pie, specifically. A la mode.)

We're having a good, refreshing storm, a desperately needed break from these ridiculously hot last two weeks. You know, the two weeks the beach counties insisted the whole state needed school-free to properly enjoy.

Dear Beach Counties:

Gee. Thanks.

-Esbee

The Last Tuesday

I began the process of adjusting the children's "body clocks" this morning. Slowly but surely over the course of the summer, they've stayed up later and later and slept later and later until they were regularly sleeping until 8:30, two hours past the time they wake up during the school year.

And so this morning, I woke them at 7. Groggily, they lifted their little bedheaded noggins, dressed, brushed their teeth, then stumbled out to the car, the lure of Krispy Kreme the only thing that kept them from collapsing into pools of mush.

Tomorrow, it will be easier, and by next Monday, bright eyes and bushy tail at 6:30 will be the norm again. Also, better hair.

Is Tiggers are Wonderful Things



Please keep an eye out for this pup.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gates (not Bill)



This gated community is on Robinhood between Coliseum and Buena Vista. There is one other one right there, too, I think.

I'm not sure what is so alluring about big, slow-moving gates.

(There is a house out in Pfafftown, set back slightly from the road, with even taller gates across the driveway but no fence or wall whatsoever, just the ENORMOUS gates freestanding, and a flat, treeless lawn, perfect for driving a car over, running all the way past the gates up to the house. Explain that.)

The Last Monday

It's temperate again, relatively speaking, and so the boys and I are back in the backyard. They are using the tiniest waterguns I've ever seen to shoot water at designated trees (enemy tree!) and in arches through the air. Salsa jumps and catches, jumps and catches, while the other two dogs look on lazily from where they hunker under bushes. I'm sitting in a chair with my book at hand and a jelly jar full of ice and Tab, alternately feeling carefree and then remembering all I have to do to get ready for next Monday morning.

Third Grade Supply List
2 200 count Wide Rule Filler Paper
2 Yellow Highlighter
3 Sharpened PaperMate American #2 Yellow Pencils 12 count box
2 12 count full-length Crayola Colored Pencils Sharpened
4 .35oz Henkel glue stick washable white dries clear
1 3 Pack Spiral Notebook 1 Sub Wide Rule 70 count (red, blue,yellow)
1 5 Pack 2 Pocket Paper Folders w/clasp (red, blue, yellow, green, purple)
1 Orange 2 Pocket Paper Folder w/clasps
2 Assorted Multiple Colors Poly 2-Pocket Folder w/clasp
1 5" Blunt Fiskars Scissors
2 125 count Kleenex Facial Tissue

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pop Goes the Weasel

I would hear it coming two blocks away, as it turned off the major road onto our lane. Before it had come even one block closer, I was down the stairs begging my mother to look in her purse. She would pick it up out of the kitchen stool where it lived when inside the house, the stool under the white, rotary wallphone with our number printed neatly in the center of the dial. She would reach into the depths of the purse where no one else dared reach, not for fear of what was in there (I, for one, was quite curious) but for fear of my mother's wrath if we did, and she would pull out a quarter or three dimes or some combination of change. By then I would have heard the strains of Pop Goes the Weasel going right past our house, which was fine - it had to go around the cul de sac at the bottom of the street and pass again, plenty of time.

Inevitably, at this point, my mother would begin to debate the merits of my having ice cream This Close To Supper. Aloud. I would plead and pout and just when I thought it impossibly late, she would hand me the money. I would beat the Good Humor truck to our curb by mere seconds, yet stand there impatiently rocking from foot to foot as if I had been kept ages.

When the truck stopped, I would take my time surveying the offering and price decals on the side, though they never changed and I almost knew them by heart. Push-Ups, which were startlingly short and tasted vaguely of orange baby aspirin, were 25 cents. 30 cents would buy you a Sno-Cone, which always looked better on the side of the truck than in real life. But 50 cents would buy you heaven, a Strawberry Shortcake, which tasted wonderfully artificial and had the benefit of being garishly pink, a festival for the tongue and the eyes.


They sell them at Harris Teeter now. They're still chock full of fakey goodness.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home

Lillie said today, I want to go home. We asked, where" She replied, back to North Carolina. Wish granted.

Lillie Boyte's CaringBridge site

Sunday's Fundraiser

Hrm.


Thoughts on the above color welcome.

(No input needed on the wonky thumb distortion.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's not how much you spend; it's how much you save

Home Depot
Hanes Mall Blvd


I know it's petty, but I giggle inside when I see that no matter how big and successful companies get, they make mistakes as stupid as the ones I make. Typos and oopsies from small businesses with names like Trudy's Dew Drop Inn or Piedmont Pickups just seem normal (and kind of sweet) to me, but give me something like the above, and I nearly hoot with glee as I whip out my cameraphone.

(Then I wonder if anyone else has noticed. Next, I think, "I should tell someone; it's the nice thing to do," but then the youngest distracts me with a profound comment about riding mowers, and I immediately and fully forget the sign debacle until I get home and find the photo.)

Eek

And I thought it was hot here these last few weeks.

Elementary school playground spontaneously bursts into fire

Our favorite playgrounds, in no particular order, may they never burst into fire:

Triad Park (with rockclimbing playground)
Polo Park
Tanglewood

Nosy Nosy Nosy Yes?

My favorite houses are the ones with character, with hidden cupboards, with slanted staircases leading up to attics that smell like attics, with pocket doors and windows with bubbles in the glass, with oddly shaped closets under the stairs.

(My least favorite houses are the ones that seem to say "HELLO! MEET MY GARAGE FIRST!")

I like rambling fishermen's cottages, old farmhouses, insane Victorian follies, all of them. Just give me a house with character, please.

This Saturday, 14 chock full of character homes in Historic West End will be open for viewing. Yes, they are all for sale, but Nosy Peeps are welcome, too.

West End Walk-About info

(These tantalizing words jumped right out at me: "built-in furniture." Swoon.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

via email

On Sunday, August 26 from 2-5pm at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, we will be having a fund raiser for Lillie Boyte. Lillie's parents, Cory and Michelle, are in the process of making decisions about Lillie that no parent should have to make. To help the ease of the costs that the Boytes have incurred and will incur (airline tickets, medical equipment, time away from work, etc. we are holding a fund raiser. It will be held in the Fellowship Hall.

First Baptist Church

Lillie's CaringBridge website

Trashriffic

Wednesday nights I'm up late for me, watching Top Chef on Bravo (or Project Runway, in season). It's My Show, the one show I make a point of watching. I look forward to it all Wednesday evening as I'm tucking kids in bed, letting dogs in and out, and overlooking numerous things I could be doing instead. When Top Chef (or PR, in season) ends at 11 pm, I stagger, exhausted but sated, to my bed, where I am able to read for about 3.2 minutes before falling directly into a deep, dreamless sleep. This is my Wednesday night.

Thursday mornings are waking up before the kids, letting the dogs out, putting the milk for my mocha into the microwave, then heading down the driveway to get the Journal and the empty trashcans if the trashmen have been by already. Only this morning, there were no trashcans at the end of my driveway, because I normally take the trash down when we get home from the barn but yesterday the barn cancelled and so we never went, and I, a creature of habit, was completely thrown off and never remembered the trash until this morning.

So this morning I stood at the end of the driveway, feeling stupid to the first power for not having mocha in me yet and feeling stupid to the second power for forgetting trash day, holding the Journal in one hand for partial ballast as I leaned to look up and down the street. I could clearly see from my neighbors that while recycling had not yet been by, trash had come and gone. (Yes, that's right, I only have to remember ONE DAY, Thursday, and all my sanitation needs are met, yet I flubbed it.)

I headed back up the driveway to grab the recycling bin, which is kept at the side of the house almost all the way up the driveway, outside of the fence, in a little covered area with the trashcans and the potting soil bag and such. And I had my hand on the bin when I realized that the trashcan lids were all upside down. I stood there for a good five seconds trying to add this up in my not-yet-caffeinated brain. And then, I reached out, picked up one of the lids, and looked down into the trashcan. Empty. I repeated this with the other two trashcans. Empty. Empty.

Dear Trashman who saw that my trash was not yet out and so decided to come get the trash himself:

I love you. That is all.

Esbee

City of Winston-Salem Sanitation Department

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm trying to wash the car here

Piedmont Communities offers yet another way for Piedmont peeps to find local resources.

I'm considering looking more closely into this, for example.

(Or, as an alternative, I'm thinking of hooking up an indoor hose, so that if we ever have a home invasion, I can turn on the hose and make Salsa look really, really scary. Look how fiercely she defends my car from the water! Beware of dog!)

Welcome to McDonalds Moe's!


I hope the police officer assigned to this car didn't have to be anywhere quickly, because this McDonalds, the one at my beloved Thruway, has the slowest service of any McDonalds in town. Possibly in the world. So whenever the children ask for McDonalds because they've seen some commercial about Happy Meal toys, I head straight to this one. Then, when the children begin to whine that we've been in the line for ten minutes and we still haven't moved and Mommy can we go somewhere else pleeeeease, I pull out and head straight over to the Thruway Moe's, which is not only fast but ridiculously tasty.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

T minus 13 days, er... 21 days? Something like that.*

FACT: There are umpteen things one simply cannot do with small children present. Well, at least not easily.

Read without interruption
Swim laps
Have a dental (or any other medical) exam
Visit Seagrove
TJMaxxercise

And so while I absolutely love having my children home with me, a small part of me looks forward to doing all those things I have put off all summer because they are with me. Thus, at this time of year, I begin to plan What I'm Going to Do the First Day of School.

And I'm thinking this is my plan for Day One.



*The oldest goes back in 13 days with all the other pubbies, but the youngest, set for a year of Readiness, doesn't go back until after Labor Day.

WSFCS Calendar for 2007-2008

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mailbag

Esbee, your plant is gorgeous, but did you know that lantana is highly, highly toxic? Please keep it far away from your children and pets!

Eek, I did NOT know that, but Google did. My kids, my pups, and I thank you.

Hi, Esbee. Longtime reader here. Wonder if you plan to cover the Tolly Carr case at all.

Nope. WXII seems to be doing that quite adequately; I cannot really see what more needs to be said on the matter. The man did a completely reprehensible thing that resulted in the death of another, the man seems to have recognized such and assumed full responsibility from the get-go, and the man is going to be punished for it. The End.

I'm new to Winston-Salem, and wonder if you have a yoga studio recommendation.

I haven't the first clue, but maybe someone else will. I might even give it a whirl myself if someone knows of a yoga class for absolute novices. (Bonus points if someone can name a class my just-turned-five year old and I could take together; he rather enjoys trying to imitate me when I exercise.)

As a peacock

Behold my lantana! Not only have I not killed it, the plant is thriving, a small miracle considering I grew it from seed. Not just any seed, mind, but 10/$1, Dollar Store seed. I'm almost giddy with pride.

Also, Charlotte would like to present her tomato. It's still quite wee, but I'm hoping she'll let me pick it if I can figure out when it's ripe. (It's an heirloom variety that stays green, so I have no idea how one knows when it's done.)

Get out

WSSOC, the Winston-Salem Ski & Outing Club, "a year-round outdoor and activities club" for singles, families, and pretty much everyone, meets this Thursday evening at 7 pm to take registrations for a September beach trip and plan some ski trips. Visitors always welcome.

more info

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day something of the heat wave

This morning found me outside before daybreak, restless for fresh air that wasn't stifling. The leaf was lying right at the edge of the patio, completely out of place among all the green of summer. When I looked up, I could see one, small branch in the tree lined with red leaves, a flash of premature autumn that while incredibly beautiful was also strangely sad, as if that one branch had acted earnestly but misguidedly, with disastrous results.

And the roads are paved not with gold but with

Driving down the section of North Point Boulevard that's currently scraped in preparation for repaving, the car began to tap dance. At least, that's what it sounded like. I rolled down the passenger side window, and my husband and I both listened closely.

"A rock,"my husband declared. "There must be a rock stuck in that tire. We'll get it out when we get home."

And so we drove home, listening to the tap-tap-tap the whole way, the tap-tap-tap in fact caused by this:



That, my friends, is a bolt. A bolt straight into the tire. A bolt complete with a washer for a tight fit. That is what the roads here in town are apparently paved with.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dah-dum-duh-duh-duh-duh-dum (Law & Order theme)

There's a security guy in the ER at Baptist whose voice sounds EXACTLY like Fred Thompson's. The nurse laughed when I said, "Is that Fred Thompson?!?" and said,"No, that's one of the security men." But since I never actually saw the man, I can't be sure she wasn't lying.

This is Fred Thompson, who may or may not have switched career paths. Again, I mean.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Choice

I had to decide to stop treatment for my father. He was eighty-two years old.

Lillie Boyte is three.

Lillie's CaringBridge Page

Take Two

The Grand 18's air conditioning was turned up so high I was actually slightly chilly, which made me almost weep with joy and somehow made Underdog seem not as bad as it really was.

Apparently The Chipmunks are soon to be resurrected in a movie as well; we saw the preview today. Personally, I want someone to put out a good remake of Escape to (and Escape from) Witch Mountain.

Growing up, my brother and I used to live for Sunday nights and The Wonderful World of Disney.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fuzzy Time



The magnolia tree is covered with the furry things now. These will become the children's grenades later on in fall when they spit out those red seeds and fall off the tree.

At one point, each of these furry things was (A) much smaller and (B) the center of a magnolia bloom.

Sorry to geek out, but I think the magnolia cycle is amazing. Plus, they're such great trees for climbing.

M Prognosticator B

MPB agrees, "Oh, yes, I am completely looking forward to the Dixie Classic. I just can't understand how anyone could not love it."

I begin to count off the reasons I do indeed love it. "The kids dancing to the funk music, my annual funnel cake, my fancy chickens - I LOVE my fancy chickens - the demolition derby..."

That's when it hits me.

"MPB, I just remembered!"

"What?"

"Last year, it was so cold the night of the demolition derby that I had to buy the oldest a sweatshirt. A Dixie Classic sweatshirt! And I was so happy to find hot apple cider in Yesterday Village! That's what I'm looking forward to! I'm ready to be cold."

"Lord, yes." I can almost hear MPB nodding on the other end of the line. "It is just too hot. But you know what I've noticed, Lucy?"

"What?"

"In all my years on this earth, I have gathered knowledge and wisdom," MPB begins to intone solemnly. "And I have come to know that if the acorns are heavy, we will have a good winter freeze."

I'm silent for a good three seconds. "And you know this how exactly, MPB?"

"Because in 2003, the acorns were ankle deep on my back porch, and we had ice. And snow. Here. In Winston-Salem."

I point to the giant hole in this theory. "So let me get this straight: you have observed this phenomenon exactly once. Is that correct?"

"I have observed it all my life. All my wisdom-gathering years. I just didn't notice until 2003."

I begin to crack up. "And are you saying that this year is going to be a good acorn year?"

"I am indeed. There is a tree on Robinhood, across from that other Methodist church, you know which one..."

"Mt. Tabor?"

"Yes, Mt. Tabor. And the tree is positively heavy with fat, green acorns."

"So we will have a heavy winter?"

"Yes. This is what I'm saying."

I make a mental note to go check out this wise tree as our conversation moves along to pot-bellied pig names and holiday decor crime risks.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Of milkmen and milk bottles

Twice a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays - the milkman would park his Sealtest truck at the curb, walk to the styrofoam-lined metal box which sat in the shade outside the garage door, and inside it leave two half gallon cartons for us: one red, which was whole, and one purple, which was skim. That last was for my parents; we children were expected to drink a full glass of whole milk at all meals.

I can't remember when I first noticed we had somehow lost the milkman. (I think the box remained even after he disappeared.) But then we started buying milk at the A&P, when previously we never had.

Years later, desperate for any topic other than the glaringly obvious, my mother, wasting of cancer in a rented hospital bed, talked of her childhood, of her own milkman, of the glass bottles of milk with cream at the top in a thick, delicious layer. My grandmother, mother to my mother, would wash the bottles out and store the empties for the milkman to retrieve the next time he came, swapping empty bottles for full. But somehow, at some point, a few milk bottles came to reside in my mother's childhood cupboards, forever unretrieved. These bottles thereafter were exclusively used to make sun tea.

My mother's face beamed through her pain, sharing the memory of that tea and those bottles, and so that December found me frantically bidding on eBay, desperate to get antique milk bottles from central Florida dairies, with names my mother just might remember stamped on in faded color.

When they arrived, a few days before Christmas, the cashier's check I sent received and cashed, I opened the box to find shards of five bottles that had smashed in transit. Only one bottle remained intact, the ugly duckling of the half-dozen bottle lot.

I put this survivor carefully in a festive gift bag, added coordinated tissue paper, attached ribbons, and took this show to the shadow of my mother. I had to take the bottle out for her; by that point, she wasn't even sitting up anymore. She smiled weakly when she saw it and nodded faintly. I have no idea if the dairy name was familiar to her or not. A week later she was gone.

That impractical bottle disappeared just as unobtrusively as my milkman. I don't know when. I didn't even notice until just now.

National Night Out

Neighborhoods throughout Winston-Salem are invited to join with thousands of communities nationwide on Tuesday, Aug. 7, for the 24th Annual National Night Out for crime and drug prevention.

From 6 to 9 p.m., residents in neighborhoods throughout Winston-Salem and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on their outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police.


more info

Whoopsie, looks like someone from the city made an oops. That last sentence should end "and swarms of hungry mosquitoes."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Haze Days

With temperatures in Winston-Salem soaring well into the 90s and the ozone level near 100, we hit the road.

According to our trusty car, the temperature was 94F as we headed onto 52N. By the time we reached the pinnacle parking lot at Pilot Mountain, it was a balmy 86F with a pleasant breeze from time to time. Sadly, the view suffered tremendously for the ozone (though the new viewing station next to the parking lot was a nice surprise), so we walked the Little Pinnacle and Jomeokee/Big Pinnacle trails.

And now a note to dog owners visiting parks: if you feel that Maximus or Mr. Doodle or Princess Pippikins simply must come with you on the trails, please have the courtesy to PICK UP ANY DROPPINGS. ESPECIALLY THOSE DEPOSITED DIRECTLY ON THE TRAILS.

(I'm always surprised when I find le poo lying about town. Winston-Salem has no scoop law that I know of, but generally people here are so courteous that it surprises me when they are so glaringly not. It's not like they don't know the dog at the end of the leash has stopped walking and gone all hunchy. And yet I have watched people act like they didn't notice a thing, like they have absolutely nothing to do with the turdlet left behind.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hey...

Macy's parking lot, Hanes Mall


With Macy's kickin' sales and the taxfree weekend, I was able to get the oldest 5 polo style shirts, 3 of them Izod, for just under $40, which I believe is just about what one of the hideous sofa-size oils in this tent runs.

Dinosaur Days

That's the theme for this year's Best Decorated Apple* at the Dixie Classic. The prize for first place is seven dollars. I plan to spend at least twenty dollars on supplies.

You don't understand. I NEED DIXIE CLASSIC GLORY. I crave it. I dream about it. And yet, in spite of my craft goddess-ness, I have in the past been thwarted. Utterly.

This year, IT SHALL BE MINE! Starting with my Applesaurus Fabulosus.

* And pumpkin. And potato.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Holly Avenue

Calvary Moravian Church


I bet wedding photos taken on this walkway are just lovely.

Art-o-Swap

Art-o-Mat, one of my favorite local creations, anounces that in celebration of a decade of "kerplunking culture", they will host an Art Swap on Saturday, August 18th at SECCA.

more info here

(If one wishes to gift the fine people at Art-O-Mat, I believe the traditional, tenth anniversary gift is tin or aluminum.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Drag in Drag


For Friday night's game, a few lucky members of the Warthogs organization will "drag in drag" for charity. I only hope they choose the right hats, ones befitting fine, Southern ladies. This is a horrific shot* of the one I wore to today's game, but believe me when I tell you it was perfect.


*This shot is plain wonky. My hand isn't the same size as my head. Nor, despite appearances, is my right shoulder worthy of a linebacker.

Five! Gah.

Yesterday I dashed into Party City at Thruway to see if they possibly, by some chance, had a boy birthday cap. They had plenty of Birthday Girl crowns, a multitude of Birthday Princess tiaras, and a plethora of Birthday Diva caps. But one for boys? Not so much.

I bought this one, the least evil, saying merely HAPPY BIRTHDAY across the candles, no gender stated, featuring plenty of the youngest's beloved purple. It makes him look vaguely like the lovechild of a Hanukkah menorah and the Statue of Liberty, but whatever.

So far this morning, he's worn it to an art gallery and Harris Teeter. In both places, he was amazed that complete strangers somehow knew it was his birthday. Later on today, we'll see if the spectators at the Warthogs game are equally psychic.