Hello Hello

Monday, December 31, 2007

Let it Snow

From the City of Winston-Salem's Department of Emergency Management comes a thrilling opportunity for local weather buffs:

Check it OUT!

The National Weather Service will present a Severe Thunderstorm and Winter Weather Spotter training workshop. The following topics will be covered:

  • Thunderstorm development and severity
  • Recognition of storm/cloud elements
  • Anticipating storm motion, intensity, and severity based on cloud structure
  • Typical winter weather patterns resulting in snow and ice storms
  • Local challenges of forecasting snow, ice and impacts
  • Review past winter weather events in Central North Carolina
(You see that last one? I'm tempted to go just to demand an answer as to why we never seem to get any good snow, yet EVERY pen and ink drawing of Christmas in Old Salem features blankets of white on top of the buildings and horses laboring to draw sleighs through thick drifts of it.)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thursday, January 3, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Piedmont Earth Day Fair Organizing Committee Meeting

The Earth Day Fair Organizing Committee will meet to discuss progress towards planning the 2008 Fair. We are looking for additional volunteers to help with the planning of the Fair. Please join us and contribute your ideas. If you cannot make the meeting but want to help, please email Terri LeGrand at tlegrand@peaNC.org.This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it The meeting will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem, 4055 Robinhood Road.

Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA)

2008 Earth Day Fair

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mulch, step 1

Goodbye, tree.

I would have had it at the curb yesterday, but the rain started pouring. Isn't this tree cute? The youngest referred to it as "huge", which I suppose it was from his perspective, but in truth it was all of maybe four and a half feet tall.

Good tree, good Christmas, goodbye.

City of Winston-Salem Christmas Tree Recycling Program

The diff


The difference between my experiences at Ace Hardware on Robinhood and the Lowe's and Home Depots in town is that at Ace, I can actually find employees if I need help.

In fact, they find me. And then they actually help me.

Amazing concept.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Initial reports promising

Regarding the new Young Chefs Academy:

I have heard nothing but positive reviews, both from those whose children have attended a birthday party at YCA and those whose children have attended a mini-camp there.

Mentally adding this to my mental Rolodex of possible summer activities,
Esbee

Where are you from?

With this on the front of your car, nobody need ever ask you that again. If they do, you can just point to this.

Of course you may receive unwanted attempts at l'amour, but whatever. Small price to pay for being able to declare your Camel City roots right on your vehicle.

Get it!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Transitugly

I think my least favorite housing style ever has to be "Transitional", which as far as I can tell is Builder Speak for "ugly, charmless, hulking exterior with no balance, harmony, or relationship to its specific locality."

Exhibit A:


Of course if you disagree and you have bags of money to back up that disagreement, it can be yours, more power to you.

Ooh! Indeed I do want it!

Help Me at Home

ABC of NC Child Development Center, a "not-for-profit private school and research-based provider of educational services for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)", will be offering a program on Saturdays beginning in February 2008.

"Help Me at Home: Positive Techniques for Parents of Children with Autism"
is funded through a grant from the Women's Fund of Winston-Salem.

The program will provide Saturday classes for single mothers of children with autism and will include respite care and lunch for their children (children with autism and siblings).

For more information, contact Selene Johnson, Executive Director.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

(yawn)

The day after Christmas is probably the laziest day of the year at our house. We wear our pajamas as long as we can, everyone sort of quietly plays with the bounty of the day before, and meals are generally foregone in favor of grazing and noshing.

The oldest and I just spent a few hours putting the stickers on the pieces and then playing Stratego, and now he's stretched out on his belly on the floor of his room reading. The youngest is happily rolling marbles down the track the oldest built this morning, which curves from the far end of the dining room table almost into the den.

I'm online only long enough to check email and remind myself again what the deal is with trash and recycling this week.

Three, Two, One....

For those thinking about exercising more, or even just plain exercising, as a New Year's resolution, it is not too late to sign up for the Running of the Lights at Tanglewood. The races start at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, which means you can kick that resolution into practice immediately.

For those with the plain exercise resolution*, the 1 mile Fun Run may be the way to go. Details and registration info here.

Those resolving to exercise more may wish to tackle the 5K race, which as well as increased cardio activity will garner them each a Long Sleeve Dry-Fit T-shirt. Details and registration for this race here.

Please note, too, that this event benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank, which is in dire need. Participants must bring a donation of (at least) 3 canned goods or non-perishable items.


*Ah, yes, this would be where I come in. I started off 2007 fine, but, as always, I faded. I've been making this same resolution since 1999 now. Go, me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Winding Down

"I'm sorry, what?"

"You want me to throw those on the grill, too?"

My husband, his hands full of grillbound chicken, uses his chin to motion toward the potatoes I'm scrubbing.

"Oh. These. No. I'll roast them in the oven."

"You sure?" He and his chicken are waiting for me.

"I'm sure. I want to roast them. But thank you."

As I scrub the potatoes, I watch him through the kitchen window as he loads the grill with chicken. I love grilled potatoes, but tonight I want oven-roasted, the kind made with Lipton Onion Soup, the kind my mother used to make when I was little and finicky.

Christmas night finds me standing at the kitchen sink, potatoes clean but the water still running needlessly as I think about my mother. How she taught me to scrub potatoes. To iron a man's handkerchief. To make a wish on a star. And then, like a physical blow, how this December 29th marks five years she's been gone.

Five years. I cannot believe it's been that long, because it is still such a source of sorrow for me. And shock - I am still in disbelief that she is gone, if we're being completely honest. Well, hell, I'll just say it: I secretly nurture a small and completely irrational hope that one day she will pop up and say, "Well, that was dull. I'm back."

I realistically know this won't happen. I really, really do. But I still waste my first star wish on it every time.

Today is...

the one year anniversary of my Uncle James' passing. In tribute, LiF reader yarddawg sent along the following.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry almost Christmas Eve

My oldest has just pitched a nearly persuasive argument that 1 pm qualifies as "Eve", i.e. "Christmas Eve", i.e. when family tradition dictates that each child is allowed to open exactly ONE (1) gift.

Although I was not swayed, I was impressed with his feat of spontaneous and passionate oration, the gist of which sounded an awful lot like, "It's five o'clock somewhere."

I've set him watching this and told him to let me know when Santa gets to London.

Sky Scrape

Ostensibly, the focus of Winston-Salem's Tallest Buildings is our sckyscrapers, those associated mostly with the downtown skyline.

But I found the Historic Neighborhoods page, with maps linking to photos of and information about the architecture and construction of individual houses, the most fascinating.

Also cool: the complete list of skyscrapers, (though I'm not sure my beloved Shell station, at 15 feet tall, belongs on that list)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Prickly


I made a porcupine out of Sculpey and toothpicks today.

Behold Percy. He's festive. And oven-baked.

C'mon, ivy

That's all that's lacking to make me swoon so madly I careen across Robinhood and wreck my car: ivy crawling up these walls, breaking up the stark of the white just enough and lending an aura of "established". I'm nearly there already; spotting this door set into the wall was almost more than I could handle. As it is, I had to pull over to clap.

Previously

Previously Previously

Salsapalooza

A friend spotted her on Petfinder and noted how much she looked like our pup Pep. I noted that she was at the Guilford County shelter, one city over, the city where my husband worked at the time, the shelter he passed on the way to and from. Semi-seriously, semi-jokingly, I began to daily send him Salsa's Adopt Me page, always accompanied by a caption.

Dead Dog Walking!

I think for my last meal, I'll order kibble.


I'm innocent, I swear.

B***h set me up!

For months, I did this. Months.

Leaving work on the 23rd of December, 2004, my husband thought to himself, "They won't keep space for her if nobody takes her before Christmas. I'll just go look. No harm in looking."

That afternoon, the kids and I were in the backyard playing when he pulled up. He got out of the car and declared, "I did something stupid." Then I heard a muffled bark from inside the car, and my heart jumped.

When Salsa got out, she was matted and smelly. She was scared and held her tail firmly beneath her legs. Her teeth were so yellow it looked like someone had taken a highlighter to them. Because she had been in a restricted space for five months, she wouldn't move more than about a foot in any direction unless forced.

I loved her instantly.

Happy welcome home anniversary, Salsa.

Best Christmas Present I've Ever Received


Find your own Salsa

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(arm raised) Taxi!

Little known fact: today's Magi prefer to travel by taxi


The youngest is playing with the very few* Playmobil items he has. We've had a lovely, lazy day at home, leaving the stores for the madding crowd. The only way today could have been better is if it had snowed. Buckets.

(This is the most playable Crèche ever. I'm glad I bought it when I saw it last summer at the Maxx.)

*expanding mightily in 2.5 days. Shh.

Freebies!

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office provides free gun locks to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe. The gun locks are distributed at crime prevention events held throughout the county. Gun locks may also be obtained each weekday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on the 2nd floor (main entrance) of the Sheriff’s Office Administration Building located at 120 West Third Street in downtown Winston-Salem.

source

Project Childsafe

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office is recognizable by its very cool,visible-from-outside staircase.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Five Points Guy

So, um, there won't be any buying of the Winston-Salem Journal at Five Points today. Here is the incredibly nice paper seller being hauled off in handcuffs. I have no idea why.

Coming the opposite direction an hour or so later, I saw the little traffic triangle empty but for some possessions he left. There was a U.S. flag taped to a pole, a WFU flag underneath it, and a Christmas ribbon tied on another pole. I felt a sharp sadness realizing he had tried to personalize "his" area.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Noel Noshies

C&K Bagels, Peacehaven off Robinhood

I just ordered a cinnamon bun wreath for Christmas morning breakfast.

Growing up, my brother and I would fly down the stairs Christmas morning. We'd each have a full stocking to marvel over, as well as our own Christmas Chair. The Christmas Chairs were two formal chairs with arms, each of which would hold a well-displayed array of gifts that were clearly his or mine. The Christmas Chairs sound decadent, but they really weren't. They had a few choice items my mother thought might engage us just long enough for her to sleep in a bit.

After the newness of the Christmas Chairs and stockings wore off, we'd go wake my mother and father up. My mother had a strict rule that we ate breakfast first. Only then could we open the wrapped gifts. I can't remember what the breakfasts consisted of - probably nothing more than eggs or oatmeal or some such - but it seemed to take her forever to make them on Christmas mornings, so frantic were we to get to the present bounty under the tree.

Cruisin'

Miller Street, Ardmore

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas, horses

The smell of a horse's neck combined with the smell of fresh hay combined with the smell of a Christmas wreath is almost unbearably wonderful. I did my laboresque breathing again. Thankfully only the horses were around to stare this time.

Delightful

I don't know what genius came up with the Mayberry Delight - bacon, tomato, and cheese on an English muffin - but I have never had a sandwich that so completely satisfied multiple cravings. It's just the right size, too, so you don't feel like an enormous moose for having eaten it.

At Mayberry Restaurants, of course. This one courtesy of the fine folks at the Mayberry's off Miller Street.

Dear Winston-Salem Journal

I didn't get your paper this morning. When I called, a very nice home delivery rep named Andy told me that the press was delayed, that papers citywide were late but would be delivered by 9:30 am, and he hoped that would be OK.

It's OK, these things happen rarely enough, but why on earth isn't there some sort of announcement on your webpage? That's where I headed to get the phone number in the first place, and I bet I'm not the only one.

Just a thought,
Esbee

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas from E. & E. (la deuxième année)

Hark back in your mind to last year. Remember the finest gift you received?

That's right! It's that time again! Esbette and I forsook TJ Maxx this year, journeying instead to the Marshall's at Silas Creek Crossing to bring you

THE
ESBEE 'n' ESBETTE
HOLIDAY SMACKDOWN!



We'll start with my styling of Esbette.

Let's be frank; my color choices for Esbette are phenomenal. Rarely do you see two colors so putrid, so draining of an individual's life essence, as these. The pants feature a yellowed wash OVER the grey denim so that it appears that neighborhood cats have peed all over Esbette's thighs.

The Mork & Mindy Tribute suspenders are oddly set far so far apart that they basically act as express roadways to the armpits, a classic destination. The clamdigger length of the pants shortens Esbette's legs by at least a foot, an attractive effect few other pant lengths deliver.
Coming in for the close-up, we see Esbette's navel peekabooing from behind creepy crochet set off by a Bedazzler. Note too the detailing around the pant pockets. G-UNIT, not just in black, but in white and purple as well. For those not in the know, "G-Unit" is short for both Guerilla Unit and Gangsta Unit. This makes the pants versatile.

Moving along to Esbette's styling of moi...


What a lucky, lucky day for Esbette, as I was wearing my witchy socks and little boots, which only brought her fashion stylings to the next level. Maximizing the benefits,again this year Esbette goes with the gaucho, widening and shortening simultaneously. Good show, Esbette! The fabric isn't too awful, though, and it's a basic black. From a distance the boxy (and thereby crazily fattening) top appears striped, and while the jacket definitely rocks the Mariachi a bit, it doesn't look too awful. Then you come in for the close-up and...

BAM! The stripes on the top are actually ribbons! And lace! And rick-rack! It's a smorgasbord of insanity!

And the jacket is edged, and I mean completely, including cuffs and lapels AND UP EACH ARM,with little hooks. As I moved, I began to catch my ribbons, my lace, my rick-rick. Eventually I became completely tangled, and Esbette had to rescue me from my straight-jacket stylings, snorting laughter most unattractively as she did so.

(And yes, my face is "off", i.e. moonlike. I was on ridiculous steroids for the pneumonia that defied the first round of antibiotics. Thankfully the second round reigned victorious, and I'm recovered now, facially and lung-ily, but YOU ALMOST LOST ME, PEOPLE.)

So there you have it. It's a close one this year, too close for me to call. I leave it up to you.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: After numerous concerned emails and a few phone calls, I have posted a quick cameraphone shot of myself from today, 12/20, in the left column. See? I'm better. Esbette and I did this smackdown like two weeks (and fifteen pounds) ago. Any fat remaining is my own and cannot be blamed on the steroids.


Icy

23 degrees Fahrenheit, according to my car

The kids loved looking at the frost on the windows from inside the car.

Monday, December 17, 2007

...And on the other end of the dental spectrum

These AMAZING gift tags, with coupons on the reverse side, are available at Krispy Kreme, hometown doughnut company gone global.

Style Note: the current "it doughnut" is The Snowman: delicious and adorable.

Open Wide

The youngest's turn with the dentist. Here he brushes the giraffe's surprisingly humanoid teeth.

Not kidding about the teeth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fête Accompli

The oldest's Cub Scout Pack had their holiday banquet this evening. As a gift from the Pack, each scout received his car kit for the Pinewood Derby to be held the first weekend in February. That's nice and all, but the most important thing is that there will again be a Mommy-Daddy Derby on the same evening. And again, I plan to rock it.

More on local Cub and Boy Scouting

Date: Today, Place: FCAC

The shelter will be open today, Saturday, from noon until 10 pm. Imagine having this bouncing around under your tree Christmas morning. Or curling up with this sweet girl on a cold day. You could even become the proud owner of a Germalian Black And Tan puppy!

Forsyth County Animal Control

More on the noble Germalian Black and Tan

Also at the shelter today f
rom 2-8 pm: representatives from Forsyth Humane Society will be distributing spay and neuter vouchers to qualified applicants residing in Forsyth County. The applications may be approved on the spot allowing recipients to have their animal spayed/neutered as soon as possible! These vouchers will enable recipients to have their pet altered for FREE!

Friday, December 14, 2007

No, I didn't do it.

Thank you to those thirty-seven who sent concerned emails plus the nine who sent urgent text messages.

In fact, I did not break the blog. Indeed it is broken, but I am not responsible for it, as surprising as that may be. (I'm surprised, too, but since I have been gone all day, I know it was not my doing.)

I have contacted Blogger support and am hopeful that their much more powerful brains will prevail.

In the meantime, enjoy another local blog, one with crazy better pictures.

edit: Make that thirty-eight. Another one came in while I was writing this.

Looking out the car window

We're on the way home from The Grand when the oldest spots it.

"Mom, is that a school?"

"Nope. It's basically a jail for kids."

"KIDS?"

He's aghast.

"Yes."

And I don't want to alarm him unduly, so I change the subject, knowing at some point he'll ask more, knowing I can't keep him sheltered forever.

The Youth Center

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breakfast, Dinner, Supper

College Park Baptist Church (pretty brick church facing out on Polo, just off Reynolda) is having a Barbeque Dinner this Saturday, the 15th, from 11 am to 3 pm.

Barbeque will be cooked on-site and served with all the fixings, including drink and dessert.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children under age 12 and may be purchased at the church.

Proceeds benefit Youth Mission trips.

Sizzlin'

I'm at the oldest's school, crafting nutcrackers. So far I've only burnt myself four times with the hot glue gun. The only thing that will surprise those who know me even slightly is that I managed not to burn anyone else. Or the school down.

Mad props to anyone who can pick out the oldest's nutcracker in the photo above.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sweet

I had to hit "OK" on like twenty pop-up notifications that shot out like a gangsta's automatic gunfire, but after about a minute, I got to the Promised Land of All Things Local Crime. Most Wanted photos! Incident reports! Warrant lists! A nifty text message-esque name for the whole thing!

Winston-Salem Police Department P2C (Police to Citizen) Site

Busily seeing if anyone I know has a warrant out,
Esbee

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The official word

Although they turn 21 this year, it'll be illegal for them to get lit.

Teeter-Totter Tittle-Tattle

Hot off the playground, another local retail rumor: Allegedly the space vacated by The Fresh Market in Thruway will soon be tenanted by a Trader Joe's.

If true, potential good news for local jobseekers named Joe.

Food and Spices of India

You have to love a local store with such a no-nonsense name.

You especially have to love a local store when it's chock full of spice goodness and is staffed by a gentleman who doesn't blink when you tell him you are making sort of a Tandoori Cornish gamehen, who in fact smiles and tells you to make sure you get his plate there before seven PM when he closes so he can try it, too, then points out he sells premade, frozen Tandoori chicken in the very improbable event your dish doesn't quite turn out the way you're hoping.

Food and Spices of India

Home quick or bust

I have to go to Greensboro this morning, to Friendly Center. I'm on a mission, for one item only, which is being held for me. Then I have to scoot back here quickly. I will not stop to look at other items in the store. I will not "peek" at The Shops. I will resist the lure of the very-close-to-where-I-am-going Talbot's Kids' sale rack!

(Besides, I am hopeful that when/if Talbots* opens another store in Thruway**, it will include some TK stuff.)

*more local rumor. This city is rife with rumor.
** if true, Talbots + coming Hanes Mall Outlet = full swoon

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Spirit

Rundell between 10th and 11th

On the same street, more than one small, forlorn house sits empty, more than one window is boarded up. I saw no other lights, not even porch. It's not a vibrant neighborhood by any means. But there, a lone house beams from the dark, calling like a beacon all the way to University, all the way to Northwest Boulevard. Fantastical creations seem suspended in midair, a symphony of color and light that scream of riotous celebration, of joy, of holiday spirit, all the more beautiful for the starkness from which they spring.

Say Ah.

At the office of
Drs. Merhoff and Cummings
Pediatric Dentists Extraordinaires

Pictured above is the oldest and his new favoritest hygienist ever, Erin.

(We'll see if he still loves her after next week's visit, when he gets to have Happy Gel followed by a shot of Happy Juice, then a visit from Mr. Happy Diggertool, then some Happy Paste on one tooth's Sad Spot.)

Pea Soup

It's foggy this morning. I wish the fog smelled of ocean, as it did in Maine. The fog there sounded, too. I know the buoy bells tolled constantly, but in the fog was when you heard them. All other sounds were muted if not inaudible. Boats, especially, seemed to move silently, even if you were aboard.

I miss Maine.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tada! And a horrifying rumor.

Christmatization complete!

I heard a horrifying rumor that due to the continued ban on open burning in NC, it is illegal to light luminaries this year. Since the sale of such is by far the primary fundraiser for the local Ronald McDonald house, as well as a long-standing Winston tradition, I hope this is completely false.

Anyone?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

T minus 17...

...and it's all beginning to pull together neatly. I've actually found myself somewhat at loose ends, the bulk of my holiday prep completed.

So today I will go through the pantry. My goal is to get at least one bag of non-perishables together for our local food bank, which is in dire need.

If you have five spare minutes during the next seventeen days, please consider doing the same.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dream Big

Here the youngest dreams of one day achieving his own glory on the stage while checking out the decor for the oldest's school play, which began just a few minutes later in this, the cafegymnatorium.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Swoon continued

More work is being done on the house on Robinhood at Buena Vista. Now they've added GORGEOUS, tilt-out plantation shutters on the upper windows plus a brick wall around the perimeter (no doubt for noise reduction), to which they are now adding fieldstone. I hope the fieldstone covers up all the brick when it's done; it's so pretty. I also hope they add a big giftag that says, "FOR: ESBEE. MERRY XMAS."

Wow.

I couldn't get them all in one picture, and I need to go back and count them later (possibly at night, to catch the full effect), but I think there are no less than EIGHT, full-size, seasonal blowup decorations in this front yard on Yorkshire.

Can anyone top that?

Hrm

It is very hard to wrap my head around the fact that even though it was no more than 28 degrees here in beautiful Winston-Salem as I drove the oldest to school this morning, this coming Monday's high is expected to be in the low 70s.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hohoho

For rent from the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department: Santa Suits

SNOW!

Eensy teensy snowflakes are falling!

Behold one on Salsa's patootie!

More! More!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Merry Christmas, Barbers

Northwest Barber Shop
Reynolda Rd.

Youngest: (motioning to mounted deer's head and mounted fish on walls) Did you kill the deer? Did you kill the fish?

Mr. Stacy, i.e. barber on left: (motioning to the top of the soda machine) Don't forget the ducks now.

Harumph

My newspaper was messed up this morning. I'm sitting here, mocha in hand, and I have no physical paper to read. I'm trying to read it online, but it's Just Not The Same.

Poop.

Update: 8:30: New, completely functional newspaper delivered to my door ten minutes after I called. That's pretty amazing customer service.

Happy dance.

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Karen & Nancy sighting!

Remember the tremendously tasty caramels I raved about?

Forsyth Country Day is having their Second Annual Holiday Market this Wednesday and Thursday, December 5th and 6th, and THE CARAMELS WILL BE THERE.

Also to be there: Beijo Bags, Our Hands to Yours, Accentz Jewelry, Hip Chicks, Nan Harper Designs, Funky Monkey Paper Designs, WIRED, and Southern Living at Home and however many more vendors it takes to make "more than thirty".

Hours are 8:30 to 1 and 2-6 both days.

THAT IS SEVENTEEN HOURS OF CARAMEL GOODNESS.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sniffle

from the website of Barkley Manor Mobile Pet Spa:

Veterinarians and Rescue Workers


Please email or call for hardship or rescue cases. Services will be discounted or provided at no charge.

I'm beginning to get all holiday-weepy. That made my eyes go teary.

Look what's coming to Winston

Specifically, to Whitaker Square (the shopping center with the Harris Teeter on Peacehaven off Robinhood)...

Young Chefs Academy

A Cooking School for Kids
Ages 3-18

Classes beginning January 7th

(There are fliers with more info to the right of the door.)

Outside the Golden Apple on Robinhood

"Portal", by Will Garin, 1995

Sculpture Garden in celebration of Michael Andrew Lane, 1984-2005

Also in Memory of Andrew Lane: a good stretch of Robinhood Road

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Shop Local this holiday season

When I travel, I adore visiting boutiques for the simple reason that they are one-of-a-kind. You won't see a replica in every shopping mall in America. They feel like treasure hunts, more intimate somehow. Local stores feel the same way to me, like I have found some gem that my friends in Washington don't have.

To the left you will see a list of local stores. These are the shops that keep this city from turning into Big Box after Big Box after Large Chain after Large Chain, that differentiate our fine county from all others in the country.

There are some stores missing, you will note. A good number do not have websites that I could find. (Note to local website designers: Wow, what a huge market.) Many do have websites but simply didn't occur to me.

Tell me which ones fall into the latter category. And please visit some of these local gems during this month of shopping.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

You'll want to hurry; there might be a rush

You'll have to move quickly to get to the local Bed Bath & Beyond, which is at Thruway. That's where you will find a certain product with a startling name which BB&B is advertising as a good gift.

Sincerely, I am not sure I have ever seen something that says "Merry Christmas, Honey!" (or Happy Hannukah, or whatever your pleasure) less than this.

Oh, yes! One more thing! Today is December 1st! Accordingly, you may begin holiday obsessing with my blessing.

Love it / Hate it

Personally, I love this house on Keprechian for the sheer whimsy. This is the house just off Reynolda, and visible from it, with an exterior of stucco embedded with shells, a sandcastle in the city, a folly from the seaside. The wall on Reynolda needs a good wash, but otherwise, I swear it glitters in the sunlight.

I'm amused by the listing's description of this house as combination Cape Cod and French Provincial. I guess the shells are from Cape Cod, because this is what a Cape Cod style entails architecturally.

If I'm driving past the Keprechian house and I have someone in the car with me, I always point it out. Inevitably people either love it or hate it.

Myself, I love it.