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Sunday, March 29, 2015

On spring breaks of long ago

The first day of spring break found her laying out one of my better dresses and my Mary Janes, for travel by airplane required attire befitting the special occasion.

At National Airport my normally sensible mother would fall momentarily superstitious, lift my blonde braid up and kiss me once underneath, smoothing the braid down afterward to "keep the kiss safe."

I would shake my head at her silliness and feel giddy as I walked outside to the tarmac to climb the steps up to the plane, but there was always a moment at the top where I had to step across a small divide into the plane, and for that moment, I would feel fear.

More often than not during the flight I would be taken to meet the captain, but far more exciting than the man was the view of the cockpit behind him, knobs and switches and buttons that in combination with my mother's kiss held us safely aloft all the way to Florida, where my grandmother and a week of wonderful waited for me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Laundry list

Sixth and Trade

stuffs to look at this weekend...

Building a Family of Strangers

Sweet faced Eliza looks about 60% Flat Coated Retriever to me (the other 40% is black lab), update: ADOPTED!
Character is a primary and outstanding asset of the Flat-Coat. He is a responsive, loving member of the family, a versatile working dog, multi-talented, sensible, bright and tractable. In competition the Flat-Coat demonstrates stability- and a desire to please with a confident, happy and outgoing attitude characterized by a wagging tail.
source: Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America
Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Spex, and Charles Atlas

What I learned teaching in prison
The “Oresteia” ends with an insecure compromise between forms of justice. Although my Columbia undergrads find this conclusion unsettling, the play’s ambiguity seems just right to my incarcerated students, all of whom have intensely experienced life’s vagaries and horrors. As one woman said, to unanimous approval, “People expect things in life to be clear, but they’re not. That’s the point.”

ATTN: millennials. You did not invent "upcycling"
"This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved the groom's life during World War II."
Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus: evidence of scientists with mad naming skillz

Galaxies Inside His Head: Terrance Hayes, poet

Four Year Graduation rates: Forsyth County, NC: steadily rising since 2007

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sorry, kids

I am fairly certain that the air in heaven is rich with the aroma of freshly baked classic croissants from Atelier on Trade Street.

Currently I have two dozen in my car, for an event later this morning at George's school, and I am barely resisting the urge to eat every last one.

Key word: barely.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

If I Touch It, It Surely Will Die, 2015
Lucy Cash (b. 1971)

No no, really, it will.

I am quite famous in fancy plant circles for my black thumb (begin ominous voice) of doom.

Be jelly!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I lack

I lack selfie skills, due in large part to the fact that I categorically do not take selfies, finding them to be more often than not nothing more than grandiosity, the unattractive photo equivalent of excessive preening in the mirror. Look at my facial expression here! Look at my duck face here! Look at this, the seventh of nine seemingly identical shots!

At this exact moment I can think of only three (3) acceptable exceptions:
  • one shot selfies upon meeting someone for the first time, expectedly or unexpectedly, because there is vibrant joy in the faces
  • accidental selfies, wherein the taker did not realize the camera was in reverse mode
  • selfies wherein there are animals behaving badly in the background
And yet today I find I desperately need selfie skills, or maybe just longer arms and the talent to take one-handed photos, because what I want to show you is this, this stained glass piece my 16 year old made during his third course of study in glass arts, this bit of loveliness with the sun coming through it, around which I want to design an entire window feature.

Thank you, Sawtooth.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Laundry list

stuffs to look at this weekend...
One of the most famous graduates of the school, founded in 1914, is the “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz, who enrolled as a student in 1940 and spent four years as an instructor. Many of the Peanuts characters were based on people he met there. Fittingly, he learned of the school through a “Draw Me” ad his mother found in a newspaper.
A whaaa? 50 Fruits and Veggies You May Not Know

Coolest Playground Concept EVER

Perfect for a Cleveland Browns Fan and also I suspect this may be the softest creature on earth (Forsyth), update: ADOPTED!

THE ultimate 48 state road trip, computed
Assuming no traffic, this road trip will take about 224 hours (9.33 days) of driving in total, so it’s truly an epic undertaking that will take at least 2-3 months to complete. The best part is that this road trip is designed so that you can start anywhere on the route as long as you follow it from then on. You’ll hit every major area in the U.S. on this trip, and as an added bonus, you won’t spend too long driving through the endless corn fields of Nebraska.
Japan, you have a sound for EVERYTHING

2015: The Year of the Amphibian

The improbable, 200 year old story of one of America's first same sex marriages 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Make mine carrot

Holy, but yesterday felt like a Monday.

And not in the Free Cake Square at Deweys way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On nicknames

Thirteen years ago a friend was expecting a baby boy, whom she and her husband had decided to name Tristan.

At a party in the parents' honor, another friend, who was famous for never remembering names properly, raised a glass to the as yet unborn child and toasted to Baby Triscuit.

After all present had recovered from the peals of laughter into which we dissolved, we decided that was a splendid nickname and, with the blessing of our expectant friends, thereafter referred to him as Triscuit in conversation.

Flash forward to the day my friend gave birth.

Me: Hey, _____________ (woman who could not remember the name in the first place)! Did you hear? She gave birth early this morning!

Her: He's here? Oh, I can't wait to see Biscuit!

I am always fascinated with nicknames whose origins are not immediately apparent. One of my father's first cousins bore the nickname Bump, for reasons I have never learned. The great uncle referred to as June was sussed out easily enough when I discovered he was a Junior.

But my favorite oddball nickname has to be Biscuit, which among family and friends has stuck with the lad quite firmly, though his teachers resolutely refuse to call him any such nonsense.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spectator sport

I can see my late mother's spectator pumps jauntily lined up on the floor of her closet alongside her more casual spring shoes: the wedged espadrilles, the red, white, and blue Dr. Sholls with their wooden soles, the tired looking huaraches that sprang to life on my mother's feet. Her winter shoes, dark brown, black, oxblood, stayed on the floor at the far side, just under the window, so that one had to pass the pretties to get to the sensibles. My mother's clothes moved with the seasons, with those not in use kept in the closet on the attic landing, but her shoes stayed in her closet, perfect for trying on when she was in the shower.

I have the most vivid memory of a Sunday morning when I was small, being on my father's side of the closet choosing which neckwear he should wear to church. I heard a rustle behind me and turned to find my mother in stockings and her lace-edged full slip slipping on the pumps. My heart leapt, because of all my mother's shoes, those spectator pumps were my favorites, bar none.

I quickly picked out a tie to lay across my father's side of the bed, then stood there and watched my mother wriggle her dress over her head. When she looked up and caught me, she smiled and said, "Come, baby girl. Zip me up."

I stood on the little footstool and did so, careful not to catch any of the stray wisps that fell out of her fingers as she held her hair up and away. "Don't forget the hook," she said, and I bit my lip and concentrated on fastening that as well.

When I was done, she smoothed the dress, turning sideways in the mirror, and grabbed her pearl earrings off the little dish on her bedside table. She put them in and sprayed perfume on herself, and at some point during that process, she made eye contact with me in the mirror. "Go get dressed, sleepyhead," she said. "Chop chop."

I remember stopping in the doorway for one last look at my mother in her dress and spectator pumps, shimmer on her ears, and knowing for a fact that I had the most beautiful mother in the world and also the most kindhearted, because she loved me even with my father's nose, my knobby knees, and freckles everywhere.

Today at Rugged Wearhouse, I saw the shoes shown above, and while they were not the shape or style of my mother's spectators, they were reminiscent enough in coloration to make me exhale happily and so they came home to sit on my own closet floor.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Laundry list

Stuffs to look at this weekend...
Caesar Sant of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, began playing the violin at age two and as a toddler amazed his music teachers with his advanced abilities. But by the age of five, he had suffered three debilitating strokes due to sickle-cell anemia.

Look at what our obsession with white meat has done to chickens

The absurd item Amazon keeps recommending for me

How to survive the college admissions madness

Your new best friend is waiting - ADOPTED!

The only acceptable snow in March: œufs à la neige

Godspeed, Paul Kalanithi
The funny thing about time in the OR, whether you frenetically race or steadily proceed, is that you have no sense of it passing. If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, this is the opposite: The intense focus makes the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours can feel like a minute. Once the final stitch is placed and the wound is dressed, normal time suddenly restarts. You can almost hear an audible whoosh.
Step one: get a banana

Western NC waterfalls map

Friday, March 13, 2015

On differences, perception

George's masks, Sawtooth
He was doing so well that I was lulled into forgetting.

And then yesterday the OCD that has been peeking out of late but not really rearing its head did so, rendering George simultaneously paralyzed and frenzied.

And I rubbed his back using firm pressure, and I made white noise, shh-shh, and waited.


"Mom, what is all over the mirror?" The oldest points, then turns his hand palm up in the universal gesture of non understanding.

"We have a bird," I say. "It's a male cardinal who every morning perches right there and furiously fights with his own reflection."

The oldest grins. "Why?"

"His reality is that he perceives danger, and he is choosing to not back down, even if it makes him kind of an idiot."

The oldest becomes mock-serious, turns and nods to an invisible cardinal. "I know the feeling, my bird brother."


I'm opting out. I choose not to participate.

I have declined the next step both the neurosurgeon and the neurologist recommend.

There's a certain peace in saying, "No, thank you," even knowing it means there will be no cure, only treatment for the symptoms.

But despite what has proven to be an unremittent, dull pain, there is no denying the joy of the approaching spring, the sound of Salsa's tail thumping, George's laughter ringing through the hallway.

This is my life, and I am blessed for it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the value of play, which I am pleased both of my boys still do (and the oldest's girlfriend as well, which is one more reason I adore her)

Shel Silverstein being the oldest's childhood favorite, I used to read this poem among others aloud in the evenings, especially on days when they got exquisitely dirty. Now only George explores the yard enthusiastically, but both are still incredibly playful, especially when dragged to different settings.

I think I will pull out Where the Sidewalk Ends tonight at bedtime.

Dirty Face

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?

I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got it from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Laundry list

Hanes Mall Boulevard, 7:34 PM

stuffs to look at this weekend...

Nail polish name quiz

Cat Island, Japan

Dear Chandrika: conversations with my missing wife
Again, foolish to think I could heave away the heaviness of heart by tossing out wood, metal and cotton. Your clothes are gone. Given away to those who needed them. That was hard but I knew you would approve. It was months past the date you promised to return and your wardrobe was going out of fashion. Poor joke.
Hey, are there any museums nearby? 

Old is the new new: a better word than umbrella

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
One March day in 1907, a man appeared at the Park Avenue brownstone where 37-year-old Mary Mallon worked as a cook. He demanded a little bit of her blood, urine and feces. “It did not take Mary long to react to this suggestion,” the man later wrote of the encounter. “She seized a carving fork and advanced in my direction.”
The periodic table of sweeteners, natural and synthetic (but not poisonous) 

How did I end up here, with my beautiful, cream fantail? (Forsyth County Shelter) update: adopted!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

View Through the Rainroof or I Love You, Not-snow, 2015
Lucy Cash (b. 1971) 
phonopohoto through tinted glass

Monday, March 02, 2015


intersection of Stratford and Healy, 6:33 PM

Within steps of leaving my office this afternoon, my face was tilted up, seeking the sun. I breathed deeply, drove with the windows down, let my hair tangle, tangle.