Life on the Ridge
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Rick and I spent way too much money at our local Franklin Covey store. Do the teachers in private schools think the parents are made of money?

We were instructed to purchase a weekly planner and certain pages. Rick could choose his own binder, but the pages were pretty set. Of course I have to replace my pages every October and decided to save myself another trip.

Rick has been instructed that this binder will last him for 4 years. The pages will be replaced annually, but the binder will last.

Please, please, please do not embarass yourselves against FSU.

and DUKE
Can you Devils at least score against ECU?


the king and his court

Aeons ago Dad booked the King and His Court for various events across the country. The stands were always full of people who couldn't wait to see if Eddie Feigner was truly as good as they had heard. How fast could he pitch a softball? How could a team of 4 beat a team of 9?

I used to love watching Mr. Feigner pitch. He'd pitch from centerfield. He'd pitch blindfolded. The man was simply a great softball pitcher who could also entertain.

Dad told me that Mr. Feigner was still out there touring and pitching. Imagine my shock. He's been out there doing this for well over 50 years now.

Way to go, Eddie!


is Rick ready for some football?

At 10am EDT Rick will officially start football practice. The weather promises to be hot and humid with partially cloudy skies. The boys that show up will be either still half-asleep or totally wired. Rick will simply be anxious.

Rick hasn't a clue as to what position he will be asked to play. He's hoping for defensive back or running back. I'm thinking safety.

Michael and Kari are going to truly despise attending these practices. Not simply because of the heat. Kari will read her books too quickly and complain about nothing to do. Michael will want to run with the big boys. He won't understand that Rick cannot cater to his every whim and play trains with him during practice. Games should be fun for the same reason.

I will want to run the practice myself. After years of running college football/basketball/baseball practices, I have a tendancy to believe that I can run anything. I promised Robert that I would bite my tongue and not offer any advice to Coach Rossman.

I will not tell him about the book on coaching basketball that's for Rick's P.E. teacher. The author, a coach in NC, autographed it for her.

Rick practiced football with his new teammates for almost 2 hours in brutally hot sun. They took many short water breaks. Coach Rossman is going to be great at teaching all of them basic skills. I was very impressed. He also wants everyone to try the various positions instead of focusing on one. Games start in a few weeks!



Robert and I are battling to remain the supreme rulers of our household. Kari no longer challenges our right to rule. We occasionally need to flex our might to squash any rebellion that resides in Rick. Michael -- on the other hand -- has yet to concede defeat.

Almost 3 year olds believe that the world is THEIR oyster and that every other person is here to cater to them. Since Michael is the youngest by almost 7 years, he has been spoiled rotten. If we tell him no, he finagles whatever he wants from his older siblings. If things don't go the way he wishes them to go, he throws himself on the ground and screeches for all he's worth.

I ignore his screaming. I step over him when he's throwing a tantrum on the floor. I walk him to the time-out bench and make him sit there for 3 minutes or until he calms down. These tactics tend to piss him off further.

Yesterday as I walked him to the dreaded bench, he yelled, "Mommy, you're giving me contusions." What?! Where did he learn that word? Then I remembered. Rick and I had a long conversation on the definition of contusion. Michael was sitting in my lap when we were discussing this.

Michael is starting to tone down the screeching and the tantrums. He's discovered a new way to torture us -- the potty chair. He refuses to be potty trained, insisting that he is a baby. This after a weekend of having only one accident! He delights in perfuming the air with nasty scents and announcing to people that he has "pooped a big one" or "pee came out my penis." We ignore his verbal shenanigans, since that tactic makes him quiet down faster.

Unfortunately he has noticed that when he talks to people about his bodily functions, we turn bright red.


my friday five

1. What's your favorite piece of clothing that you currently own?
We have a tie: my t-shirt that proclaims Davidson's win over UNC in basketball and my grandfather's old wool plaid hunting jacket (comfy and it horrifies my mother).

2. What piece of clothing do you most want to acquire?
a comfortable bra

3. What piece of clothing can you not bring yourself to get rid of? Why?
my much tattered, once blue, Lanz nightgown; I won't get rid of it until it totally shreds in the wash

4. What piece of clothing do you look your best in?
Is it possible to look good in clothing when you're overweight? Probably my black khakis and my red zipped polo though.

5. What has been your biggest fashion accident?
Knickers with argyle socks and a big bulky sweater. Ooh -- or my much shredded, held together with safety pins, faded jeans.


more on the dog issue

Kismet should really be allowed to have a dog. The fact that she lives in an apartment and lacks a yard of her own shouldn't be the reason for the "no dog" restriction. I think dogs are great reasons to keep a house nice and tidy. Who wants to leave belongings on the floor and scattered around when a dog is underfoot? Man's best friend would have a field day chewing on, sleeping on, pooping on all these things. Yes, sharing an apartment with a dog can be quite hairy, but so can sharing a large house.

Case in point, my inlaws have a malamute. Tasha jumps on counters, shreds the Penney's catalogue if it's left out, chews on any shoe not in the closet or on someone's feet. Yes, Tasha has been to obedience classes. Yes, someone is usually around. She is simply a sneaky mutt. My mother-in-law keeps a tidy house to discourage Tasha from creating huge messes. Guess what! It works.

Dogs require a structured atmosphere. Just imagine! Kismet will be more organized.

Dogs will eat most anything. Never again will she have any reason to write about her lack of cooking ability (is that really true?). Her new friend will gobble it up.

Kismet will be able to practice her French without being critiqued on every nuance of her pronunciation. Her confidence will build and perhaps she won't have to rely at all on inadequate hand gestures.

But the best reason to have a dog is companionship and love.

David, ecoutez a moi! (sorry, but I don't know how to put accents on words) Let Kismet have a dog. Please!


educating Rick

I'm dreading when Rick switches schools next year. Change is so difficult for him.

This year's big change is the addition of Spanish to his curriculum. This has been attempted 5 other times. He has yet to learn a word other than adios. Yesterday he had a meltdown in class. His teacher asked if we could drop him from the Spanish class. I agreed.

If they had listened to me, he would never have been put in the class. Children like Rick have a difficult time learning foreign languages. To add to Rick's problem, he doesn't have an ear for other languages. I've spoken with various educators about this. They all have said that their students with Aspergers Syndrome do not take foreign languages. Instead they fulfill their language requirement by taking classes in the literature and history of one particular country.

But I'm a determined person. Rick will learn to read and write in a foreign language. He selected German. Thank goodness he chose a language that my family can help him learn. My mother and her two brothers lived in Munchen during the 1950s. Over holidays when everyone was together, I heard German spoken. My grandfather spoke German to me whenever he could (his grandmother was from Germany). Mom still occasionally yells at me or mutters under her breath in German. She doesn't realize that she's doing it.

Now to find childrens books that are written in German. I've found many in Spanish -- not unusual here in S. Florida. My French novels and childrens books are on a shelf - but they aren't any help.


the difference between cats and dogs

Sue is a dog person wanting to know why so many people proclaim they are cat people. I wish I could point to something definitive and say "That's the fundamental difference." I can't, but perhaps I can come up with some possibilities.

People just don't have the time to invest in taking care of a dog. Commutes are too long to be able to run home during lunch break and walk the dog. Dogs should be obedience trained. They require one-on-one time and lots of exercise. Again -- who has time with working 40 hours, commuting between home and work, doing the other daily chores? With cats, you just provide food, water and a clean litterbox.

See Time.

If you move a lot, cats are much easier to deal with -- at least in my experience. Cats tend to be indoor pets, so though the house may change, the furniture doesn't. What's the big deal? Dogs tend to be very vocal over moves. They have to get used to different noises, new people and their dogs walking by and don't forget about the new mailman!

I adore my two cats. Binky and Frog provide us with hours of entertainment. Binky is very standoffish to most people. She adores me and Michael. She loves to tattle on Frog whenever he misbehaves. Frog loves everyone. He's met all the people in the neighborhood. He is a hyper teenager of a cat.

I would love to have a dog: a long basset hound with droopy eyes and ears to trip over, an English lab to romp over the Ridge with, an Australian cattle dog to herd up my three kids. But Robert doesn't want a dog. They're too inconvenient.

And, Sue, I finally did get to play with a Newf. An absolutely gorgeous dog that played with the kids in the Maine surf, then collapsed next to me on the rocks. He laid his big head in my lap and I fell in love.


so what do you think?

There are many medications out there to treat bipolar disorder: singly or in combination. Some -- such as Prozac -- can actually trigger a deeper depression in an already depressed person or trigger an episode of mania. Not me -- turned me into an unfeeling person. I was able to function in the world but no longer felt part of it. I was unable to laugh or cry.

Some medications can cause liver or kidney damage. Ummm. Hello! My brain is already chemically imbalanced, why in the world would I want to mess up another major organ? I don't use salt. If I choose to take lithium then salt must be added to my diet. Our kidneys do not distinguish between salts that are necessary for our well-being or bad salts such as lithium. Toxicity is a major problem. Depakote can't be taken if liver levels aren't normal.

Celexa worked for a long time, but then just stopped. Uh oh! My psych had to come "rescue" me from the side of the road. A panic attack rooted me in place and I couldn't stop sobbing. My then 10 yr old son called the wonderful doctor who drove over immediately. Thank goodness for cellphones. On to the next meds ...

Wellbutrin caused allergic reactions. Huge hives took over my body. I was quite the attractive person, felt like a leper for about a week.

Other meds have been tried, but I wasn't willing or able to cope with the side-effects. One gave me seizures. Wouldn't that be nice to be chauffeuring the children around and have a seizure? Actually that did happen to me. Seems me, that med, driving at night past several cops with lights flashing just don't mix. Another med caused me to sleep 18 hours a day. Another made me stay awake.

Then we hit on meds that are used to treat epilepsy. Hurray! I have felt so much better in the past few months. To go from possibly being a threat to myself to wondering what in the world was so horrid back then -- it's amazing. I'm not cured, will never be cured. I'll still have episodes of depression and mania. But for now, I'm on an even keel. After years of living on the edge with my mental well-being, I feel that I can take part in the world.

Of course now, my family has to put up with me asking, "How big a difference do you see?"; "Have you noticed that I'm so much more pleasant/happy/even-tempered?" When my psych asks her usual, "Do you feel hopeless/helpless/like you rule the world/normal?", I look at her and respond with a question of my own.

"So what do you think?"


airport security

The level of airport security is extremely uneven. Why should miniature GI Joe toy guns be confiscated? How did the lady with the magnum manage to get thru security without drawing any notice to herself? The zipper on my pants set off the darn machine. The camera in my carry-on was pretty much put under the microscope. Perhaps I just looked like a scary individual to the security screeners.

A pilot flying out of MIA attempted to take pepper spray on board his flight. The security personnel confiscated the can of spray and tossed it into the trash. Of course the stuff was released into the air which resulted in the shutdown of that concourse. Connections were totally messed up for that day.

The Denver airport was shut down because a passenger didn't get thoroughly screened. Flights there were backed up for 2 hours after all the concourses were emptied. I want to know if they ever found the passenger and if the security people were reprimanded.

Then there's the discovery that more than 20 security people were discovered to have provided false information to their employers. They were not US citizens. They weren't even in the US legally.

Doesn't all this make you more secure?

The media jumps on these stories and inflates them by breaking into other programming. The reporters use that "OMG" hushed tone. Drives me nuts. Their ratings increase due more to presentation than newsworthiness.

Yes, 9/11 affected many of us in some way or another. Yes, we will be living with repercussions for a long time. Yes, the way we view ourselves and each other has shifted somewhat. The media needs to take a step back and stop irresponsibly creating hysteria where there is no need.


the walk

Our house backs up to the Ridge. Yes, the Ridge is in capital letters. Keep in mind that South Florida is extremely flat. The Ridge is the highest hill that I know around here. Major Lauderdale fought Seminoles in this area. A statue of the Major commemorating his defeat of the Seminoles stands at the entrance to our development. So not only do we have elevation, we are in an historical area.

Absent-minded Kari left her bus pass sitting on the kitchen table. Robert and I decided to walk to the school instead of driving. (Note to self: never do this with a toddler again!) I'm still not sure why walking seemed to be such a great idea. The temperature at 9am was already close to 90 and the humidity was unspeakable.

We strapped Michael into his stroller, grabbed our water bottles and headed out on our adventure. We followed the sidewalk to an entrance further down from our house and unstrapped Michael. He had no choice but to walk. This section of the Ridge has horse trails -- no paved sidewalks, just paths thru the sand. Michael whined, bitched and moaned as only an almost-three-year-old can. Robert stomped off in major irritated mode. I was left to pull the stroller and hold Michael's hand.

After 20 minutes of hell, we reached the shade of massive trees where a paved path begins. If you've never seen a live oak, you have no idea what you are missing. They aren't the oak trees like up North. Their width is greater than their height. They have small oval leaves and branches that curve without reason. Some form archways over the paths, so you feel like you're walking underneath an arbor. Resurrection ferns grow along the branches. Spanish moss drapes down from a few of the trees. They are very open trees. Perfect for treehouses. When you see a group of them you can only feel awe.

Robert with his horrible mood and Michael in a nasty snit couldn't find any enjoyment in their surroundings. Even the butterflies didn't make Michael smile. The obnoxious green parrots didn't put him into his usual fit of giggles. They just ruined my enjoyment.

On the return trip Robert was determined to find a different way back. We turned and followed a path to the right. Wouldn't you know it, the path just stopped in the middle of a meadow. Butterflies were everywhere - zebras, monarchs, blues, yellows, whites -- dipping, turning on the breeze, sipping nectar from wildflowers. Once again my "men" ignored their surroundings. Robert pushed Michael's stroller as fast as he could across the Ridge. They did stop and wait while I took my sweet time.

I longed to follow the Ridge home, but they were quite insistent that I walk down the bitterly hot sidewalk that lacked shade of any sort. Brats! At least a few people had their sprinkles on. I skipped thru the water and managed to convince myself that I was more wet from the water than from the sweat cascading down my back. At least my silliness in the sprinkles made Michael giggle. At last!

I think we'll wait until the daytime temps are down into the upper 70s before attempting that walk again.


green-eyed monster

My parents flew to NE yesterday. I thought they were driving thru NH's mountains after they arrived. Nope! They took in a Red Sox game. They didn't want to make me too jealous. Hmmph! They even managed to get tickets near our old seats in section 32. Don't know why we sat there so much, but we did. My dad got tickets thru Leo Cloutier most of the time. Sometimes Dyar Miller, a friend of ours would leave us tickets when his team would come into town to play. Is there any stadium better than Fenway? (Sorry, Yankee Stadium has really horrid acoustics.)

I wanna go to a game in Fenway!!!

Side note: When reading Bambino's Curse yesterday, I noticed a line about how the Red Sox fans are always saying "Wait until next year." That is so true. Perhaps that's why I say it reference to the Dolphins now. Most Fins fans say "If only...", not me!


gotta get past this

Perhaps I'm totally offbase (don't think so) but must get this off my chest after watching the Dolphins-Texans game for a second time.

Yesterday's Sun-Sentinel had several pages of articles covering the game. Not once did they mention Robert Edwards or anyone on the defensive side of the ball. Everything was about Ricky Williams and Jay Fiedler. I was shocked.

Ricky Williams had a good solid game. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry and scored one amazing touchdown that will probably make the end of the year highlights clips. But here's the thing -- Robert Edwards ran for 3.9 yards per carry. No mention was made of him. NONE! All right I am biased and will freely admit it, but come on. What's the better story: Ricky Williams and the usual praise heaped on him -OR- Robert Edwards and his comeback from a horrendous injury that almost resulted in his death?

Jay Fiedler had a weak game despite what the commentators said. He still doesn't have a strong arm. Yes, he can throw short passes. He can run the ball if he has to. The man has no sense though. A quarterback should NOT throw the ball when a guy has 3 defenders on him. If the receiver had been anyone other than Oronde Gadsden, the ball would have been intercepted or deflected. A QB with a weak arm shouldn't attempt to throw the long ball either. Okay, the man had hip surgery last month, but he hasn't dramatically improved as the sports writers say or the coaches claim. The Dolphins have an offensive coordinator now who is using the various players' talents to the offense's advantage. Put the credit where it truly belongs. Fiedler isn't the one making a difference. Norv Turner is.


school daze

School is now back in session. Horrors! What am I supposed to do without all three kids being underfoot? Who is going to help keep Michael entertained for hours on end?

Kari claimed to have forgotten where her classroom was. After my simple directions she was fine. She's excited that her best friend will be in her class. Thankfully they are sitting back to back which will make conversations difficult. When I pointed this out to Kari, she looked at me and replied, "Haven't you ever heard of notes?"

Rick is now in the eighth grade. After instructing me that I wasn't allowed to cry today, he pointed out that "Well, Mom, this means I'm one year closer to going to college and moving away from home." How could he do that to me?! I did manage to not cry until getting back in the car.

Robert made fun of me and my tears. "It's not as if you haven't gone thru this at least eight times."

Michael has been very subdued all morning. Poor baby. He just can't understand why he can't go with his big brother and sister to school. We've told him that potty training is a must before going to school. He gives us the "I don't think so" look. You know the one -- one eyebrow raised, head tilted slightly down, eyes open wide.


flag football

Rick is playing flag football this year. We're all excited.

He refused to have anything to do with sports for years, then last year he broke his wrist and Ed Perry of the Dolphins signed his cast. For some reason, this made Rick interested in football. When the p.e. teachers at his school organized football games during afternoon recess, Rick joined in. He loved it. When someone broke a collarbone, the games came to a screeching halt. The p.e. teachers decided basketball would be a good replacement sport. Rick made the school team and enjoyed himself, but football was what he wanted to play. We sent him to football camp. He loved football even more!!!

Rick cannot wait to tell Mr. Perry about football camp and how he's playing in a league this year. He wants to talk to him about the various positions and which one would be best for him to try. I'm so glad that Mr. Perry takes time to talk to Rick and encourages him. Wish there were more people out there like him.


the fins

The "mighty Dolphins" managed to defeat the Houston Texans, an expansion team. The commentators said that finally their new offense is starting to come together and will be a force to be reckoned with this season. ??? Umm, hate to burst anyone's bubble, but the Texans are an EXPANSION team. They may have experienced players, but these players haven't had time to adjust to their new teammates. The unspoken communication that established teams have just isn't there -- yet.

I'm still so not impressed with Fiedler but will not bother repeating myself on this subject.

Robert Edwards looked awesome last night. Hope Wannstadt noticed. After years of having no running game, the Dolphins' cup runneth over. Ricky Williams and Robert Edwards -- what talent. Williams keeping his feet and scoring despite getting him in midleap -- how did he do that? Ewards refusing to go down even though 4 defenders were wrapped around him.

I just love football.



Michael has discovered that he can press a button on the fridge and water shoots out. He spends half of his days now filling up little dixie cups with water and washing his trains. He must have the world's cleanest trains.

Water on tile is an accident waiting to happen. Since Michael's discovery, we have all skidded across the floors, arms flailing, hearts racing. The sudden loss of control isn't a sensation that I enjoy repeating multiple times during a day. I now shuffle around the house with towels under my feet.



On 23 August 1992 all of South Florida was standing in line at Home Depots and grocery stores buying last minute hurricane supplies. Shutters were going up. Those who didn't have shutters were nailing up plywood or putting tape across their windows. Despite all the hurricane warnings being posted and the preparations, many people expressed doubt that Hurricane Andrew would actually hit Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

We were wrong.

Andrew roared thru South Dade. Destroyed homes and devastated lives were left in his wake. Houses collapsed around their occupants. Trees crushed whatever was around them when they fell. The winds tossed planes around as if they were pieces of paper. Loose items left outside became projectiles.

We were stunned.

No one quite knew where to start or what we should do. How were we supposed to clean up? What were we to do with the trash our homes had become? Not only did we have to clean up, we had to live without electricity or phones. We had to assume the water was contaminated and had to be boiled.

We came together as a community.

Neighbors introduced themselves to each other. Those who had gave to those who did not. People worked together to clear the roads of debris so help could come in. Life was about survival. Teamwork was required. FEMA arrived. The National Guard patrolled the streets. The Red Cross and other relief agencies distributed water and basics such as diapers, formula, bread, fruit ... to whomever they could reach. The utility companies were restoring services as quickly as they could wherever it was safe to do so.

We discovered we are stronger than we thought.

Problems abounded in the aftermath of Andrew. Contractors took advantage of our need to rebuild our lives. Insurance companies have raised our rates again and again and again. Many insurance companies no longer write homeowner policies here, so homeowners have to rely on the JUA for insurance. (Our annual insurance bill tops $2,500. Once flood insurance is added, the total comes to just under $3,000.) Price gouging was common practice until the governor stepped in and the gougers started being punished.

We are still recovering.

Hurricane Andrew was our wake up call. We are better prepared now for future storms. But how many times can we fully prepare our homes for an approaching storm that never hits?

We are in danger of becoming complacent.

Here are a few pictures we took and a link to a survivor's story.


life without my van

Puttering around the house is what I do best. I'm not much for socializing, don't really go anywhere other than the grocers, home improvement stores or medical appointments.

But now I have no van. I'm a prisoner in my own home. The grocers is several miles away off a busy road. Home Depot is 20 minutes from here. The Marino Center is also 20 minutes from our house. Twenty minutes by car. Walking in the summer heat of South Florida is not something anyone would recommend.

Unfortunately Kari has orientation for school today. I have the nasty task of waking up 3 children, getting them breakfast and forcing them to get dressed. When I inform them that we now must walk to Kari's school, the entire world will hear their protests. Michael will think it's great until he walks the three miles. Pushing a stroller across sand and up horse trails is not easy. With my injured shoulder, doing so is impossible.

Please wish me patience and pray that the skies don't open up on me.


the friday five

1. What is your current occupation? Is this what you chose to be doing at this point in your life? Why or why not?
I'm lucky enough to be a wife and stay-at-home-mom who occasionally rescues her father from totally messing up his excel spreadsheets.

2. If time/talent/money were no object, what would your dream occupation be?
As long as the kids are in school -- exactly what I'm doing. If the kids had started their lives away from us -- a gardener or a newspaper columnist.

3. What did/do your parents do for a living? Has this had any influence on your career choices?
Dad has been a newspaperman for the majority of his working life. He did a brief stint as a sports agent and another stint as a PR person for a furniture manufacturer. Mom was a SAHM until I was in high school. She went to work in the renal unit at a hospital. Later she went to college and upon graduation went into ad sales for the family newspapers. I'm not sure what influence they have had on my career choices. I've been a dispatcher/mechanic, receptionist for a vet, bank teller; coordinated a program for incoming freshmen at a college; been in a management training program at a bank; worked as a salesman and store manager. Now I'm a SAHM.

4. Have you ever had to choose between having a career and having a family?
No. If I wanted to work outside the home, I could. However, I believe that the best thing for MY children is to have a SAHM.

5. In your opinion, what is the easiest job in the world? What is the hardest? Why?
Easiest job -- the person who stands at road construction sites holding the stop/go sign. Does this need explanation?
Hardest job -- working on a bomb squad or being a soldier at war. Honestly, what can be harder than knowing your life is on the line whenever you go to work?


the dig

Mom has always complained about my closet. Forever and a day. Whenever anyone dares to crack the door, they have to run. Avalanche!!! Even I am afraid to enter. Considering my closet is a 7' X 10' room, the mess is unbelievable. I have somehow gone beyond packrat.

Clothes, linens, shoes, dolls, photoboxes, memorabilia, genealogy documentation, presents for this Christmas, several hundred books on 2 bookcases and my cedar chest are in that closet. There would be several thousand books if we hadn't gone thru them before moving into this house. The library even sent me a thank you note for the books we gave them. Goodwill handed me a receipt noting our donation.

Robert and Dad are convinced that a few centuries down the road some archeologist is going to have a heyday with the remains of my closet. They will determine that the people of our time were slobs and had more clothes than they knew what to do with. They will ooh and ah over my genealogy research with all my documentation that includes anecdotes about many of the individuals, birth and death certificates, census information, collateral lines, photos dating back to the Civil War era, letters and a few books. They will spend years working on this small space.


Perhaps after a few donut muffins, I may be brave enough to get dressed.

Nah. My pjs are comfy.


Donut Muffins

Steph sent me this recipe in June or July. I finally got around to making donut muffins last night. Major droolfest was happening in my kitchen. The kids picked up their muffins and took a bite. Michael exclaimed, "That's a donut, Mommy! Where's my milk?" Rick wanted to know if he could have the rest. Kari quietly consumed hers and went to bed. This morning she got out of bed without complaint and ran into the kitchen to eat her muffin and hide another for later. Robert's only comment -- "Oh my god, this is good." He's not known for being wordy, so this was a long sentence for him.

Donut Muffins

1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk at room temperature

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease muffin tins. Cream together shortening, sugar and egg. Beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Add milk. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into muffin pans to about 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes until light brown. (I had to bake them for 25). Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pan. On waxed paper, mix sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the doughnuts finish baking, dip each one in melted butter; then roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Cool on a wire rack.


seeing the States

I want to see all 50 states by the time I'm 50. Only 20 left to visit and 14 years. Seeing a state requires more than a lay-over in some airport. I must drive around, eat several meals there, enjoy the sites. Three days is the minimum number of days needed to qualify.

Next year we are heading to Alaska for summer vacation. A week just doesn't seem long enough. In January, Oregon may be scratched off the list. My cousin is opening a store, and since I have 7 years of retail experience (display, manager, sales), I will fly out if she needs some free labor.

Seeing the western provinces of Canada and touring Europe will have to wait. I would love to visit Germany to see where my mother spent her middle school years, follow my great-aunt's itinerary from her 1930 Grand Tour and visit with Sue in the Netherlands. But I have 3 children to raise and put thru college. Rick is determined to go to Duke, and Kari has expressed a decided interest in attending Davidson. Lots of money is needed for those two schools. Michael is our wild child. He'll probably go to Indiana.

I wonder if the calliope is still played at IU football games ...


the horrors of practice

School starts on Monday. Rick and Kari have gotten into the habit of sleeping until at least 10am. Since I'm up at 7, this has provided me with 3 extra hours of peace and quiet, a time to actually accomplish something. In other words, I read or bake.

This week the kids are practicing going to bed on time and waking up early. I sincerely hope that they'll wake up easier next week than they have this week. Rick stretches, stands up and walks into the bathroom. As soon as I disappear back into the kitchen, he's back under the covers. Kari has thrown pillows at me, grunted, bitched. She stubbornly refuses to get out of bed. I've pulled her out, dumped water on her, tickled her feet, braided her hair (she hates this) .... She is a horror in the morning.

Now I know why Robert has been waking them up for school all these years. He's protecting me from the morning monsters.


Enos Slaughter

If you don't follow baseball, you may not know who Enos "Country" Slaughter is. His accomplishments on the baseball field have sometimes been overlooked because of rumors about racism and his alleged horrid treatment of Jackie Robinson. Mr. Slaughter died last week. Barry Saunders, a staff writer for the Raleigh News & Observer, attended his funeral with the intention of ripping up Mr. Slaughter's reputation once again.

I was born too late to have had the pleasure of watching Enos Slaughter play on the diamond, but I did meet him several times. He was always courteous. He was also a big Duke fan, so we had lots to chat about when we sat next to each other at the 1999 Final Four. He even congratulated me on my pregnancy.

Mr. Saunders' article was rude, ill-timed and full of unnecessary venom. He failed to note that Enos Slaughter was known for spiking his opponents -- and obviously most of them were white. He didn't mention that other players denied Mr. Slaughter's involvement in a failed strike attempt that protested Mr. Robinson's playing MLB. He ignored the fact that Mr. Robinson himself never said that he was spiked intentionally because of his race.

Mr. Slaughter died. His family and friends are grieving. Mr. Saunders should have respected their feelings and their grief even if he didn't respect Mr. Slaughter.

Letters to the editor in response to Mr. Saunders column:

A Column to Spike
"Fifty-five years after Enos Slaughter was accused of intentionally spiking Jackie Robinson on a baseball field, Slaughter was intentionally spiked on newsprint by N&O columnist Barry Saunders (column, Aug. 16). Unfortunately, Slaughter was dead at the time.

Saunders admitted that he drove to the funeral in Roxboro with a mission to trash the Person County native. He said the service produced nothing to change his mind. Apparently Saunders did not see Lou Brock paying his respects at the funeral. Brock played in a later era, but, like Slaughter, he was a Hall of Famer and a former outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. He also happens to be black.

Slaughter had always denied the intentional spiking as well as charges that he attempted to influence teammates to strike if Robinson played. Others, including former Cardinal teammate Stan Musial, backed up Slaughter. Musial, himself a Hall of Famer, also attended the funeral.

Even Jackie Robinson didn't accuse Slaughter outright. Instead, Robinson said that he was spiked despite placing his foot on the inside of the bag.

Saunders was less charitable. Blind to everything except hearsay, he wrote a scurrilous column that is on record for the ages. He can never deny that he attacked a dead man without any documented information that would support his allegations. Nor can The N&O deny that it granted him the license to do so."

Let It Rest

"When a man dies, his family grieves. The N&O's willingness to print Barry Saunders' biased Aug. 16 comments about Enos Slaughter so soon after his death is disheartening, insensitive and infuriating."


"there's a song in the air"

Do you burst into song anywhere, anytime for no apparent reason? Do you sing songs that have actually been composed or do you make up your own?

I have this annoying habit. Drives people crazy. Of course, others -- usually strangers -- get a good giggle.

Once while browsing thru the toy section at Target, I started singing the theme song for "Bob the Builder". Loudly. Didn't even realize that I was doing this. My singing was ended when other customers started applauding. Oh the absolute embarassment. When delivering Michael, I entertained the surgical team by singing Pho Nam Do over and over. Now why in the world did I feel the urge to sing the name of a Thai restaurant at that particular time?

My brother and father also make up silly songs; however, they do this consciously and have never sung them outside the privacy of their homes.



The idiots at the towing company couldn't find our van for an hour and a half. That's 90 minutes of being confined in an 8' X 10' room with an irate Robert, a bored Rick and a hyper Michael. Kari read 2 Nancy Drew books and therefore didn't give us any grief.

So where were they storing our van? At an auto repair shop! Can you believe their audacity? The sleazeball owner of the autobody shop actually told my husband that he wouldn't report that our vehicle had been damaged in an accident! He also said he'd work with us on the deductible and that he would recommend to the insurance company that my beloved van was unfixable. Totalled.

Now how can Broward County have chosen these creeps to be in charge of their towing? I wonder how many people have agreed to let them repair their cars simply because their vehicles were already there.


the carseat

Michael is highly upset that he now has a new carseat. He wails at the top of his lungs, "Why my old carseat have to break? Fix it! Fix it! Bitte!" (He knows that we're suckers when he says anything in German.) How do you explain to an almost 3 year old that carseats must be replaced after car accidents?

His new seat is a really cool booster seat -- complete with armrests and a cup holder. He hates it. He can no longer throw his legs up over the sides. The seat is the wrong color. The straps aren't grey. That cup holder isn't supposed to be there. The list goes on.

He actually complained about the seat for 1 hour and 15 minutes yesterday. He started as soon as we walked out of our house and he realized we were getting in the car. He stopped when we let him out at his grandparents' house in Jupiter. When his grandma asked him about his new carseat, Michael started bawling and had to list once more all of his negative thoughts about the whole thing.

Thank goodness he slept the entire way home.


back to school

The countdown to the first day of school has begun. We are at T minus 14 days. Uniforms have been purchased. Kari's were inexpensive at $84. Rick's were outrageous at $235 (not including shipping). Perhaps I shouldn't complain too much, but if he continues to grow at his current rate, he'll be out of those uniforms in less than 2 months. Since March he has gone from a 7S to a 14S in pants, from a M to an XL in shirts, 3 to 61/2 in shoes. We can't keep him in clothes or food, and he just turned 12. What will he be like in another 2 years?

Rick doesn't particularly want to go back to school. He'd rather stay at home with me and be homeschooled. I don't think so. Rick needs all the time he can't get to learn to socialize with people. He's almost got looking people in the eye down pat. The only aspect about school that he is looking forward to is having Mrs. Richardson for his teacher.

Kari adores school. She can't wait to see all her buddies, to wear those new uniforms, to show off her new sneakers and backpack. She wants to know yesterday who her teacher will be this year.

Michael will be devastated when his big brother and big sister go to school. He has them wrapped so tight around his little finger. I'll miss them too. There is nothing better than random hugs during the day from my kids, dancing like fools in the rain, messing up the kitchen with our baking, silly crafts ... To be limited to only 2 full days of fun -- well, it's just not fair.



The Miami Dolphins look horrible this year. Already. When the WSVN sportscaster announced that someone will be tackling a new position, I muttered that I hoped it would be Jay Fiedler. Robert snorted with laughter and agreed.

Why Dave Wannstedt is so adamant that Fiedler is the Fins quarterback of the future is beyond me. Galaxies beyond me. He would be a backup (if that) on any other team. Ray Lucas, the Fins backup, has more talent and should be given more of a chance than he's been given. I'm sorry, but only allowing him to run the option on 3rd downs is silly. What offensive coordinator thought this would be a good use of his talent? Fiedler had hip surgery this summer and had only practiced in pads for a handful of days before his first outing. Everyone points to this as the reason for his piss-poor performances here in the pre-season. Give me a frigging break. His passes have no power behind them. He can't throw the long ball. He isn't that fast on his feet and takes too long to get rid of the ball. His poor offensive line can only do so much. The Dolphins are still relying on the play of their defensive squad to keep them in the game or to win it for them.

I adore Sam Madison.

Robert looked at me in shock Friday night when I confessed to being glad the Fins picked up Robert Edwards. He just couldn't see why. Granted Edwards hasn't played in an NFL game since 1998. He suffered severe injury to his knee in a beach football game and almost died due to arterial damage. He's spent the past few years undergoing several surgeries and arduous physical therapy. His knee will never be as good as it was, but heart can make up for much of that. I hope he gives Ricky Williams a run for his money when it comes to playing time. Must admit that my eye was drawn towards him as a college player. He and Robert share a name and a number -- Robert Edwards #47. My Robert Edward was a DB and later a receiver. (Robert gave me a big hug when I confessed why Robert Edwards has always been tops with me.)

A player that has tons of determination is Oronde Gadsden. How many other receivers are as slow as he is? How many other receivers are as consistent? How many others can catch the ball and hold on to it when hit from all sides by the opposing team? Gadsden is up there with Madison.

I sincerely hope that Damon Huard has a good season as backup QB for New England. The Fins should have kept him and tossed Fiedler back. At least then Lucas would be starting.



At 1:50 EDT, I'm contemplating another bowl of Cream of Wheat. It's easy, fast and filling. I just don't feel like digging thru the freezer for something to eat. That would entail waiting for it to thaw, reheating it ...

Time is of the essence when the stomach rumbles.

Unlike lots of the women in my family, I'd much rather bake than cook. What's the difference? Cooking involves making MEALS. Baking means that something sweet will be the result. Cooking is a chore. Baking is a pleasure. Cooking requires planning and too much thought. Baking means I make whatever my sweet tooth is craving at that moment.

How to resolve this problem when I'm the chef in the house ...

Once a month cooking!!!

Yes, this requires lots of planning and thought and -- horrors!!! -- cooking. In the positive column I get to thaw and heat each night instead of having to think of new reasons to go out to dinner instead of providing my growing family with a healthy home-cooked meal. I also only actually have to school several days out of the month instead of each and every day. Hurray!

Now why is my freezer full of pound cake, banana bread, ginger-spice muffins, applesauce muffins, brownies and several types of cupcakes?

A daily read: Flummel, Flummer, Flummo.

"Flummel" is an honorary Kane in my mind. Brian and Sue are actual Kanes. They have entertained me for quite awhile now. They make me laugh, harrumph, think ... My equating the name Kane with well chosen words is something that goes back 20 years. A friend of mine used to write the most wonderful stories. His last name was also Kane.

Davey, if you're out there -- "Hey!"

Perhaps one day I'll write something that to my mind is "Kane worthy." But right now that is Haile Selassie.


crash, bang, boom, bang, ouch

A little old lady did a u-turn in front of us yesterday. We smashed right into her.

Thoughts that flitted thru my mind just before impact and during impact:
*Jim said never lock your elbows unless you want both arms broken.
*OMG hope my kids aren't hurt.
*Dammit, Michael was napping.
*Hope I don't hit that other car too.
*Hey, don't I have airbags?

Rick and Kari were all shook up. Michael has bruising from the 5-point harness carseat. I have soft tissue injuries to my shoulder. Nothing is broken. We all survived.

Okay, so the van is fairly messed up. Michael is convinced his grandma is going to fix it.


on a positive note

The brownies, banana bread and pound cake all passed our strenuous taste testing. (We even ran out of milk).

Rick has grown an inch in the past 30 days. No wonder his knees are always hurting, and perhaps this may partially explain all the anxiety he's been feeling.

Kari woke up before noon.

school supplies for a 4th grader

This is just what is needed for the first day. The teachers will be asking for additional items after school starts!

*(1) 200 count of wide rule filler paper
*(1) box of #2 pencils
*(2) glue sticks
*(3) 70 count wide rule spirals
*(1) composition book
*a pair of stucent friendly scissors
*a box of crayons
*a package of colored pencils
*yellow highlighter
*(1) square box of tissues
*(5) pocket and brad folders
*(1) box of large ziploc bags
*backpack that will hang from a student chair (NO wheeled ones allowed!)

And the grand total is --> $38 and change



Horrible night.

Rick decided to have an anxiety attack. He was so bad off he asked that I call his psychiatrist this morning so he could talk to her. He wants to ask her about switching or increasing his meds to better control his anxiety. Rick doesn't like his psychiatrist, because she prescribes these dreaded meds.

My poor sweetheart.

Dread of going back to school is crippling him. Severely. He sobbed on my shoulder for hours last night. He equated how he was feeling last night to how he felt all through 4th grade. I'm not sure this family can survive another period of time like 4th grade.

Rick has always been a bit different from other children. We didn't think anything of it, because to us he was Rick. He never met anyone's eyes. He had great difficulties socializing with his peers. Conversations were actually lectures. He was obsessed with trains and dinosaurs and later military planes. Needless to say, school was excruciating for him. His 4th grade teacher was an absolute bitch too. Every day she sent him to the office, so she wouldn't have to deal with him. In her mind, he was 9 and therefore was old enough to behave as any normal person. She berated him in front of his peers, told other teachers he was uncontrollable and basically made him feel worthless. She refused to listen to anything we or his psych told her about Aspergers Syndrome.

The school wasn't much help. They kept losing the paperwork to get him additional support. When they finally found it at the beginning of 5th grade, the exceptional student committee claimed that he wasn't eligible for services, because on his worst day, academically he was still superior to his classmates. What?!? Rick was obviously suffering severe trauma in the classroom, and he wasn't eligible for support? The most junior member of the committee pointed out that there was a category termed OHI (other health impaired) and that he did qualify for services under this. We worked together to write up a plan for Rick. The school never followed through despite our filing grievances and his teacher calling on the teachers union for help.

Rick's last day in public school resulted in his having a public breakdown, cops being called and sensitivity training being ordered for the entire 5th grade (students and teachers). Rick was very close to being hospitalized.

We felt like horrible parents.

Oh how I hope the cycle isn't starting again. Rick has been promoted to 8th grade and mainstreamed.


Uisce Beatha

South Florida has been blessed with rain this summer. We aren't on water restrictions. We are still encouraged to conserve water as much as possible, but at least we aren't being threatened with stiff fines for watering our lawns at the wrong time on the wrong day and for too long.

The Triangle area of North Carolina is experiencing extreme drought conditions. Rain has fallen something like three times this summer. According to their water management, 74 days of water is all that is left. And what happens in 74 days? Would someone please tell me? Where would any water come from? Drought conditions cover a huge area of the 48 contiguous states.

The brown patches in my lawn aren't bothering me so much now.

(and yes, I know that Uisce Beatha means whiskey ... but it also means water of life)



Coupons are ridiculous. They drive me nuts and make me feel that I should run to the grocers and purchase an item that I normally don't use, simply because the coupon makes it such a good deal. Hmmm. That doesn't sound like such a good deal, does it?

My favorite one this week has to be the coupon that suggests purchasing 30 Lean Cuisines at regular price in order to get $5 and a free lunch bag back. Why in the world would I spend $80 to save $5 and receive a lunch bag that would never be used? Where would I stash these meals? Absolutely silly.

Okay, I must admit that yesterday I used a coupon when purchasing Kari's school uniform. I wanted my 15% off of the amount being spent. Michael ran around like a mad man and was really upsetting me. The cashier wanted to get us out of the store ASAP and gave me an additional discount just to leave.


childish pastimes

In high school, my friend Katy and I used to play "paper, scissors, rock" during the moment of silence. Mrs. Finley, our homeroom teacher, would glare menacingly at us. Her glare never stopped us or even slowed us down. Who could be scared of someone who wore spiked heels and was still shorter than my 4'11"?

Kari and Dad became obsessed with this game during the week Kari was visiting Mom and Dad. They would challenge each other to matches several times an hour. Every match granted them a title. The titles became sillier as the week progressed.

After getting back to NC, Dad still felt the need to play Kari, and the reverse was true also. Dad actually found this site that allows them to continue to challenge each other to a rousing game of "paper, scissors, rock".

Beware! This game is highly addictive.


minor irritant

While sitting at the world's longest stoplight, I happened to glance in the rearview mirror and promptly became irritated. The police officer in the car behind me was putting on makeup and drinking out of a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup ... all while talking on the phone. After 4 minutes, she put away the makeup, took a last swig for the road, hung up the phone and cut into the right turn lane (no turn signal). She proceeded to go around the stopped traffic and go thru the red light.

Guess who we ran into at Toys 'R Us?

Yep, the same officer of the law pushing a cart piled high with birthday stuff.


clicking my heels

Guess what! A friend is coming to visit me -- flying to sunny South Florida from sunny Southern California. Hope the humidity that we have here doesn't cause her to wilt and faint away. Hope my kids don't drive her batty. This is a serious concern. Nothing like being in a home where a teenager and a toddler dwell.

Julie has to put her palm print on my "friendship quilt" wall. Yes, I painted squares on the wall in my mudroom and when people stay overnight they have to leave their palm print in one of the squares and then sign their name. LOL. My parents snuck out without doing so and I hadn't finished painting that room when Kim was here. Julie gets to be the first.

Cover story fromTime. This article discusses the increase in the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Interesting to me at least.

As a child I was very anxious and prone to sobbing and not wanting to leave the house. My parents always linked this to moving and having to change schools. (I attended 12 schools before graduating from high school). Several episodes of mania in high school were attributed to simply being a teenager.

Five psychologists and 1 psychiatrist later, I was given a diagnosis of bipolar. What a relief to have a name for my personal demon! Especially since one of those psychologists had told me I was just being a stupid female and another had told me that I was ruled by multiple personalities. The first needs to take a sensitivity training course and the second needs to withhold diagnosis until after more than 2 sessions. Honestly.



I have issues, but doesn't everyone?

But does everyone hide these issues from their loved ones in strange ways in the hopes of being discovered and starting a dialog? I sincerely hope not. This wait is painful.

Robert and I can discuss anything as long as it doesn't touch on my mental state. He doesn't quite understand the depression and the mania that I go thru despite medication and therapy. I'm not sure anyone can unless they experience this cycling themselves. Heck, it's way beyond me and this is my life!

Anyway when depressed I lose track of time, become extremely forgetful and pretty much function on basic levels. I have masks that I put on during these times because no matter how depressed I become -- life still goes on and the kids have to be taken care of and loved. The masks allow me to function publicly. I come across as distant but polite, or so I have been told.

But what the masks hide is my intense desire to somehow run from the world. I keep waiting for Robert to acknowledge my depression with words other than "I'm sorry you feel this way." I've tried to discuss these feelings with him, but he shuts out what I'm saying, gives me a hug and continues flipping thru the channels with the remote. Damn t.v.

I need more support than a half-hearted hug and just a sliver of attention.

So I didn't pay his credit card bill. I didn't even realize that I was doing this until the bill came yesterday. Guess he'll have to listen to me now.

Temporary fix only.


road conditions

If anyone is planning on driving down 95 thru Florida, be prepared to slow down to a crawl for miles at a time. Construction starts as you cross over from Georgia and continues down past Jacksonville. There's a bridge in the center of Jacksonville that has been under construction for at least 14 years and has therefore been a traffic nightmare for that long. DO NOT drive thru during rush hour (6 to 9 am and 3 to 7 pm). The other construction zones seem to move, but are always at least 7.1 miles long.

Oh and if you see a cop car pulled to the side of the road, make sure that you keep a lane open between you and the police car. It's the law. Too many inattentive or rubbernecking drivers have struck and killed or severely injured way too many cops down here.


Jeckyll Island

I had never been to Jeckyll Island before yesterday. I'm going to drag Robert back one day -- sans nos enfants.
Quiet, serene, commercialism hasn't made inroads. Rick would hate it and therefore torment his younger sister for fun. Kari would whine and make us miserable. Michael would be making noise just to keep up.

Live oaks cover the island. The ocean wind has bowed the limbs westward and kept the trees shorter and more spectactularly shaped than down here. Across the lawn from the Jeckyll Island Club is an oak whose branches have arched over the road and touch back down to the earth. The Plantation Oak is also located nearby. It's the oldest tree on the island -- approx 300 years old according to one of the tour guides.

Lights do not shine on the beaches, since loggerhead turtles are in the midst of nesting season. We didn't trip over any turtles, but the lack of lights allowed us to view the Perseids. Three generations of females stood hand-in-hand on the walkway over the dunes staring at the skies in awe.

People here in Ft. Lauderdale can't see what they are missing.

You do have to be careful walking in the surf during low tide. Conchs litter the beaches during low tide as they try to burrow into the wet sand to hide from the sun. Unsuspecting people such as myself get a nasty surprise when they step on what looks like an innocuous lump in the sand.

We learned that sand dollars are a type of sea urchin. We also discovered that when they bury themselves in the sand and the tide laps over them, you can see their "shadow" appear above them. We had more fun strolling on the beach looking for them. I managed to find several bleached sand dollars to bring back with us. Hopefully Frog will not pick them up out of the silver bowl and bat them across the tile floors.


on the road again

Heading north to pick up my Karikins. Hopefully traffic won't be horrible. I don't do well in heavy traffic. Makes me panic (at least when Robert is driving).


customer service

Robert's birthday was celebrated at his favorite restaurant last night. Our server was nice, but slow. I can deal with slow. Most of the time. In the 15 minutes I sat and waited for her to come pick up my credit card so I could pay for dinner, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two other servers.

They were complaining about the decline of customer service, how rude sales associates are and how slow service was at their favorite restaurant. One of the girls who just recently graduated from college (previous discussion overhead) said, "Things have changed so much in the past 16 years. I remember when they'd wait on you hand and foot and you wished they would just go away." ??? As a child, I couldn't wait to get back home. How I or my mother was treated in a store just didn't interest me.

A loud snort erupted from me when their manager walked up and scolded them for neglecting their customers. Seems one table had been seated for almost 10 minutes without anyone dropping by for their drink order and another table hadn't been given any silverware. After fulfilling their duties, they were back to leaning against the wall, but now their complaints revolved around too needy customers.

Quality customer service is near and dear to my heart. I've worked in various jobs and all were positions where dealing with irate people was a fairly common occurance (auto repair, vet receptionist, bank teller, store manager). I was notorious in my last position for being unwilling to skimp on the level of service provided. Stock could wait to be unpacked if hords of customers were in my store. I always acknowledged people waiting in those long bank lines on social security check day. Once upon a time I even helped write the customer service training guide for my employer. My monthly reports on the level of service in our district made others in my position ticked off. They were required to do them also and turn them into corporate once corporate had seen mine.

My kids are waiting for the day when I will willingly walk away from the counter without the cashier saying thank you. Wont' happen. Simple courtesies should not be overlooked.

I want to move back to Maine. There! I said it.

I want to live in Kennebunk. Even have the house picked out. Don't know that the Spoffords would want to move, but maybe. If not, there are other houses there just waiting to transform into my home.

I want rocky beaches, ocean spray, roses growing along the shore.

I want to experience the seasons again, the brilliance of summer, the scent of fall, snow drifting across my yard in winter and the awakening of spring.

I want to sit on the rocks at Colony Beach and meditate, share my clam roll with the gulls.

Yup, I want a lot. Now the twenty year wait for Robert's retirement begins.


simple joys

Waking up from a nap to discover my almost 3 y.o. curled up on my chest, my 12 y.o. sitting by my feet, my husband sitting next to me on the bed with his hand on my shoulder and the cats snuggled up between us. Too bad Kari isn't home yet ...

The smell of baking bread ...

Gathering roses ...

Upgrading my lavender from critical to stable ...

Gentle rain falling on the Ridge ...


picking up Kari

Tomorrow is the day! Hurray! I get to drive 7 1/2 hours to pick up Kari (she didn't want to fly by herself). She's having a blast up on Jeckyll Island. She called this morning to wish her father a happy birthday and to inform him that she now has the sand dollar belt. Robert found 20 sand dollars on the beaches in Maine. The largest one was the size of a quarter. Seems Kari has found 6 large ones and believes size is more important than quantity. I'll reserve judgement until seeing the quality of her findings.

Tuesday Kari and I will drive 7 1/2 hours back to South Florida. Wonder how much of that time will be spent chattering my ears off ...


Happy Birthday, Robert!!!

Robert enjoys telling people he married an older woman. He makes it sound like I'm at least 10 years older. I'm here to set the record straight though. My birthday is only 105 days before his.


just overheard

"Stop! Slow down! I'm not as young as I used to be, Michael!" Said by Rick, 12, to his younger brother, 2, as they are playing tag.


football widower

Robert is a football widower. Did you know there was such a person? Oh he loves football too, but he doesn't go overboard like me. I'm glued to the tv once the pregame shows start. This is the only time I actively use the remote -- have to watch at least 3 games at once.

We have Dolphins season ticket holders. My idea. We sit on the 45 yard line, upperdeck. Even Dad must admit that they are great seats. We don't miss a darn thing. Now if the Encroacher could just keep his arms and legs out of my personal space, the seats would be even better. Next year the goal is to add another ticket to our package.

My kids are just starting to develop an interest in the sport. Rick attended football camp at Davidson College this past June. He loved it. Coach Toop and his assistants are wonderful. They maintained their sense of humor, their enthusiasm and are excellent teachers. Rick can now catch the football on a more consistent basis, though running is more his thing. Now if he would just learn that there are other patterns he can run when he's the receiver.

Why Davidson College? My grandfather was the football manager there in 1934. I was the Wildcats' football manager for 3 years. And last but not least, Robert played there. He was even chosen as the Offensive Player of the Year his senior season.

Oh I definitely can't wait to don my Sam Madison jersey and watch some football.


never satisfied

All week I've been studying my rose catalog from David Austin and drooling. More roses have been added to my wishlist: William Shakespeare, Miss Alice, Blythe Spirit, Abraham Darby, Ambridge, Kathryn Morley, Pegasus,Tamora, Sophy's Rose, the Dark Lady, Wenlock, Mme. Isaac Pereire, Rosa Mundi, Livin' Easy ... My mother would say that my yard is complicated enough without adding more.

Perhaps watering my yard more often will make it grow from 1/3 acre to at least twice the size.

While cleaning Michael's room yesterday all sorts of ideas were popping into my head. Since I painted and decorated his room when we moved in last year, I don't think Robert would appreciate my changing anything as of yet. After all the living room has been repainted several times already -- white to cafe au lait to a gentle yellow. But then again, I CAN make some of the changes. He may not notice.


da blues

I can feel the blues trying to take hold, sliding down from some misfunctioning part of my brain. Why, oh why, oh why? Hopefully they will not coalesce but dissipate instead. Wouldn't that be lovely?



I'm taking a break from cleaning. Yup, cleaning. Quite shocking to me also. I spent an hour organizing Michael's closet and books. Another bag is added to the pile of stuff going to Goodwill. At least the rarely played with toys get to go to someone who will enjoy them. Michael kept coming in and telling me that he was going to tell Gram to give me a time-out. Guess he is a packrat in the making. Chip off the old block (me, not Robert).

At least Rick's room is sparkling clean and organized. He's become obsessive about cleanliness. He spilled something on the kitchen floor the other day and proceeded to mop the entire floor instead of simply wiping up the spill. Why? Because he didn't want part of the floor to be cleaner than the rest.

??? What's up with that ???


musings over my morning coffee

Rick has developed a passion for coffee this summer. He's always enjoyed a cafe au lait. I know -- such a bad mom for letting my child consume coffee. Anyway he drank coffee every morning with breakfast while we were on vacation: columbian, kona, blue mountain ... etc ... He experimented with different amounts of sugar and cream (he's now quite the cream snob, milk just doesn't cut it). He added ice cubes sometimes, whipped cream others. This morning he asked me to teach him how to brew coffee. Notice he used the term brew? Does this mean that we will no longer be sharing a cup of tea in the evenings?

Kari is enjoying her stay with my parents.. Dad has taken her out for subs. He was very impressed when she informed the counterman that he forgot to give them the Two for Tuesday discount. She then pointed out the senior citizen discount. Oh my. Wonder what will happen when we give her the quarterly clothing allowance? I'm constantly amazed how many outfits she manages to buy on the measly sum we give her.

Michael demanded a cup of coffee this morning. Rick fixed him a cafe au lait with tons of whipped cream on top. Michael took a long hard look at his cup and asked "Where's my cherry? I want a cherry!"


the friday five

1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it?
We have 2. Our Saturn is currently in the shop. No one seems to be able to find the short that causes the check engine light to come on and the car to slow to 5 miles per hour. Pretty scary when it happens on the highway during rush hour! The other is our Ford Windstar.

2. Do you drive very often?
Not really. Robert usually does the driving.

3. What's your dream car?
Used to be a green Jaguar. Now I'd like to have either a '66 Mustang or a Beetle.

4. Have you ever received a ticket?
Yes, for speeding. Well, I was trying to find someplace to vomit. Ending up throwing up on the cop. Poor guy. So learn from me -- DO NOT drive for 5 hours when you have a 102 fever and are nauseous.

5. Have you ever been in an accident?
Three. The first when I was little. The car I was in skidded on a wet road up in the mountains. A guardrail kept the car from plunging down. The second was 13 years ago -- obnoxious kid was speeding and on the wrong side of the road coming around a curve -- he hit me head on. The last was 10 years ago. I was backing out of my parking space onto a road. Someone turned onto the road after running a stop sign. My car stopped him.



Rick is back from Jupiter. His grandma took him and his 3 cousins to buy new sneakers for school. The boy is now wearing a 6 1/2! I bought him a pair of 5 1/2 cleats for football camp in the middle of June. In March we purchased him 3 1/2s. Oh the joys of puberty. In the past 8 months he's outgrown everything he owns several times over. He's still a little munchkin, but we aren't complaining.

Mom and Kari have returned to homebase after an afternoon of spending Dad's money. Can't wait to pick her up on Monday to see what she's purchased. Kari buys some of the oddest things.

Michael is his cheerful hyperactive self again. Such a nice change from Vomit Boy. Poor baby had never thrown up. Honestly. Last night he pukes all over me, the floor, himself .... He informed me rather weakly that "I never want do dat again!" Does anyone?

Had to set up a separate blog for my journey ... dragon's den.



I'm going on a journey ... a blog journey. I'm going to start at Sue's blog and randomly choose one of her links to other blogs and so on an so forth. Hey, what else am I to do? Kari is in NC. Rick is in Jupiter (or is that on?) and Michael is sleeping. Besides -- rain is falling.



I think that this HTML crap is waaaaaaay beyond me. After spending too much time adding another column and switching colors, the lower left cell is still half red. Why? I have looked at the gibberish and just can't figure it out. That's what comes from messing with stuff I know absolutely nothing about.

Made me think of a sign we saw at a garage in Farmington, ME.

Labor Costs

$38/hr ... if we fix it for you
$48/hr ... if you watch us fix it
$58/hr ... if you help us fix it
$68/hr ... if you worked on it first

$100 minimum credit card payment



The cable guy is coming to install our new cable today. We decided to switch providers when we discovered that we were being charged for digital cable when we were only receiving analog. Oh, the audacity. Thank goodness Robert actually looked at the bill. I didn't know that we weren't getting what we paid for. Anyway, they gave us a 4 hour window for when the installer would arrive -- 8 am to noon -- so I'm up.

And I'm going to go thru my HTML steps and try to write my own template. These colors aren't working for me, and I just don't like the templates provided. Then again I'm also known for always moving furniture and repainting -- perhaps this is some personality flaw.


still bored

Boredom reigns when you just don't feel well. I have a nasty cold, hives and fever. Needless to say lethargy and apathy took over.

There have been two highlights to my day. First, Michael has spent the evening vomiting on me. Paper towels, the mop, bucket, washcloths and towels have been used extensively. Second, playing with the colors on my blog. The silly thing is that the colors are messed up on my monitor, so who knows what the colors and their hues actually look like to other people.

So wish that I could have gone to bed after noticing that Brian left a comment. Wasn't that nice of him?


~Fenway, Comisky, Yankee Stadium, Three Rivers, Riverfront, Wrigley Field, Candlestick, Boston Gardens, the Orange Bowl -- why mess with obvious winners? Who wants to go to Waste Management Arena/Stadium? Okay, so maybe that would be an apt name for where the Marlins play. Some days they really stink everything up.

~Dad has been searching for quotes that he can adapt to fit the Duke football programs misery of seasons past. Some examples:
--"I'm flat on my back but everything is looking up."
--"You have to wear high boots if you want to pee (pleasure patrol) with the big boys."
--"This too shall pass."
--"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"
--"I don't want any cop-outs because of youth or inexperience or things like that. It's one of those times where as a Duke fan you actually get to watch something being built."--Mike Krzyzewski

~We've been out of town and I was actually looking forward to going thru our mail when we returned. Unfortunately most of it was for the previous owners. They moved to Italy 13 months ago, and we're still getting tons of mail for them. Ridiculous! We won't go into the creditors that have been calling for them (they looked up the number based on the address!)

~Any ideas on where to get an antique phone upgraded? I'm talking about one of these jobbies but without the rotary dial. My grandfather had it upgraded to a rotary dial (inside the box) back in the '70s, but when we moved, the movers simply cut the cable instead of unhooking it from the wall. And no, for some reason simple replacing the cable didn't work.

Did I not tell you that I was bored?

What Was Your PastLife?

Okay. So I'm totally bored. What are you going to do about it?



My family loves to bestow nicknames upon unsuspecting people. Unsuspecting because we don't share our new name for them with them.
Dubs that are new this summer -- the Deliverance Twins, Heathens, Never-Shuts-Up, Rain Dancer and Cat Woman.

silly games

My Dad enjoys using people's names in inappropriate places -- usually as a distraction during an argument. My brother was asking him a question one time, Dad looked at him and replied, "Yasser Arafat." I think it pissed Kirk off more. On Saturday Rick was trying to weasel his way into staying longer in NC so he could spend more time with his friends down the alley, but he didn't want my parents to know the real reason he wanted to stay. Dad uttered in frustration, "Rick, your reasons for staying longer are Haile Selassie." Never having been treated to this side of Dad's silliness, Rick took it upon himself to correct him: "Kupa, the phrase is 'highly suspect.'"

If you have any suggestions for other names that can be used, please share. I'd really like to toss one at Dad when he's least suspecting.



Robert to Michael: "You need to learn to pee in the potty. Changing your diapers all the time is starting to piss me off."

Michael, with arms crossed and a big frown, to Robert: "Now you're pissing me off."



Sue, did you notice that your blog now has a child? Does that make Angie's blog a grandparent? Oh the possibilities!


expiration date

Okay, my oldest just informed me that the apples in the fridge have expired.

What? Are they rotten?


Seems he looked at the packing date and assumed that was the expiration date.


west nile virus

Some people are probably panicking about the news that West Nile Virus is here to stay. Personally I'm amused by the suggestions on how to avoid it.

Municipalities should spray for mosquitos. Yeah, right. When we lived in Indiana, the county sprayed once a week. We still were inundated with the bloodsuckers. PLUS the spraying meant that we weren't allowed outside after supper. My poor parents had to listen to us whine every Wednesday night.

Eliminate standing water in your yard. Ummm, currently we're in the middle of rainy season here in Florida. Does this mean that I must dash out between raindrops and dump out water from wherever it may be puddling? But this one really cracks me up when I think of our moat! Our yard would be part of the Everglades if the the builders hadn't filled it in with tons of clean fill. Now between our backyard and the park behind our house is a ditch that fills with water everytime it rains. Mosquito heaven! The ditch is on the park side. Do they honestly think that park services is going to run around and fill spots like this in? Where would they get the money? If we took the job upon ourselves, we would end up in prison. Federal offense you know.

Use bug repellant. Ewww! Not only does it stink, give all of us hives, it doesn't work! Honestly.

When does the dry season get here?


the return

We departed my parents house yesterday at 1:30 pm. Kari stayed behind. She wanted to go to the mountains and to the Charles Town with her grandparents. Rick and I thought we'd stop overnight in St. Augustine and be able to revisit the Fort this morning. Nope! We fell asleep at about 9 and when we awoke, we were in our driveway! Robert decided that he wanted to sleep in his own bed.

Frog was at the front door to welcome us back. He climbed my legs (thank goodness for jeans!) and hugged my neck. He's such a love. We spent a good 30 minutes hunting for Binky. Just when we were beginning to panic, she strolled out of Kari's room. We're still trying to figure out where Binky stuffed her chubby self so that we couldn't find her. She marched into our room and curled up in the center of our bed. Robert actually left her there!

Oh! Remind me to not go on vacation for 2 weeks at the height of summer ever again! My poor poor garden. I lost several of my roses. Waaaah! Pet, Great Century, Moon and Solitude are beyond hope. So sad. Hopefully I'll be able to replace them quickly. Many of my roses are now leggy beyond belief. Obviously there is something to be said about being here and paying them constant attention. We won't discuss my palms. And what the heck happened to the bushes lining my walkway on the left? They are bare! All the leaves are on the ground. The bushes on the right are full of leaves. Really weird.



I've been scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone would harbor the notion that I am perky. Even asked my Mom if she would put perky and me in the same ballfield. She still hasn't stopped laughing. My brother's eyes became huge with shock. Dad wanted to know when the definition was changed and why he wasn't notified. Robert simply snorted.

Perkiness isn't even a quality I've ever wished to achieve. A person has it or doesn't -- they can't become perky. Gina, my sister-in-law, is the only person in our family who has this "je ne sais quoi" quality. I'm waiting for the day when she looks like something that the cat dragged in after playing with her for hours. Just don't think that day will ever come. Gina is full of energy, sunshine, hugs and smiles. She quite wears me out.


puppies and toddlers

Go! Go! Go! Drink water! Go! Go! Go! Nap! Go! ...

I'm worn out completely and have only been watching Sammy the puppy for about an hour. At least Sammy naps. Michael absolutely refuses. The world knows he hates to nap. He screams his refusal at top volume. Neither puppy nor boy understand the need for potty training. What is it with these males? I'm tired of scooping poop and dealing with diapers.


family heirlooms

Because my family has managed to stay in the same area for 250 years, we have accumulated many family treasures. Most reside in my parents' and Nana's homes. The funny thing is that some items belong to me, others to my brother. We spend lots of time reminding each other of what belongs to whom. (Kirk, those Pete Rose baseball cards are MINE! You collected the Joe Morgan cards.)

Some items have been passed down from generation to generation according to age or sex. I have a beautiful ring that my great-aunt Mary gave me when I graduated high school. If my brother has a daughter, I'll pass the ring on to my niece. The rocking chair in my living room belonged to Nana, then Mom, now me. We are all the oldest children. But does the chair go to Rick - my oldest child OR to Kari -- my only daughter?

For the past 12 years I've been the caretaker of the nursing chair. Robert refinished the rocking chair that Papa had built for Mom when she was pregnant with me. Mom nursed me and Kirk in that chair. I nursed Rick, Kari and Michael. Now Gina and Kirk are expecting their first child. We loaded the rocking chair up and carted it 843 miles to their house. Notice how nicely I handed over the chair? No arguments, no complaints. I was the caretaker.

For the past 10 years Kirk has had possession of a desk that Mary left me. I didn't have room for it in our apartments or in our townhouse. Now we have a larger home and the perfect spot for it. To torment me Kirk would pretend that he'd given the desk away or that I had said he could have it. The brat! I'm taking it back to FL with me -- after paying him $$$ for my own desk. *sigh.

Kirk did do a great job refinishing the desk for me though.


childhood favorites

I confess ... the Chronicles of Narnia fascinated me as a child and still do today. Must also admit that I've worn out 2 sets of the books and now am sharing the 3rd with Kari. My favorite book was A Horse and His Boy, so the following result surprised me.

The second book written and the third chronologically, you're the story of a Narnia hundreds of years after the last visit, populated by mythological creatures struggling to overthrow a king determined to wipe them out. Susan's Horn brings help when it's most needed ...

Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.


Happy 39th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!


conversations with Dad

Chatting with Dad is never mindless. No matter how well hidden the point may be, there is a point. Conversations have a definite beginning and end. The thread might be picked up later, but it's always from a different slant. Think of the various chapters in a book -- that's a conversation with my Dad.

Today's topic was integration.

Durham is a race relations nightmare. The current battles rage around education. Everything is divided according to whether a person is white or black. The white parents and white schoolboard members say one thing. The black parents and black schoolboard members say another. Votes are always along racial lines.

The funny thing is that 112 years ago the whites complained alongside the blacks when the schools weren't given equal funding. If you were a male teacher -- either race -- you made $30/month. The women made $25/month. The amount spent on each student was equal also -- didn't matter whether you were black, white, pink or purple. All students were given the best that could be gotten.

So Dad and I discussed the educational issues before moving on to sports. Dad has proposed that sports helped with creating social equity between the races. Whites and blacks played side by side, were teammates, supported each other on the field. Eventually this spread to off the field. Fans were included. It's very difficult to support a time while reviling half the squad. Talent, teamwork and chemistry create great teams -- not specific races.

Personally I believe that the media and history books do more damage than anything. The media promotes stereotyping especially in tv shows. Blondes are dumb or airheaded, brunettes are brainier, white males are more nerdy, black males are athletic ... I could go on forever here. The news seems to be filled with African-American criminals who rape and pillage the community at large. Caucasian evil-doers always are stealing from our collective purses. Blue collar crime and white collar crime. The history books are crowded with white men. Granted they were our Founding Fathers, our political leaders, our financial geniuses, etc. The efforts and achievements of Blacks have been greatly overlooked (as have those of white females). Now everyone is tinkering with and revising the history of this country. George Washington is fading from view. Garrett Morgan is one of the men of the hour.

But we have to be careful. We should not rewrite history to satisfy or go along with how we view things today. Life 100 years ago, 200 years ago ... was not the same as today. We should put more effort into creating a broader and more complete picture of our history. The current trend is to granting a month to study a specific area: February is Black history month, November is Native American month, May is Women's history month. Why must we continue to divide along these lines? Why can we not do things according to a timeline, just flesh it out to represent more than the spoils of war and treaty negotiations?

As Anais Nin wrote, "We see things as we are, not as they are."

Wonder what Dad will choose to discuss tomorrow ...


N.C. Barbeque

My favorite meal consists of barbeque, slaw and cheerwine. Sounds simple, but it isn't.

My barbeque must be pork, shredded and fixed North Carolina style. That means vinegar-based. Tomato- and molasses-based sauces just don't cut it with me. I'm not saying they are bad, just that they aren't the preferred style.

I'm even picky about my slaw. Can't stand the stuff that is real mayonnaisy. Blech! I want the cabbage chopped and diced and with the bbq sauce in the mayo. Lexington style.

Cheerwine is the perfect accompaniment to barbeque. If you don't know what Cheerwine is -- ask a true North Carolinian.


the weather

We had a frog-stranglin' rain yesterday. Cooled down the air considerably (102 down to the 70s!). The rain fell so hard that it was bouncing off the ground. The temperature was so high that the rain then turned to steam. Hot dogs anyone?

Amazingly enough most of the landscape is still green despite the drought.



Shopping with Nana and Mom has always been fun. Nana sprints ahead of us and seems to instinctively know where the good deals are to be found. Mom and I complain about our inability to keep up with Nana and can't find anything that isn't full price. We justify our purchases by saying that we buy only quality items.

Kari experienced the joy of three generational shopping yesterday. I'm not sure she was too impressed. She has had her heart set on a particular outfit, but does she need an cheerleader style outfit that says Limited Too across her chest? Why should I pay fifty plus dollars for the dubious honor of turning my daughter into a walking billboard for them?

As for myself I went with the goal of buying one pair of comfortable shoes and came home with three pairs and a purse. Thanks, Mom!



There's a magical tie to the land of our home, which the heart cannot break, though the footsteps may roam.
~Eliza Cook

Have you ever felt your spirit lift when you go someplace?

Whenever I return to Durham, my burdens seem lighter, my heart seems happier and my outlook becomes more positive. Perhaps this is due to my family having lived in this same area since 1752. Two hundred and fifty years, nine generations. No matter how far afield we all wander, we all seem to find our way back here.

When we crossed from NH into Maine last Wednesday, I had that same feeling of coming home. The old homes with their widow walks, indian shutters and attached barns call to me. The roses blooming among the rocks along the shore enchant me. The fresh seafood is unbelievable.

None of these things can account for why I feel at peace with myself in the Kennebunks. A feeling of rightness just fills me.


merry meet

who: Cindy and Kayleigh, Steph and Alexa, me and my brood
what: an informal meeting of a few from the Oct 99 playgroup
where: White Park, Concord, NH
when: Tuesday

As soon as Robert pulled the rental car into the parking lot, I'd already spotted Steph and Cindy. No, we'd never met, but I just knew. Somehow Steph and I managed to wear the same outfit. What are the odds?

My kids ran like ruffians all over the place. Michael was fascinated by the park. We don't have anything near as cool in Florida. Rick spent the majority of his time on the swing and checking out the bathroom facilities. Kari became the Pied Piper of the park with little kids following her everywhere she went (she is definitely my mother's grandchild.) Alexa wanted Michael to play with her, but the boy that he is just had to be off exploring. Kayleigh napped against her mother's chest.

Cindy is a quiet person, very laid back. She is an observer who notices everything. She might not be the center of attention, but she is not a person anyone would ignore -- too much intelligence and intensity for that. She also has a gift that very few have. Cindy brings calm with her. Kayleigh is a baby and she already is showing signs of taking after her mother. I'm in awe.

Robert shook his head and rolled his eyes as soon as Steph and I started talking. He knew he was in trouble at that point. Steph is a lot like me -- lots of curiosity, an ability to change subjects on the turn of a dime and not miss a step. Her bond with her daughter is very strong. What an example.

I wish that we had more time to spend with them down in New Hampshire. Can't you just feel the big sigh in that statement?


the downside of flying

What can be worse than having to arrive 2 or more hours before a flight?

Let me tell you. We arrived at BOS 3 hours before our flight. We are overjoyed by the short line for check-in. Thirty minutes later we are told that we should have gone to the other end of the building to the shuttle check-in, because our flight goes thru La Guardia. We heft our luggage and carryons, carseat and whining 2 year old and treck down to our new destination. Wouldn't you just know that the lady glances at our tickets and says "You can't check in here. That flight now goes thru Charlotte." Back to square one we dutifully go. The gentleman who misdirected us feels badly for us, so he jumps us ahead of everyone. But did he have to hand us over to the ticket agent who ran out of paper for his printer? And why don't they keep extra paper behind the counter for minor emergencies such as this?

Finally we get to go thru security. Everyone makes it thru okay except for me. What? Seems the zipper on my pants set the alarms off. My carryon and purse were emptied out and searched. I had the pleasure of standing with my arms outstretched, feet spread and zipper undone so that they could pass that wand over my body. But I managed to get even for the indignity. The poor security person who drew me had to closely inspect my shoes. Shoes that had gotten soaked in ocean water and then worn thru piles of seaweed. (Yes, they have now been tossed.)

Perhaps wearing those shoes was a bad idea though. They searched me again at the gate as we were boarding.

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson