Life on the Ridge
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My brother retaliated in the worst (or is that the best?) way possible. He didn't do anything. He sat there and watched me squirm for HOURS. What a stinkin' brat.

Kirk thought what I did with his chair was hilarious. Hurray me!


another time waster

This one is from my brother. Battleship is still my fave.


a new favorite

Yummy! Perfect for afternoon tea.

Amaretto Cookies

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 7-oz tubes almond paste
1 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
4 egg whites
2 tbs confectioners' sugar

Spray baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray (I used a silpat) and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine granulated sugar, almond paste and orange zest using an electric mixer. Add the egg whites and beat until totally combined and smooth. Dough should be soft. Using a pastry tub, pipe 1/2-inch dots of dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. If you don't have a pastry tube or prefer not to use it, you can shape the cookies by using 2 spoons to make scant 1 tablespoon mounds of dough on the baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes or until golden and set. let sit on pan 5 minutes to cool. Remove to wire racks. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Makes about 200 cookies using the pastry bag; 40 cookies using spoons.


from Toby to my parents

Dear Folks,
Thanks to all of you for your acceptance of me as the newest member of the family. I was so excited that I convinced my mother Elizabeth to take me to the pet store for a really nice bath before we left for Florida.

The bathing helped remove some of the juice that had spilled on me when I knocked the turkey off the stove on Christmas Day. I apologize for making such a big mess by gnawing off part of a wing and spilling the turkey and its juice all over the floor.

I think Ann did a nice job of saving the day by carving the bird up and restoring its dignity. I hope you enjoyed it.

I'm very, very sorry. (And disappointed, too, because I really wanted to eat the whole thing.)

Forgive me. And forgive everyone else for not telling you until now.

Until we meet again, please accept my warmest woof woof.

Your new pal,

And yes, he did pull the turkey off of the stove; and yes, we did serve it. Aren't you glad you didn't eat with us?

Well I totally screwed the following up! I can't even fix it. LOLOL.

Anyway ...

Roy E Barnes.

Bet I screwed this one up too. Yoiks. No more vacations for me. Or just no trying to blog after spending 14 hours on the road and driving for half of that.


no rhyme or reason

It isn't an ode, a sonnet or even a haiku, but there is something poetic about the initials of the Georgia governor: Roy LinktoComments('90125612')


on today's Dolphin-Patriot game



bonding with the dead

I'll admit it -- in a former life I was a ghoul.

Cemeteries fascinate me. From the way they are laid out to the markers to the plastic flowers placed at graves cemeteries prod my overactive imagination to further bounds. One of my favourite pastimes is trying to picture someone based strictly on what is on their marker and their grave.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Emma Blow Holeman though. At least she didn't die in '69.

"Maude Dunn died at 100 years of age." She done died? Where'd this person learn to write? Didn't he realize that Maude was a teacher and a principal when she was alive? (I can pick on Maude, she was my cousin.)

I spent most of my time this morning clearing smaller branches and broken twigs off of graves, uprighting the floral arrangements and wreaths and sweeping grass clippings off of the markers. I made note of markers needing repair.

What fun! Would you care to join me on my next jaunt to visit the dead?


ack! culture coming out my ears

On Friday Mom and I went to see the Molenaer exhibit at the NC Museum of Art. Has anyone ever heard of Molenaer? I hadn't. His wife was Judith Leyster. If you studied the Baroque period, you had to have learned about her.

Anyway the art exhibit was quite fun. I drove other viewers quite batty. I'm one of those that has to look at a painting from various distances and angles. Standing close and commenting on various aspects of the painting is something I enjoy doing. Since Mom does the same thing -- like mother, like daughter -- we truly enjoy museums.

We commented on how his brush strokes changed over the course of his career, the fact that Molenaer never did seem to quite get hold of perspective and how he used the same faces over and over and over again. Mom looked for the five senses in all of his works. She was also fascinated by the braziers that were ever present.

I checked out all of those things too but was more fascinated by the single shoe that appeared quite often in his works. Was the shoe meant to convey a certain intimacy among those painted? The discarded shoe was always found in the lower righthand quadrant and pointed towards the center of the painting. The orientation of the shoe and the usual subject matter (a painted commentary on vice and virtue) leads me to believe that he wanted to create an intimacy between the viewer and the painting. He was inviting us to step into the picture and to learn from the mistakes of those painted.

Isn't it great fun to put our own meaning on these little things?

Yesterday Mom took Kari and me to see the Carolina Ballet's matinee performance of the Nutcracker. Absolutely worth the time. Especially if Christopher Rudd is performing. Kari was entranced with the stage and costumes. I think we have found a new tradition.

Thank goodness it has nothing to do with It's a Wonderful Life, which I have yet to see.



For Gina's birthday we gave her the rocking chair my mother had sat in to nurse me and later my brother. All three of my children were also nursed while being rocked in this particular chair. I thought it would be nice to continue the tradition with Gina nursing and rocking her and Kirk's children in this chair that my grandfather made.

Because Kirk and I are pretty big on traditions I was shocked to see this beautiful white rocker on their front porch. Absolutely rocked to my core that they would stick this rocker out front where anyone could steal it.

Since my brother wasn't home -- we were just driving by -- I had to teach my brother a lesson and hopefully rectify this situation.

Mom pulled her car over to the curb. Kari and I leapt out of the car and sped to the front porch. I grabbed the rocker and ran around to the backyard with it. Kari flung open the gate so that I could walk up the steps to the back porch. We placed the rocker where they would see it once they stepped outside to walk the dog.

We raced back to the car. I tore apart the car to find a scrap of paper and a pen. On the back of a Victoria's Secret mailing I wrote:
Dear Kirk and Gina,

After the recent ice storm I began to long for the warm sunshine of South Florida... AND people who recognize that I am an indoor chair.

Not so fondly,

Kari bent the note so that she could hang it out of the maildrop where they could not miss it. Right at eye level next to the front door.

I'm wondering if they'll giggle insanely like Mom, Kari and I did. My father does not see the humor in what we did. Old fuddy-duddy. Of course Kirk usually reacts to things the way Dad does.

Bwa ha ha ha! I don't care.


there must always be a little black to offset yellow cheer

My great-aunt Eva was unmasked a while back. She wasn't the nice southern lady she presented to the general public. She is a black-hearted bitch with a capitol "B".

Long story short, last Christmas she removed the greenery that we placed on our ancestors' graves. They were stacked neatly next to someone else's tombstone. Today my father and I went to the cemetery to pay homage to those who passed before us. All the beautiful sprays that my mother had made were cast far away from where they had been placed, berries plucked and scattered, ribbons shredded. At first we tried to deny that for two years running Aunt Ev(il) had desecrated our offerings. No, for sure the damage was done by the storm and the winds on Tuesday.

Then we looked around at other graves. The flowers and wreaths were all in place. Just ours were scattered to the far ends of the section. Dad and I pieced together what we could and placed them back next to the markers.

What recourses do we have? How long do we turn the other cheek?


the friday five

1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year? My garden. ;)

2. What was your biggest disappointment? That I cycled rather hard several times.

3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? Of course.

4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else? I'll be tucked in bed snoozing away. I'd rather be up north snoozing away.

5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions? Is "Bah Humbug" allowed? We don't do anything special.

There's something slightly obscene about a red car with a license plate that reads "FLO", ya know?


today's fun

My mother and I are going to see an exhibit of art by the Dutch masters. Ooh, I'm so excited. My question is... How can it be the Dutch masters if Mom is correct in that I will not recognize the various artists, obscure artists at that?


holiday songs

"Dashing thru the house...
Causing quite a stir...
Runs a little boy...
Laughing all the way..."

"Doorbells ring...
Are you listening...
In the yard...
Kids are playing..."

"Silent night
peaceful night
All is calm
all are asleep
'Round the fire
the boys and the girl
snuggle close
against the chill"

By the way, Kari's first piece on the piano was "Stille Nacht". She played by memory and was given a standing ovation. Okay, so we all had to stand two rooms away so she wouldn't feel pressured.


oh such excitement

Richard ran up to me yesterday brimming with excitement. He had made a discovery, something never seen before. He wanted to tell me all about this wondrous thing. In order to understand him thru his babbling I had to calm him.

Nick and Richard were outside playing whatever games teenage boys play when Richard made his ground-breaking discovery over by the birdbath. He insisted that I too would be amazed.

"Mom, you'll never believe what I saw in the birdbath!"

"A bird perhaps?"

"Better! Something I've never seen... ever!"

"Well, hurry up and tell me. I really need to work on Kupa's spreadsheets."

"Ice! The water in the birdbath is frozen. Isn't that cool?"

"Ummm, Rick, water tends to freeze if the temp is below 32*F for an extended period of time."

"Really? This is still cool, Mom. It would never happen in Miami."


nothing like home

Despite the damp chill and the frozen rain, there's nothing quite like spending the holidays with family.

We drove 13 hours straight with 3 kids and one dog. We sighed in relief that we were heading north when we saw the backup on 95 south (150 miles). We collapsed on our beds when we arrived. The children and Toby bounced off the ceilings, the walls and the stairs. They had too much energy to sleep.

to be cont.... Dad is paging me.


once upon a time

When I was a freshman in college I was convinced that the people who decided who roomed with who had fun with me. I'm Elizabeth Ann. My roommate was Julie Elizabeth. I was from Charlottesville. She was from Charlotte. Across the hall was Sabrina from Durham, NC. I was born in Durham, NC. Her roommate was Carter. My mother's maiden name is Carter. Carter's father and my father lived across the hall from each other their freshman year.

Oh it wasn't just me they had fun with either. Stacy and Tracy were from Little Rock and Rock Hill. Both were also under 5 ft and drank like fish.

We all were filled with glee at being away from home and pseudo-on-our-own. We had dreams of our futures. We had plans for how our college life would go and even how rosy our future would be. Nothing stood in our way.

Except for ourselves.

Julie wanted to get married and have children. She didn't really have a professional life plan. She was there for her Mrs. After graduation she worked for Delta. She didn't marry until 32 and had her first child earlier this year. Sabrina was the most realistic. She had plans A, B and C. She is currently an epidemiologist. Just what she wanted.

Then there's Carter and me.

Carter was beautiful, smart and very outgoing. You couldn't help but smile when she was around and then give a deep sigh of relief when she left. Carter was a whirlwind. She seemed to have everything going for her. Somewhere, sometime junior year she fell apart mentally. She had to leave school. Whispers spread like wildfire across campus. She had a nervous breakdown. She was pregnant and didn't want anyone to know. On and on it went.

I was the one who passed classes without opening a book. When I applied myself, A's dotted my transcript. If I was indifferent, B's and C's were common. Life revolved around sports and the library. I was the quiet girl that hung out with the athletes, who protected me from the world, who checked out anyone who took me out (forgive me... I can't focus on my whos, whose and whoms today). Like Carter, I started coming apart junior year. Bulimia, depression and a major knee problem were dragging me under quickly. Unlike Carter, I bounced from psych to psych without my parents ever finding out. My athlete friends were my anchors and my protectors.

Carter killed herself last week.

I will not.


losing weight

Okay, you do not have to gain weight during the holidays (unless you are on my meds). But I managed to lose a bit yesterday -- by getting a haircut. Yup, 6 inches of hair drifted to the floor as Pam hacked her way thru my monster hair.

Yes, I have monster hair. The funny thing is that it is not even curly. There's just a ton of it.


only my dad

This was his required morning email to me, his wonderful daughter.

Can you figure this out? I went to an ATM machine today, reached in my right back pocket, and pulled out a dinner fork. Have no idea how it got there.


a holiday favourite

My mom spent several years of her childhood in Munchen, Germany. Her family lived in the Hotel Columbia. The following recipe is from one of the people that worked at the hotel.

Oh, this recipe rated a "gimme more" from Rick's classmates.

1 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
powdered sugar

Cream butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Stir in flour and pecans. Mix well. Roll dough 1/2-inch thick on a lightly greased board. Cut into 2 1/2-inch long strips. Form into crescent shapes. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Dust with powdered sugar.

i stand within a circle of oaks
arms outstretched
my face turned up to the sun
for a warm caress
as the breeze flows around me

at peace
with Mother Earth
and myself



My cousin Jo is opening an athletic wear store in the Pearl District of Portland. Since she has worked in the corporate arena of retail and I worked in the trenches, she is flying me out in March or April to help her with setting up the store and giving her a rundown on the day-to-day operations. Operations was my strong suit. I was notorious for being a bitch about details. Of course my comps reflected this.

I'm going digging thru my "past life" boxes in search of the customer service program I wrote and my notebook of operational-type information. My brain will be stretched and my horizons broadened.

Plus I get to see Oregon and Washington when Jo takes me up there!


my education

I was going to start classes thru DePaul University in Chicago. They have an adult program which allows you to take classes via the internet. Because I'm not quite myself these days, I decided that waiting until the summer or next fall would probably be best. Plus we're still waiting for 2 college manuscripts to show up in the enrollment office.

No, I'm not going for another degree. My mind needs to be challenged. There are also large gaps in my education. Courtesy of moving and having to switch schools mid-year and the various curriculums of the various schools didn't quite flow. Isn't that sad?


educating Rick

Planning Richard's homeschooling curriculum is underway. This is going to be even more complicated than I had thought, but that is okay. I'll have a game plan going into his school year.

We decided to break the year into 4 parts. The first 3 months Rick will study the ancients --> history, art; the next quarter --> the middle ages -->history, art; the 3rd quarter --> what is that period between the middle ages and now?; the 4th quarter --> the 20th century. He will read the literature from those time periods. For example, the Iliad during ancient history studies. Does this make sense?

Rachel has agreed to help us with his science studies. Thank goodness! We have purchased an art program, Meet the Masters, which is what is used by many of the teachers in our school district. For physical fitness, Rick will be running and biking. His cousin finished 3rd in the state for mountain biking (age group 16-18; he's barely 15) and will be working with Rick. He will continue with German, and we're adding Latin.

We offered several schooling schedules to Rick: school 3 weeks, 1 week break or follow the school schedule. He opted for the first. He likes the idea of year round schooling, since then he will not forget what he has learned over summer break and he will not burn out from study overload.


what's up with that?

Ya know... I think that my meds are messing with the level of my intelligence. I've gone from semi-intelligent to mostly idiot in one short week. I've become extremely forgetful. I cannot stand up from my seat to get something before what I'm supposed to get has flown out my ears.

Typing is a chore and a half times one hundred. Earlier I went to type help and hoping appeared on the screen. Obnoxious turned into obsequious. So far I've had 17 typos in this post.

I truly do not understand this. Lower intelligence is NOT supposed to be a side-effect of my meds. Thank goodness I have an appointment in the morning.


gift exchange

Robert gave me a computer armoire for Xmas. No more seeing the computer and all it's paraphenalia when you walk into the room. Hurray! I'm doing backflips. Now if he also purchased some sort of elephant trinket, he will receive a "get out of the doghouse free" card from me.

We did our "while you were out" for him this past weekend. The entertainment center still has to be painted, so I will post pictures after that is completed. He really enjoys spending time in the family room with us, although he doesn't quite understand why we did the room with his sports stuff and airplanes. 'Cause the room is meant for him. Duh!

I'm going to Portland! I'm going to Portland! I'm so excited!


skies overhead


in up to my elbows

No matter how many cookies I make, my children and our neighbors' children seem to have the ability to make them disappear. So here I am, baking again. Oy veh! And some of them were for Rick's Xmas party tomorrow.

My mom asked if I wanted to bring some sweets to NC. Moms always think they are so subtle. As if their children don't recognize that questions can also be orders. She's lucky I like to bake.

oh come on

Must we combine patriotism and the December holidays? On a walk in another neighborhood I spotted a family of wooden reindeer painted like the American flag!


I learned something about obnoxious neighbors over the weekend. Neighbors who have a live band perform at their party until 1 am are not neighborly. I would have been fine with it if only they had warned me.

But there's something much worse that neighbors can do at a party. Something that makes my skin crawl and my ears want to flee. Karaoke. Yes, the live band left at 1 am and the karaoke machine was plugged in. Why does a woman who sings soprano think she can do justice to Bad to the Bone?

will wonders never cease?

This morning the temperature was 47 on the coast, which means we were a few degrees cooler. The kids and I were outside watching our breath.


game notes

Ed Perry recovered a fumble on a Raider return. Way to go, Ed!

Jamie Nails blew out his achilles. grrrr.

Ricky Williams has a website, complete with online journal. Ricky also had yet another 100-yd plus game. So bizarre to see a Dolphins' team with a running game.

Bubba has been a season ticket holder for over 30 years. Wow!

If I had known women's fashions were going to be so scanty, I would have invested in whatever company sells double-stick tape. One lady sitting near us had to use the stuff to keep her pants at a respectable place. Cannot imagine how she copes with going to the little girls' room.

The Jets lost!!!

Nice people sat behind me today.

Twizzler Man tossed his licorice all game long. He even walked up our aisle to make sure that the rest of 'his' section had a chance to catch one of his treats. Paul told him that I needed one. I sat and stared at my twizzler for a few minutes, debating whether to eat it or save it. After all I may never receive another. I ate it.

Traffic was horrible today. We arrived too late to park in the Camry lot, so off to Calder we drove. Calder's website claims that they are right next door to Joe Robbie Stadium (aka Pro Player). WRONG! There are apartments, then a street, then a neighborhood, then a canal, THEN the stadium. We missed kickoff.

Notice I'm just rambling?

Travis Minor had a great game.

Just inside the gates were stadium employees handing out orange sheets of paper reminding ticket holders that they could still order their playoff tickets as well as purchase extra tickets. What a waste. They did make great confetti!

I'm sick and tired of hearing about the '72 Dolphins and their perfect season. And if they are going to show clips from those games, I wanna see the ones where Csonka punches people as he runs past them. Make it fun.

And, Mr. Madison, instead of knocking the ball out of the air, intercept it!



silly dog

Whenever the temperature is below 70 Toby becomes a frisky basset. He bounds thru the grass. He sniffs everything. He is a bundle of energy. This morning he found a scent that he had to follow. He sniffed his way along the crest of the Ridge. He even stuck his head in a tangled mess of vines to better sniff.

Mistake. Toby moved his head among the vines, trying to find whatever it was that left this intriguing smell behind. Satisfied that whatever it was had moved on, Toby tried to back up and continue on his merry way. Not a chance. He had tangled his head up in those clingy vines.

I chortled, hooted and snorted with laughter. Until Toby whimpered that is. I then quickly untangled his silly self and we continued on our way.

Toby didn't sniff at anything for the last 1/2 mile of our walk.


oh what a beautiful morning!

The light this morning is spectacular. Strong, but not blinding. Sharp shadows are cast in the oaks, intensifying their beauty. Everything is given a deep, rich hue.

The Tiffany blue skies are mackeraled, my favorite kind of sky. I want to lie down in the grass and gaze upwards as the clouds pass overhead.

A breeze with a bit of a chill to it whispers thru the oaks.


life goes on

Mom called to let me know that one of my cousins died of an apparent heartattack. Keith was 47, married with 2 young boys.

I'm not sure how I feel about his passing. Perhaps ambivalent. Sounds cold, but we weren't close. I had only met him a few times.

Michael, Kari and Toby watch me mess with tangled strings of light.


cookies galore!

Will someone please take these cookies off my hands and out of my house? I have dozens of the darn things in my freezer, in bags on the counter. That's not even taking into account the dough in the freezer that is just waiting for the heat of the oven.

I have almond cookies, sweet dreams, cinnamon peanutbutter cookies, kipfel, kuss mich cookies, sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, eggnog cookies and cream cheese cutouts.

We won't discuss how much hot cocoa mix I have made up. And we will ignore the pint jars of russian tea mix.



Someone has 2 wreaths on either side of their garage door. Being a curious person, I walked up their driveway to see what was used to make them. I stared in shock for a few minutes and then doubled over laughing. Sweet gum balls! Personally sweet gum balls make my feet hurt just by my gazing at them. How many times have I run barefoot thru the yard and stepped on one of those darn things? Nice to see that a good use was found for them. My grandfather used to make people out of them.

A member of the local squirrel population was spotted in my yard this morning. As long as they stay away from my birdfeeder, everything will be fine. If they don't, and I honestly think it will be hours before they discover it, I will be forced to use cayenne pepper.

Rick's room in the neatest one in the house. I really must get to work.


mental update

The new med plus the increase in an old one are starting to help. I'm no longer weeping, raging or bouncing off the walls. Physically I'm no longer manic. Mentally I am, but in not such a negative way. Perhaps my Yule-tide spirit will return.


chef michael

What can I say? Michael thinks that baking desserts is something that must be done on a daily basis. He has reached the point where he now can make Ghiradelli brownies by himself. He gets the mix, oil, water and egg out. He puts everything in the bowl. Ok, except for the egg. Cracking the egg is my job. He mixes it all up with his wooden spoon and cons me into pouring the dough in a baking dish. Smart boy!

Found this in my draft "drawer." It's making me hungry for brownies. Michael wants to make cookies or maybe "bwed, Mom."


around the world in cookies

Rick is studying world geography this year. He loves it. Especially when food is involved.

Next week they are having a huge holiday party at his school, so I volunteered to bring the food. Hey, I am a great baker. No fancy decorations (although I've been known to decorate cakes with roses and orchids), just good eats.

I need to find some cookies that represent African nations though. So far the majority of them have been more representative of the Netherlands with minor variations in the ingredients.


a missed opportunity

Rick forgot to tell us on Monday to park and come inside his school. Ed Perry wanted to meet us. Well a pbbbtht! and a hmmph! to my oldest.

Ed Perry has had a tremendous and positive impact on our family, and Robert and I have yet to meet him. We want to thank him for all he has done for Rick. He opened Rick's eyes to the joys of sports, the positive aspect of physical exercise, but most importantly he taught Rick that sometimes it's wonderful to be silly. Because he peaked Rick's interest in football, Rick now has something to talk about with other boys his age. He has been able to connect with his peer group, something he'd never done before. He has gained confidence and self-esteem. And Mr. Perry was the catalyst.

I just love the man.

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal." ~Albert Camus

I'm one of these people expending tons of energy to present a normal face to the world. Trying to keep my pain/anger/blues tucked away inside doesn't always work well. Some days explosions just happen.

Dr. Q asked me if I would hurt myself or others. That's a difficult question.

If my children were threatened, most definitely. I kicked a car the other day in a parking lot. Kari and I were holding hands as we walked across the crosswalk. A highschool girl thought it would be funny to run a stop sign at twice the speed limit (this is in a parking lot remember) and drive straight at us. I kicked her car after she slammed to a stop just past us. She started yelling at me and calling me a bitch. Her friends were all having a grand time laughing and egging her on. I told her to fuck off and if she thought about calling the police, I had many witnesses who would testify against her. She smirked and was ready to dial her cellphone when someone stepped forward with their cellphone and said, "Go ahead." Cellphones at 10 paces.

I cannot envision killing myself. I do wish sometimes that I could disintegrate. Sparkling pieces dancing away on the wind, glittering in the sunlight, absorbed by sky and earth. I have stood in the bathroom staring at my medicine bottles thinking "This is too easy."

But I cannot act on these thoughts. I have 3 children, a husband. I cannot scar them in such a way.

I can wait for the new med to kick in.

Patience is a virtue.


to continue on the Milne theme

I want to be Eeyore when I grow up. He comes across as the bluest donkey ever, but if you listen to him, he simply takes things in stride. He can't change the past, so he lives with it and goes on. He is pessimistic though in an optomistic way. He is always pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than he expected.

Piglet I cannot stand. He is whiny, whiny, whiny.

Rabbit should have been a biddy. Kanga is too June Cleaver for me. Owl, how can I say this..., is a pompous featherhead.

BOUNCE! bounce! BOUNCE! Tigger is fun. Pooh is a silly old bear.

Now off to make Honey Balls (Steph Strikes Again!). If they are any good, I'll share the recipe.


rapid cycling

To badly misquote Winnie the Pooh (the only Pooh with a name!):
Up, down, up
When I up, down, smack the ground
I'm rapidly changing moods
Up, down, smack the ground,
Ecstatic to bleak moods.

I smile then frown
And I have found
Speaking emotional-wise
Beating my head against the wall
Is a futile exercise.

Since my usual methods of fighting my demons are not working, Dr. Q. and I have made the decision to temporarily add an anti-psychotic. Doesn't that sound wonderful? I need help fast, before I wreak havoc (or is that wreck havoc?) on all those around me. If I don't understand my rage, tears and silliness, how can I expect my children to? How can I expect them to obliterate my flights into emotional and mental bedlam from their memories?


where would you live?

Yet another question that my psychologist loves to ask me. The place may change depending on my particular mood at that particular time, but one requirement stays the same.
I want to feel as if I could reach up and touch the stars.

One of my earliest memories is of my father carrying me into our new house. It was cold and dark, straw covered the yard. I remember thinking that the ground must be so cold that it needed a coat just like I did. I looked up and saw stars. Big twinkling lights that looked close enough for me to touch with my fingertips. They beckoned to me and made me feel safe.

Here in South Florida the night skies are mostly black. City lights cast such a glow that we cannot enjoy the heavens. A person has to hop in a boat and head to the east or jump in a car and drive west to best enjoy the view. Otherwise Orion will be your only friend up in the sky.

Stars speak to me of possibilities. You could argue that life is already full of enough possibilities to boggle any mind, but remember that a person's perception is what matters the most. I cannot see the stars here. The ebb and flow of the life cycle is not as tangible here in the subtropics - at least not to one who was raised with seasons. I am separated from what my soul craves by concrete, steel and electricity. The only seasons that I now experience are rainy and dry. Dry season should arrive soon. The changing of the license plates* has started.

So I want to live where I can almost touch the stars. And there had better be seasons too!

*The snowbirds have begun to migrate south. Canadian and NY plates are starting to overtake Florida plates in numbers.


and the answer is...

One thing I despise about psych appts is all the questions. Since I had to schedule an appt for tomorrow (it's that or truck myself on over to the local asylum), I'm practicing my responses. These are the nice versions of what I'd really like to say. My Southern upbringing is winning out over the New England influence these days.

"Do you feel hopeless/helpless?"

Yes, dammit. I also feel angry, despondent, out of control and jittery.

"On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your mood these days?"

Lets see: 1, 4, 7, 2, 9, 5, 4, 8....

"Do you feel as if you will hurt yourself?"

Perhaps. I drive by a canal and wonder how long it takes to drown, but I can't stand water.

"Have you identified any triggers?"

These damn questions.


scared of heights?

The Ridge is the highest natural point in Broward County at 29 feet.

We have garbage dumps that are easily 5 times that high. Scary thought.



Why does everyone have to stand when there's a fight in the next section? Honestly, the more people who stand, the fewer who can see.

Why does everyone assume that there is a fight going on when men are standing up, looking in one particular directions and yelling, "yeah! Go!"? I muttered to Robert that it was probably a drunken woman taking her shirt off.

Why do some women feel the urge to flash their breasts (obviously implants) at a large number of men in the pouring rain at a football game? I have never had that desire -- even when they were perky young breasts. And why was her boyfriend taking money from the men who wanted to see her breasts? And will he declare that money as income on his taxes?

Why do the men who sit behind me put their feet on the back of my seat, kick me in the head, spill their beer on me? And last night they added smacking me in the head with the weighted ends of their ponchos and then later shaking the water off their ponchos onto me! They moved to different seats after Robert stood up and gave 'em all hell about it.

Why is Ricky Williams such a fumbler? He'd have had over 250 yards if he could have held on to the ball. Sheesh. Then again, I'm kind of glad that Bo Jackson's Monday Night Football rushing record for a single game didn't fall.

And why did Robert have to call Bubba Bubba to his face? Can you believe that he forgot that this was a nickname, my nickname for John? Thank goodness Bubba didn't notice. Robert's comment, "And I suppose that Asshole isn't really his son's name." Well, duh.


is your sweet tooth bugging you?

Gingerbread Cookies
2/3 cup molasses (not robust)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allpice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into TBS pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up -- vastly amusing to 3 year olds), then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. Add egg and stir until comined, then stir in 3 3/4 cups flour and salt.

Preheat oven to 325*.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of the remaining flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Halve dough, then wrap 1 half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Roll out remaining dough until it is 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out as many cookies as possible with cutters and carefully transfer to 2 buttered large baking sheets. (You will want to cut cookies out as close together as you can. The scraps can only be rerolled once. After one rerolling they just don't stick together anymore. The dough is delicious though, so it will not go to waste!)

Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes total. Watch carefully toward end of bakin as the cookies can burn easily. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 weeks.

Makes 48.

You can decorate these cookies with icing if you wish. This is the recipe that followed the cookies:

Decorator Icing
1 (1-lb) box confectioners sugar
4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (NOT reconstituted)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat icing, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until it holds stiff peaks about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 4 to 5 minutes with a handheld.

If you want to use food coloring, beat it in.

If you plan to spread (rather than pipe) icing on cookies, stir in more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency.

Recipe was found in Gourmet, December 2002 issue, page 88.


you should know better

One of our neighbors across the Ridge was robbed this morning.

How do I know this? Lady and Spoiled Collie decided to play on the Ridge between my house and the path. Toby was in a humping mood, so trying to get past the collie would have put me in the ER with a dislocated shoulder. We were forced to go way out of our way to access the path further down. This meant we were strolling past the scene of the crime.

Several police cars were outside a home, blue lights flashing, driver doors wide open. For several minutes I had to argue with Toby. He wanted to go for a ride. I had to explain over and over that just because a car door is open, a dog shouldn't think that this means he is going for a ride. Toby whimpered and whined and gave me the pleading look that Basset hounds have perfected over centuries of breeding.

During this argument I was able to hear the story the homeowner was giving the officers. Seems that he surprised a burglar when he strolled into his kitchen. The burglar took off thru the laundry room and out thru the garage. Along the way, he dropped the man's wallet (sans cash), his daytimer, car keys and various other items. He jumped into a waiting car and sped off away from the sunrise. The homeowner went back inside to call the police and take inventory of his possessions.

What did he lose? A computer, tv, dvd player and a microwave.

How did the robber get in? Seems the garage door was inadverdantly left open overnight. He just strolled in thru the laundry room. (For some reason the doors from the garage into the laundry room just have regular doorknobs, no locks.)

At the first lull in questions, the robbee asked the officers, "Can I please pick up my planner?" You see, the rain was falling fast and furious and his planner had fallen face down and open in the wet grass.

Poor guy. At least my day is starting off much better than his.

Oh, and did I mention that he has a dog? A lean, mean (okay, actually friendly) Rottweiler.


tick, tock

Three hours of sleep last night. At least I slept a bit.

Robert stumbled in from work at 6:30 am. Poor guy.


get behind me!

Frog decided he just had to tag along on the morning walk. Obviously he had never strayed towards the westernmost part of the Ridge. He had to stop and sniff each tree we passed. And we walked by quite a few. When he was sniffing, Frog and Toby would galomph along, winding around each other in a cat-dog dance.

Then we hit dog alley.

Cujo, spoiled collie, ignored Jack Russell, Bugs and Savannah all live in houses that back up to the path. Cujo went nuts. Frog climbed a tree. He came down when he realized that Cujo was behind a fence. Jack ran and leapt and yapped, but Frog was savvy to the whole fence thing now. Bugs and Savannah walked up for a friendly sniff. Frog returned the sniff and then rubbed along their fence.

Spoiled collie was out on a walk. She saw Frog and went ballistic, jerking her leash so hard that her owner came stumbling after her. There were no trees for Frog to climb to get away. He was petrified. He lay in the grass hoping that it was tall enough to hide him.

Toby to the rescue! Normally Toby is panty to meet and greet. Not this morning. Instead he placed himself between Frog and spoiled collie and growled. Toby actually growled at another dog. I was taken aback. Spoiled collie transformed to cowering collie. Frog was so grateful that after the collie shuffled dejectedly away, he leapt in joy and then gave Toby rubs and kisses.

Guess our cat and dog are getting along quite well these days.


bounce, bounce, bounce

Energy is still coursing thru my body. If I'm still like this tomorrow, Dr. Q will call in a "calm this woman down" med.

I dragged Robert from one home improvement store to another yesterday. We went out to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Toby is exhausted from all the walking. My big guffaw from yesterday was watching Robert root thru the bobblehead toys from the Island of Misfit Toys to find a Heat Miser.. I finally had to give in and tell him that Heat Miser wasn't from that particular special. Poor guy was devastated.

Robert taught me how to use a saw. Not a run-of-the-mill powered-by-brute-strength saw. This one is a power tool. Rick was horrified that Robert would teach me how to use one. I immediately starting sawing anything that I could. I framed out Michael's window with moulding, cut the boards for a bookcase and the moulding for the windows in the family room. What fun! Next time I want to learn to use the scroll saw. THAT looks interesting.

We also put lights on 3 of our 6 trees. Words of advice... if you have a behemoth tree and do not want to drag out a ladder to string the lights at the top, use one of those poles for changing the lights in ceilings. Works like a dream. Michael pitched a fit when he realized that his little tree now had lights. I had to do some fast talking so that I wouldn't have to remove them.

Now what to do today...

Where Did Your Soul Originate?

brought to you by Quizilla

Couldn't they have found a more pleasant picture?



The fog lay heavy and dense across the Ridge this morning. I stood at the highest point, underneath an ancient oak, and felt apart from the world. All that was visible were the oaks, birches and white ibis searching the grass for whatever it is they eat.

The rumble of traffic off in the distance was all that disturbed this world.


Rage bubbles up from deep within sometimes when my brain kicks into manic mode. Everything pisses me off.

To control the rage I keep busy. All the energy that rage creates is channeled into other things.. Painting, cooking, walking, moving furniture. Anything to keep from spontaneously combusting. One day -- I swear -- flames will come shooting out my eyes, mouth and fingertips.

I can feel a bout of mania coming on. Hopefully the non-rage kind. Energy is bubbling beneath my skin, waiting to burst forth and do. My mind has been racing. Sleep fled at 4 this morning.

My "coming soon" mania must be obvious. Robert called in to request the day off. He knows that at times like this dealing with the needs of 3 children is too much for me to handle.


something borrowed and... blue?

This poem is from Kane Blues. I hope he doesn't mind, but I just love this one.

The Flow

The bamboo is green
The lotus are pink
The waterfall flows
and kisses newfound stones

The bamboo is brown
The lotus are yellow
The waterfall flows
and shapes eager stones

The bamboo is hollow
The lotus are red
The waterfall flows
and parts distinguished stones

The bamboo is green
The lotus are white
The waterfall flows
and kisses newfound stones.

I found this when Sue posted Kane's direction. Whenever I feel a bit blue, this grants me a touch of hope.


in a fog

Too much sleep is a bad thing, especially if you sleep badly.

I fell asleep last night while reading Michael a bedtime story. I woke up this morning fully dressed, glasses perched on my nose and hair pulled back in a ponytail. A crick had taken hold of my neck, and my head was pounding. Despite my agony Toby still had to be taken for a walk. Not a short walk either. Our morning walks are 2 miles.

We stumbled out the front door and headed toward the Ridge. Fog blanketed the Ridge. Perfect scene for how I was feeling.

Did you know that fog is made up of layers? I noticed that this morning.



I need more poundcake recipes. Totally bored with the ones I have here.

Between me and Steph, mostly Steph, we have over 200 pages of recipes. How many years will it take me to work thru these?

I'm thinking January will be the month of the cheesecake.


educating rick

We have decided to homeschool Rick next year. I'm overwhelmed by the number of decisions that we now must make.

Do we want to purchase a curriculum or devise our own? We will devise our own, but base it off of the Calvert School curriculum. Rick has been using their texts for the past 2 years, so keeping with these will make the transition to homeschooling easier.

For which subjects will we hire a tutor?
*Math? I actually had a doctor's note that excused me from math classes in college.
*Science? Biology is fine. Forget chemistry.
*Reading/Grammar? Not necessary.
*Geography? I don't think so.
*History? With a history major in the house? Ba ha ha ha ha. Okay if we choose to focus on the Middle Ages, Robert will weasel out of this one. He knows nothing about this time period. I was the idiot that took class after class. My favorite history term paper was 30 pages, single-spaced, on the use of torture in the Middle Ages.
*Social studies? Not a chance.
*Latin? Definitely.
*German? For speaking skills. My accent is horrible and so is my pronunciation. Sometimes a Southern accent is a detriment.

Then there's the whole subject of whether to have a teacher oversee us, to ensure that Richard is progressing academically. I do feel this is necessary, so then the problem becomes who. I want Beth. Wonder if she'd be interested. She hasn't a clue as to who I am, but I do think she'd be honest about his progress.

My brain hurts.



Having a dog in the family means everyone must get out there and walk several times a day. No excuses. Of course the mother must do the majority of the dog-walking chore. Because Toby and I do walk about 5 miles each day, I have noticed little things that make a walker's life miserable. So please, if you do these things, STOP!

1. Cars blocking the sidewalk. Rude, just plain rude to force pedestrians into the street. Either park in your driveway or along the curb. If there isn't a curb, park the car along the swale.

2. Sprinklers pointed towards the sidewalk. Come on, there's no grass there.

3. Cyclists. Sidewalks are not your personal roadway. Bikes belong in the street or on designated bike paths.

4. Horse manure.

5. People who do not keep their dogs leashed. I don't care if you are a cop. Your dog just rushed and humped mine.

6. Rotting fruit. If you have a tree that bears fruit, pick the stuff. Don't let it fall on the sidewalk and rot. Nasty. And slippery.

7. Untrimmed hedges. Not only are untidy hedges aesthetically displeasing, they are a hazard. Have you ever tripped into a crown-of-thorns hedge? Major pain.

8. And as of last night -- spotlights that not only are motion activated but are pointed at the head of the person walking by. Must you blind me?


to retry another less humid day

Shortcut Caramels

1 cup butter or margarine
1 (1-pound) package brown sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Generously butter foil; set pan aside.

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, melt 1 cup butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup; mix well. Carefully clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 248 degrees, firm-ball stage. Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over entire surface. Reaching firm-ball stage should take 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat; remove candy thermometer from saucepan. Immediately stir in vanilla and nuts, if using. Quickly pour caramel mixture into prepared baking pan. When caramel is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut candy into 1-inch squares. Wrap each piece in clear plastic wrap. makes 81 pieces or about 2 3/4 pounds.

from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Thursday, November 7, 2002

Next time I plan on checking the humidity before attempting this. (Thanks, Richard) Anything over 60% will put a halt to slaving over the stove for candy.


oh tannenbaum

We went searching for our family tree this morning. We knew we wanted an 8 foot tree, full and fragrant. We trekked on over to our favorite nursery -- 7Brothers -- in Southwest Ranches. They keep all their trees in water and are willing to wade thru the trees to help you find the perfect one.

Mike was the only one working with the trees. He had 2 8-footers that he'd pulled from the back and taken the strings off. The first tree was a bit ragged at the bottom. The second tree was perfect for us. Mike and Raph tossed our tree up on the van and away we went.

Then we tried to get the tree off the top of the van. We didn't realize how heavy it was. We couldn't just lift the tree off. We had to ease it down to the ground. Several scratches now mar our van's previously pristine paint job. After we attached the stand we stood in the driveway staring from the tree to our front door. How in the heck were we supposed to carry that tree 20 feet? We actually considered waiting for Max and Rich to get home to help us, until we stiffened our spines and refused to be wimps.

Robert and I heaved ho and shuffled our way to the living room with tree in tow. Michael kept running in front of us. Toby danced around our feet. Three tries were needed to stand the tree upright. I had to sit on the floor with my feet resting on the tree stand to keep it from skidding across the tile. Robert had the challenge of lifting the tree all by his lonesome.

Our jaws hit the floor as we gazed upwards to the top of the tree. With our tree standing tall in the living room we realized this was no mere 8-footer. Our tree was easily 10-feet. We had to rearrange furniture (read "Eliz had to move the piano and 2 chairs) in order to accomodate the width of this behemoth. Robert is concerned that we may not have a sufficient number of lights.

Can't wait to decorate!


can you believe

Rick was nominated for secretary of student government by several of his school chums. He does have some competition -- his pre-teen love -- Jessica.



Never make homemade caramels. Perhaps I missed some small print somewhere with key directions, but I don't believe so. I'm still waiting for the darn stuff to harden enough to slice with a buttered knife and not have the individual pieces blob out everywhere. Does taste great over ice cream though.


Pralines. Stick with pralines. Delectable. Can't eat just one. No, I will not share. Get your hands away from there!

later today

Cookies galore! Gingersnaps with crystallized ginger, pfefferneuse and kuss mich cookies.

Christmas is coming. Eliz is getting fat. Please hide the cookies in that old man's hat...


game highlight

While watching Ricky Williams' 55 yd TD run:

Michael: "He running! He gone! He in there! He score, Mommy?"

Me: "Yes, he did."

Michael: "Hurray! Touchdown! You go, dude!"



My brother-in-law Jim loves wine. His favorite is a Kunde 1996 Cab. I've searched every little wine shop around here for a bottle. No go. Most of the sommeliers had never even heard of the Kunde winery.

I drove a friend to the commissary. Quite a long drive. You wouldn't believe what she gave me as a thank you gift.

Now why do they carry this at the commissary but not out in civilian stores? Who cares. Jim will be happy.


Our live oak sapling is now almost my height. Little bright green leaves are unfurling at the tips of all the branches.

My roses are blooming. I pruned my democrat roses out front. Hopefully they will rejuvenate quickly.


A certain three-year-old keeps asking for the same thing over and over. This has been going on for 2 1/2 hours so far.

"Mommy, I want some your cake."

We don't even have any cake in the house right now!


burn 'em all

My mother-in-law gave me the most difficult time on Friday. She doesn't approve of my taking off my irksome bras and leaving them lie where they will. She found one in the van, one behind a sofa cushion, another on the bench in the foyer. She hung them all on my doorknob.

I explained to her that bras itch, are uncomfortable and the straps dig into my shoulders. She didn't care. She gave me the raised eyebrow, crossed arms, tapping toe attitude. My excuse was too weak for her. Impressionable children reside here.

Fine. Bras may offer support and keep me from giving myself black eyes and bruised thighs, but they are uncomfortable in the extreme. The shoulder straps dig into my shoulders. I have ditches to prove it. She suggested a wider strap. Nope. Been there, done that -- my shoulders are so narrow that the edges of the strap extend past my shoulder. No thank you! The fabrics used simply do not breath, which means sweaty chest. Yuck. Cotton bras that actually provide adequate support and don't shrink to a smaller cup size after a few washings are impossible to find. These fabrics also make me itch and some even give me the hives. And if you use the accepted method of bra fitting, I need a cup size that sounds like I should be a stripper. One saleslady had me try on the size indicated. She's still searching for my breasts in that bra.

I will continue to wear bras in public or when we have company, but the second I hit the front door or my guests do, off comes the damn thing.

And I'm not the only one that does this. One of Rick's friends found one of my discards the other day. He started laughing, "I thought my mom was the only one who did this."

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson