Life on the Ridge
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frustration with self

I'm frustrated with myself, my family and the world.

My most recent conclusion is that I am among the world's laziest and whiniest people. I lack drive, motivation and focus. They are so well hidden I may never find them within myself; hence the frustration.

Let me start with my physical self. I walk a minimum of 3 miles a day (usually closer to 5) at a pace of under 20 minutes. I consume no more than 1500 calories each day. I am 60 pounds overweight. Several years ago I was working out 3 times a week -- time on the bike, the treadmill and the torture machine also known as the cross-country skier, weight training and an aerobics class. I went from 135 to 166 in a matter of months. No explanation. The pounds just jumped on and have been hanging on for dear life ever since. I look in the mirror, at my clothes and want to cry. My oldest has been delighting in telling me how fat and ugly I am. Even his psych has been trying to get him to stop. My mother keeps telling me to walk more and eat less. I eat less and walk more than she does. We won't discuss the grey hair that I now have to color every 2 to 3 weeks the darn stuff grows so fast.

As a mother, I feel like I'm doing a horrible job. Of course every parent goes thru this stage, but I'm dealing with a teenager that has aspergers, a pre-teen girl who feels quite left out of everything and a toddler who demands all sorts of attention. I'm overwhelmed. Especially since my husband's schedule leaves me as a single-parent for 4 days of the week.

As a housekeeper I suck. I've almost given up hope of ever having a presentable house. I won't invite people in. I'm too embarassed.

As a wife, poor Robert, he didn't know he was marrying an emotional basketcase, an incompetent housekeeper and a so-so mother.

See! I'm whiny as hell.

And just for once I'd like my family to shut up and support me instead of telling me to become active in the church, in junior womens club (I'm too old, you idiots) and to exercise more and eat less. I'd like my brother to be a brother and not focus so much on his friends that he shuts me out. I'd like Robert to do something other than say "I'm sorry" and go back to playing playstation2.

I want, I want, I want. Depression makes me very self-centered and self-conscious and self-pitying.

I told my psych that I was anti-narcissistic.


antique windows

I love them.

When I paint or draw, I have a tendancy to paint or draw windows.


will it ever end?

State may ask Oliphant for return of misspent $600,000 voter grant


is that a rhetorical question?

"Have our fans gone too far?"

If they are rioting after winning or losing a game, then the answer is obviously yes. It's a GAME, idiots.


stupidity all around

Coach Callahan of the Raiders sent Barrett Robbins home after benching him for the Superbowl, because Robbins was incoherent and didn't know where he was. Callahan went on to say that he felt something wrong was happening.

Really? Whatever gave him that idea?

I hate to treat Barrett Robbins situation with sarcasm, but his coach and his teammates need a good swift kick. Robbins does too, but for a different reason.

Robbins is bipolar and thus has had to deal with severe bouts of depression interspersed with periods of mania. He was on medication that helped to control his symptoms and the med was working. Unfortunately he chose to take himself off of his meds, possibly because he felt mentally healthy or possibly because he didn't like the side-effects. More unfortunately his mental state went haywire. He spiralled into depression.
"This guy was messed up. All he could think about was his family, his two daughters,'' Dise told the newspaper. "He was talking about killing himself, saying he was disappointing people and he had a lot of people to support financially and he was letting them all down.''

Did Dise call *911 to get help? If he did, no mention was made. If he did not, Dise needs to understand that he did a disfavor to Robbins. Talking about suicide is a warning sign, a sign no one should ignore. It does not matter, if you feel that the person is all talk and no action, call *911 and get help. A psychiatrist should make the determination as to whether or not someone is suicidal.

What did Coach Callahan do about his player that was incoherent and uncertain as to where he was? He benched him then chose to send him home to Oakland. No mention is made as to whether or not someone accompanied Robbins back to Oakland. From what Callahan says about being uncertain as to Robbins whereabouts, I'd have to say no. Callahan made a good decision (benching) and a bad one (sending him home without supervision).
"There's a point in time you can only do so much as a coach and as an organization,'' Callahan said. "His situation didn't mandate personal bodyguards around the clock.''

Callahan is correct in saying that there is only so much you can do. He was wrong in not doing what anyone should do for someone who is severely depressed and suicidal, calling *911. Obviously Robbins' mental state deteriorated to the point where he did need a guard. Someone who cared enough to make certain that he received the necessary help. But Robbins was too confused to make the decision.

It doesn't matter that Robbins was 'normal' for the regular season and the playoffs. What mattered was how rapidly and completely he fell apart. Unfortunately winning the Superbowl took precedence over a player's life.

Here's to hoping Barrett Robbins has the inner strength to get his life back on track.


what's wrong with this picture?

Broward County's supervisor of elections cannot seem to get her act together. Ms. Oliphant is constantly asking for additional funding. She can't explain why she is having problems meeting budget, let alone why she can't seem to run elections smoothly and without horrible screwups.

So into her office come other election supervisors from around the state. Not a problem. Seems to be a good idea -- having those who do run smooth elections come in to give pointers.

But it seems to me that Theresa LaPore of Palm Beach should not be the head of this committee. She's the one who created that controversial butterfly ballot during the Presidential elections. But that's probably just me.



I was frustrated with everyone and myself yesterday. So what did I do? I stomped around on the tile, banged on the piano for awhile and then slammed a few doors. From his spot on the bed, Robert asked what was wrong. Bad question. I let him have it.

*kids that need constant supervision when doing the most basic of chores
*a sick child who is of course being very demanding and wanting to be held
*a dog that thinks he should go out once an hour
*a cat that winds around my feet constantly because he wants outside
*a neighborhood kid that I caught cutting up the recently installed soaker hose (3rd time)

and the big one

*a DH that thinks he should get to lay in bed all day long or play playstation or ....

He apologized and then asked what was for dinner.


still snuffling

Michael is still sick. Poor little boy can't fall asleep until around 2 in the morning and can't stay asleep. He vomits up his decongestant. What joy. Now he's starting to wheeze. He will not like having to use his nebulizer, but a boy has to breathe, doesn't he?

Hopefully Kari won't catch this cold. Colds start her on a bad cycle with her asthma. She ends up missing too much school, because she can't carry her rescue inhaler and running to the nurse's station every 2 hours is disruptive. Plus the school usually phones us to come get her, because she coughs and coughs and coughs... (She's a coughing asthmatic, she rarely wheezes.) and Kari looks like walking death when she's in the middle of an episode. Hollow bruised eyes, sallow skin, can't move and when she does it's slower than slow. She looks so horrible.

Rick always has a drippy nose. We wouldn't know if he had a cold if his germs jumped out and sickened us.


I totally agree

Are they in denial? Life changes after the baby is born. Want to go to a hockey game - get a sitter! What makes them think the people sitting around them want to deal with the presence of a crying newborn?

Not to mention germs, uncomfortable seats, no place to stow jr's diaper bag... Where do you change a diaper?

I'll take my daughter to a hockey game - when she can enjoy it!


When our oldest was born, our life changed. I became a stay-at-home-mom. Robert and I were up nights. We couldn't just go to the movies or out to dinner whenever we wanted. Playing tennis was severely curtailed (and hasn't been done for 11 years now). The house was messy. Spending time with Richard was much more fun and definitely more interesting than making sure the baseboards were dust-free.

We started to get back into the swing of things when Richard was about 8 months old. When Robert was at work, Dad and I would take Richard to the race track. He loved visiting the paddock and watching the horses run. Yes, I took him to the track. Bad mommy, but my dad was an owner. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! We also took him to Spring Training. Dad was interviewing various people for his book and I played chauffeur. Richard wasn't too impressed with Tommy Lasorda. We didn't stick around for games. We just wanted to watch batting practice, pitching practice, that sort of thing. When Richard was one, I started taking him for a weekly lunch at Tamiami Tower. He loved being in the tower cab and watching the planes touch and go. He spent time with his daddy and I walked around the airfield and watched the biplanes when there were any.

Looking back on it, Richard was not an easy baby, but he was not colicky. He was a challenge. He was curious and always on the go. He didn't like being held very often. That interfered with his explorations.

I still can't imagine having taken him to a sporting event when he was a newborn.



Yesterday Rick asked if he could have friends over. We told him absolutely not, because Michael is sick with a nasty cold and fever. Rick seemed okay with this. When Wayne and Messiah came over to see what he was up to, Rick ran outside to play football with them. Imagine my shock an hour and a half later when I heard 4 teenage males tromp in thru my front door. Seems they picked up Michael P along the way and were coming in to watch a James Bond dvd. I had a quick little chat with Rick. Wayne came over to apologize. "Miss Eliz, I didn't know that Michael was sick. I hope he feels better."At least Wayne didn't think I was being a bitch.

A bit later Kari came running in. "Mom, can I go to Nicole's house?"

"Yes, but you must be back at 5 pm."

And off she went to Nicole's house to play. I popped dinner into the oven at 4:30 since we wanted to eat before the game started. At 5, no sign of Kari. At 5:15, no sign of Kari. At 5:30, still no sign, so I sent Rick to tell her to come home. He came back saying Kari would be right home and that I had never told her when to be home. At 5:45 Kari's body has not entered any door of the house. At 6:00 Rick was sent to drag her home. I called over for good measure.

Kari walks in the front door, as unapologetic as they come. We had a little talk about responsibility and about listening to her elders. She will spend 2 days in her room. Ooh, the dreaded grounding. She will not have access to her Game Boy, the tv or the radio. She'll have homework to keep her occupied and books that I give her to read. No Goosebumps.

Will this make her more likely to listen to me. Most likely not, but she will know what the consequences are. She also knows that her punishment will get harsher with any repeats.


way to go Devils!

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a Duke fan? I can remember when Duke basketball was as bad as Duke football. That's pretty darn awful. I can remember when Coach K was hired. He hasn't always had the incredible players he seems to attract these days.

Yesterday I sat and watched Duke romp over Georgia Tech. On the one hand I felt so sorry for Tech. One of my college friends is an assistant there. (When did he get that old?) On the other hand I was getting ticked off at the announcers who kept commenting on how Tech is a young team and will only get better.

Umm, hello, Duke has 6 freshmen. SIX! Yes, they are playing at a higher level than many freshmen, but they are still young and still expanding their understanding of the game and how it should be played. Yes, they have an awesome coach, and Coach K and his staff are excellent at developing players and creating an understanding that the team is more important than the individual, no matter how outstanding the individual is. (Think Shane Battier here.) Duke is a team of freshmen.

Thank goodness Duke has a point guard of Duhon's caliber. He may not score a huge number of points, but he knows how to run a floor. He is patient with these freshmen and doesn't hesitate to guide them and correct them. Duhon is not a flashy player, but he is a solid one. Thank goodness Duke has a player like Jones, who can motivate them by challenging them to rise to his level. I'm still in awe of his alley-oop during the second half.

Like Tech, Duke will only get better. Pretty scary thought.

And did I mention that 2 of my cousins played for Duke back before WWII? Buck and Herb Cheek.

On a sidenote: Way to go, Davidson! Pbbtht to my dad for failing to realize that Davidson can win without Anderer.



Everytime I drive, I come across some new road project: a new road going thru what was once a field for grazing dairy cows, road widening, another bridge, a new subdivision being built in one of Broward's few remaining green spaces... The list goes on and on. Robert and I are convinced that all this asphalt contributes to global warming. At least it raises temperatures around here by a few degrees.

This past week I noticed that the parks people were out breaking up sections of the sidewalk that cuts across the Ridge. Hurray! Those broken sections were going to be gone. Yesterday I was appalled to see that they are adding new sections across the Ridge. One will go underneath a huge banyan tree. Another will cut across the very top where there's already a loop.

Why? What is the point? People enjoy walking on the one sidewalk that is already there. It loops around the top of the Ridge and passes by the banyan tree before cutting back towards the horsepath. Families go out on the Ridge to play ball, toss a frisbee or just walk. People ride their horses thru the grass and underneath the oaks.

The new sidewalks will give our green space a chopped up look and take away from the beauty of the park. I have this horrible feeling that soon they will be building picnic shelters and parking areas to encourage more to come to this section of the Ridge. All that will happen is that the beauty will be ruined.

Will the foxes still run across the fields? Will huge flocks of ibis pick their way thru the grass? Will I still spot the occasional owl sitting up in the slash pine? When are we going to take a hard look at what we are doing to our parks? When are we going to say enough is enough already?

We need to cherish and take care of what Mother Earth has given us. Instead we are manipulating our environment to create some vision in someone's head of how a park should look. Just because there is a beautiful hunk of land doesn't mean that it needs to be developed -- even in such a minor way as building more sidewalks and picnic shelters. We don't need to disrupt the wildlife that lives there. We don't need to put down concrete around the base of trees that are hundreds of years old. We do need to preserve what we have.

Won't it suck when they decide to put in a sidewalk along the Appalachian Trail?


stupid brother tricks?

It's none of my business, but I can't let it go.

My brother and his wife are planning on taking a newborn to a hockey game. At the oldest, their baby will be 4 weeks. I just don't think it's a good idea to take a child that is that young into a crowded arena. Who knows what contagious diseases will be lurking in the bodies of that huddled screaming mass.

And that's the other thing. They seem to think taking the baby and putting earplugs in those little ears will be appropriate. Now perhaps my husband and his brothers are wrong, but they have lots of experience with various types of earplugs having worked on those big airplanes at the airport. They don't think that the earplugs will sufficiently protect those delicate eardrums.

I'm just hoping that they'll come to their senses and hire a sitter. Or perhaps I'm just an overcautious three-time mom.


stupid animal tricks

My furry family members are full of themselves this morning. They are competing for my attention and doing whatever they can to sabotage each other's efforts. They are sometimes worse than my children.

Binky actually sat in my lap. She rarely does this and only when she's feeling badly or wants something. Frog wanted her out of my lap. He jumped on top of Binky and started licking her ears. Binky hates it when Frog licks her ears. She jumped off my lap and ran into the kitchen to bathe.

Frog was quite proud of himself. He strutted past Binky thru the kitchen and then the cat door into the laundry room. Tormenting Binky must be thirsty work. He failed to remember that Binky is quite vindictive. While Frog was in the laundry room sipping his filtered water, she pushed the lock on the cat door and then walked off. I'm always shocked when she does this. No one can ever convince me that cats are not intelligent creatures.

After fixing my morning cup of tea and laughing at Frog trying to get thru a locked door, I sat myself down in the computer chair with my legs stretched out in front of me. Toby took this to be an invitation. He jumped up and put his front paws in my lap and then walked his back feet up my legs. With much grunting and groaning he settled down on my lap and closed his eyes. Since when is a 57 pound bassett a lap dog?

I do believe it's walk time. So I must go put on my sweatshirt (temp is 40!), grab Toby's leash and let Frog out. My frisky friends need a long walk to get the silliness out. Hopefully this will allow Binky enough time to get over her snit. Once can only hope.


stating the obvious

After eating breakfast and drinking a glass of chocolate milk, Michael declared, "My shirt is ucky-dirty. I have to change it."



bits 'n pieces

Dinner last night was delicious. A bit much for Richard, but Kari and I enjoyed the Tandoori Murghi. We ended up roasting it.

Leaf mialone unmasked herself. I'm cracking up more.

I caught another neighbor peering in Kari's bedroom window. Scared the crap out of her when I came around the corner. She just wanted to see Kim's horse. Why didn't she ring the doorbell?

Our current temp is -- drumroll please -- 31*F. Guess I'll have to eat my hat or something. Toby sprinted outside, then back inside. He did the "I gotta pee and it's cold out there" wriggle in the foyer. I dragged him outside. Again, if I can handle the temp while wearing my eeyore slippers and pjs, he can handle urinating in his favourite spot.


what's for dinner?

Tandoori Murghi

1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces and trimmed of all visible fat
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or malt vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
vegetable oil, for brushing
fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish
slices of cucumber, red (spanish) onion, tomato and lemon, for garnish

Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a fork. Then, using a sharp knife, cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken in a nonreactive large, shallow dish.

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and salt. Stir until well-mixed, then pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it into the flesh, turning the chicken several times. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Do not marinate for longer than 2 days. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

The chicken may be grilled or roasted. If using a charcoal grill, prepare a fire for direct-heat cooking. Position the grill rack 5 inches from the fire. Allow the coals to burn until white ash covers them and the heat is moderate.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, pressing lightly to extract excess marinade, and brush with oil. Place the chicken pieces on a well-oiled grill rack and grill, covered, with the vents open, turning 3 or 4 times, 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.

If roasting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with oil, and cook, turning once, 25 to 30 minutes until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.

Serve with sprigs of cilantro and slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato and lemon. Makes 4 servings.

recipe from Savoring India by Julie Sahni

And unless the wind picks up, I'll be grilling it.


in the 30s?

Who are they kidding? As if...


leave... me... alone!

Kirk was a bratty younger brother once he hit the age of 8. He was no longer my buddy, my cute little brother. He was a BRAT! He constantly pestered me, which resulted in me shrieking "Leave... Me... Alone!" quite frequently.

Dad and Kirk would giggle and taunt me with my own words. They found me quite humorous, especially when their teasing would send me stomping off to my room.

Needless to say, I am vastly amused that the person who has placed a bid on Dad's book uses the identifying name of "leafmialone."


my dad and ebay

Way back in 1993, Dad's 1st (and so far only) book was published. He had researched, written and rewritten for 3 years. I had read, reread, edited and re-edited this book for 3 years. Don't ask me for specifics. Just know that the book is well-written, well-researched and worth reading if you are into baseball of the 1940s and 1950s, minor league baseball in particular. The final chapter will make you cry. Literally.

Dad received rave reviews from anyone who reviewed his book. A paper in England claimed that this book is a must have for anyone who loves baseball. That still gives me the giggles, even if I do agree.

Anyway, it must suck to have sold every copy printed, read great reviews and then to come across not just one offering of the book on ebay, but two! If you want to see the book, do a search for "Durham Bulls" and then peruse the offerings until you come across the books.

ooh! it's like an easter egg hunt!


politics around here

Bob Graham: He has announced that if he feels he can raise $20 million, he will run for president. He has already begun interviewing campaign managers. He was quoted yesterday as saying "I believe I have a message on the war on terror, on the kinds of reforms we need to make in our economy, in education and in the environment that will distinguish me from other candidates." Does he really think so? How different could his platform be? Oh, and if he doesn't get the presidential nomination of his party, he'll just run for the senate again. Way to hedge bets.

Miriam Oliphant faced an irate group of county commissioners yesterday. She met with them to answer their questions in regards to her budget and how she runs her office. Despite having a list of the questions she was going to be asked PRIOR to this meeting, she still was unable to answer these questions. Even her supporter on the board let her have it. She will have to make deep budget cuts and someone will be there to check every penny she spends. The county is not handing over any more money to her to rashly spend.

Alex Penelas, Miami-Dade mayor, is considering a run for the Senate. More power to him. I don't agree with him on many things, but do like the fact that he stands by what he says and admits his wrongs. Plus I get a kick out of listening to him speak. First he says something in English, then he repeats it in Spanish. He's his own translator. No issue over whether or not something was conveyed just so.

I'm very upset with Robert for not realizing that Broward has it's own mayor. How in the heck did he miss that? Obviously he didn't vote in that particular election. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!


posted out front

" Wild Ass Crossing"

I'm in a veritable snit. My head is pounding and stuffed to the nostrils with yuck. I keep coughing and coughing and wheezing. This started yesterday.

And Rick had the gall to ask if I had made cookies for his class.

He ran for the hills when I started braying. If kicking and pulling at my traces were possible I would be doing so.


this week's goal

Bulk trash pickup was this past Saturday. Finally the old falling-apart, third-hand buffet circa 1960 is gone. Far far far away. Thank goodness. I couldn't believe how much space it took up in the garage. Since it is gone, this week has been dubbed garage organization week.

Robert must put the holiday decorations back up in the attic and put his tools in one location. Hello! That's what your workbench and the peg board is for -- sheesh. I have to go thru all my almost empty cans of paint and combine them into several big ones to take to the toxic waste drop off along with oil and batteries. What a pain, but oh so necessary. We don't want that stuff in our drinking water do we?

Taking care of the garage mess should actually be a fairly fast job. Thank goodness. The main reason it must get done is for our bikes.

Rick is the man in charge of bike maintenance and he has fallen far behind. Kari's bike needs the seat raised again. Robert's needs a new seat put on. It's a manly-man seat. At least that's what I've been calling it. Rick's bike needs a brake adjustment and mine needs to have the seat lowered. Who told Rick he could borrow MY bike? Michael's trike has to have a new bell put on. He can't wait (I can!). We bought him a new helmet yesterday. It's quite snazzy.

Yup, by this weekend, our garage should be very close to neat, clean and organized. That is if Robert will hurry up and play the world's fastest round of golf. When I want to do something, I want to do it NOW.



Well, there goes our family life for the next month.

Robert will be learning a new radar system. This requires that he work 4 straight Mondays... his saturdays. We will have just Tuesdays to do fun family things such as going to the park and flying r/c planes, working on the yard or the house (we do silly things), watching movies, playing poker (Kari loves to play poker)...

I know that things could be worse. He could be a reservist on his way to the Middle East. But he has this thing called asthma, otherwise I would be a military wife following him from base to base. That would definitely put a cramp in family life.

But still. Hmmph!


Michael 'n Jordan

Who can resist 2 3-year-olds who hold hands?

Or play the piano?

Or share their toys? In this case, their trains...

Aren't they adorable?


Kim's artwork on display at Sickles' Gallery

Kim comes to visit and I put her to work. What kind of friend am I? Anyway she has really made Kari's room with her artwork.

Gorgeous, don't ya think?


on it's way to my garden

The Ronald Reagan rose:

And just to prove I'm open-minded, JFK is out front.


an entertaining trial story

A friend of mine is a prosecutor in Chattanooga. Seems his year has begun with a bang and a giggle. At least I found it amusing, especially being a Law & Order fan.
Congratulations to Steve "Hang 'Em High" Neff and his new partner in gun crime, minion and lackey, Chris Poole, for their victory today in the case against Marvin Wilhite. Wilhite was charged with the March 4, 2002, Hobbs Act robbery of the Vintage Wine and Spirits, during which he pulled a gun on the clerk, stole money from the cash register, and made off with a bottle of vodka.

In what is sure to be remembered as one of the most entertaining trials to take place in the Eastern District of Tennessee in quite some time, Wilhite, who elected to fire his attorney and represent himself, apparently adapted a defense strategy featured in an episode of Law & Order (if you don't like your real-life lawyer, why not rely on a TV version?). Wilhite and his brother, Benjamin, concocted a scheme whereby Benjamin would come to court, shave his head (like Marvin's), rub carbon paper on his scalp to darken the stubble from his natural red to resemble Marvin's dark brown, and pretend that he, Benjamin, had in fact robbed the liquor store. The plan was, that once Marvin was acquitted and Benjamin charged, Marvin would then take the stand in Benjamin's defense and admit to the robbery, thus getting his brother acquitted. This way, the Wilhites figured, jeopardy would attach and neither brother would be convicted. Great idea, huh? Unfortunately for the Wilhites (but fortunately for those lucky individuals present in the gallery during the trial), there were a few problems with the plan. First of all, the liquor store had 9 surveillance cameras and clearly showed Marvin robbing the store (who was 4 inches taller than his 5' 2" 100-pound brother). Additionally, Marvin had a rather distinct black eye at the time and wore no disguise. Also, the no-nonsense clerk had no trouble identifying Marvin and distinguishing him from his brother. Finally, Marvin was arrested about a half hour after the robbery and caught with the money and the vodka (and of course, his black eye). Also, while he was pursued by police, and driving the wrong way down the Highway 27, the officers saw Marvin throw the gun out the window and were able to retrieve it.

Before the trial, Marvin's cellmate stole some of Marvin's mail, which just happened to be letters written by Benjamin outlining details of the 'ole switcheroo. In order to positively identify them as having been written by Benjamin (and without tipping our hand about having the letters), Steve used very sneaky means to obtain an exemplar. Benjamin was brought to our office and asked to filled out a bogus multi-page "Witness Information Form," on which Benjamin not only provided a very nice handwriting sample in both print and cursive (very obliging on his part), but he also wrote out a statement of how he had committed the robbery (which as it happened, contained some factual inaccuracies-oops).

Well, needless to say, the brothers Wilhite were quite surprised (and highly offended) when confronted with the letters for the first time during rebuttal. After Benjamin vehemently denied writing the letters, and eventually, the Witness Information Form (that he had filled out in front of Steve and 2 ATF agents), the ATF document expert took the stand and opined that not only was he absolutely certain that Benjamin had written the letters, but that the pictorial quality of the writing was so consistent that any lay person could identify the match. One of the best parts of the whole trial was when Benjamin explained that his memory of the day he came to our office was somewhat muddled because he thought the agents were taking him to a shopping mall to kill him. Chris then had one of the best comebacks of the trial: "So let me get this straight, your story is that you believed that two federal agents brought you to a shopping mall, two weeks before Christmas, in a bright orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and ankle shackles, to let you go and then shoot you in the back?" Several jurors had to lean over and cover their mouths to keep from laughing out loud.

Other highlights include:
The "What, when, why, where, or how" mantra Judge Collier kept repeating to Marvin when he would offer testimony rather than questions to witnesses-at one point, Judge Collier cut Marvin off 5 or 6 times in a row, stating "Now, Mr. Wilhite, please begin your questions with what, when, where, why, or how;"

Steve choking on his water when Marvin again referred to "Mr. Neff and all his minions" and the jury cracking up watching him (for our readers' reference, Chris and any federal agents are apparently Steve's minions; Amy prefers "minionette;"

Marvin objecting to Steve's cross-examination of his brother by stating that he was trying to trip up the witness on the facts and befuddle the jury, and Judge Collier asking, "Mr. Neff, are you trying to befuddle the jury?" and then overruling the objection;

Marvin questioning one of the officers about the suspect and the officer responding, "It was you, Mr. Wilhite;" and, possibly best of all,

Lila Statom's entire testimony (she is the ADA who handled the case in state court and referred to the gun unit for federal prosecution). Marvin (for reasons unknown to anyone) called her to the stand in surrebuttal and asked her why she had referred the case to the USAO in the first place. Her response included something along the lines of, "because the evidence was so overwhelming and your criminal history so extensive . . ." Bravo, Ms. Statom!

After being charged, the jury was excused for lunch and informed that Judge Collier would return at 1:30. At around 1:20, the jury sent a note to his chambers informing him that they already had a verdict-now that's a power lunch!

Because of his prior violent felony convictions, it appears that Mr. Wilhite will be minimum mandatory life eligible in accordance with the federal three-strikes statute (18 U.S.C. 3559(c)). Not to appear completely heartless, and recognizing the close bond between the brothers, it appears that Steve may now indict Benjamin for obstruction, perjury, etc., so that the two brothers can both be incarcerated. Who says the guns unit ain't sensitive?

So congrats to Steve and his minion Chris!


bzzzzzzzzzzzz and brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Saturday mornings Robert is supposed to wake up at 4:30 and be at work by 5:30. Yuck! Anyway, this morning his alarm went off and he didn't budge. I poked and prodded and finally received an angrily muttered, "I just need 5 more minutes!' Normally this is my line, not his. After 10 minutes, I poked and prodded and finally received an exasperated, "Okay, I'm getting up!" Satisfied I fell back asleep.

Only to be awakened by an extremely loud bzzzzzzzzzzzz at 5:30. Robert was snoring away. Again I poked and prodded. He opened his eyes, saw the clock and stood up from a prone position. I didn't know you could do that.

Since obviously sleep was just not going to come back, I climbed out of bed and walked Toby. He hates being walked this early. He moved very fast, almost causing me to walk right of my Eeyore slippers! Seems he doesn't approve of 38* temps here in Fort Lauderdale. I was fine in my pjs and my grandfather's old hunting jacket.

When he dragged me back inside I noticed that the heater was on. Since this is such a rare event, I trotted over to the thermostat to see how many hours it had been on -- 4!

And we're supposed to climb up to the upper-60s today. Glorious football weather.

Yup, I need vision correction so I may read clearly. I envision the doctor following me around saying, "Can you see yet?"


will I or won't I

Today is the day I discover whether or not reading glasses will become a fixture on my face. Changing contacts has not made a difference in my ability to read. Okay, so I don't have to stand as far away from the written word as my neighbor Cindy, but still. Right now I'm an arms length plus about 5 inches from my huge monitor and I'm having problems.

This sucks.

On the other hand, if I need reading glasses my uncle told me he might let me have Granny's. Wouldn't that be cool? I'd wear glasses that belonged to my great-great-grandmother. She was a doll. I won't look as pretty as I remember she did, but it would still be cool.


idiotic rant

I despise side-zip pants. They irritate me beyond belief. Why?

First of all the zipper is always on the left-hand side. I'm right-handed. Although I can write more than legibly with my left-hand, it refuses to understand the concept of zipping.

Second my breasts majorly get in the way. Not only do I have to zip up on the wrong side, I must deal with finding a way to get these things out of my way. This entails bending my right elbow. My arms are a bit short as it is, thus zipping up is nigh on impossible.

I really cannot stand side-zip pants.


kim is coming, kim is coming

Hope she forgives me for the mess that abounds throughout our house. Actually it isn't that bad. Tyler saw my ironing mountain and told me that his mother was better at keeping everything just so.

I've seen her house.

But Kim is coming and dragging her two daughters with her. Kari and Shelby will be running around the yard. Michael and Jordan (he calls her Gordon) will play trains. Michael has too many trains for word. We are going to go to Aventura to the Build-A-Bear. Shelby thinks we need to experience the joy of building our own bear. Since I want to go to the Crate and Barrel, this is great! Besides I want to build an elephant.


my new planter

hugs, Sue



One thing that sucks about living 843 miles from family is that we cannot participate in many family get-togethers. A baby shower is being given for Gina, my sister-in-law, at the end of the month. I missed the girls' night out the week before her wedding, the various showers that were given in celebration of her upcoming marriage and going shopping for her wedding gown.

Yup, being in Florida sucks.


on the road with 120 4th graders

Kari's 4th grade class will be going to St. Augustine in May. I'm terrified of sending her. We don't have to let her go, but it seems so cruel to deny her the opportunity. And it's only for 3 days.

Parents are not allowed to go. They will not be taking any parent volunteers either, instead they will use the part-timers at the school as chaperones. I feel so sorry for these people. Dealing with all these 10 year olds would make me more bonkers than I am already.



Writing Richard's curriculum is a challenging task. We have had to look at the 9th grade curriculum requirements of Broward County. Richard must cover world history. I am using what is termed classical learning to teach him. He will learn about art and literature by reading texts that correspond to the period of history he is studying.

Here's my problem. The book I'm using covers only US history after 1750. What in the world? Why is that? So here I am desperately searching for texts that will provide a good overview of the rest of the world. Obviously I'll have to purchase multiple texts, but which ones? I even asked an acquaintance who teaches history and she drew a complete blank. Oh woe is me!

I find this to be sad that our children's education is so sorely lacking in this area. No wonder foreign nations sneer at us (or is that US?). When I lived in Maine we were required to take Canadian history and geography. I haven't come across another school system that had this requirement. My brother pulled out his poli sci books, but they would be way over Richard's head at this point and aren't what I'm looking for. deep sigh

Now to get up the courage to email Beth and ask what she would charge to help grade Rick's essays and provide pointers for him.

Done! I posted on Beth's blog asking her assistance. And also done, asked Marjan to email me. I plan to ask her about European history texts.


this morning

Toby and I sat on our personal hill and watched a fox make it's way across the Ridge. He'd pause and lift his nose to the breeze, perhaps trying to figure out what we were and where we were located. Every so often he'd trot a bit faster.

At the edge of the oak grove he was greeted by another fox. They cavorted a bit. Obviously they were old friends, maybe siblings, maybe mates.


kids and psychiatric drugs

AOL has a poll regarding children and psychiatric drugs. Since Richard takes 2 different meds, I had to respond. Do I believe that too many children who take these drugs shouldn't be?


The public's idea of proper behavior for children has been slowly changing. We are reverting to "children should be seen and not heard." Children's natural high spirits are being suppressed. They have also come to believe that they should constantly be doing something. I blame too much tv and games for this. Their minds are caught up in a fantasy world.

When children start school they are taught to shut their mouth, stay in their seat, maintain a straight line and never ever misbehave. If a child has too much energy or is bored with classwork and thus acts out of boredom, teachers exclaim "Your child has ADD and must be medicated to be successful academically." Teachers are not psychologists or psychiatrists. They are not qualified to make such a diagnosis, yet many parents believe what the teacher says and head to their pediatrician for a prescription.

Ritalin does calm children down. But this isn't a good calm. This isn't the way to get children to conform to rules that are too harshly and incorrectly enforced. As parents we should not teach our children that without meds they cannot behave.

Obviously there are children that should be on meds. Unfortunately Richard is one of them. His teachers did recommend that he be put on ritalin "just to help control him in the classroom." We fought long and hard too not put him on these meds. We lost that battle when we admitted that he had Aspergers Syndrome, that he was neurologically different from other children, that he suffered from severe depression.

I wish that we could take a step back and look at the society we have created, a society that celebrates conformity instead of individualism, a society that expects children to act like adults, a society that heads for the drugstore instead of looking for the root of the problem and then working to resolve it.

It takes a village to raise a child. It does not take a pharmaceutical company.

I'm such a drama queen today. I must be pmsing. Hormones are such a horror at times.


re: my paranoia

Okay, perhaps I will continue to comment. I have had extreme difficulties not responding to some blogs. I enjoy the exchange of ideas and the fact that there are democrats out there who will speak to my republican self.

My favorite part about blogs is that people are writing. Perhaps letter writing has gone by the wayside with the advent of email and instant messaging, but blogging has come to the forefront.

Somehow someway I'll get over my paranoia.

BTW Richard, Bethany has been married and divorced twice. I don't think she's a very happy person.


my obsession with pound cake continues

Steph of "was it the pagan remark?" keeps me constantly supplied with new recipes. Back in November she sent me an eggnog pound cake recipe. Of course I didn't get around to making it until yesterday. And we had no eggnog. What did I do? Substituted. Eggnog became buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. The cake was delicious! It's still not as good as Mama's, but delicious in it's own right.

Eggnog Pound Cake

1 c. butter
1 c. shortening
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. dairy eggnog
1 c. flaked coconut
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract

preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and shortening. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a spoon, add flour to creamed mixture alternately with eggnog, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in coconut and flavorings. Blend well. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack before removing.

The only problem we found with this cake is that it does tend to crumble a bit. Must be the coconut. Do not cut back on the baking time unless your oven runs hot. This cake is very moist despite its tendancy to crumble.

Brian, you might not like this dessert. It's a bit on the sweet side.


why can't I be...

... more like my brother? Living life and having fun.



Whenever I read something negative on another's blog, I always assume it's about me. Don't ask why, but there it is. Over the past week I've come across several negative entries, one on a blog that I read every morning and another on one that I came across while cruising thru a circle. Both touched on the same subject: those who suck up to others.

On one hand I know what they are talking about, on the other I think they misinterpret what the person is trying to convey. I do not suck up to others, although my actions have been thought to be brown-nosing.

While growing up we moved every 2 to 3 years. I had great difficulties making friends. What was the point? We were just going to move. But feeling apart from others distressed me to the point of major crying spells. My mother suggested that I try to find ways in which I was similar to others in my class. Did we have the same interests? Did we have some of the same experiences?

Whenever I came across a similarity, I remarked upon it and shared my experience. This didn't endear me to anyone. It didn't help me make friends. Instead I became more isolated from those in my peer group. They felt I was either sucking up or trying to one-up them. They didn't see this as my tentative offer of friendship.

Bethany, the most popular girl in the entire village of Kennebunk, told me off one day. She informed me that NEVER would I be part of the in crowd, that NEVER would I be invited places or asked over to someone's house. She said that no one would ever like me because of my Southern roots, my accent, my brains. It didn't matter that we shared some of the same interests. I was forever to be an outsider.

This tirade has stuck with me for almost a quarter of a century. I still cry when I think of all she said and how she yelled it in front of the entire grade. Because of this I feel that those who do try to befriend me are laughing at me behind my back, that there is some ulterior motive for their friendliness. Hiding in my house and within myself is my way of protecting myself from new hurts.

Hiding doesn't truly help. I feel more apart from people as more years pass. For the time being I will not comment on other blogs. I will stay here on my personal ridge only venturing out to the lounge. Why? Because I do feel that one of those comments was directed at me, and I'm very angy with myself for getting so upset and taking it so personally.

Now I'm going to print this out and burn it. Hopefully my intense sadness will dissipate a bit as the page turns to ashes.

If you have a problem with me, then tell me.

And even if you are a big bad male construction worker, you should never tell my daughter to suck your dick or my son to go fuck himself.



as I was saying

My nephew is ranked nationally in mountain biking, 16 to 18 y.o. class; thus, every once in a while, I go on searches for interesting sites regarding cycling. Imagine my surprise when I found Kiril's second blog - cycling dude - somewhere in Sue's comments.

For the longest time Ryan believed that street cycling was for wusses -- his word, not mine. He wouldn't even consider training on the roads. Nope, had to be dirt and hills. Then one day his new trainer insisted that Ryan start building up his street cycling endurance so that he could participate in 50 to 100 mile treks around the county.

After waking up with screaming muscles, Ryan was hooked. Now every Sunday he can be found cycling with a pack. Now his goal is to compete in the Tour de France. And he'll do it. For a 15 year old he is extremely focused on his goals and all the steps he'll have to take to get there.

>( I did it again. Dammit, Eliz! Will fix it tomorrow. Hmmph!


another blog found

My nephew is ranked nationally in mountain biking, 16 to 18 y.o. class; thus, every once in a while, I go on searches for interesting sites regarding cycling. Imagine my surprise when I found Kiril's second blog, LinktoComments('90174750')



I have large walls in my house. Okay, they are large to me. They beg for artwork. We've been doing our best to fill them up, but other than the Gilberts in our bedroom and the Louis Claude hunt scene in our breakfast nook, everything has been created by family members.

Watercolors done by my great-aunt Mary when she was in the Netherlands in 1929, my poor attempts, Rick's acrylics and one watercolor, tatting that belonged to my granny, crewelwork done by my grandmother, a print of my cousin's, but not this one. You get the idea. Poor mans art really.

I'm saving up for something by Kevin Fitzgerald. I can stare at his paintings for hours, which is how I feel about my Gilbert artist proofs. Peaceful...

Barbara Jones Peabody is another favourite artist, her works focus on the beauty found in the mundane: a window on the side of a house, bushels of apples...

Peace in a hectic world. Trite, but apt. That's the art I prefer.


just the two girls

Kari and I went out to Legal Seafood without the men in our lives. Robert and Rick were happy to not go. Michael wanted to go, but we stood firm -- "girls only!"

Despite the fact that we had to park in another zipcode, very few diners were seated when we arrived. showing up for dinner at 5pm is always a good thing when there's a hockey game going on across the street that night.

"Do you need a childrens' menu?" asked the hostess.

"Oh no, we don't need menus at all," replied Kari.

The hostess was struck dumb by this statement but showed us to our seats. Luckily she chose our usual table, even if she weren't our usual hostess.

Kari and I had an extended conversation over which appetizer we wanted. Did we feel like calamari Rhode Island style or oysters or clams? Did we want raw, fried, stuffed oysters or clams? Which one of us was going to have clam chowder and which one would have fish chowder? We are such creatures of habit.

When our server made it over to us, I ordered for both of us. Kari was getting the clam chowder, I was getting the fish, we were sharing the Rhode Island style calamari which we requested be brought once we were done with our chowder.

We patiently awaited our food. We amused ourselves by eavedropping in on our neighbors' conversations. The people to our north were speaking Spanish. No fun for us. The people to our south were discussing each entree in minute detail. Kari's eyes started rolling. Like her father, she can't stand people who dawdle over a menu.

"Maybe I should order this and you can get that and we'll share."

"Wow! You can get calamari 3 different ways. And look at all the different ways we can get clams!"

Kari was having to sit on her hands in order to keep her mouth shut. Don't ask me why, but this works for her. I had no such compunction.

"If you order the regular calamari, you'll have to request extra marinara sauce, they never give you enough. The thai style should be hotter than it is, and if you are looking for hot and exotic, you'll be disappointed. The Rhode Island style is spicy without being overly hot. Again you'll have to request extra horseradish for dipping. The calamari is fried in each dish, the sauces are all that's different. If you want to go with the clams, get the cherrystone, raw. They are plumper and sweeter than normal. Delicious really."

The men were shocked that I'd interrupted them. How rude! They continued to bat around different options. For entrees now, since I'd answered their questions revolving around the appetizers. When our server brought us our chowder, I told him to tell them what the special was and to suggest the combination platter, so that they could try a bit of everything.

Thank goodness she did, and thank goodness they then stopped discussing food. I can't stand when people pick apart a menu and dillydally over their selection -- especially since I know said menu backwards and forwards.

After we scarfed down our food, Kari asked if we could try dessert there. What happened to our customary chocolate shake from Ghiradellis? Seems she had spotted someone enjoying bananas foster and she wished to try something new.

I love bananas foster. My mother makes it the best though, and I'm not bragging. This is fact.

Kari's eyes fluttered shut with her first bite. "Mom, I really like this." Another bite with eyes closed -- to better savor the flavor. "Mom, I really like this." And on it went until all her dessert had been consumed.

"Mom, I really like bananas foster. Is there alcohol in it?"

"Yes, Kari, there is a banana liqueur in it."

"Well, I really like bananas foster."

And, I fear, a change has occurred in our traditional Legal Seafood outings. No more will we run in for our chowder and the appetizer or entree that suits our mood before darting into Ghiradellis for a milkshake and then dashing over to the bookstore for coffee and book browsing. No, we will spend a good hour eating and savoring dinner and dessert before strolling over to the bookstore for an after-dinner cappucino and discussion of books such as the Hobbit.

My daughter is growing up.


mental health, part 1

All my life my highs and lows seem to have been a bit more extreme than most. My parents and doctors decided I was just overly sensitive. Much of my difficulty was said to be caused by our frequent moves, being a typical girl and later - being a teenager. I first started seeing a psychologist my senior year of high school.

Dr. W was wonderful. He helped me deal with a severe math phobia. He felt that there might be other issues and tried to probe further, but I refused to discuss them with him. He sent me encouraging notes all thru college, little check-ups that helped me to realize that perhaps I had bigger problems.

I had a horrid fear of being told that I was bipolar. After all what girl wants to find out that she's her grandmother! Turning into your mother is bad enough, but your grandmother!? My grandmother was bipolar and very insular, much more so than I have ever been. She died my freshman year of college and I felt relief. Relief. She had become more and more depressed after my grandfather died. There were weeks when she couldn't get out of bed. I swore that would never happen to me.

But never say never. Junior year was a bleak year for me. Not only was I dealing with bulimia, I was dealing with depression on a new level. A sadness was pushing down on me with a weighty weight than I had ever before experienced. But then the sun would peak out so that I could see the silver lining of the clouds. I would be higher than those clouds. In the midst of all this I was beaten, quite literally, by someone I called friend.

One night I was sitting in the hallway of our dorm finishing up a sweater that I had knitted. My roommate was sleeping and I didn't want to disturb her. Joe, who was dating a friend of mine, came up on our hall in a rage. A blind rage. He bellowed and beat on Karen's door. I turned to go in my room, but my roommate had heard his yelling and locked the door. Joe saw me and ran at me. Threw me up against the wall again and again and again. He slapped me across the face and threw me to the ground. He kicked me a few times for good measure. He stopped when security came. "We were just chatting..." One look at me and security knew he was lying.

I felt betrayed on several fronts. First by Joe, who beat the crap out of me because he was angry at Karen. Second, by my hallmates who didn't come to help me, but instead stayed safely tucked in their rooms. Third by my roommate, someone I had known for years and years (our dads were hallmates all thru college), who chose to lock me out of our room, a room that would have been a sanctuary. I stood at the sink in my room with a knife, ready to plunge it into my neck, tears falling rapidly.

What stopped me? Robert. There was something silly I had drawn for him sitting on my desk next to the sink.


laughing all the way

My neighbors were treated to a strange sight this morning -- me dancing across the Ridge, laughing in glee and bending down every few steps to touch the earth.

Frost glittered on the grass as the sun pierced the fog. What a gorgeous winter morn.

Thank you for the boxes of snow, Steph and Brian. Next time send a truckload so that we have more than a glittering of frost.


the ultimate in laziness

I simply must try this. My mother-in-law suggested it. My sister-in-law swears by it. What do I have to lose? Nothing.

What the heck am I talking about? Grocery shopping online.

Yes, no more daily treks to the grocers. Now I can sit at my keyboard and flip thru imaginary aisles. No Michael shrieking "I want yoghurt." No more Kari knocking display items over. No more Rick asking how many more items we have to buy and then counting what I put in the cart to make sure I don't go over my estimate. No more fighting over who is to bring in the groceries from the van.

I have a list of basics that must always be in my pantry. These are what I plan on buying thru Publix Direct. I cannot give up all of my trips to the grocers. There's something about walking up and down the aisles, smelling baking bread, pawing thru the fruits and veggies that I love. At least now I'll be able to enjoy my quick run-ins because the kids won't be whining about the amount of goods in my basket.



The weathermen here promised a cool week, 60s until Friday. Of course yesterday we hit 70, today we're supposed to be in the low to mid-70s and friday we'll be close to 80. So much for cool weather!


where did the grump monsters come from?

Have I entered an alternate universe? Robert is grumpy, Michael is whiny, Rick is pestering Kari, Kari is whiny, Toby is whimpering, Binky is hissing and I'm happy as a lark.

Where in the world did those other creatures come from?

Thank goodness 2 of the grumps are now at school. Binky has been banished to her windowsill. Toby was given a bone. Now what to do with the other two ogres...


happy 13th anniversary!

Robert and I have now been married for 13 years.

What fun things are in store for us today? Lets see... Eliz playing outside with Michael and zoo. (Always good to have a laptop) Robert sleepnig on the couch. After we pick up the kids the excitement level will increase! We will go out to dinner. The kids will argue, whine, kick each other under the table. Michael will flirt with the people behind us. Kari will screech, "RICK!" at least once. Rick will reply, "I don't know what your problem is, Kari." Robert will threaten them under his breath. Michael will gleefully repeat those threats at high volume. I'll play peacemaker.

And it's all worth it.

Love you bunches and lots, sweetie! MWAH!



If the weathermen are correct we will not be seeing temps in the 70s until the end of the week. Yes, you read it here. South Florida is supposed to experience it's form of winter -- temps in the 60s, low humidity, sunny.

I have all our windows open to the breezes. All the stale air is being whisked away as I type.

Toby and Frog ventured out to the front yard with me this morning. Toby kept putting himself between me and the weeds. Weed-hugging dog! Frog played hide-n-seek with the toads.

I've even dug a hole for a new tree.


a 3 year-old's hygiene

Michael loves to wash his hands, brush his teeth, take baths. The more soap on his body and shampoo in his hair the happier he is. Everytime we wash his hands, we sing the alphabet. Hopefully this will help him learn the alphabet as well as teach him that thoroughness is required when washing hands.

For Christmas he received a cool submarine flashlight for the tub and some crayons for decorating the tile surround. There are times he doesn't want to get out of the tub. Heck, I've been known to use those crayons when taking a shower. Always a great excuse for long showers, "Sorry, sweetie, but I have to finish washing the walls!"

I wonder if I should get some cool bath toys for the older two children.


hygiene and pre-teens

I must have missed a parenting seminar at some point. I don't remember ever refusing to wash my hair or body. I shudder in disgust.

Rick and Kari have this new annoying habit of turning on the water and pretending to take a shower. I'm not sure what goes on in there when Kari is pretending, but Rick has a nice collection of books for bathroom reading. I even discovered a sketchpad, ruler and pencil underneath the sink.

Kari has been trying to fool us into thinking that she washes her hair by wrapping it up in a towel before she leaves the bathroom. First off, the towel is completely dry and does she really believe that I'll think her hair dried in 5 minutes of towel-wearing? Second, her body spritz fails to cover up her body odor. Ugh. She actually teared up last night when we ordered her back into the bathroom. She was insulted that I went in after her to make sure she used soap and shampoo.

At night Rick promises to take a shower in the morning. In the morning he claims that he showered the night before. He obviously believes that our noses are so old they can't detect his stench and our memory so feeble that we can't remember his promise from the night before. At least he admits when he's been caught out and then laughingly goes in to shower up.

I hope this stage doesn't last too long. Kari's greasy hair and whining are getting a touch irritating.


what's for dinner?

I refuse to cook. I was up early, made a nice breakfast, everyone decided to sleep in until 11. Hmmph! Put together a nice spread for lunch. Everyone opted for cereal since they had missed breakfast.

So what's for dinner? Not a damn thing. You'll have to order pizza if you want to eat.


a memorable journey

16 March 1978
Snow, snow everywhere. We're moving from Indiana to Maine and I do NOT want to go. The movers have come and gone. The man driving our car from here to there has left. I hope he doesn't skid and have an accident. Dad is already living in Kennebunk. He's been up there for several months now, living in a hotel room down from the paper.

We're off to the airport in Indianapolis. Kirk and I have never been on a plane before. Lucy, Wheezer, William the Crab and our fish haven't either. Mom bought us books to keep us occupied. She has some pill she's giving Lucy and Wheezer. It's supposed to keep them calm. I want to know where my pill is.

No one told me how busy airports are. I'm in charge of staying with our bags that are going on the plane with us. Kirk is walking Lucy around. She started howling and people were giving us nasty looks. Mom is getting our tickets.

Uh oh. Lucy peed all over the floor, right in the middle of where everyone walks. Kirk and I are trying not to giggle and draw attention to ourselves. Wait. Why is that man looking up? Mom started laughing then and explained that he thought the pee was water leaking from the ceiling.

Will we ever get on the plane? All the animals are already on board in their various cages. The fish are in the water jug that Mom is carrying.

Finally we get to sit. I feel like a big boob. The seatbelt outsmarted me. Kirk is laughing real hard. He didn't have a problem. Kirk the jerk. I decide to ignore him and read my book. Mom bought me The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. She hasn't read it, but the lady at the bookstore thought I might like it since I enjoyed reading the Narnia books.

This is food? I'm trying to choke down my lunch, but it isn't easy.

What is that noise? It sounds like ... uh oh, it is! Lucy is howling her head off. She's underneath us, but we can hear her plain as day. Mom is horrified. She makes some comment to the stewardess, "Can you believe someone wouldn't tranquilize their dog before putting him on the plane?" I saw Mom give Lucy the pills. What is she talking about it?

Bump, bump, bump. Plane lands, people rushing to get out of their seats, only to come to an abrupt halt. Finally we are off the plane.

There's Uncle Had and Aunt Evelyn! They are driving us up to Kennebunk.

Uncle Had's real name is Harold, but we call him Had. Something about Bostonians not using the letter "R". I used to think Mom's maiden name was Cahtuh. I was surprised when Nana told me that it was really Carter.

Lucy is scrambling to get out of her cage. She is not happy with us at all. Her head is down and she's yowling at Mom for all she's worth. People are laughing as they walk by us.

Snow is falling. The snow looks different here. The trees are firs says Uncle Had. The snow and ice weight down the branches so that the tips just barely touch the earth. It's beautiful. It's also spooky.

Tomorrow we start school.

Another college classmate has died.
Susan H. Boyd of Boston, Mass., passed away at her family's home in Upper Arlington, October 25, while surrounded by her loving family. After her valiant five-and-a-half-year struggle with cancer, Susan went to be with her Lord.... Susan was product manager of the Oral-B Division of the Gillette Co. in Boston... Her hobbies included skiing, golf, traveling, and theater....

I'm not very comfortable with all this proof of my own mortality.

Perhaps mortality isn't the word that I truly mean to use. Aging is not quite appropriate either. I don't know what I mean, therefore I babble.

Going to light a candle for Susan. I'm thinking the bayberry.


the flu

One of my pet peeves is people who use the term "the flu" to cover gastro-intestinal illnesses. Sorry, buds, but you are so wrong. You do not have the flu if you are vomiting and suffering from diarrhea.

The flu is a respiratory illness that kills around 20,000 people here in the US each year. The symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, congestion and various body aches.

See? No nausea, vomiting or diarrhea mentioned.

Now run out and get your flu shot. Don't forget to make sure your parents had theirs!


what in the world?!

At approximately 6:19 this morning a strange noise and unusual stench woke me up from a sound slumber. I had to follow my nose to the origin of the stench, an odor that made me think of burning sweaty socks.

Ah, the smell was emanating from the kids' bathroom. And so was the noise. What on earth have my 3 done now?

Dope slap to me. Temperature in the house dropped into the 60s so the damn heater came on. The thing has never been used and was protesting the exertion.

Current temperature on the Ridge -- 44*F.


the master puzzlers

Michael is at that age where puzzles are tons of fun to do. He can sit for hours and fit pieces together. He has my touch.

Uncle Bill is a man that has never quite grown up. That studious mien is a mask he puts on occasionally to keep people from recognizing that he is actually Peter Pan.


a thank you note

Dear Kismet (aka Kim),

Your comments wouldn't let me comment -- of all things.

I had to write and thank you for the link to After 10 years of being stored my needles finally had a purpose. They had to help me make that vegan fox. I knitted the faux fur as a joke for my cousin who is way too serious in all her black. Her initial reaction was "Ack! What the heck is it?"

Imagine my surprise when she walked into my parents' house the following evening sporting her jauntily knotted vegan fox! Now my daughter, my mother and even my grandmother want their own.

Clicking away in South Florida,


what the heck is it?

Santa left me clumps of brown stuff in my stocking. Everyone laughed, thinking I was a horrid little girl in 2002.

These brown clumps looked like something one of my cats coughed up a few years ago. They aren't aesthetically pleasing in the least. BUT...
if you add water and wait a bit, you will be pleasantly surprised.

My mother was definitely surprised when I looked up from my dried bits of stocking stuffers and said, "Thanks, Mom. Our oak tree needs a resurrection fern."


okay, robert

Most of the trees around here are of the evergreen type. Live oaks are semi-deciduous. They do not have a glorious finale for their leaves, they just turn brown and drop off and NEVER all at the same time.

Robert was in a panic yesterday because -- horror of horrors! -- our precious oak sapling had lost some of its leaves and a few others were brown. Robert overlooked the new growth at the ends.

I took great delight in lecturing him on the leaf cycle of live oaks.



Kari: "I like you."
Sebastian: "I like you too."

*the overheard concept is borrowed from Sue (see A Kitchen in Brabant).



last night

Last night at 11:55 I stood in the pouring rain and was cleansed. The rain washed over me and took with it all of my woes of 2002. The garbage was taken in by the earth.

I stepped over the threshold into 2003,

happy new year!

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson