Life on the Ridge
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in the mail

We've been waiting and waiting and waiting for our tickets to the Dixie Chicks' concert on Sunday. Where, oh where, could they be? The charge is on my card. I have my receipt. But where are our tickets? Ack!


in search of a camera

I've had my Nikon FG since December 1984. For years, this camera has been a big part of my life. But recently it has been quite snippity. Old FG freezes up at inopportune times, goes thru batteries like my children go thru cookies and will cost so much to repair that I may as well buy a new one.

Any camera of mine has to be prepared for abuse. I let my kids use it. Robert always seems to drop it on pavement or onto a rock. It must withstand rain, dust, South Florida heat. I want a camera that I can attach all sorts of lens and filter to. I need a camera that can photograph sporting events (horse racing and football), the kids in action and my flowers that only dip and sway in breezes. And automatics are not acceptable. Not for what I enjoy shooting.

So off I am going in search of a camera that will make me as happy as my FG has. I chatted with my brother about his Minolta. Since he has been thru several Minoltas in the past 19 years and I've had the same Nikon, I think Minolta has pretty much been scratched off my list. Aeons ago when I photographed college football games, I used 3 different cameras: my FG, an FG that I borrowed and a Pentax. My FG went to numerous horse races too -- from steeplechases to Laurel to Pimlico to Charles Town.

I want to stick with a Nikon, but am getting confused with all the features that are the same. You do a comparison and the way it's set up... baaaaah. Who knows. Perhaps I should just hie on down to the camera store and play with a few. Do you think they'll let me? OR I can call the photographer who picked out the FG for me.

I'm leaning towards the Nikon65 right now though.



Since coming back from Portland earlier this month, I have been without motivation to accomplish anything. I keep saying "wouldn't it be nice if I...", "perhaps I should...", but I fail to move an in. I am disinclined to move or act. I am -- inert.

What I do not understand is why. Why is it so difficult for me to do anything, to accomplish simple goals, to do little everyday chores? Okay, the chores are boring and unchallenging. (Except for the laundry. That chore is despised more than scrubbing the bathroom. I can trace my hatred of laundry to my mother and grandmother.)

Doing the least I can seems to be my trend of the month. And it totally sucks!

Could someone give me a swift kick in the ass? A jolt?

Don't get me wrong... I do lots of things for my kids. For them, the old body and mind will move. It's just in relation to myself. What am I waiting for? Some external force?


football in the southern conference

I remember the first time I saw the "dome" at ETSU. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Truly. Playing football inside on hard-as-a-rock astroturf was (and still is) incomprehensible to me. And now the end of football at ETSU is drawing near. Budget cuts by the state and the need to meet Title IX requirements mean football most likely will go.

On the flip side is Appalachian State. The Mountaineers will be spending $30 to $32 MILLION to expand the football stadium and revamp other facilities. See?

Feast or famine. Who has the money. Playing field just isn't level.


how do you...

1. ...stop a 3 year old from boucing on the furniture? So far he's smacked his head on the table, tossed the pillows everywhere, spilled his cereal (Toby loved that!). Michael has been in time-out 3 times already, lost tv privileges and thinks cuteness should get him out of everything.

2. with a teenager who thinks that he no longer needs to abide by house-rules? Richard grunts, groans and rolls his eyes at us. He wonders why we won't let him stay up until 11 pm, why he must let us know where he is, why he can't have his own phoneline, why he can't have full access to the internet....

3. ...get motivated. *sigh

4. ...not eat the entire bag of Hershey's kisses? They are so good. I may be addicted. This may require an intervention.

5. ...go thru the huge box of Tide and part of another in a week? I'm still waiting for my mother to explain how she did this. I cannot believe that she did 120+ loads of laundry in a week. All the laundry was done before I left for Portland. (Yes, this has been bothering me for close to a month now.) According to her I need to do 4 loads a day (towels, lights, whites, darks), but 4 times 7 equals 28, not 120.


look what Robert gave me!

Just kidding! LOL He found this snake essing it's way through the grass in our front yard this evening. The kids freaked out when he brought it inside. I put down my foot when Robert looked at me with eager eyes wanting to keep it.

As if we need a yellow rat snake in this house! Please.


today's my birthday

And yes, I know that it's also Saddam Hussein's birthday. His 66th. Did you happen to read this?

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird was born on this day in 1926. I've often wondered why she never wrote a second novel. Anyone know?

The host of the Tonight Show, Jay Leno shares my birthday. (I'm still trying to erase the images that popped up in my mind during the Sandra Bernhardt interview on Stern. TMI! TMI

Now it's zoo time.


to the zoo!

We're going to the zoo today. What fun! We haven't been to Metrozoo for years and years. Perhaps the last time was for Kari's 6th birthday. Hopefully my camera will work.



I'm tired. I'm grumpy. Stay out of my way today.



hangin' out with the girls

Preteen girls are exhausting. They never ever stop talking. They aren't content to sit still or walk at a normal pace. No, they must jump up, dash and dart to and fro, sprint, skip... everything but walk. And they never ever stop talking.

I took Kari and one of her friends out to lunch, then did some shopping and then stopped for an afternoon snack. Of course I imagined that having two girls would be the same as it just being me and Kari. I was wrong. First, getting the two of them to decide where to eat was like pulling teeth. I finally told them that I was going to eat my bowl of chowder at Legal Seafood. They could either join me in supping there or they could use the time to decide what they wanted to eat. They ate with me.

When we were at Target (had to pick up a few things), they did the skipping thing... in a crowded mall... Tavi was laughing loudly and babbling on and on in Spanish. After failing to calm their high spirits, I muttered a few choice things in French, which Kari promptly translated -- first into English and then into German.

Then I made the big mistake. We stopped on the aisle where Target puts Hamtaro stuff.

They had to go thru every single package in search of Aunt Viv, Boss and Stan. Not just once either. THREE times. Both of them THREE times. Because I couldn't handle listening to them whine and whimper, I agreed to go to the Target near our house in search of the elusive three. Thank goodness they weren't there.

BUT, at some point, these two girls had decided that tea and cookies wasn't for them. Not today. No way. They wanted ice cream. Where did they want to go? The roasted bean. Yes, we went to a coffee place for ice cream. They made themselves quite at home too. First Tavi asked the barista, "Do you know who I am? And if you do, then you know what I want, right?" After a startled look, the countergirl fixed Tavi a bowl of mint ice cream. Kari had to have a taste of the 5 available flavors before settling on one. While my coffee was being fixed, they bounded off to the padded bench, where they bounced on the hard cushions and ate their ice cream.

At 5 pm on the dot, we dropped Tavi off at her house and headed home. I'm thoroughly exhausted. Two 10-year old girls are more tiring than a three-year-old.


something going 'round via email


Once upon a time there was a little boy who was talented, creative, handsome, and extremely bright. A natural leader. The kind of person everyone would normally have wanted on their team or project. But he was also self-centered and had a very bad temper. When he got angry, he usually said, and often did, some very hurtful things. In fact, he seemed to have little regard for those around him. Even friends. So, naturally, he had few. "But," he told himself, "that just shows how stupid most people are!"

As he grew, his parents became concerned about this personality flaw, and pondered long and hard about what they should do. Finally, the father had an idea. And he struck a bargain with his son. He gave him a bag of nails, and a BIG hammer. "Whenever you lose your temper," he told the boy, "I want you to really let it out. Just take a nail and drive it into the oak boards of that old fence out back. Hit that nail as hard as you can!"

Of course, those weathered oak boards in that old fence were almost as tough as iron, and the hammer was mighty heavy, so it wasn't nearly as easy as it first sounded. Nevertheless, by the end of the first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. (That was one angry young man!) Gradually, over a period of weeks, the number dwindled down. Holding his temper proved to be easier than driving nails into the fence! Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He felt mighty proud as he told his parents about that accomplishment.

"As a sign of your success," his father responded, "you get to PULL OUT one nail. In fact, you can do that each day that you don't lose your temper even once."

Well, many weeks passed. Finally one day the young boy was able to report proudly that all the nails were gone.

At that point, the father asked his son to walk out back with him and take one more good look at the fence. "You have done well, my son," he said. "But I want you to notice the holes that are left. No matter what happens from now on, this fence will never be the same. Saying or doing hurtful things in anger produces the same kind of result. There will always be a scar. It won't matter how many times you say you're sorry, or how many years pass, the scar will still be there. And a verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. People are much more valuable than an old fence. They make us smile. They help us succeed. Some will even become friends who share our joys, and support us through bad times. And, if they trust us, they will also open their hearts to us. That means we need to treat everyone with love and respect. We need to prevent as many of those scars as we can."

A most valuable lesson, don't you think? And a reminder most of us need from time to time. Everyone gets angry occasionally. The real test is what we DO with it. Scripture recognizes this when it cautions us, "Be angry and do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26) And an old Hebrew proverb (18:19) reminds us, "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle."

If we are wise, we will spend our time building bridges rather than barriers in our relationships.

from an email from my Nana... May also be found here.


"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway." ~Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)



My birthday is coming up on Monday. I do not like storebought cakes. Call me a food snob, but there it is. Steph sent me this recipe knowing that I am a confessed chocoholic. Would you like a slice (assuming that I don't scarf down the entire thing.)

Chocolate Fantasy Cheesecake

Chocolate Cookie Crust:
11 Chocolate sandwich cream -- cookies, crushed
3 tablespoons Butter -- melted

Triple Chocolate Filling:
19 ounces Cream cheese
2/3 cup Sugar
5 Eggs
1/2 cup Sour cream
1/2 cup Whipping cream
1/3 cup Creme de cacao
1 1/4 teaspoons Vanilla extract
10 ounces Semisweet chocolate -- melted
4 ounces German sweet chocolate -- grated

CRUST: In a small bowl, stir together crushed cookies and melted butter until well combined. Press crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan.

FILLING: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, whipping cream, creme de cacao, and vanilla extract. Stir in melted semisweet chocolate and grated German chocolate. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the center no longer looks wet or shiny. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the inside
edge of the pan. Turn the oven off; return the cake to the oven for an additional 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, overnight.


I live in North Cuba

Most people have not heard of the town where we live, which is fine with me, except that I'm forever explaining exactly where it is. Takes way too much time, so I simply tell them Ft Lauderdale or South Florida. You wouldn't believe how many people don't know where Ft. Lauderdale is. They get a quizzical look in their eye and I feel the need to rescue them with "north of Miami."

Miami they understand. The city of palms, beaches, women in bikinis, Miami Vice, Cuban emigrants. They miss the good parts of South Florida because they are seeing it from tv. I miss the good parts, because ... well... I'm not fond of Florida. And there are good parts. Somewhere. Not so hidden treasures that I will miss whenever we finally get out of here.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Park in Key West. There isn't much to see at the Fort itself, but walk along the seawall. Quiet, peaceful. Two of the times we went there were sculptures displayed in that field the falls into the Gulf. We walked along a winding path past a man-sized metal lizard painted in deep rich colors, circled around statues of women, gazed at an over-sized windchime. An open air art exhibit. The kids loved it.

The Cauley Square Tea Room is not to be missed. People who live here and have never been -- I shake my head at them. They have the best praline cheesecake ever.

The beach at Deerfield Beach. Pretty, clean, great breakfast place right on the beach. Of course if the powers that be get their way, the beach could soon be eroded due to efforts to shore up the beaches further south. Richard caught his first fish from the pier there. Another time a pelican opened his beak and attempted to swallow Richard's head. We still giggle over that one.

Metrozoo is a cageless zoo. The animals live in viewing areas that are surrounded by a moat. We'll be going on Monday for my birthday. I like the elephants and the dik-dik. The aviary has been reopened, 11 years after being destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. This isn't a large zoo but has it's own appeal.

If you like r/c planes like we do, then Markham Park is the place to go. There's always some there flying. I've been going out there since I was pregnant with Michael. The group of retired men that gather there each day are a hoot. One day Robert will start and finish building my Curtiss Jenny replica so that we can fly it. Then again, will I actually let him?

Nova, home of the Miami Dolphins training camp, is where I'm likely to be found during preseason. I like to sit in the bleachers in the oppressive heat and humidity to watch morning practices. Yes, I admit it, my team is the Dolphins (just remember that Fiedler is NOT my quarterback.) Once season starts, I'm sitting on the 50 yard-line, 4 rows from the top at Joe Robbie Stadium.

And of course, the Ridge. The highest natural point in South Florida.

This is what I'd miss about South Florida. Oh, and Cuban food. I love my empanadas (with raisins, beef and wine), arepas, ropa -- oh I give up, the english translation is "old clothes." Can't speak a word of Spanish but will gladly eat their food. And I pointed out to Robert that when we move, we can still keep our Dolphins tickets and become, horror of horrors, snowbirds. But only for the weekends. Gotta watch my Fins.


bratty big sister

My brother is in the obnoxious new father stage. No one else knows how to hold his daughter the right way. No one may touch her without having to wash their hands thoroughly first. It's okay for the dog to lick her in the face, but I must thoroughly wash my hands first. So I made him a label:

Thanks, Brian, for the link to Labels by ACME Label Maker.


and you are?

Why do people call me and just start talking? I do not recognize voices quickly and am usually thinking, "Who in the heck is this?" while they are babbling on and on about something. Usually something clicks, but then I have to figure out what I missed of the conversation.

And why do I have such a hard time putting faces to names and names to faces? Just doesn't click. If I run into a neighbor and they aren't standing in their yard, forget it. No clue as to who they are.

Pathetic really.


from Kathryn


1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.

3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.

4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.

5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.

10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.


Thank goodness this is on a Saturday!

The May Day Project - Saturday May 10th 2003

What is the May Day Project? It is a day where you take a photo every hour or so during the course of your day. You post them for others to enjoy. This is yet another way to let people catch a glimpse of your life.

Thanks, Kane for sharing.


in a quote sort of mood

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work." ~Gallagher

Guess what! It's that one week out of the year when you are supposed to turn the tv off. Yes, off. Focus on family. Read a book. Go outside. Live life.

"The goal of life is living in agreement with nature." ~Zeno

Earlier this week we had Earth Day. This weekend is Arbor Day. What have you done for the good of Mother Earth? We're purchasing and planting trees for the Ridge. We had planned on doing the planting this weekend, but first we have to have someone from the state tell us where we can plant them.

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." ~Plato

Or they can simply move to France and open a barbeque restaurant...

"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives." ~Sue Murphy

Toby knows why he walks into any room. He's looking for food or a new place to pee. Usually it's food. Thank goodness. Of course I may be in training for doghood in my next life.

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable." ~Madeleine L'Engle

Just because it is true...



We went to the cemetery and placed easter lilies on family graves. As usual we managed to have some fun in the cemetery. Dandelions and other weeds were blooming. Michael was ecstatic. He picked flowers for me (no lilies, thank you).

After the visit to Maplewood, I dragged everyone to the Sarah Duke Gardens. Rick went under protest. Major protests. Imagine a tempertantrum thrown by a royally ticked off 2 year old, just substitute a teenager. Anyway we tossed pennies in the fountain and meditated at the reflecting pond. What is with the expression on my dad's face?

But my favorite view in the garden is from the steps of the wisteria-covered pergola. I could sit here all day if only people wouldn't keep walking past me.


a bit of bragging

Our middle nephew is ranked first nationally in cross country biking. FIRST. Of course that is in his age group -- 15 and 16 year olds. He is ranked 10th nationally in the juniors (18 and under).


swiped from Steph

The Goddess Nature: The original mother-goddess,
represented by the color green and the element
earth. Nature is all about love, kindness, and
baking. She is all things domestic. Often has
to be the peacemaker in any dispute between her

Which Goddess Owns You?
brought to you by Quizilla


the pergola

When I was little I wanted to be married here.

When my mom was a little girl, her family would visit the gardens on Easter Sunday. Can't you picture the women and little girls in their Sunday best, hats and gloves, and the men in their hats and the little boys pulling at their ties?



My family believes in long drawn out farewells. Yet this morning I'm still surprised that at 10:48 we have not pulled out of the alleyway and onto our way. My parents are protesting our leaving anytime before lunch. Afterall our usual sendoff takes place after collies at the Dog House.

Mom has been feverishly searching for her camera. Yes, we generally take pictures on our way out the door. I'm wondering when to tell her that she left it outside on her yardwaste can. The camera blends in so nicely with the brown of the can, especially after being dusted with a generous amount of pollen.

And the kids are already arguing about who will sit where.


hit the road, jack

Papa was fond of saying that fish stink after three days. This was usually muttered on the fourth day of our visits.

We've been here for four full days now and all of a sudden the house is a mess, the kids are taking drinks out of the kitchen and Michael actually had the gall to eat a cupcake upstairs. My mother found cupcake ground into an oriental carpet. To say she was not happy is an understatement. I thought the icing with the sprinkles blended nicely with the wool fibers of the rug.

The older two dragonets are busily packing up their belongings for our journey home. The youngest is testing my last nerve.
"Testing. One. Two. Three. Danke. Mommy.......... One testing. Two. Seven. Eight. Ten. You love me? I miss Daddy."
All said gleefully while I'm busy trying to spot clean the oriental. Sometimes I do appreciate tile. Yes, I do.

I have to take things of their drawers and put them in the suitcase. Should take all of 3 minutes. That's counting the zipping up of the bags and putting them in the van. (Yes, the van has lots of new parts: 4 tires, brake pads, various dash components and something to do with the passive alarm system.) The Cheerwine we've purchased will be mine, all mine. The gas tank is full. Gas is 25cents cheaper per gallon here. That's so not fair. hen it will just be a matter of getting the dragonets strapped into the van so we can leave.

So so so not ready for the 843 mile drive back.



Hope everyone has a hoppy, sugary day. If you see me falling asleep in church, just give me a quick nudge. don't want Nana to catch me sleeping. We'd probably get the giggles.


head in the sand

Oh me, oh my. I felt like the biggest idiot. A humongous idiot.

Dad and I went to the Duke-Carolina baseball game over in Chapel Hill. We ad a great time watching the hapless Blue Devils torment the much superior Tar Heel club. We discussed baseball and what a backwards 'K' mean in scoring (cannot believe my father did not know) and whether that first baseman indeed commit an error (he did). We decided which players had good baseball names and which didn't. We drank coke and ate Cracker Jacks.

When we were leaving I noticed a handwritten sign in the back of a car: "This isn't Kansas anymore. Welcome home, Roy." Innocently I asked, "What does that mean -- 'welcome home, Roy'?" Dad's jaw hit the steering wheel. His foot hit the brake. We were stopped on a little road near the baseball field.

"Where in the world have you been?"

"Florida. You know that."

This is when he informs me that Matt Doherty, whom I despised as a head coach choice for UNC, was fired at the beginning of the month. That the UNC athletic director had held meetings with players and their parents to even determine if Doherty should be retained. Now that's humiliating, don't you think? Asking the players if you are worth keeping around! (Way to go, guys. Someone agreed with my assessment of Doherty's potential for failure as a UNC head coach.)

Yes, for the rest of this weekend, the rest of the year, probably the rest of my life, my dad will be pulling out the story about how I, an avowed ACC basketball fan, failed to know that Matt Doherty had been fired. This ranks down there with my cousin putting an athletic cup over her nose and then asking what in the world it was.


a big bouquet

I want a big bouquet of flowers delivered to my house... just for me... for absolutely no reason..

Lilacs, delphiniums, roses, tulips, daisies, trillium, hydrangeas, orchids, gerbs, irises, forsythia... Any of them... All of them...

Something decadent...


where's the map?

Michael adores the show "Dora the Explorer" on Nick Jr. He thinks the map is the coolest thing. So I shouldn't have been too surprised when he did his own version for how to get back to my parents' house from Starbucks.

"We go thru the dripping forest." (road bordered by tall pines that were dripping from the rain)

"And then what, Michael?"

"We go over the icy cold river." (overpass, but hey, he just saw it as a bridge)

"And then are we there?"

"No, we go up the hill to Gram's and Kupa's!"

He's too funny sometimes. But I'm amazed at how much he remembers from previous visits to Durham. He quite shocked my mother too.

"Is Uncle Bill going to bring Nana over to Gram's house? He's not going to forget? Nana has to come here and Uncle Bill has to bring her."

Obviously the routine rarely varies when we visit. He has the whole thing downpat.


the start of a middle-aged crisis?

My 37th birthday is just around the corner. My brother is convinced that this will be my 40th birthday (so when did I manage to get another 3 years ahead of him?) My oldest will soon be a teenager. I've hit that lovely grey area called peri-menopause that could last for a decade or more.

Oh what joy.

To top these things off I have yet to decide what I want to be when a grown up. I'm dissatisfied with my life, my body and my mind. I adore my husband, but he won't really listen to what I'm saying. (Hello? Can you turn the tv off for a mere 5 minutes?)

I'm just drifting along and hating it.

Somewhere, deep inside me is a fun person. There must be. Please tell me there is.

I want to re-experience life as that person, despite my current baggage. I want to feel that other people enjoy being around me. And I want to flirt with my husband and have him flirt back.

I want to feel needed and necessary.

Otherwise I just might explode.

If you ever hear of me participating in this, you'll know that I'm smack dab in the middle of a fullblown aging crisis. (Thanks to Luscious Flo for posting the above link. My mind is still grappling with the picture of what those other prize categories could possibly be.)


maundy thursday

Mom wanted someone to go to church service with her. Dad cried off, declaring, "Too depressing last year. I'm not going. Eliz, go with your mother." I tried the "but I have nothing to wear" routine and was getting away with it too. Then Mom pulled out the big gun -- her sad expression.

Off to services we went. Mom looking nice and neat. Me looking casual and mussed. We sat towards the back. Our usual seats.

I want to know what maundy means. Does it have something to do with betrayal? Judas betrayed Jesus on this day. Peter denied him 3 times before the cock crowed. What in the world does it mean?

Anyway, services weren't too dreadfully boring. Long... a bit. Too many silences. I'm assuming this was to convey the magnitude of Jesus' gift to us, the unwashed and unworthy. The music was beautiful. Mournful, but beautiful. I still prefer Johnny Cash's rendition of "Were You There."

Next year someone else will have to attend Maundi Thursday service with Mom. Too depressing for me. I'm thinking Dad should repeat.


wanna see....

Where I'll be going later today (sick or not): the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. I want to sit on the steps of the wisteria-topped pergola and gaze out at the terraces and the reflecting pool/fish pond. So peaceful.



The dragonets are still sleeping. They are totally worn out from their drive up here from FL. I, on the other hand, am truly exhausted and sick to boot. I want them to sleep, sleep, sleep for a while longer though. Just to have a break.



Thank goodness we finally arrived... despite the hour it took to go a mere 2 miles in Jacksonville, despite the non-existant lane closure in NC that had traffic backed up for miles, despite Michael insisting that he had to pee every 5 miles.

We're amazed that Michael recognized that every time we pulled into a rest area, there was a blue sign.
"Mommy, I have to pee real bad."

"Michael, there isn't a bathroom near here. You have to hold for a little bit."

"Mommy, there's a blue sign. Bathroom coming up!"

I wish that this was a joke, but it isn't. Three year olds with small bladders and long drives just do not mix.

Signs and bumper stickers that amused us: "My child is on the FKS honor roll"; seaside mulch in Durham, NC (they are actually based in Wilmington, but the side of the truck said Durham); "Priceless living... starting at $69,900".

Signs and bumper stickers that did not amuse us: "As a former fetus, I oppose abortion"; a picture of the world wrapped in an American flagged and flanked by the words "World Domination".

Robert called us when we were somewhere in South Carolina to ask if we needed Rick's suit and Kari's dress. Well, crap, yes we do. Thank goodness he ran to the P.O. and mailed them. That would have been a nasty surprise on Sunday morning.


on the road again

'Tis the season when I cannot sit still. Spring break has arrived (finally), so the dragonets and I are driving to NC. We leave in 2 hours. Oh my...

Thirteen hours in a van with 3 children: a teenager who is "too old" to be bothered with keeping his brother occupied and happy, a preteen girl who wants to do nothing but read about horses, a 3-year-old who simply must listen to his Thomas story tapes or he will throw a tantrum. All three will complain about my choice of radio stations. All three will say they don't need to hit the rest area until we are 10 miles past one and 50 miles from the next. All three will argue over who gets the rootbeer and who gets the water.

I will just want to run away.

And have I mentioned that when we get to my parents' house, they will not be there? Oh no, they are leaving to go for an overnight visit to Charlotte. Figures.

Robert is the one who gets the true vacation here. Thank goodness Mom said I can have Friday to do whatever I want. Hope Dad is ready for a big breakfast, then a tour around town looking at old houses, cemetery exploration (our favorite), and then lunch at either Dillards or the DogHouse.



I'm amazed at the weird searches that somehow bring people to my blog. Honestly.

For instance, what do Karan and Vince Lombardi have to do with one another and why when I try to duplicate the search does google come up empty handed? And what's the deal with the hits from a German search engine? Oh and the ones from Brazil... And don't get me started on those searches for pornographic material that somehow hit on my blog. Shocks me. Truly shocks me what some people search for on the internet.

At least there was another inquiring mind out there searching for the reason one dutch painter in particular always had a discarded shoe somewhere in his works.


is it the symbol of the republican party?

Papa, my mother's father, collected elephants for at least 6 decades. He had tons of them, even the world's ugliest lamp (at least we think it was a lamp). When I was little, I used to sit on the floor next to the whatnot and play with them. Shhhhhhh. Don't tell anyone.

When Robert and I married, Mom gave me a ceramic elephant, crackle glazed with pink clover blooming on its sides, that had been given to her and Dad when they married. This started my own collection of elephants. Nana gave me much of Papa's collection several years ago. (What ever happened to that lamp?)

Usually I don't think much about my elephants, although the ones in my kitchen prompt smiles when I'm baking, but elephants came up during the current round of 20 questions. As if I'd go with something so obvious!

(Stop snickering, Richard! Aardvark? Honestly! Ok, ok, it crossed my mind. And obviously you guys have not asked the correct question to quickly narrow this one down.)



What is Your Native American Totem?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hey, look, Steph, for once we don't match. *snicker


what the...

Last night we went to a birthday dinner for our youngest nephew, Todd, who has just turned 14. Our dragonets actually behaved quite nicely. We even left on time so that Robert could get to work on time (must despise the midnight shift).

When we arrived home, stuffed to the gills with food, we could hear Toby yipping and running thru the house. Extremely odd for him. When we walked thru the front door, he was performing a silly dog dance that indicated he had to go outside and go outside NOW! But Toby was leaping around, chasing his tail and yipping with excitement to the point that we couldn't put a leash on him.

I left the others to deal with him while I put my stuff down on the bed and headed to the kitchen for my nightly cup of tea. Robert followed me into the bedroom and a few seconds later called me back. Seems our long-eared hound found my stash of tootsie pops and had eaten every single one of them. How he unwrapped them and managed to eat just the candy is beyond me. But there was the evidence at my feet.

Scattered wrappers, sticks and doggie drool soaking the carpet. What a mess! I had to sit on the bed, my giggles wouldn't allow me to stand.

Toby ran around like a puppy for hours. He jumped on the furniture. He dashed down the hallway. He skidded across the tile. He knocked over a few plants. His tail drove him nuts and he couldn't manage to catch the darn thing. Finally he collapsed in the middle of the floor. One second hyper, the next comatose. Even in his dreamworld, his legs still ran and his tail slapped the floor in doggie glee.

And what did we learn? Studies may say that sugar doesn't increase the hyperactivity of children to a significant degree, but it certainly boosts the activity level of certain bassets.


just when you think all is fine and dandy

Richard has been doing so well for months now... months... honestly. The shock of watching him yesterday was beyond words and well into tears. No, he isn't depressed and suicidal, but he has taken steps backwards.

We went out to breakfast. Richard just had to have some hashbrowns. He, Michael and I were sitting at our table drawing when Maria walked up. Maria is our favorite server at the Waffle House. We've known her for over 4 years now. She tried to strike up a conversation with Richard.

"Hi, sweetie! It's been so long so you've been in here. I almost didn't recognize you."

No reaction. None. I mean he didn't even look in her general direction.

"How is school going? Are you looking forward to being homeschooled?"

Still nothing. Didn't even blink. Now in a general sense, Maria knows about Richard's problems and she wasn't really phazed by this. She put her hand on his shoulder.

"Richard, did you order the hashbrowns?"

Ah, a reaction. He didn't look at her, but he did reply, "Triple order."

Maria was ecstatic that she was able to get 2 words out of him. She remembers the days when he wouldn't respond to her at all, just to Willie. When a look or a word could trigger an inappropriate reaction.

After breakfast we went on our merry way to the Sports Authority. Richard needs sandals for our hot summer days when sneakers just aren't worth the effort. We found a pair that was acceptable. Recently Richard has been doing all the talking with sales associates. No problems. But yesterday he just couldn't do it. I wanted to cry at the look in his eyes. I wanted to apologize to the sales associate for what appeared to be extreme rudeness on Richard's part.

But I didn't. I did the protective mom thing and took over for him.

Robert and I are a bit worried about the little regressions we've been seeing. We're hoping that this is part and parcel with approaching puberty, that once he has become accustomed to the surging hormones and physical changes starting to occur within himself, that he'll retake those steps forward.


why men shouldn't shop for purses

This should explain it all. Oh I'm still giggling.
Tell an attendant in the men's department that you want a wallet, and you're taken to a small counter next to the cash register. Your only decision is black or brown. Tell an attendant in the ladies' department that you want a purse, and you are escorted to a room. A room of shelves. Shelves with purses. Purses with price tags. Small but potent price tags . . . prices so potent they should remove the need for a purse, right?

I was pondering this thought when the salesperson asked me some questions. Questions for which I had no answer. "What kind of purse would your wife like?" My blank look told her I was clueless, so she began listing the options: "Handbag? Shoulder bag? Glove bag? Backpack? Shoulder pack? Change purse?"

Dizzied by the options, I had to sit down and put my head between my knees lest I faint. Didn't stop her. Leaning over me, she continued, "Moneybag? Tote bag? Pocketbook? Satchel?"

"Satchel?" I perked up at the sound of a familiar word. Satchel Paige pitched in the major leagues. This must be the answer. I straightened my shoulders and said proudly, "Satchel."

Apparently she didn't like my answer. She began to curse at me in a foreign language. Forgive me for relating her vulgarity, but she was very crude. I didn't understand all she said, but I do know she called me a "Dooney Bird" and threatened to "brighten" me with a spade that belonged to someone named Kate. When she laid claim to "our mawny," I put my hand over the wallet in my hip pocket and defied, "No, it's my money." That was enough. I got out of there as fast as I could. But as I left the room, I gave her a bit of her own medicine. "Este Lauder!" I shouted and ran as fast as I could.

So... What's your purse-onality? Me, I'm a casual tote.


beautiful words from Michael

"It's morning, Mommy. I gotta hug you."

"Mwah. You dah bestest."

"I love you, Mommy."

"You are my favoritest engine." (Michael's into trains)


oh what a beautiful day

Perfect days do not come that often in South Florida, but being a Northern Southerner, perhaps I'm just a touch biased. Thursday was one of those gorgeous days that make you stand outside looking around in awe.

We went to the park.

My dragonets and I commandeered the swings and pretended to fly by stretching out across the seats on our stomachs and gently swinging. Michael's shrieks of glee and our boisterous laughter had others giggling and impatiently waiting for their turn. Rick, Kari and I went down the curlique slide, one right after the other, and somehow ended up in a tangled pile at the bottom. Michael yelled, "Catch me!" and landed on top of the rest of us. He thought that his soft landing was something he'd get to repeat over and over.

There wasn't any complaining when we left either. We all clambered into our newly repaired van, rolled down the windows and took the scenic route home.


twenty questions

On Brian's blog a group of us is playing 20 questions. And we're stuck. I just know that Richard is snickering up his sleeve at all of us.

1) Is the object a vehicle of some kind? No
2) Is its intended use primarily recreational? No
3) Does it require electricity to function? No
4) Is it edible? No
5) Is it mechanical? No
6) Is it bigger than a breadbox? (I think of the breadbox of my childhood, a ventilated tin thing about the size of a modest toaster-oven)Yes
7) Is it a piece of furniture? No
8) Is it something primarily intended (sorry, Tony) for use in an office? No
9) Would the object be used primarily in your home? Yes
10) Is it a piece of clothing? No (but it's a good question)
11) Is it a decorative object? No
12) Is it for use in the yard? No
13) Anyhow... is this object meant to contain other objects? Yes (but you are gonna laugh in the end)
14) Is it made of metal? No
15) Would one usually put clothing waiting to be washed in it? (Undaunted at the clever phrasing ) No (but I do have one of those as well)
x16) Is it something that you use on a daily basis? I knew this would happen. The phrasing is such that either a yes or no answer could be misleading. Care to rephrase?
16) Is this something used on a daily basis? Yes (Brian is gonna get after me for being too easy)
17) Is it used to contain something edible? No (ughh!)

Three questions remain.

Our guesses so far: closet, breadbox, chamber pot, kitchen sink, purse. All wrong of course. What could this object be?

Hmmm... a basket of some sort, a box, the tub. Perhaps a litterbox (that would cover the ughh!). Or maybe a garbagecan, a suitcase... The possibilities are endless.

UPDATE: 18) Is it made of plastic? Yes

But it is not a trashbag. The mystery deepens.



For about 3 1/2 years now Robert has been swearing that he's getting a vasectomy. He has yet to do so. Big scaredy cat.

So why did I not get my tubes tied? 'Cause I didn't want to and my insurance company wouldn't pay for the procedure unless it was done separately from my c-section. Is that not the stupidest thing?

Anyway if I could have 3 c-sections, why can't he have one vasectomy? Seems more than fair to me. Besides, lots of men have had one.

I even have found a site for him to look over -- right here (the name cracks me up). Complete with pictures. Really not much to see, but it does make me squirm.

My favorite quote from the site... "Return your semen specimen to your doctor after 20 ejaculations, and then one month later. You're not sterile, until your doctor says you are. The quickest way to flush out your system of sperm is to _______, like a rabbit." At least that part sounds like fun. But are you supposed to start all over if you lose track of what number you are on?



Men like to make fun of women and their purses. Women like to make fun of women and their purses. Just big enough to hold some money and a tube of lipstick or huge enough to conceal the kitchen sink, short handles, long straps, open, zipped shut, snapped closed, worn over the shoulder or carried in a hand.

I like purses that aren't too big, ones that don't eat my keys (how is it possible to lose keys in something that is 2 inches wide by 10 inches long and 8 inches high?) and ones that stay put on my shoulder. I'm still searching.

Going purse shopping is a major pain that requires a stiff drink beforehand, especially if I'm shopping with my mother-in-law or my mother. They must inspect every purse in the department. Usually in vain. My mother-in-law wants a purse that has 3 sections (something to do with how she organizes it), zips shut, long strap for over her shoulder, large enough to carry the fridge. My mother wants a purse that doesn't have too many sections, closes (preferably with a snap on the front), long strap that can be shortened or removed, not too large, something to match her clothes and appropriate for the season. My daughter, who already has 8 purses at the age of 10, is more into the aesthetics. Does it look good with my outfit?

Life was actually much easier when I only had to worry about carrying a diaper bag. My wallet went in one little section and there was a clip inside for my keys. Unfortunately the bag was cumbersome. But I still have it and continue to use it for picnics, for going to the library. You see it isn't a regular old diaper bag, it's a ketch from Port Canvas in Kennebunkport, Maine.

You know, I bought my first purse there aeons ago. I still have that too. Makes a great make-up bag. Kari now has a bag from there that we bought last summer. And I added to my canvas bag collection with the purchase of a beachcomber. Perhaps it's simply time to admit that I don't like purses and would rather carry around something that is more functional and suits me.

And I don't have to worry about them slipping off my non-existant shoulders every 3 steps or so.



My birthday is in 20 days. Wonder if Robert will forget. Wonder if I'll be treated like the queen that I am. *snicker

Perhaps I'll cut more of my hair off (6 inches managed to disappear 10 days ago -- oops!). Perhaps I'll have it highlighted.

Any fun suggestions for birthday celebrations?


Michael's newest saying

While I was in Oregon having fun with cousin Jo, my 3 kidlings were being cared for my parents. Social mavens that they are, people were wandering thru my house all week: Kari's friends, Rick's friends, my in-laws and my cousin Cathy.

Well, Michael is very much in his parrot stage. Sometimes this can be funny. Sometimes it is not, especially when he adds something new to his vocabulary. Saturday he added "Naaaaaaaaah!" Courtesy of cousin Cathy. Man oh man will she be in for it when I get a hold of her.

"Michael, would you like to go to the park?"

"Michael, do you want some yoghurt?"

Naaaaaaaaaah! Naaaaaaaaaaah! Naaaaaaaaaaaah! That's now his response to everything. I'm going crazy!


bare walls

The walls in my house are pretty much bare. They need big pieces of art to fill them up and create energy. Plain blue and yellow walls are simply not interesting. I've been on the lookout for an artist whose work I enjoy and can afford. Until last week I hadn't found anything that met both those requirements.

Walking into Jo's red dining room, the first thing that you notice is a huge painting by CJ Hurley of various goddesses from different countries. Absolutely gorgeous (IMHO)and engrossing. If it would have fit in my suitcase... Instead I will content myself with Hurley's Tree of Life.

Obviously influenced by Mondrian, but CJ has gone a bit further by adding glass beads, a few curves and painted twine. All of which adds texture and invites the viewer to touch.

In November of 1997, CJ's work was on display in a show titled Low-Brow Art.
C.J. Hurley, described by gallery director and show curator Jessica Mashburn as a twentysomething Zen Buddhist, is altogether a different matter. The Kentucky painter's work fits naturally into the sensibility of the Angelenos, yet his pieces--some several years old--are vastly more ambitious. The artist's statement argues that Hurley means to provoke discussion of gender issues and mythological archetypes, a vastly different agenda from, say, Ausgang's. He pursues this goal by fusing the color and sensibility of 19th-century Japanese wood-block prints to contemporary manga (Japanese pulp comics) and then mixing in ancient Mexican figures. Hurley's best paintings are multimedia offerings with plastic or metal adornments set into the canvas to accompany the robots he often uses as representations of the male figure. It is an ambitious and technically exacting body of work, and it's the star of the show.

I wish that I had photos of his the Green Knight to show you, but photos could never do it justice. Perhaps he'll update his homepage one of these days. His Chromium Man and Tree of Life are vastly different and yet, when you meet CJ, it makes sense that they'd come from the brain of the same person. No, he doesn't do the pretty landscapes like Kincaide or the still-lifes like Timberlake. Both very safe artists. He's much more venturesome and inquisitive. Something that shows up in each of his pieces.


run, run, fast as you can

Now that I'm back from my "working" vacation, there are all sorts of little problems to deal with: Kari's cavity-filled mouth, switching Rick's appts around, getting the van back (yes, Robert caved and took it in to be repaired), finding our proof of vaccination for our herd.

The last one really ticks me off. Toby is always wearing his county license with proof of rabies vaccination. The officer couldn't pull it up in his system. What does he think we did -- counterfeit a tag? The ironic part is that the shelter where he was vaccinated is responsible for updating and maintaining the system that tracks rabies vaccinations. Oh, and they cannot do a search to find the animal by owner within that system. What's with that? I have to get the proof to the shelter soon to avoid a $110 fine per animal.

The van irritates me. The cost to repair the darn thing is higher than our monthly mortgage payment. AND they informed me that we need new breaks. Kind of funny since we just had the breaks done last summer.

And Kari's mouth is pissing me off. We are always reminding her to brush her damn teeth after every meal and snack. Of course, Rick had this same problem with massive tooth rot until his permanent teeth came in. Oy!



She's open for business!

...and when sales really take off, maybe she'll really get her own parking space.

This was actually at a great chinese restaurant.


can I move?

Portland treated me to all types of weather: rain, snow, hail (3 times!), sun, cold, warm.... The trees were in bloom and budding. The people were polite, even the people driving. The food at every restaurant was better than merely acceptable. I just loved it.

Visiting with Jo and meeting her various friends was absolutely wonderful. I have so many pictures of her store and a few of paintings done by an artist friend. Yesterday Pace took me out to the Columbia River Gorge. Despite the drizzling rain, I was captivated by the moss-covered trees, the waterfalls, the wildflowers, ferns just starting to unfurl... I want to return to backpack all 36.2 miles of trails thru the gorge. (Karan, I stood at some observation point and waved in your general direction.)

And now I'm addicted to Tully's coffee... Oh and there was a great little tea shop in the Pearl. The first few times I went in there were no other people, but then they had a green tea tasting. Cannot remember which one was my favorite. My bag was searched on my return flight and the tea I had purchased seems to be the only thing missing. OK, my shampoo is gone too, but that is no loss. The tea is a loss.


Portland is great!

Now I just have to get out here to spend time exploring...

Angel, I have all these links and stuff for you and just realized that they are saved on my other computer and I forgot to send them. Ack! So make sure that you are online late sunday night so we can chat about how Dev is doing.


sweet words from Rick

"You aren't too bad for a mom. I wouldn't trade you in."

"Do you have any laundry to do? I'm doing mine."

"I love you, even if you are sometimes a pain."

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson