Life on the Ridge
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the parent perspective



Way back in high school, Robert broke his nose. His nose stayed super straight but definitely listed to one side. I have laughed about his nose for years. How silly is it to have a nose that slants to one side and has 2 different sized nostrils? Come one now... it's as funny as my brother's preoccupation with his small ears (but hey, when Kirk is 80 years old, his ears will be standard-sized and he'll be snickering at the rest of us with our huge lobes).

Monday night Robert lost sight of the softball in the lights. His nose rose up to meet it though. Tuesday morning his nose was swollen and red and the cut from the stitching on the ball had scabbed over. Last night I really looked at his nose and began giggling.

His super straight nose now has a hump in the middle and is no longer listing to one side. Oh no, now it is back to being centered. His nostrils are no longer noticeably different sizes. I made some comment to him that I thought he had perhaps broken it.

Robert ran a finger gingerly along his noseline and commented, "My nose clicks when I wriggle the end, but I can breathe better now."

I wonder if his mom will notice the change.


still treading

Need I say more?

Heavy fog to push through. Gravity pulling on me harder than normal. Time lost while drifting.


secret kitty rehab

At approximately 5:04 this morning, Frog was caught trying to jump onto the low windowsill in my room. Amazingly enough his healing leg, the one that he has been babying and refusing to put any weight on, was being used to jump, to run. Not a limp in sight.

I feel that we have all been played for fools.

When has he been exercising this leg? To look at it is nauseating. His muscles are simply not there anymore. His leg looks like skin stretched over bone with a long healing incision and many stitches running the length of it.

Secret kitty rehab. Ha! Karan obviously does know cats.



Frog is bored. All there is for him to do is sleep, stretch, sleep, eat, stretch, sleep and sleep some more. He does the occasional claw sharpening too. Usually in the middle of the night. Usually long enough and vigorously enough to wake Robert and me up.

His leg has shriveled up to almost nothing. He still won't put any weight on his healing leg. Robert keeps reminding me that it's only been 4 weeks. Four weeks? Is that all? I swear it's been at least a year. Oh my.

At least his fur has started to grow back on his hind leg, under his neck and on his front leg. Amazingly the fur on his tail and his back has gotten thicker. Much thicker. Weird that. I wonder if it's some survival mechanism. Injured severely. Must grow fur thicker so that no other animal can tell that I'm weakened.

Binky knows it though. She loves to march right up to him and hiss loudly. Since she follows up the hiss with a lick to his face, Frog doesn't take her seriously.

.... cat house link... inspiration for Robert.


tale of the tails

This afternoon Kari commented that it sure was strange seeing lizards with tails hanging out around our house. I looked around at the various lizards and geckos, and they all had tails. Long tails. No stumps to be seen anywhere.

This is a strange occurence around here. Normally Frog has de-tailed, ummm - untailed, oh... caused all the lizards to cast off their tails in order to be free of him. But Frog's amputating ways have been derailed by his injuries.

Until he is out and about and feeling more up to speed, we -- and all the lizards of the Ridge -- will enjoy seeing lizards as they were meant to be seen.


and so it begins

Rick is on the small side. When we went to sign him up for football last fall, he couldn't play tackle because he would have had to drop down so far in weight class that he would be playing with boys 2 years younger. You can only drop back to play with those 1 year younger. Football has been tossed out as a sport for him -- unless it's a pickup game or something.

Rick began taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu 6 weeks ago. He absolutely loves it. He has added 2 black stripes to his white belt. Two more stripes and he'll be eligible to test for a yellow belt. The scary thing is watching my white belt son grapple with a blue belt or a red belt. But he has defeated a blue belt. Quite astonishing to me.

Last night as I stood waiting for his class to be over, I heard his instructor tell him that he can practice with the competition team after the upcoming competition. What?!? My baby? He could be competing as early as June. Oh my, I'm so not ready for this.

Football I can handle. It's the evil I know. I'm used to seeing the bruises, the breaks and hearing about the aches and pains. But jiu-jitsu? Quite terrifying.

Perhaps Luis will let me photograph a class or two.



Lunch out tomorrow with Cindy! Woohoo! I can't wait. Yes, we went out last week on St. Paddy's Day, but that was with a group of women. Tomorrow, it's just the two of us and we can goof off for a bit.

No political discussions.

No having to wear little pins that say what group we are with.

No asking for separate checks for 10 different women.

We can chat or just sit there and stare at each other. Who cares! We'll be out of the house. LOL

And when I return... I get to go the bookstore and read some on my old friend TJ. After all, we are visiting his house in a few weeks.



No traffic snarls today, but as Robert pointed out... today is Sunday.

Tomorrow will be a totally different story. Traffic will be backed up for miles on this highway and the roads that dump onto this one. If I venture out, I'll have to sit through at least 6 light cycles in order to go under the overpass. Major pain in my butt.


evidence or treasure?

Bulk trash pickup occurs every other month over 3 weekends in my town. Last weekend was my neighborhood's turn. This weekend was the area near the ranch where Kari rides.

This morning I was coming home from dropping Kari off when I noticed a police car pulled over to the side of the road, lights flashing. I was quite curious as to what was going on since there were no other cars around. The only possibility in my mind was a car in the canal.

As my car drew closer to the flashing lights, I could see that the officer was walking back to his cruiser with green and white striped outdoor chair cushions tucked under his arms. As I passed, he was putting them in the back alongside other items. From the vantage point of my rearview mirror I noticed that he watched me drive off into the sunrise.

So were my tax dollars going to collecting evidence or was the officer redecorating his patio?


a brink

Projects keep me going and provide a focus for my ever-wandering mind. Highs and lows sit side by side, giving a creative edge to whatever I do. I wonder if this is what normal is. But what happens when the project is complete?

Finishing up my little story has brought me to the brink of a depressive episode. I can feel the greys pressing up against me, twining misty fingers through mine, shuttering my mind's eye. And I do not like it. Not at all.

What to do? What to do? Do I bury myself in another project? Do I crawl under the covers and hide from the world at large? Should I weep all over Robert's shoulder while he rolls his eyes at my behavior?

I know what I should not do. Running away is not an option. That temporarily loses the greys and allows the purples into my life. (purples are transformed greys... thing sad hyped up on anxiety) Wallowing in self-pity is not permitted. That brings the second flood, the one the Lord promised Noah would not recur.

Hmmm. Perhaps a project that focuses on every day life rather than one that exists apart from day to day living.... Obviously it cannot have anything to do with negativity, that would simply invite the greys further into the house rather than stopping them at the threshold.

Ahhh. I know. I shall do a photo project on what I like about South Florida. So much of my time is spent wailing about the heat, the masses of humanity, the lack of green space. Perhaps it is time to accept that I will be living here for at least another 17 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 1 day.

What DO I like about living here? What do I LIKE about zone 10b?


money, money, money

Today has been the day to spend, spend, spend.

Bought a new kitchen table and 6 chairs. They will arrive next wednesday. Now how to get rid of the old, falling apart stuff? Bulk trash was last weekend. The next one isn't for 2 more months. Oh well. I'll simply take the old yucky pieces apart and slowly get rid of them.

Made the monthly payment to the orthodontist. That's always a big ouch. Looking at the dragonets' teeth makes the pain much less. Kari actually has one row of teeth on the top and the bottom. No more calling her shark mouth. How they have managed to move those teeth so far so fast is beyond my comprehension, but thank goodness they could.

I spent a ton of money making more color copies of my story. Why did Uncle Dick have to sell his store? No more cheap cheap copies for me.

But despite the spending of money I had to giggle. My dad loves to ask "Do you think that in 10 years, it will really matter?"



walking through the wetlands at Tree Tops Park

Everyone has to have a place to run to -- to hide, to sit, to think, to just be. At this time of year, when the heat and humidity are low, I can be found meditating in this area.

Shhh... don't tell my family this is where I go. They might invade my quiet.

The hum of traffic can still be heard, but the sounds of birds and the rustling of the sawgrass help hide the fact that just past the line of trees is a major road. The squawking of parrakeets adds to the aura of being in the wilds.


the blah blah blahs

Some days are meant for sleeping in. Today was one of those days. A bit of rain falling outside, a cat curled up against my waist, silence.

Unfortunately my sleeping in resulted in my missing Kari's D.A.R.E graduation at school. Actually it meant that I wasn't awake to remind Robert that he was going to go eat cake with our daughter while I stayed at home with our sons. Kari wasn't upset at all, while Robert and I were annoyingly apologetic. Rick ended up not finishing his schoolwork until almost 5 because of my bonelessness until 11 am.

The rest of my day was spent reviewing grammar with Rick, trying to convince Brooks to do something other than play on the computer (why did we teach him how to use a mouse and the arrows on the keyboard?) and finishing up my little book. Okay, so I am almost done. Instead of finishing next week as I have scheduled in my Franklin planner, I'll finish it up tomorrow.

While Rick was working on improving his boxing, Robert and I dragged the younger dragonets furniture shopping. Oh how wonderful it will be when our new kitchen table and chairs arrive. No more flipping the table over on a monthly basis to tighten all the screws. One annoying item that I can scratch off my "to do" list.

I went to the film developers to pick up my rolls of film... only to be severely disappointed. The store had called me over the weekend to say that the machine was down and it would take 2 extra days to get my film, what they didn't say was that it was my film in the machine when it broke. An roll of 36 black and whites lost forever, the majority of my BKO photo project gone. At least it gives me something to do tomorrow.



so did you go to Davidson?

This morning a man with a booming voice asked Brooks what his shirt said. Brooks had to look down to see exactly which shirt he was wearing before replying, "Davidson. It's my Davidson shirt."

This gave the gentleman with the booming voice permission to ask me if I went to Davidson. Proudly I owned up to being a Davidson graduate. He then wanted to know all about their basketball team. Huh? How did we get to basketball from a tshirt?

Obviously the answer is that Davidson has a halfway decent basketball team and it is the season of March Madness. But this gentleman actually could discuss Davidson basketball. I was shocked. We chatted about Lefty and Terry. We touched on Hussey (the coach while I was at Davidson). Then he got started on the current coach.

Seems Mr. "doesn't need a mike" is high on Coach McKillop. Not that I can blame him. Coach McKillop is an intelligent coach, one I'm surprised that another school hasn't stolen away. He has players who were good high school players with no hopes of ever attending the elite basketball schools and turns them into a team that can play a good 3/4 of a game against the powers that be.

That's a hard thing to do. I think that if McKillop had been in the right place at the right time, he would have made a name for himself right next to Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski. He still could if he had that ambition. I think he likes where he is though, but perhaps once his son graduates from Davidson he'll move on.

Davidson would be the loser, but it certainly would be fun to see what Coach McKillop could do at a school that kids want to attend just because of the aura that surrounds the name.


mistaken identity

Sometimes I stare at people. Not to be rude, but because they remind me of someone. Sometimes my brain takes a while to recognize who the person reminds me of, hence the staring.

Earlier Kari and I were at our usual haunt. A gentleman at the next table was going off on Bush. He was hysterically funny about it too. Nothing that I can remember or quote, but he was cracking me up. His comments were thoughtful and dead on, and his wording was outstanding.

I had to turn and look at him, just to have a face to go with the voice and the conversation. Kari poked me and asked me if I knew him. I didn't, but he did remind me of someone -- "Brian. He looks like Brian."

Kari is used to me saying something like that. After all my family loves to play the "looks like" game. We cannot go anywhere without playing this. When she asked, "Brian... like from BKO?", I wasn't surprised. I simply nodded in the affirmative and continued my rude staring.

When Kari said Brian, the gentleman stopped in mid-sentence and stared back at us. "Do I know you? You look familiar?" My face turned purple, but I told him that he reminded me of someone named Brian. HIS name was Brian. Figured. He wanted to play the "perhaps we really do know each other, but from where" game.

What I learned about Brian: He's from Maine, attended the University of Maine, works in the computer industry, doesn't like the Republican Party, doesn't think much of Kerry, drinks Chai lattes as if they are going out of style, reads cookbooks and military history (judging by the stack on his table) and he works for some software company but really wants to write the next great American novel.

What Brian learned about me: I once lived in Maine, know someone named Brian and stare rudely at people I do not know.

Sounds like an unfair exchange of information, doesn't it? But this Brian loved talking and saw Kari and I as two new sets of ears to gab off. The person who was sitting with him actually got up and left him there. Made me wonder if perhaps the Brian - I - do -not -know had sat down with a complete stranger and started talking about politics without provocation.

We escaped when he stood to order another Chai latte. Sometimes caffeine addictions come in handy.



Duke was bedevilled by a lack of focus today. They seemed to not realize where Maryland was on the floor, what defense or offense they were going up against, where the location of the basket was. They were pitiful.

Yes, the game went into overtime, but Duke was pitiful.

*** *** ***

Yesterday I had told my parents that we were seeing the beginning of the end of Duke's dominance in the ACC. My mother couldn't figure out why I would say this, but after watching them play umpteen times this season, I still believe that they are on a downward slide. Perhaps they will not slide into the basement of the ACC, but anywhere other than first in the ACC is horrifying to Duke -- the team and the fans.

*** *** ***

Today was the first time in 20 years that Maryland had managed to win the ACC tournament. The last time was obviously in 1984, when Lefty Driesell was coach and Len Bias was one of the premier players in the nation.

Lefty Driesell has been a part of my life for ... well, my entire life. No, I don't know him and he does not know me, but he's still been there -- on the periphery. He was the head coach of Davidson College when I was little. He was the head coach of Maryland when I was in high school and attending all the UVA home games. I remember a game where the Cavalier fans shouted out numbers at the Maryland bench. The various numbers stood for specific insults, many were directed at Driesell. Vastly amusing to me then.

My father recently purchased an old Davidson basketball program from when Driesell was coaching there. Tucked inside the program were newspaper clippings and an old business card: Lefty Driesell, head basketball coach, Davidson College.

Bet even Lefty doesn't have one of those.

*** *** ***

Still mad at Duke and their lackluster play. Really sucks. Oh man. So glad I don't know any Maryland fans.


the dry season is almost over

New leaves are starting to sprout on my live oaks. We're very excited about this. Seeing the new green leaves budding is soul-refreshing.

As a counterpoint to leaves the size of a squirrel's ear, the largest tree in the front yard is losing its leaves. The leaves are fading to yellow and then drifting down to the ground. Quite exciting. A South Florida version of Autumn.

In another month, the tree that is shedding leaves will bloom. Purple flowers will cascade down from it -- reminiscent of lilacs, but without the scent. A messy tree, this one, but I love it.


what can I say?

I'm plugging along. My little story is too long as blocked out. I have to seriously look at changing how I've broken down the pages. A picture book is typically 32 pages. I'm at 40.

Steph asked if all of it was necessary. I think it is. Perhaps I'm wrong. First I'll bug Dad about it. If he isn't sure, then I'll pester Karan.

Earlier this week I emailed an author of children's books. Since I have met her, I totally felt comfortable doing this. She hasn't emailed me back yet. *sigh.... I know where she's working this weekend. Mwah ha ha ha ha.


and a hush fell

That's it. I've had all I could handle. No more whining allowed in this house. NONE! Everyone understand?

I hope so. Mommy is seriously trying to work on her little book and this distraction is NOT helping her. Oh no, it isn't. Mommy turns into Super Bitch when she must act as a referee every 3 minutes.

Kari -- to your room. It's a disaster area. Get that stuff out from under your bed and put it away where it belongs. If you still feel like whining, you may clean out your bathroom cabinet. I've seen what's in there and it is frightening.

Rick -- to your room. You can continue working on your schoolwork. Need I say anything more to you, young man? Thanks for the hug, but it isn't getting you out of doing homework.

Brooks -- to the timeout bench or to bed. You are not allowed to yell at your sister or throw things at Toby or tell me what to do. I am the boss. Got it?

By the way, my little dragonets, we will be playing the quiet game too. Not a peep, not a single flame or breath of smoke allowed.

Starting NOW!


dinner was yummy!

Cindy (NH) posted this recipe yesterday. We had it tonight with freshly baked bread and a salad. Absolutely delicious. I highly recommend this to everyone.

Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Souffles

6 cloves garlic, flattened
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Butter for greasing the dishes
4 Tbsp bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the garlic cloves, peeled and flattened, into a small dish and pour the olive oil over them. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes, or until soft. Add salt and pepper, and mash to a paste.

Grease 4 individual souffle dishes. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp bread crumbs to each and shake to evenly coat inside of each dish.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute, then gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool, then stir in the egg yolks, garlic mixture, sundried tomatoes, thyme, and goat cheese.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the souffle base. Pour equal parts of the mixture into the 4 prepared souffle dishes and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.



Centering. Breathing. Relaxing.

Sliding along a wave. Soaring above the trees. Feeling the earth breathe.

Realizing some truths about myself. Facing them. Continuing to breathe.

Absorbing the moon's glow. The sun's reflection. Fractured light from a rainbow.

Sinking into myself. Eyes focusing on surroundings. Awakening.


there are times...

If I had my brother right in front of me right now, this is what I'd say....

Yes, I am late sending out Coley's birthday present. No, I didn't call to wish her a happy birthday. One year olds do not understand the phone, nor is it fun to try and talk to them. There are various times when you were late sending my children cards or presents. I didn't bitch and complain and refuse to talk to you. No, I assumed you were living life and that you would get around to it. Birthdays are far more important to you than to me.

Now if you want to hear some complaints on how you treat me, your only sister, here goes.

I let you know far in advance, we are talking months and sometimes as much as a year in advance, when we are coming up there to North Carolina. Yet somehow we rarely see you. I understand that you are working. But to make plans to go hang out with your friends? That is simply rude. You can argue that you had the plans before I was coming up, but you knew long before that we were.

We are the ones who travel to NC year after year... several times a year. Do you come visit us here? NO. You have been several times... Brooks' birth, for 12 hours on your way to Key West and another time when you were going to Key West with friends. But you don't come visit, despite us asking over and over.

That pisses me off.

I love you than anything, but our priorities are a bit different. You love to celebrate things like birthdays, promotions, etc while surrounded by friends and family. I just like family time. I'm a quiet person, you are an extrovert.

I've always admired that about you... your ability to eke enjoyment out of every second of every day.

And I bore you and can tell it whenever I'm around you. Your mind wanders off, you yawn, you fall asleep. Don't even try to deny it.

Learn to accept that birthday cards and birthday gifts are not high on my list. I try to remember for you, because that's important to you, but it gets lost because it isn't to me.


call me selfish

Today was spent planting a rose garden for my mother-in-law. Pat did not ask me to do this for her. I wanted to do this for her. She deserves to have a beautiful flower bed that makes her smile and provides here with lots of roses and lavender.

I puttered around for quite a while. The roses had to planted in a pleasing manner without looking rigid. Pat's cherub had to be made special. Rocks had to be incorporated. Finally I had a layout that I liked and would like pleasing and inviting to anyone coming to visit.

Planting, watering, fertilizing, papering and mulching took a few hours. In a hot spring sun. Not a lick of shade until I was almost done. But I didn't faint from the heat. Pat kept me well watered.

Mona lavender frames her cherub now with lemon verbena in front. White faery roses march alongside the walk while apricot "ladies in waiting" will greet visitors first. Louis-Philippes will eventually tower over them all and fill in along the porch railing and that big blank walk. Erfurt and Souvenir d'Anne will both blush prettily when people take notice.

Pat was so pleased with how her flower bed turned out. She was a bit put out that I wouldn't let anyone help me, nor would I let her reimburse me for the plants. That was a bit selfish of me don't you think? But I do believe that she deserves some pampering. She's always doing so much for others and making them smile, I think it's past time that she had something that was there just to give her pleasure.


just call me James

7:50 A.M. -- Drive Kari to horseback riding camp

8:30 A.M. -- Take the boys to breakfast

9:40 A.M. -- Take Rick to martial arts

10:00 A.M. -- Take Brooks to story time at the bookstore

10:50 A.M. -- Drive to martial arts to watch end of class and pick up Rick

11:30 A.M. -- Go to the nursery to pick up roses for Pat, my wonderful mother-in-law

1:00 P.M. -- Go to different nursery to pick up "background" plants for MIL's rose garden

2:00 P.M. -- Take Brooks to the park to play and to watch the horses

4:00 P.M. -- Pick up Kari from riding

5:30 P.M. -- Drive to different part of the county for our nephew's birthday party

9:00 P.M. -- Drive home

I really don't like driving.


one of those days

Do I laugh? Do I cry?

I really wanted it to rain today. Nothing more cleansing to my soul than walking in the rain, jumping in puddles, watching raindrops slide down leaves. But no, it had to be a sunshiny hot day.

Perhaps I should not have spent the day reviewing grammar and vocabulary and filing papers from the past month. Perhaps I should have gotten dressed before 4 pm. Perhaps I should have indulged myself and had a piece of chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

At least there is tomorrow!



seeing red

I'm infuriated. Absolutely irked beyond belief.

Rick has tossed all of his schoolwork from the entire year. He knows (because I'm always saying it) that we must keep everything, that we have to prove what he has done, otherwise he'll have to repeat the 8th grade.

What am I supposed to do now?

Other than cry after I get past the nausea?


summer's coming!

Summer heat is going to be here by the end of the week. Happy, happy, joy, joy -- NOT! On the other hand I do enjoy watching the gerberas blossom in the weather that wilts everything else.


hanging on by a claw

Frog doesn't like his cage. He protests loudly having to be enclosed. But it is for his own good.

Last night Frog yowled. He howled. He meowed. He kicked and scratched at his bed until it was a mangled mess, then he peed on it and pushed it around some more. He clawed his way to the top of his litter box and hissed at us for good measure.

Then he slipped.

Thank goodness Frog still has good reflexes. He hooked his paws around the bars and dangled. We didn't know whether to laugh at his predicament or to cry at his stupidity. Before Robert could get to him, Frog's paws lost their purchase and he fell several inches into his water dish.

Oh the indignity of his life! Not only is Frog injured rather badly, he's also humiliatingly wet.

Today he has hidden out under our bed. The only time he ventured forth was when I offered him a tempting kitty treat. He's much preferring to glare at us from under the bed, his eyes glowing green.



Fighting with this template. Pardon the dust. Could someone please tell me why it's showing up with everything centered? It doesn't do that in preview or anywhere else. Only once I publish. Going nuts here.



Will March come in like a lion or a lamb? Can't wait to see. Right now it's looking a bit wishy-washy weatherwise.

Then again our smoke detectors went off at just after midnight and again at 6:49. Bet that was the lion roaring.



This is the week of the dreaded FCAT, the test that can make or break many a student here in Florida. Who will be allowed to go from 3rd into 4th grade? Who will be allowed to graduate from high school? Which schools had teachers who cheated and helped their students with the test?

I don't like this test for several reasons.

First, the teachers teach to the FCAT from day one. There is no learning material because it is appropriate for the age level and the subject. Oh no, everything is geared towards passing the FCAT. Who cares if the children learn anything else?

Second, the pressure on the children is enormous, especially for the 3rd graders. They get to hear all year long "If you do not do well on the FCAT, you must stay here in 3rd grade." Should grade promotion be based entirely on this test and little, if any, weight be given to the child's performance the rest of the year? Same thing goes for having to pass the test in order to graduate from high school.

Third, if your child requires and receives accomodations on other tests, he can forget receiving them for this one. This goes against the ADA. The reasoning is that they have to perform a certain way and within a certain time frame in order to pass the test. No ifs, and or buts. Who cares if the child has certain learning disabilities or is OHI?

Luckily even Richard has done well on the FCAT in the past. His teachers were extremely concerned in third grade that he wouldn't do well and that they would be stuck with him for a second year. But he showed them! He didn't just pass, he passed with high marks.

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson