Life on the Ridge
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can't you see I'm sleeping?


stepping into the sunshine

Sometimes you dream and dream and never bother taking a step towards making that dream a reality. Sometimes you get tired of dreaming and want to take that step, but you are too afraid. Sometimes you are lucky to have friends who believe in you and are there to help keep your courage up.

Karan and Steph, thanks for dragging me into the sunshine and giving me hope.


according to mom

Aw, what a special day this is...I remember my firstborn's arrival very well. In your picture, my Elizabeth is already a very tender age of just hours. You had probaby heard Papa say "Oh, what a pretty princess" when he first saw you.

You were due to arrive on April 26th, but you decided to delay your grand entrance for another 2 days.

I had a burst of energy and had cleaned our tiny two-bedroom apartment on Leon Street here in Durham from top to bottom the day before you arrived. Your great-grandmother called to check on me and was somewhat concerned I had been so busy cleaning, but I felt energized and great I told her!

Your Dad arrived home from his job as city editor with the Durham Morning Herald around 11 p.m. I still felt great! We headed off to bed shortly thereafter...I snuggled into bed...your Dad hung his pants on the bedpost (post at foot of bed on left)...and water broke...I trotted to the bathroom...your Dad put his pants back on...I called the doctor...your Dad was out the back door and had the car motor humming (I had never seen him move so fast!)...labor pains erratic (at first, they were 3-5 minutes apart, then more, then less, just all over the board) painted my nails (with clear nail polish)...Dad is ANTSY...I just didn't want to be embarrassed by going to the hospital and then being sent home...we left for Watts Hospital between 2 and 4 a.m.

So far, not so bad...I was ushered into a wheelchair (I still felt fine, but now I also felt ridiculous in the wheelchair)...up to Maternity Ward...Dad was told he had to stay in the Waiting Room...I on the other hand was handed a gown and enema parapheralia...Dad made phone calls to the grandparents-to-be around 5 a.m.(Dad to his Mother-in-law: "Ann's in the hospital. When are you coming?" Reply: "Just as soon as we can get dressed."(They arrived 30 minutes later)...I chomped on chipped ice...Dad curled up on the waiting room sofa (I know this because Dr. Bowles reported to me that my husband was stretched out comfortably on the sofa)...labor began in earnest..."You" were still in breach, no spinal blocks, pain relievers for me...I chomped on ice...pain increased, but since "You" were my first, I was naive about the "pain thing"...after all, I had nothing to compare it to...I was just so profoundly excited about becoming a "Mother"...more chipped ice...more pain...Dr. Bowles cheering me so quiet!!!

Here we go!!! Dr. Bowles telling the delivery room nurses that he had been my great-grandmother's (Granny) doctor, he had taken care of my Mother when she was little, had delivered this baby's Daddy...and then...

the big one!!!

"Please, Dr. Bowles, could you please give me somthing?!!!"... "No need"...You have a beautiful baby girl!!!"... tears of joy!!!...what a very special gift your Dad and I have been given!!!...What profound, never-ending love we have for you, "Elizabeth Ann," our firstborn!!!


Happy Labor Day, Mom!

Ages ago, early one morning, my mom poked my dad awake and told him it was time to go to the hospital for the birth of their first child. While Dad ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, Mom sat at the table and painted her fingernails.

Dad dragged her to the hospital. The same hospital where he, Mom, Grandmom and Grandad had been born. He called Nana to tell her that Mom was in labor with me and asked when she'd be there. Obviously he felt a huge need for support. Nana still gets the giggles thinking about the desperation she heard in his voice.

Mom, with her newly painted fingernails, was a trooper in delivery. After a 6 hour labor, delivering a child who was breech and all without meds, I emerged. Mom says I was beautiful and had a nice round head (why does she think I came out feet first?! It's all about keeping up appearances!)

Happy labor day, Mom!

Dad, you are still the king. ;)


I wanna play!

Who invented chores? Why is it that all household chores are left for the mom? Or is this just me being grumpy because I want to play outside but instead am finding myself stuck inside with laundry.

Piles of it.

Well, shit!


rooting with the moon

For as long as I can remember Mom and Nana have taken cuttings with the new moon. Nana swears that if you don't do this with the new moon, then the cutting won't root. Since my swedish ivy plant had taken over the kitchen counter, I decided to take 3 cuttings: 3 days before the new moon (16/4), the day of the new moon (19/4), 3 days after the new moon (22/4).

As of this moment only the stem cut on the new moon has roots. Weird, huh? I wonder what the explanation is. I am going to try this again with the next new moon to see if I get the same results.

I wonder if the same holds true for seeds. Steph?


avon calling

Robert has to work a double-shift today... early morning and midnight, so he is napping. We are tiptoing around and speaking in whispers. If the kids play outside, they are must ride their bikes or go out onto the Ridge or head over to a friends' house. I've been known to turn the ringers on the phones off, but since we have an antique phone whose ring we cannot stop or turn down, I have been forced to stop.

Today I wish I could turn those ringers off. Rick's friends have been calling every 20 minutes. I swear they have. Even after I ordered Rick to tell them not to call. Teenagers!

Now the phones are off the hook. Hah! Now what will they do?



I've been scanning photos this weekend. Lots of them. Mostly of Maine.

Thanks to Steph, I was able to set them up as a slide show. Just click on the photo link above or here if you don't feel like scrolling up. I know that I'm a bit lazy today.


duck, duck, goose!

When we lived in Charlottesville, there were two Canada geese that lived on the pond in our back yard. We would put out cracked corn for them in the winter and in the spring. We'd ooh and aah over the goslings.

Then I married and moved away. My brother graduated and moved. My parents sold the house and moved back to where they were born. The geese obviously didn't make the move. But they were missed. A lot.

Now the plastic garden goose stands guard over Mom's flower beds. We all walk out and greet him. When he gets knocked over, we right him. As a baby Brooks would toddle over to him and pet him.

Now it's Coley's turn to be enraptured with the Canada goose. Unfortunately she calls him "duck". We all tried correcting her. We'd point and say "goose". She'd smile up at us, pat him on the head and say "duck".

I gave up trying to correct her. I patted the goose and said "duck! duck!" Coley grinned at me and replied "dog".



I'm waiting for Robert to get home so that I can flee! Not that I'm going very far. Only 5 miles up the road to the coffee shop. I'm going to vegetate while sipping an iced coffee and flipping through a magazine.

My stress level is too high and visualization and meditation haven't done much. Really don't want to pull out the emergency meds, but it's getting close. I'll have to see how much sleep I get tonight.

But the coffee shop will be a nice place to go for an hour or so.


under a rock

Feeling blue.
Perhaps my blueness stems from returning home from vacation. Who knows. I do prefer NC over FL. The kids and I had fun in VA before returning to a messy house, tons of laundry and daily life.

Feeling grey.
Greyness though is another matter. This is when the sun is shining brightly, the birds are singing, the world is smiling and I cannot see any of it. My thoughts drift here and there, never quite focusing or gelling.

Feeling lost.
Communication helps keep me grounded in life, but this is missing here in my household and with my friends. I do not like to bother others with what goes on in my mind, especially since much of what goes on is inexpressible. Plus it is spring everywhere else in this country. My friends are stepping out into the sunshine and breathing deep the scent of rebirth. That is so much more fun.

Feeling lonely.
Part of this is inability or lack of desire to communicate with others, but another part is my children having their own things to do, a DH that works and friends who work. Normally I'm perfectly content being alone, but lonely is different.

Feeling afraid.
Ah, this is the crux of what is the matter with me. I need to have plans and goals. I really don't have any that are within easy reach. All my goals have steps that have these high steps to cross and right now I cannot find my ladder.



I walked into the garage this morning to toss the garbage. Two snakes slithered by me. I went back inside and sent Robert out to deal with them. He found one of them and moved him out to the Ridge. The second one, the large one, couldn't be found. I believe he is hiding underneath the shelving unit. Hopefully we'll be able to locate and relocate him this weekend.

Robert called me into the kids' bathroom and asked that I move the towel in Kari's sink. I went to do so and ended up screaming and jumping back into the hallway. A silly little frog scared the dickens out of me. All he did was jump. Sheesh. Robert and Kari were in stitches.

Walking through our sideyard to the Ridge this afternoon was a treat. This time I startled an iguana. He went scuttling into Max's bushes. I wonder if Max knows he's there. Certainly the armadillo that came sprinting from the bushes a moment later did. I didn't know those little tanks could move that quickly.


open your mouth and talk!

Robert and I have known each other for nineteen years. For nineteen years I've done most of the talking. I know people who are convinced Robert is incapable of speech. But he does talk. Just not much.

When we met, Robert nodded at me. He didn't say a word. Jim and John said this was because Robert was in pain from a pulled groin muscle. The second time we met, he offered me a beer. He didn't say anything. He simply held out a beer while raising one eyebrow. My roommate (also a Eliz) was irritated beyond belief by Robert's refusal to speak. If I wasn't in our room when he'd stop in, he'd sit on my bed, Eliz would sit on hers and they would stare at each other.

In 1989 when Robert was in Oklahoma and I was in Virginia, we ran up huge phone bills. His mother is still shocked by this. She's convinced that I never shut up. But she is wrong. Occasionally her son does run off at the mouth. He happened to be in Oklahoma for schooling and had no one to talk to. I reaped the benefits of this.

Go forward fifteen years to now. Robert is back to being a non-talker, and he is driving me crazy! How am I supposed to communicate with him? How are we supposed to make plans to do anything? Should I simply assume?

Conversation this morning...

ME: Hey, Robert, we need to make a decision about where we are going in July.
ROBERT: (looked at me)
ME: So what do you think? DC? Bob's and Cindy's?
ROBERT: Wherever.
ME: Don't put this on me. Where would YOU like to go?
ROBERT: (shrugged)

A little later...

ME: Don't you think we should go pick up the pressure cleaner from your brother? I emailed him a while ago and he said we could borrow it. Do you want to go now? After dinner?
ROBERT: (picked up his keys and walked out the front door)

While on a walk...

ME: I like the colors that house is painted. What do you think? Would those colors work on our house?
ROBERT: (shrugged) Maybe.
ME: Should we just repaint the same?
ROBERT: (nodded yes)
ME: Can you believe how much all the oak trees have grown?
ROBERT: They're still short.
ME: I want to show you these spots on the bark of one of the trees. I can't figure out if it's from the people mowing or if the tree is diseased.
ROBERT: (kept walking)
ME: See how the bark is different here. Almost like a knot? See how it is peeling... do you think it's from the mowers?
ROBERT: (shrugged)

I've known from day one that Robert isn't a talker, but there are times when I really need to hear a response instead of interpreting motions. I want to hear his opinions. I want to hear his suggestions. I'd like to be able to talk about issues that concern me or intrigue me without having to pick up the phone to call someone else or hopping onto the internet and IMing a friend.

Some days it is so tempting to pry open his mouth to see if he actually has a tongue in there. Of course just because one is present does not mean it works.


look up

I have this odd habit of taking pictures of clouds. I don't necessarily look up at the sky and snap away with each roll of film, but it is guaranteed that at least every other roll will reveal a picture or two of Florida skies.

When I started snapping pictures of the underside of porches in Charlottesville, my children were only mildly surprised. But if I hadn't looked up, look what I would have missed!

This one is actually at the front entrance of Monticello. But hey, same architect!



Fatigue is following me everywhere. Someone tell it to go away. Please. I beg of you. Make Mr. Sandman leave me alone.


Oh my!

Robert's favorite footballer, Oronde Gadsden, was arrested for DUI this morning. Seems Mr. Gadsden already had a suspended license too.



My father is going through boxes in his attic I think. He keeps IMing me to inform me of things he has come across. He has commented on how ugly some of the people in old family pictures are. For instance....

To get the full effect of grandmother Fannie, you have to see this portrait in person. She's quite frightening.


Rick has been caught lying twice today. We're at our wits end with him and his lying. Even when presented with evidence of his lies, he refuses to back down from them.

Several weeks ago I discovered that he had eaten 8 boxes of Thin Mint cookies. He denied doing the deed. Later Rick admitted to my mother that he had indeed eaten all 8 boxes and they were delicious. When I asked him about it, he went back to denying.


I'm still in my pjs. Shhhh.

The funny thing is that this morning I took Rick and Kari to the orthodontist. It wasn't until I got home and went to change into something else that I discovered I had simply thrown clothes on over my raggedy eeyore pjs.

Last time this happened to me I was in elementary school and "Bad bad Leroy Brown" was a popular song.


just like a butterfly

I flit from project to project, just like this little zebra butterfly did from flower to flower to plant to plant. But the butterfly had a reason for his behavior, I have none for mine.

Do I have adult ADD? Naaaaaaaaah, just part of who I am. Boredom with a topic isn't the problem either. It's all about habit and lack of discipline.

My brain wonders and speculates and questions. I follow along for the ride. One day I'll stop to see what I can accomplish by focusing, but now....


in their footsteps

One day last week we stopped in Old Salem for the sugar cake. As I walked up the hill to Winkler's Bakery, it struck me that most likely my great-great-great-great-grandmother walked up that same hill with her children in tow.

That's the fun part about being part of a family that has lived in the same area since the mid-1700s. Wherever I walk around Old Salem or Mocksville or Durham or Hillsborough, I feel connected to those distant and not so distant ancestors. I can visit their graves, their churches and in some cases their homes. I can touch a quilt made by women in my family or the cross-stitch my great-great-great grandmother made shortly after she married my great-great-great grandfather. I can picnic where they toiled in the fields or wade in the Eno River like they did.

And occasionally I'll run into someone who looks at me and recognizes in me my grandfather or my grandmother or an aunt or an uncle.


home again

Oh my. As much as South Florida depresses me, it is nice to be back. Back in my own house, among my own stuff, cuddling with Robert.

Robert was quite pleased with himself for keeping all my plants alive. I was quite impressed with him. I was concerned that without me "Ruby" would keel over and be beyond all hope. ("Ruby" is the offspring of a plant that was given to my grandfather back in the early 70s. Nana has the original. My mother rooted my "Ruby" for me over the holidays.) My african violets seem to prefer Robert to me. I noticed little buds forming all over the place. Hmmph!

I dropped off two rolls of film at Target and plan on picking it up in the morning. Two rolls of black and white will go elsewhere for developing. The film I used cannot be processed as if it were color.

Binky is in a demanding mode. She wants to curl up in my lap and purr the hours away. Poor dear was stressed at being left at home with THAT MAN. She pulled her fur out and mewled for me. Frog is full of piss and vinegar. He's meowing at the top of his lungs to be let outside. I informed him that he needs to be able to walk a bit better on his leg and then I will take him out on his newly purchased leash. Oh yeah, that's going to go over well.

Toby was ecstatic to see the kids. Robert brought him to Jupiter last night (we stopped at his parents' house for the night and part of today). He pranced in the yard, jumped, licked, begged for his belly to be scratched. Toby put on quite a performance.

Robert has gotten skinnier. I swear he has. The man was weighing 191 on the 3rd when we left, but he still had a bit of a belly. His stomach is now just as flat as can be. Oh he is looking quite fine. And he knows it. The brat!

Now I just have to finish putting all our stuff from our trip away. Blech. Blech. Blech. At least most of that has already been done. There are just pictures to sort through and one last load of laundry that needs to finish drying so I can put it away.




We took 8 rolls of pictures this week. The boy at the photo shop was quite shocked. Why? I haven't a clue. Aren't people supposed to take pictures while on vacation?

To be honest, I also purchased postal cards and a few slides of the various places we found ourselves. But the pictures are of what we want to remember of the places we went... the undersides of the porticos on the Lawn, the eagle detail on the Rotunda and Monticello, the icicles hanging from the rocks up on the Blue Ridge, Natural Bridge, the flowers we saw blooming... little details like that.

The postal cards are so that we remember what we're supposed to remember.


da coach

Half a lifetime ago, a young baseball coach gave me the chance to keep stats for the college team. He made me feel like I was part of his family and part of the team. I was yelled at when necessary and praised too. Coach Greer made me one of the guys.

Greer and I had a running argument about what constituted an error. I went by the book. He went by what worked for the player. There were more than a handful of times when he changed the error I recorded and then I changed it back.

Tonight Dad and I went to the ballgame. We planned to show up for the final 6 innings. I'm not sure why, but that's how we handle going to college games. Anyhow I had a blast watching Coach Greer handle his team.

Nineteen years ago he'd coach third with his back turned to the field. He'd peer over his right shoulder at the players. Tonight he faced the field head-on. Nineteen years ago he held down one side of the dugout. He never sat unless it was inbetween games of a doubleheader. Tonight he disappeared into the shadows of the dugout. He had to be sitting. But Greer's reactions to his players' actions were the same: quiet glee and quiet resignation. He didn't argue with the ump on a play that would have most coaches raging. He simply stared at the ump as if trying to figure out just how big an idiot the ump was and then walked quietly off the field.

After the game I tracked him down. Just to say "hi!" He gave me the rundown on his son who somehow has managed to turn 31 and has been a policeman for 8 years. (How in the world did Andy get that old? He should still be 12!)

I think I still have a bit of a crush on Coach Greer. Something about the silent type....


Happy Birthday, Todd!

Todd turns 15 today. Hard to believe that our 6'4" tall, 295 pound nephew is only 15. Holy moly! How in the world did he get so big? Sheesh!


palm sunday

Mom was running around trying to get ready for church, but she had to deal with a husband, a daughter, 4 grandchildren and 3 neighborhood children. And we are quite a lot to deal with. She spent the past few hours trying to convince someone to go to church with her.

I caved. I said, "Mom, I'll go, but this is what I'm wearing."

A disapproving look crossed her face. Her lips pursed, "Just go change pants and you can go."

"Mom, do you think my other jeans will be better. Or maybe I should put on that other pair of jeans."

Mom rolled her eyes at me. Dad made some comment that I cannot remember.

Then Mom pulled out the big guns -- guilt and wistfulness. "Oh, I wish someone could go with me since it is Palm Sunday."

Dad popped up from his lounging position. "Palm Sunday? Today is Palm Sunday?"

He disappeared into their bedroom to change into his suit.


I wonder if he misses us yet...


crocodile tears

My little boy is so sensitive. He cries at the drop of a hat. He cries when he doesn't get his way. He cries when he is frustrated.

He is frustrated often.

Four is such a difficult age. No longer a toddler, but not ready for "real" school. Able to identify letters, but not necessarily able to read. And on and on it goes.

So Brooks cries. At the drop of a hat. He won't be getting his way very often next week since we'll be travelling. He'll cry out of sheer frustration.

Oh boy.


on the road

We are almost ready to head out onto the road. Almost because Kari is not back from Orlando. Almost because it isn't quite Saturday yet.

Tomorrow morning Robert will help me load up the van with necessary stuff, the kids will pile in, I'll get behind the wheel, and we'll be off.

Off for parts unknown to the dragonets. Brooks has never been to Virginia. Kari and Rick have, but Rick was far too young to remember and Kari has only seen Williamsburg. We'll get to see Stacy and hopefuly Emily down in Blacksburg. (hopefully the kids will not sing my version of Greenacres)

I need an extra helping of patience for the next 10 days.


april fools

I cannot ever watch the news on the first of April. The entire time I'm analyzing each story, trying to figure out the joke. Sick, sick, sick.

Today I could have sworn that the story about the Liberal VVD leader Jozias van Aartsen being struck by a car was a joke. The story went out of its way to say that the driver was considered to be a female. I told Robert, "Enough already about bad women drivers!"

But I was wrong. The woman deliberately ran down van Aartsen.

I'm so not watching the news tonight.

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson