Monday, December 29, 2003

Dan mentioned the other day that what he really wants is a seven-floor department store. I just want a department store with a tidy ladies' room and space between the racks of clothes. In a book about diners, bowling alleys, and trailer parks (and suburbanization), historian Andrew Hurley asserts that when "the large department stores . . . opened branch outlets in the 1950s [in the suburbs, they] abandoned their formal downtown sales techniques in favor of a no-frills, self-service approach more convenient and less intimidating to affluent blue-collar customers." Well, sure, Hecht's is less intimidating than Bergdof Goodman, but there's a difference between self-service and no service.

And now to finalize my wardrobe for a quick trip to Baltimore. . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Having time off at The Holidays always makes me think I will catch up on all kinds of reading. I never read most of last year's Christmas gift books. In the To Read stack: a collection of excerpts from memoirs, a book about the lifesaving stations on the Outer Banks, a book of baseball essays, Gregg Kimball's book on Richmond, and Nelson Lankford's Richmond Burning. I haven't touched a one of them, yet. The party, shopping (modest as it was this year), and wrapping filled my time. I am making my way through the New Yorker with the green cover (there's another, somewhere, right?) and Style.

In last week's Style, Slipek gushes about Main Street Station and there's a pretty good piece on highways and development. Apparently, Capital City has more highway miles per capita than just about anyone else. The author interviews urban planner types from VCU who assert that building roads creates the mess rather than solves it.

Icky weather (okay, rainy, but 58 degrees) and that feeling that a cold is catching up to me may keep me from my tradition of a walk through Byrd Park on Christmas Eve morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Crowd Dodging

Ellwood Thompsons wasn't too busy around 10 a.m., but every spot in the parking lot at the Carytown Ukrop's was full.

4 batches of cookies, out of a possible 5
1 Xmas special on TV
1 seasonal movie ("Holiday Inn")
1 cat maybe getting an onion, not coal, in her stocking
.75 clean house
? days til I go see "Return of the King"

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I Love This Roll of Silver

Monday, I taught high school English. Using good imagery (and every class had two or three students who could recite a good definition of imagery) techniques, the students wrote ten-line poems describing an object, without naming it. Tyler did a nice one on duct tape: “I love this roll of silver.” Kelmern wrote about his broken iBook, rhyming “charger vanished” and “mouse pad banished.” They impressed me.

Wednesday, I took on high school social studies. One block of study hall, two of Virginia and U.S. government, and a huge class of ninth graders preparing for a test on the Civil War. The most interesting bit was the young woman in study hall who muttered to her friends, “It seem like time has stopped.”

In each classroom, I noted the failure a standard bit of advice. When I stood and walked around the room, I tended to excite more noise than if I “hid” at the desk. Much of the social studies work was to be done with “no talking, laughing, giggling, or throwing harpoons.” If I walked around to be sure their iBooks were open to Mr. H.’s history presentation and not random websites, the kids started chatting – asking me random questions, or gossiping with each other. If I sat at Mr. H’s desk and picked at the Sunday crossword I brought with me, the students did their work, or at least stared into space. I’m thinking mingling is the tactic for when I am teaching, speaking, leading; and sitting at the desk acting like I am writing their names down is the strategy for quiet work time.

Today: cookies to bake, miles to clean before I sleep.

2 trees out of 2
1 Xmas special on TV
1 house cat getting coal in her stocking
0 clean houses
1 train station reopened!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

I don't know if the "happy holdiays" link will stay on the front page / news releases section of the Big Braves website, but give it a try. It's a smile.
Rediscovered: a web designer's spiffy advent calendar.

3 out of 3 exams
1 out of 1 papers
2 out of 2 projects
[equals 1 complete semester!]
2 parties out of ??
1 Xmas special on TV: "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
1 tree out of 2
0 houses cleaned

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The USGS site rules! This Event cdbf_03 Map is built off of input from people who felt the quake. Wow, it had just central Virginia, before I went to class, and you could hover the cursor over a county and see how many people reported it.

And here's the seismogram.

3 out of 3 exams done
1 out of 2 projects
.75 out of 1 paper for archives
Hell's bells, it was an earthquake: channel 6 said so. It was a rumble and a lot of rattling. It reminded me of the way my windows and possessions rattled when they blew up one of the James River bridges 10 years ago; of dozens of huge trucks on Mulberry Street; of the college boys who lived below me in my last apartment, who played music so loud that the whole building shook. I unplugged the computer and stood in a doorway, just in case. After perhaps a minute, only one window kept rattling: I put my hand on it and it stopped.

Oh, here, see if this link will stay active. The US Geological Survey says 4.5; started west of here at a minute to 4, EST. My clock said a minute or two past four at the moment that I got off the sofa and said "what the hell is that?"
I got 8 out of 10 on this quiz: The Grinch on TV

Monday, December 08, 2003

Sunday, December 07, 2003

But Who's Counting?

From CB, in Maryland:
Snow fall: 6-7 inches.
Cars stuck in snow drift: 1 out of 2.
Snow men built: 0
Holiday movies watched: 0
Take Home Exams completed: 0 out of 2
Archives essays written: 0 out of 1
C's general good nature: 3 out of 10

My List:
Snow fall: 0 inches
Holiday movies watched: 0
Christmas TV specials viewed: 0
Archives essays written: 0 out of 1
Final projects: 1 out of 2
Exams taken: 2 out of 3
Lights strung: 2 out of 4 or 5 strands

Saturday, December 06, 2003


I spent only about an hour at the Ukrop’s / Retail Merchant’s Association of Greater Richmond Christmas Parade this morning. I stood on Broad Street at about Foushee, facing that Capital City landmark, Harvey’s Progressive Barber Shop. The man next to me on the left looked to be a late-in-life dad, or a not-so-old grandpa, a white man in a tweedy coat and felt hat with three kids. The black woman on my right had a son and a daughter, to whom she had each given a few dollars to spend as they wished on hot chocolate or popcorn or street vendor toys. The street vendors had plastic horns and noise makers and inflatable toys for sale. The latter included Batman, Spiderman, the Hulk, a snowman, and Santas (with white or brown faces). The boy bought a Spiderman; the girl paced her spending, getting only a hot chocolate while I was there.

The parade began a bit tattily: two teenaged girls in flair bottomed jeans, hems torn, and sneakers carried the banner. But all the kids had their eye on the Bob the Builder balloon, not far behind -- so to most, it was a great start.

The first band, decked in green and yellow, represented Henrico High School (nearly all African-American). After their banner came the pep squad or dance squad or whatever they are called these days. Here’s where I might have said, You know, girls in tiny costumes grinning lipstick smiles, prancing and kicking – but this squad included two boys. Go figure. The Richmond City Schools all-school band also had boy . . . majorette? (Is that any more patronizing than “lady doctor”?) From the curb, I’d describe the boys' outfits as wind suits and black sneakers. The most graceful, smilingest guy had a black knit cap and black gloves.

He was much happier than the overly-made up (mostly white, all female) tiny little girls in the baton twirling clubs. The teenagers do execute impressive toss-with-cartwheel moves, but every single child is tarted up. In one club, they all had their hair shellacked back into buns, tied with tinsel (“no short hair allowed in our club”?)The way a chaperone yanked a tearful tot (cold? Tired from having walked about 2 miles and with another ½ mile to go? Had to pee?) by the upper arm and growled “where’s the mini van?” made me sad.

Virginia Military Institute’s band included maybe three young women.

Mayor McCullom, in tie and overcoat, looked better than parka-wearing U.S. Congressman Scott. I think each man rode in a convertible, that traditional way of getting the local car dealers in on the fun. A Cadillac dealer, oddly, just sent a car carrier truck-full. If there were car dealers in the East End, I’d say a delivery got swept into the parade. Nah, there was clearly one of each model; oh, and poinsettias.

I stayed for only one round of Shriners: tiny cars and the Far East band! Wheee! Those cars are so darn cool. Our local Shrine usually contributes clown, motorcycle, and horse units, and a country and western band, so I am sure there was much more fun, but my toes were cold and my paper called.

(Oh, on the way home, I stopped in the new Grace & Harrison Ukrop’s, and bumped into that blue-eyed elf, Mr. Bobby Ukrop himself.)

Capital City weather: cold, partly sunny, damp but no snow. Did it snow where you are?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

There's being out, and then there's be out via news services, like my friend Marie, here.

Monday, December 01, 2003

"I've Forgotten More History Than You'll Ever Know"

I try to be diligent about moving things to a "give to thrift store" pile on a regular basis. Got two new 50s platters for my birthday? The 1980s one must go, to make room. Need a hanger? Find one thing I haven't worn in a year: out it goes. Of course, I often have second thoughts. Today's errands would bring me by a thrift, so I grabbed up two ready bags. I glanced in: a white T-shirt? I put away too many Ts when I switched seasons, let me grab this one. Oh. My history grad school shirt: "I've forgotten more history. . . ." I nabbed it.

At some point in the last two days (as I shift to Student Standard Time, I lose track of actual days), I went on a serious digression, looking for an old notebook. I felt certain I had a whole class at Mount Holyoke on oral history, a topic skimmed in a current class. No sign of it, though, in the box o' notebooks (yes, I am a packrat). My transcript is full of classes with indecipherable abbreviations, none of which seems to be oral history. I guess the project I remember so well, for which I interviewed an elderly alumna, was part of some larger class. I promise I spent less than 20 minutes flipping through notebooks; and I even virtuously pulled out a bunch of photocopied handouts to review and toss. It wasn't a waste of time -- it was cleaning!

I just looked over a couple of inches of photocopied journal articles and book sections: H's African History class; some English class; one of my southern historys; and a huge amount on African-American religion -- did I take a whole class on that? Did I have an English instructor named Ellis, or is this a shared style handout? Look at all this great southern history stuff! Statistics, seminal writings -- *shlush* into the recycling bin, all those things I'd forgotten I had once known. Oh. I always did like that shirt.

Capital City weather: down to 29 over night.
I spent way more time than I ought to have on Sunday cleaning windows. Thank goodness it's a row house: I could have had two more faces of glass and storms! This is not quite consolation for the single homeowner. Yeh, yeh, it's my Own Space. Sure, it's a drag doing big chores single-handed. What I could use are hints on how to tell repairmen I have no husband to confer with; or checklists of regular home check up needs. I had the furnace and bug inspections, but it turns out if someone had looked at the roof regularlly, I wouldn't have damp spots on my ceiling. Maybe. I know the only guarantee with old houses is: Stuff will Break (corollary: stuff will take longer to fix than projected).

Saturday, November 29, 2003

I seem to want to be a readers' digest and tell everybody about the interesting things I have read. Oh, no, wait: I want to be an abstracter! (Do I get points for applying something I learned in grad school?) I don't have the energy to summarize it at length, or analyze and research it like a good student. I want to give you a quick summary and throw it at you.

For instance, one article in my Alumnae Quarterly is about class(ism) at the college. At Mount Holyoke, women talk readily about race, ethnicity, and gender in and out of the classroom, but not class. Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed became a campus-wide read (it's been on my list). Most alumns who responded to a call for input to the article self-identified as "working class" and shared observations about what it was like, for instance, to first encounter peers who announced airily, I couldn't possibly start my day without The New York Times. Yet some alumnae from affluent backgrounds described not wanting to be "out" about it. A sociology professor asks students in her class on class does "'our privilege rest[] on the disadvantage of others, and if so, does it matter, and what can/should be done about it?'"; Whoa. Short answer: Yes; I don't know.

In hometown news, I went round to the new location of Black Swan Books, today, to welcome them to my neighborhood. The old-book dealer moved from the other end of the Fan to Main at Robinson (they renovated that meats company building). It's a great space -- tin ceiling, polished concrete floors, a sofa and a chair -- though currently pungent with new paint. Just about the first thing I saw when I walked in was something I needed: one of Helen Rountree's books on Virginia Indians. The next couple hundred things I saw were other excellent Virginia books, across all eras. I found plenty of history, art, and religion; also a strong showing in collectable children's books. The shelves have yet to be labelled; it's possible I leap to conclusions about the classification system. That said: I bought a gift from the Gardening shelf. I predict spending more time there.

Despite a chill wind, I made it 3.5 blocks back west and tried to shop in Mongrel, but it was too crowded. All I wanted was a festive little handsoap. Luckily, I was able to secure study rewards for myself at the not-quite-as-crowded chocolate shop.

I feel good about the start I made on studying and paper writing; but I feel better about Finishing than Starting.

Capital City weather: cold and windy and clear
At the Byrd: Seabiscuit

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


While driving northbound on 95 last Thursday, I noted a truck load of Christmas trees headed south.

Just in time for holiday travel: Watch traffic on 95 through metro D.C. from the comfort of your own home, here. (I had to disable the "block pop up ads" feature on my new Google toolbar to allow it to work.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Prometheus had a few words on blogs the other day. I took up blogging because I enjoyed reading Lileks. Sometimes I imagine this is practice features or essay writing; sometimes I know it’s only a little different from a wintertime family newsletter. I also imagine it's practice for a real website I will have one day, full of kitsch and pictures. Though my clip and share urge leads me to provide occasional fun links, I don’t think of myself as logging the web. If I become a reference librarian, I imagine I would jump to create the library’s web directory. Especially when it comes to reference materials, librarians pride themselves in directing users to books that are accurate, current, written with authority, etc. Good librarians apply this to the web, too: we want to help people avoid the crap. VCU has a good one: click here.

We’re due another huge rainstorm today (though I should have clear driving weather tomorrow). The only thing I don’t like about being a homeowner is the fact that the weather can send me into fits of worry: how’s the roof? What if that tree comes down, this time?

I popped over to Westover Hills on Monday. Last week’s high winds brought down at least two more trees between the Carillon and the Boulevard Bridge. Meanwhile, the brush piles of hurricane damage remain in place. Many tipped over stumps have sunk into the ground, into their root holes. One especially big tree in Byrd Park, an oak, was about four feet in diameter. Where will it all go? Where will the city find people and machines capable of picking it all up?

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Found While Doing Homework

Who doesn't like a quick check to see the notables who share our birthday? This site looks like a good one if you're helping direct a young person's homework.

Watch the Library of Congress's copy of Coca-Cola's "Hilltop" commercial here (chose it -- or another -- from the brief text describing the collection). It's part of LC's digital library, "American Memory." Intellectually, I'm not thrilled that commercials are a formative part of our collective memory. Emotionally: that commercial always makes me misty-eyed. Possibly, the original sentiment of world harmony does it. Throw in a vague sense of Christmas past. There's also a mixed up sadness and gladness over growing up in the hopeful 1970s, when commercials portrayed the world gathering in quaint (often pseudo) native costume to be friends, and International Day was de riguer at school.

Also cool: books to read online, if you're into that sort of thing, at The Online Books Page.

Monday, November 10, 2003

An interesting item on a Richmonder who attened Virginia Union and Smith, but could not attend UVa.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

What I learned Doing Homework, Today

Krispy Kreme's corporate archive belongs to the Smithsonian's Archives Center.
At Prometheus Unleashed, a link to place yourself on the "political compass." I'm really not that liberal, it turns out.

I hope everyone got as beautiful a harvest moon, as swell a lunar eclipse as we did last night. After I checked the cats in Midlothian, I made the left onto Huguenot Road with an enormous low-lying yellowish moon staring back at me. As it rose higher it was small and bright white, turning copper, of course, in the eclipse.

I had an exhausting week of exam preparation and volunteerism, to be capped by my turn at the antique mall's open house in a couple of hours. I didn't even decorate our space this year. I think the book sale did well and I was glad to see many familiar faces. (But why do people quibble over the expense of a 50- or 75-cent paperback when they clearly are getting a deal with that Patricia Cornwell or John Grisham at a buck?! It all evens out, folks. And it is charity.)

Friday, October 31, 2003

Classic Face

The temperature rose to about 75 today and the sky was blue. I bought a pumpkin on the way home from school this afternoon, and carved it on the back porch – it was just that beautiful an afternoon. I did get two mosquito bites, though. (We did have some nights around 40, just last week, but no hard freeze, yet.)

I did a quickie job on the jack-o-lantern, because of my delay in purchasing a pumpkin. I usually have one for a week or two, and consider carefully whether it will have a Classic face, Scary face, Surprised face, or Happy face. Hmm. Not much of a repertoire. I’d call it a Classic face: triangle eyes, points down; a rounded chevron-shaped nose (sort of like the emblem on a Enterprise crew member’s shirt); and a zigzag mouth.

The seeds are toasting in the oven, the rest of the goo went to the compost pile, and I placed Jack on the top step. I swept off the porch, and put the Twix bars in a bowl. Bring ‘em on! Let’s start the ritual of bribing the local young uns with sweets! Every year I imagine it really will keep them from throwing too much trash in my ivy; that it will encourage them to go easy on the Civic when they play football in the street. Plus, it’s part of the social contract. I scuffled all around River Oaks (giggling with Leanne and Susie, many years) to beg strangers to give me candy; now it’s mine to turn to feign delight in costumes and pass out sweets. It’s fun.

Happy Founder's Day, Girl Scout friends! Everyone else: read about Julitte Low here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"We’ve Been Getting HBO Since the Last Time Lightening Hit the House."

Mitch laughs at me in only the best-spirited, most affectionate way when I call or e-mail for tech support. This morning, while using e-mail, the computer crashed twice. Turning it back on brought up the most alarming Microsoft “we’d like to send this problem to ourselves” dialog box. The word “dump” was in the line of language about the problem. This scared me a lot.

All day, my computer couldn’t find the Verizon server. A little yin yang icon spins while it looks for mail, etc. It would spin and spin, and eventually announce it was “tired of looking for the server.” I wondered if uninstalling the e-mail program, then reinstalling would help. I found the right place on the Control Panel. Stupid AOL was hiding out there, so I thought I would “practice” by uninstalling it. I did; I restarted. I highlighted Eudora, clicked Change/Remove, got the Are You Sure message – and chickened out. I checked Eudora again. The little yin yang spun for a moment, then the blue bar appeared! I had three or four messages! Yippee.

I answered a few messages, then popped around to favorite sites and blogs, pausing to check for comments on mine – and, lo! My archives links, invisible to me alone for weeks and weeks, were there. (Shout out to Bill, here, who gives me a little tech support with Blogger – though he was stumped by why I couldn’t see that list.)

So what’s an internet-ignoramus to do but assume that deleting AOL fixed both problems?

(In a slightly more probable instance of cause and effect, I came home from college once, turned on the TV and was surprised and delighted to watch a movie without commercial interruption. At the end, I found I had been watching HBO. When she came home, I asked Mom. “How long have you and Dad had HBO?” Her answer, of course: since the last time lightening struck the house.)

Monday, October 27, 2003

Can You Draw Me a Picture?

I subbed for an elementary school clinic attendant today. No Ritalin, but some Albuteral inhalers. Destiny went home, but drew me lots of pictures with hearts and stick people. Jami drew me a picture with an airplane, trees, and what appear to be goalposts. Ariel needed her infected earring holes cleaned. I think it was Mikal who poked himself with a pencil and needed a bandaid. Uzhari didn’t look too good, but he didn’t hit that magic 100 degree temperature, so he had to go back to class.

Did I mention that This End Up seems to have been the official supplier of furniture for teacher’s lounges in Henrico County? What did surprise me, when I went in for Halloween treats, were Sally and Jack figures, from The Nightmare Before Christmas, among the smiling, wooden witches and ceramic pumpkins.

Capital City weather: rain

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I haven't got his book, and he claims to have writer's block today, but it seems to me Wil Wheaton can write just fine (10/21 entry).

Fall is strolling into Capital City in a gap-toothed way: rows of fluorescent maples have been broken up by the punch of Isabel.

In my Information Sources and Services class, we take turns presenting a reference book to the class. I drew "history" from the hat. I did bring down a nice encyclopedia of American history, but I really took the opportunity to sing the praises of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. What other single volume offers entries on "quadroon," "Lost Cause," "Maggie Walker," and "Moon Pie"?

Sunday, October 19, 2003

My alumnae quarterly has a small feature called “Alumnae Abstract” that notes recent research by grads. Nicole Gilbert ‘99 looked into Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and constructing gender. She found that “[t]he two holidays are events in which ‘society’s normative conceptions of masculinity and femininity’ play out in the family home, even among families that might disagree with those conceptions.” She also learned that “Mother’s Day celebrations last two hours longer than Father’s Day celebrations, yet mothers tend to be less satisfied with their special day.”

Also in the mail from Mount Holyoke, something with a feature called “Faculty Voices” with a piece from Penny Gill, Mary Lyon Professor of the Humanities and professor of politics, on identity. She writes, “. . . MHC is probably so ‘old fashioned’ as to once again be ‘avant-garde’ about the politics of identity in the postmodern culture wars.” Gill notes that at MHC, the curriculum and cocurricular activities offer opportunities to explore and understand identities. Gill concludes, “[t]here is a marked tolerance, even appreciation, when we’re at our best, for a certain kind of conceptual and political ‘messiness.’ (I thank Lee Bowie for having celebrated messiness in his baccalaureate talk in May 2003. . . .) We teach our students explicitly and by example to avoid reductionist and over-simplifying language, to pursue complexity and to try to articulate it with respect. The meaning is often to be found in the details – a gesture, a breakaway case, a stubborn piece of data, even an unexpected silence. . . . So, I appreciate Mount Holyoke for its encouragement to me, and to all the rest of us, to become who we truly are, in all our complexity and multigiftedness and sheer stubbornness of character and possibility.” Yup, I feel stubborn of character and messily complex.

Capitol City weather: clear and not quite 70.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Dates to Note

Goodwill to Others, November 1. A special Girl Scout drive that results in vouchers given to social service agencies for use in Goodwill stores. Plus, the girls help you unload the car. At far left on this home page, click on "2003 Spectrum" under "Program" then on Community Action Resources. Goodwill is on page 9 of that Adobe file you'll get.

Friends of Richmond Public Library Book Sale, November 7 and 8.

Open House at West End Antiques Mall, November 8 and 9. Most dealers offer 20% off, plus, there's food.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Here's some good stuff on libraries and access to materials.

Many street lights came on, tonight. It'll be nice to have the usual dim light leak in the house again should I need a late night bathroom visit, or if Catly wants breakfast before the sun comes up. One morning last week, I missed the last step when I went down to pour her food.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Since the moon is waxing towards full, we hardly miss the streetlights at all, here in Capital City.

Something I noted in at least one or two places around town: the tops, the pinnacles, of the upright lampposts that fell to the ground after the storm, just sitting next to the post. No one stole them. On the one hand, why would someone take them; on the other, why would someone graffiti tag a building or drive by rural route mailboxes and smash them with a bat?

I see from the Post that Bob Bobb, our former city manager, has been lured away from his post in Oakland, California, by D.C. He’ll be “chief administrator” for Washington. VCU’s Bob Holsworth gives him a positive review on Sunday’s editorial page, including Bobb’s appointment of Chief Oliver, who did not receive universal praise.

The Nephew and his mom and I went to WorldCup today: he blinked and nodded at the lights and ceiling fans and brightly painted walls. Really, he fit right in with the regulars. Why do babies look so deep in thought?

At the Bryd: Finding Nemo.

Monday, October 06, 2003

How 'bout that Kerry Wood?! (Actually, I had a few people over to dinner and only watched the end of the game, so it's mostly hear-say.) How 'bout this pic of Chipper Jones? Wasn't he one of baseball's cuties? And "Braves Heartbroken Again"? Please. If they'd put some heart in it, maybe we'd see the World Series again.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Maggi posted pictures both artistic and typical of post-Isabel Richmond, on 9/30.

beautiful lemon-orange sunrise this morning, full of streaky clouds. Good thing, too, with nary a streetlight operational in town, I find getting up at o'dark hundred for the bathroom or for the starving cat quiet challenging.

I'm up early for a big GS event. I started to say it'll be the first kid-filled event I've gone to since I left, but I am forgetting Camp this summer. Of course, I had Mitch for that, so. . . . Anyway, in anticipation, of this activity, I had all sorts of low-level anxiety dreams about GS events at "camp" that left me feeling less than refreshed this morning. The dreams were very dull, for stress dreams: I was running something at "camp" and nothing was going quiet how I wanted, or -- as often happens -- the geography / topography of "camp" changes to the annoyance and confusion of all. (Sorry, no rich details like Mitch writes about, just need to clear my head.)

Capital City weather: cool, but getting into the 60s and increasing clouds.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

At Regency Square today I noted: that they re-imaged themselves with new signs, lots of very 1990s club chairs and sleek blond tables in the walkways, and colorful new tables in the food court; missing stores; and new stores ( ""? Come on.). Also, Land's End goods for sale at Sears; Sears-like clothes for sale at J.C. Penny; beautiful blue Ralph Lauren cords at Hecht's. I had already tried Target and Old Navy as part of a two-day quest to find an un-branded baseball cap for a tot. None of the department stores had anything in the way of accessories in between caps for infants and tacky pink frou-frou for 8-year-old girls. Poor little boys don't seem to be allowed even a belt until they are 10, much less a cap. It's just socks and underwear in what should be the accessories space. It turned out Gymboree, a source of tasteful gifts in the past, had just the thing. It even reverses, denim to red.

Now, I did read Gopnik I guess it was on the demise of the department store. Also, Mr. Gibbs has a few things to say. I know that a traditional department store's version of "everything under one roof" is no longer what "we" crave. I know that "we all want" either Wal-Mart or Just Bulbs. And yet after tons of potentially cute duds all marked OLD NAVY, I felt sure that a department store was the only refuge. I felt sure that's where those sweet "Lil Slugger" jackets and hats used to come from. So, I was wrong.

Happy play-offs season -- now, where's my Cubs cap?

Monday, September 29, 2003

Gee whiz, library school is cool. Tonight I read all about dictionaries and gained new enthusiasm for an old companion. Did you know that no one holds copyright on the names "Webster" and "Roget", and so tomes bearing their names do not necessarily descend from their works? Or that the distinction between an abridged and an unabridged dictionary is made on simple, numerical lines? Abridged dictionaries contain 50,000 - 265,000 words; unabridged,more than 265,000. It's just that easy. I certainly did no know that online dictionaries allow you to hear words pronounced.

The most shocking thing I learned comes from my failing to have learned to read the directions or the preface. Do you have any idea how much good stuff they put at the front of your dictionary? I have used mine (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, published by folks whose website proudly states "we go to eleven") for nearly 20 years without appreciating that the first definition is the earliest, not necessarily the preferred, meaning. It says so, right there on page 19!

The textbook's author, William Katz, has a lively style: "If Paradise Lost is the epic of the seventeenth century, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the eighteenth, and Joyce's Ulysses of the twentieth, then the OED is the nineteenth century's unparalleled achievement."

If only all my courses had such engaging reading.

Capital City weather: sunny and clear, not more than 70 today.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

What a beautiful sight! My end of the block, my very own house, all blue-white with electric light, spilling out into the night. Good thing, too, because I forgot to bring a flashlight when I went to S&J's.

Some notes from last week that I never figured out how to put on CD and take somewhere and post:

9-22-03, 9:15 a.m.

[Insert name of deity here] be praised: I had WorldCup coffee this morning. I also
learned, after ten or so years of frequenting said establishment, that they write out the name as one word. This means it’s alphabetized further down the phonebook column than World_of_Mirth, say.

No, no property loss, thanks. Assuming we don’t count as “property loss” some Eggos, three-quarters of a pound of butter, and many condiments of unknown age anyway. My fridge is as clean as it was the week I moved in, four years ago.

Isabel brought less rain and more wind than Floyd. The constant roar of the wind was like the white noise of being on the beach on a windy day, only turned up to eleven. Channel 6 news kept showing trees falling down all over the Fan and I talked myself into believing my oak would topple at any moment.

I lost power at five minutes to five on Thursday: at this writing I am in day four without power. When we lived in Oxford, Mississippi, an ice storm that did about equivalent damage – the sad, sad site of noble trees split asunder or up-rooted; power lines in the road – we stayed in the dark for nine days. At least my Capital City house has a gas stove: it could be worse.

Things that I am having trouble learning from the TD or channel 6 on the radio: are we still boiling water?, where does *the city* want piles of braches? Things that the TD is covering: belated directions on who should boil water and for how many minutes, pictures of fallen tress, and which malls are open: the PR woman for Short Pump Town Center was quoted as saying, “It is natural for folks to come to a mall and congregate.” (9/20/03) (In the interest of rationing the computer’s battery, I’ll refrain from comment.)

8:25 p.m.

The likelihood that a car will approach an intersection with an out-of-commission stoplight at a high rate of speed and with no regard to other drivers is in direct proportion to the expense of the car. Apparently, when one drives a huge BMW or an Expedition, one owns the road.

I got some reading done by electric light in Midlothian! The folks are “on the list” with their tree company. About eight trees came down on their acre. The neighbor’s SUV got smushed.

At the Byrd: darkness. Across the street, I had a late lunch at Double T’s. Capital City weather: heavy rain an hour or so ago; very muggy.

9/23/03, 8:19 a.m.

Hell, all that fussing about, and WorldCup’s wireless internet service isn’t even working. It rained harder than I expected last night and now my bedroom floor is all wet. People’s tree debris piles got strewn into the streets.

I note that the dry cleaner next to WorldCup had its vinyl siding pulled back by the wind. Nice brick work. I wonder if it was a gas station, once?

11:45 a.m. Brian called a while ago, from Maryland, to let me know it’s okay to drink city water, and to ask if Capital City had really had tornadoes.

9/24/03 3:20 p.m. Day Six of Darkness on South Mulberry.

This afternoon finds me at VCU’s ever-charming James Branch Cabell Library soaking up their electricity to recharge the computer. I spent two hours at RPL running it down. I signed up for a public computer so I could look at card catalogs online (homework assignment), but ran down this battery writing my comparison. . . . While here, I will look at an encyclopedia, for another comparison assignment. This will make me feel more okay about taking their juice.

The National Weather service declared something like four of yesterday’s weather events genuine tornadoes. Mom says the RTD wrote about a woman who had just restocked her fridge losing power, again. Yeah, that’s too bad: but is it true that the city won’t send garbage trucks through the alleys and we have to drag the supercans to the curb? That stiff is starting to stink, you know.

Some sites that raise smiles: salons on Main St. and on Belmont giving al fresco haircuts; a spray-painted banner on Grove, I think it was: “ALMOST AMISH.”

Capital City weather: beautifully blue and clear; upper 70s.

9/26/03 7:40 p.m.

Day Eight in the dark, at my end of Mulberry Street. Neighbors are beginning to have power again. It’s also about 30 hours since I called the City to notify them that my supercan got skipped on Thursday, and since they said they’d be sure someone took care of it “later today.” It’s stinking up the alley.

So I invited myself to Midlothian to recharge things and generally not read by flashlight. (Not to self: go ahead and buy new fluorescent bulb.)

I felt very out of my groove up at school. I had forgotten that the rest of the region does not begin conversations with, “So you got power yet?” It seemed weird to see all the trees on those two attractive campuses fully upright. “Libraries in Society” is a great class with a great teacher, so it helped me get back in school mode. We had some good small and large group conversations about ethics. Many thanks to F., at the seminary, for the Thursday night hospitality!

Byrd Park: about 1 out of every 15 or 20 trees fell over. Bryan Park: from B&E’s street, it looked rather better than Byrd Park, but from 95 today it looked pretty sad. North of Ashland, on the interstate, I didn’t note any fallen trees.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Store Gossip
Who told me? It was a reliable source, I feel certain. The Community Pride on Grace Street at Harrison will become a Ukrop's, "soon," in response to a Kroger being built off of Lonbardy, near Maggie Walker School. I didn't even know about the Kroger, so I made a point of going that way to Union on Saturday: sure enough, there's a brand new building and the sign is up and the parking lot has lines. On the way home from RPL, I noted Community Pride signs still in place at that Grace Street store, so I can't confirm anything, there.

Oh, wait, as a sophisticated user (more on this from my school readings, sometime!), it took only a little Googling to find confirmation, here.

M - I forgot a tangent to our conversation about Lands End at Sears, until I saw a commercial, just now. Lands End is also making "casual"
adult Girl Scout uniforms, whatever that means. We uniform purists usually let people know that one is not in official uniform when wearing a uniform blouse or official polo shirt with just some pair of khakis or jeans: you're supposed to wear official pants, skirt, or shorts. Hey, military types or airline attendants don't wear random pieces, they wear the whole uniform. That's how you know it's a uniform. (Okay, that's more ranting than I meant to do on that subject.)

Capital City weather: Warm, clear, and beautiful, as it often is when hurricanes approach the east coast.

Sunday, September 14, 2003


Further evidence I live in my own world: I never considered that VCU's reserve reading desk might not be open on Saturday morning (after my water aerobics class, ten-ish). It opens at noon. Discovering that VUU's entire library operates from only 1 - 5 p.m. on Saturdays leaves me speechless. It's not even open until midnight during the week. How do they get anything done?

Am I a bigger geek than I think I am?

Friday, September 12, 2003

Satellite view of Virginia. Can you trace I-95? I sure can. Despite pouring rain, today, I had my fastest home-bound trip (from GMU), yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Since Publius mentioned U2, I’ll share an almost story.

On Tuesday, at the beach, my folks and I took an early morning bird walk near Corolla Lighthouse. We were on a boardwalk that led through swampy ground to the edge of the sound. Nearby is a big 1920s retreat house now used for house tours, picnics, and nature programs. Some kind of construction was going on there -- I could hear staple guns and hammers. I also heard (because there were no bird calls to hear) distant strains of "Pride." I did mutter, in the same way one does for a bird, "U2" and pointed toward the construction zone. By Currituck Sound, we saw a yellowlegs and some killdeers. In the swamp were lots of those cool garden spiders, a huge grasshopper, many arrowleaf plants, and other fun things.

Hours later, I found myself back in Capital City, returning from my "Information Services" class, flipping the radio dial and landing on . . . ohmygod is it the same song?! No, no, it's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Still, a close call

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Seen on the drive home (about 7:30 - 9:20 p.m.): orange clouds surrounding the US Capitol; settling clouds, and, in one field in about Stafford County, spooking glowing shapes that turned out to be fog-obscured, lit billboards; the moon; and the least traffic yet.
I woke up around seven, slowly, listening to the traffic report on the radio. While it's quiet now on far West Broad Street, she said, remember that the Short Pump Mall ribbon cutting is slated for 9, and traffic could be very congested, soon.

At least two local TV news crews were out there last night counting what's ready to open and what's not. I know it's at least two because me first reaction was "I don't want to hear this" and I changed the channel but somehow stuck on that second report. It seems that while the shopping destination has three entrances, all are on West Broad.

People! Haven't we talke about this? One reason that driving in suburbs and edge cities sucks is that there is only one road in and one out. How can developers not know -- or not have to face that fact?

Here's a fact: the looming deadlines for the malls means that it's been difficult for the contractors doing the rennovations to the Franklin Street library to get subcontractors and laborers.

Capital City weather: rainy and 70s. At the Byrd: "Bend it Like Beckham"

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Library school buddy J. draws our attention to an NPR item on librarian action figures and related issues.

I keep trying to shop at Wal-Mart to save money, but it repeatedly lacks the products I want, the size that matches the coupon in hand, and employees who act like they give a damn. Okay, that last is unfair: this morning's greeters and the cashiers both of the last trips were friendly and efficient. People finishing stocking, however, blocked aisles, didn't yield to customers as the wisked away cartfulls of empty boxes, and looked at me without so much as a nod. At what point does the frustration of getting only four items out of an eight item list and putting up with marginal service cancel out the benefit of spending less?

Saturday, August 30, 2003

My class on Friday met on the campus of George Mason University, in Fairfax. Having arrived early and secured excellent directions from the young woman in an information kiosk by the three-level parking deck, I had time to take in my surroundings. I found it to be a very Virginia-feeling place of orange-hued brick, trees, an open plaza, and quiet, low buildings. The displays in the smallish windows at the end of one big, new building suggested I’d find the bookstore inside. In I went, and quickly found myself dazzled by a food court. After terrible coffee and a pretty nice egg sandwich, I took a turn around the building. I found a nice bathroom and – what’s this? The library? This student center boasts a “branch” library, marked with a neon sign and furnished a bit like a chain bookstore. Hunh. Next, I went into the campus bookstore, where the staff was helpful and friendly, and I found and paid for my books in under 8 minutes. Books in hand, I marched off to class, and learned the difference between knowledge and information.

On the way back, having gained a sense of the lay of the land, I entered the student center through a lower level door, to cut through the building. Look what’s down here! The radio station, a movie theater, and offices for student organizations. Cool. The concrete and brightly painted metal stairs I climbed jogged a memory: of what does this remind me? Oh, yes: a mall.

My brother swears that while at William & Mary making small talk with someone along the “and where did you grow up” line, he got the reply, “Oh, Chesterfield! What mall did you hang out at?”

In its cover story articles on the immanent opening of two new shopping centers, Style says, “within two weeks, the local mall supply will jump from 3.2 million square feet to 5.13 million.” That’s 36 square feet of shopping per capita, with a national average around 20, we’re told. Ed Slipek seems to have been fairly charmed by Stony Point; less so by Short Pump Town Center, which flouts the notion of “town” and “center” by failing to provide a pedestrian walk to adjacent Downtown Short Pump (mega movie theater, a skating rink, and some big box stores).

Capital City weather: 79 at 6:30 p.m., thunderstorms likely.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Brief Up Dates

I had a great trip to CUA on Friday. The library school building, erected in 1890-something, has a statue of the Virgin Mary on top of it. The new student center (where B. and I scored a free lunch with the class of '07 and thier folks) was completed this year, I think, and features lots of brushed metal and concrete and beech-colored wood. It felt great to be on campus.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and after sitting through three losses in a row, I got to see the RBraves win one! I also watched a few innings of the Little League World Series on TV, but couldn't get into it.

Speaking of baseball, C. - I have yet to find out if the Capital City ball team is called anything, but if you'll scroll to the end of this, you'll find a story about the ep in which Dancin' Homer gets called up to Capital City to real people who were with the Tides!

After a day of chores, errands, and last attempts at Big Cleaning (e.g., throwing out stuff pack ratted away in the filing cabinet so as to make room for new school stuff), I find myself again faced with "whose my baby's daddy" on Maury. Maybe I will just start dinner early. . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Masqueraders with Tambourines

Just in the interest of idle chitchat, I mentioned to a friend the other day that someone always seems to be running a lawnmower in our urban block. And here again it is yet again: the quiet of the city bus garage and kids on the corner shouting, drown out by incessant motors. Today, it’s two men cutting the open space in the alley that’s marked as church parking. Over the weekend, it was one guy cutting the grassy place in the alley directly outside his back fence. I guess that makes only two sessions across perhaps four days – but now I am counting!

I finished Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. I like how he pulls together many threads of history, material culture, architecture, and art. It’s the sort of thing my William and Mary thesis advisor said I couldn’t do. I also do enjoy plus ca change moments. Frederick Law Olmstead noted that 1893 World’s Fair visitors like the extra, fun bits more than the inspirational beauties of the White City: “‘There is [among visitors] too much an appearance of an impatient and tired doing of sight-seeing duty. A stint to be got through before it is time to go home.’ ” As a remedy, he suggested lemon sellers and “ ‘skipping and dancing masqueraders with tambourines.’” Many years ago, when I worked the Valentine Museum, our shorthand for this was “get culture” as in, “we need large, concise labels in this exhibition for those people who feel like they need to stop somewhere to Get Culture between the beach and Kings Dominion.”

As for Larson’s assertion that Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom “may well be a descendant” of the Fair, fed by his father’s recollections of helping to build it: Duh. Olmstead and Daniel Burnaham (architect, Director of Works for the Fair) could have trained the “Disney Institute” seminar I attended at an American Camping Association conference a couple of years ago. Their attention to details like making sure the cleaning crew didn’t just sweep sandwich wrappers into the shrubs, or ensuring that the Fair police would politely answer questions and give directions every time, even if they answered the same ones all day long was just the sort of thing the 21st century Disney “cast members” highlighted as important to their philosophy. Instead of rolling their eyes when the fifth person asks “What time’s the 5 o’clock parade?” Disney cast members know how to say things like, “it’ll come by this corner at about 5:10, but you’ll get an even better view right there by that souvenir shop.” It’s difficult to get 18 and 20 year olds working at a summer camp to be all that.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I spent some time poolside, south of Capital City, yesterday.

On the way home I noted:

On Route 1, a gleeming, boring WaWa (or a Sheetz?) has replaced the charming stone cottages of the Dutch Gap Motor Court.

On I-95, that the electronic highway message board just south of the Pocahontas Expressway reported to drivers that highways around New York remained congested “due to blackout.” I guess 300 miles is enough time to come up with an alternate route.

From the Yankees Fan, a link to some swell antidotes to the Office Mottoes I bemoaned the other day: "Demotivators".

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Afternoon Break

I strolled to World Cup a while ago, in search of a free TD so I could read the pro-public library editorial. (Which does not appear in the on-line paper; sorry.) The gist: in our crazy electronic age, public libraries (he does not specify "city" libraries, but his examples lean strongly towards RPL) offer great print and computer resources -- and there are nice people there to help you.

At my coffee shop, I read The Devil in the White City, a non-fiction tale of the 1893 World's Fair and a serial killer. Erik Larson's writing is engaging, though he uses a couple of catch phrases too often. For instance, in desribing how Frederick Law Olmsted sees a landscape, he revisits "roses" as "flecks of color." Larson's research seems to have been both broad and deep -- and he lets us know it by dropping in nearly distracting information, such as the number of the fire alarm box at a certain intersect. "Look at me! Look how much research I did!" Still, a very good read, so far.

At Halcyon: some great 60s summer skirts, in sizes 2 to 12; a lovely pink silk shirt dress; wooden handled pappagallo purses; and a friendly clerk who gave a mother - daughters group directions to VCU, via Cary St. and Franklin St.

At the Clothes Rack: a lot of pop tunes on 78s; summer clothes at 75% off.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Recycled Writing

About a week ago, Mitch helped me order a new computer. Its pending arrival prodded me to review and weed old files. Here's an item I wrote (that I still like) when I read the great site Not My Desk regularly. I think I sent it to him; he might have quoted me - I don't remember.

“You don’t have to be crazy to work here – but it helps!”

Office mottoes. Cartoon figures, kittens hanging from branches, monkeys wearing little vests sitting atop a precarious pile of papers. You know the stuff. They’re one way permanent workers mark their territory and assert their “personality.”

Under the guise of humor, the crab can proclaim: “I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, and tomorrow’s not looking too good, either.” The man with children who have a vague notion that “daddy likes golf” has many holidays-worth of plaques noting “I’d rather be golfing” or depicting cartoon men in knee pants with clubs wrapped around them.

Another staffer hung up the “Hang in there, baby, Friday’s comin’” in circa 1977, and, by never taking it down, was actually on the cutting edge of the whole 70s rival. Too bad that strategy didn’t work with those hair bands, honey.

Perhaps you have met the sassy, efficient secretary whose cross stitch reminds, “Of course I don’t look busy – I did it right the first time.”

And then there’s your supervisor. Does he proudly display the rowers in the sunset, with “teamwork” lettered across the sky? Does she have a snow-capped mountain peak labeled “success” even though you know she drives two miles to the cafĂ© – that she never considers walking, much less mountain climbing?

One newly retired middle-manager of my acquaintance had an elegantly lettered version of the “Mushroom Theory of Management.” This treasure, she asserted, had been looked at, but not seen, by any number of higher-ups and miscellaneous prudes, for some ten years without their noting her implicit feeling that she had been “Kept in the dark and fed shit.”

The sad tragedy of office art is its sheer obviousness . Of course the manager who wants us to think outside of the box and who post “teamwork.” Isn’t the bitchy, I-have-no-time-for-you receptionist’s attitude clear without a pithy little message about the complaint department? And does she really want to highlight her piss poor attitude? And the dad with the golf ball shaped mug? I suspect he quit playing years ago, but his grow children continue to proffer theses trinkets because he has no other known interests.

Office mottoes: one more reason you should be glad to be a temp.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I nearly turned around and walked out of the Stewart Station Post Office the other day when I saw how long the line was. But then I remembered I couldn’t pick up our commission check at the antique mall for another 15 minutes, so why not stick around?

One customer monopolized one clerk’s attention. He was a very pasty-complexioned twenty-something man dressed in baggy khaki shorts and a pseudo Hawaiian shirt, with two big boxes of smaller packages to send. Humph. One those eBay dealers, no doubt.

I took in the impatient 40-ish man, the young women who waited in line to try to find a lost package (she got a phone number to call, I think), and the well-dressed woman. None of them held my interest for more than a few moments. As I scooted up along that fine new innovation, the impossibly skinny P.O. counter / line wrap-around, I took a harder look at the pasty dude’s boxes. A couple of APO addresses [that’s what you call active duty military service addresses, right?] and one Canadian address. Then my eye drifted up to the return address: oh ho! I had no idea they did mail order business. The return address was for One Eyed Jacques, the local gaming store. Man, what is all that stuff? Small boxes, envelopes that could hold a comic book (which I didn’t think they sold), and medium boxes surrounded him.

Of course, you all know I am way too shy to have asked the fellow what sort of stuff they might send to service men (the only times I have been in, I was the only woman in the place, so I am going to take a guess with that overgeneralization) and Canadians. Whatever it is, I hope they take in enough money doing it to stay on Cary Street and keep Carytown from becoming too . . . Too.

Speaking of Too, Nordstrom wants me to know that its store at Short Pump Town Center opens September 4, and that I am pre-approved for a charge card. Sigh. Nordstrom is a very fine department store. The amazing red dress that I wore to S & D’s wedding last year came from the Pentagon City Nordstrom. I don’t need their credit card. I’m not going Half Way to Charlottesville on a regular basis. And yet, I can’t seem to throw away this handsome mailing they sent me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

One of my current volunteer projects is to help rewrite some Girl Scout leader training using this Studio 2B "umbrella" of ways to keep in touch with teens. If you know someone off to college for the first time, "Discover What's Next" has a good article on that.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Two Tangents

You haven’t heard the “Looney Tunes” theme song until you have heard it played by the National Symphony Orchestra. Saturday night, Mitch and I watched classic cartoons and live music at Wolf Trap. We laughed and laughed. I revisited my theories of how cartoons maintain cultural images of things long gone. Television perpetually reinforces our collective image of characters from opera singers to hoboes. The very pervasive “Looney Tunes” – living on from mid-century pre-movie treats, through to 1970s reruns and to contemporary cable TV – may play the biggest role in memory-keeping.

Could The Simpsons’ Nelson “prove” that "they're dissecting frozen
hobos in science class" by holding up their “bindles” if old caroon reruns hadn’t taught the show's writers about them?

Do kids still dress up as hoboes for costume parties? Briefly, I think, it was okay to dress up for Halloween as a bag lady, but I don’t think that happens any more. On the one hand, such costumes are in poor taste; on the other, what’s more scary than losing your job, your home, your ability to shower when you want? Halloween costumes are still supposed to be scary, right?

If you’re headed to the Carytown Watermelon Festival this coming Sunday, stray off the shopping street just one block for a special Friends of the Library book sale at the Belmont Branch, noon to 4 p.m.

I’ve been cataloging a friend’s collection of books on UFOs and related matters. A remarkable collection of nearly 500 books, it spans decades and all levels of seriousness. Nearly all of the authors, of course, are quite serious. Though a dedication I noted today seems Douglas Adams-esque, it was sincerely offered: “This book is dedicated to the cheela, hyperintelligent slugs dwelling on a distant neutron star.”

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Sam Phillips, who made rock-n-roll possible, has died.

I have never been to the Grand Canyon; I've seen the Statue of Liberty only from a plane. But I have been to Sun Records; and that's America.

Monday, July 28, 2003

More Short Reports

Sports: the Yankees fan on the possibility of instant replay in baseball.

Architecture: I could have sworn that both houses under construction on Monument Avenue had websites. I always thought the one at Boulevard looked like it had too-small windows. However, recent placement of lintels and surrounding trim seems to have brought things into proportion. (Sorry, no picture.) Meanwhile, I've always thought the house at Roseneath was Just Right.

Weather: I think we're promised one more day of muggy weather, then rain - just in time for Mitch's visit. Sorry, honey.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

A small act of protest on this muggy Sunday: I cancelled my Dillard's charge card and sent a letter to their headquarters (address here) telling them that if they are not interested in being (nearly) in the city, then I am not interested in them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Short Reports

At the Byrd: Chicago. Fabulous, fun.

Architecture: Main Street Station still not done.

Restaurant review: comfort. Indeed, they do serve tasty comfort food. We had the worst waitress I’ve had in Capital City in years, though.

R-Braves: beat Indianapolis tonight, 8 – 4. The former college ball player next to whom I sat likes Adam LaRoche (whose homer won the kid in front of us a gift certificate) and thinks outfielder Mike Hessman has much promise -- and wonders what the tall fellow could do on the mound.

Weather: last night’s dramatic thunderstorms lead to cooler, cloudy weather today.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Letter from Suburbia

One of the last farmhouses in Midlothian, the one in between those hills on Route 60, between the village and Huguenot Road, has been demolished. The roof lies there in a heap, and a huge ornamental tree has been pushed over. Beyond the scruffy shrubs and trees lining the shoulder, I glimpsed red clay exposed by earthmovers and a pile of big, fresh, shiny metal culverts. My gaze turned left, today, only because I looked away from the new car dealership going up on the right. The big boxy retail spaces, with towering light fixtures, hover close to the road.

Way back in the 1980s, our high school government teacher, Mr. Dugan, had us attend a handful of meetings of the County Board of Supervisors. I distinctly remember citizens and supervisors agreeing to preserve the look of the Midlothian part of the county by passing zoning ordinaces filled with setbacks and requirements to make new buildings fit the “colonial” character of the area. Clearly somebody threw that out the window when that Wal-Mart went up 8 or 10 years ago. The suburb in which I grew up now officially looks like everywhere else in the county. Sure, it has its quirks (as does “everyplace else”), but you would have to squint hard for local shop names, as you zipped by at 50 m.p.h., or drive all the way out to the old village to see them.

My business concluded, and my being in no particular hurry, I came home all the way along 147. Feeling safely “at home” by Windsor Farms, I decided to go on through Carytown. (Other Options: take a right and zig over to Grayland Ave.; hop on the Downtown Expressway for 45 seconds.) I immediately found myself trapped behind an “Excursion.” I couldn’t see around it or over it, and figured someone ahead was parking or unparking just ahead and I could wait. Finally, the monstrous vehicle moved ahead, and put on its blinker: it wanted the newly vacant space. I was far back enough. I sat and waited. It tried once and failed (actually, I bet the driver’s nerve failed, it looked like a good angle to me) and pulled away in a huff. Cary was clear for the next five blocks and I shot towards home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Hell, I have to go all the way to the suburbs to buy Clinique and stockings?! RTD: "Willow Lawn losing anchor".

Sunday, July 13, 2003

At the Hipster Pool

Thanks to AG and CH, I got to spend time last week at a little private pool off Forest Hill Avenue, that, at first glance, seemed to be populated by the same skirted-bathing suit wearing women I saw at the swimming pools of my youth. When I looked closer, though, they turned out to be my hip friends and peers. They sport more tattoos and piercings than the moms of our youth. And, look, I see several dads, too, in the middle of the day! I wasn’t the only one getting this week’s New Yorker covered in sunscreen. We have become the adults, but with our own style.

With C and her 4 year old, we spent most of the afternoon poolside, giving me a chance to observe big kids. (Little kids come early.) Boys threw balls into a poolside basketball hoop while girls sized them up. Some younger kids played a version of the old fashioned game “Vegetable Basket.” In this game, one child is “it” and stands at one end of the pool or room; the rest of the group, on the other side, silently picks a vegetable. It then calls out a vegetable, and if it’s your vegetable, you swim or run across the space. If it tags you, you either trade places or join It (like Sharks and Minnows), depending on house rules. It can call “vegetable basket” and everybody runs. The modern version, which I’ve seen girls play before at camp, is “Categories,” allowing the players to pick bands, colors, candy bars, kind of horses, camp counselors, or anything else on their minds as the category. This can make it harder: if it’s horse camp and the girls know lots of breeds, they stump each other too fast by picking obscure ones. No one gets to run or swim.

In this way, a boy at the hipster pool brought their game to a screeching halt by choosing “medicine – no, first aid and medicine!” He started calling out “band aid, a really big band aid, bandage scissors, ice pack, eye patch . . . .” I think they had to make him start over with a new category. At camp, the girls do a good job picking things they will all know – with new friends from across the state, they don’t pick names of Henrico County schools. The friends who go to the cool pool all live in the same world. One girl picked “restaurants,” another "stores at Willow Lawn.” I love it.

I didn’t identify with everyone there, of course. A few women seemed to have conspicuously expensive cover-ups and jewelry. Upon seeing what she took to be too sparse a crowd, one uttered the sentence, “half of Richmond must be on vacation this week.” A couple of women had fat smut novels.

I got a dose of kids and a sunburn, so I’m happy.

Dept. of Good News

Catholic University's School of Library and Information Science accepted me! I'm going to grad school. This time, I will get a degree out of it, damnit.

Capital City weather Overcast and low 80s.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Summer Reading

Richmond Public Library’s catalog is on-line! You can look for your book before leaving home and renew on line. The program is much more powerful and intuitive to use than pokey old “RichCat” -- plus, no more amber screen! You have to set up an account, which I will do after I replace my shredded key card.

As for me, I am still plowing through Baseball and Richmond. It will be a good reference, but it’s not a delightful read. It gives a sense of the ebb and flow of early professional and minor league ball, and of the perpetual struggle between Love of the Game and It’s a Business -- but that's about it. On my nightstand, I have a book on diners, bowling alleys & trailer parks. I’ve read shorter pieces on all of these places and already understand the chronology of their development. This writer goes further by focusing on class. More than I realized, diners were assumed to be the province of the working class man, well into the 1950s. I guess it’s one more change 1950s Teen Culture made to our world.

Yesterday, I read this week’s New Yorker at the hipster pool, with Alex and Felix. A startling number of people I know belong to this modest little club in the subdivision across from Willow Oaks Country Club. A startling number of my peers and friends have become those skirted-bathing suit, tot-toting Moms. Does the butterfly tattoo in the middle of that one’s back cancel out the fact that the bottom of her bikini is a skirt? Was she wearing it ironically? (everything Gen Xers do id ironic, right?); her figure appeared quite respectable. Expecting Alex, of course, looks fab in her skirted maternity suit. Luckily, another family invited me to go today, so I can further my research.

Capital City Weather: 90 and clear.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

From the Dept. of Good News: I heard from the Va. Dept. of Historic Resources that our Preliminary Information Form for Sharon Indian School won a go-ahead for actually consideration for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. In short, I have a whole new batch of forms and research! Yippee. The pictures are small, but do check out all the cool Virginia sites already on the register.

Dan, how is Theater Row not on the register?

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Capital City Weather, according to the National Weather Service: 91 degrees, with a heat index of 105.

Last night, K.G. had the crowd over to her sweet new northside house for a cookout, then we walked to Hermitage to glimpse the Dogwood Dell fireworks and to really enjoy the show from the Diamond. (The R-Braves lost; we're at the bottom of our division. The excellent pitcher I watched last week has turned free agent and may play abroad, where he can earn "six figures" according to the TD.) A good time was had by all.

Houseguest and I enjoyed the nearly-empty Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens yesterday morning: daylilies, pitcher plants, giant koi.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Thanks to my little brother for forwarding a newspaper article on adult kickball teams. Learn more at the World Adult Kickball Association's site. Alas, no teams in Capital City. I recall noting at camp a couple of summers ago that kickball is a game accessible to all kids, no matter how athletically timid.
This Saturday, Dan, Whitney, and I went to Caravatti's. Amongst the old house treasures we coveted: pink bathroom fixtures for me, a Deco Hotpoint stove for Whitney, and kitchen sinks for Dan. The kind of sink he eyed is in the background of this Lileks flotsam.

I am sad to hear we have lost Katherine Hepburn. I feel the urge to go rent "Bringing Up Baby" -- but perhaps I should broaden my horizons? Do suggest some of your favorites.

Capital City Weather: 80 degrees and clear at 8:21 a.m.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

You Goin' Straight Home?
Speaking of diners, as Bill is over at Prometheus, I was charmed to see NYC's Empire Diner appear on the TV screen (in the movie "Igby Goes Down") right under a friend's poster of the painting of said eatery. John Baeder's painting, of course, hangs around the corner at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Barry Levinson's Diner is one of my favorite movies of all time.

My favorite diners: Miss Florence Diner, Florence, Mass.; the Triangle Diner, Winchester, Va. (Pictures from a diner website I keep bookmarked: Diner City.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Reality TV Confession
I have been loyal to only two reality TV programs. The first, Making the Band, tossed together a bunch of 20ish young men, who were weeded down to form a boy band. My current crush is called Last Comic Standing, and it's the same idea, only with a great cross-section of wacky people. I'm rooting for mild-mannered, off-beat Dave, from a farm in Minnesota. For his comedy, not from this house crap.

I deny even glancing at other reality TV. . . .

Capital City Weather: 90 degrees, clear, and not too humid

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Dan has an anti-summer camp tirade at The Marble Bar: please go over there and set him straight.

I tried to watch the rained out Mets – Yankees game yesterday. I had been muting the commercials and reading, but the tone of one, rhapsodizing hot dogs caught my attention and I looked back up. Lo! Said hot dogs were piled on a North Star plate! The platter, in fact. (North Star, by Salem, is one of the 2 or 3 dish patterns I admit to collecting.) It was a beer commercial, it turns out – do keep an eye out for it.

During the game, two men -- a fan of each team -- who seemed to have won a contest were in the booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. "The easiest sports job in the world," asserted Mets fan Chuck, "is to be a Yankees fan."

Thursday, June 19, 2003

"Time is Relative. Lunch Time Doubly So.”
At Target, there are no clocks on the wall. If you’re standing in a check out line wondering how much time you have before you said you’d meet your friend, Target does not want to help you out. “You wanna know the time? You can buy a watch right over there, behind the handbags.”

Ukrop's Carytown has a nice big clock over by customer service. I could confirm that I was okay on time.

Does Target want us to lose our sense of time and space and shop forever? Maybe. More likely, Ukrop’s is deservedly self-assured. Our hometown grocery knows you found everything you needed and that the checkers are without peer. Ukrop’s has nothing to fear in displaying the time by the registers. They know they are that good.

“Take thy beak from out my heart”
If I had chosen the teaching path, I would use the Halloween episode of The Simpsons with “The Raven” to teach Poe – no matter what subject I was meant to be instructing. Channel 35 ran the 1990 Tree House of Horror episode tonight. Homer and the Bart-Raven make mood, tone, and even tough vocabulary (“censer”) crystal clear. We feel the tension build, we see Raven-Bart drive Homer mad. It’s brilliant.

The Simpsons Archive suggests that another good story from that show, “Hungry are the Damned,” reflects an episode of The Twilight Zone. I first encountered a story in which our heroes believe they will be served up for the feast in C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair (Chapter IX). Hmm, Lewis’s copyright is 1953, and the link on The Simpson Archive to a Twilight Zone site is cold. I’m not going to crack which egg came first, tonight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Last week’s Style had an interesting cover story on the possible privatization of liquor selling. I think I lean conservative on this one. Sure, let the state take sole charge of where it locates ABC stores, how clean they are, and how well they check ages. They never fail to card me.

In regional news, the noted, much-contested Wal-Mart opened in Ashland this morning.

Thanks to Bill, over at Prometheus Unleashed, for setting up the Comments so they work.

Capital City weather: muggy, coolish, damp.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Y'all will warn me if I'm turning into this [Onion] guy, right?
CB gets bonus points, today! He let me know I needed to fix yesterday's links; and he didn't make fun of me for not knowing about this team. I may have to throw over the Capital City Braves!

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Two T.V. Items
How cool is this? Thanks, Mitch!
And from Doyle: Atari and other toys.

At the Byrd: Gangs of New York. Gee, the 19th century was unpleasant.

Friday, June 13, 2003

On the MHC 1988 website, do read my friend Marie's Alumnae Chapel reflection.
Catly brought me an enormous moth yesterday. I heard her push the screen door open, then I could hear her mew a little as she trotted through the kitchen. Worried that the mew signaled pain, I was nearly out of my chair when she appeared in the dining room and I could see -- good grief is that a mouse?! How do cats manage to show pride with another critter in their mouths? She dropped it on the floor, presenting it to me like an experienced farm cat (rather then the Fan apartment dweller she is). Oh, my it's a cicada . . . no, a moth. Well, at least it's clearly d. . . . *flutter flutter*. Bother. "Good girl. Thanks for bringing me that."

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Speaking of manners, as Daniel sort-of is over at The Marble Bar, I never know how to disavow someone, gently, of the impression that I am twenty years old. I know how I’m dressed is important, so to substitute for an Instructional Assistant over at Middle School B. yesterday, I wore a black businessy-skirt, knee length; a neat coral knit top, nicer than a t-shirt; stockings and black flats. Full-time teachers wore denim skirts, jumpers, t-shirt dresses and slides or sandals. (Oh, the men tended to khakis and polo shirts.)

When I entered Ms. B.’s room and introduced myself, she replied “and where are you in school?” “I, uh,” I began, then a student interrupted. She turned back and said, “or perhaps you’re getting a graduate degree?” “Well, I am applying for. . .” I began, and her phone rang. I don’t even remember how we got back there again, but I ended up laughingly saying, “Oh, I just got back from my 15th college reunion, so I’ve been out a while.” “Fifteen? Oh, my, well.” And still she called me “dear” all day. So did the other teachers I worked with, in the next building over (campus style school, you know).

Ms. B totally rocks as a special ed. teacher. I admired most her cheerful, calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice. Her demeanor told the kids they couldn’t get to her, and that she liked them. She asked the students to take out paper to draw a chart. Friday’s the last day of school, so lots of people felt they need not have carried cumbersome things like paper. “If you’ve got your paper and pencil ready, stand up. Great. You may draw only three columns – you won’t need to fill in as many facts. Everyone else, here’s a piece of paper, please make four columns.” Groans. Using a text book and a photocopied packet, they made a chart of the last 10 U.S. presidents, the dates each served, and a couple of important facts about his presidency. On the packet, poor Gerald Ford’s picture appeared adjacent to the last paragraph on Nixon: blah, blah, crook; blah, blah, Watergate; blah, blah, resigned and V.P. Ford became President. Turn page, find a thin paragraph on Ford. Naturally, at least three kids wrote “broke laws” and “Watergate” next to Ford. “I don’t think you’ve got this fact in the right place.” - “Yeh I do, see here’s his picture, and here is says ‘Watergate.’” Sigh.

Ms. C. had a good lesson to finish, too. The sixth graders had read a 19th century probate inventory and were constructing a list of the woman’s possessions. Then, they had some questions that made them conjecture things like what she might have done for a living, if she was poor or rich, etc. (sorry, that’s “&c.”). I think the inventory was marked VHS on one side – clearly part of a nice classroom packet from some local institution. A smidge less gentle than Ms. B., she still seemed a good, creative teacher, on top of history and ways that we find out about all kinds of people who lived in the past. She blew it, though, when we got to the number of beds the woman owed: “well, people kept a bed in practically every room. It had to do with taxes.” Where the hell did she get that? Because I liked her, I sat quietly. Over at R.M.S., I contradicted a teacher on something from her 1950s lesson. She hated her job, her students, the school, and it showed. She had her facts wrong. I didn’t like her. Still, I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. Maybe that’s what makes me seem twenty – not knowing when to sit still?

Capital City Weather: muggy and 70 degrees at 8 a.m.; chance of thunderstorms.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

We also visited the mansion at Maymont last week. I'd forgotten how sumptuous it is.

I took the GREs today. I sat at a computer in an anonymous office park building in the Far West End and clicked on little ovals instead of filling them in on an answer sheet with a number two pencil. I typed the two essays. I felt pretty good about them. The verbal section peeved me: it seemed like I didn’t know at least four of the words for which I had to identify an antonym; a couple of the sentence completion seemed to have no plausible answers listed; and one reading comprehension passage made me glaze over. I didn’t take the math (aka “quantitative”) very seriously: I just relaxed and took my best guess.

In the brave new world in which we live, one no longer waits for an envelope from -- what? -- Princeton, New Jersey, containing those magic numbers. After indicating the school to which I wanted the scores sent, I had a chance to erase, to discount the test, or save it. I saved . . . and scores came right back at me. Nice ones, too. I had improved my math score by 40 over my best practice test. It was 90 points higher than the score I got when I took the test in 1990. What a laugh.

Beautiful sky over Franklin Street tonight, as I left the Y. Streaks of pink and fluffy shreds of clouds, and a hunk of moon.
A belated thanks to CB for his hospitality at the VHS last week. The small exhibition "Early Images of Virginia Indians" reminded me of one of those things that makes me twitchy when I go to pow-wows: why are all these Virginians dressed as Plains Indians? "Silver in Virginia," which sounded dull in the lobby turned out to be . . . well, shiny, of course, and interesting. Dan, you'll like it. The current jem (I don't see the title on the Website) is the Old Dominion one, which entwines landscapes, a few books, posters and other items, and the creation of romantic, pastoral notions of Virginia (and by extension, the South?).

Monday, June 09, 2003

I wonder how big the individual range is for a red-bellied woodpecker. Is the one that likes my locust tree the same as the one that frequented the oak tree near my old apartment? We have a nice dose of sunshine again today (we're getting about two days of clear skies in each rain-drenched week); the bird's red-orange head glowed in the late afternoon sun.

In other news, Mom brought me a bale (okay, not that much) of King & Queen County catnip, so anyone whose feline didn't get a handknit toy can look for one soon!

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I met my nephew today. Martin Charles Kroll arrived around 7:30 last night. He has lots of dark hair, a little bow mouth, and sleeps well. B&E seem tired, but well.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

English Goods Were Ever The Best

When I told the first-person interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg’s Peyton Randolph House that we had come into Colonial Capital City from Richmond, they wrinkled their noses and described it as a smelly backwater. Well, at least it's no longer especially pungent. Even without studying, I could make era-appropriate replies (well, except how long the trip took); I nodded and was charmed when Mrs. Randolph spoke of having been at Wilton recently. Despite the fact that all the characters expressed confusion when a 60ish gentleman in our group said he came from “Gen. Sam Houston’s great state” – he kept repeating his clever line. Could he think of no other line; did he not know that 1774 came before Houston; or did he not listen to the first woman who explained how first-person interpretation works?

We watched Jack Lord in "Story of a Patriot", visited Bruton Parish Church, the shops, the Capitol, the Randolphs, and the county courthouse. We dined at the Kings Tavern (much more affordable than I imagined, and a good meal). At the courthouse (used by the city of Williamsburg until the restoration, in the 1930s!), visitors participated in a re-enactment of a day in court. The judges accepted a letter proving that a man accused of non-attendance at church had become a Presbyterian; they ordered a North Carolina man’s horse and tack held until he changed his worthless Carolina paper into Virginia money and paid his debt to the tavern owner; and they dismissed a woman’s complaint against the unsanitary conditions in the city market.

Ten years ago, when I did a year at the College of William & Mary, Professor Tate presented an "annotated" talk on "Story of a Patriot." He was an advisor to the film, and indeed his name appears as another faux Burgess elected with Lord's character, Fry. Mr. Tate loved the use of cinemascope, especially the way the first sceen opens up to show a rolling field. As I recall, he felt the history was historically sound, and the story was clear. He pointed out at least one break in costume continuity, which I missed this time. For me, on this visit, the movie really did work to set up the day's visit and remind me of events. As I recall, we grad school geeks liked quoting the phrases "weak and pusillanimous" and "English goods were ever the best." Mr. Randolph reminded us of the latter sentiment when he mentioned that no one would wear coarse Virginia-made fabrics.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Uncommon Women

I spent the weekend celebrating my fifteenth college reunion. I once more reveled in an intellectual atmosphere, never once hesitating to use the big word or to show how much I know. I also listened to classmates talk of staying home with their children in tones ranging from sheepishness to haughty pride. I marveled at the beauty of the campus that had been home for four years. I enjoyed myself.

No matter where I wanted to go on campus, I felt surprised that I still knew just how to get there, and which would be the prettiest way to walk. I knew just how the library stacks would smell, and the name of an obscure building. How can I get lost trying to get somewhere in metro Richmond that I have been before, yet I can still navigate a place I have visited only five times in fifteen years?

As I have experienced during quiet times at camp, just about everywhere I went at MHC I could replay an old scene or remember a snippet of conversation. LM waxing poetic about the smells of spring on Skinner Green. Ween and I carrying a box of tissues and cups of tea up the garden steps en route to J’s class. SS stopping me by the library to tell me so earnestly about her J-Term internship that I rushed off to sign up for one – at Colonial Williamsburg – myself. Who would I be if I had not fallen to S’s peer pressure and thus launched my first career in museums?

I didn’t visit only old haunts; I went on a guided tour of the new buildings on campus , too. Led by Kate ’04, the tour took us to the music building; past poor Blanchard, under renovation again; briefly to the art museum which some of the older alumnae hadn’t seen before; to MHC’s new pride, Kendade Hall; and finally to the Library. Kate gave us a good picture of how students use and live on the campus today. Her take on post-modern Kendade – which may have been the college-approved spiel – belittled Carr’s 1950ish International Style charm and suggested that the college would not hesitate to change other modern exteriors or indeed tear down buildings in the interest of achieving the same slightly spooky uniformity of the University of Richmond. Engulfing Carr labs, Kendade is a spectacular po-mo college building. It features soaring spaces, chunky details reflecting other bits of campus, and flooring worked into solar system, DNA, and neuron designs. It’s swell.

Modern wonders about elsewhere, too. All of the rooms, even in 1897’s Pearsons Hall where I lived this weekend, have all of the computer hook ups a modern student needs. Pratt features a sci-fi-ish room which, at the touch of a button, adjusts its acoustics so that you can hear yourself speak, or sing, or play as if you were in stadium, a small concert hall, or a small room – about six or eight choices in all. I took a one hour class on creating a web site in a computer lab chock full of matt black Dell computers and with the nicest set up I’ve seen for projecting the instructor’s screen so we could all click along. If I were a current student, the college would provide space for my own page; as it is, you’ll have to wait until I figure out a cheap way to do it in my current world.

Natural “wonders” caught my eye when we arrived on Thursday. It was a clearing, pleasant spring day in New England, so of course azalea, tulips, dogwood, and honeysuckle were all in bloom, together. Outrageous and fun. Friday’s weather continued to be warmer and sunnier than we’d had in Capital City in weeks, and the rain even held off until after the Alumnae Parade. Though shorter and lacking the current graduating class, the parade always stirs indescribable feelings of pride and reassurance. I feel proud to be connected to generations of educated, talented, witty (we carry signs that often convey, amongst other things, our senses of humor) women; I feel both reassured that I can make it and challenged to go out and do my very best. During the Alumane Association meeting, Class of '88 President S. did a fabulous job presenting the two-minute version of our class history.

And all too soon, it was time for S & D to take me back to the airport in Hartford, then as now remarkably similar to Capital City Airport. Indeed, Hartford’s airport seems to have been renovated in the last couple of years, too, and both now sport bold geometric designs in the flooring. The floors and those classic Eames airport chairs foster a feeling that one has just spent hours staying in the same place. But before heading out for more of the same travel experience on Sunday, the Long Islanders and I strolled Northampton, in the rain. We gleefully perused Simpsons toys and other good stuff in Faces (number one on the list at that site; I’d disagree with the card assessment: Mongrel might be a smidge better). Other stores we remembered from those glory days of the 80s still in operation numbered less than six, I’d say: Sweeties, Paul & Elizabeth’s, and Thornes Market. Like Carytown, NoHo lost its useful things: the Woolworths and the hardware store stand out in my mind. My first string of Christmas lights came from that Woolworths; my most recently-purchased ones from Garden Ridge, out by Byrd Airport – and thus we have completed the return trip.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Outrageous sight of the day: a Hummer in front of the Daily Planet.

I'm off to the alma mater tomorrow for my fifteenth reunion. At the moment, I could care less that I am only sort-of employed. Aren't I supposed to be stressed about how everyone else has beautiful children and high-powered jobs?
Dept. of Great Turns of Phrase

Check out Lilek's Bleat today, if nothing else because he uses the expression "screwed the pooch," which I haven't heard in about 6 years.

Last night's excellent Richmond Writers speaker referred, fondly I think, to a group of 1920s women as "dumb little clucks." I'm going to use that all the time, now!