Flashback (to School) Friday

It’s coming on that time of year: time to get those bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils…sharpened. In other words, it’s back to school for many kiddos, including my nephew who started kindergarten yesterday.

For anyone who knows my pack ratting ways, it will come as no surprise that I have a few (okay, quite a few) momentos from my school days. And, of course, I’ll share one or two…or three…with you. Enjoy!


I’d go back to elementary school just for the music! Although music class was aired over the television, the songs left indelible marks on me—and my two sisters, too. We can’t cross the Shenandoah River without breaking into ♬ “O Shenandoah, I long to see you! A-a-way, you rolling river….” ♬ — (Songbooks from 1977 & 1979)


Scholastic Books / Scholastic Magazine poster, c1979 — I can still see the Scholastic Books order form in my mind, feel the nearly unbearable anticipation of the wait, and smell the glorious scent of fresh paperbacks when they finally arrived at our classroom door.


Mead Trapper Keeper (circa late 1980s – early 1990s) — Warning: Geek alert! I was a fan of the Trapper Keeper. My sisters and I had an older cousin who worked for Mead and supplied us with all the latest products. This “keeper” was my younger sister’s. She gave it to me a couple years ago when I went back to school to get my Master’s degree.

Rise and Shine

The other weekend, I was dog sitting my sister’s pampered pooch, Gussy, while she was away on business.  Saturday morning at pre-COD, (that’s pre-crack of dawn), he decided that it was time to rise and shine.  He demonstrated this by sitting on my head.  (Have no fear, he’s a toy breed.)  I ordered him to the foot of the bed, despite my evolving view that dogs do not even belong on human beds. He sat there for a few minutes before returning to lick my elbow, followed by my forehead, as though to reinforce his demands.

As much as I do like the little fella, I was exasperated.  I mean, the scenery will change for him—downstairs versus upstairs—but for the most part his life consists of licking, chewing, and yipping at every sound.  But since I was up, I decided to make the most of it and made my way over to the somewhat-newly-opened Rise Biscuits and Donuts in Durham, NC.

When I got there at around 6:50 a.m., there were already six carloads of people waiting. (Rise opens at 7 a.m.) Inside, I could see the staff bustling to make last minute preparations. In white letters on the back of one worker’s red t-shirt were the words, “Wait for my signal.”

In a highly civilized manner—biscuit and donut people are a fairly laid back bunch—we nonchalantly formed a line of sorts.  At the signal, (7 a.m. sharp), we shuffled our way toward the counter until eventually our respective numbers, (which we pulled upon entering), were called and our orders for decadent sweets or savory breakfast biscuits were taken.

Rise Donuts and Biscuits at Southpoint in Durham, NC.

Rise Donuts and Biscuits at Southpoint in Durham, NC.

I’ve been to Rise twice since it opened, (once on a Saturday and once on a Sunday), and I am a fan.  As far as the menu goes, everything looks or sounds delectable; but if they only sold one item, I would hope that it was the apple fritter.  I love me some apples and I’ve had my share of fritters, so I can say with some authority that Rise’s apple fritter is the best (that I’ve ever had): soft on the inside, just crispy enough on the outside without being greasy, and loaded with plump chunks of apples.  The fritter is so fresh, and when it is still warm…oh my!  As any good fritter ought to be, it is large—and I do not wish to be—so I can usually eat off of it for a whole day or two without noticing a compromise in flavor or freshness.

An apple fritter, maple bacon bar, cinnamon sugar cake donut, and Bavarian Creme donut from Rise in Durham, NC.

An apple fritter, maple bacon bar, cinnamon sugar cake donut, and Bavarian Creme donut from Rise in Durham, NC.

Part of the charm of Rise is the economization of their small space. Stand-up bistro tables fill the main area in front of the counter, and to the right is a coffee bar with a sign to the effect of “help yourself to some coffee while you wait, and we’ll meet you at the counter.” The largest space in the place is the actual kitchen area, then to the left of that enclosure is a row of barstools, a big chalk board on the opposing wall, a bookshelf full of culinary books, as well as a few toys to occupy the children.  I’ll get back to the toys in a minute.

The clientelle is quite diverse—all ages and walks of life.  My first visit there, I was in line behind a lean MD coming off the night shift in her scrubs. (Translated: Doctor recommended.) After I placed my order, I meandered to the chalkboard/bookshelf area. Motown was playing and a middle-aged black man started to “get down, get down, get down” to the music while waiting for his order.  An unrepentant starer, I watched and smiled encouragingly…which is perhaps why I missed the pink retro toy kitchen in the corner of the shop.  I did, however, see it on my second visit, and it reminded me of this:

a retro-modern kitchen set at Rise Durham (left); one of my most memorable Christmas gifts (right)

a retro-modern kitchen set at Rise Durham (left); one of my most memorable Christmas gifts (right)

Perhaps only nostalgics are prone to tie the present with the past, or maybe everyone does it and most people just keep it to themselves.  For me, life is as sweet as an apple fritter when present, everyday situations reach back and bring the pleasant scenes of the past to mind.


When did I lose my fearlessness?


This question came to mind while spending the day with my 5-year-old nephew earlier this week. Over the course of those 24 hours, I found myself saying things like, “Don’t do that!” or “Be careful!” or “Slow down, you’re gonna to get hurt!”

Truth is, I once did all the things that he was doing—and more.

The afternoon I came home from school with holes in the toes of my brand new Sears & Roebuck Winner II sneakers, I was not much older than my nephew is now. The spunkier kids, (mostly boys), and I had whipped the merry-go-round into high-speed mode before hanging by our hands as our legs and feet flew out behind us. For a few brief moments, we were super heroes, weightless in the wind and completely exhilarated.

“Slow down, slow down!” the rotund, red-faced playground aide had hollered and wagged her finger. “Someone is going to get hurt again!” (Yes, again. The week before, Jay had lost his grip, flown off, and rolled underneath.  It had taken the remainder of recess for the grown-ups to carefully extract the bruised and scraped boy from the rusty underbelly of the merry-go-round.)

On that Winner II day, the merry-go-road slowed at the playground aide’s command, but I failed to jump off before gravity did its worst.  My new blue and white sneakers, doubling as brakes, dragged and scraped the asphalt. When I got home, the jig was up, and I was banned from further flying. For the rest of the school year, my big toes peeked through the holes in my Winner II’s as reminders of those glorious moments of reckless flight.

“Aunt Lolly, look at me!” my nephew called, bringing me back to the present.

I turned toward the swings and nearly had a heart attack. He was swinging so high that the chains were losing their tension at the top.

“Not so high!” I called.  He giggled, enjoying his own moments of reckless glory.  I took a deep breath and prayed that he wouldn’t get hurt.  Truth is, at that age I was not only swinging that high, I was perfecting my dismount—sometimes landing forward and other times executing a backward somersault.

A part of me wanted to show my nephew some of my old playground tricks. The fearful—sensible? grown-up?—side of me refrained.


photos taken by AES

Fresh, Green, Tomatoes

Blogging six days a week is challenging, let me tell you.  As one acquaintance remarked recently, “Goodness, I don’t think I have enough things happen to me to write six days a week!”

Hear, hear!  That’s why today I’m “going green.”  For those of you who followed me at Old-Fashioned Girl Blogger, you’ll recognize the picture and poem that I’m sharing today.

Here’s something fresh to go with the recycled: You might say this (silly little) poem is an ekphrasis, (pronounced ek-fra-seez): a literary description of something visual.

Ode to Ketchup

Ketchup. O Ketchup!
So tangy. So sweet.
It makes a great treat.
Don’t get caught with your
Tongue in the jar!

Ketchup? Why ketchup?
My only reply
To the question of why
Is that Mom put the Oreos
Up way too high!