Friday, December 30, 2011

Just a Lucky So-and-so..

Bud got some quality time with Caroline over Christmas at our family's traditional _Jazz Brunch_. (and by Jazz, we mainly mean just Ella and Louis)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Generations of women

I remember very distinctly sitting in my 8th grade geometry glass, in the next-to-last row on the very far left side of the room, thinking, "As miserable as this is, time is still passing and it won't be long before I'm well out of these middle school days." That was 18 years ago, gone in a flash. I think about that moment often, when in a situation that I either need to survive or relish, as a reminder that time passes all too quickly, for better or worse.

As I sat in the dark, rocking my daughter to sleep tonight, that moment in geometry class came to mind.  Eighteen years from now she will be in college somewhere.  College.  My tiny precious can't-even-talk-yet still-toddles-and-falls baby will be a co-ed.  At least I hope so.  I have no idea what her life will turn out to be.  How long it will last, how happy it will make her, how many other people she may go on to create that will continue this cycle of raising the next generation is a total mystery and full of potential.

My sweet grandmother is in the hospital right now.  I am certain, at some point, she was being rocked by her mother who had the very same thoughts about her daughter that I had about mine tonight.  I so wish I could go to her and tell her how wonderful her daughter's life was going to be; how she was going to marry her love of 50 years and see her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up to do amazing things; how she was going to see our worlds most greatest technological advances and learn how to email after the age of 80.  I wish I could confirm her hopes that her daughter would have the kind of life she wanted her to have. And I pray that one day, as my grand-daughter is rocking her sweet little one, she has the very same thought about me.

I love you, Ralphie.  Get well soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My #1 doing the #2

I'm feeling rather sheepish these days.  I have been putting off potty training my son for months. Not so much because I didn't think he was ready but because I had a somewhat paralyzing fear of what it would entail and couldn't seem to muster the energy to actually overcome it. I have been to medical school, spent countless 36hour shifts awake in residency, ran a marathon, and birthed two kids but somehow the idea of having to transition from the ease of diapers to the constant vigilance of a mother with a potty-training child was just too much of a hurdle to jump. So I dawdled.  Fortunately, though, my son (and my husband) are less intimidated by pulling out their collective man parts and peeing into the wild blue yonder.  Two weeks ago, my sweet first child decided the potty was a pretty neat thing.  He wanted to sit on it at night and was fairly successful for most of the week.  So, last weekend, as I spent half the day at work, Matilda stayed at home with both kids and asked Jack every 10 minutes if his newly donned Cars underwear was dry and to remember to tell him if he had to potty.  It was mind-numbingly repetitive.  After 48 hours of this, I wasn't feeling like we had gotten very far and my worst fears of this whole potty-training mess seemed to be materializing.  The entire following week at daycare, Jack wanted nothing to do with the mini-porcelain throne at school.  He would show anyone within a 15ft radius his new underwear by dropping his pants to his ankles in dramatic fashion and grabbing his crotch in an innocent though exaggerated way while announcing he had on UNDERWEAR, but pee into the toilet he would not.  Oddly enough, this past weekend, something just clicked in his tiny weird brain and he never once missed an opportunity to visit the shiny white seat.  When I went to pick him up today from daycare, the report was a total success. Not one accident. When I heard those words, I expected angels to come out of the air vents and the teachers to burst into harmonious song.  I expected Jack to come around the corner wearing a crown and sash reading "Worlds Smartest and Most Pee-Perfect Boy."  I expected, at the very least, incredibly approving looks and butt-slapping congratulations all around.  But, alas, it was said with as much fervor as what color Play-doh my daughter ate that day.  Anti-climatic is an understatement.

That's all to say, I had steeled myself for a multi-month battle with the mini-plastic commode and now feel rather embarrassed that I came dressed for a joust to what materialized as a jovial game of badminton. I'm sure writing this post will be the moment when my luck turns and the urine-wars begin but, I hope with emblazoned optimism, that my first born son will continue his trend of placing his #1 and #2 in the proper and much less disgusting receptacle.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What My Dad Does At Work

I got this email today from Dad:

From: Sandy Lee
 Jim Shaw
Subject:  UNC Mascot & Handler,

I think I remember this guy when I was the NC State Wolf.  He was the handler for the UNC Ram mascot.  Let me guess… Poli-Sci major.  I think he was voted man-of-the-year by the student body.

Sanders Lee, AIA, Sr. Project Manager | CH2M HILL | Spartanburg
Office +1 864 599 4348 | Mobile +1 864 809 1683


From: Jim Shaw
To: Sandy Lee
Subject: RE: UNC Mascot & Handler


I believe you are mistaken.  That fellow is head of the animal husbandry dept. at State Farm Tech, and kidnapped Rameses.


James W. Shaw
Dennis, Shaw & Drennan, LLC
P.O. Box 891
Spartanburg, SC  29304
(864) 582-0708
fax: (864) 582-0934

From: Sandy Lee
 Jim Shaw
Subject:  RE: RE: UNC Mascot & Handler

You’re half right.  He did indeed earn a graduate degree at NCSU.  Prior to that, he was student body president at UNC while earning a double degree (English Lit/Anthropology).  Wasn’t he the social chair of your fraternity?

Probably a pack of Lucky Strikes in his shirt pocket.  Ramses sure looks happy under his care.

Sanders Lee, AIA, Sr. Project Manager | CH2M HILL | Spartanburg
Office +1 864 599 4348 | Mobile +1 864 809 1683

Friday, November 11, 2011


I spent my entire childhood and in fact much of my early adult life haunted by the constant admonition that, were I unable or unwilling to serve forth a male heir from the seed of my loins, the fine Linford line of the Ab Shaw family name would die with me, the last male descendant. And so it was to my great relief that on January 28th, 2009, we brought Jack kicking and screaming into this world, the first great-grandson of Jupe Shaw.

And yet, for the last three years I have been chilled by the burden I must one day place on his shoulders, that he too must likewise go forth and prosper in order to sustain the Shaw name. I thought of this again this morning, home from work with a sick Caroline, as I stumbled upon that tremendous Montana Presbyterian Flyfisherman's tale - A River Runs Through It. As I watched, Caroline engrossed in tormenting the dog, I witnessed anew the relationship of the two brothers that is sketched so clearly by Norman Maclean. I saw their coming of age, as they fish, and fight, and have great adventures together, and come back home and hug their dear mother. I knew that I would miss Doc's ultrasound this afternoon, but I was struck at the time by a sense that this new one would be a boy.

And so it shall be, for as Kim returned home to share the news, we told Jack he was going to have a little brother. "Neat," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "Can I have a brownie too?"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good Night, Chesty Puller!

Jack hummed along with me tonight during my adagio rendition of The Marine's Hymn at bedtime. Happy 236th, Mother Green!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Father's Fear

I am afraid that I have made a great and terrible realization about my daughter - such a turn of fate as is a righteous shock to the genteel sensibilities of my family and the generations that have come before us. Caroline - sweet, dear Caroline - how it pains me to say this:

I think you have the makings a Dook fan.

How do I know? Your recent propensity to flop to the ground and wail at even the slightest physical touch...

Please, please don't continue to do this. Think instead of your father, and your father's father, and his father before him, and return to your legacy that is that fine shade of Carolina Blue. You just need to learn how to suck it up and take a little body contact from your brother and the dog.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Herding Monkeys

Forget that Super Bowl commercial about the challenges of herding cats.. trying to keep these two little monkeys on a straight line tonight was durn-near impossible. The evening's draw of limitless candy was just too great.

My favorite moment? When Jack dutifully picks up the second bucket and says "Nope, Dean not coming. We have to carry all this candy.." [0:29]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My little grump

Because I have been accused of having perfect kids, meet my little grump we affectionately refer to as the honey badger...

Friday, October 21, 2011

My day today

As I sit here, having just put the kids to bed, with a moment to reflect on my day, it occurs to me at just how unique my life is.  Sadly, I think most days I just take it for granted what I do on an average day. Scratch that, what I am allowed (and asked) to do.  Today is not unlike the others but there were a few poignant moments that really have me feeling awed and blessed and exhausted to be who I am.

6:15am - The day begins with trying to get showered and ready with Jackson running into the bathroom to hug my leg and say "Hi Mommy. I like your robe. I'm awake now" and Caroline removing every single item out of my bathroom drawer and slyly taking into the other bathroom for "safe keeping." Thus, the mousse-less frizzy hairdo I donned today.

7:30am - Drop the kids off at daycare and stop in the hall to look at a rash of a friend's baby girl.

7:45am - Sit down at my desk at work to clean off the paperwork and labs that came in overnight, including a death certificate, a few handicap stickers, 3 new patient transfer records, multiple med requests, and a discharge summary of a dear patient just released from the hospital with significantly worsening dementia, now finally into the nursing home I've been trying to arrange to no avail for 6 months.

8:30am - Start seeing patients.  A few physicals where the patients are completely naked and somehow, despite everyone commenting that it should, it just doesn't phase me.  In my exam rooms, a penis or a breast is no different than a nose or a foot.  And no, prostate exams and pap smears don't gross me out because, again, it's just like looking up their nose to me. A hip injection, an abscess drainage, a trigger point injection, admitting a man to the hospital in congestive heart failure, talking through a 78 year old women wanting to leave her abusive husband, and schmoozing with 3 drug reps round out my morning.

12:30p - Call three patients to discuss their new diagnosis of terminal cancer.  One was a 50ish man with stage 3 lung cancer that is the picture of health and found after he came in for what he thought was simple heartburn, a morbidly obese 60ish woman with uterine cancer that is inoperable (and thus incurable) due to her size, and a 70ish woman with ovarian cancer found when she came in for what she thought was going to be her gall bladder.  

1:15p - Lunch with the Most Annoying Drug Rep on the surface of the Earth.

1:30p - Finish morning charts and call a few patients about their xrays from the morning that including 1 pneumonia, 2 non-pneumonias, 1 broken rib, and a foot fracture.

1:45pm - Jump back in to seeing patients. Five physicals (whew) including one on the nurse that helped deliver my daughter and 2 teenagers that ended up being rather entertaining visits. The 14yr old boy has gotten into drugs and sex and the parents (both of whom came with him) wanted him drug tested and STD tested.  They wanted me to give me "the facts" in a "clear and frank and scary way."  So, I rolled up my sleeves and did what I do best: be frank.  At first, he was flippant and stubborn and the typical know-it-all teenage boy.  But, once I got to the part about his penis looking like a cauliflower from genital warts or that it could altogether just stop working if he continued to smoke cigarettes and pot (ok, maybe I exaggerated the timeline on that one slightly), he was sitting upright at attention and much more interested in what I had to say. His sister, the 12 year old, was equally entertaining.  When I asked her if she knew how a woman gets pregnant she replied, "Of course. You put the banana in the coconut and then there's a baby."

5pm - Call an 83 year old patient about his dangerous heart arrhythmia picked up on 24 hour monitoring but try to explain to him that he is not a surgical candidate for an implantable pacemaker and there's nothing else to do about it but just avoid the medications we can and hope it behaves.

5:30p - Pick up my two adorable children from daycare. Caroline was riding around in a wagon when I got there with 4 other boys her age, playing whack a mole with their heads and laughing hysterically about it while Jack was running around the playground pretending to fly.  Since Matilda is at work late tonight, we stopped at Panera for dinner and I watched for 30minutes while they shared (without so much as a whisper of an argument) a very large M&M cookie, dividing up the M&M pieces for Jack and the cookie part for Caroline.

7pm - Ride home. Caroline starts to whine and Jack says "No no, Sissy. It's not the time to cry."  She replies with something resembling "Forget you, I'll cry if I want to."  He then very quickly responds with a series of phrases "No, Ma'am. You do not tell me no. I tell you no.  It is not nice to do that. Crying is for night time. Not now.  No, Ma'am."  I didn't know whether to be proud or cringe.  My son is turning into me.

7:30p - Everyone into pjs, we read stories on the floor, laugh about Little Bunny Fru-Fru turning us all into Goons, and all go to bed without so much as a peep.  And as I walk out of Jack's room and turn out the light he says, "Night night, Mommy. I love you."

In the words of my son, "I had a great day but I'm tired now.  I will have sweet dreams.  Nite nite."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fav Photog

Courtesy of the Matilda's favorite photographer, the lovely and talented Rachel Garrison:*

We spent a few hours in Southern Pines galloping around the incredible spread of the Weymouth House gardens. Enjoy the full photo slide show here.

*Ok, I admit that I felt a little bit like Tyra on ANTM when I pulled out that line..

Friday, September 30, 2011


Five years. Five people. I attribute all of our success to you, Doc. I would say that our wedding seems like it was just yesterday, but the truth is that we have managed to squeeze so much life into the last five years. And every new day brings the best of the best.

Call it kismet, or just the brilliance of Pandora - I heard this song on the radio this morning on the way to work, and I realized that it is exactly about us. Or, rather, it is about me, and how hopeless my life would be without you in it.

I'd rather sleep in a box like a bum on the street
Than a fine feather bed without your little ol' cold feet
And I'd rather be deaf, dumb, and stone blind
Than to know that your mornings will never be mine 
And I'd rather die young than to live without you
I'd rather go hungry than eat lonesome stew
You know it's once in a lifetime and it won't come again
It's here and it's gone on a magnolia wind 
I'd rather not walk through the garden again
If I can't catch your scent on a magnolia wind 
Well if it ever comes time that it comes time to go
Sis' pack up your fiddle, Sis' pack up your bow
If I can't dance with you then I won't dance at all
I'll just sit this one out with my back to the wall 
I'd rather not hear pretty music again
If I can't hear your fiddle on a magnolia wind 
If I can't catch your scent on a magnolia wind
If he's not on your radar, Guy Clark writes some fantastic songs, banging them out one at a time on his workbench, putting on the shine and moving on to the next work of art.

Thank you for being my fiddler, baby - I'm having the time of my life with you, Jack, Caroline, and whoever this new person is going to be.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lessons Learned

    mortified is a form of:
    verb /ˈmôrtəˌfī/ 
    mortified, past participle; mortified, past tense; mortifies, 3rd person singular present; mortifying, present participle

    1. Cause (someone) to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated\
      • - she was mortified to see her wrinkles in the mirror
      • - she refused to accept this mortifying disgrace
    2. Subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline
      • - return to heaven by mortifying the flesh
    3. (of flesh) Be affected by gangrene or necrosis
      • - the cut in Henry's arm had mortified
    4. Stephen F. Shaw, Greensboro, NC at 7:32am on September 28, 2011
      • - "Stephen's facial expression was the very definition of mortified"

    It was just like any other normal day, when I strolled into the Moses Cone Hospital daycare Wednesday morning to drop the kids off. This week in Jack's class, the theme is "camping" - which is good for several reasons, chief among them being that we are already planning to go camping this weekend and Jack can't stop talking about it form the time he gets out of bed in the morning to the time we read his "Camping Book 17 times before he goes to bed each night. So when the school calendar came home last week with Camping penciled in for this week, I knew we were in for a treat. 

Monday, the whiteboard outside his class requested that if any parent had a tent at home, would they please bring it to school so that the kids could more realistically conduct their camping play. Being the wonderful father that I am, I quickly recognized that this was a unique opportunity to participate and perhaps to make up for never really having brought a prop or other show and tell item to school despite frequent requests. Delinquent Dad, I am sure you are thinking - but this was my chance to really redeem myself in the eyes of Miss Joy and Miss Angela.

When I picked Jack up yesterday, he was talk talk talk about camping and the tent and we napped inside daddy - in the tent! Miss Angela sweetly handed him off and thanked me so much for bringing the tent, that the teachers got it set up just fine and the kids really enjoyed it. I was worried after I dropped it off that morning that maybe I should have set it up for them, and that perhaps they wouldn't be able to get it pitched and Jack would be disappointed and ridiculed for having the dumb father who brought a tent but didn't have the good graces to set it up for the poor children, so it languished in a cubby until 5 o'clock. However, this was not the case, and the kids had fun.

So much fun, in fact, that I decided to leave the tent at school on Tuesday night so they could play with it again on Wednesday. When I walked in this morning and dropped Jack off at his classroom, I mentioned to Miss Joy that I had left the tent in place and they were welcome to use it again if they wanted. In retrospect, the big grin that lit up her face at that point must have been hard for her to contain, but she walked over and in a somewhat softened tone asked if Angela had told me about the tent. Yes, I said, she said you got it set up all right and the kids enjoyed it. The grinning was even more pronounced at this point and I started to get nervous. No, she said, did she tell you what she found in it? And then I just squeaked out a pitiful What do you mean?

Joy continued: Well, when she got it set up, Angela crawled inside before we let the kids in to check out the inside. And when she came out she had a funny look on her face, and had stuffed something into her pocket, and she said Good thing the kids didn't find that first.

Oh my god. I am sure I am beet red at this point, although I am trying to stay calm. I am positive by now that she did not find the wrapper to a Clif Bar, or a book of matches, some other innocuous piece of trash. Joy is almost laughing so hard now that she can't even pronounce the word, although I am sure it started with a hard C. I am mumbling through apologies and remarks like Gosh, its been 4 years since I used that tent, how could that have happened. I mean, we have two kids, so how they came to be is somewhat obvious. I just wish the ancillary activities didn't have to be rehashed in quite this detail.

Joy is similarly beside herself right now, although more from the entertaining enjoyment that must characterize a revealing moment like this, and the irony that is present in the knowledge that this morsel of parent news has probably already spread among the entire daycare staff.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Little Rameses

Last weekend, despite the rain and the risk of harm posed by obnoxious Wahoowa fans in their pinpoint oxfords and striped bowties, the Big Ram and I brave the elements to take Jack to his first Tarheel Football game. While the girls were enjoying a relaxing a recharging weekend of rest at the beach, the big boys were bach-ing it Carolina-style.

I was amazed at how well he did - with the noise and the crowds and the lights and fireworks - nothing seemed to faze young Jack. Except for a brief halftime walk around the stadium and a chance to pet Rameses XVII , Jack stayed in his seat (and my seat, and Bud's seat, and Don's seat) and the three of four stairs adjacent to the seats, for the whole four quarters. A few sips of coke, a bag of graham crackers and some nachos, along with about 7 pom-poms, and he was in heaven.

Tarheels over the 'Hoos, I think he had a great time, judging by how many times since we got home that he has asked when we are going to the football game again. Trust me, I'm looking forward to many more seasons.

Tarheels over the 'Hoos, 28-17
Bernard - 12 carries, 103 yards

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12th

As I wrote yesterday, awakening to the bright blue skies of early Fall on September 12, 2001 was like entering an America reborn, if only for a few weeks or months. No agenda, no politics - just sympathy, sorrow, patriotism and pride, and thousands of American flags everywhere you looked.

I remember that most sports were cancelled that weekend but roared back in the weeks that followed in a moving tribute to those gone and those serving, as if the physical excellence and metaphorical combat on the football pitch and baseball diamond portended of righteous victory and redemption for our country. Remember when the Patriots won the Super Bowl that winter? Almost as if it was an omen of our enduring success.

Of course we have come far since those first heady days of 21st century America, and while our ideals still prevail as perhaps the highest and the very best of humankind across the reaches of the earth, we cannot gloss over serious and substantial underlying fissures within our society. Right and left, rich and poor, native and immigrant - we all share in some part of the conflict spectrum that threatens our collective and continued success.

I've flipped through various commemorative essays today, and a few choice pieces have caught my eye:

Michael Roth, the President of Wesleyan University writes about a lack of partisanship and its importance in making tribute: Ten Years After: Commemoration Without Agenda
[O]n this 10th anniversary of 9/11 let us also simply acknowledge the claim that our painful memories still have on us. Let us recognize with piety that we still carry the traces of those traumatic events with us, and that we acknowledge their importance to us without trying to use them. Let us commemorate, if only for a few moments, without agenda.
I think that is a very appropriate tone to strike, and one that perhaps an older version of the popular media would have worked to protect a generation or two ago. If only there were more folks that were able to articulate things as well as Mr. Roth.

And this, from Gotham Gal, wife of VC investor / tech blogger Fred Wilson:
Going on the subway the day after the towers came down because I thought it was important that we didn't let this event change the way we live in our city. There were tons of cops down there. Josh went up to one of them and asked if they caught the bad guys yet. He answered, not yet son but we will, we will
A year later to the day Josh woke up that morning and the first thing he said when his eyes opened up was, did they ever catch that Osama Bin Laden guy?
There's stuff like this all over, as everyone reflects in their own way. What strikes me is the similarities among the many, several key themes that are repeated again and again - grief, normalcy, solidarity.

As much as I spent yesterday remembering September 11th, I want to remind myself to spend today - and the weeks the follow - remembering the sense of community and the sense of country we felt on September 12th and for much of the rest of that fall. People just seemed better that year, more in tune with the niceties of common life, reflective on the importance of enjoying and savoring the life of the living.

Elon alumnus Jason Boone '05, whose father Col. Canfield Boone was killed in the Pentagon on his day off, during the first month of Jason's freshman year, writes about the community that rose from those ashes, much like a phoenix, for the betterment of everyone involved:
I have to remind myself that 10 years is a significant chunk of time. Current freshmen would have been in third grade at the time of the attacks. For young people who may have been old enough to see the events, but too young to fully comprehend, I hope they believe people like me when we say, “Yes, that one day in September, we were very afraid.” But the next day, we feared a little less. Eventually, we even had hope. Laughter and happiness would return – much sooner than I dared to guess. The way people of vastly divergent backgrounds united was a truly stunning event to witness. The cliché of united resolve was not simply a unit of political currency. It was palpable in every gathering.
Well said, all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


There was a lot of talk today, really all week long and going back well into the summer, about the process and importance of remembering September 11th. I share and cherish this process, for while my life was not directly changed by that day it certainly cast a new light and meaning on a future that was already well in motion for me at the time. Serving in a wartime Marine Corps was a decidedly different and more fulfilling venture for me than the stateside alternative, and that worldview and those experiences and relationships are things that I will carry with me for a long time.

We all have different ways of remembering things, different rituals we follow. Each of us in our own way, for this anniversary and many others both positive and negative in light, takes a time apart to memorialize certain things in our past. A few days after 9/11, I found online an MP3 audio file that was a full recording of the Howard Stern show from that morning (WTC coverage starts around 2h10m). Odd, you might think, that this would be my choice. But for September 11th, that is what I listen to each year to mark that memory. Some years, just a few minutes are enough to do the trick, and other times I sit up late in the night listening for hours on end as the bright blue morning unfolds and ages into afternoon, a lifetime or more crammed into a few hours.

For me, what I want to remember is the uncertainty, the unknowing dimension of the early morning - as it unfolded - that can never be fully recaptured. Forever more, the news coverage or documentary or TV special on 9/11 will not develop separate from what eventually came to pass on that day. Listening to Stern and the rest of the crew of his live studio show learn of the first impact, and the second, listening to someone sent up to the roof with binoculars and a radio, relaying what they can see. Listening to fans call in, not to comment on the early dialogue of Pamela Anderson but each bringing weighty, if fragmented news. The speculation and insight and the unknown. Remarkably quickly, someone says terrorism, and war, and pegs it - certainly sooner that I remember making that same realization.

If you watch any news commentary of the day, even if it is the unedited audio of the very beginning, it is populated with video clips from the street and a variety of angles that did not come to light for days and weeks following. But in my memory at least, I was watching hours of live continuous coverage where nobody knew what the hell was going on, whether it was a big plane or small, intentional or accidental, 5000 or 50000 souls. Even flipping from one station to another, it was all the same camera angles, one or two at the most, mainly from across the river. I remember it taking 5 minutes just to figure out if the first tower had come down or not, because all we could see was smoke and dust. We just didn't know.

Listening to this tape of the Howard Stern show brings me back to the immediacy and the uncertainty of that morning, when everything was still news and nothing was editorialized. That's what I want to feel. I feel like almost everything else is post-production work.

And then, when I have had my fill of memories from that morning, what I really want to remember the most, beyond the smoke and fire and shock, was how America felt in the week that followed that terrible Tuesday. Like somewhere between Peal Harbor and V-J Day's ticker tape parade, all crammed into one outpouring of sympathy, humanity, patriotism, pride, vengeance, magnanimity and understanding. Flags on cars, on the street, on houses. People speaking to one another, strangers and neighbors and family, with a new measure of perspective and civility and a sense that, hey, we're all in this together and we're gonna have to be a team about it. And that was an America that I was insanely proud to be a part of, a country brought together, united through the character of the people that are her foundation and her purpose.

Friday, September 9, 2011


People have different ways of remembering things. Important life moments, heart-breaking experiences, bright flashes of joy. We have rituals and rights of remembrance, and the hanging on and remembering begins to gain its own importance, separate and distinct from the memory itself.

I am one of those folks that drags memories along, collecting them as I go like a little boy putting rocks in his pockets  on a walk. Does all that gravel weigh me down, keep me from "living in the moment"? I don't know - I don't think so. You can have a big pack and still make the summit, and you might even enjoy the taste of sweat and pride more at the top because of it.

I heard this song on the radio Pandora today, and it made me think about someone I knew, and the rituals that will be held across america this weekend:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Carolina Blue

I got a notice in the mail about the Carolina '01 reunion next month at Homecoming. Hard to believe its been ten years...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Darlin'

I can't believe it has been a whole year that we've spent with Caroline Grace - she is really coming into her personality and loves playing with her big brother. My how our baby's grown!

Caroline turned one on Thursday, and she did pretty good with the cupcake we gave her to celebrate. Although to be honest, I think she enjoyed the ice cream a bit more. It is a lot of fun to see how much she communicates, and laughs, and expresses her pleasure or dissatisfaction with a particular experience. She is getting a laugh that lights up the whole family. Jack in particular has enjoyed being able to have a playmate, and we are enjoying the newfound independence of her increased mobility. She's not walking yet, but she's durn close.

This little girl - who used to be an expressionless King Tut beyond compare - is now a sweet, coy, flirting little gem. It is kind of amazing - her smiles just come out of nowhere, and are better for all the surprise.

The People You Meet

Stopping for lunch at Lexington Barbecue #1 is never a bad idea – their consistent, well-smoked and flavorful pork and homemade sauce are the pride of Davidson County. Top it off with a sweet tea and the kind of fries you just can’t get at a fast food joint, and you’ve got a meal for kings.

But this Friday in particular was an excellent day to stop at the Honeymonk. Flying solo and with a crowd already waiting for a table, I asked an older gentleman sipping coffee if I could grab the bar stool next to him. We struck up a conversation – turns out he is an insider, related in some way to the Monk family, and was sitting around waiting on his grandson and wife to have a baby (his fourth great-grandchild out of 13 grandchildren). He was hoping he could grab Wayne and head over to the hospital. When he found out I was down from Greensboro, he was interested to get my opinion of Stamey’s brand of ‘cue since Mr. Stamey had passed away, and how it compared to Lexington’s. I was way over my head at this point and clearly dealing with an expert, but I played along cheerfully since he couldn’t hear half of what I said.

At some point I told him I was originally from Spartanburg, to which he replied “Well that’s a damn hell hole.” Apparently he did basic training at Camp Croft in 1944/45, before shipping over to Okinawa for overseas duty. Soldiers at that time were restricted on weekend liberty to a 50 mile radius of Spartanburg, but as he and a friend couldn’t find any decent ‘cue they used to sneak up to Lexingotn ever other weekend to sate their appetite. We had a good little chat about our common experience on Okinawa – he was amazed how about much Naha had changed in the last 60 years. One of the luxuries I apparently missed out on was trans-Pacific troopship cruising, something he did not recommend. On the 23 day trip over to Oki, he found a lifeboat on deck under which to sleep and keep his seabag, because of the heat and the stench of the berthing quarters below decks.

On his trip back to the states in ’46, a general officer on board earned an upgraded ship which made the northern trip in to San Fran in 18 days with much improved accommodations. In Oakland he and two friends ran in to a boy from southern Virginia, “the only Southern boy with a dollar to his name.” Twenty dollars, to be exact, which got the four of them a cab ride across the bay and admission to a then-famous strip club. The sparkle in his eye led me to believe that was one of the highlights of his military service, but by the way he stared when he talked about the “boys” he met and knew and served alongside, it was not the only worthwhile experience.

I could have sat there talking to Sam Everhart for hours, but he had a great-granddaughter to go see and I had to get back to work. Flat out made my day, talking to that old man.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


We're making progress:

Pawleys Island ca. 2009

Pawleys Island ca. 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pawleys Island

Just got back from a semi-relaxing week at Pawleys Island with my dad's side of the fam. Before I dig back in too deeply to cramming for my partnership tax exam, I wanted to put up a few pics to the ol' weblog.

There were 19 of us total, including the 4 most recent additions to the Jupe Shaw clan - Jack, Sid, Caroline and Audrey. Just like the family, these kids are growing like crazy and super cute.

We didn't take a lot of posed pictures, but I think we managed to get everyone in this shot:

Until next time, Pawleys - hope you stay arrogantly shabby.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Made in America

I was driving home tonight and heard Toby Keith's new song come on the radio - Made in America. Moments later I was slapping the steering wheel, singing at the top of my lungs in the liberating way you can only do in the shower or alone in a car, and starting to get choked up by the second stanza.

he's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm / semper fi tattooed on his left arm
spends a little more at the store for a tag in the back that says u.s.a.
won't buy nothin' that he can't fix, / with wd40 and a craftsman wrench

I was flooded with thoughts I had collected over the last two weeks, but had made no effort to curate. How the Fourth of July is by far my favorite holiday; how amazing my children are turning out to be; how lucky I am to have married far better than I deserve - she's hot, she's smarter than a fox, and she puts up with all of my idiosyncrasies.

There is also this piece I found a few days ago by Mark Suster, renowned entrepreneur and venture capital investor - someone that probably knows alot more about the realization of the promise of America than a lot of the folks in charge. The grandson of a Romanian Jew that fled oppression to South America, married a old-world Colombian girl, and whose father immigrated to America from Medellin to raise his family. Mark has started two companies and invested in dozens more:
America is a place that has always welcomed the best from around the world. We have become a great nation through embracing those that seek religious freedom, tolerance, acceptance and economic opportunities for anybody who is hard working, industrious and who hustles. 
My dad talked about coming to this country. He talked about it as the land of opportunity for those around the world who sought to make a better life. While we couldn’t have totally open border there had to be some way to bring in more talented people to this country to help grow our base of the world’s smart people. 
Tears filled his eyes as he thought about those that couldn’t come to America. He spoke about the things that we still take for granted in our cozy living rooms. He thought about the plight of his long-time partner and her desire to spend time with her family. 
Freedom. It’s such an easy thing to take for granted when you have it. When you grew up with it. I know that I’m spoiled because I grew up taking it for granted. I stand on the shoulders of my grandfather’s hard work and accomplishments. I stand on the shoulders of my dad and his hard work in school and his desire to build a better life for us.
I really don't know what to make of my nationalistic fervor. But I love this damn country, despite how many people would have you believe it is all effed up. Yes, we have issues brewing that together could be considered an existential crisis. But the minutiae that fill the airwaves don't get to those fundamental risks, but only touch the patina of rust that colors the surface. And like any good old American-made car bumper, that shine polishes up nice if you put in the elbow grease. While I am concerned to some extent about our collective willingness to suffer the effort to fix our fundamental issues, I also realize that we've been through far more challenging times, and America is remarkably able to respond in exigent circumstances. So the chatter about the latest issues doesn't really faze me, and I am confident that whatever deep crises we face will be weathered at least as well as any other country. And when that bear's chasing you, you really only have to outrun all the other hikers.


Enough of the diatribe - we had a fabulous Fourth of July, full of family and sunshine and pooltime and BBQ and music and fireworks and parades. The kids rode their Radio Flyer wagon in the Converse Heights parade, Harold Jennings smoked up some quality 'cue, and a good time was had by all.

My heart stirs at the sight of the stars and stripes in the hands of my children and the promise they hold in their eyes. Long may you wave, America.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Daddy runs a tight ship

Doc is out working this fine Saturday morning, laying hands and healing the sick and infirm. Meanwhile, Matilda's here at home keeping the indians at bay and protecting these fine young children from harm.

Well, I think I done tuckered them two out.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No More Trees

It started with Sunday's big wind storm...

Three less Bradford pears in the front yard - the house looks quite a bit different! 

And I didn't even break a sweat!

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