Archive for Duke

“how are girls and boys different?”

asks my son today.

Coffee shop, students.  Answer:

“What do you think, son?”


Sitting at Beantraders today while little e. dances away upstairs, w. asks me how boys and girls are different.  Fair enough question, I suppose, from a child who informs me daily who he is going to marry at school.  I look around and see 15 disaffected Duke students plugged into their laptops, some with earbuds in, many without.  We have already been interrupting their public study hall with our “Book in a Bag” reading and backpack cleaning out.  I don’t feel like being their dinner time conversational fodder.  “You’ll never believe what I heard this mom saying to her kid today.  She was, like, explaining the anatomical differences between males and females RIGHT THERE IN THE COFFEE SHOP!  EWWWW!”

So I opted for the fall back parenting question technique, the tactic that has served me so well in the past in many stickier situations than this one.

“Well, sweetie, what differences have you noticed?”  Bear in mind, dear reader, that my son regularly takes baths with his sister.  Anything could have popped out.  His reply?  “Well, girls usually have longer heads like yours. (Thanks, sweetie).  And their hair must grow faster; that’s why it’s usually longer.”

Public conversation over.  Dignity intact.  Question answered.  We returned to our respective drinks and discussed how much more mud would have to be on his pants before we would call them “brown” instead of “gray.”


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it’s officially spring!

According to the calendar and according to the thermometer, it is definitely spring in Durham.  To celebrate the warmth, we headed to Duke Gardens yesterday to enjoy the sun, to admire the blooming saucer magnolias, and to go turtle spotting (we saw seven; four of which were lazing on the rocks).

As always, we spent a lot of time searching for and learning about ducks:

Few ducks, however, were to be found at the Gardens today–just a mallard or two and a pair of muscovy ducks. The new addition in the Asian gardens is finished and open for visitors; the kids thought it was hysterical to take their shoes off to walk in the building with the shoji screens.  The other big change was that the koi pond has been drained to fix some pump and water issues, and the kids were very concerned as to the fate of the fish.  After serious contemplation, they decided that the fish are swimming around in someone’s bathtub.  Uh, ok.

All in all, a lovely morning in the Gardens.

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running down a dream

Last week we took the kids on the half mile exercise loop near the Duke Cross Country Trail.  We get to stroll in the woods, and the kids love attempting to do push ups on the low bars and hang from the chin up bars.

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My favorite part of the trail is the welcome sign with this ultra modern family on it:


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We’re going to keep at and maybe someday, we’ll look like these guys.  Here’s fingers crossed….

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a companion piece to duke graduates flooding the town

From a Durham blog (Bull City Rising) comes this delightful treat of a well-behaved Duke undergraduate.  It’ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry.

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reflections on a graduation

I have known many fine Duke affiliated people, and I am thrilled that they have enjoyed and finished up their studies, but to all of the little undergraduates who have been tromping through my town over the past few days, it’s time for you to pack up and go home.  And take all of your family with you.  We’ve had enough of your breaking down the socio-economic dynamics of our city in front of us, and we’ve had enough of your sleeveless sundresses that defy logic and ought to be slipping down.  And we’ve had enough of your wearing beat up running shoes with your suits–what is that all about?

In this spirit, I’d like to offer all of the 22-year old graduates a little graduation advice carefully gleaned from my 12 years of gainful and un-gainful employment.

#1.  People are going to stop caring where you went to school.

#2.  It’s time to stop wearing your pajama pants out in public.

#3.  Living in a dorm room with a bathroom down the hall is infinitely preferable to having to talk with HVAC guys about having to buy a new heating/cooling system.  Stop talking about the cool condo that you just bought when you are out in public.  It can annoy people who are around you.

#4.  Life most definitely becomes better after college, but you will quickly find yourself having previously unimaginable conversations with your friends about things like IRAs and fuel pumps.  Welcome to the other side.

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Duke University is a strong mystery for the kids (largely because of our state school bias and our ability to forget that Duke’s walled off campus is only a mile from our home), but its strongest spell has to be its tunnels.  For the uninitiated, Duke’s East and West Campuses are connected by a lonely little road, and often on our way home on Swift Ave., we will detour down Campus Dr. and through the “tunnels.”


The kids have always liked this route because it goes by a perpetual construction site, and they like the changing graffiti that the Duke undergrads are busy creating on the overpasses and walls of the tunnels.  Ever since Omi and Opa introduced them to the game of holding up your arms when you go through the tunnels, they are captivated by the power they have to keep the tunnels from collapsing on the roof of the car.  Yesterday, on our way home I asked, “Who wants to go through the tunnels?” and little e. raised up both of her fleece ensconced arms and kept them up despite her brother’s admonitions that we were nowhere near the tunnels yet.   She gets the game.

When we loop up through East Campus to head home on Main Street, the Duke University fun doesn’t end–the kids always have to point out the statue of the man going, “ahhhhh!”  Apparently nothing says relaxation like the statue of Washington Duke, sitting in an armchair and staring off into the distance, breathing in the tobacco smoke wafting through the evening sky.


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