Sunday, August 24, 2008

Things you need to know about my life

1. If you have been upstairs getting children to bed--i.e. overseeing their lavatory skills (bath, pajamas, hair brushing, tooth brushing), and then you move onto  the bedtime reading portion of the night time ritual, it will not matter how long you read or how tired your children might become. You might read for ten minutes or you might push on through for twenty minutes, thereby making your throat soar. You might prepare ahead of time, get yourself a small glass of water from the bathroom, using one of those paper Dixie cups (or if you are economical, a generic Kroger brand Bathroom Cup). You might periodically sip this water while reading, allowing yourself the chance to go thirty or even forty minutes into the reading of several small library books and possibly a good third of a chapter from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince . . . you might do all of this, but within three minutes of you telling your children to go to their beds and taking yourself downstairs,  you will hear the footfalls of one child (it doesn't matter which) coming down the stairs for some cockamamie reason or another--sharpening a pencil, too hot, too cold, I'm afraid, whatever.

Set your watch and just see if I'm right.

2. The amount of time that it takes a child to find a printable activity on the Internet, print said activity, read instructions, cut, fold, tape, and construct said activity is in direct opposition to the amount of time a child actually plays with this fully formed activity afterward the building phase is completed. 

Oddly, however, the amount of time it took to construct the item in question is about equal to the amount of time the unplayed with activity will sit forlorn on the end table afterwards . . . multiplied by 25.

3. An unassuming piece of paper sitting in a pile of unread mail, various drawings, and credit card applications becomes increasingly vital the further down the pile said piece of paper goes. If this paper reaches the bottom of the pile (especially if this steady downward progress has taken a  week or more) this previously unassuming and unwanted piece of paper becomes the MOST important item in the house and following this existential transformation, two further things are absolutely certain to occur: 

a.) I will throw this piece of paper away--oblivious to its radically enhanced status and 
b.) Lynda will (within 24 hours) ask "Where is that piece of paper? It had some REALLY important yada yada yada on it that I need RIGHT now."

Please note that I am trying not to blame Lynda for this. All of God's creatures have a role to play in this universe. I am not in a position to tell her how to live the life she had been predestined for.

5. The quicker I have to get out the rest of the family out of the door and go somewhere else, the longer my children will stare in the mirror at nothing in particular.

5 a. If the children are currently unclothed, the amount of time spent staring in the mirror increases by a factor of 2.

5 b. If the children are upset or crying, the amount of time spent staring in the mirror increases by an approximate factor of 15. (They love seeing their wretched faces when they are unhappy!)

6. I try to be as efficient as I can possibly manage. For example, I was getting some laundry started on Thursday night when we got home from work. I sorted through the piles of stuff sitting on the basement floor that had been tossed down the laundry chute over the past week. Colors, whites, towels, gentle cycle are my four categories. Once the sorting is finished I assess which pile is the largest, which contains clothing items that are the likeliest to be needed first, and then choose a load to begin. On this particular night I chose Colors. (I was to discover the next morning that I had made a mistake in this . . . but I'll  try to get back to that later.)

The efficiency part is this: I started the washing machine and let a quantity of water build in the basin while pouring the liquid soap in. Once an always varying amount of soapy water had accumulated in the bottom of the rotating drum, I dumped in the Colored clothes. As I closed the machine lid and prepared to return upstairs, I realized that I was wearing black slacks that could use a washing. Determined to achieve some level of success, I promptly took off my slacks and dropped them in the agitating machine. Success! Efficiencies achieved! (Sure, I looked a bit of a dope as I climbed the stairs to the main level in my polo shirt, boxers, black socks, and black shoes. Sure, Lynda noticed, but I was on the way up to the second floor to change into shorts anyway. A small bit of humiliation was no big deal in the face of such work-related efficiencies.

(My aforementioned laundry mistake? Well, on Friday morning, as we prepared to dress for work, Lynda asked if I had washed her jeans--it was Jeans Friday. I said that I had washed Colored clothes, but I had sorted the jeans, denim colored though they are, in with the whites to help even out the quantities.  That's one efficiency that I goofed on.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Between the lines

I've been doing a lot of reading lately.

Nothing too weighty, mind you, just stuff that I read about on the Internets or hear about on a podcast. (Sometimes, I wonder if I can take anyone seriously anymore unless their voice is digitally filtered and delivered to me via earbuds. But that's my problem, not yours.)

ANYWAY . . .

I read two books by Stefan Fatsis recently. I believe that I've already mentioned Word Freak, which is one man's (Fatsis') journey into the bizarre and socially maladjusted world of competitive Scrabble. Fatsis gets to know the heavy hitters in the tournament circuit and becomes increasingly obsessed with the techniques and methods of being a "serious" "professional" tile jockey. And trust me, these guys play the game in a different stratosphere than those of us who occasionally play around the dinner table. It's all about bingos (using all the tiles on a rack), insanely esoteric word memorization, and stuff like that. I sort of liked the book's journey, but it left the original Scrabble-interested David back in the first few chapters. But I soldiered on anyway.

His other book, recently published, is A Few Seconds of Panic, in which he continues his authorial modus operandi of submersion. To wit, Fatsis this time spends a summer in the training camp of the Denver Broncos NFL franchise training to be a kicker. (It began as a bit of a homage to George Plimpton's Paper Lion work in the late 1960s, but Fatsis spends a great deal of time outlining the heartless machinations of the modern day NFL and how it sucks athletes dry, spitting them out once their skills have eroded or they have become too expensive. It'll change the way you watch TV on Sunday afternoons . . . if that's your thing.

I also just finished a book I heard about on NPR--My Stroke of Insight. This story describes how a neuroscientist experienced her own brain hemorrhage and how she made it through brain surgery and therapy. What hooked me on this story was 1) the oddity of a neuroscientist--someone uniquely prepared to understand the effects of a stroke--undergoing such an event and 2) the particulars of the day the stroke occurred. Dr. Bolte-Taylor's description of the day of the event is intriguing (it was especially so when heard on the radio). 

Currently, I'm reading The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, renewing my familiarity with the insane universe of Douglas Adams. Adams' books are unique in their own bizarre way, but I feel that a lot of modern pop culture and writing has a bit of a debt to Adams' willingness to stop making sense and just write a bunch of nonsense. It's fun!

As usual, there is more rattling around in my brain, but I don't really want to spend more time tonight trying to type it down.

Perhaps tomorrow?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

At War . . . At Home

I feel that we are at war with our home.

We've lived in this house for a little over four years now and for the longest time, we lived in relative harmony with it. We sometimes lived at cross purposes, but for the most part there was a detente of sorts. We agreed to coexist without questioning the right of the other to exist as they saw fit. Sure, there have been skirmishes over the years--like when we redid the master bathroom or when we removed the ugly African themed wallpaper and textured grey paint from the guest room (Now Hannah's room.)

But, the Cold War began to warm about seven months ago. The trigger, for whatever reason, was Hannah's birth. Perhaps we felt that we couldn't properly raise her in this world of uneasy truces. But we fired the first shot soon after Hannah's arrival from the hospital when we redecorated the den. We had made our first aggressive move into enemy territory--without provocation on the house's part. We simply decided that we wanted to depose that room's regime of unsightly appearance. And from there the dominos just kept falling.

The house has tried to fight back with the bathroom floor/dining room ceiling battle. But that is pretty well patched up now and we feel that we are firmly in control and that we are in charge. Unfortunately, the house, while cowed, has an ally in the yard. We have been fighting to hold that front for many years, fending off flanking maneuvers from the weeds and the mulched beds and the drying grass. But, now . . . emboldened by our growing success at winning the hearts and minds of the house, we are now trying to bring our way of life to the backyard and sideyard.

It'll be a hard, tough road. Tempers will flare. Sweat will fly. Backs will ache. But eventually we will prevail.


The kids wanted to do that old standby of a lemonade stand this afternoon. Lynda and I were, naturally, skeptical. We made the kids watch out the front window for five minutes and asked them how many people came down the street. Once we told them the had to eliminate our neighbors across the street who were working in their yard, they realized that only one person had come by. But, they were undaunted. We told them that we were not looking forward to mixing up the lemonade and setting up tables and chairs and then they deciding to give up after ten minutes.

But I took my iPod outside to provide some musical diversion. And I took Hannah out as well. She enjoys playing in her exersaucer outside, so that would keep the kids occupied as well. And then our neighbor's kid also came out to keep them interested. Eventually, they did give some away--mostly to the neighbor family and what they drank themselves. And while they were supposed to be giving it away for free, everyone insisted on giving them money anyway. So, they managed to make about $1.75.

All in all, it was a good way to spend some time outside.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"It's/Id's Not for You"

It's been a long, somewhat productive, and seemingly always challenging weekend.

Ever since Friday, Lynda and I knew that we were determined to get outside and take advantage of this autumnal weather that was forecasted for Saturday and Sunday. But, responsibilities always exist, weather or not. So, we had to balance the definite task that we knew were necessary to start, but we were also quite focused on finding a time and a place for fun.

First, we drew up a list--chores and possible ideas for fun. Naturally, the list of chores was longer, but it did have the benefit of being specific. Vacuum, groceries, mow grass, work on mounds of dirt. All quite clear and definite. The ideas for fun included nebulous ideas like zoo? fair? pool? The Whens, the Where's, the possible With Whoms all left in the blank spaces besides the ideas themselves.

We kicked things off quickly on Saturday morning. The girls obliged by sleeping in late (they were tired because they stayed up later than usual--even for a Friday night). Lynda and I had our breakfast and coffee and had a brief discussion about what should come first. I knew that I was going to try and tackle the dirt mound task--something that I had been studiously avoiding (even some times for good reasons!) for about a month now.

The situation is this: after the patio was poured, we had lots of leftover dirt. What to do with it? Well, I certainly didn't want to keep it, but Lynda reminded me that, due to a pre-existing condition of our house when we purchased it, we could use that dirt. You see, the flower/weed beds that surround the side and back of the house were improperly graded, allowing water to sit next to the foundation rather than flowing away from the house into the yard. We could use the backfill to regrade the beds. Unfortunately, since I'd let the big mound of dirt sit at the side of the house for around a month, it more closely resembled chunky concrete.

Telling myself that at least the weather was beautiful, I rubbed on some sunscreen and got to work early Saturday morning. I started at the back of the pile, near the backyard and started hacking away at the end of the long, log-shaped mound. As I feared, the sun-baked dirt had a nice crust that needed penetrating. So, I scrabbled some away from the pile, and lifted it into the wheelbarrow. Underneath, it wasn't too bad but since I think this entire neighborhood was built on top of the dirt the city dug out of Hoover Reservoir thirty years ago, there are LOTS of rocks, and bits of shale throughout. So, I had to break down some of the larger, harder chunks in the wheelbarrow and sift out the rocks. After I had my first barrow full, I headed to one end of the bed to begin the regrading (retrograding?).

Here the second problem presented itself. Weeds, and lots of them. Some of an impressive size. Some gardeners will tell you that weeds are just persistent/unappreciated flowers. I can attest that, if left alone, weeds can grow to impressive heights and they do indeed flower. But, I knew that I should try to do something. So, task 1B began. I pulled and cut and trimmed back offending growth to discover where the back of the ungraded beds were. This work went pretty quickly and soon enough I was tossing dirt where it needed to go.


Well, the job continued for quite a while as the hours spun and the world turned. Lynda breakfasted the kids and got them to and from gymnastics class that morning and still I toiled at the side of the house--digging, crumbling, weeding, grading, hacking, sweating. If the temperature hadn't been at least ten degrees below the average temperature for August, I would have died. But I reminded myself to take advantage of the temperate weather and keep going. I had no music, no conversation, nothing but my thoughts randomly floating untethered in my brain as I worked. I composed, rewrote, redescribed this part of the post again and again. (What I'm writing now had NO relation to those thoughts, of course.) I started out blaming Lynda because this had been her idea, but I was the one doing it. I then chastised myself for being selfish and tried to enjoy the outdoors and the work on it's own terms. Lord knows I don't get enough sustained exercise.

By the time lunchtime rolled around and the rest of the family was home from gymnastics and grocery store I was pretty well knackered. I'd sweat through my shirt at least once and though I had regraded almost 80 percent of the side bed, I hadn't even shifted more than 25 percent of the entire dirt mound. Clearly, I am going to have to use some of this dirt in the backyard beds, but that will have to wait for another day.

Lynda wanted to help out some in the yard work and she wanted a break from the kids, so after I had cleaned myself up, she tackled the dirt for a few minutes, then gave up and decided to do other yard chores. (Truthfully, I had suspected that she would come to this conclusion, but I wasn't about to say that to her face.) I stayed inside and played with Hannah. Sarah and Grace went over to the neighbor's house to play for a while.


After Lynda showered and the kids came back from next door, it was time to think of something fun. But here is where we often run into trouble. Lynda and I put such pressure on ourselves to do great things when we set out minds to this kinds of weekend outings--especially when we know it's Great Weather. So, we discussed options. This was the final weekend of the State Fair, but I was reluctant to do that. I was worried about the crowds, the expense, the likelihood that the girls might yet be a bit too young to get full benefit . . . I just was worried that we'd make the commitment and spend the money and it would all blow up in our faces, serving to Ruin the Weekend. So, we proceeded to fret about other alternatives, discussing other ways to Ruin the Weekend? Since we were already at midafternoon, we discounted the Zoo because we wouldn't have enough time. The pool required more exertion than we felt like undertaking after the morning of yard work. So, while we verged on just calling everything off in Despair, we chose to drive over the Sharon Woods park and play on the playgrounds, maybe take a hike in the woods.

It turned out to be a good choice. Though Grace was not too jazzed about the hike through the woods, they enjoyed playing at one of the playgrounds and we couldn't help but soak in the sun. On the way home we even stopped and tried a new restaurant that we've driven past to and from work many times. We liked it and generally, it was a good end to a productive yet outgoing type of day. Sure, the dirt is still out there, but I'll keep chipping away at it. It'll be gone eventually.


Today, we got up and got to church on time and did our stuff. Lynda had a Sunday School meeting afterwards, so I took the kids home and got their lunch prepared. We finished up eating right about the time Lynda got back. We had decided to go to the zoo today, since we weren't going to be spending all day in the yard like we had on Saturday.

Predictably, when we got there, Grace wanted to ride on the merry-go-round and Sarah wanted to get Dippin' Dots ice cream (conveniently located next to the carousel). Though this happens each time we go to the zoo, it never fails to irritate me. (It didn't help that some genius decided to replace the SIX simple token machines that dispense carousel rides with ONE hi-tech Z-card machine. So, I was waiting in the Z-card line for about ten minutes to check our card balance only to find out that it wasn't accepting bills. I dumped $10--via credit card--on the card, but it had not improved my mood. As S & G & I waited for out turn to ride, I learned that since the Z-card machine was malfunctioning, we were allowed ride for free. The day was looking up!)

Eventually the required carousel ride and Dippin' Dots were done. We'd been at the zoo for approximately thirty minutes and had not even ATTEMPTED to see an animal. I sarcastically remarked to Lynda that we should just start calling the zoo "the carousel/ice cream place." Lynda asked me why i continued to be upset by this time after time. "It's not for you," she said. We just want to get them out of the house and outside.

That got me to thinking. "It's not for you" is probably as good as any simple description of parenthood as anything else you might think of. Constantly we have to put aside our own desires and goals for those of our kids, and they never realize that we are doing it. If I were allowed to follow my own Freudian Id desires, I would have spent the entire weekend sitting on the patio reading books and drinking a succession of cool drinks. But I can't succumb to my Id's desires. I can't be selfish and when I try to be, it usually only makes everyone else angry and makes me feel ashamed. So, I should let the kids have their carousel and ice cream with no complaints. It's not like I don't spend a lot of the rest of their days telling them what to do.


After the ice cream, we did dedicate ourselves to seeing animals. (On a positive note, we did avoid the third zoo-related humbug . . . the play area that sits a ways from the carousel. I often don't like that either because can find those multileveled areas at McDonalds or at Magic Mountain or somewhere else . . . but only at the zoo can you see orangutans or white tigers or otters. But--usually--"it's not for me.")

We turned away from the play area this time and decided to head over to North America. We saw bears, otters, pumas, moose. The girls got their faces painted and even though Hannah has been struggling with a cold, she tolerated things well.

Yet another day in the beautiful sun and I guess, even with the drama, the indecision, the turmoils . . . it was a good weekend.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Live Blogging (sort of) the Beijing Opening Ceremonies

Well, well . . .

here we go.

First impression: way to live up to stereotypes China. Sure you invented fireworks, but that doesn't mean you get to inundate us without copious amounts of fireworks without me calling you on it. (plus all that smoke isn't helping the air quality issues that have been a persistent topic of discussion in the run up to the Games.

Still, I've got to say, I am most interested in these Games because of the architecture and the chance to see illuminating, soft-focus stories on China--the Forbidden Kingdom. Maybe I'll see some sports in there as well. I worry that the Wachowski Brothers are going to get some sort of inspiration out of this that will lead to some crappy movie later.

You've got to give it up to China's determination to emphasize spectacle and sheer size. that is always the first thing we think of with this country--over one billion people, all singularly ruled by a small amount of highly privileged. And China has always done things in a spectacular way. Communists know how to put on an impressive show. Plus, I heard Bob Costas and Matt Lauer say that the Opening Ceremonies cost about $3oo million dollars to put together. (I bet that could have helped the earthquake victims in Szechuan province, no?) But, as everyone is trying to point out, this is intended to be China's Coming Out party. The country is determined to have a significant place in the politics and economics of the 21st century and so, they are using the Olympic Platform to announce themselves . . . and maybe put everyone on notice. We'll see how it goes.

I like the effect of the traditional Olympic Rings symbol being lifted off of the floor and suspended in the air. It was an unexpected act that makes you wonder why no one had done it before.

The kids carrying the flag makes me remember that the opening ceremonies are as much history lesson as choreograph spectacle. 56 kids, dressed in the ethnic dress of the 56 cultural groups that make up China, carry in the Chinese flag. And up the flag goes to the sound of the Chinese national anthem. And in the midst of it, President Bush is talking to Vladimir Putin. Perhaps they are discussing the Russian invasion of the Georgian Republic?

Hey, I just saw one of the Chinese painting dancers pull a Neo move! (Paging the Wachowski Bros.!)

There have been lots of commercials so far--and it's barely thirty minutes into the show!--but it has given me time to go to other websites and find some other stuff that'll be helpful throughout. Like the NBC Olympic Web site that gives some helpful information and pictures on the spectacular architecture of the Olympic venues. And I've also found the lyrics of the Chinese national anthem "March of the Volunteers."

This current segment on the Chinese invention of paper and the technology of wood block printing is pretty amazing. The fluid movements of the blocks, representing wind, water, the Chinese character of Harmony. All very cool and I find myself not blogging but just watching the spectacle. . . .

THAT was amazing. I suspected (knew, really) that there were people under those blocks, but I appreciated the moment at the end where the people came up and showed themselves for the crowd's accolades. Thought my cynical nature knows that all of this is calculated. The Chinese WANT everyone to be in awe of their efforts and to think that they are celebrating the power of the individuals (but they want the individual harnessed into the movement of the whole.) That is one of the big differences. Americans want individuals to be celebrated because, look at me--I'm AWESOME! Because I think so. But mass societies want the individual to be happily part of the whole, working as a UNIT. This is best expressed in the next segment when the yellow dancer (representing the Tang Dynasty, the commentators say) is supported in the air by a large mass of people walking below them. And isn't yellow the symbolic color of the Emperor? And so, might that not be the people holding up the Imperial Family? (my thoughts there?)

i am struck during the Naval History segment--with huge oars, images of waves, and the like . . . the music sounds very Hollywoodish.

After a very interesting commercial for the upcoming NBC Christian Slater show "My Own Worst Enemy," we're back to Modern China (perhaps 1978 says Costas and Lauer), but if that is so, then the multicolored floor evokes a disco floor. Did China have a disco period? Probably not. But the coiffed piano player at the center of the segment makes me think of Liberace, who was definitely popular in the 1970s.

Here again, there is the juxtaposition of a group of school children surrounded by 2000 tai chi performers. The commentators say that it's about the problems of the future sand the need to work int harmony wit nature to build sustainability. Certainly something that is needed in china when there are a billion people but it is still the individual surrounded by the mass.

(oh, and by the way, if you are still reading this but are getting tired of my haphazard and half-hearted comments, you can always slip over here to see how the professionals do it.) And you can also see some stunning images of the stuff I/we are writing about by clicking on this slideshow.

Well, that was a poor effort on my part. I was swept up in the sheer audacity of the Ceremonies and didn't find the time to do a really good job giving my impressions of things. (Certainly there were no Chevy trucks in attendance.) Sorry. Go check out the New York Times blogging of the Ceremonies and don't forget to look at the excellent pictures link as well. I'll keep watching the parade of athletes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Racked" with Guilt

So, last night as we are getting all the girls in bed, Sarah comes into our bathroom to get a hair brush or something. Probably she was just following Lynda in to ask a question or continue her statement about something. (I was reading a book about Jack Kirby and hadn't really been listening.)

So, Sarah is in the bathroom, in her pajamas, showered hair semi-brushed, and I guess she decided to swing on or pull on our towel rack. Naturally, the rack was yanked from the wall.

Mom wasn't happy. I was slowly becoming aware of what had just occurred. Sarah was quiet. Grace wandered in--similarly pajama'd and wet-haired, wanting to know "What did Sarah do?" "What happened?" (I was trying to deflect Grace, so as not to upset Sarah, but I was also trying not to get mad about what I was sure was yet another home repair in a season of home repairs.

Sure enough, the screws had been pulled clean out of the dry wall and the rack was on the floor. And these holes were large--as the screws had been placed into anchors that expanded to hold onto the drywall behind the paint.

I guess we could simply spackle the holes filled and paint over it all, repositioning the towel rack so that it was above the damaged area or we could do as we just finished doing in the girls bathroom floor/dining room ceiling--cut out the damaged drywall and secure a new patch, completely remud the wall and paint. Either way, its something we aren't happy about doing, considering that in the last six months we've replaced the deck with a patio, dry-walled and painted the den, bought a new backyard door, are about to pay for landscaping of the backyard, and repaired leaking plumbing/replaced ceiling in the aforementioned bathroom area.

Sarah heard our warning not to do that again and we sent the girls to their rooms for books and bed. I was terse with Sarah, though I didn't yell. But she was quiet. When I came into the room a few minutes later--after vacuuming up the drywall dust in the bathroom floor--she was writing something in her notebook. I told her she had a few minutes to write and then she needed to turn off the light and go to bed. And I left the room.

I went downstairs to read some more, put things away, and a few minutes later, I heard the door to the garage open and close. I turned around the corner and saw Sarah coming out of the garage with a large bundle of stuff contained in her butterfly quilt that her grandmother made for her when she was a baby.

It was clear that she was planning on leaving the house--as she told me when I asked her what she'd been doing in the garage. I noted that she was still in her pajamas, had no shoes or socks on (not even flip flops), but I sat her down and calmed her emotions. She clearly felt bad about what she had done, and I explained to her that no matter what she did, we didn't want her to leave the house.

After she felt better, I asked what she had packed in her (very unwieldy) bundle. It reminded me of the stereotypical hobo set-up of bandanna and stick--though I'm not sure that Sarah is culturally aware of that particular stereotype. She just had things collected together in this quilt and she was toting it around with her arms (no stick). Clearly, she was a novice to the finer points of running away.

For example:

1. She had no footwear, as I've mentioned.

2. No hat, coat, or clothing really. There was a pair of shorts and a shirt in the bundle, but no additional socks or any underwear--other than what she was already wearing.

3. No food at all. But she did decide to bring--

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Volume I of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. (I'm glad she is prioritizing reading . . . and quality reading at that . . . but I must out that a) both of those books are mine b) the C & H volume is over-sized and darn heavy and c) She on the last chapter of HP & the OotP. It would have been smarter to take either Half-Blood Prince or Deathly Hallows as they are fresh reads.

5. She also brought two blank notebooks for diary and drawing purposes as well as her Disney
Princesses box that she keeps her crayons, pens, pencils, and markers in.

6. Finally, she had two stuffed animals--her favorite bunny and a cocker spaniel. I can't help but note that when making a significant choice under duress, she doesn't pick any of her Webkinz animals OR the fancy schmancy Build a Bear bunny that she once got.

I'm glad she didn't go anywhere in the end, and I'm sure she would have also been glad had she taken fifteen barefoot steps down the sidewalk with this odd assortment of unwieldy things. She took everything back upstairs and went to bed none the worse for wear.

I wish I could say the same thing about the bathroom wall.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Don't feel like doing the talking today, so I'll let Sarah do it for me.

Check out Sarah's thoughts on the last few days in Greeneville, Tennessee via her blog.

(Notice she didn't make any historically inaccurate statements.)

Friday, August 01, 2008


(Why do they still do "Shark Week?" Have we not yet learned all the important stuff about sharks?)

Yesterday we drove southeast through Ohio and down through West Virginia, cutting across the tip of Virginia and down to Greenville, Tennessee (home of Confederate States of America Vice President Andrew Johnson--I hope I'm right since I haven't verified that yet). The kids didn't seem much interested in the impromptu history lesson I gave when we drove into town. In their defense, we HAD been driving in the van for almost eight hours and everyone was pretty testy.

They had spent their time watching eight "Daisy & Donald" cartoons and all of "Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico" videos while we drove. (I think they had watched that one about twelve times prior to yesterday, but they still find things to like about it.) I, of course want the kids to watch movies that "I" find interesting, but I'm not in charge.

[BTW, Sarah is giving me the sour face right now since she's sitting in my lap at the hotel lobby reading this as I type it. She doesn't like me making jokes about her movies.]

When I wrote all of this down, it was 11:15 pm and I scrawled my notes sitting in the room while ocean waves rolled out of our CD player and the three girls slept in their beds. I had to sit by the window and try to see what I was writing via the feeble light coming from the parking lot lights outside through the partially curtained window in our hotel room. Lynda is in the lobby catching up with aunts and uncles and cousins. All of the oldest cousins are probably in their rooms getting their children to bed (like me) while the college-aged ones might be downstairs playing a game or trying to figure out what they should do with themselves.

The drive down was pretty nice overall, though we had a fair bit of rain through Virginia. The West Virginia roads--all Interstate--where still back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. It got to be tiresome. But the mountains were very pretty. I found it amazing that there are still lots of trees through there, especially right up to the Interstate.

I need to find time to write a book today and also a board game, since at the moment, the only entertainment I've got is to scribble in the gloom or do push ups in the dark. Either option makes me seem like a survivalist holed up against the coming Zombie apocalypse. [Sarah just whispered to me that I "could" go swimming, which is very true, as long as it doesn't rain on us.]

On trips I face the travellers dilemma of carrying a camera around (no case though), usually stuffed in a pocket of my shorts. But I HATE carrying it around as it makes me seem a shutterbug doofus. So, I don't usually take lots of pictures and that isn't a good thing. I need to get an iPhone so I can take pictures, blog, and have everything in a compact form that I'd be glad to carry around.

I forgot to explain that when I wrote this I was sitting in the dark because I couldn't watch the TV--not that much was on probably--but that is one of the tragedies of kids in a hotel is that when the kids go to sleep the parents are trapped. Can't go out and so they just have to go to sleep. You can't turn the TV on because the light from the enormous screen would wake them up. So you end up scribbling your manifesto in the parking lot half-light and then you give up and go to bed.

But not before you go and do more pushups.