Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Middle Ages

Much to everyone's surprise, my body has survived for nearly a third of a century on this planet (while, as far as anyone can tell, my brain continues to operate on an entirely different one).

This does not make me old yet, but not so young anymore, either. Most of the Epic Life Events are behind me and I hope to hold off on the others for quite awhile. From the tumultuous years of young adulthood, this stretch of life looks rather dull.

Hooray for dull!

Dull means less time spent trying to figure out how to survive and more time looking up that strange bird at the feeder. Less reading books about theories of feeding babies and more reading books about murder and dragons and the periodic table and the search for Troy. It means I finally have time to think again about what I really want to do when I grow up.

It's almost like being a kid again, except now I have a driver's license. I'm sure enough that I'm a grownup that I don't have to worry about acting like one. My joints don't creak yet and I don't need reading glasses.

Better enjoy it while I can.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Same, in pictures

The story behind these pictures is that on our way out the door, we couldn't find the camera. (I still can't find it.) But the camera had served us well for many years and the buttons had been jamming for awhile, so we decided to replace it with another basic model, which we picked up at the Evil Store of Evil on the way out.

So DOB happily took pictures through the trip, and although things looked bad at one point, we did not use up the charge on the one included pair of batteries (I forgot to buy any extras).

Then we got home. I unpacked everything. No camera cord. I panicked. I distinctly remembered coming across the camera packaging in the hotel room and asking myself, "Should I throw this away?" and thinking, "No, it has all the important camera stuff in it!" Unfortunately, after that, my memory was completely silent on the topic of camera packaging.

I tried our other camera cords (Duchess bought her own small camera, too), but none fit. In a panic, I searched online and discovered the cord cost $15 before shipping and tax and wasn't in stock anywhere. I finally emailed DOB in despair: Had he seen the camera stuff anywhere. Half an hour later, he replied tersely: "It's in the car."

In the car? But I had unloaded all the luggage! How did he know? Was he just saying it to make me feel better? Still, I did feel a little better.

That evening, he arrived home and tossed me the box, whose appearance I had completely forgotten. Oh yeah. That box. The one that was sitting on the dashboard and fell in my lap every time we accelerated.

So, anyway, here are pictures.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Great Escape

Last Sunday morning DOB and I were lying in bed, feeling uninspired about getting up and about life in general. That classic motivational question, "What gets you out of bed every morning?" could by us only be answered, "Someone standing outside our door screaming, "I'm WET!"

As we lay there, thinking of all the things we didn't want to do but had to, and all the things we wanted to do, but couldn't, we finally thought--why not just do one of them? So we decided to spend the Veteran's Day weekend at the coast. Now, we knew the chances were in favor of terrible weather. However, terrible weather on a weekend getaway is not so bad. It gives you the chance to go out and say to yourself, "Wow, big waves. Brr, cold wind. I think I'll go back in and read a book."

So we found a $70 suite with a kitchen attached and packed up the kids and the food and went for it. After all, the worst that could happen was that we would have a horrible time, in which case the return to humdrum life would come as a welcome reprieve.

The town we had happened upon was just remote enough not to pull enough money for modernizing into condominiums, but not so little as to become run-down, so instead it had an old-fashioned, One-Morning-in-Maine sort of vacationy feel, and our motel was simple but cozy and beachy with cement block walls stenciled with shells and extra towels labeled "DOG" for use on small furry or non-furry creatures coming off the beach.

The weather was lousy--the only time the wind didn't blow so hard we couldn't see was the unnatural calm that came when we took the kite down to the beach--but we had The Princess Bride to watch and The Phantom Tollbooth to read and plenty of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. (I'm terribly indecisive in cookie making; I tend to just throw it all in.) We found two free museums, one of which gave the kids the sand dollars and shells they didn't have the opportunity to collect. We only had one emergency load of laundry and one nosebleed, which, considering our odds, was pretty good.

We live so close to the Sound that it is easy to think we know all about salt water and forget what a great difference there is between our tame little beaches and tidy little whitecaps disrupted by the passing foot ferries and the roaring Pacific. It was worth the drive just to feel and hear the power of the ocean. Although after reflecting upon it and observing the ubiquitous Tsunami Evacuation Route signs, DOB has scratched "beach house" off the fantasy list and is replacing it with a cabin in the mountains.

On the way back DOB tried rerouting us with his Blackberry (much more exciting than GPS, though we did miss one road that apparently had taken up the wrong name) and we found our way up into the rain forest, which after the beach felt mild and dry, so we had a lovely hike and admired the massive trees that had fallen down when Laura and Mary were little girls. (As far as our kids are concerned, there are three basic eras to history: Bible Times, Robin Hood, and Little House).

The biggest hit of all, of course, was nowhere so far and exotic, but the town about an hour away with a climbing structure built like a castle. We will undoubtedly have to take more trips to it.

I learned a few things to make the next trip smoother: Don't pack the oranges on top of the cookies. Take warmer coats than you think you'll need. Don't serve fish the night before you leave and then forget to take out the garbage. (The house stank when we got back, but I remembered a tip I had read and put cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pan of water on the burner. This worked great, as the smell of whatever it was that had stuck to the burner the last time I cooked quickly overpowered the fish.)

Sure enough, it is nicer to be home now. We'll have to do it again.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Quiz Show

Usually I drill the older kids on math facts during lunch. (Actually they like this. In fact today Deux melted down because Duchess took "his" problem, therefore he rightly should get to do TWO more before it was her turn.)

So then the twins want to be included. Unfortunately their repertoire of mathematical understanding is somewhat limited, and they quickly tire of "How many fingers am I holding up?" (They're really strong up to five. They haven't quite grasped the concept that you can consider the fingers of both hands in one group, though, so we're stuck at five for now.) So then they want different questions.

"Ask me a car question!" Dash demands.

"Umm . . . what do you put in a car to make it go?"

"Wheels!" he says. I try Dot. "What do you put in a car to make it go?"

"An engine!" she says.

"Well, true," I concede. I turn to the big kids.

"PEOPLE!" they shout.

"Technically," I point out, "You could get the car to run without people in it. Although it would be a bad idea."

I come around to Dash again. "Ask me a tree question!"

"Umm . . . if you cut down a tree, does it fall down or does it fly up in the air?"

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ideals and Reality

Dot: So Laura and Mary had baked Hubbard squash for supper and it was SOOO delicious. I wish WE could have baked Hubbard squash for supper.

QOC: You didn't eat very much squash when I served it last night.

Dot: I didn't eat ANY squash. I don't like squash.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In Which Things Go From Bad to Worse

(I've been reading Pinocchio to the kids, and those old-fashioned chapter headings really get to you.)

I'm trying to remember when things seemed to begin going haywire, and it seems like sometime about the beginning of October things had been humming along almost nicely for what seemed like a week or so. Then I got a call letting me know that the main, steady work contract I had was being given to someone with more experience. That was distressing.

Then DOB's work, always very busy, began to get insanely busy as he was without any assistance, and then had to navigate getting his own assistant. He was working eleven and twelve hour days. Meanwhile I was grasping any one-time projects I could find, all of them with short timeframes and a lot more stressful than the one steady project.

Finally DOB got a new assistant hired and went through an initial week of training and catching up. He was all set for things to settle down, when he sprained his ankle. His good ankle, which meant that for the first week, he couldn't even drive.

Now, the good thing about that was that he really did start coming home for supper--and even eating breakfast at home--since he had to ride with an assistant who kept normal 9 to 5 hours. The other nice thing was that he discovered, with the assistant and with a deadline, he really could get most of his work done in that time. The bad thing was, he couldn't exercise or do much of anything else.

Meanwhile, the kids got sick. First the twins had a bad cold. So we stayed home from our few outings that week. They seemed a bit better by the weekend, and we went ahead with our plan for them to stay overnight with Their Majesties (which was fun for them and us), and then we took them swimming so that DOB could get some exercise. We made it to church on Sunday. We were doing almost OK.

However, on Tuesday morning, Deux complained of an itchy back, and I pulled his shirt up to see a scattering of suspicious red spots. We stayed home, in case they turned into chicken pox. They never did. But Dot also complained of itching that evening, only in her case it was a bout of hives, which kept her up till nearly midnight.

Deux got over his rash, but then the next day had an earache. The following day, a headache. Then a fever. So we stayed home some more.

Saturday DOB woke up feeling really cruddy, but he sometimes does, especially when he hasn't exercised regularly. So we tried to work him through it until midday, when we finally decided he was truly sick. Then we all got it. I just made it out to the store for grape juice and we subsisted on that and toast for a couple of days.

In the small hours of Sunday morning, as I was coming down with the stomach complaint, Deux woke up with a croupy cough. Now everybody has that.

Meanwhile my (brand new) computer power cord won't hold into the port anymore, and the only way to keep it in is to tape it, and the tape has to go right over the power button, so every time I try to readjust it I turn the computer off. We're still trying to figure out what to do about getting it repaired or replaced.

And it's beautiful fall weather--and how rare is that around here--and instead of being out and seeing the leaves in all our favorite parks, we are stuck at home.

At least we can sit out on the deck and get some sunshine. And hey, I don't have any work to do.

But, of course, it COULD always be worse. But let's not think about that.