Friday, March 28, 2008

Jolyn saved the day over 10 years ago

It has been a long week. I started the week off with a plague officially named "viral tonsillitis", which passed to Claire and then to Nick. Jake escaped since he's the sole member of the family without tonsils. Besides the illness, Nick and I have both had busy weeks at work. Jacob has been out of school on spring break. Given that we are creatures of habit, we've been reeling the entire week.

Every day this week, I've spent my commute with The Bickersons. Usually I only have Claire in the car with me, but Jake attended daycare this week. "Don't touch my paper!" and "Give back my sunglasses" were interrupted by the occasional "Leave each other ALONE!" As we drove, the radio volume was bumped up up up until I could hear the news over the kvetching. And then we saw the moon.

Why! Look at that moon!
Away up high seeing everything
That goes by why look at that moon
Why, why, why look at the moon.
Why, why, why look at that moon.

My friend Jolyn made a mix tape for me over 10 years ago. Actually, she made several. But this particular tape had Why Look at the Moon on it. Luckily the song lodged itself in my head. Every time I see the moon - big, white, and breathtaking - I start singing with an exclamation. Why! Look at that moon! My head bobs, my hand taps, my soul bounces. It's a wonderful song that creates a wonderful feeling. So thanks to Jolyn. I don't think she had any idea how much she was giving me. * The song was written by Victoria Williams and covered by The Waterboys.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nick is on the fritz

so I had to hire a couple of helpers to get the dishes done. I'll be glad when we're all healthy again. I'm holding out hope for April.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Getting Home with Limpy McLimperson

The flooding is continuing, complete with overdramatic news casts that trivialize the real damage with every emphatic, pursed-lipped pause.  Yesterday, the water started hitting the roads.  A heavily traveled state highway near my office park was closed shortly before rush hour.  My office was out of electricity for an hour or so midday as power was re-routed around a threatened substation. 
I left work a little later than usual, and hit a lot more traffic than usual.  I realize that I am relatively spoiled.  My thirteen mile commute takes twenty minutes on most days and thirty on bad weather days.  So when it took me twenty minutes to travel less than one mile to daycare, my patience started wearing thin.  And then, just as I pulled into the daycare lot, my gas light came on. 
Claire limped toward me as soon as I walked into the room.  Her caregiver explained that Claire had been limping since nap with no explanation or evident injury.  Since she was smiling and happy, I shrugged it off as one of those things that three year olds do just for the experience.  We went out to the car at a snail's pace which was still faster than the traffic was moving. 
I added my car to the line and crept along.  My gas light flickered on and off.  I started to worry that I wouldn't make it to the gas station.  I decided to turn back into the office park and wait out the traffic.  As soon as I made the turn, I realized my mistake.  It took me another 20 minutes to get back to my office.  All told, it took me almost an hour to make a two mile trip. 
Claire slowly limped to my desk and I began to get concerned about her.  She just kept saying that she didn't want to talk about it.  I tried to lift her pantleg and she slapped me away.  I worried, but figured that we weren't going anywhere without an ambulance anyway.  After an hour or so of internet games, we limped back to the car, crept to the gas station, and finally arrived home at 6:40 to cornbread lovingly made by my husband (I am forced to mention the cornbread because my mother evidently berated my husband on the phone until he agreed to make it for me).
I cornered Nick in the kitchen and told him about Claire's limp.  He grabbed her and tickled her all over, managing a pretty thorough examination of her leg in the process.  He couldn't find anything wrong.  Then, as I was putting on her pajamas, I found the problem.  A 1/8" square scrape on her knee was rubbing against her pant leg.  A bandaid fixed the limp, and we all settle in warm and dry for the night.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Flood

The Meramec river is straining her banks again.  Floods are a fact of life in this river-rich region.  Some years, the creeks just dribble over the banks for a few hours.  Other years, the mightiest of rivers crest overtop the levies.  It is not a question of if, only where, when, and how much.  Since we've been squelching and squerching across a waterlogged landscape for the past several weeks, thirty hours of steady rain is dictating that the answers are close, now, and quite a lot.
I peek at the water level of the Meramec every weekday as I drive to and from work.  The river was a rich, muddy brown this morning.  I could hardly see where the water stopped and the bank began through the rain.  When the river is deep and dirty like that, it moves deceptively quickly.  As the day has passed, news of road closings and evacuations have been filtering in.  Those who live in low-lying areas have gone home to catch their cats and evacuate.   Those of us who live on higher ground are thanking our lucky stars and making sure our commutes are clear.
To me, the flood watch is the first sure sign of spring.  Daffodils can be fooled by a few warm days (mine poked their noses up only to be covered by snow the next day) and songbirds don't show up until well after the last frost.  But a cold, steady rain never lies.  I can't say that I enjoy the flood watch exactly, but I do embrace it.  It matches my mood.  I feel restless and out of sorts.  I'm anxious for the industry of spring but not quite ready to shake off the inertia of winter.  The water will recede in a couple of days and take my mood with it.  Then I'll be ready to pack away the sweaters and plant the lettuce.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Wife, a "Girlfriend", and a Young Boy

Jacob woke up at 5:51 this morning.  I grunted at him to go watch tv and then I went back to sleep.  Somehow, though, that early morning wake-up stuck with me.  I woke up for the day around 7:30 but remained in a fog.  So after a cup of coffee, I was surprised to hear a little voice in my ear, "What does 'Christ-en cashes in' mean?"  I looked around in confusion.  "See?  On the news?  'Christ-en cashes in.'  What does that mean?"  The tv was showing an attractive young woman with the title "Kristen cashes in."  Then I realized that it was a story about Eliot Spitzer's, erm, liason. 
I gulped a few times and tried to clear my head.  I was unsuccessful but that didn't seem to stop me.  I just opened my mouth and started blabbering about how the governer of New York made some bad choices.  Of course, that did not satisfy Jake at all since the picture on the screen was clearly a woman and her name was not Eliot.  After a few more gulps, I came out with the most age appropriate explanation that I could muster - Mr. Spitzer had a wife and a girlfriend, which is against the rules.  Then I explained that he paid the woman to be his girlfriend, which is against even more rules.  Then I rambled on about how magazines are bidding for the girlfriend's side of the story so that they can sell more magazines to nosy people. 
I wonder sometimes if other parents have this same rambling problem that I do.  Surely other children ask questions about the news.  Surely other parents believe, as I do, that age-appropriate honesty is the best policy.  But surely other parents do not somehow turn "Kristen Cashes In" into a diatribe about people who are willing to spend their hard-earned money to leer over the downfalls of the rich and powerful.  Just what is the appropriate response to a six year old boy's questions about call girls, governors, and Hustler magazine?