Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Fair Jungle

Jeff was looking at our local newspaper intensely, and then said to me "All they did was stick some pictures on the walls!" It took me a moment to comprehend that he was studying the background of some pictures of the Spring Fair at the other elementary school down the road. Jeffrey joined me this year in my annual participation in the Decorating Committee for his school's Spring Fair. The other committee members bring their children but they just run around and entertain themselves, while Jeff brought along sketches of his ideas and worked hard on constructing the decor that would transform his school into a tropical jungle, which was this year's theme. He was really into it. The committee was mostly the same as last year when it was a castle theme, a group of women dedicated to making this the best one yet.

The night before the fair is when we put it all together. We got there a little bit later than the others, and when I walked up they all cheered "Hurray! Mindy's here!" and I felt pleased that they had recognized my brilliant creative talents in such a short time, and were probably counting on my skills to put together the waterfall we had planned.

"You can put up the signs!" OK, so they had recognized my more obvious natural ability of being able to reach high places. I can do that. They assigned a couple of high school girls to help me. They were there I think to get community service hours, maybe for NHS acceptance or something like that, but I thought it was sweet that they knew where everything was located from when they were elementary students there, probably not all that many years ago.

We worked for hours, alongside of all the other people getting things ready that evening. There was a group trying to get the cotton candy machine to work, and it somehow malfunctioned and filled the entire school lobby with a thick, sweet candy smoke. The principal was in distress over this, and didn't even laugh at my joke about too bad it wasn't a candy theme, and could I get fat from second-hand cotton-candy inhalation.

Dinner was provided by a nice local restaurant, and I sat and ate with one of the women on the committee. I noted that I think I've put more effort into this than decorating the rooms in my own house. She wondered if anyone even noticed the decorations. Dani, our committee leader, came by and said that the other school down the road had trouble getting enough participation to put on their own spring fair, and had asked to combine with ours, but was turned down because this school was so into it, we didn't need to do that. Maybe it's because the decorations are so good.

The place was abuzz with all these people working on it, cheerfully and with a sense of purpose. I kind of wondered what that purpose was, exactly. It is largely about fund-raising. Heather coordinates the silent auction and Sian does the bake sale, where parents donate items and then buy them back again at the fair. It kinda seems like a whole lot of effort could be saved if they just somehow taxed everyone and got it over with, but I guess that's missing the point.

That point would be what I saw happening around me that evening and the next day at the fair itself. Just a whole bunch of people, united only by their job of teaching or parenting the children who attend this particular school, all interacting and cooperating with each other. And each time that happens it is like a tiny contribution towards building the elusive concept called community. Which is worth even more than money, in my opinion.

There are probably fancier schools out there that put on better fairs than ours, although unless they have a direct descendant of Michelangelo they couldn't possibly do more elaborate decorations. But I think that this one turned out just wonderful. The waterfall turned out very nice. I'm going to help again next year (my last one of these) but I might try to recruit someone to help that happens to be slightly taller than me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Look what's outside

I stepped out onto the deck to take this video of the snow coming down. I was intending to think up something to say about how tired we are of snowstorms, but it is kind of pretty, and at the end of the pan I spotted something.

I zoomed in and had a stare-off with these guys before they trotted away.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In His Shoes

I was thinking that Timmy was spending too much time on the computer the other day when I was trying to put the Easter banner on my blog. I asked him for help and he just blew me away with what he was able to do that I had been trying to figure out. It’s all very impressive but being a nervous mom I of course had to turn it around and start fussing about what else he should be doing with his time such as interacting with his peers and moving around a bit more. He has had an interest in athletics but when asked what activity he’d prefer he always picks hockey. He used to be on a roller hockey team but they closed that down and ice hockey is far away, expensive, and an enormous time commitment so I haven’t encouraged him in that, but felt a little conflicted about it.

Then yesterday Jeff and I came back from his swimming lessons to find the piano taken all apart because Larry spilled a glass of water into it while he was giving lessons to Sharon’s boys Dominic and Julian. Since the lessons were cancelled Sharon said she was going to head over to the store to get shoes for Dominic since he would be starting track tomorrow. What’s this? I turned to Tim and asked him if he had considered participating in track. He shrugged and said he’d like to but didn’t think we’d be able to get him home from practice. With Sharon still standing there we started working on a way to share the driving responsibilities. I told Timmy there’s always a way to figure these things out, he should at least ask. Next thing you know Tim is headed to the store with them and three $20 bills in his pocket to buy running shoes.

Since it was getting late I helped Jeffrey get ready for bed, I knew he was tired because he’d come downstairs in the night complaining that he’d had a bad dream, which is unusual for him. With Tim out of the house it was a good chance to give Jeffrey all my attention, and maybe figure out what might be bothering him enough to cause nightmares. We snuggled down into the cave of his lower bunk bed, and he told me about the dreams he sometimes has, such as being chased by animals. Is he watching too many of those nature shows on T.V? I ask Jeff to tell me about other dreams he sometimes has, it’s interesting to know what’s churning in that sweet little head of his. He tells me a couple more, probably edited to protect himself from possible TV program restrictions, and then comes up with this: “One time I dreamed I was TIM. But it wasn’t like I was him, it was me, but in his body, you know what I mean?” Yes, I do. We giggled at the silliness of that and then I kissed him goodnight.

Later on Tim came back from the shopping expedition, handing me just a couple of crumpled up dollars as change. Sharon said she was glad that Dominic still fits into junior sizes, they are much less expensive. I thanked Sharon as she left and then Tim showed me his new purchase. Size nine and a half! He told me they were on sale, the original price was much more!

After Tim went up to bed, happy from his shopping and excited about starting something new the next day, I picked up those garish shoe monsters and put them by his backpack. How could a child of mine have such big feet? Wait a minute…I glanced around, and then, just to see, slid my foot in.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Early Easter

Interesting facts about Easter this year

Easter is early this year. Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare. Here's the interesting info. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here are the facts:

1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).

2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Cranes Came Back

Jeffrey saw them first. They came drifting down across the sky in their crazy crane way, and landed on the ice. Then they just stood around looking kind of confused and bent over to peck their beaks against the surface every so often. There seem to be only two but then there were four there for a while. Is one of them the grown-up baby? Did he find himself a mate? I wish that there was a way for me to tell them apart. I feel like I'm the Jane Goodall of the cranes. I want to know all about their social lives. Where did they go? Some local fishing spot where it never freezes? Did the make the flight to somewhere south? They've only been gone about 4 months, so it hardly seems worth the trip. We noted that they seem nice and round. Jeff thought that they might have gotten skinny from either lots of flying or less food. So many mysteries.

All I know is that we are desperate for some signs of Spring around here. Sure, there are pictures of daffodils on this month's calendar page, and the store ads in the Sunday circulars are showing little girls in sleeveless Easter dresses, but we have hardly had any days above freezing this month, and those were still cold, damp and cloudy. There is still snow on the ground and everything is looking as dormant as ever. But the cranes are back! And lots of other birds are around too. When I go outside (meaning when I dart from my car to the door hunching against the blowing sleet) there is chirping going on, and it's lovely! Spring WILL come, it doesn't feel like it yet, but it has to eventually, the calendar says it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kitchen Floor

Out here in suburbia, it is common for conversations to center around the getting of new stuff. Most commonly talked about is the thing you are going to get or have done. Once it is there it is no longer interesting unless there is a problem with it. Then that’s a whole new thing to talk about. So scrapbookers and couples and playgroups and people getting haircuts are all going on about the car they want, the home improvements they are planning, the vacation coming up. It’s what we do.

Sometimes there’s not as much to talk about, such as when money is tight due to a change in job circumstances. When I was off from work I would often only have to offer the thought of: “Well I’d like a new kitchen floor someday.”

That floor did bother me. It was the vinyl roll-out kind that came with the house. Bright white with little dents that filled up with dirt and would never be clean again, no matter how hard I’d scrub. And a long scuff right across from the dishwasher, there since we moved in. A rip in front of the fridge from the time something sharp and heavy came tumbling out. Every crumb and dirty footprint could be seen from across the room. Better houses don’t have this kind of floor, they have tile, or slate, or wood, or something that looks like wood. Premium.

Well now that money is flowing in again it was possible to realize the dream of the new kitchen floor. First we had to pick something out: hello conversation topic! We finally settled on a new type of flooring material; it’s a composite that looks like a tile or slate, with acrylic grout. A few weeks ago the work crews came and installed the new floor. The last step is to put in the moldings to cover the gaps around the edges. Larry is working on doing that.

Meanwhile, people have been coming over to the house, for whatever reason, and of course they remember and say: “Oh the new kitchen floor!” And then we stand there and look at it while they try to think of something to say. After all, it’s just a floor, there’s not that much to get excited about. So I offer a helpful commentary: “It resists scuffs and scratches, and the grout is non-permeable!” Which brings about a round of “Very nice, big improvement” and then we can move on to talking about something else.

Does the new floor make me happy? No, it’s just a floor and cannot bring happiness. But the old, bad floor that was disturbing me is now gone. So it’s better.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Ahead

Daylight savings time came this weekend. I liked the idea of just picking one way and leaving it there all year long, because this time change is tough. Whoever makes these decisions must not have had children who never get to bed early enough as it is, or a pet that has a mealtime, or a job that requires you to wake up at 5:00am which means it's really 4:00am and that's just crazy. The whole time zone was filled with jet-lagged zombies today. At least that's what I felt like.

Missy has the right idea. Find a sunbeam and take a nap.

Don't Drink the Water

Today's big news story, designed as they all are to scare the bejeebers out of people, has to do with pharmaceuticals found in drinking water. The point they make is that even though they are there in tiny amounts, if taken in over a lifetime...bad things could happen. But the even more disturbing line of thinking is about how the substances got into the all has to go somewhere you know! Don't think about it! OK, now you are.

In our town we have a municipal well and the water is an awful orangish-brown color. So we run it through a softener in the basement and then a filter in the refrigerator. At least it looks better. But who knows what is still in there, the filters don't get it all. The water quality report that we get in the mail always says that the levels of arsenic present are just fine, hardly any in there at all, not to worry.

A person could just go crazy thinking about this stuff and in the end there is nothing you can do about it. All I know is for some reason all the children of the world automatically know that if they need a drink of water when they are already in bed it has to come from the faucet in the kitchen, all the way across the house, NEVER the bathroom sink, no way, kitchen only.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Show of hands

Aunt Chris sent me this cartoon, and it just seems to express the feeling around here. This has been a rough winter, a near-record amount of snow, and at the most inconvenient of times. try to put a positive spin on this: Higher Lake Levels! Yeah!

Friday, March 7, 2008


I now interrupt my regular blogging silliness with an educational and informational posting.

There are a few technical items that I want to tell you about. You might have noticed that I've made a few changes to this blog. For example, when you try to leave a comment you now have to read and type some mysterious-looking letters. This is to prove that you are a human and not a machine. The last thing I wanted to do was to make it harder to leave a comment (I love getting comments) but the last few posts turned up with a short comment with a link that caused everyone's virus protection to kick in. Thanks to Patty, for alerting me to that. Blog Spam. It's so sad that there are people out there doing bad things. Luckily, through technology we can stay one step ahead!

Also, I have been experimenting with RSS (Real Simple Syndication.) That is how I got the titles to my friend's latest postings to show up in the sidebar. I have also figured out how to collect all of the blogs that I like into a reader using RSS, it's a great way to keep track of what's new out there. It's the new thing in blog reading. You just set up a page such as My aol, or google reader, and then go to blogs you like and click on the little orange symbol for the RSS feed. You will see that I added that symbol, also now on the sidebar, through feedburner. That is also how you can subscribe to this blog if you want it emailed to you, in case you find that convenient.

And then there's the map of my brain, that's just for fun. Interestingly, Melinda turned up with a different scan than Mindy. You can click on it and then add a scan of your brain to your blog. I'll exchange that with other fun stuff when I come across it.

Wait, did you say you don't have a blog? What are you waiting for? Don't even tell me you don't have time, I'll show you to Heather and then you tell me who's busier. If you write one, I will read it. And in case you need a better reason than that: Blogging Boosts Your Social Life. There. Enough tech stuff, and peer pressure. If you've found any cool things out there in cyberspace, let me know, and I'll add them here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Deltas Weekend

It wasn't that different from when we were in college.
We lived in a big beautiful mansion, got dressed up to go out on the town, sang songs before we were served a lovely meal;
stayed up late into the night talking (in our pajamas)and kept on arranging ourselves for a group picture.

It was good to do it all again, for a weekend.