July 29, 2007

Mind-Meld Confirmed

More proof that Anna Quindlen and I share a brain sometimes. (Either that, or the Dept. of Homeland Security is monitoring us, and she has access to the tapes.)

I said this months ago, as Matt is my witness. Honest...I think it was in March.

"No more adventures!"

Extra points if you know the source of that quote.

Saturday, we had a family party to celebrate Emily's birthday. She was a model birthday girl, and since I made a cake for her (in addition to the store-bought one most people wanted), she actually got to have some this time. Turns out you don't really need eggs in cake; they make it richer and all, but don't much affect its rising action.

And then, when the tired children had been poured into their nap-ready beds, the real adventure began: the last Harry Potter!

I had had a preview of it in the earlyearlyearly morning, because I invited myself along when Rebekah (with whose family we were dining deliciously) mentioned she wanted to go to one of the parties at a bookstore; she pointed out that it was The LAST One. I immediately saw her point, figured out that the children would long be in bed by the time she wanted to go (and thus, me tagging along would be no stress on Matt), and so, we went. Of course, it was sort of a last-minute decision on Rebekah's part, so we were close to the end of the line of people who got books (they had everything arranged based on when you asked to reserve your copy); but this also meant we got to enjoy the ambiance for longer! So, long about 2:45 in the morning, she graciously let me open it up, we gasped over the chapter headings, and read the first page. And then I went off to bed; got up, had the party, thanked the delivery guy, and started reading one of our two copies as soon as I could.

I'm not going to spoil it for anyone else, but I feel totally vindicated.

Monday I took the train up to Laurie's to help her for the day; it was my first experience of Amtrak, and was generally pleasant. We (all) decided it makes sense for me to commute that way, as that way nobody has to drive me back and forth (I am perfectly capable of driving to Milwaukie, especially on 99E, but it is my car that has the carseats, and I'm not great at driving Matt's car. And I hate to leave him without the carseats all day (he doesn't like the idea, either!). So Amtrak, ho!

Tuesday, Matt had sundry errand to run and places to be (not least, finding out the details about his upcoming Master's comps), so I got to have my fill of little girls; I have been away from them more this summer than ever before (I had that night off in December, and there were the days in the hospital when I had Emily so I only had visits from Laura...that's it. Until now. I miss them desperately and really, really, really hate saying goodbye. Sigh. If there were not a good friend involved, I would not go.)

Wednesday, we finally got to the beach for the first time this summer. (It seemed an appropriate way to celebrate Em's birthday!) We had the beach basically to ourselves; it was a gorgeous day apart from the strong wind; and we all had a great time. (pictures...uh...sometime!)

Thursday, back to Amtrak. All went well until my trip back; Laurie dropped me off at the station, and there were some nice-looking people there waiting, too. And waiting. And waiting. Finally, I pulled out my phone and called their voice-activated computer tracking service: the train was an hour and 56 minutes behind. Holy moly! We're at a station with no actual building, no close restaurants or anything...it's kind of in the middle of nowhere. But, we rallied and worked together; two guys went off on foot to see if they could find anything at all anywhere close by with water or food (they had no luck). Another guy called his wife, who was out, but who did eventually drop by with some bottles of water to share. A mom handed out peanut-butter cracker packets to each of us. We all entertained a five-year-old girl. Finally, the girl's dad (he and toddler son were staying while Mom and daughter went on the train, so he would have been okay if he accidentally missed it) decided to make a McDonald's run in the car; by then, the train was apparently over two hours late, according to the system (it became my job to keep checking, as I had no provisions to share!) So, it all worked out; we got fed, and the train did eventually come. And the guy wouldn't even take any of the change to help with gas. It was a nice affirmation of how nice people can be when the situation arises (of course, it wasn't raining and there were no medical emergencies; but still....)

Friday, I decided we should take Mah and the girls to the library, and leave Matt at home to get some quality study time in for his comps. All went well until I started the car. It said (in addition to the usual engine noise) : skreek! skreek! skreek!. I turned the car off, went inside, and wailed to Matt, "There's something wrong with the car!"

He says (having no idea how close he came to death....) : "Is it a high-pitched whine?"

[ggggrrrrrrrr. If you *knew* there was something wrong, why didn't you say so earlier? I got over it quickly, though.] "Yes, rhythmic."

"It did that a little yesterday when I started the car to come and pick you up, but it went away, so...."

So, we troop back out to the car, rev it a little, try to figure out where the noise is coming from (it stops), and I decide to go anyway. Of course, less than half way there (but almost the whole way to the shop!), it begins again. Because I have the girls and the shop guys smoke like chimneys, around goes the car back towards home. Matt takes it in (while I distract the disappointed children. We went outside, and I got the last of the tomato-y things in the ground at last. I had a couple actual ground-cherry fruits trying to ripen under the light!). The report comes in later: not one but *two* loose belts were making the awful noise(s), they're now adjusted and tightened, and the total is under $25 (we love our shop!).

Saturday I take the train again, and have no train-related adventures.

Today, I took the girls to church by myself for the first time, again to give Matt some study time. We all lived, though I may have hurt the ol' back.

And *that* is way too many adventures for one week!

July 9, 2007

Pounce!

I woke up this morning to a kitten jumping on my face, claws out. He meant no harm, so after the initial shock (mine, and his at mine), we settled down together and he fell asleep on my shoulder, with his face nestled into the crook of my neck.

This is not my kitten.

I was sleeping on one of Laurie's couches (the one least likely to be dust-mite territory; although she has an awesome HEPA air filter that I'm going to be researching more the next time I'm there; I was very Not Sneezy there, in spite of being on a couch all night). The kitten was adopted--at Jim's request, a first for their household (the animals generally follow Laurie home...but I think he knew quite well what he was doing when he asked to have this one!)--just a week or so ago, and is tiny but very mellow and all Cat. (If you're not an animal person, you may not realize that this can be unusual; my own cats tend to run about 15% Dog, one way or another.) Since Laurie has a lovely dog (who the kitten is warming up nicely to), and another cat (who lives in the out-of-doors, and has his own private quarters at night), and *another* cat, who doesn't like either the outdoor cat OR the new kitten, but tolerates the dog, and misses Jim terribly....she kept the fussy cat and the dog, and I got the kitten for the night.

After lights-out, I explained to the kitten that I was pretty used to sleeping with cats here and there on me or my bedclothes, and I heard him gradually prowling nearer and nearer...first jumping on a chair near me, then onto the couch, then onto my shoulder, and finally kneading and bonking my neck as he worked himself into a kitten coma. He perched here and there all night, and Laurie's first words to me this morning were, "awwwwwwww" (the tiny claw poke holes in my face weren't bleeding by then!) as she saw him curled up on me again.

And it was good.

July 6, 2007

Jim Joins Jelly Roll

Our friend Jim died Wednesday morning, peacefully.

He was a wonderful soul. Quite a few people, in Portland and in various spots around the world, knew him for his love of jazz. He had his own show on KBOO, and was often swapping hard-to-find sets with other aficionados. Actually, whenever I called to talk to Jim or Laurie in the last few weeks as he was in and out of hospital and rehabilitation center, the music was always there in the background. He even had the pleasure of a trio of his performing friends, who came to play for him in his room at St. Vincent's (Laurie reported that the staff kept "finding reasons" to drop into his room while they were there!)

He was generous with his time, and loved to spend an afternoon (or evening; Jim was a true night owl) with one of his children (and their children) whenever he could. Books were another pleasure (we shared a love of Dickens, and bemoaned from time to time that we had no new Dickens novels to look forward to!)

He was honest, and gentle, and kind, and the world is a little darker now. I'm reminded of Aldous Huxley's famous words as he approached his own aging and death: "...I really don't have anything more profound to pass on by way of advice than, 'Try to be a little kinder.'" It's always hard to describe someone's personality in few words; the best image I have of what he was like was a mostly tree-shadowed mountain lake. Not so big that you can't see the other side, but just right for paddling a canoe on, and perhaps swimming in the sunny edge of it, and then sleeping comfortably, without fear, nearby. He had that quality of flexible stillness about him.

I plan to spend some chunks of time away next week, staying with and hopefully helping Laurie.

July 4, 2007

Eyes, Sale, Carpet

While that title would actually make some great "found poetry", it's really just a summary!

In amongst all the colds of May, apparently I got one that messed with my eyes (I guess that's not unheard-of...). That's another reason you've all been sadly Oglefamily-less; I've been trying to save my eyes for actual business, and reading to small children (the reading was actually easier; for some reason the computer has really been rough.) They are mostly better now, although I notice they get tired quicker than before, especially if I spend too long at the screen.

We did indeed have Da Big Sale last weekend, and made a happy sum (though not an earth-shattering amount, we made our ad money back times many). Also, I am looking forward to a hefty tax deduction sometime next spring, since we (when I say we, I mean "Matt") carted off almost everything that didn't sell to Goodwill. (Which took three trips in our neighbor's SUV. This is our penalty for moving into a house with more than 3000 square feet of space....and having two children. Although in all honesty, most of *their* [former] stuff sold.) We saved a few items to sell on craigslist, because we are masochists.

I think Matt and I actually both enjoyed the selling part of the sale (and I, for one, actually enjoy haggling. Except for the people who think they have to insult you to make the sale; not an appropriate strategy, IMHO). Although I claim to be an introvert--and I am, actually!--I really, really, really like people. (Which is why I was quite content to work as the docent, alone, at the Ad Museum. I got to spend time introverting, and then whenever paying customers showed up, I could enjoy the people.) So we quibbled over who got to be outside haggling, and who had to stay in when the children tired of hanging out, had to be fed, or needed to be put to sleep. On the other hand, gathering up all the dusty stuff last week and pricing it made me come pretty close to reaching for the Epi-Pen; I took Benadryl often instead, and made it through okay (but I don't remember much!)

In further avoidance of similar incidents, Matt has spent a lot of time the last two days ripping out the carpet in the basement, at last. The ripping part goes quickly, he reports; it's tearing out the tack strip along the edges (and digging out all its rusty and sharp little tacks) that takes a long time. There's still a bit left, in my closet, because his knees finally rebelled at the abuse, but he assures me that that, too, will be gone soon (the carpet, not the...well, I suppose the abuse will be gone, as well!) Let me say here that even though we have only vacuumed the concrete, not scrubbed it thoroughly, and it is still kinda gritty from the accumulated crud of decades, I notice the positive difference. Of course, it *looks* terrible: about like you'd expect concrete that has been carpeted and then de-carpeted to look. That is, discolored, with swirly whirly blots of adhesive, with the occasional jaunty sploop of still-adhering purple carpet pad bit. I'm sure it'll get slightly better when we clean, and hopefully a LOT better when we throw some throw rugs on it. Matt noticed immediately that now it *feels* like we're sleeping in a basement, where before, you could sort of squint your eyes and think it was just "downstairs". Hence the upcoming rugs (which we can throw in the washer--die, bugs, die!) We have spoken of tiling it at some point, though Not This Summer.

This summer is The Summer of Unfinished Projects! (And Speech Camp.)

July 2, 2007

Hail to the Chief

In between the buzz of grading at the end of the year, another benching
with colds in June (I mostly escaped this time, but it's kept us from
visiting), and being a Single Parent during Nationals, I neglected to
mention yet another change for next year.

Matt's the union president.

Actually, he's the CO-president, no small distinction. He's been
fighting off the...uh...honor, for a few years, with my hearty support,
partly because he knew I would have an extended psychotic episode if he
were gone any more than he already was. So, this year, as the
electorate closed in on him from all sides, he said if only someone
else could go to all the *meetings*, he'd be willing to be the Big
Argumentative Cheese. And lo, it was made so. The co-pres will go to
any school board meetings where Matt doesn't need to, you know,
intervene, and Matt will be to go-to guy for grievances and liasing
with the super, etc. It seems like a good deal to me.