Sabbatical is over.
It was spent with the in-laws, which is not the nightmare of sitcoms. Mine are real human beings and accept that I am too, with the benefit of they love their grandchildren. Anyone bringing the little beings gets bonus points.And the kitchen floor was done in one day. It looks great, and most of the stuff is moved back. Some that hasn't returned is not destined to, hooray!The bit of excitement happened on the way back. I was making terrific time--pulling out around 12:30, already south of Flint by 2, no potty stops even. Mahvelous, sailing along, thinking I'm going to be home near 3.Then about Clarkston some Heaven-sent (you'll understand as you read) folks tap their horn. "Your front tire looks really low," they tell me.Nuts, there goes my record time. Or does it? I waffle about whether to stop; it's only about 45 minutes to go, if traffic holds. Prudence dictates a potty stop, though; the kids have been really patient and they're all awake. I decide to put some air in the tire, hit the toilets, and be on the road. Getting off the 75, I turn east toward the first-seen Shell instead of west toward the closer station.When we stop, the passenger side front tire is leaking so badly I can hear the air whooshing out. Houston, we have a problem. Checking the back of the Venture, I can find the spare and the tire iron, but no jack. Great. I'll call Dale about it.As the three kids and I are trooping in for our second reason to stop, we turn in the first door we find. Oops, not the gas station; it looks like a mechanic's shop. We back out and proceed to the next door, where we have a winner. Priority #2 scratched off the list, we buy a bag of cheese puffs. Husband is incommunicado--I later learn he was on an important call for work, but almost picked up."I don't suppose you can help me. I'm losing air so fast I can hear it, but I can only find the tire iron and the spare."The kind cashier says, "I can't, but Frank can," indicating the mechanic's shop we had almost entered. We go there."Do you want a new tire, or do you want me to fix the one you've got?""I just was thinking changing it, as I've got a donut."Frank comes out and looks at the tire. It was already completely flat; I wouldn't have made it to the next exit, let alone all the way home. "Pull up to here," he instructs, walking out the jack. He deftly removes the offending tire while the kids wait, though their curiosity means they have to come out for the reattachment less than five minutes later."Thanks so much," I said. "How much do I owe you?""Not a thing, don't worry about it," he said as he wheeled the jack back into the shop.I didn't argue.In case you weren't paying attention: This was the Shell station, off exit 89, east of the 75. Stop there for a quick oil change, top off the tank, potty stop, cheese puffs, whatever. Make sure Frank is your guy.And to those folks who told me about the tire, whoever you are: God bless and Godspeed.
Rachel, trying not to cry: "Mamma, Mahee..."Me, coming around the corner and noticing she's right next to the cat: "Did Molly bite you, honey?"Rachel, not making eye contact: *sniffle* "No."Me, kneeling and patient: "Rachel, did Molly hurt you?"Rachel, shaking her head: "No..."Me: "Rachel, where did Molly bite you?"
Rachel, pointing to her arm: "Right dere."Like when I took the older two shopping for Daddy's Christmas present. A long talk on the way back about surprises, and the first thing she says when we get in the house: "Daddy, we got you ties for Christmas! I chose a blue one like your and my eyes but Dale liked yellow even though Mamma tried to show him other ones."
Dumbing down education
I've recently paged through some McGuffey's Readers (my mother-in-law has her grandfather's). Dale has recently gotten on a Time-Life Books kick; we have the Great Ages of Man series and are looking to complete the Timeframe. They're basically the same, but the more recent ones have more white space, more pictures, and simpler text.I think those two kind of bring into sharper relief the dumbing down of America. Yes, we can all find exceptions (I know someone who had Russian in high school), but as a general rule, the curriculum has gotten watered down. We might not notice it ten years later, but when you compare a century ago, it really shows.Forty or fifty years ago, a guy could drop out of high school, walk to a factory, and get a job that would support him and his family until retirement. Why was this? Those factory jobs didn't take skills or they could be learned on-the-job. Why can't that happen today? Sure, automation has done away with most of those jobs, but I'd wager at least some of it is due to the average high school education isn't what it was.Why? We hear that the information available doubles every six months, but does that mean we should learn all of it? The names of Gwyneth Paltrow's kids is information, as is Britney Spears' husband and Dan Brown's latest magnum opus. But are any of those things worthwhile? Do they make some sort of statement about the universal human condition? Will anyone care in a decade, let alone a century? Are they even questions in Trivial Pursuit?But along with why, I'd like to know when it started. That would be some neat kind of sociological research, wouldn't it? What percentage of kids were in high school? What percentage went to college? What texts were studied a century ago? When did they get replaced, and by what? What were the reading levels of those texts as compared to the current ones?And if kids are spending more time in school (more days and even minutes mandated by the state) but less time learning such things, what are they doing with that time?
Now I can be me!! Thank you, Zach! And others, he's in my blogroll as Eclectic Amateur. Check him out. Psst to Shelly--you have some common interests.
At last it's over.
This week has proven challenging. At least the kids have been healthy and well-behaved.Monday: prep for the painters to do the kitchen. You know, the most frequently used room in the house. Just about everything in there had to be moved or removed. Fun.Tuesday: The painters were here, rendering the kitchen unusable for the most part. The fridge still worked, so it wasn't a complete catastrophe. One of them commented, "Your hot water tank is leaking. You're really going to want that addressed before you get the floor done." Turns out, the painter is also a prophet. Nuts.Wednesday: In the morning, we recover from the day before, attempting to put most things back where they belong and catch up on chores. In the afternoon, we go to the park for a few hours. As we're leaving the park, Madeleine pulls Rachel to keep her out of what she perceives is the street (it's actually a paved walk). This results in nursemaid's elbow, which she has a propensity for. Then the trip to the pediatrician to get it fixed, and I get some release time with other moms at someone else's house for the evening.Thursday: The plumber comes to install the new hot water heater. After making clucking noises and concerned "hmms" for ten minutes, he tells me he has to call the office to see if he can even do this job. Seems there's a "problem" with the venting. Which would result in another, oh, $1000 worth of time and supplies. He comes back in with the same look Harry Truman must have had with the decision to drop the bomb--"they said don't touch this job." Great.I escape to my sympathetic neighbor's, and she manages to help put things in perspective, make me laugh, and offer her husband to install the floor when that time comes.Friday: It's a festival of phone calls. Where is the electric hot water heater? Are they at the house yet? Turns out "we" ordered the wrong one; we need a tall which will be two weeks. We (okay, Dale) decide to cancel and look elsewhere for someone who might have one lying around. [edit: This was also the day the electricians came to install the 220 line for the theoretical hot water heater.] Dale calls his parents to confirm that we wouldn't be making it up for the family reunion this weekend and describes the troubles we're having. His dad says, "Hey, I've got a 40-gallon one I could bring down." Will it fit? Yes. Thank you, St. Joseph. Then we just need to find an installer.Who left about 45 minutes ago and spent most of his time singing merrily to himself, without a single sound of concern or befuddlement. Enjoy your pool, sir; my husband certainly will enjoy his hot shower.And how was YOUR week?
The painters were here.
Danielle Bean recently had a lovely post about drywall guys; I echo that sentiment about the painters. Except they were painting my kitchen, which meant everything except the fridge, washer, and dryer had to be unplugged. For the day. At least they showed up after the coffee maker was done.The kids survived; I was frayed by the end, but they were just fine on bologna and cheese roll-ups, milk, and strawberries. The Burger King for dinner was a big hit, too.So as most of you are reading this, I will be trying to reassemble everything through my usual fog of three kids. There's only one person I know offhand who can identify with a loss of a kitchen, even though hers was much longer than a day (hi, Diane!). The floor guys come in a couple weeks, and that will be even more involved. Appliances disconnected, not just unplugged. I'll be on sabbatical.
I have been trying to post with more frequency of late, and have thus noticed a slight uptick in visits. That is the desired effect. Then I realized I have people I've never met reading this blog, and that REALLY piques my interest. Some even leave comments! How did these people find me?Do you like my new blogroll?===>I'm so proud!But before that, how do I log in as MYSELF (Heather) instead of with his name? Anyone?
Dale doesn't like the end of Titanic.
It's not that she throws the necklace into the water, or even that she dies. It's that after she dies, she walks down the staircase to meet Jack. He feels for her husband: "What if she were his one true love? Where does he fit into that picture?"I tried to explain it. A poet once said a woman's heart is a deep and unfathomable place, and I'll go along with that. Though I am happily married, I admit to wondering sometimes about past boyfriends. Not enough to pick up a phone book or even email, but once in a while, as I'm writing a check, "Oh, this is so-and-so's birthday; I wonder what he's doing now" kind of thing.One I think of as the silver medalist--we might have had something really terrific but the timing was atrocious. When we started dating, he was buddies with my sister's then-boyfriend, and an entire relationship of double-dates with them loomed large and threatening. Some years later, he called out of the blue. Sadly for him, I had started dating a lawyer who treated me like a queen. [I later married said lawyer.] When I suggested that we could still be friends, he gracefully declined. "I'd only be waiting for you two to break up, and we all deserve better than that." Very wise, that. I hope you have found at least three quarters of the happiness I have, Eric S., wherever you are.I admit to Googling on occasion, just out of curiosity. The one I think I actually found was a speaker at some symposium on computers, I think. I couldn't get through the title of the symposium or his talk without a strong cup of coffee. Eek. I consider THAT a bullet dodged.But I think all women have our memories of near-misses and almost was-es; I think that's what Cameron was touching on. I'm just grateful that I didn't settle for "good enough."