Monday, June 30, 2008

driving it around the block

I don't know if you can tell or not, but I am writing this post on my brand new computer. It is an ~goes to look at box~ HP Pavilion a6400f - for those of you who that means something to. What it means to me is that I am back on the internet without fear of my computer crashing at any second. What else can I tell you about it? I am told that I have "Vista" instead of "XP" and that is a good thing. (Not sure about the capitalization of those two terms - forgive me if I got it wrong.) I have a smaller, quieter hard drive, and a smaller, lightweight keyboard that I am slowly adjusting to - which is a pleasure and not a burden, let me just say.

This is the first new computer I have ever had. We generally don't get new computers at our house. In fact, I think it has only been within the last nine months that Ben, Julie and I have all gotten brand new store-bought computers for the first time. That is sort of the down side of living with computer whizzes. Ben and Tom (who I am sure has had multiple new computers - that's his line of work, after all) have pretty much been making their own for the past twenty years.

Think of it like those families you know who always have a stripped-down, partially re-assembled car in the garage or driveway. (No, I don't know any families like that, actually, but I have driven by their houses.) Anyway. They have the parts to assemble probably several cars, but it's just a matter of getting the parts together and - more importantly - in operating condition. Ben has always been able to rig something up for me, but this time he decided to just drive a new model out of the showroom. And I am glad he did!

I can't promise more posts, but I can promise that I will enjoy writing them once again, so what's that worth?

Monday, June 23, 2008

experiencing... technical ... difficulties...

When I was a kid, back in the Dark Ages, our tv would occasionally go on the fritz. Some times it would be our set's fault, and the picture would "roll" or we would have excessive "snow". My dad would fiddle with some tiny knobs at the bottom of our big box of a television, or move the rabbit ears around a bit. Some times it helped, some times it didn't.

Every once in a while, the network or the local affiliate would have problems, and after a short period of time, a stationary picture would appear on the tv screen. The picture showed a man standing next to his television set, leaning over, and peering inside the front of it. Even before we knew how to read, we understood what that meant. The station knew something was wrong and they were working on it.

If I used images on this blog, I would be searching the internet for that picture, as I'm sure it is out there somewhere. Because, you see, I know something is wrong with my computer, and Ben is working on it. Until he figures it out, however, my posts will be brief to non-existent, as my computer tends to lock up on me somewhat unexpectedly.

So, please stand by. We'll be right back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


(Due to problems with my computer that cause it to freeze up with increasing frequency, this may not be the post I hope it will be.)

Today is Julie's birthday. She is twenty-six years old, and this is the first year she won't be home with us for her birthday. Imagine that - an adult daughter who wants to spend time with her parents. I don't know how we got so lucky.

I do know Ben and I desperately wanted to have a daughter. We had hoped that Tom would be a girl when I was pregnant with him, although we both sensed from early on that he was a boy. He turned out to be such a delight that when I got pregnant a month before his first birthday, Ben and I agreed that another little boy (just like him) would be fine. I was so confidant that my second child was a girl, however, that we never even chose a boy's name for the baby I was carrying.

She was due two days after our sixth wedding anniversary, although my ob/gyn had told me I would probably deliver late. To be on the safe side, however, Ben and I decided to celebrate our anniversary a few days early, on the sixteenth. We dressed up and drove to Vermilion to have dinner at McGarvey's, a popular lakeside restaurant. I guess I was pretty hugely pregnant, as our server that night seemed amazed - and a little concerned - that I was out and about. We laughed at her concerns, and enjoyed our dinner. When we got home, however, and I bent down to pick up my twenty-month-old Tommy, my water broke. Ben took the sitter home so she could pack some things for an overnight stay, and I went to lie down for a few hours.

Skipping all that messy, painful stuff in between, I was safely delivered of our daughter, Julie Anne, the following morning. I was delighted. So was Ben, although he swore he would never go through that again (!) I missed Tommy too much to stay in the hospital, so we came home after only two days - which was early at that time. Our little family was complete.

Ben and I are so proud of our children, and who could blame us? Happy, happy birthday, my sweet girl. I love you very much.

Friday, June 13, 2008

breakin' the law

I noticed the other day that my university parking pass had finally expired, so I threw it away. It felt okay to do that. When I first left the university, I knew I would leave the pass on my car until I felt ready to be without it. I didn't feel ready for a long time.

In the small university town where I live, most of the cars are small foreign cars - Toyotas, mostly, but Hondas and Subarus and Mazdas, as well. A good percentage of those cars sport university parking passes. I see them in parking lots at grocery stores and restaurants and the public library. A quick glance shows one the pass hanging from the rearview mirror, a closer look identifies the lot where the bearer parks. For a long time, I couldn't imagine driving around town without that identifying marker.

It's not that the university didn't want the pass back. I received an email not long after I left demanding its return, threatening to ticket me if I tried to use it in any of the campus lots. I thought about all the times I couldn't park in the lot I had a paid permit for because so many cars that didn't have passes were already parked there, and I knew I didn't have too much to worry about.

I did use it a few times in the past eleven months, actually. I have been back to visit my former co-workers occasionally - less frequently as time has passed and I have grown accustomed to being away from them. I don't have it any more, though, so I will have to be a scofflaw like dozens of others if I want to park on campus again - a risk I am willing to take.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Today is my brother's birthday. I won't tell you how old he is, but I will say that I was seven years old when he was born, so he is my "baby" brother. I remember my mother being pregnant with him, and I most especially remember the day he was born.

I had just finished the first grade, and at my elementary school, we traditionally went back for an additional morning to pick up our report cards, which would tell us if we had been "promoted" to the next grade. I would be allowed to take my younger brother, Tommy, along, and we could wear shorts to school - something our strictly-enforced dress code did not allow during the school year.

I woke up excited that morning, and found my mother awake and pacing the house. "I think today is the day, honey," she told me. "I think I will have the baby today." "No! Oh no!" was my reaction. "Who'll comb my hair for school?" It is important to know that I wore my hair in a "pixie cut," a hairstyle popular for young girls at that time. It was short, short, short all over, and I can't imagine that combing it was too difficult. My mother assured me that my dad's sister, Aunt Isabel, had already been telephoned, and she, along with my grandmother and cousin, were on their way. They lived over an hour away, however, and I knew they wouldn't arrive in time. My dad would have to comb my hair.

Tommy and I went off to school, and I can remember the two of us sharing the seat at my desk as we waited for the report cards to be handed out. My teacher, Miss Pressler, sang in the church choir with my mother, and asked if she had had the new baby yet. "She's at the hospital now! She's having it now!" I was thrilled to have such important news.

As we started the walk home with dozens of other newly-promoted children, my aunt drove up, yelling out the window, "She had a boy! You have a new little brother!" Then we hopped in her car, and as she drove us to the grocery store to pick up food for lunch, Tommy and I tried to understand what this new addition to the family would mean for us. For one thing, it meant that he would be the one to share his bedroom with the baby, and not me. It meant that the wicker bassinet that my mom had spray-painted baby blue out in the gravel driveway was the right color. And it meant that I would stay my daddy's girl, which was pretty important to me.

We didn't see Billy until he came home from the hospital, of course, and the first clear memory I have of him is in that blue bassinet at the foot of my parent's bed. He had wispy red hair, but it was his little face that was bright red, as he exercised his new lungs and wailed. Tommy and I were fascinated and appalled. We weren't allowed to cry like that.

The memories tumble out after that, and I see my mother holding him and singing, "Oh where have you been, Billy-boy, Billy-boy? Oh where have you been, charming Billy?" I remember learning how to change his diaper and give him a bath, and I remember the endless trips up and down our short, dead-end street, pushing him in his stroller. But I also remember the soft, orange curls that sprang up all over his head and how he would nuzzle into my neck and fall asleep, even on the hottest summer days. Oh yes, I loved my little brother. And I still do.

Happy Birthday, Bill.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

school's out --- completely

Julie finished her classes last week. No, I mean she finished her classes. For good. After twenty years of more or less continuous schooling, and just short of her 26th birthday, she has taken all the courses necessary for her PhD. Now, all she has left to do is take her comps and write her dissertation. It kind of makes attending classes seem like the easy part, doesn't it? Proud doesn't begin to cover how I feel about it all.

When Tom and Julie were growing up, we always used the phrases "when you go to college" or "after you finish college". We didn't even want them to look up from their books until they at least had their bachelor's degrees. And they didn't. In fact, they both went on to complete their master's degrees, as well. Tom was tired of being a penniless student, I think, and opted to join the real world at that point, although I know he often thinks about returning to school.

Julie, on the other hand, has never left the world of academia, and, in fact, probably never will. She and Andrew both hope to become college professors - aspirations which I think suit them perfectly. I can see them in future years, with a big house full of dogs and plants and books - mostly books. Julie will be wearing her bathrobe and plaid pajama bottoms... Yes, I can see it all now. And I can't tell you how proud and happy it makes me.