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If I could, I would write a little song about how I miss my laptop (which my brother is attempting to convince to check my email for me) and how instead I’ve turned to crossword puzzles as my new addictive activity. See, I’m housesitting. And their computer has a password (sob) and I don’t have my laptop to hook up to their wireless. Instead I have the newspaper that is delivered each day to their (formal) doorstep. I am taking lots of pictures which I would like to be sharing with you. I am being woken each morning by a cat, at which time I walk a couple of miles downstairs to the kitchen, feed him, take vegetables outside and let the rabbits out of their cage, come back in and try to decide which table to eat breakfast at. And then, which room should I sit in to do my crossword puzzle? And read Good Brother, Bad Brother?*
And here I am at home, retrieving a fresh supplies of clothings and checking my mail. And using my desktop, circa 1999. While a good year, it did not produce perhaps the best computers. This one, monitor barely hanging in there, is no longer just taking up space but is being put to use, oh the joy.
*Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the bio of the Booth brothers is the photographs. I’m getting all Inspector Grant here as I stare into the eyes of an assassin. J. Wilkes was apparently considered quite the looker in his day. Maybe it’s the mustache or the fact that I know he killed Lincoln, but he’s not doing anything for me. His brother Edwin, in contrast, has a fascinating face. And there’s a full page spread of all the accomplices to the assassination – another good study in faces, there.
As I crawled into bed last night, I thought to myself that it must have been at least a week or two since I’d been there. Nope, I’d only spent one night away. But the night of a feast always feels like it’s own day, especially if you nap beforehand (which I did NOT do this year – I was not willing to risk losing the will to live right before a cozy night in church).
Saturday was divided into distinct eras. If I knew the order of things like Mesozoic and Paleolithic, I would name my eras in a fancy scientific way, but no. There was, let’s call it, the Prehistoric Era, which involved a last minute stop at my sister’s neighborhood coffee shop to keep her supplied in iced white chocolate mochas (year round) (although she did mention that she’s switched to hazelnut lately, a move of which I approve), a lovely 2 egg breakfast at Zell’s with Bee, a search for an ornament for my mother (who insists that her tree will be barren when we take all our ornaments with us, something that is unlikely to happen in the next decade considering she won’t let them leave her house) culminating in the discovery of a cunning alligator carrying a gift in his mouth. Nothing says Noel like an alligator.
Then there was the era of Ancient Civilizations, in which I worked. And during which everything went shockingly smoothly and I spread Christmas cheer liberally.
That was followed by the Medieval Period, during which I despaired of ever being inspired enough to create a potluck dish out of the scanty contents of our fridge (actually, the contents aren’t too scanty but the edible contents are indeed scarce). I tried reading several titles from the mock-Newbery list (Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen failed to please after several chapters; Down the Rabbit Hole proved a bit better, but like my supervisor said, it’s tempting to give up after he mentions a “kick-ass stereo system.”) I tried to eat something to see if that would perk me up. I discovered a package of cream cheese and just enough unsweetened chocolate to throw together a small pan of cream cheese brownies, the making of which revived me greatly and I proceeded to bear them in splendor to the church kitchen.
Then there was the Modern Era, in which I avoided closing my eyes in church because I was afraid I would fall asleep standing. There was greeting of old friends, the strange sense of tired perception where some things were in focus and others were hopelessly blurry, the too-loud whispers of adolescent girls, the snoring of toddlers. Then, finally, after a plate of tiny quiches, Ethiopian food (the taste of which I always associate with post-feast potlucks), ham, and a creamy chocolately dessert thingy, there was bed. Or rather, couch. Because God forbid we waste a precious moment in the morning with me driving the arduous five minutes from my house to my parents’. God forbid. It’s like the census, we all have to return to our ancestral homes to be counted. I suppose a couch is a fair sight better than a manger, though.
Yesterday I went over to the house of Q where we engaged in Christmasy goodness straight from the pages of Tasha Tudor. Popcorn and cranberry garlands, a live Christmas tree with beeswax candles, a dress & The Maggie B for Q, and we even tested out their new jogging stroller (not that any jogging will be done around it). Nothing says Christmas like a jogging stroller, eh? Howabout the impending arrival of a sibling?
Today I took the kids into church and they scurried through venerating the icons (all done by the time I’d even taken off my coat) and then one boy (the one who looks like a seven-year-old hipster) came to stand with me because his dad hadn’t come back yet. And he’s standing there and I’m singing and suddenly he says to me, “I think I’m going to do some blacksmithing when I get home.”
Once my chin thaws and my camera battery recharges, I’ll put up some pictures of the snow. Snow! In Portland! Within a week of Christmas! Unheard of, I tell you. Katy & I just went for a walk with our upstairs neighbor, skipping through tracts of virgin snow and testing it for snowball capabilities (none, too dry). We’ll see if it becomes ice as promised, and if I am expected to work tomorrow, amd if I ever regain feeling in my cheeks.
I’m in denial about the fact that in a few short, precious minutes I have to pry myself out of my rocker (which is pulled up to my desk, naturally) and put on my uniform and go to work. (Technically, the rocker was inherited from my great-grandmother, Laura, who lived to the ripe age of perhaps 95 and died peacefully at home while her hair was being set. It’s an ugly brown rocker, and the underside of the cushion has a great quantity of cat hair, courtesy of Max, and someday it shall be reupholstered because it is exceedingly comfortable.)
My thrilling news of the week is this: I am going to be part of a mock Newbery committee! With librarians from around the state, and a member of the actual committee, and like the dorks that we are, we will sit around and discuss books and then vote! And I have about ten things on hold at the library that I need to read in the next two weeks, in order to be the fully informed person that I wish to be.
At work on Wednesday, my supervisor was talking about how she and the other children’s librarian are going to this mock Newbery, and I was asking all sorts of questions about it, and then she said, “You could probably come to if you want.” And lo, coincidence was in my favor and it is happening on the only day in January that I don’t have to work. And even though the library won’t pay me to go, like they’re paying the others, my supervisor is sponsoring me. Can everyone say “nerd” all at once, please?