Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Two Days of School Left. Not That Anyone's Counting...

Despite daily watering, portions of an attempted herb garden were bone-dry an inch or two below the surface. I find this most frustrating, and it's not even my project. The soil must just be wrong -- we're going have to cart in a bunch of compost or soil from elsewhere and till it in. Assuming we stay here, that is. We'd rather not, but the house-hunting has yet to turn up an underpriced palace 10 minutes from campus in a hidden canyon where the people live to be thousands of years old…wait, that’s a plot from an old movie…

Anyway, still here. Tonight is Jacob's "student led conference" where apparently the kids explain to us what they learned all year. Should be interesting. Just two more days of school, and we'll have a week to get ready for Vacation Bible School, where I have graciously or foolishly consented to act the part of a rabbi teaching in the synagogue. There's some ironic justice to that, as my birth-grandfather was Jewish (a long story), but I've a feeling I'll be pretty much shot for the rest of the day when we get home from VBS at noon.

I'll try and keep you posted

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In The Good Ol' Summertime

Next week is the last week of school. The summer begins. I look towards it with anticipation and dread. No more getting up at 6AM! No more trying to make a tasty breakfast and lunch while still half-asleep. On the other hand, there is the issue of having my wonderful son in tow for all the errandry that there is, and having to force myself to say "no" sometimes when he asks to play with me (and thereby get that blasted Harry Chapin song running through my head).

Then. We tried to determine all the things we wanted to do with the summer. We had far more things than we had summer. The entire month of July is booked. When we aren't going somewhere we're going to have to be recovering from having been somewhere. There are Seaworld trips, Schlitterbahn trips, several possible weekly activities (vacation bible school, a drama camp, a nature camp)…

We have striven to not be one of those families constantly on the go from soccer practice to piano lessons to little league to karate etc., but we tend to lose it during the summer. It seems like such a vast expanse of time, but it goes by pretty quick once you're in it. You've got about 12 weeks all told, and fitting stuff in is harder than one thinks.

Oh and there's that bit about moving closer in to the university. We haven't found the perfect house. We've found one that has definite possibilities, but its at the top of our range, which means it would be a while before we could make it more to our liking. Or we could just wait and see if we could find a less expensive place and then fix it up the way we want it. Then I start thinking of all the contractor horror stories we have heard over the years.

Finally, I worry about the implications for my time management project. Physical tasks are generally not a big problem. I can easily refocus despite interruptions. But when working on a mental project, like writing a letter, or an article, or filling out a form, I am easily distracted and have a hard time getting back into the frame of mind I need to do that job. I've seen it happening this week, as I've interrupted my days to run out and see some houses. It has been very hard to return and do what I need to do to meet my goals for the week and month.

Well, we'll just have to see what happens. My hope is that being aware of what I need to do and trying to do the Daytimer thing will help me stay focused, but I don't know if that will work.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Women's Clothing

Women's clothing is a trial for me. And I don't even wear the stuff. How you ladies manage to put up with what strike me as complete absurdities without strangling every designer who ever held a pencil is beyond me.

Take pockets. Despite forty years or so of women's lib, most designers of women's clothing apparently continue to assume that their customers are going to carry a handbag. Even in clothing that would otherwise appear to assume that handbags might not be practical. When wearing a nice suit, a man could have as many as eleven pockets, with a probable minimum of five. A woman in a business suit might have two. Maybe. And they will be small. A party dress would have none. I'm sure many pixels have been slain and quite a bit of ink spilled over the whys and hows of this, so I'll skip that part and move on.

One of the items Trish was interested in for Mother's Day was a…I think it is called a camisole. This is another thing about women's clothing, that similar things often have vitally important name distinctions. Men have shirts, for example. They may be dress shirts, undershirts, t-shirts, muscle shirts, what-have-you, but they are all shirts. Women have shirts, but they also have blouses, camisoles and God knows what else.

Anyway, she had indicated this camisole-thing, and noted the size she wanted, medium. So, a couple of weeks before the big day, I went to the website of the catalog and ordered it. It arrived in due fashion, and was presented with the appropriate ceremony. Trish was pleased, and later went to try it on.

It was too big. Rather a lot too big. As she put, we could have both worn the shirt--er, camisole, at the same time. She checked the size. Medium, just as she had requested. Very odd. She checked again, then she knew what had happened. I had been caught by euphemism.

Y'see (women may skip this paragraph) fellas, sometimes women's clothing comes in groupings. Even I had heard of "petite" and "plus-size". Well, when ordering the camisole-shirt, I had to choose not only the size, but the grouping to which it belonged. My options were "misses" and "women's". Women who are still reading this are nodding their heads sagely. To me, "misses" calls to mind images of braces and Junior High. I therefore chose "women's". It turns out that these things mean not quite what they might appear to mean to the ill-informed, namely, me. "Misses" in this case means essentially "regular". "Womens" means -- big.

Luckily for me Trish is not the sort to read Dark Implications into these sorts of errors.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Slow Motion

This past weekend was one of those where time does this weird thing of moving with a peculiar langour. Its not as if there seemed to truly be more time, rather, it seemed that the time there was stretched out, pulled thin. As Bilbo Baggins once said of himself "like butter spread across too much bread."

The original plans for the weekend were pleasant enough, dinner with friends on Saturday and then of course celebrating Mother's Day. But Thursday morning I received a phone call from a relative I had not heard from in a long time. Five years, in fact. I knew it wasn't going to be good news and I was right. An uncle had passed away, and so I needed to go to the funeral in Houston.

Okay, I made the necessary phone calls, found my suit, fiddled around until I remembered how to tie my tie, and went to bed early Friday night. At 5AM I got up, dressed, and headed out. It's amazing the sort of time you can make on the roadways of cities early on a Saturday morning. Still, it took three hours to get there. I attended the services, had lunch with an aunt, and headed back. The return trip took around 4 hours, as traffic and construction had congested the byways of Houston in the meantime.

In my absence, Trish and Jacob were both sick. Nothing too bad, but a general feeling of tiredness, with fever, some coughing, etc. They spent the day pretty much moving slowly aside from a quick trip to the store for comfort food and frozen dinners. So, when I staggered in the door around 5pm, we were all pretty much in the same boat.

The next day, I got up, made a simple Mother's Day breakfast and went to teach Sunday School to the pre-K/K group. I managed it, came home, and then realized that I now had what Trish and Jake were beginning to get over. I laid down on the bed for about 2 1/2 hours, then spent the rest of the day moving slowly, counting the hours until dinner and bedtime.

Jake was clearly feeling much better as the day wore on, which only contributed to my feeling of being stuck in cold molasses. Trish chose to take a mulligan on the day, and we declared that Mother's Day would be celebrated in full the following Saturday.

Yesterday, everyone seemed to have recovered more or less fully. Time resumed its normal march.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Home Shuffle

We're planning to move. Not real far, in terms of distance, but considerably in terms of time. Trish's commute can take anywhere from 30 minutes (way off peak time, i.e., when she doesn't go very often) to an hour, worse in bad weather or if there has been an accident. I'm well aware that some people would kill for that commute, but it’s the sort of thing that gets to her and me after a while. So we'd like to get in closer to her place of work.

We are picky people when it comes to houses. I'm the pickier one, but if a house passes my muster its almost certain to pass hers, so it makes for an efficient division of labor for me to make a first pass at house-looking and then bring her in.

The problem is that we are low on houses to choose from. We had a list of eight when I took Trish around (culled from even longer lists we had started from), and some of those eight I doubted very much were worth the candle, but I know my biases and so left them on the list. Two went under contract before we could even get to them. Of the rest, only two more were really worthy of further thought, and those were not without serious issues as well.

One was a quite lovely home, tastefully decorated, but very problematic in terms of its layout. The other house had more space and a better arrangement of rooms, but a much smaller yard and lots of signs of water damage. The water issues may or may not be properly taken care of . The house was a foreclosure and the bank is going to fix it up before sale, but will it go far enough in dealing with the problems?

Then we have the matter of timing. We want to move out of our current house before putting it on the market. It needs some cosmetic repairs, and it would just be much, much easier to do what needs doing with us and the dogs and the cats mucking about. But we're about to hit the slow season for home selling. If we don't get going by early June, it might sit on the market for months. On the other hand, mortgage rates are still pretty low. Will they be this low next year, or six months from now? Would it be worth it to pay two mortgages for 6-8 months in order to get a good rate now (a point might mean tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a 30-year note). But we have to live in this house. Is "good enough" now going to be good ten years from now? Argh.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Yard Man

I found out a week or so ago that our yard has something called "take-off". It apparently is some sort of fungus that attacks the root system. The best advice from the company that we use to take care of the yard was to spread out peat moss. Apparently peat moss is good for yards in any case. So I've been spreading this stuff out and watering it in. It isn't too hard but you have to wrestle these really big bags of the stuff around. I can only fit about 6 of them in the back of my Highlander, and six bags only cover about a section of my yard. I estimate I have 4 (out of 7) sections left to do, if I want to get the whole thing. Its not clear if the whole yard really needs it or not. I can't tell if the back yard has patches because of this fungus or because the dogs continue to beat the living you know what out of it every time they chase a squirrel.