Sunday, September 25, 2005

Apple Trees and Centipedes

Well, Larry has finally returned from his San Diego sojourn. He's at the office now, but we did get to see him for a full 24 hours or so. At one point yesterday, Rachel asked him, "Why aren't you at work?" Kids say the darndest things.

He did manage to injure himself while - ahem - sailing last weekend. Nothing major, his rib just feels "poke-y" at certain times, like when he breathes or moves or lies on his side. He could visit the doctor, I suppose; but he doesn't seem to want to do that. Maybe because I suggested it. Or perhaps he's making a political statement by demonstrating his solidarity with the millions of working Americans who don't have health insurance. Most likely, he's just being a typical guy and believes he can fix anything with Motrin and a roll of duct tape. He doesn't need no stinking X-ray.

Anyway, he is feeling well enough to tackle the apple tree. Not to cut it down, mind you. Sure it's getting lower each week, but his solution is to cut off each limb as it becomes low enough for him to bump his head on. Selective pruning, I believe it's called. He won't cut down the whole thing because I once foolishly suggested that he do so (yes, I'm detecting a pattern here). That was a few years back when the mailman bumped his head on the big branch that essentially bisects our front porch. But Larry liked the tree and left it, and the mailman left us and took another route in a nearby city where - I can only suppose - they have ordinances against killer apple trees. So it goes, but any day now I expect to look out our front door and see the UPS guy knocked out cold on our porch.

It hasn't rained here. Have I mentioned that? 3 hurricanes, and no rain. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to....whatever. The centipedes all seem to be coming inside in search of water. One morning last week we woke up and were finding them everywhere. Well, David woke up first; his shrieking woke the rest of us. I found him in the hallway babbling about centipedes in the powder room and centipedes in the bathroom. I calmed him down somewhat and sent him off to get dressed and I wandered into the bathroom myself to perform my morning ablutions. Unfortunately, David neglected to mention that the centipede surprised him in the middle of peeing. Definitely not a good start to my day.

Susie did me a favor by sleeping 12 straight hours last night - she definitely has earned Most Favored Baby status. I would have slept too, if I weren't busy coughing. Theo and I seem to have picked up a nasty chest cold. With both of us down for the count, and Anna having yet another "bad day" (meaning "everything's horrible, nothing is fun, and you're mean!"), it will be a miracle if anyone gets fed here today. We had apple crisp for breakfast (left over from yesterday), but our enthusiasm for that particular dish seems to have waned markedly over the past couple of weeks. Just too much of a good thing, I suppose. I've run out of neighbors to foist it off on, too. They don't seem to be answering their doors anymore. It's a good thing that tree only bears biennially.

Susie is attempting to sneak in an evening nap here, which I must interrupt. I'd like to be well-rested tomorrow, in case it turns out to be a pleasant fall day for a change. Meaning temperatures below 80 and humidity less than, say, 90 percent. Wouldn't that be nice?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fall?!? - Sept 2005

The weather here has been hot and humid or just plain humid since July. So
much for a cool, crisp September. I have been whining all week. We still
have the air conditioning on. When the humidity eases up a teeny bit, we
all venture outside only to be attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. I think
the humidity makes them cranky, too.

Susie is incredible. I just plopped her down on the family-room rug so that
I could check my e-mail, and she has decided to suck her fingers and fall
asleep. What's not to love?

Larry is still hiding, I mean working, in San Diego. Tough life. Last
night on the phone he was trying to decide what to do with his free weekend
there. Tactless. A few days ago (again, on the phone) he mentioned that he
was offered an opportunity to go to Korea for 2 weeks for a military
exercise at the end of October. The only problem that he saw with that plan
was that he would miss Halloween. I'm beginning to think he doesn't like

I signed up the 4 oldest kids for Tae Kwan Do at the Y. Logistically, it's
great - 4 children, 1 activity. I found I can take the 2 youngest to the
nursery during the TKD class so that I can even get some exercise for myself
on the machines. Unfortunately, I think my oldest will never forgive me for
making him learn to count in Korean and jump rope at the ripe old age of 14.
Just one more thing for him to discuss with his therapist when he's older, I
guess. Anna is really taking to it, however; Larry told her he might
actually let her out of the house on her own once she got her black belt, so
she is highly motivated.

Our apple tree is bearing its usual abundant biennial (biannual?) harvest.
There are apples everywhere. We have only narrowly missed being bonked on
the head by falling fruit any number of times (shades of Newton, I know).
Actually, I think the squirrels are throwing them at us. I don't know what
their problem is - they're eating half the crop. In a desperate attempt to
salvage what we can for our own consumption, Theo constructed a rather
ingenious apple-picker out of a stick, a bathtoy bucket, a wire coat hanger,
and (of course) duct tape. He has managed to harvest enough apples for us
to inflict our famous apple crisp on several of our long-suffering
neighbors. I doubt it makes up for their having to step over rotting,
smashed apples and dodge wasps all month. The only creatures enjoying the
windfalls are the butterflies - they look to be getting drunk on the
fermented apple juice. Party animals, I suppose.

Have I whined about the weather yet? How about the mosquitoes? My missing
husband? Well, I guess I've covered everything then.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Beach Trip - Sept 2005

Boy, did it feel good to get out of town for a couple of days! And the kids didn't even notice we were gone (ba-da-dum). But seriously, folks, just a short(?) 3-hour drive and we left those blood-sucking mosquitoes (whoops, redundant) behind. It was worth the $100 in gasoline (2 vans, remember?). We were relieved to find that our accommodations were decent. We had reserved, sight unseen, a 3-bedroom, 2-bath trailer on a National Guard base for only $60 a night (your tax dollars at work - thanks!); so we were a tad apprehensive as to what we were going to find when we got there. Good beds, clean bathrooms, complete kitchen - well, almost complete. As we were sitting around the table eating our lunch, one of the children asked, "Hey, where's the dishwasher?" Larry didn't miss a beat - "You're looking at them," he replied.

The beach was great. The surf on Monday was so high that none of the children could get beyond the first set of breakers, which suited me just fine. Rachel was repeatedly knocked over by the waves, but she would bounce right back up again like one of those blow-up punching clowns we used to play with as kids. It was very windy, so it reminded me of Newport - particularly of Larry's Reserve Unit BBQ where we had to keep chasing down the tops of our hamburger buns as they blew off our plates. Ah, fond memories...

But I digress. I noticed a woman about a quarter-century older than me staring at us as we arrived and set up all our beach paraphernalia. I figured we had ruined her day and she'd get up and move, but she stayed to talk. Turns out she had raised 6 kids with the same age spacing as ours, but her youngest is 25 now. I'm not quite sure if she was getting nostalgic or if she stuck around to remind herself how glad she is that they're all grown-up.

The second day, we drove a few miles up the road to a state park beach - it was all natural (sand dunes, no buildings), but with bathrooms - who could ask for more? We saw porpoises (dolphins?) swimming just offshore, and we were jumping up and down and yelling and pointing to show them to the kids. Everyone else on the beach was a local, as it was the day after Labor Day, and we realized that they were looking at us funny, so we settled down. After a few hours the baby was fussy, so I took her back to our trailer early and left Larry to gather up all the beach stuff and shower/de-sand five kids. I would have felt guilty, had I not done it myself all the time 2 summers ago in Newport. It's payback time, amigos!

I can be unbelievably petty at times.

Larry took the kids out boating Tuesday afternoon. There was a huge salt-water pond on base and we could rent a rowboat for a mere $3 an hour (again, your tax dollars at work). There was also a playground next to the pond where Larry attempted to injure himself by showing the kids that he could do a flip on the rings. Brian told him he was too old to do that. My thoughts, exactly. Disability insurance is expensive, you know.

We packed up the cars Wednesday morning for the return trip (by the way, both going and returning, we hit the road at 9:50 AM - we figure that must be our set point for departures) and we couldn't understand why Rachel was so anxious to get in the van. Turns out no one had explained to her that we were going home. So, after several hours of riding and, I guess, great anticipation, she burst into tears when she realized that our final destination was not, in fact, the beach.

There's no place like home.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finally Fall

I don't think I have ever been this glad to turn the calendar page to September. August was a slow month. There are only so many popsicles one can eat (and feed to the kids - I do share sometimes) before the novelty wears off. Although we did have a bit of excitement with this last box - the wrappers were blank, so we didn't know what flavor we were getting until we had unwrapped each one. Quite suspenseful.

Rachel (3) is still squeezing Susie (3 months) a lot, but Susie doesn't seem to mind. Susie doesn't seem to mind anything, actually. Not even the fact that she is slowly going bald. Or that she has very fat knees. She is very pleasant about everything. And she never, ever complains about her food. Unlike everyone else in this house. David refuses all meat and eggs and assiduously inspects the remainder of his meal for bugs. (Let's not talk about the morning Theo slipped a plastic spider into David's oatmeal.) Brian eats only meat (with an occasional side of potatoes) and spends mealtimes grossing out Anna. Twelve-year-old girls have very low gross-out thresholds, I must say. Rachel yells for whatever she can't have. And everyone participates in baby-carrot-bashing - "This one tastes/smells/looks funny." So Larry and I are thinking of instituting a new mealtime rule. It would be called, "Shut up and eat." No stimulating dinnertime conversations which would keep our teenagers abstinent and drug-free. No lively discussion of current events and world affairs. Just shut up and eat. Please.

We are headed to the beach for a couple of days (we decided to save our vacation time until gas went over $3 a gallon). Both Rachel and Brian have forgotten what the ocean looks like, so we figured it is time to refresh their memories. Larry plans to leave at 7 AM. This should be interesting.