OMG! It’s Xmas! I’m getting better with the whole texting thing but communication that utilizes initials and acronyms lacks what I consider “content”. It is, however, a modern pleasure to flip open my phone, fire off a missive, and have my children 2 and 6 hours away chirp back. Soon our robot probes (Student 1-Hardy @ BSC and Student2 - Lindy@Furman) fired hopefully into the maw of adulthood three years and five months ago will be returning to home base for supplies. They left home at the apogee of their potential and now are discovering the sad truth that the more you learn the more you know you don’t know. (I won’t try and riff on defense secretary Rumsfeld’s take on this aphorism). So with teenager 3 coming to the awareness that he is much smarter than his parents, at just this instant our family is the smartest it will ever be. But are we better off than 4 years ago?
Well neither the Recession nor the real estate calamity has found us, tucked away here in Alabama, so we continue dutifully in our same jobs and house. The big news was sifting 10 southeastern colleges and finding a fit for Lindy’s talent at finding reasons to go anywhere. So Furman it was! Beautiful school in Greenville SC near my brother and her cousins. She graduated in the top ten and landed the challenging summer job of lifeguard. Hardy(a junior) is trying to control the freshman dorm as an RA and studying Economics.
Eli home alone is well constructed to bear the intense scrutiny of overprotective parents by having learned years ago to selectively listen and begin negotiations immediately if it looks like something he might have to do. His social calendar is much fuller than ours and if he is not “out” and we are graced by his presence then he is soaking up trivia from ESPN or shooting cyborgs on Black Ops something or other. I coached the middle school baseball team last Spring (but why don’t we just call it Winter Ball) and we scored heavily in the early going against weaker teams but then found ourselves regressing to the mean. The football season was MUCH more successful, winning the city championship going 8-0 (375points v 75 against). Did I mention Eli was the quarterback?
Lynne has found a way to turn her part time job into more hours than my full time job by going in early, working productively through lunch and arriving for car pool duty at middle school just in time for all the cliques to finish meeting. She has shed all but one of her Treasurer duties and plays bunco(how aptly named). I play bridge.
Our family met in June on the Gulf of Mexico. Normally, we beach in Alabama but we picked a house toward Panama City on a whim and were lucky to miss the oil. My worst fears at the time were thankfully not realized but I am not giddy at the good news that the fishing is better than ever given the moratorium. Environmental degradation may be an almost imperceptible under the water sea change. I am stuck on a Midas metaphor--we want the oil genie to do our work for us but cannot see our need turning the natural world to human artifice--cue the Joan Baez where have all the polar bears gone? We had last been in Seaside in 1991 and it had maybe 50 homes. Now it looks like they have moved Gary,Ind., Detroit, Cleveland, and Ottawa to South Florida.
Could it have been our last Spring Break Ski Trip? The School Board has decided to move Spring Break to mid-April on the hope that students will test better not having had a break. I assume they have some evidence for this but it is undeniable that any skiing will be worse in mid-April. So we met my sisters family from San Francisco in the Sierras and timed our arrival perfectly--12 hours after a massive snowstorm that we watched in an Atlanta hotel before boarding the flight. Downtown Atlanta is sad--it has no heart--the interconnected hotels and Merchandise Mart are like concrete hives. The Sierras however were stupendous after a blizzard. We got all cozy in an A-frame and hardly anything beats good snow with vistas overlooking Lake Tahoe. Hardy missed the skiing feeding the homeless in the Presidio. I wanted to go backroads to visit Lynne’s sister in Sebastopol to trace out a bike route I had rejected on my cross country project but I did not realize constant curvilinear travel would not endear me to my family. They demanded an immediate stop on the Silverado Trail for late lunch. I complied and had the satisfaction of a fellow Board Member on the ISC call me to bring a check by the office for signing. I was “sorry” to tell him I was having lunch in Napa under a grape arbor...
The only sad news to report is that I have regained all 20 pounds I lost following my training for the cross country ride last year. Ralph and I did another bike trip tackling the Blue Ridge Parkway from Waynesville, NC to the Virginia Line. We are some slow cowboys. Rain and fog accompanied us but we didn’t mind the 65 degrees since we were missing the blast furnace at home.
We visited Lindy at Furman on Fall break and couldn’t talk her into accompanying us to Mt. Pisgah for a little camping in the Smokies. The wind was blowing “aggressively” at 5,000’ and with temps just south of freezing I had to put up with Eli’s dripping disdain for our idea of fun and Lynne’s cold feet. His brother and sister are now home though and he has someone to commiserate with on the difficulties of living here. By Christmas--all should be forgiven.