Thursday, December 29, 2005

Since we were all up so late on the 22nd, we all slept late at Anne's on the 23rd. Adam was the only one that got up before 7. He went over and watched tv until 8 when, as usual, he woke me up. I do have them trained well on that. They are not to wake me up before 8 so that is what they do: wake me up precisely at 8.

Emma slept in the bed with me and the boys slept on the floor around the bed. This is what they usually do when I go up there. This time it left Emma's bed for Beth, and Adam's for Steve. Poor Steve! The Florida boy was so cold he went to bed with all his clothes on including his coat and hat.

The kids and I played a game that together we have made up. They make up lists of fun things to do, like read, feed the fish, play a game, etc. Then we four sit on the floor while one person sort of spins a plastic sword. When the sword points to a person, we do what is on that person's list.

One of the things I always choose is "walk on Wha Wha's back." That means they literally walk on my back while I am lying on the floor. Emma and George are okay but Adam is very heavy.

This particular morning we played the Incredible Hulk game. I don't remember who won but I don't think it was Adam. He has a bit of trouble with not winning.

When Ken got up, he fixed a fantastic breakfast. It was a wonderful meal. We put the center leaf in the dining room table and used the Spode Christmas Tree china that used to be mine but that I had given to Anne.

Ken cooked homemade biscuits, bacon, sausage, hash brown casserole, eggs, and I don't remember what else.

He carefully explained what brunch is to the kids. They think they need three meals a day, no matter what time they eat. He knew that without the explanation later on that night they would remember only two meals and demand another.

Anne and Beth were so excited over the gifts they had gotten me that we decided to open our gifts to each other on Friday.

I knew they had bought my gift from Anne at Office Depot on Black Friday. I could not imagine what they could have gotten me there. It turned out to be a camera set-up for my computer and theirs so that now I can talk to my grandchildren and see them at the same time. Neat.

Beth's were Mississippi State stuff, including a baseball autographed by the MSU baseball coach Ron Polk.

I couldn't imagine where she got it but she explained that she got it at a meeting of the Jacksonville alumni group. She was sitting next to a man from the class of '42. He won the ball and the tote bag in the raffle. He gave them to her. She protested but he told her to keep it. "I might be dead tomorrow." he told her. She really enjoyed him.

Adam, Emma, and George had to buy their gifts from their allowances this year. George told his other grandmother to expect a "cheap gift." Adam gave me a DVD with some Roy Rogers episodes, Emma gave me a CD of Christmas music, and George gave me some hair ornaments. They were hair pins with crystals on them. I think they picked out great gifts.

Then it was time to go over to Ken's mother's house so he could get his present from Anne. He knew we bought it on Black Friday but he could not figure out what it was.

We all trooped over there and down to Margie's basement. Anne was so sweet. Loving Ken so much and knowing how happy he was going to be, she started crying.

She opened the closet and showed him the 42" plasma TV. Ken was struck dumb.

There is an old joke about how if a dog chasing a car actually caught one he wouldn't know what to do with it.

That was Ken. He just kept walking around looking at it.

I understand that yesterday, Wednesday, they got digital cable with high definition. Previously they had only the most basic cable which was the networks, PBS, and some government channels like the Williamson County Schools one.

Anne is assured that it comes with parental controls. I wonder about spouse controls.

Beth, Steve, and I left from there to come to Henderson.

Steve is an artist and it is interesting to see things through his eyes. He could hardly drive for looking at the patterns the bare trees make on top the hills in middle Tennessee. It is a far cry from the flat Florida coast.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I had a wonderful Christmas. I wish I knew why this one was so much better than other recent ones so I could make this the pattern.

I went up to Nashville on Thursday, the 22nd. I would have gotten there earlier if I had known that the kids got out of school at noon. Anne was sick and had gotten a substitute for the day. She had had a fever the previous night.

The kids played with the gifts their teachers had given them. All the second grade teachers had given their students the book If I Ran the School and the kids enjoyed reading the poems outloud.

Also the boys worked on a craft project they were given. Adam's was Scooby Doo and George's was Sponge Bob. They punched out items and then glued them to the picture.

Beth and Steve were supposed to get in at the Nashville airport at 8:15 but they called to say the plane would be late. The first trouble they had was that all the parking places were taken at the Jacksonville airport. They finally found a place at one of the commerical Park and Ride places.

There were too many of us for one car so Ken and the kids went to pick up Beth and Steve. Anne and I went in my car and met them at Cracker Barrel to eat.

By this time it was late for the kids and they were drooping. Nevertheless we had a breakthough with Adam as he ate steak for the first time. He loved it and Ken was so proud of him. After eating the kids all gave up and went to sleep, Emma in my lap, Adam in Anne's lap, and George in Beth's.

Back at Anne's it was nice to have all my family together.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Most of the time we don't realize what a second means to our lives. Tonight my life came within a second of being ruined. It would not have been my fault, but I almost killed someone.

We had a power outage this afternoon, a rather long one. It was also extensive as neither Janice nor Frankie had power either.

After it was over, my computer monitor was dead. Nothing I could do would give it any life at all. I had it connected to a surge protector with battery backup. When the power went out, it beeped and I turned off the computer the regular way. I don't know why the monitor was damaged.

I can't do without my computer so I left to go to Julia's to pick up her old computer monitor. It was dark.

I went past Janice's on Old Jackson Road. I don't usually travel much at night so I hadn't seen the beautiful Christmas lights. I enjoyed those I saw.

Then the narrow road becomes more agricultural and there are crop fields on both sides. I met a car and pulled over as far as I could on the right.

As soon as the car had passed by me, I caught just a glimpse of something on my side of the road. It was a black man in a black running suit walking with his back to me. The only thing that allowed me to see him was a thin green cording that ran down the sleeve of the jacket.

I reacted subconsciously and jerked the car to the center and missed him. So close. If the car had met me a second later, I would have hit him. If he had not had the touch of green on his clothing, I would have hit him.

I am never going down that road at night again.

Beth and Laura do not yet have internet access in their new house in Neptune Beach. The public library is across the street so Beth goes there to check her email when she is at home.

This week she went over there, checked in at the desk, was assigned a computer, and went to it and started her work.

A woman came over and made a scene, saying that Beth had taken her computer. Beth told her to check at the desk. A library worker came over and told the woman that if she left the computer it would sign her out after a certain length of time.

The incident was enough to disgust Beth. She says she has read that public libraries are predicted to go out of business.

I think this would be unfortunate. When I was growing up, I yearned to go to a library. There was none in Henderson.

When we went to visit relatives in Saltillo, Mississiippi, our route took us past the library in Corinth. I had fantasies of our car breaking down there. If that happened, I could go inside and see the library with all the wonderful books on shelves.

Maybe children now do not have those dreams, but I would hate for those that do not to have opportunities to go to a library.

Libraries are another casualty of the access movement. The old stereotype of the librarian making people hush has given way to the principle of open access.

The most important thing is to have libraries, schools, and everything else open to people of all behaviors. Certainly hushing library patrons is out. The library goer has all the rights. Porn on the library computer is a right of anyone. Any kind of behavior goes. To suppress it would be unfair.

This also applies to schools where access can not be denied no matter the behavior of the student.

An inevitable outcome of this is that people behave worse than they would have if they knew that standards were going to be enforced.

(Like many other things, I am happy to say that Henderson is behind the times. People at the library are very well behaved. And, at the Christmas season, the high school chorus sings Christmas carols at their Christmas concert.)

What are we to do?

I read an excellent column this week that said we need to bring back hats.

The columnist talked of walking the streets with his father, who would tip his hat to the women and put his hat over his heart when a funeral procession went by. He made a good case that hats civilize people.

I miss ladies' hats. When I was small, many people wore hats to church. Everyone wore one to First Sunday in May and everyone had a black hat because that was required to go to a funeral.

Now people wear shorts and tee shirts to visitation at the funeral home. Don't get me started on this.

I have threatened for years to start wearing hats. I need to do that to make a small contribution to recivilizing society.

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