An exercise in presumption.
Last post of 2004. Christmas in Concord went very well. The children always enjoy visiting their grandmother, mostly because she is a very pleasant person to visit, and somewhat because they get to watch TV, which they cannot at home (we had our cable yanked many years ago after realizing that we were paying more every year for the privilege of clicking past more channels every year; any cable company that decides to sell individual channels instead of packages will, I think, find that it's sitting on a gold mine). Their preferences run to Nick Jr., Animal Planet, and the Food Channel, especially Rachel Ray (the Equestrienne summed it up, "Martha Stewart is a phony. Rachel Ray is not a phony."). They also enjoy being taken to the wildlife refuge which is just down the street. After the first visit, the Equestrienne spontaneously wrote a one-page paper about it; she then asked to go back the next day so that she could take some photographs. The Storm Queen likes to go anywhere that is, as she puts it, "full of Nature".
Home again, where we exchanged the family presents. The Storm Queen gave me a very pretty coffee mug; the Equestrienne, a book about the fight at McPherson's Ridge, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg (I wouldn't call myself a Civil War buff, but I do like to read about it). The Bride and I, in the interest of sanity and economy, decided last Christmas to confine ourselves to giving each other only a few simple presents, but this year she could not resist getting me a complete set of BBC dramatizations of Jane Austen's novels (which included the superb Elizabeth Garvie/David Rintoul version of Pride and Prejudice
). Bless her; I shall have a year to come up with a suitable riposte.
We canceled the new stove, as the old oven mysteriously came to life again, and Agway (our propane supplier) told us that they would come and look at it. And a good thing, too, as Archangel Murphy struck again. At 1:30 AM Wednesday morning, the Bride (spending the night downstairs with the Storm Queen, who had come down with a cold - it isn't Christmas in our family unless someone gets sick) was awakened by a policeman knocking on our door. It seemed that he had noticed, while passing our house, that something had shattered the rear window of our Mercury Topaz. When he and the Bride investigated, they found a bottle inside the car, on the rear floor, that had done the damage. The policeman did not think that it could have been an accident, someone carelessly tossing the bottle from a passing car; it was almost certainly done deliberately. The bottle, incidentally, had contained Starbucks low-fat Frappucino; as the only Starbucks around here is inside a Borders bookstore, it would seem that we had received the attention of an upscale, health-conscious, literate vandal, and not just some commonplace riff-raff. Fortunately, it was almost completely covered by the comprehensive section of our insurance, so I was able to get it replaced today while paying only the $100 deductible (and they even vacuumed out all the glass fragments!).
And so, to Archangel Murphy, our mysterious vandal, the obliging folks at Safelite Autoglass, and anyone reading this: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This was a short week at work, as early tomorrow we take off to spend Christmas with the Bride's family in Concord, Massachusetts (up on Wednesday, back on Sunday, with Monday off from work as well to recuperate - the Wabbit is being boarded out, while a friend will be stopping in now and then to feed the Darn Cats; the Storm Queen has just gotten over being disconsolate at being away from the animals for four days).
Lately it seems that the good Lord has delegated the day-to-day operations of Providence to Archangel Murphy. In the space of a few days: our oven died, I was unable to give blood for the second time in a month (I go in for apheresis, where they hook me up to a machine that takes platelets and plasma - it does this by pumping out a little blood, extracting what it wants, and pumping what's left back into the vein; in November the process had to be scrubbed almost at once when the needle popped out of the vein during the first return, while this month they realized partway through that my platelet count was just below the minimum threshold), the next day I pulled a back muscle and had to traipse around for a few days with a cane, my company held a mandatory sexual harassment training session (about which more sometime later), and the contractor who came to install a new stove informed us that (a) the line from the propane tank to our current was no longer up to code, (b) it would cost another several hundred dollars on top of the price of the stove and the ordinary installation charge to put in a new line, and (c) he can't do it anyway - we'd have to ask our gas supplier.
On the other hand, I went back to the blood center yesterday and this time it worked, my back is better, we can cancel the new stove order and find another solution (or even live without an oven for a while - nobody ever died from not having an oven), we watched the Alistair Sim "Christmas Carol" last night, I have a good job and a wonderful marriage and family, and God loves me. So, to Archangel Murphy and anyone else who stops by:
Do not go here
if you have an urgent appointment or need to catch up on your sleep (found over at the Corner
Back again. My apologies to any who may have stopped by and been disappointed by my silence. I did not reform after my last post, but immediately returned to obsessing about the Presidential election: making the round of the conservative/libertarian blogs and the polling blogs, alternately elated and depressed, with no energy left over for anything else. (Query: Is paying too much attention to polls a sin on the same level as engaging in astrology? Father K., when I went to Confession, didn't seem to think so.)
Several changes have occurred in and around the household.
The Equestrienne can no longer, strictly, be so called, having given up her riding lessons. In hindsight, this was not too surprising. She had reached the point where she could get about comfortably on a horse; had she stayed, she would have begun competition and showmanship, in which she is not interested (a pity that we don't have a farm or a ranch, where ordinary riding would be both possible and useful). Similarly, the Storm Queen, who had been enthusiastic about her dancing class, lost interest abruptly and dropped it. The Bride and I in consultation have concluded that it is best not to force them to continue activities which they no longer wish to pursue, the likely effect being to give them a permanent dislike for whatever it is they're being forced to do - the more so as both of them have inherited in full measure their father's ability and will to dig in his heels when pushed. This, of course, applies only to nonessentials - in whatever is necessary (politeness, bedtime, schoolwork, and the sacraments), uncompliance is not an acceptable option.
The Bride also relinquished an activity, though in her case it was not from loss of interest. She found that her job as REF coordinator took too much time away from the children in general, and homeschooling in particular, and so gave her notice, effective at the end of the year. It took her a while to see her way through to the decision, as she had been there for less than a full semester, and we were more or less counting on her paycheck to pay for the cost of the new furnace. However, as it became clear that things were not working out, it also became clear that it's worse to stick to a mistake than to bail out, whatever the consequences. A replacement has been found, and as I type the Bride is at her office working on a survival manual for her successor. As for the loss of income - well, the good Lord has taken care of us for over fourteen years of marriage; it would be strange if He should stop now.
The first Wascawwy Wabbit turned out to have an excessively unsociable disposition and was returned. Its replacement is far superior: affectionate, mellow, and outgoing.
My job is much the same: sometimes maddening, sometimes challenging, rarely if ever boring; and every now and then I manage to execute a decent piece of work.