Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Attention: The Watsons have left the building

Alleluia, they have risen! Our No. 1 daughter, son-in-law and their pair o'boys, that is. Mike the Builder finally finished their 8-month remodeling project, and they've moved down the avenue into their shiny "new" home. It really is beautiful, and I know they're going to love living there. They have great new neighbors, a gorgeous huge yard just waiting for Patrick's deft green thumb and more closets and crannies than they have stuff to stash. So I'm quite happy for them.

And I'm happy for us, too. Our house is now very minimalist and "ours" again. I took out the upholstery cleaner and scrubbed my so-dirty-they-stiffened kitchen chairs (where the boys boosters had perched) last night. They stayed clean all the way until this morning. And they're still clean. Holy Heloise! Now we have quite a few more repair and patch-up and clean-up projects in the wake of the Watsons, but what I like best is that they're little projects that Mike and I can do together. I feel like I haven't seen my husband since August.

But there's a down side, of course. I got home from work last night and tripped over ... nothing. I went to work out and came home and got great wet kisses and knee-hugs from ... nobody. The cat has returned to her strident self and is sprawled on the counter again. (I thought she might have forgotten about that.) I missed one little person or another, who greeted me nose-to-nose each morning, imploring "Nonna UP!" It was just a little harder to get out of bed to greet the day today.

So while we're awash in silence last night, we had two visitors: our daughters. One wanted a quiet place to study. The other wanted to use the computer. Quote for the night: "We're done being a boarding house and now we're a library."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Whew, it's Friday

It's Friday, thank the dear Lord. What a week it's been: a national tragedy at Virginia Tech on Monday and the fallout of hypervigilance and edginess on all college campuses this week ... work coming out of my ears while we hang on, short staffed ... housework, laundry and ironing up to my butt ... stitches for my grandson last night when he tried to move a retaining wall with his head ... my husband madly scrambling to finish Daughter No. 1's house so they can move this weekend. Arrrrghgh!

But a lovely Thursday intervened. My daughter Emily treated me to dinner at her apartment last night, followed by a wonderful performance by Emily's boyfriend, Mathew, as Lancelot in the Chaska Valley Family Theater production of "Camelot." It's been awhile since I'd been to a community theater to see anything, but this has to be one of the hardest working casts and crews I've ever observed. They do 10 or more performances of this 3.5-hour extravaganza, and it was absolutely terrific. I always loved the music from "Camelot," even if the story is kinda sappy. But how can you not weep over "If Ever I Would Leave You"? Mathew out Goulet-ed Goulet. Really.

Enjoy a preview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlSsynGljqI

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Silent scream

I've been thinking today about Edvard Munch's astounding 1893 painting, "Silent Scream." Sure, it's become kind of a cult/kitsch image, used on everything from T-shirts to beer mugs. But today, in the wake of the worst mass killing ever to take place in the United States, it captures so accurately the emotions of those of us who work and study on U.S. campuses.

As you might guess, it's a bit busy in the university's news service today, so I'll edit this post later. But this is where my head is at the moment ...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz ...

I wonder where the birdies is. With the 4-7 inches of snow in the forecast (I'll believe it when I see it), it's tough to think spring. Although Easter was a lovely one: 40-ish but bright and sunny. The robins were trilling and tulips began sprouting a bit in the warm sun. I'm sure they wondered, "Is it safe to come up yet?" By later today, they'll be sorry.

Speaking of Easter, we had the most fabulous Easter dinner with our friends the Haselmans, parents of our son's longtime girlfriend, Sara. Sara's mother, Lori, is a terrific cook, making me understand completely why our son hardly ever eats at his own house. (I've offered to pay her for his board, but she refuses. Now if I could just get her to cater my family gatherings, I'd have it made.) For Easter dinner, she even smoked her own ham and dyed Easter eggs employing a unique dye-transfer process -- she used men's silk ties. I am not kidding about this. The ham was amazing, and the eggs looked, well, luminous and totally unlike my Everyday Easter Eggs colored with the Paas tablets and vinegar. I actually spent time gazing at these eggs. I didn't think we should eat them. They were artworks. And Lori is much nicer, prettier and friendlier than Martha Stewart. Entertaining is a real skill, you know? How she makes it look so effortless, I'll never know. I'm usually answering the doorbell while I'm searching for my underwear.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A retirement plan

As I stood munching on cocktail shrimp and sipping bland sauvignon blanc at yet another UST retirement party this week, I thought: the retirees are starting to look more and more like me. In a mere 13 years, if this place doesn't kill me first, I could be standing before a cake and colleagues, thanking them for putting up with me for 32 years.

Hell, I want to retire now. I'm tired of rushing to get everything accomplished every day. I would like to draw on my pension, take a nap in the afternoon, write some good poems while I still have brain cells left, and stand in the Hallmark card section as long as I can laugh. I would like to weed my garden on a summer morning before it gets too hot. I would like to polish my silver and appreciate the pretty things which I now keep hidden ... and tarnished. I'd sit on my deck and have breakfast and listen to the radio and watch the birds. I'd shop for shoes before my ankles got puffy. I'd go to the market every afternoon and get just what I'd want for dinner. I'd stop running on the treadmill at the gym after dark -- which I do now because I just run out of daylight -- because old people should not be out at night unless they're dancing and have a driver.

But I'll want to be an old woman who still looks pretty good and has laugh lines and cool glasses. I'll want someone to say that I'm a real character, even if I'm a little eccentric. I'll still want people to tell me dirty jokes, and I'll still want to laugh aloud. What do you want to do and be when you retire? (A funny word, don't you think: re-tire? Get tired again? I don't think so. Hmmm.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Growl, piss and moan. It's Monday.

So. My co-editor at work, Patty, moved to another job within our department, leaving me two nincompoops to help me. (They're not nincompoops, I guess. They're just not Patty.) Anyway, so now I do two jobs, mine and hers, while we make the adjustment. Ugh. I will miss Patty greatly, as she's been like the left half of my brain for nearly 20 years. I spent more time with her than with my own husband, for heaven's sake. And we developed that "communication by intuition" style that often made the men in our department stare blankly and wonder what happened. Everyone should have a Patty on the job. Now I can't even afford to take a sick day (like I should have today.) Whine, whine, whine. There. I feel better.