1-3-2000 Happy New Year

Happy New Year!                                                   January 3, 2000

Well, the kids are back at school. Schedules back to normal again. I
don’t see any real benefit in staying up late when one is on vacation,
but we do seem to do it anyway. I heard about a book, which I am looking for, about sleep deprivation and health problems. Sounds very promising. Now the trick is, how to arrange for more time in the sack… Our friend Kirstin told us once about being in a sleep research project where she went to bed every night- summer or winter- when it got dark, and got up when it got light, and that was the healthiest she’d ever been. I can believe it. I wouldn’t have any problems going to sleep a LOT earlier if I didn’t have so much to do. Wouldn’t it be loverly?

Sadly, Kat is back to having her drama club late pick-ups twice a week. I have extracted a promise that she will try to find a car-pool sharer for those. I don’t think it would bother me so much if she had any lines! Shouldn’t the kids without lines only be coming to the last few rehearsals? And as far as I know the play isn’t even scheduled yet.
Star is back to school too, of course, and I am trying to decide what
to wear, and preparing my notes for the meeting on Wednesday. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Jenny got here a week ago, and is lined up to leave next week (I
think), unless she gets the job. One of the people where Aelfwine works just quit, and it’s apparently the job that Jenny got her college degree in- she’s e-mailed her mother for her resume. Apparently Mainstream is pretty desperate to replace him, and I very much doubt Jenny would mind going from minimum wage, cleaning cages at a pet store, to doing the computer art she was trained for at $30,000 a year. Of course, she and Willow have been having a great time. They’ve been gaming with Ernie and Travis a lot- and last night we had a great game of Balderdash. That’s the game where one person comes up with a word and writes down the real definition, while everyone else makes up definitions, and then they all try to guess which is the real one. Only with Balderdash, they provide the words for you- and alternatives, like Dates, People, Movies, etc. I was rather surprised because I won- apparently I have the ability to come up with plausible bluffs. We’d picked up the game because we wanted
to see Aelfwine vs. Ernie. (Both of whom are also pretty good.)

Kami and Michael did finally get here last Monday- with Tim and Gareth, their boys (much bigger than I remembered, but what do I expect?) and we had a wonderful day. They generally take a whirlwind tour of New England spending a day each with a dozen friends, at this time of year. The logistics alone are boggling- not something I’d do, that’s for sure! (oh, yes, I did, didn’t I? Well, that was 20 years ago, and only once.) Anyway, it was good to see them again. Michael remains a gorgeous man, and the kids are a joy to talk to. Kami, aside from the fact that she rides a horse, and people who have horses when they don’t have the land to keep them right there confuse me, has a lot in common with me-dealing with the school systems, working with alternative healing modalities, involvement in pagan/magical workings, and of course, we share (and can commiserate on) the “joys” of home ownership. Then they were off again, to the next house by 2 P.M. the next day.
Megan and Dennis came over for tea (actually egg creams and/ or
chocolate soda, just as Kami and Michael were leaving. We had madelines and candy cane cookies. Too bad Aelfwine missed them, but I enjoyed having them to myself.

Fitz came back while I was out on Thursday. His stay at the Riverside
“Rest Home” was less than stellar. For example, no one had told any of us that it was run by the sheriffs office. When he got there they did
ask him what “Celtic Rite” (which is what he had down for religion) meant- he told them- like Jewish or Moslem- no pork. So they served him pork in 14 of the 18 meals he got there. He did find a local sub shop that took Mastercard and did deliveries, and he got a pizza out of the sheriff (in another wing of the same building) for installing his Y2K software for him. He’d helped the nurses with their computer, and one of them came to him and said the sheriff wanted to talk to him. You may well imagine that he was wondering why; but when he got there it turned out that they’d mentioned him being good with computers. “I’m supposed to put this in my computer,” he said, holding up a CD Rom “but it won’t go in.” Well, his computer had no CD Rom drive. Of course it didn’t go into the floppy drive! So, Fitz explained it to him, and helped him track down a local source for compatible, affordable drives, then installed it for him, and ran the Y2K upgrade software- and charged him a Pizza and diet Pepsi for it.
His roommate while he was there was apparently a nice old gentleman whose family had thought that he was getting “the best care” (mainly as they’d arranged to have his meals brought in from outside- which apparently was fairly important). Fitz pointed out to the man’s daughter when she came to visit that the nurses wouldn’t bother answering her father’s page when he needed to go to the john, because, after all, he had Depends, so it was OK if he soiled himself. Well, not to him. And not to his daughter once she understood. And Fitz had the impression that before the daughter left, the nurses would understand too.
As a final really pathetic note, on Christmas the staff had come round
and presented each inmate of the rest home a “gift”, a small cube,
wrapped in bright paper, with a bow, and even a little ribbon rose glued onto it. Now, these guys don’t have much by way of strength- nor do they generally have knives, (Fitz apparently made himself very popular on Christmas Day by using his to cut through people’s tape and ribbons when they were opening their gifts). Fitz brought his back unopened- he had squeezed it and decided it was a wooden block, and not bothered to open it. I couldn’t believe it, so I opened it, and it took me at least 45 seconds. And sure enough, it was a child’s wooden block. What a nasty trick! Why would they go around giving each of these old folks something like this? I guessed “photo op” and Fitz said that yes, they had asked permission to take everyone’s picture just before passing these out. I cannot tell you how heartsick it makes me to imagine those bastards ostentatiously taking pictures of themselves giving these poor old people virtually unopenable fake presents. That’s really ill! *

We had a quiet weekend. AElfwine had Friday off- so he was here to
accept the hay when it was delivered. Wolf had them unload it onto his flatbed and drove that down to beside the barn (the feed store truck won’t leave pavement) and the kids helped us “bucket brigade” the bales off the truck, up the ramp and into the barn, and AElfwine threw them up into the loft. It’s nice to have some hay up there- but I wish we’d been able to find it cheap this year. Last year the rain in June meant only one hay cutting. This year the drought meant only one cutting again.
People think about how idyllic it is in the country- but they don’t
mention goats sticking their horns into other goats teats, rabbits
eating their own kits, raccoons decimating the flocks, hawks and owls and coyotes going after the livestock, bears breaking into your
beehives, too much or too little rain effecting your life to totally.
And of course, there are neighborhood idiots. (Wolf’s windshield had
been broken by a rock through it. Very funny, kids. That windshield can only be replaced by a custom glass maker- at about the value of the rig.) You’d better enjoy this work- because you sure as heck aren’t going to make money at it.
On the other hand- we had a good half hour or so watching the geese “bathe” on the frozen pond. It was about 10 degrees out- there was no water. But they were sitting on the ice, dipping their heads, doing splashing and shaking motions. Doing all the moves for bathing- but no water. And Megan kept up a running commentary in the Gooses’ voice. I have rarely laughed so hard.

And what did we do on the big night? Well, we gathered in the kitchen and played board games, then around 10 we turned on the TV and watched the celebrations around the world. And when the ball was dropping, Aelfwine slipped downstairs, and when midnight struck- he pulled the breaker. Sadly, no one was fooled for even a second. (Willow yelled “Ælfwine, you a**hole!”) But again, we laughed and laughed. Then we went outside and howled. Then we went inside and went to sleep.

The only Y2K problems we’ve seen were that Fitz tried to order some
coffee with his charge card, which was declined, as it turns out that
the banks had turned off their computers for one business day- 3 P.M. last friday until 3 P.M. today. (one day) We did make sure that Dennis’ generator worked, and we laid in an extra week’s worth of grain- but that’s just getting ready for a N.H. winter- maybe if we weren’t so ready, it would have come by now.

The weather has remained cold- right up until yesterday when a hot wind blew in, and it’s almost 60 now. At least we are getting a bit of rain. No one on the radio has used the word drought recently, but I can’t help but think that this lack of snow for so long isn’t good. So I’ll take the drizzle with the warmth, and thanks for it. A good downpour might even be better.

I’m afraid this letter is getting really depressing. But there’s more.
Over the three or four days after we tried to magically heal Star’s
allergies, it became clear- even to Star, that it hadn’t worked, so he’s
back on his no wheat regimen. And none too pleased about it.
More depressing is that Mr. Kaufman, Lisa’s father, fell and ended up
back in the hospital again, so we didn’t get to see him for the
holidays.
We haven’t seen Honour recently because her aunt Margaret (one of her favorite relatives) died.

And remember I told you about Wally Holt’s House burning down on the first of February? His wife, Monica has been arrested for setting the fire. We’d heard rumors since the day of the fire- but, of course, I
wasn’t going to pass them on. Then the fire marshal was saying he
suspected arson, and now not only have they arrested Monica, but they are re-examining the death of Nancy-Jo Holt, Wally’s first wife, who died unexpectedly three weeks before. They are saying that her
medications may have been tampered with. Well, not much news in a small town, but when it comes, it sure is big! Anyway, my heart just goes out to Wally. Bad enough to find out that your wife was planning on leaving you, but he LOVED that house. It’s been in his family for generations- the reason he had it was that the trust gave it to whoever would keep it running as a farm, and no one else in his family would. And of course, we are all just wondering what makes Monica tick. Her son is a fireman- he was in there risking his life to fight that fire. And there was lots of stuff that Wally was holding there for the Lyndeboro Historical Society that is irreplacable. And now, because Monica seems to have gotten her name on the insurance- something Wally apparently didn’t know- the insurance may not pay because (perhaps I should say if) Monica set it. I wish it weren’t so easy to believe. But she’s been pretty unstable ever since we’ve known her. After our fire she was telling everyone that she was the one who called us and saved us. We knew there was only one call, and it was Marilyn Pigeon, our next door neighbor. The thing was- I really think Monica believed her own story. And when she was renting this house from Megan, she didn’t pay one penny of rent- and when the town gave her money to do so, she spent it on other bills. Shafted Megan for ten months rent. I now think that I should have waited and given that hundred dollars to Wally instead of handing it to Monica on the day of the fire. I bet he and the kids never saw it. Goodness! I am being very uncharitable, but I can’t seem to help it, despite my best efforts. When we paid her to watch our animals while we were at the war, when we came home, the second bag of cat food we’d left was untouched. We knew what rate they ate at- but she didn’t feed them at that rate. Well, she’ll probably get ten years of
free rent for this one. The vaguely amusing aspect of it, is apparently
she told several people that she’d done it- and asked them not to tell- like her son the fireman, and the woman who’d been living in the house with them who’s every possession she’d just burned up. Now she’s surprised and angry with them. I noticed that her poster advertising machine embroidery is still up on the wall down at the village store. I wonder how long before someone takes it down…

Ah well, back to normal life. All this week Aelfwine has been fighting
something off- maybe getting back to bedtime at 9 will take care of it.
Staying up until 11 may be fine for some folks, but not my little
family. Almost every entry in my journal lately ends with a blob, where
I fell asleep while writing, and the pen rested on the paper until I
woke up, capped it, and turned off the light.

Oh, yes. Checking the journal, I am reminded that we picked up our
“Glamour Photo’s” on Wednesday. Well, as long as we were in Nashua we went to see Sleepy Hollow at the $2 theatre, so the trip wasn’t a total waste. I truly did not recognize myself, nor did it look good. I don’t have a picture I could use on a book cover, nor do I have a picture I could let the kids save of me. What a waste! Dan says she and Marlow can take good pictures of me- so maybe it will result eventually in a decent shot. (haven’t seen much of Dan lately, either. I think she’s shooting lights at Toy Story on Ice down in Worchester.) But not so far. Willow looked good- but then, Willow almost always looks good. So what. (that’s probably jealousy talking).

Actually, we did do some pre-Y2K prep. I got my license renewed, and we paid the house insurance a week early- just to make sure. And I stocked up on about six months worth of vitamin C and Glucosamine Chontrointin. If I were to start hurting again, it would seriously negatively impact my utility around here. So I’m glad nothing happened.

Tchipakkan

35.  Never interrupt when you are being flattered.

* In the intervening years I have convinced myself that this could not have happened, rather that these gift-wrap covered blocks were not gifts but rather decorations someone made. That for some reason Fitz thought it was funny to snag one, and tell me that story. It makes more sense that he’d enjoy getting me cross about the place we’d sent him, (maybe seeing how gullible I was) than that caretakers would tease their wards like that.

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