Monday, January 30, 2012


I think I'm finally over the bug. It got progressively worse Friday and Saturday, then yesterday it started to fade. The good news is that I got a ton of reading done, which is always nice. I finished The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morten, which I enjoyed very much, and read a moving memoir about parenting a special needs child, The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown.

I also spent time with The Wind and the Willows, which has been visiting me on its tour around the States. As far as I can tell, it's a book of poetry masquerading as a novel. Strangely, I think the playfulness of the language is one of the reasons Jack and I didn't love it as a read-aloud. There's all sorts of lovely bits that, reading by yourself, you go over several times just for the pleasure of it. But I remember reading it aloud at bedtime, how slow it all felt, and I remember that sensation from childhood as well--not enough was happening. As an adult, I'm fine with the slowness--better to savor the language, my dear--but as a child it made me feel impatient, and I recall Jack being impatient as well.

Old Jack. He's in the throes of it again, cranky, grumpy, no fun to be around, holing up in his room for hours. He got a report card a couple of weeks ago that wasn't too impressive. It wasn't the grades so much, but his effort scores, four out of six of which had fallen in the six week period. He got a C+ in Science, in spite of getting an A- on the exam, because he'd missed two assignments. Turns out it's hard to recover from two zeros in the grade book.

So we've put him on probation. He has six weeks to bring up his grades to all A's and B's and bring up his effort scores to all 1's. If he doesn't, all sorts of dire things happen to his computer.


Travis and I are back in walking mode after a short break due to illness. We are enjoying spring-like weather this winter, which leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's nice as can be to take a walk in late January wearing only a jacket over a warm-up jacket and a hat. On the other hand, it's unnatural to have birds singing and crocuses blooming this early. It feels out of whack. It is out of whack.

Because I spent much of last week either tending the ill (both Jack and the Man got Will's bug after I caught it) and being ill myself, this week is going to be the Great Vacation that I was supposed to have last week. In a few minutes I'm going to comb my hair and trot off for a cup of coffee at Fosters, journal in hand. Wednesday, I'm having lunch at an art museum, and Thursday I'm off fabric-shopping with my friend Sarah in the morning, then taking a walk with another friend in the afternoon. By Friday, I'll be socially exhausted and ready to get back to work.


I read a piece in yesterday's New York Times Magazine about how our computers and smart phones act as a kind of second brain for us, storing information and memories. The author told a few horror stories about people losing their hard drives and as a result losing years of work, photographs, music, etc. In a sense, losing their memories. She herself lost all the photographs she'd taken of her child since birth when her hard drive crashed.

I love my computer. I find it a very handy machine. But I don't think very many people think critically about our reliance on our computers. We've just accepted the technology. Those of us with preteen children accept that they will live most of their lives totally plugged-in and shrug it off--what are you gonna do?

But what does spending 24/7--or close to it--on a computer do to our brains? How does it affect our ability to connect in real life. How does it affect our ability to think? Is gaming or surfing the Web addictive? I think it can be.

And what happens if the power goes out? As oil supplies diminish and we need to power down, how will we live? When the storms of global warming hit and the electricity is out for weeks, how will we get along? Those of us past the age of forty will do just fine, I reckon. But how about our kids? How will they live if they're forced to live unplugged?

Better, is what I think, once they get used to the idea. More alive in the world. But I know a lot of people who would disagree with me.


Okay, enough. Off for coffee, then some volunteering at Jack's school, and then errands and chores, errands and chores. So it goes. How does it go for you?


Angela said...

Coughing. Lots.

your recovery gives me hope!!

blessings x

Sandy H said...

The Wind in the Willows is the book that made me want to be a writer. I don't remember how old I was when I read it--middle elementary school, I think. I haven't read it for 20 years, probably, but certain images still float in my head. You're right, though--it wasn't successful as a read-aloud book to my kids when they were little. We only got a chapter or so in before we called it quits. Glad you're feeling better!

Pom Pom said...

I'm glad you are enjoying The Wind in the Willows. I'm VERY glad you are feeling better.
Oh, grades. There are so many teachers who give too much homework. Boys don't want to do it. I get it.
I have had to reprimand my boys lately when they rag on The Giver. You should hear me, "I DO NOT want to hear any more whining about this Newberry Award winning book. DON'T say anything negative about it in front of me, please." I realize they have opinions and that's fine, but playing Call of Duty is ruining their poetic minds. They are slowly getting hooked by the characters, the weird plot.
I hope you do get that little vacation you need.

Tracy said...

I'm so glad you're feeling better. Being summer here we are seeing a few gastro patients around the place. Our school year started yesterday and one of the new Prep's (1st yr at school) vomitted everywhere first thing this morning. YUCK. So glad I missed it all!

I love beautiful language and waste a lot of time when I find books written thus. Maybe Jack will come back to The Wind in the Willows one day?

I just got an iphone. I love it. It's fun. I'm not so used to it that it has become my brain though! I always back up my photos to a USB stick in summer. High fire risk will do that to you - the photos need to be safe without having to lug out the desktop computer in an emergency.

victoria said...

My older children are nearly all nearly back at school after our long summer break, relief....
On technology - I read "The Winter Of Our Disconnect" afew months ago and then was inspired to ban all technology for the kids from Monday - til Friday nights(after dinner, then they watch dvds Friday nights), and really they have done fine and become their old interesting selves again.
Going to go look up your books now!!!

wayside wanderer said...

So glad you are feeling better and getting back to walking is something I am trying to do, too, after some really wet and windy days and about 4 days of a headache.

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm glad you are feeling well again and that you will be able to have your week's vacation! I heard that the cherry blossoms are about to bloom in Washington. Something's weird. I hope a freeze doesn't come and spoil it all.

I was doing some research on vitamins for kids that help them to focus more and have more energy. They have added magnesium. Check out Source Naturals Attentive Child" chewable wafers at Amazon.

Have a great week!

magsmcc said...

Gosh I really am behind this week. Hello! Hope all issues herein are resolving or settling into thier place. Especially thse Willows. Troublesome brood. Hope they're not adding to list of Things I Must Do but can't really be bothered with. My list of those things is deplorable! And I have done nothing all day. Nothing. Watched some ridiculous telly earlier and managed to feed some folk. And ate FAR too many buns, Oh yes. That has to stop now! Bon courage to the housewife and those whom she loves!

GretchenJoanna said...

Last week we (only partially) lost our Internet for a few hours, and there was an undercurrent of panic in the room. At the same time I thought, oh goody, maybe we will have to read a book together!