Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Only the stubbornest of leaves remained on the trees by Thursday. We had two days of very intense wind, enough to blow down trees, tip over semis, and cancel a West Middleton 5th grade field trip to Chicago. The weather is responsible for a great mystery as far as I’m concerned. Where did all the leaves go? Monday afternoon, before the big blow arrived, the portion of our driveway where I park the car was covered with leaves, and, even though we had raked the previous weekend, a fair number of leaves had once again settled on the front lawn. Mother Nature acted like a vacuum on Tuesday and Wednesday. Not only our yard but everyone else’s seemed to be swept clean. The back half of the open lot next to us had been a carpet of yellow and brown silver maple leaves. By Thursday morning, they had all vanished, except for those caught in the chain-link fence. Our front yard looked ready for spring fertilizing, as does everyone else’s in our neighborhood. The leaves couldn’t have just disappeared. Some folks in Middleton must have looked out their windows this morning with great consternation. Or maybe they all blew up to Two Rivers.

Thursday was a beautiful day. By early afternoon, the sky was clear and the air was calm. I walked home for lunch, ignoring the short list of groceries I was going to drive to Sentry to buy. I figured there was still enough lunch meat in the refrigerator for one more sandwich. And I was right. I was able to recharge myself for the rest of the workday.

Andy made the Tri-County 5th grade basketball team, one of ten boys selected out of the 22 who tried out. Almost half the guys are from his soccer and baseball and football teams this year. Ross, Johnny, Drew, Riley. The coach, John Strnad, was Andy’s soccer coach for 5 years, from kindergarten through 4th grade. The team had its first practice Wednesday evening and will practice for 90 minutes twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays, between now and the end of the year. Their schedule of games, two per weekend, begins in January and runs through most of March, probably ending right before spring break.

Andy started to lose his little jelly belly and get a little beefier in the chest, as you noticed, during football season. Considering all the exercise he’ll be getting this winter, he’ll be in great shape by the start of soccer season. Running would be good exercise for Andy, but it’s an activity that he dislikes, based on his reaction to having to run the mile during gym class in school. Eddie received his report card last Friday. He seems to be doing quite well in second grade so far. His teachers are very pleased with his overall effort. The special education classes have allowed him to make some very noticeable improvement in his reading skills. He has homework (word recognition, spelling, and reading assignments) every night, and JoAnna and I work very closely with him. Andy gets his report card today. Based on the work he brings home, I think we’ll be pleased with the results, but I know that there is going to be room for improvement. Andy certainly has the ability to get straight A’s – his teachers at Elm Lawn have consistently told us that he doesn’t work up to his full potential – but he’s content to give his schoolwork a “B” effort. JoAnna and I don’t harass him about his grades. I’m sure my wife was more competitive gradewise, but I, too, was usually content to settle for a “B”, not driven to sacrifice other activities to achieve straight A’s. As I have come to realize, the grades you earn in school are only a small part of the picture as far as determining success in life. What I want Andy and Eddie to appreciate is that learning is a lifelong experience; it doesn’t end when you are out of school. (Sounds like a librarian talking, huh?)

JoAnna is still catching up on all the sleep she lost during the long election campaign. Last night, she wrapped herself in a blanket and watched TV while lying on our bed. I checked in on her a few minutes after.   Frasier was playing to an empty house. JoAnna was sleeping peacefully, obviously to Kelsey Grammar’s and David Hyde Pierce’s nattering. (I’ve always thought that Frasier was a more tolerable character in a supporting role on Cheers.) Shortly after 8:30, she wandered from the bedroom to the kitchen, the blanket still wrapped around her.

“I’m going to bed,” she informed me, as if I didn’t already know the direction in which her evening was heading. “I’m sorry,” she said at least three times as I escorted her back to the bedroom.

“There’s nothing to apologize about. You deserve to take it easy. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get the boys to bed and then I’m going to read for awhile.”

She was actually awake when I went to bed at 10:00. I tuned in a showing of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on the American Movie Channel. I listened to the recorded book version a couple months ago and really enjoyed it. Jo lasted through the first 10 minutes of the movie, and I must have dozed off a couple times during the hour that I tried to stay awake. I found the pace a little plodding.

Hope this letter finds both of you doing well. We send you our love.

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