Letters to Holly

Saturday, February 13

News Action Alert Weather Central Update Bulletin

The snow forecast came in relatively late. I sent an email to Your Sister Friday morning and told her to send me a grocery list, and she acknowledged it. I warned the boss. We're supposed to be out Monday for President's Day, and we're already behind on the magazine. She's a bit anxious about getting it out now. Of course, our printer is in Northern Virginia, and they're closed due to snow anyway.

When the snow began to fall at the office around 2, I emailed and called Your Sister. I needed confirmation that it was snowing at home before I could leave. The boss was nervous about losing more time to bad weather. She was unwilling to concede another shutdown snowfall.

About 4 pm, Your Sis called to say the roads were getting bad, and out the door I went. Things were fine for the first 15 minutes, then the roads and sky merged into gray. The roads became slick, and dumb people were driving. Some were too slow; some, driving white cars, didn't use headlights. I noticed a disturbing trend in 4x4 drivers to drive as if the trucks were fragile. They were slow, forcing all us behind them to lose traction as we slowed. Before I made it into town, Your Sis called to say she was going to the grocery store. I had told her earlier that I would go as I came into town, and this displeased me greatly. We now had two vehicles in the winter junk an hour after she told me to come home. When I made our city limits, I called her to confirm she was heading home. She was. I expected to meet her at the house within five minutes.

The slippery roads were populated by more stupid truck drivers through the hamlet. I went the back way to the house, leaving the highway for what I hoped was a clearer road than the usual way. I knew she was going this route too, and I wondered if I was driving in her tire tracks. I slid a few times before turning onto our neighborhood road, the one with the big hill. We had taken this way to avoid that hill, but we still had the beginning of our street to worry about.

As I approached that road, I again saw the small sedan parked at the intersection of those roads. It had been there since the second snowstorm last weekend. To avoid sliding into it, I veered left. It would give me a straighter route up our road's hill. Unfortunately, veering left took me very left, and I had no control. I slid past the road and down the big hill. I knew I couldn't turn around in the road without risking blocking both lanes. I aimed for the first driveway, and that was when the tires lost traction completely. I crunched into the old ice bank formed from the first snowstorm, and I couldn't move the car. My front end was off the ground. If not for that bank, I would have taken out a telephone pole and hedges. I called Your Sister and got no answer. Not surprising. Her phone is horrible. I called the home line and got nothing. I know she often goes to the bathroom when she arrives home. So I left messages. Angry messages.

As luck would have it, the very first person to come by my stuck car was the state trooper who is also our next-door neighbor. He was able to go back to his house and get shovels. While waiting for him, I went to the house whose driveway I was now blocking and asked for the snow shovel. I got it and started hacking at the ice bank. I again called Your Sis and got nothing. When the trooper returned, he was in his truck, armed with shovels. His wife was riding shotgun. She called her kids at home to peek at our driveway and confirmed Your Sister's car was there. So she wasn't stuck, I thought, she just won't answer the phone.

We dug the car out, and I drove down the hill, turning around to go back up with a running start and hopefully back home. That was easier than driving up our road's hill, and I again slid all over the place before pulling into my roadside parking space in front of our house. I turned off the car, filled with nerves and anger, and called Your Sister again. She answered, and I told her I was home and to check her messages. She said she had called back repeatedly and left messages. I got into the house, and that's when she told me she had gotten stuck (on Holly Road, oddly). She used a bag of cat litter to give her car traction and managed to force her car back onto the road despite no help from those living inside the closest house which just happened to be our other next-door neighbors. She had beaten me home by a few minutes, but her car slid down the driveway before she could reign it in. It's now blocked by bricks.

Today we shoveled and swept. Another neighbor was stuck on a similar ice bank, and neither of us could free it. It stuck atop a bank with each of the right wheels completely off the ground. We left it for the day. When we saw the trooper neighbor come home, Your Sis and I carried leftover cocoa to him in gratitude.

Later in the afternoon, we formally sat down to start the medieval comic. She gave me her page ideas, and I helped shape them into a linear story, and we hashed out a comic. I'll thumbnail the book over this three-day weekend. It might become four day if the forecast snowstorm hits Sunday night. She spent most of the evening working on the comic script, despite my suggestions that she wait until further in the process to nail that down. But I won't push her on this; I know she over-prepares.

Friday, February 12

Into the Fire

So it's the last home game for the basketball teams. It's senior night, and the teams are playing their archrivals. The students held a spirit week with daily dress themes. There were fresh rumors of a weekend snowstorm. There was a buzz before the games began.

All was well until the boys game. This school has a ribald student section. They have dances and coordinated cheers and a costume style (ties and headbands, for whatever reason). They jeer opposing players and cheerleaders. They have fun. They are loud. They can be obnoxious. Last night, they got really obnoxious.

Using logic I can't begin to fathom, one of our students had a photo an archrival player. It's was clipped from a newspaper, and it was of the kid during a game. I wasn't embarrassing. It was just a game photo. But this was brandished throughout the game, and it was meant to rile up the other team's fans. It did.

What was a boisterous game became dangerous quickly. Near halftime, one of their students crossed the aisle to yell at our student section. He was kept at bay by a cop, but our principal, standing not three feet from this, did nothing but watch. Later, the kid with the photo stupidly -- and The Rock means "stupidly" -- walked over to the guest student section and stood in their faces with the picture held aloft. It was yanked away by a guest student. He got mad and grabbed a hat off the head of a student fan. The two-man game of keep-away flowed onto the court during the game. Cops eventually noticed what was going on and tossed the students. Except the kid wearing the hat didn't leave. He hid behind standing students. Some of our kids on the balcony above him saw this and started yelling. The cops didn't notice, and the yelling got the attention of some parents sitting in the guest section. Those two groups began jawing.

Your Sister and I were sitting on the opposite side of the court, between the benches, and watching all this. She called the principal, still standing with the cops between the student sections, to warn him the upstairs section was getting ugly. He couldn't hear her on his cell phone amid the din of the game and the fans. I could tell she was about to bolt, and I tried to block that verbally. Stay here, I said. Let it go, I said. They can handle it. The unstated trump card was "and you're not taking our baby into a fistfight." But she was off, and I told her I was going with her.

At this point, the already tense game was threatening to become a cage match. The teams were five points apart with less than a minute to play, and the guest team was exploiting the lack of a shot clock to hold the ball. This angered the home fans, parents and kids alike. Our team had to play tight defense to get the ball in play, and tempers flared on the court. Fouls were called seemingly every two seconds. That stoked the fans. It was bedlam.

We hopped to the floor by going behind the guest bench (really a line of bleachers), and we jogged to the opposite side, right in front of our student section. She informed a cop what was going on. Seeing this, the parents in the guest section thought she was ratting them out and began yelling at the cop (and probably us). The students upstairs saw this and started getting in their last verbal shots on the adult fans. They responded, and the cop wisely darted up there to shut it down.

Our downstairs student section realized something was up and wanted to see. The first two rows bled out onto the court to catch a look. Your Sis and I were the only adults there to back them up (the principal was probably off still trying to hear her on his cell; she hung up minutes ago), and we kept them off the court. However, our kids higher up on the bleachers were closer to the argument upstairs, and now they wanted to help their buddies. Your Sister was debating what to do. I put my hand on her back and steered her to the other side of the court. Whatever might happen could do so without us involved. We ran back to our seats and again snuck past the guest bleachers. Those kids not playing watched us the whole time and thought we were ratting out their parents and friends. They gave us the stink-eye. I was watching them to make sure they minded their manners, but we were walking between them and other guest fans.

We made it to our seats and watched the game finally end. we lost. I don't care. The situation needed to be tamped down, and I blame the principal for not huddling with the coaches to admonish the fans. The crowed dispersed a little too slowly for my liking, and I got Your Sister out to her car quickly. I watched her leave the parking lot to ensure she didn't try to break up any fights that might happen. I didn't see any, and I drove home myself a few minutes later.

I hope there's some sort of announcement about student behavior only because it would acknowledge something needed to be done. Your Sister shouldn't have been the one to save the day. She later assured me she wouldn't get into harm's way, but I'm not convinced. I'm positive she would restrain herself somewhat to protect Roo, but there we were between two loud, angry, fired-up students sections. That was too close for me comfort. But she did feed me game food of pizza and Snickers, and I'm too appreciative to be stern.

She graded papers when we got home, and I thumbnailed my latest script and discovered I had a comic. I've got 20 pages and a real ending and some wiggle room for panel adjustment. I'm ready to draw out the panels.

Picture of the Day
It's too winter to do anything outside.

Thursday, February 11


Your Sister and I decided to make an official date to brainstorm our medieval comic. If we leave it to whim, it'll never get done. We must rendezvous. I finally have an ending to my hero comic and now must thumbnail it out again and see what kind of page count I'm looking at. It can't be more than 20 pages without becoming prohibitively expensive. But what I'll be cutting is mostly conversation. That should be painless.

We have also decided to stay in Friday night and catch the Olympics opening. We saw the previous Olympics in the summer of 2008 right before your white-jacket ceremony and en route to the Outer Banks. I barely remember the previous Winter Games. They included the Russian skating judge who sabotaged the Canadian pair. They were given a special gold medal for their trouble. Those games seem more than four years ago. Wait, they were! That was 2002 in Salt Lake City. I completely forgot the 2006 Turin Games in Italy. Hokey smoke. I have no memory of those Olympics. I am a horrible American.

I tested GoToMyPC last night, and I can now use my work computer from my home workshop. It's wonderful. I can now telecommute when we have bad weather or a baby.

Please be sure to check your mailbox.

Picture of the Day
I protest. Kermit is his own man frog.

Tuesday, February 9

Dark Clouds

Mom had another sibling health scare. Her brother, Don, had aneurysm surgery last night in Columbia, and she's rattled. Don is the remaining brother. For close family, it's him and her, and me. There are dozens of cousins and great uncles and such, but they're scattered across the state. She still hasn't escaped the routine of work and house, and I encourage her to go see a movie or something to break the routine. This winter has not been kind to her, and she hopes spring will ease her spirits. I wonder. I'd prefer it if she attacked the malaise now. In related news, we're supposed to get more snow tonight.

+ + +

She and Your Sister continue to wield hope against Roo's gender. They want girls. Mom even envisions a certain type of hair. Your Sister latches on to her favorite girl name. It's gonna be me and the likely boy against them. I can't let him fall to the dark side.

I was strangely inclined toward a girl initially, but I feared it was becoming preference, and I squelched it. It's not proper. I had these notions of unleashing a smart tomboy on the world, and I realized it's just as much of an accomplishment to raise a boy who will appreciate that kind of gal. It does seem like all the best names that spring to mind are for girls. The boy list seems suddenly paltry.

+ + +

I'm going to post my journal comics on my website within the week and will update them regularly.

EDIT: Scratch that. The comics are already online. I'll link to them from my website. You, Constant Reader, can find them here.

Picture of the Day
Dr. Chang puppet out of nowhere!

Monday, February 8

Getting Better

Your Sister shook off the head cold over the weekend. I knew I needed to get her out of the house to build up her strength before going back to school. She also needed larger clothes. Two of the town's three department stores have no maternity departments, and we again had to drive out of town to buy something. We had some luck in a local consignment shop, but we indeed crossed the county line to the nearest shopping center. She how has maternity jeans with a stretchy front panel. We measured her belly, and she's at 17 cm from bone to navel, not yet halfway to the final 40-cm plateau.

To fend off a bacterial invasion, she's making yogurt at home. The ER antibiotics alarmed her, and we bought jelly jars to hold our strawberry and raspberry yogurt. I had a taste. It's good stuff.

She is feeling much better, and she's back to work today. We had a low-key Super Bowl with take-out pizza, and she was able to stay up for the whole game. She's no longer sleeping upright like the Elephant Man, and she's almost back to normal. We should be able to huddle up over our minicomic soon. I started thumbnailing the panels for my hero mini based on a script draft. I discovered I currently needed only 14 of my 20 planned pages, and that lets me spread out the panels and make them bigger. That's great news. Still need a good ending though.

The theatre scheduled its annual awards banquet for next Sunday, Valentine's Day. I question the wisdom. I told them I would not be going as I'm going to cuddle up with my missus for our last pre-baby Valentine's Day.

Picture of the Day
The passion of the graphic designer.