Letters to Holly

Wednesday, September 29

New Duds for All

When I went home Monday, I was sure I would not be able to run. It had poured and poured for two days. It was the kind of constant rainfall you start to take personally after a while. It was a rain with a disposition, and I again was reminded I live in the Land Where Water Falls.

Tangent: When I came to this fair hamlet for my first college years, the city limits featured a billboard hailing the locale as Land of Water Falls. In my capacity as illustrator for the school paper, I made a cartoon of my recurring character holding an umbrella next to that sign. He had just vandalized it with a paint brush and changed "of" to "where." It was a simple joke, but I was genuinely amazed at the climate change here, just an hour from my hometown that doesn't get anything like this constant precipitation. I knew the joke had hit home when one of my professors quoted in in class to complain about the weather. That billboard has been gone for years, by the way.

There was no rain when I arrived home, and I took the relatively clear skies and the deputy's tranquility as a sign. I put on the new running shoes, and assured Your Sister I would not run the full course. I hadn't yet broken in the shoes, as per the Great Running Commandments, and I'll be back shortly, I said. But then I started running. Compared to stomping in my old pair of shoes, this felt like bounding. I was able to maintain a gear I hadn't seen since springtime, and I indeed ran the whole course. I still felt some shin pain, but I blame the incline of the new sidewalk. They thinned the road to install this biking and walking path, but they didn't grade the hills.

Now I have a new course time to match and beat, and I just registered for the Halloween race. Still no clue what costume to get. The registration fine print is interrupted by a very not-fine, red, italicized, and caps-locked sentenced that no baby strollers or joggers are allowed in the race. We are told that every year, and every year I see strollers. I assume the people who make the forms are not the same as those manning the race.

Tuesday, Your Parents minded the deputy for the whole day, giving Your Sister a breather. All parties seemed OK with the experiment, and Your Mom likes the idea of having him once a week. We'll see. He had a bad night when he got home, chugging milk like some milk-chugging thing, and he may have given himself colic. I suspect, however, that he was fighting sleep. A colic remedy or drops of sugar water calmed him down, probably by filling him up to the point of oblivion. I discovered by accident that blowing in his face when he's screaming distracts him from the fit. He closes his eyes and resets his breathing, and enough of this put him to sleep. The combination of this and the candy water knocked him out.

Your Sis took the time-out to go to the gym, and she's weighing options for getting active and back to fighting shape. Apparently chasing her around the couch doesn't qualify.

Speaking of Your Mom, I learned that Elton John will be playing Asheville in November, and I invited her to see him with me. Your Sister won't go; she hates Elton John. And yet I married her. Your Mom declines out of concern for the ticket expense, but I offered to buy her ticket as a way to thank her for watching the deputy. I'm going, even if I fly solo. I saw the man perform more than 20 years ago, and this concert is touted as a "greatest hits" tour. I'm all over it. I literally don't remember a time when he wasn't on the radio. He's as ensconced in the musical wallpaper as the Beatles, Eagles, and Stones.

Picture of the Day
As part of a new series on science that "emphasizes a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum by modeling the processes of scientific inquiry," SuperGrover will sport a new costume on Sesame Street. I'm OK with this.

Monday, September 27


Before I recap the weekend, let me offer a hearty welcome to our readers from far-off lands. Last week's visits represent Ukraine, Netherlands, Russia, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, South Korea, Latvia, Denmark, and Germany. Good day, all.

I watched a rerun of Top Gear from 2006. The hosts traveled to America, bought cars for $1,000, and drove from Miami to New Orleans. America did not come off well. But it's a comedy show; perhaps they edited out all the nice, fit folks. Nice isn't funny. Neither is skinny.

Obviously the big event this weekend was my high-school reunion. I admit to developing nerves the day before, but I decided they were the eager kind of nerves and realized I was happy to catch up with certain people. We thumbed through my senior annual again Friday night, and I identified who belonged to what clique.

I bought new running shoes Saturday morning and got the exact same model despite my misgivings. My previous pair of Saucony's developed a leak in the heel supports. I could feel the difference as soon as I put on the new pair, and they felt so good, I bought them before I could change my mind.

We managed to pack up the baby and leave early that afternoon. This never happens. We got to My Mom's house on time, unloading a heap of baby supplies and walking through each piece of equipment. I didn't doubt her ability to improvise or fall back on her habits with me, but the supplies are newfangled. They are high-tech compared to what I used as a baby. His colic cranked up after a feeding, and we all tried different soothing techniques. We rolled him through the neighborhood before I picked up dinner, and we inhaled it before leaving for the hotel. Your Sister is hollowed her inability to comfort him, and he was still roaring when we drove away. I try to assure her and remind her we were told not to despair when he has a crying fit. The hospital made us watch a video about handling crying and colic before we took him home, and the message was clear: steel yourself and breathe.

We checked into the brand-new hotel in my hometown and changed into what we guessed was "business casual." I wore a sweater over a button-up, and I could only do this because of massive air-conditioning machines. The town was an oven even before all the development.

It was a smaller party than her reunion, and that was expected. It was quickly pointed out to me that the majority of the attendees were women. There were not many male alumni. My reunion did improve on hers in one respect: the ID tags were distinct in shape and design for alums and their spouses. Smart. The first person I saw was a lady I've known since second grade. She pointed out others we knew just as long (including one current state senator), and the conversations were happy and eager. Virtually everyone cheered that they finally got to meet The Countess. She was more popular than I, and that's fine.

I huddled mostly with two alums, one I was very close to after high school. She was also in the senior drama class, and she brought a scrapbook of photos from that class. We traded stories and asked about people we lost contact with. I met her husband, and they both seem ridiculously happy. Another gal flew in from Alaska for the reunion. She looked fabulous.

A reunion photo was arranged, and I was shocked when our class's homecoming queen approached me to catch up. We were in vastly different social circles, and I assumed my profile was too low to register with most folks. There were some people who wooshed by as I tried to make eye contact, and that's not surprising. The remnants of the cliques were apparent. Our small group watched the small dance floor contingent before saying goodbye. It was good. It's nice to be remembered.

We retired to our room around 11, and I fetched the sidekick from Mom. He had fallen asleep not long after we left. I snacked in the hotel room before we called it a night. The baby slept between us in a portable framed bed of his own, and he stayed out the whole night. I can never sleep in hotel rooms, regardless of the roommates and the hotel surroundings. It's an annoying quirk.

We check out at noon and ran into some alums I hadn't spoken with the night before. We had our kids in tow and cooed over the children. We gassed up, bought a bag of snacks, and drove home. Sunday was all about laundry and unpacking, and very little else got done.

Picture of the Day
There's a lot of stuff up there.