Letters to Holly

Friday, August 19

Piling On

And now he has diaper rash.

It really should be called "diaper raw," because it's a sunburn in his pants. The common zinc oxide creams hurt him, and my almost-brilliant notion of aloe did no better. The daycare uses A&D which is mostly petroleum, and we've moved to that at home. Your Sis had me run out last night for a stronger ointment, but virtually all of them have zinc oxide. I went with the old-fashioned A&D (I hadn't heard of it before this week), and it does seem to help the most. We also started baking-soda baths.

We called the local nurse hotline. We were told to try an athlete's foot cream under the possibility that this is fungal. Your Sister wondered if this might be a yeast infection brought on by the antibiotics for his ears, and the doctor had in fact checked his mouth for thrush Monday at the follow-up. The soda baths were confirmed as a remedy, and it was suggested we give him as many as four a day. It was also advised that we skip the wipes for now and wash him off in the tub to clean him.

He was miserable for the last two days, but was almost normal this morning. The irritation is still there, but he's not as sensitive to a dirty diaper. We know the daycare folks have seen everything, and we trust their recommendations. I hope he's getting all the maladies out of his system before we go to Atlanta.

Picture of the Day
This behemoth towers over Asheville. I took this outside the Blue Spiral art gallery Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 17


Your Sister crashed into sleep early last night, driven to comaville by a weekend of class preparation and two days of student wrangling. Also she was frustrated by a lack of empathy from fellow teachers when she mentioned that she turned down a request to mentor a new teacher. They countered by citing their own workload.

I think they meant to be encouraging to the teacher fresh from maternity leave. Instead they sounded competitive, as if she were slacking off. That rankled Your Sis. I reminded her that these were two teachers who very recently applied for positions outside the department. They were clearly hoping to escape some job obligations as well. They also refused to take the department chair job, letting it fall by default to her. They don't take on all the potential responsibilities. Neither should she. She was asked to mentor a new PE teacher, not someone in her department or even close by her classroom. She hasn't coached a team in five years. How could she mentor that position?

After putting down the sidekick, she shuffled into the TV room where I had Little House on the Prairie waiting for her. She plopped on the couch and vegged. She thinks her work pressure will ease off as the semester moves forward under its own power. That's encouraging. I slapped together dinner to the chirping of Melissa Gilbert.

Kathy and Travis asked that I draw a picture of their eldest daughter as Spider-Girl, and I sketched that out as the missus slept.My Mom's fried also asked that I draw her grandson based on a school photo.

Picture of the Day
This DragonCon beard is getting scraggly.

Tuesday, August 16

Rage. Mow. Rage. Yank.

You know that my job can rub me the wrong way. Monday was especially bad. Something minor -- and I could admit even then that it was minor -- got under my cuticles, and I was ready to walk. The sidekick shuts down that line of thinking pretty quick, much quicker than I might have entertained it.

When I got home, I handed him off to Your Sister and explained that the weather made mowing the yard too convenient to put off. Also, I needed to burn off the frustration. I only mowed the front yard. The backyard would take too long, and I didn't want to force Your Sis to do the boy's entire downtime herself. I figured I could shave the yard and get back inside to bathe him. And I did. I timed it just right.

The yard really did need the mow. My neighbor hires a crew to manicure his lawn to the height of a golf green, and mine looks like it belongs to a meth lab by comparison. As soon as his yard is cut, I feel that tractor beam of friendly competitive home ownership.

It got cut, and I got inside. The boy got bathed. I fed him his bedtime snack and turned on the oven to warm for supper. When Your Sis put him to bed, I prepped the wings. The oven temperature alarm went off, and I shoved the food inside and hit the timer for the usual 20 minutes (wings bake for 20 minutes before I smother them in sauce and bake for another 20 minutes). I added two minutes and ran outside to slip on the waiting yard shoes to weed the sweet potatoes.

Those vines have been covered in weeds and grass for weeks, and I could never quite get to them. That ate at me since I first noticed it, and I knew I had the lingering anger to power through it in record time. But I wanted to get back in before the first timer went off. And again I did. I got back inside with three minutes left, so I would have returned with just one minutes to go before I added the sauce. I did that, showered, and called My Mom to report on the sidekick's follow-up appointment yesterday morning. The second timer gave me an excuse to get off the phone and yank Your Sis away from her desk; she needed a dinner break amid the schoolwork.

She ate as we caught up on the day. Her first day in front of kids was fine, but she has hours and hours between bathroom breaks, and there's still some sort of organization to do, requiring time at her desk. I draw. I surf online. I clean up.

I did burn it all out of me and eventually figured out how the sparking event could actually be turned in my favor. I call that a minor victory.

Picture of the Day
That was my face as I mowed. (Which one? ALL OF THEM.)

Monday, August 15

Make That Bird

We took a road trip to Greenville to see the Rollergirls. The home team is just starting, and their facilities are small. It's a county rec center, and the entire game -- bout, benches, audience, ticket booth -- was inside a hockey rink enclosure. You know the set-up the Asheville Civic Center uses for winter ice skating? We were in that in Greenville. Maybe three hundred people were in attendance, but I'm sure our team went through the same dues-paying foundation building.

I got to talk finally to my contest liaison, and she apologized for what happened with my logo design. I said I still consider the logo 90% my design (she agreed), and I still get to see it in action and on the streets. I told her I've worked for years in jobs where my artwork goes through committees. She seemed relieved.

Because this was the county pavilion, it's food bar catered to kids. No beer. We went to the afterparty to get our beer, and it was a karaoke party for the local team. Our team left early to drive back home, and we didn't stick around either. I did get to see four rollergirls table dance to Def Leppard, so I feel like I got my birthday party.

It was also the birthday of one of our rollergirls, and I congratulated her after the bout. Funny trivia: If you wanted to find anyone from the two teams in intermission or after the bouts, they were outside the pavilion smoking. How can they compete doing that?

Oh, and Your Sister gave me a six-pack of money to spend on the road trip.

A six-pack of money!

I spent Sunday fixing my DragonCon bird prop. My character, Shipwreck, has a green bird, and the one I bought in the Outer Banks is red.

It just wasn't close enough for my liking. I spent some lunch breaks buying glues and feathers and paints and devoted Sunday to my bird upgrade.

I peeled the feathers off the bird and arranged them in a vertical exploded fashion so I could see how many and in what arrangement I'd need to recreate with my new feathers.

But my new feathers were larger and fluffier -- more like duster feathers -- than the flat plastic originals. I could trim and cut, but the half-feathers fell apart. My bird would be fluffier. I couldn't avoid it.

The real trick was figuring how to apply them. The Elmer's glue I bought wouldn't adhere to the Styrofoam frame. By studying how the larger original feathers were attached, I saw that they were glued together and then glued to the bird. I was surprised the quills weren't jammed into the Styrofoam, but I decided to follow their method. I hot glued them together, and that was very successful. But applying hot glue to the frame was a problem because the hot glue ate into the frame. Eventually I tried rubber cement in the classic dry-to-dry method. That worked fine.

After periods of gluing feathers and frame and allowing them to dry before combining, I had a fully feathered bird.

The pictures make it look much less shaggy than it really is. It looks like it's molting. But it's now the proper colors.

I can trim and shape the feathers to smooth it out. That will be easy work after the experimentation of glues and paint. (Paint didn't work. I would need the plastic aerosol paint that you use for swing sets and metal benches. That would make the bird heavy and lacquered.)
Your Sister spent a lot of time this preparing her classroom for today's grand opening of the fall semester. I think she overplans, but I understand wanting to direct momentum.