January 2, 2000
Much has happened since my last entry, and in trying to set up a new document for the new century I have wasted at least an hour. This computer is not Beverly-friendly; it makes me so frustrated that I hardly ever enjoy sitting down here, and often can't even think. Try again!
In a flurry of Christmas shopping in the second and third weeks of the month I ordered things from catalogs, and made a couple of trips to Bayshore Mall and to Borders Bookstore. I enjoyed wrapping all the presents, and took them to the Mail Box, where, happily, they took care of the rest. For the twins I got some size-10 bell-bottom jeans in the fifties style, with embroidered and sequined flowers on the pant legs. I'd love to see them wearing them. Also, for Brinkley I bought a cute blue and green corduroy overall, with a matching top. The pillow for Mykaila from the Art Museum in a modern design I'd have liked for myself, as I would have the Eugene McCarthy tongue-in-cheek book on politics for Peter.
The last day before the Christmas vacation at the Nursery school was sweet but hectic, with the Gingerbread House shining in all its glory. Afterwards Jeanne and I went with the two other teachers, Linda and Jody, to the Shorewood Inn for a long two-hour lunch, full of happy spirits and good talk.
Paul came on December 21st, for his traditional Christmas visit, to make our holidays a joy. He came and left early in the mornings, which added to the excitement, and I drove down and back in the darkness without a hitch. This time we enjoyed him more than ever, and Bob was especially pleased that he felt he "got closer" to Paul. They had several long conversations, mostly about Bob's health I gathered. Let's see what little vignettes stick in my memory.
1) The beautiful sunrise as I drove over the high-rise bridge downtown, with dark blue smoke billowing across the sky, highlighted by coral tinges as the sun came up. Before Paul arrived I found a D.H. Lawrence book I haven't read, "The Boy in the Bush," set in Australia. Then in one of the shops I bought a Wisconsin cow potholder, and a linen towel with birds on it for Paul's Christmas.
2) Lunches in our sunshine-bright dining room each day, where I taped newspapers to the windows to keep the sun out of Bob's and Paul's eyes. At the first day's lunch we gave Paul his four $10,000 checks for which he was momentarily speechless. Later he thanked us profusely, telling me how much difference it would make in his ability to buy a house — which he has dearly wanted these last few years.
3) Shopping at Bayshore with Paul, wandering about looking for pajamas and a magnifying glass for Bob. While I waited Paul bought himself some tennis shoes of white, yellow, and gray — very comfortable he said. Pretty fashionable, I thought.
4) Opening presents on Christmas morning, consisting of many books and CD's — our favorite things. Paul was happy with a Sony Walkman radio, Bob and Paul had chosen a new camera for me, and the only offbeat gift for Bob was a Galileo Thermometer-quite attractive, but limited in its precision. It's surprising, though, how much the temperatures in the house vary from one room to another. Bob's favorite was probably the Scrabble game Paul gave him, which keeps us thinking about how to beat Maven on the computer.
5) Cooking the usual big Christmas dinner, featuring a 9-pound turkey breast, and a oversize casserole of bread stuffing made to Paul's order. My kitchen efforts expanded into a wider variety with Paul here, including a quite successful Vegetable Lasagna.
6) Working on the jigsaw puzzle, a photograph of Victorian objects on a table called “Well Deserving.” It was not easy, but provided many happy hours.
7) Talking in the living room with Paul as we drank soda and cracked nuts — as always my favorite activity during his visit. We covered a range of subjects: his wish to find a new job, a house for him, the carving of his rocking horse, Dad's health, my painting, our reading, the computer, our daily lives, and much more.
8) Visiting Barbara's family on Sunday, featuring cheese and crackers and spiced tea, along with Christmas cookies. Hilary brought her own soda crackers and drank water, but Daniel made up for her by steadily eating. Talking filled the room; I was particularly proud of Paul's ability to be articulate and cool. Freidmans stayed a long time — a sign of a good time?
9) Taking Bob for his appointment at Columbia Hospital, with Paul solicitous of Bob and helping get him in and out of the car at the hospital's east entrance. Paul and I had coffee and chips, and more good talk, this time about our mutual feeling of closeness. Bob is slowly getting back to his old self, though the new medications raise problems of their own. His confused and objectionable thinking seems to have cleared up, but on the other hand he is less inclined to consider alternatives, and sticks to tried and true subjects in a less scholarly way. His sleep has become most important, and he pops one pill after another to achieve a good night. More and more his thoughts seem self-absorbed, though he does make obvious efforts to consider me and my needs and interests. He has great faith in Dr. Houghton, but I have my doubts about her. They have yet to do any medical tests, and Bob is three months overdue for Dr. Roe's annual checkup, and his dental appointment. I miss his interesting conversations, but know it's a major effort for him to keep his health on an even keel. Peter's box of books and CD's added to our Christmas joy, and we had a couple of good talks on the phone. He was quite touched by his preinheritance checks, and says they are now considering buying a piano — which I hinted at when I sent the checks by the Steinway ad from the phone book yellow pages. They had a big Christmas, and he was all wound up in their family celebration. I am so happy for him and his satisfaction with his life.
Back to my "self-absorbed" routines now. The Christmas tree we bought was the largest one we've had for awhile, and I had a major wrestle with it in the front hall getting it upright and in the stand. As usual we thought it looked lovely, and it came down a couple of days ago. Now it's onward to the new century. There are so many CD's to listen to (Corelli, Mozart's Requiem, all of Mahler's symphonies, and my first CD by Tchaikovsky), books to read (The History of China, Mahler's biography, Galileo's Daughter, and Tender is the Night), and pictures to take. I still have to figure out my new camera, and think of some mid-winter projects to keep me occupied. Tomorrow my toddlers' job begins again too; I miss them and Jeanne. We'll have a lot to talk about.