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2008-08-01 - 6:31 a.m.

...the joys of doing nothing...

It's August now, and I've picked up the computer again. I went through my emails and saw all of the things that require responses...and I've let them sit. They can sit for 11 days. The computer is only for fun things: FUN things. Like writing online product reviews, playing sudoku and other games, and ordering products.

I am reading a Paul Auster book that I bought in Europe last year and finally started reading last week in Funcouver, and I'm almost finished with it. (I took time out from it yesterday to read a baby discipline book. blah. I distilled the essence in half a day. It was probably worth the read for the 1-2 tips I got, but I wouldn't consider it essential reading for every parent.) Anyway, I've enjoyed Brooklyn Follies just as I enjoy all other Auster novels - I really like his way of telling a story, and in particular how he is able to bring me back to this area of NY where my friend Katherine lives. This book in particular makes the author's scathing opinion of our current president be known - which makes me smile to confirm that Auster is like-minded.

And so now I'm trying to decide if I should pick up a short mystery novel, or if I should dive into a James Michener tome that my mother picked up at a library book sale for a fraction of a cent. It's about the Caribbean - one of his typical trips through the history of a region of the world. I prefer Edward Rutherford's historical journeys because they begin in prehistoric times, but Michener is also quite engaging.


Susi is having a fabulous time rolling all over floors, making great strides in rolling, crawling, talking, grabbing, eating, and drinking. She is so excited by her newly-developed skill with cups that she is beginning to refuse the bottle. That might not be good when I get back...But what is wonderful is the adoring smile she flashes the instant she sees grandma or grandpa, and the happy babbling she directs at them. I love to watch it. I only wish that she were able to settle into a full night of sleep without needing to request multiple feeds. I'm working on this.

A few days ago, K and I took the rowboat out on a 40-minute row around nearby Cedar Island. We were less than halfway back when one of the oarlocks sheared right off. So there we were, baking in the afternoon sun, with one oar...we got ourselves back by using one oar as a canoe paddle, which took a bit extra time.

Poor Grandpa was displeased to have to deal with yet another problem (that same day, their futon bed frame snapped in half..). These problems quickly escalated into "disasters." The other two "disasters" of the day occurred when K used the wrong filter in the coffee machine and inadvertently dumped coffee grounds all over the kitchen, and when the barbeque fire went out because Grandpa was dealing with the futon and the coffee pot...

Grandpa has never been very good at dealing with things breaking, and it is unlikely we are going to modify this character trait now that he is 73 years old. But here's where the balance of a loved one is wonderful to watch, as my mother's cheerful optimism bounces him back into play. (They were just married this year, but they have been together for nearly 20 years now. So I've been observing this dynamic for quite a long time.)

Anyway, with regards to the oar, we were quite lucky. We were able to go off to the boat fair, which just happened to be in Clayton this weekend. And the guys who made this incredible Adirondack rowboat just happened to be at the boatfair, and we just happened to call the guy JUST as he was packing up the van, so that he brought a set of replacement oars (investigation revealed that there was a bubble in the casting - the brass oar lock was indeed defective).

So the optimistic rest of the family buoyed Grandpa into seeing that this was an excuse for all of us to take the car down to Clayton to exchange the oars, and in the meantime wander through the shops. Which we did. Grandpa still worked hard to earn his nickname of "Eeyore," but K went along and kept him company as they wandered through the town and looked at the boats on the river.

The excitement of tying oars to the roof of the car: harmonics. The wind in the ties created this amazingly LOUD and deep buzzing sound - sounded like the car was taking off. I don't think that I would choose to have oars tied to the roof all the time.

K is having a wonderful time. I've even gotten him to read a book for fun. Yesterday he got entirely pissed off at one of our gadgets, in which our rechargeable batteries have gotten stuck. He spent the day with a hand drill, rigging the plastic device so that we could scoot the batteries out with a screwdriver. He was frustrated with the toy..but happy to have a brainless project, I think. :-)

When we came home, Grandpa immediately dove into HIS projects (he does have a bit of a problem sitting still...), which is to annihilate a colony of hornets that have taken up residence in the dock. Grandpa is highly allergic to stinging insects, and so their presence is not tolerated near the house. And so he waited until dark...and scoped out his attack strategy...his approach from the water...and BOMBED them. I have yet to learn if his secret attack was successful.

Unlike Grandpa, I have little problem with doing nothing. I baked a loaf of bread and have been making a few salads for dinner and watching Susi...but other than that, I've been loafing around watching the river flow by. OH, there has been the occasional canoe ride on the River.

I love riding in the canoe, especially with Grandpa. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, one of my favorite things was to go running with Grandpa in the Park. He went 2 1/2 miles every morning at 5:30am (the only time when temperatures were tolerable in a St. Louis summer) and he would call to wake me up to go with him. He and I would spend a good hour together - we neither of us spoke during the run, but we would enjoy a conversation about politics or economics or geology or music during the cool down. It is a favorite memory.

At 73 following knee surgery, Grandpa doesn't run anymore, but he still canoes, and he is still pretty darned strong. I love going out with him in a canoe on the water, because we get to have the same kind of talk - a canoe is quiet and uncomplicated. You don't have motors interfering with hearing aids, and you don't need to concentrate on going about to get the sail into the wind and the boat around the bluff. This year's canoe ride was somewhat abbreviated and exciting because we did it in high wind, with 2-3 foot swells. But it was worth the excitement, and I hope to conjure someone - maybe mom - into going out with me again.

I've wandered on for a bit and now mom is here for a chat. But this is what life is like on the River. sigh. lovely.

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