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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Gathering acorns

There is something about Fall that causes my brain to present the image of squirrels hoarding acorns to accompany my every task. Perhaps this is because I am so poetic and metaphorical! Or perhaps it's because there are about four hundred squirrels in my yard, fighting over acorns. No matter. October is the month for battening down the hatches, readying for Winter, and gathering (figurative) acorns.

I've just finished walking around my house and lowering all the storm windows. One of the things I love about my house is that it is very well-lit. One of the things I hate about my house is that it possesses no less than six thousand windows, all of which are original to the structure (circa 1970). If you don't live in a house with old-fashioned windows, allow me to enlighten you. My house is a typical colonial for this area, which is to say that I have double-hung windows with storm inserts. The main window runs on a track of metal imbedded in the wood. This track probably performed marvelously for a week or two after installation. Since then, each and every track has experienced one or all of the following: 1) bending of the metal due to mishandling of the window, 2) warping of the surrounding wood due to age, 3) stickiness due to being painted shut one or more times. Opening the main window is a task in and of itself. Also, I don't know who invented the concept of the double-hung window, but I would sincerely like to meet him, and slap him. Hard. Should I manage to get the lower pane where I'd like it to go (either up or down), the upper pane invariably slips down a few inches and then refuses to budge.

Assuming that I am able to master the opening of the main window, the fun begins. First I need to raise the screen on the storm track. Depending on how many gazillions of insects have nested, mated, and/or died along the edges of the track, this may or may not be an easy task. Once the screen is raised, I am faced with determining which of the two storm panes is the one I should lower. Ideally, one pane is already fitted to the top of the frame, and one is a bit further down, and the lower one is the one to be brought down. But if I'm very lucky (and with so many windows, I am always lucky), both storm panes will be at equal height, and I will subsequently choose to lower the one that was, in fact, keeping the entire shebang in place, and my attempts to move a single pane will result in all three pieces (screen and two storm panes) crashing down on my unsuspecting wrists. Bonus points, of course, if the resulting crash also causes the top pane of the main window to slip a few inches and then get stuck!

The very saddest part of my annual window wrangle? While this is not the draftiest place I've ever lived (that honor goes to my first "independent" apartment post-college, which was not only roach-infested but so drafty the wind could move the metal venetians a full four inches from the window at a gust), lowering the storms is an exercise in futility because every single window sash is so warped, there's a steady breeze under each window, regardless. I should invest in some weatherstripping, I know. But, Jesus wept, did I mention the six thousand windows?

Next on my list is the switchover to flannel bedding. Each child has a flannel quilt courtesy of Grammie, the Mad Quilter. Grammie (my ex mother-in-law) may hate my guts and I may have a few not-entirely-kind opinions about her, but she makes a heckuva quilt. I was able to keep the kids' Winter quilts here on the logic that they sleep here most of the time, which saved me the fun of pointing out that--as far as I can tell--the ex hasn't actually changed/washed the kids' bedding at his house since he moved in. Ahem. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Flannel quilts. Gorgeous, they are. And warm. Once we get those out, it's time to break out the flannel sheets, and even The Children Who Hate Sleep cannot resist the lure of the fuzzy snuggly stars-and-moons sheets and the fuzzy snuggly snowmen sheets.

The one bone of contention around The Time Of The Flannel Sheets? The kids fight over which sheets go on my bed. On account of, I am a tremendous dork, and my two sets of flannel sheets are the same as the flannels for their beds. So Chickadee argues that I need to have the stars-and-moons like her, and Monkey counters that I really want the snowmen, like him. Heh.

Once we hit the time change, it will be time for me to get out my lightbox. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which I'm sure is a huge surprise given how you have just never seen a mood more stable than mine. Hahahahahahaha, I crack me up. Hee. Yeah. Anyway, SAD is a great thing where as soon as the days get shorter, I more or less find myself locked in a constant debate about whether I would rather jump off a cliff or just sleep all day. But some cool scientists figured out that people like me with this little brain glitch could be "reset" with the application of more light! So they invented these incredibly expensive lightboxes (thank you to the person who invented eBay, for those of us with SAD who are, nonetheless, cheap). My lightbox is a big rectangular thing which gives off light at a level of 10,000 lux or something, which is science-speak for "pretty damn bright." I park this baby on the desk and sit in front of it for twenty or thirty minutes each day during the cold, dark Winter. Although I remain pasty white and my retinas are somewhat singed, the end result is that I do not end up as a headline like "Woman Snaps: Squashes Children, Then Self, In Storm Windows."

In a little while I will head out for the last elusive piece of Winter gear: snowpants for Chickadee. Once those are acquired, both kids will have everything they need. Then I can look forward to the first blizzard with only the usual amount of dread, rather than the panic that accompanies knowing that there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth and accusations of neglect because I have not assembled all twenty-six pieces of outerwear required for a New England storm! (Why do I live here, again?)

This afternoon is our Big Meeting with the teacher and the principal. This, too, goes along with my mental acorns, as I am eager to have this situation squared away before we're into the additional stressors of Winter. We had friends join us for dinner last night under the guise of my having cooked too much and being friendly. Truly, I was being selfish; I was dying for some adult cameraderie, first of all, and also I needed someone to go over things with me, pre-meeting. The children ran amock while my friend helped me organize my thoughts and prioritize the salient points. I'm ready. I'm calm. I have a complicated child, yes. Her needs are not being met. Here are my ideas/suggestions, and here are my expectations. Let's come up with a plan.

I'm happy to be making progress, but once I get all of this other stuff done, you know what that means. I'll have to rake the leaves. *sob*