All three of the grandchildren who’ve been here came with
interesting reading habits. They read fantasy. I picked up a couple or three to
read, and was not impressed by thin plots and limited vocabularies. Emily joined book club, realized thought
provoking literature was available, at the library, no less, and moved on.
A year ago this past summer I mentioned to Laura that some
book she was reading seemed based on Grimms. I unearthed Grimms from the
basement library, and she read the little green volume from my childhood. Then
I handed over Andersen, and suggested she read at least up to the nightingale
story, or the little mermaid.
For their first Christmas here I flooded the children with
classics, hoping to influence their reading habits for the better. The Andersen
volume went to Emily, with some others, and languished on the bottom shelf of
her bookcase. Laura was the reader of it, though, and I see it now lives on the
bottom shelf of her bookcase.
And so on to this year. Over the summer I took her to see the
professional production of a play. This year she’s joined drama club. She spent
all of junior high being too timid to join. Over the summer we went to a
production of You Can’t Take It With You,
and the ending was surprisingly well done. I was impressed by the set and
the costumes, and pointed out to Laura all the work that goes into a production
by the folks who put it on. She’s joined drama club “to work on sets or
costumes.” One doesn’t ask.
Those are pleasant parts of the world through young eyes. My
unpleasant part is band, band shows and football games. Joe, my car pooler, has
a license and a car, so I have Laura’s round trip. Retrieval from band practice
at nine o’clock plus Wednesday nights is not too far outside the pale. But,
Friday night football and the occasional Saturday band show are!
The young, tailgating parents are, frankly, insane. But, at
least they are already at the event, and can retrieve Susie and Johnny and get
on home. For me, when pigs fly. I have found a school website that posts the
big plays each quarter, and the score. I look at it occasionally, and about mid
fourth quarter head off to the school. We’re talking late for grandmas, but I
flip on the local public radio station for Los Angeles Theater productions.
Laura generally has an unfavorable remark or two, before she
falls asleep on the way home. Last weekend she suddenly listened to the
production of Pride and Prejudice,
and asked me to fill her in on characters and what she missed. At home, we sat
in the drive, at midnight, listening to the end.
“Emily has this,” Laura announced. “She left it here! I’m
going to read that.”
I looked. Complete
Works of Jane Austen lives in another bedroom now.
Except for the ten years I was married, I never learned how
to cook. When there was no one to cook for me, I winged it with a bag of
noodles, a stick of butter and a can each of lima beans, corn, and tomatoes.
Fresh tomatoes, in season.
Fortunately, people around me could cook. My daughters, my
sister, eventually my granddaughters. No one went hungry, especially me.
Emily and Laura were defacto cooks last July, when we moved.
Emily cooked like Aunt Janice, and pretty much elbowed Laura away from the
stove during the several weeks before she went off to college. Big sister
syndrome. Though Emily had little hope for Laura, the little sister was merely
biding her time.
Laura was born to make lists, which is the last name of
shopping list or menu list. She was very expansive in the beginning, and I had
to rein in the amount of produce she wanted to load into our refrigerator. I
learned in a day or less not to interfere. I don’t buy ingredients she isn’t
interested in using, for instance.
In the beginning we ate a lot of wraps. I’ve become an
excellent wrap wrapper. Kale goes into the pan first, some green pepper, some broccoli—whatever
is in the fridge. Some spices. Some protein. This goes on a wrap, on a little
plate, which is bigger than the wrap, when the wrap is wrapped. Always good,
After the breaking in period, I made a couple of attempts to
steer nutrition. A vegetable with the mac and cheese, for instance. She does
not bake mac and cheese (“the macaroni sucks up all the cheese! Yuck.”) Most dishes seem to be served in a bowl. Even
spaghetti. Convenience, I suppose. I generally find vegetables incorporated in
the dish being served in a bowl. Kale in the mac and cheese, for example.
Laura is a solitary cooker. I don’t mince fine enough or
chop well enough to be welcome, so I stay out, rather than be sent out.
Consequently, I can read the list and know what’s for dinner, but don’t see it
happening. The other night, before she called me, I heard something new. “I
should plate this.” Someone apparently watches cooking shows, too.
This year every child in the school system, from fifth grade
up, was issued a Chrome Book. This is a little tablet sized computer that runs
on Chrome. All communication, school work, assignments, announcements, occurs
via Chrome Book. Emily worked for the school all summer, “enrolling” the
several hundreds of Chrome Books required.
Of course, I discovered early on, the Chrome Books have no parental
controls. I asked for them, as a condition of Chrome Book being used in this
house. The request has caused a great deal of trouble between the system and
me; it remains under “discussion and review”. I wonder if I’ve ever mentioned
how I dislike doing business with the generations succeeding me.
Just as a check, I asked a parent in a different school
system that also went to Chrome Book this year, if she realized there were no
parental controls on the little darlings. After consideration she admitted she
did not, but added her children were trustworthy.
My aunt’s fanny.
In this house I put up with its abuse for a week or so, and
then installed my own parental control of removing it to the kitchen, its new
home when it’s not going to school. And on the Monday I had a phone call from
school—the previous Friday night, Chrome had attempted an unauthorized site. A
red flag on Friday and I was notified on Monday!
The counselor got my ballistic best. As I later explained to
Laura, I yelled at her counselor. “You yelled at Miss O?” Damn right I did. I
understand my concern has moved up the agenda, but I have little expectation
beyond my parental control of looking at the damn thing in the kitchen.
And, this started out to be a post about Laura’s dislike of
electronic record keeping. We went shopping for a month at a glance calendar
the second week of school. She likes to see her assignments, obligations,
appointments in pencil, flat on her desk.
When we moved here last July, the grocery list moved from
inside the pantry door to the kitchen table almost at once, and Laura keeps it
constantly updated. This little notebook has so many pages gone to the grocery
store I think a new little notebook will soon be on the list.
Even more than the grocery lists, I like the menu list. It
lives on the kitchen table, too, and I’m never in doubt about my next meal.
When we started the township web site some nine or ten years ago, one goal was to publish all the township minutes. All the minutes on 14" paper, held flat for a hundred years, I could scan and upload myself. But many machinations were involved. I used some forgotten Microsoft picture program to splice several pages of minutes of one meeting into a contiguous whole. I think I used the same program to strip extra pixels from the file, then used a free program to make a PDF file. All the years and years of minutes I first uploaded have PDF file created by free version of PDF Factory stamped across the bottom. Actually, meeting minutes I typed have the same information stamped; it was not until Windows 7 that Word could be saved as a PDF file. At some point all minutes we had, from 1811 to present, were uploaded. The original 25 inch ledgers were outsourced to a scanning company, but I stood at the scanner and scanned, collated, resized and uploaded 1936 to present. It took a long, long time, and I simply labeled it my gift to the township. There were three gaps in our minutes. When some noble citizen took one missing book from his shelf and turned it in, I needed to think hard how to get these into usable format. Several computer upgrades later, I could not run several sheets through my photography program to make one set of the pages. Every solution I looked at cost more money than I cared to spend. The book of minutes sat on my credenza, awaiting inspiration. One day and eureka. I realized that in scanning a document to an email (magic that is beyond me) I got one file with continuous pages if there were more than one page. A bit more experimenting and I realized the scan was a lovely PDF file that I could drag to desktop, then save and rename. Or rename and save. Such control. So, that found chunk of our history was scanned and sent to the servers. Two more books to find. Not too long ago our township legal counsel decided to clean out a storage unit (and save the firm $400 a month!) He has been counsel for thirty odd years; he has a lot of files.He came into a meeting recently, dropped several battered expanding folders in front of me, and said perhaps I was looking for these. Several more missing years. Now we are down to only three years missing. But the folders our attorney gave me look rode hard and put away wet. They have been stored on their 14" edge, the opposite edge unprotected from sleeves rubbing across them, other files dropped on top, and other indignities that happen to paper. The scanner at work is not a 14" flat bed; it is a workhorse 8 1/2 x 11 inch copier that handles 14 inch copies through a separate unit that sends the paper around a bend as it takes the picture. Adequate for paper nicely stored in a heavy binder all these years, but sure destruction to sheets with torn and ragged edges. I consulted again with the trustee/historian/curator. We decided I needed archival tape. In the end we decided what the heck; good Scotch tape cannot be any worse than what the pages have suffered for the last thirty years. Forge on. The very first page and I realized I could not get tape on the mangled tears until.... With a nothing to lose mindset, I went to work:
Edges too battered to go through the scanner:
A cotton towel for padding, a percale pillow case for protection,
My iron. I straightened those pages right out.
(Aside--this is the best iron I've ever owned. It's the same on both ends and doesn't make wrinkles ironing the back stroke.)
Scotch brand's finest "archival" tape.
Another important tool--the oblong hole punch, so those repaired pages still fit oblong posts in official Record of Proceedings binders.
Low tech scanning of 14" pages.
The ultimate discovery--that PDF file in an email that will never be sent can become a PDF file to send to the server in the clouds.
Drag it to the desk top,
and back to the working folder.
I have two years scanned and uploaded.
A year a morning (or afternoon) is all my back will put up with.