April 10, 2006




Or not.

Anyway, got home Friday and waited for Reba to get home so we could go out to eat. Since we didn't have any kids with us, it seemed like a good thing. She got there, and we gathered together some clothes for Oldest, who'd decided at the last minute to spend the night with Grandmom and Granddad with the rest of the crew.

At that time, we did not know that earlier in the afternoon (and again, they'd been at Grandmom's house for a while, since they'd gotten out early due to the storms moving through), the children had engaged themselves in a slap-fight-laced imbroglio due to an accidental whack with a rubber ball, delivered by one Boy against the noggin of one Oldest. My mistake? Having the nerve to upbraid Oldest for retaliating purposely against her sibling because of an accidental insult on his part, and doing this in the presence of Reba's mom and dad.

For all their good points, my in-laws are of a peculiar mindset that seems to have been quite common amongst their peers, in which any oldest child is afforded near immunity from any sort of repercussions for bad behavior, with the recriminations falling to other children. They were raised like this, and they raised Reba and her brother that way. Allow me to say, the example of Jacob in the Bible should give any parent pause for treating one child as a favorite.

We've tried not to do that--we do our best to be fair to all of them (which is how my parents treated my sister and I), and to punish or reward them consistently. Sure, we fail, but for the most part, the kids at least understand the direction in which we're trying to go.

In any event, it seems that I committed a major faux pas by daring to cut Oldest down a notch, and the temperature in the room became quite chilly rather quickly.

What a grand start to our date night!

We left, with Grandpop silently standing at the door burning holes through me with his laser eyeball rays, and went over to a new place that's opened in our little burg, John's City Diner. John's is one of those downtown institutions from back when there was no such thing as a suburban shopping mall. It's still around, but the owner decided to branch out by opening a location in a suburban shopping mall. Nice place, though, possibly a little too nice. Lots of black and silver accoutrements, all sorts of weird angles and swoops and curves, a big window into the kitchen, wait staff who were simultaneously ubiquitous and unsolicitous, and WOW--those are some PRICES!

I realize I'm a rube and all that, but I do have some sense to know I'm being played a bit when items on the lunch menu are in some cases almost half what the same thing is priced on the dinner menu. Second, although a rube, I have managed to sneak into some really fancy places, and so I am less impressed than I should be with all the decorations and frills and precious twee details intended to tell me exactly how suave and cool I should feel.

As it was, I got a reuben (which should have been on rye) and Reba got a salad. I have to say the sandwich was quite good, although I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have due to the familial-induced indigestion. Probably not a good idea to have ordered something with sauerkraut and spicy mustard.

Afterwards, we headed back over to the in-laws' place to more calmly talk to all four of the children at once to encourage them to act like humans. As usual, 3/4 of the children were contrite and properly chagrined for having acted up and genuinely apologetic. The remaining 1/4 portion of the children was quite willing to let the other 3/4 apologize, seeing as how she believes that her actions were quite justified and that she is smarter than all people in the world combined and therefore does not have to listen to anything anyone else says to her.

Oh well. One day, reality will knock on the door and sit down and have a talk with her.

After we'd gotten that put away, we bade them goodbye and told them to get some sleep, and we'd be back for them Saturday afternoon.

Home, bed. It appeared we'd been spared all of the horrifying weather that hit Tennessee and Kentucky, until 1:30 a.m. when the tornado siren sounded. I really needed to be woken up anyway. Put on a pair of jeans just in case something bad did happen that would require me to later be in front of a television crew. I really don't want to be interviewed in my underwear and asked to describe the sound of a tornado. Turned on the news and saw the lurid red and yellow swirlies of storms headed our way and the salivating weather guy pronouncing dire direness about to overcome us all.

Went downstairs, made sure there was nothing in the floor of the laundry room in case we had to sleep there, and watched the television some more. The storms were really honking along moving east, which made me feel better since it meant they weren't going to sit and spin on top of us for hours. Reba piled up on the couch, and I did my usual thing of looking out the back and front of the house to make sure I still had a back and a front of the house. The leading edge of the storm arrived, the wind blew, it rained, and then that was it.

Back upstairs, sleep.

Wake up--it's UAB DAY! Hooray!

Now, I had been thinking this was going to be an early morning sit and chat deal and we'd be home by lunch. I believed this because I am a moron.

Started at 10:30--didn't get home until FIVE.

We got dressed and went and picked up Ashley and got to hear about their journey to the basement the night before. Seems Rebecca was the only one to hear the sirens going off and was the one who went and woke up everyone. For her conscientiousness, she was made to sleep in the floor for the rest of the night.

Off then to UAB, parked, walked back to the rec center. Which was to be the first of many walks. Got the schedule of the day's events and WOW--that's a lot of junk to do. The first thing was wandering around the huge gymnasium visiting the booths of the various schools, and then there was a breakout tour for each of them as they took groups of students to various buildings. We followed our tour guide over several blocks away to a meat locker lecture room, where we had a brief speech from one of the physics profs, who apologized that we'd been taken to the wrong building. I thought something was funny when it said we were supposed to be in Room 101 of the Chem building, and we'd been taken, up four flights of stairs, to the top floor of the Math and Science building. It seems all the muckety mucks were over in Room 101. I whispered to Reba that those guys had better get to walking, when in one of those decisions that can only be made at an institude of higher learning, the room full of students and parents--possibly sixty strong--were going to go back downstairs and go to the building where the department heads were.

Which sounded pretty stupid to me, but hey.

We decamped and followed our tour guide back downstairs and out onto the sidewalk (it was a beautiful day, by the way) and had just started down the street when we met the muckety-mucks coming our way. They had figured out it was easier for them to meet us, than for us to come to them. So, we turned around, and went back inside, and back up those four hateful flights of steps. Well, some of them. WE took the elevator.

The presentation--after it got going--was very good. UAB is justly proud of the huge strides they've made in research, and listening to the presentation almost made me wish I was a college freshman again. Almost. All that learning stuff really is neat and even in their presentation, I managed to learn something. Did you know that 8% of the freshwater in the United States flows through the state of Alabama? Did you know that's more than any other state? Pretty cool, eh? Did you know that sea urchins are prized by sushi fans for their scrumptious gonads? I didn't either, and I could have done without knowing any of that. So, there was all that kind of stuff, and then there was all the junk about atoms and molecules and computers and stuff, and then it was time for lunch. Followed our tour guide back over to the rec center, got a tepid shrivelled hot dog and some chips, and then it was time for the NEXT set of stuff--another presentation from the Pre-Health Specialties person.

The room was over in the old part of Volker Hall, and I swear to goodness, getting to the lecture room was EXACTLY like the bad college dream I have on a recurring basis where I am wandering through a basement and there are various lecture rooms off the corridor, and I can never find the right one, so I just go find one and sit down. The room this time wasn't in the basement, but up on one of the upper floors, yet the corridor to get to it was still low, and dim, and full of exposed conduit and concrete block and stained ceiling tile. UAB has some of the finest facilities I have ever seen, but getting to that lecture room could use a little work.

Good presentation--as were all of them. The high morale of the people associated with the university really is infectious. I realize they're trying to recruit students (and parents), but if you've been to enough campuses, you can tell a difference when you're at a place that's actually working at something.

After that, it was time for the walking tour of campus. Now, I work downtown, and am pretty familiar with the campus, and I even attended UAB for a couple of years before I transferred to Auburn, but it's still amazing to me exactly how much there is to it, and how much it has grown since I was there as a student. Luckily, we only covered the high points, because--since I am a moron--I had worn my regular work wing-tip shoes, not knowing I was going to be hoofing it all across blocks and blocks of campus.

Anyway, we finally got back to the parking deck close to 5:00, and I was a scosh on the tired side. AND I STILL HAD TO GO HOME AND CUT GRASS.

Home, picked up the kids, and set in to work on the yard. Nothing like the steady drone of a 6.5 hp Briggs and Stratton to wash away the cares of the world. Did the front yard as Boy and Cat rode their bikes up and down the sidewalks, spread out a little weedkiller, then moved to the backyard. I called them back and sent Cat inside to start getting her bath, and after a few minutes of instruction, got Jonathan hitched up to the lawn mower. He didn't help at all last year, and that's going to change this year!

He was glad to be doing it, though. He's bigger now, and the new lawnmower is easier to use than the old one. Lovely afternoon, cool, breezy, still lots of daylight, and the calming influence of being outside in the lush green of early spring, and now with the added fun of Son. Ahhhhh.

While he gapped up the yard (thankfully, it was the back and not visible from the street), I tended to other things. I got the frog fountain working right again, by putting the frog I had bussed right in the center of the water, sitting on a little pedestal. I figure if it was going to leak all the water out, the best thing to do was to put it so it leaked back into the fountain. Which turned out to be exactly the right thing--this morning it's still merrily splashing along.

Such a nice afternoon. Jonathan was still having a bit of trouble getting some of the strips of grass cut, but that was okay--do it over enough, and you learn not to miss anything. And then, the announcement.

Reba was at the door--"Can you come here and help me?"

"What's wrong?"

"There's water coming through the ceiling of the garage!"


NEXT: Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at April 10, 2006 09:15 AM

on the tour-- How is 8th avenue? The entire time I was there the thing was a mess including the tattered sign
“coming soon—a new 8th avenue.”

Posted by: jim at April 10, 2006 10:02 AM

Still not quite the grand boulevard it's supposed to be, although it is now called University Boulevard. It's a work in progress, I suppose.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 10, 2006 10:16 AM

Is the sign still there???

Posted by: jim at April 10, 2006 10:33 AM

I don't think so, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 10, 2006 10:53 AM