"Would you like me to help out?" I asked. I'm asking these days because sometimes she wants to be the Lone Ranger or some kid from TV who never seems to have parents around.
"Well," she said. "My class is full of people who don't listen. The boys might be doing "the worm" on the floor or messing around and you might get annoyed with that. And remember that time in third grade when you helped with the class going to Canterbury Park and you screamed at some of the boys for not paying attention? I'm still getting flak for that."
She took a deep breath."So I'm going to go with no on the play thing," she said.
I came to a full stop at a stop sign and looked over at her. "Seriously?"
"Oh yeah," she said.
So I might have dodged that bullet. But we're still on the hunt for the best genie costume we can find. We had some fun looking last week and even got to enlist Jenna Tokash for a little while. We're still looking for something sort of like Barbara Eden but not, in Alison's terms, "something that won't make me look like a stripper."
In other news, I'm on day 4 of the Great Planking Challenge of 2014. Some of my nieces and I are trying to do this 30-day challenge. We'll have a plank-off at Thanksgiving. Planks are hard, man.
We're really excited to have Grandpa Reed fly in to spend Thanksiving with us. We're hosting my family this year -- we generally rotate the duty but most of my family is "in the country" as Ali calls it so we generally go there. We're hoping to keep this amazingly wonderful weather for it, but it IS Indiana and we'll be more than a month closer to winter, so it's unlikely.
This whole week has seen near summer weather and I want to keep it. Last night we broke out the chiminea and had a fire. Jeff and Ali decided we needed a picnic dinner so we put down a tablecloth, had our dinner and roasted marshmallows after.
Alison questioned whether the sticks Jeff found in the yard were really the right tool for marshmallow roasting, but I convinced her that "in the country" sticks are the preferred tool. Fancy skewers are for city people.
It was one of those spur-of-the-moment things that turned into a memory I hope none of us forgets.
"I love this," Ali said, snuggling up with me in the dark. "This was a great day."
And in yet more other news, I've started re-reading the Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris. Ms. Harris created the Sookie Stackhouse character, too, and while I love me some vampire/fair/were-animal intrigue, in a battle of wits and depth of character, Lily would kick Sookie's ass without breaking a sweat.
As the series begins, Lily is the best house cleaner in the town of Shakespeare and she's fighting some pretty intense personal demons as well as grime and grit. She's apparently inspired me to dig through a few layers of grime in my own house. My bathrooms and my kitchen are currently sparkling.
The weather kept beckoning, though, so my yard -- as well as my neighbor's -- is looking pretty spiffy too. My neighbor is having a bit of a difficult time right now so I've been helping in her yard. With the return of our chainsaw, Jeff finished a job I'd started with a tree in her yard. We'd actually thought we'd tossed it but it turned up when my friend Karin moved and discovered it in her garage.
He was thrilled to see it return just as I remembered the job left to do over there... :)
So anyway, in the midst of mowing and chopping down black-eyed susans gone by, Ali comes out and asks me to take her to basketbally practice. Jeff was in the shower after he'd played ball, and apparently he'd lost track of the time. So we jump in the car -- top down of course -- and scoot off to practice only to find it was cancelled.
As Alison rejoiced in the seat, her coach came by to apologize for the confusion. "No worries," I said. "We have a hoop in the drive way. What do you think? Alison does 50 shots out there instead of practice?"
God bless her, as soon as she got home, Alison got out her ball and started dribbling. She even got a piece of chalk to keep track of her shots. She even exceeded her assigned 50 when her father joined her for a little one-on-one.
This week has been sweet but not free of the bitter. Dave Cox, one of a team of men who schooled me in the art of journalism and clean writing, passed away.
I was just out of high school when I was fortunate enough to get a job as a stringer for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. My high school English teacher and newspaper sponsor, Donna Gorby, had recommended me. Without that action, there's little doubt that I'd be living in a trailer by the Eel River somewhere with 17 cats.
Instead, I got to spend my professional formative years hanging out in a real newsroom with a crew of people, including Dave, who never seemed to mind my coming by. At first, I'd phone in stories and later use some funky pseudo computer to send my stories in over the phone from the field, but once I started dropping into the newsroom at night, I found my home.
I didn't write like the "real" reporters because they were actual adults with J-school under their belts. I idolized almost all of them and learned something important from every one of them. Dave and the rest of the editing team gave me endless grief about my leads and worked really hard to meld me into a newspaper man. I learned that you make your own luck at the Tribune-Star. And it's served me well.
For a while, a group of us played Trivial Pursuit after the paper was put to bed. We couldn't have done it very often, but it's one of the first things I think of when I think about those days. Dave and Carl were always there. Joe Baker sometimes. Rob someone. I can't remember everyone who played but I think it was anyone working nightside.
I must have got to play with them because I brought cheesecake. I can't remember how it started or when it ended. They'd tell stories and cuss and moan about things. They'd fight over grammar and beat their endless rules into your head until you bled newspaper ink, I swear. I don't think I'd ever felt truly at home before I found myself in the Tribune-Star newsroom.
Dave Cox was the city editor then editor -- I think. His was the voice of reason. The happy voice. The guy whose smile was always right around the corner. He got such a kick out of things. He was just a rock of good judgment and support.
It's been years since I've really thought about my Trib-Star days. They were great days. They helped me get started on the path that's led to where I am today. I'll always be grateful, not just to Dave, but to everyone there for taking a chance on a girl they didn't know.
Of course at 50-cents an inch, it wasn't that big of risk.....
Godspeed David Cox. I hope there's cheesecake waiting for you up there.