Sunday, February 21, 2016

Up on the roof

When I was a kid and the weather was nice, I would often escape the house and climb one of the two big maple trees in our yard. I'd take a book and some snacks and stay up there for hours. 

There wasn't a lot to do in the country before cable television, and when you had as many kids as my parents did, solitude was hard to come by. Also, no one was going to climb a tree to steal my cookies or crackers or whatever I'd scrounged from the kitchen.

My father later told me always chuckled to see me up there because a family of black snakes lived in those trees, and he was just waiting for the day we'd discover each other. 

Now, my father was known to pull a leg or two, and I don't really know if Hoosier snakes actually live in trees. I do know that they can climb trees. (Yes, Annmarie, this is where you ask me if squirrels swim, and I repeat for the thousandth time, they will to survive but no, they don't do the backstroke in the Broad Ripple canal just for fun.) 

For the record, I never encountered a snake in a tree at home and had I thought I would, I would have never climbed them.  I was reminded of that childhood habit of mine because when February decided to dabble in spring-like weather, I was out in the yard cleaning up sticks and such when Alison decided to take a climb up a small tree in our yard to scout the roof.

She tossed down sticks and pushed of acorns that had accumulated on the gutter screens and then decided she liked it up there. So she hopped down, found a book and went back up.  Before you call the parenting police, I will say that I did consider whether to let her stay up there. But she's pretty nimble, the roof is not steeply angled, and heck: she was outside instead of in front of the cable box.

Today is just as balmy as yesterday, and she's expanded her up-top utopia with a basket tied to a tree branch with her bathrobe sash. It's a delivery system for books and snacks. Apparently she and I are not as dissimilar as I sometimes think. 

Before I left for a walk, she called down to ask me to put a sharpie and some printer paper in the basket. I thought about asking her why, but decided against it. I came back to see that she'd taped something to the chimney.

From the driveway, I asked her what it was. "I looked up Morse Code and wrote it all out," she said. "So if I'm in trouble, I can stomp out a message."

"What makes you think I know Morse Code?" I asked.

"I expect you to learn it by this afternoon," she said.

I think I'll wait for the yelp.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Captain Wears Frilly White Panties

Actually, as I am in a position to know, I can refute that title. And as our resident laundress, Alison has some insight as well.

But when it comes to scary movies, or TV shows, the Captain definitely wears the panties in this family. We were watching "Supernatural" the other night. It was Alison's choice but Jeff likes to dabble in scary stuff, too, so I was outnumbered. And frankly, it was better than another episode of South Park, which is her current fascination.

Given the choice, I don't watch scary movies. I don't scream out or flail about. I have nightmares. Alison has scared herself from sleep more than a few times,  but she still likes them. I like hanging out with the two of them on occasion, so I agreed to her selection.

We were on the couch in the family room like people use to do. Jeff was in the middle. His flinching and yelping was an event in and of itself.

"Geeze, Dad. Are you wearing frilly white panties or what?" Alison asked.

If you ever find Jeff dead of a heart attack in our house, chances are it's because Alison or I did something deadly. Like walk into a room. Or speak.  He's incredibly skittish. Which we find hilarious.

In other news, Alison was bored at school on Friday, so she drew constellations on her arm by connecting freckles.

We are just back from Delicia where we had a wonderful Valentine's Day/Anniversary dinner. Jeff and I spent Saturday night watching Dead Pool and indulging in champagne and pizza. It's been a lovely weekend that's about to end with a collection of Reeds around the fireplace.

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Accidental Romantic

I'm not very romantic. 

I like romance. But I'm not very good at it, and I'm certain Captain Reed would confirm this situation. 

Most people assume that I planned our Valentine's Day wedding was a deeply thoughtful plan on my part. In truth, it was a happy accident.

I was looking for a Saturday in February. I don't even remember why we decided to do it in February. After convincing me that we were breaking up, Jeff proposed in October and we'd started moving into the house in January. It just so happened that one of the Saturdays in February was the 14th. 

Turns out it was awesome. The 18 years that have followed that Saturday in 1998 have mostly been awesome. Like everyone else, we have experienced ups and down, twists and turns, huge losses and huge gains and days of mediocrity scattered in between.

The gains have included new friends and family members that I wouldn't give up for anything. If you're reading this, you're among those fine people. And I'm grateful for you.

So, please save this date in two year's time. I'm pretty sure we're going to try to replicate our wedding reception to celebrate with all the people we've collected between now and then. I'm not the only one who thinks it was a great time. Or that it seems like it was just yesterday that my bridesmaids and I were caught at the bar doing this:  

That's one of my favorite pictures from among many taken that day. (Most of them by David Cowan, to give credit where credit is due.) 

So plan now to be in Indianapolis trying not to get rib sauce on your fancy dress or suit or to over-indulge in cheesecake. We'll probably have a better vintage of champagne and Jeff might even share his fancy liquor.

But mostly it'll just be fun.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Speaking of falling.... the captain is down

So Jeff has recently replaced me as the cool parent. I'm not bitter. I'm not sad. I knew he couldn't last.

And like all good mothers, I just sat back and waited.

For the past few weeks, they've been chattering in their code, talking about the Beatles and other rock music that I can't remember now. He let her watch Pulp Fiction. Super cool dad stuff.

So when she casually mentioned to him that she wanted to see the Dead Pool -- the newest Marvel movie that comes out next week, she was naturally thinking he'd be fine with it. And when our Jasheway friends said they were screening it, he thought we'd all go.

Then he heard a little bit more about it. We agreed that he should go to the screening and see if we were OK with her seeing it. While Ali and I were waxing poetic about deep-dish pizza, he went to the movie.

Ten minutes in, Duane leaned over and said to Jeff, "No f-ing way (should Ali see it.)"

He gave her the news on the way to school Friday. She was less than pleased.

"I'm afraid I lost my cool status," he told me.

"Oh, yeah," she confirmed later.

I did give her the spiel of how "Dad and I just want to be sure it's something you're ready for and as he described it to me, I agree that you're just not ready for it."

I'm ready to see it, but should anyone with a shred of innocence? Nope.

I didn't actually beat a path to tell him that he'd fallen from the pedestal, but I didn't hesitate to confirm it when he questioned it.

And damned if he didn't start to build that damn pedestal back up. He and Grandpa have a habit of breaking into Monty Python bits from time to time. They crack themselves up with phrases that lead to soliloquies. He mentioned that the skits are on Spotify and she might want to check them out.

So she's been singing "I'm a lumberjack and I don't care," all day.

I had a hair appointment and he took her to a choir performance today, giving me full warning that he was going to remind her that I'd chosen to cover my gray over hearing her sing. (She and I had had a long talk -- she agreed with my decision, as neither of us want me to look like Barbara Bush.)

After she and her choir group won gold - seriously - he suggested they do something to celebrate. "We're already on the west side, how about we ditch your mom and go to Jungle Jim's?" he asked.

She looked at him. "Or, or, or," she said. "Instead of a two-hour drive, we could go see Dead Pool."

It was easy to nix the movie. It's not out yet. They settled for lunch in town.  When we finally got back together and I got the scoop on the choir competition and the aftermath, I asked her how he was doing climbing out of his hole.

"Well, Monty Python helped," she said. "But he's got a ways to go."

Alison in love

It had to happen eventually and like her mother before her, she resisted. But finally, Alison has fallen hard.

She'd been curious about it for a while, but I'd been hoping to put it off. She's nearly 15. Such a dangerous age. She's so freaking cute and tiny that I'm almost afraid to send her outside the house.

But last week, she fell off the ledge.

Let me set the stage for you. We were on our way home from school/work. She'd been spending a lot of time "studying" lately. Between her bedroom and her bath, she's been popping up as infrequently as prairie dogs in a drought.  But I was trying to get her to come clean.

We were talking about dinner. We were going to be on our own, so we could do anything from eat cereal in from of the TV to going out. We've been driving by a Little Ceasar's Pizza shop for the past couple of years since it moved into a closed storefront on College.

She'd seen the commercials. I panned the place, saying we were Papa John's people and she wouldn't like it. But she'd had a hankering. I thought I'd probably have salad and she could have a small, terrible pizza on her own.

We pulled in. "I have a deep dish pepperoni ready to go," said the young man at the counter. We shrugged, picked it up and went back to the car.

She pulled open the box to view the new treat. It was like angels sang. Fat, red-sauced smeared angels. The cheesy goodness was thicker than some lasagnas I've had. And the smell. Oh, the smell.

We were two minutes from home.

"We could try one," she suggested, tugging off a pepperoni, stringing three feet of cheese.

"I could have a bite," I said.

And right there on 49th Street turning onto Guilford, she fell in love.

Am I sad that she fell in love with deep-dish pizza? Not one bit. Well maybe a little. Because I can't resist it, either, and while her metabolism is akin to that of a hummingbird and mine is more sloth-like, it's a delight I've forgone too long.

How did we go this long before she experienced deep-dish pizza? Because I've been on a freaking diet since she was born, that's why. And yes, I did advise her that there were something like 58 trillion calories inside that wonderfully greasy cardboard box.

"We can only have this once a month," she said, through a mouthful of pizza. "I'll go jogging later."

I took my piece on a walk around the neighborhood so I could reach my step goal. It was a six-piece box. She finished it for breakfast.