Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Back to School

Subtitled, Not That I Would Ever Complain--

Wednesday was the day the kids went back to school--Rebecca and Jonathan seemed eager enough, but since Ashley is on block schedule, she was beside herself not knowing what stuff she was going to need. As can be guessed, this produced in her a brisk, renewed churlishness and self-centeredness. ::sigh::

Anyway, Wednesday was fine, and Ashley got her supply list and so after church I took Reba’s car to go get gas and get the stuff on the list. Went to Sam’s for good cheap gas--closed. ::sigh:: Went on over to Wal-Mart across the road, which was being thronged by every other high schooler in town looking for junk. It was like concert tickets had just gone on sale to some show that all the kids want to listen to--who’s hot with the young folks now, Duran Duran? MC Hammer?

Anyway, exasperated, blue-vested associates were carrying around boxes of paper and folders and pens and glue and the merchandise was getting snapped up before it even got to the shelf. I needed graph paper, filler paper, and a stupid TI-34 calculator to replace the calculator that had belonged to Reba and was loaned to our student, and who then promptly “lost” it on the first day of class back in the fall. ::grr:: (A loss, by the way, blamed by that student, on said student’s parents. ::GRR::) Oh, and you can’t just get a cheapo Casio that does the same stuff--it just HAS to be a TI, or someone might SAY SOMETHING! ::sigh::

Found the calculator, then went back and got three packs of notebook paper, then headed down the aisle clotted with a variety of kids--sk8trzz, Goths, preps, cheerleaders--I picked out the cheerleaders because they had tiny shorts on and deeply tanned legs, right in the middle of winter. Amazing-looking girls in my hometown (as I have related to you on many past entries) but one word of advice, ladies--all of that effort at sexiness sorta evaporates when you’re walking down the front aisle in Wal-Mart in your shorts, and you reach around and pull your thong out of your butt crack. I’m just saying…

Back to the paper aisle--there was a Wal-Marter lady standing on a ladder getting stuff off the top shelf, surrounded by a puddle of teens and their parents below jabbering and jostling. I was back a bit behind everyone, and managed to get the ladder lady’s attention and quietly mouthed, “Have any graph paper?” She seemed relieved I wasn’t screaming or angry, and she kinda halfway winked and pulled a three-pack of quadrille pads from out of nowhere, like when Tweety Bird pulls a giant mallet out from behind his back.

Got all that stuff, paid, and headed home.

Obviously, there was other stuff to be got. Just neglected to tell old Dad, you know. No matter, said I, because there was always Thursday night to go back and get the stuff I didn’t know about.

SO, last night, the Quest for Book Covers!

See, one of her teachers wanted them to get their books covered. I, being an old fart and all, fondly remember getting brown paper sacks and cutting them up to put covers on my books, but this being a bright shiny modern world of tomorrow sort of time, Reba informed me that there were actually covers you could buy to go on books. “Yes, Terry--they’re cloth and they stretch on.”

“You know, back when I was young, you just put brown paper on your schoolbooks and, and-- It was a lot cheaper, and--”

I was being met with the Blank Stare of Sudden Violent Death, telling me that despite the fact that paper would be good enough, SOMEONE MIGHT SAY SOMETHING if they books were not safely ensconced in something manufactured in a Taiwanese sweatshop. ::sigh::

I gave up trying to make a point and listened to the rest of the listing, “OH, and she needs a world atlas, and the binder we had last night was only an inch and a half, so she needs a 3 inch.”

“AND I NEED SOME PUFF’S PLUS WITH LOTION FOR CLASS!” I asked Oldest why she needed this, when at our house we rely on the handy roll form of paper found conveniently in each bathroom. “::sigh+eyeroll:: DAaaad--because I will get extra credit!” Oh, well, yes--that’s so bleedingly obvious I was a fool for asking.

Supper fixed (baked chicken and green beans!), told Boy to get in the tub and get bathed, told Cat to get ready to go to bed--“Eight o’clock tonight, you hear?”--and started getting ready to go back out the door. I hear from upstairs, “WELL! I can’t do ANY more of my homework, because I DON’T have an ATLAS!”

::sigh:: I went to the stairs and looked up at the door to her room, “Ashley, I am about to go GET you an atlas, but it’s not like we don’t already have any. What are you trying to do?”


“Whoa. Look, just get the A encyclopedia and look under Antarctica. I guarantee you there’ll be a map there you can look at.” This led to much grumbling, because, you know, an encyclopedia is NOT an ATLAS, and SOMEONE MIGHT SAY SOMETHING. I figured I’d be really safe about the whole thing, though, just to tamp down any chance that she might decide the encyclopedia just wouldn’t do, so I got my giant National Geographic world atlas and looked up the map for her. “Hey, Ashley--here’s a great big map you can use.”

She came down to the first landing and looked at what I had found. “But I have to draw it on the BOTTOM of my paper, and--“ “Oh, look, here’s a little tiny version down in the corner--I bet that would fit just fine!” She grudgingly took the book and went on upstairs, knowing she was actually going to have to do something and not just sit and blame everyone else for her work not getting done.

NOW THEN, back to trying to go get book covers! I went upstairs to find Miss Reba, because I wanted to hear once more, for my own edification and sanity, the absolute final word on these marvelous covers, just to be sure I got the right thing. “Okay, now what am I supposed to be looking for?”

Speaking as one does to a small child, she gently explained that they are stretchy fabric covers and they are in the crafts section at Wal-Mart. And they apparently available in a variety of colors, for I was ordered by the book-holder to procure one in red, in gold, and in silver.

7:50, out the door, with a warning to Tiny Terror to be SURE to get in bed by eight. First stop, down to the foot of the hill to Books a Million to find an atlas. Just a plain, small, paperback atlas. Bingo--right where they belong in the reference section, which I found after about ten minutes of looking at other things I wish I had time to read. Paid, and as I was going out the door, I wondered if I should go down the parking lot to Target, just to see if they had some of those book covers. And I could get the Puffs tissue and the three-inch, three-ring binder there, too.


Wal-Mart was told to me, and to Wal-Mart I will go.

Got in the car and headed toward the interstate to take the long shortcut up I-59 and looked at my watch--only 8:20--pretty good time. I decided I would use my new emergency-use-only cell-phone I gave myself for Christmas to check in and make sure someone was in the bed. Sure enough, she was still up and ripping around the house, so Daddy sent a special message to get in the bed, which seemed to work. Told Headquarters I would return to base shortly.

To Wallyworld for the second time in as many days. Not quite so busy as the night before, but still pretty full of kids picking over the leftovers from the previous night. Found the binder right off, so I snagged that and then strode manfully back to crafts. Looked. Looked. Looked. Hmm. Looked. Looked. Searched. Explored. Hunted. Gazed. Shopped. Every other synonym for this activity. I finally broke down and asked the girl who was cutting fabric where the book covers were. “Oh, they’d be over in stationery.”

::sigh:: Well, at least they had some, right?

Walked back to school supplies and repeated my quest. Up and down every aisle. Nope. Believe it or not, the exasperation made me sigh! Yes, hard to believe, I know, but it did!

Back again to crafts, repeat the first search pattern. No dice. And then I became one of those people I vowed I would never become. Those people who shop by cell phone. I am doomed. I hated with every fiber having to do it, not only for myself but for Reba, who was trying to study for her final exam Monday night.

But, I dialed home again and got Reba on the phone to talk me in for a landing. Let me just say, I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue. Likewise, I’ll never forget Macho Grande. Anyway...

“Uh, hey, it’s me [duh Ed.], I have looked all over for these things, Reba, and I can’t find them anywhere. Exactly where in crafts are they?!”

More slow and methodical speech such as one would direct toward a child or other one-celled organism--“They are over by the scrapbook things, Terry.”

“Okay, now, I have looked there three times, so hold on a minute…” And I walked there holding my phone, like the great hulking goober I am. “Now, I’m in scrapbooks--”

“Go over to where the sheet filler papers are--”

“Okay, I’m at the papers--”

“Look at the rack of papers, and then behind you there will be little plastic bags, and they will say ‘book covers’--”

Hmm. Well, there was a rack of paper in front of me, and a rack behind me, and nothing that looked like book covers.

“Reba, there’s paper on both sides--and I don’t see anything that says book covers.”

“Oh. Well, did you look over in school supplies? Sometimes they’re over there.”


“Yep, I’ve been through there twice.”

“Hmm. I guess they don’t have them then. It’s too late to go by Michael’s [next door to Books a Million--Ed.] so why don’t you go back to Target and get some--they had some the last time we were there.”

It being impolite to have a sudden crying jag in the middle of a large discount retailer, I bit my tongue and told my better half I would be home. Eventually. Got my Puffs and put them with my binder, paid, and headed out the door again, BACK to where I could have gone earlier.

Driving along, I thought about how nice it would be just to, you know, relive those exciting days of yesteryear, when brown paper bags were to be had just for the asking--no, no. Mustn’t dwell in the past.

Target again, now. Walked in to the quiet store and went to the stationery. Looked, etc., etc. Every aisle, twice. Guess what?

Target doesn’t have decorative slip-on book covers, either.

In one last fit of desperation, I decided that I should go look at Books a Million. I looked a little bit and found various accessories, but no stretchy fabric covers. I thought I should ask, just to make sure. I went to the checkout where the attractive girl with the large nose was working--“Do you have any book covers.”


I wasn’t quite sure how I would have reacted if they would have had them--probably would have wanted to commit seppuku with a spoon or something. It actually was a relief, in a way, that they didn’t have any either. Although it would have been a pretty good way to make me have those odd, cartoon-like birds fly around my head and hear aa-OO-ga horns blowing out from my ears with the accompaniment of little clouds of steam.

I headed back home and got in the house--10 p.m. ::sigh::

I related the details of my vain quest, which brought forth the plaintive screech from Oldest of, “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY BOOKS! I HAVE TO HAVE COVERS ON THEM!”

“Well, Ashley, you’re just going to have to wait.”


“Okay, then--do this. Get some plain brown wrapping paper and fix them.”

She just stared at my as if I had suddenly sprouted three extra heads.

She moped and dawdled around, and had to be shown where the paper was, and generally just acted helpless. I finally told her to just go take her shower and we’d fix them for her.

“We.” I’m such a doof, you know?

Reba had grabbed up the paper and scissors and tape left over from gift wrapping and took the roll of shiny paper Ashley had picked out and set about to cover them. Fine--keeps me from having to do it.

Ashley finally went to the bathroom, and I settled in to listen to the news a bit and catch up on some reading while lying on the bed. Reba struggled and fumed, but I dared not make any suggestions that would intimate that she might need some help. She got one done, and the cover didn’t close when it was finished. She angrily tore the paper off and threw it away, so I very quietly asked if she would like me to try it.


I put my magazine down and walked around to the other side of the bed. First thing--I got the brown paper. Some tape, some fancy scissorwork, there.

I showed it to Reba, who looked at it.

Second book, I used the shiny holographic wrapping paper preferred by 14 year old girls. Harder to manage, but, managed it was. Two books, covered. I laid them outside the bathroom door and put away the paper supplies and had just lain back down when Oldest came out of the bathroom and found her books. “Thanks, Mom!” When Mom said Dad was actually the one who had done it, I have a feeling she probably was perturbed that she couldn’t complain about them, but she did finally thank me before going off to bed.

Which I suppose is pretty good.

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