Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Silent House

The middle of the day and all I can hear in this near silent house is the jingle of the cat's bell as he bats a rubber ball along the wood floor. Being home alone is strange for me. For 15 years, nearly 16, children have been my constant companions. Sometimes a whole houseful, other times just my three. We'd snuggle on the couch and read books in the winter or set up lemonade stands and backyard sprinklers in the summer. We did messy science projects and some unsuccessful art projects with the glitter still on the dining room table as proof.
Until today.
Today is silent.
A silence that began when my youngest walked out the door following an argument about whether he needed to wear a coat today, his first day of school, with the thermometer reaching a balmy 21. I won the coat battle, but didn't get a goodbye kiss. He left the back door open, so I had to walk over and push it closed as he climbed in the car with his father.
10 years of homeschooling have ended like that. A scared and angry sixth grader slamming out the door, wondering whether he'll have to sing by himself in choir class since he's joining in the middle of the year. His brother and sister are old pros at it now, having started school in August. His sister gave the youngest a light up pen on a string that he hung around his neck. His older brother advised him to remove it. "Looks kind of nerdy."
They were nervous for him. "You have to play football during recess. You have to play whatever the boys are playing," his older brother said.
My youngest shrugged. Today, he is still full of that homeschool fallacy -- that people can choose to do what they like and no one will protest or comment. I'm sure that will fade.
I had a meeting this morning so I jumped in the shower when they pulled away. The bathroom door opened a few minutes later and my husband's glasses fogged up as he stuck his head inside the shower curtain.
"So all the kids are at school."
I wondered how many years he had been waiting for this moment. To me, sending all of the kids to school was a slightly painful milestone. To him, an empty, silent house could mean only one thing.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Isn't it ironic that since we moved to a small town where I can walk nearly everywhere, I haven't been able to do much walking? Is it self sabotage?
First there was the falling down, stitches in the knees, swollen knobbly knee bones that refused to straighten that kept me off the streets for a couple of months.
Then I was back on my feet, even running a three-mile circuit severals days a week, gazing at the architecture of the 1920s homes, meeting my running buds on Saturdays and gritting out a six-mile route. Until that day when my feet hurt by the end of the day. But I shrugged it off. I'd run six miles, worked the bullpen at a swim meet, herding little children to the blocks, then returned home to stand on our kitchen's tile floor to bake cookies. Of course, my feet should hurt. I gave myself a day off from running. But when I ran again, surprise, my left foot was hurting. It seemed to be a phantom pain that moved around. First it was my heel and the inside of the ankle. Then it moved to the outside of my foot and ankle. I didn't want to go to the doctor until after the new year. New insurance, new medical savings account. So yesterday I went to see the sports medicine doctor. I love those guys because they understand the insanity of runners. They know that the goal is to get back on the road.
A shadow along one of the bones in my foot told him that I was developing a stress fracture. That's basically overuse and old running shoes. He assigned me to three weeks of little walking and no running. In two weeks I get to try the stationary bike. Ooops, that's what I was doing all last week when my foot hurt too much to run. Then at week 3 I can try an elliptical machine before I return to see him. And, finally, before I hit the streets (to run -- no money will change hands) I'm to go to the elite running shoe store and get a pair of new shoes.
What I learned from this experience:
*trying to save money by running in old shoes always comes back to bite you.
*I hate swimming but it's better than not exercising.
*The doctor should have given me a boot/cast as he threatened, because that way my family would take my injury seriously when I ask them to run to the freezer downstairs to get a loaf of bread rather than rolling their eyes at me.
*The only outward sign of my stress fracture is the increasing girth of my thighs.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...