23 February 2010

Skirts on the warpath

Monday, 22 February 2010

I have not kept up in this blog concerning the big issue about the discrimination against us girls at the high school. Over the last few weeks we have taken a few initiatives to stand up for ourselves and to refuse to be treated disrespectfully. This movement (GAGA, for Girls Against Grobians Association) kind of came out of our girls' club but it is bigger than that and the club makes up only about a third of the actual membership. The other 20-odd of us are just girls who are fed up.

The first thing we did was to make t-shirts. Everyone in the GAGA group got one. We wear them on Mondays. Of course the girls' club have already been wearing our 'colours' on every Thursday (club meeting day), exactly what Mr H-- feared we would do, which is part of the reason why we're doing it. The 'colours' are the plaid parochial-school skirt (which we've all had appropriately tailored of course) and the plain navy-blue sweatshirt (for winter) with the club logo (designed by Jessy) on it, and navy tights and decent (black) shoes (sometimes Jessy wears high black boots with hers, which looks adorable). We look like girl scouts or private-school students, but not quite. GAGA girls who are not in the club wear a nice skirt and top or a dress. It's strictly voluntary, of course, but on any given day I'd say 25 or 30 of us are dressed up, noticeably more than the 3 or 4 I used to observe at this school. This is four days a week, and on Fridays we wear jeans or leggings.

The reaction has been mixed. Most other girls in school hate it-- they accuse us of 'taking over the dress code' or 'making it uncool to wear a skirt'. Of course this is their version of it. The reality is that we're really doing it for them too, and we haven't claimed anything but the right to respect. It's really about us and the teachers, the administrators, and the male students. Most of the male students like it-- they admit they like to see legs, but part of what we've determined as a group of girls is that we don't show too much-- nothing too short, nothing too low-cut, nothing gaudy or clingy-- definitely cotton-blend tights are the order for the day in winter.

Jessy and I gave some lessons on how to walk up stairs (close to the wall, legs together, short smooth steps) and how to sit (ankles crossed, never a foot off the ground, legs turned to the side, skirt held down with hands in lap). Everyone was impressed that we knew how to do that, and that they could do it as well. I also stood up at that meeting and talked about grammar. A lot of the girls said there wasn't time for an English lesson, and it kind of hurt me because I believe that's one thing we can always do better in (see? That should have been 'one thing in which we can always do better'). But I agreed and said, 'Can we just agree to not be egregious about it?'

'And to not curse,' Jessy said.

'Yes,' someone else agreed. That was what we all agreed.

Using foul language is about the single worst thing a girl can do if she ever expects to be respected as a lady. It reduces you to a skank who is letting everyone know you don't care what impression you make on other people. And the impression a girl who curses makes on other people is never positive. Guys won't be impressed at all, which is totally antiproductive for the girl. Other girls will alienate you. Teachers hate it. Parents hate it. In public it's the worst thing you can do without flashing your underwear.

A girl should avoid foul language at all costs. At the very least, you might learn new bits of the language you should use instead, and that would only make you look more intelligent. And to many people, a smart girl is a virtuous girl-- the two seemed to be assumed to go together, which even if it's false logic still works for us.

The other thing we did was to send a letter, signed as a petition by all of us, to the administration asking that 'decency statutes' --bans on cursing, sexual innuendo, sexual harassment by teachers and students, all forms of bullying, as well as the infamous displays of public affection-- be more consistently and quickly enforced. We wrote that 'there is no reason why a school response to any such infraction needs to be delayed.' In other words, we would rather have a teacher stop the lesson to enforce the rule-- send the violator out, assign a detention, whatever-- than to let it go, issue some kind of trite verbal warning, and essentially push the issue under the carpet, which is what most teachers and administrators do.

The letter continued, 'If a school is truly serious about promoting an atmosphere of dignity and respect, and about responding to infractions with meaningful disciplinary consequences, then nothing we have stated here should be considered anything but sensible, appropriate and within the full compass of what is reasonable and possible.' (I wrote that part-- can you tell?)

We also said that, seeing no reason for the school to not comply, that we expected a 'material improvement in [the school]'s de facto policy forthwith.'

This letter was sent on February 15th. Because of the snow we had not had the chance to meet before then. (Oh, by the way, we meet in one of the classrooms after school. Would they dare to stop us?) On Thursday the 18th I was summoned to the office (after school) to meet with Mr H-- as well as the principal and, as it turned out, the other AP, my counsellor and some guy from the business office (I think). I walked in (in my club 'colours' of course), set down my books (did not even sit down at the table) heard their first question and respectfully requested that the meeting be rescheduled when a more appropriate 'panel' of involved girls could attend all at once.

'This meeting is just with you, Janine,' the principal said.

'Yes, Sir. As you will see, there are thirty-two other names on that petition.'

'We recognised your hand in this letter,' Mr H-- said.

'But I was only one of about six girls who wrote that letter,' I said.

'We assumed you were the ringleader in this.'

I made a smirk then. I could not help it. 'I am not responsible for what you are willing to assume, Sir,' I said. 'Would a day next week be available? I'm sure we can get a panel together by then.'

'You say in here that there is some urgency, and you want to wait till next week?' they asked.

I did not want to get into the issues, but I couldn't resist that. 'Sir, there are disciplinary cases at this school for issues touching on sexual harassment that are not resolved in longer periods of time than that.'

They all stared up at me (I was still standing at the end of the table) as though I had accused them personally of these infractions. 'How could you possibly know if that's true?' the other AP asked me.

I scooped up my books under my arm. 'I'm sure the group will be very eager to meet with you all. I'll get in touch with everyone, and we'll see if we can schedule something next week. All right?'

They protested. The other AP said, 'Janine, the principal is asking YOU a question, not your group.'

I nodded at them all. 'Yes, Ma'am,' I said. 'Oh, one thing-- we'll need time if we have to engage legal counsel. Unless that won't be an issue--?'

They all stared at me with their mouths hanging open and I turned round and walked out.

This is part of the reason I did not want to stay home sick, for I have been worried that they would call in some of the other girls when they'd know I wasn't there to 'ringlead'. So far I have not heard if they attempted to talk to anyone today. I did hear yesterday, however, when I was on an unrelated trip to the front office, that a change to this week's school-board meeting agenda had been submitted (in writing as they all are) from our school's principal's office. When I told Daddy about that he said, 'Well, I'll be sure to attend that and bring popcorn!'


19 February 2010

The worst of American public education

Thursday, 18 February 2010

I have recently heard of a school in Pennsylvania that issues students new MacBook computers. This is a good idea. I have a MacBook and it's a really good computer-- I wouldn't have anything Windows for anything, especially if it came free.

However this school took a page from the antichrist of industries, Microsoft, and pulled a dirty rotten trick on the students. The students and their families had to sign the expected agreement that the computer would not be used for anything illegal or immoral-- all right, this is fair, because the computer belongs to the school and you can't expect to use public-school property to do something that's not in the best interests of the school and its reputation. In the agreement the students were informed that the computer had some (unnamed) software program that was 'intended' to help track use of the computer in case of theft or security breaches, and to help get it back. But-- guess what the software function was!

That's right-- the built-in web camera. The school had the computers seeded (best word for it) with a secret program enabling the school administration to turn on the computer whenever they wanted to spy on the student user. The students only figured this out because one of the two little LED lights at the top would come on and go off at random times. Naturally they got plenty of good pictures of girls doing homework in their underwear in what they thought was the privacy of their own rooms, as well as some guys doing the expected obscene things guys do whilst online, you know. The point is that the school broke two major Federal laws, the right to privacy (since the students were permitted to use the computers for non-school work and on non-school property) and the codes against wiretapping (since they did it in secret and without any warning that they might do it). In fact the program on the computer was totally hidden from the user and the user did not even know what it could do or even that it was there, and the agreement HID the facts from the users by deliberately misleading anyone who read it.

Needless to say there is now a huge class-action suit against the school. I kind of wish I were involved in it. There isn't much reason for me to ever throw a perfectly-good MacBook through a public-school building's window, but this would be it.

Then again it is NOT a perfectly-good MacBook-- it's a polluted one and the only way to ensure you are done with this problem is to throw it through a public-school building's window.

Or, like my dad suggested, put a piece of electrical tape over the web camera and drive them nuts when they don't get a picture. That would be clever because it's not like they could ever complain and say, 'Hey, how come your camera doesn't work?'

And people online have said our assistant principal, Mr H--, is unreasonable for saying that I think I am 'holier than thou' and that my friend is a 'player' when she's not. At least he had reason to believe he was being accurate.

I can't wait to get to Cambridge.

PS-- here is a link with the story (copy and paste):


Janine declares her love

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tall, elegant,
Lithe, and lean,
A natural athlete,
Well-studied in skill and strength,
Modest and manly.

A beauty to watch...
and a daydream to savour.

Evan Lysacek--

I love you.


17 February 2010

I am sick

Ash Wednesday 17 February

I was up too late last night, mainly because I had had a nap earlier in the evening. I hate when that happens. I finally turned in at about 3.00 am and had to get up early to receive ashes before school. I was not in proper shape for it and by noon I felt awful with a terrible sore throat that felt like the roof of my mouth was bleeding every time I swallowed. So I called Roger, signed myself out and went home.

Mother was surprised to see me but when she realised I really am sick she sent me up here to my room with a cup of hot tea with a little syrup in it. I got out of my school things and into a warm flannel shift with a sweatshirt on over it and some high cotton stockings and am nestled in my bed amidst all my blankets and with the curtains drawn on the bed to keep out draughts. And I will be fine... I hope. I have a singing date on Saturday for one of Daddy's acts and I don't want this to go till then. So I hope the understanding will forgive me for babying myself a little for just a sore throat.

In any case I am lonely and can't wait for Jessy to get home.


After all the snow...

Monday 15 February 2010

The sum total is that since Christmas we have had something like 36 inches of snow and that most of it is still here. Daddy has been 'trimming up' the walks and driveway round the house with the snowblower (as though it actually needs it) but without caring for where we have to walk and drive we would have too much snow to just walk or drive through it. We have been out of school for the last four school days, counting today, and I can admit that none of us is much in the mood to go back. Rita finally went home on Friday after having spent the prior three nights here on what was supposed to have been a one-night sleepover. And I actually went outside, on Friday, just for a little, before more snow came Saturday. Other than that it has been very cosy just staying in, playing games, eating snacks and watching what little TV we have all actually watched.

Our Valentines' Day party was very pleasant and well-attended, mainly by people who did not go to the dance. In our basement party room we were nine girls and four guys, all of us dressed nicely as for a proper party, and everyone was very mannerly and talkative and eager to eat whatever there was. We exchanged Valentine cards and told funny stories and the boys played billiards in the other room, and no one went on FaceBook and there was very little text-messaging going on with people who were not physically present here. Mother did her usual best with hors d'oeuvres and snacks and we made a big bowl of punch with ginger-ale and ice cream in it. We had wanted to have it as much like an old-fashioned party as we would, since most of us there had not got dates for the dance or preferred a party where the focus was not on dancing somewhat obscenely or on showing off whom you had come with or whom you could pick up whilst there. We allowed little Lisa to invite one of her friends over and there was really nothing about the party that two 6-year-olds could not witness or overhear (although they did get bored with us and ended up in Lisa's room playing Barbies-- which is what I sometimes wish I could do when I find myself bored, or disgusted, at some other people's parties).

We had scheduled the party to be over round 7.00 and so it was. Daddy put on the Olympics in the TV room and a few of our friends stayed to watch some of it whilst others left to catch it at home or to do something else. Everyone thanked Jessy and I for hosting it. We in turned thanked Mother. Mother in turned thanked God for having such sweet stepdaughters. I figure God thanked Mommy, and then Mother too in turn.

So it is back to school in the morning for all of us, however we regret it. It's just as well because after the other week when I was late every day (out of necessity) I am already dangerously close to the maximum amount of time one is allowed to miss and still be considered a viable graduate for the year. And Daddy has more dates scheduled for me in the studio. Fortunately the next one is on Saturday and I won't miss school.


11 February 2010


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

These last few days of snow have been terrifically hectic... and there's no reason why. We had school the early part of the week, but in anticipation of the threatened snow storm we all settled in on Tuesday night-- all of us, Daddy and Mother and JJ being home, little Lisa, me, Jessy and also Rita, Jessy's friend. The storm hit late in the evening, it snowed for an hour or two, not lightly, and by midnight it was over. A weird phosphorescence settled over the bay outside my window-- the only one I have unshuttered-- like a bizarre white fog upon the water even though it was about 20 degrees out there. I sat at my little round table here and stared out at it till well past midnight. It was not the reflection of light-- there aren't many houses along here and none of them have the kind of candlepower that could throw that much of the air outside into a haze. It was like a signal of a shift in the weather, the kind of thing you often see out over the ocean, but I have never seen anything like that (and I've lived all my life, except for 2 years, within 50 metres of the beach). The atmosphere was white, but you could see through it, almost as well as if it were daytime. I could just about make out the horizon beyond the barrier island that's directly out there. I half expected to see someone sailing through the night.

Since Rita was sleeping in with Jessy, Lisa believed that this meant she should sleep in with me. As I have said before I don't mind this-- she is nice to snuggle with, warm and soft and fluffy in her flannel nightgown and fuzzy socks, and it's the kind of thing she appreciates like a very high honour. She was asleep for some hours when I turned in. Of course none of us expected school on Wednesday.

And the weather did not disappoint us. We had mostly freezing rain till about 10.00 when it got really bad. Wind picked up and soon we were being besieged with heavy sleet, going more sideways than down. Daddy started a fire in the kitchen so when we all came down to a rather late brunch it was just lovely in there. Mother made pancakes, the true southern-style hotcakes that she learned to make when she relocated here as our au pair years ago. She just kept serving them up, one after the other, and we devoured them. Outside the sleet hammered the window and the roof deck above the garage filled up with icy snow drifts. Daddy said he thought the pool cover, which is normally supported with a frame underneath it, has caved in, which will leave a big mess in the pool. But of course none of us are inclined to go out and inspect it in this.

Most of the downstairs windows have been shuttered through most of the winter weather, especially the French windows in the small parlour which has been shuttered since we took down the tree after Epiphany. It keeps the heat loss down (since we have authentic single-glazed windows here!) and makes it very dark and somewhat cosy inside, but in this weather you hear it all against the glass and it's very unsettling. Rita and Jessy retired to her room, took turns showering, and sat there fawning over FaceBook most of the afternoon. I had showered before brunch and had put on my long fleece pulli and ballet legwarmers (that's about it). I started a little fire in my room and sat at my table, reading in 'Northanger Abbey' (for about the third time). Lisa isn't allowed to use her fireplace and so, smelling mine, brought some Barbies in here and began in some high-pitched dialogue to comment on the events of the week. Most of the time her Barbies go to school the days she does and, in spite of the fact that they look about 17 or 20 years old, what they study seems to be about what a first-grader studies. I suppose that's to be expected.

When my fire died down she talked me into playing with her so I took my Barbies out of their own house (which stands in my room) and went in to her room, where she has her own dolls' house, just like the ones Jessy and I have. Daddy made them all, based on one Jessy and I adapted for our Barbies from an unused stereo cabinet, and when pushed all together for special occasions they resemble half a block of Philadelphia or London terraces. My Barbies are still in their Colonial costumes so I pretended they were time-travellers and allowed Lisa's people to show us round this strange new century. Jessy heard us and came in to see what we were about, still talking on the mobile phone, so I made a few amazed observations about this incredibly large person, six times our height, talking to someone in another dimension on what looks like a very large pocketwatch. Lisa giggled herself silly by the time that was over.

The snow continued till it had got dark and I think none of us have been out of the house all day. The bridge up the road is closed, leaving a very long and equally tedious trip up and round through town, so we rang Rita's parents and told them she would not be home. This is all fine with Rita-- for it saves her the trouble of getting dressed to go out. I do not mean she would rather not put on boots and long underwear and sweaters and all that-- I mean she would rather not be dressed at all, for she, Jessy, little Lisa and I are all barely dressed, in long flannel shifts and high socks or thigh-high hose, with the odd sweater or snugglie blanket accompanying us. There is something lovely about being cooped-up when we don't have to worry about impressing anyone but ourselves, and there is firewood and hot tea and family to keep us company all round the house.

I have got the e-mail saying school is closed tomorrow as well. Apparently they have not got the ploughs out to the school yards tonight. So I can imagine that tomorrow will bring more of the same!


10 February 2010

Little Miss Sweetness

Friday, 5 February 2010

Living with Lisa is a sweet sort of experience, rather like having a whole meal of strawberry shortcake and whipped cream on top and then realising that even doing the dishes afterwards is not a particularly distasteful chore at all. Even the worst sort of occurrences seem to turn out pleasantly, like when she got her hand stuck in the bath drain or when she spanked JJ for being disrespectful or when she coloured her panties with Sharpie marker to make them 'all flowery' like Jessy's and then it ran all over her other clothes in the washer. But really, since she has been out of diapers she really has never been much of a mess at all, unless it's only the normal sort of accidents that happen to small children. This last week with the three of us girls on our own has shown us all that we are all very compatible and thoughtful towards each other. I mean, Lisa actually cleaned my bathroom the other day-- not that it was so dirty to begin with, or that she used a good washcloth instead of the ooky sponge, or that everything wasn't put back where I wanted it, but that's really off the point, isn't it?

One of the amusing things is when Lisa mistakes who is in charge. I have said before that sometimes she slips and calls me 'Mummy'. But I've realised that it's almost always when I am giving her directions, like when to brush her teeth, when to go to sleep, when to say 'please' and 'thank you' (which she normally never has a problem with). I have noticed that she seems to be very sensitive to what the right thing is-- something I tend to stress often. At six years old Lisa never has a problem with discerning the right thing-- she has four teachers in this house and propriety and decorum are top priorities round here. She has been taught to do the right thing because it's what's expected of the good people. She covers her nose when she sneezes or coughs. She says 'excuse me' if she burps. She says 'please' when she asks for something and 'thank you' when it's given to her. She puts both loo lids down. She closes doors after herself. She picks up whatever she drops. She carries her dish (at the times when she remembers) and collects the used forks and spoons from her place too. Mother says she is the most eager-to-please child there ever was.

I believe that Lisa does it out of love. She values what Jessy and I teach her and she is committed to doing what she believes we want her to, just because she believes it's how you should show a sister you admire that you love her. And we cherish her for that. Most surprising is that she's developing a sense of what to do before she is told-- she takes initiative, figures out what some situation calls for, and then tries to do what she thinks she should. I can't say she always gets it right-- but her heart is in the right place and you can't fault a child for that.

Long ago Mother taught this conundrum to me. When she was at U.Del a professor opened his mouth and said, 'You can't teach morality to a five-year-old.' The entire class erupted in disagreement, mentioning their own kids, nephews and nieces, smaller siblings, kids they had baby-sat for. So the professor gave them the test case:

Say there are two children, both about five years old. The first spies the cookie jar on top of the refrigerator and finds a chair, pushes it across the room, climbs up on it, then goes up on the counter and then to the top of the refrigerator, and takes out a cookie for himself. In so doing he knocks over the cookie jar and makes a huge mess. The second child sees his mother is tired and goes into the kitchen, gets a plate of milk and cookies for his mother, even brings a paper napkin, and in crossing the room to present it to his mother he trips over the footstool and makes a huge mess.

If you are to tell this story to a five-year-old he will always feel sorry for the one who wanted to present his mother with a surprise snack and will always recognise that the one sneaking the cookies was doing the wrong thing (otherwise the cookies would not have been on top of the refrigerator, which is one thing the kids recognise as a way to tell). This is a natural tendency in all children-- it would take a terribly vicious parent who would have taught his child, by that age, that whatever you can take for yourself is rightfully yours (as Joseph Kennedy once told his children, probably when they were older than five).

I told this to Lisa once and by the time I was done she was weeping for the 'poor little boy who was only trying to do something nice.' I actually had to explain to her that it was only a made-up story.

'Did his mommy make him clean it up?' she asked me.

'I don't think so,' I said. 'I think she was just happy that he was being so sweet.'

'I do too,' said Lisa. 'Where does he live?' she wondered.

I was ready to laugh-- but if course I couldn't. 'I don't know,' I said. 'Why?'

Lisa looked about herself with that little blush. 'I just thought we could bring him some cookies, to make him feel better.'

'And you want to bring him the cookies?'

She nodded.

I scooped her up in a hug then. 'I think we should go make some cookies first,' I said-- and off we went to do that.

I confess I let Mother set her straight on the conundrum story, but only after Lisa made up a tray of cookies and milk and a napkin and took it in to Mother in the parlour. And no, she didn't trip over the footstool. (I think she actually went in and pushed it well out of the way before she got the tray.) Mother was pretty impressed with Lisa's gesture. Of course she recognised it from the conundrum, though she didn't know I had told it to Lisa then, and when I told her about Lisa's reaction she was pretty impressed with Lisa's compassion herself.

Really I don't know why she should have been-- for it's clear Lisa gets it from her mother who, aside from being stunningly beautiful, impressively intelligent, and irreproachably virtuous, maybe the sweetest, most charitable woman in the known universe.


Bugs in a rug

Friday, 5 February 2010

Our parents are still away, of course, tending to my uncle in NJ who is improving and is due home tomorrow. We three girls have been getting on quite well actually. I know it can be taken wrong, but sometimes it's healthy to have events that make you have to fend for yourself a little. Oh, I do not mean that it should be someone's health in jeopardy. I only mean that, for example, my parents should not feel concerned if they have to leave us on our own.

Of course this means Jessy and me looking out after little Lisa. Lisa herself is totally thrilled with the arrangement-- especially since her 'silly' uncle is going to be better. For her it's all girls all the time, which makes her feel like one of the big girls. We have been toying with makeup, dancing to CDs and iTunes, playing piano and singing along, baking brownies, making vats of pasta, working out down stairs and sitting up watching 'Greek' reruns and 'iCarly' and basically doing whatever we're not supposed to be doing when Mother and Daddy are here.

Last night we were all in this room, Jessy on FaceBook with her laptop, Lisa drawing in a pad of paper on the floor in front of the fire, and me as usual sitting up in the bed, surrounded by blankets, tapping away on this. When it got to about 9.00 we realised Lisa had to be going to bed, but of course she didn't want to leave. She had got her bath early (well, she and Jessy had it together) and I really ought to have tucked her into her own bed, but then the little conniver came up with a plan. 'We should all sleep in here!' she announced, and immediately set to organising the bed. Within three minutes she had three or four of her own 'stufties' in here, my Cinnamon Bear and Jessy's rabbit, three pillows and then all the covers turned down. Jessy, of course, indulged her entirely, even to the point of getting into bed early, so that by 9.30 both of them were completely zeed out in my bed-- with scarcely any room for me, of course.

When I did turn in, about 11 or so, I drew the bed curtains to conserve the body heat, although I can't remember that ever being a problem with this bed when there were three of us in it. Lisa was right in the middle, not leaving much room for me on the far side but I squeezed right up against her, wrapped an arm round her, and all was well. But I knew she would be the first one up. Sure enough I was roused out of a nice deep sleep (and a really good dream) by someone whispering right beside me.

'Jesseeeeee! Jesseeeeee!'

I winced. 'What time is it? I asked wearily.

Lisa turned right round under my arm, her face about an inch and a half from mine. 'Janine!'

'That would be me,' I said without opening my eyes.

'I have to go potty.'

I winced again. 'I trust you will be able to take care of that in the proper place and not in the bed,' I said.

She nodded and then wriggled out the top of the covers and crawled off the foot of the bed. When she returned she had left the light on, which I reminded her about, but she said she would not be able to find the bed in the dark.

'Well you can't leave that on all night,' I said. 'Follow the sound of sleeping people.'

'Okay!' she said. She left, the bathroom light went dark, and she returned, crawling up between us and settling back in. I put an arm round her, but she turned and faced me. 'I love you, Janine,' she said softly.

I sighed. 'I love you too.'

'Am I a good little sister?'

I smiled-- still with my eyes closed-- and kissed her forehead, which was about an inch from my lips anyway. 'The best,' I said, and drew her in to snuggle under my neck. 'Go to sleep.'

'Okay,' she said.

When I woke in the morning she was still there, under my arm, curled up against my chest like a small child with her mother. I am not her mother, but at times like these it can be hard to tell.


02 February 2010

Emergent occasions

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

We got a phone call very early this morning that my uncle had had a heart attack and had been flown to Philadelphia for surgery. This immediately upset my father to the point of insisting that he drive up there straight away. Little JJ was not even out of bed (and he is an early riser) and Daddy and Mother were packing things and getting ready to go. I stood there stuffing a toasted muffin into my mouth whilst they scurried round with suitcases and so on.

Of course Mother would not let him go alone. They would be taking JJ with them, so that he could stay with our other uncle's family in southern New Jersey for a few days whilst Mother and Daddy went on to Philadelphia. We were fortunate to have had Roger here the last few days-- working on the new (old) Buick project with Daddy, and so they would have him and the dark-green car for the ride. But it meant that I would be left to see little Lisa off to school for the next few mornings, and to arrive late each day myself (as her school starts an hour after mine, so I will miss first and half of second period by the time I get there. But, it cannot be helped).

Before they left this morning we did get another phone call and the news that our uncle had probably not had a true heart attack but that he has significant arterial blockage and so will need some bypass surgery. Other than this (significant but manageable) problem he is doing well. Daddy was relieved. But still they would leave at 9.00.

Roger drove Jessy in so she would not be late today and then would return for Daddy and Mother and little JJ who was getting dressed though crankily. I made a breakfast for Lisa and helped her get dressed and drove her in myself, a few minutes late, in the Regal and then got myself over to the high school. Of course we get out earlier so I was able, with Jessy, to drive over there and pick up Lisa when she got done. As of right now we are three girls on our own in the castle for probably the rest of the week.

Our uncle is out of his surgery and doing well-- they expect him to be much improved by week's end when they will release him. I rang my aunt in southern New Jersey and got a few updates and got to talk with JJ too. He is having fun with his cousins and does not fully understand the serious issues of his visit there. This is probably best.

I spoke with Daddy too and though he is relieved he is still concerned. 'It could happen to any of us,' he said. 'You always think it'll be the other guy, but it could be you, you know.'

'But you are very healthy,' I told him, 'and you work out and walk and ride the bike. And you don't smoke.'

Our uncle has always smoked cigarettes. It is a source of concern through the whole family. 'Yeah, but I could be better. And they're saying it's not due to the cigarettes.'

'What else would it be due to?' I asked (yes, incorrect grammar and all).

'I don't know. I told him as soon as he gets better we're all starting a fitness routine.'

Daddy already has a fitness routine. As casual as he has always been about other things (diet, paying bills, wearing ironed clothes) he has always enjoyed just doing physical things like walking, running, riding stationary and two-wheeled bicycles and of course swimming. He and I have a little competition on the rowing machine down stairs, trying to improve our 2k times. I am down to about 9:17-- and, by the way, have lost about 2 lbs of holiday-season fat.

Our other uncle tends to be a bit more rigorous in his fitness than either of his elder brothers and we worry perhaps less about his health than anyone's. Tonight they are both at Gran's house farther up in New Jersey and one aunt stays with her husband in hospital and the other is minding four little kids at the farmhouse. All the signs look good and so I have relaxed my own concern and left it all to God. I think sometimes this is all we can do.

For supper Jessy and Lisa (meaning Jessy, with Lisa sitting on the counter asking questions and talking incessantly) made a frozen entree of roast beef with fried mashed potatoes left over from Gran's birthday dinner and cranberry sauce and (mostly cold) broccoli. I planned for tomorrow to have macaroni-and-cheese casserole with the leftover chicken in it. I think we will not starve soon.

Lisa did ask to sleep in with me tonight but as of now she is in Lisa's bed, probably asleep if I care to go look whilst Jessy bangs away on the computer on FaceBook and Twitter and wherever else she needs to broadcast her news to her friends. We made sure Lisa brushed her teeth early because we kind of figured she would end up like this. I will leave my door open on the gallery side anyway in case she comes looking for me at two AM.

Oh, and I wrote a note for the school saying I will be missing first period all week because of getting my little sister to school and of course the teacher and the guidance people were fine with that-- British literature? --my major? --are you kidding? There is another section of the same class during fifth and they asked if I wanted to just sit in on that and miss lunch, but I said no way. Anyway I have the textbook, like I haven't read all that stuff already. And I can write my paper from home.

So we will be all right for the short term. Thanks be to God.