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Fixing foods and getting ready

Every year the Prouty family (Jim and Vanessa) hosts a christmas party, which Penny and I would attend, sometimes with stress and hassle (lateness, tiredness, Penny not feeling well but not knowing why from gallstones that we didn't get treated soon enough, or having attacks of the I am Too Fat to be Seen by Humans) and sometimes with no stress and great enjoyment of lights on the way. Well, always a tiny bit of stress because it's a bit of a dress-up, but not to the extent of actually being full-formal, just an excuse to dress nicely. Nevertheless, for over 20 years, it's been a tradition, only skipping once or twice for bad weather or for family losses.

And, last year, Penny was exhausted and sick (we didn't yet know just HOW sick, and we'd gotten a false negative and thought that it wasn't cancer) so we stayed at home and watched a movie and snuggled.

This will be the first Christmas since 1979 that I haven't spent with her, at least for some significant part.
It's the first Christmas since 1976 that I didn't get her a gift. I'm going to the party because she told me to go, although I doubt that I'll stay for the whole thing - I just ... if it triggers, I'm out of there.

I've been fixing some dinner/lunch/whatevers for a friend from church - a different one this time, the wife of the man who was my third Stephen Ministry care receiver, a long-time survivor of Multiple Sclerosis who was finally unable to stay at home, because she had become too frail to care for him properly. I have been spared so much suffering and so much misery, in having this finish quickly.

I just made a batch of peanut brittle, and I'll be heading over to the store, to get some salads, and then to her place, and then to the Prouty party.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 24th, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
I understand ... this is the first xmas in about 18 years that I'm not going to be with my ex-partners ... I wish you the best. I'll be thinking of you.
Dec. 24th, 2006 04:48 am (UTC)
I seldom feel short ... a few minutes ago, a swarm of Brendan Prouty's friends arrived ... none of them is shorter than 6'2" and all are apallingly young and skinny and so forth. Brendan is Jim and Nessa's son.

I also feel very old and decrepit.
Dec. 24th, 2006 05:47 am (UTC)
During the party: telling some secret truths that aren't secrets, about the hostess, that she and Penny had been roomies, that hostess Nessa had been quite up front that the degree she was there for was the M r S degree, and that at one point she was so successful in her striving as to be recepient of flowers, chocolates, jewelry and other gifts as to make many of the other girls want to toss her from their fifth floor room.

I went in to refill a beverage and found Vanessa talking about the same thing from a different perspective: that she was regretting that her parents, who never finished college degrees, did not require her to finish her degree, and in fact that they did not help her prepare for the whole goal driven self enforced school environment.
Dec. 24th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
I remember the astonishing (STILL astonishing, after nearly thirty years) fact that Penny told me about Vanessa - that she had slips to go underneath trousers. I had never heard of such a thing and I have never heard of it since.
Dec. 24th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)
Flying to Switzerland
The party continued with an excellent story - I had overheard Vanessa's dad, who was a co-pilot for American Airlines (learned to fly a crop-duster at 17, somehow made his way through either military or civilian life into the position of being a co-pilot, and never chose to try for Captain; he claimed that he didn't want to lose his seniority and as the longest rated co-pilot at AA, he could set his own schedules.)

He was talking about flying again. I overheard something about him still piloting. The man is somewhere around 77-78 years old, cannot see across a room, cannot hear normal speech next to him in a quiet room, and forgets things that he is doing, sometimes WHILE he is doing them, often enough to disturb his daughter. She will not ride in a car that he is driving, wisely.

He has taken up with a collection of similar older men, who build airplanes. Two-seater kit-built private airplanes. When asked, "What will you do when you're done with it," the first of the group to complete his plane would answer, "I'm going to fly to Switzerland."

This is, theoretically, possible. For someone who isn't 78 and not yet a pilot. The group of them are doing ground school at Portland Community College... Ralph, Nessa's father, already a pilot but forced to retire at 60, flew 747s, and is the Big Cheese, the Charles Lindberger of his group.
They meet nightly, heading out first to dinner at some incredibly cheap place for which someone has the bargain coupons - it's all about the deal - and then having eaten their tacos, or infinite salad bar, or special chicken bucket special, they head over in the early dark to get to the aviation garage, where they spend a few hours putting rivets into the next person's plane. None of them has left the ground. None of them has gotten as far as the next airport, but as soon as they get their ratings, well, they're flying to Switzerland. But first, the next guy needs to get his two seater kit plane built and running.
Dec. 24th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
Jim Prouty has a brother, John. They're twins.

John married Edith Smith, nearly 30 years ago. Edith, who was Nancy Smith's roommate (Nancy who married Michael Smith, is the mother of my god-children Miles who is now six feet tall, and Elliot, who is, thankfully, not six feet tall yet) ... Edith is always right, and always has been. This is true whether or not she is correct, or whether or not it's actually facts vs. opinions, Edith is right. Edith is, in Myers-Briggs terms, an ESTJ, almost a complete opposite to my ENTX(p).

The only way to deal with her when she's right but not correct is to kick her out of her box. Once, Penny mentioned that she preferred sea salt, and was treated to a ten minute lecture about how all salt was identically sodium chloride (not strictly true of sea salt, which CAN have both flavor and texture elements different from standard table salt). Eventually, Penny replied, "I prefer the taste of sea salt, and yelling at me won't change that." Edith was nonplussed to hear she was yelling.

It is a mistake, in my opinion, to engage John or Edith in the topic of schools. They have experienced considerable difficulty getting a reasonable education for their daughters in the public school system, and out of a laudable sense of the rightness of public education, they did not change to home-schooling or private schooling, although I think they probably did.

Speaking of the Talented And Gifted program (created by Oregon law and gutted by Bush's No Child Left a Dime for Real Education program) led them to make the sweeping claim about individual curricula: that the only kids for whom it is required (and thus, the only ones for whom it is done) are the ones who fall below the required testing levels using the baloney tests imposed by No Child Left, are the retarded or otherwise challenged ones; the TAG forms which are ALSO individual curricula, are generated and delivered too late in the year for them to be applied.

I recalled several conversations with teachers over the last two or three years, including my next-door neighbor Ruth-Ann from Timberlake, a friend in my doll club Marcia, her friend who visits with her sometimes, and some comments by Dave, a music-teacher from dowm the street back on Timberlake.

They claimed that every child must have an individual development plan, and that they had to file one for every child, and that it was a royal pain in the ass several times a year to report the results.

Since, when I said this, Edith was mulishly shaking her head, I'm afraid I snapped, "Your shaking your head doesn't make me wrong."
Her reply was that she worked in the schools. My reply was "So do the teachers I leearned this from, and they were describing what they had to do daily."

As I recall, Ruth-Ann said that the No Child Left laws and some of their corrolary regulations would cut federal funds unless schools complied with several "measurable" objectives. The one that she and Marcie independently complained about is that every child must have an individual education plan on file, and kept up to date.
Digging around with google confirmed part of this (see page 14 of this report, while looking elsewhere (and in other states, since this is driven by federal requirements) I found that it's permitted, in general, to use boilerplate for most students, except for those who are failing, or (in Oregon) those who are in TAG or other programs requiring special attention.

In other words, it's entirely possible for someone to be correct who has seen different things than she has, in whatever she's done at the school district. This doesn't make her wrong, necessarily, though it might just be that her school district isn't in compliance with the regulation, or that they're doing well enough that they aren't being required to do 100% coverage, or maybe she simply doesn't see it. As a parent, though, she certainly saw the delays in getting TAG programs for her daughters which resulted in their seeing no benefit from them.

This means, of course, that we were both right; I might have said so if I weren't so irritated at her headwagging. I think, next time, I'll simply stop at the first wag.
Dec. 24th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
Ah, but according to Edith, it's the Jews who control the schools, right? Or Jews that cause cancer? Or control the banks?
Dec. 24th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
She expressed a belief a few years back that there was a jewish group (conspiracy might be too strong a term) which was controlling the Portland schools, as they were disproportionally represented because they had more money.

Factually, there are a larger number of Jewish people on the Portland school board than would reflect their proportion in the population, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with their being Jewish.
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