Christmas 2007

Greetings from the Muse-Scott home, the basement of which got flooded from the big storm, but that let me employ an old sump pump I had elected to keep while cleaning out the garage. Actually getting to use some piece of junk I had squirreled away was the highlight of my year. (I know. It is sad.)

As the sole male in a house full of women, I spent a significant fraction of my 2007 turning off lights in unoccupied rooms. Sometimes it’s a mystery as to who left the light on; other times, the person who left the light on proclaims—MacArthur like—“I’m going back in there!” Yes, well, we will all be going back into each room eventually, won’t we? One wonders why the lights were ever wired with switches to begin with.

My conservation fetish does seem a bit odd in light (GET IT?!) of my excessive exterior Xmas decorating. The neighbors seem to like it, except for 14-year-old Al Gore Jr. down the street who wrote me a letter about my lights "offending" him because of "all the carbon" they must be spewing into the atmosphere. Only in Seattle. Apparently he didn't know that Seattle City Light generates only 2% of its electricity from fossil fuels; he does now. It was actually kind of nice to see a teenage boy interested in something other than girls' bodies and acne. I suggested he could start a little Ebay business selling Christmas light carbon offsets.

This year's light display was a tribute to St. Bob of Lowe's, patron saint of extension cords. Little is known of his life, but he was born in Renton in A.D. 1936. He had two documented miracles that I could find in the papal archives. The first was pulling 50 amps through a porchlight socket without tripping the breaker. The second was getting a light string untangled using only the power of cursing. He was martyred in A.D. 1985 when he tried to force a polarized three-prong plug into a two slot outlet while kneeling in wet grass.

Beth had another great year, because it was spent with me! Seriously though, she won an award at Microsoft for Customer and Partner Experience Leadership—or possibly Extremely Excellent Outstanding Wonderfulness—and was also given a couple free dinners at fancy restaurants plus a free computer, so now the girls won't have to share one, because learning to share leads to communism, and we don't want that. Beth has also become addicted to Sudoku, which is like crack for the logical.

I was briefly addicted to online backgammon, one of the few games that is actually better online. “Backgammon?!” you say, “that stupid dice and checkers game played by 12th-Century Turks and drunken 70s college students?” That's what I thought until I stumbled on a book by Bill Robertie, a former chess & poker champion who gave up those games for backgammon and became the only two-time world champion. It's like crack for people who only count up to twelve.

My career is also going well. (Fun Fact: I have not drawn a paycheck in the current millennium.) What I do is drive a lot. Turns out, our house is inconveniently located. We could move, but that would require a lot of getting up off the couch. I also finished my gig as editor of the prestigious and Pulitzer prize aware-of LCP Newsletter. (That's Lakewood Co-operative Preschool, for those not in the know.) Be sure to catch up on the issues you missed. Each one explodes with nuggets of parenting wisdom, like the one above about the horror of sharing. Also, one issue contains a photo of me wearing a dress, in case exploding wisdom nuggets aren't your thing.

Jacqueline is enjoying 5th grade at Seattle Country Day School. This year, she became a latch-key kid, as I cannot be counted on to arrive home with Veronica before Jackie gets home. Jacqueline got two new pets this year: mice. Three new pets, if you count the replacement mouse. Jackie was extremely upset to find mouse #2, Sarah, lethargic and breathing queerly, so I found a veterinarian in West Seattle who does mice and off we went. For the price of a dozen new mice, he told us Sarah was a goner. Now I know why PetCo doesn't try to sell you an extended mouse warranty.

Jacqueline also won an award from the Pacific Science Center for exhibiting inspiration to other children beyond the call of summer day-camper duty. Lest you think this was some sham to get me to re-enroll her for next summer's Pacific Science Center day camps, may I say that of 2000 campers, only 88 got awards. And cookies were served. And I sat next to former governor Gary Locke and his wife Mona (who is even hotter in person. Did you know she was Miss Asian America for '86-'87? Did you know there even was a Miss Asian America?) Gary was wearing the same suit he wore when he dropped his son off at the day camp, and when he walks his son to his school bus stop on Queen Anne. It is clearly his favorite suit. Our paths crossed frequently this year. I suspect one of us is stalking the other, but I've been too busy to figure it out.

Veronica attends a full-time pre-school now. It is the Perkins School in Ravenna, and it affords me the opportunity to return to bicycle commuting. I ride past the UW each time and I don't know if you've seen college students lately, but they are now just children, incredibly young children, which is a big change because they used to be my age. Veronica gets to bake something in the school kitchen every Thursday, which I seldom get to eat, and she produces an average of 3 drawings every day (“They're for mommy”), which has necessitated my purchasing several auxiliary refrigerators on which to affix them. (If you're stumped for a gift for me this year, think magnets.)

Veronica has also been working on her evil laugh (“Moo ha ha ha!”) for when she “takes over the world.” She often wears devil horns while practicing the laugh. Here's a key difference between my daughters: Veronica would like to take over the world so that she could own everything, order everyone around, and eat candy for every meal. Jacqueline would probably also like to take over the world, but just so she could cure the sick animals, or possibly engineer a real unicorn with a sparkly pink mane. Veronica can easily scream for 45 minutes when her will is thwarted, is still weighing the notion of whether honesty is actually the best policy, and is immune to reason, my well-crafted syllogisms as impotent as bullets bouncing off Superman's chest. She is a typical youngest child in these regards, in that parents typically get themselves spayed or neutered after having a child like this.

Now it's time for Cute Things Veronica Said:

Somewhere out there, sailing life's sea, is Veronica's first husband or lesbian life-partner, blissfully unaware of this cute blond iceberg over the horizon. Perhaps I can smooth out her kinks in time. I suppose I owe it to a future in-law to try.

Trip-wise, we went to Maui again. It has become a regular winter thing for us, and seemingly half of the Puget Sound region. (We're going again in February. Come with! It's a big island.) In August, we rented a motorhome and took a five day tour of the state: Mt. Rainier, Kiona Winery, Grand Coulee Dam, and Leavenworth. The girls loved it. Beth was a good sport about it.

Other summer highlights were the Yarrow Point 4th of July parade, riding The Duck, and the girls' first Puyallup fair. (BTW, if you think you need to lose weight, just spend a day at the Puyallup fair and you will feel like Twiggy. I've read those articles about 40% of Americans being obese, but they never mentioned that 90% of those folks love state fairs. You should see them squeeze into the rides that were designed for 1950s Americans; the safety bars just disappear. The roller coasters groan and sway in unintendedly scary ways. Fair attendees are the Clydesdales of people.)

Medical-wise, I had a hernia repaired. It was the same one I had fixed when I was 15. (Check the 1976 Xmas newsletter for details.) In '76 it was a two day hospital stay. This year, I was in at 9 and out before noon with a jar of painkillers. Thirty years from now, when I guess it will be time to do it again, it will probably be at a drive-thru window. (“OK, that's one left-side hernia repair, extra Percocet. Would you like Botox with that? Please pull ahead.”)

I also turned officially old this year because I have started shrinking. When the nurse finished measuring me during my physical, she said “Six foot, one-and-a-half inches.”
“What?!”, I said, “That can't be right. I've been six-two since I was 19.”
“Honey,” she replied, “You ain't 19 no more.”
That's one of those statements thatwhile undeniably true to even the most casual observerfeels insulting. (It's all from carrying kids on my shoulders.) The girls now want me to measure myself each year on the wall in the kitchen where I chart their growth. If current trends continue, Jacqueline will be taller than me in 15 years. In 25 years, Beth and I will be the same height. In anticipation of my elf-ification, I offer you this peek into our family's future.


Merry Christmas & Happy 2008
Bill, Beth, Jacqueline, & Veronica