War and peace

April 15, 2003

With the help of a foam noodle and encouragement from his instructor, Ben practices kicks during a swimming lesson. Photo by Glenn.
Iraq has fallen, the taxman has cometh, and our fields of spring flowers have given way to April's showers — and that's all since the last time we visited. It's been another rapid-fire month (so to speak) at the Oakley homestead, so let's catch you up to date with what's new in our world.

The biggest news just about everywhere this past month has been the war in Iraq. While we are thankful to not have any family members overseas, the military campaign has nonetheless been a focus of our attentions since it began March 19. We have been tuning in to the cable news channels several times each day to keep pace with the rapidly changing war and could not help but be riveted to the dramatic images that most of us have been seeing. Who will soon forget the scene of Saddam Hussein's statue being toppled by liberated Iraqis with the help of a company of U.S. Marines (one of whom, it is worth noting, hails from Oakley)?

Ben found that getting water in his eyes during swim lessons was an uncomfortable distraction. A pair of goggles and a haircut solved the problem. Photos by Glenn.
The war has had an indirect impact on Glenn's work at the newspaper, which has ramped up coverage for the duration of the conflict. On the same day the bombing began, one of his coworkers — a key editor of the news wires — went out on disability with what eventually was diagnosed as a cancerous tumor. That and some ill-timed vacations left the wire desk shorthanded, so Glenn was quickly pressed into service editing the national and international news feeds for two straight weeks while others scrambled to keep on top of the war dispatches. And on March 26 — what we had originally envisioned as a relaxing day to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary — Glenn became the lead wire-puller for the next day's six-page special section of war coverage. Not quite what any of us had in mind, but unusual times often call on us to step up in ways we didn't plan. It appears that Glenn's wire editing duties will last at least a few more weeks while his colleague hopefully heals.

Ben, meanwhile, has had little interest in the war and makes it a point to leave the room or put on his headphones when the news is on TV. We haven't forced him to watch it, nor have we discouraged him from doing so if he is curious about what it all means. Being on break from school during much of the combat has insulated him from discussion for the most part. He is aware of what is going on, but will probably remember it in much the same way we remember Vietnam, having been too young to understand the politics.

Roni arranges the plants atop her new bookcase, a belated birthday gift. Photo by Glenn.
Fortunately, Ben has had some more child-like activities to keep his interests focused. On April 7, he began two weeks of swimming lessons in Antioch, where for half an hour each session he is learning the basics of water safety. Although excited about the lessons, he hasn't been completely at ease; in less than three feet of water it is just as simple to walk across the pool with your head held safely above the waterline as it is to swim across with chlorine up your nose. We got him some goggles to ease the discomfort of having water in his eyes, so our second week of classes has seen less dog-shaking of the hair than in week one.

Our flea infestation we shared with you last month has improved little. We have been consulting pet experts and the Internet for ways to subdue the little beasties, but two-rounds of flea dips and intensive bombing so far have brought only temporary relief. Our cats have developed a new loathing for water, but at the same time they have been basically cooperative in our efforts to scrub their bellies and faces in the bathtub.

Another in our continuing series of spring wildflowers. This is a closeup of the lupine plant featured in this month's Photo of the Month. You can probably see now why we put up with its weed-like appearance the rest of the year. Photo by Glenn.
The second flea bombing campaign gave us an opportunity to work in our yard for a couple of hours one Sunday. We are still intent on rebuilding the gazebo and fixing up the garden, but before we can begin those projects there is some basic cleaning up we need to do, starting with pulling weeds and pruning. Roni mowed the lawns and pulled foxtails while Glenn trimmed back overgrown hedges and shoveled sand off the back patio, assessing what items will need to be improved before we can tackle the bigger chores of planting and construction. Our next step will be to call in a plumber and have some work done on the outside faucets so we can get our back sprinklers working again; their failure last year because of a broken pipe we could not easily repair resulted in a gardenless 2002 and nearly wiped out some of our trees.

Roni's birthday last month was a low-key affair, due in part to the war, but this month we made up for it a bit when we took her shopping for her gift. She chose a bookcase unit that features nine cubicles with plenty of room to hold her burgeoning paperback collection, a few curio items and one or both cats. Now if we could only get the cats to stay there we could avoid having to purchase bookends.

Well, the taxes are done and ready to hit the post office once we figure out whether our meager refund will cover the cost of the stamps we need to mail them. We'll start cooking up the eggs and hope the Easter Bunny works his magic next weekend. See you next month.

Glenn, Roni and Ben

Return to Friends and Family Corner