Sunday, June 8, 2008


In interesting fiction, characters usually have schedules that would wear a normal person right out. I mean, "and then I went home and laid on the couch for two hours before pouring myself a bowl of cereal and attacking my laundry" isn't exactly page-turning excitement, flat prose aside. Since I'm about to detail my entire weekend for you, it's a good thing that this one was paced more like commercial fiction than like, say, my idea of a good time.

Friday was a day of exciting storms, followed by dinner with a friend and his new girlfriend. They stayed late, which was fun, except . . . well, I was starting to feel a little off.

Immediately after they left I realized that I was unpleasantly ill, presumably with whatever felled Paul last weekend. The problem with that was that I was planning to leave the house around 6:30 on Saturday morning to drive down to Cape Girardeau for the Heartland Writers' Guild Conference. After setting out some things for our neighborhood yard sale.

Paul woke me at 6:15, whereupon I nursed Ada and went straight back to sleep. In the house with my family. It was restless sleep. Paul took a couple of the yard sale things down, and left them out with honor-system envelopes. After listening to Ada crying for a while - she was upset that she wasn't getting her morning nap - I gave up on my own sleep goal and snuggled Ada into her crib.

While she napped, Ellie and Paul went to go get a babysitter while I readied a few things around the house, tried to rest some more, then showered and got dressed when Ellie and Paul left for gymnastics and the sitter was having trouble keeping Ada happy. My precious younger child knew that I was in the house, and naturally wanted my attention.

So I plopped into our rental Hyundai and headed for the conference. By myself. The car was full of old Starbucks detritus, but sadly bereft of fuel, as I noticed as I headed south of I-55 with the dashboard's orange warning light staring at me accusatorily. I pulled off at Festus/Crystal City, and learned that the whole community was completely out of power. Next services, 13 miles. Gulp. Fortunately, the under-powered Elantra sipped fuel slowly enough to coast into the gas station under its own power, though the driving experience didn't impress me enough to want to petition Enterprise to let us purchase the car rather than returning it on Monday.

I still felt like crap, but I really enjoyed the conference and am very glad I went. The Guild includes some really friendly people and I got a lot out of all three "workshops" I attended (really speaker sessions with Q&A at the end). A couple of the authors were painfully bitter, but I learned from them, too. Overall, a very positive experience despite my ailment and the fact that the sole women's restroom on our floor was out of commission all afternoon.

The trip back was uneventful, including my next stop in Festus/Crystal City for some desperately needed Sarahlynn-fuel. Sadly, despite a complete lack of obvious storm damage under the day's bright blue skies, power was still out and no caffeine was to be had.

I made it home safely and got Ada to bed before collapsing on the couch to car shop online for a few hours before stumbling to my own pillow.

On Sunday morning, Paul was very solicitous, taking the girls to get Starbucks while I slept in a little. I was feeling much, much better, but appreciated the slow start to my day, especially knowing what was coming.

Mid-morning, we all loaded into the van and went to Forest Park for the Down Syndrome Association's annual Buddy Walk fundraiser, where Ellie enjoyed a bouncy house and 2-story inflatable slide (though she burned her face on the hot vinyl) and both girls played in the Discovery Toys booth. They were ready for solid naps when we got home, since 90-plus degree heat doesn't agree with any of us.

After naps, we headed the opposite direction, out to Wentzville for The Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire, which Paul really wanted to attend. No, no, I enjoy it also. And the girls had a good time, too. Their big favorite was the petting zoo (goats! llamas! a bunny! a donkey! dogs! ducks!) and Ellie had fun on her "warhorse" pony ride. Paul delights in bad pirate humor and bawdy singalongs.

By closing time, when we piled back into the van, we were all overheated and exhausted again. it was really really hot in St. Louis today. By 6:30, on the way home, the temperature had dropped down to 90 again.

Dinner, baths, Ada to bed . . . I passed out for a while, waking up to watch Law and Order CI with Paul and write this. Soon, I hope to head to bed for an uninterrupted stretch. Best laid plans and all that.

Interspersed throughout all this, of course, was car shopping and car talking. The rental goes back tomorrow, and we're still chasing our tails. Paul's planning to go in a little late tomorrow so that we can take a candidate car to our mechanic bright and early. Here's hoping we have a little more debt soon. And maybe a pre-loved hybrid Accord.

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