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Today in My History

2000:  High Stepping
2001:  In the Arms of the Angel
Dubya, Rudy and Jed
Off and Running
Hit Me with a Meme
2006: 'Tis the Season
2007:  The Poopiest Puppy Ever
2008: Hope and Disappointment
2009:  When Friends Write Books
2010:  Merry Christmas
2011:  Loss and Grief

Bitter Hack
Updated: 10/28
"Macbeth: the Radio Play"

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 11/1
"The Year of Magical Thinking"

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The Paul Picnic

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Airy Persiflage

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mail to Walt


2 November 2012


Dinner was perfect, of course. The chicken cacciatore was so tender it melted in your mouth and the spaghetti was cooked al dente, just the way Laura liked it. She made a big caesar salad, but left out the anchovies because she knew Tim hated anchovies. Tim opened a nice bottle of chianti and made a toast “to Mom’s new computer.”

Laura went out into the kitchen to get the Parmesan cheese, so they couldn’t see the look on her face.

She kept up a lively conversation at dinner, talking about her volunteer work at the SPCA thrift store and about all the adorable dogs and cats that were up for adoption. She had thought of bringing home one herself, but Peanut was getting old and she didn’t want to disrupt his quiet way of life by bringing a youngster into the house. There would be time enough for that after he was gone, if she even wanted another dog. She was happy with the dog she had. She didn’t want a new one.

And she didn’t want a new contraption to learn either, but she didn’t say that.

“Here, Mom, let me help you clear the table,” said Jenna. Then we can show you your computer!”

“Don’t you want ice cream?” Laura asked. She was a big one for dessert and she was desperately hoping to prolong the moment when she had to sit at ...that...that...thing as long as possible.

“Not yet, Mom,” Jenna laughed. “I’m still full from dinner. Besides, we’re so anxious to show you how your computer works. You won’t believe what fun you’ll have with it and how easy it is to use! We can have dessert later.”

There was no getting around it. Laura was going to have to let her children teach her how to use her new computer. She didn’t have to actually use it after they left, but she had to let them teach her how to use it.

Even the look of it bothered her. It didn’t match the decor of her room at all. All that metal didn’t blend into the lovely dark wood of her den. It stood out like a sore thumb. Maybe she could make a nice quilted cover to go over it so it wouldn’t look so out of place, she thought.

“Now c’mon, Mom. You sit down here and I’ll sit next to you and I’ll show you just how to work the computer,” said Tim.

He showed her the button to turn the machine on. That was easy. All sorts of pictures came up on the screen as it started. She was looking at a cute picture of Alexis, her 5 year old granddaughter, that sweet smile Laura loved so much on her face and what looked like cookie crumbs around her mouth, blending into the freckles that dotted her nose and spilled over down her cheeks. Her red hair was muted in the photo, but it made Laura smile, anyway.

Tim showed her the parts of the computer. That thing they called a mouse and something about clicks and double clicks and then there were programs and graphics and the Internet and e-mail and Laura’s brain began to swim. She couldn’t understand anything he said. The more excited he became in teaching her, the more her brain shut down. She pushed all the buttons he told her to push and watched what happened, but she couldn’t remember any of it. Tim would learn, when he got to be her age, that it’s harder to retain new information and he was throwing an encyclopedia at her.

They sat at the computer for what seemed like hours, with Tim giving her instructions and Jenna clapping in delight every time Laura did something right. She tried to share their excitement, but the longer things went on, the more confused she got.

“I’m getting kind of tired, kids,” she said. “Maybe we should call it a night and take it up again some other time. Is anybody ready for ice cream now?” she asked, hopefully.

It was mint chocolate chip, her favorite. She dished up a couple of scoops for each of them and put them in the little crystal dishes her mother had given her as part of her wedding present. She added a homemade chocolate chip cookie and used the good dessert spoons from her sterling silver set.

They sat in the living room with their ice cream. Tim and Jenna babbled on about all the fun things Laura would be able to do now that she had her own computer. They talked about keeping in touch with the relatives in Ireland, and getting pictures of her grandchildren by e-mail. Laura just smiled, sat back and ate her ice cream.

She would never touch that ...thing... again, once her kids were out of the house.


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