Lead Update. Cold Update. Holiday Prep.

OK, so much for my resolution to write more often.

In the past two weeks, I've been circling my house, waiting for the lead to be beaten into submission so that it can no longer eat my brain. The family has retreated to San Francisco for the duration, and my life has been a mixed up bag of camping out at a very tolerant friend's house with our increasingly behemothic Saint Bernard (I just invented that word. 'Behemothic,' I mean. Not Saint Bernard. That was already a word. Go ahead and use it in sentences with your friends to impress them. Again, 'behemothic.' Not the dog one), and trying to remotely manage the contractors - who, I must say, have made that job remarkably easy. They're actually on time. Who ever heard of contractors being on time? It's unheard of. Or maybe it's just unheard of in Georgia and California. Maybe it's a normal thing here in Massachusetts. Maybe that's how they make up for the odd accent. 'Sure, we talk funny, but our contractors are on time.' That would be a nice thought, wouldn't it?

We pulled the Critter out of school for the duration, after a brief conversation with her teacher. The one advantage of her having to go through 1st grade sort of all over again after moving here from England is that she's leaps ahead in reading and math. (Except currency, where she can't quite figure out why the Queen isn't on the money here). So sending her off to California for two weeks was not too big a deal - we had just started reading the Little House on the Prairie books, and she's kept it up on her own. Along with writing in a journal each day. "Today I ate really excellent Mexican food, and my father cried because he can only find crappy Taco Bell and a poor simile of a taqueria in Massachusetts. Poor Daddy."

But when they come home (tomorrow - woo hoo!), they'll be coming home to a whole different climate zone. The past two weeks have seen the temperatures drop steadily here, until this week, with predictions of snow flurries. OK, it's not North Dakota, but this little family has never lived anywhere that it gets below freezing for more than a week a year, really. And certainly not one that is likely to see some type of snow before December even arrives. At least I've had the opportunity to start to grow accustomed to it these past two weeks. The rest of the 'Groove clan has been enjoying the temperate San Francisco bay, where the thermostat has been stuck at a pleasant 60 degrees Fahrenheit since, oh, the late mesozoic period.

What I didn't expect to see so soon, however, has been the profusion of Christmas decorations. When we left the US, generally speaking, people respected the "no Christmas music before Thanksgiving" rule. When did that change? Why am I already seeing Christmas tree stands selling their wares at this time of year? I was in the mall this weekend, and saw kids sitting in Santa's lap, getting their picture taken. Who is buying these things already? Stop it people. Stop it right now. Perhaps it's a sign of the already-desperate retailers, given the economic climate. But I'd like to enjoy my turkey in peace before I have to start fending off the Salvation Army, gift wrapping stations, and fruit cakes. But I am looking forward to our first Christmas back in the US, I have to say.

Especially because it looks like it'll be a white Christmas, at that.