Snow is falling outside, but it’s warm by the fire. Boy in Black is in the red chair; he put the wooden leaf from our kitchen table on top of the ottoman, and he’s got his laptop balanced there. Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why are using the other two little tables in the room. My husband’s laptop is on the kitchen table. When it comes right down to it, none of us really like to balance our computers in our laps.
With-a-Why is writing a paper about John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick: he’s arguing that what humans consider justice is often injustice for other animals and how humans treat non-human animals is a violation of the kinds of justices proposed by the three philosophers. He’s staring at his laptop screen, but he’s got a printed out copy of the paper that his sister has written all over. Shaggy Hair Boy, sitting on the couch amidst a pile of crumpled math papers, is studying for a final exam.
Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter is sitting at the hearth, grading psychology exams. She’s incredibly focused, but she’ll look up from time to time to read a snippet to Film Guy, who is also getting a graduate degree in psychology. Film Guy is standing at the kitchen counter, making brownies. For some reason, he’s been making brownies a lot these days. We never have eggs so he keeps substituting other stuff: the cornstarch substitute failed miserably, so tonight he’s trying mashed up banana.
Because everyone has work to do, no one is at the piano. I can hear fingers clicking on computer keyboards, the flip of paper as my daughter turns the pages of the psychology exams, and the crackle of the fire. Every once in a while, Shaggy Hair Boy looks up and asks Boy in Black a question about calculus. Boy Black shakes his hair out of his face and answers with some kind of math formula. My husband looks up from his computer to announce something about the stock market.
Four of the cats have joined us. Rogue has taken a spot under the Christmas tree, so the reddish lights are making her fur look strange. (The tree is decorated, but I haven’t set up the village yet: I’m saving that for Little Biker Boy and Ponytail.) Emmy is stretched out under the piano bench. Trouble is on the back of Boy in Black’s chair. Gretel is curled up next to the pile of psychology exams. When With-a-Why gets tired of the paper he’s writing, he stands up, stretches, and goes to the piano.