Friday, 18 March 2016

Seven Quick Takes 28: Ying Tong, Piddle, and Pi

1. Spring Break this week. So glad it coincided with the clocks going forward. It feels so much better to cast my bleary eyes on the the clock and see that the baby woke me up at 'seven', even though it's really still six.

2. Luckily, the break coincided with the release of Rethinking Women's Health: A Guide to Wellness by Alison Buehler, who lives up the road from me. I promised a review when I'm done, but for now I can't help contemplating the price of local fame. I mean, people here are going to bump into Alison in the supermarket and think, She's the woman who wrote the book with the word "vagina" splattered all over it. Should make for interesting conversation over the bananas.

3. Monday, of course, was Pi Day (3.14). We had a get-together with middle daughter's math club. I didn't get a picture of all the pies, which were pretty much demolished. so here's a t-shirt that does double duty for Pi Day and Speak like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19). Geeks, you need this t-shirt.

4. To continue the theme of our renovations as a metaphor for Lent, I offer:

[OK, I was going to offer a photo of our upside-down tub being painted, with a clever "whited sephulchre" theme, except in hunter green, but apparently I forgot to take a photo before it was put back, so use your imagination here.]

But whatever you do to try to hide or cover up the state of your soul, you've got nowhere to go.

In truth, we weren't playing pioneers. We did have one toilet. In a room with no door. A good chance to practice whistling.

I suppose to really carry this through, the renovations should have gone on until Easter, but our sanity wouldn't have survived. As it was, there was a three-day delay because of torrential rains, and tempers were running pretty short. But, all was done on Monday, and I'm still thanking my husband profusely for not being a DIY-er, and letting the professionals do it all quickly.

5. Our two current family activities are hot tubbing and watching Sherlock (we're now only a season behind the rest of the galaxy). I jokingly suggested we should set a tv up outside and combine the two. And as this was a week off, and you have to do something goofy, with the help of a card table and extension cord... voila. Verdict? Like sitting in hot water watching tv.

6. Even though I've been changing the baby's nappy every day for his whole life, it's still usually a tragedy of operatic proportions. The other day, I was dredging my brain in desperation for something to distract him - and pulled up the golden oldie, The Ying Tong Song. Here's a little ditty that my mother sang to me, as she tucked me into bed when I was ninety-three... Complete success, and still working. Bless you, Spike Milligan, and I hope you are enjoying your reward.

7. There, now I'm done - and I have the choice of three loos to go to! For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

Friday, 4 March 2016

7 Quick Takes 27:Leaky Souls and Dead Fish

1. Seven quick Quick Takes to keep my hand in during a week of essay grading, student conferences and two of our floors being replaced. To make this take #1, I offer the following conference conversation:

Student: Are you going to post any mid-term grades yet?
Me:  Not yet, but you can can see your real-time grade 24/7 on our course page.
Student: I know, but I like to see my GPA.
Me: Well, you can calculate that yourself. You know, an A is 4 points, B is 3, and so on.
Student: It is? But I'm not good at math.
Me (thinking): If you can't add four little numbers and divide by four, maybe you don't want to know your grade point average.
And her subject? Elementary education.

2. It's hard to say what the low point of all the stress and chaos was, but a good contender is this:

Half the floor is plywood, half is ripped-up lino, getting more ripped up by the day thanks to one of our cats. And the bucket and pan on the stove? Catching the water from two leaks in the ceiling. I'm making myself feel better by pretending it's some Lenten metaphor for our souls. Or something.

3. On the Lenten theme, confirmation from on high that I need to keep my sacrifices simple. I resolved to cut out my two cups of coffee per week and my second afternoon cup of tea. Sounds easy? Well, the other afternoon, I was holding the baby up to watch his sister's fish, and he was dabbling the tips of his fingers in the water. The bookshelf caught my eye and I started to zone out. I came to just in time to see him stuffing a squashed fish into his mouth. Cue shrieks from me and a rush to the sink to scrub out his mouth before he died of rotting fish poison. Honestly, I don't know whether to hope it was some dead fish that floated by, or that he caught and crushed a live one. But I do know it's time to up the caffeine again.

4. Alcuin has got to the point where he clearly understands much of what we say to him and can even follow instructions like, Don't eat that fish. However, although he'll say mamama if he really wants me, he isn't interested in talking. Human, that is. He's getting pretty good at cat, in order to communicate with Odie, his partner in crime (he who is guilty of tearing up the lino).

5. I actually generated comment from strangers over my geriatric mother piece on how all this new baby paraphernalia is bemusing to those of us raising a second generation of children. Yes, it's true, I'm too old to want to fill my house with brightly coloured plastic all over again. But, in case you think I'm some traditionalist fascist, I offer another photo:

I was going to be all Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and throw out the vacuum cleaner box as soon as I unpacked it, but then Alcuin pulled himself up on it and cruised along for the first time. So, here it stays for the time being. Note also the cloth nappies, drying in front of the wood stove, which actually has a fireguard so he can't get to any fish the fire.

6. Yes, we got a Dyson (on sale). My husband finally got fed up with my complaining how I have to spend longer unclogging our old vacuum cleaner than actually vacuuming. See that rug above, that's been sitting in front of the fire for years? Well, even though I vacuumed it several times a week (during fire season) with the old machine, we nearly filled the Dyson canister twice over with all the ash, hair and general debris it sucked up. (But no fish.) It even changed colour. At last we can stop putting a sheet over it before we set the baby down. I know, pretty exciting.

7. This has no connection to anything above, but I wanted to share. In the baby and everything else chaos, we lost my daughter's National Latin Exam that she's supposed to take next week. After a little hand wringing, I called the NLE office. A real person - American, too! - answered. Right away. And helped me. Just like that. If your child studies Latin, check them out. You don't have to be in the US to take the exam. They're lovely people, and they love Latin.

For more Seven Quick Takes and fewer dead fish, hope on over to This Ain't the Lyceum.