Nom took the kids out shopping. It was a zoo, but they like it. I did some reading, some studying, some cleaning, but somehow not very much of either. So in the spirit of finally digging in and doing work… I'm posting this.
We've been in this house for a year-and-a-half. The vast majority of organizing and putting away got done fairly promptly, the small percent that remains will likely take another 10 years. Mostly not really that important, but my tidy (eg neurotically organized) mind likes things neatly put away. I am working on organizing all the toys, etc in the basement play (which previously looked like a cross between an explosion at a toy factory and a refugee camp), putting different things in different boxes (eg “Legos all go in the box marked ‘Legos’ when you are finished playing with them.”) They get the concept of “tidy up” at school (eg daycare), and I’m slowly working on extending the concept to home. Key word is "slowly."
If they are motivated, they do help clean up. Some weeks back, they got into it, because it was Hedgefund’s birthday party. Her actual Bday was during the week, but more-or-less got the concept of “we’re having the party on a weekend, b/c that’s when people can come.” (And liked the idea of cake on two days: at the party, and her actual Bday.) Miss Manners somewhere said the that number of invitees should be equal to the child’s age in years, which more-or-less happened. This was the first year she wanted to have her friends or for her Bday; I don’t think at a younger age they really have a concept of “friends” and “my friends.” She invited 2 kids from her class, plus another friend, plus 2 daughters of a friend of Nom’s (which is to say Nom invited the mom & her daughters) plus immediate family. It went well. She had fun decorating the house (eg telling me to put up decorations), a little big each night for a week. Nothing fancy, crepe paper streamers and balloons, but she has definite ideas about what she wanted where.
Dunno if I mentioned, but the other day she told Nom, “when I grow up, I want to be bossy like you.” Actually, HF has managed “bossy” since quite an early age, much more so than Nom. I think I told her she was bossy when she was 2 or 3 (HF, not Nom), to which she solemnly replied, “yes.”
Anyhow, party was a success all around. I thing everyone actually had fun, even Nom & I. We had a piñata, but one of those degenerate modern ones where you pull ribbons that eventually open a trap door, instead of whacking it with a stick, or as we did at Army Family Days, shooting at it with an M16. (Joking!)
Winter is definitely over, which is to say that all the snow and ice has finally melted in the backyard. There is likely to be one more sprinkling of snow, but we are now in "post-winter," sometimes known as "mud." It's a gray, rainy day. Not depressingly so, what with my being indoors, but don't really have much energy. On the other hand, that could also be because I've had a long week. Doing more reading, both professionally and recreationally. Will post on the latter soon.
My thoughts are more about the milieu in which it takes place, Oxford University in the 1920's (early 30's?). Sayers crafts it as an idyllic place (despite the crime & murder taking place) of academic wonder. Despite some squabbles, it is a serene oasis of scholarship and learnedness. (Oxford, with it's collegiate organization (basically a federal system) combines the intimacy of a smaller school with the opportunities of a large university, which is a great idea.) I suppose in my own mind, universities should be like that. Reality is that I rarely see the learnedness, especially of the classic sort, sketchy collegiality, minimal open-mindedness, and no serenity at all. Lots of posing, lots of sophomoric behaviour and thoughts (and I'm referring to the faculty, not just the students). Largely a waste of time and resources.
Dorothy Sayers' "Lord Peter Wimsey" series. Growing up, I mostly read SF. Sometime around college, I had read pretty much everything worth reading. In Medical School I started reading mysteries, mostly classic British mysteries. Initially that was the influence from my gf from the era, who was a classmate of mine. Oddly enough, she was from Montreal originally, but moved to the US when she was 3(?), but her parents were old-line English-Canadian of the "we're more English than the English" stock, and still strongly identified with the British Isles. Our favorite of the era (or should I say favourite) was Lord Peter. I wanted to be him when I grew up. (Not having been born a aristocrat in an era when that mattered; nor having been born rich, which always matters; was a bit of a handicap in that ambition, not to mention his being fictional.) Recently a Gentle Reader mentioned Jill Paton Walsh's reviving of the character with "Thrones and Dominations." I got it from the library, started reading it, then realized I had read it years ago. It's not an imitation exactly, in that Paton Walsh was working from notes/drafts that Sayers had started. She's since written two more, which I'm tentatively planning on reading. For comparison purposes, I went back and started re-reading one of the actual, original series, "The Five Read Herrings," and just couldn't get into it. Maybe it wasn't one of her best, or more likely my tastes have changed. As to the new series by Paton Walsh, it was well done. Held my interest adequately, but no more than that. I seem to remember feeling the same way the first time I read it (but that was literally decades ago, so not certain). Like other series that try to take up where the original author left off, sometimes it's too well done. That is, they tend to overdo the details and mannerism of the original character. I seem to recall feeling that way about Robert Goldsborough's taking up of Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" stories. Not saying it shouldn't be done, but just very hard to get exactly the right flavor.
I already posted about Ben Schott's "Jeeves and the King of Clubs." I grew up adoring the Wooster and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. This novel, approved by the estate, claims to be an homage to body of works, but could equally be a sequel, pastiche, parody, or all of the above. Overall, I liked it. Some of it went well outside what Bertie Wooster's world would have allowed, and some of it made too liberal use of the mannerism embedded in the stories, but overall well done. I hope he'll write another one, which P.G.. can't, what with being dead. Such state being an handicap to writing, although not necessarily to being published, and certainly not to being read. I just reread "Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit." While not as fall-on-the-floor-laughingly funny as I found them to be first time around (xxx decades ago), I still really enjoyed it.
BTW, the Wooster & Jeeves, and the Peter Whimsey books were all made into TV plays, back when I did watch TV, and they were very well done.
Mostly I have no energy for serious reading. I'm tired, I have a lot going on, and I have to do serious reading as part of my job (although there are some journal articles that are ludicrous, but not necessarily comic). On the list of "very well written fluff," there's David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series of space operas. I suppose one could think of it as a continuation of C. S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" series. If the brave Captain had lived in the 40th (?) century, had a star ship, and was a woman. Except even more interesting than that.
Soon, she'll love reading all on her own, and I'll be out of a job, which will make me both proud/happy and sad. That's what's parenting is about: doing yourself out of a job.
Camping out at home. Moved 2 large mattresses together on the floor of the Blue Room (WS's bedroom), so we could also sleep together. Brought in HF's new nightlight (Sky from Paw Patrol), not to mention all the pillows, blankets, and of course, books. Normally, we put them to sleep separately, and this is way they usually settle down fairly quickly and easily. Unfortunately, putting the kids together, they stimulate each other: bouncing around, shrieking, running in circles, and generally behaving like maniacs (eg normal kid behavior). By the time we did get them calmed down, I was stimulated, and after everyone else eventually fell asleep, I repaired to the Red Room (master bedroom) and eventually managed to get to sleep myself.
Snow removal. Oddly fascinating. During the snowfall, they hastily plow the streets (and sidewalks), but that just piles huge amounts of snow to the sides of the street, leaving them only marginally passable, plus there's a limit to how much can be piled throughout the winter. Eventually they have road construction machinery and plows move it into neat-ish lines, then another machine pulls it up and blows it into waiting dump trucks to be carted off to somewhere it can sit until it melts in late spring (eg: Canada Day).
Book review. Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott. I grew up adoring the Wooster and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. This novel, approved by the estate, claims to be an homage to body of works, but could equally be a sequel, pastiche, parody, or all of the above. Overall, I liked it. Some of it went well outside what Bertie Wooster's world would have allowed, and some of it made too liberal use of the mannerism embedded in the stories, but overall well done. I hope he'll write another one, which P.G.W. can't, what with being dead. Such state being an handicap to writing, although not necessarily to being published, and certainly not to being read.
Skiing - not an unmitigated disaster
We're not skiers. This is unfortunate, because (a) it's one of the national passtimes (besides fighting about languages), and (b) it would make winter more bareable. Nom never skied. I tried once or twice, but essentially never did.( Read more... )
Uh, yeah, okay, not quite. I'll get my fantasy life in check. What actually happened was that I had seen a patient in Room 2, and removed a small growth. We usually can tell when a patient is feeling faint or dizzy, and get them lying or sitting down quickly (such as the next patient who was in Room 2). This makes only twice in, uh, never mind how many years, that someone slipped past our guards. Anyhow, he seemed fine, said thank you & goodbye, and went to the front desk while I went into Room 1. Apparently he suddenly went from 'fine' to starting to fall over. Evil Secretary grabbed him, but she was on the other side of the reception desk. When I came out in response to her shout, she was leaning across the desk, holding him under the arms. Couldn't let go or he'd fall, but had no way to get around the desk either. I got him under the arms, and laid him down with something soft under his head and a stool to raise his feet. Turned out he hadn't eaten all day. Those are always the ones who get dizzy, combination of low blood sugar and anxiety. Frankly, if I don't have a nibble mid-morning, I get light-headed by the end of the morning (just the blood sugar, no anxiety), and this was the early afternoon when the gentlemen saw me and had his episode. We got him some juice (we keep some juice boxes in the fridge), and half of E.S.'s granola bar. After a while, he felt better, sat in a chair for a while, and when felt even better, took a taxi home. I think we're going to lay in a supply of not-very-good chocolate (because if it's good chocolate, well, I have no will power and would eat it all). Raises the blood sugar, and besides, everyone knows that's what you need after a dementor attack.
Living near a library: Many moons ago, when I lived in Portsmouth NH, I lived about 3 doors up from the library. This is before I’d shacked up with the ExoticOlderWoman, but even then only lived a few blocks away. (Portsmouth is a charming, but fairly small city.) This was pre-internet days. I loved that they got several dozen newspapers from around the country and a few from other countries. I considered their little reading room to be an extension of my living room. I’d go there and read a different newspaper each day. I was fairly actively writing then, but laptops hadn't yet been invented, so I did that at home.
Don't sit in my chair. Really, it's not hard. The chair in front of the desk is mine, it's my office, you don't sit in it. Also, don't move the furniture. I thought carefully about the layout of the office, and the placement, and there's a reason why things are where they are. Don't move them. Not even moving the patient's chair, especially not 2-3 feet backwards. But really, keep out of my chair.
It's rare that a patient faints, but does happen. Super rare that we don't see it coming. Usually they're still in the exam room, I see them looking pale & sweaty, and quickly have them sit or lie down. Rarely they make it up to reception, and Evil Secretary is very good about spotting the signs and running around the desk and having them sit down. Only once that I can think of did someone give no warning. He (she?) was standing at the reception desk, talking, looking perfectly fine, and suddenly went out. Today it was the daughter of an elderly patient. Daughter looked at me, said, "Mom is feeling faint, can I get her some water." I said there was a glass by the sink, while quickly helped mom to sit down… when daughter fainted without warning. She was fine besides being embarrassed, but only second patient in this many years to faint without warning.
Not quite as cuddly as cats and the bills for groceries and fire insurance have gone up considerably. Also as can be seen in the picture, formerly unknown to folklore, dragons love their coffee. On the other hand, these as a choice of pets does suit the family eccentricity.
Yeah, okay, they’re plastic. Nom’s Uncle bought them to Wallstreet (or maybe for both kids, not sure). Don’t think said uncle has an especial fondness for dragons or other fantasy fiction, but he was right on that the kids took to them immediately. Also, Wallstreet, even at age 2, knew what they were. Nom accidentally referred to them as dinosaurs one day, and Wallstreet immediately corrected her.
I know there are dragons in Vietnamese mythos, but don’t figure as large as they do in Chinese. (The original oligarchs in VN, the Lak Lords (sp?) derived their legitimacy from being the descendants of the Mountain God and the Sea Dragoness (or perhaps the Mountain Goddess and the Sea Dragon - I forget which). No worse than claiming suzerainity based on some miscellaneous cutlery thrown to you by a tart in a lake.
Have gotten back into reading some. Downloaded some SF of dubious quality but adequate to pass the time. One was Andre Norton’s Star Soldiers. Not sure if a novel in 2 parts, or two linked novels 5000 years(?) apart in same universe. The second half is a bit Foundation-esque at the edges of the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Made me think of how much of her work has an undertone of melancholy, vanished empires (the Forerunner races) in it. Currently reading the 5th in Gail Carringer’s “Soulless” series (called “Timeless”). Definitely enjoyable fluff.
One on my projects for over the holidays is to finish putting away the stuff in the last few boxes that have not yet been unpacked ("few" being a relative term). For now, a first approximation of where things go, then over several months going over the place with a fine toothed comb to put everything obsessionally in its place (for some stuff, that place will be trash/recycling).
Today I organized medical and language books. From my old condo, I had 2 lovely bookcases with glass fronts. I'm not sure I really like glass-fronted bookcases, makes it too hard to see and get to the books (like keeping animals in zoos), but they do look impressive. The big one has three sections, was in my den in my old place, and is now at the end wall of my tablinum in our new house. The smaller, but matching, one is single section, which was between two windows in the den in the old place. I was going to put it in the new office (almost finished *crosses fingers*) as a display case, having left it in the living room of our new house until then. I realized there is no good space in the new office, and it looks rather nice in the living room, so there it shall stay.
There are 6 shelves. The top two are respectively, books, and medical equipment, that was my late great-uncle's from medical school (plus a few antique medical books). He had graduated medical school exactly half a century before me. The next two are respectively books and medical equipment, that was mine from medical school. (My Derm books from Residency are in the bigger bookshelf in the tablinum. The last two shelves are ultimately reserved for Hedgefund's and Wallstreet's medical school books and equipment. (Does this count as optimistic, determined, or pushy?) Will be more than half a century after me, but can't time everything correctly; that's okay, as long as they go, and I live to see it. If they have kids who go to medical school, they can jolly well find some other bookcase to exhibit things. For the meanwhile, until such time, and in case of disaster and heartbreak (they don't go to medical school😱), those 2 shelves are for language books. The fifth shelf has the real languages. Which are those, you ask? English and French, you silly non-Canadians. If I ever get Vietnamese for Ignorant Round-Eyed Barbarians Made Simple, it will go on that shelf also. The bottom shelf is all other language books that have drifted my way over the years (books on learning those languages, dictionaries in those languages, and English-XXX dictionaries). Those are arranged west-to-east on the shelf to roughly match the geographical regions of origin of those languages. (I did mention obsessional didn't I? Not to mention whimsical.) I think I have: Spanish, Italian, German, Yiddish, Macedonian, Russian, Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Japanese. Plus Latin and Esperanto. I'd love to have the time to sit down and study a half-dozen languages or so. I could probably use that many in my office. Sadly, that's on the "C-priority" of the To Do List. (= "Get around to sometime this lifetime if I live long enough and all the B-, A-, and OMG-priority items get taken care of first."). I suspect that will never happen, unless the kids graduate medical school and take over the practice at, oh, age 12, or thereabouts. Still, hanging on to them just in case, and besides, they look cool and fit my self-image. (Worldy gentleman scholar. It ain't pretentious if you actually done it.)
(I'll get to a more serious post one of these days, whenever it is I have the time & energy.)
My family are cat people. (There's a reason my sister is WWC = Woman With Cats*, which is a politer way to say Crazy Cat Lady.) My brother had a dog once, but I think that was by accident. My immediate family don't have either, and not just because I generally tell the kids that we eat dogs**; keeping pets is just not a VN custom.
There are two problems with dogs. First and foremost, since I don't live in the countryside, they have to be walked and pooper-scooped. Although rather used to cleaning up excrement these days, have no real interest in taking an animal for a walk several times/day regardless of the weather. (See numerous rants about the "seasons" in this country.)
Second, is their attitude. It's great. It's too good. It's cloying. "Hiya. I love you. I really love you. Really really. Do you love me? Huh? Do you? Do you love me? Say you love me. Because I really, really, really love you. So you love me, right? Hmmm? You do, don't you? You love me, right? How much do you love me? Etc, etc." Usually while drooling on you. I've dated people like that. Briefly. Very, very briefly.
Cats are usually accused of being aloof, but more a question of their being chill. "What? You wanna hang out? Yeah, okay, that would be cool, just don't crowd me too much." What's really more amusing this their 'ignoring' you. "I'm ignoring you now. Okay? Got it? I'm paying no attention whatsoever to you. I'm not even talking to you right now, I just want it clearly understood that I'm completely and totally paying not the slightest mind to you. It's like you're not even here" (while sitting in your lap). "Hey, don't turn around. Look at me! How can I be ignoring you if you are not paying attention to me. Yes, that's right, scratch my back, but I'm paying no attention to that either." "Where are you going? The other room? I'm going there too, but that's completely coincidental. In fact, it was my idea first, so let's go into the other room - entirely separately - while I ignore you there." (Hmmm, probably what my kids will be doing when they are teenagers.)
*The term is taken from one of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr, The Burgler Who… novels. The point is that if you have one cat, you have a cat; two keep each other company; three or more (and WWC has variably but considerably more), you are a Woman With Cats. The character saying this (who has 2 cats) concedes that it is sexist in that it doesn't apply to men. I have no strong opinion on that latter statement, but would look askance at a man with 3+ cats also.
**Started as teasing my relatives about the VN words for "lunch" and "dog" were the same. Hedgefund was scared of dogs for quite a while, which she picked up from her ba ngaoi. To help her get over that, I kept telling her "we eat dogs, yum, yum, yum." She'd repeat it back, and after a while, it helped. Not perfect, but she bring herself to touch a small dog recently, so make fun of it all you want, it worked.
As an aside, "stuff" expands to fill the available closet space, much as digital information expands to fill available computer memory. Years ago, I had a friend who renovated a condo in DC. She only built 1 closet, to thereby limit how much "stuff" she'd accumulate. I'm pretty good at getting rid of non-essential stuff…. Well, I thought I was until this move. We'll see how strict I can actually be with myself, not to mention the rest of the family.
I've finally emptied enough boxes that I can see most of the floor in my tablinum. I realize I have more books than I need. (Okay, on some level, there is no such thing, but am ignoring that for now.) I've already given one box of books to the local library, and have three more in the back of my car to go. The ones they don't use (which is most of them), they sell at their big annual book sale to raise money. I realize a couple of the ones I'm giving them I bought from their book sale in prior years. *Chuckle* Very little of what I'm giving away is actually causing me any pangs of regret. I don't really need Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum numbers 1 thru 20. There are three sets/types of books/articles that I'm setting aside for display. Not sure if going to go in my living room at home, or in my professional office when I redo that. The first is books and medical instruments that were my late great uncle's. He was an ophthalmologist, my one forbearer who was a doctor, very educated and cosmopolitan, a bit in the older European sense (he came to the US as a very young child, but always maintained a little bit of that air about him). He graduated medical school 50 years before I did. The second set is books (and maybe instruments) that were mine from medical school. The two sets would make a nice contrast. The third set are language books. Dissimilar from the others, except I think a few of the older ones were my great uncle's. I have think more about keeping these. I like having them. I love languages and admire people who are truly bi-, tri-, or multi-lingual. Said great uncle and aunt were like that. To me it's part of being educated and cosmopolitan. I can get by in French, but not really what I consider fluent. I used to speak Spanish (learned it for a South American deployment with the Navy), but have forgotten it. I'd love to have the time to just study languages; I could easily use 5-6 major ones in my office every week; I just don't have the time. With all that having been said, the question is how many of those language books are worth keeping. Like everyone today, if I want to translate a word, I look it up on line. The older ones might be worth keeping as antiques, and the language lesson books might also be worth keeping in case I go back to learning languages. On the other hand, probably will never find the time (something about having 2 kids to put through medical school), and I'm trying to get rid of stuff I don't really need, unless it has some sentimental value for me. Stay tuned to find out where the balance ends up.
Looks like we are moving end of the month. Finally. After all this time, doesn’t seem real, and I’m almost dreading it. Not the move itself (although that will be a pain), but I’ve adapted to being where I am. We’ve adapted to being here. It’s a little tight, but that’s also good, in that everything is near at hand. Feel like in place 2+ times as large, we’re going to be rattling around and losing things (including possibly children). I know the kids will take a little while to adapt, although Hedgefund has been clear for quite a while that the green room is hers. Anyhow, have moved enough times in my life that one more time won’t be a big deal. (After that, the next move will be to the morgue, and hopefully not any time soon.) And no, we are not getting a cat (or seventeen).
Am reading Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma. He’s the author of a number of popular books, including No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series (like many series, excellent for the first several books, then got repetitive). It is Jane Austen’s Emma recast in modern times. So far, so good. I mean Jane Austen & Alexander McCall Smith, how can you go wrong. Haven't done much recreational reading for a while, but past month or so, got back into it, mostly light reading, especially detective stories.
The first is talking with someone I knew from the Army. He is a full-time Reservist (called an AGR), I first knew as a Captain when he was my Adjutant (= S1 = Personnel & Admin Officer) when I Commanded a CSH (Combat Support Hospital - like a MASH, but bigger). He's now a Colonel himself, in charge of major training site (I'd trained there more than once). It was not a very happy call, in that I'd heard 3rd hand that he'd recently lost his wife of 32 years (cancer, spread quickly) and was calling to offer my condolences. We chatted for a while, and he was mentioning getting ready for 3 CSHs moving into his training site for their summer training. I was thinking, "yeah, I understand what that involves (huge planning & paperwork for those personnel and logistics) and am so glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.
The second is a book I'm reading, Christie Blatchford's Fifteen Days about her time as a reporter embedded with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan a few years ago. I'm only so-so enjoying it. Basically war stories, I suppose good insight if you've never been there. Again, the feeling of "glad it's not me anymore." Not the getting shot at part (although not a big fan of people trying to kill me), but the moving into, and staying in, some godforsaken, dusty patch of barely habitable real estate and calling it home for the day/week/month. Nope, glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.
I did my time doing those things. Didn't mind them at the time, proud of it, very glad to have done it, but have done enough of it, and getting too long in the tooth to want to do more.
What triggered going to a bookstore was finding my stash of "lucky money." Vietnamese New Year tradition, the elders give everyone else a coin or small bill in a red envelope to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. I always felt that I should use it for something special, and put it away in a drawer - several years' worth when I came across it recently. Still not a huge sum, but enough to actually buy something. I metaphorically scratched my head, and decided a book was the ideal item.
I had a dental appointment, and I knew there was a bookstore nearby, so planned to stop there on the way home. Going into the store, I hit the brain-lock, and realized part of that was insufficient caffeine. Fortunately they had a coffee shop attached. Unfortunately it was a certain Seattle-based major chain, but
Caffeine finally perking thru my system, I spent some lovely time browsing, and eventually settled on 2 books (more than my lucky money covered, but I had some standard money on me also). One was about Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, written by a reporter who had been embedded with a unit, and one was a popular science book on astrophysics. (Only downside is that it was written by Neil DeGrass Tyson, who although is an eminent scientist, and very good at popular explanations of science, also lead the evil movement that down-graded Pluto from a
( Picture 1 - long view )
Coming in a little closer, you can really start to appreciate the beauty of the woodgrain
( A bit closer )
Coming in still closer, your mind's eye actually makes it look like imagines of something, like you "see" in tree grain, or clouds. (Sorry, this one's a little out of focus, but you can still get the impression.)
( Closer still, your eyes play tricks on you. )
I think I mentioned that this is a wardrobe door. In fact, it's a double-ended wardrobe. One door opens to the front hallway, the other opens to the family room. So in fact, it's a wardrobe that is also a passage. Sound familiar?
( Look again )