Thursday, September 30, 2010

A new dog

Just as we were getting used to being a one-dog family, another stray trots into our life.
Haven't decided on a name yet.  He or she is very friendly, a mutt, small, with a damaged leg.

Yours, hoping we can find his owner,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back in the classroom

Boo's teacher last year, albeit with a post-marriage change of name, is now teaching Skibo.  As such, it was easy to organise an early origami visit to the class: I visited yesterday for a little over an hour, telling them Michael LaFosse's lovely little penguin and iceberg story, teaching them to fold the traditional peace dove, and then finishing, as is the constant request, with the story of the Captain's T-shirt.
I felt a little rushed this time: sixteen students, in groups of four, with a story first and another after, plus transitions, filled, and indeed slightly exceeded the time allotted.  But that was okay with the class, and the session was fun, and enjoyed by all.

Yours, loving the excitement in the first graders' eyes as they learn to fold,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


We made burgers this evening.  First time in ages; the children have been resistant to the idea, for some reason.  But tonight, they both agreed that that would be an acceptable meal, so Boo and I headed to the grocery store.
She suggested having bacon on the side (so the rest of us could have bacon on the burgers!) and was happy with the idea of cheese on the top.  We figured out what else to have with them, finished our shopping and headed home.

As a pleasant surprise, we had four other guests for dinner (which necessitated another trip to the store to get more ground beef): a fantastic time was had by all, and everyone, children included, enjoyed the burgers. 

Yours, ham(burger)ing it up,

Monday, September 27, 2010

You have eight new positions!

Here are the people who are going to fill them.

Our department was informed today that we will have eight new faculty members next year.  However, this was achieved by passing on to us some (fairly closely related) faculty members from another department which is shuffling off its mortal coil, a victim of state funds withdrawn, and for historical reasons, not fundable from increases in student fees.

It's clear that this is the best solution for the institution, and we're all going to do what we can to make the newcomers welcome.  But at the same time, it's going to cause stress and strain, and all sorts of forseeable administrative snafus.  Since we can forsee them, perhaps we can also forestall them.

Yours, knowing that this is one of the reasons I don't want to be an administrator,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bike rodeo

We went to the bike rodeo this afternoon: the event, organized by Skibo's cub scout troop, promised a great time for all.
Unfortunately, to begin with, the weather showed as much co-operative spirit as Senator DeMint.  Secondly, when we arrived, there were no girls there other than Boo, who took this to mean that girls were unwelcome, and promptly had a mini-meltdown.
Eventually things picked up, and children started to have fun.  But the folks organizing the event had failed to figure out how to have adults leading and guiding the children cycling, and there were a few minor accidents.  After one, involving Skibo and a ramp, and what could have been a nasty fall but wasn't, we decided to leave and snuggle inside at home instead.

Yours, having learned some lessons about organizing an event by watching this,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A good deed

I did something good today: I persuaded friends to bring their children and mine to a big paved area, so that their kids could practice riding bikes.  Their children are nine and three months younger than Boo and Skibo, respectively, and the four are best of friends.  Unfortunately their experiences riding bikes had had a few bumps, and they'd become scared.  But riding with Boo and Skibo seems to have turned them around, and by the end of the morning, both of them were riding away, almost fearless.
I feel very good about having helped them:-)

Yours, knowing that with bicycles, what goes around comes around,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heading west, into the moonset

As I drove to work this morning, running a few minutes later than I had intended, sun attempting to rise behind me, the road kept turning, then returning, heading west.  And every time it turned west again, the moon sat, shining through an avenue of trees, beaconing me towards the moonset.
I don't usually notice the moon in daylight, for obvious reasons.  These last two mornings have been beautiful!

Yours, thrilled at the sights,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moon over Parador

To make up for missing last night's rising moon, I accidentally caught it setting at sunrise this morning, caught in the branches of a next-door tree.  At that time of day it appeared almost yellow-orange; and there was just time to rouse the children and LOML to run across the street for a clearer view.
Absolutely beautiful!

Yours, appreciating the setting,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Missed the moon at sunset

I had intended to see the rising of the moon tonight, at sunset.  Unfortunately, as so often happens around here, life intrudes on plans, and intentions are forgotten until too late.
While doing poems and songs with the children, though, I caught sight of the moon, huge and bright, framed by puffy clouds --- absolutely gorgeous.   I tried to take some photos of it a little later, without success.  Apparently that is one thing that our DSLR camera just isn't as good at.  Not to be a bad workman, or anything...

Yours, with a lunar inclination,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pizza again

We're trying to make menus at the beginning of the week and stick to them, at least partially.  Tuesdays being my quiet day, we had pizza tonight.  I managed to make three different batches of dough: one for pizza, one for bread, one for sourdough.  I didn't get around to cooking dinner for tomorrow, or Thursday, but that's okay....

Yours, on food,

Monday, September 20, 2010

JImmy Carter

Our former president can be hilarious.  Tonight on Jon Stewart he was describing how he is not completely compatible with the tea party: citing the fact that he's never engaged in witchcraft, and that as a young man, he was not totally opposed to mas...... before being cut off by his host.


Yours, with ever strong respect for the former president,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Skibo at the computer

He informed the rest of us that we wasn't joining us on our weekly shopping trip: he said
"I'm not going shopping, I'm staying here and figureouting my password".
(We log him in so that he doesn't have unfettered access --- and this is a source of continued frustration to him!)

Yours, amused by the construction, but bringing him along anyway,

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The local sports team is now no longer undefeated for the season.  This means that we can all settle down and get back to work without worrying if we were going to do better than everyone predicted.
Admittedly, it was a difficult loss, in overtime, that could quite easily have been a win. 

Yours, tasting sour grapes,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Navel gazing

We're undergoing a serious review at work: the budget cuts over the past few years have been incredibly severe, and the only end in sight is the fact that it will be tough to cut below zero.  Consequently we are undergoing a self-study, every department, college, centre or school asked to examine all aspects of their program: strengths, weaknesses, possibilities, cuts.
It's led to some interesting discussions, and some of the navel gazing may actually lead to some positive outcomes, but in terms of the number of hours put in, it's clear that one way to be more efficient might perhaps to be to eliminate requests for navel gazing.

Yours, self reverentially (aren't all departments like that?)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Potluck, but not yet

We're going to have a regular potluck with a bunch of friends: every Thursday evening, rotating whose house it meets at.  Tonight we started, here, but without the potluck aspect.
A lovely, gentle time --- for the grownups.  And for the children, well there were occasional moments of non-gentleness, but by and large they had a good time too.  And we met new friends!

Yours, lucky, without pot

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A delightful evening with the vets

Our friends who run the local veterinary clinic had us over to dinner this evening, and a lovely time was had by all: delicious food, great company.  And the kids didn't object  too strongly to the fact that the pool was covered....

A lovely evening!

Yours, celebrating friends,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Children reading

I am, of course, inordinately (and I think, justifiably) proud of our children: and especially of their reading.  Boo is reading 2-3 grades above level, and Skibo is catching up incredibly quickly: he's way ahead of where she was at his age.
But tonight, I was stunned by Skibo's reading: not that he could read the words, not that he was fluent, but that at the age of only-just-six, he was imbuing the text with emotion and meaning: using inflection and emphasis like a pro!

Way to go, Skibo!

Yours, prouder than a proud parent,


As a birthday present, LOML wanted -- and received -- a yoghurt maker.  And so this led naturally to a couple of other presents: yoghurt cookbooks.  One arrived last week, having just reappeared in print in the UK (and yet to reappear here -- so I had it shipped from over there).
I made meatballs in an onion, yoghurt and spices sauce: a huge hit all around (no, the kids didn't eat it --- we gave up and gave them separate meals).  It will be made again!  So, let me recommend The Yogurt Cookbook, by Arto Der Haroutunian, recently republished.  A lovely book!

Yours, saucily,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Skibo is a cub

And we went to his first meeting this evening.  He's thrilled to be involved, and especially excited about the prospect of being able to fire bows and arrows and bb guns.
LOML and I are less than thrilled about that particular aspect of scouting, although it does seem that it is better for him to get exposure in a carefully supervised, controlled environment, than to have a friend show him his bb gun.

Yours, trying to dampen my rampant weaponophobia,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Family First

This morning, for the first time ever, the four of us went for a bike ride.  Not a long one, not particularly challenging, certainly not the tour de france.  There's time for that next month.
But it was a delightful gentle roll around the neighbourhoods, up and down some small hills, past neighbours houses, saying hello to a few people.
Just a delightful time!

Yours, rolling

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Icecream sat forgotten on the table.  Children ran through the house shouting!
Skibo held his fist tightly clenched!  His tooth has come out, his tooth has come out!

He only noticed that it was loose a couple of days ago, and it loosened very quickly, and fell out this evening.  Quite the reverse of Boo's experiences with loose teeth, where we wonder by the time that third of fourth month rolls around whether it is ever going to fall out.

So, Skibo's finally started to lose teeth!

Yours, searching around for suitable tooth-fairy-gelt,

Momentous moments

Boo and Skibo just took an extra step towards independence.  With LOML and my blessings, they walked down to the cafe by themselves, bought cinnamon buns, and came back.
Granted, it's 100 yards, on the same side of the street, no crossing other roads, but still, it's a big step.

Yours, finding it difficult to let go,

The burning question of the day

Here is the best take I've seen yet on the whole issue.

Yours, happily sharing someone else's brilliance,

Friday, September 10, 2010

New laptop

I finally have my hands on my new laptop, bigger hard drive installed.  I had asked for a souped up model, but somehow in the ordering process my requests got ignored, so we've been doing what we can to retrofit it: can't do anything about the screen, or the chipset, but we'll put extra RAM into it on Monday, and call it done.
Consequently I spent much of the afternoon installing fedora on it: taking time to try to do it right.  Then I have to figure out the best way to transfer all my stuff from the old laptop....

Yours, happily tinkering again,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy Anniversary to F&F

Happy anniversary to my great friends F&F, who were married twenty one years ago!  I'm so glad I was a part of you day then, and wish you many more annversaries to come!

Yours, in celebration!

Goodbye Bella

We only had her for 9 months, but today we said goodbye to Bella, beloved golden retriever.  Runaway, bread snatcher, and difficult in so many other ways, but loved deeply, and loved well.  Unfortunately, the lymphoma was progressing incredibly rapidly, and this was the kindest thing to do.

We hope that we gave her a good home for those few months she was with us.

Yours, wishing her goodbye,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hump day

Wednesdays are my really busy days:  classes at 8, 12-ish and 3:30, plus committee meetings (usually at least two, often more) and meetings with students.  All tucked into a tight 10 hour window.  But at least when the day is done, it's done.

Yours, over the hump for this week,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To make up for Labor Day

To help me resent yesterday a little less, I have taken today off.  Or rather, I'm not going in to work today.  I will, of course, put in a few hours work at home -- I do that every day, because my work is something I do for fun.
But I am staying home.  I plan to cook, to cook, and cook some more.  And perhaps relax a little.

Yours, labouring under no illusions,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

In the US, Labor Day (yes, they spell it that way) is a big deal: the holiday marking the end of summer, and the beginning of the coming school year.
It commemorates events which led, amongst other things, to the adoption of the five day work week, and consequently, the weekend.  A great thing to celebrate.
And here in the deep south, they commemorate it by having us work.

Yours, spending a federal holiday the way that I usually do,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On bikes, redux

As we had intended (although a little later in the morning, perhaps) we headed off to the evil megastore and bought LOML a new bike: we would have bought it yesterday, but there wasn't enough room in the van, so this morning we made sure there was space, and headed off.
From there we went to the botanical gardens -- or more precisely, to the very large parking lot, where the children could cycle to their hearts' content. 
LOML thinks the new bike is fantastic, and Boo is doing amazingly well, cycling back and forth at high speed, in full control of her bike.  But today, I want to sing Skibo's praise -- a couple of days ago, for the first time, he rode without stabilizers.  Yesterday he did okay.  Today, he was incredible!
He rode like crazy; he learned to turn left and right in big circles, he learned to slow down, and turn in small circles, and best of all, he learned to start cycling from a full stop: it took Boo a good week or more to get that!

So, I'll sign off tonight as follows;
Yours, in praise of Skibo,

Boo and Skibo on bikes

We went to the library, partly because LOML and Boo and Skibo wanted to get books out --- but perhaps more because we wanted the children to get a chance to ride their bicycles.
Unfortunately, Skibo still needs a little more practice in a big parking lot with lots of space to weave and wander:  Sunday morning, perhaps, we will find a good space and give him lots of time to learn.

Yours, thinking of Buffy Ste Marie's "The Circle Game",

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I'm confused.  I have comment moderation switched on, and so I see all the attempts to make inappropriate comments here before they appear --- or rather, before I delete them. 
And I understand that there are deterministic algorithms that the spammers use to decide which post to attempt to post a spam comment to.

But really, is cats, catastrophes and aphorisms really that enticing a piece for a spammer?  Enticing enough that three quarters of the spam comments want to link here?

Yours, confused, bemused, and a little amused,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Barking mad

Monty, (perhaps responding to Bella's illness?) has decided that it is time to go barking mad.  Especially at bedtime.  He takes up positions around the house, and opens his mouth and shouts.  It's incredibly frustrating, to hear the barking just as one child or the other is about to think about dropping off to sleep.... and to know that this will keep them awake another five, ten, even sixty minutes.

Yours, seriously considering a muzzle,

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Here in the south, we are a land of infinite wisdom.  And in their infinite wisdom, the state has decided that we state employees don't need federal holidays.  I have to admit that this rather unusual approach by the state doesn't bother me much for quite a lot of the year, especially those days when it's not a federal holiday.
But when we are approaching  a holiday, say Labor Day, and I see all my friends and colleagues elsewhere discussing this that or other plans for Monday, I tend to get jealous. 

Yours, grateful that when they give us the fourth of July off they usually only make us work one Saturday to make up for it,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Back in Britain, training wheels are called stabilizers --- or is it vice versa?
Whichever it is, Skibo is showing his heels again: this time on his bike.  Today he learned to ride without stabilizers --- he's really been ready for a good while,  but it's been so hot and humid it's been hard to get out there and have him ride.  But today, while hot still, it was less humid.  And he's doing marvellously well!

Yours, proudly parental,