Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Cold

Well. Both shoulders are a bit sore at the moment. I had my tetanus jab on Friday, in a late-afternoon rush of vaccinations. I'd arranged for an appointment for the kids and I after school, but like an idiot, I forgot because I was busily preparing for a dinner-visit from Elder Son's schoolteacher. Anyway, the doctor's surgery actually rang me about fifteen minutes after the appointed hour, so I threw the kids back into the car and we zoomed down the hill, where they were promptly shot full of flu-vax and hepatitis A vax. I didn't need the hep A, since I had a dose of the real thing way back when, but my tetanus immunity was likely on the wane, so I got that instead. I also neglected the flu-vax because time was short - but I caught up with it today, just to even things up.

The needles they use these days are fine, delicate things. I barely feel them going through the skin. But intra-muscular dosages still ache, even though my shoulder muscles are now large enough that a half-mil of fluid doesn't really constitute much of an insult. Mind you, I suspect I shouldn't have spent an hour or so on Saturday working with a shovel, helping out the cub-scouts and their new garden project. Not that it really did me any damage, but that tetanus-jabbed shoulder didn't feel too good afterwards.

Nor did my left knee. Time was it wouldn't have bothered me to spend half an hour on the back of a tilt-tray truck tipped up to fifty or sixty degrees, scraping heavy clay soil down into a raised garden bed. Now, though -- well. Apparently my left knee is no longer comfortable with supporting me at some berserk freak of an angle off vertical, while I'm simultaneously trying to shovel large quantities of earth downslope. In the rain.

Mmm. Admittedly, it wasn't much rain. But it was cold. And wet. And damn, but that clay soil gets sticky fast. I didn't feel at all guilty taking Saturday afternoon on the quiet at home with the kids after that.

The Friday night dinner went well. Elder Son's teacher this year is a wonder. He's having the best year of his school life so far - well regarded by his classmates, his cello lessons accepted, his use of the computer to do most of his writing work accepted, his imagination and his love of words and narrative not just accepted but encouraged. He actually looks forward to school these days, and it's completely impossible for me to thank his teacher enough, especially after the hard times last year. Anyway, Nat and I decided that instead of the 'parent-teacher meeting' we were supposed to have prior to the release of school reports, we'd just invite the teacher to dinner.

Happily, Natalie managed to be there even though she was on-call. (She's on-call a whole lot lately, what with the lead-up to holidaying in Borneo). We had a medley of steamed Chinese-style dumplings, followed by Vietnamese spring rolls, and finally, a tray of rich chocolate-ganache tartlets topped with home-made marshmallow. Personally, I wouldn't have stuck the marshmallows on top, but Younger Son was very pleased with the marshmallows he and I made, and he wanted to show them off. Okay, fine. They didn't really hurt the dessert anyhow. And it was a nice evening all round.

Hmm. Thinking more about those needles. I've been wondering how much of my lack of pain from the jabs had to do with the modern needles and vaccines and techniques, and how much was simply age and lack of sensitivity. But I watched both boys get their jabs. It was pretty well done: doctor on one side, nurse on the other, hit both shoulders at once and its all over. Both boys were pretty nervous - and well they ought to be. The Mau-mau did not cover herself with glory, getting one of her jabs first, before the boys had theirs. In fact, she screamed blue murder, cried, howled, struggled... when it came time for her second jab, Natalie actually held her in a complete wrap-up so she couldn't move, but she screamed just as violently as before.

She is, however, a notorious 'performer'.

Anyway, the boys were nervous, yes. But when the needles hit flesh, I could literally see them both relaxing, at least a little. They were obviously not enjoying what was going on, but clearly the event was well within their tolerance, and there were no waterworks whatsoever. This from a boy of ten and a boy of seven - and within minutes, it was clear both of them had pretty much forgotten the whole incident. So I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that yes, they've made some decent advances in hypodermic technology and techniques since I was ten years old or less...

...but the Mau-mau sniffed and sobbed all the way home. Sitting behind me in the car, she moaned to herself until Younger Son cracked and said: "It wasn't that bad. I had both mine at once!"

To which she replied, in a sad, tiny little voice laden and oozing with purest Hollywood pathos: "I just couldn't... take it."

At which point, dear reader, I admit that I asked her to be quiet until we got home. Because I couldn't take it any more either!

Sunday, Natalie's sojourn on-call came to an end. And with the winter rain closing in for the day in a big way, much was made of Natalie's most recent purchase for the Wii: Lego Harry Potter.

We've got a few of the Lego titles for the Wii, and the kids seem to enjoy them. I took a look at Lego Star Wars, and thought it was a bit of a laugh, but not really engaging enough to keep my attention. And I've watched some Lego Batman over the boys' shoulders, and seen nothing that really caught my eye. But I have to admit that this time, the Lego/Wii combination has pulled off a blinder. The sense of humour, the puzzles, the complex, meandering storyline -- but most of all, the massive array of Stuff To Do And Explore has managed to interest even me.

The game's a hoot. I even like the cut-scenes. Yes, they're long, but they do such a very good job of conveying crucial story elements from the movie while still rendering them in animated-lego-toy sort of fashion that it's impossible not to get a giggle out of them. Watching Lego Snape sneer and growl wordlessly at Lego Harry Potter; seeing the Lego Dursley family flee a rain of little invitations to Hogwarts... yeah, it's cool. Plus it does a nice line in shared play, so the boys can kick along together without too much drama, or you can even hand a remote to the Mau-mau, if you're prepared to put up with her version of gaming...which can be tricky.

Meanwhile: I've been working around house and yard, though I'm a bit hampered by the knee at the moment. (I really should be at sword training tonight, but there's just no way the goddam knee will put up with lunges or even deep bends.) And trying to catch up on writing, and laundry, and cleaning. The usual run of stuff. Plus I've got a couple random friends in hospital at the moment, for various injuries and illnesses: been dropping by to visit, taking them the odd DVD movie, etc. It all adds up.

Making preparations for the Mau-mau's upcoming fifth birthday, too. We'll probably be on holiday when that happens, but we'll have to make a fuss regardless. Seeing as how she spends much of her time playing at being a kitten or a cat, I've managed to locate an inexpensive cat-costume online. It arrived the other day, and it looks the goods. It's made by the same company (I think) that made the zip-up spotty-dog costume that Elder Son totally loved when he was about three, so hopefully it should provide the same quality of wear and usage. Of course, a full-body, zip-up, black, plushy kitty-cat costume isn't going to be very practical for the Mau-mau in Borneo, is it? On the other hand, I can't imagine her not wanting to wear it... so maybe I just better leave it here and give it to her when we get back. Otherwise she'll probably give herself a full on case of heatstroke.

I've also tracked down a source of plain cotton tee-shirts, and ordered a pink one in her size. It should be here pretty soon. I'll mess around with some fabric paints, and produce a sort of cartoon of a Tinkerbell-type fairy, with the Mau-mau's head/face, and I'll paint her new red boots (thank you, Rowena!) into place on the fairy's feet. Then I'll caption the whole thing with the old Black Sabbath song: "Fairies Wear Boots". Reckon the Mau-mau will like it, and the obscure pop-culture reference will make me happy too.

The kids are getting excited by the prospect of the trip, now. Younger Son's concept of time is still pretty elastic; he's not exactly certain how long it is until we leave, so he gets all wide-eyed at every reference to an aeroplane, and has to be reassured that we're not actually leaving tomorrow, no. Great Cthulhu... I hope he's a little more restrained than he was the last time we took a family holiday. That was New Zealand, back at the end of 2007, when he was just turning four, and he was a mad little handful. I've still got a photo, somewhere, of him taking a leak on "The Party Tree" in Hobbiton (from the movie.) I didn't even realise he was doing it until it was too late to do more than take a photo... he just slipped away from us in the group, and next thing I know, there he is, watering possibly the most recognisable tree in the world at that time. Yeesh.

And of course, in Borneo we'll be visiting orangutans. If that doesn't send him spiralling skyward, I don't know what will...

...okay. It's late. I have work to do. Gotta roll. But the good news is: we'll be back in time for the Federal election, so, you know, Our Votes Will Count.

Sh'yeah. Had a bit of a laugh reading the local paper this morning, checking up on the candidates for our electorate. Labor is fielding an ex-hospital administrator, with "strong local football club and surf-life-saving club ties." Meanwhile, the Liberals are offering us an ex TV-newsreader described as a 'prominent local personality.'

And the Greens? Pfeh. You'd almost think they were taking this seriously: their candidate has a background in social welfare and general management, and was the campaign co-ordinator for the party at their last election outing. So... experience and relevance both? How can that possibly compete with footy and surf life-saving ties? Or awesome TV-newsreader gravitas?

Those Greens. They'll just never learn, will they?