Friday, July 1, 2011

Long, Long Week.

I kinda lost track of time to write this stuff over last weekend. It was Jake's eleventh birthday on the Thursday before the weekend, but Natalie couldn't get the time away from work. Therefore, he had a day off school on Tuesday. On Thursday he had a small family celebration, with presents and cake. And on Saturday?

Well, on Saturday we had a screaming dozen kids in the place, most of whom stayed quite late for a movie night. And those who didn't stay late for the movie night stayed overnight, sleepover fashion.

The three Double-Trouble kids were here. (So called in these missives because they have a hyphenated surname which I can never quite bring to the front of my tongue in time.) By the end of the movies, young Marley (the middle Double-Trouble) had fallen asleep on the foldaway up in the garage, where we do the moviehouse thing. It's a nice little couch, and when it's folded down, it's quite a credible bed, but I hadn't intended to leave Marley and his brother up there to sleep. Still, the night was only moderately cool, and they had plenty of bedding. Marley didn't really wake up when I unfolded the couch underneath him, so I just covered him up carefully, and made sure he and his brother were fine.

Meanwhile, down in the house, the Mau-Mau had two of her friends in her bedroom: Minor Viking Blonde, and Eden Double-Trouble. Natalie was having trouble getting them to sleep, so I had to go in and explain carefully that Minor Viking Blonde would be bundled into the car and driven home like her brothers (yes, they were some of the ones who didn't stay after the movies.) That worked quite nicely, much to Natalie's annoyance... apparently she'd tried the same tactic and the girls had ignored her.

It was a long day. Kids on the trampoline. Kids running around the house. We built a small backyard fire in our little firepit, and Many Marshmallows Were Carbonised. Also many wieners. And of course, Genghis got enthusiastic about the fire, and we also lost a pair of tongs and a plastic cutting board. Genghis loves him some fire. I can see where that's going to be a problem some day.

Naturally there was also birthday cake (again), and singing, and presents from people other than the family. All up, I think Jake did quite well. I have to say, I like the Internet when it comes to kids' birthdays. I know he likes Silly Putty, so when I saw an article on magnetic Silly Putty - well, I also know he likes magnets. So I ordered some of the magnetic putty via the 'Net, and I also ordered a few small, inexpensive neodymium magnets... and he thought I was the coolest Dad in history.

It would be damned hard to find anything interesting for the kids without the Internet, living out here. The Mau-Mau's birthday is coming up. I've found a plush, penguin-shaped hot water bottle for her (she likes a hot-water bottle in the winter weather), and also a nifty paintbrush which 'reads' coloured paint as an electrical signal and makes a musical tone. That came via the USA, courtesy of my boon friend and mentor Ginny... and of course, the Internet. The Mau-Mau adores both music and painting, and when she gets hold of this, she's going to flip. And it cost less than $20.

That's the cool thing. With all this access to a world of innovation, kid presents can be cheap without sacrificing 'interesting', 'fun', and 'appropriate'. Earns you lots of Parent Cred.

Meanwhile, the rest of the week unfolded like a train crash in slow motion. Every day, a stack of stuff to do. I gave myself a morning off on Monday because I needed a little down time, but then it was back into it, without stopping. I've been writing, and emailing, and assessing manuscripts. I've been studying Swedish and preparing Swedish lessons and reading. I've taught three classes of martial arts -- two regular, one on Thursday afternoon for the school. I've had the car serviced, collected passports, paid bills, fed visiting medical persons, dealt with unexpected guests, repaired the chainsaw, planted herbs (catnip in the garden, with specially erected anti-cat mesh. Once the little plants are big enough to grow through the mesh, THEN the cats can get high. They're NOT gonna roll all over the plants and dig them up like they did last time). I've done dump runs, refurbished computers, pulled apart electronic bits and pieces, practiced sword, practiced ju-jitsu, practiced flute and taught a flute lesson. I've downloaded 'The Lion Sleeps' as a MIDI file, dropped it into a notation programme so I could see the actual score, and then re-arranged that score for Bass, Cello and Flute so that my flute student (Dylan Double-Trouble) will be able to play it along with Genghis and Jake. I've been to Launceston twice, and Scottsdale every day, often multiple times because it's been impossible to co-ordinate all the errands into one trip.

I've gone through a vast mountain of laundry. Made foam swords for the ju-jitsu class. Researched a couple interesting pencak silat techniques, and taught them to my two most senior students because they needed a bit of a challenge -- and of course, in the process I had to learn the techniques myself. Silly stuff, but athletic and fun, and operating out of a slightly different martial mindset than usual.

And so here I am, at the other end of the week. It's the weekend again. This weekend, the Double-Trouble kids are staying with Viking Neighbour Anna. Their dad is on a training seminar, and their mum has some heavy working hours this weekend, so they're out visiting. Which is cool, 'cause they're good kids. But Viking Neighbour Anna has her own tribe of five, and since my lot really enjoy the company of both the Viking Clan and the Double-Trouble kids... well, I'll be heading down there this afternoon to take some of the load off. I'll run a gaming session for them, so there will be action and adventure and shouting and dice and popcorn and soda. And eventually, I'll have to come home and cook dinner too, because someone has to. (Although possibly I can set up a pot roast before I go down. That might work out well.)

So. I'm not really writing here, am I? I'm procrastinating, most likely. I still have to finish writing up the manuscript assessment I'm working on, too. I'll post it out on Monday. It's a nice change, actually - this MS is a raft of short stories, and the writer has a real touch. Not only can he write cleanly and effectively, but he's actually got something interesting and potentially valuable to say. The assessment is going to be fairly lean on criticism; it'll wind up looking a lot more like a scholarly introduction to the collection, I suspect. Anyway, it's very nice to be reading something of a genuinely professional level, and I hope this writer gets the kudos and the publication in the end.

Gotta go. Time is wasting, and I can hear the Mau-Mau doing something dubious in the kitchen...