Monday, October 3, 2011

Head Down. Arse Up. Trying To Keep Up.

The pointy end of the year approaches. So much shit, so little time.

I took a morning off today. Necessary after the weekend. I took Genghis in on Saturday morning. His bass lesson was at 1015, and I went to sword training at 0900. I hope they keep the Saturday morning class. Genghis didn't mind hanging around the dojo... he even got the chance to learn a little, with a bokken, well out of the way from everything else. He thought that was pretty damned cool, and according to the sensei who was giving him tips, he learned fast, and well.

Sunday was more or less about music. The Mau-Mau and Jake both took part in a music competition under the aegis of the St Cecelia school, of which their teacher is a part. They did well - each got a second place and a 'highly commended' in their instrument class. The Mau-mau was tickled, and took her second place medal to school today. Jake tried not to let it show, but he was surprised and pleased as well. Good thing, really. He needed a bit of a boost with the music. His commitment has been flagging a bit.

Gardening: I put in tomatoes. The wallabies ate them, down to the soil. I looked around, and realised the gate wasn't fully closed. I closed the gate. I put in more tomatoes. The wallabies ate them down to the soil. Okay. So, the big enclosure is no longer wallaby-safe. So I banged in a bunch of star-pickets, and today I picked up 25m of heavy chickenwire. Now I'll enclose the raised garden beds, and put in a gate. Soon I can put in more tomatoes. In the meantime, the potted radishes are coming on, the rhubarb is picking up, the cabbage seedlings are going to need to be planted out soon, and the herb garden needs to be completely weeded. But I've given all the fruit trees a nice dose of blood and bone... and bugger, there's a lot of fruit trees these days.

Writing: behind on everything. Not stuck, just overrun. Gotta edit two short stories, finish the MS for ROR, put together a proposal to start an online extension class in English for the local high school, and work up the outline of my MA. Among other things. And of course, Jake and I are continuing to enjoy creating The Amazing Adventures of That Suave Guy. We just finished his first outing, and we're at work on the second.

Study: had a useful meeting a week or two back with my prof. We've reshaped the MA once again. Now I'm reading Spenser and Ariosto, and looking into some of the more interesting critical writing on modern fantasy.

Martial Arts: graded the junior blue belts last week. They did pretty well, all told. I need to see more focus from all of them, but little Genghis' commitment surprised hell out of me (and his grading partner!). Most interesting was the fact that where he didn't flat-out know certain techniques, he improvised... and his improv was generally on the money, utilising the principles of the art. He's only eight. He'll be nine in late December. If his interest continues, he's going to be a very effective, very dangerous person by the time he's fifteen. Meanwhile, I got halfway through grading all the wee ones and the newcomers: a bunch of youngsters at the yellow and orange level. Again, I'm pretty pleased with them so far, but it's a real handful putting them through this. On Wednesday, we have to do all the self-defense material, which will really try them (and me!) out. Also graded a couple of senior orange belts, both female. Very good work from both of them. No... correction. I didn't grade them. I made my senior student - a young brown belt - handle the grading, because he needs to be more confident with his communication and teaching. He did it well, and I'm happy with all three of them.

Music: teaching young Mister D the flute and Irish whistle. He's discovered Irish folk, and he's delighted. He even puts in enough practice that I can spot the improvements in his technique. I'm not qualified to put him through musical exams, but I play flute well enough to get him to a decent standard, such that if this town ever gets a flute instructor, he'll do well. In the meantime, it's nice to brush off my own technique. We're working on a duet (Danny Boy) for wooden flute and Irish whistle (I'll play the flute!) and I'm trying to arrange a duet score for the Barcarolle by Offenbach, to be played on cello (Jake) and flute (Mister D). I haven't done a lot of musical arranging, but there are enough clues available online that I think I can manage it.

Language: Swedish continues to be much easier, and more fun, than Spanish. Sure, the extra vowels can do your head in, and the umlauts are just all kinds of wrong... but the grammar and vocab and the syntax are so much easier that it's a doddle. We've found a satisfactory book full of readings and lessons, and we get down to Viking Neighbour Anna's place of a Tuesday morning to read all about the life and times of Erik Lindkvist, en ung Svensk student. At the moment, we suspect Erik may be gay. He lives in a flat in a fashionable part of the Old City, and he likes to throw parties and dance. Unfortunately, he only has about five friends, and they tend to bring just one gramophone record (!) between them... but Erik dances keenly anyway. The text says the neighbours are very forgiving. One would bloody hope so. Dancing to one single gramophone record would be extremely irritating after the ninth or tenth play-through.

House: spring cleaning. Among other things. We're getting some wardrobes put in, which should make keeping the kids' rooms tidy a little easier. Meanwhile, I've built some removable steps for the cinema shed, landscaped around the new firepit, made gates for various garden enclosures, and tomorrow I go up on the roof with (of all things!) a chimney brush. I didn't even know we had one until last week - found it under the top shed. It's warming up nicely, but there will probably be a few more nights where it would be nice to have a fire... and the chimney really isn't drawing all that well. Of course, it hasn't been swept since we got here, so this will probably be an epically filthy job. Oh goody.

Enough procrastination. I've got work to do.