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project log   
11:59am 31/12/2014
  It occurred to me it might be interesting to keep a running log of things I've made over the course of this year. So this entry is going to be post-dated (sorry for those of you who read this journal via the main page, rather than through a feeder, since it will always show up on top).

Jewelry and metalworkCollapse )
Scribal stuffCollapse )
Sewing and embroideryCollapse )
OtherCollapse )
a trip to the doctor   
11:48am 18/11/2014
  This morning we had our intake meeting with the GP we've registered with, one f those, how much do you weigh, how tall are you, what's your blood pressure, do you drink/smoke/exercise, and have you had any major surgeries visits. I think the nurse was rather pleased to have a young, fit family with ridiculously short medical histories show up. (Joel: surgery to remove wisdom teeth. 2 beers per week. Has never smoked. Is not allergic to anything. Cooks almost all his food from scratch. Sara: surgery to remove wisdom teeth, and additional jaw surgery; brief thrombophlebitis scare; successful pregnancy ending in uncomplicated childbirth. Gwen: Finally I got someone to tell Joel that at her age, and given her build and her strength, her weight is simply not an issues. Especially considering that she grew 11 cm in the last year, and only gained about 1 kg.) When the nurse took my blood pressure, the distolic was 93, which made her pause since it should be 90 or under, so a bit later, when we weren't talking, she took it again and got a reading rather more like my normal: 101/73. Yes, Joel, that is why I sometimes see stars if I stand up too quickly, or why I tend to pass out after giving blood if I'm not careful!

Gwen then was not to be denied the fun and insisted that she get to try the cuff on, and have the machine turned out, but the nurse was good and only lt it inflate a bit before turning it off so that her arm didn't get squeezed to tightly. She then got four stickers (two with cars, two with dinosaurs -- perfect for her!) of which she put one on Joel's shirt, one on my arm, one on her shirt, and one on white bunny, and then was very excited to go off to nursery to tell her friends about her trip to the doctor.
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escapades in baking   
08:57pm 15/11/2014
  It's fun having someone who's blind faith in your baking/cake-decorating skills causes you to rise to the occasion.

For her actual birthday, Gwen requested chocolate cake (which, for 26 toddlers + teachers = chocolate cupcakes) decorated with red stars. I'd actually never made a chocolate cake before, and was quite pleased with this recipe, even though I only got to eat one of them myself! I also invested in a (rather pathetic and cheap) frosting piping kit, and food coloring:


For her birthday party tomorrow, she requested rainbow cake with dinosaurs. (By which she means, George's dinosaur from Peppa Pig). We made a basic white cake and then drizzled food coloring on top and swirled it around with a fork (however, I don't think it ever went very deep, so I'm not sure that you'll be able to see that it's a rainbow cake now that it has frosting on it. She wanted three dinosaurs: a mommy one, a daddy one, and a Gweni one, and wanted them red on a blue background.

Well, she's certainly getting scary monsters on her cake:

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this is the academic life   
12:16pm 13/11/2014
  Durham, like Oxford and Cambridge, is a collegiate university: That is, all students are associated with a particular college, wherein they (sometimes) live, and eat, and which is populated by senior academics that take over some of the relevant pastoral duties. Durham isn't quite like Oxbridge in that the collegiate system is not as entrenched: At Oxbridge, academic staff are always hired through a particular college. Here, academic staff are hired by the university, but then are encouraged to pick a college (some choose more than one!) to become affiliated with, or, to use the right terminology, to pick a college Senior Common Room to become a member of.

Durham's oldest college is University College, which is locally known as "Castle", because it is...housed in the castle, the old Palatine-Bishop's residence, across the palace green from the Cathedral. One of the first things Benedikt asked me once I got the job offer was what college I wanted to join, and said he figured it'd be one of the older ones. Of course: When one wants to steep oneself in the strongest historic tradition of British academia, where else would one want to do it? But not only that, the friends I knew from Durham before we moved here were members of Castle, and one, Thomas, pretty much told me I had no choice: This was the college that I would be joining. Beginning of term being what it is, it took a few weeks to get the paperwork sorted out, and then I didn't have much call to go to the SCR until my new laptop arrived, because I rather need it for work during the day.

But my laptop arrived last week, and I quickly nominated Tuesdays (the one day that I rarely have any obligations) as SCR day. Castle's SCR is in the old dining room; it has huge tall ceilings decorated with gold, chandeliers, portraits of royalty hanging on the walls, windows overlooking the city, and enormously comfy wing chairs, one of which is (a) upholstered in heraldry, (b) right next to a little side table and a lamp, and (c) near the supply of unlimited tea/coffee/cocoa. This is, I have decided, my chair. (The common room is not heavily populated during the day. There is generally a few gentlemen in their 80s and 90s who come in to read the newspaper.)

Today I had to run some errands up on the Bailey, so rather than walk back to my office I came up to the SCR again. I absolutely love it here. It is huge and empty and silent, I have a comfortable chair and as much tea as I want -- and wifi -- and there is just something so right and proper about sitting here, preparing my lectures, or reading a book, or doing other research. This is very close to what I always dreamed being an academic would be like.
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and then she was three   
09:47pm 11/11/2014


I remember writing (or at least thinking) when Gwen turned one, just how much change a child goes through in the first year: From floppy helpless thing to eating and walking and sleeping civilized hours. I couldn't imagine that any other year, she would change so much.

Then Gwen's second birthday came along, and I looked at this little being that could talk to me, that was beginning to differentiate herself as a person, and thus to become a person, who could count and sing and respond to commands and it was such an amazing difference from the previous year. Surely this was it: There couldn't be another period where one year would make such a big difference.

A few days ago we were looking at pictures and videos from about a year ago (a little more actually, late Sept. of last year), in particular the video where I succeeded in teaching her her name, and that her name applied to her. I still remember how quickly she transitioned from receiving and self-applying a label to using the word 'mine' (It was Tues. or Wed. that she learned to say "Gweni" in reference to herself; it was Saturday that she said 'mine' for the first time in my hearing). And I look at that little person who can barely say her own name, and I compare it with the person who can articulate complex sentences, in the context of telling me what happened to her that day, what happened to her a week ago, what she imagined happened to other people, what will happen to her in the future, and I barely recognize the two as being the same. Sure, she still takes a ballistic approach to grammar, blindly shoving words into syntactical shapes that don't fit them, but it's still obvious what she means. "What I dooed?" "What you telled me?" and so on. (Curiously, she still has a distinct lack of helping verbs. I'm not sure whether this is age-appropriate linguistic behavior for a native English speaker, or if this is something that has been influenced by German.)

If last year I noticed a distinct correlation between receiving and adopting a name, and differentiating herself from everyone else, the recent development (since July/August or so) has been the development of a sense of history-based identity. And this, I am absolutely convinced is tied to a big increase in our use of narrative, and that narrative has gone a long way towards giving her the tools that she needed to construct her own identity and history. When at the end of July we knew that, barring catastrophic and unforeseen difficulties, we were going to be moving to England, I was faced with the issue of what the best way to prepare her for this was. There are basically two camps -- one is to break the news when it is time to move (a la The Barenstain Bears' Moving Day, a book which she received the week before we moved!), and the other is to start preparing them long in advance. I adopted the latter method, and almost immediately started talking to Gwen about leaving Heidelberg, leaving Germany, saying good-bye, moving to England, going on a big boat, bringing the cats with, etc. It helped that only a few weeks later we actually went to England (well, Wales), via boat, and then we actually went to Durham, and walked around the city, and visit friends that live there that we'd seen the previous week in Wales, which meant that when we were back in Germany we could talk about Durham, where Eve and Lily and Sophie live, and how we were going to live there, and how we'd go on the boat to get there, etc., etc., ad nauseum. It also helped that other kids in her class at daycare were transitioning to kindergarten: So at the end of August, there was a party with cupcakes and three kids said good-bye and didn't come back, and then in mid-September there was another party with cupcakes and another child said good-bye; and even if we had stayed, Gwen would've been transitioned at the end of September to kindergarten. So when her time came, we brought cupcakes, and she said good-bye, and she had a sense of what saying good-bye would mean; like the other children who said good-bye, she wouldn't be coming back.

I am convinced that she weathered the transition so well because we gave her a story line to follow. I noticed that as the time got closer, and we started counting down the days, and then when we were in the midst of the actual process of moving -- going to Wilnis for Borefts, then wending our way to the harbor, then spending a night with friends because our apartment wasn't ready yet, then moving in to the empty apartment, visiting the new nursery, etc. -- that she started repeating things over and over. "We're going to IJmuiden to get on the boat. We're going on the boat to England. Durham is in England. We're going to live in England. Eve lives in Durham. We're going to see Eve", over and over and over. And then we talked about a new house, and moving in to a new house, and how it wasn't on the Marktplatz but on Magdalene St., and Magdalene St. is in Durham, and Durham is in England, so Magdalene St. is in England (yes, we introduced and discussed the concept of the transitivity of the 'in' relation), so that when we walked in, she knew "This is our new house". And once we were in there, she started transferring her loyalties; I found her saying things like "I had this book at home.../////at Heidelberg", correcting herself and learning to differentiate between her past history and her current identity. She started then telling me about things at her new nursery that differed from (or were the same as) what she had at daycare in Germany (which she started calling "Bunsengymnaseum", because that was the name of the bus stop we'd get off at when we took the bus).

All of this has been fascinating to watch, especially because it's come in tandem with a growing awareness of how to count time. For awhile, anything in the past was "Yesterday" or "Last week or "Last time", and we've slowly been able to attribute these labels to the right purposes. While previously she knew the days of the week in so far as M-F she went to daycare, Saturday she had oatmeal with daddy for breakfast, and Sunday we'd have waffles, now she can (most of the time) recite them in their correct order, and she can use that order to count down to important things: Such as when daddy would return to Durham with Widget, or such as her birthday (we started the countdown last Tuesday night: Ever since her birthday last year, which really made a huge impression on her, birthdays have been a Big Thing. So I wanted to make sure that she knew hers was coming up, and go all the enjoyment of anticipation out of it).

I've also started doing small amounts of social-situations role-playing (we had a lovely example tonight. We went out to eat, and on the way there Gwen was saying how she wanted some juice, and asked if she could have apple juice, no grape juice, no orange juice, and I told her I didn't know what kinds they had, and that when the waiter came and asked us what we wanted to drink, she should ask him what kind of juice they have. So, sure enough, when he did, she very carefully asked "What juice you have?" and made her choice). I remember reading a blog post (though darn if I can find it now to link to it) that really resonated with me, about a kindergartener who'd been struggling in school and other social situations with lots of new people because, it turned out, no one had ever really stopped and told him what to do. One of those lightbulb moments: Duh! Of course! People don't get born automatically knowing how to interact appropriately with other people: Most of the early years of civilization are teaching children this. So when it was time to go to her new nursery, I told Gwen that we would be going and there would be new people that she didn't know, and that what she should do is ask "What is your name?" and to say "My name is Gwen". And then last week I had the most heart-warming of interludes. We were walking home and I asked her what she'd done that day, and she told me "There was a new peoples today!" [I tried to determine if it was a new teacher or a new child, but I never quite figured it out.] "I told her "What your name?" and I told her "My name is Gwen". And her name is Ava. And I hugged her." And my heart quite figuratively melted: She'd remembered what I told her, and remembered what to do when you meet someone new, and clearly remembered what it was like to be the new person and that a hug would be a helpful/appropriate response. Empathy! My daughter is showing empathy! (Oh, speaking of that, and the related development of a theory of mind: We saw a single baby shoe on the sidewalk one day, and when a few days later it was gone, Gwen spun me out this long tale of a baby who didn't want to wear his shoes and because he didn't want to wear his shoes he kicked his feet until the shoe came off, and so forth, and it was all rather ordinary except for the way that she imputed beliefs and desires to another mind that were not wholly in accord with her own desires (she loves wearing her shoes and boots), which indicates at least some beginnings of the ability to understand the concept of not just other thinkers, but other thinkers who think things other than what she does.) A cute follow-up on this is that I told her that I too, had met a new person that afternoon, and her name was Helen, and I told her my name, and Gwen's reponse was to ask, gravely, "Did you hug?" I said no, but we shook hands, which is what grown-ups do instead. (And then I spent awhile thinking: Wouldn't it be nicer if we had just hugged?)

So that is all that's been good and marvelous in the lead-up to three. Oh, sure, there's more to the story than that, but in the long run, it's all things I know we'll ease out of, so there isn't much to be gained in charting them down. I'd rather remember the good stuff -- such as the bizarre fact that in our household, brushing teeth and going to bed are both rewards for good behavior, and the other day when I asked Gwen what she wanted for supper, she paused, thought, and responded with gusto, "Vegetables!" (Err...what? My child likes to brush her teeth, go to bed, and eat her vegetables? I think my model is defective.)

I'll close with one last picture. We skyped with Grandma and Grandpa on Sunday and she opened her present from them, and this is her reaction when she pulled out two new books:


This reaction? Yeah, I don't really have anything to complain about. :)
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feeling old   
10:28pm 10/11/2014
  I had a strong "I feel old" moment today, in comparison to my students. I overheard one of them telling another that he'd found a youtube video on proving validity/invalidity of modal logic formulas on Kripke frames (part of their homework assignment for today).

I thought about it, and decided I don't even want to know.

Now, I use youtube all the time -- nearly daily to expand my music repertoire at the office, and before we moved Gwen used to watch nursery rhymes and Peppa Pig every night before bed. (A month of no internet at home broke her of the habit). But it never would've occurred to me to search it for help with my homework assignment, much less that I'd find something useful.

I feel old.
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25 years ago   
09:45pm 09/11/2014
  All around FB, people are doing the "25 years ago, I was..."

I don't remember exactly where I was or what I was doing exactly 25 years ago today, but I do remember the wall coming down, and remember having a sense that this was something really, really important. This is the first historical-political event that I remember experiencing first hand.
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I am an incompetent mother   
08:35pm 09/11/2014
  We live in a bizarre and backwards household where both tooth-brushing and going to be are rewards for good behavior. (Gwen was not allowed to do either until she'd hauled upstairs all the books, animals, and blankets she'd hauled down over the course of the day.)

She's very good about brushing her teeth, needing only someone to get the toothpaste down from the cupboard for her. So while she was on her last trip upstairs, I got it out and set it on the counter and let her at it.

Awhile later, I realized it had been suspiciously quiet. I went upstairs to inquire, and was told "I can't get any toothpaste out!" Funny. The tube is nearing the end, but there was still plenty left this morning. And then I see toothpaste in the sink, and see some vestiges on the brush. And I smell this OVERWHELMING smell of bubblegum. And notice that the mouth of the tube is wet...and a little bit compressed.

A competent parent would've been able to keep a straight face while inquiring of the child whether said child had in fact been eating toothpaste straight from the tube.

I am not a competent parent.
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Learn Everything, And Afterwards You Will Find Nothing Was Superfluus   
04:32pm 07/11/2014
  The words of Hugh of S. Victor, which I took as my academic motto some years back.

A permanent position is a remarkably freeing thing. My New Year's Resolution fell completely by the wayside at the end of July, but I don't feel any guilt or unhappiness about it, because landing a permanent position and, more importantly, doing well in it my first year, is worth quite a bit more than four papers. I've given myself "time off" from real research while I adjust to the teaching load, my admin respnsibilities, etc. In the long run, if there's a dip in my publications one year early in my career, no one is going to think less of me. Heck, no one is going to notice because, you know what? I've got a permanent position. Not many people are going to be looking at my CV in the future.

Not feeling the pressure to produce any specific thing has also freed me up to be a bit more random in what I've been reading. hobbitomm's sister, Liz, gave a fascinating talk yesterday on the role of fairy tales in the ethical imagination. Much of what she said ties in to things I've been thinking a lot about in the last few months -- the relationship between narrative and identity, the tandem growth of Gwen's interest in narrative and her ability to deal with past/historic events, how the stories we read shape the narrative that we give our lives, etc. I've been re-reading my favorite fairy stories ("The Notion Club Papers", The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings), and not only them, but I've been reading Christopher Tolkien's "The making of...", and also John D. Rateliff's similar books for The Hobbit, which has provided me with a fascinating insight into the process of writing and story-telling. Rateliff's books in particular had a lot of fascinating references to Tolkien's inspirations, both literary and non, both medieval and non. In particular, he cited Owen Barfield's work a number of times, and as a result I now have his Poetic Diction on the shelf, and, as of today, the collection of essays for Charles Williams which contains both "On Fairy Stories" and Barfield's "Poetic Diction and Legal Fiction", which I started reading over lunch today and found fascinating. All of this is reviving one of my original philosophical interests, namely philosophy of fiction. I've also found, rather to my surprise, that of the two course I'm teaching, it's Language & Mind that I'm finding the easiest, not Philosophical Logic. Partly it's that their 3rd year students, and it's an elective, but more than that I'm enjoying revisiting all the classic philosophy of language articles I first read as an undergrad (complete with my lovely undergrad notes in the margins of some of them...), and remembering why I found philosophy of language interesting in the first place.

Without having the pressure to produce hanging over me, I'm enjoying branching out, as well as returning to my roots, and reading things because they are interesting, not because I have any idea what I will do with reading them. But I know none of it is going to waste, because I've had ample evidence over the years of just how right Hugh was.
things I love about my office   
04:13pm 06/11/2014
  I can see the cathedral from my desk.

It has 36 bookshelves. So far, I've filled 1.5.

At the top of the 2nd staircase in an old, poorly insulated building, all the heat rises up to me.

I have a comfy chair next to a window which gets 2-3 hours of full sun every afternoon.

Said chair is right next to one of the radiators, too.

Said radiator goes up to 8 whereas every other radiator I've seen only goes up to 5. Which means I can curl up there with a cup of tea, full sun, and a moderate 4, and actually be as warm as I like.


I really will write a real post here again soon. About moving and teaching and about Gwen. She's going to be three next week! The birthday countdown has begun in earnest.
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in which Gwen shows further linguistic acumen   
03:46pm 28/10/2014
  Yesterday, after asking Gwen what she did in nursery that day, she gravely informed me "Before you can play in the water, you must put on a napron."

I'm pleased to see that she has sensitivity to the Old English roots of Modern English words.
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in which Gwen learns about UK vs. US English   
09:19pm 23/10/2014
  "I need to pee," Gwen announces. She pauses in reflection. "The other peoples at nursery say, 'I need to wee'."

[We have also noted the \zee-brah\ vs. \zeh-brah\ distinction, and she got very worked up one evening recounting how they were asked what noise owls make, and she replied, very sensibly "hoo woo", whereas all the other children insisted it was "twit twoo".]
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reasons I love my daughter   
05:31pm 20/10/2014
  It occurred to me that Durham should have a public library, so our plan for Saturday was to investigate this fact and try to obtain library cards. I figured it'd be a good way to kill a weekend morning, and I told her Friday about our plans and she seemed to approve. Saturday morning she came to wake me up, and I got her to cuddle with me for a bit, and when she ask "What we do today?" I told her "We're going to try to find a library!" She paused to think a moment, and said "With lots and lots of books! Eeeeee!" And her squeal of delight about being surrounded by lots and lots of books some of which she could take home with her was exactly the same sort of squeal I've heard come out of my mouth, and I was just so pleased that already she seems to feel about books exactly the same way I do.

We did succeed in our errand, and returned home with two brand-new library cards (under 5's don't have any overdue fines!) and four new books (three for her, one for me), and a good excuse to go back again regularly.
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20,000 words   
11:11am 15/10/2014
  There are a few things that are intrinsic to my mental make-up.

* I'm very competitive.
* I'm motivated by arbitrary restrictions and deadlines.
* I find it inspiring when other people surrounding me are doing cool things.

One piece of advice that I got often when I was younger, and hadn't yet let the idea of being a writer fall by the wayside (or rather, I've spent the greater part of the last 10 years as a writer, I was just writing non-fiction instead of fiction. It still counts as writing, and I have little guilt over having pretty much thoroughly ignored fiction writing for such a long period), was to write every day. But "write every day" is too generic. It's too boring to be motivating.

Still, I've been fascinated over the last year to watch some of my friends taking that mantra to heart -- or if not writing every day, writing often enough that I could follow their developments via LJ/FB -- authors such as Heather Rose Jones/hrj (I got to be one of her beta readers! Whoo!), Karen J. Carlisle/firenzekat (who about a year and a half ago took on a "write every day" resolution and her output as a result was truly inspiring), and Christine Seaforth Finch (who just finished her first novel, can't wait to read it!).

So of course, I want to be part of the cool club. But I don't have time to plan or plot or write detailed notes, and I can't just "write every day" without having some guide to what I'm doing.

Nearly two months ago, I decided "I'm going to write 400 words of fiction per day." (Actually, I decided first on 500, sat down to write, and realized that's a lot. So I changed my resolution.) Exactly 400 words, no more, no less. If I miss a day, those 400 words roll over to the next, and I must write 800. If I miss another day, then it rolls over to 1200, and so on. And I gave myself complete freedom: I can write whatever I want. I can make things up, I can write things that are true, I can pretend, I can lie, I can quote, I can badly quote, I can do whatever I want.

It's been fascinating. Within a week I noticed a number of results: I usually wrote last thing before bed, and the vividness and variety of my dreams sharpened immensely. I also started writing more in my paper diary again, something which I've kept nearly continously since I was about 10, but which had fallen off in the last few years. Now, I'd write my 400 words, and then write about writing them in my diary. (It was a very weird feeling, to see how writing breeds writing.) And I found that with one or two exceptions, I never lacked for something to write about. Now, I'm at the point where pretty much any given day, I have about 3-4 days' worth of ideas ahead of me; or rather, I will have 3-4 days' worth, I will write them out, and then wonder "what on earth will I write next" until I start writing it and then another 3-4 days' worth unfold.

I have missed a few days, what with traveling, etc., but only once did I miss two days in a row and have to write 1200 words. One thing I found is that this changed my writing style somewhat, having the option (or rather, the requirement) of being so verbose. It made me want to go back to writing every day, so I could keep to the smaller vignettes. Now, since I still prefer to write at night and we still don't have internet at home, what usually happens is I write before going to bed, and then back-date the post when I get to the office the next morning.

Yesterday was Day 50. That's 20,000 words, 400 words per day. Bonus points if you can spot all the song lyrics, book quotations, and SCAdian references in each post.
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and this is why I could never hold down a real job   
04:45pm 13/10/2014
  Being a Real Academic (TM) is exhausting. Between teaching and meetings and reading groups I have so much on my schedule I actually put things into the little spiral bound agenda I was given my first day. In between, I'm running to the library, re-reading papers I haven't read in years (it's been grand fun pulling out my undergraduate textbooks, and reading my precious undergraduate marginalia), writing down lecture notes (three pages, handwritten, I've found will get me through ~55 min.), preparing reading lists, and thinking up tutorial questions. (You'll notice "research" isn't listed there. I've given myself the month off -- at least. What with having spent September focusing on the DMNES, and August being sacrificed to "OMG, we have to move next month", my New Year's Resolution is suffering horrible. On the other hand, I have a permanent job. I'm not too fussed.)

Today I dropped Gwen off at nursery as early as I sensibly could, so that I could have 2 hours before my first tutorial to read the paper I'd assigned my students. Then it was Philosophical Logic tutorial at 11 (it's in the room where I had my interview in July. That was a bit...cognitively dissonant.), lunch date at 12, Language & Mind lecture at 13, and Gender Action Group meeting at 14:30. Yes, that means I was booked to do things other than sit at my desk from 11-15:30, and came away from that exhausted. There is no way I'd ever have the stamina to hold down a real job!

Still enjoying it though. Will enjoy it more when things settle down enough for me to get back to the research side of things.
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Today's rabbit hole led me to   
06:12pm 08/10/2014
  The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, which has this beautiful quote to kick things off:

Now, I swear by the sun god Utu on this very day -- and my younger brothers shall be witness of it in foreign lands where the sons of Sumer are not known, where people do not have the use of paved roads, where they have no access to the written word -- that I, the firstborn son, am a fashioner of words, a composer of songs, a composer of words, and that they will recite my songs as heavenly writings, and that they will bow down before my words......

King Shulgi (c. 2100 BC) on the future of Sumerian literature.

Where people have no paved roads, no access to words...I love it!

Reading the tale of Enmerkar and the lord of Aratta lead me back to wikipedia, where I learned that Nudimmud, a Sumerian word for creation, derives from dim mud 'make beer'.

The Sumerians know what's important!
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It was...a long week   
10:40am 07/10/2014
  It's exhausting trying to entertain an almost-3-year-old in an empty house with sticks, rocks, chestnuts, and far too few books (and not enough coloring paper).

It's even worse when you can't figure out how the thermostat works, and so you both wake up in the middle of the night too cold to sleep.

It's even worse when you don't have any dishes to cook anything with. (And when you thought you didn't have a working refridgerator, that was almost too much to bear.)

It's even worse when you're battling the head cold of the year, and thus napping when she does and going to bed when she does. (So much for getting any lecture prep done last week).

It's even worse when the crack on your laptop has spread so even if you wanted to do what non-internet-based work you could do, you can't.

It's even worse when the movers are so delayed on Thursday, that there's no way they can make the Thurs. evening ferry and be there to deliver things on Friday as agreed, and will come on Saturday instead.

It's even worse when you find out around 17:30 Friday evening that, no, in fact, they're coming on Monday.

We just won't say anything about the leak in the bathroom.


But friends came by with blankets and dishes, and Joel changed his travel plans to arrive on Sunday instead of Tuesday ('cause, you know, I had to lecture on Monday. That doesn't really jive with being able to supervise the unloading of a moving truck at the same time), and Gwen got to spend 1-2 hours at her new nursery each day (the only drawback about that was that it was only 1-2 hours per day, and she desperately hated having to leave the fun and new friends and new books and new toys and come back to the empty house with an increasingly exhausted and impatient mom. (Though it wasn't all bad: We spent one afternoon cuddled in bed together eating cookies while I read to her, at her request, "Mr. Baggins".)) And the movers showed up when they were supposed to, and everything DID fit into the house (though we're now doing that complicated manouevre where you've got a 3x3 grid and 8 tiles, and you need to get all the tiles in numeric order using that one free slot), and we got 26 boxes unpacked last night (not that you could tell looking at the livingroom), and my first lecture on Monday was absolutely awesome. It's not often that you get to quote from Frege, Boethius, the Mabinogion, Tolkien, a Linear A inscription, and Crosby Stills & Nash all in one hour. Not sure my students knew what hit them.
     Read 13 - Post
notes on crossing the North Sea by night   
02:07pm 29/09/2014
  - Gwen's head is really hard. How do I know? Because it came into sharp contact with my nose while we hung out in the KidsPlace on the boat. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers who fetched napkins as blood came pouring out.

- Events which make me feel unfit to be a parent: After bedtime, one of the two of us hid under the covers with her book and flashlight to read surreptitiously without letting the other know that she was doing so. Which one of us was it? Hint: It wasn't Gwen.
     Read 9 - Post
you'd almost think someone was out to get us   
09:45pm 26/09/2014
  On the train over to the Netherlands yesterday, the fan on Joel's laptop died.

We arrived in the Netherlands in the only station in the country where all the exit gates are closed: And of course, the barcode scanner doesn't understand the barcodes on tickets issued by Deutsche Bahn.

While trying to figure out how to get out of the station without scaling the barriers, Gwen announces an urgent need for a bathroom. While we eventually do make it, almost in time, it hits her again just as our bus is about to leave. Yes, I can swap out dirty pants for a diaper without getting any of it on bus upholstery. I suppose that's a skill I should be proud of.

Last night, Gwen stepped on my laptop, and broke the LED screen. Only about half of the monitor is still usable.

We still do not have a signed lease agreement. And at one point on Wednesday, the agent was talking about our apointment on the 30th, at noon. Um, no. I arrive on the 29th, and the 30th I'm already scheduled for something from 11-13.

In trying to set up our US bank account to be able to do an EFT to another US account, I have to call them three or four times (some of them, they called me) because in order to get to through the extra level of ID verifcation, I need to receive a code via text or phone: but they don't know how to deal with international numbers.

I woke up this morning with a bad sore throat.

How to enjoy a beer festival with a toddler in three easy steps   
07:02pm 26/09/2014
  1. Bring lots of toys.


2. Drink lots of beer.


3. Repeat to yourself: Next year will be easier.