Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That

The construction guys came by and finished dismantling the scaffolding around our Winter Garden (BTW, this is basically a sunroom, but ours happens to be not completely glassed-in, if that makes sense). So the inside (minus one light fixture) and the outside are done! We can now officially move back in. Woot! We actually wanted to use it last weekend, since one of John’s grad-school colleagues was going to be in town and we had invited her and her husband to coffee, so John called up the landlord to see if we could clear out the last of the workman’s stuff. (At this point, everything was done but the light fixtures.) No problem, he said. Then an hour later, after John had huffed and puffed up and down the stairs 5 or 6 times (did I mention we live on the fourth floor?) to take out all the tools and put the garden furniture back in, the electrician came to put in the lights. So we had to scootch everything around to make room for the ladder, then we had to dust bits of drywall off the tablecloth before we could set the table for the coffee. That’s typical around here. Anyhoo, I added the last photo to the yahoo album (link on the right), if you are so bored as to want to look at it.

In other local news, Europe is experiencing a heat wave right about now, but I have only found it oppressively hot when I have to get on a bus, or if I have to walk along the sidewalk next to the street here in our village (no shade most of the way). If you can get in the shade, it is really not too bad, as opposed to my experience in West Texas (you all know the 100F-in-the-shade-type summer weather there). Luckily, we don’t have to worry about water restrictions, so a tepid shower often does the trick when it gets too hot. Looking out the window now, it is starting to cloud up, which automatically knocks the temps down. We got up in the mid-90s yesterday, but I don’t know if we will today, despite the forecast for even higher temperatures. The other part of the forecast said something about bad thunderstorms, so we might actually be catching the edge of that.

I am down to one written final exam, one 20-minute oral exam (part of my qualifying exams), and one 15-page paper which is not due until September 30. I know I need to buckle down a little more on studying, but at this point I feel like I have a good head start on it. The wish for a sudden, speedy death that gripped me during the height of the paper-writing ordeal has gone, leaving me feeling giddily upbeat (except when I think about the grade on my paper, but let’s not worry about that until the grade actually comes in), but I can’t become blasé about my workload now.

On the occasion of an anniversary that marked the beginning of a period of her life that was, let’s say, interesting in a life-lesson kind of way, WesTexGirl recently posted about how that wild and crazy period actually helped to shape her into the person she is today. And it occurred to me that I am boring, and that I have probably always been boring. My wild and crazy? Can be counted on one hand in single events. Hers? In months. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have traded places with her for anything, but I’m thinking that maybe I have been in a middle-aged mind-set since I was, oh, 16. John would probably think so, but I hope only in the quiet, honest recesses of his soul. Oh, well.

Hannah has been an interesting study lately. One day she is formulating a theory that Betty Crocker was a space alien, and the next she is weeping over the fighting in the Middle East. She has already been begging to shave her legs (and arms) because some boys tease her, but at least one of her girlfriends sticks up for her and points out that she herself also has hairy legs (kid hair—that’s nothing!). I checked out Babette Cole’s book on puberty, Hair in Funny Places, for Hannah, and she has pulled it out of the book basket a couple of times. John finds Babette Cole’s books mildly repulsive, but I like them (as the aunts and uncles in my family can attest, because I think at least one kid in each family has gotten a copy of Dr. Dog.) Like I said, John is a little iffy on it, but I think it is a very straightforward and funny approach to explaining “your changing body.” Hannah’s friend is a little older and is already going through it, and Hannah’s turn is probably right around the corner (she hasn’t even lost all her baby teeth yet!), so I wanted to start introducing the topic gradually, and it seems to be working. She’s asked a couple of questions, and open communication is exactly what I’m aiming for. There’s no room for squeamishness.

As I sat in the English Department library while writing my paper, surrounded by the works of Nick Hornby and Herman Melville and Aphra Behn, I felt very sad that I couldn’t just pick up one of them and dig in. Plus someone on a email list not in any way affiliated with Harry Potter made a comment about The Half Blood Prince that has had me in a flutter of discontent that I don’t have time (at least until the end of July) to find what she was talking about and see if it says what she claims it does. So I am counting down the days until I can read for pleasure again (the stack of Terry Pratchett is calling to me...).

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