Yes, indeed, it is November and National Blog Posting Month is upon us. I checked my archives and I have been doing this since 2006. Mr. Waffle who, among his other duties, is chair of the residents’ committee is, as I write, holding a meeting in the kitchen. This means I am kneeling while typing as they needed all the chairs. Truly, my dedication knows no bounds. Herself says I am typing like a meerkat. More to follow. All month long.
Archives for November 2016
This evening we were playing cards (snap/beggar-my-neighbour – all the sophisticated games) and when the game was over I picked up the pack, shuffled and started playing patience. I did this without really thinking. Herself and Daniel have seen me play before but this time they seemed more interested and wanted to learn the rules (possibly because it was bed time). Then they played a game each, very slowly. I commented that the more you played the more likely you were to get it out. In the slightly sanctimonious middle-aged parent manner which I am perfecting, I told them: “When I was a child and at home sick from school, there were no electronic devices and there was no daytime television, so when I got tired of reading, I used to play patience. By the end of a couple of days, I almost always got it out all the time. It seems impossible when you don’t practice, but there it is.” They were suitably impressed and trooped off to bed, determined to work on their patience playing tomorrow.
After they went up, I said to Mr. Waffle, “Did you play patience when you were sick as a child?” “No,” he replied as I laid out the cards. This time it came out. As I was stacking the cards in the pile at the top, he asked “Is that it, will it definitely come out now?” “Of course, it will, you know that” I said. “Actually,” he said, “I’ve never played patience and don’t know how to play.”* I am astounded. How could he have kept this from me? Honestly, it’s like only discovering your husband never learnt to swim 15 years into your marriage. How can a child of the 70s have developed without extensive patience experience? He muttered something about lego. I played with lego too but, really, who didn’t play patience? I am shocked to the core of my being.
Can you play patience? Seriously, can’t everybody? Even Mr. Waffle can now.
*Note that we were a good hour and a bit playing patience with Mr. Waffle giving the impression that he knew all about it before he came clean. There is some moral about gender there, I feel. It reminds me of my mother’s story about how when she was going to study in Germany in the 50s (when Germany was where it was at in terms of chemistry), her professor of chemistry in Cork summoned her to his office and said, “Now, they’ll have a lot of equipment that we don’t have here, but you just don’t say anything and you’ll learn what it is and how to work it fast enough.”
I took the children to Cork for the bank holiday weekend. We did the usual things: bonding with relatives, lots of TV, a trip to Charles Fort and the Bulman, the traditional photo by the “caution children” sign:
The trip down was rendered exciting by a largish piece of plastic from the underside of the car coming off on the motorway (happily it came off near the edge of the road – no damage done to anyone). Our car has been with us since 2005 and, perhaps, this is a sign that we need a change before the NCT later this month.
Herself spent a couple of hours with my 87 year old aunt Marie Kondoing her house. They found my aunt’s birth certificate. She was born in California but returned to Cork aged about 2 and has found it perfectly acceptable ever since and has never, to my knowledge, pined for sunnier climes. I suppose she got it out of her system early. They kept the birth certificate.
Later, when I came to see how they were getting on I heard her great niece addressing my aunt kindly but firmly, “Are you sure you want to keep the Meister Eckhart? Does it spark joy?” My aunt was unsure. I think Meister Eckhart was saved in the end but a vast number of other books (including a substantial collection of theological books which it turned out did not spark joy) and random items were not deemed worthy of keeping. The pair were delighted with themselves: four black bags of stuff for giving away and three full of rubbish. Then, my brother put his foot down and said that the rubbish bags couldn’t go in the bin as it was too full and would have to go after the next collection (my parents and my aunt live next door to each other and there is a complex bin sharing treaty in operation between the two households). They are stored temporarily in my aunt’s front room but I fear they may never leave. In my heart of hearts, I knew that nobody was ever going to bring the four bags for giving away to the charity shop so I hauled them into the car and brought them back to Dublin to give away. They’re gone now, I hope some of the Dublin locals enjoy reading about theology. I drew the line at bringing the bags of rubbish back to Dublin but even now, I am feeling mild regret as there is a real danger that they will never make it to the bin at all.
As though her work in her great aunt’s house was insufficient to meet her needs, herself begged to be allowed to make a pilgrimage to my parents’ attic. I permitted this, but only on the condition that she did not try to tidy it. You will be delighted to hear that “Star Trek Annual 1976” is even now upstairs in Dublin. She also found some material in a big trunk. She loves to sew and make costumes and was graciously permitted to help herself. When it came time to go back to Dublin, she and her brothers kindly packed the car for me. Once we were beyond Mitchelstown, she said, “Is it too late to go back to Cork?” “Yes,” I said. “Good,” she said, “because I brought more material than you might like.” When we unpacked the car, there were bolts and bolts of material. That night, when she dressed up for Halloween, I noted that the lace covering from my first communion dress, was getting another outing for the first time in 40 years.
Halloween passed off peacefully enough. The children went out on their own for the first time. They liked it. More particularly as they came home laden down with sweets. Not a solitary monkey nut this year.
In other Halloween news, the cat was puzzled, and not entirely pleased by the Halloween decorations:
I took the day off work today. This week was mid-term and the children were at home. Well, herself was on a course, but the boys were at home. I think she enjoyed her course but it was quite tiring; it was film making and it seemed to involve a lot of hanging around on set. She told me an interesting thing though. They had a make-up guy in and he mentioned that when making up women, he always makes them up to look good first and then adds cuts and bruises or skulls and blood (they were making a horror film). And apparently this is what happens when they are making real films as well which I think explains a lot.
Anyhow, it was a beautiful day. I decided to take the boys up the Sugar Loaf. They were not delighted. “Why,” said Michael bitterly, “are we being punished?” Apparently his father had told him that he could stay in bed all day – something Mr. Waffle denies. Anyhow, they came, resignedly.
It was lovely and even the boys found it moderately enjoyable. We had a picnic at the top.
It was somewhat windy and chilly but the views were good.
The boys are both faster and fitter than me but I made it down eventually, only slipping and falling over a couple of times (not particularly painful as on grass on the lower reaches but the mortification was considerable). Daniel was travelling at my slower pace and was very solicitous. I felt about 90. We came home about 4 and lit a fire and did nothing for the rest of the day which was pleasing for all of us.
And imagine, today is only Friday, I have the whole weekend at home stretching out ahead of me. And Mr. Waffle who, alas, is going to have to work this weekend (his deadline is Wednesday and each member of our little family is counting the days), has promised to take time out to take Daniel to his match tomorrow morning and let me stay in bed. Oh hurrah. Yes, I know, he’s a saint; isn’t he lucky he married someone who really appreciates saintliness.
I woke up this morning with a migraine and after a trip to the shops to buy bread this morning, gave up the effort and went back to bed and didn’t get up again until an hour ago. Alas. I feel alright now but not fantastic. The light of the screen is making my eyeballs a bit sore. Don’t say I’m not devoted to this NaBloPoMo. I trust that by tomorrow, I will be restored to full health. Something for all of us to look forward to.
A belated update on my younger son who was 11 on September 27, so not quite two months ago yet.
Michael has settled firmly down into the niche of youngest, adorable child. I understand that as he snuggles up to me, he often mouths “brownie points” at his brother and sister but I don’t care and, what’s more, he knows I don’t care. I find him very easy to be with and easy to get on with; obliging, pleasant and entertaining.
He is a total home bird and knows no greater happiness than to be left to hang around the house all day and not be forced out on some outing. Once he gets out he can be cheerful enough but it is the leaving home that he finds tiresome.
Picture from a particularly unsuccessful expedition which his parents forced him to go out on:
He has become obsessed with complex board games which go on for days and are utterly baffling to me. If let, he would spend all his time watching young men narrating how to play board games on youtube.
He still loves to read and his bedroom, the smallest in the house, as he will tell you with some bitterness, is crammed to the rafters with books from all ages.
He is as fond still as looking at old picture books as of reading the latest Percy Jackson or the telephone book sized Codex of some game involving 24 dice and innumerable expensive plastic figurines.
I caught him reading in the dark the other night. “You’ll ruin your eyesight,” I said. “That’s a myth actually,” he replied with all the dignity of someone caught reading when he should be sound asleep. His sister’s bedroom is strictly off limits to everyone in the house and boy do we know it. Michael has been caught sneaking in there to get out some of her more choice books. “Why don’t you wait until she gets home from school and ask to borrow them?” I ask despairingly as herself harangues me about her privacy. “Meh, can’t wait,” he says blithely. After a particularly painful recent discussion with his sister, I am hopeful that he will ask in future.
Michael is a born performer. They had a contest in school involving developing a pretend radio station interview and he won hands down. His teacher tells me that the other children chant his name and beg for him to do the reading out loud. I asked Michael about this and he said, “Now you know why I don’t like it when there are so many characters in a book. It’s exhausting to do different voices for all of them.”
He still loves scouts. This September he got made a seconder (a sixer is head of a little troop and a seconder is second in command). He was confident that this would come to pass but none the less very pleased when it actually did. He steadily refuses to join other clubs or societies, although his secondary school has a games club where his sister is already a member and I imagine he will join there when he starts next year, much to her chagrin.
He loves history and has finished off Civilisation V (history in the largest sense), is a massive fan of Horrible Histories and recently has spent a great deal of time looking at alternative histories on youtube. On the way home from his grandparents this evening we had a vigourous family discussion on what would have happened to the Home Rule Bill, if World War I had in fact been over by Christmas. Let me summarise for you, we don’t know, but everyone got very heated all the same. It beat our conversation about the Kardashians on the way out. Mildly amusing comment from Michael: “They’re real? That explains so much.”
He continues to be the peacemaker although his brother and sister maintain that he uses his charm to get away with murder and that they do much more around the house which does not entirely contribute to peace in our little household.
He has a wonderful teacher this year and is really enjoying school which is terrific.
He still does not love sports but they had a recent competition with another school and he got a medal for being best boy on his team and he was really filled with pride and delight and we were thrilled for him. He is a pretty competent cyclist now and we can cycle into town without me nearly losing my life.
He is sentimental and refuses to part with anything. In particular, he refuses to part with any of his old clothes and as he is growing many of his trousers are flapping around his ankles and lots of his tops reach only just below his elbows. It is economical but I would willingly pay for new clothes, if he would wear them. Michael has appeared over my shoulder and said, “I would, if they were not itchy.” It’s just so hard to determine what will be deemed itchy. Also, he continues to be extremely skinny and as he grows taller it’s hard to find trousers that can be sufficiently tightened at the waist and are sufficiently long in the leg. Of late, he has stopped wearing the hood of his hoodie up every minute of the day. As this has been replaced by wearing his coat with the hood up until dinner time, I am not sure it can be counted as an improvement.
He is soft-hearted. He is always kind and gentle with small children and very patient. We were watching the youtube clip on Jimmy Kimmel of parents telling children that they had eaten their Halloween sweets and Michael walked away because he didn’t want to watch as it was mean. Which, to be honest, it is. Though, kind of funny, if you are heartless, which Michael definitely is not.
He gets on well with his brother and sister and though they can definitely find him exasperating, they are not entirely immune to his charm. Also, he needs them for his board games as his parents are a dead loss. He continues to enjoy cards but would prefer if we went for slightly more challenging games that snap/beggar-my-neighbour. Sometimes, when I am feeling strong, we play 110 but I need to be in the whole of my health.
He continues to eat almost nothing. I’ve almost past trying at this stage. Thank God for cornflakes, milk, pizza, chips, ham, cod, yorkshire pudding and eggs. And I would like to apologise now about over-fishing.
Picture of Michael looking like a Victorian starving chimney sweep’s boy.
We walk into school most mornings with his brother. I love it when the three of us walk in together and I am all the more conscious of it because this is our last year as next year they start in secondary school. I will miss our walks very much. I always give Michael credit for starting us walking in in the first place due to his concerns about the environment (which still continue). It has been lovely for us all, I think.
As he gets older, he is less of a daredevil. Although he continues to be a demon on the bumpers and super speedy on ziplines, I can now let him cross the road with confidence which is a huge relief to me and to him.
All in all, he is wonderful to be with: kind, caring, funny and gentle. It is lovely to watch him growing up.