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4 kittens

A List of Depictions of Recent Quality Times

Posted on 2016.07.04 at 23:08
Jammies is back from Korea!  Land of be-bim-bop:

His reintroduction to civillian life was kind of rough. I thought the house had only taken a mild beating in his absence. But Jammies' tolerance to mild disorder had disappeared. Between deep sighs, he kept pointing out that the cat's food was six inches to the left of its proper spot, that the cutting boards were oriented lengthwise instead of longwise, that the chairs had all drifted slightly backwards towards the walls.  It's all true, although I was unaware that the cutting boards had an preferred orientation.

(By now his grim life resignation has happily re-established itself. Home again.)


My mom and I took Hawaii to the library, to exchange Junie B Jones books. ("Junie B Jones is a Neurotic Kvetcher", "Junie B Jones Possibly Has Speech-based Nervous Tics", and "I Would Leave JBJ at a Roadside Stand.")  When we checked out, the librarian told us that we had $1.25 in late fees. I tried to do calendar-math in my head, because I'm pretty sure it had been 2.5 weeks, and you get them for 3 weeks.  Simultaneously, my mom launched into a long explanation of how the late fee system works at her library.  (Admittedly, it sounds progressive and interesting - automatic renewals, no late fees, reminder emails. You just can't check out any new books until you return your old books.) My mom was not monitoring the cognitive load of the poor librarian, who had started a conversation with me, and was now trying to politely track three different conversations. (Hawaii was timidly checking out.) So I didn't pin the librarian down. She did say that she couldn't see any details in her computer, besides the fact that the books we had dropped off a few minutes ago had accumulated late fees.

I got home, checked my calendar, and I was super fucking right. That $1.25 was levied in error. It is a very empty, pyrrhic feeling. The library staff deserves charitable thinking and courteous manners, not $1.25-based investigative journalism. I really, really want to explain to them that I was right about the calendar. That's my one singular genius - putting events in chronological order - and deep down I know I just have to eat this one.

Passed out, cramming for Baby Finals.


We took Pokey and Ace up to see some family friends in North Austin. Pokey asked for some paper and markers. Then he made a solar system. It turns out that he knows basic facts about the planets and the order they go in. (They've been studying the solar system at school.) I clearly had no idea that he knew about this stuff. "That's a nice red planet." "Duh, mom, Mars. Mars is red. Uranus is on its side. Pluto is over here because it's a planetoid."

The scene seemed staged for my own personal glory, as I inadvertently fed him soft pitch balls for him to knock out of the park in front of these friends of ours. I couldn't have written a more flattering scene if I'd tried. "Oh gosh, is he spouting knowledge again? Who can keep track. Kids today, with their ceaseless appetite for learning."

That family had been making snake habitats. The next day at school, Pokey said he wanted to make a snake habitat. So his teacher also had the impression that he is just chock full of creative ideas, and I just smiled when she described it to me.

Pokey has been hard at work lately. At bedtime, he says, "I need a pencil. I have a lot of work to do tonight." Then he comes periodically after lights-out, to drop off his work - drawings of various lego sets that he wants for his birthday, drawings that he gifted the rest of us. I enjoy the notion that he's taking work home from the office and is just swamped with work.

Here are the gifts he made us. Each is a list of depictions of recent quality times he's had.

For me:

Row 1, left: eating an egg salad sub with me. 1, right: Showing me his solar system.
Row 2: me hugging him after he was in trouble and sent to his bed.
Row 3: Pokey and I looking for our water bottles.
Row 4/5: Me up in the mezzanine, retrieving the arrows that Pokey and Hawaii shot up there, while they watch from below.
Row 6: Showing us his snake habitat
Row 7: a household portrait.

This is the present he made for Hawaii:

Row 1: a household portrait
Row 2: Pokey and Hawaii listening to me read James and the Giant Peach.
Row 3: Pokey and Hawaii watching videos on E. Messily's computer.
Row 4: Pokey and Hawaii cheering on the kayakers in the Texas Water Safari.
Row 5: The two of them watching TV
Row 6: and playing with Pokey's bow and arrow.

Here are the scenes he drew for Ace:

Playing with her castle together, playing paw patrol together three different times, walking together, and a household portrait.

I did not catch all the explanations of Jammies' list of quality times. The whole thing was very thoughtful of him. Just swamped with work, Pokey is.


Rascal can say "airplane" and knows his animal sounds, but inevitably it sounds like he's mewing. He has a very sweet, high-pitched voice. He's really into throwing things - toys at your head, food from his plate, his plate itself. Stop it, Rascal! (Ace calls him "Moes", almost exclusively. Like Dwight's cousin from the office, or maybe the scale of mineral hardness.)

Ace says funny things: "Last night, Abby ruined my life!" about a girl in her class. "Oh?" I responded. It turned out to be some sort of playground disagreement, incoherent in the ways of three year olds, but Ace was very insistent about the life-ruining figure of speech. Not a life-ruining emotion - she told it rather happily and enthusiastically.

Also she and I were arguing about whether or not she could eat three tacos. I said she'd be full after two. She said sternly,  "I want to eat a taco, a second taco, and then another second taco."  I thought that construction was pretty good.


I had my worst P&Z meeting yet. I went 0 for 3 on convincing my fellow commissioners that they should adopt my perspective.  All three were fairly minor points with low consequences, so I didn't want to squander goodwill making a big stink about them. Nevertheless, there was a clear right answer and wrong answer in each case, and I'm annoyed.  I am finding that I'm not very convincing up on the dais. I do not like to appeal to people's emotions and apple pie and children's health. I like to start from an axiom, describe a sequence of implications and therefore the natural conclusion follows. It works really well in math class. Gut feelings are generally stupid.


For the 4th of July, we went to a hot, sticky, sweaty block party full of hippies and young people. It was a nice scene.

Ugh mom, we're so hot.

There were a bunch of slip-n-slides and baby pools, though.

Ugh mom, we're so exhausted.


This summer has slipped down the drain. The remaining bit is all over-scheduled and sad. I do not feel rejuvenated and ready for school.  Years ago, I spent a Fall Faculty Workshop sitting next two guys from the humanities side of campus. The president's speech went: "When you find yourself untouched by the enthusiasm of the new year, that's when it's time to quit." Except he took about twenty minutes to say that. The theologian and philosopher were rolling their eyes and muttering under their breath about for how long it's been time to quit. I was chuckling but also a bit alienated, because I did enjoy the bustling back-to-school feeling. I'm happy to report that I'm no longer alienated from their muttering. I now start the school year with dread, mostly. 

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