Friday, February 29, 2008


"We should buy 'scottis at Starbucks," said Baby D, getting ready to go down for his nap at home.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trollope's The Warden II

I finally made a second visit to the treadmill, and listened to another chunk of Trollope's The Warden. Bold, the reforming doctor, has confronted Dr. Harding and told him of his plans to make an inquiry into the finances of the poor house that Dr. Harding oversees. Bold is clearly in the right as to the financial side--Dr. Harding's salary dwarfs the living allowances paid to the old men at the poor house, even allowing for the extra funds that Harding allots to them. On the other hand, Dr. Harding is conscientious and kindly. Where I left off, one of Bold's henchman had just persuaded 9 of the 12 elderly men to sign a petition asking for redress.

I don't know exactly where this is going. If Bold dispossesses Harding, will he jilt Harding's daughter for being too poor? There's definitely a sense of foreboding surrounding Bold's project. As the senior bedesman points out, if the allowance were increased, perhaps other beneficiaries would wind up collecting the allowances. Or the poor house might be closed entirely.

People are complicated

Baby D and I were making a run to Starbucks this morning when we passed an older Mercedes decked out with three different decals: an infantry decal with crossed sabers, a sticker from a school of social work, and a Jesus fish.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Xantippe's household hints #2

Every household with both children and carpet should own a steam cleaner. (See household hint #1.)

Xantippe's household hints #1

Don't change children's sheets unless there is some good reason. If you do, you are guaranteed a leaky diaper, a wet bed, or flu the following night.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Motown vs. Gregorian chant

Baby D is getting very handy with the CD player, specifically the one in his big sister C's room. C always goes to sleep with a CD we got from BabyGap with a bunch of early 60s classics (Baby Love, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Twist) and she turns it on at night whenever she wakes up and can't sleep, and it's often playing when I come to get her in the morning. While she's at school, Baby D likes to come in and play the freebie Gregorian chant CDs we get as part of monastery fundraising appeals. My, C is annoyed when she finds the tell-tale disc in the radio!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Seeds for the garden

Last weekend we planted phlox, gladioli and caladiums. Tonight I was grocery shopping and bought a bunch of seeds: pumpkin, "mammoth Russian sunflower," "old-fashioned garden mixture" flowers, "true lavender," sweet Italian basil, cilantro, and columbine. My great-grandma had a couple of columbine plants, so it has a lot of sentimental value to me. Both the columbine and the lavender are perennials, which I really like the idea of (less work next year). I don't really know what I'll do with the pumpkins if they're successful, and now that I think of it, the vines will probably come snaking across the entire bed. Our big flower bed is on the north side of the house, and a lot of these plants want a sunny location, so I'm not sure how well they're going to do. On the other hand, this is Texas, and the summer sun is extremely powerful, and the existing rosemary and mint bushes seem to be OK. I haven't gardened since I used to work for $1 an hour weeding my great-grandma's potato patch and strawberries in western Washington state and I've spent the past 13 years as an apartment-dwelling town mouse, so this is a very new experience. The kids love it (but prefer to leave the heavier work to me). C has been pining for a garden since last year. She especially loves planting, and D likes watering best. I've ordered a couple books on gardening in Texas, and hopefully I'll be fairly well-informed before we plant this new batch of seeds.

New bed

A while back, I posted about D's transition to sleeping in his crib with the side taken off and having the run of his room at naptime and at night. It's been easier than I expected. I've only found him asleep on the floor once, and he has been taking very long naps, half playing, half sleeping. However, whenever I walk by his room in the evening or in the morning, the light is on, no matter how many times I've walked in and flicked it off. Finally, I got the hint, ordered a night light, and plan to install it as soon as it comes in the mail.

The Princess and Curdie

We (meaning mostly my husband) have read a lot of chapter books to C a chapter at a time at bedtime: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, two Moomintroll books, etc. Having already done The Princess and the Goblin, the current book is The Princess and Curdie. I think it would make a great movie, and the mutant goblin creatures (who include a huge serpent with little legs and wings and a perfectly round creature) who help Curdie save the princess and her father are crying out to be CGIed.

David and Goliath

D gets a LOT of videos when I'm not watching what I'm doing. On the other hand, he loves being read to. Aside from predictable favorite books dealing with trains, cars, and boats, his favorite book is a retelling of David and Goliath. I'm unsure what the appeal of the story is, but it may have something to do with the fact that his sister is nearly three years older and rather bigger.

Tea party

Having gotten her china tea set out of hock through good behavior, C hosted a tea party for D and two stuffed snakes this evening before bed time. It was very cute. C had made a bunch of scones from triangular pieces of paper marked with either red or blue dots, presumably representing cranberries and blueberries.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Trollope's The Warden

I'm a bit behind on posting about my reading, but my husband just set me up with a public domain audio version of Trollope's The Warden. I finally made it over to the college gym (which is literally across the street), and listened to about three chapters last night on the treadmill. The stage is set and the characters have been introduced: the kindly and musical Anglican clergyman Harding presides (richly compensated) over a small almshouse, his daughter pines for a reforming doctor (who reforms more than doctors), while the reforming doctor is torn between love of the clergyman's daughter and what he regards as his duty to stop the abusive use of the almshouse's funds. Complicating things, Harding's older daughter is married to the bishop's son, also a clergyman. The PDA does not get quite loud enough, but I'm following the plot pretty well. The only problem is that it's harder to catch names than when reading print. I've never read any Trollope, but always wanted to, so this is going to be fun. It's been a long time since I've done much audiobook listening, which I've found is a very nice way to "read" books that wouldn't normally be your cup of tea. Back in the day (when C. was a baby mostly), I listened to Gone with the Wind, Madame Bovary, The Great Escape, In a Sunburned Country, and a bunch of other 30-50 hour books. There's also a pretty good audio version of Lord of the Rings with (those endless) songs skillfully set to music--that's one feature that a print version can't match.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Liberal Fascism again

It occurred to me that if one thinks that the US government is repressive and evil and controlled by powerful corporations, it is probably not a good idea to hand control of health care over to it. Even if the "good guys" are in power 50% of the time, there's still the other 50% of the time, when President Montgomery Burns (R) looks up your medical needs and moves you down to #33,967 on the hip replacement or quadruple bypass queue.

Signs of the times

I've been noticing that my spam has an increasing number of credit consolidation offers. Coincidentally, the mail has been bringing a huge number of "checks" from credit card companies. One day alone, I got three different sets, one of which offered something like $40,000 in credit. I got on the phone with all three companies and got them to promise to stop sending offers, since the last thing we want is hundreds of thousands of dollars in "checks" with our name on them circulating through the mail. I'm a pretty big procrastinator, but a big priority is to have our credit frozen, making it more difficult for anyone to open up new accounts in our names. We'll be buying a house in 2-4 years, so at that point we would need to unfreeze it to get a mortgage, but that minor inconvenience is far outweighed by the peace of mind from being less of a target for identity fraud.