Sunday, August 8, 2010

Nine miles beyond the dwelling of his Satanic majesty.

Oh my lands, the fiddler's green!

Marc Chagall was born Moishe, a Russian Jew, he painted this "The Fiddler" in 1912 when he was living in France. What did he call the painting? Could he have known the story of Fiddler's Green? Did he know enough English to make that pun(ctuation)? Surely it was merely serendipitous?

Violin Soldier. He's somewhere pleasant and green now too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hear ye, see memes evolve!

Natalie Merchant's been reading old books and singing them to TED.

YouTube has an orchestra.

I want to play House of the Rising Sun on my violin a lot like this.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


June was wet, wild and dark. Moon was very ill, through the woods now but still falls over a lot. I played my fiddle heaps and did a certain amount of yoga. Hazel and Iris's faces were alight when singing at the whole school assembly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Complicated cells.

While we listen to the Symphony of Science Hazel's finger is rebuilding itself. Cells doing what they do and their lives and actions complete again this animal who is at my feet making up stories of happy families using the screwdriver set as characters.

Cells are animals themselves and Hazel is made up of more than I can comprehend. Each of her cells has two X chromosomes (one from Sean, one from me) but each cell can only express the information from one X. I wonder, are those skin cells she's made anew making new choices which X to express? If so, are more of them voting for me this time?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moab is fine too.

Moab's nose swelled up and he had surgery today for an abcess in it. Now he is home and either sitting in front of a heater or wandering around asking to go out and objecting to the dirt box. He was never a very good dirt box user; he used to put his feet inside it and hang his bum over the edge which kept the litter clean for when he kicked it around afterwards, but he hasn't had one for years, so I'm sure he'll cope just fine.

How is everyone else today? Sean is still busy at work. Moon and Iggy's lice are presumably dying, Iggy is still sore under the arms. Iris has been watching Jane and the Dragon and is perkily spacey (she gets a fair whack of endorphins with a fever) and regulating her temperature by wearing a Thai dress during the cold snap. Hazel does not have the lucky brain chemistry but has been burying herself in books and is less of a pain than her poor hand.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We're all fine.

Iris and Hazel have been home for a few days with a virus or two, but we're coping fine.

"Pet Doctors?"
"Hi, this is Susan with the high-maintenance rabbits."

Iggy Hop got stuck in the sliding door last night and started having spasms, whether neurologically, pain or anxiety induced I couldn't tell so we took him to the vet again. He's got no broken bones and has had no spasms today, he goes back for another ranges of limb-motion check and delousing in a few minutes. We're coping fine.

"Hazel, can you move your fingers?"
"... it hurts ..."
"The tendon's still working, which is good, and Mum's done a good job with the steri-strips."

I was practicing Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch and the children were in the kitchen with a video because they're home from school with a virus or two when I heard Hazel's pain-cry. Her hand was dripping blood. It transpired she had been whittling soft particle board with a new kitchen knife and had sliced two fingers on her left hand quite badly. On her forefinger a bit has come right off and on her middle finger there's a deep slice but the skin was still there. I rinsed it under the cold tap and let it drip a bit while I got the bandage supplies. Sean met us at the doctor, they checked her movement and my work. She goes back on Monday to see how it's progressing.

We're coping fine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sitting, facing East.

My fiddling is coming along and I am working hard on it, far less doofus factor now. (Doofus factor is what I feel when sitting holding my violin as if posing for a painter when in a room full of people busily playing tunes on their violins which I can play in a room by myself).

Now for FiddleCraft I'm learning:
  • Vals Fran Skane (Efter J. Bruun f.1818)
and our class is visiting Ceol Alba (Wellington's Scottish Music Group) so I'm learning two slow airs for that:
and I'm trying to work out
  • The Eagle's Whistle (the same version as Iris plays).

Other than fiddling, the rest of life is interesting. A week ago Iggy Hop, the rabbit who is neither dead nor new, had a seizure.
"Mummy! Come quick! Iggy's fighting with nobody!" called Iris as soon as Hazel drew her attention to him,
"Coming!" I knew it was a description of a seizure, Ruth described the cat's final throes exactly the same way.
"What's he doing?" asked one of their cousins, who couldn't see,
"Dying, probably," I replied, dourly.

The four girls and I scooped him and Moonlight Midnight "Moon" up and whisked them off to the vet (he had another seizure in the carry-box and it bounced across the kitchen floor). I rang as we left and by the time we got there the vet had already looked up rabbit's seizures. Apparently he probably has a brain worm, and likely Chickpea died of having its friends set up shop in her kidneys or some other quick-to-kill organ. Now he and Moon have a month of a special worm medicine and otherwise seem fine.

Hazel and Iris ran the Cross Country. Iris came 2nd in her group (Year 2 girls)! Hazel finished despite a sore knee. Or nearly, it was hard to see the end and she stopped just before the official finish line.

Hazel's Circus School is going well, I like her learning tricky tricks!

We are making Iris practice playing the harp every day for a bit and hoping it doesn't put her off more than it makes her feel capable and competent. Iris's harp teacher Kitty has given me two amazing things above and beyond a child to play me beautiful music. One, the notion that one should listen to a song until it plays in one's mind before learning to play it. The other, an impetus to practice: she told Iris to practice every day when your Mum plays her fiddle.

Sean and the girls are now steering the horses they are learning to ride.

I have been reading Cornelia Funke and James Thurber; I wish he had a blog.

Ooh! There's the oven timer to tell me to get the wheat from Iris's fish-shaped wheat-bag back out of the oven because it should have recovered from its washing now.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I woke in a puddle of someone else's pee; I am entitled to Mothers' Day.

... and I brought a water bottle for her too.

I asked Iris what she needed to take to soccer this morning. She said she needed to remember her brain, soccer gear, ball, feet, talents, skills and manners.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tha Mi Sgìth.

Tha Mi Sgìth; a fairy wrote it while waiting for a mortal lover who, for all the good reasons we don't want our children having fairy lovers, was trapped at home by parents. The web says the lyrics were collected from the Hebrides. On the violin it really sounds like a fairy tune; every note rings eerily. There's a violin on 1:13 to 1:30 on the Youtube vid below and there's a score for the notes on The Session.

The tune is beautifully engineered for the violin. Every note is either an open string or the same note as an open string but in a different octave, so the correlate open strings ring. The added reward also makes it way easier to play in tune.

Lousy children: my methods for combing and picking nits.

See also:

My favourite nit things (because I find pedantry and scientific understanding are a good substitute for control).

  1. Lice are insects, nits are louse eggs.
  2. Like butterflies, they have a life-cycle but luckily they can't fly, or even hop. Head lice can only creep from head to head. Once hatched they don't survive long away from a head (48 hours will kill almost all).
  3. On average mammals have about 3 species of lice per species of mammal (like our head lice, pubic lice and body lice). Birds have about 7.
  4. Likelier than not, dinosaurs with dino fuzz had lice, including Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  5. Human head lice and body lice are closely related to each other. Our pubic lice are more closely related to gorillas' lice.

My favourite nit removal system (this week).

  1. 1. Give the victim a painkiller if they have a sensitive scalp.
  2. Assemble items:
    1. NitFree (tm) comb bought at the urgent pharmacy. Ruth got one on-line.
    2. Sean's mountain biking headlamp.
    3. My glasses.
    4. Tweezers.
    5. Box of tissues.
    6. Insect viewing magnifier box thing.
    7. A DVD the victim finds engrossing.
  3. Sit behind victim as they watch engrossing DVD.
  4. Cover their head with conditioner, this stuns the lice so they move slower and makes the process less painful for the victim. (I plan to try hair lotion next time rather than normal conditioner, but haven't yet).
  5. Comb scalp and hair in little sections, wiping comb on tissue as I go. Praising victim when they're not whining. I show them what I find because they are probably imagining something much much scarier than little insects.
  6. Pick any lice I want to examine off the comb with the tweezers and put them into the insect viewer.
  7. I tell parents of any kids I'm aware have been rubbing heads with my kids that they might be lousy, and if the school hasn't sent a Nit Warning notice lately I tell the school.
  8. We comb ourselves too. Kids are such good sharers.
If I think the kids are lousy I nit comb/pick about once a week, continuing until two successive goes have no lice or full eggs (full eggs are brownish and usually within 1cm of the scalp unless the host's head gets very hot, hatched are white and further down the hair). Nits are glued to the hair quite well, if some speck shifted off the hair quite easily it wasn't a nit. One's got a very sensitive scalp so I often comb her only a couple of times and subsequently just search really carefully through her hair unless the population seems to be rising again.

I always try to persuade the kids to watch David Attenborough when I'm nit-picking, it makes me feel like a part of the natural world; another animal grooming its young, we all have lice, it's normal.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Other violin links.

The weird thing is having to learn the folk music to play it. Here are some tunes I know and wish I could play.

Adam DeGraff playing Guns N' Roses's Sweet Child O' Mine.

Django Reinhardt's and Stephane Grappelli Minor Swing.

Michael Shulman playing Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight.

The Corrs playing Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing.

Voices of Music playing Pachelbel's Canon in D. I'm intrigued that the bow holds that they say in the blurb are particularly historically proper are very like the Irish bow hold.

Someone or other playing Brahm's Lullaby the way I've been trying to learn it and Tomas Cotik playing it the way I'd like to once I've got the hang of some other hand positions.

Diddly diddly doofus, diddly doofus, diddly die.

So I had my Fiddle Craft lesson, it was totally full on newness. I had to tune my violin and play sitting down, and I tried to play lots of tunes I've never heard before, and I felt like such a doofus. But the potential for having fun was so evident that I'll be practicing hard in order to try to avoid some of the doofus factor next week. Maybe then I'll feel a little less like I put a whole mangosteen in my mouth at once. The teacher was kind and I can tell that if I stick at it I might want to take my violin to Molly Malone's on a Monday night (though I might disguise it as a fiddle if I go), maybe come to appreciate folk music; lots of fine people do.

Tunes I am learning:
I like the Polska Fran Skane and Mrs. Jamieson's Favourite. I might have liked some others too but I think my mind overloaded. I think I'll ask Iris if I can learn The Eagle's Whistle from her too (I like it as well), though I might let her learn it first. I have enough to be going on with.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Schoolyard style.

Hazel, 8, wore her black velvet leisure suit and a long black silk petticoat with big black sneakers.

Iris, 6, wore a towel on her head.
"Why are you wearing a towel to school?" I asked.
"Because Hazel does."
"She does... but I don't think it's one of her most practical sartorial choices. Nor does anyone else wear a towel on their head to school, though you can if you like."
We go into the playground, Iris greets some friends and removes the towel,
"You can take this home now Mummy."

Susan, 41, wore her new Josef Steibel ankle boots, thick socks, tartan stirrup-pants from the 80s (when they were in but not mine), two layers of merino and a cycling jacket. But I could have worn my ragged-edged tulle skirt if I'd known we were trying to dress interestingly!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hobby weekend.

0700 "Soccer today!"
0923 Cloudburst.
1200 "I loved playing in the rain, it's exciting!"

1530 Hazel triumphant having risen to the trot with no hands so successfully that she's off the lunge rein and doing her own steering!
1630 Sean and Iris also pleased with their horse-riding.

1000 Sean discovers at a mountain bike skills course that rising to the trot uses the same inner thigh muscles as pumping.
1545 Sean still pumping.
1700 Iris has got to the point with Twinkle, Twinkle where she's started learning another tune on the harp: Eagle's Whistle.
2200 I am listening to various people play The Eighth of January on Youtube because on Tuesday I start FiddleCraft lessons. (I am not sure I could recognise which of Eagle's Whistle and The Eighth of January was which if bumped into them in a dark room).

We also do Circus School on Monday, Fiddle on Tuesday and Yoga on Thursday. Memes!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Running feet.

Region's children training for The Cross Country, learning endurance fitness and being outdoors with the wind and drizzle. No, for Hazel it is about shoes. When she was but a week or so old my mother told me "this is a baby who feels her feet" and stopped Hazel's mysterious and seemingly endless crying by adjusting her socks. She still feels her feet. When Hazel has a pair of shoes she's comfortable in she will wear them until the point when, if she was dragged away from home by fairy folk, she could find her way back by following the little shreds of shoe left behind. Running for the first twenty minutes of every school day speeds up this process.

Hazel and Sean went out and shopped for running shoes for five or so hours on Saturday, they went to half a dozen shoe shops, they got some dress shoes. On Sunday we rested. On Monday Hazel had Circus School in the afternoon. On Tuesday Hazel, Iris, and I went to Porirua and shopped for running shoes for over an hour, we got some tall winter boots (and three pairs of shoes for Iris). On Wednesday Hazel tried doing her cross country in the boots and after school Hazel, Iris and I went to Karori and shopped for running shoes for a couple of hours. Today she'll be able to look down at her new socks poking out the hole in the toe of her old sneakers as she runs.

She wants sneakers that don't need tieing and neither press in on, nor detectably move past, any part of her foot when she runs. I am considering silicon sealant on the bottom of her socks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We throw ourselves into learning!

Hazel's doing Circus School and I hope her cart-wheels will keep their joie de vivre as they gain fearful symmetry. Iris has taken up Soccer and is really into it, I hope her infatuation will survive coaching and organised game time. I'm going to try FiddleCraft in which I'll learn to play my violin at the same time as some other learners, I hope I'll enjoy it so much I'll start practicing again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In bed.

Iris slept with these last night:
  • Soccer Ball: she has a new passion for soccer.
  • Worry dolls: under the pillow, often asked to prevent bad dreams.
  • Rabbit fur: gathered from garden before Chickpea's death, in transparent container.
  • Bear: giant, brown and fluffy.
  • Bear: medium, beige with velvet shirt inscribed "my first teddy", which it was.
  • Good Puppy: a soft toy she's had since she was newborn, it used to be called Iris's Pink Dog "Teddy" and Hazel used to tuck it into her tiny hands before she could let go of anything and so she'd hit herself in the face with it in a confused way.
  • Me, Sean, and a lot of my clothes (must tidy).