I admit it. I’m a terrible friend to you. I’m sharing the following sample of London-based blogger Jean-Paul so that you’ll be snared like I am. Experience the same one-two-punch love-hate I have with his site. #1) I love that he’s so talented!!! (though I am jealous!), and #2) I hate that every time I visit, I can’t resist spending way more time there than I plan for — even his friends who comment are clever!! Read on, my forewarned friend…
“Who are you calling stupid?” by Jean-Paul
When it comes to math, I’ll admit I’m a complete dummy. At school, I understood a lot, but arithmetic? It was all mental to me. My husband, on the other hand, has a brain like a push button calculator.
“You’re not stupid,” said Guido after dinner last night, “you just need some math practice with imagination. I have an idea,” he said, “sit back right this second and imagine yourself in a farmyard.”
As you can see, we really do need to get out more.
This was worrying. I had a sneaking feeling I was going to be asked to talk algebra to a chicken. I’ve only ever visited a farm once in my entire life, and I seem to recall a pungent odour. It was strong enough to make me squeeze my nostrils all day long.
“Okay,” I said involuntarily pinching my nose, “what’s next?”
There was a pause.
“What are you doing?” Guido asked, eyebrow raised.
“I just think it’s important that I embrace this part of the exercise before we move on to any complex multiplications or differential equations. Though I’ll admit, I’m becoming anxious about whether I should go put on rubber boots?”
Take it from me, this was a totally bona fide concern. If you’ve ever walked around a farmyard, then you’ll know there are some big brown stinky things you really don’t want to stand in. Did I mention the flies?
“Don’t worry about that. This is the cleanest farm ever.”
This was reassuring, but I held onto my nostrils just in case of an unexpected whiff of ammonia. I couldn’t see any flies though. Which was even more re-assuring on account of my limited one arm swatting abilities.
“Now imagine there are 13 animal heads and 40 legs in front of you,” said Guido.
One moment I’m in a loft apartment eating a perfectly adequate mid-week lasagna and the next I’ve suddenly been put out to pasture herding a bunch of unidentifiable livestock. As you can tell, I like to take my visualisation pretty seriously. Which is more than I can say about the math. I mean, where was the straw?
“Now tell me,” said Guido, “how many sheep and how many ducks can you count?”
I closed my eyes. I could actually see the sheep just standing there staring at me. They seemed pretty friendly with only the occasional baa. The ducks, on the other hand, were all over the place quack quack quacking and waving their wings about. Anyone would think they’d just been told the hunting season had started.
There was another short pause.
“Well?” asked Guido.
“Hang on,” I said, “I’ve counted the sheep, but the ducks are proving problematic. Have you got any stale bread I could feed them?”
It was, I think, at that point, Guido began to understand the challenges my teachers had all those years ago.
“Hmm, I think we’ll leave this lesson for now,” said Guido wisely pouring me a glass of wine.
Back from the country, safely at our kitchen table, I let go of my nose. In the end, I couldn’t teach Guido that much about the sheep but what I did tell him was if something walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s usually a duck. And there’s nothing stupid about that.
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Being adopted has shaped the way I view who is family and who is not. When I found out I was adopted over thirty years ago, I saw the people around me in a different light. I saw them as strangers, yet I still accepted them as family because they had taught me to do so. I instantly realized that any combination of people could make a family.
In this way, I accepted my mother and father as my family unit. These were the people who’d decided to raise me from infancy as their own. They loved me, and I them. But when my mother died and my father gave up his parental rights, I began to question the definition. Was my adopted father not my father anymore simply because the Court said he wasn’t? I mean the Court deemed him my father in 1974, and so he was. Was…
Not feeling holiday cheerful? Don’t despair — holidays are merely dates on the calendar. Before you know it, they’ll be over and done with.
Here’s confirmation that Xmas isn’t always merry — but life can still be funny or at least interesting. The Davenport family holidays, as realized by John Waters, the king cult film-making, with the help of Devine who departed from us far too soon…
Are you feeling holiday-ish?
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Writers and readers alike, for times we’d like to look into our histories, author Margaret Lossi offers tips for how to get started. My two novels are works-in-progresses! Lossi says that when it comes to looking up one’s family background, be prepared for surprises…
Warning: family history can lead to emotional discoveries.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you begin at the end! That is, you begin with you.
Check your birth certificate, verify your parents. It may seem like a given, but just sometimes people find they are adopted, or their mum is really their grandma. It pays to check.
Check your parents birth certificates, to verify your grandparents. Then work your way back through the generations, verifying birth certificates.
These first steps build the strong foundation of your family tree, so worth doing well.
It is not a case of how far back you can go, but the quality of your data
You may wish to answer a family question. I knew my parents were second cousins, so wanted to find out about this link. Set yourself a goal to work towards. Whatever your motivation, make sure you verify each…
The twin puppies we adopted ate and ate and ate. And pooed and pooed and pooed. Six months later, they’d grown to 50 and 50 pounds!
Plus, I’d learned nothing about training them.
As usual, for 10 deafening minutes, they barked at the mailman across the street. Later that day, they destroyed yet another throw rug.
“Bad dogs,” I snapped.
They were too busy chewing to hear me.
“Bad, bad, bad dogs!” I hollered, my voice shrill, my throat raw.
They sat. Four watery eyes gazed up at me.
Fear made them urinate on the carpet.
My thoughts reeled back. That was me! When I was only four years old!
Back then, I tried ever so hard to be good, yet I didn’t always succeed. My father would yell at me.
One time, he sounded as angry as I had when I’d hollered at my dogs. Same as with my two puppies, the big person’s anger blotted out my ability to think and hear. All I was able to do was to feel — that my father was furious at me — and that I was terrified.
All I knew was that he seemed angry enough to kill me. Out of terror, just like the dogs had, urine streamed down my legs.
Looking into my dogs’ upturned faces…
I saw how they trembled. The little dogs blinked their moist eyes hard.
Sobbing, I sank to my knees and hugged them. It had taken six long months for me to learn that, all along, they had been trying their best to please me. Despite my ineptitude as a trainer, they had refused to give up on me. They had given me the benefit of the doubt that like them, I was trying my best.
They never gave up hope on me…
They knew I would learn to love them. Through the example of my pets, I’ve learned that the more I gaze upon everyone in my life with the benefit of a doubt, the happier we all are. We’re all doing our best, even when we could do better.
Exhausted without sleeping for anything more than 4 hours a day, physically and mentally I must admit I wasn’t ready to go through 7 months of sleepless nights. Oh, I don’t have a problem sleeping, if that is what you are thinking. Give me a room with soft pillows and queen sized bed, I’ll knock out as soon as you leave the room. My problem is the nightly feeds that I am fully in charge of. My little one feeds every 3 hours, hence the minute my body relaxes into the deep sleep, I am woken up by her hunger cries again.
Stubborn as I was, I’m still going on a full charge in accepting projects from my clients and handling housework on my own. At some point, I begin to lose focus. I went into the supermarket one day and totally forgotten what I need to buy. I nearly…
“… here I am…almost 30, married nearly 4 years with a baby and another on the way, living in my hometown and yep…BACK in school for engineering. And I couldn’t be happier … “
They can bring out the best in us:
“In a sea of mom blogs, I am hoping that this blog can shed some light on many of the same topics but from a dad’s perspective. It can be stressful when everything is happening at once, but I always try to remember that I’m just having a dad day.”
I’m a dog person. Hands down. Growing up we had a couple of cats (RIP Molly and CoCo), but we always had dogs. In fact, I don’t think that there was ever a day that went by throughout my life that we were dog-less. There was Chelsea, Belle, Jessie, and Bella (as you can see, my two brothers and I were very creative dog naming children). So when I moved away for college, I did what any responsible 19 year old does…get a puppy! This puppy, Tank (in the photo), now nearly 10 years old, is the greatest dog known to mankind and currently lives with my parents and good old sweet Bella; his best dog friend and window watching, old lady in the street barking, life companion.
My wife grew up like me, with dogs. So like any responsible 20 year old, what did she do when she was…