The days have just been…

The days have just been slipping away. It's so odd being on vacation with my family -- the most active we seem to get is to go shopping (and often not even buy anything), and there are days when even that doesn't happen. That's partly because there are so many of us...there's a lot of just sitting around and chatting (and occasionally playing cards). It's relaxing, but I start getting antsy pretty quickly, feeling like I ought to be working. I'm turning into a workaholic, I'm afraid. Or maybe it's just that I have too many things hanging over my head. I know I finished last semester's grading...but somehow I still feel like it's waiting there, somewhere, hiding. I need to relax.

My cousin Natalie is climbing onto my lap now, making it difficult to type. She's a sweet kid, though, so I think I'll put up with it for a bit. Maybe I should stop typing and tickle her, though. She's VERY ticklish. Especially the bottoms of her feet. But maybe I shouldn't be telling you that. It's sort of like giving away state secrets. Family agents might come after me and hunt me down and pin me to the floor and tickle me! :-)

Natalie is seven. She's still sitting on my lap so I need to make the next paragraphs kid-safe. :-) She can read just fine. Maybe I should tell her a story. What story would you like to hear, Natalie? Rapunzel. [She typed that. Slowly.] Okay, Rapunzel it is. The rest of you might want to check back in a few paragraphs, 'cause now I have to tell Natalie a story.

Once upon a time there was a young man and woman who were about to have a baby. They were very poor, because her parents didn't approve of him because he was a little too pink in the face and they didn't like pink people much. So her parents had cut her off without a penny, and they lived very simply in their little shack in the forest. They didn't have any luxuries, and had had to give up their kitchen so they could have a library (because only uncivilized people don't have libraries, and most of the time they could live just fine on roots, berries and water, which don't really need much cooking). Well, this arrangement worked very well for the young couple, until she became pregnant. Then she got very hungry for greens -- you need greens to stay healthy, especially when you're pregnant. Well, her young man didn't want her to get sick, so he climbed over the wall separating their house from the house next door. Unfortunately, that house belonged to a....you guessed it....yes...a WITCH!!!

Of course, he knew that. He wasn't an entirely stupid young man. He figured his only hope was a sneak attack, a quick raid, in and out, grabbing the greens (spinach, lettuce, parsley, watercress) and getting back over the wall. He got over the wall pretty quick, and moved like lightning through the witch's garden, collecting greens quicker than you can say "Peter Rabbit" (oh, wait, that's another story, never mind...). Anyway, he was very fast, and he stuffed the greens in his pockets and down the front of his shirt and anywhere he could stuff them (well, not anywhere, 'cause she had to eat them, after all -- just anywhere pretty clean), and then he was climbing up over the wall, but all those greens must have weighed a lot or unbalanced him or something because he lost his balance at the top of the wall and FELL!!! Fell right back into the witch's garden and twisted his ankle and even though he was a brave man he couldn't quite help letting out a little whimper (wouldn't you? if you'd fallen off a high wall and twisted your ankle? I think so). You know who heard that whimper, don't you? The witch! Yes, that's right. She appeared in a big puff of smoke (red as blood, Natalie says [bloodthirsty child]) and scared the bejesus out of him (my friend Jed recently informed me that 'bejesus' is a real word, in the dictionary and everything).

(Boy, my neck is getting tired from bending forward and typing with a child in my lap and my laptop in the child's lap. But we carry valiantly on).

Anyway, I'm getting tired, so we'll make the rest of this story (argh, Natalie wants to take over the story, so here goes...it's all yours now, kid...) One day a Prince was walking. In the woods and [oops, mom's home and has called her for dinner. We now return you to your regularly scheduled entry. Further interruptions may occur. You have been warned.]

It's been a pretty decent Christmas so far, or at least as decent as can be expected, given my rather strained relations with some of my family. Everyone's been very polite, and the minefields have generally been avoided by all. Almost entirely, at any rate, and when not, we're pretty good at backing off quick.

Loot was fun. I needed a winter coat, so I got a long black one from my folks (and a bracelet from my mom that isn't really my style so I may exchange it, though that always feels kind of cheesy, but I guess it's better than not wearing it at all, which would just be a waste). One of my sisters ordered me a gift that hasn't arrived yet, poor kid -- I think that's worse for the giver than the receiver. The other sister not only gave me a selection of chai tea, but made me a book of photos (ranging from my babyhood to my MFA graduation, and no, I'm not going to scan in the one of me as a naked four-year-old) -- she's the artistic one in the bunch. Very cool. We did a gift exchange with the larger family -- I got my aunt, and I'm afraid my mother chose a purse for her because I would have had no idea what to get her. One of my uncles got me, and got me two of the Loreena McKennitt CD's from my wish list! -- I suspect my sister's hand in getting that info to him. And finally, we did a smaller gift exchange among the cousins; I got a lovely candleholder thingie from one of them (a surprisingly appropriate gift, considering she barely knows me) and feel like a total dweeb for not managing to come up with anything interesting for mine -- she ended up with a Borders' gift certificate. Am I lame or what?

Spent yesterday with Roshani, theoretically working at Barnes & Noble, mostly talking, though I did manage to spend a little time working on the CS newsletter, which I got out this morning, bully for me! (Okay, so sometimes I'm lame, and sometimes I'm semi-capable. But rarely consistent). Good decompression time with her. Today mostly lounged, though I did take the little cousins to see Bicentennial Man, which I really liked, though Natalie was bored and squirmed through the whole thing (over the seat, under the seat, on my seat, looking back and pointing at the projecter, saying her tummy hurt, etc... oh, and I almost forgot tugging my braid, twisting it around my neck, arranging it decoratively on my head and knocking off my glasses (okay, that last bit was right now instead of earlier -- I guess she's finished eating dinner 'cause SHE'S BACK!) Bicentennial Man was a little odd -- it seemed to be sort of pitched at a kid audience, but it's not really a kid movie. The themes are more adult, and I'm not sure that trying to put them into a kid context really worked. But I loved the original novel by Isaac Asimov (The Positronic Man), and I think Robin Williams did a good interpretation of the android. Interesting seeing how today's mainstream culture is dealing with the possibility of constructed intelligent life.

Okay, so now Hazel and Natalie are reading these words in chorus as I type them, which is a little distracting, let me tell you. I'm very tempted to use humongous words that would be somewhat difficult for them, just to hear them stumbling over them. But that would be mean, and I'm a nice Acca, not a mean Acca.

(Oh, you don't know what Acca is, do you? It's big sister, but can be applied to any older female around, especially but not limited to relatives. Acca is mostly used by children when they want to get something out of the older female. It's supposed to be a term of respect, but what you really get is something more like this:

Oh, Acca? Dear, sweet Acca? Please, could I have a piece of candy or some popcorn or cherry coke? You're my favorite Acca...

You get the idea.)

thankyou for the things you gave us at the theatre. Okay, that last sentence was Hazel typing, so I guess they're not total ingrates.

They're trying really hard to type while I'm typing, which is starting to drive me a little nuts, so I think I'd better go hide in a room and lock the door if I want to finish this. It's already probably too long, and you've stopped reading, so I'm really just talking to myself (and these two noisy children, of course). In fact, I think I will finish this off now.

More updates on the holidays soon -- tomorrow morning I go to Roshani and Tom's place to stay until the 31st. Hope you've survived the holidays relatively unscathed.

Good lord, Natalie's singing now. I really do need to go. Good night!

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