ghoti_mhic_uait: (Gilmore Girls)
The Gilmore Girls is a comedy/drama show set in an implausibly idyllic small town in Connecticut. It follows the adventure of young single mother Lorelai and her teenage daughter, Rory.

It's a bit like a sitcom, in that there's clearly a situation and it's quite funny, but it's more dramatic than that.

Situation is that society girl, Lorelai, gets pregnant with her first boyfriend just before her debutante ball, then she leaves her overbearing parents and goes to work in an inn in a local small town. When we meet them, Lorelai has risen to manager of the inn, and she has just agreed a deal with her parents whereby they pay for Rory to go to private school, and L&R in return will visit once a week. Rory doesn't immediately fit in well at the new school, and misses her old school and old friends. They spend a lot of time at the inn, where Lorelai's best friend Sookie also works, and at the local coffee bar, with a good friendship between the owner and the Gilmores growing right from the start.

It first grabbed my attention because they talk very fast about books and TV and coffee and things I care about - in fact, almost any of the main characters are people I can imagine being friends with. There's a lot of coffee and a lot of pizza and generally good things. Look out for the relationship between the vicar and the rabbi, in particular.

It focusses greatly on the relationships between characters - they did a lot of long single take scenes, framed entirely around a single conversation. A lot of the walk and talk like in the West Wing, too. It's all about the dialogue, and I really like that.

It was cancelled in season 7, leaving a lot of empty ends. Over the course of those years, Rory had grown from 16 year old into a proper grown up with an exciting job, and Lorelai had had a lot of exciting love life stuff going on. Basically, everyone had had personal developments. But there were a lot of very loose ends, and there is now planned a four episode reprise. It's not clear exactly who'll be returning though - in particular, Melissa McCarthy who played Lorelai's best friend, is really busy and hasn't been confirmed.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
I talked about this last year to some extent: that's a good summary of the purely social aspects.

I've also recently realised, due to trying to use other people's computers, that I don't want to have to learn to use windows or Macos whatever it's called now. I've used both before - although the Mac made me cry every time i switched it on, as the apple interfaces are all opaque and confusing to me - but I'm happier using what i already understand.

I've also acquired some of Colin's politics on the matter, although in a more vague background way rather than anything I can actually articulate.

I feel that free software is a good implication of the principle 'from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs', and I think it contributes to harmony and joy not only by being easier to use but also by being about kindness, about giving of talent, more than profit. I like that.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
SOrry I didn't manage this when I got home from church yesterday morning - Andreas was still awake and needed help to get to sleep - or in any of our jam-packed day. We did have a wonderful day, filled with people and presents and playing and food, but not a lot of time to sit and spod. We had [ profile] womump for the first time in over a decade! So obv very extra exciting. Thank you!

Anyway, we always go to Midnight Mass, which starts at 11.15 with carols and readings. It always annoys me when people laugh at people saying 'what time is Midnight Mass?' because almost every church has pre-Mass carols which are not at a set time. Ours involved 4 readings from Isaiah, and 7 traditional carols, which is a bit more singing:reading than other churches I've been to, but reasonable. And we always end with one of those over and over pieces that doesn't have a set length, in case timing is slightly different, to lead up to Midnight.
More details )

Then comes the Mass itself, which is much as I described earlier.
Starting with O Come all ye Faithful and a procession in which an altar server brings the baby into the crib in front of the altar. We sing 'Yea, Lord we greet thee, born this happy morning' and Christmas begins.

We had the Gloria for the first time since the beginning of the church year 'And suddenly, there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God, and saying...'
Readings were Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 96, Titus 2: 11-14, Luke 2:1-14

During the Isaiah, The people that walketh in darkness have seen a great Light... for unto us a Child is born, Judith leant over and said 'Is he talking about Jesus? Like the other day?' I think she meant Zephaniah 3:17-18 'The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.'

Sing to the Lord a new song says the psalm; the grace of God has appeared, saving all says the epistle. The Luke is the nativity story, up to the shepherds.

Sermon was a bit rambly, but about how Christmas is not a clean package to be left in church, it's messy, blood and tears and screaming, like all birth is - it's about locating a time and a place for Jesus, growing a relationship, and taking that relationship into the world and letting it affect our other relationships.

Everyone's happy, everyone's singing their hearts out, and the church is packed. More carols at the Offertory (It came Upon the Midnight Clear), Communion (Silent Night, In the Bleak Midwinter and a 7th century carol sung as a solo by the church's prettiest singer. Not my favourite carol but redeemed by singing talent) and at the end Hark the Herald, meaning the organist can end with a glorious voluntary on the theme. It's a good high note to end on :)

Everything as normal, except the preface and Eucharistic prayer are special for Christmas.

Then on the way home, [ profile] cjwatson sang Stille Nacht (very quietly so as not to disturb people in houses), which is my favourite part of Christmas.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)

I've been asked this a lot this year, because we seem like the sort of family who wouldn't do Santa.

(I always say Father Christmas, because we do both Father Christmas and St Nicholas.)

This year has been really interesting, because it's the first year they realised that he doesn't visit children who don't celebrate Christmas. And that was a thing I thought would be hard, but it turns out not to be.

Firstly, I never say he comes only to good children. I never use it as a threat, or a reward. It's just that Father Christmas is a Christian overflowing with joy in the Incarnation, that he wants to share his joy around, and he does that by giving presents. That's similar to how I describe birthday presents - I'm so happy that there's you, I wanted to give you a physical representation of that. Father Christmas loves people, a thing we all aim to do, and he loves Christmas, and so there are presents. He also is super respectful, and knows people, so he knows which children don't celebrate Christmas and therefore shouldn't be given presents.

This that I thought was going to be hard, turned into a nice easy way of discussing how it's rude to force your traditions or values on other people - it's OK to offer and share, but you need to listen too.

Then, as they get older it becomes less about the hypothetical physical man, and more about the feeling of joy, the feeling of exuberance and love and presents as a symbol of love, and a metaphor for sharing the good things. See, that's the kind of Father Christmas I believe in, so I definitely don't feel like that's lying. But there are different types of reality - the physical and the metaphysical and the emotional, and they're all valid and all worth talking about.

(Oh and the thing about going to bed early? Um. I sort of know it's not true but maybe I forgot earlier and told them it was a myth, which I always assumed as a child. We'll go to bed after Midnight Mass as normal.)

Art part 2

Dec. 23rd, 2015 02:33 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
What should images be used for? What shouldn't they be used for?
This is a really interesting question, and I haven't managed to come up with a good answer. I think for any purpose I would prefer text instead - instructions, places where the words are clearer than the picture, toilet doors etc, there will always be people who prefer pictures. So I think the answer is that I think that they shouldn't *replace* text but rather work alongside text, when trying to convey information, so as many people as possible with as many learning styles as possible can access the information.

And I'm sorry that all my thinking didn't come up with something more definitive, because that feels like it would be more satisfying for both me and you, the reader.

Are you a visual person, or do you respond more to audial messages, or the written word, or what?

Definitely written word, on the whole. I can be so immersive, and pick up so much more than with visuals. That said, I do love visual imagery too, I think maybe I like all the things? But if it were only once, then written word, and second choice music. Not spoken word, which I often tune out, and have to focus quite hard on, especially if I've nothing to do with my hands, but music somehow fits the fidgety part of my brain quite nicely so it makes focussing easier.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
One of my New year's resolutions was to help my partners gain skills I already have that they want to learn.

Duly, yesterday R and I had a baking date and this is how it went.

pictures )


Dec. 21st, 2015 09:14 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Cleopatra's Needle)
When I was little, I had a love of night time. The feeling of God in the velvet darkness of an autumn night, and the crispness in the air in the early summer morning just before dawn, the stars beginning to come out our the clouds passing over the moon. This was a way of reaching out to the Creator and creation that I understood.

When, as an adult, I read a description of the Egyptian goddess Nut, she resonated with me. This was similar to how I thought about God, this was the imagery I responded to.

I prayed and thought and prayed some more, and decided that maybe the Egyptians were right.

I spent some time like this, reading as much Egyptology as I could get my hands on and my head around.

Eventually, more praying and talking lead me back to the faith of my fathers. I still respond well to the imagery of the sky and of Nut, but feel it's more an aspect of comprehension, of communication with the Ineffable. I also have better understanding for both my own religion and other people's.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Dinner party)
Tonight I'm having a dinner party and am making a modified version of this as a starter.

Take 100ml of soya milk and 150ml of double cream. Whisk in a sachet of vegegel, and bring to the boil. Add 2 dessert spoons of wholegrain mustard, a dash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Whisk until combined.

Pour into moulds, and put in the fridge to set.

Clean and boil some beetroot - I'm using a mixture of candy and golden, for prettiness - in a pan with a sprig of thyme. When it's soft, leave to cool, then peel and cut into chunks or cubes.

Boil 200ml each of white wine vinegar and sugar, until reduced by about half. Chill that too.

To serve, unmould the panacotta, and surround with beetroot and salad leaves. Pour over the dressing.

Crumble some goats cheese , add roasted mixed seeds, stir to combine, and sprinkle over the plate.

I snuck some panacotta and beetroot for lunch, and the sharpness of the mustard and sweetness of the beetroot worked fabulously. So I have good feelings about this.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (My heart my mind my hands)
My New Year's Resolutions included learning to nålbind and cross stitch. I've done cross stitch before, but not a lot of counted and never anything big. So I'm starting out with an alphabet sampler.

It starts out the same as a small piece. Started in the top left, with A.

I'm really pleased with how neat my back looks. You can see it getting neater as I go on, I hope that continues.

Nålbinding. It's an ancient craft that doesn't need a lot of equipment, and it's been intriguing me for a while. Today was my first try, and this is the start. Oslo stitch, or something as closely approximating Oslo stitch as I can manage.

I'm using a combination of tutorials: this one and this one and maybe more as I go on. I might even go so far as to buy a book or patterns, there aren't a lot of free ones.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
Sometimes I'm good at this and others, not so much. I think a thing that helps is that my aim in learning a skill is to see whether it makes me happy. So I have to try until I at least understand what I'm doing a little bit, or I don't really know the answer.

To a certain extent that works for physical things. I can try a craft, and I'm fairly certain I will be able to get something at the end, so I just carry on until I do. Or I take a class or follow a course and decide I'll get to the end before I judge how I'm doing. And that usually works well.

Sometimes what I learn is that it doesn't make me happy. That's more or less what I learnt from my time designing the local NCT paper, for example, or the time I tried to learn to draw. I still draw occasionally, but it's not something I care about.

Sometimes what I learn is that my colour crochet looks much better than I expected!

More mental things - I guess knowledge rather than skills? - I have a real difficulty getting over the hump. For example, I stated a coursera course, and it was interesting and fun, but I just didn't have the time to keep up with it. Hopefully one day I'll go back to it.

Or I've been trying for 4 years now to learn to programme well enough to give something back to the free software community who have been so welcoming, socially helpful, and practically too. Colin gave my a task recently but I'm a bit scared to look at it.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
We do quite a lot of organised things, because both children, but Judith especially, really benefit from them. She's very social and likes to be around people a lot.

Weekly, both children have ballet lessons. Andreas once said his teacher is "my best friend cos her always believe in me".

One day a week, there are a lot of HE activities in a local community centre. Judith does drama and football and Andreas a craft and singing group (sometimes J joins us for that, someone's she plays with other older children as it's really aimed at preschool age) Next term, Judith is joining the recorder group too.

In the darker months, Judith and Colin go to open evenings at the Institute of Astronomy, where they listen to a lecture and maybe observe.

Judith and I go to karate once a week.

We do no organised things on Fridays. Except there's a new craft and nature group at the chalk pits which I wonder whether it might be good for us.

Monthly, we have a British history group and a art group. These are run along Montessori lines. I'm not very Montessori inclined - to me, she has too much focus on everything always being used the same way (eg, you can only use a pencil to write or draw, never to make an impromptu spinning top or drop spindle) and it feels quite restrictive, but the children like it.

Art is at the Fitzwilliam, which is why has so many pictures of Judith sketching in a museum.

But look! She's so intense and photogenic when she draws )

There's a monthly social group which we sometimes go to and more often don't, too.

Termly, we have a HE parents book group. The children spend this time playing together - yesterday, while we discussed An Inspector Calls, Judith drew and Andreas built an elaborate tower with another child out of these, which are basically small logs.
Also, a resource swap with bring and share food. That's today, our last group of term, and I really should go and prepare my food to bring.

Ballet, drama and karate are ongoing things, karate throughout the year. Football is drop in, but it'd really important to Judith so we pretty much do. Crafts and singing and IoA drop in but we do whenever practical. Everything else is annual signs ups, changing in September.

Day off

Dec. 15th, 2015 03:02 pm
ghoti_mhic_uait: (AnnaSophia Robb - American princess. Sam)
Someone asked what I do if I ever get a day off. Well, it's true that it's not very often but it does happen occasionally!

I occasionally do a thing where I would go to a bookshop, buy a book, and go and read it in a cafe. That's nice. More often, I gather the children onto my lap and sit and watch a film.

Even more often I spend the day in needlework or cooking. On Saturday, for example, I have a dinner party planned so I'm going to spend the day hidden in the kitchen. I just say this is a day on which I'm doing a thing for me, and do it.

There are a couple of games groups I could go to, which would be a day off thing to do, and poly meet, which is full of nice people but I still have to work my way up to it, so it's more of a date thing than a day off thing. I go to karate, which is just for me, but again, I take J which is educational. There's lots of stuff like that. The line between 'time off' and 'useful time' is just really blurred.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Benedict train)
My LJ from when B was 3 is not very helpful, but as I remember, when he was 3, he was a quiet child. He liked to pattern match, was astonishingly good at jigsaws, liked to talk to people, as many different people as possible, and figure out the world. If he wanted to cross an obstacle, he would sit back, look at it intensely, and work out the best way through before starting.

A at 3 is also good at jigsaws, but he mostly dives in. If there's a thing to climb over and under, he'll do it for the joy of climbing; if there are people, well, he mostly wants to be left alone to do his own thing or stick to people he knows. He throws himself head first at the world, and hopes nothing breaks.

At 7, our world had changed. I got married and stopped living with his Dad over the course of the previous year, his Dad and I had a better relationship than we'd had for years, he was much happier at school. In general, B at 7 was a happy, sunny child who liked Lego and games and read a lot.

I think that's the differnece between B at 7 and J at 7 - she tends to be more physical, football and ballet and running games, whereas he tended to be more cerebral, more nose deep in a book at all times.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
When I was little, there was a quad who lived next door. They were very similar to us, two couples who lived in separate halves of a semi, but were romantically involved and basically lived as a family, with occasional other adult hangers on.
From the children's point of view, it seemed great. There was always an adult around and available to help with whatever they needed, always an adult who was enthusiastic about their current obsession.

I knew others like that, when I was at secondary school, and again, it always seemed good. More adults, more time, more experience.

I'm always attracted to big families, whether it's more children or more adults, maybe? Anyway, i saw the upsides more than the negatives. Now, of course, I see lack of time and a careful balancing act but the benefits still seem to out weigh the negatives.


Dec. 12th, 2015 09:11 am
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
When I was a teenager, I listened to the Archers. I don't so much anymore, unless someone is talking about it and i want to hear, but I listened from about 16 (because all my friends did) for maybe 10 years or so.

When I got to the point where I was doing most of my socialising online, therefore, it was reasonable for me to seek out a news group about the Archers.

And what a news group it is! Other groups are slowly fading, but umra remains. A friendly and high traffic group, full of old jokes but always willing to explain.
Some of us even still listen to the archers - the rest of us get the gossip from the group, like relatives who've moved away but still want to read a letter about e silly thing Aunt Helen did now or the news of this year's pantomime.

I got a few of you there, and I'm very grateful for you. I love that it's still there after my recipe groups and my knitting groups have turned to dust. Usenet had a special feel to it, distinct from other forms of socialising. When Monica Ferris talked about rec, craft.trxtiles. needlework i understood despite not reading the group, because i knew how Usenet works. Were it not for umra, I would miss that.
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Ghoti)
When I was wee, our house had the same guideline that our house now has - the pastry is made by the youngest person available and capable. It's J at the moment, but A isn't far off being handed the job, and, me being the youngest, it was me until I left home. For some reason I now forget, I picked up the job of making the salad dressing, too. Maybe because I'm a super taster so I could get the balance just right? IDK. But the way it made everyone happy if I got it just right, that I remember. The glow of pride when my creation was admired, and the satisfying feeling of food that works.

When I was 15, the local technical college came to my school and we were encouraged to try one of their courses. I tried cooking, and we made crêpes suzette and some kind of flambeed beef, very impressive looking, exciting stuff. And I considered going to culinary college instead of sixth form. I already cooked family staples, but this world of nice ingredients and fast, beautiful food, was new to me.

Later on, I met [ profile] bjh21 and a ridiculous bet turned into years of obsession with dinner parties. I love that I can make something beautiful, learn new techniques, new combinations, make my friends dress up pretty and make them happy. I love the strict rules that attend, the arbitrary nature. It's like a particularly fine cooperative game in which we win if we're happy and slightly glowy by the end of the evening.

So, that's where I'm at. I love to try things that are slightly too difficult for me, or things that are comfortingly familiar. New things, old things, exciting things, anything that makes those around me happy. I find it difficult to cook for just me, often defaulting to cereal if I'm on my own.

As a parent and educator, my aim is that my children will be able to feed themselves when they leave home. Benedict has a small repertoire of recipes he's been adding to, and he can fend for himself if left alone. He makes his own lunch, but doesn't cook in the evening much at the moment. The littles are learning how food should feel as you make it, they help me when they can and that's increasing as they get older, and hopefully they will have their own recipe file by the time they leave home, based on what each child likes.

Eta: Last year, I wrote this on the subject (comment elsewhere): " I started basking in the compliments people paid my cooking at about 6 or 7, considered going to culinary school instead of university, decided that that wasn't going to be as much fun long term and I should stick to amateur, gave my first dinner party at 19, with multiple courses and pretty clothes, decided that was so much fun we should keep doing it, did so for the next 7 or 8 years, got married, moved into a smaller house and somehow stopped cooking anything more complicated than Thanksgiving/3 or 4 course romantic dinners, but still did those occasionally; in particular, the intervening years of ice cream practice really paid off, that was my best sorbet ever; and then as we started focussing on what sort of socialising I like, and as our house started to become presentable again, I remembered that I really miss being the sort of person who gives dinner parties and wanted to regain that."
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Judith and Andreas)
Apologies in advance if this is a little short/underdeveloped. I thought our last Wednesday (all-the-activities day) of term would be a great day to talk about HE, but I went out at 9:45 for Judith's drama, got home after her football at 3:45, went immediately to Benedict's parents evening at Long Road, came home via 5 Guys for tea and Hobbycraft for supplies, getting home about 8:20 and got distracted by art so I'm a bit tired.

When I first moved to Cambridge about the only people I knew were a home educating family. I missed being around small children and I liked the family, so I spent a lot of time with them, and saw them interacting with other HE children, learning at home and outside, and generally growing into lovely adults. The little boy I sat on my knee and taught to knit is now a father looking to home educate his own child, and I see his wife on mailing lists and such, although I've never met her.

Then I had a child, and I wasn't sure how I wanted to educate him. We talked about it, but didn't have a lot of confidence, so he went to the nearest school, which turned out to have been a bad idea. By that time, though, I was working in a school so rather than pull him out, we moved him to my school. There he had an absolutely fabulous succession of teachers, but I'm going to shout out to his year 2 teacher, who took a violent, unhappy, underachieving 6 year old and helped him become a calm, happy, educationally thriving 7 year old. He and I were very happy at that school, a friendly community, so when he got to 11, we looked at schools some more. We thought about private education then, either DIY or more official, and we applied to a variety of schools, but he ended up at the nearest again.

This was, again, stuffed full of enthusiastic and talented teachers who were very good at helping children achieve their potential. It also had a head who was keen to encourage interests and offer opportunities, plus it was in special measures, which means more money and more opportunities for the children. Then they turned academy and got a new head. One who thought it was OK to schedule an evening talk for one time, get all the students into the hall waiting, and then postpone half an hour. One who said things like 'if a course isn't financially viable, we won't run it'. One who casually ignored or disrespected his charges and turned an exciting school from focussed on individuals and education to one run more like a business. This will be relevant later.

Now, during this time, Judith got to the age where she would go to playgroup. But we had a good routine, things we did at home, toddler group, knitting group with a few other little ones who came. I didn't want to totally change that, but I wanted to add something more aimed at education. So we signed up to a monthly HE art club. And she loved it. She loved being around those children, she loved being with me a lot of the time. And so did I. So slowly, we added more in. More activites at home, more HE activities. I got pregnant and couldn't get out so much but then afterwards, the three of us did groups, either in special places - the Whipple, Shepreth Wildlife Park, the Botanic Gardens - or in more homely settings. We kept exploring the world and adventuring and slowly adding more contact with other people both for social and more academic pursuits. When it came time for school, we didn't even stop to consider our options, we were already immersed in education for both little children, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Now, it's time for Andreas to have registered for school already. And he does do a couple of groups mainly or just for him, and he will do more as he gets older. But we're happy as we are, able to be more flexible about travel and days out, and doing our groups, and growing and learning and learning and growing.

At the same time, we noticed that, had B less time to go with the new management of his school, I'd be pulling him out because I wasn't happy with it, and I started to think that 'we do this as long as it's working well and then we look for the best alternative' was probably going to lead to HE until sixth form at least. Although some of the teens I see on a weekly basis are starting to look at A levels and equivalent, so who knows? For now, it's working and we're happy.

Also, no early mornings. It's enough of a cliché that HE is great because you don't have to get to school for 9am that I had to put it in there, but really, it's just icing on the cake.


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