Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

In search of words...

Right, so I failed my Spanish exam the other day.  Pretty disheartening :(.  It was to cover the last three chapters and we were told to review direct/indirect objects, imperatives, and present subjunctive.   Okay so I did that.  I made a serious effort at that -- up to and including drilling all the exceptions to all the rules.   I both know and understand it.  So A, pretty pleased at that.  And B, should be ready for an exam right?

Except that where I went wrong is the exam is actual application.  So all the study exercises of the "conjugate verb X in the sentence" variety, or rewrite sentence in subjunctive, or any variation thereof goes out the window when it's "read this article and respond".   Frig.  So my vocabulary still sucks.  Which means that even though I understand the article well enough to respond, know how to respond and which tenses etc to use, I can't use them if I don't know the words to apply them too :(.  So that effectively wiped out both the reading comprehension and the writing portion.

Listening, as per last time, was a complete disaster.  On the plus side -- I at least understood parts of it this time (progress over last time).  On the down side, none of the parts I understood were relevant to the questions asked.   AND part of the question was essentially "write a synopsis of what they just told you".  Well I could barely figure out what they were telling me, much less reiterate it back in Spanish (again, vocabulary).   Given a ton more time and a pause button I could've done it, but not at rapid fire speed with only one repeat.   Fail.   Only thing that made me feel slightly better is that student peer with significantly better vocabulary (although zero grasp of grammar?) who spends a lot of time in Guatemala, said he can carry on conversations on the phone in Spanish with no problem, but he couldn't catch that.  So at least I'm not alone.

Then the grammar section, which I should be good at, half of them I couldn't understand the question.  Again - fried by vocabulary rather than lack of knowledge.   And of course there's no vocabulary list for the course -- you're just randomly supposed to know things.   I spend a ridiculous amount of time learning words, clearly I need more words, but would be really nice if I could point that in a useful direction *sigh*

Lacking a useful direction, my latest was that I'm learning a lot from Harry Potter, maybe I should make a vocabulary list for that...   But then that seemed excessive...  So maybe somebody's already done it?   LOTS of somebodies already have done it.  Varying degrees of quality but eventually found a list with useful vocabulary to learn that seemed correct.  lol.  Other than that, all my lists come from my self-teaching textbooks (which DO have vocabulary lists)...

I keep telling myself it IS much better than it was and I AM learning.  And I know that I learn best when I'm at the bottom of the class.  But is it ever hard on the ego to be there :(.  I'm not a fan of feeling stupid.

Ah well - mini victories...  Harry Potter is at least getting easier to read.  Lol still painfully slow, but that's got to count for something right?

#FridayFlash 73: The Check List


Just one long to-do list after another.   Lizzie sighed and considered the multitude of things on her list for tomorrow.   It was the weekend, a time she once looked forward to, but now seemed to consist only of the chores she didn’t get done during the week.  Adulting was not turning out the way she’d once dreamed.  Nothing was really.

-      Laundry!   The situation is becoming desperate.  Clean underwear is not optional.
-      Tiny (remember, you’re his whole life.  Play ball, take him for a walk, something!)
-      Get groceries (all that’s left in the fridge is wilted lettuce.  You don’t want wilted lettuce for dinner)
-      Put gas in the car (or the groceries won’t make it home)
-      Exercise!  Those last 2 lbs aren’t going to lose themselves.
-      Bake cookies.  After all, you just exercised.  You’ve earned them.  Lemon ones. Pick up lemons when you get groceries.
-      Study.  Something. Anything.  Preferably something related to work you’d like to do.  It’s the only way you’ll get out of the work you currently do.
-      Vacuum.  It’ll be a great way to avoid studying, and Tiny’s hair is all over the place.
-      Mow the lawn (maybe can count as exercise?). Unless it’s raining.
-      Weed the garden.  Seriously.  It’s starting to look impressively junglish.
-      Nap.  But set your alarm – you don’t have time to sleep all day (see above!)
-      Buy bday gift for nephew.  Something noisy and obnoxious.  Revenge is best served cold.
-      Mail wedding RSVP – it was due last week!  Bad guest.

She shook her head looking it over, knowing she was forgetting something but not sure what.  And not sure she could bring herself to care.  It had been a very long week.  With a smile, she added a few more things hoping to spur her memory:

-      Win the lottery (buy a ticket?)
-      Find soulmate
-      Plan dream vacation

With thoughts of her “one day” Africa trip in mind, and no idea what she’d forgotten from the list, Lizzie closed her app and dismissed all thoughts of tomorrow’s chores from her mind, pouring herself a glass of wine and settling in with a book she’d be moderately embarrassed to be caught reading but fully planned to enjoy every moment of.

The next morning she started with a long bath.  Just because she had a ton of things to do, didn’t mean she shouldn’t start the day out right!   Then with a sigh she reluctantly opened the list and started ordering things. Laundry first, it could run while she was doing other things.  Oh and she should probably do dishes at the same time.   Groceries would have to wait – once she went out, she knew her productivity would plummet.   Tiny could go for a short walk in the am and be sure it happened or a longer walk after everything else was done – but she might be too tired then.  Or both?   She looked to her great dane to judge his thoughts on the matter, but he was still sound asleep.   Afternoon it is.  

Exercise.  She should probably do that now.  But she just got out of the bath.   Not good timing to get sweaty again and then have to shower again.  She could exercise later.

Executive decision that lawn and garden were both getting bumped to Sunday.  She didn’t have anything on tomorrow anyways and this list was ridiculous.

Can’t bake cookies without getting groceries.  Studying is definitely an evening thing.   

So.  Laundry and dishes.  While they’re doing their thing, vacuum.  Then go out and buy all the things.  Put groceries and dishes away, put laundry in the dryer.   Bake the cookies.  While the cookies are baking, wrap the birthday present.  Rescue cookies from oven and taste test, put laundry away, and then the nap.  The wonderful nap.  Highlight of the day really.  

After the nap, a quick workout, then take Tiny on a walk to the mailbox to send the RSVP, maybe farther if things are good.   Study a little before dinner, and then freedom for the evening.  Maybe time for that dream trip planning (optional).

Feeling pleased with herself for having sorted a workable plan, Lizzie tackled the list with far more enthusiasm than she’d written it. She even picked up a scratch and win lottery ticket – couldn’t guarantee it’d win, but at least she could say she made a solid effort at that part of the list.

All was going well until while walking the usually impeccably well-trained Tiny through the park, he suddenly tugged on his leash and bounded away.  Lizzie was so stunned by the behaviour she dropped the leash; not that she could’ve done much about it – Tiny weighed as much as she did.  He stopped only a few feet away, head down on his front paws, peering under a bush.

She didn’t bother to call him, just went over to see what he’d found.  Telling him to leave it, she gave the strongest wait command she could and then bent over to see for herself.  The bush scratched her face as she lifted the bottom branches to see underneath.  And found a tiny black kitten, no bigger than her palm.  It stared back at her, didn’t seem scared – after Tiny, she surely seemed the better option.

She reached out and got swatted for her efforts.  Rolling her eyes, she tried again, catching the now angry kitten by the scruff of the neck.  She backed up out of the bush, bringing the kitten with her, only to find Tiny right beside her, eagerly nosing the kitten.  The dog had no maliciousness in him, only curiousity about the tiny fluff his person was holding.

Keeping the kitten close to her chest so it would neither claw her nor run away, she took both critters home, deciding she would keep an eye out for lost kitten signs, but suspecting she’d just inherited a new pet.

Tiny was fascinated.  Lizzie watched him carefully as she put the kitten down, he nuzzled her, so gently she didn’t even topple over, then followed protectively as she wobbled around the floor.

Watching the kitten explore her new home with her giant shadow, Lizzie scratched her lottery ticket.  $5.  Woohoo!  Enough for another lottery ticket.  She laughed and reached for her textbook.

Looking up after forcing herself through one chapter, Lizzie smiled to see that the kitten had curled up in the middle of Tiny’s massive bed for a nap, and Tiny lay on the floor, with his head on edge of the bed still watching the kitten.

And as Lizzie started to think about what her Africa dreams might look like, she realized even her completely unrealistic list items had been accomplished.  She HAD won the lottery – just not the prize she’d imagined.   And she HAD found a soul mate, from the looks of things, it just happened to be Tiny’s.

Pulling out her app, she started a new list for tomorrow.

-      Write more ambitious list.

 
Not my dog; not my kitten

Found this pic *after* writing the story -- but you have to admit, it fits well :)

I wonder how many calories I burn tossing and turning?

So I got home from teaching, fairly wired.  This is not unusual and one of the reasons I enjoy teaching on Friday nights (a time slot I bitterly resented at first) as I can be wired late at night and it really doesn't matter the next day.

Got home and decided I'd burn off some steam in VR.  Did a rather disappointing boxing round that was all squats and dodging and very little punching -- kinda defeats the purpose.  So then played some Beat Saber which was way more fun (I'm sorry but you really can't help but feel awesome slicing away at things w/ light sabers!), although I was off tonight which is frustrating, even in game world.

But more of an issue was that Chris, who has to work tomorrow and thus be up early, was ready for bed, and Sasha was even more wired than I was.   So while my games, being entirely contained AND in the basement, aren't likely to keep him awake, Sasha running around and bringing me each of her toys individually in an attempt to entice me to play, might.

So my solution to this...   I'll take her for a run :).  I love the night -- esp warm summer moonlight nights such as tonight.  And, weekend.  So win.  So we go for a run, but we're both wired so there's no pacing, no intelligence in this at all really.  Just booked it till very unfit me was not capable of moving and breathing at the same time.   Then we walked the rest of the way home.  Fortunately Sash isn't terribly fit right now either so it did at least take the edge off so she was more willing to chill when I got home.

But now I've got teaching high, exercise adrenaline, and the magic of a summer's night flowing through me.  Sleep is so not happening anytime soon.  I'd actually love to have Alexa blare some music while I clean the house but, well, sleeping husband.   (Side note -- did I mention Alexa moved in last weekend?  And I love her!!!   I've had more interaction with her in a week than with Siri and Google combined in all the time I've had them.   Unrelated -- anybody want a fully functional but slightly useless Google Home?)

So I decided I'd take physical energy and see if it can be turned into creative energy.   I even started sitting out back, which was awesome except that it turns out Night Magic (tm) isn't strong enough to counteract mosquitos.  Ugh.   So I have retreated indoors.   The dogs are now in bed.   And I'm in my cozy library which has actually become my favourite room in any house I've lived in to date.   It's tiny, but I love it.

Anyways - it's still technically Friday, so my challenge is to see about a Friday Flash ;).  And it will be deemed Friday until after I sleep, regardless of what the clock may say.  This buys me more time for said Friday Flash.   Wish me luck!

A stolen moment

It’s a little after midnight and the dogs wanted to go out.  Rather than just send them, I followed and snagged one of our lawn chairs.   So I’m sitting in amazing warmth with the subtle glow of our decorative solar lights keeping it just light enough to navigate the patio with a soft blue tinge.  

Sasha and Tucker are thrilled to be out here and it’s warm enough we seem to be bug free.  Sasha stays near me although doesn’t understand why I won’t throw anything for her (too late to risk excited play barking) while I’m occasionally granted glimpses of Tucker’s shadow when he strays by a light in his yard patrol.  

There is really very few simple pleasures better in my world than a hot summer night with no mandatory wake up time the following morning.  It’s the kind of night where fairies run wild and magic happens.  Instant happy place.

Sweet dreams.

Happy birthday to me :)

So it was an amazingly perfect summer day.  So I was pretty pleased to not spend it at work :).   As per my norm, I continued the trend of taking my birthday off work.   Enjoyed a lazy morning that then became remarkably productive.   Lol did a ton of Spanish, some laundry (not so fun, but necessary), painted my bathroom, finally dragged a dead light out to the curb, and even did some running around.  Crazy for my day of nothingness, but resulted in me feeling completely justified in doing nothing more strenuous than throwing the ball for Sasha while I sat outside with my book all afternoon.  It was fairly perfect.

Birthday flowers to make me smile :)
So the last trip around the sun has been pretty good -- Africa of course was amazing.  It'd be pretty hard to beat that.  And we're pretty happy in our little house -- it's almost a year since we moved in.  Sasha's sleeping beside me on the couch right now.  Things are good.  Work is the only meh -- super frustrating, lacking in challenge, and disappointing.  Childhood me would not be impressed.   I'm working on fixing that, but it's definitely taking longer than I like.  Hence the intense Spanish efforts -- I need something to keep my brain going!   As for what's coming up, super excited Mum and I are going on a road trip this summer.   Pretty stoked.  Where?  No idea as of yet :).  Suggestions?  Drivable from Toronto -- not planning to fly first.   Stay tuned!
The next adventure...

Setting the bar low...


So I'm at that point in my Spanish studies that is mostly frustration.  I understand the vast majority of the concepts, but basically just need a ton of practice and vocabulary.  I cannot consistently apply several concepts correctly (most notably the two forms of past, extraneous usage of direct and indirect objects, and anything beyond the real basics of subjunctive).  I can speak and understand if done painfully slowly, but not at speed -- resulting in failing my last listening test horribly.  Blah.

So looking for things to keep life interesting and still grow my abilities and got the brilliant idea to go to a teacher supply store, where I found:
Sadly, this is actually about the level I'm capable of...
lol yup, I'm working my way through grade 4-6 science ;).  The premise of this one is for teachers with bilingual classes.  So it basically has a unit in English and then the same unit in Spanish.  Each unit has about two pages of reading and then a few pages of exercises.  And so far, this is working out for me.  It's moderately interesting since it was a *long* time ago that I did core science and I'm enjoying the refresher.  The grammar usage is well within my capabilities.  The vocabulary is a stretch.  lol I'm still working on basic conversational vocabulary, the periodic table of the phases of cell division really haven't been priority.  But it's interesting for just that reason.  And the length of the reading is about right for my capabilities ;-P.  Sad though that may be.   And if I really get stuck -- the same exercise is available in English just a few pages away.  Lol haven't resorted to that yet, but may be useful.

Also still working my way through Harry Potter.  It is definitely the stretch goal of the year, but slowly making my way through and some of the vocabulary is slowly sinking in.  So I have to feel that's a win.

To improve the listening I've found "Gritty Spanish" which is moderately entertaining.  Basically Spanish overheard on the NY subway system.  I'm also working my way through the duolingo podcasts which are exceptionally well done, but they speak very slowly.   Awesome, cause I feel brilliant and can understand pretty well all of it, but less helpful when it comes to understanding at real speed.  And then of course there's Netflix, which is all the amazing.   Spanish shows with spanish subtitles.   At the moment I still understand more by reading than listening, but even the reading practice is a win in this case because of the speed required.

And of course old-fashioned grammar exercises.   I make sure to work those in too, but trying to mix it up.  Haven't done duolingo in a while -- I tend to go back there when I need to feel like I've actually learned something ;).

And all the flashcards.   It's probably the most used app on my phone at the moment.  lol

Ah well - the battle continues.  At least my brain is busy :)

Ruff Mudder

Adventuring Aussie's
So Kerri, Mum, and I -- along w/ our respective dogs, went and did a "Ruff Mudder" on Sat :).  Lol this was as much fun as it sounds.

You've heard of the Tough Mudder?  Extreme obstacle course racing?  Well this was the significantly-less-extreme "take your dog to work" version.   There were people obstacles and puppy obstacles and some obstacles which could be navigated by both.
Ready to go
To be honest, I was a little concerned going in.  There were several very dodgy things involved in the sign up (a "parking" fee that's per person not per car -- when I asked I was told "it's going to charity, everyone has to pay it".  Ummm why not just include it in the fee then?   A "discount" link that didn't give a discount to those who clicked it.  A note that "if you sign two other people up, all three of you get a small gift".  Complete radio silence about this when I asked - even when they answered a different question in the same message.  Just left me w a generally slimy feel.
Orange paw-prints lead the way
Then there was the concern that any event with a large number of dogs raises -- namely, I don't trust a large number of dog people.  And if they can't control their dog, my dog is at risk.

However - it was all good.  Other than being asked for yet more money as we arrived, the number of dogs was manageable, and, remarkably, they all seemed under control.  I was super impressed.   They were doing waves of people/dogs on course every 15 mins, but after about the 3rd obstacle, other than occasionally being passed, we were pretty much on our own.  Which was all kinds of awesome :)
Puppy Pairs!
The course itself was amazing.  Alternating between a field and the woods.   Multiple river crossings (and one river wading!), the "real" swamp you could opt out of -- but we went through it.   There was a cut back point at about 3km mark that you could skip the rest, which included the rest of the swamp.   Things to crawl over, under, and through.  Things to climb -- even a rock wall to traverse.
The second half of the rock wall was significantly more challenging than the first
There were people to guide / assist at intelligent points on the course.  While we often felt we had the whole place to ourselves, there was never any question of being lost or off course -- always people to direct as needed.  And safety was clearly a concern as obstacles were being modified based on conditions (sadly the slack line was out of order by the time we got there due to structural challenges).
Kerri and Bo emerging from the tunnel
Overall was all kinds of fun in perfect weather.   The lack of showers at the end was made up for in part by the availability of ice cream :).    Sash I think was still feeling a little sore -- she wasn't a big fan of the jumping obstacles, which usually she loves.  But otherwise lead the way through the whole thing.  Bailey just wanted to catch up with Sasha lol.  And Bo was a complete superstar.

Bo didn't want to sit for his photo

A new reality?

So I set my fb settings to Spanish - mostly interesting and good mini immersion, except the “translate this post” now translates things into Spanish lol. Theoretically more practice but mostly really just shows how much I still have to learn *sigh*. And also, it now takes real commitment to translate posts in other languages - at very least cut and paste into google translate. First world problems :)

Also, I bought myself an Oculus Quest, which I’ve been wanting since well before it was available for purchase *g*. It’s one of the first wireless VR systems and I am having so much fun. Lol first sad thing - the vr living room is much nicer than mine. Ah well. Also - with the lens correction I can almost completely undo the double vision I live with all the time - so my vision in VR is also better than in reality. Sheesh

It does require more space than we technically have in the house, which is awkward, but am making it work.

I managed to get 10k steps without leaving my tiny living room lol - amazing. Although Sasha gets very concerned when I’m playing - really doesn’t understand what’s going on and wants to either join in or help.

Also moderately entertaining watching C play Beat Saber lol - I’m sure I look absolutely ridiculous myself. Esp since I discovered you get more points for bigger motion. But I was always the kid who lifted or turned the controller with the motion, so really I was clearly just ahead of my time. I’ve also never spent so many hours consecutively playing video games in my life.

If time flies when you’re having fun, what does it mean when it goes backwards?

So my days are always back to back meetings. It’s very rare I have dedicated work time, since mostly my job is herding cats and solving other people’s problems and I need to talk to them to do that. Other than an introvert’s exhaustion at the end of each day, this I’m totally used to and completely fine with.

So explain to me why today, when my 11:30 meeting ended 10 mins early I thought, sincerely and completely, “oh good, I have 10 minutes to prep before my 3:00”. Ummmm wtf? I genuinely thought it was day-end. And totally stunned and confused that it’s actually only lunch time. Lol. On the plus side - I have all kinds of time to prep for said meeting (I really only need about 15 min and I can steal that between now and then) but the time reality gap is a little bit hard to take. Yikes!

Ah well - I got to live two days today ;)

Unexpected results

So I've been doing the exercise program Transform 20.   And mostly using it to make sure I get something that resembles exercise, not because I felt it was getting any actual results (it's only 20 mins / day and uses only body weight, so my expectations aren't high).  I'm in the middle of the 4th week and felt I was getting about the results I expected.  lol.  I know the scale isn't moving, and I haven't got to the second measuring day yet so not sure there.  But we'll see.

Anyways -- today I just didn't have it in me.   I don't really enjoy the 20 routines -- they're not horrible, and the 20 mins goes fast, but just meh.   And today I just really didn't want to.   So I decided to do Core de Force Shred 2.0.   And here, I discovered that Transform 20 really is getting results.   I had an *amazing* workout and was faster and stronger in all the moves than I've been previously (2.0s of Speed and Shred are go-to workouts for me when I want to burn off steam -- lots of punching and kicking ;).   So yeah - I'm going to be super sore tomorrow, but so very please with what I just did :)