Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Visiting England - it's a bug free world!

Reading Jules Verne is serous business
Andy and James at the park
Edward, James and I have often visited Portsmouth to see Andy who is a professor there.  He has a group with several students, postdocs and the university recently hired two other less senior faculty in the same domain. Andy is doing outstandingly well as far as we can tell.  Andy's apartment is relatively close to the sea. He started running weekly, but when it's below 15 degrees and raining and windy I find it's better to stay away.

a boat across Swan lake - *not* HMs Victory
We've been to the butterfly museum, which is the only place we've really seen bugs other than a few flies on the beach. They also have an old dockyard for which Andy and Edward have an yearly pass. They visited HMs Victory -- the ship on which Lord Nelson died after winning battle of Trafalgar against Napoleon Bonaparte.  Edward was most impressed by the bug stories. Apparently, back in the late 1700hundred England had lots of bugs. So many that they invaded food stores on board, and got into improperly stored milk. We've seen so few that I have almost forgotten their existence. They are also no mosquitoes to worry about. It's interesting how civilization destroys so much around it. Today's clean is equivalent to dead. But should it be so? Should we value order and death over life?

With so many cats at home (5 are left as of today), James was very disappointed that there were no cats to be seen on the streets in Portsmouth. Three days into our last trip we finally saw a very pretty kitty, but poor James was asleep. We've taken to feeding the seagulls. Andy succeeded in having them catch popcorn he threw in the air. James ran after the pigeons. The children and Andy also watched videos of goats that sound like people. What else are fathers for?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fall of 2018

the roof is being finished

Everyone at work

I turned 36
we had lots of pumpkins

James in England

Andy and James in England
Edward and his cake: he turned 8
School started again and I am already tired of it even though I no longer take classes. The children try to study from time to time, but it's been nice outside and it can be hard to focus. Edward is in fourth grade and will soon finish elementary school, and David is in 7th grade. We went to England a bunch of times this summer and swam in the North Sea. In July it was cold, but in August it was pleasant even though the heat wave had gone.

a stair for wild pigs: at the lake in Taut

This weekend Edward is traveling -- it's his third trip without me this year. His first trip was in Budapest, then he went with Mihai and David to his first invited seminar in Tecuci (Edward and David promised to write more about that on their own blogs), and until tomorrow he'll be in Maramures with his classmates. Edward is eight and David is 11. So far they both did so many more things than I did at their age, and yet it always feels like they are not doing enough and like I am not helping them do more. In addition to the trips to England and to school trips, we've taken two trips where we've stayed overnight in Taut at Minisul de Sus. It's a village near Arad where I own a house. At  Minisul de Sus only two or three houses are occupied year-round, and since there are so few people and no agriculture, there is no dust, which is quite impressive. However, when we went in the garden, we met the wild pigs. It was a sow with piglets. I instinctively ran down the hill, while the children came down slower -- as indicated when one meets wild animals. The house is 3 km from a big, beautiful lake. There Edward build some steps (see picture), and the next day there were lots of footmarks from wild pigs. They must have liked the idea of going down to the water on steps because they were new.

James turns two in a week. He sometimes says full sentences like "Miauna pisicile (the cats are meawing)", but mostly talks in his own language beyond some words like "Titzi", "Apa" and "Pipi", which can some times mean chickens and other times that he needs to pi. He does seem to always have a lot to say and to like people. This week he even found my car keys for me. He also always tries to help -- if I carry or do something.

David will soon be 12. He is almost as tall as my mother now, but complains of not growing fast enough -- it's all relative. His classmates are two years older, and are mostly taller than he is. He has been quite reliable recently. He milks the goats, and helps around with my father and even helps around the house when I ask and all happens only as long as I stare at him while he does what's needed. Lisa (his mom) insists he becomes a doctor. So far he likes chemistry very much.

The roof in Chizatau is done, but there is always more work there and elsewhere.  I am as inefficient as always. My father is still bed-rid and my mother is overwhelmed with his care, but still accomplishes more than me.