Reading has been iffy of late, link collecting slim, and writing nonexistant -- a toddler update it needs must be.

At a month older than two years old, TBD is showing even more defined personality traits. This is a toddler with a strong sense of Order: deviations from The Way Things Are are met with "Uh oh!" and attempts to rectify. At preschool, TBD is often the only kid in the room who helps clean up. Which makes life at home a little easier, as we start singing the little "Clean Up" jingle as we tidy up toys before bathtime. The chore of helping feed the cats and clean the litter boxes, assigned but enthusiastically adopted, is keeping us honest about always doing it. The self-appointed chore of closing all doors (including child-proofed cabinets in the kitchen) is simply amusing.

Current primarly obsession is turtles (the zoo's exhibits are effectively ranked by how much turtle they contain) and trucks, with ants, cats, dogs, and birds in general of secondary interest. The toddler down the block is now a hoped-for playmate -- on sight, they both excitedly shout each others' names (both dropping the initial syllable, heh) and jump up and down for a few moments before starting to run around in a complicated melage of Chase and Follow-the-Leader. Or jointly running off some unexpected direction requiring at least one caretaker to scuttle after.

Imitative and imaginative play is getting more directed: combing a doll's hair, feeding the stuffed tortoise named Turtle, pushing cars around with the action clearly being guided by an incomprehensible story (I get corrected when I get my part wrong).

Language progress is amazing, with more new words daily and improving enunciation ("more" and "mouse" have final consonants, as mohr and mowf). Some words are still hard to distinguish, and I can't even attempt to render the pronuciation of "copter." More two syllable phrases, including adjective like "big" and "no" + noun (and one use of "car red" that seemed to be elliding the cupola rather than swapping the word order), frequent use of "Bye-bye {name}" (including buses, trucks, ants, and home, when we walk out the door), and a recent use of "It's hot" instead of just "Hot." There's also multi-word sentences that no adult can understand.

Up to three objects can be counted, though two is more reliable. We've been working on primary colors (blue is current favorite, possibly because easy to say) and recently an interest in learning the first few letters has shown up. Six types of vehicles are now named: bus, truck, car, bike (including motorcycles), jeep, and turtle (meaning a Volkswagon Beetle).

We've started watching some Mandarin toddler-instruction videos, and some words have shown up in general use -- mao for cat most clearly. We're hoping to keep at least an ear for tones current until old enough for classroom instruction (in a couple years for those through the local Chinese Cultural Center). Even better would be a Mandarin-speaking nanny or babysitter, but finances suggest otherwise.

---L.

Subject quote from "One Week," Barenaked Ladies.

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Aerial footage of Antarctica taken by drone. Icebergs ho! (via)

Pantoum in Wartime by Marilyn Hacker

How to make pancakes in your rice cooker.

---L.

Subject quote from "King and Lionheart," Of Monsters and Men.

It has started: the air this morning is tinged with woodsmoke from the first near wildfire of the season. A wet winter means moire fuel, and this week we're consistently getting over 90°F (32°C), drying it out. It looks to be a rough couple months ahead.

I think I've linked this before, but on its first anniversary it's worth calling out again that I'm really digging the All of Bach project, which is setting out to do exactly what it says on the tin: put up a new free performance of a work of J.S. Bach every Friday till they get through the entire catalog. Today's is the cantata "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen" (BWV 56), one of the lovelier church works.

Current lullabies rely heavily on "We Shall Overcome" for calming down, followed by "The Wheels on the Bus" extended as long as necessary to carry TBD into sleep -- popular expansion packs include the animals from The Very Busy Spider in reverse order ("The owl on the bus goes whoo whoo whoo"), Romantic era poets ("The Keats on the bus goes beauty is truth" "The Burns on the bus goes auld lang syne"), and the cast of Star Trek ("The captain on the bus goes phasers on stun").

---L.

Subject quote from "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley.

TBD is 2 years old today. What a quick eight long months it's been.

Lots of growth lately, and not just physical. TBD is starting to try putting words together, with more or less comprehensible success. "Noun1 noun2" to indicate an association between the two was the first pattern, but there's been recent uses of "big" as a descriptor -- there's a "cactus" here and then there's a "big cactus" over there (saguaros, mostly, but also some of the larger, more rambly prickly pears). Also used: "no more," as in the milk/juice is all gone, and "bigger," as in requesting the bigger cup to drink from. Which requires even closer supervision than a small cup, and thus more frustration as the desire to do everything By Myself kicks in harder, but both impulses are good.

Some words can be hard to distinguish if TBD is not being careful: "Daddy," "jacket," and "cactus," for example -- and "puddle," "bubble," "Pablo" (the neighbor's dog), and "turtle" (our newest obsession, thanks to meeting some rescue desert tortoises at the house of the toddler down the block). Thus our misunderstanding for a while that Grampa was not being called Papa but rather Ba-ba (Mandarin for "Daddy"), as Gramma is always Ma-ma ("Mommy"). Some pronunciation shifts are predictable: a trailing -s is always dropped, so mau for "mouse."

Cleaning up is important -- including sing-song intoning "Clean up" using roughly the tune of the clean-up song at daycare. TBD is apparently often the only child in the one-year-old room who helps out with putting things away.

And finally, one especially good moment -- as we're watch Pablo over the wall, who howls a couple times, then goes over to the door:

Me: I think he wants to be let in.
TBD: *shakes head*
Me: You don't think so?
TBD: *shakes head*
Me: What does he want?
TBD: *hugs me*

---L.

Subject quote from "Regret," New Order.

A graduation film: "Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux". Influences by Miyazaki are worn on the sleeve, in a good way. One influence missed, though, is that the protagonist is supposed to be the girl. Ah, well. (via)

Your earworm for the day, with bonus hysterical laughter: "The Björk Song" by Lore Sjöberg. (via)

Your hysterical laughter of the day: 2015 Lyttle Lytton contest winners. (via all over)
The bastard mayor tossed the money to his criminals. “Heh heh heh,” everyone said.
---L.

Subject quote from a letter by Byron to Douglas Kinnaird dated Octr. 26th. 181[9].

An AKICOLJ request:

Does anyone know the description, in phonetics, of the sound made by flapping the tongue between the lips while breathing through, as in the sound sometimes made while sticking out one's tongue at someone? (My best rendering of that is "blalalalah.") It's not a linguolabial trill, which is blowing raspberry -- where the plosive motion of air drives the vibration of lips on tongue. (Does this even count as a trill, since it's conscious muscle motion?) A voiced linguobilabial flap, maybe?

And is there an IPA symbol for this?

Question is prompted by TBD's pronunciation of "banana" using this (with a flexible number of syllables/trills), as well as the "ribbit" a frog makes.

---L.

Subject quote from "The Elements," Tom Lehrer.

I have been managing to read, a little. Sometimes. Even if none of it's poetry.

Read: Partner by Lia Silver, which resolves enough I worry a bit that something may have to be negated to create space for the third and final installment of Echo's Wolf, but given the quality of writing so far, I'll trust the author for now.

In Japanese, a handful of short stories by Nankichi Niimi -- the one that stands out being "Kodomo-tachi no suki na kami-sama" ("The god who liked children"), to the point I wonder whether it's worth polishing a translation for publication (in, say, Strange Horizons or the like).

Reread: Lirael by Garth Nix, which is still quite good.

DNF: Dodger by Terry Pratchett, who loved Charles Dickens much more than I do.

In progress: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones, for which I'll outsource the description to rymenhild:
[It's] (1) a Ruritanian romance (2) about two women, one of whom is (3) a swordswoman with mysterious antecedents who generally wears men's clothing and the other of whom is (4) an heiress who is bored by balls and would prefer to attend university. These women are never happier than when they are (5) in an archival library, closely analyzing minute differences in (6) rituals requesting intercession from Christian saints. Oh, yes, and they (7) fall in love, slowly and subtly, although it takes them nearly three hundred pages to admit it.

... If you like Ellen Kushner's Privilege of the Sword or Caroline Stevermer's A College of Magics, or if you think Georgette Heyer novels would be better with lesbians, Daughter of Mystery is a book for you.
If that doesn't hook you, nothing I say will.

---L.

Subject quote from "Down in Nogales," John Coinman.

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I recently hosted a week of [community profile] poetry, where I shared poems from 300 Tang Poems:

298. On a Rainy Night, to a Friend in the North, Li Shangyin
119. Replying to Subprefect Zhang, Wang Wei
106. Spring View, Du Fu
152. Grass, Bai Juyi
102. Seeing Off a Friend, Li Bai
131. Parting from Wang Wei, Meng Haoran

Resorting the list to be in numeric order from the collection is left as an exercise for anyone who wants to bother.

---L.

Subject quote from "Kilravock Tower," Charles Mackay.

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TBD is 23 months old, and the vocabulary explosion has been under way for a few weeks now -- a couple new words a day, plus increased repeating after us. Sometimes the intended word needs some deciphering -- though now that we know that "or" usually resolves as oy (moi for "more," doi for "door," oin for "orange") we can make more intelligent guesses. "More" is a favorite word -- which is used not just for "I want more" but "do that again" and "there are many things here." Not quite as favored as "uh oh," but close -- and more than "no."

We are still working out the meanings of some words -- for a while, it looked like "dog" was used just for larger dogs, "puppy" for smaller ones, while chihuahuas get meowed at,* but the last two days she's called a small dog a "doggy" and some large ones "puppy." "Door" can mean not just doors but gates, and sometimes seems to also refer to the wall/fence/car they open through. Other words are more stable -- "bee" has always been just about any bug, flying or otherwise, except ants. "Bee!" "Yes, that's a big butterfly."

And this morning, a new language milestone. TBD managed to snag a pair of my reading glasses and scamper out of reach, then looked up to janni with a smile and said, "Eyes Daddy" -- first two-word phrase.

When "Mommy" and "Daddy" finally started getting used, it was heartwarming. Especially the gleeful "Daddy!" that greets me when I get home from work.

* We don't correct this -- it's a valid point.

---L.

Subject quote from "One Week," Barenaked Ladies.

Four random things:

You know those iconic IKEA Poäng chairs? They now make a child-sized version. It is way cute next to our two full-sized ones.

I generally don't hold much sympathy for Jacobite romanticism, but I have to admit that "Skye Boat Song" is a lovely lullaby.

Cookie Monster is an awesome life coach.

"More" is a very powerful word.

---L.

Subject quote from "Skye Boat Song," Sir Harold Boulton.

Been a while since I've posted about reading. This is partly because I haven't been posting but also because not reading all that much. But what I have read includes:

The Element of Fire by Martha Wells, a tasty fantasy set in a roughly 17th-century analog France. I especially liked the depictions of court politics, handled more realistically than is the norm in fantasy.

Sabriel by Garth Nix -- a reread, of course, as part of preparing for Clariel. Still excellent.

Prisoner, the first installment of Echo's Wolf, a book in the Werewolf Marines series by Lia Silver (rachelmanija) -- which is now available free at most fine ebook purveyors, by way of an entry point to the rest of the series. I say installment, but it does come to a good emotional resolution while pointing to further story to come. Snappy writing and good fluffy paranormal romance between a werewolf marine (see the label on the tin) and a genetically engineered assassin who is one of two surviving clone sisters. I've started installment the second, Partner, which is just as good.

Though admittedly, I allowed myself to be interrupted by this odd duck: Within the Capes by Howard Pyle, a novel I had no notion existed till it popped up on Gutenberg. A sea yarn of the shipwreck survival subgenre that subverts several conventions, not the least by having the sailor protagonist be Quaker. Though that's not nearly as subversive as the hinkiness with the point of view.

Next up: Dodger by Terry Pratchett.

---L.

Subject quote from "Spring," Richard Shindell.

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PSA

"We Shall Overcome" makes a pretty good lullaby.

It works even better if you can remember all the verses.

Further updates will be issued as the situation warrants.

---L.

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... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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