Grace is talking more and more with each passing week and right now she is really into asking what things are called. She will point her little finger at something, demand to know what it is, usually with a bit of repetition in there, and then try to repeat whatever answer we’ve give her. In recent days, I have found myself trying to explain nonstick cooking spray and packing tape. Perhaps most frequently, she asks about something that she already knows the name of. “Whassat? Whassat whassat?” “That’s your slipper.” “Slippuh!” She also loves to play games where she identifies things she knows the name of. Whenever it starts to feel a bit tedious is a good time to review the chapters in my child development books about how toddlers are learning about cause and effect through repetition, need to see that things’ names stay the same, and so on and so forth. When I stop to think about it, though, this isn’t just a toddler characteristic. I think it is a pretty basic human quality to love the familiar, especially in verbal things like jokes and narratives. There is, of course, the comfortable pleasure of watching a favorite movie (how many times have Rob and I seen The Matrix?) or re-reading a favorite book (I am truly scared to think about how many times I have read Pride and Prejudice). And then if I want to get all Joseph Campbell on you, it’s possible that most of the stories we as human beings tell each other are really the same story with the same archetypal characters, themes, and patterns. Grace is obviously just very interested in the human condition and monomyth.
My clumsiness has been rearing its ungraceful head lately and caused me several injuries. I was near the beginning of a run along the main street close to our house and totally fell down, a dramatic flailing fall that caused people half a block in front of me to turn around and walk in my direction until they saw me get back up and begin running again. Sigh... My physical injuries were limited to scraping up my palms and knees, which is good, but my pride was also a bit bruised. It took me a few seconds to really commit to continue on my whole planned run with my palms all cut up, but I was certainly motivated to run in the immediate aftermath to get away from anyone who may have seen me. And then a few days after that, I was making Potage Parmentier a la Julia Child and cut my thumb with our big chef’s knife a la Dan Aykroyd impersonating Julia Child. I cook a lot and I am not normally prone to hurting myself with our knives, but this time I really did a number on myself. The book I’m reading right now has a lot of ancient Greek sword fighting in it and the memory of my self-inflicted injury has made me feel all squeamish every time someone in the book breaks out a sword.
In other news, it has been crazy cold around here lately, with low temperatures in the single digits and high temperatures that don’t get above 20 degrees. This seems excessive to my Texas-bred self, like taking this whole winter idea a bit too far. I do enjoy winters here in general, with the occasional snow and wearing wool coats and sweaters. And winter is the season that makes me love our house here the most; when it’s cold outside, our cozy house with its small, 1920s-sized rooms feels delightfully warm and snug. Rob is not a fan of winter, however. He starts to feel that winter has taken liberties with him when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. That’s what growing up in California will do to a person.