I'm sorry, have we met?
Since I last wrote anything, we bought a house and moved 3/4 of the way across the country and I started a new, tenure-track job. Gee whiz! And as of this weekend, we have actually unpacked every box, down to the last picture frame, which is something we didn't manage to do either of the last two times we moved.
I miss Santa Barbara, our old place, our friends there, and our routines. I also miss the avocados and my lime tree. But... the new house is large and lovely and belongs to us (!) and Jane appreciates the stairs and the clothesline. We have entertained several houseguests already and expect more, which is very pleasing. We have friends of quality here, too, and there are trains.
In the meantime, Jane's bedtime routine has become rather more elaborate, and now includes a bedtime story to be composed on the fly by yours truly. These vary in their originality (as you might imagine) and have a variety of recurring characters and structural elements. They always end with a scene in which everyone goes to sleep. On a boat, on a train, on the back of an owl -- whatever, the endgame is sleep. Usually they feature Jane herself, as well as Badger and his young ward Hedgehog. A large rotating cast of secondary characters fill in as needed.
This past week she has become VERY into one scenario, known as "The Meeting Story," that consists mainly of major cribbing from the opening chapter of The Hobbit, retrofitted to the general storyworld of her bedtimes. She has demanded it several nights in a row now. Furthermore, now that the storyline is established, instead of having Mr. Badger open the door to guest after guest, it goes about like this:
Me: So just as the kettle was full, there was another knock on the door. Knock knock knock! Mr. Badger...
Jane: [in interrupting-cow style beginning around "knock"] I GET THE DOOR I GET THE DOOR I GET THE DOOR
Me: Okay, you opened the door and there was a whole family of raccoons! And they said...
Interrupting Cow Jane: THEY WANT A TEA THEY WANT A TEA THEY WANT A TEA?
Me: 'Oh, thank you, Jane, we would like some tea! We're here for the mee...'
ICJ: I MAKE A TEA
Me: Okay, so you put the kettle on the sto...
ICJ: I PUT A KETTLE ON A STOVE!
Eventually Merlin (why not Gandalf? because Merlin had already appeared in a different story, about snakes) comes and tells them that he has called the meeting because they are all going to go on an adventure tomorrow, no, he can't tell them more because he lives backwards, don't you know, and he can never remember whether he is remembering something that never happened or making plans for something that happened last year, so it's best if he keeps it all under his hat, but it will be a fine adventure at which their presence will all be required and there will be a boat on the river to pick them all up for it first thing in the morning, so they had better get some sleep.
Then they pull all the bedding out of the airing cupboards and make up beds for everyone and everybody is so excited they think they will never be able to go to sleep but after all the excitement it turns out that they do, quite quickly, after all, the end.
Well. I missed you! Sorry I've been so delinquent. Maybe I will reform this time. How are you?