Wednesday 8 October 2014

Thumb Sprain

This morning I woke up with hardened arms and an aching thumb. Tuesdays are always tough from a housekeeping point of view, for Tuesdays are dedicated to the Closet (really a narrow room with a window) and the Sitting Room. The Sitting Room has a lot of furniture, including occasional tables and books I have to drag out into the hallway before hoovering. The Closet has... Well, let's just say once every two months or so, I carry out everything in the Closet into the Sitting Room and go to town with ye duste clothe and ye vacuume cleanere. This is necessary, you see, to discourage my arch-enemy, the clothing moth. How I hate those disgusting critters.

Anyway, yesterday I decided it was time to clear out the whole Closet as well as vacuum the sitting room, which took about two or three hours, as I made B.A.'s lunch in the middle of it all. (An unusual circumstance, incidentally, but one that provoked much comment among his colleagues, especially as I brought it over myself, apron flapping in the wind.) And in the evening I wondered why my arms were looking so trim. Pilates? But I only go once a week!  

And then I realized it is the daily hoovering and/or mopping. I'm not sure anyone can lose weight solely through one or two hours of housework a day, but it is very good for the arms. 

"But not for the right thumb," I would add, had I not sat down this morning at my desk to make more Polish flashcards when my thumb gave a mighty twinge.  Aha! So it was not Tuesday to blame, but what B.A. would call my Polish Obsession.

B.A., incidentally, does not see the importance of Polish as a world language. He is unmoved by arguments that it is the second-most spoken language in Scotland, and the third-most spoken language in England. Obviously he did not grow up in Canada, where bilingualism is touted as the solution to all ills and half Toronto speaks an ancestral language to start with. 

"But I want to feel my brain change!" I wail, even though B.A. didn't study the work of Bernard Lonergan, S.J., and therefore has no real interest in self-appropriation.

"Well, why can't you pick a language you actually have some hope in becoming fluent in?" demands B.A. "You were doing so well with Italian."

"Waaaaahhhh!" is my reply to that because, as I so helpfully found out while making a flashcard, Gdy nie masz siły, płakać.

Also, B.A. has unwittingly revealed that he, too, thinks I cannot possibly become fluent in Polish. But I WILL, and then when I have I shall write a book about it, called Triumph of the .... Well, no, maybe I should pick a different title.

At any rate, once I have become reasonably fluent in Polish, I will begin making a Leitner Box for Italian, which is terribly useful for holidays, or French, which is terribly useful for Canadian self-esteem and for speaking to Montreal cab drivers who, being migrants snared in Quebec's draconian language laws, cannot speak, and will never speak, English.  To learn languages, what you really need is stubbornness, courage, willingness to make a complete fool of yourself, a system and at least an hour of free time a day. Apparently it takes 1100 classroom hours for an adult to learn Polish properly, so night school (2 hours a week, 10-12 weeks a term) just isn't going to cut it. 

Italian and French, being much more like English, require only 575-600 classroom hours.

These useful facts come from my new favourite book Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner, the sort of book that has some fantastic ideas that could be written on a few sheets of paper and a whole lot of padding and confusion. Nevertheless, I open it every day to check my Leitner Game schedule and copy out more of Wyner's 625 necessary words. I'm at "to sing", which I should know, but don't, so into the Leitner Box it will go. 

I think it must be wonderful to be a true polyglot, like my sisters (English, French and Spanish) and sister-in-law (Romanian, French, English, German...). brain bouncing from language to language and being able to speak to all kinds of people with confidence. I used to think that it took a wonderful talent that my brothers and sisters had that I didn't, but now I realize it is all down to opportunities and hard work, and the fact that you can't learn a language solely in a two-hour class, no matter how many years you are enrolled in school. I wish I had known that when I was 14... Och sad, but ye cannae greet aboot it fir the rest ay yir puff, ken, eh?

Anyway, I will go mental if I cannot make my 15 flashcards minimum a day, so I will just try not to hold my pencil crayons so tightly.


  1. wannabe domestic diva8 October 2014 at 15:55

    I would love to hear how your quest to become a domestic diva has shaped/changed you. Do you now like it? Is there satisfaction in it? Is there a reason why a woman should clean her own home versus hiring a cleaner and/or splitting chores with husband, especially if you both work? Also, is there an easy transformation from one who is "domestically challenged" to one who is "domestically proficient"? I speak as one who is NOT good at and does NOT enjoy these tasks, but do them (poorly) anyway to take care of my husband and to live in comfort. Should being a woman = domestic diva? Or is it okay to be deficient in this task, just as some, like me, are simply "not a good cook?"

  2. Hey Seraphic: I purchased a copy of Fluent Forever today based on your post today. Even if it turns out to be a blow-out I find it very entertaining so far. I used Anki as the spaced repetition software for my French, but I'll take the author's recommendation to use pictures and personal connections for my German. And the Leitner box for Peanut's reading cards so we can keep them from driving his homework past one hour. Tx for the tip, meine liebe Schwester.

    @Wannabe: since I'm still up I'll volunteer my $0.02 as a fellow who purchased Seraphic's textbook and does what he can in the time he has. It gets easier with practice, especially if you schedule it and have clear demarcations on tasks. Don't impose any tasks on anyone and let it be imposed on you; volunteer. It eventually becomes a relief to do some mindless, good work (the counters are scrubbed. SCRUBBED I tell ya). Don't expect to get it all done, though, in the first year. Small steps to establish the mindset. I started with dinette and kitchen every morning between schoolbus and work, and then added cleaning the master and kids bedrooms before breakfast (the kids help and Seraphic's polyglot sister-in-law sorts out breakfast in English, lunches in French and laundry in untranslatable Romanian), and now the bathroom. For deep-cleaning we budgeted help.

  3. @Wannabe: Correction: don't impose any tasks on anyone and DON'T let them be imposed on you. NS

  4. Look at Nulli, modern man of the 21st century! He and Ma Belle Soeur are both employees (so to speak) with children, so it makes sense that A) they share household tasks and B) they hire a cleaner. As for B.A. and me, our circumstances are much different and more traditional. It was Nulli who told me about "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House", by the way!

    There's a whole post I could write on this... Hmm!

    Nulli, I think you'll like the book! Lots of good tips! Think I'll start working on my French accent in the new year, so as to get the most out of being in Quebec in Feb (or March).

  5. I don't think I would enjoy housework as much if I were employed 9-5, to be quite honest. However, when I did work 9-5, I enjoyed tidying up my bachelorette (bed-sitting room) on Saturdays. It was a nice change from my job.

    I don't really believe in expecting men to do housework, let alone 50%. If they do some, fantastic, but if they don't, don't resent it. As long as a man is peaceful, good-tempered, faithful and in work, that's good enough for me.


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