Life This Week: Brunanburh, Broken Bones, Bubbling Butts

What’s my life like these days? Well, here’s a selection of snapshots from my life this past week:

Saturday, 2:54 pm. Idly thinking about what Wednesday’s Tolkien lecture will focus on, I begin to ponder the possibility of a new philological reading for a line in The Hobbit. The idea is scribbled on a slip of paper upon my desk, where it will languish among the dozens of other article topics I don’t have time to write up.

Sunday, 4:02 pm. Our 9-month-old daughter is a guided missile for the staircase. Set her down on one side of the house and — zoom! — she’s fast-crawling like a Marine, headed for the foot of the stairs. Up and up to the top, giggling to herself. Catch her, set her down in a new place, and she’ll head back to it. Spin her around, try to confuse her, and like a carrier pigeon it won’t matter. My iPhone and my baby are both GPS-enabled.

Monday, 7:08 am. I wake up feeling the twinges of an illness coming on. The subsequent week will find me fighting off some plague caught from my cadets and/or my son; as a result, my voice teeters on the edge of breaking and I’m far more tired than I’d like. The need to project across the 30+ kids of my Tolkien class does not help, but I love them (and the class) anyway.

Tuesday, 9:15 am. My daughter sets a new personal record by standing unaided for over a minute. You go, girl.

Wednesday, 11:38 pm. I’m poring over manuscript readings for the Old English Battle of Brunanburh poem, trying to determine which rune I should use on a given line of the casebook’s edition. For the record, I decide on an eth.

Thurdsay, 9:04 am. The little girl decides to try walking. Two steps, boom! Stands up. Three steps, boom! Stands up. Four steps, boom! Crawls for the next few minutes.

Thursday, 6:10 pm. Sitting down at the dinner table, I reach across to tussle my son’s hair. He smiles through a face splattered with burrito stuffings. “Can I have your hair?” I ask.

The boy stops chewing, and his innocent eyes look up at my shaved head. Then one of his hands rises to pull upward on a fistful of his own thick locks. “No, Daddy,” he says. “It’s really stuck.”

Thursday, 7:18 pm. Burrito + hair = boy in bathtub. Baby sister joins him for a bit of clean-up (her problem is smushed graham crackers) and the fun lasts a few minutes before the elder child is booted from the bathroom for refusing to share bathtoys. Much screaming ensues.

Friday, 5:11 pm. After a long afternoon of working on some stressful Brunanburh matters, I arrive home to two rambunctious kids. The boy wants me to swing him around. The girl wants me to watch her latest attempt to climb the stairs while carrying a rubber duck. I tell everyone to hold off while I go change out of my uniform. Within five minutes I will have broken two toes on my right foot.

Friday, 11:01 pm. The pain of my toes sends me to bed early. I spend some time thinking through a novel idea (literally an idea for a novel). I decide the idea is sound but still in need of revision. It is subsequently pushed to burner #5 in my mind.

Saturday, 8:46 am. I notice some very fascinating patterns of color on my toes. The next ten minutes are passed in a close examination and a series of flexing exercises to determine how much I can live with the pain. Wife advises urgent care. I decide in favor of some mole skin and an old roll of athletic tape. In hindsight, I’ll wonder if duct-tape would have been more appropriate for the mood.

Saturday, 7:32 pm. I’m putting my son to bed, just getting him tucked in, when he (shall we say) passes wind rather loudly. He giggles a bit, but I try to ignore it (the time for high-fives will come later). But then he suddenly sits bolt upright in bed. “I saw something,” he says.

“Oh? What did you see?” I ask, expecting him to say shadows.

“I saw something bubbling,” he says.


“Don’t worry,” he says, “it was only my butt.” And he laughs and laughs and laughs.


  1. I hope your little piggies heal fast!

  2. And I thought my week was hectic and eventful. (Sorry about the broken/re-broken toes–not my fault this time!)

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