Sunday, March 15, 2009

Home again

K and I took two blessedly uneventful flights home yesterday and have gratefully settled back in at home. Our week in Michigan was really great, much to my surprise. Based on my previous experience of travelling alone with K, I thought adding having to work on top of that would smash me flat.

But as it turns out, K has turned a major developmental corner recently and was happy to spend huge amounts of time playing on her own with my old Playmobil and Fisher Price figures, and spending time hanging out with my mother or her aides (her aides are almost universally middle aged women who have children of their own, so they were pretty good with her). She also took a good nap every day, so I was able to get enough work done during the day that I didn't have to stay up too late at night, before then having to get up with K in the morning. Between getting something resembling enough sleep and not having a preschooler velcroed to me (and being so freakin' cute and pleasant that it was a joy to be around her most of the time), it was a remarkably relaxing visit.

It's been a long time since I've felt like that visiting my parents. Before my mother's accident, going home was very relaxing - being the child of two introverts means that the atmosphere of their house tended to be very quiet and uncluttered. But then Dad got sick and Mom had her accident, and there were always strangers in the house and my mother always needed me to do things for her. Add a baby on top of that and visits home got very hectic and demanding. But unlike Christmas, we weren't trying to shove six people into a two bedroom condo, my mother didn't seem to need anything from me and life was pretty calm.

That doesn't mean that I'm not really looking forward to tomorrow when I can ship K off to daycare and to work and have the whole house to myself for a few blissful hours though.


I went to work today and spent most of the day taming our new museum and library software, Past Perfect. So far, I've managed to figure out how to add books and perform searches, format everything so that our catalog cards and spine labels would print correctly and set up a file that can be imported into Past Perfect so we can catalog books the computer without the new software, put it on a disk and then import it into PP. If we're going to put the entire catalog on computer, we're going to have to clock a few million monkeys' worth of typing time, but my boss is being all picky and insisting that other people be able to use PP occasionally, so we have to figure out how to do some of the typing on our other computer. Stupid selfish museum workers grumble grumble.

Importing data into PP naturally is far more complicated than it needs to be. Part of it is PP's fault, since it's only willing to import either very specifically formatted text files or obscure or out of date programs like Excel 5 (for reference sake, Excel 5 is the one that came out with Windows 95, which of course we don't have. I mean, we're a Victorian museum and all, but that doesn't mean we keep around antiques that old). But mostly it's because Microsoft Excel was being a complete butthead, refusing to either maintain accurate formatting in an older version of itself or dancing around being willing to save the data in a format that PP would accept. "Well, I can do comma-delimited, but I'm not going to save it in a text file. I can do a text file, but it'll be tab delimited and I won't use the quotes around the data that PP wants. And if you want me to do any of this, you'll have to balance three teacups on your head while wearing roller skates and doing the hora. Now dance for me, monkey. Dance!"

As it turns out, the secret of getting the data in the right format is actually to use Access, a fact that is so secret that they were completely unwilling to include it in any of the PP documentation or training materials. It may be that it's available in a secret file that only becomes visible on the third Thursday of every month with a gibbous moon after the computer has been spun widdershins five times. However, I had to just apply my poor overheated brain to the problem to figure it out instead. On the plus side, I felt like a Sooper Computer Genius once I managed to successfully set up the Access database, add a couple books and then import the file successfully into PP. And even more on the plus side, an Access database means that I'll be able to set up a more user-friendly interface for inputting books for any suckersvolunteers willing to help with the project.


In a strange twist of events, we've seen Olwen twice in the past few days. I had truly thought that she had either been rescued or was dead. Finding her alive as a stray over a year after losing her was about the last thing we expected. She wouldn't let us get near her, but we put food out and found her eating it tonight. We're planning to buy a live trap tomorrow to see if we can catch her that way.

And then... we're not sure. This would have been a lot simpler before we added two more cats to the house. IF she is healthy or can be made healthy with vet care and TLC and IF she can be resocialized to us and the other cats, we have to then decide if we really want four cats. We like the kittens, but I haven't really fallen in love with them yet. I definitely don't love them the way I loved Olwen. Four cats starts to get into the realm of not being affordable.

But we can worry about that later. Right now, I'm just praying we can catch our poor wayward kitty.

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