Posted on Leave a comment

Minya Zavood Vicki

Blogtober 2021 – Day 17

Did that title catch your attention? Pique your interest a little? Did you get that I’m learning Russian? Or perhaps you and everyone else will avoid clicking on this one, assuming that the pressure of Blogtober’s daily posting has finally driven me a little round the bend…

But no, today’s post is a little about me, and my passion for language/s. I have a degree in Linguistics, but today’s post is about my ongoing, on and off attempts to learn Russian.

I first started studying the Russian language back in 1992, when I started my degree in Linguistics. In my first year I had the opportunity to study two additional subjects, and I opted for Archaeology and Russian. Archaeology because I have a love of history, and Russian because all languages fascinate me, and it seemed like a bit of a challenge. I wasn’t wrong 😀

After that first year of study, Russian took a back seat to allow me to focus on the Linguistics, and in the years that followed I forgot a lot of what I’d learnt. Much later (circa 2002/3) and living in Manchester, I decided to pick it up again at evening classes, and eventually got my GCSE in Russian Language. Don’t aske me for proof, I have absolutely no idea where that certificate is!

Fast Forward to Now

I did very little with my basic Russian in the subsequent years, but have always retained my interest in it. Earlier this year, nearly twenty years since I last studied it and because I clearly don’t have enough to do ;-), I decided to take it up yet again. With two young children and a business to run I don’t have an awful lot of time, but my current learning medium of choice is Duolingo. Duolingo offers loads of different free language courses, and I’ve slowly been working my way through the Russian one. It has a nifty little feature that keeps track of your efforts in the form of a learning ‘streak’ – now I can’t NOT practice for fear of breaking the streak. I’m currently on 120 days!

I’m learning a fair bit, but this week I’ve started to need a little extra help so I sent Dean into the attic to dig out my old Russian text books. After much huffing and puffing he found me two dictionaries and a very old and dog eared copy of The Penguin Russian Course.

How far can I get with this with independent study? I’m not sure to be honest. I think I need to find some podcasts and perhaps some kids’ programmes on YouTube maybe? If you have any language learning suggestions please pop them in the comments – they’d be very much appreciated!

Oh and I almost forgot – the post title simply means ‘My Name is Vicki’ 😉

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow 😉

Posted on Leave a comment

Our Jac

Blogtober 2021 – Day 11

Last week, in our FB group The Soap Mine Community, I put out a plea for blog post topics – I needed a little help given that I was going into Blogtober totally unprepared 😉 This was one of the suggestions:

Ah, permission to waffle on about our lovely Jac! Well, ok then 😀

Jac joined us almost exactly three years ago, in November 2018. Our eldest child, Carwyn, was eight years old and had developed a real and profound fear of dogs. It’s no exaggeration to say he was absolutely terrified of all dogs. No matter their size, or how friendly they were, he couldn’t go anywhere near them and seriously panicked if one approached him (or even if there was one in the distance). It got to the point that he didn’t want to go for a walk or out on his bike in case in he came across a dog and it had a very negative impact on his day to day life.

A Solution

After much research and discussion, we asked Car if he thought that having a puppy might help him. It wasn’t a snap decision, and to be honest it took some time, and persuasion, for me to come round to the idea – I’d always been a cat person – but Car really wanted to get over his fear and we all felt that getting a dog of our own would help.

Not long after we’d made the decision we’d been told about some Border Collie puppies available on a local farm and went along ‘just to have a look’. Yep, that’s right, ‘just a look’ 😀 We left with Jac.

Puppy Jac
Puppy Jac

I’m not sure which of the children chose his name, but he was officially christened Jac on the journey home from the farm. ‘Jac’ because there’s no ‘K’ in the Welsh alphabet. Let’s just gloss over the fact that there’s no ‘J’ either!

Jac Settles In

Over the next week or so, two completely different issues almost made us question the sanity of our decision. First off, toilet training a puppy is neither easy nor fun. Logically we knew that it wouldn’t last long (and in fairness it didn’t) but when you’re doing it for the first time it is a bit of a shock to the system.

Secondly, and much more worryingly, Carwyn was struggling to get used to our new housemate. Jac was small, but he was boisterous and jumpy, with sharp little claws and teeth. Car took to walking around the house holding a child’s car booster seat in front of his legs to protect himself from the pup’s attentions. Thankfully within a couple of weeks he’d got a lot more comfortable with having Jac around and they started to become buddies. And before long they were the best of friends. What a relief!

Best buddies
Best buddies
Jac being patient!
Jac being patient!
Helping with Homework
Helping with Homework

Three years later, Carwyn is completely at ease with all dogs. Within a few months of becoming best mates with Jac, he was fine around other dogs, and these days actively enjoys meeting new dogs.

And Now

There are, of course, other benefits to having Jac in our lives, not least the fact that one of us HAS to leave the house at least twice a day to take Jac out. He’s an active dog who needs a lot of exercise, whatever the weather. He loves to play with his frisbee and jump in puddles and so, rain or shine, we’re out every day. Interestingly, unlike many Collies, he’s never chewed anything in the house. It could just be a coincidence but I think it might have something to do with us seeing it as a personal challenge to try to exhaust him every time we go out 😀

Lovely Jac – always so happy to see me in the morning and crazy excited when he senses we’re about to for a walk. He gets gently jealous if I’m hugging the children, trying to poke his nose between us if we’re standing, or plopping his head on my lap if we’re sitting down. Jac’s generally very quiet and rarely barks, or makes any noise at all really, until he’s in water – give him a puddle or a stream, a river or a lake, and he’ll swim around barking with pure excitement. He has a really sweet temperament – he loves people and will drop his frisbee at any old stranger’s feet – but woe betide any dog who tries to get between him or his frisbee!

I’m sure there’s plenty more I could say but it’s nearly 11.30pm and I need to press the ‘publish’ button before it’s no longer Day 11. So good night, and thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 12!