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Life

Bank Holiday Monday

It’s heading towards 10am, and I’m still the only person up and about at home. It’s a bank holiday in the UK today – many people have the day off work. Of course the weather isn’t cooperating – while the sun is trying to break through at the moment, it’s forecast to begin raining at lunchtime, and get worse throughout the day. I imagine our house will begin floating away by dinner time. I better start fashioning some oars out of household implements later.

I’m struggling to wake up. I’m not sure why, because I slept like a log last night – and half remember a couple of crazy dreams. One of them involved accidentally transferring thousands into one of my daughter’s bank accounts, and then struggling to transfer the money back again before anybody found out. I wonder what that means?

It’s interesting how the most illogical events or actions become reasonable in dreams.

(many hours pass)

The better part of the day was spent pulling ivy from the shed in the garden, helping my middle daughter create a podcast (for her college course), and doing several runs to the rubbish tip. This morning’s weather forecast was wrong – the rain finally began to fall early this evening. It’s still raining now, and looking pretty much like the world might end.

After washing up this evening I checked my phone, and saw messages from several friends, sent hours earlier. Hopefully they will understand that life occasionally tramples all over me. It seems that “having friends”, “working”, “doing chores”, and “being a part of a family” never quite add up – and “having friends” always seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside.

I saw a quote the other day from somebody famous (I forget who), noting that if you got run over by a truck tomorrow, your employer would replace you within a month or two – but that your friends and family would always remember you. I read it, and thought “yes, but if you don’t work, you have no money, your family lose their house, and you have no smartphone to stay in touch with friends”.

Nothing is ever as simple as a motivational quote.

Anyway. I only have a few hours until the “day off” comes to an end. I should probably go watch something rubbish on the television, and eat something I’ll feel bad about afterwards. It’s funny how that works.

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Life

Grease is the Word

It’s heading towards 8pm in the evening, I’m sitting alone in the junk room listening to the Grease soundtrack on Spotify while the light slowly dies outside, and I’m wondering where the day went.

Frankie Valli is singing the title track. I think it might be my favourite on the entire album. When I was young we borrowed the video tape of Grease from my aunt – who was either in her late teens, or early twenties when the movie came out. We watched it for an entire summer, and knew the words to all of the songs – often singing them with other kids in the neighbourhood in the evenings. Such innocent times – we had no idea what Kenickie and Rizzo got up to in the back of his car.

My other half has gone to fetch our youngest daughter from a meetup with several of her friends. I think she felt guilty about turning us into a taxi service to deliver and fetch her, so bought her mum a jigsaw and some liquorice to say thankyou. Perhaps I should correct that – the “bank of Dad” bought the jigsaw.

The rest of the day has been spent in the garden – slowly removing junk and doing runs to the rubbish tip. Of course the junk has mysteriously been exchanged with new plants following a somewhat secretive trip to the garden centre – I’m guessing that’s the universe’s “conservation of mass” law kicking in.

Tomorrow morning is rugby practice for my younger daughters. A surprise present arrived for them this morning – an “Ultimate” frisbee. The coaches have been looking for interesting “socially distanced” alternatives to shake-up the training sessions. Frisbee is a natural fit, and “Ultimate” frisbees are built like a tank (so should survive 20 teenage girl rugby players flinging it at each other). Who knows – perhaps the rugby club might even look at fielding a frisbee team in the off-season if it catches on.

Beauty School Drop Out just started playing. I’m sorry – I can’t type any more – all I can think of is the rest of the female cast of Grease hidden in plain sight in the scene with the pyramid of girls in silver curlers. It took me years to realise they were all in that scene.

Dammit – I’m going to have to go watch the movie now, aren’t I.

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Life

Does talent breed laziness ?

I have been head-down with work for the last several days. Being busy is good. Unfortunately the garden has taken its cue to inject anything that will grow with Captain America growth serum. I’m pretty sure we will have mangrove swamps by the weekend. I’ve done a deal with my eldest daughter that if she helps me with the garden, I will take part in the internet art course she started some weeks ago. I’ve already warned her that I’m colourblind, but she hasn’t let that dissuade her.

Being honest, I’ve tried not to do any drawing or painting alongside the children for good reason – if they see what I can do, they will compare themselves against me – it’s happened before and it never goes well (or at least it didn’t when they were younger). I’ve never quite figured out why some kids are enthused when they see talent, and others give up.

I would argue that what I have isn’t talent – it’s the result of hard work. I tend to think being interested in something and working hard will always yield better results than talent. I suppose the reverse should therefore be true – that the most talented are the most lazy. Quite a controversial statement. How many of us have known people that were exceptional at something, but never took advantage of it ? I’ve seen it. I’m betting teachers see it all the time, and it frustrates them enormously.

Anyway.

It’s late. I’m jabbering on about nothing at all (as per usual), and I have work in the morning. Time to go read a book, and fall asleep with it propped on my chest.

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Life

Sixteen Years Old

My youngest daughter is now sixteen years old. The little girl that used to hold my leg when unsure, and raise her arms to be picked up when tired is somehow sixteen years old. She still walks up to me for hugs in the middle of the kitchen when stuck for something to do.

Once the smallest, she is now the tallest. She runs like the wind, and has an engine that most athletes would envy – and yet she doesn’t show off, or realise her own potential. She’s happy tagging along with whatever others are doing, although has the strongest sense of fairness and justice I know. Her sense of humor is razor sharp.

Where did the years go?

To mark her birthday, we all visited “Go Ape” yesterday – an outward bounds activity centre perhaps half an hour from home. They have various precarious paths strung high above the forest floor – requiring you to traverse cables, rope bridges, and zip lines – challenging yourself, and building confidence along the way.

At the end of the day we walked to the edge of the woods, and visited one of the locations for a rather famous series of movies. Black Park served as the grounds of Hogwards School throughout the Harry Potter movies, mostly because it backs onto the studios where the movies were made. It reminded me of visiting the woods near my cousin’s old house in California – those woods became famous as the forest moon of Endor. There’s a strong sense of having been there before when visiting.

My entire body aches this morning. Muscles were required that have not been used in quite some time. While waiting on a wooden platform high in the canopy yesterday, I watched the newly crowned Miss 16 from a distance and realised she had no fear, and total confidence in her own ability – which contrasted sharply with her sisters who clung with white knuckles to ropes, and repeatedly whispered encouragement (and swear words) at themselves while screwing their eyes tight shut.

She’s heading to a huge park today to meet friends. A socially distanced “hang out”. I may end up chaperoning her to the edge of the park, then becoming surplus to requirements (other than as a source of money for coffee or ice cream). I’m not entirely sure what I might do, other than find a quiet spot to sit and read a book. We’ll see.

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Life

A State of Continual Distraction

In keeping with the “falling off the blogging horse” theme I seem to have been following recently, I can feel myself being slowly drawn back. It’s curious how that happens. The more scientific might start talking about biorhythms. I’m more inclined to call it a state of continual distraction.

It’s Friday morning. The last day working before a week off. I don’t have any specific project work to get on with, so am doing research and development into skills I will need for an upcoming project. I always find it difficult to focus without a specific aim – I suppose it’s a little like wandering without a compass.

I’m not entirely sure what next week will be filled with. I need to get the grass cut in the back garden, but beyond that I’m not sure. Some long walks with the rest of the family might be an idea – if I can get them out of the house. There are some nice circular walks nearby – through woods, over hills, and across fields.

While writing this (and sipping coffee) I’m listening to a Spotify playlist. Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy just started playing. It always reminds me of the movie “Frankie and Johnny” – where the lead characters finally find a moment of calm after a (quite wonderful) story filled with stress, uncertainty, and yearning.

(five minutes pass while I make a second coffee, and check on the washing machine)

The washing line is now completely full of clothes. By end of day there will be mountains of folded clothes all over the dining table. When the kids emerge I will set them to work – retrieving dry clothes from the line, and folding them (to a fashion) into piles for each person. There’s no point me doing it – I no longer have a clue which clothes belong to whom. My daughters are now the same size as my other half. My simple brain has enough trouble distinguishing between “my clothes”, and “their clothes”, let alone “skinny fit t-shirt with cats on”, “black boy shorts”, “crimson leggings”, “black leggings”, and so on.

People tend to either smile knowingly, or frown when I tell them I live in a world of womens clothes, underwear, and makeup.

Anyway.

Better get on with some work.

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Life

A Mental Health Walk

I walked into town after lunch with two of my daughters – a “mental health walk” – an escape from the walls that have been our prisoner for several weeks. It was good to get out of the house, if only for an hour.

We walked to the big park in town – mostly curious to take a look at the river that burst it’s banks last week. It’s receding now, but that hasn’t stopped the ducks and swans from taking ownership of a huge swathe of the riverbank. I quietly walked up to some of the swans, who showed no fear at all – walking slowly towards me as I approached. My eldest daughter backed away, making worried noises – she had a run in with a swan a few years ago while trying to take a picture of it.

The park was mostly quiet – predictable, given that it was a weekday – but also because it was so cold. After leaving the house snow began falling, and got heavier during the time we were out – beginning to settle on the ground. By the time we got home my face had become numb.

It was good to get out though. The cold weather seemed to remove the idiots that think the Corona Virus doesn’t apply to them. It’s strange how some people are more fearful of the cold than a deadly pandemic.

I found myself in an online debate of sorts with a particular kind of idiot last night, and something occurred to me. The people that complain about political bias, unfair reporting, and support conspiracy theories tend to do so because they have actively chosen to narrow the opinions they take notice of to those they agree with. It’s helped along by the very same algorithmic timeline they also complain about – because they fear missing out on anything. Figure that out – they fear missing out on the very same stories they don’t want to see.

Anyway.

It’s getting late, and I have a meeting first thing tomorrow. I need to sleep.

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Life

Hacking Anxiety and Loneliness

I’m not working today, so have spent much of the day juggling home school assistance with efforts to encourage my eldest daughter to step outside her self imposed seclusion. She arrived in the lounge late last night on something of a downer, so we spent an hour firing ideas at her like a machine gun.

Long story short – she has a blog again, and has been dipping a toe into online chat rooms (or rather, lurking in online chat rooms, petrified of taking herself off mute).

She’s currently sitting at her computer, trying to write a first blog post. It’s painful watching her – I had to walk away. It’s interesting how some people (read: me) can empty our head into the keyboard and magic a thousand words of nonsense almost at will – and some find the extraction of each and every word tortuous. Anxiety doesn’t help.

I think she’s planning on writing about her struggles with anxiety, lock down, and life in general. I helped get her setup with the blog, and write the about page – the first “real” post could take some time. If you have a minute today, go visit Daisiella, and click follow – getting some immediate feedback will hopefully help her see that there is a world out there, and get her over the start line.

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Life

Saturday

I started writing this post on Thursday, and provisionally titled it “Thursday”. I got no further than writing the title before I was called away. I then re-opened it on Friday evening, and got as far as re-titling it “Friday” before being called away again. Let’s hope the third re-titling leads to more than just the title being written. It’s looking good so far.

It’s been a bit of a day.

Since moving into our house a little under 20 years ago, a walk-in cupboard has existed in the corner of the kitchen that has become the classic Monica junk cupboard (you need to have seen a specific episode of Friends to get the joke). Well today that cupboard no longer exists – where it once stood we now have a neat, tidy larder.

I spent much of the day fixing plaster, re-painting, and putting shelves up – covering an entire wall with shelving. I have some skin missing on a palm, and a pretty good spinter buried in a finger to deal with, but otherwise – just glad to have gotten it done.

I guess the idea is to get rid of much of the food from the kitchen cupboards, and use them for saucepans, and so on. Like most families, we end up with tins and jars of this and that buried at the back of cupboards for months or years – and they end up being thrown away. Hopefully having all the food in sight will stop that happening.

It took our eldest daughter no time at all to realise she can visit the new food store without being spotted walking past the living room doorway.

(ten minutes pass while I fall down a Spotify rabbit-hole, adding a number of playlists to my short-list)

We signed up for a family plan on Spotify this week. Having gone nowhere and done nothing for a year, and in spite of spending more than the price of a car to save the cat’s life, we have somehow managed to put some money back in the bank. A family spotify account was suddenly affordable. I think the kids are just happy that their Echos can now find anything and everything they might ask them to play.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find the cereals (if they have not been hidden in the new food cupboard), and make myself some supper.

I promise to write a less pedestrian post soon.

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Life

All Quiet on the Western Front

It’s been a remarkably quiet week in the Beckett household. I suppose the one stand-out achievement of the week has been gaining sight of the bottom of the clothes basket. It took two determined days of running the washing machine non-stop, but at least now I know there is an end to the clothes washing nightmare. I also know that the end does not last.

I’ve had the week off work. While not washing dishes, clothes, or putting things away behind people, I’ve been doing an awful lot of nothing at all. It turns out that while you’re locked down, there’s not much you can do to amuse yourself.

In the middle of the week my youngest daughter roped me into recording a workout with her for a school project. Five minutes of madness taking part in all manner of activities that could be completed in our living room. I learned a number of gravity assisted exercises, and wanted to die a few minutes later. Who knew that working from home for a year would make me quite so unfit?

I’m supposed to go for a run in the morning, but it’s below freezing tonight, and it’s due to snow tomorrow. I imagine the footpaths will be turned into ice rinks. I just checked the weather forecast – the snow isn’t due until 8am, so maybe we’ll be able to run before it arrives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and raid the cupboards for something to eat. I’ll probably end up eating cereal for supper – it’s my “go to” late night snack.