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Life

And then the rain fell

While the sky remains filled with cold grey blankets, and the cats keep watch on the garden from the warmth of the living room, Spotify fills the study with music from a Paris jazz cafe as I struggle to pour words onto the page in an order that might work well together.

I seem to have happened upon a couple of hours of Sunday afternoon where I might chase my own interests for a change. Of course you find me in front of a keyboard. Of course you do.

I filled the morning with two walks into town in search of a water filter for the kitchen. There would have been only one walk, but I forgot my face mask and only discovered it’s absence after walking most of the mile-long-route through back roads towards the high-street. Cursing my own stupidity, I retraced my steps and returned.

While walking I played out the paradoxical situation where you arrive at a high-street shop that sells masks, wearing no mask, and cannot enter to buy one unless you are wearing one.

While writing, a quite wonderful French singer is singing about… something. I have no idea what he’s singing about because my mastery of the French language extends no further than “I am fourteen years old”, “please may I have a vanilla ice cream”, “two tickets please”, and “I love your dog”. It’s quite nice – listening without understanding – you connect to the emotion, rather than the story.

Rain has begun to fall. Puddles are slowly filling – swimming pools for pond skaters, and atomic bomb targets for toddlers in wellington boots.

I wish I had some chocolate biscuits.

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Life

Conjuring Audrey Hepburn

I’m sitting in the study (read: the junk room). Rain is gently falling outside, and I have jazz playing in the background once again. Through the wonders of Spotify and bluetooth, I have discovered how to choose music on the computer, and have it automagically burst from the boombox. I’m sure the neighbours are not happy about this, given the New York jazz band now causing the walls to gently vibrate to a bossa nova rhythm.

I’ve changed my mind about Ally McBeal. I’m expecting Audrey Hepburn to tip her head around the door at any moment, wearing her latest boyfriend’s work shirt, and carrying a black cat under her arm. There’s something about this music – it transports you to a time and a place in your memory.

Anyway.

We just got back from visiting the zero-waste store in town – our kitchen and pantry now look very much like they might fit in at Hogwarts – with glass mason jars filled with all manner of goodies lined up along the shelves and counters.

The store is a genius idea – you arrive with empty containers, weigh them, fill them with whatever you want, weigh them again, and only pay for the weight of whatever you have chosen – no packaging involved. We typically get most of our dry cooking ingredients from them – everything from pasta, to beans, lentils, and all manner of “healthy” snacks. I think my favourite in recent weeks has been dried chilli chick-peas. Or maybe almonds coated in cocoa.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a reading list on WordPress a mile long to catch up with.

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Life

Coffee and Jazz

It’s late on Thursday evening, and I’m listening to jazz on the internet while sipping coffee. I’m going to blame Claudette. She tipped me off about a YouTube channel filled with coffee house jazz, and I fell straight down an impressively deep internet rabbit hole.

Who knew I liked jazz? Does this mean I’m getting old? My late father in law had a huge collection of jazz music – we went with him on river cruises with jazz bands on-board several times over the years.

Jazz reminds me of Ally McBeal. I think perhaps it’s the 90s Vonda Shepard back-catalogue that’s been lurking in my subconscious recently – secretly burrowing it’s way in via a steady stream of Spotify sleepy afternoon playlists.

In my mind – no doubt heavily influenced by movies, television shows, and old vinyl records heard from a distance – jazz is the soundtrack for New York, rain, wistfulness, and melancholy. The music of broken dreams, sadness, and loss.

I like melancholy. I like peace and quiet. I like music you don’t really have to concentrate on – that’s just kind of there in the background – tugging at an emotion, or a feeling. An old friend that’s in the room with you, but you don’t have to make conversation with.

Anyway.

It’s almost 1am again. This late-night head emptying is turning into a habit.

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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

Tuesday Lunchtime

I had been entertaining the idea of escaping at lunchtime, and going for a walk. A few miles out in the fresh air on my own with a podcast in my ears. The weather has other ideas – it has rained pretty consistently all morning. We are forecast snow next weekend.

I have half an hour of my lunch break left. Half an hour to fall down an internet rabbit hole and get nothing done. Spotify is busing playing “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” from a random playlist chosen to fill the silence.

I switched out the theme of my blog before work started this morning – simplifying it enormously. I’m not sure why. I have a suspicion that most people live in the WordPress or Tumblr interfaces, or email subsciptions anyway – they don’t venture to the web to look at much any more.

Writing over at Medium has kind of dried up for the moment. Probably a good thing, because writing when you have nothing to write about is death to creativity and inspiration. I have no doubt I could churn out cookie cutter articles like many citizen journalists seem to, and make a tidy living from it – I’m not sure I would be able to live with myself though. I would rather tell personal stories than parrot manufactured idiocy.

I’m drinking too much coffee at the moment. I imagine boredom has a lot to do with it. Perhaps I’ll get some ginger tea, and substitute out coffee for a few weeks. While thinking about health, I weighed myself this morning. I’m up three pounds from where I was a couple of months ago. I wonder how quickly I can drop it again? Watch this space.

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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

Falling off the Blogging Bike

It’s not so much a case of “falling off the blogging bike” any more – more a case of “has anybody seen the damn bike?”. Or maybe “can I even remember how to ride it?”. It’s not like I’m pushing away for any particular reason, or even that I’m “pushing away”. Life is just happening.

Was it John Lennon that said “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” ?

I’m a bit annoyed with myself, to be honest. I started to reach out to a few people online recently – following a few new voices. After an evening of “being brave”, I’ve hardly been back. I hope those I followed don’t think badly of me. Perhaps this afternoon I’ll carve out some time to go read and comment on their recent posts.

I’m sitting in the junk room, sipping coffee, and listening to Sara Bareilles. I should be working on some writing for the work website, but inspiration seems to have deserted me – hence writing this post instead.

Oh – random update – I hung a new door last week, armed only with a chisel, a screwdriver, a hammer, and a sanding machine. There’s a back-story here – once upon a time our eldest daughter had the room with the door that needed replacing. She once kicked it off it’s hinges in temper, and I patched it up. A few weeks ago one of our neighbours advertised a door to anybody that wanted it – of the same design as the broken bedroom door. My other half got the kids to go and fetch it, and it’s stood in our hallway until this week. Here’s the thing – door frames are very rarely square, and doors are often cut to fit the door frame they are in. I had to re-shape the frame, the door, re-position the (new) hinges, and re-position the locking plate in order to make it fit. I did mention all I had was a chisel and a sander, didn’t I?

I think we’re all beyond stir crazy now. We’ve been holed up in the house together since late autumn. Little annoyances have begun to pull at the loose ends of each other. The children often contribute nothing in terms of help around the house, and then expect everything in return. It’s not going to end well for them.

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Life

Through Caverns Measureless to Man

The internet came of age when I was an impressionable teen. An infinite rabbit hole, filled with ideas, knowledge, thoughts, idiocy, adventure, and everything in-between. Idealism and optimism convinced us that we might find our tribe somewhere deep in the labyrinth, and forge an escape from the world around us.

I still view the internet in rose tinted glasses.

The beginning of a blog post always seems like an opportunity – an empty page, with limitless possibilities. Words that might agree with somebody somewhere, and build an unlikely connection.

The serendipitous discovery of new writers while on expeditions deep in the catacombs of the internet conjures images of Victorian explorers lowering rowing boats from sailing ships to undiscovered countries.

Call me a fool. I will agree with you.

I choose to see a world full of possibility, friendship, and kindness. I choose to ignore the legions of trolls, soap-box politicians, keyboard warriors, and cancel culture mouthpieces that blight the internet I once knew.

The internet is bigger than any one of us. It will still be here when we are gone. We are assembling a treasure trove for future generations of thoughts, ideas, stories, music, and art. It would be a tremendous shame not to take advantage of it.

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Life

Heat, Humidity and Lightning

I just looked on the weather app built into Windows 10 – because of course I can’t just look out the window. In the interests of accuracy, it’s 11pm and the temperature is still nearly 30C. Humidity is above 50%. Lightning keeps rolling across the sky, but no thunder yet. I have a fan blowing into the room, but all it’s really doing is replicating a fan oven – making sure I cook evenly. I also have an incense burner filling the room with smoke, mostly to try and persuade flies that they will die if they come anywhere near me – the smell is really a secondary requirement.

I’m sitting in the dark, while Spotify plays “my” playlist – the stream of go-to 80s tunes that kind of form the Forrest Gump soundtrack to my life, thoughts, and day-dreams. At the moment Christopher Cross is singing “Sailing”. Elton will follow him in a few minutes – something about Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters.

I’m wondering about staying up all night watching a movie. It’s too hot to sleep. I wonder if I can find the bootleg version of “Almost Famous” anywhere ? Did you know there are at least three versions of that movie? The Bootleg version adds about half an hour to the cinematic version, and then there’s another version – more of a Director’s Cut – that adds another chunk on – turning an already long movie into a wonderful musical marathon through some of the best songs ever to grace a movie soundtrack.

I think the incense has burned out – how long until the flies start arriving?

It’s been over a week since I last went for a run. It’s just been too damn hot. They said something on the news earlier that it’s the hottest run of consecutive days since records began – and doesn’t look like getting any better for at least a week. I had been entertaining thoughts of running at 6am, but woke this morning before that and it was already 30C, with clear blue skies and no wind. Madness.

I’m still losing weight though – mostly through not eating junk. That being said, I just made myself marmite on toast for supper. The choice might have had something to do with there being nothing else that was easy and fast to make. I need to buy some more cereals in the morning.