Friday Five: Seasonal adjustment

1) What are you doing this spring that you weren't doing 1 year ago?
Making a habit of running or cycling daily.
2) What pandemic precautions are you still taking?
Giving people space, masking up indoors, seeing less of people than I'd like and giving strangers more personal space including stepping off the sidewalk as we pass each other. Also, got vaccinated!
3) What's a safety rule that's very important to you?
Don't surprise drivers.
4) What plants are blooming where you live?
A lot of the spring flowers have come and gone... strawberry flowers are still open, bleeding hearts too, and honeysuckle has some flowers holding on and lots of golden fallen petals under the bushes.
5) What was your most memorable summer job?
Probably working on web development in the mid-to-late 90s as part of a bold little enrichment program which connected talented rural kids with community groups that wanted websites. I discovered ramen, both ends of a job interview, Photoshop and Illustrator, hand-coding HTML, and doing tech projects in teams. I liked how us kids taught each other a lot of what we needed to do and I liked biking to work and having my own money.

Questions: [community profile] thefridayfive

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I just realized that from Oscar's perspective, you've never needed to lick postage stamps. They wanted to know about the history of stickers this morning and I was thinking old lick-and-stick technology was old… I'd forgotten it is also kind of obsolete.

I've got my one dose of Pfizer/BioNTech in me and am currently contributing a bit of plasma to the system — apparently it's a tough year for a system that's kind of strapped in normal times. I'll pick up a few things while I'm out in Gatineau proper and hope I don't get soaked by the rain. We have dates on both sides of the river for relaxing restrictions further; it's nice to have a light at the end of the tunnel but it'll be a pretty quiet long weekend. Maybe ice cream and not-too-crowded beach on Monday?

Planning feels like a mug's game this summer, but it does feel like summer. A few more weeks of school, and then full on summer with things loosened up a bit but kids bouncing off the walls. I hope we'll find our new rhythm, have some fun with household and pod, and be able to plan again in the fall.

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Friday Five — self-care et al.

What have you done lately for improving or maintaining your mental health? What more would you like to do?
I have been getting outside and moving almost every day — running, walking, biking — most days for an hour or more. I'm lucky to have that time to do it, and it feels good to move, get fresh air, and see my local area and how it all fits together. I know where my tofu burgers come from! I know how to get between neighbourhoods! Also, I got my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine (Team BioNTech/Pfizer for the curious, although really Team Get Something In My Arm), which is one thing off my mind and a step toward getting to the After Times.
When did you last eat something specifically because it was good for you?
I think the only thing I "eat" for health reasons is actually making a point of drinking water. I'll remind myself to take it easy on something rich or vapid but I try to eat things that I like eating.
These days, what are you learning about, and what would you like to learn about next?
Management, union-ing, exercise training (taper! cross-train! stretch!), 18xx games (mostly 1846).
What’s positive about your physical appearance lately?
I trimmed my hair and beard yesterday! And I'm a bit sleeker than pre-pandemic thanks to all this running.
What will you do this weekend to bring joy into your life and a smile to someone else?
I'm going to play silly online games with a friend living alone, help make nice food appear for Mother's Day, and DM a D&D session with some of my favourite people. And probably get outside on feet or wheels.

From f.riday5.com

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It's May already

It's been a bit of a challenging winter and spring here, as everywhere. We're all still healthy here, employed, eating eggs from the backyard hens, so not as challenging as it could be, but still.

One of my union colleagues died last weekend. Mehran was quick to welcome me aboard when I got elected to the national Research Group executive, and quick to be friendly and to do what needed doing in general. He was also curious and open and talked happily of his love of food, dance and life in between matters of helping members and being good unionists. I'll miss him; there'll be a very empty virtual chair next weekend at the Group meeting.

Work is a bit of a slog... getting traction and coordinating people is hard and tiring sometimes, and there's a lot of staff movement and random requests going around. I might be able to make some good changes in an upcoming Lean process review, which would help me feel like I'm leaving things in good shape when I find an opportunity somewhere that fits me better. The return to virtual school for the kids, extended one week at a time since Easter, has thrown my routine and energy out of wack, even though Elizabeth has been taking the brunt of the daytime parenting. I have a fair amount of extracurricular stuff going on — Positive Space is getting more active again, union work continues with consultation and a stewarding case that might have legs. Those extras are work but they help make work more meaningful. In good pandemic news, our age slices are up for registering for a first shot next week... I'm hoping for Johnson and Johnson just so I'll be done (and apparently there are 300k doses of J&J coming into Canada now, but there are some possible bumps), but any shot in my arm is a good shot.

I've been mixing running and biking for my mental health/exercise time. I'm still shooting to run and now also bike every public street with asphalt and a name — I'm over half done on the bike and nearly two-thirds on feet. I've been varying it partly because if I run long distances too many days in a row my muscles have some concerns. But overall I'm getting pretty good at this, and seeing everywhere in the Hull sector at least twice, sometimes in different seasons, has been pretty cool. I know where our favourite tofu burgers come from because I've run past the factory in an industrial park. I can see new streets and developments go up, moving the goalposts for this whole silly game.

I'm missing seeing my Vanier loves in person — we've got our stopgaps — virtual D&D, grove rituals (happy Beltaine!), video storytime (Heather has finished the first book of Lord of the Rings with the kids) and various one-on-one chats. I used to do walk-and-talk after the kids were in bed by phone, but the 8 PM curfew has made that harder. Once the restrictions are loosened maybe walking and talking in person will be a thing again.

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Friday Five

Sure, a prompt for some reminiscing from [community profile] thefridayfive...

1) What's the furthest place you've traveled to in the last 12 months?
Likely picking up chickens from Perth-ish, 75 minutes' drive away.
2) What's the most interesting small town within driving distance?
Wakefield is pretty cool, although it's fallen on hard times since the steam train shut down due to a washout of some of the track. There's Lester B. Pearson's grave, good walking, a train turntable, and lots of good hippie food.
3) What's the coolest tourist attraction in your city?
Being in the capital region there is a lot, but in Hull proper it's probably the Canadian Museum of History, which contains the Children's Museum and an IMAX theatre, built when people thought 70mm movies were a neat idea. It's an impressive building and grounds, and has a huge variety of interesting exhibits including a lot of Indigenous content and parts of buildings brought into the space. It used to be called the Museum of Civilization but the Harper Régime found that too outward-looking or didn't like civilization or something.
4) What was your favorite road trip you took as a kid?
All the New England camping trips kind of blend together, but there was one where we were camping in a lean-to and got on well with our camping neighbours and ate jalapeño chips which left an impression.
5) How often do you feel like you've got to get away?
On some small level, I try to do that daily with a walk, run or bike ride. But I do feel due for a date, a trip, a break out of the routine...

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Year in review

It's been a while since I've done one of these.

1. What did you do in 2020 that you'd never done before?
Made Yorkshire pudding. Run a half-marathon distance. Gave plasma by aphresis.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm not sure I made any last year. This year I'm vaguely committing to keep running, connect more with friends and mentors, make my work life better and maybe ferment some things.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Our elderly Druid and friend Judith. I can still sort of hear her voice and think of her lots — she's all tied in with the turning of the seasons now in my head.

5. What countries did you visit?
Unsurprisingly: none.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
More time in person with more people.

7. What date from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 16, when we all went home from the office in the morning.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Probably getting the go-ahead to become part-time faculty at the Canada School of Public Service, teaching Positive Space training.

9. What was your biggest failure?
A Pride seminar that we had to reschedule a bunch of times that still hasn't happened yet. Logistics happen.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing beyond the routine stuff.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Possibly a used office chair for my home office. My back is better for it.

12. Where did most of your money go?
There wasn't a dominant category but a lot of it goes to various sorts of savings as well as food and drink.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I think I was really stoked to do my secondment at the beginning of the year and to get good at running. The CSPS position is pretty exciting too!

14. What song will always remind you of 2020?
Maybe "Happy" by Mother Mother.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder?
About the same?

ii. thinner or fatter?
My shirts fit better!

iii. richer or poorer?
A little richer: I've been saving, I have a steady job and no major debt. And I kept saving in the economic turbulence which really helped.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Cultivating relationships and organizing for good.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Being overwhelmed and spinning my wheels.

18. What was your favorite TV program?
Sex Education. So cute and engaging. It's nice to find out about a show when there's already a couple of seasons out but now it's a long wait for Season 3…

19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No… some people frustrate me, I'm envious of some of them, and some people just get on my nerves but I don't feel a lot of hate.

20. What was the best book you read?
Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber was thought- and feeling-provoking.

21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
[personal profile] sabotabby put me on to Bob Vylan, who is raw and biting and Punk and very good.

22. What did you do on your birthday?
I had a backyard gathering where my parents as well as Heather, Andrea and Morgen made it.

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It's Christmas, but also: what day is it?

Christmas 2020… waiting for the remote family Zoom call to begin. We made sure there was a plain old telephone option for Dad (we call him) and I've put the chairs in places where all five of us can be in the frame.

This is the first Christmas in a while that we haven't been driving. It slows the day down nicely, really, although I miss being at my parents' place, the home of my youth, and with everyone there. We have spread out the festivities, we saw Elizabeth's parents outside yesterday and spent some pre-lockdown Pod time with Heather, Andrea and Morgen. Today was just the five of us around the house: presents, breakfast, lunch, cookies, trying the new games, the cat sitting in the new boxes. I took a run around our thawed-out neighbourhood. The Messiah and Queen's Christmas Message we would usually listen to in the car we streamed into the living room. Ada just changed out of her PJs for video gathering and supper. I'm making stuffing for the first time ever and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas for the first time — learned to make it as first lockdown set in this year.

It has a bit of an early Boxing Day feel to it, really. And honestly I keep having to check what day of the week it is…

Happy Christmas all who do it!

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Longest night eve

We're fairly Christmas-y here: tree up, elf maurauding, gifts mostly found, some still in the hands of the good workers of the postal service… It's been a bit of a marathon getting things together and also moving work forward. I'm looking forward to a little break between the holidays! I know I need it, my body lets me know by popping my shoulder out :( In this case just stretching in bed. It's back in and a little achy. Elizabeth has her aches and pains too. With any luck, and with our to-do lists fairly short, we can be in good shape for Christmas. I hope to take some more days off from work over the winter once some major projects are handed off from my unit. Pacing myself will be important.

The kids are schooling from home on either side of the Christmas break. The first day was a bit plagued by technical difficulties in Teams but now it seems to be working well. The music teacher edited together songs from every class to form a Christmas concert, and the class teachers moved the pyjamas and stuffed animals in class up to the last in-person days.

Tomorrow night is the Longest Night. We'll welcome back lengthening days and conduct our first (video-linked) ritual after Judith. I think her send-off will be gradual, given the health situation of the world and her impact on lots of us, but we'll collectively recognize her and remember her tomorrow.

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Fear is a teacher

Rands muses on something I've felt has been rattling around my memescape over the past couple of years… being from the memescape, it's not groundbreaking but it's what tweaked me to post.

It's been a bit of an autumn… a little over a week ago we lost a radical elderly Druid (never a Druid elder, she insisted that was a kind of tree). Her passing was a surprise to everyone and I can still hear her voice in my head when I think of her. Elizabeth made a list of little tributes to her including picking up trash, gardening over more lawn, being kind to animals and looking for meaning, and the one thing I can think of to add is chipping in a little extra to the food bank and to people facing oppression (most recently the Mi'kmaw fishers being terrorized in Nova Scotia).

We're also trying to wrap our heads around holiday plans, avoiding as much marginal risk increase as possible and still make it happen — gathering with who we can, distanced present drops and walks with others, Zoom and Canada Post with further flung people and cooking up a storm. We're going to make it happen. And whenever things are sufficiently normal we'll gather again with people we haven't gathered with in a while. Not being able to visit makes me miss people more.

Work is also pretty intense lately; there are urgent projects and personalities to wrangle; I'm feeling like I'm more in manager than statistician mode right now. My supervisor says I'm doing fine but I'm not always so sure.

I've been running regularly and keeping track on Strava (find me there under my real name if you're interested). Quantifying it motivates me — in these first few months I've gone from being able to sustain a run for under a kilometer to being able to do 10+ km at a moderate run or a mixed stagger for over 20km when I'm feeling really ambitious. My shirts fit better too, and it makes the neighborhood feel closer together feeling that more of it is reachable on foot.

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Oscar is 10

Oscar turned ten on Friday; they wanted to invite a lot of people to celebrate but public health guidelines weren't going to allow that… so we had an open porch/yard all weekend and we had five mini-parties mostly outside and distanced. I think that scratched their itch, and as we had social cupcake eating with all our guests, I'm good for cupcakes for a while ;)

The most momentous gift was a kitten, Zora, that needed adopting conveniently right around Oscar's birthday. We unearthed cat supplies and got things set up over the week, and Zora arrived Friday afternoon. He's black and white and purrs very loudly and spent the first few hours hiding but is now playing and being a fully functional kitten. I keep reminding the kids to give him his freedom and build kitten trust but they're carrying him around a lot.

Oscar is still definitely a kid, still needs a booster seat for another 2cm, plays with everything… but they're 10 and growing up, grappling with gender, good to go on short errands, make phone calls, have friendships independently of us. It's a funny age, I guess, and each kid does it a little differently, but it was fun to celebrate two digits this weekend.

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