100 words 064

I've spent the day doing something akin to continuous professional development.¹

I'm making an internal website to put strings into a database and get them out again. The only requirements are that putting in has to look pretty and getting out has to use specific permissions.

Originally, I'd intended to learn PowerApps, but SQL connections are a premium feature – I know, right? – and we don't pay for them. I'm trying Django instead. Overkill for this project, but it looks useful elsewhere and it's worth learning on an easy project.


1: Insert your job's terrible name for this here.

100 words 063

Missed a couple of days through illness. Piglet took to inconsolable evening crying till midnight. She refused to be picked up or put down, which was a conundrum.

By the time we escaped the nursery we were a combination of frazzled and knackered (knazzled? frackered?). Any updates would have been 100 words of "Why won't she sleep?"

Much improved last night. She let us eat pork, drink wine and chat like adults. She even slept till 8.30am. Fish and chips on the beach was her reward. A one year old isn't supposed to eat that, but what you gonna do?

100 words 062

Simon Collision linked to Simon Armitage's new LYR album. I was in a spoken-word-set-to music mood this morning and was held up while listening by him reciting sing a rainbow — a song that's been on background loop with Piglet. We're partial to the Peggy Lee version.

I first came across Armitage back in 2008, when I read The Green Knight in a single sitting with a sick Chef napping on me. Our early days, cross-country commuting, where a grey and ill Manchester day still had to be spent together.

I enjoyed the album. And the date.

100 words 061

Doing 100 words each day with a boddler confined to the house is not always easy.

Yesterday marked a week since her vaccinations and the pseudo-measles kicked in. She got to try out a proper sick day. Favourite TV on the couch while cuddling her toys; napping in the sling while The Chef puttered; 4 hour nap instead of 2. She cried all through my evening Mandarin class, so once done I tagged in for my stint.

We reversed roles today and I'm writing this while Piglet does her best pneumatic piston impression, extracting her soothing milk before sleep.

100 words 060

Tonight Piglet got the story of Rebekah, her Filipino Scuba diving bath mirror.

rebekah.jpg

She left the Philippines in '83 because she didn't fit with the Marcos regime and chose the UK for our female Prime Minister and cold seas.

Found Thatcher cold too. But stayed for Leah. They joked about being patriarchs' wives and Rebekah would tease Leah for being a nurse "married" to a Filipino.

They were among the first to have a Civil Service in 2004. When the law changed to allow marriage they had no ceremony because, in their eyes, they'd already been married for a decade.

100 words 059

Piglet's Grandad gets to stop shift work at a sprightly 60.

He's been after quitting the shop floor for years. He even attempted to join QA and use their computers. I'm not saying he and computers don't get on, but, well, I am.

He tried for a forklift job when the existing driver was fired for throwing a chair at someone, but he sued for unfair dismissal, which takes some chutzpah.

When it looked like it fell through he applied for redundancy, shocking the bosses into acceptance.

4.5 day weeks on a forklift with sensible Piglet time. A happy Grandad!

100 words 058

As lockdown powers through its fifteenth week, the pubs and restaurants have been thrown to the wolves and told to open their doors rather than furlough. I've been thinking about how much you'd have to pay me to go to a pub on "Super Saturday". Free beer plus a wodge of cash to take home.

I'd used a Covid dataset for my training session and it highlighted just how badly the UK have handled this:

sombrero.jpg New Statesman

Much more pleasant is sitting on the couch with a Scream for Pizza, a nice Albariño and The Chef torturing the neck massager.

100 words 057

The Chef Spoonered her idioms today. Which meant I learned two new phrases.

开门七件事 (kāimén qī jiàn shì) which transliterates into English as the seven necessities. Namely:

  1. 柴 (chái): Firewood
  2. 米 (mĭ): Rice
  3. 油 (yóu): Oil
  4. 盐 (yán): Salt
  5. 醬 (jiàng): Sauce
  6. 醋 (cù): Vinegar
  7. 茶 (chá): Tea

Swap the vinegar for coffee and I'm ready to start any day, Covid or no.

鱼米之乡 (yúmǐ zhī xiāng) which transliterates as the land of milk and honey. A reference to the fish and rice in the richer South.

I'm adding my own idiom: 北方更好 (běifāng gèng hǎo).

It's better up North.

100 words 056

Forgot that I'm giving a site training tomorrow. Spent the evening writing a lesson plan and creating datasets. This must be how teachers feel all the time.

I've just enough time in the morning to rehearse it once and pray there's no overlooked fatal flaws.

Grandparents visited a slightly whingey Piglet this morning. She had her vaccinations yesterday and she's inherited the family cowardice, which has led to some impressive welts from her struggles to escape the nurse. Grandad is still waiting to hear if he's got his new night-shift-less job.

I've not gotten out of pyjamas today.

100 words 055

The neighbours out back stand and call their cat in every night by shouting "Molly!" repeatedly. Don't they know they should just stand there stage whispering "pspspspsps"?

Our noisy neighbour — the one who thinks 9 pm is reasonable for using power tools and has confined his kids to the house for the full lockdown — has taken to going round between 9 and 10 pm and slamming all his doors for some unknown reason.

Two doors up have a toddler and a baby. The toddler excitedly keeps the baby awake. The baby does not enjoy this.

It's a wonder Piglet sleeps.

100 words 054

For forgotten reasons, Piglet's teeth brushing song is America from West Side Story. The upbeat rhythym leads to cleaner gums. Probably. I keep getting the lyrics wrong though, which frustrates The Chef immensely. PTSD from an unretentive singer in her musical theatre youth.

The new procedure is that she sings the line "For a small fee in America!" If she's not there, me and Piglet just leave a pause.

To cheer things up at bedtime, we've added Love Letter by Nick Cave to the roster.

100 words 053

Watched my first Hey Dugge today. Thoroughly excellent kids TV. With this, The Baby Club and The Clangers, Piglet has started grunting in audible delight at the iPlayer logo.

This week, she's been delightedly grunting a lot. Dogs are her favourite.

Hey Dugge was clearly written by parents who've watched too much kids TV. They've dropped in knowing winks throughout for our entertainment. After an episode, I like the fact that Happy the crocodile has a clearly adoptive parent and I can't decide if it's more BBC to make an episode referencing this or to let it run unsaid forever.

100 words 052

Clouds race by, there's a rainbow growing out of the church and I've been sat thinking about my pre-100 words writing.

Church_Rainbow.jpg

In September 2018, I started a New Year's Resolution¹ to read a book a week. Because "pics or it didn't happen", I made a 52 in 52 folder with reviews for each book.

I'd intended them only for myself, so I needn't worry about spoilers or quality. But... I had a LibraryThing account that I wanted to use, so I did a cut-and-paste job. I went past 100 reviews today.


1: Never resolve in January; it's cold and you're skint.

100 words 051

Having been woken up for the whateverth time at small number o'clock, I lowered the monitor volume to avoid waking The Chef. I dozed off watching Piglet rattling the bars and when I woke, she'd fallen asleep. I remember thinking, "I hope she hasn't hit her head and died," before rolling over with the thought, "If she has, nothing I can do about it now."

Dad of the Year!

She served revenge at 5 am saying "Dada!" and getting my hopes up that I might get first word. Then she turned, looked me dead in the eyes and said, "bababababababa"

100 words 050

Today's update finds us in better spirits. But we've had wine, fish and chips, and two beach trips; how could it not?

Me and The Chef had a few chats about the malaise that's permeated our lives. We've not cleared it, but it's relegated to a background linger rather than a full on fug.

Our first beach trip confirmed lockdown is over. Packed with drunk students and intermingling family groups. Pavement distancing was uncomfortably optional.

Today we went to a less popular beach. It was significantly more pleasant. Room to breathe. And for Piglet to attack the sea with gusto.

100 words 049

Father's Day was treat after treat. The Chef took Piglet while I had my lie in; card and coffee waiting for when I surfaced. And football is back — still mad that it beat the schools opening in this joke of a country — and I was allowed uninterrupted beers on the couch while watching it. Comforting salted pork meals bookended the day like a happy, unhealthy cuddle.

The Monday that followed was less fun. The house pervaded with frustration from work and each other. Lockdown fatigue had seeped in overnight.

Had a bit of a corona-cry this morning, which helped.

100 words 048

We're looking forward to when parties aren't socially distanced. Until then, we had a corker of a first birthday.

The weather held. Garden set like Besźel and Ul Qoma, the food table as customs checkpoint and lots of retrieving Piglet from her border crossings.

We thought we'd knacked her mood by mistiming the morning nap, but the look of wonder when she came downstairs to see balloons.

World-weary at one, she paused, confused, when everyone sang happy birthday at the end. She worked out she was special at that point. And she is.

100 words 047

By now The Chef had had prostaglandin and we were told to not leave the grounds, safe in the knowledge that — as delicately phrased by the consultant — we wouldn't see another sunrise.

I went for takeaway because The Chef wasn't eating hospital food. Birth would be ordeal enough. We ate with disposable chopsticks in the hospital canteen.

Back at our bay The Chef explained to the nurse that she's feeling discomfort, but probably not contractions.

Buzz bounced to the bed to explain that they were contractions and he'd be happy to break her water.

And the longest night got going.

100 words 046

A year ago we got the call telling us the induction was booked for the next day and we headed out to say goodbye to restaurants. As befits someone who wasn't all of the pregnant, I had wine and venison, while The Chef lusted after our neighbour's chips.

Over the years, I've never understood why I say no to the question, "Should we get chips?" Audible regret ever follows.

Our in meal distraction was the middle-aged consultant The Chef recognised taking a young doctor out on what was clearly a date. Or, as was explained to me, another young doctor.

100 words 045

A couple of evenings where work over-spilled put a dampener on 100 word updates. I've been cashing in on a bout of sustained motivation to catch up missed hours and get ahead before our long weekend.

I'm taking Friday and Monday off to celebrate Piglet's first turn around!

The weather is still looking dry enough to host the grandparents for socially distant barbecuing too. If it does rain, we might plead the Cummings excuse that it's essential for them to visit. The three houses are pretty effectively bubbled and the risk is low versus the heartbreak of banning them.

100 words 044

It's fair, albeit weird, to say that I love RSS.

I pay for Feedly and have 420 feeds. I spent possibly too long renaming them to use author's names rather than site brands. Because the web is made by people.

Last year Giles Turnbull ran an RSS-only B&W photo experiment. That was lovely, if a little Canute versus the waves.

So it's the teensiest-tiniest bit upsetting that Typehut doesn't have RSS. It's on their backlog.

Searching for home-brewed options turned up the excellent Five Filters, who have a few web accessibility tools worth investigating.

Anyway, here's the Woohooctopus feed

100 words 043

Until lockdown relaxes more, I think I'm established for a Saturday run to the shops. The route from home to the supermarket is a big fishhook and lends itself to micro-extensions. Today I stuck in extra deviations around the moor, allotments and estate by the church to add half a kilometre to the circuit. Further extensions are obvious, up to about a 15 km total. I live in a lovely area for jogging.

And I know, as soon as lockdown ends, the jogging ends. I don't enjoy it. At least football will be back. And my base should look alright.

100 words 042

Persistent rain has broken The Chef. She hit full mope yesterday. At one point she lost her phone behind a cushion and fell off the couch in sadness. Upon finding it she declared, "I thought I'd eaten it." Further explanation provided no clarity.

She's officially back to work at end of July too. It's real. We're hopeful the nursery can take Piglet on. And The Chef has a day, which leaves two to cover. Grandparents are available, but we're unsure about putting them at risk. It's looking like daddy daycare with evenings and weekends to catch up on missed hours.

100 words 041

I went to work for the first time in 12 weeks yesterday. The experience was familiar, yet different enough to be disquieting. Empty commute. Temperature scan on entry. Mask at all times. First day with the new guy while 2 metres apart. Disinfecting every surface. Hand wash every 20 minutes.

Back home, Piglet needs distracting these days to dress her, else she's off exploring. Tonight was a blanket over the head while racing to do her buttons. That turned into peekaboo. She peeped through the blanket to see me searching for her, which was the funniest thing that's ever happened.

100 words 040

Corona madness is setting in for The Chef. After staying up too late with an unreliable sleeper in the house — after 11 pm on a school night! That was late even before Piglet — I dinged my bedside light off to go to sleep. The Chef's light was still on. Rather than turn it off, she shouted, "WHY IS IT STILL LIGHT?" before realising and embarrassedly dinging hers off too.

Around 30 minutes later Piglet reacted to our descent by starting another tooth. I'm considering becoming an polar explorer.

We really need to get out and interact with other humans soon.

100 words 039

It's been two days since my second jog and I'm not moving like a newborn foal. I'm tentatively going to say that I've improved from my first outing. If I could only do it multiple times a week, I might even get fit.

I miss sport. All the fitness benefits of running, without the crushing tedium. I'm not one for a meditative run. I prefer loud music with hyperactive drummers, interspersed with zombie chases. It's one of the few endeavours where I'll consent to pop punk.

For contemplation, I find walks, baths or impending deadlines much more pleasant and conducive.

100 words 038

After last weekend's full day adventures, the rain made this one more sedate. A restorative lie-in and bath a piece, whilst the other solo parented.

We bought finger paint and Piglet had her first messy play at home. She ate more than she daubed.

I've five regular lullabies:

I should add some cheerier ones to the rotation.

100 words 037

Things that don't entertain Piglet:

  • Going into the high chair
  • Post-meal hands and face wipe (without the right accompanying song)
  • Toys that possess agency
  • 7 to 10 pm
  • Parental mobile phone usage
  • Spinach
  • Things out of reach
  • That night when we hung the cloud on the nursery wall
  • Too much food in her mouth at one time
  • The creak of the nursery door
  • Grandad. And it breaks his heart
  • Eating Treacle's sawdust
  • Any time it's over 21 °C
  • Being forbidden from drinking coffee
  • Loud appliances. Drill and hoover so far. Happily, we're lazy
  • The sound of a turning page

100 words 036

Appraising the Situation after 11 weeks, there's a few surprising things:

  • I got het up about nice things existing and now I have subscriptions.
  • The Applause didn't feel fascist. And I'm someone that thinks Last Night of the Proms looks like 1930s Germany. The first was special.
  • Sanding my feet.
  • Expected to enjoy walking the neighbourhood, but not for it to feel so curative. It's all clean air, quiet roads, birdsong and community.
  • Less work stress. Go introversion!
  • Our 1950s gender roles.
  • Lack of free time. I thought I'd be 40 books in, instead I've managed 3.
  • I'm still blogging.

100 words 035

We seem to have more garden birds this year. A blue tit family is nesting in one of our boxes and we hear the chicks every few minutes as an exhausted parents returns with food. Goldfinch and coal tits are visiting the ivy. Magpies and pigeons roost on neighbours' roofs.

Our garden creche had three baby blackbirds down from the cherry laurel today, tended by their parents. Mama taught foraging while Pops fed his chick quietly. Now there's a barefaced stereotype.

The activity is interfering with Piglet's bedtime. Flybys elicit an excited grunt and sleepiness is lost to concentrated focus.

100 words 034

Piglet's Tiny Tyrant nickname never feels more apt than when I'm peeling and quartering grapes before feeding them directly into her mouth, because she's gotten too bored and lazy to feed herself. It's cemented by her haughty expression of knowing smugness at the situation.

Unless it's more apt when she demands to sleep only while being held in a cuddle, refusing to lie in her cot. Cast as a palanquin, my pot-belly serving as a pillow — her breathing, a babbling brook — teaches me my place in the pecking order.

And you know what, I wouldn't change a single thing.

100 words 033

It would be remiss of me, having done a Saturday round-up, to miss out on our excellent Sunday.

We headed to Druridge Bay with the other grandparents and they got to witness Piglet being fed lunch in her sling. The Northumberland coast is beautiful in the sunshine.

Then back for another BBQ. This time with The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, a T-bone and Piglet paddling in her pool — an early birthday present from her auntie.

Lay in bed with a drink at weekend's close, happy and serenely knackered.

100 words 032

The Chef is solar-powered. Nothing darkens her mood more than the absence of promised sun¹. A common British trait: it's why the BBC report rain on only a 35% chance. 'Most everyone is happy with the asymmetric prediction error.

I pretend to myself that I'm not the same, but would this lockdown have been so personally pleasant without the sunniest May on record?

The feeling is multiplied by the category difference between having access to the family and garden on sunny weekdays and an ice cream at work.


1: Maybe believing the forecast and not sticking laundry out comes close.

100 words 031

We had a front garden grandparent visit yesterday morning. A picnic blanket each and a two metre patchy grass DMZ.

Charity afternoon tea was later delivered and demolished out back while Piglet actually slept. Just regular portions of clotted cream, rather than our usual 100g tub each. All accompanied by a bashful baby blackbird.

IMG_5635_edited(1).jpg

A late afternoon beach trip to Whitley Bay included Piglet's first dip in the sea.

Once home and settled, we tucked into fresh tuna and cava.

My hair is now long enough to comb back over into a style I've always thought of as The Wanker.

100 words 030

The second in the series, things that entertain Piglet:

  • Eating the foam floor tiles
  • Bouncing
  • Donald Duck voice
  • Wobbly faces and eyebrow waggles
  • Mary Antoinette the Marionette
  • Climbing. The. Stairs
  • Bellowing at dogs and passers by
  • Slippers
  • Apron tassles. Dressing gown tassles. Any tassles really
  • Banging on windows. Bonus points if naked
  • Refusing to perform on request
  • Clapping
  • That's not my... books
  • Trying to catch and tame reflected light
  • Blowing on her face
  • The snot sucker
  • Sitting in the sink
  • Beards
  • Socks off if you love the Toon
  • Switches that look like they have a face
  • Our Welsh love spoon

100 words 028 & 029

(Double update to catch up on missed days. 200 words if you will.)

While the weather is gloriously Mediterranean, Treacle is living in the garden. Every time she hears the brash blackbirds she shows the courage shared by guinea pigs and Prime Ministers and flees into her hutch. I don't blame her. I'm not confident I could fight them either.

In an unintentional eavesdrop, we discovered the neighbour-over-the-back-fence's daughter's name. I thought he was having a Covid related breakdown shouting, "Alexa, stop it. Alexa! This is your final warning!" before The Chef pointed out it was likely his daughter. School must be a laugh a minute for her.

In explaining my confusion over the non-voice-assistant family member, I futzed my words and declared that, "My drain has been brinking." I do love beer in the Friday sunshine. When are beer gardens safe to drink in again? I want to sit in the Free Trade and stare along the Tyne.

Our nursery is south facing. Piglet got so hot in her sleeping bag that, on resettling, it felt like cuddling a microwaved potato. Two hours later and still no sign of sleep...

100 words 027

A neighbour's takeaway arrived during the Applause. The delivery driver took the chance to slow-wheel down the street, waving like the Queen, drinking in the praise. Fair play.

I took the Applause solo, as The Chef was settling Piglet. We're unsure, but tooth #9 might be on the way. Piglet was unsettled all day and left most of her food. Instead of going to the worms, it was scattered for the birds and two of the bolshiest blackbirds I've seen took up the offer. They came within inches of me to get some half-eaten vegetables. Fair play to them too.

100 words 026

15 minutes is all these notes need. Yet I keep failing.

But 15 minutes is also all it takes to do a bit of Mandarin each day. I fail at that too.

And 15 minutes is sufficient to read a few pages. With ten pages to a chapter, I finished The Discomfort of Evening in that schedule. It's quieter for doing between 2--4am with a disgruntled Piglet too. Dune should only take a few years.

I can also spend it hate refreshing the latest abuses by that lot. That's 7.5 times what Orwell thought we'd need.

The sun still shines.

100 words 025

I had a pre-queued 100 words for yesterday, reflecting on 10 weeks of de facto lockdown (site closed before the country and we started ours then). But the long weekend was so sunny and lovely I wanted to write about that instead.

Then we had a bottle of wine and a few beers in the sunshine with another BBQ and posting anything went to the wind. I chose happy exhaustion instead.

It was almost the same today — we've just finished planting 300 bulbs — but the purpose of this is to build writing muscles. So a phone update from bed.

100 words 024

40mph winds have the birch sashaying like a raucous auntie after the second bottle. With double-lockdown, what better way to fritter today than admin? Well, loads obviously. But, here we are.

Annual insurance shuffle: compare; ring to cancel; counter-offer ~£25 more than comparison (algorithm's correct guess at my faff sensitivity); accept; agree to call next year.

Switching from one green energy company to another, because I don't like the amount of venture capital at Octopus and Nat writes great weeknotes.

Mobile supplier is making me call to renogogiate and... Piglet's bitten me in boredom.

See you next year!

100 words 023

I've a long-standing inability to estimate a sensible quantity of meat for two people. Yesterday's shop resulted in two 800g T-bone steaks. On getting home, every recipe I checked recommended one between two.

Did we share one and fridge one? Ha! We chose meat coma.

It also meant that when I asked our butcher for a little bit of bavette for a BBQ, she replied with,

"You're going to have to help me with what a little bit means. I don't understand your portion sizes any more."

Next week I'll ask her to police my quantities.

100 words 022

The book I haven't read was playing as I lay on the floor, a baby's climbing frame, trying to remember an untranslatable word¹.

forgotten untranslatable: the poignant sadness you feel for the people your children no longer are.

Once down for her nap, I spent 15 fruitless minutes trying to find it.

Instead I found out that, in other languages, these lists usually include the English word stuff. Which is an excellent word. One that I've noticed non-native speakers often pluralise to stuffs, which is even better.


1: There's probably a word for this.

100 words 021

Second missed update yesterday. I don't remember why. Presume a combination of busy work, busy-work, weather and a good book (page 300 btw).

Work was a slog yesterday. Frustration at what I expected to be trivial. An early start today with fresh eyes to persist with it, meant that by midday I'd done more than most regular days. And the trivial problem?Addressed to a higher standard than needed. A keep and reuse in future level of well.

Holiday in for Friday means I've a 4-day weekend to look forward to too.

100 words 020

I'm still stuttering down stairs like a puppet with a broken string. Collapsing into chairs rather than sitting down too. Hoping my leg muscles relax by day three, cueing another round. Maybe on the bike this time.

5K didn't used to knock me like this, even without regular exercise. But I've realised I'm thinking of when I was half my age.

Touring the garden flowers with Piglet yesterday evening, something caught her attention in the distance. As she stared away wistfully, the breeze picked up and she looked so regal. At least for a few seconds before starting to drool.

100 words 019

Predictably, my quads reacted to yesterday's jog by tightening overnight to the same length as a toddler's. I groaned downstairs this morning with Piglet, my core taking over the job of operating my legs.

Still, they were allowed to tighten by a baby that slept through the night. The whole night!

In celebration, we got a socially distant driveway visit from lǎoyé and the cast iron skillet. Piglet was on tremendous form and they left happy when the rain got too heavy.

Now to lie in a hot, salty bath to convince my legs take it upon themselves to relax.

100 words 018

I cracked and joined the lockdown bandwagon. Not by cultivating and naming a sourdough starter. I went for a run.

I'm not usually a jogger, but with the suspension of 5-a-side and cricket, and the sedentary nature of working from home, I needed to do something. Anything. One Sworkit session a month ago isn't cutting it any more.

Techincally, it was a couch to 5K, in the sense that yesterday I was on the couch and today was an incredibly slow 5K. I even wore high-vis. I'll admit to some shame and self-loathing.

My Zombies, Run base still exists though.

100 words 017

After ten years (!) of studying, I'm still atrocious at Chinese. I was taking advantage of Piglet's new found mimicry to teach her lǎolao (maternal Grandmother) and spent 5 happy minutes teaching her làolao (to brand or sear with a skillet).

The same day I managed to spend too long over-thinking the phrase "Do we have class tonight?" and, by the time I got round to sending it over WeChat, I included three question words. This is not recognised as good grammar.

Still, with the chippy closed, I can ignore my monolinguality and rustle up fish and chips at least.

fish_and_chips.jpg

100 words 016

Some more about our lockdown eating experience.

Our principles have come in handy for staving off The Chef's boredom when making most of our meals. Riverford's recipe boxes have been flawlessly charming; hitting the keep it veggie and try something new points.

We've also started reintroducing takeaways. We lie to ourselves and say we're supporting local businesses — and we are — but it's primarily laziness.

It also took me 4 weeks to remember the existence of backpacks. This has made the walk back from the local shops significantly more pleasant.

100 words 015

The first of an occasional series; Things that entertain Piglet:

  • Rapidly blinking my eyes
  • Setting the hanging pans off swinging
  • Being the weight in a triceps dip
  • Playing peekaboo with her bib
  • 3 am
  • Saying "ow" immediately after anyone else does
  • Crushing a strawberry
  • Hair
  • Passing things from left to right to left to...
  • Beating up plants
  • Baby Jake
  • Dancing to the preset tunes on the toy piano
  • "Milk?"
  • Waving her arms like an inflatable tube man
  • The Fisher Price Circle of Neglect®
  • Feeling like she's controlling Dad by moving his arm
  • Cookbooks
  • Finger up the nose. Hers. Yours. Facetime's.

100 words 014

Yesterday was my first missed update.

Piglet's continued teeth plosion (seven as of yesterday) has led to an accretion of tiredness and house admin. Rather than write 100 words, we took the chance to eat, do some much-postponed online shopping, and nap before the nightshift started.

I've started reading Dune. It's taken years to get it back from loaning it to my sister and another 3 days to get to page 36. Not that it's hard going – just that having teeth cut slowly through gums is shockingly painful and I'm needed for overnight administering of drugs and cuddles instead.

100 words 013

Got a Bank Holiday double gift of a lie in and a bath today. Treble if I include the sticky ribs that The Chef rustled up while I bathed. Hashtag blessed.

Which set me thinking on lockdown's dissociative property, whereby thousands are dying in hospitals and homes over the UK, but for us it feels like just a run of quiet weeks. Assuming the family stay healthy throughout, I think we're likely to have positive memories of the experience; extended family time filled with baby giggles.

That doesn't sound right or fair ⁠–⁠ it sounds selfish. But it's true nevertheless.

100 words 012

Is there a better way to spend lockdown with a small baby, than a BBQ in the garden with a makeshift paddling pool?

Restrictions and queues make an impromptu BBQ difficult. And British weather makes it awkward to plan one.

I went to the butchers on Thursday, based on a 50/50 forecast and some tempting Cook House recipes. On the day, the BBC said, "Showery afternoon. Abandon hope." This depressed The Chef. Alternate meal plans were made. Everyone got sadder.

So we chanced it. Prosecco in the sunshine was our reward.

IMG_5014(1).jpg

100 words 011

The swifts¹ returned yesterday. I watched them through the skylight, feeding in the pink May dusk. Half a dozen were swooping around each other, looping Southwards past the house. They carried on diving playfully out of sight and I stayed to enjoy the evening light. A few seconds pass and three daddy longlegs bounce Northwards past the window, muttering panicked expletives to themselves.

The swifts repeated their show Northwards and, again, out of sight, beat, and a single dady longlegs flies back the other way.


1: I'd thought they were swallows until now².

2: Should footnotes count towards the 100 words? Probably.

100 words 010

Working from home is the extreme version of working from work.

A good day is worth a week in the office. Distraction free, productive work. Actually, it would be fairer to say distraction recoverable. I can procrastinate, but without interruptions, it's easier to hurdle my activation barrier. I can find flow.

Whereas a bad day from home is useless. Missing external triggers, it's too easy to fritter time away. Mindless browsing or deciding to refactor my Outlook rules. I'm not saying these mightn't be useful in future but, with impending deadlines, this was probably not the best choice of week.

100 words 009

Mr_Blue_Sky.jpg

Rationally I know that the blue skies we've had for the last month are just weather and nothing to do with reduced traffic. But I can't fight the association. Hearing birdsong instead of rush hour cements the mistake.

We've been taking advantage of the mistakenly nice weather to patrol the neighbourhood for our daily exercise. The Chef was speaking with the neighbours after the Applause and discovered there's a nature reserve just across from the field we've spent the last month lapping! It's got tadpole ponds, a wild meadow and everything.

We'd make terrible explorers if the situation gets worse.

100 words 008

Repeating appointments mark the passing of time during (what we're contractually obliged to call) The Situation.

Getting the work laptop out. Bin Day. Teams coffee chat. Mandarin class. App training sessions. Veg box delivery. Weekly vendor call. The Applause. Meal planning. Butcher and grocer shop. Afternoon beer in the last meeting of the week. Putting the laptop back in its bag. Friday night treat tea. Saturday lie in. Supermarket run. "Is it too early for wine?" Sunday early solo parent. Grandparents videocall. "Are we doing the sleep schedule right?"

Around the markers, life carries on. Piglet keeps growing.

100 words 007

It was 7 weeks ago today, while my parents were visiting us, that they announced the office closure. Our car was still at the garage, so Dad gave me a lift in to fetch my good office chair, monitor and peripherals.

It was 7 weeks ago today that I set the stuff up in the attic office, gave everything a disinfecting wipe and settled in for the rest of that day's work.

It was 7 weeks ago today that my parents last saw Piglet in the flesh. It's been video calls only since then.

It was 7 weeks ago today.

100 words 006

Mark Forsyth is posher than I expected. Should I be surprised? It seems every English creative is posh now. ~~(Deleted rant about state support.) ~~

But, I now know I'm rambling at Piglet in iambic tetrameter:

Looking out your bedroom windows / We say goodnight to all that grows. / To all the birds, and all the bees / To all the bushes and the trees.

Snuggle in, so warm and dozy / In Dad's arms it's nice and cosy. / Please settle down, don't make a peep / Let's head off to the land of sleep.

Wordsworth it ain't, but it's soothing enough for her.

100 words 005

While queueing for the supermarket, I mulled over previous failed attempts at 100 words in 100 days. Namely, lack of accountibility and poor preparation.

I was writing the notes as if I had an audience, but keeping them in a private folder. The incongruity got to me and I lost motivation at the first bad day. Publishing is my accountibility improvement.

As for preparedness, while my enthusiasm is high, I'm sketching out some generic updates. When Buzzfeed listicles appear, you'll know it was a low inspiration day.

(I promise to write more about stuff and less about process in future.)

100 words 004

Eating every meal at home, we've had to adapt our meal planning. In an attack of geekery, I decided we needed principles:

  • One new recipe every week.
  • Minimum one third veggie.
  • Vaguely healthy.
  • Lunches are hard, so have leftovers.
  • Delight. Without this we just cheat on the board.

Shopping once a week, we can't supplement with unplanned ingredients. On a Thursday night, we sit with a drink and sketch meal options and whittle down to the week's menu. To keep flow when outside, the grocery list gets ordered by shop and aisle.

Once we're happy, it goes on the chicken:

chicken_board_web.jpg

100 words 003

Piglet's reaction to lockdown has been to grow all her teeth in a single sitting and, consequently, give up on sleep.

The obvious effect is that me and The Chef have never been more knackered. We're over-communicating everything to avoid pass agg-ing our way to mutual destruction. But...

 

 

Maximum forgiveness for each other is expected and given.

The secondary effect, is jealousy of other's lockdown lives. We'd love a Switch to binge Animal Crossing and Zelda. Instead we're pacing, shushing and attacking an infant with a Calpol syringe.

Then I speak to parents of toddlers and kids and cry vicariously.

100 words 002

It seems everyone in my rss feed is writing weeknotes these days.

So why have I decided against weeknotes and started with 100 words in 100 days? Because I'm bad at writing.

Bad stylistically. Bad at finishing. Bad at starting.

A constrained form that demands daily attention is my attempt to fix that. These notes are a selfish diary to improve my writing discipline and muscles (not the first time I've typed a sentence like that).

To stick with it, I'll need to stumble on a theme to write about. Lockdown doesn't provide enough novel life to write daily updates.

100 words 001

Attempt two to write exactly 100 words, once a day. Inspired by Jeremy Keith:

"When it comes to writing, there are no shortcuts. Either you’re moving your fingers, putting words onto a screen, or you’re not."

Think of it as my version of baking sourdough. My attempts at bread have been universal failures; rising only as far as edible (when they bother to rise at all).

But maybe I'll do better with a blog. I don't know what to write about yet, but we'll see how this evolves over the next 3 months. Hoping lockdown will have ended by then.

Typehut