“Thank you” he said, wrapping the second tissue around the small stack of slightly soggy crumpets. “That’s really sweet of you.” He looked at me, “this is the sort of thing I’ll still remember in 10 years..” He paused and looked briefly at his feet before looking up again, “..I wonder what I’ll be remembered for, 10 years from now..”
Many, many thanks to Amy for her patience and company while I fried my very first homemade crumpets until the early hours of the morning – I’ll remember this too 🙂
Written January 23rd. Posted now because my back is mostly better 🙂
At face value, eating sausages (and beans) with a wooden spoon is not an undertaking I recommend. As it is, I was very thankful for it, and not in the least willing to do anything to change it.
I’ve been organising my flat. That’s a euphemism for ‘creating complete and utter chaos and devastation’.
It’s a useful kind of chaos, the sort that will hopefully produce tranquillity and calm and lots of free time when I’m finished. In the meantime I am refusing to let people in because I don’t want to be evacuated or end up on an episode of Hoarders..
Once upon a time, way back in spring last year when I still thought I was quitting everything and going cycling, I got rid of most of my cupboards* and bought 60 small book boxes from Ikea instead. They have lids, they stack well and they’re sturdy enough for books. No one is paying me to say that :p.
Anyway. The cupboard buyers came before I’d sorted and got rid of or packed the contents of the cupboards so I emptied them (the cupboards) into piles of things to to deal with later.
‘Later’ is a tricky thing. It doesn’t happen the way you think it will.
In this particular case, I left the piles of things and flew home to see my family, planning to finish packing everything and repaint the flat when I got back…..and then the world closed and none of my plans was a real option anymore.
When life give you lemons, you make lemonade. When the world gives you a pandemic and border closures and cancels all your plans for the indefinite future, you make new plans.
So I made new plans. This time they were plans to make the indefinite future the best it could be, starting with my flat, since I would be spending a lot of time in it..
I decided not to replace the cupboards, partly in an attempt to motivate myself to keep thinking of cycling and downsizing and partly because I liked how big my flat felt without them.
Instead I bought another aquarium and a trampoline. Because who wouldn’t, right? And then I decided to decorate the bare wall behind the new aquarium…which I’d have to do before putting the aquarium in place and setting it up because of the awkward impossibility of trying to work round it.
‘Decorating’ involved cutting the background out of a roll of leafy wallpaper with a tiny craft knife and pinning the remains to the wall with bug-shaped drawing pins. The results are a lot more awesome than the description but it wouldn’t be something I could afford to buy, even if they charged minimum wage for the time.
Working on it required many many many hours and almost my entire sitting room floor, so all my remaining furniture (4 seater sofa, coffee table, CD rack, trampoline) plus the new aquarium, the small aquarium and the contents of my ex-cupboards towered precariously around the edges.
When the wallpaper finally went up on the wall, the towers of things spread into the available space and the aquarium cupboard took up the fight for my time and energy.
Trying to make 8 adjustable feet match floorboards that are off level in all directions at once is a nightmare. Especially when the feet are joined to an unwieldy quarter cylinder of cupboard. They don’t even give in when you glare at them. I eventually admitted defeat and let H sort it out. (He dismantled the cupboard first, which seems vaguely like cheating but I wasn’t going to argue.)
Then I went socially distanced gallivanting for a bit.
Then I had to go back to work and everything else came to a standstill. I have no idea how ‘People On The Internet’ have enough energy to do all the things they do because my batteries are fully depleted after working and eating. Ok, I was also trying to get my time sheet out of negative hours and teach a couple of kids English, but nothing objectively crazy or strenuous… subjectively though, even getting washing done or going food shopping during the week was very hit-and-miss.
At weekends I tried to catch up on sleep and housework and get some km on the bike. I dabbled in boxes of papers and packed clothes for the local clothes swap/donation place. Nothing really made a noticeable dent in the pile. I could have packed it into the cellar but I really wanted to avoid filling it with things I didn’t intend to keep and the things I wanted to keep were generally things I use enough for it to be awkward in the cellar.
In the lead up to Christmas I had the amazing idea of making advent calendars for a good handful of people. It turns out advent has a lot of days, and lots of advent calenders have many lots of days. Miniature packages might be tiny in their own right but somewhere in the region of 200 miniature packages take up a lot of space. And time. And require continuous effort. And I still didn’t get the last ones sent until Christmas Eve…..
In the middle of all that, Ex-DB finally agreed for me to go and collect my remaining belongings from his house. (Wheee!!)
In my memory there were a couple of shelves of books and a sewing machine. In reality there was enough to warrant multiple trips in a not-very-small car.
For various logistical reasons, I ended up borrowing traditional, big moving boxes that I emptied each time I got them here so I could reuse them for the next load and give them back after the last.
Despite 7 months and various lockdowns, I hadn’t found a suitable ‘later’ to properly deal with or find homes for my original stuff, and there really wasn’t a lot of space to pile new things..
..I went back on my decision to remain cupboardless and arranged to pick up a shelf-cupboard-combination that would cover a whole wall.
That would mean losing all the wallspace I wanted for my map of the baltic sea though, so I had a rethink and did some measuring and came up with a whole chain of changes, each reliant on the previous chainlink.
Get rid of the chest of drawers in the hall and replace it with a shoe bench and a stack of box drawers, leaving enough wall free for the white board from the sitting room, which in turn would free up a wall for the map. Then I could get the shrimp from the small aquarium into the new one, sell the table they were on and make space for the new shelf&cupboards. The shelf that used to be under the whiteboard could go up in my room and the computer monitor could go directly onto the wall, freeing up desk space and making the desk useable.
The first bench I bought wouldn’t fit into the space I provided for it, no matter what the tape measure said. I put it aside and got a different bench. Selling it requires too much brain power at the moment.
The new bench is actually just a couple of drawers with a thin lid. I wanted to be able to stand on it to get to my whiteboard and it’s definitely not sturdy enough for me plus my corona-kilos.. H is making, painting and varnishing a thick wooden board to go on top which will be amazing when it’s finished. Until then though, it can’t function as a bench, the wall boxes can’t go up and I can’t use my planning board.
There’s very little point in filling the boxes before they go up so those things and the boxes are wandering around homelessly.
The shelf-cupboard is huge and ridiculously heavy. The pieces are still waiting to be put up properly. Remember how the floor under the aquarium was off level? So’s the floor where this new thing is going. And the wall isn’t flat. And there are no right angles to be found at all. There are adjustable feet though. Yay.
While I muster up the confidence to adjust feet and drill holes, there are other things to keep me busy….
I got a new-to-me bedside table and a couple of matching plant tables this week, and I’ve been (loosely) following Dawn’s Clutterfree January program so there are boxes of plates and cups and clothes and a filing cabinet/bedside-table looking for homes, or at least waiting to go in the cellar or be donated.
I also, in a fit of pre Christmas madness, bought a couple of on-sale amaryllis bulbs which were desperate to be planted. The amaryllis bulbs from previous years were quite suicidal so I wanted to put them into a pot together so they can keep each other company and hopefully not pull each other over.
Cue thoughts about pots. If I’m going to plant things and get compost everywhere, I figure I might as well get all the the plants done in one go. I have window ledge boxes in the sitting room. German windows open inwards though and the boxes were always a pain. Time for new boxes.
There are very few flowerpots in the shape I wanted, so I bought boxes that weren’t designed for flowers. They are like fancy shoeboxes with lids and handle holes. I taped up the handles and melted holes in the bases with a soldering iron. The new amaryllis bulbs got one and I repotted the plants from my boxes into the others.
There are a few more plants to pot on and I need to get a couple more boxes for them. The compost is still in the kitchen with all the balcony plants that need protecting from frost.
The small aquarium needed to be emptied to make space for the new cupboard, requiring the new aquarium to be replanted – it was originally planted in the middle of the night and it showed – and the shrimp caught and transferred. I’d bought a fertiliser layer to go under the sand in the new aquarium. My plan to empty half, add the fertiliser and backfill, completely backfired. Sand is not a helpful accomplice. As I was ready to put the sand back in, I noticed something suspiciously like the leeches I found in the old aquarium last year. I put new sand in. New sand needs washing before it can go in an aquarium. Kilo for kilo. Rinse for rinse. Broken fingernail for broken fingernail.
Also, shrimp aren’t easy to catch.
So anyway, like I said, everything is chaotic.
Today I decided to put things in rows to make the obstacle course slighter more predictable. I made a first-attempt-bench sized space on the rug in my room, cleared a path to the sitting room by piling everything on the bed, and bent down to pick up and drag the bench into place…
“Nope” said my back.
“Really?” I bent down again.
I had barely touched the bench before I gave up on the idea and went to lie down on the rug. (The bed was full of boxes)
After a long time I sat up and sorted through another box.
A long time after that I got up enough to fill a hot water bottle and climb into bed around the boxes.
Several hours later, I was hungry and the hot water bottle was cold.
I threw some sausages at the grill and some beans into a saucepan and refilled the hot water bottle. When everything was done, I scooped the sausages into the saucepan and a cork mat under it, and made my way back to bed, clutching the hot water bottle and wincing.
I only discovered the lack of cutlery once I was back in bed and had manouvered myself into a fairly painfree position. Move again? Nah. I’m here for the duration. Shame I didn’t have a hand free for something to drink…
I hope I’ll be ok tomorrow, I really don’t fancy dying of thirst (or having a ‘serious’ back injury)
Edit, several hours later: made it to the kitchen for a hot water bottle refill and some water 🙂 Now to find a way to sleep between the boxes..
* most = seven of them. I kept my wardrobe and the chest of drawers in the hall purely because I hadn’t got as far as selling them yet
Hell hath no desire to buy power tools like a woman determined not to be dependent on people who don’t deserve it…
I just bought a drill.
It’s not the exact model I really (really) wanted but it was available and much cheaper and close to where I live. It will do the job. I hope. If it doesn’t, I will get rid of it and move on.
With some of the money I didn’t spend on the posh drill, I bought a set of posh drill bits.
And a set of posh screwdriver bits.
And a posh box of screws.
And an assortment of posh rawl plugs.
And a posh spirit level.
And a posh(ish) bluetooth speaker.
And gave a beggar my last Jammy Dodger* and 51ct.
If I’d given him the change from the posh drill he wouldn’t have to beg for a while. As it was he only got the actual change in my purse. And a biscuit. Now that Brexit has been fully brexited it’ll be harder to keep the supply chain going, so I hope he appreciated it.
Time to head home now.
This might have been a slightly unorthodox retail therapy trip, but I think I’m now ready to change more than the way my house looks…
* English biscuits with jam in. They’re not really that exciting except that they taste of birthday parties and childhood and I love them.
Recently A month ago (!!) I wrote about how well things were going. Pretty much directly after pressing publish, my mood and my house nosedived into a swamp of grey, exhausted ugh.
Like before, I blame the vitamin D. Except in this case more the lack of.
When my deficiency was first diagnosed (last autumn) I went to the chemist and asked for vitamin D. I didn’t look at the various brightly advertised packages in the main shop, I went straight to the the counter and bought the boring-looking box of tablets I was offered. I figured they were most likely to do the job if they didn’t have to work on convincing you how much they were doing.
I read somewhere that just existing uses up approximately 500-1000 units a day. In summer it’s usually easy to produce enough to live on and have some left over to store for winter. I was outside a lot and it was a very sunny summer, I just seem to have a problem with the production part of the equation. At the end of the summer I had way less than most people have at the end of the winter. Whatever. I’m supposed to be replenishing my stocks so I was told to take 2000 units. The Internet is full of opinions and some people are convinced that I could easily triple the daily dosage or take a lot more once a week. I am very wary of taking too much of anything so I chose to go slowly and steadily, taking them daily and according to the instructions.
I noticed the difference almost immediately. I could pick things up, my cycling speed increased (a bit), I didn’t cry so often. I wasn’t as tired. I was amazed. Life was more lifelike.
<..approx 3 months later..>
I went home (to my parents house) for Christmas and didn’t take enough tablets with me (I had a spare sheet at work but forgot to pack them). I was ok, I’d mostly forgotten what life was like without them and I figured I could take them on alternate days or take less to make them last longer. It wasn’t as if I was going to be there for long, just under 2 weeks.
I got progressively more irritable and a few days after Christmas my brother had the questionable pleasure of an evening in my tearful mope-y company. Not a good use of the available time.
I headed to a supermarket for more tablets. They were much weaker, I think 250 units each, but I took several at a time and they tided me through til I got back. I didn’t want to waste them so I took one strong one instead of two and made up the difference with the weaker ones.
On the recommendation of a friend who swears by them, when I reached the end of the box, I decided to swap the tablets for drops. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it made sense to buy it ‘pure’ in oil without the chalky tablet material. There are a million options online and unfortunately very little regulation so I bought the sort she uses to reduce the risk of being scammed. The bottle was quite expensive but contained the equivalent of several boxes so each individual dose worked out (insignificantly) cheaper. You can drip it onto food or a spoon or directly onto your tongue. The bottle is glass and there’s no plastic blisterpacks involved. Theoretically they are a good thing.
In practice, and in retrospect, after taking nothing for a couple of days while I waited for them to arrive and using the drops for a month and a bit, I have the feeling that they don’t have the same effect, or possibly have no positive effect at all.
March was hard.
Everything hurt, I struggled to pick up my water filter or heave my bike up curbs. I couldn’t make the glass do what I wanted it to do. Getting up was arduous and getting out of the house was a feat. Cycling to work was challenging and slow (for a comparison, I cycled something like 80km over one weekend in February without a problem). I was permanently cold. I stayed at home at weekends, occasionally in bed.
I spent a week or so crying, more or less nonstop, about ridiculous things (like signposts and Google’s inability to direct me to where I want to go), and broken things and things that feel like they matter (even though they partially only exist in my head) and things that aren’t even things, and occasionally I just cried, no reason necessary.
Sometimes crying is/was the only thing that makes/made sense. Even when it doesn’t.
If I cried in the morning I stayed at home until I could stop my eyes leaking long enough to feel safe taking my bike on the roads. If I cried at work I took a break and typed up invoices instead of blindly playing with fire and hot glass. If I cried at home in the evening I took myself to bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues. I cooked and ate out of the saucepan or the frying pan, or didn’t cook and ate cereal out of as many bowls as I could without having to wash up. I left everything scattered on the table, worktops or on the floor next to the sofa. I didn’t do anything non-urgent. I made a point of not trying to not cry.
Last week, during a midnight crying attack, I wrote a whole post (in my head) about how everyone tells you to surround yourself with people who are better than you so you improve at whatever you want to be able to do, and how none of them ever tell you how to deal with permanently feeling like you are completely incapable.
From where I am, it doesn’t matter which way I look, everybody I have anything to do with has something they excel at. All around me, nothing but experts and success. PhDs, renovations, world travel, glassblowing masterpieces, speeches, new jobs, new houses, holidays, woodworkers, programmers, telescopes, exhibitions, parties, readers, writers, opening ceremonies, secretaries with neat cupboards of labelled and ordered paperperfection, makers of bread, collectors of overtime, parents of multiple children, runners, cyclists, etc etc etc. People are constantly doing things and doing them well. All the time. (For ever and ever. Amen.)
Faced with and compared to all this genius and talent and knowledge and ability, I failed on all fronts. Unless wallowing counts, and even then I know people who are properly depressed and not just paddling in the shallows where jealousy and “can’t even” and inadequacy and self-deprecation and all kinds of darkness lurk.
When I told her at a check up, my Obgyn said the lack of strength and motivation and excess of tears is probably either Depression or Deficiency and ordered another vitamin D test to see if I’m actually building up a Depot like I’m supposed to, or if I need to up the Dosage (look at all the Ds!). She asked what, if anything, had changed in the last few months and the only halfway relevant thing I could think of was switching to drops. She agreed with the theory that oil is a “better” solution, but suggested I go back to what works. Apparently different people are better able to use vitamins in different forms.
Given the choice, I told her, I’d much (much!) rather take the deficiency – especially when you can get tablets in every chemists and most supermarkets, and therapists are booked out until approximately 2080. She laughed and wished me deficiency (Germans are experts at wishing people things).
The other day I was talking to H about various things and he said something along the lines of: “..and you saw me. As a person, not just someone who was doing something. No one else does that..”
The best thing about it?
He wasn’t “just being nice”. He wasn’t scraping the barrel for things he could cheer me up with, he was genuinely thankful for being seen and was telling me as part of his story. It wasn’t about me.
A couple of days before that, B had a problem with something her husband had said. We talked and wrote and thought and discussed. Once he/they had smoothed things out, she wrote to thank me for taking the time to listen, and for giving her the chance to go through her thoughts before they spoke.
If I rack my brain and trail through my emails/texts/letters I find evidence of other people who have said similar things.
I think I’ve found my super power.
I can’t do all the things but I can see the people who can, and not doing all the things gives me time to be there for people (most of whom are in the middle of doing or about to do great things).
If I can be good at something, I can work on not minding being awful at everything else.
Going back to the crying, maybe I just needed a break to wash my eyes so I could get on with seeing.
(I bought a new box of tablets too – I couldn’t keep up with buying tissues :))
There are some days when I go shopping on the way home from work and come back with a bag full of ingredients and a head full of ideas for dinner. Days when I look forward to peeling and chopping and frying and mixing.
And then there are days like today.
A day where I get home, fall into a chair and only think about moving when I realise it’s dark and I’m hungry.
A day when washing up a saucepan* in order to heat up a tin of beans feels like too much work.
A day on which sitting at the table with a knife and fork trying to keep the beans from flying across the kitchen is a daunting prospect and wielding a cheese grater something unimaginably difficult.
On days like today I cheat.
I tear the toast into pieces, dropping them directly into the saucepan** with the beans, and crumble a piece of cheese on top with my hands. Then I stir it with a wooden spoon until everything is a big sticky lumpy orange mess. And then I go back to my chair and eat it. Out of the saucepan.
And then I call it a day and go to bed, leaving the unwashed saucepan on the counter in the kitchen..
Night all! 🙂
* edit: one I didn’t wash up after using it last time..
** For anyone wondering, yes, I washed the saucepan first, before I started cooking. :p
A couple of weeks ago, I took some friends on an exploratory trip around my part of the world.
F pointed out an advert for “cinema night” on the notice board of one of my local churches. They were going to show a children’s film, followed by a film called “More than honey”. None of us had heard of it, so I made a mental note of the date and decided to look the film up online when we got back.
It’s a film about bees, or more accurately about the role and treatment of bees around the world. It was produced by the people who made ‘We feed the world”, a film I watched several years ago. I can’t exactly say I enjoyed watching it, but I was glad that I did.
This one sounded like a watchable film too.
I asked H if he wanted to come with me. It was something we might have done anyway, but we decided, semi-jokingly to call it a first date. It also meant we could go in his car ;).
When we got there the church was not only dark, but also locked.
After much puzzlement, lots of wandering around looking lost and a more careful study of the advert, we discovered that the church displaying the notice wasn’t the church showing the film. Google maps wasn’t particularly helpful, as it reckoned the film-church was in the same place as the notice-church. It took quite a lot of sleuthing powers to find out where the film-church actually was, by which time we’d missed a considerable amount of the film. The film-church was several km away, so getting there would have gobbled up even more of the film time.
Ever practical, and quite a lot pragmatic, H suggested we skip the film and go out for dinner instead. He knew of a restaurant close by where he’s eaten with his work colleagues before. And besides, going to the cinema is an overrated idea for a first date anyway..
When we got there I almost bailed.
It was a very posh-looking place. The sort with a french name and cloth serviettes. It turns out that “eaten there with my work colleagues” actually translates to “my boss takes us there to celebrate finished projects”.
I don’t eat out much, and almost never anywhere fancy, so I’m almost always out of my depth when I do. On the occasions when it is required of me, I like to have some forewarning and a chance to pretend that dress like I know what I’m doing. My going-to-the-cinema-in-a-church-hall clothes do not match my idea of going-to-posh-restaurants clothes. H laughed at me when I told him I wasn’t appropriately dressed to eat there and said he didn’t care, and also that one of his colleagues has been known to eat there with his hair still full of swarf. I could hardly compete with steel toe caps and swarf so I shut up and we went in.
Confronted with a menu full of words I never heard in school french lessons I almost bailed for the second time.
In the end I chose something more or less at random. My French is obviously worse than I thought it was because what arrived bore very little resemblance to what I thought I ordered. In fact, the only thing both dishes had in common was the chicken. If I’d still had a menu I would have checked, but they’d taken them away and I wasn’t sure enough to say anything without “proof” and it was entirely likely that I’d pointed to the wrong thing when it was my turn to order.
As I ate my spinach and hoped it would make me strong, I wondered how I always end up in such odd situations.
H was wonderful company, the food was good (if unexpected) and no-one said anything about my attire or tried to make me leave (which is admittedly obvious to most people, but still a realistic if irrational fear in my head). And a good time was had by all even if it was a shame we didn’t get to see the film. I think I will try to borrow it from the library
And hotel receptionists who have to show you how the lights work in your room
And not finding anywhere to park
And people who don’t put signs up to let you know where you’re going
And the lack of house numbers
And people who hold fish meetings in poodle club houses”
That’s what I wrote to my brother the other evening. Can you tell that I was stressed?
If I unravel the strings a bit, it’s obvious that I can’t honestly even blame any of the things on the list for my stress either. I am just really really bad at planning things. Or possibly passable at making plans and rubbish at carrying them out.
I wanted to listen to a talk about catfish.
It was being given by an expert/fanatic in Hamburg, at least 3 hours away from where I work. It was on a Thursday evening and I try not to drive when tired, meaning I needed to take holiday for the Friday, and pay for accommodation for Thursday night. I don’t have holiday or money to spare, and I should probably have stayed at home because my brother was coming to visit and I wanted/needed to prepare for him.
I decided to go anyway.
It was a spontaneous decision, one I didn’t really have time for, but one I made and stuck to regardless. My pre-birthday present to myself. There’s time to be vernünftig when I’m old, and luckily my brother isn’t fussy about things like unwashed floors or unmade beds.
On the evening before the day of the talk I came home late from work (still catching up with my hours of school-induced undertime) and tried to sort my house out. I could have started that earlier in the week but I didn’t, I made a mess in my kitchen and on the balcony instead. I could have ignored the hours I need to catch up with and gone home earlier but I didn’t. I could have tidied more quickly and distracted myself with the shrimp babies less often. But I didn’t and did, respectively.
By the time the place was starting to look presentable it was midnight and I was tired. I went directly to bed instead of going via the shower.
I didn’t shower the next morning either, because it was almost freezing outside and I’d had to park million miles away so the workmen could build a new road outside my house, and also because I’d woken up later than I’d planned.
I didn’t fill my water bottles for work because I hadn’t left time for the filter to do its thing and my tap water tastes horrible. I didn’t stop to buy anything to drink on the way because I was already late. Despite not showering and not filling my bottles.
Once at work, nothing I tried making turned out the way I wanted it to**. My hand cramped which only made things worse. The kind of cramp which makes you cry. I was aiming to set off at 2pm, but I didn’t want to leave before I’d had some kind of success, even if only minimal, so I didn’t get on the road until nearly 3. Google had said it would take 3 hours so I was still within my time budget. (Or so I thought.)
It took me over an hour to get across Berlin in nose-to-tail traffic. If I’d known, I could have taken a different route, but I didn’t know. I checked Google for distance and driving time a couple of days in advance, but I didn’t check for congestion before setting out and my satnav doesn’t communicate with traffic information.
The rest of the journey was long but uninteresting, except for having to stop for fuel on the way. The bloke at the petrol station laughed at me because I forgot to look at the number of my pump before I went in to pay… ?
When I reached the last junction I had to choose where to go first – hall or hotel.
I’d chosen a hotel approximately 10-15 minutes drive away from the hall the talk was going to be held in. It was already gone half past 6 and the talk was due to start at 7pm, with an open-ended question and answer session afterwards. I figured I was unlikely to make it to the talk on time if I checked into the hotel first, but just as unlikely to make it back to the hotel before the reception closed at 10pm. Sleeping in my car sounded like a bad idea in November. I looked at the clock, sighed and headed towards the hotel instead of straight to the hall.
I almost drove straight past the hotel but saw the sign at the last moment and parked on the pavement a couple of hundred metres away. It took me a while to find the front door (curiously situated at the back of the house) and even longer to check in.
The receptionist was in the middle of printing and folding a million pages of menus. She couldn’t check me in until she could print my paperwork, and she couldn’t do that until the printer had finished printing the menus….
At some point I was shown the key. I couldn’t have it, though, until I’d been shown the box to put it in upon departure, as well as the carpark, the rest of the grounds, the breakfast hall, the toilets and my room, including a demonstration of each light and every cupboard.
Since when is that normal?!
To give the receptionist her due, she was very lovely (and possibly very bored), and on any other day, I would have probably been more grateful for the tour. In this case I could only just about remember to say thank you when she was finished.
I should probably have left as soon as she finished telling me about how to close the bedroom door properly, but someone had unfortunately put a mirror up in my room and I hadn’t managed to avoid it.
I looked a complete mess. It appeared that a shower was more a necessity than a luxury… (Especially the part where I had to be content with using the hotel’s shower gel instead of shampoo because I’d left my washkit in my car).
I was tired and I hadn’t eaten and I’d already missed the beginning of the talk when I finally set off towards the hall, but I had at least found a stray bottle of water in the boot of my car (from a previous shopping trip) so I was less at risk of dehydration thirsty than when I’d set off.
The 10 minute trip from the hotel to the hall took me over half an hour and involved swearing in multiple languages. My satnag and I rarely agree on timing and only very occasionally on directions. After driving backwards and forwards and round in circles I parked at random and got out of the car. My phone would have to take over.
It was dark and raining as I walked back the way I’d come. I was already nearly ¾ of an hour late for a talk I’d driven 300km to hear. I was not a particularly happy bunny and the weather wasn’t helping to cheer me up.
A few minutes later I was amazed to find a miniature carpark, accessible only via an unmarked turning, hidden from the road by a thick hedge. Opposite the carpark was a narrow wooden gate, mostly hidden behind some trees.
Further inspection revealed a small sign which informed me that the field behind the gate belonged to the poodle taming club. At the far end of the field was a low hut with row of yellow window-shaped lights.
The poodle tamers’ clubhouse address at the bottom of the sign was the same as the address of the fishlovers association I was looking for. I was expecting lots of catfish enthusiasts but no one had told me about the poodle tamers.
I opened the gate and made my way across the wet field in the half-dark, typing that message to my brother and hoping there weren’t any wild poodles waiting for intruders.
The talk was fantastic (at least the parts I was there for), the speaker unexpectedly laid back. The talk and Q&A session were followed by a book signing. He had brought a box of back issues of his magazines*** to hand out and a box of his books for sale. I, obviously (is it obvious to everyone else?), hadn’t got enough money with me to buy a book, but I did pick up a magazine as they came round.
I knew nobody and would have usually slunk away at this point, but I was accosted as soon as the projector was turned off and the lights came on. Who are you, where do you come from, why are you here, how did you hear about it, where do you come from, did you really drive all the way here from Berlin?! what kind of fish do you have..? Do you know the speaker, do you want to get his signature…etcetcetc… Some of the usuals in the aquarium club knew him already, presumably from previous speeches, and insisted on introducing us.
I still, despite working with famous artists and professors, expect experts to be serious, too aloof to talk to normal mortals, but the speaker, like the artists and professors, was just as human as the rest of us as he sat and chatted about fish and travelling and struggling to find time to write books between all his other commitments.
He pushed the pile of magazines in my direction and gave me the names of other people to get in touch with, people who know about the same sort of fish, people who are part of a small group of experts, people with many years of fish-breeding experience, people who would be interested in passing on their knowledge if I wanted to hear it.
I left the poodle club starving but in a much better mood than before…
…until I found out that none of the restaurants in a 10km radius were willing to serve me food after 10pm.
Good thing garages sell breadbuns late at night.
All things considered, it was a very good evening.
Can’t shake the feeling that I probably need to work on my organisation skills tho.
* Wet hair in cold weather is probably ok if you’re healthy. I used to not care what the weather was doing. Thing is, I’ve been running on empty for a long time and my immune system is more or less screwed.. I’ve been fighting a cold since early September and had far more eczema than usual.
I don’t often drink coffee, but for long distance driving I find it good to have a cup or two with me, just in case. In my shopping spree, I bought 3 pots of iced coffee and put them in the fridge to keep cold.
In the rush to get out of the house I left my coffee behind. (Out of sight and all that)
What costs 50ct in a supermarket costs 3€ at a motorway service station.. (!!!)
I figured getting there in one piece was worth it… Just about! 😉
[Mostly written on] Friday morning, 7:00 ish – on a train.
I’m driving a friend across Germany today. (Friday). She’s moving house and I offered to drive the moving van for her.
I’m setting out from Berlin (North East Germany). Her new house is near Essen (West Germany), I am going to a party (the late-night/early-morning kind) in Stuttgart (South Germany) on Saturday evening and I need to be in England on Monday evening. There’s no realistically viable way to go from Stuttgart to Berlin before I fly towards England, so I’m flying directly from Stuttgart. That means packing everything for all 3 trips into one small suitcase. The kind you can take on a plane as handluggage. The kind that takes more thought to pack than the kind you put in the hold.
I have been known to enter my house, pack a suitcase and leave within half an hour. That was a long time ago and I am quite out of practice. I am also exhausted from everything else going on. I decided last week (/whenever I got back and booked the new flights, I have no track of time at the moment) I needed to leave myself longer than usual to pack and get myself ready and to sleep. The sleep part was especially important because I’ve never driven a removal van before.
That was the plan. The reality was a little bit different.
Yesterday evening (Thursday) I worked later than planned because I got in to work later than planned. I got there so late because I woke up so late, and I woke up so late because I was up so late the night before (Wednesday), working on a present for one of the people I’m going to see in Stuttgart. I didn’t get it finished because I ran out of time and so won’t be able to give it to her this visit. That means the evening wasn’t used effectively. Or at least not in the most effective way.
Back to yesterday evening.
I worked until I’d clocked up the minimum hours needed to count as a day.
Just as I wanted to go home I remembered that I hadn’t printed my boarding card(s) yet so I stopped to do that.
Just as I was finally locking up the workshop, my friend (the one who’s moving) phoned to ask if I could make her some lunch for the journey because she’d left later than planned and wasn’t going to get to a shop before they all shut.
Ok. No problem – I was going to make myself lunch anyway. She doesn’t eat what I’d been thinking of taking, so I went shopping on the way home.
Once I got home (several € later – shopping hungry is never really recommended..) I did the following:
Washing – all the things from my last trip which I needed for the next one (had to run the machine twice because I forgot the washing powder the first time). Hung it all out, rethought and draped some of the thicker clothing on the radiators to dry
Reheated/finished baking breadbuns (you can buy them half baked. That way they’re fresh when you want to eat then) and made sarnies (posh ones with ham and cheese and tomato puree and miniature bell peppers and basil leaves)
Decorated and cooked 2 [frozen] pizzas, ate 1, chopped and packed the other one
Washed and/or chopped and packed many carrots, apples, tomatoes, peppers, a kohl rabi, and a fennel (given the choice, S eats more like a rabbit than any other person I know ;))
Packed my suitcase (except for the clothes which were still drying)
Packed all the lunch things (fruit&veg box, sandwiches, pizza, apples, satsumas, bananas, biscuits, chocolate raisins, …) plus 4 bottles of water into a huge carrier bag. It was a picnic to do Ratty proud*
Did the washing up
Tidied the kitchen so I wouldn’t be embarrassed by my landlord feeding my fish.
I got loads done, but it took longer than I expected (quelle surprise) so I went to bed later than expected (not late by my standards, but not nearly as early as intended). And even though I was exhausted, it took me ages to get to sleep. That really was surprising – usually I sleep as soon as I’m horizontal.. like one of those dolls with the weighted eyes.
My colleague says there are days when gravity is stronger than other days. Today is one of those days: First I couldn’t get out of bed. Second I couldn’t carry the lunch bag.
I found a backpack for the water bottles and waddled down the stairs, laden much like a Sherpa, only much less fit/strong/capable. I dragged and lugged my suitcase and picnic bag towards the train station, stopping every few hundred metres to change hands.
The first train I managed to catch left almost 20 minutes later than the one I intended to catch. That coincides almost exactly with the 20 minutes I spent lying in bed not getting up. Funny really.
I’m now tireder than I ought to be for a drive across the country, despite the fact that I’ve known about it for a while and also aimed to get enough sleep. It seems I’m my own best saboteur…
Look what I found when I got to work this morning!
A very posh looking bag, containing..
.. even posher looking chocolates!
It’s the thanks for the prizes I made and donated to a competition in the summer. There’s all kinds if things in there I’d never buy for myself – I’m looking forward to trying them :).
Today was a chocolate munching day – the kind when you already think about how to break the next chunk off while you’ve already got one in your mouth and are holding a spare. I consider it a suboptimal, though sometimes necessary, way to eat any chocolate, it would be practically criminal to munch through the posh stuff. I’m going to save them for a day when I can eat them slowly enough to appreciate them.