Monday: Thanks to my evening’s musings within a five year diary I know that at this time last year I was under more work stress than I had thought possible (ironically whilst being furloughed from work). I was trapped between utter terror at the idea that I might not have employment with which to support myself and the soul-destroying notion that one day soon I would have to go back to a job that would either be the same as before, and come with the very real risk of insanity, or have changed so dramatically that I would have to restart another brand new role with no guidance and reduced automomy. Neither of those options seemed do-able but I couldn’t imagine any other outcomes. Fortunately I didn’t go completely mad during this time, for which I credit the philosophy of Stoicism and, even more fortunately, neither of those things came to pass.
So I think the theme of this week is gratitude, not only for the things I have and have been able to learn, but also for the very real idea that we never really know what’s around the corner, no matter how much we think we do, and that outcomes are JUST AS LIKELY to be positive as they are to be the things we dread.
Tuesday: This week has started off pretty well in the book reading catagory – two of the buggers finished!
Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno Garcia I recommend this book, although I wasn’t sure I would in the beginning. It isn’t my usual fare, but I really got into it and I’m happy I listened to whichever review recommended it to me. It has redemption, adventure and forgiveness, but also gods, shockingly bobbed haircuts and star-gazing.
All Systems Red – Martha Wells I’m not bigging myself up too much for managing to finish this one so quickly. Not only is it a very short book/novella but it is also very easy to get into and read. Awkward social interactions between humans and murderbots on alien worlds during fights for survival. What more could I ask for?
Apparently the second Murderbot Diaries book in paperback is as rare as hens teeth, and I refuse to buy hardbacks any more, so I suspect I will use my local library to finish reading this series.
This brings us to the point where I will use a few sentences to explain my position on a very complicated subject then bring it back to books…which is where most topics should end in my opinion.
Bear with me.
I am a HUGE fan of Universal Basic Income and Direct Giving for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the lofty, moral and societal one – if you allow people to live with dignity and a positive sense of self worth they behave in ways that benefit society at large. There is less crime, less anti-social behaviour and they care more about their environments. Secondly, and I think more importantly to me, who the hell are we to judge how people spend their own money?! Are we really saying that disadvantaged or homeless people no longer have the right to choose what they buy? Are they somehow morally or intellectually less capable because of the financial circumstances they were either born into or now find themselves in?
This is why I will always push back on the argument that you shouldn’t give money to homeless people. Yes, buying drugs and alcohol may not be the best choice for their long term health, but I’m going home to a roof over my head, food in my cupboards, entertainment on my telly and friends and family at my call. Who am I to tell someone else how they should make it through the night?
Yes, drug and alcohol abuse create strains on healthcare provision, but I would argue that instead of moaning about it and punishing people for it we should look at the ways society first failed those who end up needing that healthcare. If we deny people autonomy over their own finances, simply because they might end up buying things we disapprove of (including things like phones and name brands, y’know, the stuff we’re ALL told we should want) then we are punishing them twice. Once by not supporting them even though they are members of our society and then by denying them self determination because they are people who cannot or will not live in the ways we deem acceptable.
The only argument I have heard against these stances can be boiled down to ‘we don’t want to give free stuff to poor people’ to which I ask, why not?
If you tell me that you really believe we were put on this earth to work ourselves to death, creating wealth for a staggeringly small few, then I will probably ask why you think that…right before swearing ferociously at you.
Anyway….long story short, I have decided that each time I spend money on a completely unnecessary book, I am a member of a library after all, I will be giving the same amount to a Direct Giving charity. Now I’m not saying that no-one should buy books, authors have to eat after all, but I am now on a fixed income and by reading books from my library I am supporting it, which will hopefully mean it remains funded for those who cannot simply decide to buy whatever they want to read next.
Still with me?
Wednesday and Thursday: When I woke up Wednesday morning I thought I had the next couple of days to myself and that I would probably spend them knitting and reading and lounging on the sofa like some sort of lady of leisure. In fact I ended both of them smelling badly in need of a shower, covered in scratches, knackered but happy.
For context: I live in a very small street and I know most of my neighbours pretty well, to the point where I consider a couple of them to be good friends.
The first clue I had that Wednesday would not belong to me came with a conversation with my next door neighbour about donating some of her stuff to a local charity shop. This is not a normal practice for her so she sought my advice…which became me driving her and her donations down to the shop. This was also being used by her as a diversionary tactic. She was trying to avoid being roped into a scheme being devised by her daughter (grown-up, doesn’t live here any more) and the daughter of another of our neighbours (also grown-up and moved out). The other neighbour in question was at work and had no idea about any of this.
The scheme involved the mass pruning of a hugely overgrown hedge.
Now this is not a job that could really be tackled by one person, unless that person had chainsaws for arms perhaps, but it was thought that two women in their 30’s, possibly aided by another woman old enough to know better, might manage it. The hedge is made up of plants known for their prickily, burglar deterring properties, and it had bulked itself up to heights and widths significantly larger than the people attempting to prune it.
Could I let them attempt this alone?
I could not.
Day one ended with a huge blister on my palm because I thought operating shears without gloves was a good idea. Day two continued with a huge plaster stuck to said palm, underneath reinforced gardening gloves.
By the end of Thursday we had managed to rope in a couple more neighbours and the hedge is now mostly beaten into submission, but these things have a habit of growing back so we will be keeping an eye on it. The unsuspecting owner of the hedge actually shed a tear or two when she saw it, not because we had destroyed a beloved planting, but out of relief because there was simply no way it could have happened without some mad people just going for it. The word ‘community’ was uttered a few times over these two days. Sometimes ironically, sometimes frustratedly but mostly gratefully.
Friday: This morning I posted an ammonite cushion and a trilobite cushion to Florida. Nothing strange or unusual there then…
Saturday: My brain is telling me to finish stuff and tidy my work-place. I have the unreasonable expectation that my subconscious knows something good, in my crafting efforts, is coming and I’ll be most disappointed if it doesn’t. I remade a cushion cover, ribbed the edge of a small human’s cardigan and ran 5K on the treadmill. Don’t tell me that I don’t know how to live it up at the weekends!
Sunday: I finally figured out that a courier company can deliver some of my Etsy stuff for half the price of the post office so off went some pumpkins today…Autumn here we come!
I also started the photography course that I signed up for on Udemy.
OMG, it is NOT good.
It is either so simple as to be useless or so intense that you have to already know all of the photography terms and acronyms in order to understand it. I am skimming through, taking notes of anything I think might be useful, but I know already that none of it is sticking in my brain. I currently use The Kid’s posh camera to take the Etsy shots, but I would like to know how to make the most of it, so I think I shall be seeking out a different course on this subject soon. As a side note, the narrator obviously has english as a second language, which is fine, he is perfectly understandable, but now photography is no longer pronounced the traditional way in my head. Now it is pronounced Photo Graphy.
So I end this week grateful for all the usual stuff, health, home, family and friends but also for online learning being so readily available that I get to pick and choose. I am grateful for couriers who deliver wool to me and then deliver the stuff I have made with that wool to the people who buy from me. I am grateful for how green the view out of my window is and for gratuitous joy, whenever it occurs.