Watching the clouds roll by

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One of the nice things about this house is the view from the sofa. You can watch the clouds roll past the big fir trees. Perhaps it’s proximity to the coast, perhaps it’s just having spent 3 years in an apartment with a big tree immediately outside the window, but I delight in watching the clouds roll by.

So lockdown continues. My mum’s husband caught COVID, at work most likely, but they can’t be sure. He seems to have recovered, thankfully. Unfortunately, however, my mother now has a fever and pain. As of yesterday there were no respiratory symptoms, but with this disease its course is so random, and it’s impact so unpredictable, all we can do is wait and hope. I’ve been calling every day to chat, and she seems in good spirits.

She’ll know tomorrow whether it definitely is, or possibly isn’t. With a testing accuracy in the 70s, percent wise, a negative test is something that we lack faith in. A couple of negatives? I’d have a bit more faith in.

I’d already been in a fairly introspective mood. It’s been hard to find enormous amounts of motivation. I mean, 3.6 cu. m of soil and a further 3.6 cu. m of manure* compost arriving, I did manage to muster the energy to move the soil back. That’s given us two raised beds – one of which is now sporting 4 beans. The other is reserved for our tomatoes which seem to have somewhat recovered from their leggyness.

Next year, a grow lamp is I think in order for seedlings started inside. While our house feels light to us, it’s probably partly deceptive from the white walls, but I don’t think it’s deceived the plants. The cabbages and the tomatoes were super leggy when they started – for the cabbages I did the bury half the stalk when repotting trick (which we found online). Some of them seem to be doing better. The cabbages are living outside now, which helps.

The tomatoes are just having to work through it for the moment.

The 3.6 cu. m of compost is for non-raised beds which use our actual… and I hesitate to call it this… soil. I mean, I say soil, it’s more a mixture of rubbish, stones and sand on a layer of clay. Hence the 3.6 cu. m of compost. That needs to get moved to the back. The plan is – hire a rotorvator, ruin a big chunk of our ‘lawn’ (dandelion collection), dig in a bunch of compost, and lo, we’ll have… something that might sustain life.

We’ve got a whole bunch of seeds to go in, and plant starts coming, which will all mostly be devoured by the slugs, I’m sure.

But anyhow, for that to happen we need beds. To get beds we need a rotorvator (well, we could dig them by hand, but these are fairly big beds, and a rotorvator would get them done in a day).

So that’s the big project. Other projects that are ongoing remain putting trim up – which I really should be getting on with, but for which I need dry days to cut, do my planing trick, and on the cut ends, re-oil/wax the trim before it goes up. We’ve finally got around to ordering a couple of paint brushes, so we can actually get on with painting the battens which will be going up around the house. They do need to be chamfered along the edge to promote the water running off, but not having the paint brushes to paint them made that feel like a pointless job.

Now we have some paint brushes, I can get that started.

But finding enthusiasm is hard. Politically, the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. I’m watching Britain spiral down, and down, and down. I’m here in the US watching things getting worse and worse. Finding motivation to finish the house is hard, especially when there are so many big jobs waiting to be done for which we don’t have stuff, but what’s left and easily do-able is the small things.

But it’s hard to feel excited about finishing a credenza when thousands of people are dying from a preventable illness. And seeing those idiotic, deeply selfish, re-open morons prancing about with their guns and racism on proud display is just depressing.

In more positive news, I think we’ve finally found a shelving/basket set that will fit our pantry. It won’t be as deep as our pantry is, because no one makes 4’4″ deep pantry shelves (for some foolish reason), but it is at least the right width – and not $1000, which seemed to be the going rate for pantry shelving(!)

We continue on our quest to find kitchen draw handles. We know what we don’t like ;)

And we’re starting to contemplate knocking up some temporary doors for the bathroom and laundry. The doors we ordered won’t be ready until 5 weeks after the lockdown ends, so we’re looking at there being at least 2 more months with no doors, and it looks like the lockdown will semi-end in such a way that we might have visitors who are less inclined to share their bathroom use with us.

We note that neither of our friends who helped us move actually used the bathroom (which lacks a door and a frosted window) when they helped us move… And to be fair, our friends back in the UK did put up a curtain across their bathroom doorway when we visited and they’d not finished their bathroom.

So, that’s another task that really ought to get done.

In other news, what we might call house discoveries, it turns out that a heated floor is less exciting when your house is really well insulated. In the winter it was warm a good chunk of the time (albeit not as warm as I’d imagined, because it’s a shallow depth of concrete/compound, the heat tends to stay fairly localised despite our metal mesh and heat spreading reflectors). But now the spring’s rolled around the house stays so stable temperature wise that most of the time the floor is cool. Which is a little of a disappointment, because it was very nice in the cold.

And in distracted COVID thoughts, we’ve been pretty strict on not going out. Kathryn has to go into her office occasionally, but can maintain distancing. I, obviously, am still going to the emergency department to patch people back up. But outside of that, we’ve paid the extra to have groceries delivered or to do kerbside collection where they drop the groceries in the boot of the car. That, for us, is complex ethically. Because someone else is putting themselves at risk, but then having me out and about in public is probably best avoided, because I could have COVID from work and spread it very effectively before knowing I was sick.

Or vice versa, I could take COVID to work and spread it around without knowing. So we’ve been pretty strict. It’s been frustrating at times though, not being able to get things we want, or when we order things getting them delivered and paying 3 times the price we would normally. Hopefully our steel fence posts will arrive soon, so we can put them up. That will allow us to take down the individual fencing around various beds, which will be nice. It won’t be pretty. But it’s cheap and hopefully it’ll be effective enough.

Our lockdown viewing has been, mainly, This Farming Life, which is a BBC series chronicling the lives of farmers up in Scotland, and latterly, in Northern Ireland. It’s really delighting us… and making us want to move to a croft. Not a hard nudge, on our part, I mean we wanted to have some degree of self-sufficiency and small-holding-y-ness, anyhow. But this is making it more. I’m not sure that’s helpful, but it’s become our go-to evening show (it’s on Britbox for you USians).

Anyhow, time to call my mum.

* Our poor neighbours are getting to enjoy the delicious scent of living next to a farm. In the middle of the city.


Kate's a human mostly built out of spite and overcoming transphobia-racism-and-other-bullshit. Although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, it's all good.