DVD Players – remember those?

I had a pot luck lucky dip for a movie the other night.

I plugged in the DVD player the other day and hit play for the first time in a long time.  On the screen popped up the opening credits to Frozen, the Disney Movie.  I was so tired I let it play.  I did not secretly enjoy the show, nor did I go to the kitchen and pop popcorn, clearly that would be juvenile.  I did not sing along under my breath.  I did not emotionally high five everyone that told the brunette that knowing somebody for 6 minutes was not long enough to plan a life together.  Clearly, that would have meant I was paying attention or becoming emotionally invested in the plot, and I am far to mature to do that.  Clearly.

Embarrassing and Amusing Choices

I have an amusing and embarrassing concern. Sometimes I think “It can’t just be me, surely!”

I have a choice to make.  A lovely, and to me quite funny choice.

The past two months have been energetic and I seem to have dropped a dress size without trying which is blooming awesome.  There are plenty more dress sizes I’m keeping as spares, no risk of wasting away.  However, it’s not just dresses that have been dropped.  I have spent the day puffing out my tummy in an attempt to keep my “foundation” clothing in situ!!!  Basically, my underwear is now too big and if I don’t puff out my tummy and/or walk funny it threatens to fall down!

I think I need to stop off at a store this evening and make an appropriate purchase in smaller sizes to prevent this minor debacle resuming tomorrow.  It is making me giggle and go cross eyed with concentration all at the same time.  Is it just me that thinks this is a hoot?

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

The resolve of British folks to make hay while the sun shines should be their defining characteristic. It’s magnificent.

I love the old saying “may hay while the sun shines”.  It harkens back to the days of manual agriculture with large teams of men scything hay in the fields but waiting until the warm and hot days of summer to cut and stack the crop lest it turn damp and rot away.  Without accurate weather forecasting it would have been a harvest which was anticipated and hoped for but couldn’t be planned specifically until conditions were perfect.  The farmer and the labourers wouldn’t know weather was perfect until they woke on the day itself.  In my minds eye I see people calling to each other,  drop your plans, today it is hay day, get a move on, pack a lunch, we’re heading to the fields, hurry up this is urgent, move it, got your kit, right, let’s go.  Then the shire horse would trundle into the field pulling the cart which would receive the harvest and the men folk and maybe some women would begin and finish while she sun shone.  It all rested on being ready to go as soon as the call came through and being willing to throw your back in to the work.

The British tolerate changeable weather for much of the year.  The location of the British Isles falls under the convergence of several weather systems.  There could be clear and blue skied days in the deepest part of winter, there could be hazy cloud cover on summer days.  Rarely is there a predictable weather pattern where snow or sun could be accurately anticipated.  The Brits wake each day and look out the window.

Brits make hay while the sun shines.  It is their defining characteristic. I have never seen nor heard of towns and cities coming alive so quickly as a British town experiencing a surprise warm spell or a snow flurry.  It is comparable to flowers blooming in the desert after rain.  It is extraordinary, exciting and beautiful.  Plans are hastily made, friends visit with friends, people go out for al fresco lunch, laughter can be heard all around.  British people endure tepid weather well in the hope and anticipation of a hay making week here or there and when it happens they really go for it, they completely go to town.  These occasional weeks or days here and there are enough to tide them over until the next time they can be overtly joyful.  While not perhaps being the first thing one thinks of when considering the attributes of British folks, I think this quiet resolve to enjoy where they are despite the conditions and to be joyful when the conditions finally become temporarily perfect is something which should be noted and held dear.

My Curly Haired Baby Finishes 3-16 School. 

16 year old kids are ready to leave school, I however am not ready. I am a hot mess.

OK, so I might have been a hot mess last night. I might have managed to keep my “I am so pleased for you, congratulations sweetie” composure as Missy dropped the news that she leaves school officially on Wednesday lunchtime. The penny dropped. I suddenly twigged that my little curly afro haired baby who’d been wearing a school uniform for over a decade would be finished with uniforms as she enters study leave for her exams. My curly haired baby who looked at me so doe eyed in those first days of school was now laughing at me getting misty eyed as she talked about the final ever classes with her favourite teachers and how they were taking pictures with the students and giving them pep talks. My child is a child to me. Sure, the world sees a 5′ 10″ young woman who is capable and confident but I see my baby fresh out the hospital or in her oversized polo shirt with a logo. They see someone doing really well in the sciences and I see Chip and Biff early reader books. They see someone who stands her ground and I see someone who needed defending. 

She is ready, I am not. 

After this summer, adulthood looms. She is going to be magnificent and rock everything she sets her mind to. I will have to continue letting her move away and acclimatise into opportunity and responsibility.  My whole mandate for 16 years has been to let her be free enough to be a child, safe and loved. Now my mandate is changing and it is happening so quickly that it is difficult keeping up but I will get there.  She still has two more years of school but is more like junior college where they’re more autonomous. My baby is no longer a baby and it has come as a surprise. 

I am often behind the emotional curve, this is nothing new, no major surprises. I am very pleased with the woman she is becoming and look forward to standing back and observing her in adulthood in a few years, but not yet. I need a little more time. 

Brakes, a requirement?

When your brakes are being handed around to apprentices as a cautionary tale, there’s been a problem.

A squeaky sound began emanating from the wheel on the passenger side front wheel. So I asked the fellas at work to confirm my thinking that the brakes might need attention and they gave me 50 scenarios but the end result of their entertaining rambling was yes, it’s the brakes. So I booked an appointment at a garage for Saturday. The squeak worsened and the car started juddering. When I dropped the car at the garage they offered an estimate and started dismantling. Half hour later another call came through, “Mrs Pollyanna, there is no disc or pad, it is purely metal on metal, I am really glad you brought it in today”. So, double the estimate but still cheaper than buying a new clunker, the car is fixed, unsqueaky and back on the road. I have only had the car 9 months, it still has amother 3 months on the MOT, and had a full set of new tyres a couple of months ago. There should be a light on the dash to indicate problems. But still, all safe and legal. I am glad that I booked the appointment as soon as I realised there was a concern. See it, do it.

How hard times change us

Hard times. Everybody has them. Heartbreaks, disappointments, money too tight for comfort, our head doesn’t match our heart, illness in ourselves, illness or distress in our loved ones, people besmirching our character. Hard times happen to everyone. There is no immunity.  Rockefeller is reported to have half jokingly offered half his kingdom to his chauffeur to swap Mr R’s weak and painful stomach for the chauffeurs strong and healthy one. No immunity from troubles in this life.

Hard times are coming, and hard times have passed. We have a 100% success rate at getting through difficult situations thus far. We can do difficult things.  Sometimes we don’t want to, but we can.

The difference between difficult times making or breaking us is how it changes us. How do we adapt?  Darwinism isn’t the survival of the fittest as is so often quoted but rather the survival of the most adaptable.

So, how does adversity change us?

Sometimes we become brittle, and brittle things snap easily with very little pressure applied.  Brittle responses are short, sharp, hurtful to our self or others.  Brittle hearted responders confirm their bias that everyone or everything is against them.  There is confirmation everywhere that they are right.

Sometimes we become gentle. Gentle things can appear to be defenseless. Some try to take advantage of gentle responders. Confirmational bias reinforces the notion to a gentle person that the world can be a good place. A famous quote states that “a soft answer turneth away wrath”.  Frequently, meeting hostility with calmness or treating people how they would want to be treated whether they deserve it or not brings about a suitable outcome.

If we have been ill or broken hearted, we get to decided how we react.

It takes less than 90 seconds for the chemicals generated in a surge of anger to flush through the body.  If a person can breathe through a moment of anger, keep cool and not rise to the bait, the incidents physical response will be over in a minute and a half. However if a person dwells on the situation and feels the surge of anger again, the clock starts over.

Saying “I am this way because I had a hard life” or “I am this way because my parents are this way” or “because I am a redhead” underplays and undermines our decision making rights and privileges.

We get to choose. Every time.  The more often we choose one way rather than another, the faster we develop a habit. But we get to choose. No matter what, we decide how we respond. We are free to change our mind at any point.

Choosing gentleness wouldn’t make a person weak. “No” is still in the vocabulary.  There is still a resolve and grit. There isn’t a requirement to be a fall guy.

We can do difficult things. Heartaches over time become manageable. Wrongs can be overcome. Anger can pass. There is no reason to choose one response over the other. Just, what shape do we want our life to take. What manner of men ought we to be?

I am trying to learn to be gentler with people. There is a propensity for me to be yes:no, right:wrong, do it or step aside. Often there isn’t always time to say things twice so directness is a useful tool. But is the directness brittle or gentle? That is what I ask myself.

I wonder if either one or the other is more correct. Is there as much correctness in retreating into hermitude after a grief and yelling at the neighbourhood kids or expanding in to empathy?

There is no definitive answer. I find from personal experience that on the rare occasions I am having a hard time, it passes quicker or my ability to carry the problem increases if I make an effort, no matter how hard and no matter how concerted the effort has to be, to check in with those I love and see how they are doing. It helps.

The upshot is that I believe anyone who is free from a traumatic brain injury gets to choose how they would like to respond, even if that choice leads to a relearning or exploration of options and skills not yet at our disposal.

We get to decide. What a gift!

Prepping: Water outage

I have a slippery landlord.  Very slippery.  Right now, with a cracked cistern in a 1 bath house and no water he is holding us hostage with the invoice to replace a poorly fitted, old and broken WC before they’ll replace and fix and turn the water back on.

For clarity, we officially have no piped water for sanitation, food prep or drinking.

We are impeccable tenants, we maintain the home, we hire window cleaners, we garden, we take in parcels for the neighbours, we pay the inflated rent on time every time.  In the dictionary where it lists “Model Perfect Tenant” there is a picture of me.

The idea that somebody could hold me hostage for water is shocking and despicable.  I have discovered that it takes  more than 30 litres a day to wash your body and to flush and to get one drink each.  30 LITRES!

What the landlord may or may not have been ready for is water storage.  We’re rationing like crazy but Mormons got the water storage thing going on a strong game.

So, who blinks first?  This is about to get interesting.



5PM UPDATE:  We won!!! (so far, anyway)… without continuing to make a fuss the landlord replaced the equipment and turned the water back on while we were at work.  We discovered the great news upon returning home today.  I could hear the office maintenance guy rolling his eyes on the phone yesterday evening (eye rolling and “whatever” attitude is so loud) but all’s well that ends well and the showers and taps are now operational.  They apparently viewed my video this morning chatting about how the plumber had mentioned the cistern was not attached to the wall correctly and there was too much give and play which caused the crack and leak and were a little easier to deal with once their hostility subsided.  Me to them “In the nicest possible terms, we have no sanitation, could you confirm when we will have access to sanitation please?” was apparently a reason to become terse.  We won!!!