Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020
Today was the Princess’s 17th birthday and, it’s fair to say, it’s not quite how she imagined spending the day.
That said, it was a present rich birthday and she got lots of cards and messages on social media from her friends. I loved the birthday cards she got in the post from friends who had clearly never addressed an envelope in their lives. We’re all learning.
As I may have mentioned, we are taking part in an extended family bake off competition. We decided to have the bake off cakes ready for a birthday tea for herself in the afternoon. The day was spent baking. We were exhausted by the time the birthday tea came around. It felt like Christmas day. But, frankly, we did an amazing job.
Herself organised an egg hunt for the boys. It was eggcellent. Ah, go on. Their aunt had posted Easter eggs from Cork which showed real forethought.
We had a very mild walk. The Princess brought with her the disposable camera she had requested for her birthday. She’s keen to take pictures that Apple won’t see first.
A birthday post on herself is in gestation. Hold on to your hats.
Monday, April 13, 2020
We were exhausted after the previous day’s baking and didn’t get up to much.
Everyone set about and did his or her bit on the cleaning rota the success of which has been surprising and very pleasing indeed.
We broke our mop and Mr. Waffle attempted to repair it but a good hour of drilling and cursing noises did not ultimately lead to success. Will we be able to get a new mop in lock down? These are the kind of pressing questions we considered today.
The other family members are a bit worried we may have slightly over achieved on the family bake off. Was the promotional video too much? Herself said anxiously, “Are we the baddies?” I feel not, just keen, very keen.
I finally achieved nirvana by being double booked for zoom calls (bookclub and family bake off both at 8.30) which my brother managed to do far earlier in the pandemic process. Yes, I am competitive in all sorts of weird and unusual ways. Your point?
Herself told me about her friend whose parents are divorced. The friend’s father is a doctor and her mother is abroad. So he is at work all the time and the friend is at home alone and even when he gets home they are social distancing. All her social media posts are asking people to stay home so that she can get her family back. How miserable is that? It did make me count our blessings all over again.
Michael and I went for a lovely cycle in the park. Even he didn’t hate it which is as good as I’m going to get.
Judging took place in the family bake-off. It was tense but, ultimately, the judges (one per household) decided that everyone was a winner. Admire our promotional video prepared by herself.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
At 8 in the morning, herself and myself cycled off to the bakery and picked up our online order. It was within our 2km radius but still a bit of a trot, so I felt filled with virtue (and also croissant) when I sat down to my desk at 9.
Work was busy but better. It turns out that I am a creature of habit. This comes as a genuine surprise to me and certainly, were they aware of it, would also to people who have interviewed me over the years (“I thrive on change and a dynamic environment*”). I’ve found that as I’ve got used to the new reality and working from home, I’m getting a bit better at creating routines and managing. Here is my working day:
- 9 At the desk checking what fresh horrors are in my email.
- 10 Almost always some class of ghastly conference call
- 11 Little break, cup of tea, dragging the boys from their beds, exciting domestic task like unloading the dishwasher
- 11.30 Slave some more in the salt mines
- 1 Lunch (if prepared by Mr. Waffle, 1.30, if prepared by me)
- 1.45 Walk alone around the block (v. exciting)
- 2.15 Almost, invariably, another conference call. Hideous.
- 3.15 Further unbroken saltmining.
- 5 Determination by me that today, yes today, I will finish early and play tennis with Daniel, cycle with herself, force Michael out of the door etc.
- 5.01 Exceptionally urgent email arrives forcing me to postpone my plans.
- 6.30 Finish work for the day. Realise that exceptionally urgent matter could really have waited for the morning.
Actually, today, I had a grand old chat with a female colleague. She is the only other practising catholic I know at work (I mean there are obviously lots of others but short of asking it’s hard to find out) and we confided to each other that we both missed Holy Week celebrations. I never thought that the day would come.
The rat catcher came this afternoon to break up the day. We have given up faith in Rentokil who never came back after their initial visit and the man from around the corner with the Jack Russell is now our operative of choice. He put rat poison outside as he said that we didn’t want rats dying in the house. Frankly, I don’t see what’s to preclude them coming in post-poisoning, if they have a means of entry which I really hope they don’t. The good news, said the rat catcher is that we don’t have tongue in groove flooring so it will be easier to take up, if necessary. It’s hard to see this as really good news. Everyone in the household was reminded of this National Geographic article which herself told us about a number of years ago and which is…memorable. Pray for me.
Hilarious email from SuperValu offering us a priority delivery slot on Wednesday week. We have a scheduled delivery for Thursday week which we ordered three long weeks ago (only date available at the time). Email is like something from a secret society:
Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee you’ll get a slot as they’re available on a first come, first served basis, but this gives you the best chance of securing a slot. That means it’s crucial that you do not share this information with anyone else.
The power has clearly gone to their heads.
Meanwhile the boys went up to the local public tennis courts for a knock around but they were locked. Alas.
*I promise I have never actually uttered those ghastly words but that was often the gist of my responses.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
I failed to get up before work for any kind of exercise and I regret this. The working day unfolded in its normal way.
Small walk at lunchtime. Not much to report.
Our sourdough starter arrived and this inspired the Princess to, yet again, beg us to watch the life changing documentary on fermentation she watched a number of years ago. As the proud owner of a sourdough starter, I felt it was time. The documentary “Cooked” was on Netflix. “It’s only an hour,” said she. It started. “Oh yes,” she said, “it starts with fire.” We watched a lot about fire. It wasn’t uninteresting but we had been promised fermentation. “When does the fermentation start?” I asked. “I feel like we’ve watched an hour already and it’s only been fire.” It turns out we had watched an hour and it’s a four part series. Fermentation tomorrow then. The excitement.
Herself had an article published in an online magazine. I am not allowed to read or see it.
In case you care, you can buy a mop in Tesco. Mr. Waffle is refusing to throw out the old mop. I’m a bit unclear about what his plans for it are.
Thursday, April 16, 2020
The Princess and I went for a cycle in the park before breakfast. It was delightful but hard to get up.
Work is becoming more normal and manageable, partly thanks to my exciting daily schedule. Sadly, though, due to an extra conference call, no walk at lunch time. Alas.
We are all living for the excitement that is our fermenting sourdough starter. We’ve already given some away to the neighbours (it keeps growing).
The boys set up and ran an online dungeons and dragons type thing with their friends. They’re learning lots of new skills.
We watched the fermentation documentary. Who knew chocolate was fermented?
Friday, April 17, 2020
I was on a half day and finished work at 3. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t a classic half day which, ideally, starts at lunch time.
Herself is delving into the deeper, obscure depths of cooking. We had an egg yolk sitting in the fridge surrounded by salt and sugar for the week. Today it was hung up to be air-dried for three days. Then you can grate it over pasta and other foods and it will give a lovely umami flavour. Allegedly.
It’s very odd and currently hard as a bar of soap. I’ll let you know about the umami.
Herself has also taken to lurking on sourdough forums on the internet. Our starter seems happy and maybe this weekend we will make bread with it. All to play for.
We got a sushi making kit and she is currently exploring the joy of vegetarian sushi.
Daniel and I went for a bike ride in the park which, despite his protests, I think he quite enjoyed. Both he and Michael are becoming ludicrously large for their bikes and I see an expensive time ahead as we will have to buy them both proper adult bikes post-pandemic.
Saturday, 18 April, 2020
We got a ridiculously expensive breakfast box delivered. I feel we need to keep our spirits up by having little treats for ourselves. It was plugged in last weekend’s Irish Times. Herself and myself were looking forward to it all week. It was not great. The pastry was stale, the juice was watery and the baguette was fine but you know, only ok. Still, we quite enjoyed looking forward to it all week so we might try for another treat next weekend. I will keep you posted.
In other online purchases, we bought our sourdough starter from these guys: kefirgrains.ie. It is the business and we are delighted with our investment.
I subscribe to an online publication called the Browser. It’s an internet highlights thing and I like it. I have two three month subscriptions to give away, if you’re interested, send me your email and I will sign you up.
I got sent a chain mail thing on the internet. Normally I never send these on but it was sent to me by someone I’m quite fond of and I quite liked the idea of getting poems to my inbox. I sent it on to 20(!) people with some qualms and a cover note advising recipients to ignore, if they could not face it. I felt a bit bad. Herself opined that I was overthinking it. Perhaps. However, did it soothe my guilty conscience to see this article by an Irish Times journalist indicating that she had got the exact same chain email and did it make her feel good, gentle reader? It did not.
It is apple blossom season.
Herself has cut her own hair.
I am in the process of sending mortuary cards to people who sympathised when my mother died and came to the funeral and removal. Given that she died last June, this is not before time. It’s a more difficult exercise than you might imagine as you need to dig out addresses and think what to say and so on. I remember a couple of years ago, after my uncle died, my aunt was quite sick in hospital. I went to visit her and all she could talk about was how the mortuary cards for my uncle hadn’t been sent out. I told her not to be daft that nobody would mind, if they were never sent. I don’t think it was much comfort and now I know how she felt: this task has been positively looming over me for months.
Mr. Waffle, the boys and I went for a cycle in the park. We’re all a bit bored of cycling in the park at this stage. But, good for us, I daresay.
We had a quiz over zoom for people living on the road. It was technologically successful with 9 households taking part. Daniel stayed to help his parents but the other two weren’t interested. Their loss, as we defeated the opposition to become the first reigning champions. First prize is organising next Saturday night’s quiz. Oh well. We’ll be offering sourdough starter as a prize.
I was talking to my sister and I said that the first thing I am going to do when quarantine is lifted is go down to Cork. “I don’t know when I’ve been away for so long,” I said. “But you were here last month,” she said. I was really surprised, but so it is. Time is stretchy in quarantine.
Finally, we’ve decided on our treat – we are getting a projector and screen. We hope to be in a position to inaugurate next weekend, deliveries permitting. Fingers crossed.
How’s quarantine with you?