Friday, February 27, 2015

Waiting For Spring

Our cold is back upon us in a big way.

It is beginning to annoy me a bit.  The combination of cold and early dark means that the chances of getting anything beyond minimal work outside done are minimal.  That is a bit of a problem as, where we currently live, the actually season called "Spring" is so short that handy things like planting a garden or doing other sorts of outdoor activities (even those less than exciting things such as mowing or raking leaves) are at best moved to the weekends to compete with other needs or at worst are completely put off.

As you may have guessed, we have had some remarkably good weather for a February - temperatures up into the 70's.  It is quite delightful to spend time in but, with the wild variations, hardly the sort of weather one can plant things in and hope that they will survive.  And even if the temperature climbs a bit (as it is supposed to do this weekend) we are still going to be caught in the midst of pretty steady cold rain, which makes working outside not pleasant at all.

It is not really a complete I suppose, more of an inconvenience.  Still, I am chafing a bit for either longer hours at night or better weather or probably both.  There is a lot to be done, and waiting for the weather to turn and the sun to hang around longer is not really getting me there.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Bunny Protocol

Yesterday was a little harder than most, so I invoked the Bunny Protocol.

The Bunny Protocol is invoked most often when I have had a hard day or am feeling a little saddened or alone.  It involves getting one or two rabbits (most often Snowball and/or Midnight), sitting in an a recliner, and pulling a large blanket up over us all, including my head.  The blanket helps both the keep the heat in as well as to cutoff any major exploring routes.

The rabbits like the attention, although it takes them a little while to get comfortable:  Midnight's most favored position is always right next to me on the side of the seat while Snowball is a little bit more squirmy, often wanting to move about or even be laying all over Midnight.  It is perhaps most successful with one rabbit of course, but then I always worry that I am giving enough attention to each.

What does this do for me?  Nothing terribly significant, I suppose.  I am not becoming a better person by doing this.  I am not really resolving any of my issues - in fact, this could be construed to be a form of hiding myself away from my problems instead of facing them.

But in that removal from the world and resulting focus, I find a certain peace.  The bunnies are furry and generally grateful for the attention.  They do not care what is going on or how or how much I have done or not done or expectations I have reached or not reached - all they care about is that there is somewhere warm and someone who loves them.

And they are happy to give love back.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Slice of Others' Lives

After class last night I had to make a quick stop at our local large grocery retailer for a couple of items that would not wait.  I parked, hurried my way in through the cold, and entered the "Open until 12 AM" entrance.

Right in front of the door was a display set up for the coming summer, seemingly quite foolish given our current cold snap:  a carpet of artificial grass on which sat a patio table with an umbrella and a glass tabletop and four chairs around it with various spring related products to the sides.  In the chairs sat four people:  a man, a women, a girl about 14 and a young girl.

There were two sheets of paper on the table so I assumed it was some sort of homework problems, being done while someone was shopping.  Then I did a second take - the adults were the ones doing the paperwork while the older girl was sitting there looking bored and the younger girl busy at anything but that.

It was a child swap.

I realized at that moment that moment that paperwork had something to do with some kind of unhappiness:  a divorce, a child custody case, something.  The grocery store, with its display of summer fun at 9:30 on a cold February Night, had become neutral territory, the Casablanca of its time; these people, with the mother and father signing away paperwork that probably represented a reduction of an emotional and physical investment of great measure and passion as shown in the young girl, became two agents of opposing regimes, shuttling life between them.

I wandered off down the aisle to make my own purchases but caught up with them in the parking lot as I left - to be honest, I hurried to do so, caught in the conclusion of a small drama.  They were getting into a car, the woman and the older daughter already in as the father carried the younger daughter in his arms and put her in the car.  "I'll see tomorrow"  he said waving as the door shut and I skittered to my own car, the cold driving me faster than my interest in others.

We cannot always know the circumstances of the lives of others and it is dangerous to make assumptions, let alone conclusions, based on a two minute observation of a scene.  But I find it somewhat sad, if not a little tragic and ironic, that a display became a display of two kinds that night:  not only of the potential of enjoyment of family and friends but the display of a relationship that did not work and the fallout from it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quiet Exhaustion

I am feeling a little empty this morning.

Chalk a lot of it up to exhaustion.  It was a long weekend - Highland Games (Did okay, nothing to really write home about) which included waking up at 0300, driving 3 hours, throwing all day, then driving 3 hours home and waiting until Nighean Gheal got home from her competition at 0030, and in bed by 0100.   Yesterday  was a very late rising, followed by helping the Bunnies then cleaning my mob out here and eating dinner at an Oscar party, then retreating to the house and waiting for everyone else to make it home safely (2300).

Needless to say, I am a little tired and a little mentally quiet this morning.

Secretly in my heart I am hoping for an ice day declaration which would allow me to simply finish my coffee and go back to bed, but I suspect that fate has decreed that this is not to be the case today.

Interestingly, at moments like these it feels like there is nothing that I can care about.  I do not want to call things exhaustion because I do not feel particularly exhausted; I just feel very very quiet inside.  The reservoir of thinking and feeling is either totally empty or at the point where there is simply nothing to be concerned about.

I am sure this will pass, of course:  the grind of ordinary living is about to return with a vengeance and by tomorrow there will be something I am aggravated about or concerned about or care about to the point that I have to write about it.  But I find it interesting in a period where I was incredibly busy yet spent large quantities of time alone that the only post-experience I can muster is simply that feeling that seemingly floats, still as a pond on a windless morning.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bureaucracies and Hierarchies

Bureaucracies and hierarchies are equally terrible.
The failure of the bureaucracy is that  getting anything done becomes impeded and mired in the importance of doing it "correctly".  And trying to do anything which is not your particular pigeon hole at best creates offense and worst creates a turf war with infighting over perceived insults and the threat of punitive actions.  Initiative becomes stifled and opportunity leaves, seeking friendlier shores.

The failure of the hierarchy is that the structure becomes more important that what is trying to be accomplished.    Ability to act and ability to make decisions are removed from the individual, replaced by the need to ask for permission to act.  Often in hierarchies the dictum is pronounced to "Take Action", yet if that action is not sanctioned by someone higher up the chain the decision and the individual become questionable or rogue.   The form becomes more important that what the form is meant to accomplish.

In reality such things are needed in some fashion:  without a bureaucracy of some kind very little would get co-ordinated or tracked for groups and without a hierarchy of some kind groups becomes a seething mass of humanity surging back and forth in their decision making (for a fine example of an essentially flat hierarchy gone totally wrong, review the history of Athens during the Peloponnesian War).  The problem, whether it is in business or politics or even in our relationships, is that we forget that these things are meant for the purpose of getting things done and instead become more interested in the forms that are being used to accomplish them.  At this point the forms acquire a life of their own and the actions become subservient to them.  Ultimately (as history shows) such systems are doomed to fail as the centers of planning action move far from the bureaucracies and hierarchies, leaving them to bury themselves under their own weight.

They are tools to accomplish tasks, as any hammer or computer is.  We forget this to our peril.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hope Takes A Break

There are times in every day when hope runs out.
Mine seems to be about 1:30 in the afternoon.  It is after lunch but usually before the onrush of afternoon meetings and usually finds me sitting in front of my computer, either scrolling through e-mails or reviewing and signing off documents (the bane of my existence).

It is an oncoming sense of lassitude that suddenly "thwacks" me over the head as I sit and look at the screen - the realization that in some way, shape or form, this is how I spent the great part of my current venture and that for all of my efforts or lack thereof, things never seem to be progressing forward.  The endless row of work that seems to need my attention stares back at me through the screen - and snickers.

There is always more work to do than one can accomplish.  Perhaps this has always been true of life; certainly it has been true of my own (and this, of course, does not include the work that needs doing outside of the the job itself, the many minor tasks and chores that make up daily life).  And yet somehow, I keep clinging to the notion that I can somehow catch up or even make progress towards truly completing things and moving on through them.

Yet I do not seem to be able to. And so, like a regular air leak in a tire that is never quite enough to justify a new tire but always needs to be filled, I feel hope sort of leak out and float away.

I will pick up, of course - just because hope seems to have left does not mean that my tasks have somehow floated away with it.  And certainly it is not a completely static condition - sometimes something happens that will engage me or someone says something just at the right moment to bring back from the brink.  Yet strikes as true and yet incredibly sad that somewhere out there, there a people who do things for a living for whom hope does not take an afternoon coffee break - and never return.