Going the Distance

Onkaparinga Gorge from above

It was our eight year wedding anniversary yesterday, another very normal kind of event that has come up during these very abnormal times.

Vanessa and I celebrated (after pancakes) by driving to Onkaparinga National Park for hiking and a picnic. It was an extreme - as well as enjoyable - form of social distancing. We did see on the horizon a few others out enjoying the pleasant autumn weather. I crossed Vanessa's path too, and she crossed mine, which is allowed because we are married. What she and I have and had over the past eight years is the opposite of social distancing. If we’re apart it’s typically a minimum of a sprawled out Golden Retriever, to a maximum of a table tennis table away.

2020 right now is certainly a reminder to appreciate the little things, and that’s what we’ve got, a whole bunch of little things to make this crazy timeline feel okay. If I have to distance myself from society for twelve months there’s no one else I’d want by my side.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


The Organic Calendar

Back in mid-March - when days felt like weeks, and the Prime Minister's directive to stay home was echoed down from senior management - I knew I would need a way to track the coming months of isolation.

I decided to grow a beard to measure the progress of time.

I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror today and I can confirm isolation has been going for at least three days.

image 2050 from bradism.com

In my facial hair's defence, I did have to set it back an hour last weekend.

Easter Beer Hunt 2020

On Wednesday night a super moon rose above Adelaide which was supposed to herald the coming of the 2020 Easter Beer hunt. Alas due to the nature of current events I wasn't able to compete for glory on the fields of a reserve or park near someone's house after a BBQ with friends.

Fortunately I have my own backyard now and Vanessa volunteered to hide a few beers for me after dark. This was a new experience for me - single player beer hunt. I'll openly admit my proficiency in past beer hunts has been less due to my clever locating skills and more down to my speed across the ground and enthusiasm. I'm not good below my knees and I have a preference for not getting my hands too dirty.

I allowed Vanessa free reign to hide my two beers as trickily as possible, with the only condition that it was in a drinkable state afterwards. She set about outside and a few minutes later, head torch donned but no need for a basket, I was off and searching through the nooks and crannies of my new property racing only the clock and my desire for a beer.

If I'd done this hunt with Vanessa in my old townhouse's courtyard I think I would have been faster. As it turns out there is a lot of places to hide a beer in even a modest sized backyard. After I started lifting up pavers Vanessa gave me a few clues. In the end it took me over 30 minutes to find all the beers - a refreshing mental distraction from the isolation of COVID 19.

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!


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Cycles

Two weeks ago I was trying to cut a wooden skewer into pieces to fix a broken cabinet hinge so I could defrost some chicken breast while rescuing some frozen sausages that had fallen behind the freezer drawer, while simultaneously trying to make a giant salad for lunch.

My brain and handyman skills were not up to this task, given the context of so much parallel processing.
I considered myself a bad handyman before that day, and this was not improved whatsoever by the scissor-tip-shaped incision I put into the fleshy part of my left palm.

In the slowed down time between the wound appearing and the blood flowing I had time to reflect on how annoyed I felt with the universe. The COVID19 Pandemic already had me in a holding pattern - waiting patient and useless - as scientists I’ll never meet work to find a vaccine so I can go back to my important life of catching trains, pooping in the office, going to the gym and playing board games in real life. Now I was going to have a secondary period waiting patient and useless, unable to perform bodyweight exercises or ride my bike or wash the dishes until cells under my skin that I’ll never meet stitch together my muscle and flesh whole again. A cycle within a cycle.

It’s most likely you have never cut the fleshy part of your left palm, but if you have you’ll know it’s one of the hardest places on the body to bandage even if you have a wife to help you. By the time the blood clotted and the antiseptic was dry my left claw was more strapping-tape than skin. A cramped talon that, with every flex of my thumb or wrist, seemed to still be exposing the wound somewhere under there to the environment. I grumpily ate my salad. I grumpily stared at the broken cabinet. I watched the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and empathised with the bodies being shredded at Normandy. I went to bed and slept and waited.

As they say: time heals all global pandemics, and while COVID19 is still affecting thousands in ways far worse than a cut palm at least my hand has healed enough that I can ride a bike and move the view around in Tabletop Simulator. I’m a lot less grumpy now. It took a while to cure that. It wasn’t only waiting that solved my mindset. It was, ironically, more cycles. Counter-spinning cogs. Innovating patterns for my new way of life. Finding a way to shower and feel clean on a regular basis again. Designing new workouts that didn’t need my fingers. Walking, working, washing in a repeatable routine that took the anxiety out of waiting.

I haven’t fixed the cabinet yet.

Traditions

Every year on Anzac Day, Vanessa bakes me a giant cookie to eat while we play Rummy.

This year I made a time-lapse of me eating it.