Hints of spring; yet more winter (5.21)

This week I had my performance appraisal. It went well. My main concern was that when the discussion started, I looked out the window and saw a bee stuck in a spider’s web right in my eyeline, struggling to get itself free. And while I’m trying to say good things about what I did last year, I’m watching the spider come out and do whatever spiders do when they catch things in their web. I had to move my chair so I could return my focus to my appraisal and not witness the death of the bee. (Seriously, I will spend too much time over the next month thinking about whether I could have saved that bee.)

But after the meeting was over, I saw a rainbow in the sky, which I took as a good sign. Not for the bee, though.

Faint, but it’s there

Spring is on its way. I see evidence of this not just in my yard but in walks around the neighbourhood. Snowdrops, crocuses (crocii?) and daffodils are all putting up flowers in a brave act of defiance of the ongoing grey weather.

The brief flashes of sunshine are very much treasured, coming as they are between long stretches of grey. And this weekend, the onset of a spell of freezing weather and snow, but not the kind of snow that makes things pretty and wintery; the kind of snow that is pretty much slightly more frozen sleet, doesn’t settle, and just makes you cold and wet.

After a week with plenty of screen time, we took the opportunity to go for a walk around the neighbourhood one night when it was surprisingly warm. (I say warm, I’m talking 8C.) Only 50 minutes or so but it’s nice to get out of the house and let my eyes relax in the darkness. And help digest dinner. And have a good night’s sleep, something I’ve otherwise struggled with this game week. But now the weather has turned, and I will be avoiding leaving the house unless we get some proper settling snow.

Musical song of the week – “Don’t rain on my parade”. Obviously I’m still feeling the effects of the Radio2 musicals weekend. However I’m not keen on the Barbara Streisand version. I don’t dislike Barb, I just don’t like her version of this song. I much prefer Ruthie Henshall’s version. (And I listened to a lot of versions this week.)

Don’t tell me not to fly
I’ve simply got to
If someone takes a spill
It’s me and not you
Who told you you’re allowed
To rain on my parade!

This week I have been thinking about murder – No, not like that. We’ve been watching a lot of Agatha Christie. We found two movies about Agatha herself (Agatha and the Truth of Murder, Agatha and the Midnight Murders), a handful of the Peter Ustinov Poirot movies from the 1980s (Evil Under the Sun, Dead Man’s Folly, Appointment with Death – two set in the 1920s/1930s and one – oddly – set in the 1980s when it was filmed), and we started watching the John Malkovich Poirot (The ABC Murders) from a few years ago. Some of these murders are very convoluted, and ultimately don’t make sense. We found that all the next day, we’d be thinking “Well that didn’t make sense”, or “No-one would actually do that,” or “How did you know circumstances were going to align in such a way to make this plan work?” or “You didn’t actually have to murder that person to achieve that end.”

We deliberately avoided the Ustinov Death on the Nile because there is a new one coming to the cinema… well, some time in the future when we have cinemas again. And we didn’t want the murder to be fresh in out minds for that one.

This week I attended an free online workshop called the 5 Secrets to Designing a Joyful Home. The host, Ingid Ferrell Lee, she of the Aesthetics of Joy website, gave us some ideas about how to approach home decorating from a different angle. She suggested starting with feelings instead of Pinterest boards. Stop looking at other people’s joy and think about your own. How do you want this space to feel? Write down three words, and think about how you see those words in practise. Think about whether you like things to be dense or spacious (a full bookshelf is dense, shelves with just a few choice objects in display is spacious). It was an interesting approach, but the last 15 minutes were dedicated to talking about her (not free) home design course so I switched off at that point.

I did a quiz through her website to find out my design personality, and I am a collector. Anyone who has been to my house would agree with this. According to my design type, I’m all about things with stories attached to them. This is why my house is such a mess of different things all jumbled together.

A cornucopia of randoms: elephant from Maputo, glass from Venice, pottery from Ciudad Rodrigo, bust of Lenin from Moscow

And speaking of stories, I was intrigued by this story about the books on your shelves when you’re on video calls. Apparently people are seeking books to “dress” the backgrounds of their home offices, to make them look clever, or distinguished, or well read, or perhaps just to provide a colour coordinated backdrop. (Yes, some people are that shallow.) My book shelves are beside me so no one can see them when I’m on a video call, but they can see the painting on the wall behind me, and when I had my camera at a different angle before I reorganised myself desk, they could see the map of the UK on the other wall. I don’t mind people seeing into my home. What they can see through the laptop camera is such a small frame anyway. And if they could see my bookshelf I wouldn’t mind. They are all my books (or Husband’s books), and are books I’ve read or want to read. How embarrassing would it be for someone to spot a book behind you and ask you about it if you’ve just bought it for window dressing?

Do you curate your video call space? Or do you use the fake backgrounds to make it look like you’re in some other location (I have done that from time to time, I will admit.)

Have a good week dear readers. I hope no one brings around a cloud to rain on your parade.

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