Long weekend reflections

Long weekends? We don’t pack our bags and travel, or kick our feet up and chill out at our (non-existent) cottage. We work. House-work, life-work, all the projects where investing hours of concentrated time pays.

On Monday, we played a real-life puzzle game in our living room, moving tables and boxes around until we could reorganize everything the way we wanted it. Moved the bicycles to the deck, followed by the woodworking tools and materials. With the floor-space cleared (at least a little), disassembled the table and rolled it out to the porch for donation. Moved the bric-a-brac hiding behind the table to their rightful places, then moved the piano into the space formerly occupied by the table. Moved the coffee table aside. Moved the couch to the space occupied by the piano. With access to the shelves, moved all the books off the back bookshelf, then moved the bookcase to the opposite wall. Moved the bicycles into the space formerly occupied by the bookcase. Moved the books back onto the bookcase, setting aside many books for donation. Moved books from the second bookcase onto the first bookcase and the third bookcase, again setting aside more books. Moved the now-empty second bookcase beside the first bookcase. Moved the third bookcase’s books to the second bookcase, again setting aside books for donation. Moved the third bookcase into the kitchen. Moved the canned goods, baking supplies, and other shelf-stable ingredients from the basement to the bookcase-turned-pantry.

It felt awesome.

On Tuesday, we worked on our Adirondack chairs. I disassembled my chair and sanded the parts to prepare it for painting, while W- and J- worked on J-‘s chair. They were quite a while from painting, so I scanned my sketchbook and tweaked my digital filing system in order to be able to review my drawings more easily.

Our two-week vacation last year? Cooking, canning, sewing, gardening, biking, writing.

After something like that, work feels like an equal pleasure—perhaps even a relaxing treat. It’s not the sharp contrast between idyllic perfection and the cubicle grind, or exotic thrills and mundane routines.

And relaxation? A good day’s work, a good meal’s satisfaction, a good night’s sleep. Self-control to let neither work nor hobbies overrun each other. Love and laughter sprinkled throughout the day.

Why do I write this?

To share that it’s okay if your idea of a great vacation doesn’t involve vacating.

That life doesn’t have to be predicated on a dread of Mondays and a desire for escape.

That house-work and life-work done with intention and love can be fulfilling.

Getting ready for a long trip

My flight is at 1 PM tomorrow. I’ve checked and re-checked my luggage weight, reviewed my list of things to bring, ran through scenarios in my head. I’ve scanned and photocopied my passport, numerous visas, work permits, immigration paperwork, and proofs of funds. I have an encrypted copy of the scans on my server and another copy on our desktop at home.

I’ve fretted over the size of my cat carrier and possible litter-box options for my 8-hour Detroit layover. I’ve practised my Japanese in case I need to explain myself at the Nagoya airport on the way back. (Neko wa watashi to Firipin kara Kanada e ikimasu…)

My coworkers have step-by-step instructions for the different tasks I do. “Just in case I drown,” I said. They probably thought I was joking. I’ve set up my out-of-office message with a link to a mindmap that captures most of what I know.

I’m not too stressed out about travel, but I do like making sure that we have solid backup plans.

I have blog posts scheduled for the next two weeks or so. Enjoy!

Notes from my staycation

We spent an industrious day preparing apricot syrup and jalapeño jelly, packaging fourteen jars of each. I did some calculations regarding shipping. It actually costs less to send multiple packages of 4-5 jars (< 2kg) to the Philippines than it costs to send one big one, thanks to Canada Post’s international small packet postage rates. I’m looking forward to putting together a number of care packages, although I’m still looking for a good source for boxes. We tend to get ours from No Frills as part of their recycling program, but there usually aren’t a lot of small, sturdy boxes.

I also worked on rehabilitating the front plant box. Most of it was just tangled root mass. It was hard work digging up and removing the roots. I shook the sandy soil from the roots and discarded the roots to one side, then amended the soil with some cow manure (moo poo). I transplanted the Thai basil there. They needed room to grow, and I figured that we might as well have some edible greens out front.

This is the second week of my staycation, and I’ve discovered a lot about how I actually spend unstructured time. The strongest pull is to spend that time with W- and J-, which generally means cooking, canning, or taking photographs. I also spend a little time on individual pursuits, such as sewing, blogging, and thinking about presentations. “The Shy Connector” is shaping up nicely, and I hope to spend most of tomorrow on it. I’ve gone out to more events, too, although I need to recharge at home (introvert! =) ).

Last week felt like a week of weekends. I deliberately didn’t impose a lot of structure on the time because I wanted it to be flexible. I hadn’t set particular goals for my time, and I hadn’t used it for longer projects like an e-book (although I’m slowly nurturing that Shy Connector presentation). This week, I think I’ll bring in more focus. I want to complete the Shy Connector presentation, and I want to review all of my blog posts for interesting kernels I can develop into other blog posts, articles, and presentations. That should also get me all revved up and ready to get back to work.

Boston Science Museum

I cannot resist science museums. I am endlessly amused by models and
hands-on experiments. As a reward for good behavior or just for fun,
my father and I would take the motorcycle to a dusty building that
contained much-loved exhibits: an echoing shell that stretched between
floors, a wooden catenary arch, a rotating platform for demonstrating
the gyroscopic properties of a bicycle wheel… I had fun
rediscovering everything, running my fingers over the impossible
figure of the Penrose triangle and boggling again at how visual
illusions tricked me into seeing things even though I knew what’s
going on.

The Boston Science Museum is, of course, far more advanced than the
underfunded science center of my youth. This one had augmented reality
displays, lightning shows, and liquid nitrogen demos. The Star Wars
exhibit was fascinating, drawing plenty of connections between the
fantasies of the screen and the realities of current technology.
Scattered throughout the exhibit were hands-on engineering challenges:
build a magnetic levitation train from LEGO(tm), plan a Tatooine base,
experiment with robots’ facial expressions… It was fun to see adults
eyeing the interactive areas, probably also wishing that the kids
would hurry up and put the pieces back already!

It was a lot of fun, and I wish that I had more energy today. I had to
miss the MIT museum and a few other museums because of cramps, but
that’s okay. Maybe I can take the second circus. =)

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