Wednesday Waffling

So, I had a quite stressful week before Easter, a lovely relaxed lazy Easter weekend (from Friday to Monday, as both days are public holidays in Germany), and now I’m at the end of another stressful work week. I still haven’t quite managed to optimally organize my increased workload.

The week before Easter was lovely and warm, going up to 24°C but now we’re back down to just around 2°C with snow, sleet, snow pellets and a nasty cold wind. It started on Monday; the rest of Easter was cool but sunny. Monday afternoon I was caught on my walk with Curious Dog in a shower of sleet. We got sopping wet, but CD didn’t seem to care much. I was freezing, especially my wet hands on his leash, while he was unconcernedly sniffing various clumps of grass for ages. But I let him because I am a sucker. I like for him to enjoy his time outside on our walks. Yesterday was also nasty and today our afternoon walk took place during snowfall (at least we didn’t get wet). The forecast does indicate that temperatures will go up again on Friday. I much prefer this weather to its being too warm too early in the year, though. The precipitation will be good for the woods and fields, I hope.

I had tons of things to do at work before and after Easter. I got annoyed at my manager, because in last week’s team meeting he blithely announced another task that I am supposed to be the owner of (well, actually two similar tasks). I haven’t been responsible for this particular thing for quite a number of years, but it involves new software tools and new regulations that I have to familiarize myself with. As I’m so busy, I didn’t appreciate having this new task dumped on me without warning and with the training that’s required… – I don’t mind training, but this month I’ve got tons of deadlines already and my calendar is full. I don’t know when exactly I have to start with the new responsibility, but I’ve had a rotten experience with the same thing in the past. It involved interacting with aggressive customers in escalation mode due to no fault of mine. So, I definitively don’t want to go into this without proper up-to-date training. And I will need support by other colleagues and there’s all sorts of other framing conditions that my manager doesn’t seem to have considered. I was mad as hell but haven’t had a chance to talk with them about it. Probably for the best. Now I’ve had a few days to cool down and come up with all points that need to be clarified. I’ve got my jour fixe with them tomorrow and will try to get a better understanding of what this thing entails.

This week is a short week, what with only three workdays for me. There’s a deadline that had me hounding people to improve the quality of their content for the last couple of weeks as well as a lot of other quality checks. The new schedule where we publish our documents monthly instead of every six weeks seems to make quite a difference in workload which I had underestimated. That, in addition to the new project I took on a couple of months ago, is proving a challenge. Maybe I’ll get used to it in a few more weeks.

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Easter was great, because of the relaxation. Nothing but cooking, eating, sleeping, reading, watching films or series, walking with Curious Dog, meditating, playing games…I’d done all the meal-planning beforehand and bought all the groceries we needed on the Wednesday before Easter (except for some odds and ends which I forgot and picked up on Thursday) thus avoiding the Easter rush. We had traditional “green sauce” with potatoes on Thursday. Green sauce consists (in our case) of soy yoghurt with a mix of chopped herbs, salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil. A very simple but tasty meal. On Friday we had home-made pizza, with homemade cashew mozzarella. Saturday, we had mashed potatoes with glazed apple pieces, fried onions and fried smoked tofu (the non-vegan recipe calls for German blood sausage instead of tofu). Very nice although it sounds weird. It’s called “heaven and earth” (“heaven” for the apples, “earth” for the potatoes). On Sunday we had cauliflower in tomato-caper sauce with polenta and on Monday we had a carrot, leek, date, and rice curry cooked in my clay pot in the oven at 200° for 1.5 hours. Partner made a lovely poppy seed cake with a sweet soy yoghurt and berry topping for Sunday and Monday, and a sweet yeast loaf for Friday and Saturday. If I can’t think of what to cook next Easter, I’ll look up this post for inspiration.

I didn’t read any of the books I’m currently in the middle of during the Easter weekend. Somehow, I got side-tracked and picked up an 840 page space opera by David Weber: In Fury Born. I picked it up off my shelves for a reread, but I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Did I maybe not read it before? A bit mystifying. Usually I do recognize bits and pieces, even if I can’t remember everything, but with this one, I remembered almost nothing. It was a good, escapist read. Similar to all the David Weber books I’ve read, it is about a courageous elite soldier, who is disillusioned and leaves the military. Later she experiences a horrific personal tragedy and kind of teams up with an ancient Greek Fury, Tisiphone, (this is the plot element that sets the book apart from others by Weber) and an AI spaceship named Megaira. They communicate telepathically and Tisiphone inhabits her mind. I like reading about stuff like that. Otherwise, the novel is too full of military stuff, and too many people get killed. There’s also lots of politics. These are all things I don’t like that much, but somehow there are times when I enjoy David Weber’s books a lot. I’ve read most of his Honorverse novels, which are about a heroic member of a space navy, Honor Harrington. They are also full of military life, politics and terribly evil antagonists that have to be overcome, but they are very thrilling and sometimes I just feel like reading such a tale.

I did continue reading Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the mornings and at night I’ve started reading the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments instead of short stories. I’ve had this Oxford World’s Classics paperback for a long time and have never yet read all of it. I’m enjoying it a lot so far (and I remember quite a few of the stories, as I have read some of them before). My new book light is very helpful for reading books (instead of ebooks) in bed at night, as it doesn’t bother Partner as much as my bed-side lamp. It’s one of those clip-on rechargeable LED lights that you can adjust to different levels of brightness. A very useful gadget.

During the Easter weekend we watched parts two and three of Matrix, which I’m sure I didn’t watch when they came out. The plot is odd and somewhat esoteric, but it’s mostly a lot of extended action scenes. Fun, but nothing to rave about. We watched the Narnia film Voyage of the Dawn Treader on Disney+. Not exactly like the book (I don’t remember the plotline about the seven swords), but I liked it anyway. On Monday night we watched the Tatort (crime scene) episode 1162 Der Herr des Waldes (The Lord of the Woods) set in the town of Saarbrücken. Not bad, with a rather surreal scene between two psychopaths, but it suffers because all the main protagonists are not very likeable (at least, I don’t care much for them). It also ended on a bit of cliffhanger, which is a pain because Tatort episodes set in Saarbrücken only run once a year. We’ll have to wait until next year to see what happens next.

We also watched the first three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, also on Disney+. Not bad, except for all that rubbish about needing heroes. People shouldn’t place others on pedestals and worship them as heroes. I don’t care about that aspect of the Marvel Universe at all. The new Captain America starts off as quite a nice person, but then morphs into an arse. The ones against whom the Falcon and the Winter Soldier are fighting may turn out to be not as bad as they seem. They are angry, because they have been dispossessed by the returned humans who had been missing for five years (as was told in the Avengers arc of films). An interesting plot, but the series isn’t as quirky as WandaVision.

So that’s the gist of what I’ve been doing since last I posted.

Keep safe, world.

Peaceful Easter Weekend

My Easter weekend was relaxing and pleasant. The weather was nice, mostly, though Sunday and Monday were a bit cooler and a few (very few) drops of rain fell. That was good for walking with Curious Dog, because the hot weather of last week was already a bit too hot for longer walks in the full sunshine. People adhered to the social distancing rules and apart from a quick trip to the local backer’s on Saturday, I didn’t need to go shopping. It’s surreal how nice the weekend was for us, while in other places people are struggling so much. We are blessed.

Somebody wrote “Der Herr ist auferstanden” on the pavement in front of our driveway. “The Lord is risen” in English. A reminder of the reason for the lovely long weekend. I’m not particularly religious, but I didn’t mind the reminder. Wonder who it was, though. It was only in front of our driveway, nowhere else, so it must have been one of our neighbours. My guess is that it was the family with the two toddlers, as they have chalk (the kids did some other scribbles in our communal driveway). But it’s just a guess and anyway not important.

I meditated a lot. An hour in the mornings, at noon, and in the late afternoon on all four days of the long weekend. It made me mellow and good tempered and I even got a good deal of housework done without getting annoyed. I think this should be my new strategy. Meditation before housework. On Sunday morning I took about an hour to reorganize my spices. I had them in a cupboard above the cooker, but that was kind of awkward and it had got really messy. So now I’ve put some of the spices onto a little shelf in my kitchen and the rest into a different cupboard. Now it’s nice and tidy and I’ve got a good overview. For once I actually followed up on a plan.

I walked with Curious Dog each afternoon, while my partner did the morning walks. Currently Curious Dog is being weird about the noon walks. Half the time he doesn’t want to go, unless I take him, which I’m not doing. It’ll be enough for me when we are back in Bavaria. We hope to be able to go sometime end of April for a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks instead of just one week, as Mum wants to do some gardening. She really wanted to stay by herself for three weeks, but I’m not sure about it because of the Corona situation. There’s nobody to go shopping for her. I hope the small village shop hasn’t gone out of business. Although it shouldn’t have, since it’s a grocery.

Anyway, to get back to the Easter weekend, we also did a lot of cooking:

  • Potatoes with a yogurt-herb dip
    It’s a German tradition to have something green on that day Maundy Thursday. Hence the herbs.
  • Mushroom risotto cooked with white wine (on Good Friday)
  • Home-made pizza (on Saturday)
  • Clauliflower in a tomato-caper sauce with celeriac polenta (on Easter Sunday)
    This one sounds strange, but it’s very nice. The celeriac polenta is polenta with a bit of grated celeriac in it. The celeriac makes it very flavourful and the capers spice up the tomato sauce. My partner found the recipe on the Internet.
  • Potato salad in a yogurt-mustard sauce, with fried tofu (on Easter Monday)

A lovely vegan meal plan. Tasty and not too much work. I like cooking, but not if it’s too complicated and takes too much time in the kitchen. Although I have to admit that my partner did most of the cooking. Mum made the pizza dough and I made the soy-yogurt herb dip and the potato salad. The list will come in useful as a reminder if next year we can’t think of anything to cook. Although these dishes are staples that we cook quite often.

My mum also backed a traditional yeast raisin loaf on Thursday. On Saturday, I bought some cake at the bakery and Partner backed a lovely apple cake for Sunday and Monday (my contribution was the cashew cream that went on top of it).

We watched some films and serials: a few episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney+, the first two episodes of Doc Martin season 9 on DVD, The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond, Roger Moore), Contagion. I also did a lot of reading, but not as much as I had planned, mostly because the meditation took up a good chunk of time. Nevertheless, I’m all caught up with my short stories and poetry reading, as well as with David Copperfield. I also started a new nonfiction book, Erebus (it’s about the voyages of the HMS Erebus and I got for my birthday from my partner). On Friday I also wrote up my review of Song of Solomon, but the rest of the weekend I didn’t get around to writing anything, what with all the other things I was doing.

My colleagues at work also seem to have had a relaxed weekend. Nobody on my team is sick, thankfully.

Keep safe, world.

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