I can tell more people are out and about again by the smell of diesel as I queue for the supermarket. Its surprisingly not from the carpark though – looking around me, that’s at about the same capacity and usage as it has tended to be over the last few weeks.
The carpark is, however, right next to the M3 motorway, and is closely boundaried by Staines Road West, which broadly runs between here, Staines, the Great West Road and the M25. In other words, a major multilane road. The traffic in both of those is noticeably heavier than it has been in months, and with it has returned the noise and fumes of diesel and petrol.
I’ve got used to not tasting the air when I head out, and now I’m feeling nauseous just standing still. I’m now wearing a face mask not as a Covid-19 precaution, but as an anti-pollution measure.
If I wasn’t already a miserable sod, this would be enough to make me one. Its amazing what we can get used to.
I was just going back over my notes from the last couple of sessions and admiring how the group has both started to cohere and to realise that they are still learning the ropes, so to speak.
Delving down into damp lower levels was at least a break from the winter snows that had begun to fall in the morning. The first chamber was marked by a series of statues of ancient deities of sky, earth, and stone and Wall paintings of both Dhakaani (ancient goblin) pastoral scenes and of the passage of their souls to the afterlife of Dolhurr.
There were also four human skeletons in the chamber, each missing their hands in what looked like executions. The heavy doors leading further were sealed with chains and a massive lock. Runes in Abyssal were written on the seal praising the Dragon Below. With little else to go on, a mixture of lock picking and brute force soon saw the way open.
The noise attracted the reanimated skeletons of the goblin guards, but this time the group was able to despatch them quickly with only one minor hiccup. This came when the Dragonborn Kerne chose to breath poison on the skeletons, only to find that they were immune.
The weapons of the guards were made of byeshk metal, a rare ore that made weapons capable of driving off creatures from Xoriat and so these were quickly distributed among the group, just in case. A quiver of magical arrows was also found, and the shafts of bone and obsidian were divided up among the archers in the group.
This just left a strange lever that didn’t seem to have any noticeable effect despite resistance when pulled and some doors that opened up into a wide hallway with more skeletons near the far end against one of the walls.
In their eagerness to investigate, two of the group set off a swinging spiked bar that swept across the hall before resetting. Being hit by it didn’t kill them, but did make them realise what had broken the bodies they found themselves scattered among.
There then followed a period of searching for the trigger and how to circumvent setting the trap off again that led to a series of assisted acrobatic and athletic maneuvers to cross the hallway to relative safety, where the group huddled up against the opposite door to catch their breath and mend their wounds.
Things learned: poisoning undead rarely works, the effects of levers aren’t always obvious, and always check for traps in entry corridors.
Who knows what discoveries they’ll make this week?
Life continues to ebb and flow in its complexities, but the DDC continues to be a creative and entertaining source of comfort, support, and humour in all the oddness around us.
Our latest set of things has been creating quizzes and games to play through shared screens in Discord. Whoever is running the quiz sets up a PowerPoint document with questions and answers revealed in turn, while everyone works together to find the answers. Mre B created the template based on their running similar things with their friends, and myr s has taken up the baton to create rounds tailored to our various strengths and foibles.
Roughly once a week we gather of an evening to play. We start with general levity, and yet despite there not being any competition between players, there’s soon a very serious air as people try to identify TV theme tunes from sight reading music, interpret kinks by their formal clinical names, identify pop culture characters from pets dressed up as those characters, and puns based on shows where one character has been changed – and that was just for starters.
Lateral thinking, chat, and everyone trying to resist googling any answers – a fun combination that is proving as much a draw as the weekly Dungeons and Dragons session.
Oh, and then we used Roll20 to make a Trivial Pursuit board and grabbed four different sets to make a monstrous random hodgepodge of topics from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and a general family edition. That got very silly, very fast. We’ll have to do that again…
I’m taking advantage of the hard work yesterday clearing down old archives to make sure that the bags of confidential waste are prepped and ready for collection by our secure shredding service. If nothing else its giving me a workout, so I’m pausing a moment for a cuppa.
If there’s one thing this week of clearing out rubbish and shelving has made clear to me, it’s how the lockdown has affected my stamina levels. Before this week I’ve been having aches and pains, but now I have muscles letting me know that they’ve been used, and that’s a good thing.
What I shall need to be aware of is that many of the people I work with will be in similar states as and when we reopen in whatever capacity to the public. It can be very easy to forget that working in a library is quite physical between shifting stock, being on your feet most of the day, and of course moving around to help people all over buildings that frequently have multiple floors.
When are we reopening? Well we don’t actually know yet. We were working to the assumption that it would be July, but the announcement this week of non-essential shops being allowed to reopen in a couple of weeks time has also folded libraries into that umbrella.
We’re still working out how to best do it safely, and are doing assessments on how to phase some sort of service back into play. In the meantime, data cleansing and physical cleansing are an ongoing process in preparation of any announcements.
I’ve been putting it off, but yesterday I went into one of my libraries with a colleague to do a cleardown of surfaces and a general clearout of expired leaflets and paperwork. Eight large bags of recycling and three large bin liners later, we called it a day.
If nothing else it helped keep my back limber as I’ve had a trapped nerve for a couple of days.
The other good thing (aside from it being easier to clean surfaces), is that it has given me ideas for jobs for staff to do when they return, such as having a sort through craft materials. We have an archive of old crafts ideas dating back the best part of twenty years that needs a critical eye too.
Today I’ll be going back in to start going through the drawers behind the main desk. There’s a lot of rubbish in there…
Despite the tiny size of the available car, I was able to retrieve the Charleesi from university yesterday. Even better, I was able to do so in one round trip. We’re still not entirely sure how we did that – there is a suspicion that the Fiat500 is actually a Tardis.
Fortunately, while playing Tetris with bags, books, and assorted household goods we had sunshine and a gentle breeze. Even the Charleesi’s traditional moment of locking herself out of her own flat was taken in good humour by the concierge who ambled over to let her back in to empty the recycling bin.
And so there it is – the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another for the Charleesi. I still can’t believe we fit all that in such a small car…
We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.
As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.
I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.
Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.
With the weather a bit cooler today, its made me realise what about the steady heat blanket of this week has had me struggling a bit.
Essentially the lack of breezes had brought a heaviness that was reminding me of the dissociative parts of my depression. Everything was feeling dull and distant and my head was responding to the familiarity of those sensations.
Being a reasonably smart cookie, I recognised this on a subconscious level at least, because I’ve been making efforts to drag myself outside the flat in search of light and sound, and at least hints of moving air. Being around people, talking online, keeping busy, these have all kept my brain shaken from the old tracks. So thats a good thing, possibly even means I’m learning to look after myself.
That said i didn’t really put it all together until counselling this evening, but then that’s what its there for.
Its that time of year when we remember that the Charleesi is still stuck at university and that we really should look at how to bring her home safely.
So Sunday has been set as our target, and we shall retrieve her and her worldly possessions. Somehow. I say this because our car is in for repairs and we have a tiny Fiat500 as a courtesy vehicle in the meantime.
This, as they say, will be interesting. We might get our car back before the weekend but I’m not counting on it. I shall instead be seeing if we can arrange a series of journeys over the next few days.
Not quite sure what happened to yesterday. There was sunshine, and reading on the balcony, but also bone deep weariness and flaking out on the bed for a good few hours.
Maybe its just lockdown getting to me, or residual anger burning out my reserves. Probably a combination of the two because I then couldn’t sleep for ages last night for wanting to angrily message people.
So, today is going to be more productive. I have character portraits to work on, so until my video conference later, thats what I’m going to get on with. Better to be doing something positive in all this.