Art Therapy

I’m still exhausted from the last few days, and still seem to have a nagging pain thats either muscular or a trapped nerve. On the plus side I’ve been feeling a bit more creative, so I have some things to show for the day.

I had a bit of a double-whammy in the delivery of some replacement grey, black, and sepia ink pens in the morning; and then my digging out my venerable graphics tablet this afternoon.

The sketchbook image above is freehand line art drawn this evening while Lady M played some Assassins Creed. The other two are Photoshop enhancements of some pieces I doodled last year. I’ve cleaned up and added to them over the course of the afternoon.

And thats what I’ve done to settle myself a little after the events of the last couple of days.

Lady M is still recovering but seems brighter this evening, and has been answering good wishes and enquiries through the day.

Better News

Just to update from earlier, Lady M is safely home and currently floating an inch or so above the sofa on a mix of morphine and diazapam. It appears, as thought, to be a muscular issue relating to the tissues between her ribs, probably brought about by over-stretching.

It should heal in a few days, but in the meantime rest and prescription pain killers are the order of the day for her.

So that’s been my Thursday. I’ve not been particularly constructive with any of my projects, but I think I can put off feeling bad about that given how shattered I am at the moment.

The Waiting

I’m currently waiting to hear from Lady M, who I last saw being helped into an ambulance after chest pains started in the early hours of this morning.

The good news is that the paramedics are reasonably sure from their tests that she hasn’t been having a heart attack but may have torn some of the muscles between her ribs.

That said, they want to be sure, obviously, and have taken her for a blood test and monitoring. Due to Covid restrictions I’m not allowed to accompany her, so I’ve put the thickest book I could find, and her phone charger in a bag to keep her from getting bored.

And so now its the waiting game. Its been a very rough night so I might catnap a bit.

Corporate Queerness

Well, that was an interesting meeting. I signed up a few months ago to the fledgling LGBTQ+ Network at my workplace, and have since stepped up and got more involved with helping shape and run it. To that end we had a quick virtual meeting via Teams to start to thrash out the basic Values and Aims of the group.

This is based partly on the corporate aims and values for diversity and equality held in common working here, and looks at promoting wider sharing of information and practice among other things.

Along the way, people started dropping their ages into conversation around how different age ranges seem to prefer making social contacts. This ranges from apps, activities, social spaces, and the more traditional clubs and bars; and really emphasises again just how easy it can be to apply a wide brush to expectations that are then immediately subverted by individual experiences and expectations. It also revealed that I was the oldest person present, so to speak.

To quote Lady W as I recounted this later, this meant I was the oldest queer in the village. This amuses me, as I would in no way hold myself up as any kind of exemplar of queer experience in any community.

But there you have it – if need be I’ll be a voice for those who don’t feel they have the confidence to speak. There are worse roles I could take on.

Painful Monday

I have a suspicion that the trapped nerve that has been plaguing me is sticking around for the long haul. Keeping moving helps even if it does feel like someone is trying to drill new hip sockets through my left buttock.

Still, if that’s the worst that I have to contend with I shall continue to count myself lucky as it is nothing compared to the murder of George Floyd and the pain and heartache surrounding and arising out of it. I’m horrified by the stream of violent images, but also heartened by the positive instances of support and solidarity too.

I am white. I cannot pretend from my place of privilege, even as part of the LGBTQ+ community, to know the experiences of the black community. But I can raise my voice in support, I can listen and put myself in places to help. I can challenge languages and behaviours I encounter.

I am just so tired of this year.

The Smell of Diesel

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.

DDC Traps and Tribulations

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.

Yikes

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?

DDC Shenanigans

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…

Quietly Working

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.

So we’ll see what happens. Interesting Times…

Cleanup in all the Aisles

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…