Hail, Hail, Kale

Without a normalized schedule of daily operations, time goes by much faster than what is comfortable for me. It’s an ironic fact that one wishes not to go into work every day in order to make time for other things; the truth is that the world expands to fill the gap. It’s a busy but happy life just now as Cygnoir and I settle into our first proper winter since we were children. Scotland is such a place where you can actually feel the rain start to harden into hail and then further into ice, and then just over your shoulder is a hole of clear blue in the sky and a rainbow spanning the gap. All of these things happened today at once. But because it gets dark so incredibly early at this time of the year, it’s often difficult to see it all before it turns to pitch. We both have fallen into the rather studenty routine of staying up until silly-o’clock and then getting up late enough to have missed the majority of daylight. And it will only get darker in the coming months, so it’s a good thing that we’ve got a cupboard full of tea and plenty of lovely warm radiators, supplemented by two unbelievably-happy cats who like to cuddle.

And though I always feel a bit geriatric talking about those two, there is no doubt that they are small, furry lights in our lives and we’re oh-so-happy that they made the transatlantic move with such ease. They first met already past their prime; both are the same age and have always been only-children and indoor animals. Moving them in together when Cygnoir came to Le Chateau was a shock, and though cats adapt to change pretty well, it was a case of one moving into another’s space for the first time, and it showed in their interaction. A cordiality grew over the years, but never a camaraderie. Now, after a stressful trip together and an equal number of jowl-rubs on items throughout the new flat, they’ve been closer than ever before – and maybe even a little bit like friends. The fact that we can all be in the same bed together is a real treat, and we’re feeling like proud parents who have painstakingly ironed out long-standing familial differences. The truth is that we’ve done very little except give them a new home, the same thing we’ve been given.

Luckily, our productivity can only be boosted by the upcoming inclemency. I’m still doing quite a bit on the Gamescape front, all the while amazed that there can be so much hands-on from so far away thanks to the wonders of modern technology. I talk with and advise the boys on a very regular basis, and I’m able to remotely access pretty much anything I need to monitor, including the entire digital aspect of the operation. It’s inevitable that my product knowledge and immersion will fade as time goes by, so I’m doing as much as I currently can to help with the continuing transition – especially now that Black Friday is here and the holiday season has started. This is the first year in a very long time that I am not in a Pavlovian-like retail state, head-down and gearing up for the next six crazy weeks. For this, I mostly feel sorrow for the guys and a bit of guilt that I cannot be there to physically assist and help keep their morale and energy up. But they’re sharp and savvy, and I’m proud of them for taking things in hand and continuing well, seemingly undisturbed by the major changes.

I’ve been making a number of new websites for various projects in which I’m currently embroiled, but I’m not quite ready to make them live. It’s safe to say that there’s something related to my doctoral work and something else connected to the gaming industry. Both should be fun reads when they finally get going. For now, I’m learning a ton about faux-coding and bashing out things visually the way I want them, with lots of late-night questions for Cygnoir, who is ever the whiz on all things digital.

My painting desk is assembled and almost entirely set up, which means I’ll be able to get some time away from the computer and start flinging some acrylics very soon. I have noticed that not being around the go-to community at the store deprives me of the instant commiserative geek-out factor that is normally an everyday occurrence in our sector. But that’s to be expected, and it just means that finding more local folks with similar interests is an eventual priority. And hey! I’ve finally created a BoardGameGeek page, so feel free to connect with me there if you’re hooked in on that gawd-awfully-formatted site. I guess I never did it before because I owned ALL the games and didn’t want to spend my downtime cataloging. But now I’m a PhD student, which means I have nothing but time.

The final bit of news is that I’ve signed up for a volunteer position with the National Trust for Scotland as an assistant gardener at Culross Palace. In a seashell, the Royal Burgh of Culross is a tiny Medieval hamlet established in the 16th century by a descendant of Robert the Bruce. The place was built on salt and leather, and is now like a living museum, looking almost undisturbed in some areas since then. The Palace has a gorgeous, terraced garden filled with period flora, herbs, and vegetables – all grown organically – and it’s absolutely huge. Because the year-round work can’t be done by one head gardener and his part-time assistant, I’ve signed up to spend two days per week there helping out with anything they need. From the first meeting, I’ve discovered that this includes planting and harvesting foodstuffs grown in the Middle Ages, crushing shells to line the pathways in between the garden plots, stretching the necks of surplus Dumpy hens who wake the neighbors up too often, planning and plotting sections of the garden for refurbishment and public events, and plentiful amounts of woodworking to decorate the posts, reborder the plot beds, and spruce up the benches and gates. Considering we don’t really have a garden of our own at the flat, I suppose I can take a hit and borrow one from a Medieval burgh. No biggie. It’s a good thing I brought my tools over.

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