Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Category: 2020

Dining Room Diaries – what day is it again?

It’s been nine weeks (I know, right) since I started working from home. And about the same since I last blogged. Oops.

Things have been a little Miss Thing in the McGee household. Life is no longer as we know it. Shortly after I last wrote, things went a bit tits up with a couple of things in my behind the scenes life (cryptic post is cryptic, might share later, but yeah. Not now. Still getting my head around shit, to be honest. And I sigh. A lot).

But I am sure you desperately need to know how I have been filling my days in the Dining Room and you don’t really need to know what disasters have befallen…* so here we go again.

Well – last time I wrote, I had no pants, the kids were on holidays, my cleaner had quit (temporarily), and yeah, no pants. Technology and interwebs and stuff was being okay. More or less. Two teenage boys slamming the internets for two weeks solid over the holidays convinced me that the internet would be okay with school work and work work because non-stop youtube and gaming =/= video conferencing and school website. That bit was quite good.

Then came the sudden realisation that there are TWO school aged kiddies in tha house and they both had erm. Slightly differing needs. And I, as the gainfully employed member of this establishment, was going to maintain my annexation of the Dining Table. Of which I have commandeered approximately Half. Ish. Sort of. Depending which way you measure it. And if you squint a bit. Suffice to say, the remaining portion is not what you’d call a useful size or shape of a 1.1m by 2.2m table.

This lack of proper writing spaces necessitated many trips to the Officeworks armed with tape measures and hairy eyeballs to determine exactly what desks were available for procurement (here is a clue… the number starts with fucking NONE). We negotiated a slightly banged up floor stock (no discounts, you want you pay. Okay? We wanted so we paid). So, Desk A into Room B, Desk B into Room C, Desk B out of Room C because well. Geometry and Physics. Or Trigonometry. Or something. Desk B in passage while Dining Table (Desk D?) received a 90 degree rotation and voila! The Dining Room magically became Year 9 and Work simultaneously (and, at the same time).

And, also simultaneously and at the same time, the remarkable room rearrangement of Room B in order to fit in Desk A resulted in maybe five large bags of accumulated detritus. Which was even more remarkable considering he’d cleaned his room during the holidays… Ahem. {cough} hoarders{cough}. So, ready to start School at Home, Remote School, whatever you want to call it. Not home bloody schooling. It is not that. And work. Simultaneously. And at the same time.

Well. Okay then. Right. That took a bit of workings out – apparently, my prior confirmed expertise in Year Nine English, and the aspect of my day to day job that requires translation of the written word counts for nothing when confronted with an ever so slightly surly 14 year old. Ahem. Words may have been exchanged. There might have been a fight. It did not degenerate into fisticuffs. But it came close.

There are many, many reasons I am not a teacher. Many.

Year 12 on the other hand is swimming along. Sometimes waving, sometimes drowning, sometimes just splashing about. He won’t be the only one, and it’s not the end of the day if this year doesn’t pan out as well as it should, could, might have… But the look on his face when he found out school was going back in two weeks… well. Brand new bike for Christmas from Santa, a red one with the shiny handlebars and the doo-hickeys that made it sound like a motorcycle. Yeah. That face.

Oh, and pants. Yes. I have pants. They are quite comfortable pants, exceedingly cheap and eminently practical working from home pants. In fact, they’re not really pants… they might be leggings that look a bit like pants from a distance and if you squint a bit. They also have elastic. This is a useful thing for pants that aren’t really pants but might be leggings that look like pants (bugger it, I’m just going to call them pants). Because in the isolations, I have dropped from my daily 10km walk to about 3km. And it’s a three kilometres that’s 100% weather permitting. Call me um. Squishy.

Because I have learned how to make sour dough bread from scratch in isolation. I already baked a yeast bread pretty regularly, but I have upped the ante, and created a “mother” (which I put in the beer fridge and promptly killed. You name the Mother – I called mine Bill, which is ironic really. I killed Bill). I also have another working starter that’s called Kenny (are you sensing a theme here…). While I do make some erm. Interesting looking loaves, they do taste splendid. Very splendid. With lashings of butter. And yeah. Been baking other delicious treats, too.

Elastic pants for the win.

I’ve discovered I have a limit to the number of video calls I can tolerate in one day. It appears to be two, and no more than 40 minutes (maybe that’s why Zoom picked 40 minutes, hey?) or my head turns to custard and I wander off. It’s hard to maintain listening face with the video on you and everyone can see you. I’m a hider, face down, doodling and scribbling in meetings. I listen better with my ears if my fingers are busy. Stops my mind from wandering. Weird, hey. A story for another day, perhaps. But yeah – maintaining an interested and engaged face for longer than ten minutes is a Bit Hard. Yay for the video off button is all I can say. Although. Tip for young players, turn the call on mute if you take yourself into the kitchen for a coffee or something. They can still hear you…

So here I am, sitting in my house that needs a bit of a clean, wearing elasticated pants, and sighing. Still working, still have the correct number of childrens, doggies, and significant others. Actually quite like my family. And I haven’t completely lost my mind.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

*you don’t.

Dining Room Diaries – Day Five

Yes, I know I talked about a week last time I wrote – but this is officially the fifth day of looking out the window from my dining room. Today is also the day the kids finished school. For the holidays. Allegedly. Today is also the day my Cleaning Fairy popped us on hold for the duration, and the day my Pilates class got cancelled.

I’m a bit sad.

On the positive side, the Ironing Fairy picked up, and while it might be for the last time, at least I will have smooth clothes for the next week or two. Which brings me to tonight’s topic of discussion.

What does one wear to work when work is the dining room table?

Now, in the past, I’ve always dressed for work to work from home. Not full on fancy with tights and face on and all, but I am dressed in work clothes, and a proper shirt and my hair is dried and I look professional. But this time, dressing properly only lasted til Wednesday. I was in shorts and t-shirt on Thursday and Friday. I’m still trying to work out a routine where I can get at least one decent walk in before I start work; eat a sensible breakfast, do a tiny bit of housework, and still “get to work” at 9am. Sounds easy, but yeah, still getting kids up and getting side tracked by The Shiny… But bloody hell, getting dressed is becoming an exercise in futility. (Also, sadness impacts upon my sartorial decision making. Perhaps I need a kaftan. Or a mu mu?)

Before the world stopped yesterday evening, I went for breakfast with ma homies. I have been having breakfast once a month with a bunch of girlfriends for 16 years. It’s a bit of a habit. Anyway, we went out for breakfast, did the social distancing thing, then I ran a couple of errands… I walked past Peter Alexander – or is it the “Working from Home Uniform Shop”? I do like my pajamies. But if I wear them all day, what would I change into when I finish work for the day?

It’s also starting to get a bit cooler… I had to put the heater on this morning. So, does that mean trackies are appropriate for work? They’re more formal than pjs, and I can still downgrade to pjs when I finish work? And they’re definitely more formal than the exercise tight? Jeans suck after a while. They dig and they poke and they’re singularly unpleasant to sit around in for hours at a time.

Of course, I still have the outstanding issue of no appropriate work trousers that I may have mentioned previously. I was planning to get some made in time for winter – but that’s not going to happen now. How can one have one’s inner leg measured whilst leaving an acceptably social distance? Once these shenanigans abate, I will be hastening rather swiftly into the trouser making establishment to remedy this situation; however, in the mean time… I have no fucking warm pants.

Four weeks at home with no pants. I’m only going to be video conferencing. Who will know, gentle reader, who will know.

The Dining Room Diaries – Week One

Evening, Viewers. How’s your week been? Shit has started to get a bit surreal. I mean, the panic buying and whole toilet paper thing is bizarre enough, but there’s other stuff going on as well. We threw a party last weekend for 150 of our closest friends and fam – it was epic. Everyone was partying like they would never see each other for months. If the party was this weekend, we would have had to cancel. So, maybe they were right?

And there’s been rumour after rumour that school was going to finish early or the holidays were going to go later or something and maybe workplaces might, you know, let everyone work from home. So, I ducked out and panic bought a couple of things for the just in case, like an extra monitor and a decent wireless keyboard with a number pad because I was working from home that day anyway, and seriously, excel is an arsehole at the best of times, let alone on a 14″ screen.

Then people started throwing words around like social distancing and isolation and quarantine. Then it happened. Probably a good idea to take your stuff home. Make sure your numbers are updated. And next thing you know, I’m no longer a boring office clerk. Well. I was never that, but hey. Now, I’m a boring dining room clerk.

I’ve always quite enjoyed working from home. Most of the time, though, it’s been because I’ve had something on I need to deal with in the middle of the day. So, I start nice and early, set up my laptop on a couple of cookbooks and work solidly for a couple of hours, do my thing, work the rest of the day and chuck my laptop back in my bag and my fat cookbooks back on the shelf. And job is done. But this is going to be for a month. And we’ve never seen or done anything like this before. Ever.


Plan is this – I’m going to jot down my thoughts about working from home long term, and document vaguely and in a half-arsed fashion how I manage working full time, and do school at home for a couple of teenagers, one of whom is in his final year of high school… Yeah, not thinking too much about THAT side of things. Ahem. Living history at the moment, so should record it. So here we are…


The Dining Room Diaries – Week One.

There’s a lot to be said for the Dining Room – I have a lovely view of the street and the trees, and the middle aged blokes who have suddenly taken up a morning constitutional that involves huffing and puffing up the hill. If I turn my head the right way, I get a glimpse of the bay. Lovely. At work, I look at two car parks.

The Table itself is quite splendid – it’s very big and has more than enough room for me to spread out all over. Which I do. I am not a tidy person. I like to see all the things. It’s big enough that I can see all the things. My desk at work is quite small. I have things like plants and piles of journals and random bits of crap that I need then lose under layers of paper.

And coffee is like ten steps away. And it’s proper coffee. And it’s free. AND it’s in a proper china cup. Oh, and snacks. There’s snacks. That are also free. And my co-worker is adorable, makes sure I get up every half hour or so to open and close the door for her, and she never lets me eat all the snacks. She’s also quite keen on a walking meeting or two. (Although our last walking meeting ended up with someone needing a night in hospital. Ahem. That will teach someone to eat things that aren’t supposed to be eaten.)

It’s also quite peaceful. I pop the radio on when I start work for a bit of background noise, and aside from that, it’s just me swearing at excel and the doggie making huffy puffy noises when she wants to go look at the possums.

I’m still in contact with my colleagues all the time – we’ve discovered video chats and the internal messenger service that we never used, so there’s plenty of social contact, and plenty of social distance.

But there’s a couple of downsides as well…

  1. I’m suddenly missing around two hours of incidental exercise every day. That’s quite a lot. I’m no longer walking to and from work, I take ten steps for my coffee, rather than walking to the cafe. And my lunch breaks at home have so far involved folding things and putting things away.
  2. My sedentary office job was nowhere near as sedentary as I thought… I’d wander off to the kitchen to fill my water bottle, go talk to someone for five minutes about something or other, walk around the block to nut out a problem… Now I really do sit on my arse all day.
  3. To work from home properly, you need quite a lot of shit. I’ve got a second monitor, a table whatsis to pop my laptop on, and my monitor is on a couple of cook books. I do have a fancy arse office chair, and an ergonomic mouse. Plus all the notebooks and pens and crap.
  4. I can’t print from my work laptop. I have to email it to my phone and print it from there. Or, send it via my ‘printing mule’ (thanks Reg!!!) ready for the next day. I am an analogue thinker. I print a LOT.
  5. I’ve refused to hotdesk on principle for quite a long time – it’s been proven to ruin creativity and well, it’s actually a breeding ground for disease (ew). Now I am at home though, I’m camped on the Dining Table. The Dining Table is a fucking dining table. Sometimes we eat there. Sometimes we do craft there. Sometimes Reg looks at his computer there. The dining table is highly contested real estate. I need to pack up every night.
  6. Fuck, that’s annoying
  7. Maybe the real reason I hate hotdesking is because I am too lazy to pack my shit up every night.

Anyway, this week has all been about learning what I can do from home and what I need to do to adapt so I can do the rest of it. Like printing. And I’ll know by the end of next week what’s happening with the kids.

So there you have it. One week down…Moderately socially distanced, I’m physically interacting with around ten people each day instead of 30+. Not mad. Yet.

D-day minus a couple of days or something

Well, hasn’t the world just gone tits up in the last couple of weeks…

Now, I lived through the whole Y2K bug thingame whatsis twenty years ago (was it really that long ago?) and yeah, I was all totes whatevs about the whole thing and the sum total of my preparation was buying a single eight-pack of candles on New Years Eve on the off chance the power went out. I did use a couple of the candles a few years later when the power actually *did* go out, and the rest got chucked in my Kon Mari frenzy because they got a bit bent and broken over time.

Even back then, there was a little bit of a panic but people stocked up on bottled water and a few dry goods and yeah, she’ll be right mate. None of this building toilet paper castles surrounded by tinned tomato moats. Seriously, though. HOW MUCH TOILET PAPER does one household actually need? No, serious question. We use between two and four rolls a week for four of us, depending on who’s home and you know, other variables. So, a box of 24 extra long rolls will last us for fucking AGES. Eight to 12 weeks. That’s enough. Now, I’m a person who had a bit of a – shall we say phobia – about running out of the foldy white stuff, and I did have to stage an intervention on myself when I realised my stockpile was erm 60 rolls. I now have a TP delivery service and I never run out. Even in a crisis. But I cannot for the life of me understand why on earth the first thing everyone thought of when they heard they might be locked in for a couple of weeks was “fuck, better get a truck load of poo tickets in then”.

I sorta wonder whether some smart arse in the media department somewhere took a pic of a chap who say, had one of those little convenience stores, or a family motel – somewhere where they buy their bog rolls from the supermarket anyway. And this chap had half a dozen 30 packs piled up in the trolley as one would, if one was running a convenience store or motel, and aforementioned smart arse has gone all “ZOMFG LOOKIT THE PANICSSSSSSSSSS” and the rest is fucking history.

Anyway, I’m all set for the crap wrap, but I figure I really should stock up on a couple of bits and pieces, so I start to do my Doomsday Prepping grocery shop. This consists of me thinking errrrrrrm. What will I run out of in a week, I’ll get two. Ticking along nicely until I kept trying to add self raising flour onto my order. Out of stock. Those panickers need self raising flour? What on earth for? My little supermarket has a minimalist baking section because no fucker near where I live fucking bakes. I have to go further afield to get some random stuff I’m after. Flour section is empty. And yeast. Who else buys yeast? Three supermarkets for bakers flour (it has more protein and is better for bread. I am not a total wanker) and FOUR to get two fucking packets of SR flour and a thingy of yeasy.

So yeah, I’m set. I have meat, I have vegetables, the fruit shop reckons they’ll have fresh stuff on an ongoing basis, so eh, that’s alright. I’ve got ingredients, so I can make fancy stuff, so we will not starve. But I give you the tip, the vibe is fucking WEIRD. It’s like Christmas Eve in the food shops, New Years Eve at the bottle shop and 5pm Sunday afternoon everywhere else.

And people are being complete and utter guttersnipes. I want to use a stronger word here, you know which word I mean. You can replace in your head when you read. But, I saw a grown arse woman rip shreds off a wee lass behind the counter at the bakery because she didn’t have what Karen wanted. Now, Karen, it was less than 15 minutes until closing time. I didn’t expect her to have what I wanted at quarter to quitting time. That poor kid. Seriously. Nobody deserved that level of arseholery. And a complete and utter moron at the supermarket screeching at the manager because he could only buy ONE what ever it was. He only left because the manager called the fucking POLICE. To a supermarket. Because he couldn’t buy two packets of tic tacs or something else he already had thirty packets of at home.

Fuck. Be nice to each other.

Changing shit up.

I’ve been giving myself a few long hard talks lately. The kind of talks that end up with eye rolls and shifting from one foot to the other and loads of sighing and whining incessantly about how my life sucks and I’m bored and I’m totally a whiny arsed fourteen year old girl stuck in the body of a middle-aged woman.

I do have Staff for the boring bits of housework, like, the actual cleaning and the ironing. But the cleaning fairy doesn’t do the fucking washing, or tidy up the linen cupboard, or plan the meals or do the groceries. That’s still all down to me. I mean, the fam does a bit, but it’s mostly down to me to at least organise even if I don’t do all of it. But I am a true Queen of Procrastination and I’d rather fuckarse about with my phone or whinge to my friends than actually do the shit I need to do. Which is all very well, except that yeah. I still need to do the shit I need to do.

So, enough of the whining, and more of the pulling my finger out of my self-indulgent arse and even more of the just fucking DO it. Because, you know, most of the time, it takes a lot less energy and effort to just do it, cross the fucking thing off the list, and move onto the next item. Rinse and fucking repeat. Ad nauseam.

My just fucking do it approach to life seems to be paying off… Sort of. Life seems to be meandering along in a marginally less fucked up, slightly more organised kind of way. We’re still eating at stupid late o’clock, and I’m still going to bed even later. BUT… The dry washing is folded and mostly away; dinner has in fact been cooked every night. Take away only occurs when I plan it, and not because I forgot there were SEVEN dinners required in a week, and not, you know. Five. Or sometimes four. Dishes are done and bills are paid more or less on time. Give or take a day or two.

Work is even going orright for a change of pace. Like – actually getting shit done kind of orright. And by change of pace, I mean work is ticking along at a speed that is comfortable instead of insane. Although yeah, have to stop with the leaving at 6pm (that totes does NOT contribute to the eating fucking late and going to bed fucking later. Totally. Not. Probably. Um. Yeah.) I don’t seem to be able to get there on time, but in all honesty, that’s probably a side effect of not going to bed until fucking midnight half the time. And despite my protestations of never a-fucking-gain, wrote a paper. Now, that is in the lap of the gods, but still. On top of all that, I’ve been reading and cooking and doing stuff that’s sorta fun instead of filling my weekend with resentful housework. And I entered a writing competition. Actually did it. Instead of just thinking about it.

I got a multi-cooker for Christmas, so I’ve been learning how to use it. Chocolate puddin all round thank yer mother for the rabbits and that’s all she wrote. And you know those Woollies vegetables last year? Well. I grew beetroots and radishes and lettuces. I did kill a fair few things, but I’ve got a lot of spares to try again once the fucking cucumber dies a natural death. We got this thing called a vegepod, and man, best idea ever. Although carrots fucking suck to grow. Apparently, they grow them in sand and in pipes. Not actually straight in the ground. They taste good, even if you can’t peel the bastards.

Also, one only needs ONE cucumber plant. Not four. I have made cucumber relish and pickled cucumbers and every time people leave my house, they leave with a cucumber in one hand and a jalapeno in the other. Because, while I did only plant one chilli plant, it’s enjoying life in the Pod. A lot. Damn shame the damn cucumber has strangled the capsicum. And the strawberries have mould issues. I shall google it.

Last month, I cooked at least four or five new recipes. That never happens. I also read EIGHT books. That also never happens. Nice mixture of new and old and crime and not and actual books and non-fiction which I also don’t read. And the writing competition, well. Not a hope in hell of winning a prize or anything, because well. Srs competition. Although I did read last year’s winners…

So, I’ve cooked and I’ve read heaps and I’ve written stuff and I’ve grown stuff and I’ve done loads of crochet, and I’ve done the fucking housework. Like a grown up. Who would have thought? Also, who would have thought I could fit so many fucking swears in one less than one thousand word essay.