Thursday, April 08, 2021

Powering my future

My life today is completely different than it was some 18 months ago, and the changes aren’t done yet. Today I had something done that will help me into the future, that helps achieve a dream that Nigel and I had, and that puts my personal values into action. It’s not every day that we can do something that powerful—in more ways than one.

Nigel had a part-dream, part-fantasy of us being able largely self-sufficient. I shared in his overall vision, though maybe not the parts about growing our own food, because I knew that would largely fall on me—or would it? In his last couple years, Nigel took increasing interest in our tomato crop, so it’s not hard to imagine that he might become equally enthused about more food growing, especially when he retired. But as for the rest—the other things involved with living sustainably and self-sufficiently—I shared that dream.

In his last couple years, Nigel was determined to put up a wind turbine to generate electricity. When we’d hear the wind blowing outside, he’d say, “Listen to all that electricity!” The first turbine he bought was too large for our nearly quarter-acre section surrounded on all sides by similar-sized properties, six in total. So, he bought a smaller turbine. “I just want to generate enough electricity to power our computer servers and a bit more," he said. He would’ve been happy for more, of course, but he at least wanted to offset the “excess” power that we used.

When he died, the wind turbine idea died, too. I knew I’d be living in a town and wouldn’t be able to have a large turbine, and I also knew that those things need maintenance and care and I simply wasn’t up to that on any level. And so, it seemed our dream had died.

But then it turned out that it hadn’t.

An opportunity to revive it opened up in December last year when I decided against putting in an expensive ducted air conditioning system. I decided to spend the money instead on PV (photovoltaic) solar panels.

I contacted the folks at Harrisons Energy, and the franchisee for this area, based in Tauranga, came out to meet me and get information to work out a quote. I decided on them because, although not the cheapest, I knew they were a reputable company, were reliable, and had been around for many years, which could be important if anything went wrong.

The guy gave me three options for panels—cheaper (but good, highly rated) ones from a Chinese company, mid-price ones from LG, and expensive ones from a German company. Each of them rated well in independent rankings (I checked), but in the end I went with the LG. The other two companies had begun within the past decade, whereas LG has been around for some six decades, and they invest millions in R&D. That mattered to me because if anything went wrong with the panels, and Harrisons had gone out of business, the manufacturer, at least, should still be around as a last resort. And, there wasn’t that much difference in performance, anyway.

Rain delayed installation until today, and the guys arrived a little after nine this morning. They finished around 4:30-ish (a photo of the completed installation is above). I opted for a higher spec inverter (the device that takes the solar power from the PV collectors and makes it usable) because it’s ready to go for a plug-in electric car, which, right now, I hope to have eventually. I also opted for a special device that ensures power for the hot water tank is prioritised. That’s because in a typical house electric hot water heating accounts for up to 40% of all the power used in the house, partly because it switches on frequently in order to keep the water hot. Unfortunately, the device I ordered is on back-order at the moment.

I didn't get a battery pack to use at night: The cost for that alone was about 30% higher than the cost of the entire system I chose, installed. There are also environmental and ethical concerns about those battery packs that will eventually be solved, but that’s not now. Also, it seems likely that plug-in electric cars will become the battery storage for houses. One day a couple years ago, maybe, Nigel and I were driving home, and he gave me a detailed description of how that would work, what it would mean, and the technical ins and outs. I understood some of what he was saying, but I remember how he was very convincing—and enthusiastic.

My new system is up and working, however, it’s switched off at the moment. I need two things before I can use it: First, the installation has to be inspected and approved (because it connects to the national power grid, and so, must meet both code and requirements for that, and also because it involves major changes to the house’s power supply).

Second, I need a new ultra-smart meter that can sense the power I’m sending out to the grid so I can be paid for it. Right now, I have what used to be considered a smart meter, because it can be read remotely and because it can record the time power is used so it could use differential charging (where available), neither of which old-fashioned meters could do. However, the current not-so-smart-after-all meter can’t work out what’s happening with power I generate, and would treat it as power I’d consumed, rather than produced—and that means I’d pay the electricity company for the power I generated. Yeah, nah. In most cases, though, at least some old-fashioned meters could simply “spin backwards”, so maybe they weren’t so not-smart after all.

Me and a PV panel.
At any rate, the power meter will be changed a week from today, and Harrison’s will arrange for the inspection. With a bit of luck, a week or so from now the system can be switched on and I can generate my own electricity.

Based on the amount of power I actually use, I may achieve, or get very near to, self-sufficiency in electricity. That means that—at the very least—my power bills will be a fraction of what they are now. This will matter a lot when I retire. In fact, much of what I’ve been doing to this house has been about making it more comfortable for me for years to come, maybe until I die some decades from now.

However, one of the biggest things for me is that I’ll be at least near self-sufficiency in electricity generation, which had been Nigel’s dream. I couldn’t do it the way he wanted, but I’m trying to do it in a way that’s right for me. He’d approve.

It also puts my values in action. Not everyone can afford PV solar cells, obviously, however, I believe that those of us who can manage to do it should install them. The reason is simple: New Zealand needs more power generation, and if everyone who could do so installed PV on their roofs, it would dramatically reduce the need for new power plants, and it would help achieve New Zealand’s goal of achieving 100% renewable and non-polluting energy generation. Earlier generations sacrificed and did their bit to help their country win world wars, and, to me, this is similar: I’m doing my bit to help New Zealand, and to help fight climate change: It's my values in action.

It’s not every day that we can achieve anything that's so powerful to us. Today, I did that, and I’m very happy about that.

The names of products listed are all registered trademarks, and are used here for purposes of description and clarity. No company or entity provided any support or payment for this blog post, and all products were purchased by me at normal retail prices. So, the opinions I expressed are my own genuinely held opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the manufacturers, any retailer, or any known human being, alive or dead, real or corporate. Just so we’re clear.

AmeriNZ Podcast episode 352 now available

AmeriNZ Podcast episode 352, “Bubble time” is now available from the podcast website. There, you can listen, download or subscribe to the podcast.

Today I talk about the announcement of a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia.

The five most recent episodes of the podcast are listed on the sidebar on the right side of this blog.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Bubble rising

Yesterday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced
 that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will begin on Monday, April 19. She said that there are protocols and systems in place to make this possible, but nothing can be guaranteed, so it remains “flyer beware”.

The entire thing is based on the fact that both New Zealand and Australia are generally Covid-free. It’s “generally” because both countries have had outbreaks connected with arrivals from overseas. That’s why it’s “flyer beware”, because if an outbreak happens flights could be paused or suspended.

If there’s a limited, short-term lockdown because of a case from an unknown source, flights may be suspended for 72 hours. But if there’s a longer lockdown and multiple cases from unknown sources, flights could be suspended for a longer time.

If flights are suspended—long or short term—travellers to New Zealand may face additional requirements, including: Getting a pre-departure test before flying, self-isolating and getting a Covid-19 test, or if the person is flying from a state where travel has been paused, they may go into managed isolation when they arrive in New Zealand. This is especially important for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who may have been stuck in Australia due to an outbreak suspending flights.

On the plus side (for travellers), this is being organised on a state-by-state basis, so if an outbreak happens in, say, Queensland, a traveller would still be able to fly from Melbourne. Theoretically. Flyer beware.

All passengers on trans-Tasman flights will be required to wear masks (which is kind of a big deal on what can be a four-hour (or longer) flight), and they won’t be allowed to board if they show cold or flu symptoms. New Zealand will also conduct random temperature checks on people arriving in New Zealand.

All passengers flying between the two countries will travel though a “green zone”, in which trans-Tasman passengers will be kept physically separated from any other flyers (like, for example, NZ citizens and permanent residents flying back to NZ from other countries outside Australia). The air crews on those “green zone” flights will also not have worked on flights from potentially risky countries before a trans-Tasman flight.

The health and Covid-19 authorities in the Australian states and New Zealand will work to share information to minimise sudden, surprise changes in the ability to fly quarantine-free, and to ensure they have systems and protocols that remain effective at preventing spread of the virus.

As I said recently, I would’ve preferred that the two countries waited until more of their people were vaccinated. However, I also noted:
If any two countries are in a position to make a quarantine-free travel bubble work, it’s New Zealand and Australia. It’s not without risk, but, then, nothing in life is. Maybe the benefits will far outweigh the risks. I suppose we’ll find out relatively soon.
I think that’s the bottom line. I also think that the risk is relatively acceptable. Both countries—and especially New Zealand—need the money foreign tourists spend, and a lot of very ordinary people need that to be employed. That means this isn’t just about corporations pushing their demands: It will help even low-wage workers. It will also allow reunions of friends and family who haven’t seen each other in more than a year, which is a good thing by itself.

There’s also the chance that this will be a disaster, leading to an actual second wave in both countries. But this is highly unlikely. If anything, it’s more that a case or two might pop up and remain under control.

If this works, it could provide a blueprint that other countries may be able to follow to at least partially re-open their borders. Not everyone thinks this is worth the risk, and I, too, have worries about it. But the alternative is to remain closed indefinitely, and that may cause other kinds of harm.

Risk? Yes, Acceptable? Kind of.

The graphic above is part of a handout at the Prime Minister’s press conference. The full PDF is available from the link to the announcement.

Monday, April 05, 2021

40th Outaversary

Today was an anniversary I didn’t even notice at first, not until a friend pointed it out to me: Today is my 40th “Outaversary”. That’s because 40 years ago today was the first time I did anything to publicly identify myself as gay.

I knew that today was the anniversary because of a Facebook “Memory” I shared today (partial screenshot above). All I noticed was that it was calling attention to a 2019 blog post about the 60th anniversary of my baptism. That post was titled, “60 and 38 years ago today”, and all I thought was that it was the year of my sixtieth birthday, and that inevitably made me think of what a terrible year that ended up being. That happens pretty much whenever I see any reminder from 2019.

That means that I didn’t stop to think much beyond that the post was talking about something that was now 62 years ago—but it never occurred to me to add two years to the other anniversary, the one that 2019 post actually points out was more important. I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all if my friend Andy hadn’t pointed it out to me. I don’t know if that’s ever happened to me before.

The fact that I’ve now been out for 40 years is significant, especially because so many of the gay men who came out when I did died decades ago. I survived through a combination of luck and my generally cautious nature. Along the way, I like to think, I did some good for us all.

The biggest and most important thing that happened to me after I came out is that I met Nigel, and we legally formalised our relationship, first with a Civil Union (because that’s all we had), then marriage when that became legal. The happiest and proudest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far was marrying Nigel. It mattered to me on a completely personal level, but also as someone who had struggled for so long to make the world a little less hostile to LGBT+ people: I felt like all the sacrifices I made in the 1980s and early 1990s were repaid.

When Nigel died, none of what I felt about our marriage died: I was still proud to be married to him. It’s one of the reasons I never changed my Facebook relationship status to “Widowed”—though, if I’m truly honest, good old fashioned lethargy was probably a much bigger reason. Regardless, I wanted to be an example of a happily married gay man.

That same thing showed up in so many other ways, including photos, as a I noted in a post back in January about birthday selfies:
I don’t know if I intended for the photos in 2015 and 2016 to have the same theme (I probably did), however, I do know that in both photos, as with so many others, I deliberately made sure that my left hand was visible because then my rings would be, too. I’ve always felt a responsibility to be a symbol of a happy, long-term gay relationship, and that’s the most consistently visible way I did that, even though I didn’t actually ever say that until now
I didn’t mean to keep that a “secret”—it probably just never occurred to me to mention it. What I do know is that I still wear my rings—the one from our civil union and the one from our marriage—and I do so for the same reason I said in January. I know some gay widowers take their rings off after awhile—sometimes they switch hands, sometimes they put them on a chain they wear around their neck, and some even have them made into something new. None of that is me. I have no intention of taking them off, and when I die I want them to go with my ashes (though I won’t be here, so, ya know, whatever).

For me, the bottom line is that I fought too hard for too long to not continue being an example now. I may not have my husband any more, but I’m still an out gay man, proud of trying my best to make the world better, and mostly, proudest of all about my years with and marriage to Nigel.

All of that—all of it—began forty years ago today. Damn right I’m celebrating it.


"Outaversary" – My 2016 blog post where I talked about my 35th Outaversary.

Jake is 14

Yesterday, Jake turned 14. Fourteen! How is that even possible?! This past year has been trying with the decline and death of his sister, Sunny, but he takes everything in his stride. He’s now He’s an actual old man now, moves slowly, doesn’t really run, sometimes has trouble jumping up on furniture (so he makes use of the dog beds instead). He’s also hard of hearing and hard of seeing. I guess he and I have a lot in common.

As we did last year, Leo and I both sang him happy birthday (well, Leo more barked and howled, meaning he sounded better than me…). That’s literally true, too—we really did sing to Jake. As I noted last year:
For some reason, Leo always “sings along” with that song, and only that song, something that Nigel first noticed when it was used in something he was watching on TV and Leo started “singing”.
I gave Jake a special birthday breakfast (and Leo got some, too). He also had a special birthday dinner (and Leo got some, too). Jake got lots of cuddles and extra attention, and deserved every bit of it.

It would’ve been nice if he’d let me take more photos—these are the best I could get. And, yet, that’s nothing new, either—he’s never been a good model.

So, Jake’s still a happy and reasonably active boy, despite being older and often acting like it. He seems happy and content, and that’s probably all that any of us could ask.

Two years ago I said that Jake “came to live with us at a sad time, and made the sadness go away.” That’s why Jake is my special boy, always has been, and why Nigel called him his special boy, too. He can’t take away my sadness, but he makes me not mind it quite so much, and that’s more than enough.

Happy Fourteenth Birthday, Jake!

Related posts:
Jake is 13
Jake is 12
Jake is 11
Jake is TEN
Jake is 9
Jake is 8
Jake is 7
Jake is 6
Jake turns 5
Jake is four
Jake turns three
Jake’s Birthday 2-day
Jake is one year old!
A new arrival

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Oh, yeah – it’s Easter

Easter hasn’t meant anything to me personally for a very, very long time—quite possibly not since I was a kid. I know for certain that it hasn’t meant anything special to adult me.

However, I still enjoyed observing it sometimes, and especially enjoyed spoiling Nigel, which I last did in 2019. I’m glad I did, because he seemed to enjoy it, and it turned out to be my last chance to shower him with Easter chocolates. When I left some chocolates for Nigel in 2015, he posted a photo on his Facebook and talked about how I was the best husband ever. It’s a nice, warming memory.

Last year was the first Easter without Nigel, and I certainly didn’t leave out any chocolates for myself. That would be a weird thing to do, even for me. On the other hand, Easter last year was during New Zealand’s lockdown, and I had bigger issues on my mind than Easter chocolate. I kept busy at that time, though: The day after Easter last year—the last day of the “holiday” weekend—was the first time I made soda bread, which seemed like a big deal at the time. I was actually pretty proud of myself.

This year, though, nothing: Easter’s just a Sunday in a four-day holiday weekend. I had nothing special planned for today, so I guess you could say I had a successful day, because I’ve pretty much done nothing today. Tonight I’m making pasta for dinner so I can use up the last of the tomatoes I rescued from my crop failure. But, then. I make pasta all the time, so that isn’t special, either.

The whole weekend has been pretty good, though: Friday night a bunch of us went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house for dinner (I drove my mother-in-law and me). It was a really nice evening.

The next day, Saturday, I mowed my lawns, which made me feel I’d accomplished something. I also successfully accomplished a nap, as I did today, too.

Tomorrow? Dunno. I’d like to work in the garage, and I probably will, now that I’ve cleaned up my kitchen in the newly installed daylight, as I mentioned the other day. I also need to do laundry before I run out of underwear (and no one wants that to happen). It’ll be an ordinary day tomorrow, in other words. It’s a public holiday, though, so the shops will be busy.

It’s fair to say that this entire weekend has been ordinary for me, apart form being a four day holiday weekend, of course, and that’s been true for many years. It’s even more true now that I can’t spoil Nigel with Easter chocolates. But having a nice long, quiet holiday weekend? That’s a good thing, even without any special meaning.

This weekend has been a good thing so far. And that’s enough for me.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Neighbourhood ways

I mowed my lawns today. Nothing new in that, of course—this was the 24th time I’ve used my mower since I bought it just before lockdown last year. But today was about so many more things than just that.

I planned on mowing my lawns last weekend, but one thing after another got in the way: Saturday, March 27 was hot, and then Sunday began a week of rain and storms. It cleared Friday, but I was too busy. Today was the day!

I got up too early (because Leo barked), and thought about starting the mowing before it got too warm. Then I heard the next door neighbour mowing, and I didn’t want to start right then—it violated mowing protocol! When one hears one’s neighbour mowing, one must wait an appropriate amount of time before one also mows, lest it looks like the neighbour has shamed one into mowing. Heaven forbid.

As it happens, the delay awaiting for the appropriate time was appropriate for me, too, because I was tired and needed to wake up, after getting up far too early (because Leo barked). But, in the late morning, I decided it was time.

I mowed the front lawn, then mowed about a third or so fo the back. I stopped because I knew that the grass (weed patch…) was extra long and thick and it would consume the battery’s charge. I put the battery in the charger (a little more than half charge left…) and grabbed the line trimmer and its battery. I attacked the front (first time in many weeks), and moved to the back when I realised the line was used up. I need to put more line in. I also need to find out how to put more line in. I didn’t get very far in the back. I took that battery inside, put it on its charger: Roughly three quarters still usable.

At this point, I noticed the neighbour across the street was mowing his lawns. He, too, waited an appropriate amount of time after my mowing before mowing his lawns.

After lunch, the lawn mower battery fully charged, I finished the back lawn. The mower never stalled, but it clearly worked harder in some areas. When I put the battery back on the charger, it was more than half full—which means I was right: I would’ve run out of charge before finishing the back lawn. And, I got to use the line trimmer out front.

I closed all my rings in my Apple Watch.
This was the point I had my shower—wash away the sweat and grassiness. Then, I had a nap. Well-earned, no doubt, and it made up for getting up so early (because Leo barked). My afternoon and evening have been quite relaxed, which is a good thing, of course. Tonight New Zealand ends Daylight Saving Time and goes back to New Zealand Standard Time. All that my American friends need to know is that we’re still in the future from your perspective—just an hour more futurey.

That, and my lawns are mowed.

I posted the photo above to Instagram/Facebook, but what I didn’t mention on either is that in the background of the photo is my compost bin, which was a weekend project back in September. I still use it all the time.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Okay Friday

If I were to do a podcast today, it would be called “Okay Friday”, because that's the sort of thing I do. Well, I’m not doing a podcast today—not on a holiday weekend—but the title is too good a thing to waste, so: A blog post instead.

There is, of course, an obvious joke in the title: Today is “Good Friday”, a day of some importance to Christians. I’m no longer a Christian, so-called, and the religious overtones no longer mean anything to me, but its name? That became a kind of joke, like “Nothing Particularly Special About It Friday” or some such. That’s not as funny to me as it once was. Now, this is just an “Okay Friday”. And that’s okay.

The fact is that every single day I’m working to make the day “okay”—it doesn’t have to be awesome, or even good, it’s enough for it to be merely okay. That’s because, as I so often say, “okay is good enough”, and also because sometimes it’s the best one can possibly hope for.

As should be obvious by now, I won’t pretend to be over my grief, I won’t play “happy” when I’m not. But, okay? That’s something altogether different. Okay is good enough.

The reality is that for me, and countless others in New Zealand, today is like any other Friday—except that it’s also a public holiday, one of three and a half days on which trading is prohibited (in most instances). That means getting stuff done on Good Friday can be a challenge—but, then, no commercials on TV, right? That’s a payoff. Right?

My perspectives now are very different than they were only two years ago, and I’m the first to acknowledge and point that out. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not right (or wrong, for that matter): Today is just a Friday, one with trading bans in place, but otherwise just another Friday. And the thing is? To me that’s okay.

To have a day that’s okay is a good thing. Trust me. And today? It’s an okay Friday. And okay is good enough.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

NZ storytelling ads

New Zealand has often used storytelling in TV advertising—in fact, it was one of the first things I noticed when I moved to New Zealand, though it’s much more common now. In any case, I really like them, and these are two that are running currently.

The video up top is “Lost and Found”, an ad for Trustpower and designed to promote the idea of getting electricity, gas, broadband Internet, phone, and mobile from the same company. I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not, but the ad is sweet and an interesting way of promoting the idea of belonging together.

The song in the background is “Lost and Found” by Age Pryor, A New Zealand performer, composer, and collaborator. I recognised his voice from a 2018 Trustpower ad, “We’ve got the time” (the 3-minute video from which the TV ad was cut is on YouTube). He appears in the ad and sings lead vocals. I didn’t know that was his name until the current ad: The ad came on TV, I recognised his voice, so I used Shazam to find out who it was. And now I know, so you do, too.

Another ad that, in this case, uses a couple to tell a story about a business’ products is one from the bank ASB:

This series of ads follows Ben and Amy as they navigate their way through, well, banking issues. The video above is the 45 second version of one of the current ads on TV, and it's one I quite like (another ad on TV at the moment, one promoting ASB’s Kiwisaver accounts, is on YouTube, and, while it’s good, I don’t personally like it as much as the ad above). Side note: The first word "Ben" says in the ad above is "Kashin", which is the name of a moneybox from ASB and later an elephant at Auckland Zoo.

Finally, and for background, a classic ad—from before the time I arrived in New Zealand:

This particular ad is form 1989 (some six years before I arrived in New Zealand) and introduced what came to be known as “the Anchor family” for the brand of dairy products they were were promoting. At the time, the brand was known as “Fernleaf”.

A couple years ago, Stuff published “The most memorable ads on New Zealand television ever”, and it include the Anchor Family series. They said this about it:
When the first ad featuring young Sam and her newly single dad hit our screens, it represented something of a revolution in New Zealand TV.

Up until then, television families were almost exclusively nuclear, but Fernleaf, as Anchor was then, showed a divorced couple navigating their new lives and their relationship with the daughter they shared.

The first episode of what became a soap opera in 45-second instalments made its debut in 1989 and, for the next eight years, we watched Sam grow up and her family morph and change – just as we grew, and morphed, and changed.
An interesting take on the series, I thought. The series was just ending when I arrived in New Zealand, but even then it was still obvious it wasn’t a typical ad. There’s a Facebook video that has all the ads, over some 20 minutes—which is a bit of a commitment. Still, if you zoom ahead to the last few ads, that will include the ads I saw.

I love storytelling ads, and always have. Lucky for me I'm in a country that often has them.

Updates March on

Six weeks ago, I resurrected update posts, which are blog posts in which I update older blog posts. I had no specific plans or schedule for doing more updates, but I think I’ll try once a month, and the first of the month is as good a time as any. And so, here we are.

First, an update about these updates.

These posts aren’t exactly easy to do. First, because I didn’t do them very often, there have always been a lot of posts that could use an update, most of which never got one. Life happens, and all that. The bigger issue is about how I do these: Every update includes a link back to the earlier post I’m talking about, of course, but then I add an update to that older post with a link to the specific part of the new update that talks about it. Linking to previous posts is something I do all the time, but not everyone sees posts in chronological order, so and update to that older post is needed. It’s mainly for the convenience of those out-of-sequence readers that I provide a link to the specific part of an update, but it also helps me when I’m doing a new post on that topic—it’s a quicker way for me to get the updated information. Yeah, sure, but it’s really just the sort of unimportant blogging mechanics I do all the time, but seldom mention. And probably a bit anal.

The best part of this? In a blog post providing updates, I forgot to give it the “Updates” tag, something I only found out when I started this post. Oddly enough, it’s not the first time I’ve fixed a mistake in an earlier post. Hard to believe, I know.

I am Mister Clean

A week ago today, I had a Solatube skylight installed in my kitchen, as I wrote about last Saturday. I said in that post, “Unfortunately, all this brightness has allowed me to see how poorly I’d been cleaning my kitchen up until now—I missed a lot because I simply couldn’t see it.” On Sunday (because I was busy before then…), I started the cleaning job, and it was a job: There was a bit of fine dust on the bench and everything on it from cutting the ceiling to put in the skylight lens. And, I had too much on my benchtop.

So, I put what I could into the dishwasher, wiped off or hand washed what I couldn’t, and then wiped down the benchtop in sections. This also allowed me to clear stuff away, mostly by putting things “somewhere” (most of the stuff was out in the first place because I didn’t have a “somewhere” for it to go, so I had to finesse things a bit). It took me a couple days (because I only worked on it when I felt like it had time). That job’s done now, and it turns out I was right in my post last Saturday: Being able to actually see the kitchen, and the cleaning I needed to do, actually was a sort of benefit.

Leo’s ritual

Early last month, I wrote about hanging Sunny’s collar so Leo could sniff it, and there’s been a change since then. I said in my post, “I plan on leaving [the collar] there until he stops sniffing it, and I have no idea how long that will be…” At the time I was thinking maybe a week or two. After all, Sunny’s ashes and collar had been home for nearly a month at that point, and Leo had sniffed it (at first, with my help).

Not long after that post, Leo developed a ritual: Every morning he wakes up when I stir, stretches a lot, yawns, then hops down on the floor—and walks right over to Sunny’s collar to give it a brief sniff. To me, it’s as if he’s saying a little “good morning” to her, but it could be as simple as making sure it’s still there, and/or that he’s not smelling her without seeing her. Whatever the truth is, he clearly still wants to sniff the collar (Jake sniffed it this morning, too, when I went back there for my shower), and I’ll leave it there until he stops. Looks like that may be awhile, and that’s okay. I’m trying to make sure he’s okay, after all.

Error: My success not found

In the middle of March, I published a post, “To err is human, the choice is mine” in which I talked about needing to try to do things, and even fail at them, in order to find out what my limits truly are. I said in that post that, “I’ve already made several” mistakes. When I wrote that, I was thinking about several, but especially a recent thing that I was beginning to think of of as another mistake: A garden shed I bought at the end of February, but that had a frustrating delayed delivery in early March. I began to feel that it was too small for my needs, and I considered sending it back. There’d be a cost, of course, but what held me back was more indecision, this time, of “what if it is okay?” I had to move the box when we brought back the stuff from my storage unit later that month. The box, it was clear, had never been properly sealed, and it started to fall apart when I moved it.

By then, I’d already begun to feel that I needed to own my mistake and put the shed up, anyway (though I’m fairly certain there’s great doubt that I can do it). I could try to sell the unassembled shed, but I know I’d never get anywhere near the (too high) price I paid for it (especially without the original box), so keeping it is probably the best option. I’m now taking this as a learning opportunity—a reminder to not be so damn impatient/impetuous. I absolutely sometimes take far too long to decide things because the fear of making mistakes, as I said in the post that began this update, paralyses me. I should have remained paralysed just a little bit longer. Live and learn—and err. It’s all okay.

• • •

Maybe I’ll do this again on May 1. Maybe I won’t. Either way, there will be changes to things I say on this blog, just as there have been from its very beginning. Change itself is one thing that doesn’t change.