2021, Winter 1

I saw 2021 in in a way that could only have been fitting – over a Zoom call with the pals (it was on Discord, but 'Zoom' is becoming the verb).

I've held a goofy tradition of listening to Tom Wait's 'Rain Dogs' on New Years Day, for the only reason that I always have (maybe since 2012? I'm sure I've missed one or two).

The closer, 'Anywhere I Lay My Head', is a perfect one. It's wild and sombre, with these military trumpets booing stoically behind Wait's virtually incoherent wailing, until transforming into a New Orleans-esque jazz shindig that fades to finish the record. It's both a goodbye and a hearty hello, and the final moments always feel like they're saying 'there's even more to come, and it's going to be a riot'.

The rest of the album is great too.

And the days have been cold, but not rainy to the point of any kind of despair. February will be the same, just not for so long.

Thoughts have been heavily on spring. It still feels like a long way off, but there's an excitement in knowing it'll come no matter what (one should hope!). Our small garden saw a big flush of green last year, with herbs and tomatoes that have all since died in the cold. Plans are bigger this year, with seeds of all kinds finding their way to us through the mail. I'll be doing tomatoes again, but a slightly more exotic variety. I'll also be trying rocket, and chives, and a kind of perennial sunflower hybrid that I'm eager to see the colour of. I can't keep up with what Rachel has in mind, but I'm sure it'll come to fruition in any way.

Last year I was a little late to the party, and instead of propagating the seedlings just stuffed them into the ground. Still yielded bundles of tomatoes, but this year I'll try and do things by the book. Maybe it was because last year was the sunniest on record. Certainly don't remember it that way, but we all had other things on our minds.

I've set myself the goal to read 10 books this year, having previously only conquered 1-2 books in a year since I can remember (I had to read more for school, of course).

I finally finished 'How Green Was My Valley', which has become a bit of an in-joke. I started reading it almost two years ago now, and other books have been started and finished since.

I held the belief that in order to see if you might like something, always check the negative reviews, and if their grievances are the kind of things that might actually appeal you, that's a good sign. 'How Green Was My Valley' is the exception that broke the rule. Usually in books/movies/games where 'nothing happens', a central theme carries it throughout, but believe me — very little does happen in this novel. That said, the Welsh prose, despite being dense, is just about the most serenely written you might read, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who described eating scones, drinking tea, or enjoying a fireside in a more perfect way.

I decided I'd let this one count, even if I read the better part of it before the new year. It's been too long of a task not to count it as a victory.

Otherwise I'm generally keeping this year goal-less – I'll take it as it comes. After last year I think I've grown better at living in the present, if only fractionally. With so little to anticipate or remember, it makes you focus on the little things in the day – if those little things continue I think I'll be alright.

The Garden Path should release this year, and my freelance work is in a good place.

I finally updated my personal website, something that's been in the pipeline for a few months now. I build the site in Hugo, and the site is deployed with Netlify through Gitlab. Everytime it comes to updating it I have to relearn the absolute bare minimum of each service to get things up and running – each time I probably learn a little more, and get back up to speed a little faster, but it always feels like I'm starting from zero. Probably the kind of thing

Feels good to have some more up-to-date work at the top, and I like the more modern design that I went for. My last site was deliberately 'uncool' in the face of an increasingly bloated internet, but this time around I allowed a little bit of flair. Still needs some tweaks here and there.

Tomorrow I have to pick up a coring drill I rented online from a hardware shop, so I imagine I'll be doing my best job of trying to look like it's something I do all the time.


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