Now, then! How are you all? Quite the weather we’ve been having, no? Anything eventful happened recently?
Periodically, I attempt to keep a journal. It never lasts too long, though I always enjoy trying again. Perhaps the tip is to just accept it is not a permanent addition to my day, or a lengthy endeavour, and just see where it goes. Right now, I’m getting that journal itch again. I feel like we’re living in history, and I want to remember, after this is over, not just the things that I will be able to read about in books and online (or whatever media we arrive at after the current global pandemic), but my family’s daily lives. I don’t want to forget that Auri started walking during this strange time; or that last weekend we finally managed to carve (no pun intended) out some time for Euan to spend a couple of hours woodworking in his workshop; or that Scapa, as much as she is enjoying all of us being home, has taken to sneaking off after her daily constitutional for some quiet time on her own, sprawling out on our bed to soak up the south-facing sunshine.
I last attempted a journal at the beginning of this year. Over New Year, my brother, Alex, had been worryingly ill, to the point where he had to stay in his hotel for several days rather than join in the Hogmanay celebrations. He and Aurélie had left Thailand in early/mid December (this was well before any concerns about travel), and he’d mentioned at the time being sat near someone spluttering on one of the plane journeys on the way to France.
I mention this because the Evernote Chrome plugin throws up what it considers to be relevant entries whenever I use Google (something I wish I could stop doing as much, but I haven’t found a search engine even remotely as good so far - I wish DuckDuckGo would catch up - suggestions welcome). Recently, what with all the current pandemic madness, the plugin has been bringing some of my January journal entries to the fore. I’d forgotten how ill I’d been in the middle of the month, and put it down to general crashing. Here are some excerpts over the best part of a week:
“Started to feel distinctly unwell today. Obviously not just a cold. Clearing my throat and coughing a bit more than usual for this time of year.”
“Admitted defeat and went to the doctor after my first early meeting. She suspected it is viral, but gave me a course of antibiotics as I'd been unwell for so long over Christmas. It was the right decision, to stay off work, as I completely crashed and felt awful. Spent the day curled up with a blanket, trying to sleep.”
“Still bad, so stayed off work. Cough maybe looser, but still tickly, and a really bad, constant pressure headache from blocked sinuses.”
“Starting to feel marginally better. Managed a walk in the woods for an hour or so. The first five or so minutes weren't the best - trying to breathe without making myself cough in the cold air, which in turn resulted in me feeling a little tight-chested - but after that, I soon got better.”
I don’t know what it was, but if I hadn’t been keeping a journal I wouldn’t even have thought to make a possible link between how I’d felt then and the current situation (I had made a link in my own head about Alex’s illness, but I’d forgotten exactly how bad I’d felt). To some extent, there’s no point dwelling on what it might have been: but it reminded me yet again how important these seemingly everyday observations are and may be in future. Given my research interests, of course I’d say that: but writing about our lives - our own personal experiences, our observations - seems more important than ever. No-one else ever needs to see our scribbles but, if nothing else, there will be a time that we look back when this is all over and we’ll be surprised by how much we have forgotten so quickly.
Where and When
Ha. Aha. Ahaha. Well, this section is going to get old fast. Geographically speaking, it’s been a quiet month. And, after the letter Euan received from the Scottish Government the other day, we’ve got at least another twelve weeks of this. But still, we are stocked up and have friends on hand to help with anything we may need over the coming weeks. And when I say ‘stocked up’, I do partially mean I had the foresight two or three weeks ago to stock up on garden supplies for the start of spring. More are on their way. The nearest I got to panic buying was picking up enough compost to make sure I could get the raised beds filled in time for getting the seeds in. I managed to make the most of the sporadic bursts of sunshine over the last couple of weeks (and occasionally persevered in light rain) to redesign and complete the new herb garden and vegetable plot, create a sort-of-alpine-stumpery habitat garden with surprises, and plant various other bobs and bits. Expect more updates over the coming weeks, in lieu of recounting our Crowditch family travels.
A Murder of Crows
I was expecting, this month, to be updating you all on my mother’s latest book, ‘Child of the Earth’, which was due to be published on the first day of Spring. The publication date, along with the publication dates of many books across the country (and, indeed, the world) has now been pushed back. My mother, by the way, (or ‘Mum’, as she is more commonly known) is Susan Crow, and she can be found on Twitter. I have no doubt she will be gently nudged into some self-promotion by my sisters when the time is right.
Instead, then, here are two updates:
Firstly, my youngest sister, Clemency, is a teacher at a primary school in Wick, Caithness. As the school has closed, and as she can’t post a novel online for her class to discuss, she’s writing them one. She’s recording herself reading a chapter of her first draft each school-day, so they can discuss it in a virtual classroom. You can hear Clemency read ‘Lavellan’ on her website (she’s also tweeting the YouTube links each day).
Secondly, Alex shared a post the other day about (some of) the books that made him. Several of the books on the list also (unsurprisingly) featured in my literary upbringing, and it was a delight to be reminded of that when reading the post. Strangely, I was only thinking of Penelope Lively’s ‘The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy’ the other day, and seeing ‘The Ghost of Thomas Kempe’ on the list has reminded me I really do need to re-read them both soon.
On the Bookshelf
This last month I read my PhD thesis, submitted for assessment two years ago, as I started serialising it this week. It’s a strange thing, reading something that big that I poured so much into what seems a lifetime ago. It’s taken me two years to get round to serialising it, but I think that’s partially because it took me two years to actually want to serialise it. Once I started going through it again, I was surprised by how much of it I still thought was damn good. You can download the full thesis and read the edited extracts on my website. I’m tweeting as and when I publish another excerpt.
In the Inkwell
Well, as well as serialising my thesis, I have now hosted two discussions here on Substack, and posted the first (mini) essay in my #TakingStock series. Given events of the last month, I’ll take that as a win. The discussion I posted on the 10th of March, Communication and Audience, is still open to everyone to comment. This discussion will be the basis of an essay I will share on the 20th April. I will be posting the next #TakingStock discussion on the 10th April. This will be available for ‘paying’ subscribers to comment on: but don’t forget, you can still sign up for a forever-free subscription if you so desire, which will give you all the opportunities available to paying subscribers (if you signed up for the free version of #AsSheFlies, you may want to upgrade, so to speak):
Yesterday, Euan and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. It’s been quite the four years, and the world has become semi-unrecognisable in that time. Our lives have certainly changed considerably. Who knows what the world will look like in another four years? Let’s hope for a better, kinder world that learns lessons and believes in sharing the aphids.
‘til next time,
2nd April 2020
Croy, Highlands, Scotland