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w/e 2021-10-24

Another week that whizzed past with little concrete to show for it on my part. I did feel either frustrated or anxious a lot of the time, but no idea why.

§ It’s been a while since we had a wildlife update. (“Wildlife” sounds more acceptable than “vermin”).

A while back, one night, we heard the sound of a mouse munching and/or scratching at something. It wasn’t coming from the loft above us and turned out to be down in the garage: a mouse had been gnawing or scratching at a bit of wood next to a hole under a door frame that I hadn’t noticed before.

I filled that hole, plus one or two others, with steel wool and cement, then set a trap which caught a mouse a day or two later. We figure that maybe the mice and shrews we found in the loft had come in those holes, which lead to a gap between the garage and house, and in through a hole in the house wall, up the cavity, and out into the loft. Somehow, maybe.

Since then we’ve caught several more mice in the garage, one of which somehow travelled a couple of meters before collapsing with the trap still around it. We also found another mouse at the bottom of an empty bucket, dead for some time of unknown causes and, we now realise, the source of the strange smell that had filled the garage for a couple of weeks.

Is it worth catching mice in the garage, given we’re unlikely to ever stop them getting in? I guess it’s better than allowing them a foothold from which they can launch an assault on the house?

Also, last weekend, we noticed a rat darting out from the hedge and munching away on the birdseed the birds casually throw onto the ground from the feeder. Ugh. We took the seed feeder in and since that day we haven’t seen it there. But our “Dalek” plastic compost bin has two rat-sized holes burrowed into the earth under it, so presumably that’s a nice cosy home for one or more.

So we now have a Pest-Stop rat trap box sitting near the compost bin which, so far, has only been moved around a little by, presumably, rats which haven’t yet taken the bait. The battle continues.

Assume all of this section has been typed while I wear the 😬 face which I’m sure has been my most frequently-used emoji over the past couple of years.

§ Remember a while back when I failed the brief A2 level German language test on Busuu? I scored 22 out of 30 that time, not enough to pass.

Since then I’ve spent a little time each day going back over all of Busuu’s A2 lessons, and reviewing my brief notes, and this week I took the A2 test again.

And I scored 20 out of 30. I think it was exactly the same test, the same questions. I don’t know. How can I be so bad at languages?

I shouldn’t blame my tools but one problem with these language learning apps is the limited number of exercises. I know that I haven’t got a grasp of many things, like the accusative and dative cases, and preposition endings, but Busuu only has a few lessons on each one and all I can do there is repeat exactly the same questions over and over again.

There’s little practical use to this – my only friends who are German and/or in Germany all speak brilliant English – but I’d like to know what it’s like to be able to read, talk and think in another language.

Anyway, clearly I suck at it.

§ Over the past few months I’ve read The Age of Reason and The Reprieve by John-Paul Sartre and they’ve been a bit of a grind to be honest. Having never read any of his work before I assumed they’d somehow be “hard to read”. They weren’t really, but they also weren’t terribly gripping so they ended up taking a long time to finish in very small bits.

The Reprieve was quite interesting in its structure though, jumping from one scene and characters to another with no warning. Mid-page, mid-paragraph, maybe even mid-sentence, with all the events – happening just before World War II – happening at the same time.

§ I forgot to mention last week that we’d finished watching Maid and it was really good. I spent a lot of it fearing that something terrible was about to happen, which isn’t a feeling I enjoy, but thankfully it didn’t always pan out that way. Still, not entirely happy viewing.

Margaret Qualley was great – I can’t imagine acting in every single scene of ten very intense episodes – and Andie MacDowell (her real-life and in-show mother) was also quite something, always manically unpredictable.

This week we finished watching The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s mostly-fictional tale of the rise of hip-hop in late 1970s New York. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting – it seemed a bit more cartoonish with some of the dialogue sounding more like the dialogue between songs in a musical than authentic speech. But once I was over that it was pretty good fun and had some great set-piece Luhrmann extravaganzas. I felt the urgency and novelty wore off a little in season two but it was still alright.

I have also, finally, finished watching The American Version of the Office which I guess has been my consistent Covid viewing, having started it early last year.

As I said a while back, once Michael Scott left, the show felt like it was mostly running on the momentum built up by the previous seven seasons. The final two weren’t bad but by the end it was only the completer-finisher in me who was grinding through each episode. Over the past few months that I’ve been plodding through these final seasons, every time I saw a picture or clip of Michael it was a reminder of what a massive hole he’d left, around which everyone else was doing their best, trying to hide this gap.

It was also interesting how the characters, or maybe my opinion of them, changed over time. Jim and Pam, who originally felt like our “way in” to this office full of unlikeable weirdos became increasingly annoying. Oscar became more and more pedantic and annoying. By the end Dwight seemed like the hero who had somehow put up with this crowd of losers for all these years.

§ It feels like the last remnants of late summer have been blown away now so I hope you’re feeling cosy somewhere.

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