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2020 hand-made holiday cards

31 Dec

Making my own holiday cards is fun. Besides, I am very keen on the notion of taking time to make something for someone I care about. I’ve hand-made my holiday cards every year for 5 or 6 years now. The time I spend making something for someone is time I spend thinking about them. The only thing missing is… well, them. But in most cases the people I make them for are very far away or just far away. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and various states of lockdown or/and curfew, everyone was far away.

2020 was a rough year for so many people and I felt I could maybe share some love, that I tweeted that I was offering 20 hand-made cards to whoever wanted one. I had found a lovely pad of 20 thick smooth watercolor paper of roughly A5 size which once folded would make nice cards.

To my surprise, nobody responded.

I was disappointed. No, puzzled, rather. Perhaps the time wasn’t right? But Twitter shows the number of impressions (times in somebody’s timeline) and engagement (any interaction with the tweet) and after 4 days that tweet had been seen by over 200 persons, and interacted with by 20. Twenty. Exactly the number of sheets I could make cards with 😀

Puzzled Memoji

By that time, a friend of mine sent me a text as a way to raise hand. Woohoo! Game on! That friend was surprised to be the first. That somehow reinforced the idea that perhaps my first message wasn’t sent at the right time, or that people may have not bothered thinking that they might be too late, so I added a tweet in response.

4 friends raised their hands. That’s it. 5 actually, as another friend raised hand three weeks later.

“That’s what it is” Memoji

Oh well, I built a list of other people I wanted to send a card to, made and sent the cards to everyone! Most of them have made it already.

Here are 18 of them. I chose simple designs and a few colours: blue, sienna, grey, green that I mixed to obtain varying shades. I used gouache paint, a black pen, a white Posca pen, and a metallic gold pen. Inside I traced in pencil a couple lines in case people wanted to cut out the painting and use it as a bookmark. Of course I wrote a personal holiday greeting in each of them.

The weirdest first day of vacation

22 Oct
Memoji: hmmm, weird

“Yes, I’ll be working a bit on the project while I’m off because I really dig it!”

Me, massively underestimating “a bit”
In this write-up, I’m attempting the epistolary narrative style that I remember enjoying from Stephen Chbosky’s excellent novel “The perks of being a wallflower”

Dear diary, I slept in this morning \o/, got up and drank two or three cups of espresso while I lazily browsed social media and played a few games on my smartphone. I did yoga a bit before noon, showered, and got ready for the rest of my first day of vacation.

I ate a light lunch standing up in the kitchen as I was transplanting the ferns I collected last Sunday near the lake.

As I pondered which subject I was going to draw later in the day as part of Inktober, I also pondered the oddity of my Apple Watch not recongnising as “stood” the good chunk of the previous hour that I had spent, well… standing. I certainly had been “moving a little” on the account of transplanting ferns not being the kind of activity you can engage in by being immobile.

A quick time-check led me to my desk. I had just enough time to publish a press release.

Memoji: type, type, type

I drank more espresso, took the dog out for a walk and by then I had a pretty good idea what I was going to draw. I returned to my desk again for a one-hour meeting that lasted three hours /o\ That’s the first massive underestimation of how much time to block for that project (the W3C website redesign).

My brother showed up during my call (much earlier than I anticipated) and as he didn’t have his keys he tried to FaceTime me. I rejected the call, texted him that I was in a meeting, but he responded by texting me that he was outside. So I ran downstairs to let him in, ran back up and continued with my colleagues.

The doorbell rang not too long after. I apologised to my colleagues and ran downstairs and outside to pick up a delivery that I expected tomorrow. I dropped the unopened package on the dining table and as I headed back upstairs to my computer, I smiled at my brother. By then he was taking all the space on the sofa, which was fine because the cat doesn’t like the sofa that much.

My valiant colleagues and I had been at it for what seemed like days, and I was sheepishly aware that each of them had other fish to fry, and yet nobody else was better positioned than them/us to do what we needed to do. Time was passing and it was food o’clock in all of our time zones.

Memoji; Ooops!

We were done. Rather suddenly —It was the strangest thing! It seemed only moments before that we had gone through two thirds of the exercise and I was agonising (out of shame because I was getting way more of their time than was bargained for, and because my brother was waiting on me downstairs.) The completion of our task took us all by surprise! As I quickly thankologised profusely to them, one of my colleagues quipped that he was almost late for second breakfast, another enquired how many breakfasts there were and whether several lunches followed and how many, and the third colleague really looked like he wanted to put on more work! So my finger lunged for the Zoom button that ended the meeting for all.

It was 8 o’clock. I was thinking that working the equivalent of a half-day during my vacation wasn’t too bad from the point of view of my employer, and I wondered if I had missed the time before which I could still go back on how many days I was really taking.

Memoji: Heh!

My brother wanted me to try a particular wine that he likes very much. Opening my package made me happy: my favourite fragrance arrived in two versions: regular and “body mist.” My brother’s wine was very good, he’s right. We sipped it and ate guacamole and chips while the oven heated. I made a nice dinner that didn’t take long to prepare, and we both enjoyed it.

Soon enough we were on the sofa, me drinking espresso and him drinking tea; each talking to each other with interest, him about why some stuff changed at his workplace and me suggesting further areas of optimisation (he will at least explore one idea.) I stood up a few times and “moved a little”, as commanded by my smart watch. He doesn’t mind, he doesn’t think I’m weird.

I grabbed my art book, pencil and ink pen a bit before 11 o’clock. Today’s Inktober prompt is “sleep” and I was going to draw a newborn sleeping next to his daddy’s chest. My brother commented that the photo I used as reference was too detailed, and he may be right, but I had a good feeling about it and told him I was trying a minute or two before giving up. My feeling was indeed very good, and my brother was surprised when I was finished, because I finished earlier than he anticipated, and the drawing was pretty good.

Eventually, my brother left. It was 2 am. We had spent a lovely evening together. It had been a nice break from work but I was keen on finishing where I left off, out of duty because of the timeline that was agreed on.

The time tracker on my computer started logging a new day at 5 am. I was done right after 6. Whew! This was the second massive underestimation of how much time to block for that project. But now the people we work with can do their part and hopefully we will all meet the deadline in two days.

Memoji: Wheee!

As I stood at my window, sipping espresso and watching the sky going from really dark to some sort of hesitant but unmistakable glow, I observed that had I not missed the time before which I could go back on how much holiday I was really taking, it’s a whole day of vacation I could have written off.

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