Happy New Year!
I hope that everyone’s had an auspicious start to 2016. And having said that I’m going to start off by bragging about all the hard work I’ve just done in the name of auspices (auspiciousness?).
A few years ago Mum and I picked up the Scottish tradition of conducting a massive household clean-up before New Years. So for the last three days we have been on the kind of cleaning campaign you can only muster up the will for about once every year. Impressively enough, this is the list of jobs we actually got through:
Cleaning windows, inside and out (where possible). This is a huge undertaking when all the windows in your house look like this:
- Tidying up cluttered areas and junk piles, i.e. putting books in shelves and taking old stuff to the donation bin.
- Wiping and polishing all those things that never get wiped or polished, i.e. picture frames and glass ornaments.
- Polishing brass fittings. (This one is always strictly my job, since most of the family’s brass seems to have accumulated in my bedroom in various locations.)
- Dusting every flat surface in the house, and everything sitting on them.
- Emptying waste paper bins.
- Vacuuming everywhere.
- Changing all the bedclothes.
Finally, the whole family (Mum, Dad, the dog and the cat and I) gathered in the living room to see in the New Year together. Sadly there were no fireworks near to where we live, but we could just hear them booming in the distance. It was bittersweet, as New Years always seem to be.
But that’s not all, because I can’t seem to have a great success without a small disaster, or a blog post without a punny title.
Late last night, around 10pm, I was tidying a few papers off a shelf in my office. Underneath them I found a smooth black pebble, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I’m not sure where it came from but I thought there was no point in it sitting around in my office. I decided to simply toss it out into the garden, so I went and opened the front door. Then I realised that I had no shoes on and I didn’t want to get my feet all dirty (I’d just had a shower). So I stood on the veranda and tossed the pebble in the garden bed. Well, that’s what I was trying to do.
I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that I have the most notoriously bad aim of anyone I’ve ever met. To give an illustration, I once tried to throw a stick for the dog in the garden; it bounced off the guttering (yes, on the roof) and landed back at my feet. So that should give you some idea of my particular combination of upper arm strength and poor aim (which I can blame on a hereditary joint condition). So anyhow, I aimed the pebble and calculated the force of my throw so that it would go across the path and into the garden bed, but not so high as to hit the low end of the veranda roof. I even thought to aim away from where the dog was lying. But it was the second part of the equation that failed.
I heard the pebble hit the broad beam holding up the roof and bounce off somewhere into the darkness. Half a second later I heard the tell-tale sound of something breaking. My first guess was that the pebble had hit a flower pot by the edge of the veranda and broken part of it. My second guess was that it had smashed some plaster off the side of the house. Either way it was a bummer but not a big deal. I comforted the dog, who had been startled by the noise, and went back inside to get on with something else. Later I went out again, around the side where I thought the pebble had hit, and saw a small pock-mark in the plaster which might have been caused by the impact. It might have been, but it wasn’t.
It was only this morning when I went into my office to check my emails that I saw what had actually happened.
I know this photo isn’t very clear (it was hard to get good lighting) so I’ll tell you exactly what it was: That pebble smashed a socking great hole in the window. Here’s another photo, which I took crouching down so that the roof beam could be seen.
Just to illustrate the situation fully, my office window is on the same side of the house as the front door. They’re not even slightly at an angle; they’re virtually side by side. So I had stood in the doorway and aimed a pebble into the garden (which, I might add, is down the front steps) and it bounced off the roof beam and back into the front-facing windows. There’s a lesson herein, and it’s that I shouldn’t ever throw anything, ever. Also, that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t even throw stones outside.
On the positive side, I’ve never been so glad in all my life that all our windows do in fact look like this:
And, mercifully, I was somewhat off the hook because this morning my dad managed to smash two pyrex bowls.
So tonight we’ll raise a glass to the New Year, but here’s hoping everyone’s careful with them.