Thursday, 28 April 2022

This time last year

With the City Nature Challenge on iNaturalist starting tomorrow, it marks one year since I discovered this amazing resource and almost a year since I developed a thing for fungi. This time last year I wouldn't have known that Trametes was a genus of fungi and now I know the difference between Trametes and Stereum as well as many other genera and fungi categories - from gilled mushrooms, polypores, brackets, stinkhorns, jelly fungi, bird's nest, puffballs and earthstars. 

In 12 months, I have logged 495 observations with 205 confirmed different species identifications.

With this in mind, I started thinking about this time last year...

This time last year work was incredibly stressful as the factory was dealing with huge challenges with their rebuild. I hadn't had YOLO products for almost seven months, kayaks were only just coming out, and orders were queued to be fulfilled for local and international. We'd hoped that 2021 would the THE year - just as 2020 was aimed to be THE year. Come mid-April, I was sent packing for a few days by my colleagues to spend a few days away with Rusty - and no internet or mobile signal - because I was actually just so cracked and broken. I'd taken massive emotional strain.

While this year is not free of challenges, there has been a lot of progress. I keep reminding myself that start-ups take 3-5 years. We're approaching year four since launch and two of the years included COVID lockdown, no power, major factory move and rebuild, and the global shipping crisis (still ongoing). I very much feel like we're only really in year two now. That we're still here is quite something.

This time last year I was working from home, which I'd done for the bulk of the past 21 years. The office section at the factory was completed mid-June 2021 and I moved into my office around end June. My plan was to do mornings at the factory and afternoons at home. This didn't happen on the first day and it hasn't since. While I have the freedom to come and go as I wish, the bonus of being the boss, the reality is that I'm generally tied in.

I loved working from home because I got to be with Rusty and Rosy all day, every day. I do like being at the factory because I can be on top of things and I'm in the thick of the action. I also like that my files and work things are all in my office at work and not in my home, which has always been the case. I still work a lot at home at night and on weekends, but all I need is my laptop. We're a small team on the office side (different companies, related, but same space), plus there is the Adventure Base Camp kayak store with my right-hand lady Mpho. This makes for good social interactions in the day.

Thankfully, I have a 6km / 12-minute commute to work each way. As the days get shorter with the approach of winter, I'm finding my time out to be challenged. When working from home, I could quite easily be out the door at 4pm, be out with the dogs for 90 minutes and then pick up where I left off. I leave the office mostly after 16h30, get home, grab the dogs and then have an hour before it gets dark. I'm finding a disconnect (and flagging motivation) between walking out of the door at work and starting up again at home.

I miss the dogs during the day, especially my Rusty. At about 11 years young, the clock ticks and I feel like I'm missing out on so much time with her. Sometimes I take her to the factory with me and if my mom is away, I take all three dogs with me. They like the factory but it is definitely more fun for them to be home with a garden to play in and their granny to throw balls.

This time last year I was three months into working with a biokineticist to remedy my not-a-knee-injury knee injury. By this stage I'd been out of running for eight months (only walking/hiking). As I recall, I was improving in terms of muscle group balancing and strength and getting knee inflammation under better control. Not great, but better where I was mostly hiking with light trotting occasionally.

My recent experience at the chiropractor - working on my big toe joint - has changed things completely for me. I'm inflammation free for the first time 20 months! I did two parkruns in April. Port Alfred over Easter weekend was a fast and flat 26:03 for me. I'm chuffed with my time considering that it was my second 5km run both this year and for many months. 

This time last year I had not done any of the higher hiking trails nor any of the '6 Peaks'. 

Since November, I've done two >20km hikes and three (one of them twice) of the 6 Peaks. I do not yet see myself doing the 6 Peaks FKT route any time soon - more because of the downhills than the ups.  I'll see how I'm doing in six months. 

This time last year I was still relatively new at dog school. I'm still a novice, but I know more than I did a year ago. I only started Rosy with agility this year and she is loving it - it suits her temperament. Rusty passed her first assessment last year with something like 98% and she is in the advanced class.

I'm really the weak link for the dogs because I don't do enough homework with them. I'm trying to do better and succeeded yesterday in a better way to keep the dogs separate (and quiet) while I work with them one-by-one in the garden. I built some DIY jumps

This time last year my household had two dogs - Rusty and my mom's Rosy. We now have three.

Bella, a maltese who originally was my mom's neighbour's dog in Parys, came to live with us in September. My mom would often babysit Bella. She went to a new home prior to my move to George. Then, middle of last year, her owner came down with serious covid, was in and out of hospital and her family took her two dogs to an SPCA. This poor woman! She died shortly after Bella was rescued by my mom from the SPCA. Bella has become quite the little trail dog.

This time last year I didn't own a drill, sander or jigsaw.

I now own these powertools and I know how to use them. In February, I did my first furniture DIY when I built a kitchen cabinet - with two sliding drawers - from repurposed pallet planks. Designing, sanding, measuring, cutting, painting, assembling, screwing - all on my own. It came out really well and was a good learning project. I have a bunch of other projects I'd like to do and now I have more confidence to do them. I've subsequently started an online course on furniture design and construction for beginners (making slow progress).

This time last year I was living in a house that irritated me. Six weeks after arriving in George, I moved into a house that I would rent for the next 13 months. It was actually a really sweet house with an excellent kitchen and a heavenly shower. But, the house had a number of issues that drove me crazy. When it rained, water would pour out of the back retaining wall, carrying silt from the embankment across the paving outside the kitchen. Water would continue to trickle across the paving for weeks with ongoing light showers. Mud, wet, dogs and nearly-white tiles inside. I swept a lot and cleaned floors a lot. The circuit board in the garage (yeah, I turn my geyser on and off) and the short and steep driveway that had visitors laying down rubber. I don't miss these.

At the end of January, we moved into a lovely house not far from the first. It is an older house with less fancy kitchen and bathroom but it has solid bones. The living area is bigger (previous living area was the size of a matchbox) and the back garden is enormous - it was the spacious, simple garden that won me over. And my landlady is really sweet. The dogs love the garden.

This time last year I wasn't into open water swimming (for no other reason than just that I wasn't into it). 

Since December, I've done a bunch of casual open water swims, I joined a friendly masters swimming club and I put in some pool sessions in March. This past weekend I participated in my first 1-mile swim event.

It often feels like I'm one step forward and two steps back so it is good to look back on this time last year to see how things change and that they do change to put life into perspective.

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