the grid

the grid

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Week 6: External supports

Hello everyone!

Our construction crews are happily working away, and there seems to be a very minimal number of disruptions, except for when the tea ran out and there had to be an emergency shopping trip because nothing works without tea… This week the exteriors and major construction should be finished, so our crews want to know what they can do to set up the yard areas of the cabins while they still have the big diggers out…

What are you doing for gardening at your cabin/condo? This will be different for the “escape” vs. “living” cabins I think… What natural fauna do you have to work where you built your cabin? How will the outside help to support your vision for the whole thing?

IRL: What are the most helpful external supports that you have for your work? These can be completely outside of work, or of course those from managers/bosses/colleagues etc.  How can we leverage our external support systems to help us get things done while also providing support for others?

Happy writing!

 Last week’s goals


Run/attend/chair/troubleshoot conference

Paper edits if possible

Student work for conference

Grad class

Check on data for local project

Something fun with kid

Dame Eleanor Hull

Keep core work hours.
Health: cardio daily, stretch x6, track bedtime.
Research: 30 min on book x5, dead languages x3 each.
Teaching: write more assignments, keep building VILE sites, plan class activities, grade a whole bunch of stuff.
Life stuff: tidy 2 shelves in my study, alter skirt waistband, some bank stuff, something fun.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell (carried over)

Plan for one hour x 5.
Write for one hour x 5.
Read for one hour x 5.
Life stuff: verification of COVID passport, call retirement folks at work

heu mihi

1) Two SHORT parts of Augustine vignette
2) Read thesis (again) and prep for Friday defense
3) Keep up with class stuff: prep Derrida, read for the following week, select readings for undergrad class
4) Make an effort with exercise


1 write content for symposium submission site
2 grade all the things due this week
3 work on March conference presentation
4 spend five hours on DQ


1) call GP about anxiety etc.
2) do teaching prep for week 3
3) make time to read or do D&D prep 4 days
4) block out Why in the Write-In I'm leading for final year project students this week (multi-tasking!) and give the seminar
5) progress with planning the May Training Course (because we have to plan and advertise etc.) - which now means nagging other people to read the stuff I wrote... sigh...


1. Use stress cycle completion to recover from department planning day
2. Finish ch 1 and intro of postgrad thesis and confirm meeting time
3. (Pending admin decisions), have syllabus up in VLE and exemplar of first interactive live.
4. Get through return to school for kids
5. Share revised abstracted and writing draft with face to face group.


4 days famous author
Meetings for church
Interview students applying for my ug university
More garden work
Throw out more stuff
Something fun
Exercise & health




    1) call GP about anxiety etc. No...
    2) do teaching prep for week 3 yes
    3) make time to read or do D&D prep 4 days no
    4) block out Why in the Write-In I'm leading for final year project students this week (multi-tasking!) and give the seminar Yes and yes, and also sent some emails about Why
    5) progress with planning the May Training Course (because we have to plan and advertise etc.) - which now means nagging other people to read the stuff I wrote... sigh... other people have still not replied. SIGH

    For the coming week:
    1) call GP about anxiety etc., go to middle-aged-female check appointment (ugh)
    2) do teaching prep for week 4
    3) make time to read or do D&D prep 4 days
    4) Do some literature searching for Why
    5) nag people about the May Training Course
    6) try to get ahead with the reading for the brand new unit I'm teaching in week 5

    1. And now, the outdoor space of my cabin. I'm thinking my cabin will have a sort of porch, pretty discrete since I want my cabin to blend in to its setting, but it will have either a deck or a paved area or otherwise seating. I'd like it to have a "plantygrue" (no idea how to spell that) somewhere near the cabin - a small walled (2-3 foot wall) enclosure for growing a few vegetables - and to make it modern by having the beds raised because I creak! Nothing huge, I don't intend to be self-sufficient, just a place to grow some stuff. And perhaps a small garage at the edge of the trees to keep a car in, and Stuff. Because, stuff. There is always stuff.

      External support - something I feel very short on in a lot of ways. Kind of a depressing topic right now, actually, in both work and personal life, especially as the UK moves to abandoning all COVID precautions which makes me feel even more exposed and unsupported. But I have some very decent colleagues at the local level which is something!

    2. People have turned inwards, reasonably, to their own families - and mine isn't HERE, and I live alone. It's hard making friends when you're out of school, and when you are work-stressed and mental-health-limited and introverted. And wanting a partner for the utility of local support rather than for themselves seems... unfair.

    3. Goodness, "mutual aid and comfort" is a very traditional part of what marriage is supposed to be about, so I think it's fine to want a partner for the sake of local support! Presumably someone you didn't enjoy for themselves wouldn't actually be great for support. Are you the only singleton in a department of smug marrieds? That sounds like a rough situation. They might mean well, but just not really get what it's like to be you.

    4. Jane, I will echo Dame Eleanor here--it is not unfair to want a partner for support. Believe me, the "mutual" is very operative in those relationships, and the support will be two-way.
      I also agree that a department of smug marrieds would be very difficult to integrate with. Maybe a mid-career academics support group would help? It might well bring in other single folks, and undoubtedly other introverts.

    5. Yes, if I had a fiver for every time someone told me how lucky I was to not have children to deal with this pandemic, I'd be able to buy a really kick-ass-humungous box of solitary chocolates for Valentine's Day... For a few years when I joined the department there was a happy group of friendly singles/long distancers/couples without children who were just nice to be around, in work and out, but now I'm too old or something because the younger colleagues (who are nearly all in Shellology which might have something to do with it as there is growing internal antagonism between Beach Studies and Shellology over things like Who Is The Most Understaffed and Which Programme Is The Most Student-Friendly and Why Couples In The Same Department With Children And Dogs can only be on campus at the same time with both in tow rather than, say, taking it in turns when daycare etc are closed and, say, acting like grown up academics when those places are open. Anyway. Yes, I am the only non-Shellologist-under-35 singleton in the department, and indeed in the wider group of departments. Some people are beginning to emerge out the other side (children leaving nest) but their lives are so different, they do occasionally suggest that we should all go to a restaurant but, pandemic. I'm not comfortable eating unmasked indoors with people in a restaurant at the moment. Anyway. Bad Moods and self-pity abound at the moment, what with Brexit nonsense, abandonment of common sense because people are bored with pandemic nonsense, increasing stroppiness from a few students about any requirement to say wear a mask or keep some distance from the teacher or be taught BY someone in a mask, Ukraine, crappy timetabling mistakes & 1-year teaching fellows who just aren't really willing to go the extra mile (& probably don't have the capacity to do so) which have me teaching 5 days a week and paid for 4, and many universities getting to strike over pay and conditions (pensions + the 'Four Fights' - Pay (17% down over the last 10 years in real terms), Race & Gender Pay Equality, Precarity and Workload) but ours not owning to low turnout in the vote (which would have done it 5 years ago but Tories, anti-union legislation, blah blah blah) and the vice chancellors' association apparently deliberately only sharing part of the union proposals for talks with their members so misrepresenting our position until last night, at which point... Anyway, I have been having serious "no fair" vibes over wanting to be on strike (not to lose the pay, but to DO SOMETHING about how rubbish everything is in universities and how it is getting worse, and for the solidarity, and for the Action Short Of A Strike that follows which involves just doing your specified hours every day. I literally can't do that and deliver the classes I have to deliver in teaching term, never mind supervise students and do admin and maybe keep some research things ticking over a little), and being generally Fed Up. And it would just be nice if someone else made the tea, or cleaned the litter box, or was around.

    6. Yes I would like cheese with this whine. I have a nice piece of Spanish Manchego and some kalamata olives, and despite coming from two different countries they get on extremely well. Anyone want some?

    7. Manchego and olives sound amazing together! I think a bit of dark chocolate would also not go amiss in there! You definitely have all the reasons in the world for a good vent!
      The entire UK system sounds absolutely insane right now, I'm so sorry you all have to deal with that. The atmosphere in HE alone would be difficult enough on its own, but combined with pandemic and Brexit and everything else it is just ridiculous...
      No advice, just virtual good thoughts!

    8. If I were nearby, I'd deliver the an older single in a very married town, I send sympathy. (Also older with mostly younger colleagues, so. . .) When I think about wanting a partner, it's someone to talk to and hash out life that I really miss.

  2. Gardening: I won't! The ground is not very fertile, there's salt in the air and a lot of wind, so there really won't be any landscaping to speak of. This will be my escape from the work of gardening.

    External support: I'm going to be very literal here. I've recently been granted funding to go to a couple of conferences, and I'm very excited about the possibility of going anywhere! One is a road trip, but the other will involve flying---not totally positive that one will come off, but signs are looking good at the moment. It would be useful to think about other kinds of support, but my brain is all messed up on planning what I might pack.

    OK, now the reporting and new goals.
    How I did:
    Keep core work hours. YES.
    Health: cardio daily, stretch x6, track bedtime. x6, x5, YES (good enough!).
    Research: 30 min on book x5, dead languages x3 each. x3, x2, x0, respectively. But also some other research.
    Teaching: write more assignments, keep building VILE sites, plan class activities, grade a whole bunch of stuff. YES to all.
    Life stuff: tidy 2 shelves in my study, alter skirt waistband, some bank stuff, something fun. NO, NO, YES, YES (jigsaw puzzle, baking, dinner out with Sir John).

    New goals (once again similar to the last):
    Keep core work hours.
    Health: cardio daily, stretch x6, track bedtime.
    Research: 30 min x6 (various projects), dead languages x3 each.
    Teaching: write more assignments, keep building VILE sites, grade another whole bunch of stuff.
    Life stuff: mail a present, do something fun.

    1. Oh my goodness, conferences! Have fune!

    2. Oh my goodness, in person conferences! May travel be smooth.

    3. That's a very good week of getting goals ticked off! Glad you did the fun things too.
      Congratulations on the funding, that will be so exciting and fun to have a change of scene at conferences!

  3. Last week:
    1) Two SHORT parts of Augustine vignette - NO
    2) Read thesis (again) and prep for Friday defense - YES
    3) Keep up with class stuff: prep Derrida, read for the following week, select readings for undergrad class - YES, mostly; need to flesh out prep this morning
    4) Make an effort with exercise - EFFORT, yes: I ran three times, I think, and did 1 yoga class.

    This week:
    1) Process journal article
    2) Edit other journal article
    3) Finish vignette--really--do work on it this week!
    4) Prep next week's readings and read for the following week (this working-ahead thing in my grad seminar is really helping me so far, but it's a little hard to keep track of)
    5) Effort with exercise, despite the weather
    6) Contact R to arrange a get-together sometime.

    Gardening: I may be with DEH on the non-gardening. Except for the lovely and self-sustaining wildflower garden in front of the house. It's a wild and woodsy spot, otherwise.

    Supports: Why am I drawing a blank here? I am supported, I'm just not sure how to answer this question, other than to say My Family, which is sort of dull (and doesn't really reveal much--besides, sometimes my family is massively distracting in a way that's not entirely helpful). I do need to make more of an effort to see some friends, though; this is reminding me of that. Adding that to my to-do list (above) right now.

    1. So glad the working ahead plan is paying off and not adding stress! Things do feel much more in control when one gets to Sunday evening knowing the Thursday work is already done...
      I hope you get to do the fun friend get-together this week! Good for recharge and connection and generally taking a breather!

  4. My outdoor space will be kept somewhat wild, and far more an English than a French garden. I like to incorporate indigenous plants rather than ones that are pretty but foreign to the climate and soil. Therefore, I can have roses, irises, lilacs, and eonymous alatus. My mother was a master gardener, so I grew up with these plants, but it’s too cold for the camellias and gardenias she also loved.

    As for external support IRL, I’m very lucky to have this group, even if your support in the past several years has been more for the bad job situation I was in or my agonizing over to PhD or not. I have another online group I met during a writing boot camp for graduate students, which helps because we have to set goals and report on them every day. It’s sometimes annoying to have to post goals daily, but I find it’s helpful in keeping me honest. I also have a craft group, which pre-COVID met twice a month, but we have not met for a while. I want to see if I can revive that one.

    These external supports really bolster my theme this session, which is “connection, gratitude, and self-care.” I tend to disappear when I’m not doing well, which is the worst time to do it, not only because no one can support me, but because I cannot support anyone else. Hence, the tie-in to self-care and gratitude.

    Last two weeks’ goals:
    Plan for one hour x 5. I did pretty well here, probably getting in about 8 of the 10 hours. I have discovered more of the collectors whose estate sales contributed to our collection, and I hope to write about them.

    Write for one hour x 5. Amazingly, I exceeded this goal, writing for at least 13 hours in the last two weeks. It’s rough, and some of it will end up in a published guide, but it’s writing, and it feels good.

    Read for one hour x 5. Yes, and while some of it was for a peer review, most of it will enrich my writing.

    Life stuff: Call about verification of COVID passport, call retirement folks at work.No, and no. Instead of the 18-24 inches of snow predicted, we got 7 inches of snow and a half inch of ice. It closed campus and many state agencies down; after that I had catch-up work to do.

    Next week’s goals:
    Read three articles.
    Write at least two pages of the guide.
    Outline at least two articles.
    File at least one banker’s box.
    Scan at least one banker’s box.

    I hope everyone has a great week and does something nice for themselves for Valentine’s Day. Self-care, right? And, as always, float like mist, everyone!

    1. Yay for the excellent batch of writing! That's a great success for a busy week, may the momentum keep it going for more!
      I love the connection between self-care and connection - feeling that one is supporting other people and doing something good is such a boost when one is feeling low, it is so worth making time and space for that. And the gratitude addition makes it a pretty effective brew!

  5. Like JaneB, I'll go boring first, then reflections:

    Last week
    1. Use stress cycle completion to recover from department planning day - yes, ran (well, restarted couch to 5K) and reconnected, which did feel good
    2. Finish ch 1 and intro of postgrad thesis and confirm meeting time, ch 1 and meetings done, just finishing intro today which needed major work
    3. (Pending admin decisions), have syllabus up in VLE and exemplar of first interactive live. Hah, still waiting on admin decisions, so put up my best guess syllabus, no on the exemplar
    4. Get through return to school for kids - yes, and they have more active social lives than I do now
    5. Share revised abstracted and writing draft with face to face group. - yes, and had a lovely discussion on Monday

    This week:
    1. Finish all feedback on postgrad exegesis
    2. Add 500 words to KL, check in with co-authors
    3. (Pending admin decision) figure out tool for online delivery of next week's class, exemplar for interactive done
    4. (Pending admin decision) Get all risk assessment and field trip paperwork done
    5. Do 3 x couch to 5K, 2 x yoga
    6. Bottle tomato and plum sauce


    Having watch the landscapers at the building works on campus plunk in and leave some desperately unhappy plantings that I doubt will survive, I'll do that landscaping myself, thank you. The builders can put in walls for a sheltered courtyard to catch winter sun and protect a small kitchen garden from the prevailing winds, and over time, I'll contemplate a wild garden tumbling down the slope towards the sea.

    External support-wise, I'm feeling very far from family at the moment, and wishing that travel was easier or that we were closer - both to support and be supported. I do have the comfort (and frustration) of a partner, but the universe seems to arrange it that his mental health is most fragile when I hit rough patches, so I'm not in the habit of leaning too much there. This year I am trying to be a better friend, given coming into a regional community from outside, plus academic life, plus parenting, plus introvert means that isn't a very long list. My workplace is going through a culture review at the moment, if that is any indication of the functional and supportive environment that it is(n't). Sometimes, like Elizabeth, I find that engaging with or asking for support is easier when I don't feel overwhelmed, so for the moment I'm trying to avoid overwhelm and put in more buffer/blank space so that I can feel able to reach out - because I know from experience that support won't happen without asking.

    1. Glad the week went ok and you got some good face to face discussion time with the draft! That is always such a good feeling...
      Reaching out is so much easier when it is a regular habit and not something we feel we need to save for emergencies, I hope you can build in the space to make that happen!

  6. My garden will be native salt-adapted grasses and maybe whatever tropical fruit tree/shrub that grows wild. I do not want to be fighting nature, so whatever nature wants to do is fine by me! I do want some containers on the deck for herbs, I love growing herbs but I’m pretty bad at it…

    I am lucky to have a really great research community, no-one at my institution does anything like me so they are all elsewhere, but that’s fine, they’re great. I wish my institution had more enthusiasm for research, at best they treat it as a pesky inconvenience and at worst they actively impede it. But I’m at a stage where I have enough scientific credit elsewhere that I can do almost everything I want to so it is much easier than even a few years ago. I do not have any family in this hemisphere, but I have lovely friends, most of them are as we are known here "come-from-aways" who do not have family close by either so we have a pretty good network of chosen family types. (As one of them was told when she had a baby "your baby's baby will be a real XXX-er"...It takes generations apparently!) My partner is currently working at home, but that will end soon and he'll be back to commuting from a different province, but for now it is great. My kid is the easiest human in the world most of the time.

    Last week’s goals:
    Run/attend/chair/troubleshoot conference YES! SUCCESS!
    Paper edits if possible SOME
    Student work for conference YES
    Grad class YES
    Check on data for local project YES
    Something fun with kid NOPE

    This week’s goals:
    FINISH paper edits
    Write 2 draft abstracts for next conference
    Something fun with kid
    Something fun with friends

    1. Container herbs might be a good idea for mine, too.

      I know people who would like to retire in your area, and while it is very beautiful, I'm also very aware of that generations-to-belong thing, and I would find it off-putting---I'd really need the other "come-from-aways." If I move in retirement, I'd like it to be somewhere there are a lot of other people who've moved there (well, not Florida :-), though it sounds like that's what I want).

      Congratulations on a successful conference! Yay!

  7. Landscape: you would ask that as I'm fussing about fixing the landscape in my back yard, wouldn't you. Here's the thing. I love gardens, and I want a lovely garden, but I want it to weed itself. A wildflower garden, maybe? A few roses and some lavender? Some herbs? these would make me happy. I think my cottage is far enough from the sea that there could be such a garden.

    Supports: I have a few here, good friends who I hang out with, and many acquaintances who are not necessarily "supports", but nice to hang out with. I am lucky that our department chair has created a culture of kindness and appreciation, so the immediate work context is fairly sane, though the central administrative leadership is terrible. I have supports for my research external to campus, including this group, and a group of colleagues that zoom over drinks every few weeks (really no one is interested in what I do) so my intellectual supports are not here.

    What supports would I like? That's really hard: my husband was in my field, and I really miss the way that we both ran through the mundane stuff but could also talk about what we were thinking about and writing. I know that won't be recreated! But my local friends care about me, not my work; I'd love to have local friends who cared about both.

    How I did:
    4 days famous author Yes, I think?
    Meetings for church Yes
    Interview students applying for my ug university YES 3 down, 2 to go
    More garden work Not really
    Throw out more stuff YES
    Something fun Not really, but I made marmalade
    Exercise & health YES

    From 5 PM Friday to 1 PM Saturday I had 7 hours of meetings (6 on zoom), and that really did a number on my weekend. I was exhausted, but did manage another batch of marmalade (3 fruit, from my lemon, grapefruit and orange trees). But I'm chugging along, and should have some uninterrupted time tomorrow and Friday for work. I'll close email so I don't get distracted!
    Otherwise, my mother is needing more attention, and probably a new computer, which I will set up. Watching someone fail is hard.

    Next week I have no teaching, because of the holiday, so some flexibility.
    4 days on Famous Author
    Finish interviews & Reports
    Pull some weeds
    Keep up with exercise
    Do something fun

    1. And re conferences, I am traveling to one at the end of March, in another country no less. So excited. With intellectual isolation, conferences are the way I stay connected.

    2. I hope the conferences are fantastic and inspiring!
      The coming week of flexibility sounds good, good luck with fitting in something fun for you along with work and care-giving.