24 May 2021

Last week, a woodpecker attacked the nest box in which the great tits were nesting. It pecked two large holes but seems to have not touched the eggs. Still, the great tit pair have abandoned it. Nature does seem harsh at times.

On Friday my wife spotted the woodpecker having a crack at the blue tit box. I left work a little early so I could come home and add fortifications. I attached more wood to the outside of the box and then used chicken wire to add a further deterrent. All the while the parents were coming and going with food for the six chicks. They told me off, I would move out the way and they just got in with it. The things we do!

So far, there has been no more woodpecker vandalism.

19 May 2021

Sometimes blogging seems to be about not hitting the publish button.

I frequently have ideas for posts related to mental health, make notes and write drafts, only to decide when it comes to it, not to publish. So I’ve made myself reflect on why.

Confidence is one issue; it goes without saying that you make yourself vulnerable blogging about this stuff. Couple that with the way anxiety saps your confidence anyway and, well, you’re already up against it before you’ve even started!

Then there is the matter of authenticity. A few weeks ago, a brief exchange with a friend on the topic got me thinking about how it relates to writing about mental health/illness. When I decided to write about my experiences I felt it was important to try to be authentic. It didn’t go through my mind in so many words, but that was the idea. I wanted to be honest. If I was going through a crap phase, I’d write about that. If things were going well, then I’d write about that. Despite those symptoms that are common to an anxiety disorder, dealing with mental illness is a very individual experience. To try and hide behind cliches would be both disingenuous and pointless.

All of this feeds into the question of how much to write about.

Over the winter there have been times where things were pants. Not as bad as in the past but I was aware I was slipping into some very unhelpful thought patterns. Those pesky cognitive distortions getting the upper hand again. I would try and write about them. But I would get so far only to then question why I was doing so. Partly it was the confidence thing. But also, no one wants to read about every time things are a bit shit. This is not a teenage diary. Rather, I see blogging as a kind of marginalia to day to day experience. Authenticity does not equate to an unfiltered mind dump; it is not about writing everything. It can be selective without sacrificing honesty.

The final factor (at least, of those I can think of right now) which can stop me from posting is striving for the perfect edit. I imagine this is a trap that many fall into, whether it is about grammar or putting a point across well. Given that life is a work in progress, and therefore so is blogging, I have to allow for the fact that a thought process does not need to have come to a tidy resolution in order for it to be written about. An unfinished thought, if that is as far as I have currently reached, is as authentic as a fully fledged idea.

So if you take a lack of confidence, perfectionism and the questions around the meaning of authenticity, it’s no surprise that many ideas never get anywhere near the blog. I think I am too hard on myself.

I’m going sit with these thoughts and see where they go next.

15 May 2021

My son and I are going to set up a Minecraft server today for him and his friends. The deal is that a bike ride comes first, in order to use up some of the large amounts of excitement and energy and bring things back to a calmer level. How very parent-y of me.

12 May 2021

Managed a look into the blue tits nest box today, having spotted the parents leaving (do they qualify as parents before the chicks hatch?) This is a good sized clutch of eggs - it amazes me that such a small bird can produce so many. More data for the Nest Record Scheme.

An article on the BTO website explains that:

An average clutch of Blue Tit eggs contains roughly 0.5 g of calcium, which might not sound like a lot; but given that there is only about 0.6 g of calcium in a Blue Tit skeleton, this represents a significant investment for the female and it is likely that she will need to source this from the environment, presumably in the form of fragments of snail shell and other calcium-rich material.

Stephen James

Minding the gaps

© Stephen James 2021

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