Twice or three times a week, I would drive the ‘mom’s taxi’ to the practice grounds. Armed with study guides, notebooks and highlighters, I would sit in the car parked up alongside the football field for an hour or two. Whilst my three sons slipped and slid over the muddy ground I would sip from my thermos mug of black coffee, as I read and highlighted the important bits of brain research theory. Reptilian, Limbic, Neocortex. Which part was which and what part of our body did each control?
Does the release of cortisol into the body boost our adrenaline to support fight or flight? Can we control our fight/flight reflex at all? What enables the brain to function the best? How and why do we think and how does that make us feel? What are the neurons for? And just what is the synaptic gap? So many questions to consider.
With the light quickly fading and the evening mist arising, it was already a cold winter’s evening. Engrossed in a wordy piece of research about brain theory, my own neocortex was replicating the weather which was becoming foggier by the moment. I struggled on with trying to understand the difficult words and the configuration of the brain.
The end of practice session was signaled by a piercing whistle which alerted all the soccer mums to the imminent arrival of their hungry and muddy kids. I sighed and snapped the study guide shut. The next two hours would by far be the toughest and most chaotic part of my day. I briefly wondered which part of my brain would win the battle.
I had to rush home to get the dinner started, bring in the days washing – if it had actually been pegged onto the clothesline that morning – supervise the homework, sort out the silly sibling squabbles, walk the dog, kick the cat off yesterday’s pile of washing, feed the cat, dog and the kids, supervise the hot showers or baths of muddy kids and throw another load of laundry into the washing machine.
The joys of being the ‘soccer mum’ and the ‘paid to work’ mum. Both roles have their own rewards. One financial and the other emotional. Sometimes I struggled enjoying either of these rewards. The financial rewards of the one very quickly became the emotional reward of the other. At least I could pay for those soccer fees and the purchase of the ever-increasing sizes in football boots.
After a tough day in the office, I had to make the best of a bad bargain. Although it wasn’t exactly a toss of the coin it seemed like it was always my job to pick up the boys from school and get them to soccer practice on time. The coach’s standard rule was any player turning up late to practice. had to sit on the bench for at least the first half of the Saturday game. Such a responsibility – but what else are soccer mums for? Oh wait – there are soccer mum rules? How did I miss that memo? Soccer mum sideline support rules:
Don’t be a sideline critic. Remember those referees are volunteer parents too. They may not be as dedicated as this ‘soccer mom extraordinaire’ but they are an essential part of match day. Who else can you blame when your kids are losing….?
Be the grand provider of the oranges when the Saturday morning half time whistle was blown. How many times did you cut those oranges into quarters ready for the slobbering grins of the thirsty players?
Make sure the kids have all their gear especially those football boots and shin pads
Get them to the game on time.
And at the end of the muddy match, there is the inevitable ‘post-mortem’ commentary from the father figure forgetting that he was not the actual coach. Meanwhile, I just loaded those muddy kids into plastic rubbish bags tied up just above their necks for the car journey home. Once home they were hosed off before they were allowed to enter the house. They were of course allowed to have hot showers but the first ritual was the cold hose-off in the garden to rinse off the worst of the mud. What other soccer moms did this cruel thing, I wondered?
Rummaging in my desk drawer for a couple of AA batteries for the tv remote, I glanced longingly at my expired passport. “How long has it been since I had enjoyed the freedom of the young traveler’s lifestyle,” I pondered. Fond memories flickered through my mind and blocked the sound of the tv blaring through the living room door.
In an instant I was back there, sitting in the dappled shade of the river bank, sipping from a champagne flute, giggling as the bubbles tickled my nose. I could hear the babbling of the water as it trickled it’s way downstream. I stretched my toes out and wriggled them into the long grass. The picnic blanket was crumpled beneath the remains of our feast. The soft cheese mingled with the grape stalks and the breadcrumbs. The discarded bottle had rolled onto the grass. My traveling companion was passed out on the rug. I was basking in the summer warmth. All was calm, everywhere were happy people relaxing and enjoying summer. Time for a little snooze time, I thought …. and yet, I felt something was missing. Something was wrong. At the edge of my mind, I could hear something. And I lost focus.
Once again I was back into my sweet chaotic world. “Mommy, mommy, he hit me…!
Are we triggered by time? Or is time triggered by the sun, the moon and every other planet orbiting above us?
At last, after a timely train ride we had arrived in Prague. It quickly became clear that we were on a trip back through time. From the church steeples to the clock towers, this beautiful city seemed steeped in history. The most famous clocktower of them all must surely be the Prague astronomical clock, the “Orloj”.
However and most unfortunately, our timing was slightly off – by at least a month.
The Orloj was taken down for reconstruction and replaced by a LED screen in early 2018, with the restoration works scheduled to last for the whole summer tourist season of 2018. As we were there in August 2018 all we saw was a screen printing of the famous timepiece. It got me pondering about why it was such a drawcard for the tourist throngs. So I googled – as you do!
According to Wikipedia, the Prague astronomical clock – the Orloj – was first made in 1410. A long long time ago!
The astronomical dial has a background that represents the standing Earth and sky, and surrounding it operate four main moving components: the zodiacal ring, an outer rotating ring, an icon representing the Sun, and an icon representing the Moon.
The clock mechanism has three main components — the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, an hourly show of moving Apostle figures and other sculptures, notably a figure of a skeleton that represents Death, striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year’s night.Another legend, recounted by Alois Jirásek, has it that the clockmaker Hanuš was blinded on the order of the Prague Councillors so that he could not repeat his work; in turn, he disabled the clock, and no one was able to repair it for the next hundred years.
Inside the large black outer circle lies another movable circle marked with the signs of the zodiac which indicates the location of the Sun on the ecliptic. The signs are shown in anticlockwise order.
The displacement of the zodiac circle results from the use of a stereographic projection of the ecliptic plane using the North pole as the basis of the projection. This is commonly seen in astronomical clocks of the period.The movement of the Moon on the ecliptic is shown similarly to that of the Sun, although the speed is much faster, due to the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. The half-silvered, half-black sphere of the moon also shows the Lunar phase.
But wait – there is more…..
The four figures flanking the clock are set in motion on the hour, and represent four things that were despised at the time of the clock’s making. From left to right in the photographs, the first is Vanity, represented by a figure admiring himself in a mirror. Next, the miser holding a bag of gold represents greed or usury. Across the clock stands Death, a skeleton that strikes the time upon the hour. Finally, there is a Turkish figure representing lust and earthly pleasures. On the hour, the skeleton rings the bell and immediately all other figures shake their heads side to side, signifying their unreadiness “to go.
Every hour of the day, twelve statues of Apostles with its attributes appear at the doorways above the clock.
Now this miracle of 15th century engineering and seeing what makes it tick would have been well worth seeing. It certainly would have ticked my bucket list.
That was a time-consuming and fascinating rabbit hole I went down in my quest for knowledge. So I guess it is true that everything is triggered by time.