Archive for December, 2010

New member of the family

Yesterday morning, daughter and I headed to SPCA to get a kitten – a companion for Jasmine who seemed a bit lonely after old Ziggy died.  There were about 8 kittens available – 4 long-haired light tabbies (two of whom were fighting rather aggressively), and in the bottom cage, all male: a grey, grey-and-white, black-and-white, and a scrawny tabby.  I was attracted to the grey and white but daughter was immediately taken with the scrawny tabby with big ears.  He did have an Egyptian look about him but I didn’t think he was cute.  I indicated I didn’t really like him so daughter went in to look at the adult cats.  I stayed for a bit to check out the male kittens.  The black and white one wanted to bite me so I mentally ticked him off as a no.  The grey looked like a bit of a runt so that left the grey and white and the tabby.  The tabby was looking regal and serene on top of the carpeted ledge but came to me when I put my finger through.  I went and got daughter and we came back and I figured picking up the tabby to see how he was wouldn’t do any harm.  He immediately snuggled and purred.  Well, that did it.  He was a yes.  Looks weren’t as important as personality after all.

While waiting for the vet nurse to give him booster injection and flea treatment, a woman came in with a fox terrier and a black kitten.  They put the fox terrier in a cage but then the girl behind the counter told the woman they couldn’t accept the kitten because they were full.  “But it’s a stray”.  To make a long story short, she was moving and had taken the kitten in to feed out of the kindness of her heart and brought it to SPCA to rehome.  The girl kept saying they had no room but could put her on a waiting list to bring it in when they were less so.  “But, it’s not my cat.  I’m moving..” She was understandably getting irate.  “What do I do with it?” They couldn’t answer her.  Is it any wonder, then, that animals get abandoned when SPCA won’t take them.  The local SPCA is really far too small, with only about 20 cages for cats and two large cages for kittens.  I was thinking as we took our little kitten home that now they had room for the black one.  As it happened, the woman left the kitten somewhere (I didn’t see where) and drove off.  You would think the SPCA would take it anyway even if they were just going to put it down.  It was all rather sad.

Anyway, we got home and wondered how Jasmine would take the intruder.

She wasn’t too impressed, eyeing it and growling.

He was very energetic and it was hard to take a photo of him, but eventually he settled down.

Kitty slept on my bed all night and Jasmine stayed with daughter.  He was very good, only getting up at 5am to use the litter box and coming back to sleep.

Day Two and Jasmine still doesn’t want to go anywhere near him.  Unfortunately he wants to play with her and runs towards her.  She freaks out and runs away which just makes him chase after her.  Slowly, today, she’s been emerging from under daughter’s bed, but she still wants to go outside to avoid coming across the kitten.  Poor little nameless one just wants to play.  He’s very affectionate and both daughter and I nearly fell asleep in the heat yesterday with kitten sleeping on our chests, purring.

Hopefully tomorrow, Jasmine will come out of her shell a little more.

He remains nameless.  Everyone says he should have an Egyptian name but that’s easier said than done…


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Days of indolence

Daughter and I headed down to my brother’s place on Xmas eve.  I had intended to leave about 9am but by the time daughter was up and ready it was 11.45.  Had just driven through the gorge when I remembered I’d left the ham behind so did a U-turn and headed home again.  Dammit.  I’d done a mental checklist too but because the ham was in a grey plastic bag I didn’t see it.

The journey there was a windy one – I had to keep my hands firmly on the steering wheel to prevent the wind blowing me off the road.  On the other side of the Mt Bruce hill the wind had obviously caught a post truck as it was on its side and leaning on another truck.  What a scary experience that must’ve been for the drivers.  Lots of branches on the road to my brother’s place.

I needn’t have worried about getting there for lunch as bro was still at work and sister-in-law wasn’t feeling well.  Daughter and I helped ourselves to a ham sandwich and a beer.  Bro turned up and we had the traditional game of Settlers of Catan (or “Siedler” in German).  Older daughter and boyfriend showed up just before dinner time.  They too had been working.  By now the wind had died down a bit so younger daughter pitched the tent – her idea despite there being heaps of room in the sleepout.   We had a barbecue and there was too much food!

Older daughter’s boyfriend had brought his PS3 and I’d taken our Xbos 360 so bro had a selection of driver games to choose from to race me (we never grew up).  We watched a bit of ‘Big Train’ from the DVD I’d brought and by then it was time for bed.

The next day shone bright and sunny.  It was a lazy day of games (both console and real).  We played boules and frisbee and the console version of the same as well as archery.  Kids swapped presents.  Bro and sister-in-law said a few years ago they didn’t want presents but I’d given them the wine and younger daughter also gave them a gift.  I figured the food we brought (cheeses, crackers, nuts, biscuits, ham, beer, trifle) were also gifts.  One has to be subtle.  Another game of Siedler and a glorious meal of turkey with roast veges, cranberry and mushroom sauce.  My brother’s creamy mushroom sauce is to die for but also very filling.  A couple of mouthfuls and you feel bloated.  The wine I’d bought from the local vineyard went down very well.  The evening games of frisbee were a laugh – by now we were a bit tipsy and my bro and I pretended to be ‘retards’ (all very ‘un-PC’) and pulled up pants and skirt respectively to our chests and spoke in silly voices while throwing (and missing) the frisbee.  Good fun.  I’m glad I’m from a nutty family.  Daughters have inherited some of the madness, thankfully.

And the next day – another lazy one of food and games but this time bro, sis-in-law and I walked down a farm track while the ‘kids’ headed to Castlepoint.  The track through the farm was just beautiful with lovely views of gorgeous countryside.  It’s such a shame that such delights are off-limits to the public.  Alas I didn’t take my camera.  My bro and I mentioned how wonderful it would be to own such a patch of land – rolling hills and trees…

Dinner was leftovers and then we all headed (kids and I) our separate ways – older daughter and boyfriend south to Wellington, and younger daughter and I north, home to our cat to see how she’d fared.  She was very happy to see us and wasn’t starving at all (we’d left enough food out).

Another Xmas over with.  How the time flies.  It’s so peaceful out where my bro lives in the middle of nowhere that it’s always a bit of an anti-climax coming home again.

Too hot today to do anything – so yet another day of laziness.  Must remedy that from tomorrow (and get exercising!).

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I’m just asking myself that of NZ men.  The vast majority are blokes who don’t seem to have a compassionate bone in their body.  Perhaps I’m just unlucky enough to come across these morons all the time.  To quote one: “life is too short to save the planet”.  This is the sort of drivel that Paul Henry spouted.  My daughter collected for SAFE (I think I mentioned that in a previous post) and could not believe the amount of abuse she received particularly from men “Get a life” she was told “What about humans?” she was asked.  “I bet you’ve never been to a pig farm so you don’t know anything”.  These fuckwits just don’t get it.  They just don’t care a damn about animals and that worries me.  If such a huge number of NZers think it’s alright, for example, for children to throw around dead possums, what hope is there to curb the ever-increasing number of cases of animal cruelty and child abuse?  This blokey ‘culture’ of the “real man” sitting around drinking until blind drunk when he’s not out hunting or destroying the environment is… well it’s not a culture at all for a start – it’s just a bunch of selfish thugs who don’t give a shit about anything.  Where do I find men who actually care and do something about it?

I have to explain, that I’ve just deleted my “dating” account, again, having given up on ever meeting that person.  Just occasionally I feel lonely enough (particularly when daughter’s away for days) to want some intelligent company.  The men on the dating site seem to sit in the category above and most of them can’t even write a sentence with full stops and capitals and without using textspeak.  It’s no longer just a case of misspelling words – the whole sentence is a disaster.  Perhaps it’s just because of the region I live in?  I’m sure there are more intelligent men in the bigger cities but I don’t live there.  Instead, I seem to be surrounded by ignorant morons.  The above quote is from one of them.

My daughter is trying to persuade the household of men, where her boyfriend lives, to buy free-range eggs instead of battery-farmed ones.  She put up a video on Facebook of suffering battery hens, some thrown (still alive) into a pit of chicken shit and dead birds and dared them to watch and not be affected and if they’re not she believes them all soul-less.  She believes they won’t bother to watch.  Even she despairs.  The only comment she got from one of them was negative.  What is wrong with people?  Why are they so unaffected by suffering?  How on earth were they raised?  Perhaps in a household where booting a kitten against a door was considered ok.

Which brings me to my question above.  NZ doesn’t really have any history or culture.  It’s not ok for men to be interested in art or dancing without being regarded as homosexual.  There’s no regard for the finer things in life.  The idea of saving the planet is poo-pooed.  Anyone who cares about the environment is regarded as a ‘hippy’ or ‘treehugger’ – no-hopers who lounge around smoking pot.  I’m appalled at such ignorant generalisations.  They’re the no-hopers for god’s sake.  In the past 20 years that I’ve been single, this has been the predominant viewpoint of all the men I’ve ever met in this country.  And they call the country “clean and green”.  How can it possibly be when it’s populated by people who have the exact opposite viewpoint about the environment?  How can it possibly be when it’s populated by dairy farmers who think it’s ok to dump effluent into the rivers?  How can it possibly be when supposedly a whole nation  mourns over 29 coal miners but don’t believe coal mining is wrong and that they ask the government to fork over millions to save the jobs of a few coal miners but won’t give a penny to save the last of a species of bird?  It seriously makes me want to cry.

Is it any wonder that I feel like I’m living in the wrong country?  But is it any different anywhere else?

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I’m feeling extraordinarily grumpy today.  I haven’t felt like this since having my periods.  I can only put it down to the weather.  Damp greyness always depresses me.  It shouldn’t surprise me as December is usually the worst of the “summer” months.  It’s also humid and I had a rather damp, sleepless night last night, waking up at about 5.30 and not being able to go back to sleep, so I’ve been up a while.

The Xmas season is meaningless to me.  I put up a tree and a couple of decorations but it was a half-hearted effort and daughter didn’t seem bothered at all.  She pretty much ignored my efforts and didn’t comment.  Perhaps she’s feeling grumpy as well.  She’s currently out collecting money for SAFE. She even persuaded her ex-boyfriend to do the same in his town.

Work has been extremely tedious lately.  I’d caught up on 3/4 of my work and only had one task left to do for the whole day.  It’s a never-ending task but the lack of variety is boring.  So much so, that I couldn’t face it on Thursday and took a day off.  Only two more days of work to do and then I can “relax” or whatever.  Fact is, I’ve done very little today in my grumpiness.  A bit of washing, a bit of web-browsing, a bit of game-playing all of it in a bored, irritable mood.  If only I could get out and spray the convolvulus and mow the lawn.  All my hard work in the garden has gone to waste – it’s back to what it was – weedy and overgrown, particularly with the rain and humidity.

This afternoon I’m supposed to be going to a Druid midsummer ritual.   Long story but after a couple of attendances they expect you to go to everything (I see one of them every day at work).  I’m not a druid but I expressed an interest in what they do a few years ago while I was busy studying.  I thought I might look into it more once I’d stopped, but I’ve lost interest.  I’m just not into ritual of any kind.  I’m not sure how or if I can tell them that after all this time.  I haven’t gone to many and have made numerous excuses but it’s just down the road…

A few years ago I went to pagan gatherings at the solstices, etc, (different group) and they were more fun – less structured, more impulsive.  I’d actually rather celebrate by dancing in the backyard.  Fact is, I don’t follow the pagan calendar.  I have pagan beliefs but don’t like any structure.  The whole ritualised thing feels too fake and made up (and too much like a religion).  I get more out of sitting under an oak tree than standing in a circle reciting some lines made up by someone (“hail, salmon of the west” etc).  It’s about as meaningless to me as a hymn.

I think I might go and visit a friend instead.  No, wait.  There’s a vineyard down the valley and my friend lives on the way.  I could visit her tomorrow on the way as the vineyard is only open on Sundays at this time of year.  I only discovered yesterday in the supermarket that the vineyard existed.  Perhaps I should visit her on the way back and give her some wine purchased at the vineyard…  we always exchange bottles of wine each Christmas.

That still leaves this afternoon.  What, after all, am I going to do anyway?  I might as well go – it might get me out of this bored grumpiness.  I have no food to take though so I will say I can’t stay…


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The annual boredom event

It sounds bitchy I know, but every year before Xmas I have lunch with three other women at one of their houses.  I first met them through a friend about 19 years ago when youngest daughter was a baby.  That friend has since moved away. We used to have coffee mornings about once a month when none of us were employed.  As the years passed and we became employed the coffee morning reduced to a Christmas lunch.

I call it a boredom event because I have absolutely nothing in common with any of them and invariably I find myself wishing I was at home instead of listening to their trials and tribulations and gossip about others.  They’re the sort of women who watch TV programmes like The X Factor and soap operas, read women’s magazines, like Paul Henry, care about what celebrities are doing and moan about their loser husbands or their miserable low-paying jobs or their aches and pains (they’re about the same age as me).  None of them have any hobbies (except one of them gardens).  Every year’s the same.  I occasionally try to add to the conversation but so often I can’t get a word in and I give up trying.  When I went to Germany 5 years ago I took along some photos to show them but they moaned so much about being broke that I didn’t have the heart to tell them I’d been overseas even if I’d had the chance.  They rarely seem interested in my life.

I go out of a stupid sense of duty and get it over with rather than listen to their complaints if I don’t show up.  One year I didn’t go (I actually forgot) and I didn’t hear the end of it for some time.

Anyway, another year over with.  At least the sun was shining.

I did worry a little about the host’s kitchen habits.  I got there early and watched as she dipped her silver cutlery into some sort of chemical cleaner and merely rinsed them afterwards, used a grubby looking teatowel to wipe plates with, sprayed huge amounts of flyspray around me and scratched her dog’s allergy so its dried skin was flaking over my foot.  She did wash her hands afterwards (I’m not sure how thoroughly) but I did feel a little apprehensive about any food she prepared.  I’m not a clean freak but the use of chemicals did worry me.  (She’d also just let off an “insect bomb” in the sleepout – the one that leaves a white powder over everything.)   Is it any wonder that I’ve had a tummy ache since eating over 7 hours ago?  That said, I might just take a panadol.

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The walk revisited

I tell a lie – I wasn’t completely alone on that walk. There was a guy on a ride-on mower, who I avoided. Yesterday, I went again to the park but there was another guy on a mini-tractor thing watching me. I wasn’t alone, couldn’t relax. I sat and ate a bit of my lunch and looked around but felt watched so wandered back.  On the way I met a cyclist and two people walking towards me and then further on a woman and a dog, who splashed into the stream enjoying itself, which brought a smile to my face but not to the woman. One can never be alone. I wanted to commune with the trees but it wasn’t happening.

On the way back I saw an old track by the stream and wondered if that was one we followed with the dogs.  I then took a different route back to work and it had all changed – I couldn’t really recognise any of it apart from the very obvious entries.

Today I settled on just sitting on the grassed area below the road.  There were even more people walking along on the other side of the stream.  I read a book instead of attempting any solitary pleasure, which was a solitary pleasure in itself I suppose.  I still enjoyed the sound of the stream trickling and the birdsong.  It was still marred by the sound of machinery.

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A work-related fitness challenge has had me out walking more than I normally would, mostly in the lunch hour. On one walk around the road I spotted some lovely green grass and trees below and wondered how I might go there at another time.

Today was cloudy with a bit of a cool wind but after having my lunch in the staffroom I decided to go on a walk of discovery instead of reading my current (rather depressing) book.

I headed down to the neighbouring park. Decades ago my parents and I (and bro) would take the dogs to the park for a walk on a Sunday sometimes (we took the dogs somewhere every Sunday). I followed the track through the bushy bit, over a bridge and then discovered the green grass and trees I’d spotted from the road above on my previous walk…

From then on it was a journey of amazed discovery. Clearings of beautiful mature trees … and a stream that was so clear you could actually see the bottom (so rare these days).

This didn’t exist, or at least wasn’t accessible, when I went to that park as a kid. It would have been perfect for Zara – she would’ve loved it, and all the picnics we could’ve had there, the visitors we could’ve shown… I feel ashamed that I hadn’t bothered to walk down to the park in all the time I’ve worked here. It was like a garden of Eden. I love trees and to be surrounded by so many in a park-like setting with no-one else around was pure bliss. I even saw a kingfisher.

On the way back I tried to figure out whether the familiar bit of the track was the end of our doggie excursions or whether the grassy clearings were created from bush we used to walk through. I walked in bafflement and surprise.

I will be planning more lunchtime trips there.


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