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Archive for December, 2011

Time is flying!

Far too quickly!  I’ve already had a week off work and have hardly begun to do what I wanted.  Ok, so yeah, I was away for four nights so I can’t blame myself for not doing anything (silly).

The weather (up until yesterday afternoon) has been fantastic – hot and sunny and (more importantly) no wind!  H and I headed to Wellington on Xmas eve and it was a pleasant drive.  My right arm felt the heat of the sun on the way down (and that arm is now browner than the left).  Jasmine was deposited in the cattery – her first time away from home.  I hadn’t been to this cattery before but heard it was much nicer than the place I used to take Ziggy (they took dogs as well).  Jasmine had her own large cage with an outdoor area.  She growled at the cute fluffy cat in the next cage, so we exited so she wouldn’t get all territorial around us.

Can’t recall what we did that evening!  We did play Settlers of Catan.  It has now become a family tradition to play at least one game over the Xmas period.

The following day, Xmas itself, was also amazingly hot, sunny and windless.  After opening gifts and having Xmas lunch (lovely free range roast chicken and potatoes and a pasta salad, followed by pumpkin pie, all accompanied by bubbles, of course), we went for a wander down to the water’s edge in the harbour.  The normally busy streets were empty which was just wonderful.  Quite a few people were also enjoying the sunshine, including kayakers, one dressed in a Santa suit (and cooking, I imagine).

A statue dressed for the occasion

The sea was like a millpond, which the ducks and other birds enjoyed too.

Daughter's cat and bird enjoying the sunshine in the apartment

On Boxing Day we braved the now very crowded streets (Boxing Day Sales) for another walk.  We didn’t buy anything, but I did get myself a new cellphone (not a smartphone), which, naturally, was not on sale (these things never are when I want something).  I can now take pictures and, apparently, access Facebook, etc.  In the afternoon H and I left Wellington to head to my brother’s place in the Wairarapa.  It was another amazing, sunny day.  Incredible!

Bro had a couple of friends from Germany visiting and when we arrived they were playing a card game.  My brother almost exclusively plays Settlers of Catan so to see him playing a different game was unusual.

H and I had a pleasant stay there, playing both the new card game (Phase 10) and Settlers of Catan, as well as going for walks and helping bro cut down plum-laden branches so the postie could access the letter box.

Sis-in-law’s garden was looking a picture as usual.

H and I were staying in the ‘granny flat’ and one night I woke early in the morning, thirsty, so went to get my bottle of water from the car.  I stepped out to be awed by billions of stars in the night sky.  Even where I live, we never see so many stars, and we see a great deal more than those living in the nearest town.  I just stood there, amazed, and then, to my delight, I saw the tail of the comet (Lovejoy, which had passed close to the sun and survived) to the south.  I was tempted to wake H to see it but she was dead to the world.

We headed home on 28th and got home in time to pick up Jasmine.  She was wide-eyed when the cage door was opened and was uncertain when we unceremoniously pushed her into our cat cage.  Apparently she hadn’t eaten much but had just started coming round and starting to miaow.  She hates car rides so it wasn’t until we let her out at home, that she could realise what was going on.  She miaowed a bit and was unsettled but soon realised she was back home to stay and asked for cuddles and laps.  It won’t be so bad for her next time, I think (I hope).

So, finally to today.  I cleaned up the mossy deck yesterday while it was still sunny, then H and I started tidying up the sun room (aka junk room) and identified which items we could chuck, give away, or sell.   I then deposited a few bags of old clothes (including baby and toddler clothes which, unbelievably I had still kept) and toys in the nearest recycling bin and headed to a friend’s place down the valley who had invited me to dinner, as long as I brought along my game of Settlers of Catan.  I had previously got her and her partner addicted to the game as well!  H also has to take the game along when she visits her boyfriend and his flatmates.  We’ve managed to get more people addicted to the game and pretty soon they’ll want to buy their own version.

Today hasn’t been so productive.  Thanks to the rain I haven’t been able to do heaps of washing or to clean up the items to give away and sell.  I’ve listed 5 other items (which weren’t in the sun room) on TradeMe and hope to get rid of more stuff soon.  If they don’t sell, I’ll take them to recycling or put them up on the Facebook page to give away free.  I can’t be bothered with garage sales – they’re not worth the effort for the vultures who turn up way too early and want to pay 50c for a box of items.  Bugger that.

The laundry needs a good tidy up and I need to paint the walls.  I headed into town earlier to buy some interior paint and brushes and look for the Phase 10 game.  Naturally I didn’t find it but it can be played with 2 packs of regular playing cards.  I bought a couple of packs at a cheap shop after discovering one of our two packs at home was missing 4 cards.  To my delight, the pack included numbered cards up to 13.  I needed up to 12 for Phase 10, so pretty rapt about that.

The afternoon is rapidly disappearing, so I need to identify other stuff to help ‘declutter’.  I’m in the mood for chucking, so better make use of it.

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Last weekend zoomed by.  I wasn’t home a great deal – or maybe half the time and nothing much was achieved in that time.

On Friday night I met a few colleagues for after-work drinks and caught up.

On Saturday morning I did ‘stamps’.  I had been given a bag of hundreds of stamps by a friend.  I think some had belonged to her late mother.  I sat on the floor and spread them out and sorted them, then put those I didn’t have in albums (about 200).  It took about three hours or more.  When I got up a couple of times, I felt stiff and felt like an old lady hobbling along until everything eased up.  What I didn’t feel was back pain.

That came later.  Oh yes, it hurt like buggery.  I’m too old to sit on the floor for hours and bend over stuff.  My brain still thinks I’m 22 but my body certainly let me know I’m not!

I had dinner that night with friends so moved gingerly for the rest of the day and even managed some medium heels (they weren’t high or low).  Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t have chairs with backs, but benches, so I tried to keep my back straight and braced myself with crossed arms on the table.

The restaurant was an Asian one.  Daughter had been that week with friends and said the food was nice.  The entrees/starters were.  We shared a few dishes between four of us.  It was a long table of about 12, so it wasn’t conducive to passing food up and down.  We ate our own mains.  I ordered a Thai beef and pepper pork with roti.  Mistake.  The meat was so dry and salty that I couldn’t eat more than half a dozen pieces.  The roti was swimming in oil – even oilier than puri – the deep-fried mini version of roti.  These were not roti at all, despite a person opposite me saying that that’s what they were like.  Na, sorry.  Roti are not supposed to be oily at all.  The only other food sitting in front of me was a miniscule salad which I ate in two mouthfuls and 4 slices of cucumber.  Very disappointing.  If it weren’t for the pleasant and friendly company, and the tasty starters which had sort of filled me up, I would’ve been pretty pissed off.

Never mind.  Onto a cocktail bar nearby and we sat round a wider table and ordered a few cocktails.  Since I was driving, I only had one.  It was very nice – a minty vodka mix which didn’t seem strong at the time, but later I thought I felt the effects.  I’m glad I stopped at one.  I headed home shortly afterwards as the back pain was becoming annoying.

I was mildly surprised next morning that I could move a lot easier.  The back was still a bit tender, but I was able to bend, etc.

I did a few chores that morning (washing, etc) then headed into town to buy a salad for an acquaintance’s Xmas lunch that day.  We meet annually for a Christmas lunch and I’ve mentioned the group before.  We knew each other when the kids were babies – 20 odd years ago – when we met for ‘coffee mornings’ which are now just the lunch.  I have absolutely nothing in common with any of them but it’s become such a tradition that I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I didn’t turn up.  Anyway, one of the four didn’t turn up as she was ill.  I could’ve used my sore back as an excuse, I suppose, but it wasn’t that bad.  I hadn’t made anything for the lunch, hence the shopping for a bought salad which I put into a bowl brought from home and sprinkled a few sultanas in.  Cheating, really, but I hadn’t the energy to actually organise myself to make something.

I managed to get home by 5pm which is what I’d told daughter.  The rest of the day zoomed by.  I felt like I hadn’t achieved anything that weekend except adding a couple of hundred stamps to my collection and a sore back.

It was a short working week.  Many had left for the year and many more finished work on the Tuesday.  A few hardy souls (or those with not enough leave) stayed on to the bitter end – Thursday, yesterday.  I went in early one morning in the week, and had shortened lunches, to get an hour off so I could leave early, and then one of the bosses (the only one left) came in early and told us all to go home.  That was nice, but I’d just accumulated that time anyway and rubbed it off the board in preparation.  In those few days I actually did do a lot of work.  With the boss away and the few people left one could’ve slacked off a little but nope – I had something a bit different to do and it kept me occupied.

I’m dreadfully unorganised for Xmas this year.  I sent the cards off alright and put the tree up but I haven’t had a clue about gifts and I’m not happy with what I’ve got.  I bought a book each for the girls which is a lot less than what I usually get.  Often I’ll spend about $100 each on them, since they’re pretty much the only people I’m buying for (apart from the odd bottle of wine for people).  As I don’t often get into town (I hate shopping), I’ve wandered aimlessly around with no idea at all.  Younger daughter is easy – she knows exactly what she wants, and tells me, but this year she wants new mobile phone, camera gear, etc and if I buy her something worth $150 or more, I’d have to get older daughter something of equal value (something my ex does not understand).  Younger daughter also knows I’m paying for her renewed passport.  Nope, it’s the older daughter who’s always a problem.  She’s a bit like me – has no idea what she wants and she has what she needs.  Even with younger daughter beside me on a day off shopping (as she knows what sort of things her sister likes) we came away pretty much empty handed.  Nothing has inspired us.   So this afternoon, I’ll have to have another go.  I just want one extra little thing so that she doesn’t just get handed a little book and nothing else.

Getting that little book was a nightmare in itself.  I’d ordered a couple of books online (one for each daughter) and the website claimed that they shipped “within 24 hours”, so I figured there was enough time for the books to get here before Xmas (one and a half weeks).  When two days went by, I enquired about them, to be told that the ’24 hours’ counted from receipt of the order in the US where the books were coming from (even though one of the books was about Australia).  I didn’t really accept this excuse as orders can be sent on the same day.  Two more days had passed and they had still not been shipped.  I enquired again but got no definite answer.  It appeared from the website that they were due to arrive between 18 and 21 December.  (This was on the 19th.)  When I looked more closely the estimate for arrival was at the company’s warehouse, not my house, so I cancelled the order, cursing and swearing.

I looked in local bookshops and found an inferior version of one of the books.  The other book (about Australia) was nowhere to be found.  The only books on Australia (and this is our closest neighbour physically and culturally) were general touristy ones and they numbered as few as others about Brazil or some far off place.  It was pathetic.  Then I headed into another bookshop which had an interesting selection of NZ books but none on Australia at all.  I asked at the counter and after a cursory glance she confirmed there were none.  “How about a book on New Zealand?” she asked.  I could have slapped her.  What a fucking stupid thing to say.

Round 3.  I found a suitable book on TradeMe.  It was buy now and shipped via courier, so I figured I was in with a chance.  I ordered it on the Monday night and waited anxiously.  It arrived yesterday, thank the gods!  But it’s smaller than I expected.  Bugger.  At least I had something!

Tomorrow morning darling Jasmine goes to a cattery for the first time.  I’m nervous for her.  I hope she doesn’t think she’s being abandoned, but I hear the cattery is very nice, much nicer than the crappy place that old Ziggy used to go to when he and Zara were alive (the place catered for cats and dogs).  I feel like I’m betraying her trust.  She’s not going to like us, but it’s only four nights…

I wanted to share a recent photo of her.

She’s so cute!

(That’s her pesky namesake growing through the deck – I’ve tried killing the stuff, to no avail.)

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough, moaned enough, and really should get off here and do things.

Happy Xmas everyone!  Do check out Simon’s cat ‘Santa Claws’ on Youtube if you haven’t already.  I love it.

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I’m quite pleased.  Fine weather helps, I have to say.

Yesterday I installed the scanner and slide scanner software then uploaded the photos.  I weeded two beds and added more mulch to them.  Jasmine loves it when I garden.  She sits and watches for insects jumping around, pounces on things and runs off and up trees in sudden bursts of energy.  She’s such a dag.  Then she just sprawled on her back enjoying the sunshine.

I made a rather nice chicken and noodle dish on Friday night (daughter out and away all weekend) which also did for last night’s meal.  Did the usual washing yesterday (which got dry in no time).  Answered emails in the evening and got a phone call from the ex.  Daughter wasn’t home so I was forced to talk to him, unfortunately.  I scanned some more slides last night.

Today I mowed the lawn and weeded another ‘bed’.  Actually I extended a bed and dug it all up.  I went into town to do grocery shopping and bought a few flowery plants to plant in the ‘new bed’.  I put mulch on and it looks rather good.  I did other stuff like put more washing on, etc.  I also updated my grandmother’s garden diary, something I haven’t done all year basically.

It doesn’t sound much, but I did make some time to read Bill Bryson’s excellent book, have a lager and enjoy some lovely music.

Next weekend (if fine, and when I’m home) I hope to tidy up the front garden.

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One more photo

I’ve now uploaded more slides.  I haven’t run them past Photoshop yet (as we have yet to reinstall it) so many are faint.  Some are quite good but many need colours altered and scratches removed.

Even so, this photo struck me as being rather beautiful and poignant (even though it was likely posed just for the camera).

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Photo update

Uploading a few photos from the past 3 months:

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Time marches on

I haven’t updated for a while, and I thought, if this blog is a record of my life then there are huge gaps in it. Is it supposed to be a replacement of the diaries I kept? If so, there is much I haven’t written about. Blogs are more than just diaries though and they are very dependent on mood.

Anyway, to catch up chronologically:

The weekend before last was fine weather, finally, so I caught up on lawn mowing and weeding. It looked great and improved my depressed mood no end (amazing what a bit of sunshine can do). There is still much to do in the jungle (not to mention mowing the lawn again), so I’m hoping this weekend will be fine again.

Last weekend I drove down to Wellington with H and her boyfriend to visit C (older daughter). It was her birthday on the Wednesday before and she was having a celebratory birthday dinner with workmates at a Chinese restaurant on Saturday night, which we joined. Our orders were just being taken when an earthquake struck. I felt a slight tremor for some moments and only one other person noticed this, then it shook a lot more violently, moving the table around and causing liquid (water and wine) to slop about, as well as sending the Chinese waitress scurrying off in fear. The violent shaking lasted about 5 seconds perhaps then died down to a slight tremor for a few seconds. We were all relieved it wasn’t the ‘big one’ being so close to the sea. (What idiot thought putting the national museum right on the waterfront was a good idea?)

After dinner H, bf and I walked along said waterfront but it wasn’t warm – quite a cold wind – and it’d been such a scorching day at home that morning. Typical. The next day was a lazy one and we stopped at Wendy’s (yet another fast food chain) which had only recently opened. H wanted to stop there even though we never usually eat fast-food burgers. For some reason she had thought it might be good. Of course, it wasn’t – just the usual bland fare. On home to Jasmine after dropping bf off.

This week I finally picked up my new computer, only to drop it off at a mate’s so he could transfer all the files from the old hard-drive to the new one. Then we’ll have to reinstall all the programs we’ve accumulated. Not only does computer hardware become obsolete and useless after 5 years, but software now has to be reinstalled. It’s no longer the case that you can just copy old program files over because they get integrated with the computer registry – so new computer won’t have it and the programs won’t work. It’s been close to 4 months now without the computer and everything we needed it for has been put on hold – photos, genealogy, etc. I need to come up with another backup for photos. We have them backed up onto an external hard-drive but if that failed, all photos from the past 5 years or so would be lost (not to mention old family photos I’ve scanned or received from others).

So anyway, that was yesterday – picked up the computer; got cash out for a jewellery party; went to jewellery party (bought nothing); dropped computer off; drove home. Yesterday we also had an impressive Xmas morning tea at work. I took photos but like all the photos taken since September, I cannot upload them. Programs will have to be reinstalled before I can do anything. What a pain.

The weather’s been changeable – one day hot and sunny, the next gloomy and cold. I realised today, as I went for a walk at lunchtime, that I missed most of the rhododendron and azalea display because the weather was absolute crap throughout the whole month of November.

Xmas. I can think about that now that C’s birthday is over with. I have started writing letters to go with cards (but need to buy cards this year). I bought some wine for various people. I’ve booked Jasmine into her first stay at a cattery when we go away over Xmas (to Wellington and to bro’s). I hope she likes it. Can’t bear the thought of our little cutey being unhappy or thinking that we’ve abandoned her. We’ll put the tree up this weekend I think. No idea what to buy for gifts.

All for now.

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