zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
It may not be quite worth quitting my day job just yet, but so far so somewhat successful!

Late last year I ate a supermarket rockmelon and, on a whim, planted some of the seeds from it. (I do this from time to time with various supermarket foods. The roots from spring onions are very prolific. Mandarin and persimmon seeds both turn into small trees, but it may be some more years before I find out whether or not they'll ever fruit.)

To my delight, the seeds sprouted. I gave a couple to a sibling (who planted them in an enclosed patch which was promptly intruded upon and the seedlings nommed by an anonymous animal) and planted a couple out in my own garden. One got smothered by weeds I think. The other started putting out little yellow flowers, similar to other cucurbit flowers but smaller and a little paler.

And then I noticed a baby melon. Now I am familiar with the ways of cucurbits (particularly tricksy pumpkins) and fully expected this to almost immediately be reabsorbed by the plant. But instead it grew. And grew. And...

Well, look, it was March by now so it didn't grow a lot. It was just surprising that it grew at all. I figured I'd leave it on the wee vine for as long as I could and then see what could be salvaged.

Cyclone Cook struck (much attenuated in Christchurch, but still very wet) and when I went out to inspect the garden I discovered the melon was scratched - I suspect an animal, exacerbated by rain. There wasn't much sign of leaves left to help it grow so I called this as good as it was going to get and brought it inside.

Small rockmelon

And cut it open and - it was nearly ripe!

Small rockmelon halves

Obviously there wasn't nearly as much flesh was you'd expect from a rockmelon, but it proved perfectly edible. I scooped it out like I would a kiwifruit or tamarillo - there was about as much of it as one of those too. :-)

Small rockmelon shells

Next season I'll plant some of the seeds I reserved from the supermarket rockmelon earlier in the season and see if I can grow a full-size melon - or two. :-)
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
This is about to make it sound like I'm a gardener. I'm not a gardener, I just suffer from an abundance of space so I put things in the ground and water them maybe once if they're lucky, and some of them die and some of them sit there resentfully and some of them make me free food and some of them make me free food and then make more of themselves. I call this "Darwinian gardening".


Silverbeet: I hope you like silverbeet because you're going to be seeing a lot of me around.

Asparagus: Eat me!

Spring onions: o/~ You cut me down, I spring up again, you're never gonna get me down o/~

Button mushroom: Surprise, I'm a mushroom!

Poppies: We resemble that scene in the Wizard of Oz.

Strawberries: Hi I made you a strawberries.

Silverbeet: What colour do you like do you like green or yellow or red or pink or orange or pale green or more red or-- No, can't do silver, how about orange or green or dark green or--

Pumpkin: I have huge flowers.

Bok choy: Slugs enjoy me.

Lettuce: Earwigs are my friends.

Poppies: Here have more seeds than you could ever use in muffins in a year.

Strawberries: More strawberries?

Celery: I will take two years to grow and taste terrible but it's the thought that counts, right?

Silverbeet: Or yellow-green or red-orange or orange-pink or green-red or--

Pumpkin: So many flowers.

Raspberries: Ugh, here are 14 raspberries I suppose.

Plums: Are you ready for plums? WHOOMPH!

Strawberries: Hi again it's me, strawberries.

Zucchinis: Would you like a zucchini? Haha it's a marrow now. Enjoy your four marrows while I grow more marrows.

Mandarin tree: You grew me from a seed from a supermarket mandarin, what did you expect, flowers?

Lemon tree: All my flowers fell off.

Strawberries: Look here are more strawberries.

Silverbeet: I'm going to spend three months slowly going to seed now.

Pumpkin: All the flowers.

Grapes: Btw I decided to make grapes two months early this year, you probably didn't notice them hidden under the leaves. Oh look the birds ate them all, what're you gonna do.

Yellow zucchinis: Would you like a tiny yellow zucchini or shall I just shrivel up, yeah I think I'll do that.

Pumpkin: I guess I can make one pumpkin. Also more flowers!

Mystery cucurbit: Spherical cucumber, spherical pumpkin, who knows? The important thing is that I'm really big!

Peaches: Hey the peaches are ripe now, also turning mouldy, why didn't you pick them in the three seconds they were perfect?

Lettuce: I'm going to look like a dandelion as I go to seed.

Bok choy: I'm going to emit a secret call to aphids worldwide to come and swarm my seed pods.

Silverbeet: I've made a million seeds and every single one of them will be a new silverbeet, I think you'll enjoy their colours.

Strawberries: Continuing to grow strawberries.
zeborah: zebra-striped biscuits (cooking)
I've switched to Fair Trade chocolate, because it tastes of freedom (and especially dark chocolate, because I can snack on dairy milk until the whole block's demolished whereas with dark a couple of squares are enough, so my money and teeth last longer).

So I've been looking around for Fair Trade chocolate Easter eggs and wow that's not so easy. The options I've found are:


  • Cadbury's 65g Fair Trade Dairy Milk Easter Egg. Note that Cadbury make a big deal about how all their Dairy Milk chocolate is Fair Trade. It's really important to note that Dairy Milk refers to one of their products. It doesn't mean all of their milk chocolate products (like Black Forest, Caramello, etc) are Fair Trade. In fact you can tell they're not because they don't proudly sport the Fair Trade logo. Webpages like this, I can't even tell where the spin stops and the doublespeak begins. In short, if you can't see the Fair Trade logo with your own eyes, it's not Fair Trade, it's Cadbury hoping they've misled you with a sequence of carefully selected and phrased facts.

  • Plamil's 85g organic Easter egg. I'm a little concerned at the idea of dairy-free milk chocolate, but if you like milk chocolate and can't tolerate dairy this is probably awesome. If you don't live in Auckland the Cruelty Free Shop appears to ship.



I'm not so certain about:

  • Moo Free Bunny Bar, because this is described as "using a combination of natural, organic and fair trade ingredients" which has ambiguous scoping (is it combining organic-and-fair-trade ingredients, or is it combining organic ingredients and fair trade ingredients?) and doesn't sport a Fair Trade logo.



Another alternative seems to be to hop on a plane to Melbourne and buy from:


So the other alternative is to buy some chocolate moulds and some:

  • Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, the kind that has the Fair Trade logo on it

  • Whittaker's Creamy Milk or Dark Ghana chocolate, see also re Fair Trade logo

  • Green and Blacks any flavour, look how they all have the Fair Trade logo!



I've resorted to this method (using Whittaker's Dark Ghana and these silicone moulds. (I know many people hate silicone but it is fantastic at being non-stick which is really important for this purpose.) It's much more time consuming than visiting the store, and the resulting hollow eggs are kind of fragile and messy-looking, while the solid chicks are really solid. But otoh chocolate is a lot cheaper by the block than in Easter Egg form, so I guess there's some savings there.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Today started (after a certain amount of groaning and dragging myself out of bed) with a vendor breakfast. I avoid vendor things labelled as "hors d'oeuvres" because they're generally at the time of day when you're exhausted and starving and they want you to stand around attempting to subsist on food that would barely satisfy a sparrow and alcohol that would inebriate an ox. But a seated three-course breakfast seemed worth tolerating some vendor speeches for, even if it was at seven thirty in the morning. Luckily my cold was much alleviated overnight plus I planned ahead and took my own tissues.

Course one was muesli, yoghurt and fruit; course two was a breakfast steak, bacon, poached egg, tomato, mushrooms, and smashed potato; course three was various breads. Courses one and two were actually on the table the whole time, along with tea, coffee and juice; the above order is based on the menu which we all, more or less, obediently followed. Smashed potato, for the curious, appears to be what happens when the cook is too lazy to either mash the potato properly for hash browns or cut it properly for fries. I sound like I judge, but it does create a fun random mix of soft and crispy.

There followed eight hours' worth of sessions and mingling. I caught up with an old colleague who now works in Dubai, various other old colleagues, a lot of vendors at their stalls (they like someone to tell about their products; I like the free USB sticks. Also some of the products even if mostly we still can't afford them - actually it's often most useful to talk to the vendors whose products we already subscribe to because they can tell us the goss as I can nag them about those bugs we keep reporting), and a few strangers who have migrated to a system we're going to migrate to. After the last session there were drinkies and sparrow hors d'oeuvres, but it was bearable because there was also icecream (provided by a vendor, I think) and a magic show.

Then I came back to my hotel to crash for a couple of hours before dinner and realised it was already seven twenty. So that was a day.

In new and unexciting random maladies, my socks are perhaps too tight for twelve hours of conferencing because I now have an achy ankle. Also using my salbutamol inhaler because my lungs like the air conditioning (plus virus) as little as the rest of my respiratory system, yay.

--Okay, the "30 free minutes per 24 hours" doesn't seem to have a set rollover time, it wants to be at least 24 hours since you last used it.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Apologies in advance for another boring post. The short version is: eating food is good for you.

I did get over the worst of the laryngitis thing a good while back; was only off work a few days. (Things that ended up really helping the cough: the experimentally-proven warm moist air; keeping hydrated; cough suppressant; and salbutamol. I keep forgetting that when it comes to anything to do with my lungs, salbutamol is almost always going to immediately improve the situation.)

However it has been lingering on, unhelped by a Bonus!Rhinovirus of about ten days ago. So have got a tad tired, and the housework's suffered accordingly, and similarly grocery shopping and the will to cook, and thus haven't been eating properly, and thus have been lacking energy, and so on and so forth.

Until Sunday I piked out of my ordinary commitments--

(Meaning: I missed the bus to church, attempted to walk instead, realised my blood sugar was way low so stopped at a grocery to buy breakfast, wasn't able to eat it all, made it to my parents' house and sat on the couch for several hours; then phoned friends to cancel my normal Sunday evening visit, and went home to sleep for several more hours. After which--)

--made myself buy groceries and cooked with them. I also cooked and ate food on Monday and today, and also along the way got some more extra sleep; and then today, by complete random happenstance, minor items of housework have started achieving themselves.

(Possibly it helped that if I didn't do the laundry soon I was going to have to raid my go-bag for clean underwear.)

So I think I might possibly be getting functionally better, albeit with the occasional coughing fit (eg tilting my head back to drink the last drops is contraindicated because it stretches the throat and coughing) and singing two or three tones lower than normal. Planning to book annual leave for this Friday just to solidify this whole healthiness thing.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries today has ALL THE FEELS, omg. I'm going to have to mop my face before I head off to work.
  • Criminal Minds and White Collar are very much going downhill; Elementary isn't bad; Once Upon a Time is currently the best thing on. Around town there are billboards dubbing it "Damsels in Charge" which is exactly what I love about it, and portraying Emma in leather armour that actually covers her entire torso even if it does leave her upper arms worryingly bare.
  • The neighbour has finally scythed mowed their lawn jungle. Hopefully this will reduce the number of biddybids I have to pick out of Boots' fur with sneak attacks.
  • Being an adult means when you run out of milk you can melt some icecream onto your cereal for breakfast instead.
  • Freezing cheese totally (and totally predictably) borks its structural integrity.
  • My plums are almost finished; grapes and peaches seem to be coming along nicely.
  • I've been making lots of curtains and doing lots of baking while watching lots of West Wing. I think it's a phase? Also doing bits of coding and fanfic and other writing and adding to my "Awesome projects it'd be fun to do if I had infinite time and parallel selves" list.
zeborah: Zebra holding a pen, its stripes forming the word "Write" (writing)
I may be some time.

I would like to briefly affirm, for personal future reference, that the best way ever to get myself to eat is to so arrange things that I come home to the delicious smell of pumpkin ready to be mashed and have some coconut cream stirred in. Once it's heated again (in the slow cooker, I'm in no rush) I can eat with bread.

Also, in case anyone's curious, when one has some coconut cream left over, this does make a different but extremely serviceable substitute for milk in hot chocolate.


Oh and I may as well do another earthquake update.
  • The latest big one we had, I dutifully shifted out from among the bookshelves I was weeding but I only figured it for a 3.9; turns out it was a 5.2. I'm at the ehh, whatever stage.
  • I have my gasfire finally reinstalled, five months after they took the old one out to rebuild the (previously brick) fireplace and discovered it wasn't up to standard to put back in. So now I have heat again which is nice.
  • The Cathedral is to come down, which is sad and gives the city a bit of a dilemma about all its logos, but I do think that, in the absence of money from nowhere, it's the right decision. What I'm a little more distressed about, because my bus goes past it each day and it's the building where I had my first job ever, is the demolition of the old railway building. Again I'm sure it's the right decision and all. But I just have this conviction that this building is the only thing that separates the CBD from the southern suburbs and hills, and once it's demolished there'll be nothing to prevent the two realities from bleeding into each other in some vast Escherian nightmare of epic distortions. We have to do something! The very fabric of space-time is at stake!

    Although actually, as the bulldozers hack away at it from the west, it's revealing the old Magnum Mac in its row of buildings on the other side of the railway tracks; while not so imposing as the old clock tower, it isa solid unbroken line, so perhaps all is not lost.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Because my skin can't bear the touch of iron. I break out in itchy bumps that ooze pus. This is annoying as it seriously cuts down on the number of my few bits of jewelery (and my prettiest hair thing) I can wear.

In other news, should I apply for a job in Kazakhstan? I think I won't, but so tempting. I just wish they had the salary range up there so I could prove to myself that I couldn't afford to keep paying my mortgage on it. The fact that Kazakh is agglutinative and has seven cases and I know from Mongolian that vowel harmony is not as fun in practice as in theory and I rather suspect that the evidentiary verb ending system is most probably the same, though it'd still be cool to try -- is, you see, not helping.

(It does help that I had a good week at work.)

I have patches of snow in my garden that are very nearly a week old.

I have a doubly static kitty. She's curled in the sun not going anywhere, and her fur crackles if I try to stroke her.

I have an iPad borrowed from work to work on for work purposes, so can testify that Angry Birds is astoundingly addictive.

And I have a need of recipes that make use of stale bread. So far I can:
  1. dice and freeze for croutons
  2. toast (but I don't eat much toast - oh wait, it could be the best excuse ever for spaghetti on toast. Guess what I'm having for lunch in ten seconds time?)
  3. dice and mix with all the leftovers and some milk in a casserole dish. This turned out surprisingly good considering the diversity of the leftovers, but not so good that I'm likely to make it on a regular basis.
The bread doesn't go stale that quickly, it's just I'm only one person. Actually it's remarkably long-living. If it was store-bread I'd joke about preservatives, but I made it myself so I've no idea why it takes a week to be properly stale and never goes mouldy. I keep it wrapped in a teatowel on top of the fridge (so the cat can't get at it) -- this is the extent of my bread-preservation efforts.
zeborah: zebra-striped biscuits (cooking)
There are days when you come home from work thinking that you really need either alcohol or icecream and alcohol's just not going to cut it.

Today was not one of those days but I like to be prepared with a 2 litre tub of icecream in the freezer just in case. And sometime over the last four months I ran out of icecream and didn't get more because it would have required transporting a 2 litre tub of icecream on the bus for an hour or more. Which a) would be heavy, and my shopping trips were already heavy affairs, and b) would be melty.

But today I went to my local supermarket for the first time in four months. Just all casual, like, on the way home from the bus stop. (It's actually been open on-and-off for a couple of weeks, but... I was set in my routines and it felt weird to change them and aftershocks happened on the 13th and I didn't realise it was open again until I got a flier, and anyway I just didn't go.)

And, once I figured out where the entrance was, it's really quite lovely in there. (Pak 'n' Save is horrid despite being cheaper. It makes me feel all claustrophobic. Partly the warehouse feel, partly the really high shelves, partly the crowds.) It's well lit and really spacious - heaps of space as you walk in through the grocery section, and the aisles are wide and the shelves are low. The only thing I'd change if I could is the aisles are very long; it'd be nice to have a cross aisle as some of their other stores do. But really, even though they'd changed the layout a lot, it felt very safe and familiar. Also the new entrance opens directly to the carpark - I don't know if that was necessity due to the rest of the mall being closed or a clever safety idea, but I like it.

Anyway I did my necessary shopping: baking powder (gluten-free - I didn't realise ordinary baking powder wasn't, whoops, but I think I didn't use it anyway when I made stuff for work) and new cooking oil; and yeast to make bread with (because 4 months have set me in my bread-making routine and I've even figured out how to make it almost-reliably rise in the bread machine); and mandarins and shaved ham for lunches, and fish for dinner, and chips for special occasions, and then I thought, "I can walk home in 5 minutes! I can buy icecream!"

So I did. Lime-flavour (though it's more an aroma than a flavour really, it's so gentle). And then I got home and, even though it wasn't one of those days, I had a bowl anyway, to celebrate.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It pains me to say it. As a New Zealander, I'm a great fan of vegemite. But it does have a design flaw. It comes in glass jars. In the quake zone that we call New Zealand. Having tossed out my last broken jar of vegemite on the grounds that I'm not a fan of glass in my sandwiches, today I went to the supermarket to (among other things) get a new jar. I hoped for a sensible plastic container; I was disappointed. Until Kraft can rectify this design flaw, I may have to store it on a low shelf.

In other news, my old chimney was taken down and the wall boarded up. It had been almost completely been covered over on the inside too, "almost" being the operative word as I discovered when I took the builder in to check and found various kinds of dust all over the bed, pillows, floor, table, tissue box, etc. Vacuumed thoroughly, thereby also paying enough attention to notice the half-inch gap in the floor.

Not sure quite how to explain this. I think what happened was: back when the chimney was in use for an actual fire, there was a hearth. This was tiled over. The floorboards came up to it. Then the chimney was boarded up and a skirting board put on. I put my bed over most of the old hearth. Then the earthquake came, ripped the remaining chimney away from the wall on the outside, tore the skirting board loose, and apparently wrenched the hearth away from the floorboards. This latter created a gap and incidentally broke a bunch of the tiles. I'm not devastated about the tiles, as they were dead ugly. But the gap's going to be a nuisance to fix, as the bed is a waterbed and thus weighs a great deal.

Got to do a bit of work via online chat. There's something to be said for getting a day's pay for half an hour's work.

Dad also came by and boarded up my broken leadlight window, which is good because the high winds had earlier extracted another couple of panes of glass from it. Then we went together to the supermarket.

Achieved dinner, washing of dishes and brushing of teeth.

====

Failed to actually post my update. Um. Slept, apart from a few aftershocks and the need to wander out into the garden with toilet paper. Woke up with just time for breakfast before the water tank opened and I could get some water to scrub myself with. Yay clean! Later in the day I may even try some laundry.

On the way to the water tank, I saw an Orbiter bus. I may have cried a bit but as I was wearing a dust mask and sunglasses it's hard to be sure. :-)

There's lots of officials in high-vis vests in the streets today, checking on who needs help. I got a pair composed of a) Salvation Army and b) District Health Board to check if I needed any help. --Whup, and there's a building inspector (not really inspecting-inspecting, just doing a quick lookover from the outside to make sure the house won't fall down). They're supposed to be working in trios and that (plus ID, time, and MO) is how you know they're not casing the neighbourhood, but I won't quibble; it's close enough.

Hmm, people aren't answering my work IMs. I shouldn't complain because occasionally I go off the grid to talk to builders and officials (plus I know they don't have sound on their computers where they are) but it's a bit disconcerting.

I think it's time to finish Pride and Prejudice.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
(aka throws things in a pot and calls it dinner, but with sufficient success that she may repeat the method some other lazy evening)

Two eggs and a serving-sized amount of pasta in a pot with cold water, boiled while doing overdue dishes. [All the recipes say to boil the water then add pasta, but it seems to work my way too.]

When almost ready, chopped green stuff (spinach would have been perfect but I had bok choy and that was just fine) and added to same pot until a nice bright green.

Drained water out. Shelled and mashed eggs. Sprinkled on lemon-pepper seasoning. Mixed together.

Ate from the pot. I really like minimising dishes.

I think I shall have an apricot for dessert.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Spent the day with siblings watching Richard Hammond and The Court Jester and The Lion King.

I don't wear this ring often, but I'm pretty sure it's not normally this loose on my finger.

Phone call from insurance to check details. Emails from work that I can go in tomorrow to do stuff, yay! Sounds like I get to be on a "thinky-thoughts" team rather than a "lifting-things" team but it's pretty urgent to think of ways to get info resources to students when the largest library on campus will be closed for the rest of the year. Fortunately some publishers are coming through for us. Have I mentioned yet today how awesome people are?

Another awesome-people story today is a supermarket that's had to close because it'll take a year to rebuild. So 86 people lose jobs. But the supermarket chain is giving them 2 months' redundancy (way more than the contract stipulates) plus a $500 grocery voucher each for fulltime, $250 for part-time, and help getting a job in one of the chain's other stores if they want.

Oh, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra are making their concert next Thursday free.

People are so awesome, you guys. I kinda want to get drunk so I have an excuse to talk about how I love people so much. The world is awesome, and civilisation is awesome, and people are the awesomest ever.

I think I missed an aftershock because I was on the bus home at the time. One of these days I may end up sitting on the Orbiter and going around and around the city without ever getting off. Until I run out of laptop battery.

Then I went to the supermarket which... there's a lot of empty shelves and it breaks my heart a little bit because it's that reminder that we've had a disaster and people are buying a lot of instant noodles right now. (There were still some five-packs left, which is good because I wanted one.) At least there was plenty of bread; at the supermarket by my parents' house there was no bread last night; I don't know if they just sold out a bit early or if a factory had been closed or a shipment delayed or what.

And while I was in the supermarket I saw carrots and cucumbers and thought "...I really want to eat raw carrot and cucumber right now." I have no idea why, I almost never want to eat raw carrot and usually I only want cucumber only in summer, but in times of stress I don't argue with cravings. So I bought one of each and just gnawed on them for dinner. --Possibly I could have eaten more for dinner but it's really hard to tell the difference between hunger and anxiety so I keep forgetting I should eat. I'll have proper foods tomorrow, I promise.

On the way back home I came across a student-aged guy with a map so I stopped to see if he needed directions. He was headed to my parents' suburb and wondering how far he had left to go and I said, "... Uh. About forty minutes by foot. Unless you're going by bus? I can totally give you change so you can go by bus." But he insisted on going by foot and he must have walked about twice that already from what he said. Oh well, one does feel fewer aftershocks when moving...

They are getting less frequent anyway. Just there's been some in the last couple of days that are smaller but closer and shallower. (The last one we had I totally called the size, distance, and depth! Well, I said, "I'm thinking a 3 of some kind but close and/or shallow" and it was a 3.4, 6km deep, maybe 15km away.) Anyway I'm going to bed shortly, and I'll try sleeping in the spare room on the offchance my body will think, "Ooh, a new environment, it must therefore be safe! I shall relax now and allow-- Zzzzz..."

(Ooh. Hmm, I think that one was deeper and further away so probably somewhere between 4 and 4.5, maybe back around Darfield way again. Geonet is being slow to update so I'll ETA with my score in the morning or sometime during insomnia. In the meantime it shows up on the drums so I know it's not my imagination. ETA: Geonet still doesn't list it for some reason. But it was on the drums! I'm confused... The important thing is I managed to read myself to sleep, and slept through a 4.3 at midnight, and slept all night until my alarm clock woke me for work. I needed an alarm clock, whee! I'm going to work, hoorah!)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
For about two years, almost every workday I've had the same thing for lunch: cheese and pineapple sandwiches. (For people who haven't tried these, don't knock them until you do.)

This simplifies my life greatly. Whenever a block of cheddar is on special I buy it. Every Sunday night I buy a loaf of bread and a can of crushed pineapple. Every Monday morning I bring these to work, where the cheese-slice lives in the drawer, the cheese and pineapple live in the fridge, and the bread lives in my locker. (The climate there seems best for it; when I forget and leave it on the bench it goes mouldy remarkably quickly.)

One would have thought that I'd have got sick of cheese and pineapple sandwiches a long time ago - but no. That's only happened this week.

This may be temporary, and it may be a result of stress. I'm a believer in eating what my body wants me to eat. I mean, if it wants me to eat a thousand of chocolate then I start getting suspicious; but if it says "Protein now please" or "Carbs now please" then I do what it says. Right now it's saying "Fruit now please", but not cheese and pineapple sandwiches, and not pineapple by itself because it's too bitey. My body is picky this week.

(I didn't have the coconut cream with muesli this morning because my tongue said "Too gluggy" before I even opened the fridge.)

I've found two mandarins in my locker and some leftover grapes from an office birthday party, but that's not much of a dinner. But the concept of even the freshest of bread feels like I might as well eat a dry sponge.

<ponders> Soup? But not milk-based, my tongue currently recoils from the concept of gluggy. Vegetable soup, then - and I've got some alphabet soup letters lying around. I can probably throw stuff into the crockpot tonight and find something to take it to work in tomorrow. I'll make a double batch to cover me for Friday too.

But I really hope I can get back to cheese and pineapple sandwiches soon. I like my cheese and pineapple routine.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Did you know, Gentle Reader, that in New Zealand it is completely legal for your neighbour to chop down their own plum tree whose branches happen to hang over your fence, thus delivering to you every January a bountiful crop of the most delicious plums in the world?

To be honest, I was actually aware of this cruel and unjust law, but before today I never once thought such a thing would ever happen to me.

Even aside from being a downright unneighbourly thing to do, it's really rather futile. As I may have noted before, plum trees are like a tasty version of convolvulus: just when you chop one down, another springs up from the taproots on the other side of the garden. Then you turn back to the first one and discover new shoots growing off every inch of the stump.

In fact do you know what I was doing when the neighbour told me he was chopping down his plum tree? ("I noticed it's crowding out your trees," he says. I tried to reassure him not to worry about it on account of my camellias -- what good did camellias ever do a body? -- but soon gathered that this was merely a polite way of saying "I hope this makes you as happy as it's going to make me to chainsaw the sap out of this thing.") Well, for one thing I'd just finished gathering a bag full of windfall plums to preserve. But what I was doing *then* was pinching shoots off a couple dozen would-be plum trees I'd cut near the ground a week or two ago, and wondering when three other plum trees had started growing in my herb garden.

So even if my neighbour chops down his entire tree, and also all the other plum trees that have spawned and thrived along that fence, I've still got a young-but-fruiting plum tree on my side of the fence, and a bazillion other proto-plum trees that would welcome the opportunity to show me what they could do.

But it's going to be a few years before I get nearly as many plums as I have been.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

Flower concoctions - Week 3
Originally uploaded by Zeborah
I've discovered I like a) having a vase of flowers on my kitchen table and b) renewing the flowers from time to time so the water doesn't go brown and slimy. This is best achieved by throwing the old flowers out when I get my empty green bin each Wednesday, and then (having generally filled the green bin with prunings and weeds within an hour or two that same evening, and given myself new blisters with my secateurs) using some of the leftover prunings to fill the vase.

The flora which I have aplenty this week is plums.

Anyway so I'm going to try and take a photo a week this year, and the fledgeling set is on Flickr. I may or may not continue posting them to LJ depending on how boring they are and how bored I get.

(Also, I confess to fiddling the colour balance in this one using GIMP. That's because my camera was at work and my webcam gave my beige cupboards a dishonestly red hue.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
One of the advantages of plums is that their stones make new plum trees!

(This is also one of the disadvantages of plums and, in fact, of the roots of existing plum trees. Much like convolvulus, plum trees are megalomaniacal would-be conquerors of the world. They're just more patient about it, and better adapted to the task of convincing humans that nah, those aren't weeds, they're plum trees, no need to worry about those.)

A second advantage is that my colleague's parrot likes prying opening the stones to eat the seeds. The parrot apparently also likes prying opening apricot stones to eat those seeds, which makes me worried about cyanide. But if I give her plums, she won't need apricots, so I won't have to worry about this no-doubt illusory danger.

A third advantage is that I can go out to pick plums as cover for spying on the neighbours who've turned up their music so that in my living room I have trouble clearly hearing my music. Just like last Saturday, I find no signs of a party, and the music is coming from their garage. What I first took for the sound of cheap fireworks turned out to be two young men tearing branches off their silver birch.

A fourth advantage of plums is that they taste awesome.

As I type this, Boots begs to inform me of a fifth advantage of plums! It appears that plums can be knocked off the table with a very satisfactory plunk and can then be batted around the room somewhat like a rotund and purple mouse.

Truly no other fruit can have so many advantages. If only they had purple mousey tails, they'd be perfect!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
In reverse order of chronology:

1) Discovering vanilla icecream in one's freezer one had forgotten about seems pleasant at first, and leads one to create a spider made from said icecream with ginger beer. Unfortunately it turns out the icecream had lain there so long that it is now chewy. This is dissatisfying!

2) I finally finished reading Middlemarch. I've started it several times, and adored it, but it's so dense I've kept getting distracted by other things and then having to start over. But having all this Christmas/New Year period on leave I've managed to finish it, yay! Unfortunately I found the ending dissatisfying!

Spoilers for a 140-year-old classic of English literature )

The rest of the novel was just fine, though. I particularly liked the way, after I'd spent a long portion of it vehemently wishing for someone's death in order to relieve someone of torment, the death happened in such a way as to visit torment upon about pretty much everyone I cared about. That was wondrously achieved; I want to do something like that myself one day.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Chocolate cake in a mug in 5 minutes or your money back.

Boots is so jealous.

(Random notes: I just used regular flour. While attempting to mix the oil and milk into the rest I remembered it probably wanted a rising agent, so tossed in a bit of baking powder, which had the added benefit of making the oil and milk mix instantly. I was going to eat it out of the mug, but curious about the shape I tipped it out upside down - and discovered there was some unbaked mixture left at the bottom which made a delicious sauce. Your microwave may vary.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
For, O Cat, I have read your deeds of the day using the art of pteromancy on the feathers I cast upon the kitchen floor--

No, wait, those would be the feathers you cast on the kitchen floor.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
The other day our boss gave us mini bottles of Lindauer sparkling white wine (the stuff the French refuse to let us call champagne) as a thank you for hard work this summer, which was really nice. I drink alcoholic drinks for the taste, not the alcohol, so I quite easily made 1.9 standard drinks last three nights. The third night was tonight and how it happened was like this:

Last night I had a spider. Not an arachnid (the arachnid was the night before, and Boots stood guard over it while I fetched a jar and card to capture it and release it outside. Boots then spent a long time trying to figure out where it had suddenly gone) but French vanilla icecream (I haven't yet heard of them trying to sue us for that name) in a tall skinny glass with Coke (or other coloured fizzy drink) poured over. This is what Wikipedia calls an ice cream soda and Kiwis call a spider. Wikipedia doesn't mention it, but the vital thing is ice cream first, fizzy drink second: this gets you foam up to the roof, which is the whole point of putting them in the same glass.

So as I was putting the Coke back in the fridge last night my eye fell on the last third of a bottle of sparkling wine. It's fizzy, right?

And tonight as I was trying to decide whether it'd be a waste of good ice cream, a waste of good wine, or just really good, Irina shamelessly egged me on (incidentally pointing me to Wikipedia's entry for spoom) and sure enough, it was really good. <slides slowly and happily off beanbag>

Boots meanwhile enjoyed batting the lid from the bottle around the room.

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