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 with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
I go through phases. There are Reading All the Things phases, and Writing Every Spare Half Minute phases, and Sewing Sewing Sewing phases and Teaching Myself Latin Yes Again I'm Using A Different Textbook This Time phases.

I recently found myself in a lull between phases but it's important for me to keep achieving things or I start feeling guilty for being useless and then I get the blahs. I find it easier to prevent the blahs than to get out of the blahs so try to pay attention when I feel the urge to sit on my couch and read fanfic for too many days on end. Fortunately they don't need to be spectacular achievements: doing the dishes often works.

This most recent lull has lasted longer than usual though so although I've read/written/coded almost nothing in my spare time for weeks, I have:

  • cleaned and tidied like my entire house. Not actually my entire house, the spare room is turning into storage and there are Certain Cupboards, but definitely like my entire house. (Much of this was achieved while watching Star Trek Next Generation on the laptop or I'd have been super bored.) The floor is cleared and cleaned! Mopped even!

  • done so much gardening. Spring is awesome, you put seeds in the ground and they start growing food! (I have asparagus and lettuce and celery and silver beet and spring onions, and am working on courgettes and pumpkins and tomatoes and bok choy and lemons and strawberries.) On the downside, other things propagate themselves by root and next minute you've got a forest of plum shoots and ivy. Over the last couple of weekends I've been sawing down and rooting up eight years' worth of plum-and-ivy growth. The ivy goes into the green bin to be dealt with Elsewhere, the plum growth gets cut up to as much as possible go back on the garden. The parts I've achieved look awesomely tidy!

  • sewed the handle for a carrybag back on! This is an awesome grocery shopping-sized rugged zebra-pattern bag which I've had for ages and the handles broke once but Mum fixed them, and then I carried too much in it and it's been sitting around broken for possibly years and now I can use it again!

  • started going to a regular "speaking Māori" date with some once-strangers! My first week I started off all "What is kupu how do I reo???" and then after an hour I was talking to them about my Master of Library Studies research project. Really badly but communication was happening! Similarly today actually (ended up talking about my current research into open access and conference papers). I need to learn more kupu. Also more grammar but especially more kupu. I might start writing a diary.

  • invented a dessert. I'm working on the name but something like "Jellytip slice" / "Jellytip cupcakes". First you make a base out of biscuit crumbs and butter. Cool it. Separately make jelly but with half the water, and cool that until it's starting to set. If you don't cool it enough then when you pour the jelly on top of the base, the jelly will sink in and the biscuit will float up and it'll still be delicious but it won't be what you wanted. Then you put them back in the fridge. When completely set, you melt chocolate and spoon a thin layer on top of the jelly. This is the part I was most nervous of failing but it's really easy; don't dawdle about smoothing it out but you're not really on the clock even. Then back in the fridge until dessert time. Cut up / remove from muffin cups and serve with vanilla icecream. My friends approved of it last night. Their 4.5 year old son refused to eat anything but the icecream but that's normal for him and meant more for us.


I am now about to go to bed on time so while I'm sleeping it's your turn: in what way have you been awesome recently?
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
Someone's opinion piece in the newspaper suggested that we could stop shops starting Christmas too early by inventing a Kiwi seasonal holiday to celebrate around about now instead. She then created and elaborated on one but I'd tuned out because:

a) we already have two seasonal holidays around about now: as much as I dislike the importation of Halloween it is very much a thing, and as much as I'd prefer to commemorate Parihaka on the 5th of November than celebrate Guy Fawkes, that is very much a thing too (albeit its commercial aspects are somewhat more circumscribed by law). And

b) the existence of these holidays has demonstrably done nothing to prevent shops starting with the Christmas already. The instance that particularly horrified me the other day was walking into my local supermarket through the gauntlet of Halloween, and a few minutes later walking to the checkout through the gauntlet of Advent calendars.

Halloween then Guy Fawkes then Christmas, I ragetweeted.

And then yesterday morning, when I went out to pick some lettuce for my lunch sandwiches, I discovered that the Christmas lilies are poking their weird anenome heads out of the ground among the remains of the daffodils.

So, fine. The garden has spoken. Christmas is coming.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Patches of high pressure get trapped over Australia for a long time. When they're finally released they zip south-east over the Tasman gathering moisture; hit the Southern Alps and rise, dropping all the moisture on the West Coast; then roar across the Canterbury Plains picking up heat, dryness, and grass pollen. This tends to make people grumpy.

Tuesday night a particularly strong one rolled in and in subsequent days I found:

  1. Summer: we didn't get spring this year, just a short summer, then second autumn (we didn't really get winter this year either), and now summer again. It was as hot on Wednesday as many of the warmer days of midsummer.

  2. A large green lemon: right in the middle of my lawn.

  3. All the straggly birch branches: the neighbours have a birch. I hate it because every time the wind blows, its branches end up littering my lawn. These aren't like boughs, they're twig-thin but make up for it in length, perfect to hide in the grass and screw up the lawn mower. I've never seen so many on my lawn as I did on Wednesday.

  4. A rubber door mat: I took it to the neighbours but they disclaimed all knowledge. Currently it's hanging over my front fence in case someone recognises it but I may have to bin it.

  5. A fledgeling: at first I thought it was very dead. I turned it over with a stick and saw its chest moving rhythmically. It was, however, in fact very dead. I turned it back over with the same stick.



The other yicky thing in my garden at the moment (that was not however brought by the wind) is the warm slime that my huge pile of lawn clippings is turning into. Fantastic mulch. Such slime.

Less disgusting things include asparagus, lettuces, and all the silverbeet. I also detect tiny baby plums, and various other fruiting bodies are putting forth preparatory buds and leaves.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Okay, I never do my nails, but I'd been pressing violets for crafts and had a whole lot left over and they were just the right size:



So I 'glued' them on with a layer of clear polish (I considered dark green but clear is all I have and in the last fifteen years I've only used it for crafts and the back of my corroded watch strap that I'm allergic to):



And then I covered them with another layer of clear polish, which brought out the colour that had faded a little in two days of pressing:



And then I did the other hand, and who invented handedness anyway? So awkward. And managed to find sufficient settings on my camera for a fingernail selfie:



Probably it really needs a third layer of polish, but I was lazy and also had a bus to catch.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
To be fair, it's possible I forgot to fill her kibble bowl before I left the house for 30-odd hours. It's also possible I forgot to put my teatowel covered Herman cake in the pantry. But look, as my friend says, it's not about who's at fault, it's about who I can blame.

Also, I've now filled her kibble bowl and she's still trying to eat my sandwich. This is clearly unacceptable.




The bulldozer next door is now gone, as is the remaining rubble of the foundation. The garage remains, and I think the fruit trees do too.

The land assessment people visited my property this morning and discovered that there's a couple of patches of silt and some uneven pavers. This is approximately what I already knew, except that I wouldn't have mentioned the pavers because I think that predates the quake: it's an area of the backyard that regularly swamps in winter, and I keep a couple of bricks for the express purpose of placing there as stepping stones. But apparently I'm going to get an information package in the post in a few months which may or may not include some kind of compensation offer. Or maybe not, they said something something excess. I'm not clear on the detail especially because I hadn't quite clicked that one got compensation for silt in one's backyard: I'd just mentally classified the sand volcanoes as the remnants of a temporary water feature and moved on.
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: Seal of approval (approval)
Cut for images )

When the painter came this morning for the last of his gear he asked if he can take photos and get a recommendatory quote from me for his website, so he can't think the purple looks too ridiculous. :-)

Now to tidy up the lavender and roses. The existing lavender is quite old and prone to splitting in storms / when crushed underfoot by painters / when you look at it (so I don't blame the painters at all - they were actually really careful) so I think I need to both do some seriously careful pruning and also to buy some new bushes to replace the ones I ended up rooting out entirely. Or I could grown my own new ones from seed but this would take longer.

In other news, "Other [bugs in one's pantry] chew straight through any packaging - they've got diamond-tipped mandibles. Once you've got them, you've got them."
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
So, quick update on my life: my RSI has reached the “all good if I behave" stage, and I had my last physio session today, to celebrate which, ACC (for overseas folk, ACC is what we have instead of people suing people for accidents) wrote me Tuesday to say “Sorry, we can't approve your claim because we can't identify a factor at work that caused it, and the stuff you do at work isn't a risk factor". Which is stupid, but not unexpected because ACC is cheap at the moment. On the plus side they paid for all my physio up to the date of the letter so I only had to pay today's fee, which is well within my budget.

Also I have a gazillion amazing peaches on my tree and my grapes are ripening too. Also I'm getting my house painted green and purple (actually mostly white but green and purple too) and getting some annoying trees and shrubs chopped down/pruned to facilitate this.

Also we're heading into the busy time at work, in which I have to keep constant notes of what I'm doing right now so I don't lose track. And a group of us made a recommendation for an awesome improvement to service we can/should provide, and management said, “no, there's no time," and we said “yes, we can," and they settled on a compromise which is slightly wacky but that lets us prove ourselves. And all the summer projects are sort of coming together, except for it turns out that combining beta testing and training is not a good idea. And management has invited us to come early for breakfast on Friday to celebrate our awesomeness, which I'd respect more if I respected management, but hey, free food.

But I'm running on a mild sleep deficit, so I thought I'd have a nap on the couch this evening to prepare for getting up early tomorrow. So I lie down and fall asleep and then my timer record turns on and wakes me up. So I get to sleep again and the phone rings and I stumble out and pretend to be awake trying to remember my calendar so I can agree safely that I can play in church orchestra on Sunday. Then, heart still hammering from the sudden wake up, I managed to fall asleep again because I'm so tired, and the damned phone rings and I curse my way to it and then discover it's that mythical beast, an EQC assessor.
So now he is coming over on Saturday afternoon to see if any of my myriad cracks are officially earthquake-related/payable. I didn't have to consult my calendar for that because any time an EQC assessor wants to visit is a good time, but it should be fine, I'll just make sure the tree chopper guy comes earlier or later.

But now I not only has a sleepy, I has a “if I was a toddler I'd be so cranky right now" and I haven't even had time or inclination to make dinner. So sleepy my brain is inside out.

Then I gave up on sleep and rang my mum to see if she wants to bottle peaches with me on Sunday, so that will all account very neatly for my entire weekend. Must look at my work calendar and plan when I can next take a holiday; I'm feeling completely blocked in by appointments these days.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
In battling with my RSI I've resorted to a mixture of wonderful amounts of catch-up reading, ridiculous amounts of TV, and rare amounts of gardening.

I've nearly finished weeding the cracks in the bricks that run a path around the roses in my back garden. Granted the cracks I weeded first are now sprouting new grass again, but in the meantime I've discovered bricks I didn't even know existed for being buried under the encroaching lawn. Also in the meantime the plums, peaches, and grapes are ripening - I even ate a particularly early plum yesterday. But it got to 32 degrees outside (my thermometer claims 29 inside) so even my usual practice of going out for a few minutes then coming back in seems insufficient to avoid sunstroke.

(A flannel with cold water helps, though it dries amazingly quickly.)

So I read more than usual today, lounged on the bed in the coolest room in the house while the cat attempted to aestivate on the windowsill. I finished two books (an easy and fun YA and a classic that alas didn't have a plot to my taste but nevertheless told its plot extremely well) and... well, one gets tired of reading. Especially because holding the pages open anything less than carefully actually places a certain strain on one's wrists which one doesn't notice when one isn't battling RSI.

And unfortunately today I ran out of Boston Legal DVDs (need to visit my sister to borrow the next season) and the TV's marathon of Queen Seondeok has expired so I only get one hour a day instead of four. (I could rave about both series but even with my microbreak software on high my wrist is protesting.)

I would also love to be writing right now, but, well, I may have overdone it a bit yesterday.

[Software-enforced break during which I make the bed]

<remembers some video files my brother copied for me>

<on reflection, turns microbreak software up even higher>
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
In no particular order:

The #eqnz Twitter feed is full of people with amazingly original ideas about earthquakes and volcanoes that could not possibly have already occurred to actual geologists. <head-desk>

In addition to my ordinary hayfever skinrash I get from grass-seeds when weeding, I've discovered that one of the bushes that needs regular pruning gives me an instant rash if its leaves touch my neck. I ended up fleeing straight to the bathroom, stripping, and taking a thorough shower, plus taking antihistamines. All calmed down now.

Having got hold of the local Korean TV channel, I'm watching their marathon catch-up of Queen Seondeok. The protag Deokman has spent 20-odd episodes disguised as a guy (army trainee), looking mostly like a girl disguised as an army trainee. Now for the first time she dresses in a princess's clothes and looks... exactly like a guy dressed in a princess's clothes, 너무 귀엽다.

Google Translate's "did you mean" suggestion is awesome; that's a phrase I only heard spoken so didn't know the correct spelling.

One of my drains is blocked by a dead hedgehog.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
The building is being renovated, so we all have to move out of our normal office into the other end of the building. I was out on Wednesday morning when my desk needed to be dismantled, hence the box.

Finally got official word of what I'd long suspected, viz., I'm not getting a job interview. Which is a shame because recent events have been putting me into quite a "Must stage a coup and fix everything now!" mood. But it was a long shot and I lost out on it for the reason I expected to be a major problem so I'm not disappointed so much as wistful. Also on the bright side my application seems to have made them think, "Uh oh, she's getting ambitious and we don't want her going somewhere else, we'd better give her awesome leadership training opportunities." So that sounds cool if intimidating. (It's not that I want to be a leader. It's just that I want to fix everything.)

So (chronologically, not consequently) now I'm on a two-week holiday, in which I plan to do as little as possible. Yesterday I was going to do some cooking, but I don't have a cooking icon so I did some gardening instead. (Or possibly I had a nap instead, and then woke up and did some gardening; I forget. The sun is wonderful this weekend, due to yesterday being Show Day.) I pruned a bazillion roses and looked sad at a gazillion aphids. And weeded and pruned more and weeded more.

And! I discovered my baby grape vine (grown from a sprout weeded from my parents' garden) has tiny baby grapes! Each bunch is about the size of a large raspberry. They're so adorable! But I'm probably supposed to prune them off to allow the vine to grow more and because they're unlikely to be very good the first year anyway. :-( But tiny baby grapes! What to do??!

What I did then was, despite the lack of a cooking icon, I cooked anyway, because [personal profile] rushthatspeaks posted a wartime recipe for potato truffles and how can one resist trying something like that? It's so ridiculous that it's got to work.

So, I boiled potatoes without salt, and mashed without milk or butter, and mixed in cocoa and sugar. And then I tasted it and thought, "...Hum. This has a texture remarkably similar to mashed potato."

Adding in some butter helped a little but not much, so I reported it as something of a failure.

However! Having rolled the mixture into balls I left them sitting in the fridge overnight, and this morning they actually seemed better. Possibly I was just hungrier, but possibly the delay had given the moisture time to soften some of the powderiness of the texture.

Also it occurred to me that chopped nuts and sultanas mixed in could help distract from said texture. So I added these, remoulded the truffles, rolled them in dessicated coconut, and brought them this evening to my family who knew nothing of the recipe.

Beta-taster #1 thought they were a bit soft and not very sweet.
Beta-taster #2 thought they were fine.
Beta-taster #3 thought they needed something which, on mature consideration, turned out to be rum.

So here's my revised recipe:

Peel, chop and boil a potato. (Salt is probably still unnecessary.)
Mash potato with milk and butter.
Mix together:
  • 4 tablespoons potato
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or more for folks with a sweet tooth)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sultanas or other dried fruit
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts if there's no fear of nut allergies, otherwise substitute more dried fruit
  • either more vanilla essence than I put in, or rum essence
Mould into balls, roll in dessicated coconut (or chocolate sprinkles as per the original), and put in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

I wouldn't serve them at a fancy party, but for a children's party while the adults at the big table get the proper stuff, sure.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Also aphids. I can haz lots and lots of aphids.

Being on leave I set my alarm this morning to cat o'clock. This turned out to be 8:40am today, so I showered and fed the cat and put some laundry on and trimmed a couple of branches of the neighbour's roses that were impinging on my dining room window (and going screech! screech! in heavy wind) and used them to kindasorta prop up my two-year-old grape vine, which really needs something better.

I think it was sometime during that where I missed a 4.4. Gardening is good for you! (This may have been when the cat disappeared again, leaving only half her breakfast eaten.)

Then I checked internet stuff, and then I hung the laundry out, and then I noticed there was grass growing up through my thyme, and then I weeded and accidentally pulled out one of the scragglier thyme plants (it looked dead until I discovered there was live stuff attached) so I replanted that in another spot. And I trimmed the rosemary where it was getting too tangled with a rose bush. I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as a rosemary bush that isn't trying to take over the world.

Also in the department of trying to take over the world:

A short guide to growing parsley for people who don't like parsley
Step 1: Be given parsley as a housewarming gift.
Step 2: Plant parsley in the hope that, like most other things you plant, it will die.
Step 3: Watch in horror.

Fortunately my sister's rabbits adore parsley.

Then it was getting warm and I'm a fan of not getting sunburnt so I came inside and put through the payment for my new roof. (I have a new roof! It is green! And they put in a venting thingammy so my bathroom fan no longer vents into the roofspace!)

Also today seems a good day to make a new gardening icon for my DreamWidth account, so I did that too.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It's been twenty-four hours since I felt a quake. I slept through a bunch (in the spare room with a pillow over my head) and then the 5pm ones... I might have been moving around the house, I don't know. It makes it feel like they're over, like aftershocks are so last week. Hopefully they pretty much are and there'll just be a few more fading rumbles. Except you don't want to let your guard down. Except keeping your guard up is the worst of it.

So I woke at about 9:30 from a long and solid sleep and I felt like crap. I wanted to go back to sleep except I didn't, it was really just that I didn't want to be awake.

Someone phoned from choir to say we're allowed back in our practice-room this week. That will be good. (I have at times this week taken advantage of the fact that singing helps anxiety somewhat at least inasmuch as it forces you to control your breathing.)

I poked about online for a bit. I really wanted to set up a "We survived a week of #eqnz!" tweetup except I also really didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to go into town and do some economy-boosting shopping, but also didn't want to. I also really didn't want to sit in the house anymore. I ended up going for a random walk in the sun. Halfway down the road my iPod reminded me that on Saturday I should go to the library, and I thought, yes, going to the library and sitting in a corner with a book would be nice.

It was beautifully sunny. Unfortunately sunglasses can only do so much to hide the fact that one is crying; tears streaming down one's face are a bit of a giveaway. Fortunately I kinda figure Cantabrians are used to people looking upset at the moment. Anyway I wiped most of them away before I cut through the mall.

The mobile library was parked outside the library. This perhaps should have been a clue. (The other clue would have been that all week the list of libraries opening hasn't included my local branch.) I figured it out when I saw the hazard tape across the library's entrance. I think/suspect/hope it's just minor damage, it's just no-one knows yet. I had a brief chat with one of the staff in the mobile library then wandered away again. I wasn't wanting to borrow books, I'd just been wanting to sit in the library and... have a library around me.

I went shopping for a bit. And got to that state where you're looking at things and slowly realise you've zoned out and you're supposed to be doing something, and also where you're swaying on your feet (in a non-earthquake-like manner).

At home I ate a bit, and watched videos, and hacked at the tree the tree-guy forgot because, on reflection, when it rubs against the house it makes creaky noises like the start of a small aftershock. Plus it was something active to do.

The tree he did remember to do (needed dead branches pruned away) still has the branch I want to attach a swing to. So once the rest of it has filled back out I can do that and will have somewhere nice to sit and read in summer.

Back on the internet, someone tweeted something about keeping one's phone charged and I thought-- "Where's my phone?" I've had it on me practically nonstop for a week (though it usually stays by my bed 24/7 being used as nothing more than an alarm clock) and had to hunt through the house to find where I'd put it down while getting changed earlier.

I visited my siblings for dinner. I wasn't great company; half of me didn't want to go, except I wanted to be with them, and then half of me didn't want to leave, except I wanted to be back here. And then I got back here and coming up to my door everything was so quiet. Not scary quiet, and not peaceful quiet, just... quiet like the whole city is numb.

On the bus I overheard some boys talking about how their school will get a bunch of girls coming from another school with damaged buildings. Actually his words were "their school is broken". And the logistics of so much broken feels overwhelming. Mostly I'm equally overwhelmed by how everyone is doing their part to put a piece here and a piece there back together. But today I'm collapsing a bit.

I've been reading Meera Syal's Life isn't all ha ha hee hee which goes around a whole lot of different viewpoint characters in a way that doesn't suit my reading style. So a few days ago I was vaguely pondering a book that has the viewpoint handed off from one character to another, following the story through a literal cast of hundreds, never coming back to the same viewpoint character twice. The sort of conceit that makes a great thought experiment but probably a terrible novel... On the bus I thought that this sort of structure might actually suit a book about recovery from a disaster, to really show the scope of things. (It'd still require a genius to make the reader not mind the fact that we've got no stable characters though.) But then I also thought: I still don't feel qualified to write any such thing. I probably feel less qualified than ever. I often find it harder to write about things I know more about because then I know what I don't know and dread what else I might get wrong. But also, how dare I speak for people who have really suffered and lost?

Not that I think I really want to write a book about recovery from a disaster anyway.

Bah. I'm just trying to find the new normal. It's bound to be around here somewhere.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
On Monday and Tuesday I worked an hour and a half extra for a bunch of tutorials, so I got this afternoon in lieu. As if sensing this upcoming pleasure, the IRD took the opportunity to send me a letter late last week inviting me to consider filing my 2009 return real soon now.

Therefore I spent this afternoon:
  1. washing the dishes,
  2. cooking lunch,
  3. picking up rotten peaches from the garden,
  4. observing Boots and a white adolescent cat observe each other (though I missed the moment when Boots ousted the youngster from its spot on the fence by, I presume, a casual comment that it'd be a shame to get blood on that pretty white fur, because next thing I saw it was on the neighbour's garage roof instead, trying to figure out what was going on),
  5. finished reading The Lies of Locke Lamora which I'd vowed I wouldn't finish reading until my taxes were done,
  6. added an illuminated psalm to an A7-sized Latin psalter I'm writing by hand because you just try buying such a thing (I'll share more, with pictures, some other time, but suffice for the moment to explain that it generally takes me two hours per psalm),
  7. checked email and feeds and flists thinking, "Well, their website probably still has that stupid occupation code problem and it's really too late now to do anything, I'll do it tomorrow evening instead," which sums up the reasons I didn't do it last September or indeed April,
  8. and finally (because I'd told a friend at work I was going to do it, so I couldn't very well go to work tomorrow without having tried) forced myself to sit down and at least start with it.
This time I managed to defeat the evil website by pasting in a 2010 occupation code instead of the 2009 occupation code that it refused to accept. If the IRD complains about that I'm liable to go pacifistly postal: they've had the problem for *years* without fixing it. I also defeated several other stumbling points, and wrestled with my balance sheets, and submitted them, and only phoned my father twice, and even got a pdf out of my stupid browser. So that's done, until oh, next month, when once again I'll forget how (apart from the website) it's actually stupendously easy.

As per usual I managed to miss the line that says "This is where you input your tax-deductible donations" and am growing a suspicion that the box is labelled something slightly more obscure. Oh well, I came out in the black anyway. Maybe I'll be able to find it next month.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I currently have a cat sprawled all over me, though at least she's stopped trying to poke at the flies landing on my laptop. In any case it makes me notice again that there are scattered hairs on her that are significantly longer than the rest of her fur, and thence to wonder if those are related to the hairs on humans, and thence to wonder how on earth she fits all this fur on her skin because this is one seriously furry cat.

--Ah, she's just leapt off me to fall instantly asleep on her armchair, I suppose I should go do some dishes and make a cake or something.

Oh but first I was meaning to write about something I was thinking about during a hymn at church today. We had two really interminable hymns and, gorgeous as they were, about halfway through the second one I was getting ideas for a story where a character finds themself singing a song and they're trapped until it's over, but the verses keep on going and going and just when it seems like it must end at this verse, suddenly there's another one.

But also I was thinking about the chorus of the second song (I had about six or seven opportunities to think about it after all), which was:
Lift high the cross, the love of God proclaim
Till all the world adore his glorious name. --Shirley Murray
And I am so not an evangelist for so many reasons, one of which is that I'm pretty sure anyone I'm ever likely to meet has probably already heard about God/Christ's name, and if they don't already adore it then me telling them about it yet again is just going to make them even more sick of it.

So I started thinking that what we actually need to do these days might be (to heinously misparse the word) to in-vangelise: to remind other Christians that our religion's meant to be about God's love and that when Jesus talked about hell he never once mentioned abortion or homosexuality or anything like that (when he talked about things like that he mostly said "Keep your sticky beak out and worry about your own conscience"), but rather the sin of not giving practical help to people who need practical help.

And (to parse the word properly) "You're going to hell unless you do what I say" isn't actually good news. It's more like blackmail. So when we let that be the message that gets spread we're kind of failing. If we want to spread good news we've first got to create it, by proclaiming love and living love and spreading love. We need every mention of "God" or "Jesus" or "Christian" to be associated with something good happening, something making people happy. Because when we associate those words with door-knocking and hellfire that's just a really great way to make God's name dreaded; but if we associate them with hugs and puppies then whether or not people actually convert -- it doesn't follow, after all, and honestly I don't think God cares, cf the Good Samaritan -- they'll at least like hearing his name.

--

Boots just looked out the window and noticed that it's 5pm, therefore time for her to be fed.

--

In other random news:
* I ate a peach from my peach tree (the others all went mouldy on the tree, I need to do something about that);
* I ate a blueberry from my blueberry bush (I think the birds got the other one, note the singular, it's a very small bush);
* the neighbour seems to be halfway through chopping down plum trees though he hasn't yet attacked the main one;
* the other neighbour, who pops over every now and then to retrieve errant tennis balls, is going to nail our fence back together temporarily and also talk with his landlord about going halves with me to arrange a more permanent solution;
* filling a green bin with garden waste once a week actually makes a measurable difference to how tidy said garden is;
* otoh doing so during the sunniest part of the day leaves one in danger of sunburn (albeit mild and easily treated with aloe vera gel);
* the company who was going to give me fake double-glazing has now decided that they don't want to be responsible for actually guaranteeing it so have refunded my money, so I guess the next thing on my to-do list is to get a new roof.
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!

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