zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
So upon rising this morning I turned on the lightswitch to no avail. At first I thought the bulb had blown, but when I turned on another lightswitch with similar results I began to get an inkling of my predicament. Sure enough my shower didn't turn on either. My shower is a wonderful device that heats the water as it flows through the system, which is gloriously timely on the 364.4 days of the average year when I have electricity. But when there's no electricity it stubbornly refuses to emit any water either.

Fortunately I live in Christchurch, specifically east Christchurch, and I therefore:
  1. possess at least four torches (in addition to the requisite candles; I also have a supply of glowsticks in my emergency kit and various solar-powered devices in the garden)
  2. have plenty of experience with the routine of the spongebath, though post-earthquake this was mostly from after the electricity came back on but before the water was safe to look at, so used to involve boiling a kettle. It turns out to be much quicker to just fill a large saucepan from the hot water tap and have at it.
By the light of my dynamo torch I prepared for work as usual, except that without electricity I had no internet(1). So I went straight into work, though due to the vaguaries of the bus connections I didn't actually arrive much sooner than I would have otherwise. Called my power company from there, and they seem to have done the job since by the time I got home the lightswitches worked again.

(1) This is actually a flaw in my emergency-preparedness that I feel I should rectify, though I don't think any sparkmunication(2) companies sell open-ended "you don't get charged for this wifi until the apocalypse you start using it in" packages; they tend to prefer monthly deals I need even less than I want to pay for them.

(2) Telecom recently changed their name to Spark. An employee got the task of running find/replace over their entire website. Hilarity ensued.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
(Written primarily for fellow ChurChurians interested in the process, so I bid friends elsewhere be tolerant of old news and unexplained dates/terminology.)

There were, in 2010 and 2011, various EQC assessments - the initial post-September one followed by a more thorough one on February 19th; and the initial post-February one followed some months later by a couple of guys with iPads and about a month after that by a report in the mail. My house wasn't that badly damaged - cracks everywhere but mostly cosmetic and the structural damage was pretty minor all considered; all thoroughly inhabitable once the emergency repairs had been taken care of - so I expected to be waiting a while before I heard any further. I was quite happy with that in fact, knowing there are plenty people far worse off than me. Then late last year I got a sudden phone call saying someone else wanted to postpone their repairs (they didn't want it done in the Christmas period) so a slot was available for me.

So things happened in a bit of a rush. I met with the project manager, who I immediately liked. We went over the scope of the work again. I met with the foreman, who I also immediately liked. The original plan was for me to stay in my house while the repairs were carried out, but someone noticed my asthma inhaler and suggested all the plaster dust involved would be a Bad Idea. My cat and I would have to move out.

This was up to me to organise, so I phoned my insurance company. They'd cover accommodation costs for me, but no cattery. A friend suggested somewhere I might get a short-term rental, but it was too short-term for the landlord. I ended up calling the Canterbury Temporary Accommodation Service, which I suspected was not what it's for (they're mainly for redzoned folk) but I hoped they'd be able to point me in the right direction. They put me through a gruelling verbal questionnaire (nothing nasty, just long and much seemed pointless and I was tired; by the end I was almost in tears) and promised to call me back. To my surprise after that inauspicious beginning, they did so very promptly, a lovely woman who confirmed exactly what I needed and within a couple of hours found two motels that would accept me and my cat. I visited both, picked one, and got the insurance company speaking with the motel about payment. There was some kerfuffle regarding documentation the insurance company needed from EQC and my EQC contact needing some repeated nagging to send it, but it happened in the end.

I packed my house into boxes - fortunately renovations weren't extensive enough that I had to worry about storage, they could just shift things around inside as they went - and moved into the motel for three and a half weeks. (The motel owner was fantastic and left me to my own devices during this time, other than giving me free wifi and the run of the laundry, so it was like a second home except my cat hated it and yowled every time someone next door turned on their spapool.) The 3.5 weeks would let the contractors do most of the work, let me get back home, and then they could finish off the other bits around me.

I popped in a couple of times a week to pick up mail and keep track of things; there was a sign-in sheet I had to use the same as the contractors did.

...There were delays. I'm not sure what happened in the first week other than "very little"; I think some of it involved supply bottlenecks. In the second week things really took off. Of course then in one room when they stripped the lining paper, chunks of the wall fell out. This caused more delay... They pulled the bricks down from the fireplace, which necessitated removing the gas fire, then discovered the gas fire wasn't up to standard so couldn't be put back in. So they were running a bit behind schedule, and then did I mention the day I was meant to move back in was December 23?

So December 23 happened. After a suitable length of time had passed, I sent a text message saying I hoped they were okay and should I plan on staying on at the motel? They phoned back saying someone had fallen off a ladder but just got a bruise, and though a bunch of the guys had wanted to go home to their families the foreman had got them to stay long enough to make the place at least habitable for me to return as planned.

For this alone, I'd ♥ them forever; it really was above and beyond.

So I was home for Christmas. And right from (I forget, the 26th or 27th), and every day except Jan 1st itself, they were there from morning to evening valiantly working on various rooms around me. This was all by arrangement, I hasten to add; they were very happy to work around my schedule. But I was fine to fit in around them too, to get it done. Admittedly it had its inconveniences. The "no curtains and no lighting in the bedroom" thing was okay - being summer, I just took to going to bed when it got dark and getting up when it got light. The paintfumes and my asthma meant I had to keep the windows always open, but it was good weather. I tend to spend great amounts of time sitting in one place on my laptop anyway, so it didn't matter that a couple of rooms at a time were out-of-bounds, but ducking under scaffolding every time I needed to go to the bathroom or make myself a snack was irritating, especially when someone was busy painting said bathroom. (Again I'm certain they'd have got out of my way if I'd been irritated enough to ask.) So sometimes I escaped for an afternoon to friends or family; and in due course I was back at work anyway.

It was mid-January before we got to the point where most things were done. (Relined and painted almost every room in my house, often including skirting boards and windows; rejibbed ceilings; repiled a section of flooring; hammered out an old hearth to put in new flooring there and polish the whole floor in one room; eased doors and cupboards; filled cracks in the foundation ring; replastered the doorsteps; put up new weatherboards where an old chimney was and repainted the whole wall to make sure the colour matched; filled cracks in the garage walls; and various bits and bobs I'm forgetting. And cleaned up of course, and got someone to tidy the garden where they'd been working, and mowed all the lawns.)

At that point I did a walk-through with the foreman to see what remained. Some things were waiting for something (suppliers on holiday delayed the leadlight window and apparently Canterbury Heating has one person who has to sign off on everything in the whole city and is on extended holiday so the gasfire's on hold); some things had been forgotten; some things had become issues along the way - like painters getting a tad sloppy about the dropcloths, so needing to clean up paint or even repaint surfaces; or an admittedly fragile dining table getting its legs dragged off (they repaired it) or a chest of drawers getting a corner irreparably bashed off (the foreman was horrified, asked how I wanted to handle it, and promptly accepted my suggestion).

Of course, Murphy's Law, after the walk-through I noticed a couple of other things. And for a day or two there I thought we were going to get trapped in an endless cycle of painters repainting over paint spilled while repainting something else. (Important Life Lesson: No job is too small for a dropcloth!) What really helped was when I typed up the list of what I thought still needed to be done and gave them a couple of copies so it was all clear and they could tick the things off as they went.

All along the way, they were the most fantastic people ever. They fitted in around me, fixed everything I pointed out, even did a few small things that weren't technically in scope but they couldn't bear to leave undone. And these are people whose own homes are damaged and are waiting on EQC themselves (conflict of interest to work on their own properties, of course), and have other earthquake-related things going on in their lives. Plus, while the newspapers are full of Bad Contractor stories, I heard some Bad Homeowner stories to match....

So finally we got to signoff. (With the exception of the leadlight window and gasfire; these exceptions were noted on the signoff form. Also there's a 90-day period in case anything makes itself apparent later.) This involved me, the foreman, the project manager, and an EQC person walking around to check everything yet again, and then I signed.

To be honest there were a couple of niggles. I ended up taking down a curtain rail and putting it up the right way around myself; I've also been cleaning up some small remaining paint spills with meths. But they've just essentially renovated my whole friggin' house after a series of major natural disasters, so I've got zero complaints.

--Well, almost zero. The January aftershocks have dropped the floor in my toilet, which aside from wrinkling all the lino there and in the laundry, has structural implications; and cracked the fresh paintwork at every corner of the exterior, causing weatherproofing issues. So I could grumble about that a bit.... Ah well, one EQC claim settled, another one to file!
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
When you've got a tiny bit of touch-up painting to do, and you think, "It's not worth using a dropsheet for a job this tiny," you're wrong. Always use a dropsheet.

This was not my mistake, this was the professionals' mistake. Several times. In fact, every time they've tidied a spot where they'd dripped paint before, they've dripped a new colour of paint on something else. I foresee this taking us recursively into the new new millennium. I'm going to see if I can convince them to leave me some of the interior paint so I can just sign off on the project already and fix it myself.

After having procured a dropsheet.

ETA: When reminded to put the curtain rod back up, you don't have to interpret this too strictly; you could also put the curtain itself back up too. Except no, you couldn't, because you put the curtain rod up back to front. --I fixed this eventually, though I managed to warp one of the thingammies so one of the screws isn't really exactly holding anything, but nothing's fallen down yet so it must be good.

---

In entirely other news, one step closer to a replicator in every home. (Well, one step closer to replicator patterns in every home, the replicator itself is more expensive and thus far limited in the materials it can work with.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Another day, another earthquake swarm. I was trying on a tshirt in a small shop so was half naked as I grasped the hook on the wall just in case. Fortunately I didn't need to actually put any weight on it because I don't think it was designed as a safety rail. Anyway, so I bought the tshirt (phones were down but EFTPOS stayed up) and went back to my motel to sit with Twitter while Boots huddled under the couch.

Then I wandered down the road to see what traffic was like -- no gridlocks evident in my area, at least as much as I could see before we got a jolt so big I did a 180 and went back to sit with Twitter. A socially decent period of time after I heard the phones were working again, I texted my contractors to see if I should plan to stay at the motel another night. They phoned back and said they'd stayed after the quake long enough to make the place basically habitable for me. Then, having families, they scarpered; but I'm pretty impressed they hung around at all, they've been pretty fantastic. So they'll have to come back after Christmas to finish up and fix some of the damage they caused in the rush to leave, but they were going to have to come back anyway due to supply bottlenecks and other events putting them a week behind schedule. My house is therefore rather a mess, but all the utilities work (apparently we don't even need to boil water this time) and it's habitable.

Mum brought me and Boots home, and Boots promptly disappeared under the house. I located the router and hooked the wireless back up and have since been unpacking. First thing to go into its rightful place was the go-bag, by the door.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
It's the eve of my return to my house, and I'm occasionally tidying up bits of my motel in preparation for starting to pack maybe. I popped out through the ranch slider to check on some towels I had drying and got slightly more distracted than I'd planned. Next thing, Boots (who's been sitting at windows meowling for outside for the last week or two so I should have known better) is stepping out beside me.

It's possible that I swore.

Fortunately it was all too new for her to be comfortable just dashing off into, so I could just scoop her up and deposit her back inside.

In other news, I don't feel like I've got much news. Uni's finished for the year, so I've got until the 4th January to complete the final draft of a journal article, write some more code for the software it's about, finish writing the <counts> four or five fanfics I'm halfway through, create a literal fanvid of awesomesauce, and I bet I'll find some other projects pop up along the way. How do people get bored again?

--Actually I guess I could mention that they'll be finishing up painting after I move back in, which I'm fine with, and I won't have a heat source for a while because when they removed the gas fire (to pull down the cracking brickwork of the fireplace) they discovered it wasn't up to current standards so couldn't put it back in and will have to get some other organisation to talk to me about a replacement, which I'm fine with except I think they should have told me upon discovering it rather than me have to notice an offhand comment they made and ask probing questions. Still, y'know. They're good folk and going above and beyond otherwise. I think they like that I'm easygoing about things (I can imagine other homeowners being stressed) but my philosophy is that I've got water, power, a flushing toilet, and wireless: all the rest is bonus features.

Also I could mention that my choir sang in a small concert in a town that a week later got its own state of emergency due to sudden flooding (I disclaim all responsibility) and in a couple of church services in which I got a solo in a verse of Gabriel's Message. So that was my minute of non-fame. It's absolutely fascinating how I can sing three verses in chorus absolutely fine, but the moment I'm by myself singing the exact same tune and words I've known by heart for years I completely tense up which makes my voice crack; so all my rehearsals were me trying to figure out how to stop doing that. Adequate success.

And finally, some plugs for TV shows that pass the Bechdel test flyingly:
  • I've mentioned Covert Affairs, which is full of awesome blonde spies (and a blonde sister homemaker). Ordinarily it's candy floss (fun but no there there), but has recently started having the occasional episode with a bit more kick; I hope they keep at it.
  • Recently one of my siblings has turned me on to Lost Girl which is full of awesome brunette fae (and a brunette thief sidekick). Like Covert Affairs it suffers from Ms Protagonist being required to have the hots for Mr Male Love Interest but I think that can be ignored for the plots, which so far (I've seen 2 episodes) include Ms Protagonist is... possibly not bisexual, but bi-whatever a succubus is. Bi-hungry? Ms Sidekick insists that she's straight but that's never stopped slash before.
  • And another sibling has turned me on to Once Upon a Time which has a mixture of awesome blondes and awesome brunettes. I think there's a Mr Male Love Interest again but it's developing more slowly and less obnoxiously (again, I've just seen 2 episodes). Prince Charming is in a coma and will hopefully stay there, because he was every bit as smarmy a hero as you'd expect Prince Charming to be. In a brilliant move, Ms Protag is introduced to the strange new world not by a wise elderly male mentor, but by her son who she put up for (closed) adoption ten years ago; this makes the dynamics instantly so much less skeezy.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
While my house is nominally being fixed (they were meant to start on the 28th; they actually started late on the 30th and did a bit more on the 1st and nothing on the 2nd; I can tell these things with my super powers of reading the sign-in sheet) Boots and I have moved into a motel.

I think Boots is actually more or less settled, though it took some time. She spent the first 30 hours hiding under furniture - no food, no water, no litterbox. Then she spent an evening hugging my ankle, and then she spent all frickin' night scritching things and jumping on things and jumping off things (onto my nose) and banging things and trying to open things and generally preventing me from getting more than an hour's sleep at a time. (The asthma attack at 4am didn't help. I ended up going outside and sitting in a deck chair which turned out to have rain in it, and then I slept on the couch for the last hour of the night, and then I went to work and blinked blearily at everyone.)

For a few more days after that she spent the day (while I was out) under the bed and then crept out to hug my ankle when I got back, and then spent the night under the bed again. Nibbling a very little food here and there. But now she's eating fairly reasonably for an outdoors cat being kept indoors and is playing a bit more normally and sleeping on the bed next to my ankles as per usual.

It's weird living out of a motel in my own city, but it's all fine: I've got everything I need (including wifi and the run of the laundry) and it's comfortably lived in (so not intimidating the way I find hotels). I'll still of course be glad to go home. The date set for that is the 22nd December, and I'm determined to believe them despite all evidence to the contrary. They sound like they're determined to give excellent customer service, and I've heard from other people who've had repairs start slow but finish on time, so it's not impossible.

The other day, a friend asked where I was and when I told them they said, "Oh, that's good, there's lots of shops there." It's more that there were lots of shops there, I pointed out. Since the quakes, the fruit-and-vege shop, the two bakeries, and the supermarket (among others) are all deaded, which as far as the necessities of life go leaves the butcher, the petrol station, and a 2nd hand bookshop. I can shop at a mall on the way home instead, but.... But as I stay longer I notice there's more than I thought, because one of the bakeries is operating out of a shipping container, and the fruit-and-vege place is operating out of a tent.

Walking down the road from the motel towards my busstop in the morning, I can see straight down to a demolition crane in the CBD. I have feelings about this but they're fairly vague and unformed. They're oddly different from the feelings I feel on my normal bus route where I see the crane pulling apart the Catholic Cathedral and the crane taking the top off the Hotel Grand Chancellor and various bulldozers painting the town pink with brickdust. I think it's because it takes time for the bus to get me that far, but here I leave my motel at 7:15 in the morning and there it is.

I seem to have started writing my When the Sky Fell story again. May or may not get much further this time around, though today I reached the Ode to the Radio scene which I've never got to before. It aches to write, and there came a point this evening doing research where I had to stop reading mid-sentence. Someone was talking about the "glassy, shell-shocked look" people had after February and. I remember that, when I was walking along Bealey Ave on the 25th February; I mentioned it in a blogpost at the time, but. Words just don't. It's like looking into a black hole where a person should be.

--However, the other thing that happened on the 25th February was my friends' son was born, and yesterday when I went to visit (as I do most weeks) he crawled! Towards me! Seeing him once a week is fantastic, I get to skip the nappies and most of the teething and "I'm hungry but won't eat, tired but won't sleep" screaming fits, while still getting all the fun of playing with him and the excitement of watching him grow up. I heartily recommend being an honorary auntie.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
Behold, I have avoided housework by creating this housework icon! (For LJ people: )

I'm meant to be emptying all my water containers and refilling with five drops of bleach per litre of water. My intention is for this to be an annual thing every Show Day (which was last Friday, and is an easily memorable date on which I theoretically have time for an annual chore).

I'm also meant to be packing all my books and sundry other goods so that earthquake repairs can be done on my house starting November 28th. Repairs consist of:
  • replacing a window;
  • straightening and bracing a header tank;
  • a bit of repiling;
  • taking down the living room chimney and rebuilding it to the same look;
  • putting weatherboards up in place of the current plywood-and-polyfiller where an external chimney used to be;
  • fixing cracks in the foundation (non-structural);
  • rejibbing and plastering a bunch of ceilings;
  • repapering and painting a bunch of walls;
  • and making sure all the doors and cupboards open smoothly again and the wardrobe has straight rather than curved walls.
  • Oh, and rebuilding the garage wall so you can't push parts of it.
I did make a start on boxing up books on Sunday morning, so that's something. I need more boxes, but may be able to borrow some from work. (We've been moving a bazillion books around and have lots of boxes, so as long as they're not needed again before New Year it should be fine.)

I'll also have to pack suitcases full of stuff to live off for a few weeks while repairs occur. This'll be more of a nuisance, but the really hard part will be Boots. The three choices are:

a) leave her behind (returning every day to feed her) - which would waste time, make her lonely, and anyway the noise and excess people doing the repairs would stress her out;

b) take her to a cattery, which I'm pretty sure she'd hate and also my insurance wouldn't cover; or

c) take her with me to whatever short-term rental or motel I get(1), which will require keeping her indoors to be sure she doesn't flee and get lost, which she'll detest. She understands the concept of litterboxes, but neither of us really likes them. But this is still the best solution so we'll have to cope.

(1) I've got a lead on a possible short-term rental, otherwise I've got a couple of other ideas too.

In any case, I got packing anxiety dreams just packing for a few days at conference, so I expect much REM fun over the next couple of weeks/months.

---

In other news, have spent the last couple of weeks doing strategic planning for my brain, since I had a day where I got too much good news at once and it made my head go all flaily. (To be fair to my head, much of the good news requires me to do a bunch of work in tight deadlines which are getting ever closer; plus stress lingers from various other things.) My brain now feels much more strategically organised, although the operational plan may take a bit more work. What'd be handy would be if I could task some clones to set up action groups and report back once their projects have been completed.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
Every now and then I get in this thing of being all Organised and stuff. I think it's an attempt to wrest control over a chaotic world. Usually it starts with general reluctant resolutions and lasts a couple of days at best, but occasionally when my mindset's just right, cleaning the inside of the microwave gives me the most satisfyingly self-accomplished feeling ever. Like, "There's no longer any cat puke under my dining table, I'm totally awesome!" Last time this happened, it lasted a couple of weeks, I think. Not sure about this time. After the spurt of "Eek, EQC inspectors coming, must hide evidence of slobbiness!" on Wednesday morning (I'd been putting off vacuuming up all the cat hair because first the vacuum cleaner needed emptying, and it was a pain to empty because the bag has a strategic knot sewn in the middle of where you'd empty it, I don't know why. "Had", I should say, having now taken scissors to it, so I might now vacuum and empty it at actual regular intervals, who knows?) -- so, since then, just maintaining a decent house might require sufficient enthusiasm without going so far as to actually clean the stovetop and vacuum up the potting mix that got spilled on the 22nd February.

(Oh God, someone remind me, tomorrow when it's light, to scrape at the bleach I discovered that had been spilled onto a bare untreated floorboard inside a cupboard since 2:20pm on the 13th June. Turns out bleach turns wood very white and very soft, but I have yet to determine just how far through the softness goes.)

This is starting to sound like I'm not all that Organised at all, which admittedly is the ordinary state of affairs. Let me explain:
  • I'm now making all my own bread in my breadmaker. This was originally so I wouldn't have to haul bread from far-off supermarkets or risk running out between shopping trips, but now it makes me feel so clever I'm likely to keep doing it even though the supermarket's back here. Ten minutes each loaf to measure ingredients and wash the breadpan before reusing it (while I wash, the yeast/liquid mixture sits in warm water to start rising) and then I go to bed while it bakes. It beeps in the night which wakes me, but I'm kind of used to being woken in the night now so who cares. Then in the morning I get up and I'm already an accomplished baker! Possibly it's more nutritious, tasty, and cheap too, I dunno, the important thing is it makes me feel like a genius.
  • The other cool thing to do in the morning is to dump the laundry in the washing machine on the way to the shower. The way my shower works, this is not a recipe for pain. Instead I shower, get ready for work, cut myself some fresh bread for breakfast nibbles and lunch sandwiches, drape the now-clean clothes over an A-frame in the bay window, and go to work knowing that by the time I get home again they'll be dry.
  • One morning I also did several days of accumulated dishes before even checking my email. And I didn't even miss my bus!
  • Another day I did some weeding! Of course that was while I had a cold, but I stopped when I realised that the effort was making me nauseous. Whoops.
  • Did I mention cleaning all the things on Wednesday morning? It's now Friday evening and they're still all clean! I walk into a room and there's floor! The clean parts of the bench are expanding! I even got carried away and wiped an edge of the dirty stovetop!
  • My old M.O. when I discovered a pair of tights has got a hole in the toe was to put it aside for mending. My new M.O. is to put it on and darn it while reading my email. (The way I do this it's perfectly safe as long as Boots doesn't try to help.)
  • I eat food most nights. I'm trying to get in the habit of buying meat on the way home and not freezing it. Occasionally I have nights where I'm like: "I have stale bread, cabbage, red peppers, cheese, cooked chicken, and milk - what happens if I throw it all in a casserole dish?" But since what happens isn't all that bad this works out quite well.
  • I changed a lightbulb that's been gone for a couple of months.
  • I'm working steadily through my pile of Highly Overdue paperwork. I started with the unthreatening "Return to sender" letter, now finally posted. There remains an insurance bill (I try to have everything on automatic direct debit, or at least automatic credit and then my credit bill is paid in full on automatic direct debit, but the history behind this one is complicated; fortunately this insurance only comes into effect if I die so I'm not actually all that fussed, which may be why it's maybe a year or two overdue) and taxes (only half a month overdue so far, and I think I get an extension) and submitting my earthquake bills and content claims (except my laptop's DVD drive is miraculously working again) and... oh yeah, some earthquake people wants my up-to-date contact details. Also, as of today the government wants to know how I think they're doing with earthquake stuff. Do you think they'll care if I tell them that I think since they're spending 500 million on supporting insurance companies, maybe they could spend 500 thousand on Women's Refuge?
  • (Oh btw, the home and contents insurance have paid out for all the burglary repairs beyond my excess, which was nice of them considering that the lovely door repair guy - friend of a friend - has a unique style of invoicing which consists of scribbling his ridiculously low labour charges on the bottom of the receipt from the hardware store for whatever he didn't scrounge from his garage. Don't get me wrong, the insurance company totally phoned to Ask Questions about this, but then they paid it.)
  • Generally being awesome at work and reading lots of books and working on Distributed Proofreaders (whose forums took it remarkably well when I suggested we could maybe try finding more non- white-and-male authors to work on) and... not actually doing a lot of writing, but a bit, and a bit of critiquing.
I do fear that I'm already neglecting a choir commitment I made; Saturday's to-do list (Sunday being reserved for the ordinary rush of church, and critique group, and potluck dinner at friends' house) includes weatherproofing the boards they put up in place of my chimney but didn't weatherproof because they didn't realise things would drag on this long (wtf? *I* could have told them things would drag on this long, and wouldn't be surprised if those boards wait another year before a permanent fix. Also it could have poured with rain any time in March), and getting new lightbulbs which have been waiting to be changed for a year or two, and booking in for that massage I've got a coupon for, and insurance and taxes and baking a dessert for potluck dinner, and printing out the choir music and phoning up the nice person who said she would help tutor groups of us, hoping desperately that she didn't start doing that like two weeks ago.

Oh yes, and the bleach thing.

Also there's that list of things that I'm totally going to get around to any day now, including cleaning the shower properly, and mopping the floor properly (including the pantry floor, after relocating the civilisation that's developed there in the meantime), and deciding whether or not my ill-fated potted mandarin has enough life force remaining or should just be put out of its misery, and finish weeding the 'rosary', and writing all the books.

So, all the stuff to do still feels quite overwhelming, but I think I'm in a space where I can actually chip away at them, and hopefully I can get through most of the really important ones at least before the inevitable burnout hits.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
So I picture this person coming along to my house and strolling up to the back door, all, "I'm gonna be rich, rich!!!" They've planned it all out, right, they're even wearing gloves, that's how cunning they are. So they bash the door in with a hammer or something, powerful enough anyway that it splinters the inside of the door frame. Maybe it's a mighty martial arts kick, or maybe that's just in their dreams. Then they wander on through the kitchen into the living room, and they turn the light on (I suspect this was done around twilight) while singing their "I'm gonna be rich!" song, and then the burglar alarm starts beeping.

Well, crap.

But our would-be burglar doesn't give up so easily, no! If only they can stop the alarm they'll be sweet, right? So they find the alarm control panel and rip it off the wall, which would have been the perfect plan if burglar alarm manufacturers hadn't foreseen this exact ploy. So then the alarm starts blaring in earnest.

Well, crap.

But there's one more chance: maybe if they rip the fuses out it'll stop the alarm, right? Whether this would have worked (it wouldn't; burglar alarm manufacturers have thought of power cuts too) they may never have discovered, because my fuse box is ancient and scary and the only fuses they managed to pull out belonged to the microwave, kettle, and fridge though bizarrely not to the pantry light located in the middle of those three. (There are days when I want to get someone in to redo the entire fusebox simply for aesthetic purposes.) And the siren is right above the fusebox and is really really loud and just will not stop.

Well, crap, thinks our would-be burglar, and flees the scene without pausing to pick anything up along the way.

So no-one notices any of this, partly because the house on one side of me lacks inhabitants and a wall, and the house on the other side of me has just got new tenants as of Tuesday so they're probably still moving stuff in; and partly because the alarm's a lot quieter when you leave the house than when you're standing right under it.

Scene break. (Possibly even opening credits.)

After a productively busy afternoon/evening at work and an unexpectedly early bus, I get home at quarter to ten and Boots runs out to meet me miaowing, "Hey, hey, hey, guess what, guess what? I'm hungry!"

Cats really make very suboptimal guard dogs.

So I'm walking up the drive promising Boots dinner and I notice that the living room light is on. I think, this is weird, has maybe... some member of my family decided to just... pop in? for a visit??? Or maybe I left the light on in the morning, that's more plausible; stupid but-- On the other hand, I think, I'm pretty sure I didn't leave the back door open like that. (I had, by this time, seen through the window that no-one was there, but kept my cellphone in hand, thumb perched on the "1".) I went on in without touching anything and found the burglar alarm control panel lying on the floor, at which the siren (having got bored earlier) decided to go off again.

Here I dropped my bags (despite one of them being my "This goes with me everywhere" bag which I have abundant practice keeping on my person under stress); checked that the laptop borrowed from church was still where it should be, while forgetting to check on my own laptop; and went across the road to the neighbours to borrow their phone, while holding my own cellphone in my hand. Well, I needed their phonebook anyway, to get the non-emergency number, and company was good so that one at least made sense. Anyway they were so lovely that I was halfway through talking to the police before realising that I'd got them out of bed.

Things start getting boring here, of course. The police don't bother coming out immediately unless you've actually seen an actual person. So I phoned a) a security company to come and fix the alarm system and b) my parents, who had the gall to be out having lives or something, but my sister got her friend to bring her over and I found a working power outlet to plug the kettle into to make us all milo. The back door we managed to wedge securely shut -- or at least secure enough since we don't get nor'westers this time of year -- and my sister stayed the night. I got to bed about half past eleven, and to sleep some time later.

(I am, I should say here, quite okay: the evidence that they were barely in the house before panicking is a great psychological comfort, and I don't tend to get nervous easily anyway. I mean, I slept with my cellphone to hand, but mostly because I could rather than because I was scared not to. Taking time to get to sleep was just a combination of adrenaline with the inevitable tendency to attempt to memorise everything I'd want to show the police.)

Today I worked from home -- "from home" for obvious reasons, "worked" because I have deadlines tomorrow (not life-altering but definitely non-elastic). Fortuitously, the laptop borrowed from church has the very software I needed to ensure I meet that deadline. Last night I'd made a checklist:
  • Police
  • Builder
  • Locksmith
  • Insurance
  • Switch desk-shift
  • Switch that other appointment
  • Return neighbour's earmuffs along with chocolates
All of which I managed to achieve (it helped that the lovely builder guy undertook to deal with the locks himself) while also answering virtual reference queries and creating most of a powerpoint presentation (some slides I've got only at work).

The doorframe isn't quite fixed tonight, but the kludge is very secure, and Dad will come around tomorrow and let the nice man in to finish fixing it; then I just need to send invoices to the insurance company, pay a small excess, and it's done: much more civilised than earthquakes. Not to mention I get all the excitement of a good story to tell, and none of the inconvenience or ickiness of possessions actually stolen.
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)
Taking the bus is tiring. I think it's not so much that it takes anywhere from 2-4 times as long as usual; I think it's mostly that it's really hard to resist looking out the window and seeing the ruins of used bookstores (bricks and books comingled), and of churches (open-air pews and curtains flapping in the frame of a stained-glass window), and of houses.

If you live in anything resembling an earthquake zone, resist the temptation of firewalls. A firewall seems like such a good idea at the time, but it's really really not. Not if you want four walls.

Some houses and walls remain standing thanks to hastily-erected wood-frame buttressing.

Army tanks in full camo continue to crawl our streets. Yesterday on Moorhouse I saw a couple handing a bunch of flowers to a soldier. I smiled. Then I realised that the flowers were lilies and were more likely intended to be taken to somewhere like the CTV building. Cut for stout hearts )

On campus a hastily erected sign says "City bus". I learned in due course that this meant a bus belonging to the city, not a bus going to the city; in fact the only bus-belonging-to-the-city that passes there is one of the few that never goes to the city at all. Communicated this to some minions of the Progressive Restart folk so hopefully it will wend its way up the chain and get something done about it before things are back to normal.

Not the new normal. The new normal changes every few hours. The eventual normal, I guess.

I got enough energy to call the plumber; he'll contact me again next week. Shower pressure seemed normal today. I don't understand that shower; never have, really, it's just I know what settings worked in the old normal.

Last night I smeared toothpaste on my toothbrush and then noticed a drip fall from the tap: I'd wet the toothbrush under the tap instead of with kettle water. I stared at it for a while but was too tired to boil it then and there, so just rinsed it with the kettle water and went on. If I get gastro I know who to blame.

The Fraction Liquefaction video made me smile the other day. (Warning: May not be comprehensible to those outside ChCh/NZ.) This morning I watched it again and it made me so cheerful I cried. Cried properly for the first time. My eyes have leaked before, sometimes heavily, and occasionally I've managed a half-hearted sob but until now that's as far as my energy's extended. So having a proper cry was fantastic; albeit poorly timed, because then I had to rush off to catch my bus.

We drove over the bridge on Moorhouse, newly repaired. It felt disconcertingly vertiginous.

They had counsellors at work today. The original plan was for them to be in offices for us to visit, but one seemed to have got bored waiting for someone to turn up because he came out and wandered the workrooms instead. He seemed satisfied when I told him that I'm okay with not being okay: that is, it's rather evident that I'm an utter mess at the moment and happy as I was feeling this morning there was never any way I'd be able to get through a conversation with him without my eyes leaking, but there's no point attempting to fix it with sympathy or counselling or sleeping pills(1) because there's nothing to fix, really; it would be more worrisome if I wasn't feeling crappy. Been here before in September and I know how it goes: I just need rest and time.

(1) I mention sleeping pills not because I've been sleeping badly (I'm not) but because the doctor spontaneously offered them to me when I went to my regular checkup the other day. I declined but accepted the offer of a flu jab instead. Flu jabs are like breath mints: if someone offers you one and you're not allergic you should always accept it.

Today I also talked to my manager about next week's timetable; sounds like it can be arranged so I can go in for longer chunks of time (possibly less often, that doesn't matter to me so much) so I don't keep spending more time travelling than on campus. --Though a later email doesn't take this conversation into account. Meh, no doubt the situation will change a couple times more over the weekend.

Picked up my asthma medication from a pharmacy nearby that I never knew existed because I always went to the one in the mall.

On the sewerage system:
"The first task was to flush silt out of all pipes, which was expected to take up to four months, before assessing the damage and beginning repairs." [Source: The Press]

The sounds of the earthquake - I love how she says "Ooh, there's a big earthquake" in approximately the same tones as one might say, "Ooh, it's started raining". Of course then the earthquake keeps going, so, yeah.

The house keeps making little #eqnz wobbles today. I don't understand. Ken Ring didn't say anything about 1st April!

My back door is going through a phase in which the lock actually works as intended. (When it doesn't work as intended it still works, it's just when you unlock it it stays locked so you mustn't pull it shut behind you unless you've got your keys with you. Of course since the earthquake you have to make some effort to pull it shut behind you anyway so that's all good.)
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 stripes shaking (earthquake)
I slept for three hours. Then an aftershock woke me (just 3.4 but as it's only a few km away and about 5km deep it rocks the house) and I couldn't get back to sleep. After two hours I crept out past [personal profile] keieeeye in search of my iPod and found the other sister reading the internets. I indulged in a brief weepy moment -- only brief because my eyelids are dry enough right now and don't need the extra irritation....

We chatted for a while about earthquakes and suchlike. I mentioned the supreme unlikelihood of me writing my post-apocalyptic story about the sky falling any time in the next few months/years. She agreed: "Yeah, the sky's already fallen and we didn't enjoy it that much." So, sorry to those who liked the idea -- and I may even get back to it one day -- but you'll have to make do with the live-blog version instead.

Then we got to talking about all the sand and how it was like the beach and so we should make sandcastles. So then, since neither of us was getting any sleep anyway, we went out and made sandcastles in a nearby street. Photos will follow in due course.

We did 3 by about 6am, at which point I left her to it and went with Mum to her workplace - she had catchup work to do and I wanted to do some shopping. While there I dozed briefly, spent an hour washing scuzzy old bottles to fill with 21 litres of the clean water they had there, and indulged in tooth-brushing, toilet flushing, and using plenty of water to wash my hands.

Shopping was catfood and groceries, because currently the nearest open food outlet I know of to my place is an ad hoc food bank; and an extra bucket and dust masks (the liquified sand that erupted and turned our roads into mud has slowly been drying) and an awesome windup torch which has a connection cable to recharge your cellphone. It would be technologically possible to be cooler, but I think not at that price. Also I went to 4seasons in the hopes of finding an electric jug (mine broke on Tuesday) - in fact they tend more towards barbecues and spas but a lovely woman there said, "I'll give you ours from the back, we never use it." I teared up rather a bit.

Came home where the sister had continued making sandcastles, and she reported that people in that street had been delighted with them, giving her hot chocolate and cake and calling her "the Sandcastle Girl". :-)
Then Mum dropped me off home (traffic being better than Tuesday and the bridge having had some stopgap repairs on Wednesday or Thursday. I could have walked - startlingly, despite four hours' walking yesterday I'm not that stiff today; either the warm-down stretches helped or I was right that I've got much better endurance for walking than cycling - but couldn't have carried the shopping as well as my go-bags) and we saw a train on the way - first train through, I think: it looked like it was carrying crushed rock for road repairs or similar.

At home I basically crashed. That is, I wandered around doing a few things very vaguely, including making sandwiches for lunch, but the best bit was lying down for a nap. Woke up very fuzzy moments before Dad arrived to have a look at my cracks and reassure me the place isn't going to fall down. Not all of it, anyway; obviously the old chimney will but that's equally obviously going to fall down into the driveway not into my bedroom. It would still be advantageous to control its fall so I'll call a builder at some point when I'm up to it. The old chimney in the living room also needs something done but not so urgently. And all the ominous cracks in ceilings and above doors are just surface plaster (as opposed to surface paint last time). We also confirmed that my (heavy old CRT) TV is dead, though the DVD/hard drive machine and the Freeview decoder both seemed okay - even a front panel broken off one just clipped back on.

Then, while Dad was still there, a policeman came to the door! One of the Aussie blokes on loan to us, and as advertised he had no gun. They're doing the rounds of all the neighbourhoods checking everyone's okay, which is a tremendous morale boost a) to know it's happening and b) to receive in person. Also plus and too, he asked if I had water, and I said I hadn't actually checked today, and he said the neighbours over the road said they had it, and I turned on a tap and water came out! Still needs boiling, of course. And since I've had a bit of liquefaction, recommendations are that I don't shower; and flushing of toilets is to be done sparingly and with a nose out in case problems pop up where they oughtn't. But water, here! In my very own property! There was no timeframe on this and I'd been expecting months so was starting to consider the (to me most unhappy) possibility of cutting my hair short so I could keep it clean; now I'll... probably have to wash it in a bucket in the garden to spare the drains, but still!

--Which is part of why I didn't post this earlier. The fact that I have power and water makes it sound like the situation's getting all better, and it does make my situation incredibly better, don't think I'm not grateful and astounded at (and a little guilty about) my luck. But it almost highlights and brings home the fact that the situation is still pretty damn sucky. Overhead power lines are being put up at a great pace, but almost a fifth of the city still has no power and some won't get it for weeks. About a third have no running water. About a half have no sewerage. True official quote: "Residents can now place toilet waste in their rubbish bins as long as it's wrapped in paper or plastic." And 100,000 tonnes of silt to be removed, and the munted roads and bridges, and damaged properties, and the CBD and the morgue and...

And my workplace isn't opening for at least two weeks and even when it does I don't know how I'll get there. (There are no bus services. At all. Yesterday I saw a guy waiting at a bus stop and ended up asking if he was waiting for a friend - it was in fact for a bus, but a special one leaving town. All the buses I've seen evidence of, since that first terrible news of the two crushed, have been ferrying rescue workers or student volunteers or people leaving town.) And I have to organise a builder and a gas person and catch up with my painter and put a new TV on my list for someday when I care(*) and I haven't even put in my insurance/EQC claim yet or even taken all the photos I need to. (*)But actually this may be semi-high priority: from experience, blobbing with videos is just what I need, and much of my DVD collection is the wrong region for my laptop.

And... when I had no water I had my head wrapped around all the steps I needed to take to survive without water. Suddenly finding I have water after all is actually ridiculously disconcerting. Not that I'm complaining. Just. I don't have the energy to adjust my life even to good news.

Highly incoherent. <thinks hard>

Here, here's the thing: If someone comments that it's wonderful that I've got all this, I'll immediately want to wail that no, it's not wonderful, because everything's still an utter shambles. But if someone comments that it's terrible that everything's a shambles, I'll immediately want to insist that no, things are going pretty damn wonderfully considering the circumstances. I always have these two reactions opposed, but right now in particular I'm rather highly emotional about them both. So I was avoiding the risk of getting either kind of comment by just not posting.

However! I now have some news which is unequivocally wonderful! See, part of the reason I came back was that I've hardly been here in four days and have only once seen indirect evidence of Boots; and why would she risk coming into the scary house if even I've fled it? So I called her name and rattled her food at various points throughout the day; and I sat outside in the sun watching Criminal Minds on my laptop at the end of a long extension cord; but the thing I think worked in the end was turning on my bedroom light this evening. Because very soon after, I heard the catflap flapping and Boots meeping and I went and hugged her and she came and brushed herself against me, the most excited I've ever seen her ever. So so so happy.

(Now just to try this sleep thing again...)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Had a more-or-less solid night's sleep, then a brief crying jag, then a shower. Well, coldwater spongebath. Luxury, I'm telling you; even if I put my dirty clothes back on again. (No point putting on clean clothes and then getting them sweaty too in another three-hour hike.) So now my headache's gone, my back's hardly stiff at all anymore, and I have one of my friends' kittens in my lap.

(My friends themselves are out, since a bit after dinner last night, having a baby. They couldn't go to their hospital of choice, alas, and the hospital they've been redirected to will have required them to talk their way through the inner city cordon.)

At this moment my brain feels like a brain but it's been up and down this morning and will likely continue thus.

I'd been waiting around a bit before hiking home, in case my friends came back early (and because there's a pharmacy I want to go by, so I couldn't leave too early). Then I thought I'd lock up for them after all and get going. But on third thought, despite the purely emotional desire for home I think I'll wait out this rain instead. The kindness of strangers is probable, but foolish to rely on, especially when at least one of the roads I'm going by is actually impassable by car.

It amuses me that our civilisation has painstakingly progressed from dirt roads to paved to asphalt; and then we return to paving for aesthetic reasons, and then Mother Nature foists dirt roads on us again after all. (By the way, dirt roads suck. When muddy they're slippery and when dry they're dusty.)

Reading my friendslist reminds me that I never reported on my awesomely productive weekend!

Ten things that happened before the earthquake

  1. On Saturday, I got the tree pruning dude to come and remove the trees / prune the bush between my house and garage. This was to make room for painting but it also means I can actually walk along that space, and there's actual real daylight in my toilet. It also uncovered a profoundly rotten weatherboard.
  2. The EQC assessors came. They were awesome, and were most impressed with the particular way in which my garage has cracked (fun fact -- EQNZ:The Sequel shows no signs of having worsened this), and agreed the floor was structurally sound, and said the chimney just needed some new plastering. (In retrospect this makes me giggle. And walk past it very quickly.) Then they totted up all that, along with all the little cracks in the interior paint and ceiling stippling, and determined that it would all cost more than NZ$10,000 to repair so would go to Fletchers (the government-designated project management company) to manage. I blinked at the total, but not being in any great hurry this was all cool.
  3. I picked almost all the peaches from my peach tree (leaving a few green ones, and the ones on the neighbours' side of the fence) and Mum took them to her place.
  4. I did my weekly grocery shopping and visited the family for dinner.
  5. I worked on a short story with a tight submission deadline. Technically it's a rewrite of a short story I wrote ten years ago, even though only five words remain the same from that version to this and the plot plays out differently. But it's the same really, sort of.
  6. On Sunday, I played in the church orchestra.
  7. I phoned a carpenter guy about the rotten board, and he is so awesome he came around within an hour and sawed it out. (Then he came back Monday morning and put in the replacement wood. I need to contact him at some point re payment.)
  8. I went to the family's house and Mum and I bottled all the peaches. Sixteen big jars of them, in two batches. I learned a new trick of using a teaspoon to scoop out the stone, it's awesome.
  9. In between batches I finished my short story. This was quickly written; but then it's shorter than most shorts I write; and it was sort of a rewrite. Anyway, I submitted it last night, possibly a whole day within the deadline.
  10. On Monday, after work and a visit to a friend, I came home and found the painters had put plastic over all the windows while they paint. The plastic rustled all night in the wind and kept waking me up and startling Boots. I was rather grumpy about it actually. Except now it turns out that this plastic is handy at keeping a certain broken window weatherproof, so there's that.
So you see, [personal profile] green_knight's accusation else-web that my EQC visit was to blame for this quake is quite unfounded! :-) (My parents' EQC visit, on the other hand, may have been more closely related.)

Rain is a bit lighter now I think and I do want to get home sometime today, plus I've identified a colleague whose house I can rest at partway, so I'm now off hiking again. See you all!
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 with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It turns out that the noise and movement involved in vacuuming almost entirely overwhelms the noise and movement occasioned by a close and shallow 5.0 which has, in various parts of town, shaken loose some already damaged material, briefly taken out the power, and set sirens going again.

What it doesn't do is muffle the sight of the upright piano swaying back and forth.

I went to fill out the Geonet "felt earthquake report" and found it hard to convey my impressions accurately. No, it didn't knock any ornaments off shelves, because these days all my ornaments are held down with liberal quantities of blutack. At least they have an "other notes" box where I could mention the piano.

The plan was to finish the vacuuming before the installation folk came around to set me up with Freeview (new digital version of the existing free-to-air service, but with additional channels - for bonus points they're fixing up the weird connection to my aerial so I don't have to rely anymore on the bunny-ears, which incidentally fell in the Sept 4th quake) but I was still catching up with other Cantabrians online when he got here so oh well, I'll finish it once he's gone. At least the part he's working in is sightly...
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)
But this time it's from the top: I've got people reroofing. It feels like a bunch of aftershocks in the general 4 range, except only the walls shake, not the floor, and of course the vibrations go in different patterns and directions. Anyway I hope the neighbours weren't trying to sleep in. And that Boots forgives me.

Ooh, this might be a good place to put my Annotated Richter Scale:

0-2: Yeah, that's not even a real earthquake.
3: Missed it.
4: Huh. So, as I was saying...
5: Oh hi Twitter folk, let's swap jokes and crash Geonet again!
6: It's not like we have to have one of these, right?(1)
7: Do. Not. Want.
8+: Seriously, God, can the Alpine Fault be a problem for future generations? Love you thanks bye.

(1) It is in fact getting increasingly unlikely but I still like the idea of taking a vote to be sure.


We haven't had any 4+s for a few days, and I knock on wood as I say this, though rather lackadaisically because there's bound to be some more scattered over the next month or so, but nevertheless we're well back on our way to geological stability. As I allude to in the Annotated Richter Scale, 4s are kind of boring by this point, however they're boring in a way that gets one's adrenaline pumping every single bloody time because in the split seconds as an earthquake starts your body doesn't know how big it's going to get.

I dropped an apple on the table the other day and Boots jumped and did a 180 spin in the air and took a moment to make sure the ground was going to stay behaving. And I'm going through a phase where it bugs me when my house creaks, which it does a lot when it's cooling or warming up or just idly thinking or whatever, because it also creaks like that in a 3.

But really things are pretty good again (bearing in mind that there's buildings being torn down and suburbs that will be on portaloos for months if not years - I've got an ex-colleague who shares their portaloo with three other households, and a current colleague who's lost her house, and slightly more distant colleagues who are in various positions between these situations) and the fact that I'm also in a phase where everyone who comes up to the library service desk fills me with rage, if not for some petty reason then just because they're there, is just because I haven't had a proper break since the quake.

Have booked in leave all week next week, and then discovered that this period abuts onto Labour Day, so I get 10 days in a row off work. I'm planning funtimes, in bed, sound asleep. I may even clean the kitchen floor but we'll see, I don't want to stress out too much.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
(Insurance company, actually not earthquake-related - I'm getting my roof redone and want to check there's no issues I don't know about.)

This is actually really hilarious. They tell you (New Zealand voice) they're busy and you can leave a message or wait. Then you get about fifteen seconds of elevator music, and then an American voice tells you your call is important and please stay on the line, and then you get some more seconds of elevator music and the New Zealand voice comes back online.

The really hilarious part is that these aren't actually synched - the American voice and the New Zealand voice are cycling at different (but both ridiculously short) intervals so sometimes there's only three seconds between them and sometimes you'll get the New Zealand voice interrupting the American voice.

I feel like launching a crusade against idiotic use of hold messages, except for lack of energy.

(I'm on leave today! It's kind of cool except for I'm tired enough I need way more and I'm not sure whether or not that's going to happen soon for various reasons that are supremely ironic. So much of this year has been, "You've got to laugh because otherwise your head will explode from the sheer internal pressure of all the irony building up." Anyway it's been nice to spend quality time arguing with people who are wrong on the internet, edging the cat off my keyboard, phoning insurance companies, and eating cold chicken while standing up so the cat can't steal it off me.

(Sunday night she slept inside, under the bed. Monday night she ventured onto the bed, and then we got the biggest aftershock since week #1 and out the door she went. Still she's been much better recently than in those first weeks.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Working with a mild fever isn't conducive to concentration. Or indeed reliably staying awake. Granted I was attempting to read a chemistry textbook in an attempt to look less-than-stupid when students ask me for enthalpy charts, and... let's just say, what would really be useful would be a book that explains thermodynamics without formulae because I've forgotten large chunks of my high school maths and didn't understand it very well back then either, and also I keep having to flip back to remind myself what U and q and w mean. I just... when it's prose I can follow; when it's formulae, even once I've decoded it, it has no meaning for me.

Random things:
  • Dried strawberries. So awesome.
  • So half the grills around my house's foundations (intended to facilitate airflow while keeping out fauna) are all rusted away, and Dad replaced a bunch with new ones, but we never got around to the rest, so I've just got bricks sitting in them. But recently I've been hearing something under the house and it's kind of obvious because there's plastic down there trying to keep the moisture from rising. Turns out some cat has pushed the bricks inside so it could get in.

    So I arranged the bricks such that they couldn't be pushed in, but a couple of nights later I hear the cat again. Turns out it's levered the bricks out this time. So now I've added a larger heavier brick leaning against the lot, and we'll see how strong the creature is.
  • Boots says, "tgggggggggfmn".

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zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
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