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)
Worked while my house got painted on. It's gonna be awesome especially when they start with the purple ("troubadour" though I don't think troubadours were particularly renowned for wearing purple, but anyway) and all the people who got pained expressions on their faces when I mentioned purple will be proved wrong, haHA!

More or less after work I wandered down the road a bit for three purposes:
  1. to see if the corner shops whose walls used to be perpendicular to the ground but after the quake were attempting to form a funky W shape were in fact now more reminiscent of this photo:

    [ETA: Okay I shouldn't have tried to hotlink. Try http://twitpic.com/4cyyg5.]
    And sure enough they were.
  2. to see if my wee library of books had disappeared from the busstop. Not only had they all disappeared, but someone had tagged the sign I'd made. Ah Linwood, never change! I'll make another sign and put book-protection plastic on this time.
  3. to see if the updated city council map was correct that there's a place to pour one's toilet waste in the next street over. Sure enough there is. It says "Human waste only" and "Beware of splashback!" and has a bottle of hand sanitiser duct taped to it.
I'm still gearing myself up to using the actual chemical toilet. Have been reading the instructions and looking at it mistrustfully. There's a water tank and a waste tank and a bottle of chemicals, and there's levers and knobs and lots of dire warnings.

I'm slightly disappointed that no-one commented about the exploding toilets I mentioned. Seriously, exploding toilets! However this is outweighed by the amount of disappointment I contain that the newspaper didn't use the opportunity to comment on the possibility that the contents of said exploding toilets might hit the bathroom fan.

Gotta go, Boots wants food. I was thinking of starving her a while longer so she'd catch and nom more of the flies that have been bugging me, but then one of them landed on my back and she launched herself at it and caught my back with her claws. She apologised very prettily, with lots of rubbing against me and looking cute and so forth, but I have my suspicions.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Have now three times paw-held Boots through the process of opening the catflap towards her. I'm not sure she quite gets what I'm on about; further experimentation required.

Late afternoon today Dad picked me up and we went shopping for a new television, after ascertaining that the reason there's a gap in my bedroom floor is that the house has probably shifted 1cm or so on its foundations.

Despite the fact that (for some obscure reason) shops seem to be selling out of TVs at the moment, we found a nice new one. In the store it looked tiny because of course it was surrounded by all the big dollar ones, but being a 26" LCD screen it's a significant upgrade on my old second-hand CRT monster (now occupying the cat's armchair for insurance purposes) and will fit nicely in the space I have when I get around to securing it there. This might be some months because it's the space next to the living room brick fireplace which is also not exactly where it used to be and needs to be either repaired or pulled down and in the meantime is rather dusty. So while waiting 4-6 months for an assessment and probably more months for actual action, the TV is sitting safely on the floor, in front of some cupboard doors, one of which is stuck open and the other of which is stuck closed.

We got everything connected up and proved that the DVD player and hard drive recorder are working. So over dinner I played the episode of Queen Seondeok that I recorded on the 21st February. Have located the remainder of the series (which I calculate would have finished airing here last night) online, but looking at the size of the files I'll have to watch my bandwidth and eke them out a bit.

In the meantime, I can watch all the DVDs! I'll just have to pick them up off the floor first.

Goodness, if I spend any more time in this room, I might really start tidying it up. That'd be perilously close to moving on.

I'm being encouraged by Sisters In The Know to apply for a Red Cross hardship grant on account of how I had no water for a week. Originally I'd planned not to since, while this certainly resulted in hardship, it didn't involve any financial hardship and I thought they should keep the money for people who did need it; all I'd do with it would be to redonate it to charity, which seemed needless paper-shuffling. But apparently due to the amount of money they've raised and the ways they get audited and so forth it is not at all undesirable to apply for it and even makes sense to be a conduit to funnel money from that fund into some other fund that's able to help people more seriously affected.

(If I apply I'll almost certainly get it. My Sisters In The Know reckon even if I ticked every box "no" I'd still get it simply on the grounds of living in the suburb I live in. That actually makes sense whether this is how they mean it or not: due to all the cheaper grocery shops nearby being closed, the cost of food here is up.)
Oh Boots, if you chew the powercord to the new television I will be quite unhappy with you.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Sunday afternoon I bused around town to spend the night with friends+baby. This was an excellent boost to Operation Keep Eating (though I did contribute my banana cake) plus we watched Finding Nemo on Sunday evening and How To Train Your Dragon on Monday morning. Plus baby and kittens! <3 They kept apologising for baby's 2am screaming fit, but since I was at the other end of the house this was approximately as disturbing as your average Mag4 quake, ie I woke up and registered it and went back to sleep. Since their house provides the protection of distance from said average Mag4 quakes, this really evened out quite nicely.

After lunch on Monday I went to work for a meeting, which went exactly the same as every other meeting we've ever had about that subject ever in the history of time seriously ever. (Short version: "Look at this awesome technology which can be used in highly awesome ways to support awesome pedagogy! But yeah no, in practice you're only going to be using this one boring feature, and by 'use' we mean you'll be getting other people to contact us about how to use it.") Normally this would just leave me rolling my eyes; this time I was struggling rather not to cry, until I could get outside and put my sunglasses on.

Also it was hot and the bus was packed (it's still free and not yet as frequent as normal) and the traffic was horrid (the roads are either munted, especially in the east, or full of the traffic fleeing the munted roads, especially in the west) so I felt nauseous for the 1.5 hours it took to get home from there.

This is not -- to reassure people -- so much a desperate plea for help and/or sympathy, as an educatory narrative. I cry easily anyway; situations like this it's just a signal. Dry mouth signals thirsty; teary eyes signal stressed. The only reason I don't like crying in public is that the public is apt to consider it as signalling a worse emotional state than it really does. So I kept my eyes mostly dry while out and when I got home I phoned up a colleague and shamelessly whined to her for sympathy (which she duly gave) and then, having cooked dinner and scooped myself a bowl of jellytip icecream, watched three episodes of Sandbaggers in a row.

On the last few minutes of my trip home I caught a glimpse of the "cannabus". Apparently the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have decided Christchurch is in need of medicinal marijuana. This so annoyed me I believe I actually dreamed about it last night. I have serious qualms about advocating self-medication in times of stress. (I'm not dissing self-medication by someone who knows themself. But advocating it willy-nilly to people whose reactions you don't know seems wildly irresponsible.) Plus, though the word "politicalise" is getting thrown around a lot, I think this really does qualify.

Today I worked entirely from home again, and have actually managed to achieve various work-ish things, in between the painters coming to work on my porch while it rained, and a visit from the Salvation Army, and the sun coming out so I luxuriously put on a load of washing! in the washing machine, with water and electricity!, and eating lunch, and watching a fanvid, and a phonecall from Dad, and cuddling Boots between her disappearances. She keeps going outside and then not being able to get back in because the painters have the powercord going through her catdoor and she doesn't know how to open the flap towards herself.

<ponders> This actually seems like a useful skill for a cat to have. I think I'll try to teach her someday. I shall of course report back on progress.
zeborah: zebra-striped biscuits (cooking)
She has just caught and nommed the fly that's been incessantly buzzing around my hair. I have rarely been so grateful to her.

Now if she can just catch and nom the other fly that's been incessantly buzzing around my hair...

In other Operation Keep Eating news, I have made banana cake! Banana cake is good for you, because it has flour and bananas and eggs, which are all part of a healthy balanced diet, and it has baking soda dissolved in hot milk, which is Science.

I have also washed the dishes (in the mixing bowl because boiling enough water to fill the sink would take literally forever due to the fact that it would cool down while the next jugful was boiling) and shovelled/brushed/washed the liquefaction silt off the paving stones in my backyard. (Now remains the patch of silt in the middle of the lawn, which I hope will eventually get washed back to ground level, and the sand dune that used to be my parsley patch, which I'll either remediate somehow or plant with tussocks and other sand-dunish plants.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Two nights ago I was getting ready for bed and suddenly thought, "Hey, I think I'll wear my nightie tonight instead of sleeping in my clothes," and I did.

Then at 00:44 I woke up. There was a light. I heard voices. I thought, "There shouldn't be light and voices there, the tenants moved out due to earthquake damage." So I grabbed my cellphone, in case the dialing of 111 should be required, and went outside in my nightie and got a torch shone in my face, which I had thought everyone knew wasn't polite, but then there's all sorts of things one thinks people know. For example, one thinks that people know that if your tenants move out of your property due to serious earthquake damage, 00:44 might not be the best time to be poking around among the bricks even if you have just flown down from Auckland right that moment.

They did at least apologise, and even popped over next morning (once they saw me drawing my curtains) to apologise again. Then they set to fixing the house, with its tumble-down chimney, shifted foundations, dips in the roof, and abrupt reception of the other neighbour's firewall, and all. At the rate they're working, I reckon we could set them loose in the CBD and the whole place'd be sorted by Easter.

Alas, in the meantime it's a tad noisy (though at least so far they're confining these exercises to daylight). So Boots, who as per normal for cats would rather like to spend her day having a quiet series of snoozes, is instead spending all her time running to hide under the bed, couch, other bed, or house, every time:
* there's an aftershock above 4;
* any large truck drives past, or any car parks within view of the bedroom window;
* anyone (such as an Aussie cop, Red Cross, various other officials or neighbours) comes to the door;
* or the bloody construction noises go bang bang or grind grind or whatever.

And I thought working from home would at least be quiet.

Also, Boots isn't technically allowed under the house. I've got grills where I can fit them and bricks where I can't. But the painters moved one of the bricks and then after the quake one of the old grills fell out and a brick in another spot either fell or was pushed. So now even when Boots is quietly on my lap (this sometimes lasts as long as two minutes at a time) I can hear the crinkle crinkle of a neighbourhood stray padding softly about on polyurethane beneath me.

Boots continues, as far as I can tell, to have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the rabbits I'm hosting on behalf of my sister.

I attempted a catnap myself this evening, but forgot to turn my computer sound off, so got woken up first by a cheery "You've got mail!" (EQC plans to visit everyone in a quick triage of "If your house is falling down, we'll be back within 4 months; if bits of your house are falling down we'll be back within 6 months; if your house isn't falling down then wtf are you complaining, we'll get back to you in 9 months.") and secondly by the insistent beep of a student IMing the library because I forgot to log out of our helpdesk chat service.

--Ow. I think Boots just tried to catch a fly on the back of my leg. She caught my leg.

Must go; she seems to want to communicate to me that it's her dinner time.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
The water got turned off again, alack. The supplies I have are more than I need for anything except flushing and using the washing machine, though, so no worries. However I think I shan't say no if we ever get a portaloo or chemical toilets out here. My garden may be large but it's full of clay; I can't dig much more than the depth of my spade-head deep.

No bodies were found in the Cathedral. This kind of makes the day worth while all by itself.

May or may not go to choir on Tuesday night. By some miracle, though the building had been damaged in September, we can still use it now. I'll need transport home, is all, but someone's offered that; but it'll depend on how much energy I have to deal with socialising. It took me two days to get around to just replying to the offer of transport.

It's really weird that some smaller aftershocks are more unnerving than some larger ones. There was a 4.1 this morning which was just like being rocked in the cradle of my house (yay flexi-house) and even the cat wasn't alarmed. But earlier there was a 3.4 (same location, same depth) that hit with a bang and startled me awake with serious heart-thumping and set the cat a-running. Is weird; I shall never quite understand quakes.

I have two bunnies in my backyard. They're not very sure of me but they do like the parsley and dandelion leaves I feed them. So far Boots doesn't seem overly interested in them, which is good. Last night I dreamed that for some reason my backyard didn't suit them after all so my sister had set up all eight pairs of bunnies in her backyard and I was going to have to go over every night she was away to feed all of them and the bus didn't even run in weekends. Normally my pet anxiety dreams are (as one might imagine) about discovering I have extra cats in the house and they're all starving because I thought there was only one and thus hadn't been feeding them enough.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I think I'll rename Boots "Scaredy Cat". Currently she's hiding under the bed in the spare room (which appears, btw, to be where she's sleeping these days, and is incidentally a superb choice; I often put my laptop there it's so sturdy) because a truck with a skip drove by outside.

Work is involving more work at the moment. Day-to-day communications are the most disjointed ever. A bunch of us are working from home so I don't even know who's available at any given time. Am suggesting some possible fixes for this but I don't even really know yet enough of what the current situation is as to whether these are even practical.

Caught the bus(!) to my sister's in the evening and made a putiputi under her guidance. Also got updated contact details for my brother, who asked me about something I'd been meaning to do; "I'll do that right now," I said, and walked downstairs to my laptop, and promptly forgot until he came down to check on me.

Finally finished reading Pride and Prejudice! Have now started Margaret Mahy's Memory. I think I was too young when I read it last time, I couldn't get into it at all. (Too much "real life", I think.)

Should get an early night.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
This naturally swings wildly from "Eee, dead of cute!" to "Argh, quit chewing on the keyboard and putting my laptop to sleep (how are you doing that anyway???)!"

<attempts to recollect the day>

Sponge bath in a bucket. Didn't run the tap long enough to get hot, but supplemented with water from a kettle for sheer luxury. (Quite unneeded really: the friction:water ratio is high enough that even cold water isn't uncomfortable. But warm's even nicer.) Made for a good demonstration of why they call it "grey water".

Church service was nice - very sunny, big crowd. Crowd included various news cameras. I got interviewed by some Australian TV station, I think; Mum by a radio channel. I think I wasn't too wildly incoherent, but did have to resort to the blandest cliches imaginable. A couple of text articles about it: Stuff.co.nz or Herald (reuses text but its photo is of our service). Of course there are minor lacunae and inaccuracies: in addition to arriving on bike or foot plenty of us came by car (though I did walk partway I guess), and the scones and water (not tea) came after the service, not while singing.

Another article on Christianity and the earthquake.

I promised photos of sandcastles! Here are some my Mum took - the nearest structure in the first, three towers connected by a wall, is the one I helped with.

I got a flyer in my mail! I think it was delivered by the Student Volunteer Army; it's got information about where to get help and there's a copy online (pdf).

My asthma is distinctly acting up. (No preventative for a week + stress + dust. Today I wore a dustmask while walking, and wasn't the only one.) My normal pharmacy has no answerphone message so I ended up ringing HealthLine and browsed the Ministry of Health website while listening to a long recorded message. There was an option to talk to a person but I thought I'd see if my question was answered first. Apparently one can get emergency repeats from any open pharmacy. I'll call the nearest one tomorrow to double-check on that before hiking over.

Heard from an old manager. Dozed. Watched Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, which isn't up to Criminal Minds' standards, but nor is Criminal Minds these days. Updated the church website - we never officially launched it but it seems like a useful thing.

My mood dropped steadily through the day; in retrospect unsurprising. By evening it was a huge chore to make myself make dinner. I think tomorrow I'll try making dinner in the morning.

Darn it, we're going to have to pick up books again :-) - the photo and the story further down by the same guy are from my branch. But y'know, we're kind of used to this by now. And actually, if that's the worst he saw, it's not nearly as bad as last time.

In "I cannot brain, I has the dumb" news, I've taken to wearing a wee bag around my neck for my cellphone, asthma inhaler, and most especially a notepad to remind myself what I'm planning to do next. :-)
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 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 with stripes shaking (earthquake)
First she jumped up on my bed for scritches, then she jumped down to prowl a bit. She's done this a certain amount over the last few weeks. Then she investigated the wardrobe but decided she wasn't interested in sleeping there tonight. Nor was she interested in the beanbag (which she sometimes finds cozy in winter).

She jumped back on the bed, got more scritches and settled down for about two minutes before jumping down again.

After some more prowling, she jumped back on the bed again and settled down (sans scritches this time because I was closer to sleep) for about one minute before jumping down.

But a bit after I drifted to sleep, she came back, and curled up by my legs, and slept there all night.

And there weren't any aftershocks at all.

So that makes me very happy.

Also she's discovered that, while I'm having my shower, instead of waiting in the hall for me to open the door and give her breakfast, she can wait on the fence for me to open the curtains, at which point we have the following conversation:

Boots: Miaow!
Zeborah: Agh, stalker kitty!
Boots: Miaow?
Zeborah: Oh, it's you. Okay, then.

And I let her in the window and then open the door and give her breakfast.

Leaving chronological order for a while, I would like to mention that I made ginger muesli bars yesterday and they're quite awesome. I looked up recipes online and half of them said "Stir rolled oats and stuff into melted butter and honey, then bake", and the other half said "Bake rolled oats and stuff, then stir into melted butter and honey". I decided on the former.

The precise recipe I followed was 50grams butter with an equal amount honey, stirred to the boil as one does - the original recipes included extra brown sugar and such but that seemed unnecessarily sweet so I didn't. I just threw in rolled oats and roughly chopped peanuts and sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and dessicated coconut and chopped crystallised ginger. This is the precise recipe I used, okay? I just threw stuff in and mixed it until it looked a) like raw muesli bar and b) like I couldn't fit any more stuff in. Then I baked it until it looked like cooked muesli bar, and cut it while hot and still soft.

Next time I might try baking the stuff first and then stirring into the liquid, just for a point of comparison.
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: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Night before last, Boots slept under my bed, which is as close as she's come to normal during the night. During the day she's pretty much back to normal, occasionally bouncing off the walls but that's normal too.

Last night I coaxed her onto the bed where she normally sleeps. I wasn't sure if she was going to stay or not. Then we got a 5.0 (biggest quake for weeks) and she was out the door. I tried calling out to her that it was okay but she wouldn't have listened anyway and besides, the quake was still rumbling and I was wondering whether to pull my pillow over my head, so I probably didn't sound that convincing.

She came back this morning when it was time for me to get up. But I always take a shower before feeding her breakfast and when I came out she was gone. It turns out there was a 4.4 while I was in there so that explains that.

Also my nose is all snuffly. I'd like to vote hayfever because I have meds for that, but the problem is I've already been taking them. Do not want to get sick this week. I specifically planned to take leave on Thursday because Monday and Tuesday other people are on leave and Wednesday and Friday are respectively the farewell lunch and last day at work of my manager. On the other hand, I *really* need some time off.

Oh, one of my colleagues lives in the CBD and was evacuated. Her flat was finally given a green placard so she could go back -- and then this weekend it was inspected again, red-carded, and she was given half an hour to gather belongings and leave. :-(

Anyway, off to work, having made contingency plans in my head in case of highly implausible structural collapse while I'm in the building. (But otoh, people here are frequently surprised to learn I'd planned out where to shelter if a quake struck when I was in my bed. Seriously, out of all the contingency plans I've ever made for ridiculously unlikely things, that seemed the least embarrassingly ridiculous to me. Also it's probably the only one I've ever actually used!)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
So my bad day yesterday didn't get overly better. I was finally home relaxing and tinkering with my job application when we got a 4.4, which, pff, is nothing. But I had a whim to check out Twitter, and first thing I saw was someone say the North Island had had a big one.

If the North Island had a big one that felt like a 4.4 here, that'd be a *big* one. Probably an 8 or something; almost certainly involving dead people. So I was desperately refreshing Twitter, kicking Geonet, and trying to make my radio give me something other than static or pop music, mentally screaming, "TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON!"

Then someone on Twitter pointed to a map which showed green squares (magnitude ~5) on the east coasts both of the North and South Islands. Which was good (no dead people!) but also a bit worrying: with 5s sensed that spread out, did that mean there'd been a big one offshore instead? because if so, did we now have to worry about a tsunami?

And then finally we got the details from Geonet which was that there'd been a 5.6 in the North Island and three minutes later an unconnected 4.4 in Darfield.

At which, in relief, I broke into mild hysterics. And after I got my breathing back under control I decided that I was going to watch Yes, Prime Minister until I fell asleep, which I did.

So this morning I felt much better. Until there was a 4.3 which sent Boots scampering and proved my own equilibrium wasn't exactly stable. And then a market researcher guy phoned and I nearly sent him packing until he explained he was phoning on behalf of Civil Defence and other people and his survey was about the earthquake, which seemed worth while, so there I was saying I "strongly agree" that I'm coping well, while crying and trying not to sound like I'm crying, because when one cries people always get the wrong idea.

So then I spent the rest of the day watching Yes, Prime Minister. Oh, and sitting on the phone waiting to report to my ISP that I've lost access to some websites, including LiveJournal. And you know my pet hate? When they tell you you're going to have to wait 17 minutes, and then they play some pretty music, except every two minutes they cut into the middle of the pretty song to apologise for the wait or - as in this case - tell you to turn your modem off and on again. Every two minutes. In case you didn't hear them the first time I guess? This is a pet hate of mine anyway, but the last day or two in particular I've gotten very irritable, so this was one of many things which has been triggering my "GRR RAGE!" impulse. However I fortunately squashed it, and talked to the nice call centre person, and did some traceroute stuff for him, and several hours later the ISP finally fixed it.

Around 5:30 I went around to my parents' place and tried to work on my job application some more. I did get a bit further. Then I heard an earthquake coming, which was a novelty: first I heard it shaking the living room, and then it shook the bedroom where I was with my sister. Very exciting. Then fifteen minutes later it did it again, at which I said ,"For goodness' sake!" Then another ten minutes later we got another one which actually set things swaying, and my sister said, "Seriously?"

About then Mum called us for dinner, so we went out, and got a fourth one and then a weak fifth one. But the first four had seemed like mid-4s (I reckoned the third as 4.6) so we were startled when Geonet finally told us they ranged 3.8 - 4.1. Until we looked up the coordinates and found that the epicentres had all been in Christchurch, and that third one had been three or four blocks away.

(One of the news channels tweeted asking for the experience of people who'd been at the epicentre. I emailed and told them that it'd definitely felt bigger than the 4.0s we've been getting out of Darfield but other than that it felt pretty much like an earthquake. I do admire their determination to try and eke some kind of news value out of what's being referred to as JAFA (just another fecking aftershock). They politely replied thanks and take care.)

Anyway I'm trying not to think too hard about the fact that no-one knew there was a fault right under Christchurch, and instead concentrate on the fact that they were piddly little 4s.

We had dinner with fish fingers, after having finished which Mum asked if we wanted custard. (Am I allowed to do this with grammar? I think I ought to be allowed, not just because allowances must be made for my state of brain-friedness but also because it seems to me an awesome sentence structure with all sorts of potential. But is it normally allowable? I find it hard to judge things at the moment.) My sister and I both expressed what a pity it was that we no longer had fish fingers to eat the custard with. We had it with ice cream instead but I do intend to try the experiment sometime because I think little Amelia Pond was way too judgemental on the matter.

Anyway and then I took my bus, which drove me home right over the epicentre of that 4.0. Is this or is this not pretty cool? I bet none of you has done anything this cool today!
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
Boots is tenderising my thigh and all is well in the world.

(Also some paperwork arrived earlier than I expected which, if I act on it quickly enough, might allow me to upgrade some of the handwaving necessary for my job application to slightly more concrete handwaving. ETA <rereads application procedure and is reminded why she never tried applying for this earlier> Or, well, maybe not. Oh well. I shall go and heat frozen pizza.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Woken from an awesome dream and lay there thinking, "Hmm, 4.5, 4.4? Quite a long one, for that matter. Now, about this cover letter I need to write..." until that sent me back to sleep. Turned out to be 4.5.

You too can become a magnitude-guessing expert, after a mere 537 aftershocks to warm you up! (Magnitude 3+ only included; there's been a couple hundred more lower than that but you can't feel them.)

Boots wasn't in the house at the time, but she turned up for breakfast.

The cover letter had been driving me batty and I kept distracting myself by imagining questions I might get challenged on should I get an interview, until suddenly in the shower or something I realised that my answer to one of said imaginary interview questions should form the basis of the cover letter, so I'll draft that up on the bus into work.
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
Local body elections are arguably less important than national government elections, but they're a hell of a lot more fun. Here in Christchurch we get mail containing our voting papers, instructions, and candidate information, and you get to read everything, tick your favourite boxes, and post it back.

The fun comes in because many of the candidates hold views on the world which are somewhat orthogonal to reality. My normal method of voting goes: scan the 14 manifestos; eliminate those who couldn't be bothered to spell-check or include a photo; eliminate the weirdos (weird quotes are in bold so you can scan for those if you get bored); choose between the remaining 3 candidates.

Spoiler alert: commentary on Christchurch local body candidates )

So that narrows it down to two.

But wait, there's more!

Spoilers for councillors )
(Boots entertains herself by knocking down my pen and chasing it back and forth across the room.)

Retrieving my pen I continue )

(Boots sits on my voting paper and cleans her toenails.)

Retrieving my voting papers I continue )
(Boots is getting decidedly skittish, but fortunately that's it for the next few years.)

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