zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
Someone's opinion piece in the newspaper suggested that we could stop shops starting Christmas too early by inventing a Kiwi seasonal holiday to celebrate around about now instead. She then created and elaborated on one but I'd tuned out because:

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

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

Halloween then Guy Fawkes then Christmas, I ragetweeted.

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

So, fine. The garden has spoken. Christmas is coming.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
Ordinarily I get my sister to catsit when I'm out of town, but a full week after booking the holiday I realised that since my sister would be coming out of town with us, this wouldn't be practical. (In the event she didn't come with us because she was sick, but that didn't change the unavailable-for-catsitting status.) So I booked a cattery.

It was a very quick process, involving basically a telephone conversation. I was fluttery at the absence of formalities because I was expecting them to require a deposit if nothing else, or even to get a copy of Boots' vaccinations before the fact. But they were unconcerned so I figured I was just anxious at leaving Boots in a cattery for a week and a half knowing that last time I had to take her away from home during earthquake repairs she hid under the motel bed for three days, and so she was going to hate a cattery.

Now one reason I chose this place was she offered pickups and dropoffs, which is helpful since the bus website suggests they don't carry pets. So at the appointed time on the evening before leaving on holiday at oh-dark-thirty I awaited her arrival. And waited. And waited. Trying to keep Boots inside and yet not stressed all the time. So I phoned and apparently she'd forgotten. Illness or something; okay, there's a lot of nasty stuff going around here at the moment.

So it's fine, she rearranges her evening and turns up with her daughter in the backseat, and I hand over Boots and her food and medicines (both her regular food/medicines and her post-minor-dental-surgery food/medicines, along with an instructional schedule) and so forth and am all helicopter parent while the cattery woman is all "I've got this". We confirm the date and time she'll drop Boots off post-holiday. She gives me her card and asks me to drop her an email so she can send me some photos to prove Boots is enjoying her stay.

I sent her the email, mentioning my email access would be intermittent. Two-thirds of the way through the holiday (which was otherwise lovely, I may or may not blog about it separately) I realised she never so much as acknowledged the email.

So late last night I got home (and dreamed of cats and medicines), and this morning at the appointed time I expect my cat to be returned to me. Yet the appointed time passes with no Boots. Still no Boots. So I ring again, and get voice mail on both landline and cellphone. I continue ringing and leaving messages throughout the day. At 4pm I'm literally putting on my coat to get the bus and find out what the hell's going on when I finally get through to her.

"Oh yeah," quoth she vaguely. "I wasn't sure whether it was today or tomorrow. I think I was expecting a phone call."

Nope. A) I was always clear about the date. If she wasn't, she should have written it down when she specifically told me she was diarying it. Or emailed, at any point. Or phoned, ditto. B) We specifically agreed that Boots would be dropped off at this particular time. C) If you're expecting a phone call maybe you should actually answer one of your phones.

So anyway, we agreed a new time. Then followed two more calls to determine which cat carrier is Boots's. I-- I would have expected her to have been keeping track of other people's property herself?

Apparently not. Because when (with both daughters in the back seat) she drops Boots and supplies off (and a new excuse: she was being audited today so busy all morning) I discover upon unpacking (after she's driven away) that I am further missing not only Boots's food dish but also the collar from around her neck with the magnetic nametag that lets her get in and out of the house.

I've taped the magnetic cat flap open, and found a substitute food dish, and left a polite message on the answerphone saying no rush (because those kids do not need to keep getting dragged around) and just leave them in my mailbox if I'm not home (because I'd actually just as soon not talk to her again); and not saying that I'm not yet feeling any great rush to pay my bill either (those magnetic tags are not cheap).

Online reviews for this place are all positive. Probably most people wouldn't run into these problems as they'd pick up and drop off themselves, so no waiting around and they could point out the cat carrier, missing collar, and food dish at the same time, sans drama. But, wow. This is one business card I'm keeping in my stack just so I can scrawl never again all over it.

(But Boots is now home! And exploring everything. Yes, Boots, eat the business card with the dollar figure and bank account number on it so I can legitimately say "My cat ate the bill," that would be awesome. No? What if I accidentally spill deliciousness on it? Aw, fine.)
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
I've got a lovely two-week holiday so today, instead of leaving for work after my regular Sunday sleep-over with friends, I went with them when they took their three-year-old to his first (half-)day of kindergarten. It was the first time they'd left him alone with strangers so they were a little twitchy though also looking forward to having a bit of time without a preschooler around to catch up on things that preschoolers like to help with, like climbing ladders and painting and varnishing things.

In due course, we also went to pick him up again. He was looking at a picture book and asked me to read it, and about three seconds into it another boy appeared and handed me another book to read, and that's how I ended up reading "Maui's Fish" and "Princess Lulu and the Sleep Stealer" to four kindy kids.

(And then it being a gorgeous day we went to the beach and played frisbee and excavated a water channel while building a castle wall beside it and didn't get sunburned because they made me put sunscreen on even though I hate how greasy it is. I'm glad I'm not staying the night tonight because that's going to be one tired kid.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Any Good Friday where my cat isn't desperately ill is a good Good Friday.

What's more, it's perfectly sunny, which means my yeast mixture rose. It rose so much I had to add an extra cup of flour to the mixture (ie an extra 25%). Then forgot to add extra spice to match. Also I think the temperature in the recipe is too hot really, but I was watching this year so they didn't burn; I just hadn't finished making the glaze yet when I had to yank them out.

Off now to share them with family at parents' house.

(Now with bonus recipe.)
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: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Come on in, the water's fine!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
At least that's what Mum said when we arrived home after attending a midnight carol service.

One of the carols talked about how the shepherds had been asleep in the snow. Which is kind of silly because they'd get hypothermia, and also the current weather in Bethlehem is 17 Celsius, and I don't think we've had that much global warming in 2000 years. (Also Jesus wasn't born in December but that only amplifies my point.)

Occasionally northern hemisphere people ask whether it's strange not having a white Christmas, and... well, no, because I've had not-white Christmases all my life. And so did Jesus, so I feel we're doing pretty well upholding an age-old tradition here.

We have our own traditions too: pohutukawa and Christmas lilies (spelled "lillies" by grocers nationwide); barbecues and swimming at the beach; carols by Shirley Murray and Colin Gibson.

And we have family traditions, like all of us coming to the parents' house to stay the night, and me and Mum going to the midnight service, and all of us opening our stockings in the morning, in which there will always be sellotape and a bag of chocolate money (which we've nicknamed "prostitute money" after Saint Nick) followed eventually by presents under the tree and then sometime in the afternoon Christmas dinner.

White Christmases are kind of a cute novelty - I've had a couple in my years of travels - but Christmas for me is spending the long warm evenings in busy shopping malls, and three days of icing the cake, and getting up early on Christmas morning to jump on my siblings' beds (or have them jump on mine) and then our parents' while we go through a prolonged ritual of (re)opening our stockings. (Being cold would really cramp our style with that one.)

Christmas is what we make happen.

Merry Christmas!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
So I've got leave for a week so I can go to bed as late as I want and sleep in as long as I want. So last night I went to bed on time for the first night in weeks. I guess I felt like there wasn't a rush to do as much as possible before work starts again. I furthermore predict that on Sunday week I'll be going to bed really late. Brains are stupid.

Anyway, so after waking up this morning at 6:45 to the sound of my alarm clock not going off, I went back to sleep and had awesome dreams. I do keep telling myself that I get the best dreams when I'm not sleep-deprived, but it doesn't help when I'm trying to do as much as possible before work starts again.

Dream the first: I was in a museum. I was going down some stairs to the zoo, which I thought wasn't particularly nice to the animals to never see sunlight, but since they were there anyway I wanted to see the zebra. I lost my way a bit so was trying doors at random. At this point I may or may not have been the Doctor. One of the doors I tried opened out onto the street, but it wasn't the street where the museum was located so I decided it was safest not to go through. Also I was still looking for the zoo. The other doors I tried were also portals into other parts of the city. (It was kind of European with cobblestones, but also kind of... heritagey, like it was staged for tourists maybe.) The last one I tried before the dream faded, there was a woman selling strawberry tarts and strawberry slushies and so forth, and I was trying to understand the money I had (coins shaped like pink foil pea-sized balls) in order to buy some.

Dream the second: I was a Princess on the run / in rebellion against my mother the Queen. (Ie, I was dreaming about my WIP. My WIP is set in Scandinavia, but for some reason whenever I dream about it, at least about the royalty part, it's set in Korea.) I had to get some allies who'd be loyal to me and not my mother, and my Korean isn't terribly good. With some thought I said to a bunch of people something that, upon analysing the grammar while awake, actually means "Is there anybody? To love me." A bunch of people followed me around a corner, at which point I stopped and asked, "Is there anybody? To love [my] mother." There was a certain case marker that I used this time, which I think symbolises my ongoing confusion about how one is meant to use that case marker. Anyway, having narrowed down who I could trust the dream continued with me going into a Bible study class and my sister was there and it started going incoherent and anyway I can't remember any more.

Speaking of the WIP, earlier this week I wrote 549 words of Mikkel talking with the Queen, and then I deleted them. And up through yesterday I wrote 411 words of Mikkel talking with the Queen's lady-in-waiting, and now I've deleted them. I'm planning now to write some number of words of Mikkel talking with the Queen and her lady-in-waiting, and with luck I won't delete them too.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Picture me arriving, turning on the lights, and wondering for several seconds, where the cat is. Picture a tremendous clatter at the cat flap. Then picture the cat's dismay when I have to go out ten minutes later to get groceries. I could hear her piteous mew from halfway down the road. Later on she lay on my lap, occasionally looking up to make sure it was actually me, and when I went to bed she came and touched my nose, then slept practically on top of me.

So! The thing to remember is that New Zealand is, if small, nevertheless long. So our itinerary was:

Oh yes, I have photos here; SNIP! )
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
We're driving through the North Island and have stopped to visit a chemist. We have parked outside the Waikato District Library in Huntly. And so I says to myself, "Self, I wonder if Huntly has access to the Aotearoa People's Network?" And I opened my laptop, and lo, it does. Random free wireless ftw!

<waves to the world> Hi world! My sister has a sore throat (hence the chemist) but so far she hasn't given it to me. It is presently sunny, though since we've been driving a lot and also this is New Zealand we've been alternating sun and rain. Last night we visited my uncle and then drove to the family's holiday house at Tokaanu for the night.

My Interactive Fiction of Huis Clos is up to early in Scene 3. (Scene 3 is where it starts getting more complicated....) Also I wrote a bit of chapter 17 of the WIP, but I probably need to write it again.

Mum, the only one of us without a laptop, is really impressed by the super fancy public toilets in Huntly.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
The camera is being troublesome but if it fails I'll steal some of my sister's photos instead.

Bye all!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Hey everyone, I will be on holiday from Thursday morning until the night of Sunday week. Just in case you wonder why I've disappeared from the face of the internet.

Hey, and my fridge is now startlingly clean, due to the fact that I just threw all sorts of containers full of dubious substances into the garbage.

I still need to:
* buy a suitcase to replace the one with the zip that's corroded shut
* visit the doctor for medicaments which, in my befuddled state on Friday, I told the other doctor I had enough of (I did! Because I was planning to visit the doctor and knew I had enough to last until then...) Anyway, a check-up will probably be good.
* give my sister a key to make it easier for her to feed my cat
* do the dishes
* everything else I've forgotten

Hey everyone, while on holiday with nothing to do but nature walks and other such tortures, shall I:

a) finish this blasted novel for once and for all (quarter of an accursed novel in 10 days should be doable, right?)

b) recreate the entirety of 16th century Copenhagen in Inform 7 for an open-ended interactive fiction/game/thing where you can choose by your actions whether the story is a romance, mystery, quest, political thriller, etc etc (so far I have a few rooms in the castle; candles and oil lamps that burn until consumed; coins in various denominations and kings; and some randomly generated NPCs who'll tell you when asked what time it is and, if they're a priest in a chapel and it happens to be the change of the canonical hour, will start saying their offices)

c) make Criminal Minds fanvids (this would involve packing all my DVDs plus the old laptop because the new laptop inexplicably refuses to read my Criminal Minds DVDs, do not even *get* me started)

d) plan properly for the workshop I'll be facilitating at the library conference in a month and a half (except this probably requires the internet for research which I won't have)

e) do my overdue taxes (um, whoops)

f) read piles of books (involves packing piles of books)

g) all of the above?


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

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