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I got dropped in performance and my neck hurts and my feet are bruised and my ribs ache like they’re bruised and if I wear my glasses my head pounds worse but I can’t wear contacts 24/7 and wah wah wah. I’m tired and feel like I’m cold although that’s very unlikely so I’m sitting here in track pants with GEEK on the arse and a hoodie with shitty faux fur in the hood to keep my neck warm.

And the sodding dance teachers forgot the official makeup so, because I’m that sorta girl, I ended up going out and buying the appropriate makeup for the girls MYSELF. Maroon and gold, neither of which are colours I’ll be able to wear!

The weekend started on a kind of hilarious note. A, J and I carpooled down to the festival of the weekend, as the festival is in my hometown, where mum lives, so I was going to chill with my family while the girls did ALL THE DANCE, then I was just going to party at night.

About 30 mins away from our destination? A’s car died on the side of the road (J was travelling with her). I belong to a roadside assistance scheme which includes free towing. A does not, because her dad is a mechanic. So after some back and forth I eventually told her to STFU and accept the free tow the remaining 30 minutes to my mother’s place. The person I ended up speaking to could not locate me on a map, so eventually I just told her in painstaking detail where we were (it helps to be a local) and she relayed the wrong info to the towie. Sigh.

However, the towie did arrive, and started chortling when I relayed the destination address. Much to my amusement it turns out he’s towed my Mum in the last two months twice.

Anyways, A’s car gets on the tow truck, we trundle off towards Mum’s and we blow past a friend’s car (containing four dancers also en route to the festival). They’re all out of the car 10 mins from town.

We go “yeah, having a break.”

“… maybe we’ll call.”

I pulled over. We rung. Yup, dead car #2….

So I turned around, went back, piled two of the passengers & their gear into my car. While we did this, the towie blew past & honked.

Because it was the same towie who would be returning shortly to collect K’s vehicle.

Then I got ID’d at the bottle store buying wine, by a young man who apologised PROFUSELY for checking my ID = “oh my goodness, I am SO SORRY. You are THIRTY.”

So, jump forward to Saturday night – Mum’s in the audience of the showcase (which I was performing/got dropped in.) She’s sitting next to some people from Napier who are chatting to each other cheerfully and talking about the weekend’s curse on vehicles. Mum cracked up.

As it turns out, A’s dad (the mechanic) was in $nearby_town dropping off $things the next day – so they did an extra ~90 minutes driving, put A’s dead car – the auto transmission shit itself – on the back of the truck & drove it the three hours home. It worked out.

Honestly, I’m still grumpy & sore and such. But I can indeed see the funny side.

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Xmas is impending, and I’m feeling pretty good about it this year. My inlaws in the UK have presents incoming via the magic of the internet, I’ve purchased all I intend to for my beloved, and on the basis that none of my own family celebrate Xmas, I don’t have to worry about them.

I’m doing my usual mostly-DIY-ish presents for friends. I get a lot of pleasure out of putting little things together, and thankfully none of my social group have great expectations.

It’s also turned into 2013: The JAMening. So far, tomato-bbq sauce & cranberry-orange sauce have been produced; this weekend will also see tamarillo-apple jam and spiced curry orange sauce. Between now and Xmas I intend to do, oh, strawberry and probably normal apple sauce too. It’ll be fun!

I’ve put a “come one, come all” invite out on Facebook for Xmas day/Boxing Day. I’m on call over the silly season this year, so I intend to make ALL the food, and hope that everyone I want to see makes the effort to turn up at some stage. And, well, if they don’t, we have a chest freezer to accommodate leftovers.

I’ve spent today doing laundry, vacuuming, and mopping, so that I can put up the Xmas tree with a clear conscience tonight. I’m looking forward to it.

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This has been the LOVELIEST Christmas.

Christmas day, we had the usual suspects for dinner, five altogether. Boxing day, we had seven; then the 27th, a pair of friends with three kids dropped in, for a further excellent dinner.

There has been lots of food and ham and puddings and ham and more food and we don’t want ham again until at least Easter, seriously, and fruit mince pies – I still have 1.5kg of fruit mince jarred up, will it keep until next xmas you think? and excellent company, and games of the card, computer, and beach-ball variety, AND I still don’t have to go back to work until the 7th Jan and I am a happy woman.

I’ve cleaned some things, but not all the things I want yet. Still, I’m happy with the overall success of Operation 2012: the house is still a bit of a problem in certain areas, but I feel more on top of the overall operation. Life-management is always a work in progress.

I’ve also had the time to be crafty. In the last couple of days, I’ve finished these two. It’s continuing to be a good vacation.

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It’s December 1st. It’s a lovely, lovely, sunny day outside; it’s Saturday, and I made the mistake of going to the mall today. I had lots of sensible reasons (need for new laundry hamper, a couple of small Xmas-y bits and pieces, printing some photos to send to my Mum), but oh my goodness the PEOPLE. I had to walk for nearly a kilometer just to get from where I parked INTO the mall, let alone walk around in it. I mean, I don’t mind walking, but it was just … well, I sent the following text to my beloved.

Love his sense of humour.

We’re not doing anything major for Xmas this year. I’ve posted the Christmas cards to the inlaws, I’ve bought some small bits and pieces for various friends, but all and all, it’s going to be a low-key year for us. I’m quite looking forward to it, actually – T and I both have two weeks off (from the Friday before Giftmas to the first workday after New Years). It will be glorious.

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My friend Tekkie passed away earlier this week – a severe allergic reaction to wasp stings that she never woke up from. She was younger than my mum.

She had a wonderful sense of humour. She was a grandma who was a soundman for ten years. To borrow her own words, “I don’t know how to knit and I don’t say “Oh, dearie me.” But I *do* solder and say “Aw, f*ck.” And bake cookies.” She collected ninjas, and loved her cats.

To me, she was my honorary auntie. She was a friend, a dear one, a wise and sympathetic ear, and she introduced me to my husband.

I will really, really miss her.

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I’m looking down the home straight of going back to work, now. I’ve had a lovely holiday, I don’t really want to go back to the grind.

But, the last day will be a good one. I am going on a road trip to my hometown, with Kat. I’ll duck in and visit Mum, and we have plans to visit one of the tourist spots, and probably go swimming – what with six hours in the car, getting into togs and into the water Sounds Like A Plan. Plus I will be picking up a chair I acquired via TradeMe, trying to avoid speeding tickets, and generally going “whee, last day of holidays, Make It A Good One”.

I’ve had a good break. A nice mix of productive things and faffing about being lazy. The days around Christmas and New Year, I conscientiously sat on my bottom and ate as much as I felt like, interspersed with occasional amounts of cooking and tidying up the absolute minimum (ie, plates, trash). I did extend myself to the efforts of making some food, though – a roast chicken for Xmas dinner, a ham for New Year’s Day.

When Tobes had to go back to work, I did too. Around the house. I got the snug craft room – known for the last six months as “that room with all the stuff piled on the couch and no visible carpet” – tidied up, with the aid of some new storage and a bit of judicious recycling of empty cardboard boxes. I belatedly finished a couple of Christmas presents, having discovered enough desk space to be able to work. The spare bedroom is now actually usable as a bedroom again, and I even found a couple of headboards on Freecycle for the bed. I finally turfed out three trash bags full of unneeded clothes (also via Freecycle). I painted various external bits of the house that needed painting. I washed apparently endless amounts of laundry. I arranged the car’s registrations and warrants. I took down and washed and hung curtains, took down and replaced venetian blinds. Little housewifely busy bee.

I quite enjoy being a housewife. I kind of wish that we could afford for me to be a housewife. It’s not feasible, obviously, but it would be nice. The cats have enjoyed having me around – especially once the snug was tidy again and they could reclaim their perching places in there. And I get a lot done. The house gets tidier, laundry is all completed. I sort of ran out of oomph after wrenching my knee up a ladder, but that’s life.

I like my home, I like my home life. Plus, it’s summer, and being solar powered, I am happy.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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This was my Christmas dinner table. During the day, my “number of guests to feed” went from three to two (myself and Tobermory and Ahze, then not Ahze then Ahze again) up to five (about half an hour before dinner, Thaqui came home and Colitis came over).

I had a size 24 chicken, however, so this wasn’t a terrible problem. I usually account for unexpected guests when I’m making dinner, as there is a tendency for people to show up randomly and need feeding around here. I don’t mind, I like that we’re the kind of house and kind of people where our friends are happy to wander in and be fed.

So, dinner was roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing (handmade by me), a large salad, mashed potatoes (with herbs and cheese), glazed carrots (sugar, honey, sesame oil), gravy (pan drippings and home-made stock), orange and cranberry sauce (made by me!)… and when we are not all so stuffed full of chicken that we can contemplate dessert, there will be hand-made fruit mince pies. With pastry and fruit mince made by me!

Yes, this is a weee bit gloaty, but I am proud of myself. The chicken was gloriously falling apart and properly cooked with lovely crisp skin, the potatoes were delicious, and for the first time since I started trying to make gravy my gravy was PERFECT and the right consistency and was tasty.

This might be the first Christmas that’s actually felt like a ‘proper’ Christmas.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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I went shopping with Jexia today! I'd kind of gotten used to shopping on my own if it's things like clothes, shoes, etc, because although I love Tobermory dearly, he is not a fun shopping companion.

So, we met up, nattered some, I ogled the babies and X, started trawling through stores. (Her husband kid-wrangled.) And it was fun!

Score of the day: a $190 jacket for $30. Business-style jacket, that is - I've been wanting one, and struggling to find any that fit over my bust and button without looking a) ridiculously tight at the bust b) ridiculously loose at the stomach c) silly at the shoulders. And this one fits!! Also found a pair of jeans, which is nice, as my last ones succumbed to fat-girl-pants syndrome of chafing-through in the top of the thigh.

It was a lot of fun. Simple fun, yes, but it was just NICE wandering around clothing stores being vaguely girly. I haven't been shopping with another woman for a LONG time.

Having wandered the mall for several hours, and waved her off home when X was becoming difficult for M to wrangle (and then mall-wandering further, because it wasn't worth driving home then driving halfways back to go to work) I purchased a large takeaway of Chinese and transported myself to work.

Where I have to remain until 2am. Sigh...

Originally published at Spinneretta.
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I'm certainly not above being a memesheep here - and, really, the last ten years have been full of changes. As you'd expect when you transition from your teens to your twenties, I suppose.

Finished high school. Spent a fairly miserable year as all my school friends were no longer at school (either being a year ahead or having chosen not to do seventh form). Graduated high school with pretty damn good grades, all things considered. Started going out with Cyclenut.

First year of university, studying business. Mum had surgery to remove an ovary. Stressed out about money. Survived.

Made the decision to switch into computing, having realised that I'd stab someone with a letter opener if I stayed in accounting. Started teaching computing.

First year of the computing degree. It was a good choice! Was mostly miserable in my home town, had no local friends (although there were one or two people who I periodically went to movies and such with, they tended to be less than wonderful). Lived for the chances I got to leave and visit Cyclenut, mostly.

Uni uni uni, work work work. Started making Internetfriends, beginning with Colitis I think. Started cycling and swimming, and running more seriously. Originally mostly due to Cyclenut's influence, I enjoyed it. Eventually ended up swimming with a tri training squad, although that may have been in 2005 now I think about it. Started working at my first helldesk role. I enjoyed that job.

One of my worst years, and yet I achieved a hell of a lot. Got Internet access at the maternal abode for the first time. The final project at uni, which was a horrible series of ups and downs and disappointments. I eventually passed, though. Spent my final semester getting burned out and doing too much. Miserable in my home town, was officially Nellie No Friends. Cyclenut and I parted ways. Met Internet friends in real life. Finally sucked it up, went to GP, diagnosed with depression. Did a Special K triathlon. Met Tobermory. Graduated. Made decision to leave childhood faith while planning to leave home. Went out with my workmates for drinks. Went to the Christmas party. Spent time with friends in Auckland and Hamilton. Rhonda the Honda died, and I was obliged to rely on shanks pony or my bike for transport.

Graduation ceremony, did the walk in the silly hats. Worked for the web-dev company, worked for EDS (worst. decision. ever.) Bought my first car. Moved to Auckland, on April Fool's day which I still think is hilarious. Officially left childhood faith. Tobermory moved to New Zealand. Purchased Spinneretta. Dyed my hair (went through a rainbow of atrocious colours, in fact). Purchased various stupidly cheap appliances off Trademe until we could afford non-shitty ones. Had first birthday. The couch attempted to eat Reiver.

Left EDS. Discovered how truly psychologically destructive that place was. Started working for my current workplace. Reconnected with Pstyken. Tobermory was hospitalised for the first time with stomach issues. Candycat moved in from the neighbour's place. Played World of Warcraft. Cooked a lot, had various work / money dramas with Tobermory's revolving contracts. Got continually sick with various lung-infection type bugs owing to shitty damp horrible flat. Survived.

My beloved Sharkie-car died. Bought the Scoobaru and Buzby. Tobermory bought a house! Moved into said house. Lots of drama related to house buying and so on. Tobermory got residency! and much rejoicing was done. Moved into house, bought furniture and various necessaries. Spent several months wondering how the hell we'd survived in the tiny flat of hell. Unoffically promoted internally as trainer of new staff, etc. Parked Buzby under an SUV in an attempt to avoid another accident. HOUSE! Had our first Christmas and New Year's parties here.

Made a lot of jam. Attempted cake decorating. We bought a lawnmower and I became the de facto lawnmower of the family. Met the Tobermory-parents for the first time. Was proposed to in front of said parents, burst into tears even though I more or less knew it was coming. Acquired the Tigra and Boomer cats from the SPCA. Thaqui moved in. Bought a piano. Promoted to team leader. Dramas with the Ford, leading to it's eventual return. Attempted gardening. Adjusted to having an entire house available instead of two very small rooms. Mum had dental surgery, during which the family suddenly realised that I was actually a grownup and capable of looking after my mother instead of the other way around.

It's funny how summing up the events doesn't really cover just how much I've changed from age sixteen to age twenty six. Still, here I am. And I'm happy.

Originally published at Spinneretta.
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It's my beloved's birthday. I threw him a surprise party, and I'm really pleased with how it went.

I only had the idea a fortnight, or perhaps three weeks ago. In that time, I managed to organise about fifteen people (admittedly illness intervened so that some couldn't turn up, but that's OK!), plot cake, do a test run of cake decoration; slip up in a hardware store and admit to my beloved that yes, one of his birthday presents was a leatherman; and trick him into cleaning the barbecue.

People had agreed to turn up between three and four yesterday. About 2:45, Psytken and Thaqui took him off to the mall to ogle, I don't know, video games and dvd's and so on. When they arrived back, nearly everyone was here; the look on his face was perfect. He'd had no idea I was arranging a proper party.

And then there was cake. Which also elicited the stunned reaction.

It really was an excellent night. A bit of a merge of friends, including one of my workmates and a friend that I've long been wanting my beloved to meet - they appeared to get along nicely, which pleased me greatly - and it was good company, good food, good friends. A wonderful night.

Happy birthday, love.

Originally published at Spinneretta.
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It's been a busy few weeks. I had a week of night shifts, which was horrible; the usual revolving run of visitors; a run to my hometown to take my mother to a dental specialist at the major town between our respective homes (go go driving 1000km in 24 hours); discovered that my new babyproofing system appears to be making my backside expand at an exponential rate - I'm giving it another month for my system to adjust, then going back to the doctor to complain - on the other hand, I appear to have pulled my head out of the route to depression that I was heading towards, I've shaken the abandonment issues when Tobermory isn't there when I wake up panicking at o'dark'hundred, and I actually have energy instead of crippling tireds.

The peas are still battling the snails, and mostly losing despite all that chemical warfare can do to assist. The tomatoes are now battling the size of the tomato pot, and growing most valiantly. The strawberries don't appear to be growing anything except leaves (most vexing) but on the other hand, they're not dead. The cats are still growing; Tigra is now 3.2kgs at nine months old, Boomer is 5.2kgs at ten months old. BIG BUGGER.

I bought two swimsuits. One via TradeMe, via which means I bought a swimsuit that retails for $208 for $55. The other? Well, I picked Auckland's most recent AMAZINGLY shitty weather, when it was cold and wet and horrid, and went shopping. Walked into a store which I know primarily supplies bikinis to skinny minnies, started browsing. The female shop assistant wandered over, asked what I was after, and turned up five minutes after that with twelve things for me to try on.

The amusing bit? The tankini I eventually bought was half price.

The spa pool is repaired, it needed a new pump. I've broken in the new swimsuit (twice), and it was wonderful when Tobermory's friends from the UK visited this weekend.

I feel sorry for my beloved. Having his oldest / closest friends around has made him homesick in a way I don't remember him being before. There's nothing I can do, either, other than hug and sympathize. The move to New Zealand was good for him, in many many ways, and obviously I think it's a good thing because, well, we're together. But it's the people he misses. His friends. He's a social animal, and he left so many friends, good friends, behind...

Originally published at Spinneretta.
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It is Queen's Birthday weekend, and I have managed to get all three days of it off work. Hooray!

I gave the kittens a hunk of raw beef this morning. It was absolutely adorable. There were little spats of YOU ARE EATING FOOD IN MY PERSONAL SPACE and killing Rrrrrrrrr!! noises. Tigra killed hers before eating it - the full-on toss meat in air to break it's neck, bat it about the floor, bite down HARD - all while making adorable little GROWLY noises, before she eventually ate it.

We are eating the rest of the meat in a mystery stew - I knew the age of the contents of the freezer, but not exactly what cut all the dead cow in there was. Stew seemed to be the answer.

We have been busy, the last two days. Friday night, we emptied the spa pool and took out the filter for a clean. Tobermory managed to bash his head on the framing of the crawlspace door, and gave himself a concussion so bad I insisted we go to A&E. He turned out to be fine, but the doctor did say that I was right to bring him in. So, that was Friday.

Saturday, with Pstyken and Thaqui (well, fairly obviously Thaqui owing to the fact he lives here), we scrubbed the hell out of the spa with meths, then refilled it. It's actually quite hard work, not to mention that all those alcohol fumes floating around the air aren't much fun.

Tobermory and I also managed to have a rather vicious spat (during which I was a horrible harpy, and subsequently managed to cry so hard that I've burst blood vessels under my eyes, d'oh). I should note we were both in various different ways wrong, and frankly it boils down to the usual couply issue of communication-fail. Such is life.

Today, I committed acts of violence against the front gardens. I had kitten assistance! They were shut inside while we cleaned the spa, so that they didn't decide to drink the chemicals, so of course today they went absolutely bananas outside. Boomer kept standing in the middle of the plants that I was trying to hack, leading to a couple of moments where it was chop, chop, cho-AUGH KITTEN TAIL. He is a lovely affectionate cat, which is wonderful except when he insists on Helping with Everything.

Tigra and Boomer also had several wonderful games of ... you know, I have no idea what it actually was, except it appeared to involve chasing each other up and down trees at opposite sides of the section. Presumably it made sense to them.

It has been a pleasant couple of days, either despite of because of working hard. And I intend to spend the holiday Monday sitting on my backside, doing as little as possible.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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May. 18th, 2009 11:28 pm
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Moose threw a birthday party on Saturday. The theme was "Game characters", and I went as Carmen Sandiego.

It was a fantastic night, there were loads of awesome costumes, lots of good people, an amazing cake, and Tobermory and I took home the Best Dressed Male (Hitman*) and Best Dressed Female prizes.

I wrote a seven page letter of burble to my grandmother tonight. I'm going to send it to her along with photos of the party, so that she feels like she's included. The burble isn't just about the party, it's about the house and the kittens and ... everything. Well, a cheerful everything, I don't include the bad bits, just a nice positive chatty natter that she can read and re-read, and photos she can show the nurses, and so on.

There was more I wanted to write about the party, but after talking to Mum tonight, I am feeling somewhat melancholic.

Nana is 80 now. She's not going to last too much longer. She's had her second major bowel obstruction in a few years (she is on some amazing drugs for it right now), and she's far too frail for surgery. Assuming she would actually submit to going to hospital at all, which is far from certain.

She's had a good innings, and honestly her quality of life is slowly going down hill.

But I'll still miss Nana when she goes.

* I know I'm biased and all, but damn he looked good.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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In peace

Apr. 28th, 2009 08:05 pm
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The kittens were allowed their first (supervised) explore outside today. Turns out, Boomer's a tree climber. Fortunately, he knows how to get down on his own.

Turns out we didn't need to be concerned about the spa pool. Tigra went exploring, and sat on the covers of it quite happily. Didn't even get her little paws wet.

We also have a flatmate now - Thaqui has moved in for a bit. He's got the downstairs bedroom and bathroom to himself, and I have one less toilet to clean.

It's been a pleasant couple of days, so far. I've taken the time to do some various chores that I keep not-managing during work weeks. I have yet to mow the lawns, though.

I fell over in the carpark at the mall. Landed square on my knee, rolled with it, and sat on the ground wanting to swear most mightily. I didn't, because there was a lovely elderly couple nearby, who hobbled over to check that I was OK.

I suspect by his bearing that the elderly gentleman was ex-military. He looked me over, after I had assured them that I was OK, and noted with a smile that rolling probably didn't make it hurt much less, and that I looked by my face as if I really wanted to swear...

My kneecap is purple. I am sitting with my feet up, with a Boomercat beside me kneading my leg, and my laptop, watching a movie after some excellent takeaway, with a drink beside me.

Life is good.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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Like any crazy cat lady with new cats, my conversation revolves around Boomer and Tigra much more than it should. It's been a fortnight now, and they are shaping up into lovely cats. No litter tray accidents yet, no actual squabbles, nothing broken furniture-wise, nothing broken kitten-wise (although Tigra has lemminged through the banisters twice...)

However, they are in my black books this morning. It is 8.19am on Easter Sunday, and I would like to be asleep, especially as I have to work this afternoon. The kittens woke up well before 7am, demanding breakfast and PLAAAY and breakfast and PLAAY and purr, purr, why aren't you getting up, ooh, lets chase each other!! runrunrun POUNCE beat up other kitten violently FLEEE runrunrun POUNCE roll around LEAP ON HUMAN BED AND CHASE THEIR TOES runrunrun up the hallway down the hallway LEAP ON THE BED AND ATTACK HUMAN LEGS, run off..

I gave up trying to sleep eventually. I've had six hours, that will have to do. The kittens are now in the lounge with me, Tobermory is presumably still snoring, Boomer is trying to kill the kitten climber thing (scratching post with platforms) and Tigra is chasing balls.

Little buggers.

It has in all other respects been a good weekend. Friday we had people over for dinner*, Pstyken and Colitis stayed over in order to be able to kill zombies until stupid a.m. Last night, Thaqui arrived with the makings of Long Island Iced Tea, and being sensible adults, no-one drove after that, so some amazingly dire movies were watched, and Thaqui and Pstyken are crashed out in various spare rooms. I'd gone to bed about 1am, what with work the next morning. I believe Tobermory crawled in to join me about four... Colitis is pondering joining us again tonight, and probably some more zombie killing is planned.

Growing up, there was a couple in Mum's congregation who always seemed to have revolving guests. MrsM became a by-word for her hospitality; there was always plentiful food, probably a few guests, and you knew if you were stuck for somewhere to stay in an emergency, she'd always, always help you out. Their children's friends were welcome to stay over (with reasonable warning, of course), and it was a rare weekend that at least two random extras weren't staying at their home.

Mum has commented a couple of times that I seem to be the MrsM of our group. I always loved being at MrsM's house, even when I grew up enough to acknowledge that it wasn't all sweetness and light. She was sometimes taken for granted and forced to accommodate people she didn't like; being expected to feed a load of extras at short notice can be expensive; sometimes you need space to yourself; laundry for endless spare beds takes forever; and so on and so forth. I remember asking Mum, once, if MrsM had always been snarky, or if I'd simply grown up enough to register the existence of sarcasm where previously it flew right over my head. (It was age related, she'd always had the sarcastic streak and I hadn't been old enough to tell.) This didn't alter my liking for her, really - even with the snark, she was good company. (For that matter, my sense of humour has always leaned towards the snarky, where Mum's doesn't.) She still asks after me via Mum, and unlike many in the congregation I left, seems genuinely pleased that I'm happy.

I might not be the MrsM of my generation, but it's something I always wanted the chance to be. Admittedly, the fact that everyone gathers here is largely due to the fact we have an actual house with spare rooms, where the majority of our friends are flatting, so we're the obvious choice of location for any gathering. That doesn't alter my enjoyment of it. As far as I can tell, our friends are happy to invite themselves over, secure in the knowledge that there will probably be excessive amounts of dinner anyway. I tend to leave the beds made up (the sheets go straight back on the beds they came off once they're clean and dry), so it's no hassle for someone to stay over unexpectedly. And I like it that way.

* And I was informed by all present that I didn't make enough cheese/herb naan bread - it was really REALLY good and vanished rapidly.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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Jan. 24th, 2009 02:47 pm
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It has been a good day. The sun is shining, I've done four? possibly five? loads of laundry, and made jam. Much, much jam. One of the things I took up after moving in here was making jam. I don't remember what triggered the interest, but I enjoy it, the results are tasty, and neither of those dissuade me from doing it more...

Today, I have made twenty one jars of jam. I have mint and apple jam, banana nut jam, and peach and apricot jam.

I already have plans for the mint and apple jam (moroccan inspired food), the banana nut jam is extremely tasty on toast or warmed and drizzled over vanilla icecream. Tobermory chews his way through the stuff at an amazing speed (apparently he likes it) so I made a double batch today. Eleven jars, in fact. And the young chap at work begged a jar, when I was talking about making it during the week, so I'll take one along to him.

I was also discussing my jam-making plans in IRC, and it inspired a bit of silliness which amused me greatly.

[MahalWurk] I have seven kilos of sugar in the pantry.
[MahalWurk] And much much fruit.
* MahalWurk will has fun.
* MahalWurk also praise the label maker.
[TheWatcher] ... that sounds like some kind of strange cult's mantra.
[Half] Oh most mighty maker of labels, we praise your name and join your unending hymn, but chiefly are we bound to praise you for the gift of knowing one thing from another, without which we would wander from place to place, asking "Verily, be this the True Jam?"

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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I've never really done the New Year's thing. It wasn't something that featured in my mother's home, and since I moved out... well, 2006/7 I had a migraine instead of going to a party, and I don't remember what we did 2007/8 (nor did I write about it - it can't have been spectacularly memorable).

Of course, this year we are in our own home (and it is not a small house), so Christmas and New Years parties were hosted here. Debxena hosted Waifs and Strays* here, which was pleasant; Tobermory liked the presents I bought him, about which I am thoroughly pleased. And I got a Christmas tree in the end. It is pretty, very traditional, and he insists that we take it down on Twelfth Night, rather than any earlier. Apparently this is traditional?

I mowed the lawns on the 31st. They needed doing, and Tobermory's shoulder is giving him gyp again. Too much of, well, anything, and it decides to disengage from it's socket. This is unsurprisingly suboptimal. It turns out that I quite enjoy mowing the lawns - it fits in the category of non-fiddly garden work, it was a pleasant sunny day, and I have the instant obvious accomplishment of a job well done.

New Years was good. A different subset of the social circle, a barbecue, quite a lot of alcohol (although no-one got disgracefully trollied!), an overflowing spa pool, midnight watching fireworks over the Sky Tower, the obligatory Auld Lang Syne**, finally opening the bottle of champagne we were given when we moved in... a lovely evening.

I nearly kissed InvisibleMoose and Lyz (his wife) when I got up this morning. I'd woken up fairly early, and cocooned myself in the bedroom so as not to disturb others. When I heard doors opening and the rattlerattlerattle of things going into the recycling bin, I figured I was safe to get up - and they'd loaded the dishwasher, washed the non-dishwasherables, tidied the lounge and kitchen, gone to the supermarket and bought fruit-for-fruit-salad and vanilla custard. I mean, I'm used to the standard helping-to-clean-up, it's just good manners (which all my friends exhibit!), but I hadn't expected that. Colitis also took a quick roadtrip to acquire milk/sausages/bread, which were required for the breakfast fryup.

Tobermory's father arrives in a week, or thereabouts. I am somewhat - no, extremely - nervous on this subject. I spoke to his mother again last night (in the Happy New Year's phonecall), and I don't find her impending presence nearly as terrifying.

It's now 6.01pm on the 1st of January, 2009. It's summer, a glorious day, and I am looking forward to what the year brings. I have good friends, my beloved Tobermory, probably several surprises and challenges and changes - and I am content.

* Waifs and Strays - in the social circle in question, if you don't have family, are trying to escape your family, want some peace/quiet/change of scene/etc, you convene at a given location and have a low-key giftmassy gathering. It is pleasant, and we ended up with a ridiculous amount of chips and chocolate and cookies leftover from the various food offerings people brought.
** It was slightly surreal, although I can't put my finger on why. We were in the dining room in the dark, watching the fireworks. Somebody suggested it, Tobermory began it, and we [nearly] all joined in to sing along. There's a memory stirring, singing Auld Lang Syne, crossing arms with strangers; it's somewhere in my past, and I can't remember where or why.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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emsk: (kitten Rar!)
Today marks the first day of my two week vacation. It is shaping up to be glorious weather, and extremely busy.

Reiver and Orthia are staying here. Reiv's helping us run cat6 through the house (along with Pstyken, Thaqui, Colitis, and whoever else happens to drop by on any given day this week). There's also a lot of gardening work we want to do; various bushes/plants need to come out, several of the gardens need to be viciously assaulted (and possibly removed).

And then it's Giftmas, which is being hosted here. I still don't know who's likely to show up, but as the order of the day is "If you want to eat, you bring a food contribution", it shouldn't be a huge problem. I'm looking forward to it! For the first time ever I've bought as many presents as I want to, for the people I want to. For reasons of circumstance or finance, I haven't done that before. I'm enjoying the excuse to give people things I think they'll like. I'm happily free from the usual obligations attached to giftmas, what with the whole lack of family involvement. I suppose you could say I'm obliged to buy things for Tobermory, but on the other hand I actually enjoy doing that*.

I bought fairy lights. They are strung around my bookshelves, looking very pretty. I am still trying to talk Tobermory into a Christmas tree, but he has conniptions at the thought of decorations in the middle of summer. Given that it's currently 25C outside (28+ for the poor boys up in the roof**) and his brain is still running on English seasons, I can't blame him.

Tobermory didn't realise that I know how to walk in a ceiling. For some reason, the jobs that I did laying rodent poison in ceilings had never come up. Although that might be because I never told Mum I'd been up in the ceilings of client's houses as a sixteen year old girl, as she would probably have been mildly terrified at the prospect.

The house still intermittently feels strange. It's different in a rented place, where you don't need to know everything about your home. Here, we're still finding out how things work. Like the way different bits of the house were constructed (it's had at least two additions/changes we know of), two types of insulation in the roof, different wall types (some of the cat6 is going under the house rather than over it as a result). We're still learning things like that. I suppose you could argue that we only moved in three months ago, so it's not surprising. It just seems wrong, somehow, that I can walk the house in the dark, but didn't know anything about the wiring until yesterday. I've been aggressively arting every room Tobermory'll let me - even the most-used toilet has art on the walls - which makes me feel more at home. There are thirteen posters (currently living under our bed) which need to find homes.

His parents arrive in less than a month. Yipe.

* This is also the first time that I've EVER successfully bought something for Tobermory (whether birthday or giftmas or whatever other reason) and not immediately confessed when the parcel arrived from the couriers as to its' contents. I might actually manage to hold out on the surprises until giftmas itself!
** Reiver got left in the roof while the ladder got carted off for other purposes yesterday. He was discovered half an hour later, sitting over the roof cavity entrance, swinging his legs and drinking a cold beer that someone had thoughtfully provided.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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emsk: (Default)

It’s been years since I paid much attention to Christmas. Insulated in my little world of family over the summer breaks, ensconced in the “We don’t do that” aura. And I never minded. Never thought about it, to be honest. If I did, it was shrouded in the general aura of “I need Change”, and it never really raised it’s head.

This year, I’m out in the wide world. And I have a boyfriend with me. And Christmas has been … odd.

I contemplated it. And 23 years of the reasons why we Don’t Do Christmas sat there poking me. It’s not a religious issue, any more, or it shouldn’t be. After all, it’s commonly acknowledged by most churches that yes, technically, Jesus wasn’t born at Christmas, but what the hell, we’ll celebrate it then anyway, OK? I never bought presents, in the end. And the job worries, and debts, and eventually rather than think about it, I just shelved the issue entirely. It can wait till next year, right?

Then Deb hosted her annual Waifs and Strays party. Boy and I certainly fit the bill – me, a waif, him, a stray. And I got home from work last night (yes, I worked on the 25th), collapsed on the couch.

“I don’t know if I want to go.”

“Why not, hon? I know you’re tired, but we both know you’ll enjoy the company once you get there.”

“Yeah, but…” (I feel like such a fraud!)

I’m glad we went. I had a good night, I caught up with folks I’ve not seen in awhile, I nibbled munchies and laughed and talked. I’m glad Deb does it – those of us without family available, or nearby, or those who wanted to escape the extended families – folks came by, and a good time was had. (Deb gave me a Wombles book. It’s adorable!)

But I still feel like I’m missing something. It’s not about religion. Christmas-the-religious festival isn’t one I think I’m ever likely to celebrate. But Christmas-the-family-season?

As you’ve probably gathered, things are not going as I planned. I’ve been keeping my head afloat, but now my contract has run out. I still don’t know if it’ll be renewed. It’s taken me three months to feel like I fit into the team here; and I’m not one of the ones invited to the pub at the end of the day.

Christmas has reminded me again that I made a hard choice. I was talking to Mum a few weeks ago, after she’d been on the phone to my Uncle. Amongst the various bits of family gossip, they’d discussed me. My decision to leave the church, my decision to move, my life. And his concerns for me. What happens when God passes judgment? I stress, he’s not judging me.

I’ve always admired my uncle. He’s one of the preachers in his congregation – one of the most upright, genuine, content men I know. His marriage, of 30-odd years, is utterly solid. When they married, he vowed never to raise his voice to his wife, and he’s stuck to it. Not that they don’t argue, but (to use his words) they keep it dignified.

It’s genuine concern he feels. His faith is real and absolute to him. He is in no doubt that there will be a reckoning. He doesn’t judge, but tries to live up to Christian standards as best he can. And when I say non-judgmental? He supported his eldest daughter through her teenage years (highlights: drinking, stealing the family car, knocked-up at 17 by a [now imprisoned] criminal); supported his younger son through someone else’s messy divorce, as said son got together with someone else’s wife. Hardly acceptable by his principles; but his principles didn’t allow him to abandon his family. I’ve disagreed with him over the years, but I have real respect for him.

It just serves to highlight the gap I’ve placed between myself and my family. It’s minimised as much as I can, as much as they can. And yet, it’s there. I don’t feel any guilt. It’s something I chose to do, and I am sure I made the right decision.

But, it’s Christmas. My family feel a long, long, long way away.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Default)

I have worked a few hours of overtime this week. Thanks to a few outages, a new contract between companies, several factors, the email queues were several days old. Apparently, this causes Frowning Looks from the people who care about statistics. Cue my managers going “Akkkkk statistics akkkkk” and offering us money in exchange for further of our time.

I figured “Hey, why not!” and duly offered a few hours more. Thus, I worked 7am-5.30pm Thursday. I’d offered to work the same Friday, but by 4.30pm (my scheduled finishing time) the email queue was less than an hour old, with just under 50 emails in it.

I was not needed.

I did, however, have a nice little ego boost. Mid-afternoon, an email was routed to me. A customer, needing an update on his case. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was an issue that I, as a technician, thoroughly understood. Short version: Company A’s mail server has no reverse DNS records. Company B thus (quite justly) rejects their email. Customer sees this as “My email is broken when I email Company B, please fix it NOW.” Several of my coworkers, when handling this case, had grossly mishandled it through lack of technical knowledge. It wasn’t even with a server admin team when I looked at it, much to my disgust. I tried to pass this on to the agent handling. His response? “Well, if it doesn’t belong with the group it’s with now, they’ll send it back. Don’t worry!”

Of course, a new agent couldn’t possibly know anything about technical issues. Never mind that he doesn’t know dick about what I worked in before being dumped in helldesk.

However, I summarised events as positively as possible. Answered the customer’s questions as non-technically yes explicitly as possible, to try and settle his (extremely evident and entirely justified) crankiness.

His response?

Hi Emma.

Thanks for your update – it’s by far the most helpful response I’ve ever received from helpdesk. If there’s a reward for sending humanized, non-templated, useful and explanatory emails, you should get it.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.”

This from a man who was breathing fire three hours earlier.

I had warm fuzzies the rest of the day.

This work hullabaloo was on top of Tuesday’s little drama.

I walked into the bathroom, as usual. Do what I have to. Nothing unusual. Except that the toilet pan won’t empty. As the landlord said, when I called to request a plumber, Oh Shit.

Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. The emergency plumber that Landlord has an agreement with? Was at a party and declined to attend. (I was most unimpressed.) Cue me deciding to decamp for the evening.

“Jamie? I have a blocked toilet. Can I sleep in your spare room, please?”

“What? Oh. OK.”

Bless Jamie.

(It’s fixed now, and I’m back home, and all is well.)

Life is really pretty good.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.


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