Tuesday, August 31, 2010

She's been summoned

Dear Ministry of Justice
Thank you for inviting my mother to attend jury service. She was flattered by this belated gesture recognising her status as a New Zealand citizen who is neither insane nor criminally minded.

However there are several reasons why she is unable to attend:
1. my mother does not speak English well unless she is trying to get a good price
2. she is very deaf and would require every witness to speak at their highest volume - possibly with the addition of a microphone
3. her eyesight is poor, and will probably have trouble distinguishing the defendant from the judge
4. at the advanced aged of 85, I wonder whether my mother is in fact within an acceptable age range for jury duty
5. she won't get a bus to court each day so you'd have to call her up a (taxpayer-funded) taxi every day

Yours faithfully

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Men who stare at goats

It was Saturday evening and there wasn't anything promising on telly. So I wandered down to the new-ish local DVD rental shop.

It came down to a choice between two overnights - Date Night or The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Date Night starred Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, both very funny actors (and I am in love with Fey's 30 Rock).

Goats starred George Clooney (among others) and sounded a bit intellectual - just the sort of thing I went for in my film festival-going days.

I was tempted to get both, but we wouldn't have time to watch both before they were due back. Plus, it would cost less to rent just one.

So I deferred to the guy behind the counter.

"Well..." he said, "Date Night's pretty funny, but it's pretty light. The other one's kinda anti-American, and really funny. I liked it a lot".

So even though I've been tending to go for the funny+ lite, this time I went for the funny + arthouse. I didn't know how the boy would take it, but I didn't care. He made me walk all the way down to the DVD rental and if he didn't like it he could lump it.

We both loved it. It's hard to believe it's based on fact - the fact that, during the Reagan years, the US military trained a team of "super soldiers" with mystical powers (you know, fork bending and such like). Actually I really liked the vision, because it was included the belief that we are all part of the universe and everything in it. It also had the idea that you could win a war without actually killing people.
It was also very funny. Not in that laugh out loud, slapstick kind of way. More in a "I can't believe they did this!" kind of way. I wouldn't say it was anti-American as just making fun of the American government of the time.

Oh yeah, and if you think Clooney's yummy, then you'll like that aspect of it too because you get to see him looking alternately older and distinguished, and young and spunky.

Monday, August 16, 2010

homemade and loving it

The one time I took TLM into the yarn shop with me, she made me buy a ball of yarn for her. It was this bright blue and bulky Panda Toto yarn.

Then she made me promise to make something for her out of it.

Then she made me promise to make mittens.

Eventually I found a mittens pattern I could understand, and which didn't require a set of double-pointed needles (which I don't have).

Of course, I didn't have enough yarn. So I supplemented with some leftover silver grey wool from the boy's scarf, plus the pinky purple acrylic left over from TLM's/my scarf, plus two strands of white wool which TLM found in her daycare centre's stash.

The finished mittens are wonky and mishapen and far too big.

But TLM doesn't care.

Out with the ugly, in with the new

So, this is how my cardigan looked last night. I wasn't able to finish it yet because once again I ran out of Paton's Zhivago in green - and the shop didn't have any more. So, with one sleeve to finish and the edging to do, I tried it on.

That's when I realised that the left front is longer than the right front. Maybe that's the risk when you knit a garment sideways. Anyway, that, and the fact that it looks thoroughly atrocious on me, is why I decided to unravel it and start again. This time I will try to make this Berrocco cardigan.

See, one of the things I like about knitting is that it is fairly easy to remake something that went wrong, compared to sewing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today was the first day of the rest of her school life

We didn't cry.
At least, I didn't. I bet the boy did 'cos he a big softie - he would have done it after I left for work.

As it turned out, there was one other child starting today, and she was someone we knew a little (but hadn't seen since TLM was about 18 months). The other girl just happened to have the exact same birthdate as TLM too, so they pretty much bonded right from the start.

So that was a pretty good start. She was pretty tired at the end of her day though. By the time I got home from work I couldn't get any sense out of her because she was all over-tired and hyped up.

Back in the olden days, first days at school were a little different. My brother remembers me being dressed up like a little princess for my first day of school. All I remember is that I didn't know how old I was, and my teacher's horn-rimmed spectacles scared me speechless.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High Five

The Little Madam turned five today.

Yesterday she celebrated her Last Day at daycare with cake and a sing-a-long.

On Saturday she has her birthday party, having invited about half of the daycare kids and teachers.

And tomorrow she starts school.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

twitchy fingers

On Friday evening I ran out of yarn and had to stop work on my cardigan. And all weekend, during those quiet moments when I'm not eating or playing with TLM or taking my mum out on Pak 'n' Save marathons,  I have felt restless and didn't know what to do with myself.

So the answer would be to buy some more yarn and get knitting again. But what to do when the cardigan is finished - unravel it and start again? Because I'm realising that this is not exactly a cheap hobby, even if I can find sources which are reasonably priced.

However, re-making the same thing over and over again, well that would be ridiculous - like digging and filling a line of holes in the ground (which sounds like a work-for-dole scheme from way back).

Is this a little bit like how smokers feel when they run out of ciggies (never mind the physiological dependency)?

Actually, it's very likely I will be remaking the cardigan, because the sleeves are ludicrously baggy when knitted according to the design. Plus, I never have particularly liked garter stitch...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Holiday Snaps

TLM enjoying the flower beds at Taupo

A picture of Huka Falls which does little to indicate the power of the water gushing through here. I still remember hearing the news about the naked body of a cricket umpire found here, inside a barrel

A  mud pool at Wai-o-tapu. Probably the same stuff they put on you at day spas, but hotter.

The geyser, plus numerous tourists

I think this was at the Champagne Lake. The thing that looks like a fried egg is a blob of sulphurous stuff

That lake at Wai-o-tapu with the plastic-ky green water

Looking out towards the hills from inside the Waitomo Caves tourist centre

Inside one of the Waitomo caves. At times it looked like we were underground at a parsnip farm.

Also inside one of the Waitomo caves. Cool, huh?

This is either the Blue Lake or the Green Lake - I can't tell because it was overcast and both of them were a bit grey...

Something about travel making you appreciate home

We got back home yesterday. In all, we had two and a half days of travelling, two days of sightseeing, and two days of TLM being ill with a strange foot-cramping virus. But the sightseeing days were great and even the travel days weren't too bad either.

The first sightseeing day I've already posted about. The other one, also conducted in heavy rain, was a visit to the Waitomo Caves. We had to drive a couple of hours each way (though there was some lovely scenery along the way to make up for the boring mostly pastures of sheep and cows), and the tour fees were eyebrow-raising, but it was worth it. We visited two caves: the glow worm cave (including a boat ride in the dark) and the Aranui (I think) Cave, which had no glow worms so we were able to wander about  and take pictures of all the stalactites and stalacmites.

The day we left Rotorua was the second sunny day since our holiday started (the first one being the day we arrived). We had more rest stops, which really made for a less tiring and bum-numbing trip. I also wangled a stop-over in Otaki where all the designer outlet shops are.

Though we were away for only 6 days in total, we were all quite glad to be home - TLM missed having her own dark and quiet room, and the boy and I missed being able to watch telly without having the sound turned right down. Though right now I am missing that private thermal pool and the central heating...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A letter to TLM's nanna

At the boy's request, here is a post to tell his mum all about our day today (holiday day 4).

Having lost about a day and a half, I was pretty keen to be out and about today. I reckon the boy was a bit antsy too, though TLM would probably have been quite happy to stay in and play Mouse Trap (her new board game) all day.

First up was a visit to Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, which is a geyser-y tourist trap between Rotorua and Taupo. The mud pools, as always, were awesome. the geyser was cool too, but it was hard to get a photo of it without also getting an unintentional photo of several gaudily dressed tourists. My favourite was probably the Champagne Pool, all yellow and green, and the smaller pool we saw on the way back which was a fascinating plastic tiki shade of green. It was of course, smelly, as are most areas in and around Rotorua. (You could think of it as an hell-fairy-land - misty and pretty but hard on the olfactories). TLM got plenty of shoulder rides, but managed plenty of walking too - straight-ankled and pain free.

Then we had a short rest back at the motel (Wylie Court - it's a good 'un) before visiting the lovely Blue and Green lakes. The Blue Lake wasn't particularly blue, due to it being overcast and drizzly, but the area itself is gorgeously green and surrounded by tree ferns and covered in mist.

And lastly, before we headed back to our motel unit to soak in our private thermal plunge pool (sigh), a walk around the Lake Rotorua lakefront whilst being stalked by greedy black swans.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Un-touristy sites in Rotovegas

It was a fairly long car ride - about 6 hours with 3 very short breaks along the way - so when TLM woke up puking at 4am the morning after arriving, we thought it must've been carsickness.

But carsickness doesn't make your feet turn out and cramp up arthritically. It doesn't make standing on your feet agony and walking without intense pain an impossibility. So the second day of our holiday was spent at Rotorua Hospital. She was admitted overnight for observation, and I was allowed to camp out next to her bed.

So, sleeping in a fold-out bed in a busy hospital next to your child who is suffering from gods-know-what, is not the most serene way to spend the night. What made it worse was the screams of the poor kid in the bed opposite who'd skied into a large rock and smashed up her knee, and was expressing her disapproval at the temporary withdrawal of her pain medication.

Not to mention the loud beeping of machines and the lights being left on until midnight.*

But TLM finally fell asleep around 10pm, and I dozed on and off all night.

And in the morning she was miraculous as good as new. They couldn't find the cause of this sudden, acute attack of pain-itis and we may never find out. Probably a virus, they said.

Tomorrow, the holiday really starts.

*I don't mean to complain. The hospital staff were wonderful and we were treated really well.