Saturday, December 29, 2012


I'm absolutely furious about the woman in India who died recently after being gang-raped and viciously beaten by six cowardly men. It's a good thing that as a result,  huge numbers of people in India have been demonstrating to show their anger about a culture which encourages this sort of atrocity to happen - including police who refuse to take rape complaints seriously. It will be no surprise to you that I think the rapists/murderers should be executed, as punishment to them and to set an example to other men who think such brutal and disgusting behaviour is okay.

So now I will try not to think any more about it or I will explode.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Yes, this is the droid I've been looking for...

The boy is really, really hard to buy for - but three weeks before Christmas I looked around online and found the R2D2 lego set and knew he would love it.

I was at work at the time so I thought I'd wait until I got home before ordering it online.
But in the few short hours that passed, New Zealand seemed to have completely sold out of the buggers.

The Warehouse, who'd 6 months earlier sold me the boy's birthday (a Millenium Falcon lego set) present at a welcome discount price and delivered super-promptly, had let me down.

In desperation I went to the main Lego website and ordered it from there. These guys are based in Europe, I'd never ordered from them before, and I was acutely aware of the fact that when you order online from a foreign site you aren't covered by NZ consumer laws (this is what I mean by desperate).

According to Lego folks, as long as I ordered it by 8 December it would get here in time for present-opening day. It was the 6th. Phew.

But a week went by and the status stayed at In Process. After previous experiences with Fishpond, I was sure this meant that they didn't have any in stock and were probably fishing around for one - and if they didn't have one I wouldn't find out until weeks later!

So TLM and I went to look for back-up presents. We found a cool grey t-shirt screen-printed with the image of an enormous sandfly. It was very New Zealand but in a non-kitshy way. Score!

Two weeks went by and I realised the boy was not going to get his R2D2 lego. The stress was getting to me (you could tell because everyone in the office now knew of my plight). I emailed Lego to find out what the story was, then went looking for another back-up present. I found a Star Wars origami book, including the necessary papers at the back of the book. Score!

Lego replied to my email stating that the status of my order had been updated to Shipped.'s supposed to take up to 13 business days to get here. There are only about 6 of those left.

Then, on the Friday before Christmas, a large, plain brown box appeared at our door. It had arrived! On time! The boy loved it!

Hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas-lunch dinosaur

It's a tuatara. Cool, huh? They're nocturnal so you don't often see them during the day. (BTW This was at Zealandia - not on the streets.)

Merry mischief at the office

On of my workmates has been off on his holidays since
a week ago. This is what he'll see when he gets back...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thunderpants are go!

I'm wearing my Thunderpants today (my first Thunderpants purchase) and they're great. They're pretty, comfy and they don't go up my bum.

I should get some for TLM.

Monday, December 03, 2012

My sandal-less feet

I have a wonderful pair of sling-backs which I bought on sale a year ago. They are blue with touches of silver and charcoal, have just enough heel to feel dressy but plenty of support so I can walk home in them after work. These shoes manage to be comfortable, flattering and elegant (in my opinion) at the same time.

They are so flattering that they have fooled me into thinking that I had attractive feet.

But there's nothing like trying on the latest strappy summer sandals to wipe out that rosy fog from the glasses eh?

I tried on four pairs of open-toed sandals - some had thin straps, some had thick straps. Some has a cheesy flower on near the toe, some had a covered heel. They ranged from grey to blood red to black.

All of them gave me hobbit feet. Well, they probably didn't give me hobbit feet - more...revealed them.

My feet aren't hairy - don't get me wrong (apart from a few toe hairs that I will never post a photo of on this blog) - but they are wide and sturdy, like the feet of someone who spends most of their time lugging rice on their shoulders whilst striding barefoot up a Szechuan mountain. Or something.

Anyway, the point is, my feet don't look very nice in sandals and that's why I'll be wearing sneakers this summer...and my sling-backs.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Hobbit Day!

Today was, of course, the day of the world premiere of The Hobbit. It was a big day for us because we don't get a lot of those around here, nor the celebrities who appear at them (unless you include occasional cast members from Shortland Street.

Yes, there's been the odd sighting of Martin Freeman or Andy Serkus in the last few months (apparently), but they aren't exactly a familiar sight - unless you work at the New World supermarket just down the road from the Stone Street film studio. So it's still a thrill to glimpse a famous face in person.

I wouldn't have minded being there today, up against the barriers protecting the red carpet and the beautiful people who trod on it - except I would have had to camp there overnight to get a good spot (i.e. with a view not blocked by tall people with big hair and loud friends) and have extreme patience and a really strong bladder or some friends to mind my spot while I sought the nearest servicios (that's toilets, if you've watched Dora the Explorer).

But as soon as I found out that there was a statue of three giant trolls displayed down that way, I resolved to walk down there in my lunch break to see it. I did wonder whether it would be too crowded, that I would ended up under some sweaty tourist armpit.

But I went anyway, just for a look-see. The first thing I noticed was how many young people there were. It's not like the city usually looks like a really big retirement home or anything, but there were a LOT of young people. More than I have ever noticed in one place before (well, since my last live rock concert). Maybe it's just because everyone seems young these days 'cos I'm older...

Anyway it wasn't that crowded as there were still a few hours to go until the start of the celebrity runway.

Those trolls are great! Their skins look real and leathery, and even have hairs poking out. I didn't take any photos though because it just seemed a bit uncool when everyone else is doing it. You can check out what they looked like on the link about half way back.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On my late introduction to skinny jeans

(Actually, it's quite hard to find jeans which aren't skinny legged.)

I went and bought myself a couple of pairs of skinny capris, in white and lilac. They're capris, but on me they are a perfect ankle length.

Anyways, when I wore them with similar-toned longish tops, I was quite (mentally) comfortable. After a few more wears, it now feels weird when I wear wider-legged jeans. It feels like there's too much fabric flapping around. Funny what you get used to.

The other thing is that with the skinnies, the fabric (which is firm, but soft), wraps itself snugly around my legs and it kinda feels like they are keeping the flabby bits from moving around too much - hence, a feeling of skinniness.

At last, I get why women, even those of unmodel-like proportions, have been wearing them for the last few years. All you need is a top that covers your un-perky bum and enough concentration to walk around without sticking it out too much.

...though they aren't so much fun in hot weather. I may have to look for some linen trousers once summer gets under way.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

TLM's first Brownie camp

When TLM had a temperature on Tuesday I was worried she'd caught the "strep" that seems to be going around her school. But we never heard back after the doctor took a tonsil swab, so it must have been a virus after all.

Two days off school did the trick though, and she made it to Brownie camp after all.

The boy and I were full of ideas on how we would spend our child-free weekend.

Then my head started to hurt and my forehead felt hot...

Still, we managed to spend Saturday doing the sorts of things we used to do pre-TLM. And that turned out to be mostly the same kinds of things we did post-TLM.  We went out to lunch, read freshly-bought magazines, went shopping, rented a DVD...

A bit of a yawn compared to, say, dinner at a flash restaurant followed by movie or theatre. It was all I could manage, but even if I were well it would not have been a bad day at all.

The boy went to retrieve TLM this afternoon, and she was full of stories about what they got up to (archery! orienteering! making stuff out of bits of paper! learning the song "Found a peanut"!)

But when I later asked her what her favourite part of the weekend was, she said it was "eating cornflakes".

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A denim jumper

I knitted this out of some Rowan Denim yarn which is 100% shrinkable cotton. It really really grows - to start with the hem came down to about mid-hip on me. If I don't machine wash and machine dry it soon, it will be knee length...
More details are on my Ravelry page 


The boy brought home a bunch of peonies the other day - the petals were in tight little bigs.

Then they bloomed.
They've since transformed into face-sized, papery-yellow blooms.
It's a bit like have different flowers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Home and away

Last weekend we went to Matiu/Somes Island, staying the night in one of the houses there and returning to the mainland the next morning. We went with Make tea not war, who came up with the idea in the first place.

TLM and DOTH (Make tea's Daughter Of The House) get along like a house doused in petrol and set alight by an unsuspecting male model. I could tell because they didn't go to sleep until about midnight and and were running about like an elephant stampede well before dawn. Well before dawn...

On the Saturday, we went for a walk around the Island, visiting the lighthouse (now automated), the animal internment building (sort of an Alcatraz for cows and sheep, except they were mostly innocent), and the tiny cave to where an unfortunate Chinese man was exiled because they thought he had leprosy (and the white lepers refused to have him).

It's also where Germans, Italians and Japanese people were interned during World War II.

So yeah, a lot of history on that bit of rock and kind of a best kept secret around these parts.

And two days later I had to go to Rotovegas for work, for three days. Ah, the smell of Rotorua...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cake, cake...and more cake

Yesterday I shouted morning tea for the office because it was my birthday. I brought in caramel slices, strawberry slices, chocolate cake and afghan cookies - all home made by the baker at Midnight Expresso.

Unfortunately I'd bought enough cake for three times as many office staff as we actually had in the office. So throughout the day we (mostly me) picked at the leftovers.

By the end of the day I was totally caked-out and was willing to restart that sugar-free diet that I abandoned last year (after one week).

Then I got home and my wonderful family shouted Happy Birthday!

And presented me with an enormous cake...

Monday, October 01, 2012

The sewing mojo returns

Daylight Saving time started yesterday morning, and I found myself up at the crack of dawn (7.30 am DST).

It was only after about two hours of reading the weekend paper and generally pottering about, that I realised I could actually do some sewing.

Sewing! After about two years of not having time for it!

It was partly brought on by the fact that hand knit clothes are far too warm for summer temperatures (even the low-ish temps we get around these parts), unless one is willing to knit something lacy out of something lace-weight. I'd wandered around the shops but all the tops were really oversized and down to my knees.

So on Sunday morning I started making a sleeveless tunic out of some China-blue linen-blend fabric from my stash of mostly remnants and discarded jeans (from my refashioning heyday), using a very simple - some might say shapeless - McCalls dress pattern.

When I got to the hem I had a flash of inspiration and turned it into a curved hem - shorter in the front and longer in the back.

It was all finished a couple of hours later (it was a "one-hour" pattern) I wore it today and it was appropriately cool for the office's hothouse temperature.

And now I'm all excited about the possibility of making more simply-shaped tops in lovely fabrics.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Yesterday TLM and I went to the World of Wearable Art show for the first time.

A fantastic show - such imagination. Such joy. Such beauty. And I haven't even gotten to the part about the entries!

There was so much to see, and the background activities every bit as interesting to watch as the up-front stuff.

And I wish we had more that one set of binoculars because if you're sharing with three other people (my sister in law and niece came with us) you're going to miss out on a bit of detail(though we had great uninterrupted views).

One of my highlights was the dancing performed as a backdrop to the Avant Guarde section. It looked a bit hazardous for them to be floating up and down chairs in those long dresses but they made it look ethereally easy. Another was the kitschy space rocket that signalled the start of the Bizarre Bra section.

The only bit that seemed slightly "off" for me was when the male dancers were got up in tuxedo jacket and teeny tiny shorts. It just smacked of "male stripper" to me and not quite in keeping with the general wholesomeness of the show.

TLM got a bit tired and overwhelmed around the second half of the 2-hour show, but she was very good and made it through to the end without complaint. If she'd been sitting next to me instead of two seats down (next to her cousin) I would have gathered her up onto my lap and given her a mixture of cuddles and commentary.

And afterwards we had massive ice creams.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Online shopping while you're home sick

I spent an awful lot of time online while I was home sick. I pretty much alternated between 'Net surfing and knitting.

By the time I was back at work, I had nearly finished my denim sweater with spiral eyelets. Unfortunately I discovered a mistake about 40 rows back which has set me back another week.

I also went onto TradeMe and bought some lovely aubergine cashmere yarn. Unfortunately apparently aubergine means "brown". I can probably make it work if I combine it with lots and lots of purple or blue yarn though.

I also bought some brown jeans from Wallis in the UK. They were meant to be burgundy, and probably in a certain light they are - but mostly they just look brown.

Buying trousers and jeans online was such a dumb idea. I thought I was safe by buying from a store where I'd successfully found a pair that fit me really nicely. But apparently it's impossible to make everything of the same size, the same size.

And then I do have a history of being too lazy to return stuff that didn't work out.

Maybe I can knit me some trou...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In recuperation

The good thing about my current bout of bronchitis is that at least it hasn't been as bad as the almost-pneumonia of 2-3 years ago. This time around my throat doesn't hurt so much it feels like I'm swallowing razor blades.

The first round of antibiotics didn't work - after 5 days I was coughing up blood, which is a first for me.  but now I'm on a broader spectrum drug which is working really well. In fact, after taking them for a couple of days I keep waking up thinking "today I could go back to work" (and then I take TLM to school and getting huffy and puffy on the way home so I know I'm not quite there yet).

It's a beautiful day today, a wonderful day for sitting in the sun and getting better. I really think that I might be ready to go back to work tomorrow (otherwise my library books will become overdue).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In which TLM reaches a new milestone

We hoped it was an unlucky fluke when TLM got horribly airsick on the way home from the UK last April.

But, no. TLM is now a motion sickness-prone kid.

The morning they took off for a weekend in Nelson the weather was, in the words of the airport folks, adverse. In plain English that means that your trampoline was likely to end up in another part of town. So it was a rocky take-off and poor TLM held it all together until she got off the plane in Nelson. Then she threw up on the tarmac, which fortunately was being washed already by the rain.

She also got car sick on that windy road between the airport and the place they were staying. ("You won't need to pack any extra clothes for just two days - just pack spare undies and socks" - eek!)

So that's what TLM meant when she told me her throat hurts whenever she gets in the car. It hasn't put her off being a car passenger though, because if we give her the choice of a 15 minute uphill walk home after school or a 5 minute drive, she will still choose the latter.

I am famously vulnerable to motion-sickness so I guess in that respect she's her mother's daughter.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Three strikes

Right after TLM got over her chicken pox, a cold virus was already waiting to pounce.

It did, and it got me too.

And in between, the boy managed to get conjunctivitus in both eyes.

Maybe it's just Spring, or  maybe it's having a kid who doesn't live in a bubble - or maybe we live in a sick house.

On the bright side, I have discovered Knitting Daily on YouTube, TLM is still well enough to enjoy making imaginative space craft with lego, and the boy is still terribly handsome.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I've very ambivalent about Spring. One the one hand, it's a sign that summer is on its way. On the other hand, it's a time of hay fever eyes and wind gusts strong enough to blow your duvet cover into the neighbour's bank yard.

We have a lovely bunch of daffodil on our dinner table. Bought when they were a bunch of buds, I was happily surprised when they all bloomed. They do smell a bit like homeless people though, which puts me off my food.

TLM is pretty much completely over her chicken pox. There are still a few marks where spots used to be, and I got a little worried when a co-worker show me a chicken pox scar from when she was 7 (she's now 30-something) - but there's no point worrying really. If it's a problem when TLM's older she can also slather herself in expensive scar-removal creams or something (which she will pay for herself, by crikey!).

She has this weird habit of removing her leggings as soon as she gets home, and thereafter (until bedtime) gadding about in a t-shirt, undies and a blanket. Like she's expecting to get invited to a toga party soon or something.

I'm knitting something in pre-shrunk Rowan Denim yarn. It's going to be slow going because I'm developing OOS from too much knitting. What will happen if I have to give up knitting for the sake of being able to grasp? 

We are going away for the weekend soon. Hurrah! Flying off to Nelson and staying somewhere off the beaten track, in the middle of the off-season. TLM will be delighted, as she does have a thing for all mod cons - something we don't quite have at home.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thoughts on the pox

TLM is still spotty, but she hasn't had any new clusters of spots since about Tuesday - so I'll take that as a good sign.

My mum assured me that I had chicken pox as a child - I myself had always thought that I'd had measles, from my memory it could have been anything spotty and itchy (like scabies!) - while the boy definitely has had it. There is always the chance of getting shingles though...

And for the last two days I've been hearing ads on the radio for a $200 vaccination against shingles.

Coincidence or what?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

TLM turns seven

She had a more exclusive do this year, inviting only four friends from outside of school. They met us at McDonalds for an early tea of fries and lemonade (none for me thanks, only the threat of a hypoglycemic blackout would induce me to make a meal of McDs - but the staff were lovely!!).

Then the boy and I herded our gang of excitable girls and tweens to the local planetarium by way of  cable car ride. The other passengers were impressively tolerant.

We watched Dawn of the space age, which is quite good even after the third viewing. The low point for me was the bit about the first dog to go into space, who was marooned in orbit with the car window permanently closed and the hot sun forever baking. The high point was at the end when the "camera" pulls back and back and back, showing us how nano-sized we really are compared to the universe.

And then the girls rampaged around the exhibition area with their balloons and high pitched squeals, quietening only for long enough to look at lovely Saturn through the really big telescope.

Her girlfriends gave gifts of books, Star Wars lego, craft kits and role-playing games.

There was one present, however, which she did not appreciate at all.

For on the next day, the universe gave her chicken pox.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A summery winter weekend

What fantastic weather we had last weekend. I took TLM and her scooter to the beach yesterday and she played in the sand and threw long ropes of kelp into the tide. People were strolling up and down the Parade, enjoying the warm sun and indulging in ice cream - the "proper" kind that comes in a cone.

I couldn't help remembering that at $4.50 per small scoop, it probably worked out 9 times as expensive as it used to be in my younger days. But in those days you didn't get gourmet flavours so I guess it's not a fair comparison (plus, it was a heck of a long time ago).

In the meantime, TLM's seventh birthday is coming up. We're going to break with tradition and not have a party as such. Just get a few of her non-school friends together (the ones she doesn't get to see much of) and go up to the Planetarium in the evening. Hopefully it'll be a clear night and we'll all get a turn looking through the gigantic telescope.

I've already given her the first early birthday present - a mood ring. We used to have those when I was a kid. Some things are just classics I guess.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Luxury toilet paper is no luxury

When I was at primary school, the loo paper that was supplied in the kids' loos was smooth, shiny and a lot like baking paper (except we didn't have baking paper when I was at school - presumably people just baked on metal trays and washed them afterwards).

At university I joined the tramping club. It was mostly populated with geology students - rough 'n' ready sorts who initiated themselves in the chunder mile and weren't too sick to go for a hike in the woods the next day. The guys used joke about how, if there wasn't a long drop nearby, you'd have to do your business amongst the tree ferns and wipe your bottom on something leafy that wasn't bush lawyer (I forget what it's botanical name is, but you don't want to wipe your bottom with it!).

The toilet paper we buy for home is the double layer stuff. No fancy prints or crossword puzzles. No quilting, no scents. But thick and strong (and here I will refrain from jokingly referring to thick and strong individuals, whom I'm sure we can all think of) and does the job.

The loo paper at my work, though. It's airy and featherlight, delicate.

It's like Tinkerbell's loo paper (but bigger and without the sparkles).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

a couple of finished projects

Possible too late now, I "finished" this cardigan. I say finished because it's got all it's bits and pieces knitted an assembled. But it isn't really finished because the front edge curls back unatractively when done up. so I will need to work on it to fix that.

This cat turned up much more successfully (although that might be just because it's so slim). It's got lots of flaws, most of which TLM has already pointed out. Like, the ears are too big, the tail seam is really obviously and has already come unstuck from the side of the body, and one arm is more muscular than the other.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Censorship madness at The Warehouse

The highlight of many of our weekends is a visit to The Warehouse (yes, we are lame). We all check out the DVDs, the boy checks out the computer games, TLM checks out the toys, and I keep up with the Rachel Hunter Collection.

This time around we selected some DVDs to buy - Disney's Fantasia 2000 and a Star Wars Clone Wars collection for TLM, and Hot Fuzz on Blue Ray for the boy.

But when we got to the counter, the sales clerk explained that sorry, he could not sell us the Hot Fuzz DVD because it's PG13 and we were clearly accompanied by a person aged under 13 years.
I replied that we had no intention of letting TLM watch this DVD - she had two new ones of her own. But the sales clerk said no.
"Okay, I'll leave her around the corner and come back alone", I offered. But he still would not be allowed to sell the DVD to boy and me, because he'd seen TLM with his own eyes.

So we walked away with only the kids' DVDs.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Being blobby

I've taken a week off, for the second week of the school holidays. I had a list of fun things that we were going to do together:
  • visit the observatory on open night and look through the giant telescope
  • make crystals
  • Go see Brave
  • hang
Since the weekend, we've really only managed the last one.
This is due to a combination of TLM catching yet another bug, and TLM staying up all night to read instead of going to sleep like a good girl. And it probably doesn't help that I've been a bit insomniac myself recently.

The observatory open night is tomorrow - hopefully the sky will not be completely overcast as it has been lately, otherwise we'll only get to see cloud.

The chrystal-making will depend on whether I can get hold of any copper sulphate, sodium carbonate or borax. I still remember making copper sulphate chrystals at school and how pretty they were.

As for going to see Brave, TLM already went to see that last week during her school holiday programme. Still, she could go see it a second time and not be as scared during it.

Just hanging is pretty cool though.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Paua and ginger

 Of course, this top (which I just finished knitting) would look great on someone with model-like proportions; on me it probably only looks warm and colourful.

But I really enjoyed making this and it's very comfy and if I can just pretend that I've got a narrow waist then it will all be fine.
It's got cables at front and back, and the edgings are in twisted rib.

The gory details are on Ravelry.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is it customary?

I always find myself watching Border Patrol on the telly, which is an Australian reality show about the Customs people in an Aussie airport. They are the folks whose job is to scan the bleary-eyed people who've just come off a long-haul flight and pick out the suspicious-looking ones.

For some reason, most of these people are Asian and the rest seem to be Middle-Eastern. Now, I would be the first to admit that the occasional homesick Asian will try to smuggle in an illegal taste of home in their strangely lumpy luggage.

But white folks aren't all innocent you know - like, Schappelle Corby was white and she got caught with a load of drugs in her surfing bag. Though that was in Bali. Maybe the Balinese think all white people look suspicious and the Australians think that all Asians and Middle-Easterners look suspicious.

It seems to me that certain races are being targeted just because they aren't white.
Or is the stereotypical goody-two-shoes Asian just a big fat myth?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Winter shopping

The Kathmandu chain is having yet another one of its big sales, and since we've been suffering galeforce southerlies, icy rains and 7C air temperatures (that's without the wind chill factor), the shop was extremely busy today - I'm talking queues for the changing rooms and queues at the checkout counter.

The boy wanted to buy TLM some leggings (I haven't been buying them myself, because she is always falling over and putting holes in the knees. Instead, I've been patching them). We did - TLM also ended up with a jacket to add to her impressive collection, as well as matching top and bottoms thermals and some woolly socks.

Then the boy went and bought himself a few things.

All the while, I was thinking that I've knitted various items to keep my family warm - yet they still prefer to buy factory made. I staunchly avoided buying anything for myself (until I got to the Warehouse, where they were selling merino tops $39 for two  - that's cheap for NZ) because I've been knitting steadily to increase my wardrobe of handknitted winter clothing.

Oh well. I can't expect other people to appreciate my efforts as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


TLM had her first Pippins over-nighter on the weekend - we dropped her off at the designated Girl Guides location at 2pm on Saturday and didn't go back to get her until 1pm the following day.

That's a whole lot of child-free time.

I spent the afternoon with my good friend who was visiting from Taiwan; we drank coffee, ate cake and talked about our respective obsessions (her - tap dancing, me - knitting and TLM).

Then the boy and I went out for tea at our usual pre-movie eating place (The Hog's Breath) and went to the movies.

I was tossing up between Prometheus and The Avengers - the former because it's by Ridley Scott (I loved Alien and Bladerunner), the latter because it's by Joss Wheden (who is god). Basically, the movie I chose was the first movie I could find on the Internet which was definitely being screened in 2D rather than 3D. I am one of those unfortunate folk with unequal vision, who get headaches after using 3D vision glasses.

As for Prometheus? Well, I enjoyed it. It was a space horror with a feisty heroine, a spooky atmosphere and a totally unnecessary reference to the evolution vs Creationism argument. As far as I'm concerned, there's no argument, so why can't we just treat the possibility that humans were created by super-humans as just another speculation? Why does the plot have to serve as a Creationist manifesto? If you ask me, there's an awful lot of unnecessary religious references in science fiction. But I did enjoy the movie. Though maybe we should have gone for the Joss instead.

When we went to get TLM on Sunday, she announced that she didn't like overnighters - and that the highlight was the cheese.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

An enticement

New Zealand is really far away from most of the rest of the world. But it's really pretty when the sun comes out. These views are only a few minutes away from my house.
 And our art galleries are full of interesting objects too (City Gallery)

Happy birthday, your majesty

I want you to know that, even though I've had a terrible cold since just before the long weekend, I still donned my Union Jack singlet yesterday (with a merino shirt underneath). And I'm wearing it again today.

I like to think that this is my way of acknowledging the Queen's official birthday and jubilee, though mostly it's I just like to wear it because it's a souvenir of our Easter holiday in the UK. (And just in case the boy's dad is reading thing - I also wear the Union Jack t-shirt which you gave me, but will probably have to let TLM have it because she really likes it).

Next weekend TLM  will be going on her first Pippins overnighter. I was filled in her consent form yesterday and wasn't sure what to put in the space they've given to for any medical conditions they need to know about. Should I write that she sometimes has cramps in her tummy but they'll go away if she has a poo?

Friday, May 25, 2012

I've not been idle, nor uncreative

I've been knitting a few things:
  • a cardigan for the boy, after he approved the pattern and the colour (boring dark green - the woman who sold it to me said she spins it especially for bloke's knits)
  • A berry-coloured cabled cardigan for me (if this one turns it will be only the second successful cardigan I've ever completed)
  • a pullover which I started months ago, which I become horribly pissed off with because the instructions were so hard to decipher and full of errors
The boy said recently that my knitting was not nearly as creative as some of my previous pursuits (i.e. painting, sewing, refashioning). That's probably true because when I knit I just follow instructions in a pattern, and the only creative choices I make are about what yarn and colour to use.

Does he know I blame him for my lack of sewing and refashioning? That he always made grunt-y complaining noises when I tried to use my sewing machine (probably because it was right next to him playing computer games), and felt neglected if I spent an hour sewing on my own?

I can't really blame him for my lack of painting though. I have to blame sheer busy-ness, lack of space and fear of mess that can't be removed because acrylic dry in, like, no time at all.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Holiday highlights and lowlights

Here's a photo-less list of impressions and stuff which comes to mind when thinking back to our time in the UK:

The biggest and bestest highlight was most definitely getting to meet the boy's family. Fantastic people, and we've already pledged to save up and go back as soon as we can.

The jetlag was no fun. We were pretty much jetlagged the whole time we were there, and by the time it was over we had to come home.

I saw very few people with teeth like Austin Powers.

I found out after we got home that there's a specialty yarn shop in the very town where the boy's brother lived - where we stayed at the end of our two weeks. But I guess it must sound weird to you that I, a resident of a country known for it's sheep, would want to go shopping for knitting yarn in another country.

Springtime in England is no time to be frolicking about in floral dresses and pastel capri pants (so just as well I didn't have any). It's too damn cold.

TLM was not very nice to me while we were away. I put it down to her being super-tired and sleep-deprived, and feeling like I'm one person she can be a total cow to and I'd still love her. But still.

Tescos is absolutely massive. I recall a movie I saw once where in the future every restaurant is a Taco Bell. Well in the British version of the movie every grocery shop, petrol station, fashion shop, hardware shop, furniture shop, interiors shop, toy shop and book shop is a Tescos.

But at the moment there's tons of fun to be had at non-Tescos shops. Like Hamleys, where the boy and TLM bought a Hermione wand, a box of magic tricks and a set of 3-D felt pens (this was while I was looking for short ladies' trousers that aren't capri pants).

I could happily live in that part of England, especially after having read the local paper last night and discovering that my town is home to several infamous gangs, like Black Power and Satan's Slaves. How could I have not noticed? Like one guy was quoted in the article, we get more grief from bloody students who party every Saturday night and walk the streets speaking at top volume at 3am.

That is it for now.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Where the Gyptians live

It's a complicated system which allows the boats to chug uphill, so to speak.

There's the boy making himself useful


Gallery where there used to be an iron foundry

The boy's brother in law and mischievous niece

Ahh...beautiful canal...

argh! Murky canal water!

Apparently people like to decorate the roofs of their boats as though their personalities depend on it.

lock opens to let a gaily coloured narrow boat through

The boy and TLM leaping over the lock
I'm referring, of, to the waterborne Gypsy-type folk in Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy (and the move The Golden Compass). I thought it quite apt because these photos of the canals and narrowboats were taken in or near Oxfordshire.

They are quite beautiful until you get a bit closer to the water and see how gunky it is.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

England is for lovers...of beautiful old buildings

The Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

Also in Oxford

The Bridge of Sighs, closer up

Inside the natural history museum in Oxford

Some of the vast collection of dead animals in the natural history museum

An old castle somewhere between Oxfordshire and Devonshire

Glastonbury (I think) high street

An even higher street, in Ilfracoombe
We just don't get stuff this old in New Zealand, where any building more than about 150 years old is considered ancient and worthy of protection.

I just love old buildings, though I might not want to be a homeowner of one.

And a word about the natural history museums we visited - they are terribly sad places groaning with death and human arrogance.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A nation of dog owners

check the eyebrows on that owl in the back!

yes, this bird is wearing a helmet

If our time in the English Home Counties is an accurate reflection of the Engish in general, then they really chock-full of dog-owners.

In our first week in Blighty we stayed with the boy's lovely big sister, her husband and their cheeky 3 year old daughter. They took us out every day. On our first day after arriving at their historic Buckinghamshire home, they took us to a local country fair.

Having watched a number of episodes of Return to River Cottage on the telly, I was fully expecting to see home baking competitions, tables laden with unusually oversized vegetables, and pet farm animals. What I did see was a large number of hunting birds (pictured above - no idea what they are called, except the owl with the enormous eyebrows is called an eagle owl) and ferrets, pony and trap races, and assorted huntin' n' fishin' wares.

And dogs. There were dogs everywhere - all beautifully turned out as though headed for a show. But there wasn't one. They were just well-looked after and on an outing with their owners. We spotted one lady with a ferret on a leash, but mostly it was dogs. (But alas, I have no photo of any of the dogs!)

The boy's dad has a jack russell called Tia, and she was a super-energetic pup who is apparently prone to weeing herself when she gets a bit excited. The boy's brother also has a dog, a big'un called Daisy who liked me better than TLM for some reason (maybe because I'm a bit allergic to her).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Half way 'round the world (and back again) in 18 days

We just returned from our holiday in the UK. Actually, we've been back since Monday afternoon - but I've been too jet lagged to blog about it.

Now that my body is back to relative normality (i.e. waking up at 4am and then falling asleep just before the alarm goes off at 7.15am) I can say - hi! It's great to be home again!

I'll follow up in later posts with photos and more details, but it was great and worth being in the air for about 26 hours (plus about 5 hours in transit in total) each way.

I did miss our bed (which is probably not surprising as the boy and I are no longer young), and some things were just outrageously expensive (15 quid for 2 burgers, 2 fries and 2 drinks at a Burger King off the motorway!!). But I guess the biggest downside was that we didn't have enough time there. We didn't get to visit White Horse Hill, for example, even though it was not far from from where we were staying near Aylesbury.

However - the boy's family were wonderful, TLM loved meeting her cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

I also got to experience a part of the UK quite unlike that which most Kiwis get to know (i.e. London and surrounds), a place which I think I'd enjoy living in (if we could afford to live there).

And - last but not least - I was able to buy trousers that actually fit me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

All about my dental trauma

Dentists get a bad rap because they have to inflict pain on people who don't look after their teeth.

For years, I had no problem getting my teeth checked because most of my teeth got filled in with that silver and black amalgam when I was a kid - by adulthood, there were no more fillings to get.

So I wasn't too worried about having my first check-up since TLM was a bum-crawler. It was a bonus that my new dentist was young and cute - when my previous two dentists had been on the verge of retirement and - in one case - dealing with minor Parkinsons.

It was quick - he said my gums are in great condition, but my teeth should really get rid of that tartar build-up. When he told me how much it cost to see the dental hygienist, I realised why it only cost $45 to get a check-up including x-rays.

The woman whose job it was to scrape stuff off my teeth, was pleasant enough - a young black woman in a sexy-secretary sort of outfit. I lay back in her chair and started feeling drowsy. She gave me a pair of dark glasses to shield my eyes from the bright light.

And then she hurt me.

Hurt is not quite the right word.  The scraping - oh, my sensitive teeth! The loud buzz of the suck-y thing in my mouth that was probably supposed to suck up my saliva bit felt like it was spraying my chin. The way the muscles on the back of my head and neck spasmed from wanting to clench but having to keep my jaws open like a big snake trying to spew up an ostrich egg (whole).

Finally, she finished. I tongued my teeth and felt gaps between them that I'd forgotten I'd ever had.
My teeth hurt.

When I got back to the office, I looked at her business card. It called her a "hygienist and therapist". Well, all I can say is - it was bloody obvious I was in need of some therapy after that experience, but she. did. not. offer. me. ANY.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

TLM models her cardigan

In it's finished form, with two red functional buttons plus two decorative ones.
Here it is on TLM

And here she is with her most mental pose...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A day of one's own

Today I have been watching brain-numbing television, knitting, and surfing the web for interesting knitting patterns to use on my Rowan Summer Tweed yarn. Soon I'll put on some Buffy and have my lunch.

It would be a blissful day if I wasn't headache-y, feverish and coughing up unspeakable yuckiness.
I have TLM's cold - it didn't affect her like this.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The little shit - the next generation

Most of you weren't reading my blog back in 2004, when I wrote about the time a little kid assaulted me on the library bus (and I wasn't even trying to make him pay overdue fines).

But that's what the title of this blog post is referring to.
This isn't a sequel exactly. But there's certainly a little shit in this story.

The story, to cut a long one into a short one, is that TLM was punched in the chest yesterday by a little shit in her class. This little shit is the same boy who last year kicked another classmate in the groin so hard that she bled, and was off school for a week.

TLM wasn't so badly injured, and seems to be over it. But I've known about this kid and his propensity for violence and foul language for about a year. I can't give any details because it's all confidential, but the school has been trying to deal with the kid and keep him under some kind of control while still giving him a chance to change his ways.

Part of me (say, about 90%) just wants him out of my daughter's class (and preferably in a special facility with trained supervisors and lots of padding).
The other part of me thinks that, for a 6 year old kid to be this anti-social, he must have been raised in a truly horrible environment.

I don't have an answer for how someone like this ought to be dealt with. But there are about 20 kids in his class who need to feel safe.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cardigan finished

You know that saying "the camera loves her"?
Well the camera has really got a grudge against me, because since adulthood the only two photos of me I haven't hated have been taken in low light and from about 10 m away.

Anyway, the cardigan's finished, just in time for our trip to the UK in their spring. I'll be wearing it over long sleeves of course, so protect my dainty skin from wool-irritation.

It will probably look much better over a black t-shirt rather than the shiny green thing pictured here.
If you want the the whole gory knitting story, go here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

non-knitting books I've been reading

It was a sewing book.

Just kidding. After a long stretch of narrowly focusing on that particular aisle in the public library which starts with interior design, moves onto cross-stitch, weaving and knitting before finishing with crochet - I decided that I had enough cardigan patterns.

So I read David Sedaris' When you are engulfed in flames, which I loved. It's one of those blackly funny memoir-type books which I would have loved to write myself (but my protagonist would not have been a gay American ex-smoker). I liked it so much I went back for another one - which title I forget, but it's full of animal stories (as in, there are no people but the animals are people, if you get my drift). It's also funny, bleak and makes me nod my head and go "yes, that's right".

I also have The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgekinson. But it's not as interesting because it's too simular to his How to be Idle. I suspect the author's a bit of a libertarian, as he's always going on about how the government is controlling the population. But he is also anti-capitalist, so that's alright. I can't help feeling though that his way of living only works if you are a free-lancer and if everyone else is still part of the "system".

Friday, February 17, 2012

On popularity

I've been worrying about TLM because, even though she's the nicest, cutest, most imaginative and  charming 6 1/2 year old I know, she is sometimes friendless.

At school TLM has tons of friends - no worries there.
But at Chinese School (which is weekly), if her cousin isn't there then she has no chums amongst her classmates.

After each Pippins meeting lately, she tearfully complains that the other girls won't talk to her. It hasn't put her off going, and it's probably due to her being the only girl in the group who doesn't go to school there. But the thought of her sitting all by herself while gaggles of girls giggle around her, makes me sad.

TLM also does a bit of Chinese dancing. And it's a really similar situation there. They don't all go to the same school or anything, but they are pretty clique-y. 

Probably, if I don't do anything, she will eventually either make more friends just by being her lovely self - or turn out to be one of those types with a really small number of wonderful friends rather than a hoard of casual friends.  She will probably be fine.

It's hard not to try to make it better though.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Is this how yarn stashes begin?

When I buy knitting yarn, I usually have a project in mind already - like a specific pattern I want to use. That way, I know exactly how much yarn to buy and what colours to use. It also minimises the risk of building a huge stash of yarns that I don't necessarily know what to do with.

But I have discovered Deramores. They have a subsite for New Zealand, so all the prices are in NZ dollars. And the prices are so low compared to local retail prices that it's hard to believe they are in NZ dollars rather than pounds.

It's very very tempting to buy just about everything, especially the Rowan yarns which are prohibitively expensive here (like, $18 for a ball of Rowan Jeans for example). But I want to support my local yarn shops and New Zealand yarns etc, so I'll try to stick to yarns that I can't easily get locally - like cotton or silk types. And Rowan.

It's so very very tempting...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You can tell it's the start of a new year...

The weekend of the 11th-12th February is going to so busy I'll need naps:
  • On the Friday I have to go to Taupo to train some people and be back in time to tuck TLM into bed
  • On Saturday I need to take TLM down to a school across town to enrol in music lessons
  • On Sunday mid-morning her best friend from daycare is having a birthday dance party.
  • On Sunday afternoon she's in a group performing a ribbon dance in the Chinese New Year Parade
  • and some time before then I have to enrol her in swimming lessons...
I think TLM might need some naps too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A winter cardie for TLM

I know it's the middle of summer here, but I reckon it will be very handy for when WE GO TO THE UK IN APRIL!! (yes that's right, the flights are booked, the insurance is bought and the UK family have been warned)

p.s. if you're a knitting nerd like me you can check out the progress on Ravelry (even if you ain't a member).

Better than Cosmic

Until recently, The Little Madam's favourite place to go was the Cosmic shop. It's a loud and funky place where a DJ plays music to nod your head by, and you can shop for a leopard-print fedora, an ice cube mould shaped like UFOs or a bong (but not the stuff that goes in the bong). It's bright, it's colourful, and the staff look like they love being there. They always give TLM free stickers too.

But now TLM's favourite place is the Marine Education Centre. I took her there last Sunday for one of their regular open days, and they have this high, shallow basin where rocky shore creatures live. You're allowed to touch them, even pick them up and stroke 'em like pets.

TLM was particularly struck by the sand dollar starfish, which she like way better than the hermit crab and the sea cucumber. She'd pick it up, put it on the back of her hand and let it's little feelers tickle her skin. She probably spent at least an hour there, perched on an apple crate and wearing one starfish after another.

My favourite bit was watching one of the (ex-household pet) turtles attempt to climb on top of another, lose its balance and fall over backwards, it's flippers waving around like it was doing a "dead ant".

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Mushroom hunting in the shadow of Ruapehu

TLM loves going on holiday. That's probably because she associates it with staying in a reasonably comfortable motel unit and going on day trips with mum and dad.
 She was probably quite disappointed when we went to Tongariro National Park for our Christmas/New Year holiday and had to share a small bunkroom in a scout camp.

There were about 50-60 other people, all of whom where friends and family of the guy whose 50th birthday we'd gone up to celebrate. There were loads of children (and even a fellow knitter).

So despite the lack of privacy and sleep, we did have a very sociable time - maybe even more than we could cope with, being a small and normally quiet little family.

 We went for walks at the foot of Mt Ruapehu, shopped for thermal underwear (for the sudden and unprepared-for drop in temperature), and used our mushroom identification guide to name the various fungi that we came across.

But sleep deprivation won out in the end, and we came home a couple of days early. Just to show how much sleep I needed to catch up on, I slept in until 10am today - unheard of!