Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Catching up

Time has flown, as it so often does.

Depression has been biting hard the last two months, I've had two severe migraine's, on on the second one, kept working, instead of taking a couple of days off, because I had to train a colleague. To top it all off, I could no longer talk to someone I regard very highly, and the emotional overload took its toll.

Found out that if I quadruple the dose of happy pills (doctor's guidelines), I get dizzyness and nausea for 2 weeks! ugh. Plus a week of anti-anxiety/sleeping tablets, that took effect within 40 minutes of taking them, and knocked me out for the night. 7 hours sleep! Wow - that's a near record, I think.

Haven't had the energy or enthusiasm to do any creative fibre art, paint toy space wolves, play music, or much of anything.

What I have done tho is to start the process of converting to Christianity. Oh my gosh - Sue is becoming a 'born anew christian'. Found a church to join - the first one (Ranui Baptist) was a little too crowded, and too weird - the second one, Harvest Church, in Swanson, was "just right" as Goldilocks would say. (The third possible choice, West City Christian Centre is just TOOOOO large! A congregation in the 100's, if not over 1000!) Harvest is only about 100 people, half of those are kids! Been going, with David and Becca, for the last few weeks. Becca has been enjoying Sunday school, and appeared in the "Angel Dance" last Sunday.

Funniest comment from her: "It's a lot more fun being a Christian than a Druid!"

The path to this point has been interesting, with someone (!) bashing me over the head with a large book, smacking me back into line. I guess it started with me talking to two friends, on opposite sides of the Pacific, who were suffering a bit of a crisis in their respective faiths, and listening and responding with an open heart (and mind!). Meeting a woman who loved my dogs, that turned out to be the Pastor's wife, having one of my friends say - try that one, they sound good and solid (Harvest!), going to the local Christian bookshop to buy a bible-study guide, being pointed to Ranui, then making the decision to try Harvest. Going back to the bookshop, to meet the guy that turns out to be the assistant Pastor, who of course knows my name, because I'd ordered a book, and the other sales assistant had mentioned me ... and all sorts of other little "coincidences".

Sometime after Christmas, I'll be baptised - believe - repent - baptise - be saved. Oooh, weird and exciting.

Been reading lots of bible study booklets, and doing some stuff on line, reading the bible, listening to Christian music.

Still on an emotional roller-coaster, but not going as far down each time.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween 2009

We got dressed up for Halloween, and went Trick or Treating! Lots and lots of lollies, and people thought it great that David and I got dressed up too! David wore a pirates hat, frilly shirt and dark pants. I wore my "altered" wench dress, with a purple shirt. Dogs came too, and got to talk to LOTS of people!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Hello Possum

The council has recently cleared the creek wetlands of Wandering Jew - Tradescantia, and planted lots of little plants - hooray! Becca and her friend Noor, while exploring, found a possum trap, with a dead possum inside. I dealt to the rotting carcass, and reset the trap with an apple. Guess what we got! Unfortunately, someone keeps coming along and springing the trap, and now the council have taken it away. Sigh. Well, at least we got one possum!

An Oldie But a Goodie

Scrapbook page, made in March 2006, of our wedding in 2003. David and my costumes were made by me, while his friend John is wearing costume sourced from a drama group.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Alice made her way around the edges of the crowd gathered in front of the Emperor's Cathedral of the Feast of Altheria. The bells were ringing, calling the faithful to evening prayers. It wasn't a Festival day, so there were only a few hundred people in the plaza, but it was still a good-sized crowd to work. Alice pulled her shawl further up over her shoulder-length brown hair, feeling cold drops of water from the drizzle breaking through the weave and dripping on her head. The long-handled barrow was awkward to manoeuvre, the iron-bound wooden wheels jarring on the cobblestones, and the axle needed greasing again. The intermittent squeal it made was really irritating. She wondered if she could get some good-quality machine grease this time, instead of tallow.

She was glad she'd chosen to wear a long coat over her long-sleeved, ankle-length shirt-waister. The fabric of both garments was thin, and the cold and damp were seeping through to her skin. The soles of her boots were thin too, and she could feel the uneven plaza through them.

She called her wares, putting on her thickest accent, her voice piercing and strident.

"Luvverly `ot tucker, cum `n get it `ere! Sausage in a bun, hot grox pies – look at that luvverly suet crust m'dear! Hot meat `n veg stew, `n the special today ... caramelised crispy river rat on a stick! All hot, all fresh cooked, best quality meat! Cum `n get it `ere, laydies `n gennelmen!"

She ladled soup from the tureen into a bread coffin, passing it over to a punter. The charcoal burners under the tureens sat on heavy ceramic tiles, preventing the wooden barrow from catching alight. Effective, but it made the brightly painted barrow heavy to push. The words "Drunken Ork" were painted in fancy script on the barrow's awning, and damp pennants depicting the Saint hung from the support posts. Everything dripped moisture as the persistent drizzle continued.

"Fresh made this mornin', these pies, sur. Only a quarter throne, stuffed full `a best quality meat, they are, sur. Yes ma'am, the soup is very hot! This batch `as bin goin' for a couple a weeks now – threw in some good rich grox marrow bones only last night, and there's fresh greens on the top there. Ah, I see you've got a load `a one cent coins there, sur. Saints' `oly Flesh, sur, I'd be grateful for the change. That's it, put it on the counter there, `n I'll swap you for some quarter `n half thrones for your troubles.

"Ketchup with that sur? Lookin' forward to the service are ye? Good crowd for a weekday night, innit? Saint's Blessin's on ye, madam! Keepin' a poor girl in `onest employ! Nah, I dunno wot that fuss is up the front there, dearie! Some sorta' nun, eh? Somebody fainted, `ave they? Ain't this drizzle depressin', then? `alf a throne, thanks – there ye go, give you the balance back in change, eh?

"Fresh buns `n spicy grox sausage – sausage in a bun, there, sur? Fried onions too? By the Blessed Lady, thanks be to ye, sur. Oh look sur, the crowds movin' agin now – don't wanna be left behind, do ye now?

"That's a luvverly `at ye be wearin', for sure, ma'am – two pies? Aye, one for the little `un, that'll keep `im quiet during mass – at least till they hand out the host, eh duck?"

Alice kept up a constant stream of patter as she pushed the barrow around the edge of the crowd, swapping small coins for larger, palming a good fifty thrones in the process. The weight in her pocket had increased, with a couple of watches, two tie pins, a tobacco case and other bits and pieces she had lifted off the more well-off parishioners. She wouldn't bilk her own people, but the others were fair game.
It was a bit of a walk back home, but she continued to sell more hot food as she went – the caramelised river rat was particularly popular in the poorer areas.

"Grain fed for the last week, mister, I be tellin' ya. Look at that – 500 grams if they're a pound! And a bargain at half a throne! Cut me own throat if I be tellin' a lie."

She looked up from this sale to see two of her least favourite local law enforcers standing further down the dirty street. The tall, fat, dark haired one was just a brute and a bully. But the other one scared her. Average height, blond, wiry, with a nasty disposition, he had a reputation for being rough with the girls – whether they worked the street or not. She pulled her shawl further over her head, checking that the two halves were securely fastened over her chest, and making sure no flesh was showing. No point in asking for trouble from these two.

She could hear them bickering from here. Huh, stupid men – they'd tried that F-Omega con again on unwary travellers. As she drew closer she could see the grime on their ugly grey uniforms, and the smell of stale sweat and urine assaulted her senses. Ugh. An Adeptus Arbites stamp, eh? That was interesting – who might be interested in paying for that piece of information, she wondered.

"Officers. Blessin's of Our Holy Lady on ye, this grey and damp evenin'. What will ye be havin' this night, then? Got some fine suet crusted grox pies – `course it's grox meat! How could you be thinkin' otherwise! n' some luvverly soup. Special tho is the rat on a stick – crispy caramel. You gennelmen would like crispy rat on a stick, eh luv? No, no charge for our finest." Ducking blondie's grasping paws and greasy lips, she gave them a rat on a stick each, and pushed the barrow past them as quickly as she could, trying not to shudder too visibly.

As she went past the front of the Inn, she noticed a man who looked like a drunken vagrant walking in. Huh, she thought – what's he up to? Going round to the back door of the Inn, she opened the kitchen door.

"Ma, I'm back. You know that Arbites officer's back again? You can smell `em from halfway down the street! Is Mr Sneed 'ere? I made a good hundred thrones tonight. And look at this lot – maybe another hundred's worth of bits n bobs. I'll need to go see Mr Tharpe tonight, see what jobs he has for me. Right, well, I'll bring the pots in, `n quench the burners before I get changed. Then I'll help Da out front in the bar. Back in a mo! There should be enough left on the barrow for supper."

Alice put the armful of wood and bucket of coal down, took off her wet boots and put them on the rack beside the range to dry. Grabbing a towel from the drying rack above the range, and replacing it with her damp shawl, she gave her Ma a quick peck on the cheek, before heading upstairs to their rooms above the inn.

She took off her damp blouse, gave it a sniff, decided it would stand another wear, and hung it up carefully to dry. She slipped another, lower cut blouse of finer calico over her head, not bothering with the buttons. Looking in the drawer at her collection of shawls, she decided on a lovely, finely woven rose pink one, decorated with the blood-red flowers that were said to be the favourite of the Blessed Saint. Placing it over her shoulders, she tucked the ends back under her arms, and adjusted blouse and shawl to reveal a modest amount of cleavage. The idea was to encourage the purchase of food and alcohol by the punters, without being immodest – that would attract the back of her Da's hand.

She used the towel to dry the hem of her skirt, squeezing the excess moisture out. It was easier to wash a towel than the skirt, especially if this drizzle continued. Checking her look in the cracked and discoloured mirror, she adjusted the pendant of Saint Altheria that hung low on her chest, and fingered the devotional scar at the base of her neck, in the notch where the collarbones met.

That had been one of the proudest moments in her life. She had barely flinched when the white-hot brand had touched her, marking her as an adult member of the congregation with the capital "A" of the Blessed Saint Altheria. The Confirmation ceremony had been completed a couple of weeks later with red tattooing over the newly healed scar tissue. Blood and Body of our Blessed Lady, Saint be Praised!
Slipping wooden pattens over her stockinged feet, she snuggled her toes into the well-worn shoes, and smiled. Life was good. Time for work. She almost skipped back down the stairs, delighting in the sound of wood on wood. Picking up a tray, order pad and pencil, a stack of clean ashtrays, a cleaning cloth and a small bucket of warm soapy water on her way through the kitchen, she paused as she opened the door to the front rooms of the inn.

The smell of damp fabric and leather, sweating men, smoke from the fire burning in the corner, and the pall of cigarette smoke hanging just below the ceiling assaulted her senses. Closing the door behind her, she slipped over to the bar, giving her Da a peck on the cheek.

"I'll clean the tables first, Da, then get the supper orders goin'."

Moving through the fairly crowded room, she wiped tables clean, swapped dirty ashtrays for clean ones, picked up empty glasses, and generally worked the clientele.
"'ere, Mr Jones, let me clean that table for ye – don' want to `ave wet elbows, now do ye, lovey? The missus would be most put out if she had to wash that jacket!
"I'll take that empty glass away for ye, shall I, sir? Like another, would ye? Be back shortly with that, duck."

"Mr Sneed, so good of ye to join us on this rare, soft night. Let me clean this table for ye. The usual for ye, is it? I've some luvverly `ot grox pies, with a thick suet crust, an' full o' gravy. An' there's `ot soup. I was just telling a customer earlier today, Ma's `ad it simmerin' on the back of the range for the last week – threw in some new marra' bones last night, serve that all up with some nice fresh greens, an' fresh `ot bread. Ma's just finished the evenin' bakin', don' ye know?" Lowering her voice, she continued. "'an I've got some verra nice pieces I picked up today for ye, sur, that I'll show you at your convenience." Nodding to him, with a smile on her lips and in her bright blue eyes, she said in a normal voice, "Aye sur, on your tab as usual, sur."

Moving on, she approached the table where the "drunken vagrant" was seated.
"Evenin' Officer Lorith. Saint's Blessin's on ye. Watchin' Mr Sneed agin' tonight, are ye? Special o' the night is Caramelised Crispy-Skinned Rat on a Stick, served with fresh greens and fried taties. An' I'll be fetchin' ye another beer, shall I? Only the best for the finest of the Adeptus Arbites, eh luv? `An ye'll be passin' on Saint's Blessin's to Intelligencer Amas from me Da, won't ye sur? All our contributions are up to date with the AA. I'll just be addin' that to yer tab."

Turning away, she thought sourly, . She continued through the large room, cleaning tables, making small talk, taking orders, keeping up the non-stop patter that was expected from her.

When the room was worked over to her satisfaction, she took the tray of dirty glasses and ashtrays back to the kitchen, giving Da a smile in passing.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Wench Fighting

Oooh, aaarr - I went to a pirate party one night, and got into a fight....
Rubber sword in one hand, green parrot in the other, blindfolded. Ok. Enough said already.

Oh, I won btw - a box of M&M's!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Why A Dancing Chicken?

Well, why not? Pak n Save sells 2 for $13, with the most disgusting mush inside them that has ever been given the title "stuffing". So, I get to put my hand up the back end of the chook, pull out the mush, and put in lovely, fragrant garlic, onion and herb stuffing. But then of course there's the temptation to make said chicken do things it was never intended for - and it's much easier to stuff chooky if it's sitting firmly on it's head, with it's butt in the air. And of course, the addition of a metal spike to hold the stuffing in is obligatory.

Another fortnight has raced past. This week began with two separate migraine attacks. Monday, a “classic”, with burr-holes at the right temple and behind the right ear, held together by a tight band, throbbing away merrily. Tuesday, Migraine with Aura. Pretty, pretty, shiny, shiny lights. Two days of photophobia, nausea, grinding tiredness, lack of spatial ability. Took Wednesday off and went to the doctor, who confirmed my self-diagnosis, and gave me more Imigran – hooray! The stresses that caused the migraines have now come to a head, (lol, quite literally), on Monday, so hopefully no more for another 12-18 months. The last attack was early 2008, according to the doc.

The weekend has seen Becca’s headcold take over. Ugh. Tired, achy, sore throat, no voice, brains at half-mast.

Fun Stuff:
Thursday: I bought a packet of Space Wolf Blood Claws figures from Vagabond’s in Takapuna. Couldn’t get any Scouts. Wade at Vagabond’s was quite happy to talk to me, unlike the guys at GW, who don’t see the point talking to a WOMAN – even if she’s the one asking the questions. When I buy some more (like the new Space Wolf pack and a Codex) it will almost certainly be from there. Unless the stock from WarhammerMan on Trademe stays at $38 for the Codex, and $50 for the figures – but he’s put them up as an auction, not a Buynow.

I don’t think I have enough brain-power to actually do much with what I’ve bought – maybe cut them off the sprue’s, and glue some bits together.

FRIDAY: Becca went to the school disco with her friend Noor on Friday night, and agreed that it might be a good idea to dress up. But what’s a boy-girl to wear? Well, scary tho it sounds, mum’s jeans, knickers & t-shirt all fitted – and looked good. And she was pleased she dressed up.

Got accepted into Bryan Gibson’s (graphic artist of a lot of Traveller books) Terran Praesidium IRC game. Rolled a character, and wrote up a background for Kerangi Ataahua. Sent him and Matt the documents, including the Spica Publications’ “Careers Book 2” Companion pages, which some of her background comes from. Of course, a rewrite is required (about 30%) to make the background fit his universe, which is not surprising – a work of my imagination will need those changes made to fit his work of imagination.

SATURDAY: David and I took the dogs for a walk in Henderson Park, and got a photo of the amazing macrocarpa stump. I want to see if I can turn it into a fabric art piece. Even though I was feeling far from well, it was a nice walk. Talked about maybe going for a paddle on Sunday ...

Spinward Traveller on IRC. Dancing at the Harrington, jeep chases, and shooting baddies out of trees and off roof-tops! Lots and lots of fun!

Pirate Party. Spent quality time while role-playing doing repairs to a lovely lacy shirt for David. Buttons, hooks and eyes, button loops. Wore my wench dress with a red bustier underneath, and a Turkish Entari (long sleeved coat) on top. There were pirate games. Had a sword fight with the other “wench” – aim was to hit the parrot held on an outstretched hand, while blind-folded. I WON I WON I WON! Other games included bad pirate puns, jokes, and saying Arrrrrrr till you ran out of breath. We stayed a lot later than I expected, but eventually the cold won out, and we were home about 2330.

SUNDAY: Hmmm – not much fun – more like the living dead. Must have been breathing thru my mouth during the night. My voice is a bad joke – well, maybe a bad croak. Yes, very funny. Did a shunt, picked up paper rubbish the wind has blown in from rubbish day on Thursday. Drilled holes in an Activac case that came with a broken hinge. More challenging than the big Infovac case I successfully repaired last weekend. So, no. Not fixed. But, 2 catches, and I can still use the base, for the next lid that gets broken. Got David to cut a piece of threaded rod to length, so now I can cut the other three pieces to length too. Putting a slightly larger nut on the end, then cutting, certainly makes a difference to being able to thread the proper nut on.

It’s 1400. What am I gonna do now? Post this. I type it in word, then copy/paste across – but sometimes blogspot doesn’t like the formatting, so I have to copy it to word, save as txt, copy and paste ... Put the photos up. See if I can get the damn things where I want them.
Finish off some t-shirts I’m taking from a size 16 down to size 12. Look at Space Wolf figures. Read some of Bryan Gibson’s Terran Praesidium. Walk the dogs. Have a nap. OMG - and then it's bedtime!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Spring is sprung, and I'm starting to do STUFF

A weekend of busyness.

Saturday: Clipped Kama – black dog has LONG legs! Lots and lots of hair.

David managed to keep the lawnmower going long enough to get the lawns done, and I weed-whacked round the back of the house. Moved the container of freesias round further so we can actually SEE them now – yellows, whites, dark and bright reds, purples. Now the garden looks lovely and tidy. Love power tools!

Quick trip out to look for paving stones, as the dogs have been excavating at the gates again. Found a place selling seconds for only $2 each (17”/43cm square). We got 12, + 2 circles, and a couple of bags of sand. Popped in to the mall, made an appointment for a haircut, grabbed cappuccino to go, and groceries from the Supermarket.

Back for Spinward Salvage IRC RPG. Called it quits 3 hours later, after a great game. Love playing real-time games – you get to talk to real people!

Chicken nibbles, roast veges, cauli and carrots for dinner! Watched Cate Blanchett in “The Gift”, then Pierce Brosnan in “Dante’s Peak”. Late late night. Oooh – and made home-made pina coladas – light rum, coconut cream and fruit juice. LOL – still packed a punch. David got home from work near midnight, and watched the end of the movie with me, and helped me finish off the rum thingy.

Sunday: Sleep in – not used to getting to bed at 0100! Went up to the Waitakere’s to check the Stoat Traps – all empty – no rats, hedgie’s or stoats. Awesome ride down the hill to the dam, then a long, slow walk back up the hill – the dogs were totally pooped!

Sent David off to the Wargames Club Bring & Buy session, and then to work. Collapsed for a while, then decided it was time to fix the darn fold-out-bed couch, as I was sinking further and further down into it. Went to Mitre 10 Mega and got a staple gun and spare staples, a length of architrave timber, panel pins, and sweet pea seeds (oh, how’d they get in there, lol!).

So, the couch is now fixed. Firmly attached the flap of fabric to the timber, then the timber to the couch with panel pins. Put some plywood on top of the bed frame, then sponge rubber on top of that. Higher and firmer. So there!

Sweet pea seeds are planted in another big container out the back – 60cm Bijou Semi Dwarf, Jewels of Colour in the centre, and 22cm Pixie Princess Red & Whites around the edge. 12-14 weeks to flowering.

Mr Piggy is for dinner – but it weighs 3kg! I’ve had to cut it in half, to have any chance of getting it cooked in time (and it went on about 1530!)

NCIS, Criminal Intent, The Children, and a doco on the Titanic. Thank goodness for the VCR!

Oh, and how many RPG’s am I playing?
40k/Hollow Worlds: Space Wolves [space wolf - Hriedmarr Tiefson], Shadows of Ballustrade [male Rogue Trader – Joaquin Balageur], and And With Strange Aeons [female scum – Pania Keredu]. All Play by Email.

Classic Traveller: Reaver’s Deep [male engineer – Patrick Kissilov]. PBEM

Mongoose Traveller: Spinward Salvage [female Salvage Expert – Claire Balfour] IRC – real-time chat.

And I'm trying to join another one! She's mad I tell you, mad!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Becca's Soft Toy Cupboard

Hehe - we couldn't get far enough back to get a photo of the drift of soft toys on the floor!

Love Angel

I bought this for David. She is making the "Sign for Love". I wanted something special for him. To show how much I appreciate him, and how much I missed his company.

Thursday - going home day

Son, daughter, father! Scary
Mick, Sue, Bill

Mick came home just before midnight. Dad staggered onto his pile of pillows about 0200 - refused to sleep on Mick's bed - didn't want to disturb him. We picked him up bodily around 0300 and put him properly to bed.

Mick and I talked till 0430 in the morning. He's become an interesting man, my American brother. Not a kiwi any more. Staunch Republican. Hand on heart for the American anthem/flag. Anti-gun control. Doesn't like Australians at all. Doesn't like their lack of a work ethic, their attitude.

Says they don't like American's, and Barrie's going to hate being in Aus. Very down on it all. Sleep deprivation and alcohol talking, I hope. Mick is going back to California to help her pack up the house, and they'll both be down here for October.
Barrie has a job waiting for her here, but there's been a lot of politicking, and the Sydney UPS office doesn't want someone coming in from the US telling them what to do.

Bill was up and rattling around at 0700 - aarrgghh. It is so not fair, that after having drunk about half a bottle of gin, he doesn't have a hangover. I don't think he had any idea of the amount of noise he was making. Eventually staggered up about 0900. Had some breakfast, then took dad downstairs about 1000 - when the shops finally decide to open.

Took dad back to the shop I'd got a little resin angel for David from. He got a little resin statue of a boy holding a dog. Very cute.

Got back to the apartment to find Mick fuming - where had we gone. So we went back out for a late brunch. Yum. Mick had the Big All Day Breakfast, Dad a salmon omelette, and I had poached eggs on ham and toast.

Caught the bus at Southern Cross Station at around 1300, at the Airport by 1400. Got fed on the plane. Home again home again. tiddly pom.

So nice to be home. So nice to walk thru the arrivals gate, see the maori carvings, hear the native birds. Lovely to have a cuddle from David. Missed him so much.
So nice to sleep in my own bed, use my own, high-pressure shower.

I love going away, but coming home is nice.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Advertising on Melbourne's Yarra Trams!

The other ad shows this guy in seriously ugly whitey-tities. My first thought was - "burn, baby burn - save the world, burn a ...."

Oh Happy Day!

I spent today with Wendy. Happy songs running thru my head.

Grabbed a nice cappa at Southern Cross Station, and a beautiful bunch of bright orange gerbera's, and caught the train out to Craigieburn by myself.

Wendy and Turk picked me up at the station and we did some tripping round before going back to their place for lunch. Wendy and I had a fossick thru her wardrobe, and I've walked away with two pairs of jeans - thank you girlfriend! She and I spent some time out in the girl-shed, yakking, looking at the quilt stuff she's done, and just catching up. She says I'm much lighter and easier to be around - a noticeable change from February when we parted. All the emotional hard work is paying off!

She and Turk were caught at a police checkpoint on Monday, and told their car was unregistered, and had been since March, even after going thru about 5 different dealers before they purchased it. The cops took the rego plates, and they had to leave the car on the side of the road, till they'd organised a mechanic to come get it, do the "roadworthiness test", and tow it back to their place. Turk's dad was able to come and get them, but it meant that Wendy missed her job interview - but she gets to go back tomorrow, Thursday.

They were hit with a nearly $600 fine, which will be paid by the dealer.

Wendy and I took Mac for a run - us on bikes, him running, down to the local sports field, where dogs are allowed off-leash. We chased the crows and magpies, and watched the cops pulling over more unregistered vehicles, including one that tried to dodge them - bad idea! They have a van parked about a km down the road, which photographs the oncoming vehicle, relays the data to the Victorian Road Transport Authority, and fires it back if it's unregistered. The cops then pull the vehicle over! Wow, talk about efficient.

Then we went for a drive to the reservoir, which is evidently looking the best it has for a while, but looks pretty sad from my point of view. They're going to have severe water restrictions again this summer - level 4 at a minimum, so no washing cars or watering gardens, and 4 minute showers.

Then we went to a couple of Turkish shops. Both really only sold food, tho one had cookware, hookah pipes and musical instruments. No suitable knicknacks to bring home. Wendy says there's a third shop, where she might be able to get me a little set of worry/prayer beads, and a tiny Koran-in-a-baggy talisman. Then we went and picked up the kids from school, and they took me back to the train station.

No louts this time, thank goodness. But a couple of cops got on the train, and rode it for a couple of stops. Cops with guns - pistols in holsters. Scary for this kiwi girl! There is a noticably high Police presence in Melbourne - mostly cars cruising the beat, and checkpoints, but also popping up elsewhere.

I walked around the back of the Etihad Stadium, which used to be Batman's Hill, named after one of the founding settlers. The original city grid is laid out from this point, so the old city is a tiny, compact grid laid against the Yarra River on a north-east/south-west orientation. However, when the city expanded, they set up a new grid, running north-south, which makes working out which direction you're going very complicated. Me, I think it's kinda cool, and once you work it out, it's fine. Brother Mick's not so sanquine about it. LOL.

Got to Costco, and had to sit on the seats/concrete anti-ram-raid blocks, and have a wee melt-down. Damn, I want to go home. Really hard not having someone to share my day with. It's so tiring having to repeat myself over and over, and shout to be heard/understood.

Picked Father William up where he's been lurking at Costco all afternoon. It's still insane - they're at least 50 staff short, and they're quitting as quick as they hire them, even at $20/hour.

Dad has realised he hasn't got a pressie for mum. Said he'd seen a really nice set of drinking glasses at Costco. And they were really cheap too. What did I think?! NO! You wanna buy cheap glassware? Go to the Warehouse or Briscoes. You wanna get mum a pressie? Get something nice. Please. And no, there's no point in getting up early to get something, because the Docklands doesn't open till after 0900 - not even to get a damn coffee!

Talked to David, and Becca on the phone for half an hour. Better for that. Helped with the loneliness a bit.

Bill decided he wanted Szechuan for dinner, so we took off for Lygon Street again. I'm afraid my ability to eat organs, feet and other icky bits is non-existant. Settled on Gong Bao Chicken (hot hot chilli!), and Fragrant Fish Eggplant (allegedly hotter than the chicken, but didn't seem so). It was a heck of a lot better than I thought it would be. The eggplant was NOM! Chinese restaurant served beer, wine and fizzy. Two diet coke later ... Dad's order of the chicken dish arrived first, and he commented after about 5 minutes "you did order, didn't you?" "Ah, yes. Traditionally, you share the dishes, that's why we have the little plates, and the bowls of rice ... so when the eggplant arrives, we share that as well ..." Hmmm - am I being a smartarse again? He deliberately wanted to come to this particular restaurant, but doesn't know the customs ...

Had to walk a couple of blocks across the city to find a tram heading back down to the Docklands - #86! Oh yeah, baby, come to mama! Yes dad, this way... no, this is Russell Street, it becomes Lygon Street, remember? Oh well, we made it back.

So, Dad turns on the TV. Loudly! I need a drink. No dad, I don't drink beer (yuk - VB [Victoria Bitter!] I NEED VODKA! Grabbed book and glasses, and went back down the the Hotel, double VLL, and a piece of lemon curd pie - pie was average, VLL was aaarrrrooooo!

Nearly finished Clive Cussler's Treasure - what am I going to read on the plane tomorrow? Darn, I have so many books at home I want to read, but looks like I might have to buy something tomorrow.

Nearly 2300 - Mick was hoping to be home about now. I suspect there's two chances of that!

2315 - Not home yet.

2330 - nope.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Me! in Melbourne! In my new T-shirt

Not the best or most flattering of pictures. But I do like this T-shirt! "Music makes me lose control!"
Hoped to show the necklaces - I love the way the three of them sit. Simple heart at the top, then the double, more complicated hearts, then the goddess at the bottom. I'm going to try for a better, infocus, photo tomorrow.
Gonna go read once I've finished checking all my games - dad's watching some awful Aussie cop show now, and it's hard to concentrate.
Space Wolves, Strange Aeons, Shadows of Ballustrade and Reavers Deep, here I come! Goodnight folks.

A couple of hours in Pompei

PHOTOS: A Day In Pompeii: Small Altar, used in a household shrine for burning perfume and incense; Portable Stove, meat and fish would have been grilled over the coals in the flat base, and pots and pans arrayed on the semi-circular raised sections; Dinosaur Alley - looks better in real life!

Melbourne Museum: Fantastic exhibition! Very very cool. I took a few photos (oops, naughty me!). I think our camera is dying - almost all of them are out of focus. Great displays of finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and a couple of other small towns. Coins, amphorae, balances, shrines, urns. And last, but certainly never least, the body casts. So sad. You could feel their terror and helplessness.

Aaarrrggh - Bill's playing with the remote for the TV, "Just finding out which channel goes where..." Uh huh. Can't concentrate. What am I writing about?

Oh, yes - the museum. Spent about an hour wandering thru. Bought the book, and a little pewter dog on the way out. Went and had a look at the Rainforest exhibition, the dinosaurs, bugs and human brain. Then it was 1700, and time to leave.

After talking to David and Becca for about 20 minutes, I walked back over to Lygon Street, where all the Italian restaurants are - found a nice, garlicy smelling one, and they offered me free garlic bread and wine - Yes! You'll do very nicely, thankyou.

Braised veal shanks, with the meat falling off the bone, with mashed potato, sauce and veg; followed by a berry and crepe dessert. Got a chocolate icecream as I walked back to LaTrobe St. There are no trams after 1700! Pox. So, at 1900, I started walking. Back down LaTrobe, right to the end, where I finally found a tram to take me the last kilometre.

I think I've walked about 6-8 k's today. Certainly walked dinner off. Nom Nom Nom.

It's really frustrating not being able to use my own laptop to work on. Never mind. Last day tomorrow, home on Thursday. Can I go home now?

Actually, today has been really good. Dad has admitted he couldn't have done any more walking today. Me, I could still go further if I had to. (Like, ooh, to get more Smirnoff Ice's!) I've really enjoyed walking thru the various parks and open spaces, at my own pace, going where I want to. The hardest part, as always, is having no-one to share this with. Never managed to get a photo of myself taken - have another go tomorrow.

Run away, run away ....

Slept like a log last night - being totally trashed helped! Woken by next door's dog at around 0300 - aaarrrrroooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! bark bark yelp. I think they must have gone out. Earplugs worked!

Woke up this morning at what I thought was 1000 - but was really 0800 - my mobile had gone back to nz time, lol! Mick and Bill both asleep (Bill on the floor in the lounge!). Got up, showered, dressed, left a note and ran away!!!!!

Grabbed a coffee, caught a tram, and went uptown. Eventually made my way to the University, and then up to the Cemetery. Caught a tram back downtown around 1100, I guess. Trams alternate between really really cool, and .... aaargh, oh heck, where are we going? Darn, ok, let’s walk back a couple of blocks . So the morning's trip was a little more exciting than it sounded.

The city is really quite beautiful - lots of lovely old buildings, some just facades, but at least they've kept them! Looks like there's some sort of fund that encourages developers to keep them as part of the building.

The university looks a lot like Auckland’s with a mix of old and new buildings. The cemetery is surrounded by a huge fence, so couldn't get in, but just walked around the outside.

The weather can't make up its mind - there are short periods of brilliant sunshine, take off the clothes.... followed by longer periods of cold wind, and cloud. There's an overcast settling down now, so I think it's going to get yuckier.

Came back to the apartment to find both male Cottle's still asleep, so went to the loo, and ran away again. Retail therapied! Found one of the two bookshops. No SF or decent history or anything else - it's an outlet of one of the big booksellers. Lots of craft, food, and WW2 stuff – the usual.

Have bought some clothes tho; two 2 t-shirts and 1 knitted top. Also bought a little silver heart necklace. So that's probably me shopped out. Bought groceries yesterday, too. Most of my spending money seems to have gone on boring stuff.

Bill's just woken up - 1230 - no-one's home in his brain.

Don't know if we're going to get to the museum. See what happens.

More later.


The Wheel at dusk; the view of the "Commons" from the apartment; Exhibition Hall at Carlton Park; Southern Cross Station, downtown Melbourne.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Heaven over Hell - Chinese Hexagram 666

Totalled. 4 x double vodka's, 1 x green lime/mint cocktail thingy. Totally Totalled. Smile on my face, finally.

Dinner at Harbour Town Hotel - 300g Porterhouse steak, medium rare, chips n salad. Sticky date n toffee dessert. NOM. Heaven. I feel blessed now. And totalled!

Makes up for the day. Ooooh, what a long day! Sitting here, snuffling, eyes barely open, grinning inanely, so very very tired.

Sunday finished at around midnight, having sat on the balcony, talking. Monday started 0400, with brother Mick unable to sleep, between stuffed body-clock and Father Bill thrashing and snoring; breakfast time. Woke back up at 0600 when Mick showered etc. Saw him off, gave him a hug goodbye.

Day restarted at 0830. Father William coming into my room asking if I was Ok, and did I want cereal and milk for breakfast. Ah - No! Back at 0850 - shouldn't I be getting up now? Ah - No!

Got up, showered, found semi-gluten-free meusli & soy milk for breakfast (thank goodness I'd bought the soymilk yesterday). Watched as Bill cleaned ashtrays out with dishbrush! No, that's the dishbrush Bill ...... then cleaned dishes with the dishbrush ...

Tram to town. Southern Cross Station. Walking at snail's pace. Would Father William believe my directions? Ah - no. This way, Bill, no, this ..... ok. Whatever. Got a soy cappa - that helped. Eventually found Real Estate Agent (and boot laces). 2 hours later, left real estate agents. Yes - 2 hours, waiting. Key? What key. Oh, well, no, that actually hasn't been cut yet - swipey - oh, Building Manager has that. You need to be back here by about 1500. Building manager before 1630.

Are we going to get to the museum to see the Pompei exhibit? Hmmm - let's see - it's nearly 1300 ... Yeah, right. No F'ing way.

Caught tram to Lygon Street - Little Italy. Walked, at snails pace (everywhere! aaargh) Restaurants - mostly Italian, some Mexican, 1 Kiwi, scattering of others. Regaled with tales of desperate restrauters dragging people off the street with offers of free BOTTLES of wine. Shortly after that, got accosted - free Glass of wine, amazing smells of garlic and roast lamb coming from the restaurant .... no, no, no - don't drag me away........ :(

Walked, at snails pace, along Lygon Street. Lunch at a lunchbar - fish n chips for me, an omelette for him! WTF!!!!!!! Sigh.

Made way back across town to the Carlton Gardens where the Museum is. At snails' pace. This way. No Bill. This way. F*)(&*&(&()&

Caught tram. Wrong tram. No Bill, not that tram ... ok, sure, we'll catch that Tram. Yes, you're right, it's going the wrong way.... yes, we have to walk two blocks back... at snails' pace. Time? 1520 ....

Collect key - abject BS apologies from real estate woman. Catch wrong tram. Wait for right tram. Time? 1600 - deadline for building manager? 1630 ....

Got key. Have swipey. Arrrooooo! We have access to apartment! OMG! Fantastic. Clean bathroom/shower/toilet and kitchen. Ewwwww - that's better.

Walk to Cosco - packed. Staff with brains hanging out, eyeballs on stalks. Cars and people queued up! "Biggest turnout for any store opening worldwide!"

More groceries - Dishbrush - Gluten free cereal, soymilk, fruit. VODKA - Smirnoff Black Ice - 6.5% alcohol by volume!!!! Went back to apartment and drank 2 - straight down! He's not hungry, doesn't want dinner, but won't let me go out on my own.

1900 go out to find dinner. Almost nothing open. Settle on the same place as last night. Oh no - Bill's forgotten his glasses! Bye! Don't hurry back.

2220 - totally trashed, feeling a happy girl - full of food and booze, ready for sleep and bed. (0020 nz time!) Done my post. Except the photo of the food, which the Blackberry won't release.

Goodnight all! Photo's to follow.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Melbourne in Winter

It's cold. It's wet. It's windy. 12 deg C, showers, 100 kmph wind gusts.
What's the difference between here and Auckland? Ummm ... not an awful lot.

The photo is of the [non-working] Wheel at night - the ultimate white elephant - worked for about 4 weeks, before a heat-wave distorted some of the metalwork. Now they have to take it apart and fix it. Only problem is, when they built it, it was in the middle of a swampy open paddock. Now, it's surrounded by a shopping mall.

The Costco VIP opening was pretty impressive - over 2500 people thru the door between 1600-1700. Food. So much FOOD! Lots and lots of lovely food. And that was just the stuff on the shelves! Lots of pretty, shiny toys. Lots of pretty shiny toys I'd like to buy. My brother is the Night Floor Manager - or something like that. Not nearly as high up the foodchain as my father made out, but still has a staff of 8 reporting to him in the deli section. OMG! The deli section - huge, pizza-sized brie and camembert, for about $30! Crayfish, salmon, meat, shellfish .... ooooh. Walk away walk away.

NZ won't get a Costco till they've opened up about 5 in Australia. Darn - we're stuck with Gilmour's.

Took a train ride out to Craigieburn to visit my friend Wendy - haven't seen each other since February - she came over just after the drought and the Black Saturday fires. Nice train-ride to the end of the line. She has a very nice house, with a "Man Shed" out the back, sewing area, husband's play area, where he can play his guitar till all hours, treatment room ...

So good to catch up and chat and gossip. Slightly hindered by the presence of father dearest - but a brief escape to the Shed helped. Scrummy pumpkin soup for lunch.

Overly exciting trip back - bunch of scruffy, white-trash kids had taken on some Indian boys. White boy got pummelled, and they brought their fight onto the train - looked for a bit as if they were going to trade blows, till some older Indian men got involved and seemed to break it up. When the Indian boys got off the train, the white boys hung out the door abusing them, and the Indian's tried to pull them out the door of the moving train. Can I go home now?!

Bill & Mick have gone off to steal a newspaper from the bar around the corner, and visit the money machine. Somehow it's my fault that Bill hasn't had a chance to get any cash out, because I'm always in a hurry to catch a train or something. Counting. Slowly. To 10.

I will be so glad when his hearing aid arrives from the States. Then we'll find out if his hearing is the only problem.

More tomorrow night.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Ooooh - that's nice!

Well, here it is. What do you think? I like my new hair colour! Continuing technical problems meant that taking photo's got increasingly challenging.

It's now late Sunday afternoon, and we're round at a friends' house to celebrate Imbolc. Finally, one of the other couples that were meant to be here around 1200, have arrived. We have to go in about another 2 hours, as it's a school night, and Becca is home alone with her brother.

Just made apple crumble, got a couple of hot chickens and vogels bread from the supermarket. We're going to have an early supper, maybe perform a ritual to celebrate the festival.

Happy happy happy!

Captain's log - Update: David went home and got Becca. By the time they returned, someone else had turned up, so we stuffed ourselves silly with roast chicken, beef stew, fresh vogels bread and salad, then had South African Milk tart, Apple crumble and lewd conversation for dessert.

And, not only that - we did some ritual!!!!! Nice to do group rituals! So we decided to create a new seed group, and call ourselves BODS - "Bunch of Druids" - so we can get together more often, to do rituals, study and craftwork together, without politics.

What a busy weekend it turned into: Saturday morning was Stoating, finding 3 rats and 1 thing with spines, which once may have been a hedgehog (but can't be sure, because the traps obviously haven't been cleared on the last two weekends by the other "volunteers"); getting soaked to the skin in the rain; followed by "afternoon tea" with friends, and not getting home till nearly 1900; then a quick visit to the parents this morning that lasted about 3 hours, and included almost freezing to death; and this afternoon stretched into the evening.

And yes, you're right - I should update my blog more often - but that presupposes I've actually done anything.

Well, spring has sprung, creative (among other) juices are starting to flow, and brain and fingers are getting itchy - must be time to make something!

Maybe I should write something about the roleplaying games I'm in! My friend Caroline was sitting on the floor, carving lines into a large stick, commenting how weird it was me playing guys in on-line roleplaying games! Oh pot, calling kettle black.

hugs to all

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Ming the Merciless Plots to take over the Planet

Subheading: The day I had my hair streaked/low-lighted!
In a moment of madness, I decided to change my hair colour - which had nothing to do with a wee girly at KFC asking if I was Becca's grandmother. Grrr!

No, I am not her grandmother. Yes, my hair is silver (much more preferable to GREY!). It started going grey at about 28, and I have dyed it for YEARS! Then about 5 years ago I became increasingly sensitive to the "home" hair-dyes - itchy scratchy! So, made the decision to go grey gracefully (well, as gracefully as I do anything).

I didn't want to completely change colour, but to lift the grey (7G + 7N - dark golden blonde and something else), and, being me, took photo's of the process. This was just too funny not to record for posterity.

Tomorrow, the finished result - which, to my surprise (and relief), I'm actually very happy with. (Technical problems include out of focus, squinty eyes, and aaargh, do I really look like that!)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Winter Solstice 2009 Road Trip

Friday – Rotorua/Taupo
We left Auckland on Friday 19 June, for Rotorua. I had prebooked us into Whakarewarewa Thermal Village for the Cultural Display at 1400, so we had a deadline to meet! The weather was fantastic, with clear blue skies most of the way. We grabbed a couple of great cappuccino’s and a hot chocolate in Matamata, and stopped at McDonalds in Rotorua itself for lunch. We got to the Village early, so had an explore by ourselves, walking up to the top of the hill, through the village urupa (burial ground) and around some of the hotpools, before going to the Display. This was performed by 3 women (in piupiu) and 3 men, with the hinderance of a small girl-child. It included a greeting, waiata, haka, poi and stick games. One of the guys was really hamming it up for the people watching, posturing, pulling faces, and having a lot of fun.
After the display, we wandered round for another half hour, noticing how low the water levels were in the lakes, and the general air of having been sucked dry and dying. The scrub was starting to get ahead of the lake, particularly in the shadows.
At 1500 we met up with the guide, who took us back round the village. There are 26 families living on the tribal land, I think around 500 people, aged from 11 months to 84 years. In the last 5½ months there's been a lot of geothermal activity, which is why many of the pools are lower. The "upper baths" have been closed completely, as no water can flow into them.

We drove down to Taupo, trying to find a motel with a restaurant attached, that we could afford. We eventually settled on "Twin Peaks", wondering if there were any plastic-wrapped bodies in the lake. The room was a concrete-block box, freezing cold. The restaurant was "British-themed", and the food was pretty good. David had Chicken Brie, I had a Lamb Shank, and Becca had a burger and chips. It was a long, cold night.

Saturday – Ruapehu/Whakapapa-Waikanae
There was ice on the car and carpark in the morning – aaarrgghhh.
We drove very carefully to Ruapehu – there were a number of vehicles that had gone off the road, driving too fast, slipping on black ice. We drove up the Whakapapa Road to the village – every carpark level was covered in thick ice, the sides of the road were icy, there were icicles hanging from the roadsides. The wind at the Bruce was 50kpmh, gusting to 80kpmh – bitterly, bitterly cold! The car thermometer was at 2degC. I slipped getting out of the car, and just couldn't get warm. Becca got dressed in the car. We walked across the road, gasping with the cold, picked up a lump of ice from the side of the road, and got back in the car and drove back down the hill!

We'd seen a lovely frozen waterflow as we'd driven up, about 4 kilometers back down the mountain, so we stopped just below it where the road widened, and walked over the tussock back to it. You could see the meltwater running inside the frozen icicles and shawls – nanite infection! We met a couple there with two small boys – they were keen trampers, and the guy had not only snow-caved on the mountain, he'd also done two 3-month trips down to Antarctica, and was trying to go on a third. It was about 3degC there, but the windchill was much, much less.

Drove down as far as Waikanae, and found a motel down near the beach – Waikanae Beach Motel. Very nice two bedroom unit with lounge/kitchen and bathroom-toilet. Lovely and warm! Drove back up to town, round and round, looking for a damn restaurant. Settled on Vela, had a very nice dinner, prawns, pork, dessert - $160! Slept well.

Sunday – Solstice!
Today is 21 June 2009, the shortest day of the year, and the Winter Solstice. This afternoon, we will be gathering with other druids, pagans and members of the public at Aotearoa Stonehenge to celebrate the Solstice.
Drove down to Pukerua Bay and found The Woolshed. It's a converted Shearing shed, with a meditation/meeting area and bedrooms downstairs, and a wonderful open space upstairs. Shared lunch. Drove to the place where we met the bus. Caroline, Phil, Theresa, Yvette and Brendon on the bus! Sat with Caroline on the journey over the hills – 70+km to Carterton.
There were 70+ Druids/pagans etc, + 180 members of the public. Stonehenge was amazing. Becca was the Mabon, and said her lines perfectly. The ritual was fantastic and totally absorbing. Stayed in the circle after the ritual, to discharge some energy. Aaaroooooooo!

Fell asleep in the bus, curled up to Becca and slept. Clever babe!

Monday – drove home to Auckland, via Bulls, Taupo and Hamilton – a long drive.

This was an awesome long weekend!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Rangitoto PEX - February 2009

Rangitoto is a 7" x 5" quilty card, made for a swap.
The front shows Rangitoto Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland. Auckland's Maori name is Tamaki Makaurau, also known as the "City of Sails". Rangitoto is a near-perfect circular volcanic cone, which last erupted around 600 years ago. The volcano is dormant, not extinct.
I used commercial batiks for Rangi, cut and fused to the background. The sky and grass are from skydye type fabrics, chosen for their colour changes. The sea has a sprinkling of Crystal Aurora Angelina fibre on it, to show the sparkling waters. The rocks and flax plants were fussy cut from commercial prints. Free motion stitching was used to highlight the landscape, sky and the flax plants. A piece of heavy-grade non-woven interfacing was used to strengthen the piece.
The legend on the rear of the card was printed on 120g copier paper, then blanket-stitched to the front fabric. Three fibres in maroon hues were used around the outside edge.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Hearts Held Close

"Hearts Held Close" is a 7" x 5" Quilty card, made for a very special friend's birthday.

The poem was written to express the difficulties of having a friendship with someone who is on a different continent, in a different time-zone, in another hemisphere. Although our communication is via email, instant messaging, and very infrequent phone calls, and we have never met, there is a very strong connection between us.
The entwined couple on the front were inspired by an illustrated edition of Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet". Embellishments show points of connection between us - the gecko, moonlit nights, puzzle pieces. Also included are precious and semi-precious stones that we both like - amethyst, sapphire, emerald, ruby.

The fabrics are commercial batiks. The figures were fused with visoflix to black cotton, then to the backing fabric with a glue-stick. I then free-motion stitched using two shades of purple thread to enhance the body contours of the couple. A heavy-grade fusible, non-woven backing and a sheet of card were used to stiffen the piece. The paua shell laminate, paua shell piece, letters and embellishments are all handsewen on.

The poem was printed on transparent vellum paper using an inkjet printer, then cut out with "heartbeat" patterned scissors, and free-motion stitched using rayon and cotton variegated green threads.

I now make duplicates of all my art pieces, the best version being sent out into the world with my love, while the other stays home with me.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Hear my Song - March Post Card Exchange

This was due to be sent out in March, but what with sick computers, on-line roleplaying games, making a copy, and general procrastination, I've only just finished it.

The background is rust dyed fabric, with fussy-cut clematis flowers, and a fantail sitting on a punga tree. I've embellished it with brown and green seed-beads along the punga fronds. The reverse is hand-dyed fabric with stamped words, and a hand-written greeting.

Waitakere Trap Line

It was my turn to check the traps on the Dam Road this weekend. It's been at least a month (or is it two?) since I've been up there. Daylight saving ended today, so I was up there bright and early, with both dogs. The weather was warm and sunny, and at 0800, the sun was still climbing over the ridge.

Just for a change, there were rats in the traps - very dead and squashed. The lake was full, and they've built a new building at the bottom of the dam to control the excess water - and water was pouring out, and down the waterfall.

The bush is in flower - rata, rewarewa, hebe, lillies, with lots of lovely smells.

It would have been nice if I hadn't caught my finger in a trap - got a lovely bruise now. It hurt so much initially, all I could do was stand there. So ... lots of lovely pictures.

Endless March

This has been the month of no laptop. It's been pretty neurotic since I purchased the blasted thing, and Vista is a total pain. Then it started having increasing problems connecting to the internet, until I couldn't connect at all. Backed up most of the files - took 7 disks, and then I ran out.

Took it back to Harvey Norman, who sent it to their repair people, who said "no fault found" .... and then replaced the main board. Over the next week, it became increasingly unstable, until by the end of the week, I again couldn't connect to the internet, or the home network. 2 weeks with Harvey Norman's repair people - and now it has a new hard disk.

But .... it won't accept the backup disks - wants an administrator file. So now I'm trying to copy each batch of files back over into the computer. But of course, inevitably, some really important ones, like the document that contains all my logins for various sites, has been corrupted, and won't open.

Not only that, each file transfer has crashed the laptop.

So, I haven't been able to update my blog, log on to sites, download email, or do much of anything. Time to catch up.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Product Training in Oz Pt2

Well, as I suspected, I'm still more than a little brain dead. I feel like I've spent the day travellling, which I guess I have - a not quite 3 hour flight, + the 2 hour+ time difference.

Dinner at the restaurant with Chris? (darn, can't remember her name), was Ok, but I was back up in my room by about 2030. Wrote another scene for Reavers Deep, and managed to get about 5 hours sleep in total. I finally managed to get some cold tablets at the airport this morning. I still feel dreadful, but I'm so looking forward to my own bed.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Product Training In Sydney

Sunday night's flight over to Sydney was ok - the departure gate was "4c"- you went down 2 levels from the waiting area, to ground level. Then we got put on a bus - yes, no kidding - and were driven to the far end of the taxi area, where our tiny little airbus A320 was sitting beside a bigger plane, had to climb a gangway to get up into the plane. They'd run out of air-bridges and terminal space! Evidently it's quite common.

When we got to the end of the taxiway prior to take off, it turned into "Seconds From Disaster" time. Debris had been seen on the end of the runway by a previous heavy jet, and the pilot wouldn't take off till it had been checked. Sure enough, when they sent a vehicle to check, there were debris on the runway, right where it could have got sucked into the engines! Scary. Took off 30 minutes late.

I had a guy (mid-late 20's maybe) sitting in the window seat- I think he was coming down off something - he kept twitching and jumping and sneezing and snuffling - very weird. On the other side was a lady from Victoria, British Columbia, who'd been to NZ with her husband for the 3rd or4th time - they love the place. Had an interesting chat with her.

Wee bit of turbulance once we got within a couple of hundred k's of the Australian coast, so the pilot descended early to avoid it.

The food served on the plane was dreadful - either a meat pie, or what they said was a Thai chicken fritter with sweet chilli sauce. Problem was, the chicken smelled (and tasted) fishy! Not nice at all.

Staying at the Quest, North Ryde as usual, backing on to the Lane Cove River National Park. Monday night I had a fantastic dinner in the restaurant, "Atlantis" - garlic bread, rare eye fillet with a monster prawn on top, and potato chip rectangles built up into a sort of castle, with whole baby carrots, then chocolate cake with rhubarb, strawberries & orange, with a dessert wine. NOM. The wine was a bit average - Noble One - won't have that again. Certainly made up for breakfast - fruit salad, and lunch - chook & chips. Sunday night's dinner was nice too - garlic bread, calamari, and a baked pear thing (a bit too sweet).

Product Training was fun on Monday - but it wasn't nearly as complicated as they'd made out - not sure what all the fuss was about. I think it's more to do with a lack of confidence with a certain person, than actual, real complication. I'd sat the Activac test in December before I'd had training, and got "Bronze" level then - this time got "Gold" level -43 out of 45 - clever me. I've typed up some of my notes, but not had a chance to look thru the manuals they gave me.

Went for a walk before dinner thru the Park -then bush-bashed my way back up to the main road - very good fun climbing up the rock shelves, wonderful old sandstone outcrops - all the soil's long gone! Lots of birds - saw a pair of crows, stood within a couple of metres of kookaburra, saw an incredibly noisy Sulpher Crested Cockatoo, rosellas, ozzy mynahs. No animals tho.

I thought Delhi Road was a 60k zone, but the traffic seemed to be going a lot faster - and no pavement!

Had a long, on-line chat with one of my colleagues - scary! Can't get away from work, LOL.

My brain doesn't know what time it is - the laptop clock says 2400, while the bedside clock is on Ozzy time, and says it's 2200! I'm ready for bed now tho.

Becca's head cold hit be about 2300 Aussie time, with a burning sore throat headache and congestion. Only managed to sleep for a couple of hours, hot, cold, sweaty and horrid. About 4.30 I got up and gargled with straight vodka - that numbed the throat! Then sat and wrote a piece for the Reaver's RPG between Summer and Patrick.

Writing hot romance alone in a hotel room, 2000k from home, after reading Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber! The head-cold fixed me good and proper tho!

Had another long day today - not nearly as bright as I was yesterday, and the cold symptoms got steadily worse. Took an Infovac apart, then sat looking at it for 10 minutes wondering why I couldn't get it back together - completely missed seeing another PCB sitting on the desk! Got 47 out of 50 for the Product Knowledge Test - 2 Gold level certificates in two days!

I'm going to meet a Clinical Services Educator (Product Specialist) for dinner downstairs later - not sure how much scintillating conversation I can provide.

more later.....

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Virtual Jewellery

My newest venture is making virtual jewellery for a couple of the participants of an online RPG I'm involved with. Tokens of esteem have been exchanged, and I offered to turn them into virtual wearable jewellery.

The first was a cinch - just a matter of finding the right frame, and then the right colour tartan. Then the magic of Photoshop to combine the layers, and Hey Presto, a beautiful brooch:

The lace piece is proving a little more challenging, trying to make it look masuline! Here they are:

The first is a relatively wide lace, backed by ruched blue organza ribbon, with a blue ribbon & pearls embellishment, and an amethyst pin.
The second is a narrow ribbon, tied with gold yarn, and decorated with small fresh water pearls on silver chain.
Both would need to be starched to maintain their shape during wear. I'm not sure if they're masculine enough, but then if you tell a woman you need to swap tokens of affection, and she's not prepared, you get lace, LOL.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Rangitoto Island From St Heliers Beach

This postcard was made for a February/Winter exchange on Goldilocks and Friends, and measures 18x15cm.
The materials: "sky dye" fabric for sky and sea; commercial batik cotton for island and grass, rocks & flax bushes; rust dyed fabric for sand. I put a very thin layer of fused then teased Aurora Crystalina Angelina on the sea to make it sparkle. Fussy cut rocks and flax, hand and FM machine embroidered.
On the rear of the card is a brief description, and pronunciation guide to the Maori words I've used.
I almost became unstuck when I came to bind the edges - my original plan was a wide black bias tape, but then discovered it would cover the words on the back, so plaited some lovely fibres from the scrapbook shop and handsewed them on.
It's currently summer in New Zealand - we had 30 deg C (84F) and 100% humidity for a week, with temperatures averaging around 25 deg C (78F) and 80-90% humidity. To even think of doing a "winter" theme was laughable.
Auckland city is built on an isthmus, at its narrowest only a mile or so wide, with the Manukau Harbour and Tasman sea on the western side, and the Waitemata Harbour and Pacific Ocean on the other. This site has been fought over for hundreds of years, before and after the coming of Europeans. The isthmus is covered with over 50 volcanic cones, and while many are extinct, some are only dormant. The last to explode was the island of Rangitoto, only 600 years ago.
Rangitoto Island is an iconic landmark, and a piece of what we call "kiwiana" - an idyllic EnZed summer.
For those that are interested, the rear of the card says:
Rangitoto Island from St Heliers Beach, Auckland, New Zealand. (Pron: Rang-e-toe-toe)
Phonetic pronunciation & translation:
Haere mai ki te Waitemata o Tamaki Makaurau.
High-ray my key tay Why-tea-ma-tar O Tar-Mar-key Mar-cow-row (rhymes with cow)
Maori (Mow-ree) greeting: Welcome to the Sparkling Waters of Tamaki of One Hundred Lovers.

I really enjoyed making this - I love doing the fussy cutting - I have a lovely pair of sharp-ended, spring-loaded Fiskars' scissors, and fuse iron-on webbing onto the fabric, leaving the paper backing on to provide some stiffening. I usually cut this sort of thing out while watching TV - as I'd rather be doing other things during daylight.
I have three more cards to do - one for March, and two for Easter/April - tho of course it's not actually Easter in the southern hemisphere.... but we won't go there right now.
There's a batch of fabric on the rust for a fat quarter swap - tannin dyed first.
Oh, and don't forget the TT1 & TT2 stuff. TT1 has been pretty boring, and I don't want to go out and buy any fabric. TT2, I've already bought most of the bits, and already used one technique - the angelina, so that's more useful.