Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Back to work

After having the day off sick yesterday, today I made the valiant sacrifice of going into work.

First of all I had to get out of bed. This required a few stops for coughing fits, but done.

Next, I had to get showered. Luckily the cleaning happened while I was leaning against the side of the shower wall coughing. There was soap involved somewhere.

Then I dried myself off, something that being doubled over coughing actually contributed helpfully to, and then I had to get dressed.

I performed that while sitting on the bed and lifting one limb and then one cheek at a time.

By the time I got to the couch I felt certain that I'd earned a medal, but it turns out all I earned was a ride to work.

Coffee helped. Morning tea helped more. I made it through the day.

And then on the ride home it started. The tickle that you get which means you have to cough loudly and inappropriately. The sort of cough that you really don't want to get on public transport.

Especially not when the double seat you scored on the bus was immediately filled by a little old lady. A little old lady who looked first alarmed and then horrified when I exploded into fits of suppressed coughing.

The problem is that no matter what you do, you can't stop a cough forever. You may twist into paroxysms of suppression until your face is bright red and your eyes are streaming tears, but that sucker is still there. Waiting.

And the longer you try not to cough, the more you have to, and the more you have to, the less relief you get when you finally succumb, and the less relief you get the quicker you need to again.

Until finally you get off the bus and all urges to cough go away. But they're waiting. They know I've got an Orbiter to catch tomorrow, and they're lining up right now.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Insult to injury

In order to take my mind off the horrendous pain swamp that my throat and chest have become, I spent a nice quarter hour today googling my books.

This is an excellent pastime, and I highly recommend everyone immediately undertakes it. Found, near water and Skeletal BTW.

While happily strolling around the lanes of the internet I came across a curious note that I hadn't seen before. It went something like this:

Want to download Found near water. Does anyone know where I could find it?

Well. I'm quite excited. First of all, someone has heard of my book. Second of all, they're wanting to read it enough to put in a little bit of effort. Not the effort of spending money and all, but some effort.

I don't really mind. I grew up taking books out of the library for exactly nada, so if someone wants to spend the same discovering my work they're welcome. After all, I grew up to be a person who quite happily buys books by her favourite authors as soon as they release them. I can only presume the freeloader of today will be the fan of tomorrow.

My not really minding came to a halt at the next comment however.

Too long and a bit boring.

WTF??? My book??? The short and interesting one???

How rude! I take back everything about not minding the poverty stricken freeloaders, and replace it immediately with hate and lawsuits.

Copyright infringement is one thing, tasteless reviews are quite another.

Sunday, 29 March 2015


We went out for a cooked breakfast this morning. Some family reason, I don't really know because I wasn't concentrating. I was too busy trying not to cough up phlegm in the middle of a restaurant.

To show it was a really bad idea to go out to breakfast the rain absolutely poured down. This is something Christchurch rain seldom gets itself worked up enough to do. When it does go to the trouble, you should respect it and stay indoors. Instead, we drove to the Casino.

Perhaps I should insert here that if you go out for a meal that involves my darling's mother it will be at the Casino. This is the only place in Christchurch that she knows how to get to, and get to she does, quite often.

The breakfast is a buffet, and while others at the table started off with a quite reasonable spread of yoghurt and fruit, I headed straight for the eggs and bacon.

Eggs Benedict, sausages, bacon, pancakes. My meal was almost complete. And then I lifted the stainless steel lid on the hash browns to reveal... nothing.

Two trays of bacon there were. Two trays of eggs. One tray of sausages, but that's about right. One double tray of pancakes. And what size was the tray set aside for the hash browns? One tray. ONE TRAY.

I mean, I ask you. If you had the choice of making sure there were hash browns available, or holding aside extra trays for mushrooms, and tomatoes, and baked beans, what would you do?

Exactly. But no. The buffet adjudicators have decided in their wisdom that the diners of Christchurch would rather have variety than an ample supply of the necessities.

This created a slight controversy when the next load of hash browns were served up, and I cut the line to select a plateful, leaving almost none behind for the people still waiting in line.

Not my fault, queuing breakfast people. Get over it.

Saturday, 28 March 2015


This morning when I woke up, the first thing I did - even before complaining about how 7.30am isn't really a sleep in - was to cough.

This was because there was an extra helping of mucus coating my throat and filming over the passage into my lungs.

Not for long though. I coughed and coughed and did that thing where you seal off your nostrils then suck air through them anyway because it dislodges that lump of stuff between the back of your nose and the back of your throat. And then coughed that up.

On the bright side, this left me with such a sense of nausea that it was easy to go supermarket shopping and not give in to any cravings. On the non-bright side, ugh. A cold.

I've tried to temporarily up my vitamin C levels by adding actual lemon juice to my lemonade, and I've rested myself as much as humanly possible, but so far there's just no improvement whatsoever.

I don't really know what I'm surprised, colds typically do last a lot longer than one day, but each time I keep hoping that this time... this time...

Thinking of the tiny little invaders causing such reactive misery is the only thing that makes me feel any better. When I cough I think gleefully of little viral babies being thrown across the room with the force. When I sneeze and blow my nose I smirk at the thought of little viral babies being trapped in my snot.

But it's not looking good for me. If I don't make it, then I hope my darling finds my terminal-illness-wish-list and ticks off all the names on it.

What's a terminal-illness-wish-list you ask? It's like a bucket list, but when I'm diagnosed with a terminal illness you really don't want your name to have made it on their. Prosecutions take way too long to organise when the culprit has an expiry date.

And for anyone asking, I am not a cricket fan and there is no way on god's green earth I am planning on staying up late to watch the final of the cricket on Sunday night.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Missed calls

My phone can go for a week at a time without receiving a single call.

This is good. I find it difficult enough to communicate with people face to face and know how to react, let alone over a thin wire covering vast distances.

Add to this the fact that whenever my phone rings it inevitably brings me more work. Piles of the stuff. To add to the piles I'm already surrounded with.

My darling used to call me every day at work. That was a phonecall I didn't mind taking. And if he skipped a day it was just because I'd called him instead.

That hasn't happened for a long time. Oh sure, we still call each other at work - we're not estranged or anything - but not every day. Sometimes not even every week.

So today when I returned from a morning in the training room - built for twenty, occupied by two - and found a series of missed calls from my beloved I immediately jumped to the most logical conclusion.

Someone had died.

In retrospect I can't think of anyone's death that would have simultaneously necessitated the repeated phonecalls while also requiring my darling to continue to stay at work, but panic doesn't have time for logic.

I phoned his office number. I phoned home in case he'd left. I tried his cellphone, the one he never turns on unless he needs to make an emergency call out. I tried his work number again.

Electronic recordings mocked me at every turn.

Then I had another meeting so went off to that instead. When I returned to my desk I'd missed another phonecall, and I finally reached him at home.

He'd forgotten what he was calling about, but assured me that it wasn't anything important.

I hate the phone.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


I remember a time, long ago now, when a meeting was something you held when you wanted to get something done.

There was a problem that needed to be fixed? Hold a meeting.

There was a decision that needed to be made? Hold a meeting.

There was a new staff member you wanted to tear to shreds behind his back? Have a girl's night out.

The remnants from this time live on in my memory, and whenever I'm invited to a meeting (or just when I see one naturally forming) I feel a little frisson of excitement that something effective is about to happen.

Rest assured, it's not.

Nowadays the meetings being held tend to involve looking at a problem from all sides before disbanding with a promise to get together again later to consider it further. And don't worry, if perchance we make a decision, we can always meet again to backtrack out of it without any cause for concern that events may progress in the meantime.

I had four meetings on Wednesday. What did I get out of them you ask? A familial acquaintance with a cupboard. No more.

But not to worry, I had another meeting today. I'll have another two tomorrow. I also have a lunch date and I think I'll get more out of that hour than any of the ones taken up in meeting rooms.

Not that I'm entirely complaining. After all, if I wasn't in a meeting room I'd be staring at a Sharepoint site or an Excel spreadsheet.

They can almost make people look good.

The cupboard

Before I start I'd just like to say, what happens in the cupboard stays in the cupboard. My cupboard buddies will know what I'm talking about.

I played a part in today's unit presentation. We call it a quarterly presentation because it happens two or three times a year. Everybody gets a section, apart from that time when somebody had "car trouble" and somebody else "slept in" and we ended up with one person doing three of the sections while the rest of us who'd bothered to turn up did one.

Traditionally we've booked out the really large room at work for this so we only have to do one presentation. However, for the last two presentations it's been booked out earlier by some far more organised business unit, and we've therefore had to make do with a smaller room and tag-team presentations to get everyone through.

Prior to the refurbishments the room was just a room, but now it has a secret. Hidden in the corner of the room is a secret cupboard. It looks small from the outside, but as any Doctor Who fan could guess it's bigger on the inside.

Not having enough chairs for everyone to sit down the Team Leaders chose to wait out the presentation in the cupboard, only emerging as their section was ready, and then popping away again neat and clean.

The first time around we were remarkably controlled. We paid attention to each other's segments, and supported our increasingly hot selves against the door leading out of the cupboard.

The second time around we had less patience and more ease. Lacking chairs in the cupboard, we knelt and then lay down on the floor. This was a bit of a worry because apart from one member most of us had waved goodbye to forty and knees just don't cooperate the same as they used to.

I can't say too much, but some stuff happened, and if you weren't there you might take it the wrong way. Needless to say all the Team Leaders are now fully bonded thank you very much.

Oh, and if anyone's still on the floor could you let us out now? A joke's a joke, guys.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Air conditioning

It's simple in theory, right?

You mount sensors throughout the floor in various high-traffic locations. They take the temperature and relay that information to a central unit which then pumps out the required air to raise or lower the temperature as needed.

This keeps the room at a nice even temperature within the bounds set by the operator.

This is the reward. This is the reward that all white collar workers reap in exchange for forsaking the sky and the sun and the grass and the earth to work in little pods with other people. Other people! Within arm's length.

It all sounds so good. It all sounds so easy. It sounds like the kind of system that might keep an office building at a steady temperature of 18-22 degrees celsius.

Certainly what it doesn't sound like is a recipe for meeting rooms to alternate from freezing cold to boiling hot, and the open plan floor to vary by eight degrees from one end to the other.

Eight degrees. Air temperatures outside vary by less than this from full sun to deep shade. It's not natural to put a human body through this.

Even worse is the claims made to have the unit installed in the first place, which use words like ambient and controlled, when they mean aggressive and erratic.

When did air conditioning go from being a caring way for a company to ensure that staff were in comfortable working surrounds to a war that the blue collars are stealthily inflicting on the white collars?

Well I watch Game of Thrones dudes so I'm up for this, bring it on.

All air-conditioning men must die.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


No matter how many years I do accounts solely on a computer, whenever something goes wrong (and usually horribly wrong) I have to print it out and tick it off, item by item.

When I started work back in the 80s there was still the dream of the paperless office floating around.

At work we currently have two screens just so we can look at the "paperwork" on one, and the entry screen on the other.

And if something goes wrong with the processing? We print it out.

When I'm doing my final proofread, do I perform it on a Kindle, which is the library which I read most of my books from?


I order a physical copy of the book, and sit down with a ballpoint and a highlighter to pick up all of the errors that myself and my editor had no hope of seeing in an online copy.

Damn if there isn't some strange substance in paper that makes errors spring out from the page and yell "here I am."

And that paperless office is still a pipe dream that our physical storage company is hoping will never come to pass.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Nearly back

After my incident earlier in the week where my book decided to go for a nice stroll and never came back, I'm happy to announce I'm almost back in the same place that I was.

Oddly enough, it doesn't look or feel the same as it did the first time. The same basic stuff happens, but all the characters are thinking with different words in their heads, and different similes in their minds eye.

I don't know why it comes out different every time, except that if it didn't the second draft would just be the first draft, retyped. The characters are coming through a bit stronger too, bolshy things both of them.

Having lost a week's work, and forever changed the course of the first quarter of my book, you'll all be pleased to know now that I am once again backing up to the cloud.

And this time, when I say backing up to the cloud, I actually mean backing up to the cloud as opposed to previously when I meant not doing that at all.

So, all in all, a good week. I lost work, I put work back, I'm in the same place I was. One step back and one step forward. It's almost like exercising on a treadmill, but without all the sweat.

And having spent time redoing the same things, I'm actually looking forward to seeing where these peeps go next. As opposed to just complaining about the work that involves.

If I'm going to get back on track completely, expect that next week.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Along with all the real work that I'm meant to be getting on with, today I realised that I'm supposed to have submitted the powerpoint slides for my portion of our quarterly presentation to our branch manager today.

I haven't.

I did try very hard to do so, however. All in all I think I probably pulled together a good half-dozen slides. And when I say good what I really mean is below standard.

I tried to work out how to draw up some easy graphs to explain how great things I've done are.

I couldn't work out a way. For a moment I even wavered and considered that maybe the things I do aren't as great as I think.


So I decided to put a funny picture on a slide and just talk to it.

I was surprised to find that there are no funny pictures left on the Internet.

Nope. I've seen and shown them all.

So I ended up dazzling with screenshots (yawn) and raw numerical data (snooze).

At this point I'm thinking the only interesting thing I'm going to have in my part of the presentation will be if I can convince all the team leaders to stand in the cupboard and run in and out of the presentation.

Oh, whatever. It will so be fun.

I'm beginning to think that Powerpoint is a bit like Excel. I know that back when they first came out they were miraculous and ground-breaking and allowed people to do things that either couldn't be done, or would take some serious moolah to do, but now they just exist as the bane of my life.

Maybe I could just pin a poster to the wall and trick people into staring at that instead? Or pre-record my session and not worry about checking in for the presentation at all.

Ohhhh yes. Girl, I like the way that you think.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The lost story

An easter ago my computer threw a fit and decided that the hard drive was corrupted.

I spent a tough three days wondering if I would ever retrieve my completed manuscript, but eventually it was saved. I did, of course, have a backup copy - I'd be a fool not to - but that was a hard copy which would have required me retyping the whole blasted thing, and I was not in the mood.

Eventually I got my laptop back up and running. It turned out my hard drive was perfectly fine, but windows 8 had decided to go looking for the boot disc in the wrong place, and I had to tell it that the drive was a different type of drive before it could see it as a drive.

For these, and other good reasons, I no longer trust my laptop computer to hold my work-in-progress manuscripts.

Instead I've taken to uploading the precious wordies into the cloud. Directly after producing them. At least that's what I do at home.

I also have a laptop in the office, which I sometimes use to write on in the mornings, or break times. Not often, because my preferred occupation during break times is gossip or staring into the middle distance, but sometimes.

It's quite a rigamarole to hook up my mobile phone so the laptop can connect to the internet (and it drains the battery super-fast) so I usually carry a copy of the WIP on a USB stick that I use instead.

So at home I save it into the cloud, and at work I save it onto the USB.

Except, I also have trouble remembering to save the work in two places when I'm at home, so for the past couple of weeks I've only been saving it on the USB stick.

But that's fine. It's not like it's going to corrupt or anything. I even carefully go through the steps to remove it safely from the computer each time. Often.

And I was right. That little USB stick didn't corrupt. Not while I was in possession of it.

Unfortunately, I'm no longer in possession of it.

Not in my bag, not in my computer, not in the car, not at my desk.

Possibly on the street, possibly on the bus, possibly safely in my hand in another dimension.

So, in my pursuit of safety I'm now working on the second draft of my novel a lot more quickly than I thought I would be. Especially considering I hadn't yet finished the first draft.

Oh, and if anyone sees a blue USB stick in the greater Christchurch area with a manuscript in progress, and a slew of embarrassing photos, please feel free to drop me a line.

The Jinx


Well that was a wild ride, wasn't it?

Did he do it? Do he do the other it? He definitely had something to do with that third it, but how much?

Is there going to be a season two?

All these questions will remain unanswered (apart from that last one) and I'm sure that's not how a good scripted television program should end.

What do you mean it wasn't scripted?

I wish that I'd never heard of Robert Durst just like I hadn't at the beginning of this series, so I could go back and watch it all over again.

That poor guy with his string of mysterious bad luck that somehow culminated in him being a blink-monster with spelling difficulties.

Kind of nice to see a series like this where you're wondering if a free man should be locked up, rather than watching something like the staircase and wondering if a locked up man should be set free.

Maybe owls killed Kathleen Durst just like they did with Kathleen Peterson? (and if you think that theory sucks then you should definitely read this!)

And most awesome of all is the opportunity to debate someone saying "I killed them all" rather than the far more pedestrian "I didn't do it."

Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, Zachary Stuart-Pontier and HBO - you rock. Now don't take another five years to bring me the next incredible viewing experience.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The 5:2 diet

In my quest to try every diet fad at least once before shaking my head and going "it's just not safe," and pretending that it wasn't the ravenous hunger, or the carb cravings that turned the tables, I have recently embarked on the 5:2 diet.

Also known as the Fast Diet (which just makes it all the more attractive 'cause only the bad boys of the diet world go under a pseudonym) it basically consists of eating normally for five days, and being on restricted calories for two.

I realise that by saying "basically" above I may have misled you all into believing that there is a deeper and more complex premise awaiting your discovery, and that ain't so. In this case the basic version is the version, and everything else is just personal experience or evidence based results.

Now, usually when I embark on a fad diet full of a mix of hope and cynicism I clean out the cupboards of all non-fad diet food related items (admittedly by eating them, but clean them out anyway) and then embark on my hunger and craving phase.

For this diet I don't need to do this, because no food is disallowed.

That's rather brilliant in and of itself because now I'm not behoven to any particular food group I don't need to worry about not being allowed all the others.

Anyway, I started this diet on Friday and it went really well the first day. And then on Saturday it also went well. Sunday was just cruisy. Today, however, I started to experience some of its drawbacks.

This may be a design flaw in the diet, it may be a design flaw in me. It may be that Friday, Saturday and Sunday belonged to the five day part of the diet, and today belonged to the two.

It could be anything.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ruby Syrup

I've spent the day chopping up quinces, in order to add them into a pot of syrup and poach them for a couple of hours until they're done.

I'm completely in love with the way they start off as hard as wood and with white flesh, and end up falling apart when touched and a deep ruby red.

I'm also completely in love with the aroma they produce while they're blushing themselves done.

It's like a fragrant, old-fashioned rose bush fell into a pool of sweet brown sugar. Mmmmmmmm.

And then I spooned them gently into sterilised jars and waited until they were cool before packing them into the cupboards and hoping that if I'm careful they'll last me out the full year.

And the very best part?

I'm about a quarter of the way through the tree. That means I have three-quarters left.

And since I'll soon run out of preserving seals, and preserving jars, and preserving lids, I'll be forced to poach up quinces and watch their beautiful flesh run red and instead of spooning them gently into jars, I'll be spooning them gently into my mouth.

Maybe with a little bit of icecream on the side. Maybe mixed into a nice quince loaf. Maybe just straight from the pot with lashings of syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

A review I stumbled upon...

Look what I found! It's so purty...


In Hayton’s (Found, Near Water, 2014, etc.) latest novel, a 14-year-old New Zealand girl, dead for 10 years, tells the story of how her body came to lie beneath a half-finished house.

Three years after a 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, rebuilding is still ongoing. Workers lift a home off its foundations to repair the cracked earth beneath, and Daina Harrow describes workers exposing her skeletal remains: “Broken along a prior instability. That’s where I am,” she says.

In explaining what led up to her death, Daina tells what initially seems like a familiar story: a neglectful, single alcoholic mother; poverty; bullying students; clueless adults.

Readers may think it easy to guess at how she winds up where she’s found—but author Hayton, as she did in her excellent first novel, complicates her story well beyond the predictable. (Christine Emmett, the main character of Found, Near Water, even makes a tangential appearance here.)

Daina undergoes physical mistreatment, but she also begins having hallucinations: the colors of her face run, and she can taste sounds. Are her friends poisoning her? Is she going crazy? What really happened when she was 5 years old? And can she trust the Grey Man, who assigns her daunting tasks?

With courage, intelligence, and resourcefulness, Daina tries to do what’s right. Her story fully comes together only on the final page, and Hayton does a masterful job of keeping the pieces in play before then.

In some superficial respects, the novel resembles Alice Sebold’s 2002 bestseller, The Lovely Bones, which is also narrated by a dead 14-year-old girl, but Hayton’s sensibility is tougher-minded, more honest, and stranger.

Daina’s bitterness, her longing to be seen and known, and her helplessness are strikingly, utterly real; in some ways, she’s already a ghost before she’s dead.

As in her earlier novel, the author makes fruitful use of the Christchurch earthquake as a metaphor: disruption is violent but revealing. Her characterization is quick and effective but also thoughtful, avoiding stereotype; the school admissions secretary, for example, who at first seems a spiteful martinet, turns out to have surprising heart and grit.

A haunting novel that’s both tough and delicate and fulfills the promise of the author’s first.


You should like buy it RIGHT NOW.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Returning Home

After six weeks plonked up on the lofty heights of the third floor I'm pleased to say that we'll be heading closer back to earth over the weekend.

I'm definitely looking forward to the morning stair climb being a flight shorter. I'm also thinking that it'll be easier to sneak downstairs for a sly coke zero when I can get back to my desk without having to pant like a... like a... well, like a forty year old who's just descended and then climbed two flights of stairs.

Once again everything has been packed into boxes. Once again everything will need to be unpacked on Monday.

As an added treat this time around the rest of the Team Leaders have booked themselves into a course for the day. While they've been whining about missing three days of work (yeah okay, moaning about three days of boredom) I'm complaining about having to pretend to supervise their staff for the day.

Still, a pair of scissors should see me right. To assist with the removal of tape, you understand, not for the stabbiness.

It certainly will be nice to be back on our old floor, with all the new refurbishments. Helping all seventy staff unpack. Except I've just developed a bit of a nagging ache in my back.

We've also got a bunch of new staff starting that I get to greet and show around on Monday, amidst all the chaos. I'm really looking forward to that too. Except I've just developed a nagging headache.

I sure hope I feel well enough on Monday to actually attend. *cough* *cough*

Thursday, 12 March 2015


There is a minor battle raging around the pages of some online publications at the moment. All about the results of a study into the healing powers of water.

Water. I mean I ask you, do you really need to do research into it?

Obviously it's got healing powers. It cures thirst without question. It's also pretty good at making little greeblies fall off your skin.

Well, not quite so good at that, otherwise they wouldn't have invented that sterilisation stuff, but better than nothing. Soap just doesn't work without it.

Why, at this very moment water is something that my main character is desperate to get her hands onto. And then get from her hands into her mouth. A few days without it will do that to a person.

Did you know you wouldn't even be able to make Coke Zero without water? I mean, I'd die!

But apparently this isn't your garden variety form of water they've been testing.

It's magic water.

If you test it against your garden variety water it appears exactly the same, but you can charge money for it. If you charge enough money then the ailing human purchasing it will feel better, all by themselves.

This means they don't have to spend all their money on medicine, instead.

Of course, it doesn't work every time. In fact, the point of the research was that you could substitute anything for the magic water in question - even tap water for instance - and you would get the same result.

Come to think of it, I remember purchasing tap water for an exorbitant sum in Italy. If I'd known the true powers of doing this, I would have felt better instantly. Instead, I just grumbled and ate a pizza. At least my hunger was cured. Maybe that was the water at work?

Now, some people who make a living out of selling expensive water are upset because apparently you can't perform double blind studies on their water. Their water is so special that performing this type of standard test on their not-medicine can't possibly give you accurate results like it does with real medicine.

Instead, you have to rely on something known as anecdotes. I didn't know that when you gathered a few people's anecdotes together they formed data, I thought they formed small talk, but apparently they do.

I'd certainly trust the word of complete strangers with unknown education and life experience over the word of that Doctor with the high-falluting education who writes prescriptions for government funded medication. What does she know?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

First Aid

Today at the office we had a medical emergency. Somehow, a staff member managed to break themselves by stretching.


I don't know. I didn't want to get too close to the screaming.

It didn't matter anyhow, because being a modern-ish corporate-ish office we have trained first-aiders on staff. Yes we do.

Admittedly, they were slow to react to my ever-so-slightly high-pitched calls for help and violent arm-waving. And when I say they, I mean her because the others were inconveniently taking leave as though they were entitled to it.

Never mind the wait, the first aider arrived and I pushed them in front of me. I mean, in front of the patient.

And then the calm tones of the first aider announced, 'What do I do? I'm only good at putting on bandages.'

Yeah. Wow. Thanks.

I suggested that she take a pulse (there's a first aid course deep in my past too) but there was a frantic head shake accompanied by the useless information that she could perform CPR.

Of course she could. However, as that would kill the perfectly heart-beating specimen in front of her I declined this kind offer and shooed her away.

Luckily the medical emergency passed as quickly as my confidence that someone could assist.

The first aider went back to sign out a plaster in case that would help.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


There's a competition on in the office at the moment. All in the name of good health.

Staff have signed up in groups of four to receive a free pedometer, and now record their steps each day and enter them into a website which tells them how far around the world they've come, and where they're placed in relation to other teams.

The first of those is good-spirited fun; having a cold shower when you reach Loch Ness, starting the long hike up Mount Everest. But the second?

The second is causing a little bit of friction.

I'm exempt from all this excitement due to the luck of having been on holiday when the sign-up sheets went around. Therefore I'm in the perfect position to look at all the participants and judge them mercilessly.

Some people started to come to work boasting of how easy they found it to do 10,000 steps. Others turned around and started to put in some extra work so they could breeze into the office and laugh about doing 20,000. Another grimly wrecked a perfectly nice trip to Melbourne by making sure she could top 30,000.

All in the name of fun.

All in the spirit of friendly competition.

There's one person who's actually sitting and rocking the step counter on the end of its string. It records it as steps. It doesn't require much effort. All in the name of fun.

I've heard of another strapping it onto her dog in the evenings. Keeping an eye on his exercise regimen, while she avoids her own. All in the spirit of friendly competition.

I already have a pedometer on my watch which has always recorded my steps. I never paid it much mind. It was just one of those things that came installed which I don't use, like the remote control.

I walked home this evening. I would rather have caught the bus. My back hurts now; my feet hurt; my legs feel like someone's bent them the wrong way.

But I clocked up 13,548 steps. Now I just need to buy a dog.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Battle for the preserving jars

Yesterday, on my blog, I talked about the abundance of peaches that are currently raining down from the peach tree outside.

I mentioned that I was already preserving quinces, and implied that this was the sole reason that I couldn't therefore preserve the peaches also.

I now feel that I must come clean about this. It is in many ways true, but it also one of those truths that hide a lie behind them. A not-the-whole-truth truth, if you will.

You see, I do have the capacity and the will to preserve many jars of quince and peach. I do have the bottles to put up many more than I do. I just don't have the will to move the bottles I need into the kitchen.

They've been sitting out in the garage - unused - for many years now. They're a legacy from my mother who used to bottle copious amounts of peaches, apricots, and multiple varieties of jams every year.

Even though they're older than me, they're still in great condition. The metal lids that hold the seals in place are a bit battered, and some of the pale green has worn off over the years, but there's still a lot of life left in them.

Especially since it seems that most of them will never be used again.

Here's the problem:

And believe me, that's to size.

While the spider occupies the same territory as my preserving jars, I never preserve any more than can fill the bottles already safely inside the house.

I can't purchase any new ones, because the ones I have are perfectly fit for use.

I can't use the ones I have, because the spider has claimed them for herself.

A quandary that I may never find my way out of, and the reason why I'm now attempting to eat a year's supply of fresh peaches rather than stewing them for the middle of winter when I'll be desperate for something sweet and tasty and raised in my own garden.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Racist Peaches

Now, I want to stress from the get-go that I didn't name them. If anybody wants to suggest a change - purple passion, maybe - then I'm happy to go with that (as long as everybody else is too).

The sole reason that I'm calling them blackboy peaches is because that's what everybody else calls them, and the essence of communication is using similar words to refer to similar things so everybody knows the hell everybody else is talking about.


Our blackboy peaches have become ripe, all of a sudden. Since the beginning of February they've swelled, and forced the tree branches lower and lower, but they've been rock-hard every time I give them a test squeeze.

I've been waiting and hoping that sooner or later one would start to give a little, and the annual feast would begin.

Rather than one or two, however, there were suddenly a dozen on the ground, and another five came right off when I gave them the gentlest nudge.

That's seventeen peaches, with more due tomorrow.

I can't eat seventeen peaches in a day. There's already chocolate going begging from the quince onset.

It does seem to me that blackboy peaches would go well in a recipe involving chocolate and cake. The same way that zucchini doesn't. The only part of that worrying me, is that even though it shouldn't zucchini does, and would that automatically mean that peaches don't?

If I can cram them into cakes, or muffins, then I can shove them into the freezer and pull them out weekly. That'll be something nice to look forward to, rather than the burden of quickly rotting fruit taunting me from the fruit bowl.

So if anybody out there in blogland happens to have a nice cake recipe involving racist sounding peaches, then please feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

Otherwise tomorrow it's going to be me, a kitchen, cocoa, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, peaches and... oh wait. That's kind of a recipe right there, isn't it?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Big fat legs

The other day I looked down during the morning to see why my legs ached, and saw that they'd ballooned up.

I prodded at them a bit, as you do, and discovered that if I pressed my fingertips into my ankles the fingertip marks lasted long after the actual digits themselves were removed.

All very amusing but I had work to do.

Conscious that they looked as thought they'd endured a five hour flight, I stretched my feet in various directions every time the ache settled, and then forgot about them the rest of the time.

It was too hot to walk home, so I jumped on the bus. It was too hot to bus home, but I was clean out of options.

At home I prodded my ankles a bit more, took some paracetomol for the nagging ache, and propped my feet up. Literally.

It's hard to type on a computer while your feet are propped two feet higher on the back of the couch, but then we all have our crosses to bear.

The next morning I awoke to find that nothing had changed. This was slightly worrying as when edema occurs after long plane rides, the cure is most definitely to fall asleep, and then wake up.

Potentially I've got that a bit wrong, I thought to myself. Potentially it's the falling asleep in tropical locations that's the key there, and nothing at all to do with the sleep.

I soldiered on for a couple of hours before I got my entire freak-on at work, and not in the good way. I crumbled and phoned up my doctor to make an appointment.

I still have it, because the first available wasn't until next week.

Still a bit freaked, I called up the Healthline to see if it was possible that I was being a hypochondriac, and attending a doctors appointment next week was perfectly acceptable in my unknown condition.

Hypochondrianism is a tendency I've noticed in myself. One that isn't helped by the few occasions when I let things slide - lights flashing in my eyes for example - and they turn out to be symptoms necessitating all sorts of drama and operations and recovery periods.

The Healthline lady helpfully suggested I should be checked out within 24 hours, in case it wasn't okay. I blame her for the two hour wait and the bruises inside my elbow and the substantial "emergency GP" rates charged for the visit which told me I was not suffering from anything but swollen legs and ankles, and perhaps I should put my feet up.

I've survived another day at work, and my legs have gradually reduced to a point where they're no longer shiny and tight, and although I can still dimple my ankles I really have to pick my angles now.

This getting old is a real bunch of fun. Who knows what's heading my way next?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


Sometimes you only realise how much you rely on something when it's gone.

Today, down in the training room from air-conditioning hell, there was an item of stationery missing.

We had pens, calculators, entire computers including hard drive and the cheapest possible mice, but did we have paperclips? We did not.

When you work primarily with paper because your office is resistance to change, it's very easy for it to get out of place. The things that need to go with the other things, all need to be attached together otherwise they won't be in the place that you need them when you need to do the various things with which paper needs things to be done.

Staples are all very well and good, but we're into training mode which means you don't want things to get too attached. Too often they turn out not to be the things that should actually be attached to that.

We tried bulldog clips, but they bent the finely weighted paper that we really aren't allowed to bend for some strange known only to god reason.

There were magnets, but they were too attracted to each other to be fully removable. We tried putting things into piles but the room is to small and the selection of piles too large.

Those little bendy suckers really do just do the job in a way that no other thing does.

Eventually we did have to give up and walk up two flights of stairs in order to retrieve a packet. Two flights. Now that's reliance.

Monday, 2 March 2015


My darling has been struck with some sort of dread disease.

It makes his throat burn with mild soreness; occasionally even forcing him to break into a shallow cough. It makes his nose run in a torrent of hot air because there's not a lot of mucus making an appearance. Certainly not enough for the amount of moaning going on.

Apparently I'm also suffering from a serious disease.

The disease of I-don't-understand-how-bad-it-is that only effects the female of the species. This makes me blind to pain, and also causes me to greatly underestimate the hardship that my darling is going through, and even at times causes me to inappropriately react with inaction when I should instead be administering to him.

I must admit the disease I suffer from is taking its own toll. My throat is also sore. It isn't easy to mock for hours at a time.

My brave soldier did attempt to make his way into the office today to put in a good solid day of work.

Oh. My mistake.

I meant a good solid hour of work.

Poor baby. If you or anyone you know would like more information on this terrible illness please take a look at the following link, it will tell you everything you need to know.

Man Flu: Fact versus Fiction

Mainly fiction.


Last week (when we scarily ventured forth into the land known as Sydenham) my darling was short-changed at the bar. He handed over a $20 and received in return a plastic cup of beer and $2.50.

Now, I know that it's been a long time since we went out for a drink together, and I realise that every time people talk about inflation the word rampant is bandied about, but even still it seemed a bit too much of a price-hike.

It was solidified by the next monetary exchange which resulted in more change, and more plastic cups.

You know the world is heading into a tailspin when a bartender can't give you the correct change.

But on the weekend we discovered that the universe has a plan. Karma is present and correct, baby.

Whilst browsing in the meat section trying to find specially priced about-to-expire meat or meat-like products, I found this!

Rather than weighing the forty-four grams on the label it actually weighed just a tad over one and a half kilograms. At $6.50 per kilo (less the actual $0.29 charge) that comes out around about a ten dollar saving.

Or, in karmatic terms, my apologies, Sir. Here's your extra change.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Review of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a nice, funny, and surprising read.

I've never read Liane Moriarty before, and was delighted to find that she's an Australian author (about three seconds into the Audible version) and the story was set very close to where we holiday each year.

It's a woman's fiction/murder mystery which not only doesn't let you know whodunnit but doesn't let you know whoitwasdunto either.

The main story is set around Jane - a young mother - and her entry into a close-knit neighbourhood just as her son is starting preschool, and it grows from the details of the interactions she and her son have with their new community.

Two other women share the limelight - Celeste and Madeline - as they enter into a tight friendship of three. Gradually it becomes clear that although all of Madeline's skeletons are rattling around merrily in full view, Jane and Celeste hold their big little lies a lot tighter to their chests.

There's a rather wonderful effect at the ends of segments where a selection of interviewees have small snippets about incidents that have occurred throughout the story. As in real life, no one's story tallies up in the slightest with anyone else's, and it lends lovely light refreshing intervals to a novel which in time deals with some very unlovely subjects.

A very easy and enjoyable read, and one that made me immediately purchase another of Liane Moriarty's books for my Kindle to-be-read list.

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