Saturday, 31 October 2015


So many birds. After mourning the deaths of at least five nestlings over the last week, I discovered a real live sparrow fledgling in the back yard on Tuesday morning.

This is him:

Isn't he cute?

Last year we had another little fledgling making our back yard his home which you can see here. He was also cute but mysteriously disappeared. Our sparrow fledgling, however, is still with us. Yah!

He's made a bush in the back yard his home and his poor put-upon mother visits regularly to keep him topped up with worm protein. He keeps trying to fly and, much to his personal chagrin, keeps failing badly.

Yesterday, it occurred to me and my darling that he's hung around quite a long time now. Surely there's a time limit on this sort of stuff? I mean he's very handsome and all that so he obviously has good genes, but you can't take that to the bank. Surely there are fledgling development goal posts he should be meeting?

Turns out there are.

Sparrow fledglings should leave the nest before they can fly. Confusing to a non-bird species, but tick.

After 1-2 days on the ground they should be able to fly. ????

Their parents will continue to look after them for 14 days. Tick. Good parents.

Looks like our little fledgling has missed the big one. He's now scared of us, which is good because on the first day he didn't even know that much, but he should've been flying by now. I'm starting to think he's a special needs sparrow.

That's fine now, while he's all cute and stuff, but after a few weeks I'm not sure I'll feel the same.

Oh well. Cat duty (where my darling runs full tilt at any cats who dare to cross the threshold to our property, hissing and waving his arms) will remain in force for another week.

In other bird news we started to suspect there was a nest in our spouting due to the number of nestlings falling to their deaths on our driveway but without the benefit of any trees being nearby.

This was confirmed when a stick poked out from the side of the spouting and even when I poked at it with a broom I couldn't dislodge it. A nest in your spouting may be fine if you live someplace hot and sunny, but in Christchurch we occasionally have rain and the spouting serves an actual purpose.

My darling fetched a ladder and dislodged it.

Now, I have used some artistic license in the above renditions (yes that is too art!) as there weren't actually any eggs in the nest. The nest also wasn't particularly well-formed and couldn't even be added to my bird's nest collection after being forcefully thrown onto the driveway with a broom handle because it broke apart into dried grass. The nestling dilemma remains unsolved.

However, I'm certain there's some manbird out there right now sweet-talking an impregnated loved one into coming back home to his nest to lay her eggs and he's about to get a bad shock. Rather like picking up a pregnant woman by saying you have the perfect home for her to have her baby, then taking her to the public park.

Poor little soldier will just have to start again somewhere else. On the bright side at least he won't have to deal with the potential hassle of taking care of a special needs fledgling.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

There is no 'i' in 'keyboard'

Seriously, there's not. Look at this.

There it should be, snuck between the U and the O but instead it's nowhere to be seen.

I like to think that the world doesn't revolve around me but from the look of my keyboard my favourite letter in the world is quite obviously I.

The E is on its way out as well but that's perfectly understandable being the commonest letter in the English alphabet and all. I know this thanks to reading Misery by Stephen King as a youngster and it having made a great impression upon me.

I also seem to recall that the second most used letter was R and unless Stephen King was deliberately misleading me, something which I cannot for the life of me fathom a reason for, then it should also be on the way out. It's not.

The S is looking a bit shaky and the O looks like a second U tilted to one side, but the rest of the keyboard is feeling just fine and dandy, thank you very much.

Maybe I type words ending in "oise" a lot and that's the source of my trouble.

The reason they're wearing away at all can be firmly laid at the feet of my high school education where I was forced, along with the rest of my third form class, to learn to type for three months. Three months.

We learned with aprons covering our fingers, a large chart showing the location of letters on a keyboard on the wall, and manual typewriters. Only the last of those is relevant to my current complaint.

If you've built up the routine of hitting a key as hard as you can with your finger because if you don't it won't make a mark on the paper and also built up the muscle strength in those said fingers, you don't just lose it because the technology changes.

Three months nearly thirty years ago and I still thump away at keys as though they need to depress a full inch. At least I've lost the habit of using Twink to cover up my mistakes. Messes up the screen, that.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


This word makes my skin crawl and my stomach churn. And not in the good way.

I try to avoid things that are moist, require moistening, have been moistened, or were once moist, but this word still haunts my dreams.

My darling hates my large variety of dwarf fruit trees with a passion. He would prefer that the entire yard was covered in concrete while still somehow having daffodils bloom up each spring. His concession to not concreting it is to cover as much of it as he can in lawn.

Where I used to have a couple of vegetables gardens, there is now grass. Where there was a patch of wildflowers that self-seeded each year, there is now grass. Where I once had a beautiful collection of Jerusalem Artichokes that hardly ever got around to growing their bright flowers, guess what? Lawn.

Every night after making his usual threats about what in the property is going to be cut down as soon as I die, my darling heads outside to MOISTEN his seed.

I am not joking. This is what he says. Every night.

The only benefit is that after saying it he heads out of the house for ten minutes to water the lawnseed. By the time he arrives back inside I've usually managed to choke back my nausea.

Right now, so soon after the latest episode, my only dream is to outlive my darling and plant a new fruit tree in celebration each month thereafter, until there is no more room left.

Instead of lawns, there'll be the patches of ground that have fruit trees on them, have fruit rotting on them, or are being dug up to have fruit trees on them.

Yeah, it'll be so great when I rule the world. Maybe one day I can even talk myself into eating fruit.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Happy Sad

The National is my second favourite band in the world. My first favourite has a dead lead singer and disbanded and rebanded long before I became interested in them, so possibly don't count as being in the world, and I had to find a second favourite because they only recorded two albums.

In the interest of not running out of new music to listen to from my favourite band (of all time, I've decided now, not, in the world) I dole out Joy Division at the rate of two songs maximum per year, and the same song from a different album remixed counts each time.

So, since that's highly inconvenient and it doesn't look like anybody is getting reincarnated soon, I had to find a second. Thanks to a one minute segment of 'Start a War' on the end of an episode of 'The Riches' I found a new band.

Ever since I have highly anticipated all of their albums, even the ones that weren't highly anticipated. I've even listened to their early stuff when it seems they were channeling some country rock vibe (ugh), the weird one-offs which I keep forgetting about because they're not attached to an album, and I listened to whatever the hell that Game of Thrones ditty was.

So on Friday when my darling was listening to the radio and I heard me some familiar baritone, I was ecstatic. A new song from The National. And it's been a while so probably a whole new album.

I excitedly searched all of the Internet (except the Dark Net, that stuff gets real, fast) and came up with... nothing. There was no new National album, and there was no new National song.

But it was on the new song segment.

I had to wait until the end of the song to learn that Matt Berninger (from the National) has joined together with some dude I've never heard of but apparently is popular in Portland? and formed a new band.

This is great! Except it's awful!

What are you meant to feel when something happens which is simultaneously fantastic and possibly the end (or the beginning of the end) of the thing you love second best in the world?

Third best, sorry Darling.

In New Zealand our casual slang has developed a phrase that perfectly encompasses these situations: Yeah, nah.

El Vy? Yeah, nah.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Labour day

I've just discovered that I'm very bad at planning. Here I am, taking a six month break from work, and I've planned it during the time when we have the highest proportion of Public Holidays to work days in the year.

I was reminded of this yesterday when my darling came home and said he was looking forward to Labour Day.

It's a great holiday, cleverly planned for a Monday so we always get a long weekend, and celebrating the joys of only working a forty hour week. I remember those days fondly.

But the greatest thing about Labour Day is that it means that Canterbury Anniversary is on the way. That's even better because it's always on a Friday (long weekend again) and isn't taken on our actual anniversary day which is sometime in December where it's wasted because you're probably on holiday anyway, but instead on Show Day which is usually magically arranged to be on the hottest November day of the year.

I have very fond memories of Show Day when I was a kid and we went to the actual show. The world was full of sheep that you were allowed to pat, ghost trains that were very short, and lucky dips where it didn't matter what you picked because everything was nothing you actually wanted.

All that and the blazing sun above, no shelter, and the main foodgroup available was toffee apples.

I haven't been to a show for a very long time so it's likely those memories will never be overwritten.

Of course once you get past the excitement of Show Day we're heading straight into Christmas (two days) New Years (two days) and then ending the holiday season with Waitangi Day in February.


Until I'm sitting at home every day, in which case Public Holidays just seem like a party that everyone else gets to have. Still, I suppose I can put aside my word count for the day and pretend it applies to me equally.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


I was happily listening to the radio this afternoon when my equanimity was completely disrupted by the announcement on the radio that Pulp Fiction is twenty one years old.

Twenty one years old is something that I used to be. Coincidentally it was something that I used to be when me and my darling first went along to the picture theatre to see Pulp Fiction.

Lets see, that makes me... thirty?

That was our first or second date. We bought icecreams with chocolate coating and popcorn because we could afford to add a few pounds back then, and we purchased tickets to Pulp Fiction because we'd both heard good things about it, and I vaguely thought it was a comedy starring Bruce Willis.

Ahhhh, good memories. I hope that's one I still get to keep in another twenty one years.

I love you, Pumpkin.

I love you, Honey Bunny

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Stranger, danger.

Since I'm now at home all the time (apart from dangerous excursions to the supermarket) my darling has finally clicked that he can take advantage of this in more ways than just me opening the garage door for him before he gets home.

First of all, he demanded this week that I bake him a bacon and egg pie. Demanded! There we were, going around the supermarket for our weekly shop, and he suggested that we buy some bacon, and maybe some eggs, and then I said, maybe I could make you a pie, and he said yes, and we bought the stuff to make the pie.

The level of manipulation was terrible. So terrible that I completely forgot to actually make the damn thing on Saturday or Sunday and I didn't want to do it Monday because that's when he has his "healthy meal" even though we actually had pizza, so I had to make it today.

This was made slightly harder as I use a recipe by Jo Seagar and found out today that part of her business going belly-up a few months ago is that nobody is paying her hosting fees any longer and instead of the recipe I had an offer to "buy this domain name." Because it's been so successful so far, right?

Luckily I found a cached version of it hidden away, and took the time to write out the information this time, because chances are it won't be there when I need it next. I know people say that once you've put something up on the Internet it's out there forever, but I've searched for the first website that the first company I worked for once had, and it ain't true folks. Only public embarrassment never fades.

So I was halfway between feeling used and feeling pleased with myself, when the phone rang and my darling announced that he'd called the plumber.

As if I didn't have enough stuff to be dealing with, I now had to supervise a man while he disabled and enabled our toilet.

My darling went on to say that he'd told them it wasn't urgent so they'd probably come close to the end of the week, and that they'd give me a call before they came around to make sure someone was home, so that was alright then.

Um. No. It wasn't.

When I've mentioned in the past that I no longer like leaving the house because outside is where they store people, it wasn't a blanket invitation to turn around and invite people into my home. I have to live here too, okay?

It would be a different story (well no it wouldn't but lets pretend for a minute) if the toilet was actually in dire need of repair, but all that happens is the overflow pipe tends to overflow more often than it should.

So what? It's probably making the overflow pipe feel really special that it has a whole lot of work to do when all the other houses overflow pipes are lazing around, sleeping away their days. Our overflow pipe keeps itself nicely moistened, while all the other overflow pipes are bone dry.

What plumber wants to come into a home where the lady of the manor hallucinates the imaginary life of her overflow pipe? It's a no win situation.

The only good thing I can say is that the plumber unexpectedly called this afternoon, and after a brief game of her asking for the wrong person and me trying to hang up saying you've got the wrong number, the mobile plumbing man was dispatched.

I survived. The toilet now has a new something rude beginning with B and something rude beginning with C which should keep things running nicely for the next few years. The plumber even replaced a part that he insisted would mean that next time we could repair it more easily ourselves.

Hah! It's obvious he's never met us before. And hopefully never again. The next time something is arranged that entails a home visit I may just stop answering the phone, and the doorbell.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Sick Leave

One of the best things about being sick and in pain is that you get to take the day off work and stay home.

Binge-watching Netflix is the most obvious way to heal thyself, but a good book and a lie in don't hurt. The main thing is that you're away from the workplace and can relax.

Last week I started to get a stabbing pain in my side. It felt like a stitch, but rest assured I had done no exercise.

As it continued it grew larger and also more focused. The pain was worst when I took deep breaths, it felt like I was being stabbed with a butcher's knife, but it wasn't much better when I breathed normally, a boning knife maybe.


Since my first bout back in 2010 it has dropped by intermittently to remind me of how lovely it is to breath without a blade in your ribcage. Although the first time I rushed to the hospital sure that I was about to die, since then it's become a bit more hum-ho.

It hurts though, and it makes me tired. A side-effect from not wanting to take deep breaths and therefore not really getting enough oxygen until I drop unconscious at night.

So, I get a day off work.

Except now I'm working from home, so I don't.

Thursday and Friday were my least fun sick days ever. I woke up in the office, I coughed myself into a pain spasm in the office, I half-heartedly worked on my current manuscript in the office. And then it was finally the end of the day, so I went to bed in the office.

I wonder if I could have my genuine sick days added onto the end of my career break so I can consider them the painful holidays they usually are.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


I was doing some research on the weekend. It was about the type of clothing worn by people in the 1850s so that I could accurately represent it in a story I'm working on.

Naturally, this led me straight into the world of bras.

Yes, I'm well aware that these tortuous garments weren't all the rage back in the day, but I still managed to find myself reading about them.

There were the well-known facts, such as the most comfortable moment of a woman's day is when she hurls this dreaded contraption across the room, and lesser known facts such as the optimum wash to wear ratio is 1:3.


I don't know about anybody else, but I've always considered my bra to be underwear. Possibly because when I shop for new bras they're kept in a section commonly known as underwear, or less commonly as lingerie.

A lot of the personal hygiene knowledge that my parents instilled in me over the years may have left in the wake of disinterest and non-retentive brain conditions, but there's one thing I know.

You wash your underwear every day.

But now Google was telling me otherwise, and I trust Google to feed me correct information. Kind of. Not really.

Luckily my darling volunteered enthusiastically and immediately started to harangue the women around his workplace as to their habits in regards to brassieres. Rather to my surprise some of them even volunteered information.

The evidence thus gathered, and the original Googling done, seem to confirm the position that as a garment of underwear bras are in fact some sort of second tier that don't require the same level of cleanliness that the first tier underwear demands.

Hmmmm. Very hard to overturn habits that have been fine-tuned over thirty years, but...

Less washing, and apparently the bras last longer and stay in better shape while they last. So it works out well for everybody.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Going out

Some people, who have far too much influence in my life with no reason, will be happy to know that I went outside the house today. I even walked through a mall. *gasp*

What a palaver.

Previously, when I've wanted to walk to a shop during my lunchbreak at work (that's work as a physical place rather than the work I'm doing at home) I just used to walk out of the building and make my way there at a nice amble.

Today I had to change my clothing because I dress for the conditions, and the conditions at home are very, very slack. I had to put decent people clothing on, and I may even have overdone it. Certainly there were 'those looks' from all the people who'd gone out this morning in only jeans and a T-shirt, but that may also have been something to do with paranoia from slowly growing agoraphobia.

After changing outfits, I then had to go through my bag and make sure that my keys and my wallet were in there. Since I haven't touched it for weeks, I couldn't rely on my memory to assure me they'd have remained intact.

Then (gosh I'm tired just thinking about it) I had to fit the bag for grocery shopping into my handbag in such a way that the contents of my handbag wouldn't spill onto the floor of the supermarket when I pulled one from the other.

Last of all, I had to put my mobile phone into my handbag. When I'm at my physical workplace my mobile phone lives in my handbag. It only comes out for recharging or secretive usage. At home it sits, wherever.

I must say I feel a sense of accomplishment that I managed to do all of that. Half an hour of solid work just so I could leave the house and walk to the supermarket. Go me.

Once I'd left the house and was walking I did discover that I'd left my earphones at home so I couldn't even listen to a podcast while I walked to and from, but that's now made it onto the to-do list of pre-planning for outings.

Or, I could log-in to the Countdown website and order my shopping to be delivered. Now, why didn't I think of that before?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Not going out

The other day my darling observed that since beginning my career break, I have seldom left the house.

The use of the word seldom is generous.

I would like to take this chance to defend myself. After all, if my own blog isn't a place to do that, where is?

If I were still doing my normal job, I wouldn't leave work during the day. I stayed glued to my desk from when I arrived at 6.30am in the morning, until I left at 3.30pm at night. Obviously that's a lie because I'd have lunch in the breakout area - I wasn't completely antisocial - but otherwise, glued.

Therefore, when I'm working from home I don't leave work either.

The failure of outside folks to realise that working from home doesn't mean I'll drop everything just to head out to do a spot of shopping, should not be visited on me by trying to make me feel guilty and inadequate.

Fools should also realise that shopping doesn't need to be done outside anymore, that's why there's the Internet.

And yes, my social interaction has greatly reduced since becoming homebound, but is there really anything wrong with that? I have to ask myself these rhetorical questions because there's no one else around to talk to.

The one day I did go out last week it was to find that the neighbourhood was under enemy control, so you can see my dilemma. Inside my house all the portals are under friendly control.

Nevertheless, bowing to the whims and demands of a group of people that I don't know and have forgotten if I've ever met, I shall go out of the house tomorrow.

I'll go for a nice long walk, and indulge in a bit of grocery shopping - my favourite type - before heading home, locking the door behind me, taking time to recover, and finding refuge in the virtual relationships that I fail to nurture on the Internet.

My virtual relationships mimic my real ones, you see.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The sound of my own voice

I think that there must be a strange creature that lives in my voicebox which crawls out when it sees a recording device. It briefly distorts my hearing so that everything I say sounds the way it usually does, right up until the moment when the recording is played back, then its weirdly pitched, oddly intonated voice comes out of the speakers.

It's the only explanation.

My latest grand venture into the world of self-publishing is an audiobook. In the worldview of Amazon I live out the arse-back of beyond, and so I can't go through the normal channels that other self-publishers go. My country name doesn't begin with the word United and therefore doesn't count.

Therefore, instead of being able to hook up with a narrator who would work with me to produce an audiobook and split commissions 50/50 I either have the option of paying (coughs to disguise the enormous sum of money) for an unknown narrator, or I can produce the book myself.

I'm not cheating the listening public by going it alone. According to a training review the only good thing I possessed as a trainer was a lovely speaking voice. Thanks to the mistaken belief of my mother that speech class would somehow cure shyness, I have also had the art of speaking aloud drilled into my head.

Not to mention the year of pursuing a career as an actress. An ambition that was alive and well in First Form and had died a sad death by Second Form, leaving me with nothing except the ability to recite the lines for the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz verbatim.

When I recorded the first chapter I did have to go back and record a few other takes however, because as an introvert I firmly believe that expression is something best left to those crazy people who like to interact with human beings. Having spent the best part of three weeks at home by myself talking to no one, I'd forgotten how to work that into sound.

One of the rules of recording your own narration, apart from having a decent dual-diaphragm condenser microphone and a microphone preamp able to supply phantom power, is to get used to the sound of your own voice.

Yes, I've had to come to terms with the sound that the strange creature living in my voicebox produces when I think I'm speaking.

In only nine more chapters, and a lot of mixing and producing, you'll be able to hear it too.