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horace_hamster
02 April 2017 @ 04:47 pm
The weather is cooling, the tomato plants are beginning to fade, the beans are on their last legs, and the pumpkins are getting powdery mildew: autumn is undeniably here. It's time to plant out the broccoli and cauliflower.

Things I've learnt this year on the home front:
1. Swan plants for monarch butterflies are AWESOME. Ours are currently so full of caterpillars we've transplanted a dozen or so of the biggest to the neighbour's plants. Can't wait to see if we can get a butterfly to hatch. I got to see one at their house today. It was quite awe-inspiring to watch it drying its wings and see the dried-up chrysalis.

2. Sunflowers. Wow, they are so pretty! And if you get the seed-producing ones, edible as well. A huge flower chockers with seeds end up producing only a small amount of edible stuff, but still -- happy me, happy chickens, happy garden. And the side-shoot flowers look fab in a vase.

3. Sweet peas. They seem to come on late, but gosh, they're lovely. They make nice cut flowers, too.

4. Salvia. Another pretty bee-friendly plant that makes nice cut flowers.

5. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the council thought it would be a good idea to scrape the grass off the sides of our road. They don't plan to actually resurface our road till 2022. But open dirt = place to flower-bomb with seeds and seedlings, to give our bees extra sources of nectar and pollen. We have turned to eco-terrorism with great delight.

In work-life news:

1. Short term contract is to start next week to move me from three days a week to four days a week, with another similar contract in the offing to get me to five days a week. Yes, yet again. This short term temp stuff is tedious, but better than the alternative.

2. Restructuring. Yes, yet again. A new university vice chancellor and a new college pro vice chancellor inevitably means they feel the need to put their 'stamp' on things, which means short term-changes that are likely to be long-term disastrous. Sady, we have a person who proclaimed our submissions about the restructuring proposal to be "surprisingly mature". Like, what, we're a bunch of toddlers or something? Followed by "the decision has been made". Which hardly fits with the early stages of a consultation process. I do believe there's a bad moon on the rise.

But at least I live in godzone instead of the land of the orange shitgibbon, which compensates for any number of things
 
 
horace_hamster
10 March 2017 @ 04:41 pm
Thanks to my flist for letting me know they're alive. I know it's hugely hypocritical of me: I don't post but know I'm fine, but when other people don't post I worry. Silly, but yeah, I'm a mother hen.

Tree removal guys came today and removed the second tree. Yay! They were lovely, very conscious of health and safety (for which I have a passion), kindly cut the huge bits into manageable sizes, ate the platter of sandwiches I made for their lunch, and overall were totally awesome. If you are NZ Manawatu, let me know. I'm happy to recommend them and sing their praises.

Work: I'm liking working 3 days a week. And am telling bosses tough shit, if they're not willing to pay me full time, I don't work full time. They are understanding, and pushing the powers that be to make me full time. Bless them! If it works out, great. If not...well, having two days a week to work in the garden etc is not a bad thing. Good practice for retirement, which is nine years, eight months, and five days away. Not that I'm counting.

Meanwhile, I read a lot of fiction. So please write more. Yes, Beth, Cat, and Debra, I'm talking to you!
 
 
horace_hamster
04 March 2017 @ 02:31 pm
Weather: We've had cold, rain, and wind for months. Only now, in late Feb/early March, has 'summer' finally arrived. Too late for many flowering plants such as beans, and definitely too late for the bees. If this is to become the new normal, we're going to need to seriously re adjust our annual planning.

Job: Working only part time has turned out to be less than ideal. (Not that it was my idea in the first place, but I tried to find the silver lining.) Less money obviously sucks. Having two days a week at home has failed to produce an increase in hobby-productivity because my coworkers (and bosses) expect me to be monitoring emails and putting out fires 24/7 regardless. I'm pretty over this. So, my annual job review next week may prove....interesting. Let's see what, if anything, they can offer. Meanwhile, I continue to look for a new full time job. It sucks being mid fifties, as it makes one too old to change careers. No one wants to hire ya. Boo. :(

Writing: Have given it up altogether. Just can't give a fuck. I happily read fiction for hours on end, but have no desire to write it myself. Whether or not the yen returns when I retire remains to be seen.

Politics: Trump remains an irresistible train wreck, but I have vowed to never return to the US while his insanity reigns. My parents are 90+ and 99+, but the inevitable funerals will have to go ahead without me. I am so totally not going there.

What's happening with y'all?
 
 
horace_hamster
13 February 2017 @ 04:41 pm
The start to 2017 has been mildly disastrous and horrendously expensive.

- Kobo e reader broke. Dead. Will use tablet instead.
- Dishwasher also broke. Dead. Replacement: $1700.
- Car windscreen cracked. Insurance will cover, but will mean a day off work.
- 60-ish foot willow tree broke and fell on fence. Fence will survive, but removal of broken tree and it's if-it-breaks-it-will-fall-on-house sibling: $2100.
- Sick cat, who was 'poor prognosis, recommend euthanasia' now fully recovered: $1100.
- Optometrist (eye tests for two, lenses for two, new frames for one due to old ones being munted): $2000.

And it's only mid Feb!

And my employer has put me on half time: apparently teaching 3 courses, sitting on seven committees, and supervising five PhD students is only a part time job :(

I know, I know. We don't have to live with the orange shitgibbon. But we do have Bill English as PM, who is.... well, not nearly as bad as the Cheeto dumpster fire, but hardly a paragon of virtues.
 
 
horace_hamster
28 December 2016 @ 08:51 am
(at least according to the calendar) but all I've got to say is: I cannot wait to see the back of 2016. What an absolute shite of a year it has been for the world.
 
 
 
horace_hamster
08 February 2016 @ 03:48 pm
Oh, how I love summer. Really, really LOVE summer. Yes, it's hot: nineties. Yes, it's dry: a month or more since we've had rain. I don't care. I freaking love summer.

Courgettes/zucchini: Holy crap. We only put in a few plants, but they are so prolific that I am supplying dozens of other families as well as my own. Beans: they all got munched by evil slugs, but fortunately the neighbours have heaps and heaps, so they've given us enough to freeze down for an entire winter. Tomatoes: mostly still green, but if I can beat the chickens to them we should get a shedload of them to make tomato sauce/paste. Capsicums, ditto. Chili peppers the chickens aren't interested in, and our two little bushes are chockers, so we should do well there (with plenty to donate to Indian friends who use them heavily in cooking). Pumpkins: a dozen or more well on their way to maturity, and between the neighbours and ourselves, we are supplying half the local Indian/Bangladeshi community with rampant overgrown pumpkin vines. (Which are apparently a delicacy. I find it a bit sour and unpalatable, but they love 'em.)

Cow: not pregnant, but I've kind of put that into the too hard basket, and meanwhile she and her extremely delicious looking bull-calf (still madly sucking away at her udder despite being well over a year old) are happy, fat, and sassy.

Bees: again, holy crap. We should get somewhere in the vicinity of 20 kgs/40 pounds of honey in this, our first season, off a couple of hives. I've been stung a couple of times lately, which is less than pleasant, but OMG honey is lovely to bake with, and to eat on toast, and, well, to just suck off a spoon or finger. Runny, rich, clover-y, and just pure delicious.

Flowers: a bit wilted with the heat and drought, but thanks to the bees producing seed heads like mad, so everything should self seed for next year. Yay!

Chickens: Holy crap. We have had soooooo many chicks this year I can't keep track of them all. We will be eating a lot of chicken this year. Yay! Still supplying half the world with eggs, too. And the baby chicks are so cute it's just unspeakable.

It's astonishing how much you can do with less than two acres, if you get a sustainable ecosystem going.

Plus, the pantry is almost done (built to my specs by dearly beloved) and is awesome. Heaps of storage room, and to see my jars of pickles and other preserves shining on a shelf is a thing of beauty.

In other news: just a few weeks till semester starts (ick) and I'm back to teaching. Full time this semester, half time next semester unless another part time job shows up for the third (fourth?) time. Though I must say I'm kind of hoping it doesn't, as I'd quite like to try working part time and having more time at home to start/continue with my hobbies.
 
 
horace_hamster
It's December, and:
1. I'm off work for 4 weeks (annual leave).
2. We finished remodeling the bathroom. I can now take a shower. And a bath. And be warm.
3. We are remodeling the funny little room off the office/kitchen area, which used to be the dog's den until the dog decided she'd rather live on the couch in the living room. It's about 5 foot x 8 foot: too small to be a bedroom, too large to be a closet. We are turning it into a walk-in pantry. I got to knock down the walls with a crowbar. Very satisfying.
4. In the process of #3, we've got the hang of pulling down walls, installing installation, and putting new wallboard up. We can now do this to the rest of the house over the next several years, and get the whole place insulated.
5. We have baby chicks in the brooder box, having just hatched in the incubator overnight. Peep, peep, peep!
6. I'm still only part time (0.6 FTE) at work, but have picked up another 0.4 FTE contract working for The World's Best Boss Ever, until July next year.
7. The beehives are doing very well, and we've learned enough over the last year that I actually taught a session at the new beekeepers' course last month and had useful things to day.
8. My new strawberry bed, made out of the old cracked bathtub (see #2), is producing the most delicious, sweet, yummy strawberries I've ever tasted.
9. We got restructured at work (for the third time in two years) and I'm now in a department of normal people, with none of the asshats who have made my life miserable working directly with me. It's a huge relief.

Some things are less than perfect -- the cow is not pregnant, the steer has a testicle and is acting bullish (except for being fertile and getting the cow pregnant), and the raspberries are infested with horrible little worms -- but in the grand scheme of things, I reckon the balance is well and truly tipped on the side of Pretty Danged Good.
 
 
horace_hamster
17 January 2015 @ 04:34 pm
At least, not at the day job.

Idiot colleagues are:
1. Overloading me with work I knew nothing about.
2. Deliberately ignoring student plagiarism issues, and calling me a 'troublemaker' when I point out that second year university students should know better than to copy/paste 300+ words from websites into their assignment answers.
3. Creating a divisive 'them versus us' atmosphere in the laboratory restructuring.
4. Continuing to screw over the technical staff.

On the other hand, we've had the very first honey out our of beehive (delicious!!!);, and had an adventitious pumpkin plant take over half our garden, said plant which promises to produce an awful lot of fruit. Plus, wifey's broken foot is healing as well as can be expected (which is not as fast as she'd like, but normal for such a bad break.) So, home life +3, work life -4. I guess it balances out.... but I'm really sick of the day job sucking as much as it does.
 
 
horace_hamster
01 January 2015 @ 08:25 am
Humans: sciatica, broken bone, job disestablishment.
Humans' family: death (sister), cancer (brother), MRSA infection (Mum).
Animals: Milk fever, glaucoma, heart failure.
Equipment failures: car, lawnmower, weedwhacker.

Here's hoping we've had sufficient things-in-threes for a while, and that 2015 will be better.
 
 
horace_hamster
Darkglass Mountain series
Author: Sara Douglass
Publisher: Harper Voyager
The Serpent Bride (2007)
The Twisted Citadel (2008)
The Infinity Gate (2009)

Big epic ye-olde fantasy. Big, as in huge. Each book is 600+ pages. The author has endless imagination, her prose is good, and her main storylines are engaging. But....for me, it was overload. Way too many plotlines, many of which ended up going nowhere. Way too may POV characters, many of whom just died and were never mentioned again by anyone when they got past their use-by date in the plot. Way too many unnecessary scenes. Most of the characters are male. All of the characters are heterosexual. There are only a handful of female MCs. All of the baddies are redeemed by love; if they don't find love, they end up unredeemed. All of the MCs are complex, but in a way that renders them largely unlikeable. It ends with the reader knowing that there will be more books, as the Heroine and the Antagonist are both pregnant with the Hero's babies, and so it's obvious where this is going. The fact that I read all 2000 pages (no, not exaggerating) tells me that this author is doing something right, but for me it was all just too much, and I don't see myself looking for the sequels.