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17 February 2018 @ 04:49 pm
Can you guess what season it is here in NZ? Yep. It's tomato season.

We have about fifteen tomato plants in the garden; they're a mixture of sungold cherry tomatoes and various heritage tomatoes. In addition, we have five tomato plants in the glasshouse. All are at their peak. And wow, wow, wow. I have buckets, literally, of cherry tomatoes. I have enough big tomatoes that I can think about cooking them down for sauce, sacrilegious though it sounds. And I'm eating tomato slices on everything from toast in the morning, to cheese and crackers in the afternoon, to burgers for dinner.

This weekend we're teaching a course for new beekeepers. We do theory all morning, hands-on practice all afternoon, and a huge BBQ lunch in between. Burgers, sausages, and wild venison steak on the barbie, plus all the trimmings. Including, from us, sliced heritage tomatoes, home made pickles from home grown cukes, home grown lettuce, and homekill beef patties. Another instructor, also a professional butcher, provides the home made sausages and venison steaks. Wow, the attendees (25) were amazed, but what they raved about most was the tomatoes. I'd forgot how different home grown tomatoes are to the store bought ones. It's always nice to be reminded, though! This is why we garden, and garden, and garden.

Which is why we are building a new fenced garden (fenced to keep the chickens out), since our current veg garden is now half-occupied by a glasshouse. So we can grow yet more tomatoes. Because OMG nom nom nom, tomatoes.
31 December 2017 @ 09:25 pm
2017: (IMO, obviously....) Political changes in the US were disastrous. Political forces in NZ did improve. The weather sucked, both here and abroad. Anaemia continues to suck. The day job and its lack of security also continues to suck, although happily our finances remain fairly stable and non-disastrous. And I've stopped following rugby, so I've no idea how the ABs fared. (Come back, Kees Meeuws! MOST AWESOME PROP EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVERDOM.)

Here's hoping that 2018 will bring everyone all a bit of peace, joy, wealth, health, security, excitement, or whatever it is y'all need the most.

If all else fails, I remain thankful that I live in NZ, which is IMO the most wonderful, beautiful, awesome, civilised country on the planet.
26 December 2017 @ 03:58 pm
#1: Rain! Lovely, soft, gentle, constant, ground-soaking rain. What a great Boxing Day!

#2: 3-way scallops were a hit, with one being particularly great. Crumbed with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and chopped fresh herbs: 7/10. Skewered on smoked bacon, broiled, with a spritz of fresh lime juice: 8/10. Baked in a mornay (sp?) sauce of milk, cream, flour, garlic, and grated Gruyere with a last-minute grating of pepper: 10/10. DB was VERY happy with her Xmas dinner.

Steak and steamed cauli/zucch wasn't bad on my end, either. And the dog enjoyed the leftovers. (Except for the home-made two year old plum mead, of which there were no leftovers. I drank the whole bottle ::hangs head in shame::. The colour had gone from purple to amber, and the taste had gone from sweet and fruity to OMG THIS IS EFFING AWESOME .)

The best bit? I've convinced DB that shells are not re-usable, so if she wants scallops mornay again, we need to go to the beach to collect more seashells for me to bake the mussels in. WIN!!!!!!

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25 December 2017 @ 05:22 pm
...which is a holiday we don't celebrate. But it is one of several days off work, so WOOHOO!

However, I do fervently hope for peace on Earth, and good will towards humanity. This may or may not require the spontaneous combustion of Trumplethinskin.

It's hot here -- 90-ish, mix of sun and cloud, and humid. The garden and greenhouse are loving it, though some rain would be welcome. We're having one of a few quiet days at home since it's the holiday season. I did some thistle-chopping and bramble-whacking today, moved the hose around on the pumpkin vines, and...yeah, that's about it. Lazy is good. Just us, the dog, the cats, the chickens, the cows, and the bees.

Dinner tonight: beefsteak for me (because I have been diagnosed with stage 2 iron deficiency anaemia due to a weird bio-availability problem, bleh*), and scallops for DB (because she loves them, I'm allergic to them, and I found a dozen in the freezer that the neighbours gave us from their last fishing holiday up north). I don't really grok scallops, so I'm hedging my bets by cooking them three ways: skewered with bacon and broiled with a drizzle of lime sauce; crumbed with breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, and Parmesan; and baked in a Gruyere cheese, garlic, and cream sauce. At least one of them should work!

Plus steamed veg, fresh from the garden: asparagus, zucch/courgette, and cauli/broc. Because they're full of iron.

* **** there is not enough onions and garlic in the world to make liver palatable****. Chicken livers, yeah okay, I can do pate' and enjoy a bit of it with some cheese and crackers. Lamb liver is pretty gag-worthy, even with heaps of fried onions. Beef or pig liver, which are apparently the highest of all in iron, I don't even want to try. But liver in general has got 4 - 5 times more iron than beef, so..... yeah, gotta do my best to eat that shit, at least until my GP can sort things out and get me shots or infusions or something.

Also, it's dead embarrassing to have IDA when you actually teach haematology at Uni to third year clinical med lab students and tell them that IDA is the most common micro-nutrient deficiency and it's the most common form of anaemia and it's largely preventable and... yeah. I hang my head in shame.
18 October 2017 @ 01:16 am
We garden. We grow fruits and veg. We have chooks and cows and honeybees.

But, obviously, some of those will inevitably be problematic, so let's have MORE HOBBIES!

First, a glasshouse. That is DB's lifelong dream. She can raise seedlings, and cuttings, and grafts, and... Yep. We've ordered a glasshouse. The biggest one you can buy. I can't wait to see it. (Though my back will probably have something to say about hefting over half a ton of glass....)

Next, bees. Honeybees are great, but if the neighbours stick a couple hundred hives next door (which they did), and manage them very badly (which they did), such overstocking leads to everyone's failure (which it did). So, leaf cutter bees. They don't make honey, but they (apparently) pollinate like mad. I'm getting fifty leaf cutter bees, in cocoons, as my birthday present. And DB is making houses for them. Cooliebars!

Finally, a potager. Because the glasshouse is going to take up most of the back garden, so the front garden (currently lawn-needing-constantly-mown and land-of-dog-poop) is going to get fenced off, with some raised beds (nicely symmetrical, and pretty!) to grow veg. Yay! That's my lifelong dream.

I REALLY need to retire to keep up with all this.....


(Not that I'm counting or anything....)
15 October 2017 @ 07:01 pm
It has been the wettest, dreariest, most miserable winter in the history of everdom. The paddock is the black bog of death. The driveway has puddles big enough for ducks to swim in (and they do). The soil, when we try to weed, is a big pile of sticky muck. Bleh, bleh, bleh. The cows are unhappy, the chooks are unhappy, the cats are unhappy, the bees are unhappy, and we are unhappy. The dog (Great Dane: gorgeous but not terribly bright) is pretty laid back and doesn't much care as long as she gets fed and walked and smooched.

On the up side: it is finally spring. For which, read: end of teaching semester. WOOHOO! Who cares about the weather? ONE MORE WEEK OF TEACHING, and then I finally have some time to get other things done!!! I adore my students, but I'll be very happy to have a summer free of them so I can focus on other things. Because the powers-that-be have dumped the equivalent of two full time other-things jobs on me, and it's driving me nuts that I'm not keeping up with it all.

Of course, come January, I'll miss my students to death. They're lovely. I want every single one of them to come back and do a postgrad degree with me. But I digress....


The weather has been pretty unpredictable. Today (Sunday) we had sun, cold, sun, rain, hail, sun, rain, sun, chill, sun, scorching, rain, sun, and freezing wind. Yes, all in one day. Not terribly helpful. But despite that, this week I got a flower bed weeded, a fruit tree settled in, and 120 pansy plants put in. Dearly Beloved mowed the lawns, weeded the veg garden, and planted some spring onions and kumara. And the horrible commercial beekeepers (cough ++watson and son++ cough) have mismanaged their 200+ hives so badly that they've killed half of them, diseased a bunch more, and removed the rest from the neighbourhood. Good effing riddance!!!!!

I've pretty much accepted that this weird weather is the new normal. To cope with it, we are putting in a glasshouse and a potager with raised beds: those will be our projects over the next year. My teaching programme ends after 2018, so it'll also be time for me to be looking into new career options (not easy when one is in one's mid-fifties) or find other ways of becoming self sustainable until retirement. Roll on retirement. The day job does get in the way of things I'd rather be doing.

How are y'all?
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
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!
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?
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.