Monday, 16 June 2008

When the Wind Doesn't Blow

My leaf blower/vacuum/shredder won't vacuum!! Which means that there's no shredding, either!! There's a glorious pile of leaves under the willow tree and I can't do a dagnabbit thing with them. Oh okay, I could rake them into a pile and then sweep them off the path and into the garden, where they'd gently break down and become the glorious, glorious mulch their leafy forefathers have become every previous year.

But I love that machine. I've never been so excited about buying a garden tool ever. Or indeed any tool. Ever. Even the palm sander in 1997.
In other news, dinner with the W-Ds and the M-Zs on Friday night. Lots of cuddles from Jean and questions about arrangements for Sweeney's birthday. Delicious curry. The boys' rearranged room to ooh and aah at, which made a great spot for us to have a lie down for chatting after the delicious curry.
I spent simply aaaaages playing with my smooth-skinned nephew and his parents over Saturday and Sunday. Gave him baths, wrangled him into his pyjamas, taught him his next cool move - holding onto a table while wobbling - and provided him with a lovely wooden rattle with a bell inside. His poor, poor parents. Especially now, while he can grab things and shake them a whole lot, but it's still hard to release ...
Getting myself into the headspace for having the little fellow here next week. Reminding myself of Sweeney-friendly meals to put together. Made a tortilla last night that Craig didn't throw in the bin straight away - result!! Attached to the leaf-shredding is a gardening project I want to kick off with him while he's here.

Knitting some lacy fingerless gloves at night at the moment, although I won't be doing that this week - too many things to get set up, tidied away etc before Sweeney's here next week. Did I mention he'll be here next week?? Well, he'll be here next week.

Friday, 13 June 2008

This weekend is a non-Sweeney weekend and that means that I get to be at my house in actual daylight. I'm going to get the leaf blower/vacuum/shredder out and deal with the willow leaves. I'm quite excited. The forecast is for fine weather, so there's no impediment except procrastination or distraction. Both have been major forces in my life to this point. I watched an episode of Make Your Child Brilliant that seemed all about me, and it's kind of inspired me to identify distracting forces and distract myself from them with constructive activity.

Sweeney was ill over last weekend. He's had a few colds in his time, but he's not actually vomited since he was a teensy baby. For the first time in months, I took him into bed with me, and of course this is the event that triggers his first ever Gastric Incident. Poor mite was completely freaked out at what was happening, as well as feeling ever so crappy in the tum. I figure I came close to the land speed record for hosing him down, finding fresh pjs, changing the bed and getting us back to horizontal again.

And repeat. And again. The next morning, he seemed okay, just not that into food or drinks. We went for a walk along the water race around the corner from Mum and Dad's house, fed ducks, went to the park. We saw a white-faced heron, looking all wrong with his long legs for wading and his long beak for fishing, mooching about in the mown grass around a tree. My research this week has turned up that there are simply loads of these birds, but they mostly stay close to estuaries, rivers, bodies of water, and in breeding season, which is now, they nest up trees in pairs. Sweeney was really good about keeping a bit of distance and just watching the heron do his thing until another kid ran up to it and he flew up and around for a minute or so before he settled in the tree itself. Glorious wide wings unfolded for us, then folded back in to his sides. Sweeney kept watching the bird as it took off and flew, and laughed and laughed at the whole thing. Delight.

Saturday night was FREEZING. Sweeney got through the night okay and on Sunday we went up to Huntsbury Hill and stomped around in the snow that'd fallen overnight. Kids were sledding. There's a seat up there in memory of our Uncle Ron, Dad's friend since they were boys in Canada, who died 15 years ago. I got some lovely photos of Dad and Sweeney with snowballs - Sweeney's first ever - and will, when I work out how to do it, get one loaded onto here. Meanwhile, this is not him, and there was not this much snow.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Ange and the Sween-stalk

One good thing about the new regime, with Sweeney in Christchurch and me in Wellington, is that every second Thursday feels like Christmas Eve used to feel when I was a kid. Except now I'm totally sure there'll be no drawer liners or a set of embroidered, scratchy hankies.

He's coming up with Mum and Dad for the weekend, arriving tomorrow. I've been getting more and more excited all day, hopefully won't drive my poor workmates mad tomorrow.


Sunday, 4 May 2008

Let the Mild Rumpus Start ...

A whole new episode has erupted in my life. Just after my last post, Martin and I broke up for good and ever and ever and ever. The biggest shock has been the sense of relief that it's over and there's no working it out and no option of going back into it or anything. Trying to do the friends/amicable breakup thing, but the situation is still fresh and things get a bit bumpy from time to time.

The worst thing is that Sweeney is down with Mum and Dad in Christchurch still. In itself, no bad thing, because he's a box of happy wherever he is, and Mum and Dad insist that they love having him. I started a contract at the Ministry of Justice and need to find him full-time child care up here, or get a job down in Christchurch, and am missing him terribly. I've been going down to see him every second weekend. He's growing so fast.

Last weekend he pointed to a picture of a baby, and said "baby". I nearly died with happiness at being there.

The last six weeks have been spent getting the hang of my new job, clearing up the stuff Martin's left in the house, spending time with my friends, lying about feeling Sad About Stuff. And cooking delicious puddings and eating them on my lap for dinner. Have called a halt to that, but probably should've done it 5kg ago.

Things to enjoy at the moment:
  • my new job, which forces me to be in an enclosed space with hilarious, interesting, nice people, while engaged in interesting and useful work;
  • eating anchovies, herrings, all fish in fact, whenever I like around the house;
  • getting the house back to a state that I like living in;
  • not worrying or feeling anxious about Martin anymore;
  • my new car;
  • my new leaf blower - have been waiting for the ground to dry out to try the vacuum/shredder bit - should be all go a bit later today;
  • getting up in the morning and being ready to walk out the door to work within half an hour;
  • my lovely friends and their children who're getting a lot of attention from me on my childless days;
  • my wonderful family - especially Sweeney and his teensy cousin; and
  • the tuis in the garden.

The big challenge for me at the moment is to find someone to replace the roof. Martin's friend Mike visited this morning and had a look to diagnose the scary-looking seepage at the top of the stairs, and he reckons he knows some guys. Also need a new oven.

Currently working on a hooded jacket for Sweeney, must get back to that now so it's ready for him when he gets here on Friday. Oh, did I mention he and Mum and Dad are coming up next weekend?? I can't wait ...

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Sweeney and I are in Christchurch, enjoying the hot, hot weather and the flat, flat terrain and the cooked breakfasts. Sweeney's also very much enjoying the neighbouring kids' skateboarding, footballing, tennis playing etc in the street. Whoo, and indeed, hoo.
We're in Christchurch because things in Wellington have gone doolally and I need some r'n'r. It's been a week now, time to engage with real life again, so I'm leaving Sweeney down here with the doting-est grandparents, and heading back on Tuesday to see a man about a job on Wednesday.
Then begin on the Everest job - packing up our house and finding someone to pay us to live in it for a while. And hopefully somewhere in the middle of that, find out where Martin is and tell him that we don't live there anymore. Yes, it's gone that doolally, and we're now into the third week of it. Have been immersing myself in knitting and reading an Edward de Bono book about teaching your child thinking skills since I've been down here. Oh, and devouring a lot of biscuits.
So there are no pictures or jokes on this post, sorry. A bit glum, but not as glum as I thought I'd feel about this. Not the end of the world ...

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

H is for ...

Harper Rothwell Graham

Anyone who's read Kimberley's blog will know that she had an actual human baby on February 5th, which just magically is my birthday also. He's adorable, of course, chirpy and even a bit feisty.
Pictures to follow when I work some stuff out about the camera and the laptop ...

When I was a kid, one of the hallowed objects in our house was Dad's copy of the Hair soundtrack. He and our Uncle Ron went to see the show on stage in Auckland when it played in 1971 or 1972. They raved about it for the rest of the weekend. I loved the songs, knew all the lyrics, still know all the lyrics, and love remembering what visions were in my 5-or-6-year-old head when each song played. I saw the movie version a year or so ago, and it bore no resemblance to what I'd imagined to myself back in the primers. I had no understanding of the social context, it never bothered me that for me, there was no story linking all the songs together.
Anyway, I found a cd of the soundtrack and listened to it again for the first time in years, and good grief, I still love it.


Summer, a time for days at the beach, camping holidays, sunhats and increased pollen in the air. Which means hayfever for me. Still remember the summer of 1987-88, which was significant because it was the first time I tracked down non-drowsy antihistamines - hurrah!!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

G is for ...

I've just been reading Kimberley's blog, and she says that she doesn't make resolutions, she sets goals, and it got me thinking ...
At the moment of writing, my goals for 2008 are:
  • pick up a new contract and force myself up and out of the house every day to fulfil it
  • assume and maintain Treasured Auntie status for Tiny, and not blow it by getting knocked up and breaking off my one day a week that I have my nephew over ... you reading this, Kimberley??
  • finish the Rabbit jersey for Bela, and at least two of the almost-finished things in my workbox
  • spend more time in Christchurch, making sure Sweeney and his grandparents spend lots of time enjoying each other and letting me lie in late
  • work out how Martin's set up the video and DVD player and stereo so that I can actually play something one day
  • write a story and send it to be published
  • get the Saab fixed and beautiful again
  • knit some socks for Martin
  • persevere with the therapy - it's sometimes boring, frustrating and there are times when I really really hate it, but I know it's made a huge difference. Oh, and the pills, the pills ...

I feel like I should have a goal about Sweeney, but I can't think of anything specific, except to keep him happy and keep him from killing himself with his antics.


I like gardening. Someone once told me that they always knew that things were all right for them if they were doing some gardening. I find that the garden is a good place to work out some of the kinks, get the frustrations of the day out of myself. And Sweeney likes to rake leaves and push things around in his wheelbarrow and dig with me while I'm out there.

I'm coercing a little part of the garden into a secret space for him. He's into it - he knows where the entrance is, and he creeps under the beech trees and the wineberry, then he pops back out again. The plan is to set up his Spongebob inflateable bed in the clearing under the beeches and he can camp out when it's not too freaky for him. Currently we can see down into the space from the deck, but eventually it'll be grown over and private for him. Hopefully this won't turn into material for the sequel to The Wasp Factory or anything.

People up the road from Nana years ago gave me the idea. From the path, it looked like a grotto of nikau and beeches, but from within the trees itself, there was a passageway tall enough for us to walk through upright until we were about 10 or 11. Behind the house was a compound of aviaries

Oooh, the Young Squire has entered a new phase - the tantrum. Nothing too horrific yet. He lost his composure when I insisted he'd played in Toyworld for long enough yesterday. Note to self - never, never take him there again, even when he's perky and full of food. The wailing and squirming continued for the 100m back to the car, then there was a full-body-bracing incident when I tried to strap him into his seat.

He's so easy-going most of the time that we're working on heading off tantrums before they appear. His routine is pretty by-the-clock now, so we plan our days around creche and his nap times, and for the most part, things are pretty smooth. Recognising his routine for melting down when we're out has helped - when he starts making 'the noise' and falling over a bit more than normal, it's time for home.

That said, this morning required three attempts to get his sandals onto him and he hurled a Crown Lynn bowl from his highchair and squealed with rapture when it landed on the deck in three pieces. It wasn't a special bowl or anything, but there was a nutritionally balanced and, I thought, interesting, breakfast inside it, which the cat greatly enjoyed. Grrr. Back to the plastic Spongebob plates and bowls for the meantime.


Sweeney in a cowboy hat, with his dad, possibly line dancing. Sweeney in his grandad's hat, complete with grandad's hands.

2008 ...

Okay, it's been a while. A long while. I look back over the last nearly three months and I can't remember what's been happening. So I'll kick off with the encyclopaedia again.

F is for ...

Fish fingers

When I was a wee girl, I remember Mum breaking out the fish fingers on Good Fridays. They seemed so exotic, so 'other'. I know, I know - they're the fish equivalent of a preboiled supermarket sausage - bits, flaps, odd tufts of floor shavings. But it was the '70s, for goodness sake, and we lived in the heart of cow country - you couldn't move for piles of steak in those days.

When I was pregnant, I worked my way through schools of the things. In the back of my mind sat an image of giving birth to something crumbed and gold. Yay for the 20-week anatomy scan, to put your mind at rest that you're carrying around some arms and legs and lungs in there.

Sweeney's shown that he can scarf a pile of them when he gets the chance. For eight months everything he ate was created from scratch from interesting, fresh meat, fish, vege etc. Then one night I baked two fish fingers and chopped them up in a bowl of store-bought toddler food, and he delivered the whole mess into his mouth in about three loads. I always think of that night when I eat fish fingers now - so many emotions:

  • the thrill of getting away with fish fingers and glop out of a jar

  • the horror at giving my poppet fish fingers and glop out of a jar

  • the deep, deep offence at having fish fingers and glop out of a jar received with more enthusiasm than the mixed steamed vege melanges I'd been turning out
Food in general is a brilliant, brilliant thing. Martin didn't feel like dinner tonight, so I made myself a plate of spaghetti with anchovies and garlic. It's what I like to eat when he's out, usually. He doesn't like anchovies, which is just mental, but who am I to force ambrosia on the unwilling ??

Sweeney's becoming increasingly picky about what gets into his body. Always welcome are:

  • anything with sugar

  • anything out of a jar

  • anything that I'm trying to eat

Most of my fave foods are not classy - Mum's bread & butter pudding, Nana's chops, Martin's green chicken curry, Dad's cooked breakfasts, Kimberley's gratin dauphinoise, Denis' pavlova ... When I was in Cambodia, I just loved the coffee there. When I got back to New Zealand, I found the closest thing I could find was a tube of Nestle Coffee 'n' Milk. It set me on a frenzy for nostalgic food - in particular, things I could remember eating with my Nana when I was little. Like shrimp paste sandwiches, krispies and fingernail cake - Ernest Adams madeira cake with slivered almonds on top.


Aren't they crash hot?? Yes, they are. The feeling that comes from the shared memories of childhood tickle fights, bizarre relatives, glimpses of parental drunkenness and the like. The time Mum took us to see Superdad while Dad and went to see The Towering Inferno, or Rollerball, or some deeply cool movie in 1975.
And Mum and Dad always seem to enjoy hearing me rant about how they let Kimberley get away with all sorts of things I got pinged for before she was born. Hold onto your hats when we get to T for Table Manners ...
And then the family you make for yourself. Martin and Sweeney make the pure hell of getting up in the morning worth it

Also crash hot. You know who you are, and you're fine, fine people.
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