Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Row Row Row ...

Your Boat. You know the song. It's top of Sweeney's hit parade right now. He held my hand all the way to preschool this morning - in itself, unusual - then while we waited to cross at the lights, he made us spin around, slowly mind, singing Row Row Row Your Boat.
Then of course, when the light went green for us, he couldn't walk a straight line.
Joe and Harper came for a visit later in the day, so I knocked up some banana pikelets. Quite a hit with the 'Poon. So much so that I made up some more for Sweeney's post-preschool snack. He's developed a technique for avoiding eating things he's not interested in - he offers them around, which is nice, and I love hearing how he does it - "you want a pikelet??". Anyway, he didn't care for them at all.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Red Rain

Not really. It was just wet, lovely rain in the warm, still air as I walked to work today. The sun was trying really hard to push through the grey sky and I was thinking nice thoughts to myself. Then Red Rain came through my earphones and sounded gorgeous, even though it's a pretty unhappy song.
On an unrelated note, I'm just loving 30 Rock. Poor Sweeney gets a little shortchanged on stories and bedtime cuddles and, well, attention, on Sunday nights, so I can be on my perch, knitting at the ready, by 8pm. Liz Lemon is glorious ...
Still less related to the weather today, we had a lovely dinner with the M-Ns last night, although Bela was quite under the weather. Get better, Bela!!
Then we had lovely dinner with KimberleyJoeHarper tonight. I caught up with Sweeney up there after work. Thanks KimberleyJoeHarper!!
I wish 30 Rock was on telly right now.
Thinking tonight that if I ever get a proper job again, I'd like to rent a little house on a coast somewhere and take Sweeney away for a few days. For now, I'm just reveling in the fact that I can finally afford to get the tyre fixed on the car and put the spare back in the boot. Hurrah!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

(Pita) in Pocket

Rainy old day. Finding things to do inside without going nuts. Sweeney helped me to make pita bread. He's a dab hand with a fish slice, it turns out. I had visions of making some meatballs and salad to stuff the pita with, but we ended up sampling a few pieces straight from the oven - hot, hot, hot!! - then going nuts and making them into vegemite and cheese sandwiches for lunch. There are still a few left, but we sure made a hole in the batch.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Last Post

Woke up this morning to the sound of a helicopter flying really low over our house at 4.45 am. I guess it was heading for the hospital, but anyway, that was it - I was up. There've been lots of aircraft over the house since then, but for Anzac Day - highlight for me was an old DC3 flying really low towards the National War Memorial, via our house.
There's a scene towards the end of The Godfather II, where Michael's just told his brothers and sister that he's enlisted for World War II. Sunny says to him "what do you want to go fight for people you don't even know?". Now, that makes sense to me, especially being New Zealand and not having waged wars of our own.
While it's splendid to appreciate the people who've gone away to fight on our behalf, and I'm personally proud to have ancestors who've done so, I'll never understand how that stuff seems right to anyone.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Up and Running

Well, we got through Day Four of camping in our house. The gasfitter-plumber-types were just clearing out when I got back at 6.45pm last night, and there is indeed hot running water and an oven with actual gas actually coming out in an appropriate fashion. Bliss. Thanks, Hullett Plumbing & Gasfitting!
I did my bit for a sustainable lifestyle and took Sweeney into the shower with me this morning. Ewww, I know, but he had a yukky, chesty-sounding cough and I thought the steam would be nice for him. Seemed to work, there was barely a cough out of him for the rest of the day. Also, having a two-year-old in the shower with you means that you're in and out jolly fast - that whole non-sharing thing that they do really comes to the fore over who gets the hot water blast on a cold morning.
He has such a great time on his trike when we're at P Lane, I figured that he should get the hang of riding his trike in our street. The traffic's a bit more hairy, and the wee hill at the north end of the street has already got bits of his knees embedded in it from his scootering. He got speed wobbles at one point, but didn't fall off until he looked around at me with glee all over, hit a bump at the bottom of the hill and came a cropper. Once the sobbing had subsided, he was dead keen to do it again. And again and again ...
We squeezed in a visit with Geoff-next-door, Martin came over for dinner and a spot of hanging out with Sweeney, Mum called to check on the invalid.
What with the autumn sun and the lovely company, it came out a pretty splendid day today.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Inbetween Days

Day Three with no oven and no hot water. I boiled water to wash the dishes today. It felt like camping. I boiled more water to wash myself campsite-style, so I could be fit to be around humans. I found another microwave cookbook, which showed me how to make a jolly fine white sauce. Threw in some canned tuna and chopped parsley, and it was a delicious rainy-day lunch with enough to put in the bag for Sweeney's dinner.
I had to work until 6pm, and Sweeney was magically whisked up to KimberleyJoeHarper's house and given dinner and bathed, so when I got there just before 7pm, he was all snuggly and clean and full. Thanks, KimberleyJoeHarper!!
Came home to find a parcel for Sweeney in the letterbox - three pairs of trousers and a blue top - from his Nana. Thanks, Nana!!
He tried to put them all on over his pyjamas, then piled into bed. A quick couple of stories from the Great Big Air Book, then he was all glazed over and drifting off. The low-level cold that he's had for the last few weeks is developing into something of a cough. He doesn't seem bothered by it, but I cracked a karvol on his pyjama top to help keep his nose clear overnight.
Of course you really notice the coughs and snuffles when you have no hot running water and there's a southerly whipping up outside. The house is pretty cosy, though, and the gasfitter's due tomorrow, so we'll be back to full functionality soon. But I'm kind of intrigued by microwave cooking now, so I'll continue looking into what good food can come out of one
I finished a fingerless mitt this morning, started on the matching one and hopefully will make some progress on that tonight. Not sure if these will be for me or for someone else who loves the way they're turning out. Feel knackered, though, so maybe I'll just read some blogs, gaze listlessly at my book and pass out ten minutes from now.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Rice Pudding

We're into Day Two of living with no hot water or oven. I've been studying the Edmonds Microwave Cookbook this afternoon, and there's a lot of weird-sounding, terrible-looking stuff in there, or I don't have the right sort of container to cook it in. Until I came to page 155 - Rice Pudding. Turned out outrageously good, especially when Sweeney wasn't looking and I doused mine in golden syrup. I know rice pudding can be controversial - to stir or not, to encourage skin or not, to add jam or not - and this certainly wasn't what I remember my mum and Nana turning out for us, but it was still mighty good.
It's set me off to scarf some golden syrup on splushy bread after dinner. Out of interest, I looked at the list of ingredients on the golden syrup bottle - cane sugar and water, it says. I wonder why I went to the trouble of cutting sugar out of my coffee - I probably just ate a year's worth tonight.
Sweeney's discovered Richard Scarry's Great Big Air Book. It's been on his shelf since he was born, and he pulled it down with all his other books the other day when he was ripping his room apart in protest at being given the opportunity to nap in the afternoon.

It's a neat concept - air, how air works, what it is, the physics of flight, that sort of thing. It's made Sweeney notice the breeze in the trees, and he gave me a little lecture about the difference between planes and helicopters today. Lovely seeing how interested in books he is. The last thing we read in it tonight was about the difference between jet aircraft and non-jet aircraft. It's all delivered in a not-too-wordy style, lots of pictures, and a few of those great Scarry cross-section illustrations that keep kids absorbed for ages, nutting out the details. Right now, this book is tucked up under Sweeney's arm while he's asleep.
Before the excitement of rice pudding and the latest instalment from the Great Air Book, he set this photo up for me. He's dead keen on the camera, and can tell the difference between my camera and the piece of cardboard I drew a shutter and some knobs onto for him. He's pretty funny, working out the relationship between the viewfinder and the picture that eventuates. Anyway, this is the kimono for the poppet over the road. The one I finished a while ago, well, that went to Ethan, whose brother's at Sweeney's pre-school. I've got the pink version of this sewn up for Esme, but goodness knows when I'll ever get over to Brooklyn to give it to her.
I don't feel like my wool stash is getting terribly much smaller, yet I feel that my fingers are becoming one with my knitting needles. Sigh ...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

President Gas

I'm trying to work out what the universe is trying to tell me, what with what's been happening here over the last two weeks. Woke up this morning and thought about how cool it'd be to finish off washing the front of the house. Walked out the door to do it, was nearly knocked unconscious by the now-not-ignorable smell of gas.
Long story short, I'm awaiting a quote from the gasfitter to sort out all the pipe under the house that's corroded because the %!"£!*&^ builders, who did the renovations eight years ago, laid the concrete path over water heating pipes without sleeving them. Lazy, drug-addled idiots.
Sorry, that's as far away from incandescent rage as I can get right now.
Oh, and we have no cooking or hot water until I can come up with 50% downpayment on getting the work done - currently estimated at between $2,500 and $6,000. Off to knock over a bank ...

Friday, 17 April 2009

This Old House

Okay, so you thought the power saga at our house had run its course?? Mais non. I returned to the front of the house to finish washing it down, and blow me down, I couldn't turn the hose off. I mean, I got an electric fence-type shock from the tap every time I touched it. With water everywhere. I freaked out and asked a chap from across the road to turn it off and he could do it fine.
I pondered the unknowableness of electricity for a while, then forgot about it.
After exposing a few more beloved members of the community to the house of horrors scenario, I got the electrician back and it's all sorted now. To their credit, they explained it all to me and it all vanished from my brain as I turned to go back to doing the dishes. Thanks, Parsons Electrical!
This is the sort of thing I find hardest. I don't understand anything about electricity. I don't know what constitutes a real emergency, especially if the issue is intermittent and can be trivialised by a tradesperson when I call up. Years ago, there was seeping gas here and it took me three years to get the gas company to take it seriously and sort it.
Of course, now there's a noticeable aroma of gas at the back door, and there's a drip coming out of the hot water tank. I'm still a little standoffish about finishing off washing the front of the house. House maintenance is a drag.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Straight to Hell

Who gets grumpy at tai chi class?? I do. Goodness knows why. I had to leave.
In other news, I made pita bread and sewed up a variegated-sort-of-pink kimono. While I did it, I sat on the deck in the sun and listened to the chattiest tui ever. He just went on and on and on. Pippi lounged under a bench seat and a ginger cat two doors over scaled Geoff's olive tree and tiptoed around its branches. Good to see native bird life is under no threat from the local cats.
You can't get better than that. So what's with me?
I blame the pineapple that was in the mystery casserole graciously donated to us by Grandad O'Neill. Make no mistake, I cannot tolerate pineapple in a savoury setting.
Grumpy and ungrateful and fussy and just plain horrible ...

Monday, 13 April 2009

When I Fall in Love ...

... it's going to be with this guy. He knows how to make me happy, I know how to make him happy. He's been telling me all weekend that he loves me. And he's crazy about broccoli and Madonna.
Or maybe not this guy. Maybe someone who isn't related to me, or only two-and-three-quarters.
As Madonna is saying right now in our living room, nobody's perfect. You didn't know Madge goes great with trucks and cars and diggers? Well, she does.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Cold Feet

There's a Frank Sargeson story about a boy who works on a farm and warms his cold feet in the mornings by standing in cowpats. It's typical Sargeson - short, economical, a deceptively sweet coming of age story.
When I worked on a dairy farm years later, I got peed on and crapped on by cows most mornings as I hooked and unhooked them to and from the milking machine. I'm still struck by the scale of their waste, but that's a whole other story. I remember once putting my gumbooted foot into a cowpat as I sprayed weeds. I could feel the heat through the rubber.
With winter approaching, and us having cold hard floors throughout the house, cold feet are more of a reality every day. Sweeney and I bicker over whether he'll wear his slippers, or his socks, or his socks and slippers ...
He'd love to play in some cowpats in his bare feet. I just know it ...

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Lucky Number

House stats and highlights for the week:

  • calls to 111 and subsequent fire brigade visits to notre maison - 2;
  • visits from freaked-out passersby and neighbours warning us that our house was sparking and crackling and generally going off - 2,000;
  • power cables replaced - 1;
  • terrifying invoices for power cable replacement due to arrive any day now - 1;
  • episodes of the Muppet Show viewed - 25,000;
  • times Toy Story 2 viewed - 2;
  • renditions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star sung nearly word-perfect by a certain Big Strong Boy - 11;
  • parcels in the mail containing treats for Sweeney - 2;
  • instances of deep annoyance to Ange from government departments - 1;
  • parcels of Easter treats despatched to the wintery south - 2;
  • chests of drawers caused to tip over by a curious boy's need to open every drawer and climb up them - 1;
  • area of curious boy's bedroom covered by potting mix from the little plant on top of the chest of drawers when it was sent flying - 100%;
  • things requiring fixing about the house that actually got fixed - 4;
  • times the kitchen floor got washed - 3;
  • days the kitchen floor really could've done with a wash - 7;
  • pages of Ange's book actually read and absorbed - -10;
  • times Sweeney asked for honeytoast for breakfast - 7;
  • times Sweeney asked for honeytoast for dinner - 3;
  • days we walked to preschool and back - 5;
  • days Sweeney complained bitterly and hit the deck on the way to and/or from preschool - 5;
  • puddles that warranted much jumping and splashing - 3;

I could go on. Pretty good week, really.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Fight the Power

Yesterday, while I was doing stuff at the back of the house, I could hear a misfire-type sound from time to time. Later, while I was doing stuff at the front of the house, I realised it was the return of the bang!! sound from when I doused the power cable in water on Saturday. It banged!! a lot.
Got assurance from the electrician that the house wouldn't burn down and we wouldn't die, and that he and a linesman would be back the following day to replace the casing and tidy the cable.
Then, after dark, our neighbour Tracy popped over to tell me that there was flashing and hissing coming from the cable. Sweeney and I visited our several neighbours over the road to give them our number in case they saw flames coming forth overnight. It was all kind of jolly.
Until everyone who passed our house banged on the door in a panic because of the bang!!ing and crackling and hissing and flashing. I called the fire brigade again.
The same firemen arrived quick-smart, and told me to call the electrician back TONIGHT. The linesman arrived and for a while the place was overrun with men in bulky clothes climbing up to, and down from the attic. Luckily, the terrible rain that was forecast didn't evenutate, so we could hang out in the street and watch them work.
Turned out that the power cable was hanging on by a thread, and what with the wind whipping up last night, it would've come down and been live and dangerous. The chaps spliced on cable to keep it safe overnight, but the cable needs to be replaced, so they're coming back later today.
Thanks, everyone!!
I know we did other stuff yesterday, but I feel like all the cable drama erased it from my memory ...

Monday, 6 April 2009

Working on the Weekend

Today is our friend Alfie's eighth birthday. He's eight. His mum and dad are two of my oldest friends. The day before Sweeney was born, I felt out of sorts and even more lumpy than usual, so we went up to their place and I crawled from gorgeous sofa to gorgeous sofa around their house. Best day of my life.
Anyway, happy birthday, Alfie!!
At the weekend we did stuff at the front of the house. Pruned the rose and diagnosed Black Spot. Clipped back all the valerian that grows in all the cracks in the concrete and takes over the paths. Dug out the dock plant that hides under the borage. Deadheaded the agapanthus and tried digging some of it out. It's really hard stuff to dig and I don't think I'm up to it.
I tried washing the front of the actual house itself. I made good progress but didn't notice that the casing on the power cable that runs into the house had come loose until there was a bang!! sound and a little flame and some crackling and hissing. I ran in and out of the house a few times, then back to the front of the house and it banged!! again, so I called the fire brigade - first time caller, long time observer of fire engines - and they didn't laugh at me or hang up on me. In fact, they sent round two of the nicest, friendliest firemen who checked the meter box and the fuses and admired the clean side of the front of the house. They assured me that the cable would dry out in the warm breeze, and to get the casing reattached before attempting more washing.
Kimberley and Harper were over at the time, but Sweeney was off on a bike ride with Joe and missed the visit. Last time he came close to a fireman, he was still crawling and we were at a creche fair with a petting zoo and firemen and a man who made animals from balloons, and Sweeney wasn't interested in the fire engine like all the other boys, he just tried to pull himself up on the fireman's big thick - possibly asbestos - trousers.
We met up with Liisa and Bela yesterday at Te Papa. The Colossal Squid was a bust. The Earthquake House was unacceptable to Bela, but a joyride for Sweeney. Crawling through the whale heart was a bit of fun. The exhibition of introduced animals - deer, rabbits etc - was a thrill. The Pasifika interactive area absorbed them both - drums, puzzles, cushions, craft activies using scissors.
At home later, Sweeney decided it was time for some role play:

S: Hi, I'm Ange!
A: Oh okay. Hi, I'm Sweeney!
S: Yes, I'm Ange. I'm your mum. You need a fresh nappy!
A: Sure, have a go. And what's for dinner??
S: Oh, we'll have ... sauce!

Sauce it is, then ...

Thursday, 2 April 2009

For What It's Worth

Sweeney's come to expect music when we're in the car. He usually asks for bouncy music, but I'm not sure exactly what that is. I've tried a lot of things out on him, and right now, Ray of Light-era Madonna seems to keep him happy. We've been watching the Muppets, and today he ate nearly an entire piece of toast during their version of For What It's Worth. That level of concentration toward food is miraculous, especially when I'm steering us out the door for the day. Maybe the furry critters helped. He's starting to really enjoy songs and dancing, and his shouty version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is genius.
Trying to get my head around autumn. Fleecy pyjamas, leaves on the ground, hot water bottles, drawing the curtains every night. The bickering over compulsory wearing of shoes, trousers and jacket to leave the house, hankering after stews and soups and hot steaming cups of milo, looking at the moon before Sweeney goes to sleep. Pulled out the remains of the summer vege garden, planning what to get going for winter. I'm thinking broccoli, cauliflour, spinach and I don't know what else.
Made some carrot and oat biscuits for Geoff next door, to say thanks for feeding Pippi while we were away. Thanks, Geoff!! Also trying them out as an alternative to the muesli bars that Sweeney's crazy for. Working baking into my schedule almost every day now.
Must be time to watch more Kermit ...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Tripping the Lightweight Fantastic

We're just back from a long weekend of glorious weather in Christchurch. As usual, everything revolved around Harper and Sweeney and mealtimes. I always forget what a difference it makes to have more than one adult around. Sweeney loves hanging out with Harper all day, and extra adults give you opportunities to take your eyes off him for long enough to do stuff in other rooms. Or even leave the property alone.
Lots of kicking the ball on the lawn, trike riding in the lane, building things with blocks, reading Where's the Sheep? and playing with all the toys in the toybox. And lots of filling and emptying the dishwasher, fixing snacks and meals, changing nappies, dressing and undressing unwilling victims, walking Harper around the house and garden, tending to Sweeney when he brained himself, trying to stay conscious and hydrated in the heat while keeping all doors, gates and windows closed so no children or rehoused cat could escape.
Thanks Nana and Grandad - see you again soon!!
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