Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Yesterday was one of the harder days. 

On Monday, Dad arrived home from Paris.  It was a work trip.  He felt generally manky, as you do when you have been in transit for approx. 24 hours, give or take a few.  However, he'd had an incident in the airport in Paris when he went to check in.  He couldn't speak.  He could think the words, but there was a disconnect and he couldn't get them out.  He was sped to the airport's medical centre and over the space of about 15 minutes, the ability returned.  He was monitored but otherwise fine.

While he was in transit, Mum made him an appointment for yesterday morning at the GP.  He duly turned up and was sent straight to the hospital for evaluation.  You were probably thinking, as were we, that he'd had a stroke.  At hospital it was confirmed he'd had a mini-stroke (a TIA, a Transient something Attack).  They wanted to do some further tests, which seemed fair enough - there's a heightened risk of having another within the space of a month, and you always want to know what damage has been done, I guess.

Dad had a CT scan on his head.  It showed a tumour. 

We don't know much more at this stage.  Dad had a further CT scan on his chest to check for other tumours and when I spoke to him last, the results hadn't been communicated to him.  He'd been put on steroids to start chemically shrinking what they'd seen in his head.  This morning at 10 he's having an MRI to check the tumour, to check for anything else and to put together a plan with the specialists, I assume.  I think he's having a skype session with the specialists (who are based in another hospital about four hours away) sometime this morning - possibly both prior and subsequent to the MRI. 

Mum called with updates during the day.  I think she's pretty scared but holding it together, because she has to.  I spent an hour on the phone with them last night, helping alleviate the boredom of an internal room in a hospital that isn't home.  We made jokes and chatted about my day.  Dad was pretty realistic, not downbeat but saying the conversation he'd had with the registrar was in hushed tones and suggested that things are pretty serious. 

My Dad is 58.  I love him.  I am trying to block out the noise and just take it as it comes.  God knows Mum and Dad don't need me to freak out.  I've been calling and texting my sister, who doesn't have a husband to hold her when she's feeling scared. 

Yesterday was one of the harder days.   

Thursday, 11 December 2014

purple palace progress

The work on the Lavender Loveshack continues apace.  There's been promises of being done with the painting by Christmas, but that's contingent on the weather continuing to play ball.

The builders will probably be glad to be done - P had a session pointing out a bunch of shonky repairs last weekend that remain uncorrected and I gave one of them a hell of a fright earlier this week.  I don't usually get home until the builders have left, but I'd had a ride and got home not too far off 5.30.  The front door was open and I could hear banging and sanding down the right hand side of the house. I was busting to use the loo, so I didn't walk round to say hi.  I hustled into the bathroom and when I popped out, the builder's son was at the kitchen sink having a drink.*  I swear his feet left the ground he got such a fright - he garbled an apology, I laughed and said of course he could help himself to water and he scurried outside to recover his composure, the poor thing.

With all the prep work and the patches of primed new weatherboards, the Palace is not very Purple any more.  I'm nervous about the colours I've picked going up (what if I haaaaaate them?  I'm not very good with this sort of thing).  I'm also nervous about the expense, both of the current work and what we have planned next.  We're going to re-line our bedroom and install a built-in wardrobe as the first task in the New Year, followed by a similar job on the spare bedroom (we can only do this one room at a time, you see, because we can only store one extra room's furniture at a time and still have a place to sleep that isn't the living room floor.  I'm not opposed to the living room floor, I should point out, but P isn't too keen.  He's got a point because the living room is very compact.) 

We've acknowledged to ourselves that we can't afford to do the extension/kitchen/bathroom renovations as yet, so we'll stick to whacking in a dishwasher in those zones, once the bedrooms are done.  Sweet, sweet dishwasher, I cannot wait to meet you.

There's also been talk of underhouse excavations and moving the laundry to a concreted space under there.  I don't think there's any point until we do the major works at the back, and we'll still have to walk outdoors to put on a load of laundry, even if it's under the house.  The washing machine presently lives in a utility shed in the backyard, which doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would.  We don't own a dryer so everything goes outdoors on the line anyway, we don't hear the noise, and the lack of overhead lighting restricts my laundry days to the weekend, so I don't have a horrible constant pile of folding to do.

So, we're going to be pouring some $$$ directly into the house, rather than continuing to shove it all onto the mortgage in the name of reducing the ridiculous mound of debt.  I know that it technically increases our equity as well, but I have a cheap wee heart and it certainly doesn't reduce our interest payments! 

That is all very domestic and dull, but it's what's going on just now. 

*You might recall that our bathroom comes off the kitchen, part of a standard 50s lean-to addition to the old cottage.  Just charming.

Monday, 8 December 2014


The end of year party season has well and truly begun.  Case in point: it was not yet 3pm last Friday at a team lunch when one attendee grabbed her breasts in an illustration of the difficulty caused by her lovely (but possibly workplace inappropriate) backless top.  I'll have you know I was a model of propriety.  Oh, hey now, doubters: I had to get back to the office so I actually was well behaved, unusual or no!

The party got me in the holiday spirit.  I dragged P to a Christmas tree farm and thence to the Warehouse for cheap decorations.  We bought a ghastly Michael Buble Christmas CD and I thrashed it while adorning the tree with super! cheap! candy! canes! and scattering glitter on the floor.  My house smells just lovely, like pine and happiness.  I abhor pine scents generally - them old fake ones - but I cannot get enough of huffing my Christmas tree.  It's delicious and sends me straight back to my childhood.  The tree itself isn't as big as my family memories, at least in part because the space for it ain't so big neither.  I left the bottom largely undecorated, expecting the purrymouses to destroy it in five seconds flat.  However, they're largely unphased.  Cokes batted a decoration to get my attention last night, but then he also jumped on me, scratched my leg, ate my headphones and manufactured a spew on the living room floor all in an effort to wake us up to fill his bowl this morning, so I think I don't think he has a particular animus in relation to the tree.


I'm so desperate to be finished this year I've started drafting my usual end of year survey.  I'm still struggling with a pithy description of 2014, in large part due to denial that 2014 has in fact begun. 


On another, horrible note, I've had some very bad news that affects my Hat Friend.  I am sorely worried for her.  I don't pray, I think -- so I'm thinking near constantly about Hat Friend's situation and hoping for the best possible outcome.  It's scary when (a) things are completely out of our control and (b) your words sound like horrible, hopeless platitudes.  Words can be powerful. I need to corral them and winnow out the least effective, leaving something meaningful, I hope. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

end of spring 2014

I was in Christchurch last week, alternatively squinting as the sun beat down on me through the windows of various meeting rooms or pushing back my hair as the wind blew a gale when I managed to escape outside.  It's been a disappointing spring, really.  Gusty, drizzly, grey.  I shouldn't complain - in the two years since we returned to New Zealand, the seasons have outdone themselves.  Aucklanders grow to expect six weeks of rain during spring, standard so there's nothing new with what we've been experiencing to date. It's just that springtime elsewhere seems to have bright days (notable exception: London, Spring 2012, miseryfest). 

In the past two weeks, the humidity has finally arrived.  Sensing it was going to take even more of a beating than usual, my GHDs promptly gave up the ghost and are lying abandoned on a shelf in the bathroom.  I've been using horrific amounts of hairspray and plastering my bob back into a weird little pony tail.  It's gross.  GHD's are GD expensive, the bastards, and have a life of about two years.  I've been through three sets now which is an obscene amount of money on a hair implement.  My vanity knows no bounds.

We had patches of sunshine at the beach this weekend, though the wind was still there.  We escaped to the Coromandel for a night, though I'm not sure it qualified as relaxing.  The last half hour of the drive left me contemplating whether I would, for the first time in my life, actually require P to pull over.  The alternative being that I threw up in the door handle, as did a poor British woman on our tour in Rajasthan.  I managed to keep it together, but spent some time afterwards laying prone either on the beach or on the window seat of the bach in Whangamata, letting the heaves settle.  There's sand in my cardigan but it was worth it. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

house faffing

We're having a bunch of rotten weatherboards replaced on the Purple Palace's exterior, a move  preparatory to having it painted.  Purple no more.  We'll likely go with a grey with white trim and a black-ish front door which is terribly boring and predictable, isn't it?  Well, I am terribly boring and predictable and only occasionally am bothered by that fact.  Still, there'll be a little purple nostaglia I think, when the first coat goes on, hiding the lavender glory (mauve magnificence?).

The builders are also replacing the small window in our bedroom and the front door, the current one having a crack so large I can see daylight through it.  I think they've sourced replacements via TradeMe (NZ's answer to Ebay or Gumtree or something).  A mysterious door is sitting outside the house and I hope they haven't spent too much on it because it's got ugly missized panels.  We asked for a door with a window, to let light into the hall.  It's all a bit mickey mouse (although, we are paying GST on this one at least, unlike another guy who quoted as a cash job and told me that you can roll a turd in glitter, but it's still a turd.  Amazing.)

I went home from work sick yesterday and holed up in the spare bedroom.  The builder has hired his son as a labourer over son's university holidays.  They were blasting George FM and the son was educating his dad on the finer points regarding electronica.  Dad didn't have much to contribute, but it seemed like good family bonding, to me. Tabitha sat on the bed with me, unperturbed by the noise.  We had a nap.  Good family bonding, too. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

the state of my kitchen

Sunmaid has done a really, really clever thing and packaged up their prunes into individual servings.  Usually I am completely against individual packets because it's so wasteful, but I can house prunes and any open bag is fair game.  I know the consequences but I do it anyway because OMG delicious, delicious prunes.  Come to think of it, I don't object to individual packaging of raisins either, on much the same basis.  OH GOD and apricots?  The really leathery dried ones (as opposed to the plump Turkish jobs which are good but not on the same plane)? YES PLEASE ALL AT ONCE.

So, dried fruit.  I have an extremely healthy digestive tract, thanks for asking. 

This comes to mind because I was scouring the pantry last night before dinner was ready (in fact, before I'd started to prepare it).  I found the prunes stashed away at the back, hiding from me.  Normally, I have a mental inventory of tasty shit living at my house so nothing can hide, but last week, we had a cleaner. 

This is the first time we've had a cleaner that wasn't end-of-tenancy obligated, I think.  She came in on the weekend and I just did not know it was possible to get our kitchen that clean (and with eco-friendly products, no less.  I use the bleach because I'm bad but I actually did not think eco-friendly products could remove half the crud they did).  She even cleaned the pantry which was amazing.  She was lovely too - professional and friendly.

I felt guilty though, never you fear.  My cheap heart berated me for paying someone to do what I ought to be capable of achieving for myself.  My half-baked social conscience felt every single drop of privilege oozing from my pores.  My shame at the state of my scummy old cottage knew no bounds!

However, finding the prunes was like Christmas.  Between the stashed snacks and the oven-I-could-lick,-it's-so-clean,-what-a-shame-two-of-the-electric-rings-don't-work, I think we might spring for the cleaner to come back again every so often. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

colonial hangovers

Last night, in my dreams, I attended a very intimate Mariah Carey gig with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.  Let me tell you right now, my dreams suggest that Mariah's voice has really gone off the boil, but don't tell her that because it does not end well if you do.  Kanye will not lift a finger to help.

It was a disturbed night of sleep.  Kimye and Mariah, Tabitha sleeping between P and I and wriggling, P swatting Cokies who demanded 2am biscuits and the usual onslaught of Guy Fawke's fireworks. 

I have always, always, been afraid of fireworks.  I thought Dad would shoot himself with the double happies when I was small.  Catherine Wheels? Def lose an eye.  At a Christmas party for a part time job I once held, a colleague lit the fireworks with a small handheld blowtorch (he's is still a friend some 10 years on, I'm proud to say, despite his antics).  It could have ended much worse, though the scratches on our co-worker's brand new car (as in, just picked up from the dealership) were awful.  I still love a sparkler, I suppose, but I hate what fireworks do to animals and I think the injury rates are too high to justify the enjoyment. 

Gosh, I hear some saying, what a boring old fart she is.  Or worse: she's supporting a PC nanny state! (The co-opting of 'PC' as an insult and/or a categorical denial of any institutional societal issues really grinds my gears, if that wasn't obvious.)  Get this: if you feel that way, you'll probably be even more riled about another objection to celebrating Guy Fawke's - how bizarre is it that we burn an effigy of a man who tried to blow up a parliament that's not even our own about 400 or so years ago?! So much to unpack there, amirite?

In any case, I think fireworks'll be for public displays only soon, in the land of the long white cloud.