Tue, Nov. 11th, 2008, 02:20 pm

Kinda random updatiness. You have been warned.

gave my first solo presentation/party last weekend! It went really well, both in feedback and in sales. I guess I can do sales after all, provided it's product that I am interested in and genuinely think will make a difference to people.

The average sales for each party is about $1k, assuming 10-20 people. I only had 8 people there, no eftpos, and still made $1k - and gave lots of advice and answered lots of questions. Go me ;)  Got all my admin paperwork to balance the next day, as well!

I was on my feet for a lot longer than I'd anticipated, though. There's the presentation, of course - but for the next two hours of questions and sales I was also on my feet. Wiped me out for all of the next day - although I treated myself to a bath, and that helped. Sunday is very definitely a stay-home-and-recover-and-spend-time-with-Ben day, these days.

He's still missing Lloyd, which is entirely to be expected. For the most part he is 'okay'. The hospice arranged for him to have a blessing/tapu lifting done on his bed, and that's helped somewhat - he's more comfortable being in his sleepout, and can actually sleep in the bed again. The sheets were washed twice and put in a clothing bin, though. Fair enough, I guess.

Unfortunately, one of Lloyd's siblings (out of four) has been causing trouble: she was texting Al last weekend and being very nasty and unpleasant indeed (of the 'so, have you killed anyone this week?' variety). He's taken it as an opportunity to change cellphone numbers and networks - if you're a friend of his and you didn't get the text with the new number, drop me an email and I'll ask him to get in touch with you.

Lloyd's mother and one of his brothers is still getting on well with Al, though - the latter visited Al yesterday afternoon, and he talked to his mum on the phone a few times a week. So it's the shame that the sister in question is being so hateful and blaming. I can understand wanting to blame someone - but it's a real shitter that it's Al she's putting it on.

The anime film festival is on! Ben is going to quite a few, but we're going together to the double-feature on his birthday (Blood: The Last Vampire and My Neighbour Totoro). Funnilt enough, we've either seen or own everything they're showing - but most things we haven't had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen (Appleseed and Howl's Moving Castle I have seen at the movies, and they're both worth it).

Incidentally, did anyone else know there was a second Appleseed movie out (Appleseed: Ex Machina)? Deb wants!

Well, Al and Ben and I all went and did our voting duty. I am unimpressed at the outcome ... but it's only three years. Yay Greens for getting a larger proportion of the vote!

Dad would have been 61 last Saturday. Which seems really strange to me, as he never had his 50's (he died at 47). His mother's birthday is the day before, and my mother's father's the day before that. They're both dead too. Why do I remember the birthdays of people who are dead?

While Ben and Al and I have all been invited to Wellington for a BIG shindig celebrating my aunt and uncle's combined 60th birthdays, we won't be going down. It's a bitch trying to plan ahead anyhow, and it sounds like it's going to be way too rambunctious and noisy for any of us. Hopefully we'll make it down for a visit early next year instead.

It occurs to me that people are going to start asking us about Giftmas plans shortly. Eep.

Sun, Nov. 2nd, 2008, 10:14 pm
Rough? Yep.

The last few weeks, that is. Some great, some appalling.

In the great category:
Work: I got going on my two new (part-time) jobs, and am having a brilliant time finding my feet with both of them. Job #1 is with my old boss, who now owns half of an IT company - network support, for those that're interested. While they're great what they do, they're suck at documenting and streamlining their procedures. Which is where I come in. I'm doing 15 hrs a week for them, 2/3rds there and 1/3rd at home, eventually to increase the home component and decrease the office component. Works well, as I go in two days a week and get to enjoy working with my Boss again!

Job #2 is actually a two-parter: one part is presentations and sales (yes, I know - me, doing sales!); the other is co-ordination of presentation bookings for all the presenters around the country. The first part is coming up to speed now, and will probably be two evenings a week. The second part is 14 hrs in the office, spread over three days. I've been really enjoying both components, although the presentation portion has been a tad stressful, as it's been a LOT of information for me to learn and get right. But I've presented twice now (one partially, one completely), and get to do my first solo next weekend!

A heap of folk have helped me by listening to me learn my script, testing me with cue-cards, going over the product information with me, bothering me about the prices, and so on - they're all wonderful! And probably know as much about the products as I do, now :)

I also finally finished up at my old job - there was a fortnight of cross-over where I was working all THREE jobs, was additionally sick as a very sick person, and was still managing most of it. But it's all finished now (thankfully!), except for one morning this week where I'm going in (and getting paid to go in) and show someone else how to do one of the things my role required. The fact that there are a dozen things that need to be kept on top of seems to be being ignored - but that's not my problem. So I'll teach this particular one and then leave them to it :)

Entertainment:Al also got to go and see Phantom of the Opera a few weeks ago, along with other hospice patients. I was so glad he got to see it - I saw it when I was younger, but he'd not had the opportunity. Apparently it was fantastic! And I popped off to Armageddon this year, for the first time since 2003 - it was damned crowded, but I ran into a lot of friends, bought some anime and some comics, and nearly got my car towed (but not quite). It was a lot of fun :)

In the appalling category:
Loss:Well, it starts well. About two months ago, Al (aka [info]bigtaz, aka my brother) fell in love. A new boyfriend for the first time in three years! Lloyd was charming, nice to look at, got on well with Sprocket (Al's dog), and was around a LOT. Which we didn't mind at all - he put a smile on Al's face.

But Lloyd died unexpectedly a few weeks ago - Al woke up and Lloyd was dead next to him. It was a dreadful shock to Al, especially as it was only a week earlier that he and Lloyd had found Lloyd's auntie (who they were looking after) had died in the night. Lloyd's family had spent most of that week blaming the two of them (even though the coroner found that she had died of natural causes) - to which Lloyd's reaction was a) to try and protect Al by pushing him away, followed by b) self-medicating with booze and drugs. They got themselves sorted out and back together over the weekend, but it seems that the night before he died, Lloyd had been taking (too many) diazepam, on top of beer. And that when Al had gone to sleep, he'd swigged some of Al's strongest medication on top of that. He just wanted to sleep - but he didn't get to wake up.

It was a surreal day. Al running into the house to get me, saying almost word-for-word what he's said to me about Mum ('I think she/he's dead!'); me trying to find a pulse and wake him; Al on the phone to 111, and me having to take over and explain that there was likely no point trying CPR as the body was cold; the ambulance crew being astonishingly kind; the police very gently taking Al's statement; the funeral guy taking Lloyd to the hospital to autopsy; his family arriving just after the body had gone. The numbness and rawness and bleakness and blankness of death in your face.

Al is gutted. It's been really hard on him, especially when a number of Lloyd's family and friends are blaming Al for his death. He spent a week away from home at a friends, three of us went to the funeral, and he's had a blessing and tapu-lifting ceremony done on the bed - he wouldn't even sit on it, let alone sleep on it, before that was done. But what was the point, you know? He wonders whether there was any reason for him to meet and know Lloyd, for their two daughters to play together, for him to open himself and be vulnerable and then lose another person dear to him.

He's hurting so badly, and there's nothing I can do for him.

This time a year ago we were in the Gold Coast. I wasn't sure he'd even be around now. He's here all right, but the stress has really been fucking with his delicate health the last few weeks. I wonder what the long-term impact will be?

Money:In other not-so-hot news, the universe has noticed me earning money, and decided we don't really need it! Al's car bust it's water-pump, and cost nearly $1K to get fixed. His laptop fritzed, and is in the shop (although a very kind friend has loaned him one in the meantime). And this week one of his teeth decided to stop slowly decaying and to crumble painfully instead. We found a dentist happy to treat an HIV+ patient, and Al had an emergency extraction (extracting $500 from our credit card). The dentist had apparently worked in a clinic in Aussie that saw a lot of HIV+ folk, and he recognised something we didn't know - that Al's KS has spread to his mouth, and is in his gums. This is not good to know, although I'm not sure how much impact it's going to have. Means that the cancer is still spreading, though.

So that's the good and the bad. I've been putting off writing because, frankly, I didn't know what to write. And was reluctant to emo all over everyone's friends page. But it's out there now. Life keeps rolling on - jobs and death and money and entertainment and love and tiredness and keeping-on-keeping-on. I just want to sleep, too. But I want to keep on waking up for as long as I can.

Tue, Sep. 30th, 2008, 01:21 pm
On my toes

Looks like I'm getting back in the swing of regular, albeit weekly, posting. This is a good thing!

This past week has been full of nice stuff - all weeks should be this pleasant, I think.

When I went with Alex to the hospice social day (Opening Doors) on Tuesday, I received a lovely facial and hand-massage - the trainees from International College of Camille were present, doing make-overs and massages and pedicures and the like. I feel a bit guilty sometimes receiving these relaxing things (when a patient could be in my place), but I have to remind myself that a) they're there for a few hours, and everyone who wants attention gets it, and b) as a caregiver I deserve pampering too! A very good pampering it was, and I glowed all day.

I also attended a very successful job interview mid-week (reminding myself all the way there that 'I am made of awesome' obviously did the trick), and I now have additional part-time work, a few evenings a week, to supplement my income. I have some more from-home admin-type work as well. This is all very, very good, and will make the household finances a lot happier :) Working part-time in a few different roles really suits me, as it keeps the hours flexible, and my interest high. Some of it is extroverted people stuff, and some is time-alone focus stuff, and the balance will work well for me.

Saturday we helped [info]ekmahal and Tobermorey to move house. This involved bed-assembly, duct-tape, filthy jokes, sally lunn, and (eep) me accidentally backing into their new letterbox. No major damage, however! Their new place is HUGE, and *nods* definitely going to move Waifs and Strays to there this year (at their suggestion).

Saturday evening Ben and I joined the Wolverines having dinner at [info]neongraal's place. It was a real pleasure to not have to cook, and the food - dinner and dessert - was delicious! We were completely bushed by the time we got home, though.

Thursday and Sunday were complete relaxation days, where I spent a lot of time in bed, some time on the computer, painted, watched more Buffy S2, and stayed in my nightie all day. Luxury!

~ Ben and I watched the third ep of Fringe. It continues to be creepy, cool, and compelling - Ben and I are both enjoying it, although for completely different reasons. Interestingly, neither of us is that enamoured of the main character (but we both like Astrid a lot)! Took me a while to click that Broyles is also Abbadon from Lost, though.

You know you can see Walter's lab notes every week, right? His banana cake recipe after Ep 1 was hilarious.

~ Heroes eps 1 and 2 of S3 (were they played together?). Interesting twists, specifically cut for spoilers )

~ Wipe-out. I blame [info]bigtaz for making me watching this, and it happened to be the 'Wipies' episode, so we got to see the worst of it all. Granted, I laughed (a lot), but I felt like a worse human being afterwards. I miss The Krypton Factor and L&P Top Town.

I plowed through a lot of books this week, nearly all of them re-reads, and for good reason.

~ Lady Slings the Booze, by Spider Robinson. Can't go wrong with punsters, sexual openness, crime and time travel now, can you?

~ The Curse of Chalion, and Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold. I really like this fantasy series, as much for the world it's set it and for the characters within it. Definitely has the Bujold touch though, making characters memorable and the protagonists loveable despite their faults.

~ Richard Adams' Favourite Animal Stories. Many familiar, many not. Most interesting discovery is that I can't read the Br'er Rabbit stories in the original argot Joel Chandler Harris wrote them in. What happened to the children's book with great coloured illustrations where I could actually understand what was going on?

Whilst eating Deb's delicious dessert on Saturday evening, we poured animation into our brains, via The Animation Show Volume 1. (Mixing Don Hertzfeld and Mike Judge is creeeeeeepy.) There were some amazing animation styles and stories, and most of them held us spellbound. According to the wonderful interwebs, there are more volumes, which I think we may have to track down ...

These are what Ben and I decided later were out favourites from the disc (with youtube links):
~ Aria by Pjotr Sapegin
~ Das Rad by Heidi Wittlinger
~ Brother, Cousin, and Uncle by Adam Elliot
~ Bathtime in Clerkenwell by Alex Budovsky (below, and my personal favourite, for the music as much as the animation)
~ and, of course, Billy's Balloon by Don Hertzfeldt

And tonight! Tonight I'm off to see the new documentary about Tim Minchin, Rock n' Roll Nerd (I won tickets, and am delighted)! I'll let you know how it turns out.

And if you haven't heard of Tim Minchin? Oh dear ... go and watch this - the first thing of his I ever saw :)

Mon, Sep. 22nd, 2008, 02:29 pm
All she wants to do is ...

This week's post is brought to you by the image of me dancing across the living room to 'They Might Be Giant's (Flood), in order to kiss Ben on the nose.

The media thing worked well last week, so here's something sort-of similar. My week was a lot more social and a lot less media-full, though.


Media of the week
~ BOOK: The Queen of Air and Darkness by Poul Anderson (not to be confused with Frederick Pohl).
I generally like Anderson's writing, but ultimately I only liked about half of these stories. Still, that's what you get when you purchase second-hand based entirely on the author's name. 'Time Lag', the final story, is the one which impressed me the most. Bittersweet yet compelling.

~ BOOK: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia: how the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings, by Rob Brezsny (whose name you may recognise from his Freewill Astrology column, which has been running for many years).
I haven't finished this yet - I'm reading a few chapters every day, and savouring them. Nonetheless, I think I want to own this book myself - it makes me happy, I smile more, and I walk with a swing in my hips that isn't always there otherwise. Non-fiction often doesn't appeal to me as often as fiction does, but I am making a gleeful exception in this instance :)

~ MOVIE : Ben and I did mean to go and see Dark Knight returns, and didn't get around to it. Hopefully this week.  But we did sit down on our new couch and watch Thank You For Smoking. It took a while to get going, but we found the satirical take very amusing, and Aaron Eckhart an excellent actor. Rob Lowe's character eccentricities also amused us greatly. (And yay for William H. Macy! I've been a fan ever since ER.)

~ TV: You know, pretty much nothing. Other than the usual Buffy - two episodes (I'm rewatching S2 for the umpteenth time: mmm, Spike) meant I got all the ironing done on Tuesday afternoon.

Funniest Social Moment of the Week (just because I feel like sharing)

Saturday morning started with a bang - between 10:45 and 11am, the following cars/people arrived at our house (which, before the influx, contained four adults, two cats, and one small dog):
1: car + trailer, containing four adults, one couch, and one washing machine
2: car, containing one adult, one pre-teen, and one toddler
3: car, containing one adult and one HUGE dog

cue: chaos. Big dog and little dog played excitedly on the lawn; toddler was shood back in car after pre-teen was deposited, old washing machine was moved out of the way, new washing machine and couch were installed, old couch was carried onto trailer. Coffee and tea and V was distributed and drunk, the sun shone, and general madness ensued.

Also, I got LOTS of hugs, as pre-teen, all adults except pre-teens daughter, and both dogs wanted love and cuddles :)

And by 11:30? Everyone had buggered off - including me, as I went to help a friend move house. Leaving Ben to plumb the washing machine in, and enjoy the piece and quiet ...

Sun, Sep. 14th, 2008, 07:40 pm
Unspoiled media

Books I've read this week:
Sebastian, by Anne Bishop. I've enjoyed her writing for quite some time, and have read most of her books (while owning only a few). Characters are mentioned. Spoiler alert! )

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I am very glad that I saw the BBC mini-series first (we own it on video and re-watch it occasionally), because Neil has added in so much more depth with the book. If I'd read the book first, I think the mini-series would have disappointed me deeply. Plot points and characters are discussed within )

Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson. I knew nothing about this book, other than it was very well-received, and had been made into a film. So it was an unexpected world which drew me in. While the story itself seemed somewhat unoriginal, Guterson's rich descriptions and depth of emotion really resonated with me. Not to mention I learned an awful lot about you might call this spoilery. If you try hard )

Movies I've seen this week:
The Alibi, from 2006. As often happens these days, another film about cheating and lies pretty much left me cold. Plot movement mentioned here ) That said, I was pleased to watch Steve Coogan for a couple of hours - I found him quite attractive (although that may have been the character he was playing).

Batman Begins, from 2005. [info]steelphoenix thrust this upon me when I told her I'd never seen it, and Ben and I sat down to watch it earlier this week. And we thought it was great! I proceeded to watch through all of the extras on the second DVD as well. And we'll be going to catch Dark Knight Returns at IMAX this week. Drooling over the main character )

TV Shows I've seen this week:
On the old TV show front, Ben and I are working our way through Chef (which I used to watch with my mum, and still find brilliant. Lenny Henry's tirades are masterful), and Andromeda S3. It seems to have lost its way since S2.

Last night we watched the pilot episode of Fringe, which was ... interesting. And gross. We both agree that talking about characters could be considered spoilery )We'll watch a few more episodes, at the very least, to see where it goes.

We also checked out the first couple of episodes of True Blood. Character stuff and no mention of broody vamp comparisons )The reimagining of the vampire mythos and how they gradually explain how it works in this 'verse is, unsurprisingly, fascinating to me.

Yes, I know I haven't posted for two months. This is better than dear-air, right?

Fri, Jul. 18th, 2008, 04:33 pm
Food is wonderful

I love to cook. This is, in large part, thanks to my mother encouraging me when I was younger - helping out when making dinner, attempting to bake slices and biscuits, and generally finding my way around the kitchen.

It's her birthday today - she would have been turning 49 again (if you know what I mean). So I thought I'd share some of my favourite recipes. Some I learned from her, others I've discovered myself. But all are very, very yummy indeed.

([info]starfirenz and [info]moonspirit43, I hope you find them useful!)

First up is lasagne. Lasagne was the first meal I ever successfully cooked - and I've made it many many times over the years. The first recipe is the meat-version. I don't make it any more (having gone vegetarian), but it's damned simple and very nice. The second recipe is the vegetarian version, and I make it about twice a month these days.

Lazy Lasagne - for the meat eaters )

Spinach Lasagne - vegetarian )

Next we have one of my favourite winter meals: the risotto. Many risottos are pretty basic, with just mushrooms, or cheese. This one has a few more ingredients, but is uniformly adored by all who try it!

Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto - vegetarian )

What Ben and I call pottage is a basic rice/lentil porridge with yummy spices. I can imagine being able to cook this when camping - all it needs is a saucepan, a frying pan, and a little bit of patience. The end result is warming, tasty, and very easy to save for leftovers.

Pottage - vegan )

Another favourite in our house is the pasta bake. There are lots of variations I make on this - some with tuna, some without, some with olives and capers, some with spring onions. But the basic recipe - endlessly adaptable - is below.

Pasta Bake - fishy or vegetarian )

And, finally, there's a recipe that's a little more complicated, but well worth it to see the expression on people's faces when they try it. It's a casserole - with a meat-free twist.

Eggplant and Mushroom Casserole - vegetarian )

I hope some of you try making them - and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Let me know :)

And mum - happy birthday. Miss you.

Fri, Jun. 27th, 2008, 02:11 pm
Lots of news

And there really is! Split into sections for easy reading/skimming purposes. Assuming there's anyone left who's interesting in reading/skimming...

Some of you know that I've been job-hunting since the end of last year, looking to find part-time work I can do from home. The reasons being a) migraine and b) spending time with my brother while I still can.

The hunting was profoundly unsuccessful. There was a lot of looking at potential jobs on the jobsites and finding yet-another-make-thousands-per-week-automated-bullshit scan, a lot of checking the local papers, and a few applications and interviews. Bugger.

Eventually, come the end of May, I had a big talk with Ben, ex-co-worker Muirie, and friend [info]moonspirit43. The upshot of which was the decision to take the plunge. The next day I handed in my month's notice, with no work to go to. The vague plan was to be at home, and to pick up the occasional 1-day job or short-term temp position or inveigle friends to hire me for business-y stuff I can do at home.

Cut to this week, with 4 days left to go. My boss has (finally) figured out that me leaving leaves a big hole with no-one else able to do the work. We negotiate, and instead of being resigned, I'm going to stay on working 10 hrs a week - 5 in the office (on one day), and 5 at home (spread out how I like). I also negotiated myself a pay-rise, which makes me happy.

The advantage of this is some regular guaranteed income will still be coming in, and I still have plenty of time at home to either faff, work, or pick up small jobs outside of work. And it all changes next week!

Alex aka [info]bigtaz is still deteriorating, albeit slowly. He appeared on Close Up a few months back, having attended a big hospice-organised day at the Pukekohe Raceway - it was very cool! (that link takes you to the segment in question - just click on the link for 'Close Up: Racing Hospice', under the 'Related Video' heading.)

Since then people have been just amazing in helping him achieve the goals on his bucket list. A few weeks later he went up in a helicopter and flew over Auckland for 2 hours, which I gather he thoroughly enjoyed. Then a few weeks after that, he and I attended the matinee session of 'La Boheme', at the Aotea Centre. It's his favourite opera, but he'd never had the pleasure of seeing it live - he was working backstage when it last was put on here in Auckland. We were driven there in a Cadillac as well, which was a huge treat!

Right now he and his best friend are in Queenstown, for five days. Qantas paid for the flights there and back (and gave them access to the Qantas lounge), while Destination Queenstown have been just amazing - organising primo accomodation, lots of activites (shotover jet, gondola, cruise, 4WD to Macetown, onsen hot pools etc), and most of the meals as well. Initially I was going to go with him, but we had a big talk, and he really wanted his friend to go - they've been mates for about six years. I was okay with that, especially having had the holiday to the Gold Coast with him last year. So they're down there, over the winter festival (even better!), and having a blast.

But he is getting sicker. There's still no time-frame for how long it's going to take him to die, and we just live with that. He goes into the hospice for respite every 2-3 months for about a week, and he also attends their social day, Opening Doors, most Tuesdays. I've been once (and will be going more, now), and it's great - a bunch of sick folk and their carers, lots of nice food, massages, haircuts, chatter, and the occasional guest speaker. It's fantastic, and he often comes home with little gifts, and with his nails repainted :)

Still got it. Still mostly able to live with it. Still taking a lot of different pills to help minimise it.

Been over three years now. Go away, pesky chronic migraine!

Ben and I are still doing really well - I do have an amazing husband, and I'm delighted that he puts up with me. Given that he's the primary support for me, Alex, and two mad cats, he does remarkably well. I tell him I love him often, and show my love with good cooking and lots of cups of tea. Among other things.

My poly loves are still doing well - along with Ben, I also have my lover and four 'friends-with-benefits' (all of whom read this *waves to them*). As such, I now refer to my dance-card as 'full' ... and to my google calendar a lot!

I love my life. I love having lovers who are friends with each other (and me). And I love being able to be open about it.

I've undoubtedly left a lot of stuff out, here. Which will give me an excuse to post again, soon!

Thu, May. 1st, 2008, 01:34 pm
Somewhat disjointed update

It's May already - how did that happen?

I've been astonishingly slack at updating. Sorry folks! A good many of you I chat with online or see in person, but if you've been wondering why I dropped off the face of the internet ... well, I didn't. I just went kinda quiet.

Life's trundling along pretty well.
~ April was a hard slog, as we had our NZQA audit at work - and passing said audits is pretty much my responsibility. It was mightily stressful and there was a lot of work prepping for it (and no recognition or thank you afterwards. New management sucks). Still, we did quite well, and I'm satisfied with the result.

~ I'm continuing to look for work that I can do from home. Help? Up to 30 hrs a week, and I don't mind going in for an occasional meeting.

~ Al's still deteriorating, slowly. He spent a week in the hospice for respite, which he and we all appreciate.

~ My migraine is relatively stable, but not improving as I hoped it would after getting rid of my mercury fillings. Still, I'm able to do 5 hr days at work with reasonable regularity.

~ Ben and I are having a good time downloading and watching the latest eps of Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and Dr Who. It's nice keeping up as they play overseas, so I can participate in various discussions online.

This May will be nine years since mum killed herself. That's nearly a third of my life. The first half of the month I am cautious about, as I don't know how I will be reacting. The second half I am looking forward to - the 20th is our civil union anniversary, and Ben and I are talking about heading out of town for a night the weekend beforehand.

This May will also be three years since the Migraine of Doomâ„¢ began. I wonder if it will ever, ever go away?

And now: cats!
Simon's Cat: Cat Man Do

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

Cat playing the theremin

Fri, Mar. 14th, 2008, 11:29 am
So sick of hospitals

Thank you everyone for your comments on the previous post. They were all really appreciated :)

Al's doing much better - I visited him in hospital yesterday and he was practically perky! His temperature was down and the redness in his legs had gone, but they were still pumping IV antibiotics into him. He had to stay another night, but will probably be home today. I took him in some Wendy's - he's spent enough time in hospital to know how much he hates the food there. While he'll pick at it he won't get much into it. So fast-food it was.

He and I are both a little surprised that the doctors aren't concerned about how easily the cellulitis hits him. Generally for the infection to take hold there needs to be a scratch or cut or bite for it to slip in under the skin. For him it's an almost instantaneous thing - all it takes is for him to stretch a little far, and it hits like a cramp (which is how he initially described it). I have a theory that the perpetual swelling of his legs, plus the lesions, means when he stretches tiny cracks appear between the lesions and the rest of his skin. It's a possibility, anyhow.

Funnily enough, while I didn't go with him to hospital on Wednesday for him to be admitted, I was there 12 hours later - someone very close to me found out the other day that her pregnancy was not progressing, and that while the fetus had stopped growing a few weeks earlier, it hadn't miscarried. While I was at their place for dinner, she started to cramp very badly and was in massive amounts of pain (also: bleeding). She has a bicorneal uterus, and both her gynae and GP had recommended going to the hospital if she started to bleed heavily and pass clots. So I drove her and her husband into the A&E department a little after 9pm. They sent me home about 12:30, and I found out the next morning that they'd also been sent home about 3am. But they're off to the Early Pregnancy Centre at Greenlane this morning. Hopefully they'll be more of a help, and will get it sorted.

Between Al, my friend, and an uncle of mine who had heart surgery, I've now visited every floor of Auckland hospital now, bar one (there are 9 floors, for those who don't know). *shakes head* It is a little scary how well I know my way around there. I told Ben the same, and he tells me that I've been around more of it than he has, and he used to work for the ADHB!

The downside for me of all of this is that Wednesday really wiped me out. So while there's stuff at work that needs to be done, I just don't have the energy to be there. Aside from visiting Al yesterday I stayed home. Today I need to hit the supermarket, and tomorrow is a wedding for a friend of Ben's. Can't exactly flake out on the wedding!

ETA: Al's just arrived home. Spoke to his primary Infectious Diseases specialist (who was surprised to see him there - looks like he hadn't been told). He agrees with my theory about the infection getting in. Al has two weeks of pill-form antibiotics, then they're going to keep him taking them three days a week as a preventative measure. Additionally, I now need to moisturise his legs every second day to try and reduce the dryness. Fingers crossed that it all helps!

Wed, Mar. 12th, 2008, 11:22 am
Brother back in hospital

Al's back in hospital with bad cellulitis in his left leg, and a high temperature. Hopefully he'll only be in a few days. Infectious Diseases ward will be taking care of him.

He woke up this morning with bad cramps in his left leg, and a rising temp. I took him in to see the doctor, and they decided his temp was so high (over 40 deg C) and his infection so bad (really red and swollen left leg, beginnings on it in the right thigh) that he needed to go back into hosp. for IV antibiotics.

So I waited with him as they called an ambulance - fanning him a lot - and then they took him into Auckland hosp.

He had cellulitis a few weeks ago as well, when he was in the hospice, and they treated it there.

On a slightly cheerier note, yesterday he went to the regular hospice social day (every Tuesday) and they went on a boat out in the harbour. He also had his nails painted teal - they look very nice! He tells me that next week they're going to be painted olive green for St Paddy's Day.

I'm bloody stressed. No surprise there...

Thu, Feb. 28th, 2008, 01:22 pm
"I wanna hold your hand!"

It's a good morning when you're dancing around the lounge to The Beatles, freshly washed and dried but not yet dressed. Hooray for Beatles and cheery-uppy-music.

Yesterday was a fantastically good day, which probably is what led to me feeling good (if a little under-slept) this morning. After work I went over to the Zcattery to go shopping with [info]zcat_abroad - she has offered to make me a lovely winter jersey for the cost of the wool. No one's made me a jersey since mum was alive - she knitted all the time and I still have some of the gorgeous jerseys and cardigans she made. Anyhow, after we looked at pattern books, we beetled off to Spotlight and proceeded find this gorgeous blue wool. Yum. And made a side-trip to Payless Plastics, where I finally got myself a silicone baking tray. Hooray for easier biscuit-baking!

Then it was a quick trip to Massey to collect the vintage parasol I'd bought off TradeMe - I'd put the bid in on it before Ben gave me a lovely parasol as a not-Valentine's present, but I was pleased to get another anyway. It's larger than most of my parasols, and the pattern/colours is different to the ones I have. Hooray for more parasol options with my pretty outfits :)

Pretty parasol pictures )

Coming back from Massey to the wilds of Laingholm, we had a lovely time navigating random back-roads in the Waitakeres, and slowing down to look at some gorgeous houses tucked away in the bush. Very nice, and not something either of us could do with our respective husbands! We spotted an antique shop we want to visit next time we go beetling around, as well...

Back at their place, I was preparing to drive home and enjoy a quiet evening in, when I got a phone call from an old school friend - one I reconnected with on Facebook with and have been chatting to sporadically all week. Haven't seen him for over 13 years, which is nearly half my life - so it's been a while! Long story short, I ended up going via a kebab shop to grab some dinner and then visiting him - whereupon we sat on the back deck, drank copious amounts of Earl Grey tea, he smoked, and we talked for a solid 4 hours. Lots of gossip about others from high school, but also lots about our lives since then, how we've changed, perceptions of the world etc. Was extremely pleasant, it it's nice to reconnect with someone that I never really quite connected with back then.

Definitely doing that again!

I completely forgot to mention that I had the last of my mercury amalgam fillings out a few weeks back. Getting the final three out was a bitch, and took five injections. It also hit me really hard - I ended up missing work for six days, as I was completely lacking in energy. Have bounced back better than ever though, and *touch wood* my energy levels will just keep improving. Go away, horrible migraine of doom! You're not wanted!

Aaaaaand ... back to work :)

Tue, Feb. 26th, 2008, 01:25 pm
Round round baby round round

I have the strangest cold right now! It began last Thursday morning when I woke up with a gluggy chest (having been absolutely fine when I fell asleep the night before). As I had to go to the pharmacy anyway, I picked up some expectorant (cherry vanilla, ick) and took it throughout the day. By midday though, I'd begun to lose my voice, as it moved from my chest up into my throat. By Friday I had no voice at all, and stayed home cough and taking lozenges. Then, by Saturday, my voice was back, but it had moved further up into my nose. Cue the phlegm bunnies.

All in all it's very weird - I'm used to colds moving in the opposite direction, beginning in my nose and ending in my chest. Ah well. At least it's moving quickly.

Do Not Pass Go
Al's been back in the hospice for a week, having respite. They also figured out that his latest leg pains were cellulitis, so he ended up with a cannula and a dose of antibiotics. Ouch.

When I visited him one evening last week we played Monopoly - and that was a bad move. It had been years since Al or I had played it, and I ended up wiping the board with him! Not intentionally - if anything, I would have rather he'd one. But one wrong move and he had to mortgage, and it was downhill from there - I'd land on his properties but not have to pay rent (being mortgaged) while he kept landing on mine and paying more and mortgaging more. Spiral of sucking financial doom ensued.

So we ignored Monopoly after that, and focused on Trivial Pursuit (Young Players Edition from the mid '80's, kindly lent to me by Sparky and Firecracker) instead, with me and Ben and Al playing it together over the weekend. Most questions were either a) ridiculously easy, or b) completely obscure - do you remember the names of British deejays from the 80s? As such, it was a hoot to play. Although Ben won every single time, it was more by good luck than by good management.

Romy and Michelle
I finally caved and joined the social network I've been resisting ... yes, I'm now on Facebook. Too many people I wanted to get back in touch with that were only around on there, such as old school friends. I've been happily chatting to a few old friends since then, and it's been good. I notice that just about everyone I know currently is also on there, which explains where they'd disappeared to... I wondered why I'd been seeing them less on chat, LJ/IJ and the like.

(If you know me in RL, and want to friend me on there, go for it! Here's my profile.)

Currently Ben and I are downloading and watching Torchwood and Lost (and working a little more slowly through Sarah Connor Chronicles (seen the first ep) and Pushing Daisies (seen the first two)). If you want to natter about them with me, gossip away! I think both Torchwood and Lost are progressing very interestingly this season, and would love to know other peoples thoughts on the matter.

Fri, Feb. 1st, 2008, 10:52 am
Randy Pan the Goat Boy

Woke up early, cranky. Was going to have to get up at 7am anyhow (which is early for me), when some bastard called the home phone line just after 6am. Ben answered it, but my mind was worried if something had happened to someone, and it woke me up. Apparently there was no one on the other end, either.

But I am wearing pretty underwear (beneath my light raspberry-coloured sleeveless top and velvety black trousers) and I listened to Bill Hicks as I was driving into work. That's cheered me right up!

So. Knickers + Goat Boy = happy Deb. A nice equation.

The Goat Boy Rises - New Yorker article from 1993, about Hicks NOT appearing on Letterman

GoatBoy skit, uncut - Revelations tour, London, 1991

'Here is my final point. About drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body - as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?'

Thu, Jan. 31st, 2008, 01:36 pm

Well, no bikini - maybe a postini? My co-worker keeps Coast FM playing and I hear all sorts of old music - some crap, some great (Tequila!). And the song that inspired the post-title was a few minutes ago.

$: You know what I think of when I hear that song? I remember my parents working the election one year, when we'd just moved to Auckland - I would have been 8-10 years old. Their election booth was set up in an unoccupied shop on Henderson Valley Road (near the Forest Hill Road intersection and the pony club) and my brother and I were there all day with them, staying out of the way by playing in the kitchenette area. We listened to the radio, coloured in, read books, and I can't remember what else. We were there for about 12 hours. And that song played more than once. Enough that I learned the words. Haven't heard it for years now.

#: Our house is currently at maximum capacity, with me and Ben and Al - the usual - Al's friend Andy, and now [info]doc_spatial guesting with us for a few weeks. And Andy's cat along with our two... Mind you, the fold-out couch isn't being used yet! Just the couch and bed in the sleep-out, and the two beds in the house. Muirie was kind enough to supply Al with a new mattress, and we've utilised Freecycle to get rid of his old one, which was paining his back from lying on it too much. We like Freecycle.

}: My paid account with LJ expired, along with userpics. I'm still posting on LJ, and reading journals, but everything is cross-posted to Insane Journal, where I'm 'Permanently Insane'. I like it here a lot better.

%: I managed over three weeks of going to work without missing a day. Broke that yesterday, dammit. So now to try and beat it!

^: I've been going to the dentist to get my mercury amalgam fillings replaced (and a few new ones). So far have had two appointments, three new fillings, and one replacement. I have one more appointment for three replacements, then I'm done. Amex love me right now... (the hope is that getting rid of the amalgam will help get rid of my migraine as well. Can't hurt, at least.)

@: Meringue AKA Merry the Caldina is a lovely car. [info]growler_south did a fantastic post with squeeing photos from the day she became mine. Amuse yourself here.

*: If you wanted to get a new tube for a wheelchair tyre (the large ones, not the teeny ones), would you go to a bicycle shop?

Thu, Jan. 10th, 2008, 11:56 am
Short post in lieu of a long post

So, I've been working on this fantastically long and detailed post about my birthday. Which was three weeks ago. I'm still working on it - there are descriptions, and photos, and delighted squeeing - thanks to Ben, my brother Al, my dear lovers, and my wonderful friends, I had a very memorable and fantastic 30 hours of turning 30. So that's still to come.

In the meantime, bullet points:

~ I love being thirty. It love it very much.

~ Giftmas eve Ben and I had dinner with his dad and his dad's partner. A lovely time was had by all. Unfortunately, Ben had not reminded them that I don't eat meat (other than fish), and they'd forgotten. Shonagh had cooked a lovely lamb roast for us all! Brief ethical dilemma when I realised this, about whether it was better to apologise and stick to the couscous and salad - and embarrass her - or to suck it up and eat as little as I could politely get away with. I went with the latter in the end, eating about 150g worth (for the record, if it had been chicken or pork, I would have not eaten it - but lamb and beef I can make small concessions for, as generally they're treated better in this country). It was very nice, for lamb. Even before I went vege I tended to avoid it, as it does horrible things to my internals, so it's been a looooooooong time since I had any. Still, was okay. Explained to Ben later why I'd eaten it, and we now have a new policy - always remind the relatives.

~ Giftmas went well, despite my migraine being worse than it has in ages. I sucked down painkillers for the day and got through (six pills over the day - usually I have less than that in six weeks). We spent the afternoon/evening with Aria's family up in Orewa - Grandma was there, along with me and Al and Ben. There were only 4 chilluns, Aria being the oldest at nine, but it felt like there was 7 or so. Madness. Was subjected to 'Elf', 'Shrek Christmas', and 'National Tresaure' on the television, ate lots of great food (prawns yay!) but not as much as the meat-eaters, and managed the drive there and back without crashing and killing anyone, despite rain and head-soreness and crazy drivers.

~ Waifs and Strays the next day was excellent. Not as many people as we often have, but nice numbers, and nice people! There was one unpleasant person, a guest, but he went soon enough. Lots of geekery, food, and some lovely hugs and presents. We ended the day watching Pixar short films and eating pizza, which is really a good way to finish.

~ Two weeks off work went astonishingly fast, and felt like ages. Paradox ahoy.

~ Clearing out folders and files at work and throwing out old and irrelevant stuff feels great! And not really like work at all. Plus I've nearly filled a paper-box with paper for recycling in the printer. I did, however, damage myself with the staple remover. As you do.

~ Complicated money-stuff: Ben and I need a new car - we love Selkie and she's done well, but the cost to repair her rust is now well over what she's worth. The lovely [info]growler_south found a potential car for us, which we liked. And the price was good. So after a test-drive the other week I did some research with bank loans, then applied. And after an hour on the phone with them yesterday, WE WERE APPROVED. This pleases me. For those curious, we're with ASB - a tabled flat-interest rate of 14.5%, which we'll pay over two years. So now we've signed the papers, I drop them back at the bank this afternoon, and I should be able to draw down a bank cheque tomorrow. Hooray!

~ The car is a Toyota Caldina stationwagon. White, with a licence plate starting EGS. I think a name like Egghead or Chickychick is in order. Thoughts?

~ Anyone want a lovely Toyota Corona '89, as non-lemony as they get but with some rust in the front panels, currently unwarrented and with an expired rego? She'll treat you well, once she's repaired and legal again.

Hmm. This post wasn't that short after all, was it? Oh well.

Tue, Dec. 18th, 2007, 09:20 pm
Murphy's Giftmas?

I was mightily pleased with myself for being so organised this year. I should have known better! My plannage went like this:

June to November - presents slowly pile up in the wardrobe as I spot either the right gift for a person, or the right gift for some person. The trip to Surfer's helped considerably with this, although getting everything back again was an exercise in logistics (or possibly tetris).
Last week of November - Ben and I sit down and write a list of people we want to gift to this year. Then I pull all the present bags out, and we match names to gifts.
First week of December - I acquire a few more presents for names that needed them, and then spend four episodes of Angel wrapping and labelling before I pop all the presents on a table in the corner of the lounge.
Since then - I've spent the intervening time being mildly pleased to be out of the shopping madness, and a little sorry for those who are caught up in it.


Tonight it rained. Rained hard. (It also rained hard this afternoon, and I was caught in it and drenched.) This hard rain, it turns out, occurred when a certain window in the lounge was open. Certain window being behind the low table of presents. Certain window being in exactly the direction that the wind was blowing all the rain. Ben realised reasonably quickly, but not quickly enough ...

Result: a lot of damp presents (also a damp table, bookcase, and a whole lotta anime, CD's and figurines). About 1/3 of the presents were caught, and about 1/2 of those are going to need re-wrapping. *sigh* Luckily anything that could have been damaged by the water was bubble-wrapped or plastic-wrapped or in a box. So no absolute damage, other than to wrapping.

But my pleasure at having everything done and complete all early? Hmm. Consider me chastised.

Good thing I've still got a few rolls of wrapping paper, huh?

Mon, Dec. 10th, 2007, 02:58 pm
Isotopes of Blumer

Tour of Bogachiel
It was quite the full and sociable weekend. Here's the short version:

Friday evening: a visit from [info]muzzybee, and then from [info]colitis, whom I persuaded to stay for dinner (mmm, nachos). We introduced him to Daria, that wonderful ironic 90's cartoon.

Saturday: Ben and I discovered that the Cow-Fundraising Picnic (which had been postponed due to inclement weather) was un-postponed. We were caught a bit short, so faffed and got ready eventually, and I made a pasta salad. We made it to Cornwall Park about 1:30. It was very pleasant in the shade, and lots of friends were there. Nice to finally meet [info]mirabrito, though - we have been missing each other at gatherings for about a year now. When the weather started to pack in we all headed off to [info]doc_spatial's pad, and board-gamed there. Well, I played 'Greed', which is a dice game, but it was mostly board-games.

Sunday: Ben went off to the art gallery and thence to a DQ meeting while I took it easy at home (and wrapped his birthday present). Then once we came back, mid-afternoon, we went off to the Cock and Bull to help a friend celebrate her birthday - her husband had organised it, but he'd cunningly organised it a week early (he got his Wednesday's mixed up). Still, it was pretty cool. We only stayed an hour, as the small children (all under 3yo) nearly outnumbered the adults. It was quite disturbing really. So many peers breeding! Ah well - they make up for us deciding not to make use of our loins in such a fashion, I guess.

Capnodium Birthday
Today is Ben's birthday! He is 34.

The plan was for a lovely sleep-in until 9am. That was cruelly circumvented by Mama Bear 'reversing the flow' (ie: upchucking) at 6:30. I wasn't with it, and Ben cleaned it up before I could think enough to get up and do so. However, I made him tea, and attempted to crush his groin by dumping his (wrapped) present on his lap once he was back in bed.

He is astonishingly impressed with his gift - 40-odd issues of 2000AD monthlies from the 80's and 90's. Those'll keep him occupied for a while. The monthlies are good as they collect complete stories, which would have been spread over quite a few issues of the original comics. He tells me that generally they're re-printed in the monthlies 6-10 years after originally coming out, so it doesn't detract from the sales of the weeklies. Me, I'm just glad I got the right things :)

Tonight I'm taking him out to dinner at Da Sette Soldi, one of our favourite restaurants. Should be lovely. And then, an early night!

Wikipedia Baldwin )

Sat, Dec. 8th, 2007, 09:53 pm
Xerxes Tyre-Iron Dada!

There are 90 minutes of my life I shall never get back. 90 minutes of my life so terrible that I feel honour-bound to share them with you, dear readers. Only so you don't make the same mistake as I ...

When you're a household that likes anime, and particularly likes anime that stars giant robots (just look at our DVD shelf to see what I mean ...), then seeing Magnos the Robot for sale on TradeMe looks intriguing. Don't be fooled!

We bought it. We watched it. We winced a lot, and groaned (and drank our beer with the need born of desperation), and made smart-ass MST3K-like comments about it. But mostly we cringed. It was appalling. According to my google-fu, the original Magnos was a 42 episode show, in Japan. What we saw was the 'US compilation' version. Dubbed, badly soundtracked, and nonsensical. Or something. Whether 42 episodes of this would have made any more sense, or simply driven me to complete insanity rather than partial, is unknown.

(If you're wondering about the subject heading up there, 'Xerxes Tyre-Iron Dada' is the bad guy's name, which made us giggle every time we heard it. At least, that's how his name sounded to us, and unless it's actually 'Xerxes Tyran Data' (just as bad), we have to wonder how seriously the show was being taken.)

The ultimate indignity, though, is that I found both reviews I came across more amusing than the DVD itself ... so go read these, have a chuckle, and avoid this if you ever spot it in the local bargain bin.

Thu, Nov. 29th, 2007, 12:38 pm
Early morning memory

This morning I came across a memory. I hadn't forgotten it, but I'd definitely misplaced it, or not looked in that particular corner of my memories-repository, for quite some time. The memory was thus:

An early morning, mid-summer. I was ten or eleven, and the four of us - Mum and Dad and Al and me - were holidaying in Northland. We were staying in a holiday park adjacent to 90 Mile Beach, with paddocks and horses and trees out back, a tiny black and white tv in our room, and a spit-roast restuarant/bar that was also on the premises. My Dad, who was a runner, got up early to do his usual morning jog. A morning person, just like Dad, I was awake and asked if I could run with him. So the two of us, in our shorts and singlets and sneakers - and both wearing our glasses so that we could see - walked across the road to the beach, down the dunes, and jogged along on the firm sand just above the water-line.

I have a lot of memories of my Dad, but not many of them are of just-me-and-him. But that morning, the two of us were out there as the sun was burning off the morning coolness, smelling the salt blowing off the water, listening to the swoosh of the surf and the melodies of the local birds. We jogged and walked, talking sporadically. Being father and daughter and creating a memory.

It was just the start of another day on holiday, during a long summer break. It wasn't a special day, or particularly memorable. Water, sand, sunrise, jogging. Dad. Me.

It's special now. And I will remember.

ETA: A conversation with my brother:

Taz: thats a lovely entry. i even posted a comment
DebXena: Really? *beams*
DebXena: I hadn't thought about it for years. And, in the process of writing it down ,I remembered more stuff. Glasses, for instance, mean I was 10 or 11, not 9 or 10. And the horse out in the paddock behind - I stood on a bucket to slither onto its bare back
DebXena: And it stood on my foot...
DebXena: *sniff* That's such a nice comment!
Taz: yes i remember it standing on your foot. one of my few memories from that holiday
Taz: yay :)
DebXena: :) Was godzilla or something on the telly? That was in 3D? Which didn't work for us, because it was b&w?
Taz: i must have been about arias age
DebXena: Really? Wow
Taz: dont remember sorry
DebXena: That's OK!
DebXena: I do know we were there because mum was working for Fullers
Taz: dont remember much from that age
DebXena: Whether that meant it was cheap or free, or we only paid accommodation or something, I can't remember
Taz: yeah i remember we were there because of fullers
DebXena: I do remember doing the bus ride on 90 Mile beach
DebXena: and I think we did the catamaran that went through the hole in the rock
DebXena: and up to Cape Reinga
DebXena: But I don't remember those as well
Taz: wowo you remember a lot
DebXena: Apparently I do!
DebXena: But it's like ... outlines. The run on the beach with dad is in colour
Taz: i remember the bus almost going off a cliff on the way to the beach
DebXena: I remember it breaking down. Aussies in thongs getting out and fixing the engine about three times
DebXena: I don't remember the cliff!
Taz: loooooooooooong time ago
DebXena: Nearly 20 years. Good god
Taz: indeed
DebXena: You know, in 20 years I'm going to stumble across little events from our holiday on the Gold Coast
DebXena: I'll suddenly remember walking along the boulevard with you, or sipping milkshakes
DebXena: the little things
DebXena: Sitting on the balcony eating fruit salad
DebXena: squirting sunblock behind our ears!
Taz: life fades into memories very quickly
DebXena: Dammit. I have a big lump in my throat now...
Taz: no need for that
Taz: memories are all we have
DebXena: That's _very_ true
Taz: and photos
DebXena: The absolute now, the potential future, and memories

Wed, Nov. 28th, 2007, 05:28 am

Up and about at dark o'hundred, thanks to a determined 'low battery' chirp from one of our smoke detectors. You know, up until this point I thought they were hard-wired into the house as part of the alarm system. Apparently not. Gah.

And, you know, stumbling about in the dark (with no glasses, as I broke them the other day and am using daily contacts until they're fixed), attempting to find the source of the chirp? Is endlessly amusing to the cats.

I make it to the lounge. Stop. Listen for the chirp. Move to the dining room. Stop. Listen for the chirp. Look suspiciously at the alarm panel. Stop. Listen for the chirp. Tilt head like Illyria. Stop. Listen for the chirp. Grimace with hope. Listen once more, look for fuzzy red flash. Determine source of noise. Now what?

So then I return to bed (with amused and hungry cats), attempt to get back to sleep, wonder how Ben can not even wake up, eventually give up, and get out of bed and turn on the computer.

Isn't it weird how it's definitely a chirp, though? It's not a beep, or a buzz, or even a chirrup. It's a chirp. Endlessly. Every DAMNED minute.

They always decide to go flat in the middle of the night, too. Is there a Murphy's law for battery-operated appliances?

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