Saturday 29 February 2020

Vegetables and fruit storage

Yesterday morning we went to the outdoor market in Waikanae, after a lovely breakfast in Paraparaumu with Bruce, Gary, Leith and John.

Three shopping bags of fruit and veg plus 2 dozen eggs were purchased and brought home, and then carried in from the car to the kitchen, where they remained.

This morning (Sunday) after lying in bed blogging and then using the blender/muncher on the tomato soup I cooked yesterday, and ladling it into containers for freezing, I had to head to the supermarket to get sugar and more Allspice for making tomato sauce - today's housewifely task.

I noted that the bags of veg and fruit were no longer on the kitchen floor, and went in to say thank you to David, as one of my pet hates is the 6th handling of groceries (count them: 1 into the trolley/basket; 2 on to the counter/checkout travelator thingie; 3 into the shopping bags and into the trolley; 4 into the car; 5 out of the car into the kitchen; 6 away into their appropriate storage areas).

But disappointment, unmet expectation - he'd put away the eggs and blueberries but moved the other 2 full to overflowing bags to just out of sight across from the fridge.

#*%ˆ#$#$#. Off I went to the supermarket in high dudgeon - using the car, but in super-charged mode ...

I calm down as I am doing the next round of 1 - 4 grocery handling.

But the calm is shortlived. What do I see when I come back, you ask, that would set the steam rising again? Very good question!

In the middle of the kitchen floor, no longer discreetly across from the fridge, are the two overflowing bags of veg and fruit.

But wait, it gets worse.

This is what is sitting on them:

So I write back:
And push it under the office door.
I then, as women can and so often do, made space in the fridge for everything. But into the office I took the head of celery and a parsnip, and told him these were what was left over and he should bend over ...

Busy times

It's 9.30 Sunday morning and I am still in bed - nothing unusual in that, for me, regardless of whether I am working or not. However when I am working I try to make sure I have restful weekends. For some reason, and I have NO idea what it is, I do not have as much stamina as I previously had...

The work is going well, Sarah and I make an excellent team, with a range of similar, a different and complementary skills. We are able to mainly work from home - mine, that is. Sarah flies up from Nelson each week, leaving Jack to look after himself. David is here, and he is our Number 1 Systems Admin, our key tech support and deliverer of cups of tea.
I think this seats 20 people and it's what Sarah flies in and out of Paraparaumu on. The flights are always full, and sometimes she has to fly into Wellington on AirNZ instead.

I did suggest that Sarah (centre) threw her bag over the fence and then jumped to save walking around ...
 We go into the office to run workshops with particular groups and do the planning and follow up work from home - much more peaceful as we are the only ones in our open plan office (i.e.the dining room) as David has his own office and keeps the door shut between him and us for some reason!

She was happy to be out walking, honest! But it was prior to coffee and the sun was in her eyes ...
One sunny day when we were working in the city we walked through the grounds of the Beehive and our Parliament Buildings. Note that people are walking around through the grounds and sitting having lunch on the lawn. How many countries can you get that close to the seat of government?

And there is a play area for kids with seats for watching parents.

Not huge, but lovely.

We are still going for walks most mornings when we aren't heading into the city (the walks on those days are to and from both Waikanae and Wellington stations, and often we are towing cabin bags full of papers (workshop plans and handouts), laptops, marker pens ... oh, and a small container of toasted chilli almonds and another of sliced carrot: blood sugar is so important!)

A swimming pool waiting to be installed at a new house build on Kohekohe Road - there had been a house there that was demolished and a new one is being built

Foundations going in.

Walking on a wet day by myself before Sarah arrived - I was walking virtually with Ann. Te Moana Road intersection with Ngarara Road.

A lovely spot of colour on a dull day. It had a wonderful perfume too.

I picked Sarah up from the station later on the same morning and the weather had deteriorated.
One morning, before walking, I pulled the garden edging out - we don't need it now the roses have grown over the edge of the concrete. I've taken it out of the back garden too as it was looking messy. (David did the bits I left). Rob had put it in when we had spread heaps of mulch so the birds couldn't continue spreading it on to the lawn while hunting for bugs ... But the mulch is long gone now.
After work drinks are easy to get to and we can always find a seat ...

And a dinner platter is easily assembled from the fridge. We'd been into the city that day to run a workshop - and bought a loaf of very delicious sourdough bread at a market near the bus station. Beetroot and carrot salad bowls, guacamole, hummus, salmon pate, port salut cheese, avocado, capsicum, gherkins and bits of ham. Looks and sounds like a balanced meal to me!
Dean came to stay one night last week and I made this plum galette. It looks strange, but it was yummy! Homemade pastry too.
In the meantime, the grandsons have turned 15 and 10.
Ready for presents with their dad and Dana (plus dogs) in Manchester.

On Friday I picked all of our grape harvest - we'd been picking them a bunch at a time for a week or so, and I thought that if we didn't pick them all they would over-ripen. They are buffalo grapes and beautifully sweet. David's task is to remove the netting from the vine where it is still clinging, get rid of the leaves and twigs that are holding it captive and then roll it up and store it for next year. It has been very effective at keeping the grapes safe for us - last year, its first year of fruiting, resulted in well-fed birds and hungry grape-less humans!
When this assignment is over, this will be me (esp as our grapes are now harvested) ...
... because I don't want to get to feeling like this!

And in terms of travel to the UK this year, we are waiting and seeing - the coronavirus situation is on our watchlist. Interesting how easy it is to fall in to over-worrying about it. The media is NOT helping people to react with common sense - the scare tactics are pervasive.

I have registered on the website which sends updates, and I am keeping an eye on the site as well (Min of Foreign Affairs and Trade) - their site links to a site which shows all registered travel restrictions.

I remember having the serious flu (Hong Kong version, I think it was) back in the early 80s, and it was the sickest I have ever felt - I had to hold my head on when I walked downstairs to the toilet, didn't eat for a few days, and David had to drive me to the doctor - yes, I was too sick to drive and got in the car with him in the driver's seat, so it was desperate indeed! I could see why people died of it (the flu, not David driving). The only thing the doctor could do was give me a jab to stop me vomiting up anything I drank so that the dehydration was reversed. I don't want it or any similar illness again. But I caught it, going about my life as a young mum in Johnsonville. At the time I was part time teaching, and I don't remember anyone else on staff or any of the kids having it. So clearly I'd picked it up randomly.

And I don't remember there being any travel restrictions - it was that year's seasonal flu, and it was the luck of the draw. Since then, flu vaccinations have become standard, and we get one each year. Almost all workplaces I've been in since the early 90s have provided them for free or at a vastly subsidised rate - in part as a caring employer, and in part to assist with business continuity. The first workplace that I was in that did this was the SWIFTT project - we were on an extremely tight deadline and the project could not afford the delays that would ensue if software developers or training designers or business analysts were out of action.

David and I will get a flu vaccination this year before our scheduled travel date to reduce our vulnerability and make sure we continue in good shape. At 69 and 70, we are in the vulnerable age bracket, if we happened to come across the coronavirus's path, however neither of us have any other underlying health conditions.

But as I say, we are waiting and seeing.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work I go ...

While we were on the beach at Tongaporutu a few weeks ago with Irene and Ian, I had a phone call from Kevin asking if I would take on a potential piece of work - and here I was thinking I was retired. David had been in touch with IRD to un-enrol me from GST and from income tax - too soon, obviously!

So I started a new assignment last week, about 10 weeks long - it will be finished around Easter. Sarah is working with me again, and we set to from last Tuesday morning doing the planning and preparing documents. The first day was tough and we both needed a rest (read nana nap for me) in the afternoon ... Getting back into the groove of working and thinking in that mode did tend to turn our brains to scrambled egg by the end of the first few days!

Scrambled egg brain set in earlier than that though - on Monday early afternoon, I dropped Kirsty at Waikanae Station to head into Wellington for two nights with her friend Lisa before she headed back to Sydney. Later that afternoon, I picked Sarah up from the station - post a nana nap, of course given I hadn't slept on the drive home from Waitara fortunately!

We decided on what we'd have for dinner and were almost finished preparing it when the phone rang - it was Grahame calling asking where we were as we were due there for dinner - DOH!!! Our dinner was turned off and away we went. Yummy food, as always chez Bilby, no wine for Sarah and me. We taught Sarah 5 Crowns between the main course and dessert and she beat us all, dammit!

We've been out walking in the mornings, sometimes with Ann 'accompanying' us virtually and sometimes just us. We get quite a lot of planning done while walking - the other day, we developed a complete plan for a workshop as we walked - when we got back home my task was to write it all down. A very effective planning technique - somehow the exercise helps the creative thinking.
Leaving the house - we even look awake!
This huge ornamental scotch thistle grows outside John and Jenny's gate.

The bush path by the Waikanae River - a very popular walk and cycle track

Into the shadows

And the view back the way we came across the clearing where, on Waitangi Day before we started working, we stopped to talk to Glenn and pat his lovely dog, Archie.

An early night on Sunday as I was being collected by Kevin at 7am, so the alarm was set for 6am. David had prepared my brekkie, the lovely man; my papers, new pencil case, purse, railway tickets for the trip home, sunglasses were in the backpack; enough clothes to last for a few days have been ironed (by me), and Sarah was flying up in the morning.

Since writing the above part of this post, Sarah and I have completed another week, created all sorts of papers, run a workshop and written up the outputs from the workshop, plus provided the participants with their assignment - due to be completed before they come to the next workshop this coming Wednesday - we have planned that one too today and Sarah (my absolutely fabulous documentation specialist) has created a templates and examples.

We are now ready for a weekend of relaxation - but I think I may do a small soupcon of work on Sunday, perhaps - but only if I can sneak in doing it while David isn't watching ...

Sunday 9 February 2020

An eye appointment, walking with a virtual companion, and another Waitara trip

This time (last weekend) we made the trip with our darling daughter, Kirsty.

In the week or so prior, I did several walks with my 'virtual' walking partner, Ann. I try not to repeat the exact route on any day to keep it interesting, and so I don't get competitive with myself about how fast I can do it - as it is, we tend to walk now for half an hour with intentionality - so I chug along quite quickly!
This property is in the street behind ours - in all the times I have walked past, I have never noticed it before. There are some very large sections here in the garden area of Waikanae, and most of the houses on those sections are well tucked away from the road with lots of trees. Quite beautiful.

Just around the corner from us, a house had been removed/demolished a few months ago. Work started on setting out the foundations a couple of weeks ago, and then one morning when I was out walking 'with' Ann I saw this truck arrive ...

I really really really wanted to go back and get my gumboots on and then splosh around in very wet concrete ... But that would have been very nortee and I would probably have got whacked!

I saw this abandoned bear and try as I might, I could not get my brother in law Murray to adopt it - even though he has given Big Bear away to their granddaughter Charlie.

And on the Wednesday, David and I arrived at the hospital early for his treatment (see below) and did a walk around the hospital grounds. It was interesting to see more of the place as, for some strange reason, our focus in the last few months has only been on the Eye Clinic.
We didn't know that the rear entrance to Government House is from a driveway into the hospital grounds!

David had to move out of the way 10 seconds after this shot as 4 vans loaded with Army personnel arrived. At least one of the passengers in one van was still sound asleep - well it was just after 7am, so understandable I guess.

The timing of Kirsty's arrival from Sydney was perfect, as David had a laser treatment on some cloudiness at the back of his right eye on the Wednesday (it's that damn extra healing quality that he has ...), Kirsty arrived on Thursday and we headed away in the motorhome on Friday morning.

A good trip - Mel was left behind given we had an extra passenger and he does tend just to loll around doing nothing for most of the time anyway - unless he gets together with Murray, and then it is all on, as they are both badly behaved!

David rode shotgun for the first half, with a stop in Bulls for a pie and donut for Kirsty and a pie for David. I was extremely healthy and only ate licorice allsorts ... oh, and a Whittaker's peanut slab: it's chocolate and peanuts: brown therefore wholemeal and wholemeal is healthy, and nuts are nutritionally sound - no problem then! And I gave Kirsty a bite and the calories leaked out of the bitten surface, as they do, so I was all good.

We had a bit of a tragedy in the fridge department that we discovered at Bulls - the plastic container of beetroot and carrot salad had slipped off the other container it was perched on (doh! why did I place it there?), and it leaked - there was about 1cm of beetroot coloured juice that had collected in one of the door racks - it could have been SO much worse! We decided that it would be better tipped in the drain by the pavement than down into the waste tank of the motorhome, so out it went. Until we had swished the evidence away down the drain, it did rather look like a murder had taken place in Bulls' main street ...

At Wanganui we called in to see Denny and Cheryl - Cheryl wasn't home, but Denny made us a cup of tea and showed us on the net the motorhome they were going up to Wellsford to look at with a view to purchasing (and yes, they did purchase it, yay!)

Kirsty was then riding shotgun and David had a good time boffining with the little fans to keep cool. He is very easily amused 😏😛😜 

Another fabulously clear day and we could see Ruapehu in the distance from the Windemere Gardens

Happy boffin with two small fans perched on the table bracket ...

Once we left Windemere Gardens where we purchased large boxes of strawberries and a huge container of blueberries, Kirsty decided we needed music so she found the music on her phone that would be suitable for parents so we listened and sang along loudly and not so tunefully to Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, a bit of Abba, Split Enz - who else, Kirsty?

When we arrived in Waitara at the camp it was great to see Kirsty's reunion with Dee and family - she hasn't seen them for quite a long time. Nicola and Gerard came out for the night, and the cousins and partners partied happily for some hours. I think, as usual, I was first to bed after a yummy all together pot luck family dinner. There was macaroni cheese, broccoli in a cheese sauce, honey soy chicken, beetroot salad, coleslaw, chickpea curry and rice. Dessert was strawberries and blueberries with cream ...

It was so reminiscent of being at the bach where dinner was constructed from what was available with very little concern about whether things went together. We always found that hungry people will happily eat good food.

Cheese scones and lemonade scones for a late morning tea the next day - guess who made the cheese scones while Nicola made the lemonade ones. Of course, David, Kirsty and I had consumed toasted cheese scones for brekkie, so I had to make another batch to ensure there were plenty to go round. I used the cheese that was a bit stained by beetroot and balsamic vinegar - the pink tinge didn't seem to affect the taste of the cheese or the butter that was spread on the scones later having been doused in the fridge door compartment on the way up ...

A hot day, so swimming in Waitara River was required - I only went once with Kirsty and Dee, but the two of them had at least two swims, one of them with Nicola. I was keen to go for a swim but I am a wuss when it comes to getting into cold water - but not Dee and Kirsty: they both dive in immediately, whereas I edge my way into the water and feel every inch of increased depth and get progressively more wussy about getting in! Doh!!

I did do better the next day and took their advice about falling backwards into the water on to the polystyrene noodle - much much better! Note to self: repeat this tactic when going for a swim again!

A blobby Sunday, apart from a walk along the beach bank for David and me and a swim later with Kirsty and Dee.

And the women didn't even have to make dinner as Glenn did roast pork, crackling and veges; Kirsty's contribution was making the gravy.

I think it was an early night all round as we were planning to head home early in the morning - the best laid plans and all that - we ended up leaving after 8.30am when we had intended to head away about 7am. But it was too lovely spending time with Dee and Murray.

Apart from a stop in Bulls for a pie and donut again for Kirsty, who informs us that pies in Australia are nowhere near as good as NZ ones, it was a quiet trip home - she and David both slept a good portion of the way. It reminded me of family trips we used to do when the kids were young - the three of them asleep while I drove ...

Kirsty is back in Sydney now and I see the temperatures there have been much lower than the 45 C that she escaped over the weekend!

It was just lovely to see her. 😚😘😗😊😍