Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunshine Award


I've been given a Sunshine Award by Darnielle! The idea for this award is "that you nominate 11 bloggers who put a little sunshine in your day, who are positive, creative and inspiring."

Warm fuzzies! Thanks, Darnielle!

Sunshine Award Rules

You have to post a picture of the Sunshine Award in the blog post.
Post 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
Nominate 11 wonderful bloggers.
Write 11 questions for them to answer.
Also let the bloggers you nominated know you have nominated them.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. One of my favourite meals is Watties Very Special Creamy Tomato Soup with Cruskits and margarine or butter. That is what I had for lunch and dinner actually.
2. I like cleaning. That's what I've been doing all day.
3. So far I have had 14 piercings all up, including those in each ear (4 in each lobe). Eyebrow, labret, industrial (which requires two holes in the upper part of the ear), and, um, two lower than my face but higher than my navel. I still have the lobes and one cartilage piercing.
4. I have three tattoos: two very small ones and one big ass one on my side. I plan on getting many, many more when I can afford to.
5. I would love to have 4 children but will have to live with 2 (unless by some miracle I get pregnant with a second that turns out to be triplets -- don't tell J I said that...)
6. I have been overseas twice: once to Fiji for two weeks which was awesome, and once to the Gold Coast in Australia, which was also awesome.
7. When I see shows (like magic ones, circuses, stuff at theme parks) I get abnormally excited and do a lot of "Whhoooo!"-ing. I don't really know that I'm doing it when I'm doing it, but I feel very embarrassed after. I just get so excited and childlike wonder kicks in and I just can't not.
8. I've always thought it might be neat to be in one of those Colonial reenactment reality shows, where you go and live like they did 150 years ago with the whole family. I have no idea why I think this would be 'neat' because the reality is that it would be 'hard' and 'not-as-clean' and 'no internet', but yeah.
9. I've been obsessed with the '90s since the '90s, therefore I'm way more badass than all these kids going on about the '90s right now. They don't even know, they were barely born.
10. My sister brought a bunch of Japanese stationery back with her after she went to Japan, and I've been crazy about Japanese stationery since. I particularly remember 3 small erasers that came in milk carton shaped boxes and they smelled like coconut. I really wanted to eat them, but I didn't.
11. I used eat soap as a child, and any sort of cleaning product if I could get at it, and also dog biscuits. Yeah, I'm weird, I know. But, really, no one can say they weren't warned about it because it was clearly obvious from an early age.

The Questions

Do you speak any languages other then English? If so, which one(s) and how well?
I know a very small amount of French, from when I took the two introductory courses at uni back in 2010. I am extremely rusty and I really can't converse at all right now, but I do understand some spoken and written basics still.

Do you like your handwriting? (Provide a sample if you like!)
It has its moments of being awesome, but my lecture notes are actually terrifying. I was going to do up a sample, but I'm really tired and can't be fucked now. :p

What are you afraid of, if anything?
Honestly, everything, but I'm getting better at facing those fears and becoming desensitized to many of them. I think, right now, probably something horrible going wrong next year which either prevents or makes it extremely difficult to finish my degree. I am also afraid of not being able to have my own biological children.

What is your favourite smell?
Jasmine, lavender, and vanilla. Not together though, that would suck.

Did you have any pets growing up? If so, what were they and their names?
We had loads. I don't remember how many budgies and what they were called, or the chickens.

Cats: Splotch (technically my sister's), Hempie (he came with that name, I think), Ajax (black)*, Panther (white)*, Lucky (my own!), Sky (also my own), and Tyson (sister's). Then we had several years with no cats until I found my baby girl, Molly, in 2005. Now she, Lola (also mine, from an ex's family when they moved), and Misty (adopted because her family moved to Canada), live with my parents on their farm.

That is a lot of cats... But I loved every single one of them.

Dogs: Major (lab mix), Zarah (Alsatian), and Sally (golden retriever mix?) from before I was born or when I was very little. They all passed by about 1995ish. Around that year we inherited my great-grandmother's chihuahua, Bunny. Then my brother brought home a neglected pup rescued from a neglected mother that lived in a neglected front garden somewhere. In 2001 I got my first puppy, Lucy, a staffy mix from the SPCA. In 2003 my sister's dog, Puppy, a chihuahua, came to live with us because they moved overseas. In 2010, my parents got a puppy, Missy, from friends. She's a mastiff cross. Last year my parents also got a cattle working dog, Girl, who needed a new home, and in the last couple of months they've also been looking after my grandma's dog, Daisy (corgi crossed with Alsatian).

I had a goat when I was little, called Gumdrop, because my grandparents farmed goats as well at the time and she was one of the ones that needed hand-feeding.

I also had two mice, Salt and Pepper (named for both the rappers and their colours), some zebra finches at one point (the boy was called Chaos but I can't remember the girl's name), and a frog (Elmo).

We gave a home to our first rabbit, Eleanor, when I was about 6, then when he (the original owner thought he was a she) died my grandma bought my mum a new bunny, Abbie. We also rescued a bunny from the SPCA in Gisborne when I volunteered there.

I also used to own two guinea piggies, Bella and Margo, who are now living with my parents because I am apparently allergic to them and hay. This is lame because they are awesome, but I got sick too much.

I think that it is? So many. But the theme is as follows: we will take your unwanted pets because we're really nice and will love them.

Do you prefer sweet, salty or savoury snacks?
I just like snacks? It does depend on my mood, I suppose. If I'm perioding, then I'm all over sweet snacks, otherwise I'm probably more of a salty and savoury person.

Which of the seven deadly sins is the one you engage in most often (lust, greed, gluttony, wrath, envy, pride or sloth)?
Literally all of them, all of the time. Ok, I'm not too greedy, and I don't want to kill anyone from wrath. I would say gluttony and sloth probably the most. I am also very lustful. I'm definitely going to hell.

What was/is your favourite subject at school?
In primary and high school, art. At university, my two most favourite have been psychology and anthropology.

What is your favourite song at this very moment?
I have been listening to a lot of Alice In Chains the last few days and I adore the MTV unplugged version of 'Would?'

Can you draw?
Yes but I'm well out of practice. If I wasn't so slothy I'd take a photo of some old drawings. I'm not brilliant at drawing from my head anymore, though. Usually I prefer to have some reference material (because I'm so bloody out of practice...).

Imagine that you have unlimited funds to build your own house. Describe what it’d be like.
THIS IS MY DREAM QUESTION OMG HOW DID YOU KNOW?? I have several versions for this:
A mid-century modern home, something like the first image in this article, or this, or this would do.
A large log cabin style home on the edge of a lake, a bit like this.
Or, an American style Victorian, like this (see also on this page the ranch, log cabin, and southwestern styles because I like 'em too).
I think my most wanted would be a mid-century modern style home, though. I would just have to hypnotise my boyfriend into also liking it...

*They preceded me in the family, but I find it funny that Ajax, the cleaning product, is white but the cat was black, and that Panther was white when actual panthers are black. Confused family! :D

I tag...

I don't really know who to tag because although I read a lot of blogs, most of the authors have no idea who I am and I just feel weird about tagging them. Also, the other people I would tag have already done this, or been tagged to do it. Or don't post anymore.

BUT, if you want to tag yourself and pass this lovely award on some more, here are 11 questions you can answer:

1. If you had two kids, a boy and girl, what would you name them? Even if you don't want kids and hate them with a passion, you have to name them because I said so.
2. Describe your dream holiday.
3. Do you cook? If so, what is someone you cook really well?
4. Are you a bar soap or liquid soap/shower gel person?
5. What thing would you like to be invented in the future?
6. What was your favourite TV show as a child?
7. How many emails are in your inbox right now? How many of those are from actual people and not newsletters or whatever?
8. If you were to become rich (at least $5 million), would you honestly donate any of it? Why or why not? If yes, to which charity?
9. Are you a PC or Mac person? Why?
10. Do you drive?
11. Do you have any stuffed animals from your childhood?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I don't like that other people (often) love

So just before I was reading Twitter and it struck me "Yeah, I totally don't get why people are fans of that." Then I was all like "I should do a post about it, like Dani Hampton did, because I gotta get this shit out of me."

So, that's what I'm doing.

I'm not into (but maybe you are):
  • Robyn. The lady-singer, not the type of bird or Robin Thicke, though I also REALLY don't like him.
  • Breaking Bad. I have watched up until the first season when he goes for his first treatment. Just not into it; all the characters are extremely annoying except for the druggie guy because he's kind of funny.
  • Cronuts. I have tried two and they were both remarkably blah. Croissants on their own are one of my favourite pastry treats and trying to mesh them with a donut does not work. Donuts are ok on their own, too.
  • Candy Crush. I played for a little bit but they want you to buy way too much shit.
  • Paleo diet. Please go and speak to (a) real anthropologist(s) and do some research from peer-reviewed scientific journals before getting on board with that shit.
  • Headbands on baby girls. You're making your kid look really stupid, therefore, you suck.
  • More than a very, very light mist of perfume. Having to sit next to someone in close quarters who is wearing a lot of perfume or cologne is extremely unpleasant and gives me a headache.
  • Pretty much any of the fake reality show comedies (The Office - though the British version was better, Parks and Recreation, etc), except for Derek which is delightful.
  • High heels or wedges.
  • St Pierre's sushi. I prefer a select few local places.
  • KFC.
I feel better now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Season Confusion: The Southern Hemisphere Dilemma

Matata beach

Here's the thing: it's currently the beginning of spring here in New Zealand (NZ), but it's coming into autumn/fall in the northern hemisphere (NH) and because my online life mostly involves following, interacting with and looking at content written by people in the NH, all I want to do is drink spiced beverages and walk through crunchy leaves. This may be in part because I really (really, really) love autumn and am not looking forward to what may be a ridiculously hot summer. I think though, that is has a lot to do with how little content I see that is southern hemisphere (SH)-centric. I do follow some blogs from NZ and other SH countries, but most of us SHers, due to being outnumbered*, follow a great deal of NH content and that often filters down into our own content production, I think.

A really good example of this is Christmas. The great majority of Christmas decorations you can buy here in NZ have wintery themes because Christmas was invented in the NH and it's winter in December up there. Christmas stuff worldwide, online and off, is almost entirely influenced by trends that evolved in the NH and much of what we humans do is affected by the seasons. But, what works for Christmas in the NH may be really, really impractical here in the SH. Sipping hot beverages by a fire? Nooo, thank you. Make it something iced and in front of a fan or outside. Snowman building? Not gonna happen (which I know is also the case for many, many NH locations). The whole ideal of a white Christmas, or at least a cold one, is almost everywhere, I think.

Of course, Christmas has taken on different manifestations in the SH out of necessity. It's not cold, it won't snow, there's no holly with berries to kiss under, many of those fresh foods are not in season, and what is pumpkin spice anyway?! My family's Christmases have come to involve a box of cherries at breakfast and water pistol fights (which often progress to giant-buckets-of-water fights), though we keep the turkey and cranberry sauce and some of my decorations totally have snowflakes involved. The unfortunate thing is that the SH-centric Christmas decorations that you can buy are all really, really terrible and include Santa wearing swim sorts and flip-flops, Kiwi birds with Santa hats, or All Black (our national rugby team) Christmas tree ornaments. So, it's either wintery stuff, or the really bad kind of kitsch. Clearly, NZ is not doing so well at adapting holidays to our seasons (I'm looking at you, Easter).

June 2012
A frost, 2012.

Water droplets in Howick square on a foggy Monday morning
This winter.

It's spring, you guys! I've just lived through 3 months of a rather icy (for Auckland standards) winter and, frankly, I don't want to hear about crunchy leaves and pumpkin spice lattes (what is this pumpkin spice???). I want spring flowers, bouncing lambs, longer daylight hours, dresses and skirts. Actually, scratch the dresses and skirts - I'll have to shave my legs. It would so great if all the SH bloggers could band together and bomb the internet with stuff we can relate to seasonally! Counteract every pumpkin spice (seriously, I need to know**) latte and every pumpkin pie with a summer fruits cocktail and BBQ or summer salads. Take that, internet!

Baby Scooter
My pal, Scooter, may s/he rest in peace.

Sweet Dahlia

Springy, buttercuppy grass.

(I'm probably just bitter because we don't do Halloween here.)

*Look at a world map. Find the equator line. Compare land mass between north and south of that line. See? North has more, and in most of those countries the populations are larger relative to many SH countries. Even if you factor in which areas have more or less access to the Internet, the north still wins.
**I have learned that this pumpkin spice is merely a mix of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and clove. And, even more fascinating is that the Pumpkin Spice Latte (which is not available in NZ) does not have any pumpkin in it. At all. Which is, frankly, sad. It should taste like the pie, right?

I'm an easily distracted dog

I have this neighbour who regularly practices drums. I think he or she is in a band because sometimes I hear other instruments that don't sound like they're on a recording. I think it's great that this person can play an instrument and enjoys it, but I also find it really hard to concentrate on school work or anything that requires directed attention when this person is practicing. It's the same with any loud music or noises, actually.

I live in suburbia, so it's pretty normal for there to be noises. Dogs, screaming children, music, noisy cars. The arguments my ex-neighbours used to have ("Aaron!" was not well-liked by his British girlfriend...). I wish I was one of those people that can work through anything, but I typically find silence the most conducive to productive working. And silence is fucking hard to come by. I've tried ear plugs but they just muffle things. I've tried listening to music on headphones, but again I find that to be distracting (I have to keep changing the track because God knows the damn shuffle or radio stations don't play what I want to hear and I can't for the life of me make a playlist I love). This is why I can't work in the university commons or library, even the silent areas. Did you know that whispering makes me want to punch people?

So now I'm sitting here wanting to march over to my neighbour and break his or her drumsticks and drums. And possible also his or her face. They do have every right to play though. It's 1:30pm on a Saturday. If they're gonna play, now is the time to do it, right? Better than 10pm! But still. I have shit to do and my attention span is that of a dog in a park, with squirrels everywhere. It's painful.

Boo-hiss, Neighbour, boo-hiss.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mostly On Aging and Death

You know how sometimes you get that heaviness in the pit of your stomach, an anxiety feeling that washes over you and subsequently hangs like a grey cloud above your day?

Yeah, that.

I can't actually write about what is causing this given that it doesn't directly relate to me and I'm not actually sure the exact particulars of the situation for the people involved. I just know that things seem to not be okay and that is concerning given how much I care about them. On top of this particular issue, I am also experiencing something new and scary: processing the eventual deaths of elderly family members which seems much reach, of late.

As I have written about before, my maternal grandmother/nan has had numerous health and injury issues in the past year, but especially since April. She had a fall in April and injured her neck and shoulder, and then in July she had another fall, much worse, and broke her right arm so badly it needed rebuilding at the join to her shoulder. The surgery went well (but had been delayed by about 2 weeks) and she was in hospital for several weeks until being moved to a rest home for respite care until she was better able to do things for herself. On Sunday night, she finally went home, my parents staying the night to see how things went. Thankfully she has, at the moment, help coming twice a day to help with dressing, etc. It's great that she is home now, but she is also so changed that most of us are in quite a bit of shock.

(Little aside: I live in the flat under her home, which is useful to know.)

Since I moved here in December 2011 I have noticed a slow deterioration of cognitive functioning (memory, thinking processes and problem solving especially), as would be expected for someone of her age - 84 currently. This has increased quite a bit in the last 10-12 months, possibly because she is getting older, but probably more so because she has had several health concerns and her lifestyle has changed quite a bit because of them. For example, before her falls, the amount of physical exercise she did decreased, her driving decreased and her social life decreased because of it. Since April, the cognitive deterioration has been coming on much faster, especially in short-term memory (but in all areas generally), and since July? Extreme (by my interpretation compared with what she was before) deterioration has occurred. Her short-term memory is terrible and she has trouble remembering what things were like on a day-to-day basis, as well as events that have occurred, when thinking about life in the last 5-6 months. I.e., she couldn't remember that she had an initial fall in April and that I had often helped her dress. This may be in part due to the trauma she experienced from her second fall and the surgery that followed. I'm not sure what kind of cognitive recovery might be expected if this is the case. Thus far it seems to be getting worse rather than better, and was most apparently deteriorating while in the rest home. The hope is that, with her being in her own home without 24-hour care, she will be forced to used her brain more than she has been and that this will in turn improve her cognitive functioning. For example, she needs to remember things like appointments (which are of course all written down) so she knows to be mentally prepared for them, she needs to remember to take her medications at their respective times, she must prepare food for herself (although dinner is delivered), etc.

The difficulty with her being home is that she will see less people socially than she was in the rest home. There, she was participating in bingo and that sort of thing, but at home this contact will be less. She has at least one family member or friend visit every day (for the time being, this will probably reduce to every couple of days as time goes on) and the caregivers who help morning and evening. So, less socialising. The hardest thing for her though, is not having her dog, who is currently residing with my parents. If it wasn't for the dog's dislike of cats and the stupid person who advised my grandmother to wrap the dog lead around her hand several times seconds before the arm-breaking fall, she wouldn't be in her current situation. I could punch that person in the face, now, having seen the extent of the damage caused to my nan's arm and her mental state. (I am aware that my nan probably shouldn't have listened to the person, but she's a bit too obliging). Anyway, the dog, Daisy, is my grandma's life. The companionship is invaluable, really, but now it's certain that Daisy will not be able to live with her again. Daisy is very boisterous, she jumps on people and barks too much, chases cats and doesn't particularly like large dogs. She's a handful, to put it mildly, although a very sweet dog and highly trainable. It's just that we can't really train my grandmother to train the dog, at least not right now. The risk is far too great that Daisy will jump on her and she'll fall, or something along those lines.

The whole situation sucks. She is so much 'older' than she was two months ago. We don't really know how things will go from now on. Will her arm heal as it should? Will her cognitive functioning restore at least a bit? Will she deteriorate more? Will she need to permanently move to the rest home? How will she cope without Daisy? Will she become depressed? So many questions! It's really scary because although I've lost my maternal grandfather, I was three when he died. He did live with us for a time when I was a toddler, but I don't recall him very much and the loss was not especially felt. One of my great-grandmother's was alive until I was about 7 and I do remember her quite well, but she was pretty 'with it' until just the before the end. Again, I wasn't as close with her. I am close to my surviving three grandparents, but especially maternal grandma. She's just always been there, you know? And now she's closer to the end of her life and her current state is so fragile, so 'doddery' (as she calls herself), and quite unlike what she was, in many ways. My mum said today that it's really hard because "Mum isn't my mum - she's not who I know to be my mum". It's so true. She is a very fragile, shell-like version of herself.

I'm not predicting that my grandma will die soon by any means, but more than any other time (even when Nanna has her stroke in 2009) in my life I am acutely aware of aging and inevitable death. This is different from when my mum was critically ill in 2006 - that was such a sudden thing and so strange to experience, and it was the wrong time of her life to be fighting for her life. This time is the realisation of gradual decline until death, and that it will come sooner rather than later. I've never actually lost anyone I am very close to, at an age where I will feel fully the effects of such a loss, with more understanding than I might have in childhood.

This is a strange head space to be in right now and I'm not really sure how to process anything. Today has been one of tears and anxiety stomach pits and many thoughts of family and life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Homely Goals

So, I'm going to try and get a few of things ticked off my check list this month and though I'd share. Sometimes it can be motivating to put it out there? Maybe? I'm currently on my mid-semester break so while I do have two important assignments to do and some lectures and readings to catch up on, I do have a wee bit more time than usual to devote to other things (in theory - time usually just disappears out the wazoo and I'm all "WTF?").

First up is that I've got a bee in my bonnet to use up as much of my existing food as possible, only buying essential items like milk, bread and fresh produce.

I have a freezer that is stuffed with meals I've frozen and not gotten around to eating, plus veggies and meats. I want to clean it all out and start anew! I'll also save money by not buying excessively when I have stuff already here to eat. My cupboards are in fairly good shape so I think I can manage to last some weeks without any big shops (relative to how I shop usually, which is fairly small to begin with).

It'll be interesting to see how I get on and what concoctions I come up with! Hopefully edible...

The other thing I want to do and tidy up my veggie garden and plant a few new crops ready for the summer months. I've already got about a million leeks on the go that are finally starting to get bigger than a spring onion (green onion/scallion for US people). I've got some kale which is fairly small but I should just get on and eat it, I think? Last year's strawberries are still hanging on but I need to trim off the runners since they usually produce pitiful fruit (that is already showing). My herb garden needs a weed. Again. I think I need to chuck some mulch or something down to suppress them. I also want to chuck in some lettuces and replant my blueberry.

Lastly, I have some boxes of stuff to donate. Fun times! :p

Honestly, my life is so riveting. It really makes for good blogging. Can't you just feel the sarcasm reaching through your screen and slopping onto your face?

Thank you and goodnight.
This post was not brought to you by pictures but was brought to you by the letters F and U in the form of the word 'FUUUUUUU' and a sore throat. I am fully aware none of this makes sense and I'm ok with it. Are you? Good, I'm so glad.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

6 Things Not To Do While Studying For A Test On Friday

1) Don't eat a crappy breakfast that doesn't sustain you. Breakfast isn't for everybody and I'm not about to tell non-breakfasters that they really ought to nom something or they will die young and fat (or whatever). If you are a breakfast person though, don't do what I did this morning and have leftover soup that is completely smooth with no fibre in it (far too easy to digest and you get hungry faster), and don't have five Cruskits and margarine with said soup (again, too easy to digest and they don't keep you full).

If you do this, you will get hungry 1-2 hours later and then make yourself mashed potato and gravy, because apparently it seemed like a good idea at the time. It will only lead to indigestion and bloat, both uncomfortable things.

2) Don't watch Dr Phil while you eat a too-big, carb loaded lunch. It will only make you frustrated, and also you will get more indigestion and feel sick. You will feel sick both because of the food and Dr Phil.

3) Don't study for long stretches of time. Research shows (google it) that our attention span for tasks requiring active attention is about 45 minutes or so. Additionally, we can only learn about 7-9 things at a time, so trying to squeze in too much can cause overload and memory poops (that is a technical term I just made up). Thus, it is a good idea to take a break every 45 minutes. And by break I mean 10-15 minutes, not two hours. Use that break time to do something completely unrelated to studying, like an actual poop or the laundry or phoning. You could also run around the house naked for the duration (exercise is a helpful study tool because it invigorates your brain).

4) Don't leave the TV on, even if you're just listening to the music channel. The music channel has videos on it. They can be interesting to watch and entertaining, which takes your attention away from the task at hand, studying! If your telly has some radio stations, tune into one of those (there is generally just a blank screen) or turn the TV off and actually listen to music.

Pandora radio is good for this and they even have a 'classical music for studying' station which plays a mix of stuff including instrumentals of contemporary music. Eg, The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army. If you have a smart phone, you can probably download their app and use that, otherwise they are available on the web for people with stupid phones, or people who just prefer to listen via a computer.

Alternatively you could try Spotify, 8tracks, or an actual radio.

5) Drink lots of fluid, preferably water. It hydrates you better than drinks that have lots of sugar in them. Fact: sugary drinks make your brain shrivel up into the size of a raisin. Drinking water is just like soaking raisins in brandy to make fruit cake, except without the alcohol.

6) Don't write a blog post about all the things you're doing to procrastinate because you're tired and want it to be bedtime already, jeez.

Until next time!