June 28, 2003

Weekend wanderings

We wandered up town today - went swimming. I love swimming, the feel of the water embracing me, the way gravity doesn't work quite right, and I can do things I certainly can't do standing on dry ground. And then to get in the hot pool. I have maintained for about 10 years so far that hot water is the greatest invention of human kind. And I have bought some new goggles. Now that I can see underwater I am enjoying the swimming even more. I had no idea how bad my previous water eyes had got, now I know what I was missing out on. And my eyes don't feel like they are on fire with the chlorine getting in them.

We need to get the kid in the water though, he is getting used to the idea that swimming is something to avoid.

Then we went to the library, had someone else's favourite book list to work from so choosing was so much quicker. I have come to the late realisation that reading is my primary hobby, and that reading is a valid hobby. I have had this idea hobbies were about making something, or sport. In just the past week I have realised my hobby above all else is reading. I read and spin, read and knit, read and ride bicycles, read and drive (no, just kidding on that one), read and cook, and just read. Thirty odd years of reading and I just realised what is going on here. They'll give me a PhD, they be racing to do it!

Cn and I were walking up the road in town when he decided he would rather have a piggyback. These days he mounts me like a horse, using my hand as a stirrup, and swinging on in the manner of John Wayne. Unfortunately, in the middle of town I lost my balance while he was getting on, and we both fell on our butts. We both laughed, it was funny. A woman was watching us, and said she loved it. "What", I said, "me falling on my butt?" She replied, "No, the fact you laughed about it." I thought about this, and you know she was absolutely right. I've seen things like that happen, and it leads to screaming parents, and crying kids. I guess I am lucky in that there are very few things I can't see the funny/good side of. Pollyanna-ish. But also there is too much hurry and worry in the lives of parents, and they don't have the energy left to cope when things go a little haywire.
Needless to say we got about another 5 metres up the road from talking to the woman, and the kid ended up casting himself onto the ground and screaming because we wouldn't buy him a new DVD. Sheesh.

Some parents never ever take their kids to cafes. We go weekly now we have found one we all like. He really has the hang of what to do and not do in a cafe now that he has practised. Once he starts to read, we may even get to sit there more than half an hour...


I am trying to put some numbers in a table for the book. I have done the stats, I know how insignificant these numbers are, but do you think I can find them? Writing a large data driven book is a study in organisation. Over the five years I have got better, all the numbers are in tables (not lost), but now I have to work out how to get the numbers I want back out of the tables before I can make any further progress. Everything takes so much time.

Posted by Toni at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2003

Questions Mk 2

1. If you won lotto, what would you do?

I would quit my job, and buy a house for about average monies. I would try to have another baby, and I would have a nanny to help, cos I know now how hard kids are. I would do volunteer work, though I am not sure who for. But I would like to give to the community, not just think about me all the time which would be easy to do if rich, and cos I wasn't working two jobs (work and the Book) I would have time to give.
And I would travel. America to see my friend Annie and her nearly triplet girls (twins and a single all in one year), and the UK to see various people and also the ancestral home. France to see Isabelle, and to see France. The Netherlands to see Roos and Nico, and to see the Netherlands. And so forth through Europe. I'd like to go back to Japan. I'd like to see China, and bits of India, and also Large Chunks of Africa.

I'd like to have time to finish the damn thesis, then try and see if I could write fiction. Perhaps.

2. What are your thoughts on Prostitution Reform, and/or the lifting of the moratorium on Genetic Engineering?

Prostitution Reform: I am really pleased to see it made it. It seems a sign of the country growing up somehow, as it won't change the fact that some people pay other people to have sex with them, but it will make the fact it happens honest and out front. It will give the sex workers the opportunity to improve their working lives, when they are being taken advantage they could potentially call the police or union. So it re-humanises them, gives them a modicum of power and dignity. But the whole sex industry won't suddenly become a place where no-one is coerced into doing things they don't want to, so it is like the first essential step to helping. Cos you can't fix something you don't admit exists. I don't envy the Councils though that will be doing the administering...

3. If you had to give up sight or hearing, which would you choose?

Hearing. I am inspired by the things I see and read. Music uplifts me, but not as often. R wants to work as a translator for the deaf, so he will be keen to teach me sign, and I will have a handy translator when needed. I would still be able to read, which is the major thing I do, and write. I can still play on the net, and blog. If I became blind I wouldn't be able to read for ages while I learnt braille, and they are more into talking books these days as there is a market for them beyond the sight impaired, so there wouldn't be as many books as I need. Believe me on that one. I read fast and frequent. Also I don't like listening to spoken books. It is too slow, and the voice is not mine so it is all wrong. Besides, if i was deaf, I could carry on the Book and the job without much problem, so the changes to my life would be less than if I was blind. I would learn to communicate with people I'm sure!

4. Aotearoa is about to become a republic, and needs a new flag. You’ve been chosen to design it. What will it look like?

It will have the colours of the forest, the sea/sky and the tussock lands. It will have some kind of koru in it to reflect the indigenous people. The fact it is a flag is enough europeanising.

5. What is your favourite herb?

Basil. The taste, the colour, the way it goes with tomatoes, the crunch, the smell. The pesto. The salads. The sandwiches. The fact I can't seem to grow it...

(Notice how restrained I am being? I am not saying "if your breasts could talk, what would they say," thought that would be topical...)

Posted by Toni at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2003

Questions, questions

Yipee - someone sent me some - thanks Iona

1. If you could have a tail, what kind of tail would you have?

A leopard tail. With Spots. This goes back to a poster I had when I went to uni the first time. It was of a male and female couple, who were half leopard and half human. They had tails, spots, claws, ears like cats and were otherwise human shaped. They thing I liked about it though was they way they looked at me. They were very proud, independent, had a lot of dignity. I wanted to grow up to look at the world like that. Like I wasn't afraid, and had nothing to hide. Some days I am getting there!

2. Which do you think predominates: nature or nurture?

I have a kid now to observe, and I am coming to the Cclusion behaviour can be nurtured. It is possible to teach kindness and manners. English even. But that the actual personality is in him. He is a Cfident, non-shy kid, who likes people and talks a lot. I didn't make him like that, he has been like that since a tiny baby. Though the talking is a learnt thing.

So in the end we are a mix. Our behaviour I think can be changed and Ctrolled, but our emotional response to situations is in our genes somehow. And the two interact for life

3. In the movie of your life, which actress would play you?

I don't go to the movies very much, so I don't know the names of very many actresses. This one is hard. I would like to say Julia Roberts, because I have a big smile too, but I don't think I produce the same effect in people when I use it. She also has a kind of innocence about her that wouldn't match with my cynicism. Not Kate Winslet, she strikes me as not too clever, and has too many curves! Not Nicole Kidman. Dunno why! I wouldn't mind being played by Meryl Streep. She seems intelligent, and is not too intimidatingly beautiful. Besides she is blond, and that's my colouring too.

4. What's the smallest place you've ever lived and what did you like best about it?

I used to live in a 12 foot long caravan by Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury. I loved everything about it. It was easy to clean, Shona lived next door so I wasn't lonely, it was damn cheap. We had two horses there, two dogs, 3 cats, sundry birds. I was at teachers college and it was ridiculously easy so I didn''t have to do school work at night and could read. No telly, ate exactly what I liked. Learnt to spin. Tiny places are SO fast to warm up with a heater, I never got cold.

The only problem was the morning I woke up to find a man standing beside my bed. I had no clothes on, and didn't want to emerge from the covers. I couldn't see who it was. The only thing to do was to turn the light on, and so I had to put my hand out of the bed and turn the lamp on. I recognised him as being from a dairy farm nearby, and told him to fuck off. Fortunately for me, he did. I then got up and dressed and grabbed the nearest thing that came to hand, a carving fork and shot over to Shona's caravan. He had gone in there and stuck his hand into her bed right onto her privates - she thought it was the cat, then opened her eyes to see him. Being Shona, she punched him. He turned round to see me entering the caravan with my carving fork and left in a hurry. Shona reckons I looked bloody scarey and ready to use the fork. Somewhat of a relief, I might have just looked like a joke, and I was ready to use the bloody thing!

But everything else about the year was perfect!

5. What's your philosophy of chocolate?

Don't have one really. Don't like chocolate bars, and can't eat much chocolate in the form of biscuits either. But I really really like baked cocoa stuff. I have this chocolate cake recipie that is amazingly rich dark and moist, and then I cover it in my secret weapon - ganache. Never fails. One of the actual ingredients is calories, and if you don't mix it properly the calories tend to clump together and make hard crunchy bits...


By crikey, did i do a lot at work today. Must be the first time I haven't had a couple of hours to cover by dreaming up stuff for the timesheet. If the boss is reading this he'll be thrilled.

Posted by Toni at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2003

The appeal of meme

Cathy has been doing the meme thing, as has Iona and Fionnaigh and like they say it certainly takes the pressure off when sitting down at the box trying to think of what to say. So I'm willing too - you ask I answer.

New staff

New staff have arrived at the office. Seems kind of strange that having been there for 6 months I now know enough to be able to train someone. She knows some computer stuff. And the first thing she has done is tell other people her Ctact details at work. So seems to be sociable. Feels funny being an expert in 6 months. I also have to give a tutorial to all the other advisors on how to write a decision - having written, what, 5? Good thing we have all those lawyer and science types backing us up!


Went to the Toyota Picture exhibition today with a friend. Lots of pictures of children. That must mean something. Like adults are not appealing? Perhaps we don't take candid shots of adults? If we take photos of things we like, perhaps we don't like adults! Hardened our hearts or something? Or maybe the judges were looking for something sentimental.
The exhibition was in the debating chamber they made while the original got its upgrade. I was surprised at how small it was. Must get over to parliament and see the real thing one weekend. though a three year old is probably not an asset on a tour like that.

Was cruising blogs, check this one for beauty! and nifty little toys like the button scroller. It took a while to arrive, beauty has a price...

Posted by Toni at 09:07 PM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2003

Harry again

It probably sounds a bit silly saying this about a kid's book, but it was a bit light. Needs more Voldemort. Character development is improving. pretty unusual with these long popular series books, as I have found the character development and other writing skills tend to get worse as they go along, as if the author has lost heart and is now writing for the money or to get the publisher off their backs. this one is getting better in the writing, but it needs more grunt. But as usual a fun read, with a good plot, though not as intricate as it should be for the size of the book.

R grumpy with me for reading all yesterday. Csidering I was planning to go away altogether, I didn't think he would get so tense.

Posted by Toni at 12:21 PM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2003


Went to the doctor for various reasons last night, and today I had a blood test for Legionnaires disease!

I think that's notifiable. Work buddies are hoping I have it and that they close the building to take it out of the air Cditioning. Nice things people want for me.

Posted by Toni at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)


Harry is coming, I have ordered a copy, and I know what to do with it.

I've noticed the hubby is not so keen on a weekend of the wife being present but not there. Can't think why. Perhaps it is because of the demanding crabby three year old that is his to Ctrol for two days.

Don't expect much posting, and time not reading will be spent on the family and the other Book, in that order. Do you know I have two people that want my copy after me. Can't keep them waiting now can I?

Posted by Toni at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2003


The day before yesterday I bought some new boots.
Yesterday I wore them, and found that there is a sharp piece of leather on the side of them that does indeed remove skin after wearing the boots for a day, and stockings are insufficient protection. I told the shop yesterday at lunch, and they said they would get me another boot.
This morning before 9 I got a phone call to say the new boot/s were here.

Personally, I don't often get service like that. Often if I take something back, I get treated like I am the one with the problem instead of the item I paid for. I get treated like I am neurotic. Or as if I am a fool. It is strange that shop assistants behave so defensively when something is taken back because it is not right. After all, we are not taking them back because of something the shop assistant did. Its a product fault, not their fault. With the manners they show however, it becomes a service fault. Getting my boot replaced so quickly and cheerfully shouldn't surprise me at all. Its an indictment on the service standards of the country that it does.

There's another slant on the poor service that is common in nz not only in shops but also in restaurants and in hospitality in general. It goes something like this. When the settlers came here they came largely from the UK which has a very strong class system, and that class system was something the great majority of the settlers wanted to leave behind. There was no servant class as not many people could actually afford servants. Everyone could better themselves if they wished to, and if they were successful in accumulating money they were accepted into the more moneyed strata of society. No prejudice about new money versus old, business versus owning land, no blue blood aristocracy. No-one being taught from a young age that service was done like 'this'. Everyone had this equality thing going, so you didn't serve anyone. Serving someone was looked down on, and the art of gracious service got lost.

Its a theory anyway.

I saw in the paper it is now possible to do a diploma in shop assistant skills now. Soon my much promised Diploma of Supermarket Checkout Skills will be available!

Posted by Toni at 12:30 PM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2003

Dead Calm

The weather is abosolutely astonishing today. The harbour looks like someone has painted it there. Ships would have to slice the canvas to marr the paint! Its sunny. It definitely does not look like winter. The only clue that it is not high summer is the intensity of the colour, its a bit pale for summer.

There's a guy at work, who is very quiet. He has this huge high profile project to do at the moment, as well as two other projects that are just huge. He is so quiet he doesn't even say if he has a problem normally, but recently we went on a course in communication. We told him in the nicest way that we wouldl really like to hear more from him. Lately he has been admitting to stress, problems and asking other people's advice. It is utterly refreshing, and my respect for him has gone up in leaps and bounds.

The job is a bit dull at the moment, not enough meaty things to do. I am going to take the Book to work, and see if I can make some progress.

Posted by Toni at 02:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2003


Wellington feels so much more like a city than my previous home, Christchurch. It has tall buildings.

One of the other things that has changed for me in the move from Chch to Wgtn is my financial situation. In Chch I was not earning for seven years as I studied and also had a baby. I was a lot better off than most students, as I was (and am) married to someone who had a good job, and so we got through with no student loan to speak of (we have paid it back in 2 months), and we never starved or anything. But now we are both working we have got new clothes for the first time in about five years, and new shoes. I feel much more as if I am 'normal'. Advertising has had no effect on me for a long time now because we have had no disposable income. If you can't buy anything, there's no point even looking at the junk mail, or bothering to go to the city center. Now, things have changed. Though I still don't take much notice of advertising, but that is my choice now rather than a situation forced on me by circumstance. So Wellington feels more city-like in part because I feel more a part of the city.

Wellington also is pushed together by the hills. That makes the city çoncentrated'. It is much easier to run into someone I know, even when I have only been here 5 months.

I thought I would like Wellington, and so far, I'm not wrong.

Posted by Toni at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2003


Most weeks I average three meetings at work. Every seCd week we have a good one. This meeting is focussed on the applications that we actually process, and is a forum to discuss the issues related to each application. That means the meetings can directly help us to do our job. If we have questions, that is place to get input from other advisors, from the managers, the lawyers, the comms people, science, the Maori advisor, everyone. I like them as they are meetings that actually get stuff done, and if anyone disappears into philosophy (which is a place where whole meetings can disappear into frequently) then it is easy to get people back on track, or the philosophy is on track, because it is related to an Actual Problem. I have an incredibly low boredom threshold, and this is a meeting that comes round reguarly where I don't feel disabled. Some meetings I won't let myself speak (which is one hell of a hardship for a person like self) because my frustration levels are so high, I'll say all sorts of things which I may mean, but are better left unsaid... Last week I had to apologise for something I said in one of Those meetings. Behaviour like that will be a major impediment to a Grand and Glorious Career.

Speaking of which, there has been good progress on the Book lately. Tables have been created, and the numbers generated to go in there, and words have been reviewed. I can see some tetchy blog entries in the future though, when I have to put in the references with a rather shakey reference program.

Posted by Toni at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2003


I've find out by reading Chinashop and the links thereof that there are people out there taking this blogging stuff pretty seriously. I find that there are things you can do on a blog that upset some rather high minded types.

I think I'm doing most of things that annoy. For example there is no 'about me' page on here. That's not because I set out to annoy, but because I don't actually know how to make one. And I'm not sure I want one.

If you read this blog relatively reguarly, you'll find out about the things I do, and the things I think about. The fact I am a skinny 35 year old pakeha with intensely blue eyes who works for the gov'ment is not nearly such useful information.

But I am visual so a) I'm going to go along to Fionnaigh's exhibition, and b) one day I am going to find out more about how to make this blog pretty. Cos I like pretty things...

Posted by Toni at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2003


The hubby and I have taken up Scottish Country dancing (SCD) this year. He is a war gamer and a wood chopper, and I sew, spin and knit. As far as hobbies go, there is not a lot of overlap between us! But this year when we moved to Upper Hutt, we thought we would try to find something in common, and so we got the local phone book and looked up clubs. He reckoned he wouldn't mind giving SCD a go, rang the number in the book, and a couple of months later when the season started we went along. It's great. I love making the patterns, the people up at Upper Hutt are fantastic, and don't get cross when us beginners do it all wrong. We have had special step classes put on so we could get the hang of it all quicker! No extra cost, and it has made the whole thing more fun, faster. He already has the full kit, kilt, shoes, socks etc, and wears a mess kit shirt and bow tie on the top, with his red mess kit jacket. Very spiffing. I have dancing shoes (like cinderella did) but no other gear. Its kindof funny him being better dressed than me, unusual.

So we can jig and reel, and strathspey, we are capable of pas de pax setting, possettes and allemande, and we even know the names of some of the people that go there.

For my next trick, I have to make the child a kilt like daddies. Progress on that is likely to be incremental in the extreme - check the instructions!

Posted by Toni at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2003


There is something very centering and soothing about spinning, whether on a wheel or with a spindle. There is a rhythm to it, a productivity and a restfullness that I need the end of a day full of thoughts and activity. I am slowly learning to spin for the sake of the spinning rather than the item that may one day eventuate from the spinning. It takes the pressure off to do x amount, every day.

The Child

He is very tired at the moment, and is not getting out of bed in a good frame of mind. He is too tired, so I have gone by the time he wakes up or is woken. Each morning he calls for me, and is upset because I have gone. At night he does not want to go to bed, and is too tired to get to sleep without a screaming fit (like tonight, all over having the grey torch instead of the yellow one). The only thing I can think of to do is to wake him earlier in the morning till he eventually falls asleep in exhaustion at night. Eventually we should be able to get his body clock set on a better rhythm. I hope.

Better ideas gratefully accepted!

Not much to report yet, but the night is young.

Posted by Toni at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2003


Some people approach rain like it holds the power of death over them. A single drop falling on their precious person is an unmitigated disaster. They will go to incredible lengths to stay dry.

Me, I like rain. I like raincoats too. I ain't never dissolved in the rain, and I don't think I ever will. Dunno about that acid rain stuff though!

Its funny though, there are a lot of people that love hot water coming out of shower roses and bath taps, but as soon as it starts coming for free and the temperature is below blood heat, they make like each drop could be a plague vector.

No writing tonight, I paid some bills instead. That should allow progress, ain't gonna be much progress without power and phone lines :)

Posted by Toni at 08:55 PM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2003

Relief and sadness

Supervisor Ctinues this life, but how awful. The Lincoln campus is going to be a strange place to be in the next few weeks. Its so sudden.

Posted by Toni at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2003


You might have heard there were seven people from Crop and Food at Lincoln killed in a plane crash. I'm waiting to find out who. It is not likely to be my supervisor, judging by the job descriptions, but I don't know. And it seems macarbe to ring him at home to see if he is alive. I'm a student, not only a friend, and there is this selfish interest in seeing him live for the next year. Although the thesis would be crippled I would be much more upset about the loss of T. So I'll wait for the official name release, and wonder till then...


We learnt how to clone genes into E. coli, and also how to digest DNA. We ran a gel to see if the digestion had worked. We grew the E. coli to see if the transformation worked. Both did. There were only four of us on the course, and we all found it interesting as well as very Cfusing. I enjoyed getting to know the other two women from work who did the course better. It's hard to be friends with someone I don't know.
The weather in Palmerston was as crappy as ever. I have no idea why that area ever got settled. I got quite a bit of spinning done.

Posted by Toni at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

Gone away

I'm at dancing tonight, and learning laboratory stuff for the next two days. See you all Saturday

The meeting with the supervisor went well, got lots done

Posted by Toni at 06:08 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2003

Getting organised

I suppose I should be swotting madly to be prepared for the big meeting with the supervisor tomorrow, however...

I spun up all the wool I had with my spindle in the weekend, so I had to find the rest of the k-not of that colour. I knew exactly where it was - in that huge box at the top of my cupboard that I didn't put there (R did) and can't get down (due to weakness both muscular and psychological (I don't do ladders)). R did get the box down, so I could then have a quick gloat over all that loot I have up there, and will take years to get through. I have split it up into natural coloured wool (the really big box) and dyed wool (the small box). For my next trick, I will not buy anything else to put in the boxes, I will finish projects before starting anything else, I will finish projects, I will become a new person with new characteristics, including being taller, and with long thick blond hair

Some progress is so unlikely, I don't even know why I bother having the ambition :)

Posted by Toni at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

Brief hiatus

After slacking around on Saturday, re-reading The Changeover by M Mahy in the afternoon, and watching the Matrix on Saturday night (having never seen it before; finally I understand the Tui beer ad) I worked diligently on Sunday on the data sheet. I am up to row 431, about half of which is typed and the other half pasted. In between working I did virtuous things like folding the washing, and when I was sick of my goody two shoes self, I got in the car and went off to Shona's.

I've known Shona for a while now, we met when I was boarding at her mother's. I was going in the door, and she was walking out, carrying a toothbrush, which she was going to use to clean a saddle. I slept in Shona's bed that night, and she slept on top of the wardrobe. She is easily my best friend. Which of course brings me to why? We look alike, so much so we are usually accused of being sisters. One woman got very upset about it, she thought I was taking the piss out of her when I said we were not sisters - I had to go and explain that we really weren't sisters, and I was not being nasty - strange what upsets people. And S and I think the same about a lot of things. But definitely not all. And I couldn't say I understand her completely. To my unabiding astonishment (I am still gobsmacked), S had a baby when she was ~25, just to see if she was fertile, and then proved it by having two more. She loves babies, and that still doesn't fit with my perception of Shona. She gave me a magnet this year that says it all: you'll always be my friend, you know too much!, and it is kindof true, we know each other extremely well, and we know now that even if we upset each other, we didn't mean it. We trust each other enough now that even when someone is utterly offensive in something she says, we know the other is a) speaking before the brain is engaged and didn't mean to be so offensive or b) is saying what she really believes. Other friends come and go, but I always know where I stand with Shona.

I did some spinning in the weekend on the spindle, but I ain't sure of that new link over there. I'll think on it

Four hundred and thirty something lines of data. Someone should be proud of me!

Posted by Toni at 08:27 PM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2003

About writing

I was thinking yesterday during my day alone, that when this book is finished I won't have this excuse to stay home while the boys go off, and that I will miss it. Once the book is finished, I'll be expected to take part in all the family outings and though I do enjoy them, I also enjoy having a day with the house to myself, the car outside ready to go. There is no-one to cook for, no-one wanting to do their thing, its very like being a single student again. I like it!

I was also thinking yesterday that the actual writing is not painful for me. I like writing. Which is a good thing, as it is my job as well as my 'leisure' activity. I don't think I have a novel in me though. I am not driven to write, and I don't feel a great big Message swelling up within. And I get overwhelmed with the inventiveness of writers, and think things like 'how can I compete with that?' I don't know if compete is the right word, perhaps I don't think I have anything to offer. Some people's imaginations are overwhelming...

Posted by Toni at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)