Monday, February 23, 2009

figs and goat cheese

figs and goat cheese
Originally uploaded by pdugmore2001.

My fig tree is starting to bear ripening fruit. I hadn't looked at it for a few days because of the rain, but I noticed the starlings and wax eyes were in the tree and helping themselves so realised I'd better check!

They are delightful fresh with Puhoi's Fresh Goat Cheese.

I'll be making some jam when I get enough.

Does anyone want a fig tree? My Dad has 3 he has struck from cuttings. All healthy plants waiting for a fig-lovin' owner. Let me know.

Inspire tag book

Another colleague at work left recently so I made a tag book for her. Red is her favourite colour.

Once again, I finished it the night before so the light for the photos is not so good.

Another colleague at work left recently so I made a tag book for her.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Painting the bedroom

Last weekend we moved our bed out into the lounge and got things ready for the next big DIY project. Painting the master bedroom. We've only had the paint for..uh.. 2 years waiting to get started. The folks who had the house before must have liked the colour on the walls because they used the same tone for the whole house, including the ceilings. Fine for trying to sell your house I suppose but personally I like my ceilings to be white and to have a bit of variation for the rest. And of course I am the epitome of taste. (HA! NOT).

Here are the bedroom "before" photos. The pile in the middle is our drawers and my scrapbooking stuff. Those blinds are going. I hate them with a passion. I'm putting up net curtains and drapes. Much softer effect, I can wash them in my machine and they don't rattle at night in the breeze when I'm trying to sleep.

Another view.

DS took a photo of Mummy in her gorgeous painting overalls which used to belong to my grandfather. They were soon dispensed with because it was so hot! The scarf is to prevent dust and paint getting in my hair. I always manage to get paint in my hair.

Of course, Missy Moo must be the same as Mummy so we had to tie one around her head too. DS also took this photo ;) And many more which I deleted! After all, one doesn't need that many photos of screwdrivers, paint pots, ladders and other DIY gear. DS might have a different opinion I guess.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Interview with Hannah

Hannah has interviewed me :-)

1. It's not secret that you love to read. If you had to recommend just FIVE must-read books, what would they be?

oooooo... well this one is really hard because there are so many books out there that are so good, plus my taste influences my choices.

The Narnia series by C. S. Lewis: classic "fantasy" that most children and adults enjoy. My Dad read these to us when I was about 7 and I re-read them many times over the years. The allegorical nature of the series appeals to me personally but they don't have to be read that way. I always want to eat Turkish delight after reading The lion,the witch and the wardrobe.

The omnivore's dilemma / Michael Pollan: I read this last year and it still is reverberating in my brain. The issues he covers concern me and I found the book to be eye opening.

A thousand splendid suns / Khaled Hosseini : Another book that stays with me that I read last year. It can be quite dark in places but overall I thought it was brilliant.

The Bible: I know some folks would disagree about this one! LOL! But in terms of Western culture and social context I think it is a formative piece of work. For many it is an inspiration and guide. It's not a book to be read from cover to cover though, and one shouldn't expect to understand everything in it.

Janet Frame's autobiographies To the is-land | An angel at my table | Envoy from mirror city: When I read these I find myself marveling at the tension between imagination, society' attitudes to people, and the role of family in nuturing individuality.

2. I am always impressed with your efforts to be "green". Have you always been concerned about the environment or was there a significant event/person/issue that inspired you in this area?

I can't recall any specific person or event that inspired or encouraged me. Although - the Wombles were my favourite things for a while. Until they stole my dummy. Well, that's what my mum told me. I was traumatised for life.

I think consciousness of the world around me and my effect on it started quite young though. I vividly remember my Dad taking on walks along the beach as children and teaching us to look but return rocks to where they came from, to leave things as they were. We were never allowed to leave rubbish around if we went on a picnic anywhere. I would often take a rubbish bag with me on beach walks to pick up stuff that irresponsible visitors had left. As a family we all tend to be quite observant of "nature"; we're plant and animal lovers and avid readers of literature pertaining to same. Gerald Durrell and other writers like him were my staple library books in my teen years and I think their message of conservation influenced me.

As a teenager one often finds "causes" to be passionate about and I think conservation and respect for the earth became mine. Biology and ecology were my favourite subjects (along with English) at school. This translated into me doing a BSc in biological sciences at Uni. I think if the trend at the time for cell and molecular biology hadn't been so prevalent I would have gone on to doing post-grad work in some area relating to plant conservation.

3. What is your favourite way to relax after a long day?

Probably in a hot bath with a book!

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

I've lived in England and Germany and visited a number of countries but I prefer to live in New Zealand. I'm a classic "home body" and while I like to visit other places, I never feel entirely settled until I'm on NZ soil. This is where my roots are, where my memories lie and where my culture is.

5. What is your proudest achievement so far?

There a number of things I'm proud to have achieved. The one that springs to mind right now is giving birth to DD with just gas and the TENs machine for pain relief. OK, so DH teases me about my moans and groans but I impressed myself that I did it. It dispelled a bunch of fears that DS's birth had created. Breastfeeding both my kids until 2 years old is also something I'm currently very pleased with.

I think my proudest achievement in ten years time might be different. What I thought 10 years earlier would have been quite different too.

Now, if you would like ME to interview YOU, here’s what to do:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will email you 5 questions.
3. You answer the questions on your blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

January Reading Round Up | Book Club Book Review

As darkness falls / Bronwyn Parry.
Set in an isolated small town at the edge of the New South Wales outback and haunted by her failures, Detective Isabella O'Connell is recalled to duty by Detective Alec Goddard as yet another child is abducted. They have days to find the child and their mutual attraction is being ruthlessly exploited by the killer. ~from the blurb. Your basic thriller/crime story with love interest. Fun to read and kept me interested.

Mao's Last Dancer / Li Cunxin
Biography of Li Cunxin who was chosen at 11 years old to go to the ballet academy in Beijing... away from his family and friends. I really enjoyed this story of triumph over adversity. Li was one of the lucky ones but it came at a cost. I enjoyed the importance of family love he highlights in the book.

Woman of a thousand secrets / Barbara Wood.
A novel set in an undiscovered world before the time of Columbus. This is the story of Tonina. She came from the sea, found floating in a basket by a childless couple. Unlike the fellow villagers in her adoptive home, she is tall, lean and light-skinned. When she turns nineteen, her parents know they must send her back to her people. And here is where Tonina's tale of survival and sacrifice, of luck, magic, intrigue, danger, romance and betrayal begins. ~from the blurb. I usually enjoy Wood's books but this one I found pedantic and slow. The main character is too "good" - someone with no flaws, or who does little in terms of character development is just boring. The bad character is just too predictably bad. Not sure I'd bother recommending it.

Stiff : the curious lives of human cadavers / Mary Roach.
Ever wondered how the dead help the living? This is a non-fiction book detailing just that. Amazing! I really enjoyed it - lots of interesting stories and facts that I had no idea about. The topic may seem morbid but the book is anything but. No gross-out factor involved either. Recommend this one.

Fortune's fool / Mercedes Lackey.
As the seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina has a wonderful life -but also a lot of responsibility. Her special gift for moving around on land made her the perfect emissary from her father to check out interesting happenings on the surface. In short, she became the family spy. On one such reconnaissance mission, she encounters Sasha - the seventh son of the king of Belorus. Though everyone sees his talent at music, they also consider him a fool. Ekaternia suspects something more powerful lies behind his facade. But before she can find out what, Ekaterina is kidnapped and trapped in a castle with other kidnapped princesses at the mercy of a possessive Jinn. Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Which means that fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on. ~from the blurb. I rather enjoyed this one. I found it predictable but in a nice way. It' sometimes pleasant to read something that feels like a comfortable old shoe. Good, 'clean' fantasy and a series I quite like.

The lady and the unicorn / Tracy Chevalier.
Set over the period 1490 to 1492, Tracy Chevalier's novel moves between a chateau in Lyons and the cities of Paris and Brussels. The story concerns a series of six Flemish tapestries known as the lady and the unicorn tapestries. ~from the blurb. Having read some other books by Chevalier I was pleased to pick this one up and enjoyed the historical story of these famous tapestries.

Wild latitudes / Barbara Else.
After the unusual death of their papa, Adele Overend and her younger brother Godwin are dispatched from comfortable Autumn Hall in Yorkshire to the uttermost ends of the earth - gold rush Dunedin in 1864. Even worse for the grieving pair, they must travel on separate vessels. Self-possessed and practical Adele discovers herself cast up on an inhospitable island occupied by a misfit band of sealers. Godwin arrives on the rim of civilisation to find his sister vanished and nobody willing to employ an unusually pretty boy. Their adventures lead them into a series of mishaps and self-reinventions. Oh, what a catalogue: shipwreck, murder, renegade scientists, nasty doctors, a brothel, an asylum, urchins, a remarkable baby, lost relations, cross-dressing, dwarf wrestling, pyrotechnics, concealed identities, quackery, highway robbery, strange religious cults, bridled passions heaving under the stays. ~from the blurb. This one was kind of wierd. On one had I enjoyed the NZ aspect and the story is quite engaging. But I did find myself getting annoyed at Adele's pomposity and Godwin's pathetic wussie ways!

Reserved for the cat / Mercedes Lackey.
In 1910, in an alternate London, a penniless young dancer is visited by a cat who communicates with her mind to mind. Though she is certain she must be going mad, she is desperate enough to follow the cat's advice and impersonates a famous Russian ballerina. The cat, it turns out, is actually an Elemental Earth Spirit, and leads her to minor stardom. Meanwhile, the real Russian ballerina has fallen victim to an evil troll who takes over her body and kills her patrons, drinking their life essences in order to strengthen his powers. And soon, the troll focuses his dark attentions on the young dancer. ~from the blurb. Once again - predictable clean fantasy but I enjoyed it. I happen to like this particular series. Lackey does tend to overstate and over describe the situations but the story is fun.

Figures in silk / Vanora Bennett.
When silk merchant John Lambert marries off his two beautiful daughters, their fortunes are set to change forever. Elder daughter Jane starts a notorious liaison with Edward IV, while her sister, Isabel, as the new silkweaver to the court, becomes privy to its most intimate secrets. Could they hold the keys to power in this time of uncertainty? ~from the blurb. So glad I discovered this author! Very much enjoyed this story especially because the relationship between the main character and Edward grows/changes and is believable. Recommended.

At risk / Patricia Cornwell.
Winston Garano, a Massachusetts state investigator, is called home from a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, an attractive but hard-charging woman, is planning to run for governor and planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk. By employing cutting-edge DNA technology she thinks her office can be made to look pretty good and reflect well on her. Win is not so sure but before he can open his mouth, a shocking piece of violence intervenes.~ from the blurb. I used to enjoy Cornwell's Scarpetta series but over time I've got fed up with the continual angst Scarpetta suffers from. So I was curious to see what this new character was like. I enjoyed the book but I didn't feel like Cornwell had done anything new or different with this character. Ok I guess.

Blogosphere Book Circle Book of the Month

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.

Set in London/Guernsey just after the war, this book is written in the format of letters to one character to another which takes a little getting used to. As far as I was concerned I "got into" it within the first few pages! Julia Ashton is looking for her next book topic and discovers it when she is contacted by a man who has bought a copy of a book that used to belong to her. Thus begins a correspondence that quickly evolves into more as Julia gets to know each member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and their life on the island during the German occupation. Each letter reveals a little more about their stories, their perspectives island life, characters who live there and connections. Julia eventually visits the island and finds more than just her book.

Did you like/dislike the book, did it affect you in any way?:
I LOVED it! Srsly. I enjoyed the way the story developed with each letter. The humour appealed to me.. it's very like my own. I found it moving in parts but not so heart wrenching that I had to put it down. I was delighted to see that the author was a librarian and peeved disappointed to discover that the author died before it was published. Because I would like to read more by her!

You can read what the other book circle members wrote by visiting their blogs (in the side bar --->)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Power Igor...

And we have life! Yes I am still alive. Ha!

Prepare for bullet point posting:

1. Finished the A-Z of New Zealand album for a colleague leaving for Australia. Actually more for his kids who were born here. Couldn't let those tender NZers forget their NZ heritage now could I? A few of the pages. Sorry about the awful light but I finished it the night before I had to give it to him and had no opportunity to take a photo in daylight.

2. I planted 2 kinds of corn this year. Indian corn and the usual sweetcorn. The two obviously cross fertilised and we got some kernels reverting to the old fashioned corn. Tasted fine though and looked pretty. :-)

3. Went to the Steam Festival at Glenbrook. DS had a great time with all the steam technology. DD and I had a ride on the cart pulled by the Clydesdales (Guy, Jill and Star). Oh boy it was hot that day! The steam train caused a grass fire and our return trip to the station was delayed by it - having left lunch in the car we were sure hungry by the time we got to eat it. We ended up driving into Waiuku to eat because there was very little available shade and so many people! A great day though. I got lots of photos for Lianne's NZ photo calendar project.

4. I've been awarded some blog awards by some generous ladies. Thank you!

Rachel gave me the Kreative Blogger award. I'm going to give it to Vicky because I want to be like her when I grow up. I really admire her creativity, her style and her dedication to what she believes in. She may not "go in for" these awardy type things but that is ok too.

Ann gave me the Marie Antoinette award. It's for "telling it like it is" I understand. So I'm going to award it to Sandra. She and her blog-hijacking husband are not afraid to put the tough things of life on their blog.

Yvette very sweetly gave me the Fabulous blog award. I'm going to award it to Sharon because she constantly delights me with her photos and layouts. I know she thinks she needs more practice with her photography but I think (and her other readers probably agree) that she has some great stuff appearing regularly.
And Bronny has given me this award which comes with some rules!

We have to say one nice thing about the man in our life. Hmmmm. Well, I wouldn't like to be without him that is for sure. He puts up with my strange foibles, makes me laugh, still thinks I'm hot despite 2 babies and being over 30, and supports my coffee/chocolate habit. Hee hee!
And we have to list 6 ways I measure my success in life. Well that is kinda personal - I'll probably sound a bit religious but... the main way I measure success is if I'm living up to the spirit of Christ's teachings.
But there are some others.
2) if I've made somebody's life better
3) if I've taught my kids to be good citizens
4) if I've learned something new
5) if I've been able to find blessing in something I find difficult to do/live with/deal with
6) if I've been able to find time for prayer/meditation

Now I'm going to award this one to themommykelly. :-)

I am going to post separately about the January reading Round Up and the Book Club Book. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Swimming against the tide

A librarian guru I admire (Stephen Abram) is reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Might have to add it to my reading list. He blogged about Taleb's top life tips:

"1 Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

2 Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.

3 It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.

4 Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.

5 Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.

6 Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.

7 Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).

8 Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants... or (again) parties.

9 Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.

10 Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them."

“You find peace by coming to terms with what you don’t know.”

I like 6 & 7 in particular. They fit in with my desire for greater authenticity and less of the brown stuff in my workplace. Number 5 fits my green tendencies ;-)

I also like what Stephen is alleged to have said to the librarians at ALIA in Australia:

if you aren’t keeping up-to-date then you should get out of my profession.

Can you tell I've been fighting dinosaurs at work?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Stinky Man

You've met Duck Man. Let me introduce Stinky Man (StM).

I met StM on my first desk shift down on the public library level not long after I'd gone back to work.

We have a bank of PCs available for research opposite the info desk. They have a block password on them that I have to enter before anyone can log on to them. This is so we can keep them available for people (i.e. our students) who are doing "serious" research. Or in other words, if you want to do email or just muck around on Bebo you have to do it in the Learning Centre and not up on Level 2. Well that is cool. I can cope with that. As you might imagine, things were new to me so I was finding my feet and trying to work out where things were. G had gone over various procedures and had left me to cope by myself.

StM was using one of the PCs when I arrived. I didn't pay much attention to him at first but his miasma soon made itself noticeable. Not much I could do about that apart from going for frequent monitoring walks away from the info desk. However, the purpose of the info desk is that someone is there to answer questions! So I couldn't disappear for long. So I heaved a sigh of relief when he got up to vacate the chair. But not for long. He approached the desk.

StM: Are you going to log off that computer or not?
Me: Pardon? *eh? what computer? this is the one I'm working on*
StM: You can't leave it logged in with nobody using it. Anybody could jump on and use the account.
Me: *mind working quickly, realises he's talking about the PC next to him* Oh right, sure I'll log it off.
StM:*getting worked up and getting louder* You should be more careful! You never know who could just help themselves to that person's acount! Log it off now!

I proceed to log it off while he accuses me of being dangerously uncaring etc. (Forget the fact I had no idea it was still logged on with nobody using it).

Well, moving right along.

So my first time working a late night I descend to Level 2, nervously to begin my shift. Who should turn up but StM to use the PCs! I log him on holding my breath.

Nothing happens - he uses the PC and goes. *sigh of relief and deep breaths of clean air*

The second late night I descend to Level 2. No StM! Yay!

The evening draws on and I go upstairs to give S a tea break. It's a quiet evening on this level. Until StM storms through the door and barks to me "Would you log me on?!" and storms out again leaving me stunned. I can't leave the Level 3 desk because of the cash drawer so StM has to stew for a few minutes until S gets back from his break.
StM is not pleased.
StM still smells. I hold my breath while logging his PC on.

According to my colleagues StM has been a student with us doing some mental health papers but dropped out. He was unsuccessful in his application to the Police training school down in Porirua. He's a big guy. I shouldn't like to tangle with him.

StM seems to use the PCs for writing letters or documents about his musings. He thumps the key board with fat fingers like it's a piece of bubblewrap he's trying pop. I'm curious to know what he's writing. I wander officiously over to the copiers and press a few buttons while peering over his shoulder. While holding my breath.

"Dear [insert female name], How are you? I am not good...."

"... the time of the Prophet is at hand..."

"Dear Sir, I am being followed by predators..."

It's fair to say that StM makes me nervous.