Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two Fi'ty

This wasn't part of the grand master plan but for around two dollars and fifty cents and a bit of time it was totally worth it.
This was what the floor of the cabinet under the kitchen sink looked like. The plywood was so old and had been saturated so many times (I'm guessing; it looked this way when I bought this house) that you couldn't even tell it had been plywood. It looked like multiple separate card stock-thin layers of wood splinters. 

Really gross.
First I cannibalized a cardboard box and cut it to size. Let me just say that there are no right angles in this template.
Home Despot had some heavy-duty  adhesive tiles on clearance for forty-eight cents each and I needed five.

I'm no longer embarrassed and nauseated by this part of my kitchen. 

My plan for today involved working out and sanding more cabinet doors but I'm not unhappy with my accomplishments.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

No Big News or Anything

Actually I'm still pretty excited about the being able to knit thing. Beaded kumihimo is GONE baby!
 I made merino-possum-silk mittens from one of my New Zealand yarns. Yum yum!

I started disassembling my kitchen cabinets so that I could paint them.
 Turns out it's way slower than painting a room because this fancy fancy paint has to dry for at least sixteen hours between coats and is supposed to cure another three to five days (this part isn't quite happening exactly) so if you're painting backs as well as fronts of doors, two coats on the backs, three coats on the fronts (I have a gallon of the paint; I've used less than a third of the can) it stretches the joy out quite a bit.

And that's without sanding or priming.
 I'll spare you the endless pictures of my living room as painting station; you can extrapolate. Also the explosion that is a kitchen when most of the drawers and cabinets have been emptied onto the countertops. Just imagine the disarray.
 I'm very pleased with the colour even though it's not exactly what I had chosen because these fancy fancy paints have fancy fancy rules: the manufacturer will only let their distributors mix colours in their fancy fancy catalogue rather than any colour in the entire world like the big box stores which don't keep this fancy fancy paint which isn't quite as miraculous as I was led to believe but I guess we'll see once it's cured and hard as titanium or whatever.

It's a little greener and a little bluer than I'd planned; I'd wanted something altogether murkier but I don't dislike this. And it looks good with the concrete countertops and the cork floor so I'm not actually complaining.
The cats were surprisingly respectful of the painting process, only rubbing up against cabinet doors and drawer fronts before I painted them, avoiding them while wet, and only walking on them once they were mostly dry although I fear before less than sixteen hours had passed.

But they are after all just cats so it's not as though I should be disappointed, especially as their sense of time is dictated only by their stomachs or my appearance in the kitchen: if I'm there it must be time for food. All other time is uninteresting and not relevant to any activities or lack of them.
I was also supposed to teach a class on Tuesday for which I prepared two samples, only to have it sort of cancelled: cancelled in the sense that no one was going to be showing up, but not in the sense that they didn't pay for the class nor expect the instructions. Which they were given.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Almost Four Cities on Tuesday

So on Tuesday morning we woke up in Auckland, took a plane to Fiji, had tourist food on a sweet little beach (and dipped my toes in the sea), got on another plane, woke up and it was Tuesday morning again (a couple of hours before we left Auckland), spent the day in LA with my daughter, got on another plane and came home. It was actually the wee hours of Wednesday, but it was close.

On our last day in Auckland we really wanted to see the glowworm caves (sounds cool, right?) but the single daily public transport (bus? train? don't remember) left while my son was doing his bungee jump and there. Was. Not. A. Single. Rental. Vehicle to be had in Auckland (and I'm excluding those that were double or more the usual rates).

So we wandered around Ponsonby where they are creative with their restaurant namings, witness exhibits A, B and C:
Exhibit A: Wisconsin is world-famous for its burgers? Really?
Exhibit B: Non-vegetarian burgers I guess. Or perhaps burgers so good you'd commit murder to eat them?
Exhibit C: This seems reasonable if very direct.

Later on we climbed Mt Eden, a dormant volcano.
My camera couldn't quite capture the dimensions of the crater: it's a very steep cone-shape indentation, not wide and flat like that from a meteor.
 The views were lovely too, and we had the clearest day.
 We went back the the most awesome ice cream place ever where I'm pleased to report that their fruit sorbets/gelatos/ices/frozen confections are every bit as fabulous as their cream-laden ones. Tropical Passion (or something like that) studded with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds. No complaints at all.

Then there was packing and the like and after one movie we were in Fiji where it was very hot with very high humidity and no air conditioning (except later as we were to find out, in the international departures lounge).

The whole leaving the airport thing was very complicated due to luggage issues (we had to take them through customs if we went through customs and then leave them in the Left Luggage) and low-tech everything. I mean they have their basic airline computers like everywhere else had in the eighties, but not much more. Left Luggage was a woman with a book where you sign in and sign out behind a desk next to a room. No electronic anything besides lights. No air conditioning, no scanning boarding passes to get the relevant information, no credit cards accepted.

We found a taxi driver who wanted to send his kids to college on our few hours, wanting to take us here and there, taking us through the village and past construction sites - the so-called scenic route - to the little resort (I'd call it a beach-side motel but whatever) on the shore where the only Fijian food were on the dinner menu and only the lunch menu was available.
 The beach was ordinary and the whole experience was a bit sad and disappointing.

Their security is odd, to say the least. You know how in the US (and other Western countries too) the rule is that the only liquids in your carry-on have to be in smaller than three-ounce (or 100ml) containers and all have to fit into a quart-sized plastic bag? Yeah well in Fiji you have to put any liquid/gel into a ziplock bag. It has to be in a zip-loc bag, that's the thing. So if you buy something at duty-free they'll only sell it to you if you have a zip-loc bag into which to put it. You may well have seven zip-loc bags in your carry-on but no one seems to mind.

In Sydney my mother had given me a few pieces of silver, some serving spoons and a couple of salt spoons. Too valuable to put into checked luggage, so they were in my carry-on. In Fiji they wanted to look in my luggage and seemed a bit uncomfortable about my bringing them on board the plane, but after some pleading liberally sprinkled with "my mother" and "family heirlooms" they agreed that I could keep them in my carry-on, but was advised to pack them in the bottom underneath everything else because there would be another security check before boarding.

Weird, but whatever, right? Turns out that the "security check" was a couple of guys at a table on which you placed your carry-on items, opened up and they'd sort of peek in, no touching really. So yeah, packing questionable items underneath everything really was the way to go.

I watched three movies on the way to LA.

In LA we went to Eggslut for breakfast. I'd totally go back. The eggs were light, fluffy and creamy, the cheese was just the correct amount of melty and the brioche was perfect.
 We tried to go to the Contemporary Museum of Art but it's closed on Tuesdays apparently.

We went to The Last Bookstore where the upstairs is all sorts of fabulous although I have to say I'm in two minds about using books as bricks.
 We wandered around the outside of the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is kind of amazing.
We then ate calamari tacos and kimchi quesadillas and other deliciousness on the way to the airport where my flight was delayed many hours so I didn't get home until four-ish in the morning.

That was not the most fun time ever. Spreading travel home over effectively two days turns out to be less than ideal, even if I get to spend time with my daughter.

The rest of the week was a bit hazy, I'll confess, especially since The Great Flood came and went while I was gone leaving a basement which smelled badly of mildew. After vinegar and a carpet cleaner that itself seems to smell of mildew followed by OdoBan, my house smells of a distant relative of synthetic pine scent. I guess it's better than mildew? Perhaps I'll use more hydrogen peroxide or something. I'm so not in the mood for recarpeting the basement.

I did teach a class on Thursday, I'm not exactly sure how, and I even made a sample for it on Wednesday night when all I wanted to do was be horizontal.
My big project today (after the vigorous exercise that was determining which breaker corresponded to the outlet in question which was tricky because the few existing breaker labels were a bit on the misleading side) was to change the normal outlet for an outlet also containing USB outlets, which was going really well until I tried to push the new outlet into the box only to find it didn't fit.
Luckily I was able to replace the original outlet (I'm not always utterly confident about this stuff) and had an adapter that I could plug in. Functionally the same but far less elegant and more bulky.
I might be back to normal this week.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Humid in Auckland

It was rainy the day we got here, yesterday it drizzled slightly occasionally with ninety percent humidity and today it's just humid. 

Tomorrow, the day we leave, it's supposed to be gorgeous.

On the plus side, the food has been fabulous and tons cheaper than Queenstown though still my son's  exquisitely discerning coffee palate hasn't been too excited. The best we've had has been a half-hearted "It's alright". I've not been disgusted by the coffee but have been more satisfied than he.
On the super-plus side: yarn! Merino-possum yarn made in New Zealand! Because maybe I can knit a bit especially if I use larger needles so hopefully I'll be able to ease up on the endless kumihimo for watching TV or traveling or waiting for appointments. I'm pretty psyched.

After more than two years or barely knitting, I was horrified when I realized I was out of the habit: it was no longer instinctual when I sat down to watch a movie on Netflix; I didn't make sure I had knitting when I went to doctor or dentist appointments (show me someone who's never waited to see a doctor and I'll show you someone completely delusional). I've been knitting since my age was in the single digits, though perhaps not quite so much to the exclusion of all else as the last twenty or more years (more, let's say) so being unable to knit (especially around other people who are knitting) and not reaching for my knitting as readily as taking a breath has been at best weird and at worst tragic. 

My hands won't heal but I believe I can work within their frailty and limit knitting time and limit the use of small needles and perhaps loosen up my tension and then maybe I can get my knitting life again, somewhat.
Back to the business at hand: Auckland!
Yesterday we took a ferry to Rangitoto Island where my son and I climbed to the summit; my daughter seemed to have lost her way and so only got halfway up which due to the vegetation afforded her next to nothing in the way of views while my son and I enjoyed a gorgeous three hundred and sixty degree view marred only by cloudy skies and a little haze.
The climb took almost an hour and the last third of it was rather steep, but the trail was extremely picturesque: black volcanic rock and black volcanic sand, beautiful, lush growth in greens with yellow things that may be moss-adjacent but I'm no botanist so what do I know. 
Because of the whole Gondwanaland thing, some of the plants look much like and yet disturbingly not quite like plants growing around me as I was growing up, so there was this strange dream-distorted nostalgia too. Familiar yet strange. It smelled wonderful too.
Just before the summit lookout spot you get a view of the crater - Rangitoto is a dormant volcano - filled with vegetation. No photos because I knew they'd look like vegetation and not much else. Pretty vegetation but unremarkable.
After the island my offspring went back to the hotel while I shopped for yarn and took a slow wander back, up side streets and through arcades. Honestly I could do that all day.

After a lightish dinner unlike the overabundance of the previous night's wonderful Turkish meal we tracked down a gourmet ice cream and gelato shop about which I will say as someone whose usual attitude to frozen confections is "eh, whatever" mandates a visit to Auckland, it was that good.
The flavours are not on display in the usual glass case but are written on a chalkboard. If anyone in your party of (say) three asks for a sample, they hand out three samples and keep on handing out recommendations. They have super fancy deluxe cones which double the already not inexpensive ice grams so we passed on that and made our selections.

Here's the OMG factor: each flavor has its own decorations and toppings.
Chocolate extravagance has some sort of granular powdery chocolate coating, a slightly chocolatey sort of marshmallowey stuff extruded or piped over the top,  finished with raspberry-coloured tart fruity crunchy stuff and a disk of chocolate.

Hokey-pokey has a chocolate shell with bits of honeycomb candy poked into it.
Their signature flavour Giapo Buono is dipped in the caramel equivalent of the granular chocolate coating, then decorated with torched marshmallow extrusions and freaking GILDED hazelnuts.

So you sit on the benches outside and start taking selfies (if you're my offspring) and eating, and they come outside offering you glasses of water. Then extra napkins. And then, as you're licking the drips off your fingers, wet wipes.

Everything tasted wonderful but all the extras sent it right over the top.

We plan to go back again tonight.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Starting the New Year Right

Enjoying the glorious scenery around Lake Wakatipu and beyond.

We were going to drive ourselves to Milford Sound but it's about four hours each way and if you're driving winding roads it's hard to enjoy the scenery so we splurged on a bus tour to get to the cruise on the Sound and we're really glad we did. The driver knew all the best places to stop and had plenty of fascinating information about the environs.
The second we got out of Queenstown there was farmlands with sheep.  Lots of sheep.
And cows.
And surprisingly lots of red deer. These were originally imported for game hunting but quickly became a pest so they caught them and now they farm them.
And a couple of goats and a horse or two, some alpaca and llamas.

As if that wasn't enough, the countryside is absolutely gorgeous.
And if that wasn't enough, I've been knitting with almost no discomfort and here I am in New Zesland with an extravagance of fiber-bearing animals and I know which yarn store I'm going to hit when we get to Auckland.
I really loved the mirror lakes.
Oh yes.
And the mountains.
And the blue/tinged glacier-fed streams so clear so magical that if you drink from them you'll live to a hundred and two. Sounds good.
And the mountains. Again and again.

Milford Sound was nice too.
The waterfalls.
The seals fat like slugs on a rock.
A beautiful start to the New Year but a long day.

The last day of 2015 was perfectly lovely too.
We walked the 6km lake trail from Frankton (where we were staying) 
to Queenstown, then took the gondola up the mountain for yet another magnificent view.
Sunset from our accommodation over the lake was more than acceptable too.
So far 2016 looks good.