Five Things Make A Post
1) I've moved house, which is why I've not been visible for the past couple of weeks. The new place is a bit more expensive than the previous one, but it comes with a lot more basic amenities, including things like a roof that doesn't leak, doors which fit their frames, decent insulation, air-conditioning and heating (both of which are relatively essential in an Australian context these days), and a dishwasher in the kitchen. We're currently in the unpackening stage, and probably will be for a few more weeks at least, if not months.
2) Subsequent to 1) above, may I actively dis-recommend iinet as an internet service provider to anyone living in Australia? They have been less than helpful and less than useful in the process of the move, and I suspect I'm going to have to argue things back and forth with them to get some billing issues sorted out (such as them charging me for another month of service at our previous address, even when I gave them two weeks notice of the move occurring during the previous billing period). They have not been helpful, they have not been friendly, they have not been particularly cooperative, and I'm just about done with them. 0 out of 10, would not recommend to anyone, not even my worst enemy.
3) Due to issues related with 2) above, we haven't had working internet for about a week and a half. I'm currently in catch-up mode, and I'll find out what's happened in the rest of the world as I go along. I'm reasonably certain the world hasn't ended (I'm sure I would have noticed if that had happened) but if people want to pass on bits of news to me, I'm not going to turn them down.
4) One of the things I'm attempting to do now we've moved to the new place is build a gardening habit. At the moment, it consists of five minutes work in the garden each day (timed on my phone), which at present is mostly about removing weeds from the front garden area. Which at least means the amount of weeds in the garden is going down slowly. I have Plans for one particular corner of the (minuscule) back garden area, but I'm going to wait until we have the house in vague order first, then hire it done, because these Plans involve a lot of set-up, and I know from extensive past experience I am not good at setting things up, although I am fairly good at maintaining them once I get the required habits built.
(I should note: the gardens, both front and back, are largely sand. Either black sand, because this is Perth and black sand is pretty much the default for most of the city, or yellow brickie's sand, because reasonably recent building site, and therefore covered in the stuff. Easy to dig, desperately hungry and thirsty).
5) As a result of extensive hand-washing and use of hand sanitiser, I'm now discovering I need to use hand cream more often. I would welcome recommendations from readers for a brand of hand cream which is a) not too expensive (I'm not paying more than about $10 at most for a 100mL tube, and probably lower than that would be preferable); b) not too heavy - I want something comparatively light and easily absorbed (for comparison - we have some sorbolene cream in the house which I don't use on my hands because it is too heavy, and leaves them feeling greasy; this is a sensory thing for me, so I'm likely to bounce off things good and hard if they're too heavy); and c) reasonably readily available in Australia?
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A Household Hint
I've been made unemployed again (my contract expired at the end of last month - if you're hiring admin staff in Western Australia and need someone three days a week, let me know!) so I'm spending a lot of time at home. This is (fortunately or unfortunately) currently coinciding with a bout of rather nasty pain from my right temporo-mandibular joint, which means I'm currently drinking one heck of a lot of tea in an effort to keep things from getting entirely too painful. Plus, of course, it is SPRING in Australia, and it's been about three years since the rear courtyard and steps of our place were sprayed with weed-killer. So in order to be dealing with the combined problems of a) boredom; b) too many weeds in the paving; and c) no money to spend on weed-killer, I've been using what I call "the poor person's glyphosate" on the weeds in the rear paving.
What is the poor person's glyphosate? Boiling water. To kill weeds in paving, pour boiling water over them until they start to either a) wilt; b) smell like cooking greenery; or c) both. If it's a really big, bushy weed, pour the water over the base of the plant - kill that and you'll get the rest of it, trust me.
This has several advantages over commercial weed-killers. Firstly, it's entirely non-toxic to the rest of the garden (and to the gardener, for that matter). The thing which is killing the weeds is the heat, not the chemicals - the water itself is entirely non-toxic to the garden when it cools down past boiling point. Secondly, it's not toxic to animal life (if you have pets or fish, you can use this particular weed-killer with no problems whatsoever - just keep them out of range for about five minutes while things cool down). Thirdly, it's also a nice, non-toxic way of dealing with the ants in the paving (pour boiling water down an anthill to give the ants the hint you're not interested in having them excavating Right There). Fourthly, it's cheap and easy. Or at least, it's certainly a lot cheaper and easier than buying commercial weed-killer and using that would be.
Essentially, what I've been doing is each time I boil up the kettle for a cup of tea, I've been taking the remaining hot water out the back door while the tea brews, and pouring it onto a clump of weeds. So far I've managed to clear the back steps, and I'm getting started on the paving nearest the door to the house. At this rate, I'll hopefully have everything cleared by about the end of the next week or so. Then I can get started on the front paving, and clear a bit of that.
 Long story short-ish: the temporo-mandibular joint is inflamed, which refers pain to the nerve on the right hand side of my jaw, which means if I'm not taking regular painkillers, I wind up with everything from my wisdom teeth to the front edge of my right incisors aching like blazes. Including the upper pre-molar which was removed a few years ago. It's a bit annoying, to put things mildly. (Actual joint pain: about a 2 - 3 out of 10. Once the teeth get involved: easily a 6 - 7 out of 10, if not higher). This only gets worse if my right ear or the right side of my jaw get cold. Hence hot liquids as a palliative measure.
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Well, I'm back again...
*Sits up, cracks back*
I have finished all my assessment pieces for university, I don't have any exams (advice to potential students: it's very hard to examine Cultural Studies in a way which can prove you've taken the concepts on board; enjoy the lack of exams, but be prepared for lots of essay work) and I currently have a corner of my brain turning back somersaults in at the door and screaming "I'm FreEEEEEEEE!!!" at me. Semester officially ends on 22 June, which is the earliest possible date I'm going to be stripping all the work off my university laptop, Elfadunk.
Elfadunk desperately needs the latest Windows updates from about April last year (that being when I started getting the messages about "can you find 8GB of spare space on this machine so we can download things pleasethankyou"). Elfadunk has a 32GB hard drive, which is currently just about full to capacity with the combination of Windows 10 (most of the hard drive), the MS Office Suite (free download on the university account), EndNote (ditto), Avast antivirus and its various component pieces, Chrome browser, and all the other various accoutrements of university study, the least part of which is my actual data that I've put there and the various PDFs of readings and articles I've downloaded to work from. So all of those have to get stripped off; then I get to start carefully playing computational Jenga with Windows 10 in order to clear 6 - 8 GB of space in which to download and install the latest updates. Once that's done I get to find whether any of the other stuff will fit back on there again, or whether I'm going to be putting all my data and software onto a prosthetic thumb drive over the next few semesters. (In which case it's another visit to Officeworks in the offing to buy another 32GB thumb drive for all of that - I have one already, but it's acting as the storage vault for all my music so I can listen to music while taking notes on various things at uni).
So there's that needs doing, as well as all the housework I've been neglecting for the last three months (we have an inspection due in either June or July, I'm not quite sure which). Plus I've been documenting the various gaps in my knowledge I'm discovering as I read through various articles, textbooks and so on, so I can use my Copious Free Time to fill those. I now have Copious Free Time, so I'm going to try and keep up the whole business of at least two hours a day of actual study time by using that time to fill in various gaps. This includes reading up on the words of various cultural theorists, because I'm a masochist, and I feel the need to know these things myself rather than reading someone else's interpretation of what they said.
Fun little anecdote from writing the last essay for Cultural Studies: I was analysing two texts - "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, and "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. In the course of three essays about "The God of Small Things", I saw the novel described as a Gothic horror story, a treatise on the existing problems in post-colonial theorising, and a Marxist-influenced caution against the horrors of commodity fetishism in a capitalist system. The idea of "the death of the author" is alive and well, and working in a variety of literary and cultural studies journals, where it's being used as an excuse for making any book ride your particular theoretical hobby-horse. (The whole thing made me laugh, because what I wound up thinking was "I wonder how Arundhati Roy feels about this?").
Also, does anyone know whether there's been any analysis of "The Handmaid's Tale" from the perspective of kink theory? I'd be interested in reading it if there were.
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Wild Weather Strikes Again
The place we're renting at present came with two massive old Cape Lilac trees, one out the front, one out the back. You'll note the past tense there. This is because during some high winds (about 60 km/h) on Saturday night, half the back tree snapped off, and fell downhill (fortunately all into our garden, not onto the neighbour's place). So we now have one-and-a-half massive Cape Lilac trees.
We've reported it to the real estate agents/property managers, and I'm going to be giving them a phone call on Monday to see whether we can get firstly a tradesperson or similar to come out and deal with the task of removing the half-a-fscking tree from the back garden so we can get at the washing line again, and secondly a tree surgeon to have a look at the remaining half-a-tree which is still standing and recommend whether it can be left alone (doubt it!); whether it needs to be trimmed or lopped (so if it does fall over it won't cause major structural damage to the neighbour's house, the house we're in, or the car parked in the driveway); or whether the blasted thing is so unstable there's no chance of it remaining up safely, and it needs to come down completely.
After clearing a few branches away from where the clothesline access was, we've discovered the clothesline frame has been bent down and forward to the point where the poor thing ain't usable (I would not be wanting to try and straighten out the gorgeous gentle curve the support strut has been bent into, quite frankly - the thing is so old I think it would snap instead). So we have to report that to the real-estate people as well. It also took one tile from the roof of the lean-to shed which contains the laundry and the exterior toilet. Given the size of the blasted thing, I'm almost surprised by the amount of damage it *didn't* do - if it had fallen directly to the right (facing toward the back fence) the blasted thing could have taken out the entire wash-house in a single thump, but instead it fell to the lower right, which means it clipped a single tile from the wash-house lean-to (and given we don't use the exterior toilet anyway, a leaky roof there isn't really an issue) and mostly hit the clothesline.
But either way, I get to call the real-estate people and find out what's going to be happening. I sent a couple of emails through their web-page over the course of the weekend to let them know the state of play; I'll be following up by phone today to see how fast we can get things moving. I may just mention that the longer they delay on this, the greater the chance the passionfruit vine I planted last year is going to regard the whole lot of fallen lumber as fair game for growing into!
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Update 25 SEP 2017 - Five things make a post.
1) It's a non-teaching week this week, which means my alarm is turned most definitely off and I am catching up on sleep. It's also cold and wet and rainy, to the point where when I was starting to write up my journal this morning I inadvertently started entering the month as "June".
2) I have managed to complete the AV presentation which was driving me bats, and now I have to concentrate on getting my poetry portfolio done. Which means I have to settle down and actually get into a poetry mindspace, which is somewhat akin to having an unstructured dose of therapy. Poetry involves rummaging around in the subconscious, and the problem with doing this for me is I keep finding things in there I don't remember putting there. Like discovering the reason I'm so keen on Final Fantasy VII as a fandom is because I actually empathise strongly with Cloud Strife's memory problems (because they're rather akin to the ones I have as a result of chronic depression).
3) I've done my vote in the Marriage Equality survey, and I think Steve dropped both of them off in the post-box on Friday. I voted "yes", of course, because quite frankly I cannot for the life of me see how allowing people who aren't heterosexual to marry is going to "damage marriage". The arguments of the "No" campaign appear to be mainly based around "think of the children" (I don't have any myself, and I'm thinking of the non-heterosexual and non-gender-binary children who might want to get married when they grow up); "it's against our religion" (well, nobody's saying you have to go out and get married to anyone); "marriage is about having children" (oh, does that mean my infertile friend is damaging the institution of marriage? How about my mother, who's past the age of reproduction and still married to my father?) and so on. None of their arguments really appear to be based on anything sensible, because let's face it, we can't point to a sensible argument against extending marriage to non-heterosexual people.
(Also, on the whole "freeze peach" side of things: if anyone who is busy screaming about how it's going to result in priests being forced to perform gay weddings against their wills and against religious canon can actually point to a single case of this having occurred anywhere in the world where non-heterosexual marriage is already permitted, then I'll start paying attention to this particular argument. But until then... it's a stupid argument).
4) I have a bunch of seedlings from my mother that I picked up on Saturday - Mum buys a bunch of seedlings every year to plant out in her vegetable garden, but the vege patch isn't really all that big, so she's usually got some over. So now she's giving them to me, and I'm going to be planting them out in my vegetable garden space. If the rain ever lets up for long enough for me to get it done. I will also be surrounding them with enough snail bait to hopefully keep the troops of snails we currently have decimating everything in the garden well away for a while.
5) We have received an invitation to come over for dinner tonight from my parents. My brother, in a fit of enthusiasm (and in the grip of a high-protein diet) decided since today is a public holiday (and he thus doesn't have to go in to work) he was going to barbecue an entire beef brisket. So he went and bought himself what looks like half a cow - seriously, the thing occupied about half the width of my parents' chest freezer. So they've invited myself and Steve over to help consume the wretched thing. I may wind up being given some leftovers to take home with me, which means cottage pie for dinner some time this week.
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A Sort of Apology.
I feel I owe everyone who's read anything I've written for the past week or so a rather profound and massive apology. Unfortunately, the best you're getting at the moment is an explanation.
( Lengthy stuff under fold )
So, apologies for the rather frequent brainos I've been having over the past week. I will try to do better, but first I need to get my brain back...
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Update on the Washing Machine
The nice man from the washing machine repair firm found he had time enough after finishing his last job of Tuesday to come out and deal with our washing machine yesterday evening, about 4-ish. Which means we now have a working washing machine again. No idea why it wasn't working, but apparently unplugging all the leads inside the machine and plugging them all back in again seemed to do the trick, so I suspect what happened is it essentially shook something out of contact. For a nearly twenty year old machine (we got it when we were in Canbrrra, so it's heading on for "old enough to vote") it's doing quite well.
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Update 03 JUN 2017
Well, I've finished classes for the first semester, I just have to finish editing the short story (which is due on Thursday coming up), which mostly comprises minor tweaks to try and make it a little less "stations of the canon" and "cast of thousands", and then I'm done. I have completed a semester at university (again). I've come out of this one feeling a lot more positive about things than I have in a while - I genuinely feel I could keep up study with this level of support and assistance, and I do think it's helpful having the Access Plan in the background, so I know if everything comes collapsing down at once, I just have to wave that and I can get the help I need. Having my specialist support group mentor to talk with as well was a great help - just knowing I have someone else I can vent to about things if necessary was a great relief. Means if I get to the point where my brain is tying itself into knots and trying to do Weird Shit with my executive function, I at least have someone I can reach out to and say "okay, help!" and I know they'll do that, to the best of their ability. It's such a reassurance.
The rental inspection passed without a hitch - our property manager is familiar with the place and with us, and knows we're not likely to try and knock the place down without provocation. She was okay with the idea of us requesting another twelve months in the property (she asked us to send her an email about it, so she had a record - so I did that), and hopefully some time in the next few weeks, we'll start dealing with all the paperwork needed to ensure the renewal goes forward. If we're really lucky, we won't see an increase in the rent, either - we're in a declining rental market, so I doubt the rent will increase by much (if at all). Also we have the owner coming around on Wednesday morning to measure up the kitchen for Ikea cabinets (the ones from the carpenter apparently cost too much or something). So, we may be getting a better kitchen out of all of this ... or not.
( Eating and food related stuff below the fold )
What else has been happening? Oh yeah, I've been writing up a chapter by chapter summary of a particularly long story for another author - something to use as a writer's reference for what happened when, who appeared at what time, etc. Oh, and the weather continues wintery - cold and clear, rather than wet and miserable. Although we are in with about a 40% chance of wet and miserable today. But other than that? We're all fine here. How are you?
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Update 27 MAY 2017
This week everything happened at once.
I've known for a while that I had an essay due, a rationale and reflection document due, a short story to write (1500 - 2000 words) and a rent inspection due at some point this month. This week, the uncertainty bubble surrounding the date of the inspection collapsed, and we discovered when it was going to happen: this coming Wednesday (it's due in May, Wednesday is the 31st of May, it apparently counts).
For those of you not ensnared in the morass of the Australian rental market, let me describe the joys of a rental inspection to you. Firstly, you get told the inspection is happening at some time on a given day - usually with about a week's notice. The current real estate agency are nice enough people - they narrow it down to "some time between 12pm and 5.30pm", which is positively generous. Before this happens, you need to have the property in a condition which would satisfy either your mother, or your mother-in-law (depending on who has the more rigid housekeeping standards - if neither of these qualify, pick your unfriendly local germophobe). You also need the gardens (if there are any) looking good as well - the local mowing places do a lot of good business out of people who have inspections due! So, once you have the property in pristine condition (including things like cleaning off light switches, wiping down walls and cleaning the oven) you wait for the property manager (if you're renting from a real-estate agency) or the owner (if you're renting directly) to come in and have a look over the place. Now, technically, they're not supposed to be judging you on your housekeeping standards - but we all know this is so much horse elbows, so yeah, they are. If it's a property manager, they come in and often (these days) take photos of the interior of the place, in order to prove you've left the walls where they were when you came in, and to prove the roof hasn't spontaneously fallen in or similar. This, of course, means they're usually taking photos of your goods and chattels as well. Anyway, they come in, do their walk through, make sure you haven't knocked the place down since they were last there, then breeze back out again after making a report for the owner. The whole business takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour tops, but it requires about a week's solid effort in preparation because the place needs to be pristine for them.
This happens every three months, by the way (four a year).
We had the tradesman come around to have a look at the kitchen cupboards on Friday at about 7.30 in the morning. He brought the owner with him, which I would have appreciated knowing about beforehand (while the house wasn't in "complete dog's breakfast" condition, it wasn't quite at "suitable for unknown strangers visiting" levels of cleanliness). Basically, the owner and the tradesman consulted with each other, and I suspect the outcome is going to be a replacement of at least some (if not all) of the kitchen benches. Now, when this will happen (and whether we'll be in the property when it does) is currently all up in the air - our lease expires on the 21st of July, and while I'm going to be talking to the property manager about getting another twelve months in the place nailed down, what may wind up happening is the owner might decide (in the interests of "not disrupting our lives", gods help us) to give us our notice to quit at the end of this current lease, so he can get the tradies in to do things uninterrupted. Now, I don't know whether this is certain, probable or merely in the range of possibilities out there, but it's something I've added to the list of potential worries coming up.
I've mostly finished all the uni assessments - I finished off the editing of my major essay for one of my units this morning (it's been sitting there waiting to be done like an albatross around my neck for the last three or four days, but when I try to do it in the afternoon, my brain basically throws up an "Out of Spoons" error and refuses to parse the wretched thing). I just have the short story to write a first draft of (for workshopping purposes) by Tuesday. Which should be fun, right? But once I've submitted that short story (due the 1st of June) I've finished for the semester, and all I have to do after that is wait for my results.
Of course, this also means I have to go and speak to AtWork regarding Work for the Dole, since at present my university study qualifies as my Work for the Dole activity - and technically they have me on the books as needing to do Work for the Dole until about August or thereabouts. So I need to find out whether I'm going to be breaching my mutual obligation requirements if I don't immediately start doing something else (like picking up litter, sorting rags, washing bottles, or picking oakum) immediately the moment I've handed in this last assignment.
Still going on MFF, have deleted Avengers Academy from the tablet (since it wasn't going anywhere, and was crashing on a regular basis every time I tried to open it) and I'm getting very fond of Final Fantasy Record Keeper, which I've been playing for over a year now, and which hasn't crashed, glitched, or demanded money from me in all that time. Why can't there be more games like that?
 The logic here being that having renovations done around us would be disruptive. Which, yes, it would. But having to move out on short notice, and find another place to live in for the amount we can afford (preferably close to uni - that's the main qualifying feature of this place, by the way - it's close enough to the university that we can basically be there within 15 minutes of leaving the house) would be even more disruptive.
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House & Garden updates and photos
(Just so everyone's aware, any photos of the garden are hosted at Instagram - the account is megpie71, same as usual).
Having had a couple of reasonably sunny days in a row, I got enough enthusiasm together this morning to head out and do some shopping for the house and the garden. For the house, or more particularly, for my bedroom, I went to Spotlight, and picked up a packet of that plastic-coated wire used for hanging curtains, and a sheer curtain to go on it (my bedroom window faces straight out into the street, and it's easy enough for anyone passing by to see straight in; I'd rather have the minor degree of privacy afforded by having a sheer curtain covering the window). For the garden, I headed down to Bunnings, and got a spade (or is it a shovel? Whichever of them has the square mouth, I got one of those), a swan-necked hoe, and a three-prong cultivator. I also bought a grafted black passionfruit vine, which I then planted out in the back garden.
I also planted out the three packets of bean seeds I'd brought with me from the last place. This comprised one unopened packet of "Purple King" climbing beans (which I planted out near the trellis) and a couple of half-used packets of green bush beans and yellow butter beans. They were all marked as "Use By AUG 2016", so we'll see whether or not they come up (I figure if they do, that's great; if they don't, well, no great loss).
There's photos on Instagram of the passionfruit vine, and the spots where I planted out the beans. Not much to look at for the moment, but I'm sure things will improve over time.
I also chucked another handful of snail bait into the mailbox, along with a fairly hefty scattering of the stuff on the ground below the mailbox. The aim being to eventually dissuade the snails from feasting on our letters, junk mail, and just about anything else which winds up being put in the mailbox. (Failing that, I shall settle for crushing up the snail shells and using them as a calcium supplement for the garden).
I've just been trying to cut the plastic covered wire (so I can put up the curtain) but ran into a minor snag... namely, that it's plastic covered wire, and I don't have any wire cutters to hand. So I shall have to wait for Steve to return home and beg the use of the ones on his Swiss Army Knife. First big setback of the day (*le sigh*).
Future plans include letting the plants be watered by the rain we're expecting tonight and tomorrow, and seeing if I can find me some information on how to do terraced garden beds for the long-term of the front garden (and the back, and probably the side alley as well). I also want to get my potted plants moved from the back paved space around to the front garden area, where I can keep a better eye on them. But that's going to be a gradual job (and may involve hiring or borrowing a hand-truck for the larger plants).
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I went and visited my parents yesterday, and picked up a collection of plants for our garden.
( Long blatheration under fold )
(I'm considering the possibility of contemplating the idea of starting an Instagram account or something similar, so I can share pictures of this garden as I work on it. If only because I want to keep a record of what I've achieved).
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State of the Meg Update
A few things have been happening lately.
To start with, Steve and I have moved house. We are now living in East Victoria Park, rather than Yangebup, having done most of the actual "heavy lifting" part of the move over the past week or so - officially, we've been moved in for a week (picked up the keys and signed the lease on the 22nd of this month), practically, we'll be here for a week come Monday (movers did the furniture shifting and such on the Monday morning).
The house we've moved into is an older place - I suspect it was built around the 1950s or 1960s as a worker's cottage, and it doesn't look as though it's been substantially renovated or upgraded since about the 1970s, when someone upgraded the kitchen and bathroom (to add an internal toilet, a bath/shower combination, and put in new benchtops/door fronts in the kitchen). Since then, the place has, I gather, been pretty constantly rented out, generally to students. The suspicion from the real estate agent is that the owners are waiting for the market to improve sufficiently, and then they're going to sell the place to a developer, who will put a bulldozer through the house and build at least three units, probably more, on the block.
(My guess is they have to wait for someone in their family to die off before they can sell, since quite frankly if that were going to be the case, they would have taken advantage of the last boom cycle in the local real-estate market).
The rent is $35 per week lower than the (subsidised) rent we were paying on the last place, and it looks it. External laundry space, an outside toilet, crumbling brickwork on the back steps down to the laundry, crumbling brickwork on the back steps down to the clothes line, and the entire place is pretty much over-run by oxalis (soursob). I have an interesting few months of garden work in front of me (starting with killing off the existing weed cover using the poor man's glyphosate - boiling water).
To add to the fun of the move, I wound up coming down with 'flu at the beginning of the final week in the Yangebup place (just what you need when you're moving house, right?). So I'm recovering from that while I continue with the whole business of unpacking and putting things away.
Steve is starting study at Curtin University (which is the reason we've moved - so he's closer to uni, and doesn't have to travel such a long distance for classes and such). I'm currently contemplating doing the same (he's studying full-time, I'm considering part-time), although for me the planned starting date would be first semester next year at the absolute earliest. As far as I'm concerned, there is absolutely no point in me contemplating study as a way of improving my employability (as a mentally ill, middle-aged woman who isn't particularly pretty, I have all the employability of a me-sized piece of granite as far as the average Australian employer is concerned), so if I do study, I'm going to do a course which is something I'm actually interested in.
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Unending Domestic Upheaval and Horrible Weather
So in the ongoing saga of things going wrong that require workmen, the latest instalment is that part of the ceiling of our garage came loose and fell in. As in, the plasterboard ceiling and attached cornices basically dropped about 2 feet in one corner, breaking the plasterboard, and pretty much putting the structural integrity of the rest of the ceiling at risk (according to the workman who came around yesterday to have a look at the extent of the problem - he was expecting maybe a 2 inch drop, apparently). This means we're getting more workmen in today, arriving at about 8.30am.
Fortunately, my being up and dressed to deal with them is not going to be a problem, mostly because for the past few days we've had stinking hot humid weather (high thirties, low forties C and humid with it), and last night I doubt it got much below about 30C. There was a bit of rain at about 4.30am here (I know this because I spent a ruddy awful night tossing and turning trying to keep cool and get some sleep and I was awake at the time) but it wasn't much more than the humidity finally reaching the point of "well, bugger" and condensing out of sheer inertia. Big splats of raindrops, but not enough to seriously wet the paving. We spent most of yesterday with the air-conditioner on, and a fair chunk of the day before, and today is currently looking like more of the same, so it looks like our next power bill (due around the beginning of February) is going to be a hefty one.
I wound up getting up at about 5.30am after a night of attempting fitfully to sleep, so I'm well and truly awake by now, and I've just let the nice man from the ceiling repair firm in to start working (at 8am). They're talking about having to come in tomorrow as well, to finish sanding things down. Yay.
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Update on The Washing Machine
We were in luck on Thursday, and managed to get hold of a repairman who came out and fixed all the various problems with our machine. Now, said machine is about 15 years old (I know we got it while we were living in Canbrrra, and brought it back with us when we moved back here) so I wasn't surprised that some of the problems turned out to be purely about age and wear.
So, the reason the machine was spraying water all over the floor was the water valve for the drum had a perished diaphragm. One replacement later, and I have a laundry floor which stays dry (although it still needs cleaning). The reason the drum wasn't turning was that the brushes on the motor which turned it had worn down to about 1/3 their original length. Replaced them, and the motor works fine. The other thing he fixed was the dodgy powder dispenser drawer, which had stopped working months ago. Turns out that one was because we'd inadvertently left one of the transit spacers for the machine (which are supposed to stop the drum from moving about too much while it's in transit for moves) in place after the last move, and that had been banging up against the edge of the tray, and snapped off a crucial little plastic dooverlacky that triggered the machine to recognise the powder drawer was shut or some such. So he replaced that with a bit of putty, and after we waited about 24 hours for it to cure properly (or in other words, no washing on Friday, what a pity, oh my) the whole thing appears to be working just fine.
So we're in a position to get another few years of use out of our fifteen year old machine, and we'll use that to save up a bit more money toward the cost of a new one.
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Brief Personal Update
TW: unemployment, suicidal thoughts, mental illness
So, Himself got the sack on Monday for being off sick too often (about four weeks over the course of about ten months), but more realistically he got the sack because his boss didn't want to keep employing another technical person now the boss's honeymoon is over. We are now back to the Centrelink/Job Nyetwork "Dance of the Deserving Poor", which is a variation on the Masochism Tango where you scourge yourself for the entertainment of public servants who aren't interested in watching.
I am, quite predictably, not reacting to this well. As in, I'm melting down all over the place. Have an appointment with my doctor today to get a medical certificate for the depression (which is flaring up to the point where I've spent most of the past two days defaulting to thinking very positive thoughts about going out and playing in the traffic) and I'll be hoping to be able to head back to the last Employment Services Provider I was seeing, since I got accustomed to their particular brand of useless and I figure they'd be able to dig the file out of storage.
I'd be happier, I think, if they'd just acknowledge it is literally less likely for me to get a job than it is for me to win Lotto (1 in 85 chance of winning something in lotto, if you buy a ticket; by contrast, I applied for over 100 jobs during the course of 2014 without so much as a preliminary interview resulting) and that the only reason I'm sending out the applications in the first place is because Centrelink demands it. Your tax dollars at work, making work for HR types and recruiting agencies.
I'm going to try and keep these whiny posts to a minimum, because I know people aren't really all that interested.
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A Small Update
Just to bring people up to speed on what's happening in my life and what I've been up to.
The good news:
1) I have a new smartphone! I've been saving up for this for most of the last couple of years, and the Telstra shop had a fortuitous sale. My old mobile phone was a little Nokia handset which had been a bit dodgy from the word go - one of its little quirks was that whenever I used it for phone calls, the "6" key somehow kept being pressed. No, I don't know how. Either way, calls were constantly interrupted by beeping and at the end of the call I'd have a page of 6's to delete. Plus it only had text entry from the keypad, which meant it was slow and fiddly to use, and meant I didn't really get much use out of the non-phone functions.
My new phone is a Samsung Galaxy Trend, and it seems to be a lot closer to what I was actually wanting (which was a replacement for my old Palm m515 which could also make phone calls). Certainly it's far easier to use the calendar, note-taking and contacts features than it was on the Nokia. I don't think I'm likely to be using the web-based features of it all that much, though - while I'm at home, I'll use my computer for web browsing, and while I'm out, I'll either be driving, or if I'm on public transport, I'll be working on crochet.
2) I've started to work seriously on improving my performance as a housekeeper. I'm using a combination of Chorewars (to track what I've done, and how much I've "earned" for it - at a rate of 10c per chore) and Habit RPG (to keep up with the weekly and monthly chores and try to keep me up to a couple of daily targets). I'm trying to do 20 "chores" per day on weekdays, and 15 per day on weekends (which, at 10c per chore, means I'd be earning about $13 per week for the housework. Given that by setting my own pace previously I was averaging about $10 per 8 days, this means I'll be saving up for things off my wishlist a bit faster than I was before).
The not-so-good news:
1) Himself was home earlier in the week with a nasty cold/cough combination which I appear to have caught off him. Woke up this morning with a scratchy sore throat, and I'm feeling a bit flattened and dull. Hopefully it will burn through in the next couple of days. In the meantime, lots of peppermint tea, and maybe some lemon and honey later on. Oh, and lots of feeling very sorry for myself, always an essential part of being unwell.
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Easy Fried Rice
The name is something of a misnomer, as fried rice is definitely easy in all its incarnations. This is the version I make when I have a bit of leftover rice as a result of overdoing the cooking in the week previous.
I tend to start with steamed rice, and if I have two takeaway food containers worth (or about four serves, in other words) then I have enough for frying up.
My usual ingredients for fried rice:
2 - 3 eggs, made up into a bit of an omelette (slice the omelette thinly once it's had a few minutes to cool - I'll generally make it first out of everything).
250g bacon rashers, rind removed and chopped up.
1 onion, diced finely
1 - 2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
1 tablespoon or so crushed ginger (as in, the stuff you get in a jar)
2 cups frozen peas, corn and carrot mix
approx 1/4 cup soy sauce
approx 4 cups chilled steamed rice
Optional extra ingredients:
* Tinned champignon mushrooms (either whole or sliced)
* Chopped cooked chicken, beef, lamb, pork etc
* 1 tablespoon or so crushed/chopped lemon grass (the stuff you get in a tube)
* 3 spring onions (green onions), sliced
* Chopped chives
* Chopped coriander (cilantro, for our American friends)
* 1 - 3 tablespoons lime juice
Start by making up your omelette - break the eggs into a bowl, mix them up together and add about 1 tablespoon or so of water per egg. Mix together a bit more, then pour into the bottom of a greased frypan or wok (I don't own a wok, so I use a frypan) over a low heat. Slosh the egg around so it covers as much of the surface as possible, then scrape the cooked bits into the middle until you run out of runny egg (tilt the frypan to ensure the runny stuff doesn't clump into the middle of the omelette). Let it sit until the top looks mostly solid, then flip and cook the other side. Don't worry if your omelette breaks up at this stage, because it's only going to get chopped up anyway. Flip all the bits over, cook for about 1 minute on the other side, or until you're pretty sure it's cooked through, then pull it out of the frypan and put it into a spare bowl to cool.
Now, put the chopped up bacon into the frypan, and cook over low heat until it's starting to render up its fat. This is a good way of using up cheap, fatty bacon, because the grease gets used to cook everything else, and the meat just melds into things nicely.
Next, add the onion. If you're doing this like me, and prepping things as you go, you'll be chopping the onion as the bacon is rendering, and lo and behold, just as you've got the first half of the onion chopped, the bacon will have yielded enough grease to ensure the onion doesn't stick to the pan! If you're prepping things first, cook the onion until it's starting to turn transparent before adding the next ingredient.
Next up is the celery. Again, if you're prepping as you go, the onion will be just starting to get transparent as you add it. You want this to cook until it's just starting to soften a bit, so about 3 minutes.
Next, add the garlic and the ginger together. If you're adding lemon grass and/or meat, now is the time to put them in as well. Stir well to make sure everything is blended together.
Next, stir in the frozen vegetables. If you're adding champignon mushrooms, make sure you quarter the whole ones, and throw the liquid in as well. This stage is going to take about 5 minutes, because you're wanting to make certain the vegetables are all cooked (as well as breaking up any frozen lumps of them that have slipped in).
While the veges are cooking, start looking at the rice. If, like me, you don't rinse your rice before cooking it by the absorption method, what you'll have is a bunch of solid lumps of starchy rice sitting in your containers. The easiest way to deal with this, and get the grains separated is to rinse the whole lot under HOT running water in a sieve, breaking up the lumps by hand if necessary (just squeeze gently under the water and they'll fall apart). Also, take a few seconds to slice your omelette (thought we'd forgotten that, hadn't you?) reasonably thinly. Basically, you're looking at bits of egg about the size of everything else.
Add the soy sauce to the frypan now, and stir well. Yes, it looks like a lot of soy sauce, but don't worry, the rice will soak it all up.
Speaking of which, now is the time to dump in the rice. If you want to be careful, add it in spoonful by spoonful. If you don't mind wiping down the stove later (who am I fooling? You'll be wiping down the stove even if you are careful), just dump it all in at once. Stir well to combine and heat through. You'll notice the rice goes a nice brown colour, which it's supposed to.
This is the point where you add the omelette (as well as the sliced green onions, the chives, the coriander and the lime juice if you're using those). Stir briefly to combine and heat everything through, then turn off the heat and serve. The recipe I've listed makes about four to six servings, and keeps well in the fridge overnight if you want some for lunch tomorrow. (I've no idea whether it lasts longer than that, because it usually doesn't in our household!).
The frypan you use for this recipe needs to be BIG, and even with a large frypan, you'll still probably wind up wiping rice off the stove and its surroundings - this is a recipe which gets everywhere. But it's fun to make, and it's a useful way of using up leftovers. (Incidentally, my other favourite for using up leftover rice is kedgeree, but it requires me to have some smoked cod on hand in the freezer, and also Steve doesn't particularly like it. Fried rice he likes).
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So, How Was Your Week?
How's my week been? Ooh, let's see.
1) Physically, I'm breaking in a new mattress (as in new-new, never been used before). We swapped out my previous queen bed for a single bed (so we can manage to fit more than just the beds into the bedrooms of whichever place we move into next) and as part of this I'd purchased myself a new mattress to go with it. New mattress is very firm (designed for kids to be jumping on it, I suspect) and thus I tend to be not getting quite the same quality of sleep I'm used to. Plus the single bed with my queen-bed continental quilt on it is a lot warmer than the queen bed used to be, so I spend a lot of the night overheating. Not helped by item 2) on the agenda, below.
2) This year, Perth looks to be having a lovely wet winter, which we desperately need in order to get even a little more water in the dams (this graph gives a picture of where our water storage levels are at present). However, while I love to see the rainfall, I'm not so keen on the small problem where we have absolutely zero undercover drying space for our laundry. It means I spend a lot of time frantically monitoring the weather radar (to tell whether the rain is likely to be falling/clearing up soon); the washing gets hung out in frantic bursts of hope, then hauled back in and spun dry again (well, drier than dripping wet, anyway); and smaller items get hung up on the clothes airer which is now occupying one of the few patches of clear space in our main room.
3) Just started with a new psychologist yesterday. She's based out at the old Fremantle Prison (built back in the convict days of the early 1800s - our colony was founded in 1829 - and still being used as a prison within my lifetime) which now has at least some of the cells being used as office space by a small business development group. Let's just say I can now understand why the prisoners used to riot. That office/cell was crowded with two women in it. I'd hate to think how cramped it would have been with three big boofy blokes in it. Standard first appointment - "tell me about yourself" - which has stirred up the mud at the bottom of the psyche. Consequently feeling a little flattened at present.
4) Second installment of a short course on MYOB happening tonight (six week course, 3.5 hours per week). I'm having my usual problem with all of these sorts of things, namely that I could probably have blitzed through about two weeks worth of content inside the allowed time for one week, and thus spend a lot of the time reading ahead in the book and getting everything done quick smart. Last week I spent a lot of the unused time writing up an explanation of the difference between closing down a program using its own exit routine (File -> Exit on most Windows programs) and letting the operating system take care of things (click on the X in the upper right corner, for Windows), and why it's wiser to let the program handle the closing routine if you're working on a slow system, or a system using networked file storage, or if you're using large data files. Formatted it a bit when I got home last week, and I'll print it out today and take it in for the fun of it. Wonder what I'll wind up with this week? Maybe I should take along a few bits of fanfic to work on.
5) Picked up some more acrylic yarn from the Red Dot store in Fremantle (they had 100g balls of 8-ply acrylic going for $2 a ball; I grabbed some in black, which I plan to use as joining/edging yarn for rugs, and some in dark purple and white, which I plan to use to create a "Fremantle Dockers" knee rug for my father-in-law). This has now brought my yarn stash to two 50L roller bins bulging at the seams. I am now no longer allowed to buy any more yarn until I've used up some of the stuff I already have. Which may well necessitate me making an effort to turn some of the half-bin (another 50L roller bin) of granny squares sitting in waiting into rugs.
6) Replaced the pair of jeans which blew out an inner thigh a couple of weeks ago. $30 at Best and Less, and unfortunately it appears it is no longer possible to find larger sizes jeans which don't have some form of "tummy trimming" panel in them. Which is annoying - if I wanted to wear a girdle, I'd fecking well buy one. I don't need the designers of my clothing making the decision for me. They're currently in the wash basket, waiting for Himself to get home tonight, so I can put his current hi-vis shirt through the wash with the rest of them (and any other blue or green articles of clothing which are waiting on washing).
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This Week's Unexpected Constraint
I've just discovered that, aside from today and tomorrow, the whole week is going to be rainy. Which means I have to get the washing done and out on the line pretty much today and tomorrow so it has a chance to dry. Plus, of course, our old washing machine takes about two hours to run a load through, so it's going to be a long process. In summer, of course, I do about one load a day, and it dries quickly. But, drattit, it isn't summer any more.
I think I'd better set up the drying rack in the garage. I get the feeling I'm going to be needing it.
(Before anyone asks: no, we don't own a clothes dryer. Nor do we have the space to be putting one).
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Falling off the Internet (again)
Just a quick update: I'm moving house tomorrow, and we may not have internet at the new place for another 2 - 3 weeks after that (why it might take 2 - 3 weeks to update some switches and hubs is beyond me; presumably the network admin at the ISP is a busy bunny and can't spare the Copious Free Time to add new users). So, if you don't hear from me, that's why.
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