Still here

Just a general update: We’ve had two whole nice days in a row ! Which means we managed to chuck Stephen up on the roof to seal the leaks around the skylight and conservatory, and that the sealant has actually had some time to set and dry before the rain comes again this weekend.

Huzzah for State Insurance. Apparently, they used to have a bad reputation & everybody said they sucked. But near as I can tell, someone up the food chain there decided to do something about that, as they’ve been terrific for us. We had nearly everything we lost replaced or paid for within three days of making the claim. The only hold-out was the washing machine, which had to be taken away by a specialist, and we got that back Tuesday (our $400 second-hand washing machine apparently cost them $700 to repair — but now we have a near-new completely refurbished washer). And not a moment too soon, as the mountain of dirty clothes on the bedroom floor was growing alarming.

Sunday (which was also fine weather) we had a rehearsal in our studio (wacky !) — that was cool. The show is really shaping up — every dance has such a completely individual flavor, and it’s really cool getting in troupes from all over the region each doing their own thing, but tied all together by the storyline. But the best, of course, is that I did manage to scrape together rough drafts of both a choreography and some promotional artwork in time for the rehearsal. Which is the point at which I must fervently declare that Stephen is a saint. In part for helping me with the choreography — the hardest part of which was simply getting the music I picked sussed, as I managed to find something with the most obnoxious irregular phrasing — but mostly for simply not throwing me out of the house altogether, as I was a complete stress-monkey all last week. Anyone looking for a new patron saint of patience and forbearance should get a little statuette of Stephen to add to their household gods.

Monday we got the hard drive out of the now-defunct Pavilion working in Stephen’s Len PC. Tuesday we got the modem working in mine, so we’re back online at home (yay !) and Stephen can stop climbing the walls (amazing how addictive net access can get — thought to be fair he *does* need it for work). Plus the caulking. Plus we picked up a proper guest bed for people staying with us to sleep on, so they won’t have to use the futon-couch (not that there’s anything wrong with our futon couch).

And last night we had a SCAdian Movie Nite at our place, and Stephen finally got to show Alexander Nevsky (we were going to do this last week, but the TV was busted, so we all sat around by candlelight and chatted). SCA New Zealand has officially incorporated, so there was some discussion of electing council representatives, and other procedural stuff. Plus there’s planning for a local event coming up. Someone noticed that although they’d made Stephen Chatelaine, they hadn’t managed to saddle me with an office yet (yikes). I can feel the little red laser sight on my forehead even now.

Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!

We got home from dance last night and the power was out again ! And the rain came bucketing down (really, really just FWOOSH) pretty much just as we walked in the door. So we sat in the conservatory and just listened to it hammer for a half hour or so. (There was some brilliant lightning, too !) Then it pretty much stopped.

Power was back on by the time we got up, so, yay ! Hot showers ! And scrummy brekkie !

The forecast claims it’s supposed to be pretty much clear today and this weekend, though there may be a bit of rain with the gale force winds on Saturday.

Pretty sunrise this morning. They’re setting something else up in Frank Kitts park, across from the office, probably for the Fringe Festival, which kicks off this weekend, (the grass has only just greened back up after the big wine growers shindig they had there) and Lindsay tells me they should be setting up soon for the dragon boat races in a couple of weeks.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Yet another storm. 90mph winds and three straight days of pouring pouring rain. What happened to summer ?

The power went out (with a mighty *FTZAK*, I note) around 8PM Sunday. Luckily our water is gravity fed and we have a gas stove, so we had water and we could cook and stuff. We actually got rained in yesterday. When we got up at 6:30, the creek was just over the bridge in the front, and there were trees (multiple !) across the road into the valley. Stephen spent most of the morning helping the neighbors chainsaw up a big macrocarpa. Convenient that many of the neighbors have chainsaws, and a couple even have diggers/backhoes. Anyway, roads were closed all over the lower North Island due to flooding or downed trees; schools were closed & hardly anybody went to work. We finally got power back around 3 yesterday afternoon, and one of the neighbors came up to help us figure out our fuse box (fuse technology is a little different here). Our tally: we lost the TV, the HP Pavilion (the only PC we’ve got with a dial-up modem), the microwave, the washing machine, and the overhead light fixture in the dining room (the source of the *FTZAK*). The DVD player is out, but that seems to just be a blown fuse. The power strip/surge protecter took the hit for Stephen’s PC, fortunately. It was apparently a good hit, too, since when Stephen plugged the surge protector back in it shot sparks and blew the fuse on the power outlet. In other casualties, as I was getting out of my car, the wind yanked to door out of my hand and slammed it into the car parked next to me, dinging up both of us. Also, a couple of the elms in the front paddock came down and blew the shed, a cable spool and several meters of old fencing to flinders. Exciting !

We found a couple new leaks, which we’ll caulk if the rain ever stops. The animals were all in the higher pastures, so they’re fine — although it was hard to watch the poor alpaca shivering in the wind — especially Pointer. Stress brings back the staggers symptoms, so he was all shaking and stiff-legged & obviously miserable. They’re not supposed to need any additional shelter, but boy I really wanted to take them all into a barn and rub them with fluffy towels. Once the weather settled down a bit they got to eating and did much better. Still want to get a shed, though !

Apart from the trees down in the road and a small landslide that left a meter of mud on it up toward the top of the valley, little Takapu Stream got all stroppy with some of the neighbors’ fencing, and took at least one outbuilding away with it. We also had our periodic tire redistribution — several of the farms in the valley have horses & since the flattest land is down by the stream, that’s where the practice horse jumps get set up, more often than not a couple of logs propped across stacks of tires. So each time it rains enough to bring the creek up, we all swap tires. Since we never seem to run out, I can only assume that someone at the top of the valley keeps topping up the supply.

Yesterday, the sun came out for about ten minutes, it stopped raining, and we had a spectacular sunset. Then overnight the rain came back. :^P

Cantebury Faire

This last weekend was Waitangi day, a general holiday. Waitangi day celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The treaty was and is the document on which Maori-European relations are based. It continues to be a source of great controversy for some.

(Did not bring the digital camera, so no pictures this time!)

Cantebury Faire is the biggest SCA event held in NZ, and everybody who can go, does. It runs Thursday through Sunday, and is held about an hour north of Chirstchurh on the South ISland. We took the early ferry on Thursday morning to drive down. And early means early, like departing at 3 AM! Waking up at 1 AM was not easy, but at least we could sleep on the ferry. We then caravaned down to the site with Steve and Jennifer (stopping at all their usual places for fod and bathroom breaks). We made it to the site about 11 AM, too late for the morning battles, but with plenty of time to set up the Yurt and amke it to lunch.

The event had about 140 people in total, which was a ncie size as you could actually meet many of the people personally. Which of course led to name-overload by day 2. Some things of note about the event (I am sure Tam can add some more)

-the fighting was a great deal of fun. ALl the war-events were based on period battles, mainly French-English. We defended bridges, we crossed moats (advancing on knees to a defended obstacle), we divided our forces to defend towns. It was a hoot! We had about 30 fighters at our peak. More would have been nice, but that was enough to get some rudimentary unit-tactics going. The small size did mean I got a chance to meet most of the fighters. (Insert scene of Stephen trying to hold a doorway vs the King and the Earl Marshal- now insert the sound of harp seals being clubbed on the beach- you get the picture!) At times the field was 50% knights, which made life very interesting.

-Tam made a new door for the Yurt. A candy-striped weasel-tiger. We have to get a digital photo on line so that description makes sense. People really thought it was cool, and told us so.

-The other fighters really liked the suit of scales (the “pine cone”), both distinctive and stylish! 🙂

-Shopping was mediocre, due to small size. We did sell some Alpaca fiber to some spinners/weavers.

-Archery was pretty fun, but unfortunately it came early in the event and we did not have time to practice.

-I got to have a fun Katana vs Katana duel with Daemon, the Earl Marshal, who did Iajitsu in the past. Very fun exchanges, and entertaining for the crowd too, I think!

We did discover that the SCAians here have a much stronger bardic tradition than anything we remember form SCA either in Philly or Boston (not that we were that involved, but we did make it to the odd event). Saturday evening a large group of people met in the Mangy Mongol, their coffee house, to sing songs, tell stories, and recite poems. Many of the works were orginal, tales people have been crafting (sometimes for months or years) about their barony or persona. Quite cool, but Tam can tell more about what all happened as I eventually got tired and went to bed.

The meal-plan rocked. For a small sum of money ($12/day) we had all meals provided. Good food, and as period as they could make it. The place also had cabins, as many people simply flew in bringing their garb. I may need to make myself a low-mass suit of armor if I ever want to go to Australia to fight, as the weight limits on the plane would preclude bringing the dependable (but heavy) Pine Cone suit.

On Sunday Closing Court ran over time (no surprise!), which unfortunately meant that the Belly-dancing for Men class was canceled. We had already packed our belongings, so we hopped int he Ute and headed north, stopping in Cheviot on the way to look at the Cathedral Rocks, and in Kaikoura for dinner. It was nice that most of the drive was done in daylight, so we could admire the lovely views. The ferry was about 30 minutes late leaving, so we got into Wellington about 2:45, and got home about 3:10. Only to get up 3 hours later and go to work. Long weekend, but very fun. We are both looking forward to next year.

Rain, rain, rain…

To my great surprise, it has been raining the last two days. Why, you ask, am I surprised? Well, on Friday I finally got around to plumbing the new 22.5 kL water tank into the system. (after a false start when a fixture leaked and I had to search for a better brand- and replacing it involved crawling in and out of the water tank repeatedly. I can, just barely, fit through the hatch.) So, I figured that was a great way to get the rain to stop. Most people get their tank water by piping the roof water over, while we are spring-fed. We had heard that the spring stops during long dry periods, which is why we wanted a new larger tank (as opposed to an old leaking 3 kL concrete tank). But with the rain the flow from the spring went way up, and we filled the whole tank in about 30 hours! Very exciting, as we now have enough water that even if it stopped raining until Fall, we would probably be okay.

One of our goals is to try and do something exciting every weekend, something worthy of a good blog post. I don’t think we quite managed that this weekend. Tam spent many hours working on the new door for our Yurt. I quested about for water-tank plumbing fixtures that were actually water-tight. On Sunday we had our first rehersal for The Two Sisters, which is coming up in less than two months. The next Big Thing is coming up next weekend, when we go down to the South Island for the “big” SCA event, Cantebury Faire. It should be fun, and in the meantime we have lots to do to get ready as this is our first SCA camping event in many, many years. Hopefully we will have much more to report when we return.