Crossing a threshold

Some time in the last few days a switch clicked in the little kitty head of Jake, the Burmese that has been living on our farm since August. Jake has been taken home twice by his owner Carol, but to quote the song “oh the cat came back…” not the next day, but in about 3 to 5 days. I guess it takes him some time to cover the 5 km from Rainui Heights.

Jake was slowly getting friendlier and friendlier over the last 5 months (at first he wouldn’t let me within 10 metres of him), and then over the weekend he decided we were his people, and our house was his. He now follows us around the farm, meowing for attention. If you hold still he will flop down at your feet and demand a good pet. If we leave door open he wanders in and flobs on the floor. He comes to the back door to demand food (Carol left a bowl and some kibble for him).

All this means we too may have crossed a threshold. Five cats. That makes us Crazy Cat People (TM). Doom! We can hope that if he converts into a house-cat here, it will increase the chances he will stay with Carol when she next takes him home (when she gets back from her Christmas holiday). But if he comes back again, I think we may have a new cat. Right now the boys (Slow Top and Rasputin) pretty much ignore him, while the girls (Azami and Amaya) are freaked out/terrified of him. Interesting.


A few weeks ago we decided to have a party at our place on Boxing Day. We sent out emails to most everyone we know, and waited to see who would show up. This was to be a “bring a plate or bottle” sort of Party, but Steve and I would do all the main-dinner cooking, as it is St Stephen’s day, and it seemed appropriate for the stephens to do the cooking.

All told 30 people were here (including us), though Alan could not stay for long… only long enough to drop by, frost a cake, and scram. For short-visitng friends he does a wonderful job in the baked-good department! Big pots of beef stew and black bean soup are a good way to feed masses of people cheaply. It also allows for the various dietary needs of our guests (some no-dairy, some vegetarian, some muslim). After dinner we set up the Yurt with the intention of having a big sing-around and bardic circle, but we made a summertime miscalculation- by the time the sun was getting low in the sky, the evening was getting along and people started to leave. We did have a smaller group in there singing, but it was not the mass shindig we were hoping for. Next time we will have a party like this in Autumn, so it will be dark sooner and sitting in a yurt around a campfire will happen before we all fall alseep!

Didn’t know some of the people who came all that well, which is great because it gave me a chhance to meet new people. Some were relatives of other friends. Some were people who share mailing lists, but whom we had never really met before. Fun!

Now for a few hours of recovery (Tam is currently napping in the yurt which is still set up in the back yard) before people come over this eveing for gaming. Woot! I hope you all are enjoying your holiday time!


So, before I am a whole week behind, let me update!

Last Wednesday we (Tamara, Steve, Jennifer and I) met downtown to watch the red-carpet precession for the King Kong Premier in Wellington. While not the absolute madhouse of the Return of the King shindig, there was still a sizeable crowd in Courtney Place. The woman they had providing the chatter and patter over the loudspear was aweful, though. She was trying to get the crowd fired up as various D-list celebrities came on stage before the event actually began. She would announce the person, and the crowd would go “huh?” Really, I had no idea who most of these people were, nor did Steve.

We did get to see Karl Urban, who while not in the movie was down for the premier. We got to see a glimpse of Peter Jacksons head through the crowd.

The only thing I wish I could have gotten a picture of was the highway sign on the way in. It is one of those big message signs that hangs over the highway. It said “King Kong. Expect Delays in CBD”, which of course brought to mind images of a rampaging gorilla, and a completely phelgmatic traffic control officer simply stating the fact on his board.

Friday night we went to see Narnia, which was fun. It was nice to see a good “family film.” Safe for children, yet still fun for adults. And while much of this film was shot in NZ, it did not look as NZ-ish as much of LoTR does. I approve.

On Sunday K-J came over to look at our ‘paca. She is a woman from a small-farmers list we read. She had been asking about alpaca, as they were thinking of getting some. We invited her and her husband over to talk about alpaca, prices, purpose, virtues and flaws. We then haltered them up and took them for a walk. Having no animals for sale ourselves, I felt we could give a much more balanced view than any person keen on making a sale! And she brought us a huge fruitcake as a gift. Hopefully with the help of 20 or so friends on Boxing Day, we can make a dent in that monster.

Now a new week is here, and we are getting some lovely rain today! We are still well behind rain-wise. The on and off rain of the last weeks has helped, but I think the deficit is still nearly 30 cm. Not good. Would not want our spring to stop!

Very Short Grass

Yesterday was the holiday party at work & the venue this year was the Mt. Victoria Bowling Club — as in lawn bowling. Very educational ! Here’s the gist:

You divide up into four-person teams. Then you chuck a little white ball, called the jack, out onto the green. Then you take turns rolling other larger balls at the jack, and the team with the ball closest to the jack at the end wins. (There’s a point scoring system, but that’s the basics.) The trick is that the balls aren’t round. And they’re weighted on one side. So you can’t roll them *at* the jack, like in ten-pin bowling; you’ve got to roll them off at an angle, with *just* enough power so it doesn’t go zipping into the gutter at the back, but curves in a gentle arc around just to where the jack sits. It was fun ! And I didn’t completely suck. The same general situation applies as with ten-pin bowling — you get a bit of beginner’s luck, then you start thinking about it too hard and get worse, then you have another beer, laugh, and get better again. I scored a couple points for my team, so.

This morning it is jellyfish weather, which is to say it is sunny and still. I don’t know if the jellyfish are always there along the waterfront, and you can only see them when the water is still, or if the combination of still water and sunlight brings them to the surface. There were two kinds this morning, the clear glassy ones and some pink frilly ones. Plus since the tide was out, you could see the big starfish on the rocks amongst the mussel beds. Toss in the cormorant sunning itself on the pier outside Ferg’s Kayaks, and it was a sealife-riffic morning.

It is supposed to rain again this afternoon, but I hope it doesn’t, since tonight is the Wellington opening of King Kong. As (is becoming) usual, Weta has decked out the Embassy, they’ve closed off Courtenay Place, and there’s a street party scheduled from 3PM until whenever, with stars on the red carpet and all sorts of busking and bands and stuff. The screening of the film is invitation only, but they’ve set up giant screens outside that will be showing the red carpet entertainment to the crowds.

Today’s Wellington observation: People hold hands here. Like, grown-ups do. And not just tourists — couples on their way to (or from) work in their business clothes hold hands as they walk along. (Gay couples, too !) For some reason I find this phenomenon completely charming.

Stupid injuries and cute alpaca

Last week did not get off to a good start. I usually start my Monday mornings recharged and ready to attack the week. Last monday I grabbed the brushcutter and headed to the back hill. Within an hour I had managed to pull a muscle in my back- probably when I slipped on the wet grass on the steep slope. Over the next few hours my poor back muscles commenced to spasm, and then completely locked-up. The next few days were very boring and unproductive, as I was very mobility limited.

By Thursday I was feeling better. Light activity is the key to recovery for pulled back muscles. So I decided to burn some gorse piles, as that does not involve any heavy lifting or dragging- and then things went completely pear-shaped. The fire behaved in a manner very different from any previous fire. This is because I was finally getting around to burning some old piles, stuff a year old now. The grass had grown up around it. The fire burned down into the roots of the grass, and then moved underground! Fires were flaring up everywhere. In all I spent 13 hours on the back hill, the first 2 lighting fires, the last 11 fighting the those fires. I had to push myself way too hard. But in the end we got the fires out. Tam helped the last 2 hours of fire fighting upon return from work, though the last few hours were not so much fire fighting as very systematically knocking down all the hot spots.

And then Friday I spent 7 hours in a car driving up to Hamilton. My back did not like that. No sir, not one bit!

Saturday at the Alpaca05 expo was good. I was on my feet, and that helped to work the kinks out. I was having fun talking to people, and having them “take the test”. I had made up a 6-chamber box with fiber samples within. I was asking people to take the test and rate the fineness of the samples by feel alone. Of course to make it more complex some of the samples were the same- just with extra grit added to determine the effect of dust and dirt on perceptions of fineness (as these are animals that dust bathe!). I had about 75 people take the test. Now I need to process the results.

The drive back Sunday was not nice on my back either. But I survived.

Monday evening we had visitors. Two South Island-based alpaca breeders stopped off at our place on the way to the ferry. Andy stayed till about 11, when re reloaded his 7 ‘paca and went down to catch the 1 AM ferry. Kit slept for a few hours, then got up at 1:45 to load his 3 ‘paca and catch the 3 AM ferry. I had meant to get up with Kit to help him load-and-go, but I totally slept through him getting up!

It was really good sitting around and hearing the talk and gossip of two of the larger players in the alpaca industry in NZ. We learned LOTS. Andy also gave little Hyouki a look-over, and he is looking okay. He showed us stuff the judge would look for, and made general comments on his form and fiber. Now we wait and year to see what he looks like as an adult… fingers crossed!