Archive for December, 2009


2009 in lazy review

December 31, 2009

The Curmudgeon on (well, hovering above, actually) the Steepest Street In The World – Baldwin St, Dunedin, NZ. Splendid photo courtesy of the nice chap we were staying with and being toured around by.

It’s the last day of the year! The laziest journalism in the world is to make lists of the year in review! Here I go!

It’s been an annus magnificus* for me although it started poorly…

There was me cutting off the tip of my finger on New Year’s Eve and having to go to the emergency room.

Then there were grandparental deaths for both Curmudgeon and I.

Then there were the horrors of the February bushfires with much time spent glued to the media, aghast at the death and destruction and terrified about the safety of my Ma who lives in the country.

But then, things began to turn around.

First there was the arrival of Hank the Tank, a magnificent vessel bringing glad tidings to my parched garden. And yes, the garden is looking grand. Before today’s 35°C roasting I was able to go out there and give it all a good soak. Yay for Hank!

Then in March, a year and a half of professional misery (oh, the drama) ceased. I cried a river of relief when I found another job – one that has turned out to be just splendid. And that’s kinda set the tone for the rest of the year. I fossicked around in skips and hard rubbish (sometimes doing battle on the streets). I learnt to crochet. I complained about my back. I met Adam Elliot. I had a bike accident and was OK. Got visited by an American. Settled, once and for all, which state has the best gingernuts. You know, the usual stuff.

Happy new year, y’all.

*Cumudgeon just interrupted with “ain’t never seen annus like dat” paraphrasing a magnificent piece of graffiti he spotted on a power pole behind St Vincent’s Hospital, scrawled in white-out.

Squid reverie

December 29, 2009

Sounds strange, but the real holiday begins now. The one where I can be still and completely silent if I choose, just like my neighbourhood always is for these few days betwixt years.We’ve had the action/adventure component, and mighty fine it was too, but I like this one just as much.

The Curmudgeon has gone off on a country jaunt as a willing chauffeur for the reunion of an international visitor and their mutual friends. So it’s just been me and the pup this morning (oh, and Manuel, ever larger and handsomer, who was very well cared for while we were away and has shed another skin). I draped myself on the couch and devoured a novel in five hours straight. Squid plonked beside me on the floor or drifted between the concrete outside the back door (too hot!) and her cave under our bed (not sunny enough!). For a while there it felt just like the days after she arrived four years ago – exactly this time of year, the Curmudgeon too new to be a cohabitant and those disasterous housemates yet to move in, and a sweltering heatwave that rendered all activity other than couch-draping completely futile. She and I bonded steadfastly and quietly with her little brown body panting gently while exposing as much surface area as possible to the concrete slab beneath the worn carpet.

Back then we were just getting to know each other. Now I feel I know every knot, outcrop and whorl on her muscly little frame. The familiar waggle of her behind as she trudges down the hall makes me smile and the smell of her paws – a fragrance that can only be described as ‘derring-do’ – is one of the things I missed most while we were away.

When we showed up at Ma’s to collect her, she was pleased, but not over the moon. Immediately, however, she started padding around after us to ensure we never left her behind again.

Maybe next year we find a dog-friendly way to run away from Hexmas, hey Curmudgeon?


Somewhere in the middle of the South Island

December 24, 2009

In honour of the fourth anniversary of the arrival of Squid, we made a driftwood version of her on the beach of Lake Wanaka here in NZ. I think I really captured her ‘one leg out’ style of snoozing. In fact, it’s pretty much identical except that the real Squid would be splashing in the water, not sitting on the beach.

NZ is, to quote the Curmudgeon, “perfectly adequate”. We had a splendid bus ride through the middle yesterday to get here. It’s alright, I suppose.

Tree fuschias are OK too, I guess. Apparently the biggest fuschia in the world. They love their superlatives down here. Also: Edmonds baking powder, slices, pebblecrete and hairdressers.

In a small town called Gore (It’s next to Clinton. Really. It is.) we spotted an elephant money box in the window of a bank. The Curmudgeon has a prediliction for elephants, so we dared each other to go in and ask for one. He did.

“Um, we’re wondering about the yellow elephant? And if you have to have an account here to get one?”

“You can have a Keshun*. Let me get him for you.”

Then another woman in the bank piped up, “Now you should go down the road and git a pug# from Bay In Zid**, too!”

So we did.

*quaint NZ pronunciation of ‘Kashin’
#quaint NZ pronunciation of ‘pig’
** quaint NZ pronunciation of ‘BNZ’


December 15, 2009

We’re running away from Hexmas. Here’s a hint: the place is green, populated by hobbits and rhymes with Blue Sealand.

This will be grand. We will visit expat friend, end our sentences with ‘bro’ and I will scour the land for kiwi kitsch. It’s just a shame that there’s so much to be done, what with the tidying up at work and making Casa Livebird habitable for poor, unsuspecting housesitter.

Anyhoo. Things might be quiet around here. It’s the festering seasons so what do you expect?


Because five bikes isn’t enough

December 14, 2009

We went to Ma’s country estate on the weekend and had a smashing time with the whole famdamily. The four-layer sponge cake interleaved with cream and lemon curd was a particular highlight. So too was the ritual visit to the tip shop which uncovered this lovely thing:

Viceroy vintage bicycle

I guess it’s from the 1950s or 60s – I don’t know much about old bikes so I’m just going on the splendid graphics:Detail of graphics on vintage Viceroy bicycle

A very cursory search turned up a vintage bike forum suggesting that Viceroys were made in Italy and rebadged by a UK firm. Anyway, I’ve named this one Cyril. He just needs a little tinkering and he’s ready to roll to a summer beer garden rendezvous. Because, of course, not one of my either five bicycles are quite up to the task.


Lonely (multi-chambered, haemolymph-pumping) hearts club

December 10, 2009

This is Manuel.

Manuel the mantidHe’s a praying mantis.

He moulted for the fourth time last night. Little Manuel is growing up. And soon he’ll moult again, and again, until he’s gloriously jade green, winged and magnificent. And horny – very, very horny. See, Manuel will need a ladyfriend to woo.

I’m putting out a plea for Melbourne readers that if you see a mantid in your garden, gently catch it and drop me a line. Manuel’s reproductive success depends on it. The way you can tell it’s a female is by counting the abdominal segments. Males have 7 or 8 segments, females have 5-6 (and are generally much larger, plumper and stupendous.)


Duck-egg blue

December 10, 2009
Brunswick Street shopfront
Brunswick Street shopfront

  I hope that whoever leases this shop isn’t compelled to paint over the perfect duck-egg blue of the upper storey.