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Winter Saturday

Jun. 30th, 2012 | 07:45 pm

Sleep-in and iPad internet ablutions. Warm bed with warm husband.

Brunch at Ti Kouka. Rosti, poached eggs, bacon, spinach and SPECIAL NEEDS SUBSTITUTION aioli instead of hollandaise. The idea of their potent garlic aioli used with hollandaise-like abandon initially perplexed the staff, but they've now come to embrace it. It tastes divine, but for the rest of the day don't plan to kiss anyone who's not (a) sharing your meal, (b) really into garlic, or (c) really, really into you. Conversation again about banking systems, regulation and private profit/public risk, kitchen revamps, Ultimate, and government agency restructures and policy-making.

Stopped off at a bookstore where I actually bought two paper books rather than getting them for Kindle. Steeling myself for a dive into Alain de Botton again: I loved his video series Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness, I share many of his impulses, but I find his written work discursive and confessional in a manner that makes me feel it's floppy and in need of editing. He may, however, have written something that's too close to the book I'm idly thinking of writing, so I need to see how we relate.

Joy's craft day. My portable craft projects since I started going to these have all been knitting, and usually the boring bits of knitting. Today the conversation helped get me through a certain amount of un-knitting (not frogging) to get back to a bad join (superwash merino doesn't seem to spit-splice) and then keep powering ahead.

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A day in the mind

Jun. 29th, 2012 | 06:56 pm

I'm still getting over the fairly hard-hitting cold that knocked me out last week. First time I'd been sick since November, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to throw low-stress rest at it, but I'm still taking a few hours extra sleep each day and a good sit-down after exertion.

I'm wrestling with ideas, sometimes. Other times I'm haphazardly herding them together to see what agglomerates. As an example, today's journey included comfy cardigan patterns, NZ police dumb or wraparound smart in contaminating Megaupload case?, gender construction in imagined societies, communal child-raising, kibbutzim, Westermarck effect, marae, Centrepoint, natalism, providentialism, Quiverfull, Quiverfull recovery, legal models for multi-party (including more than two parties) marriages, PZ Myers, Blake's Law, ACA, Facebook defriend limits and whether mine include people who whine about the ACA, Ann Druyan, Cosmos follow-up due 2013, Guild Wars 2, back to Quiverfull authoritarianism as a subset of D/s alongside (but separate from) religious orders... who on earth can I talk this idea out with?

There will, I think, be something crystallising about a kinder, gentler atheism: one with space for cultural stories and group ritual. My (selective) evo-devo kick has me thinking a lot about understanding what it means to be a mammal-primate-human, and using that understanding when choosing and channelling how we live as animals as well as as consciousnesses.

Yon mid-life reassessment proceeds apace. ;)

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Ultimate steps; jasmine

Jun. 29th, 2012 | 06:40 pm

We've wrapped up some truly excellent seasons for my Ultimate frisbee teams.

Ultimate divides the year into quarters. The are two summer/outdoor seasons, and two winter/indoor seasons. I tolerate outdoor: I actively enjoy indoor.

This has been our first winter/indoor season using the new Wellington indoor recreation centre (the ASB Stadium). It's been fantastic. Just an all-round excellent facility, and using it is a pleasure. It also has the advantage of being five minutes from home rather than the half hour it used to take to get to Tawa or Karori to play. Much appreciated: my rates dollars at work!

We've been playing Monday night C-grade and Thursday night B-grade. It's felt like we've had the same core team for both, although when I analyse it there's overlap but also difference. Team composition is hugely important for my enjoyment of Ultimate, and we've had it pretty much right this season. Looking forward to carrying on very similar teams next season.

The summer before last I changed from playing in conventional sports shoes (for outdoor that's mountain running shoes for me: I still don't own sprigs) with ankle braces, to wearing some of my Fivefingers. That's changed how I feel about the game: how running feels to me. It feels a bit silly to talk about the sensuousness of using one's arches... but it's true. I'm not a fantastic sportsperson, but this is definitely my sporting experience of choice.

I unpacked my solid shampoo after our last mini-travel. The bathroom now smells of jasmine.

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Not dead

Feb. 21st, 2012 | 08:49 pm

Six more working days on my contract. I think we'll call it a learning experience. I'm looking forward to a bit of a break after this, with some travel and some sound recording and generally some more time to fix things and explore. Learning more about the things I value more than money.

Singing again, and consciously developing that more than I have in a good while. After all these years I've realised that if I'm to deliver a soloist-level performance I have to select the right range to sing in, and not try to fit within someone else's preferred key for a piece. I can be adaptable for ensemble or choral work, and I tend to sing higher for that, too. Sometimes it feels like "I wish I'd known this stuff earlier". Part of me wonders about taking singing lessons again, while another part recalls them as tense and throat-tightening, concentrating on technique for "other" styles of singing (and trying to extend range upwards). Right now I'm trying to focus on the things I can do. It's good.

Gamewise and storywise I'm staying with EVE Online until at least Easter. We're heading off to EVE's Fanfest, although that's as a focus and motivator to travel and not "My life will be bereft if I don't go to this". After that... we'll see. The hasty end to a plot arc that had run for more than a year has left me once again thoughtful about how I spend my time and energy; why; and with whom. I still like the idea of the stories we've all made together, and the corporation (read "guild" or "clan") we built together is still something special to me, but I'm finding it a little hard to get enthused enough to go out there and make connections and start other plotlines and interactions. There's a fair bit of burnout and a lot of brownout in the circles I used to play with, which in turn makes it harder to get a critical mass together to do new things. If I had to describe a trend I'd say that the themes that I want to explore just now are more suitable for either fiction or life than for roleplay.

Webstock was fun. Going back to the well. Seeing the underlying themes, and spotting the ones that oppose each other. Seeing this year's reaction against the wonderful new idea of two years ago (gamification). Seeing the way tablet computing has spread. Singing with Kristina in corridors and halls (I must record something in the street-side corridor of the Town Hall). Being lectured to by very wealthy people about how money isn't everything. :)

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Sep. 24th, 2011 | 11:54 pm

Finally made it to one of Joy's Craft Days. Hemmed trousers and made more progress on My First Sock. Thinking about craft projects that might be fun and have portable parts for future such craft days.

Watched my first rugby game of the Rugby World Cup, mostly as a social thing. Not a bad game for it.

Daylight saving is about to urge us forward.

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Sap rising

Sep. 23rd, 2011 | 07:29 pm

A beautiful day in Wellington. From my office window I watched yachts playing follow-the-leader in the harbour while listening to a tui warbling in the kowhai.

I'm training about as hard and as often as I've ever trained. It's a six-week focus thing. The endorphins are good and I'm minding the climb up the hill to work less.

I feel like I'm finding my voice at work. The last few days have been head-down, door-closed, trying to finish a report. Today it started to flow. I like that. I'm home now and I'm going to do some normal home things, but then the thing I want to do is more work.

Last night my work team went out to dinner with partners. Beloved came along to, in his words, "be my trophy husband". It was a remarkably pleasant evening, with good conversation and a good bunch of people.

I've met someone intriguing who, in a different landscape of emotion and circumstance, could take quite a bit of my attention for a time. We shall see whether this sort of thing can be danced and debated into a friendship.

I've found a special hidden hook thing in a part of my overlocker which means I can now thread it properly so it works.

I've been spoiling myself a bit by buying clothes.

We're finalising details for our travel to Iceland and other parts of Europe in March-April next year.

There are some most excellent ways to wake up when you sleep beside the one you love.

Life is good.

(To make this sound a bit less like the endorphins are rose-tinting my life, work is a long way from perfect. There's a reason they hired me: to help work out why they're stuck and how they can get un-stuck. But that's full of challenge and possibility and I'm quite enjoying the fixed-term event horizon. Although this week two people did mention future events as "depending on what happens with your contract".)

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Happy anniversary to us

Aug. 24th, 2011 | 09:37 pm

Beloved and I have just returned from a three-nights-away mini-holiday in Turangi and environs. Gorgeous weather, pleasant walks, Huka Falls (I've been a dominatrix for many a year...), shopping in Taupo, hot pools, and more of our much-enjoyed pattern of Beloved reading aloud while I do something crafty. This time that has involved the Joy of Sox. Well, actually, just part of one sock so far, although I'm rather enjoying what I'm doing with four slender bamboo sticks and a ball of sock yarn. This can definitely go on the list of craft projects to travel.

Drove home today for a scheduled dinner at the local Cafe Polo. Excellent. Really, really excellent. :)

And, since I haven't mentioned it here, I'm back at work (when I'm not taking a pre-arranged week off for anniversariness), this time for one of the local universities helping sort out their intranet woes. Fixed term to the end of February, with plans to travel in March-April (barring international financial meltdown and reversion to cannibalism in the meantime (you think I jest!)).

Currently pretty happy. Fifteen years. (Wow.)

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Mar. 23rd, 2011 | 08:38 am

My grandmother died last night. She was 99, had been reasonably spry until a series of falls this year, and the end came with a day or two's warning.

She's also the last of my grandparents.

It feels like a kind of slow-motion Tetris of the family tree, with rows disappearing but no new blocks falling.

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Chrysalis time

Mar. 21st, 2011 | 04:09 pm

"Content". Accent on the second syllable. Also "Nesting".

And about to stir some of that up a little. :)

The things I've been doing in my job in recent years -- for which I've received status and income -- many of them are things which I have doubts about. Put a little bluntly for emphasis, am I good for anything that's actually useful? If I don't have the constraints of rulesets, platforms, political appetite, risk appetite... do I know what to advise and to do?

I've been sorting some papers. Found my notes on a talk by my last CEO. "We're not here to save the world. We're here to create the environment which means the world can be saved." I saw it as an attempt to address the True Believer sector of the staff (who leaked like a sieve to the Greens). And I tried to believe (because although I didn't leak I was on the pragmatic end of the True Believer spectrum). We put mechanisms in place which we knew achieved nothing, but the mechanism was there, and that meant that some day (soon?) the parameters could be changed, and then there'd be change...

I'm slowly teasing this out because it's one of my obstacles going forward. I've been fortunate in that I've spent most of my working life working for causes I've believed in. In slogans those are "public information", "stopping people dying on the road and rail networks", and "saving the planet". I can cast quite a few things in ways that highlight the good in what I'm doing, but when that becomes too much of a stretch for me, or when the focus of the work shifts to things that are not "yes", I'm unhappy. I spent quite a few years hanging out for the projects which I felt changed and achieved things (and I'm proud of those), while focusing on procedural stuff which was more within my control but was pretty grinding.

I'm also aware that I'm extremely fortunate to have the luxury of time to contemplate this. In light of what's going on around me it seems kinda frivolous to say I've been in recovery mode since I left work. That's how it is, though.

And, while tidying/grouping/throwing stuff out, I've found photos of my paternal grandparents from their wedding day to their 60th anniversary: granddad dapper in his somewhat-more-formal-than-strictly-necessary suits, and grandma remarkably stylish in her asymmetric-closing suit jacket and cloche, or another suit jacket with bold Schiaparelli-influenced laid braid. I enjoy the obvious pleasure they took in their attire.

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Learning to love what you've got

Mar. 17th, 2011 | 03:05 pm

Our somewhat difficult gardening conditions seem to grow wild fennel and mustard just fine, so let's see what we can do with our "weeds".

Foraging for and cooking wild fennel looks promising, with the penne/sausage/fennel mix of its Pasta con Finocchietto Selvatico e Salsiccia. I'm going to head to the butcher for some sausages to try in this.

The info I've initially found on wild mustard greens reminds me a little much of the boiled silverbeet I detested as a child, so that might take a little more research and experimentation. There are some possible leads around in places like Beneficial Farms CSA: Wild Mustard Greens, but it still seems very much like a dish you have because it's good for you, alongside and on the same forkload as a dish you enjoy.

EDIT: The pasta-with-fennel dish was actually rather tasty, although we halved the pasta and will serve two people twice with it. It needs something to cut the heavy fennel/aniseed and oil: we found fresh tomato worked well. Next time I'll halve the oil to match halving the pasta.

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