MrPloppy vs. the mosquito (possibly)

MrPloppy got bitten by a mosquito last night (or it may have been a spider, or some other nasty bitey type thing – when he noticed the bite, there had been a mosquito buzzing around, but he’d also spent the day gardening, so almost anything could have been caught in his sleeve). This morning, the area round the bite (which was on his wrist) was looking a bit red and swollen. I suggested he should go to the doctor, but he said it was probably just a bit of an allergy or something, and took an antihistamine. I left for work, insisting that if it got any worse he was to go to the doctor.

Of course, he didn’t, and when he came to meet me after work (we were supposed to be going to the supermarket), his whole lower arm was swollen and red, and very hot. He was still insisting it wasn’t anything serious and wasn’t worth going to the doctor about, so I took him over to the on-campus chemist, to see if they had anything to take down the swelling a bit at least. The chemist took one look at his arm and said “Go to a doctor right now. There’s a 24-hour surgery in Riccarton.” (I’m afraid I didn’t manage to restrain myself from saying “I told you so” at this point, and for the rest of the evening…) We decided to give our own doctor a try first before going to the 24-hour surgery, and somehow managed to catch a bus just in time to reach the medical centre a few minutes before it closed. The receptionist told us it was really too late to see a doctor, but our doctor happened to walk into the waiting room just then, obviously on his way home, and when he saw MrPloppy’s arm (the red was spreading even further now, and there was a long line of red stretching up his arm along the vein (or artery, or whatever – the blood thing), which apparently is a strong sign of infection) he said he would have a quick look at it.

It didn’t take long for him to decide that the bite was definitely infected, and he gave MrPloppy a prescription for some antibiotics, and said he really should start taking them straight away. Of course, by this stage all the nearby chemists were closed, so we had to get back on another bus to go out to the mall in Papanui, which is open late on Fridays. We managed to find a chemist there, and got the prescription filled (and MrPloppy took a pill straight away as instructed), then decided as we were there and it was getting late, we might as well just grab something to eat in the food court instead of going home and cooking dinner. Then we still needed to go to the supermarket, so we finally got home about three hours after we left my office…

At least the good news was that insect bites are covered by ACC (yes, really!), so the doctor’s fee and the prescription were subsidised. Which was a releif, because life has been a bit expensive lately.

Dramatic photo (though not as dramatic as it was earlier, because he’d had an icepack on his arm for a while before this was taken, so the swelling had gone down a little bit):

Of course, the plans for tonight had been to come home and do some last minute tidying up before the Outlaws arrive tomorrow, but MrPloppy’s latest medical adventures kind of interrupted that a bit. Looks like we’ll be getting up early in the morning instead…

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, despite the damage I think MrPloppy won the contest – the mosquito got squished.)

They’re on their way

Only a few more days until the Outlaws arrive. They rang last night to say they were just about to set off on the first leg of their journey, the drive to London (they live in Wales). They’ll be in London by now, where they’re staying overnight and catching the plane in the morning. They’ve got a night’s stopover in Singapore, so it’ll be Saturday morning NZ time before they actually get here. Technology may be shrinking the world all the time, but the fact that it takes several days to get here reminds you that half-way round the planet is still an incredibly long way to travel. I *think* all is prepared for their visit – the house is almost spotless (totally spotless is just not possible with three cats who shed at every opportunity!), we’ve got the spare room sleepable in, I’ve had my leave approved (I have to work next week, unfortunately, but then I’ve got three weeks off to spend some time with them, and more importantly, to be there when they meet my parents!)… about the only thing we haven’t managed is to finish tidying up the garden (oh well, they know we’re not keen gardeners, and it doesn’t look *too* bad). I’m sure on Friday night I won’t be able to sleep because I’ll keep thinking of more things we should have done…

I used up some valuable cleaning time on Sunday to go to a Bookcrossing meetup. We’ve been trying out different places to meet since Trattorie changed ownership and went so far downhill in quality, and this month awhina suggested we meet in the food court in Riccarton Mall. I had my doubts, because food courts are generally noisy crowded places, but I didn’t want to seem dictatorial (I’m sort of the defacto organiser for the Christchurch group – in theory, anyone can arrange a meetup, but I kind of coordinate things, otherwise we’d probably never meet at all because everyone would be waiting for someone else to do arrange something), so I said unless anyone else objected I was happy to give it a go. Unfortunately, it was as bad as I’d thought it might be. For a start, they don’t have individual tables, just long rows on tables stuck together, so you can’t claim a table for a group to sit around. Lytteltonwitch got there first and tried to reserve some seats around where she was sitting, but some people sat down almost next to her anyway, and even when the rest of us (me, awhina, meerkitten, and natecull) arrived and it was obvious we were all together and there weren’t enough seats for us, they stayed where they were (even when I asked politely if they’d mind moving along one, because there was plenty of room on the other side of them). So the poor kitten ended up perched on the end of the row. And it was just as noisy as usual, so pleasant conversation about books was a bit difficult. But otherwise, an ok meetup šŸ˜‰ I didn’t pick up any books, but I did pass on a few: The Cat Who Came to Breakfast and The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun, Palm Prints by Fiona Kidman, and The Word and the Void by Terry Brooks. So at least for a change I reduced the nett number of books in the house…

Went to the movies last night with the Chick Flicks women. We saw Derailed, and none of us really knew what to expect. The woman whose turn it was to pick it had just gone off the blurb on the Hoyts site, which pretty much just said it was about two people who have an affair and get blackmailed by someone. In reality, it was a lot more complicated than that (and a lot nastier). I spent the first half of the movie thinking it was pretty boring and predictable, but then there was a twist (totally unexpected to me, but probably everyone else in the audience saw it coming from miles off – I just don’t watch enough of that kind of movie) that made it a lot more interesting in the second half. Still wasn’t a great movie (there were some huge plot holes, and some of the acting was a bit ropey, plus I’m just not into that sort of high body count film in general), so I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but at least I didn’t feel my $8.50 was totally wasted (I might have felt differently if we’d gone on a full price night, though!).

Oh, important news: I finally finished reading Cuentos en espaƱol and returned it to the library! Yayy!!! It only took me about 5 months to read it…

Pointed bricks and other photos

I raced out this morning and took a photo of the finished brickwork:

It stands out at the moment, but according to the builder it should weather to match the rest of the house in a year or so.

And while I’m uploading photos, here’s one I forgot to upload of the car that crashed across the street the day after the one that hit the house:

The tree it’s wrapped around was so badly damaged (you can see in the photo that it’s on a bit of a lean) that it had to be removed, so that side of the street is looking a bit bare now.

Oh, and you know how when there’s a car crash the police go round with tins of spraypaint marking the road to show the path of the cars for the evidence photos? Well when a car crashes into your house they do that too. All over the lawn and driveway – and it’s permanent paint. Not a problem on the lawn, because the grass has grown out, but we’ve still got yellow arrows all over our drive!

Spring Cleaning… um, I mean Autumn Cleaning

As I may or may not have mentioned, MrPloppy‘s parents are arriving next week from the UK for a month’s visit (they won’t actually be staying with us for the whole month, because they’re going to do a bit of touring around the country, but they’ll be using our place as a base). It’s the first time they’ve ever visited us (even when we lived over there, we always went to visit them rather than the other way round – something to do with us living in a series of dingy shared flats in the less desirable parts of London, probably), so I’ve come down with an attack of Mother-in-Law panic, and suddenly feel that if the house isn’t absolutely spotless then she’ll think I’m not looking after her son properly and hate me forever or something (even though it’s MrPloppy who’s the ‘housewife’ – funny how deeply ingrained the idea that women are responsible for the housework is, isn’t it? – the threat of my Mother-in-Law (or should that be Mother-out-Law (or even Mother Outlaw?) given that MrPloppy and I aren’t married? ;-)) visiting is enough for me to suddenly forget all my feminist ideals and develop the nagging feeling that I should be dusting in a frilly apron…)

Anyway, the result of this vague panic has been that we’ve spent the last couple of weekends doing loads of those kinds of jobs around the house that you put off until something like long term visitors inspires you to get them done. So last weekend we finally put up curtains in the spare room, and rearranged it a bit so it’s less like a cat’s playground (it was “George’s room” for quite a while, when he needed separate territory from the other two, and it still had a lot of his cushions, toys, scratching post etc lying around it) and more like a second bedroom (even though it doesn’t have a bed – we’ve borrowed a couple of hi-tech camp beds from Dad and we’ll sleep in there and give the Outlaws (I like that name!) the proper bed in our room), and today has been spent very productively, cleaning all the windows, and cleaning out the kitchen cupboards (it’s amazing what rubbish accumulates in the backs of cupboards, isn’t it? We ended up throwing out two rubbish bags full of past-useby ingredients and assorted “might come in handy one day” jars and containers – suddenly there’s huge amounts of space in the previously crowded cupboards!). I think tomorrow’s project is going to be cleaning the oven and sorting out some of the chaos in the study. The house is starting to look quite remarkably clean – maybe Mother-in-Law panic is a useful thing after all…

Progress Report

Sorry I haven’t been updating much lately (or at all, in fact) – what with the crisis at work, starting a new paper at university, and preparing for the imminent visit of MrPloppy‘s parents, plus the remains of that cold I caught in Dunedin hanging on and sapping any energy I had left after all that lot, I just haven’t been inspired to sit down at the computer and write stuff lately. But I promise the diary-writing situation will improve soon… probably…

Anyway, I thought it was time for a progress report – not on my cross-stitch, which hasn’t had a lot done to it lately, but on the damage to our house and garden. Things were going swimmingly well at first – the insurance company quickly arranged for builders to come in and fix the fence on the alleyway side and replace the broken bricks in the front of the house:


The repaired fence. The house on the other side of the alleyway is rented, and I suspect their landlord has decided not to bother losing his/her no-claims bonus, because they just roughly patched up the hole with the broken bits of fence, and there’s still no sign of them fixing it properly. But doesn’t ours look nice and tidy now?


Stage 1 of the house repairs – they removed the section of damaged brickwork, and salvaged the few undamaged bricks.


George was fascinated by the hole where the grate had been removed, and spent a lot of his time exploring under the house. We had visions of him being bricked up in there… (don’t worry, we would have been able to get him out if he had been, because there’s a couple of loose floorboards in the bottom of one of the wardrobes that can be lifted to get access under the house). Oh, and for those of you who live in countries where they use brick for the structural parts of the house, don’t worry about the fact that it looks like the window hasn’t got anything holding it up in this photo – in New Zealand, because of the earthquake risk all “brick” houses are actually wooden-framed – the flexible wood holds the house up and the brick is just cladding. So the window is still fully supported by the wooden frame below it (hidden behind the builder’s paper) even though the bricks are gone.


The next day they came back and put new bricks in (and left the lawn covered in brick dust), then a couple of days later came back and pointed the bricks (i.e. put a layer of finer mortar over the joins between the bricks – that hasn’t been done yet in this photo, which is why the mortar in the new part is grey instead of white) and put a new grating in (much to George’s disgust!). I never did get round to taking a photo of the completed wall – I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

Now, the observant among you might notice that there’s something missing in the above description of the building work. “What about the other fence?” I hear you cry. Good question. The builders left, and nothing more happened. We weren’t too concerned, because the assessor had told us that because it was a shared fence it might take a bit longer to be sorted out. But then we got a letter from the insurance company, with a form in it for us to sign saying that we’d accept a cheque for half of the remaining damage, less $250 excess – which left a very paltry figure. I don’t know a lot about insurance, but this didn’t seem right to me, and didn’t seem to match up with what the assessor had said. Grrrr.

Luckily, I happen to know someone who does know a lot about insurance, so I rang him, and he said that for a start, we definitely shouldn’t have to pay any excess, because our insurance company would be claiming the cost back from the driver’s insurance company, and that third-party motor vehicle insurance (which is what she would have to cover the damage) normally doesn’t have an excess (for precisely this reason). So our insurance company would be able to claim back the entire amount and shouldn’t be asking us to pay anything. He also thought it was pretty unreasonable of our insurance company to just give us the money for the fence and expect us to negotiate with the neighbours about getting it fixed and to arrange a builder etc – there was no reason why they couldn’t do all that for us (I mean, isn’t that why you have insurance, so you don’t need to worry about that sort of thing???). So armed with this advice, MrPloppy rang the insurance company, with mixed results – they kind of agreed that we shouldn’t pay the excess (although he couldn’t really pin them down on that), but were still insisting that we’d have to negotiate with the neighbours (or rather, the neighbours’ landlord, because that side is rented too) and arrange our own builder. The woman he spoke to had the cheek to suggest that they were doing us a favour this way, because we might be able to find someone to give us a cheaper quote!!! Anyway, I’ve spoken to my insurance friend again and he’s helping us to write a letter to the insurance company (which might have more effect than a phone call) explaining again why we think they’re being unreasonable, so watch this space…

And now a couple of gratuitous photos, just because I like them. I found this monarch butterfly sitting on the road, and I managed to get it to crawl onto my finger so I could take it to a safer perch on our lemon tree (yes, I know it’s probably going to die soon anyway, seeing as autumn is closing in, but I still didn’t like the idea of it getting squished). Anyway, I took the opportunity to play with the macro setting on my camera:

Currently reading: The Cat Who Came for Christmas 2 by Cleveland Amory and Cuentos en espaƱol (I’m on the last story – only a couple of pages to go!)

Visitors from both ends of the islands

No, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth, I’ve just been sick. When will I ever learn that going to a Bookcrossing convention and then coming home and going straight back to work is not a good idea (FutureCat, write 100 times: “I must always plan a holiday to recover from my holiday”). I was so exhausted after the convention that of course I came down with a cold not long after I got back (and of course work has been incredibly busy, so I haven’t really been able to take any time off sick), and am only just getting over the last of it now.

And needless to say, I haven’t had the energy or inclination to actually write up all the exciting adventures we had in Dunedin. I promise I’ll do it soon, though. In the mean time, here’s a few more catches I got from the trip:
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Ratface and Snake Eyes by Mark Svendson
Young Love by Johannes Allen
Basically Bollocks by Paul Stafford
A Distant Harbour by Jessica Blair

Rarsberry and VivaRichie were in Christchurch today, so lytteltonwitch, awhina, meerkitten and I met them for brunch in Riccarton this morning. It was nice to see them again, and to congratulate them yet again on what a wonderful job they did of the convention. I passed on a few of the books I’ve been reading over the last few weeks (Seashells by Barbara Jane Zitwer; The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun; Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Cat by Linda Konner and Antonia van der Meer; Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty), and left The Quiet Game by Greg Iles behind in the cafe. Amazingly, I managed not to bring any books home, despite a visit to Borders after brunch!

Also in Christchurch today were the Kimis. They dropped in for a quick visit this afternoon – great to see you again, Kimi & Mr Kimi, and sorry the cats all decided to hide from you (although I suspect George was actually hiding in plain view – when I looked out in the back garden a few minutes after you left, I saw him sitting under a bush looking like he’d been there all day!)