And we’re back (sort of)

If I actually posted here more often, you’d have noticed that everything looked a bit weird around here for a week or two, because the WordPress theme I was using broke, so the site reverted to a default, and everything went ugly. But thankfully our fearless leader Steve was able to update the theme (which, apparently, I’m the only person left using), so all is back to normal, and my carefully crafted (i.e. thrown together in a lunch hour) banner and background are back in their rightful places again.

I’m gaining even more appreciation for the work Steve does on this site, because I’ve been working on some of our WP sites for work, which has involved me dipping my toes into php for the first time ever. It’s a tricky language to get your head around, but I’ve managed to successfully tweak a couple of things, so I’m feeling very proud of myself.


In more relevant news, so there’s this pandemic thing. And the whole country has been in lockdown for the last 4 weeks (I’ve actually been in lockdown a few more days than that, because diabetes puts me in a high-risk category, so I went into self-isolation as soon as we hit Level 2 (explanation of our alert levels, for the non-NZers)). Luckily, my work can pretty much be done from home. Well, in theory at least – the reality has been that I’ve found it incredibly hard to focus working at home. I’m taking comfort from the TEU’s frequent reminders that this is not working from home, it’s working at home during a crisis, so a reduction in productivity is only to be expected. Also, I’ve discovered that if I leave the house every morning and walk around the block, I can somehow convince my brain that I’ve “gone to work”, and get myself more into work mode than if I just go straight from the kitchen to the study. But complaints aside, I’m so thankful to have the kind of work that I can keep doing (and being paid for!) even during lockdown, yet still be safeguarding my health. I’m also incredibly thankful to be living in New Zealand, where our government acted so quickly and effectively to contain the spread of the virus.

It’s turned out to be perfect timing for having Nephew and NOL living here, too! They’ve been wonderful about doing essential grocery and pharmacy shopping for me, so that I don’t have to expose myself to risk. We decided to keep to our own “bubbles”, seeing as they’re having a bit more contact with the world than I am, so we’ve got a system of leaving things on the doorstep for each other (including their washing, which they leave on the doorstep so I can throw it in the washing machine for them, then I leave it out by the line for them to hang up, so they don’t have to come into the house). Being students (especially students whose classes are now all online), they’ve reverted to a mostly nocturnal existence, but we do still see each other to wave to or chat at a safe distance from time to time. Otherwise, most of our conversations are via Discord (though that was the case before COVID-19 too – this is a household of geeks πŸ™‚ )

For a brief time, official advice was to wash fruit and vegetables in soapy water then rinse. Thankfully, that advice has now reverted back to just clean them before use as you normally would, because do you know how hard it is to rinse soap suds out of broccoli??? I was still amused enough by the advice to take this photo, though πŸ™‚

My creativity has also suffered during lockdown. You’d think the fact that I spend all day sitting in my study (which doubles as – or perhaps primarily is – my sewing room) would mean I’d be stealing every free minute in my day to work on quilts. But actually, other than trying to keep up with the two quiltalongs, I’ve done very little. Sitting in front of Netflix or YouTube seems to be the most my brain is capable at the moment. But hopefully, now that I’m starting to get into more of a rhythm with work, I can also find the mental space to be creative.

Working on the Sugaridoo quiltalong has been quite a creative process though – I’ve been having fun playing with the colours and incorporating a scrappy look to the rows

One very minor way I’ve been creative is quick paintings for my window. This was inspired by the We’re Not Scared NZ Bear Hunt which has people putting teddy bears (and all sorts of other soft toys) in their windows for kids to search for while they’re out walking (which is allowed for the purpose of exercise, as long as you stay in your local area). I didn’t have a teddy bear, so I drew one.

And then at Easter, the PM suggested we put pictures of Easter Eggs in our windows as a substitute Easter Egg hunt, so I added a couple of eggs. My window is slowly filling up… (and with the bonus of it stops the glare from the afternoon sun!)

Back before the lockdown, I did some real art! One of the events I went to for Pride Week was a life-drawing class. I’ve never tried life drawing before (well, unless you count some very quick sketches of people in the park from a distance), and I haven’t really done any proper drawing in many many many years, so it was a bit intimidating, and my first few sketches of the early poses were proof of just how rusty I was. But I was reasonably pleased with my last two attempts – her hands and face still proved beyond my drawing skills, but I thought the rest was not bad considering how out of practice I am!

The other cool creative thing I went to at Pride was a comics workshop run by Sam Orchard of Roostertails fame (and also friend of Alkalinekiwi). The workshop was a lot of fun, and I got to meet Sam properly (I had previously met him very briefly at NDF), which was cool. My resulting comic is not the most artistically accomplished (understatement of the week), but at least I enjoyed the creative process πŸ™‚

There were a few other events I got to for Pride, but unfortunately, a lot of it got cancelled as the first cases of COVID-19 started to emerge in NZ, and restrictions started to be put in place.

And it wasn’t just Pride that was being cancelled – last weekend’s Bookcrossing Convention on the Gold Coast of course had to be cancelled (though we did have a Zoom call with as many of the people who would have been at the convention as possible – that was really fun, and so lovely to see all the friends I would have caught up with at the convention), plus Worldcon, which I was going to go to in July, has been turned into a virtual convention, so that’s another trip cancelled. On the plus side, no travel this year means the money I would have spent on those trips I’ve been able to instead spend on upgrading my computer – my nephew and I have spent the last couple of weeks researching all the latest technology and bought all the parts, so our project for this weekend is going to be putting all the bits together into the most epic computer ever (well, epic within budget, anyway πŸ™‚ )


In other pre-lockdown, wow-it’s-a-long-time-since-I-wrote-a-blog-post creative news, I finished the ‘Garden City’ table runner to go with the placemat I’d made:

The binding technique did work out a bit better than with the placemat, but it’s not my favourite method though – think I’ll go back to traditional binding.

I also managed to finish the two chickens for my niece just in time for the last time I saw her, when the family were up to do some work on the caravan not long before the lockdown.

Niece had found some big beads to use for its eyes, which turned out wonderfully derpy πŸ™‚
This one just got pins for its eyes, because I didn’t have enough beads

And that’s about it for an update on life in the FutureCat bubble. I suspect life is going to carry on like this for quite some time, because even as some restrictions are being lifted, my high-risk category means I’ll still be staying self-isolated until the risk is much lower (or there’s a vaccine). But that’s ok, I’m kind of getting used to the solitary life. It’s a bit different to the social whirl my life has been for the past few years, but I’m still enough of an introvert at heart that I can cope πŸ™‚ Can’t wait for the libraries to reopen, though!

7 thoughts on “And we’re back (sort of)

  1. Welcome back πŸ™‚
    PHP is OK once you get used to it πŸ™‚ WordPress isn’t too bad to work with either, generally…

    Anyway, glad you’re back to where you wanted to be πŸ™‚
    Lets hope there’s some treatment for this virus sometime soon!

    • Thanks! Hopefully I’ll manage to stick around longer this time, though being in lockdown doesn’t exactly give a lot of opportunities for things to write about πŸ™‚

      I’m enjoying PHP so far – luckily, I’m mostly just making changes to things our former developer did, so I’ve got a good base to work from. About 90% of what I’ve needed to do I can just search through her code until I find something similar and copy it πŸ™‚

  2. I appreciated your entry update on life. I, too, have to be careful where I am because of kidney disease and being on dialysis. I live in the U.S. in the state of Wisconsin, and businesses are beginning to open up again — slowly. I’ve had a neighbor who lived in New Zealand years ago and I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Some days I wish I was elsewhere than where I am today, but I wouldn’t trade my home with anyone even if it is an apartment.

    I have been practicing social distancing before COVID-19 came into the United States several weeks ago. I have been staying safe in my home and going to dialysis three times a week. We get our temperatures checked before going to the clinic, and we wait for someone to get us in another part of the building because the lobby is too small for social distance measures. It has to be done, FutureCat, and lockdown was necessary. I just wish that EVERYONE took this pandemic more seriously. I have neighbors/other tenants gawk at me and my worker DKF because we are wearing masks while out in public. We have to because of our health issues. I would love to scream and holler at others for their choices that can get them ill by not abiding by the government’s rules of safe, but what good would that do?

    God bless you, FutureCat!

  3. Since you’ve been doing so much more vlogging I had kind of forgotten you had a written blog as well! Since you’re using WordPress would it be possible to put in a ‘subscribe’ button so I get an email when you post?

    I really like the chickens, the eyes are absolutely perfect πŸ˜€

    • I forget I’ve got a written blog too πŸ™‚ I have great intentions of posting more, but I never seem to have any time…

      I’m a bit limited in what plugins I can use, because although it’s WP, it’s part of a bigger multi-site, so I can only use what the site owner has installed globally. I think there is some sort of subscribe widget thing, but from memory it only works for other bloggers on the site.

      There is a RSS subscribe button at least, but it’s kind of hidden at the bottom of the front page sidebar. I did think about moving it up a bit, but I don’t know if anyone even uses RSS anymore, so it didn’t really seem worth it…

      • The subscribe thing doesn’t seem to work any more. Not sure why. I have just been going to the DD site when I post and then commenting on everyone I read. Old School!!!

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