Good and bad

Things that were good about today:

  • I had lunch with Harvestbird, which is always enjoyable, and had the bonus today that she came bearing gifts: leftover birthday cake and a bag of blackboy peaches (terrible name, excellent peaches).
  • My cold is, if a long way from gone, at least beginning to reduce in intensity.
  • It isn’t raining.

Things that were bad about today:

  • I have a new leak in my ceiling.  This time it’s not the roof, it’s a leaking pipe.  Anyone know any good plumbers? (On the plus side, it’s a pipe I was intending on having replaced anyway (because it’s an old steel pipe that’s starting to rust, and the rust was getting into my hot water cylinder, so I was going to get it replaced with copper), and had budgeted to do so, so at least it’s not an unexpected cost.  Replacing the damaged ceiling, on the other hand…)
  • My cold is at that exhausting stage where I just want to sleep all the time, but I have to do annoying things like go to work.
  • QuakeStudies is still down, and it seems like everything I want to get done at work is something I really need access to the database to be able to do.


My shiny new YHA membership card arrived today. It is shiny, in fact, because when my membership expired last month the reminder came with an offer to upgrade to a lifetime gold membership for a reduced price. And when I did the calculations, I worked out that over the years I’ve renewed my membership enough times that a lifetime membership would have already have paid for itself. And I stay in YHAs often enough that having a membership is definitely worth it, between the hostel discounts and free wi-fi. So I took the plunge and upgraded.

Now I just have to plan lots of exciting trips over the next few years to justify paying all that money for my new shiny gold card.  Lytteltonwitch and I have a wee road trip planned for Easter that will give it a bit of use, so that’s a start…

Harvestbird and I actually managed to have lunch together today, for the first time in what seems like forever. She’s been teaching summer school, so hasn’t been able to get in from Lincoln in her lunch breaks. But now that we’re into first semester, her schedule has freed up a bit, so we went to our favourite yum cha place today and enjoyed much steamed bun and fried squid goodness.

Oh yeah, and some good conversation too. But really it’s all about the food 😉

In the ongoing saga of the eaves, theoretically the work is all finished, because the painter came and painted the repaired section a few days ago. The building company (that is project managing the repair) sent me a form to sign to say the work was complete, so I thought I’d better have another look at the repairs before I signed it off… and I discovered that the new section was painted cream, while the rest of the soffit (which I’ve learnt is the proper name for what I’ve been calling “that underneath part of the eaves, you know what I mean”) is white. So much for colour-matching the paint. So I emailed the administrator at the building company and mentioned this (in a really nice “I was just wondering” sort of way, because I feel a bit guilty complaining about it at all, given that I’m going to have to repaint the entire thing sometime soon anyway, because the paint is starting to flake in another area (and it’s probably 20 years since it was last painted), but the scope of works did say that the paint was to match the existing colour), and she replied with a rather weak excuse that the painter hadn’t been able to take a paint sample to do a proper match because of the asbestos danger (yeah, right – I reckon he just had half a tin left over from another job and thought he could get away with it. I know when it comes to paint there’s a lot of shades of white, but surely you don’t need to take a sample to tell the difference between white and cream), but they’d be happy to send the painter back to try again. So I suggested just good old fashioned “brilliant white” would be an acceptable match.

So it’s back to waiting again now to see how long before the painter comes back, and if he manages to get a closer approximation to white this time… (Harvestbird and I were contemplating at lunch what the painter equivalent of a waiter spitting in your food if you send it back is – maybe “accidentally” dripping white paint down the brickwork?)

I can’t remember if I mentioned this the other day, but my call for Friends of CEISMIC volunteers has already paid off!  I got an email the other day from someone who works as an archivist and wants to get some experience in digital archiving, asking if she could come and volunteer with us!  It’s very exciting, because we’ll be able to learn just as much from her as she does from us (none of us have any formal archiving background), plus it’s a fantastic endorsement of the project that someone like that would be interested.  So I’m feeling pretty proud of my wee idea 🙂

Assorted things

I think Mum is having as much fun with my new patchwork/quilting obsession as I am – she keeps sending me little packages of fabric to feed my ever-growing stash.  Yesterday a parcel arrived from her via Trademe, with this fantastic selection:

None of the pieces are huge, but they don’t need to be for paper piecing, and those nice little patterns on the fabric are ideal.  (Plus I love the name of the trader: ThumpaCat Fabrics 🙂 )  Good find, Mum!

The builder was scheduled to come and fix the eaves on Tuesday, so of course didn’t actually turn up until yesterday.  But the work is finally done, the hole is gone, and the security light is back up.  All that remains to be done now is the painting (which I doubt will happen today, because it’s looking like it might rain), plus I need to get up on a ladder and adjust the lights so that they’re pointing in the right directions again.

It’s the 4th anniversary of the February earthquake this weekend, so Te Papa have launched a temporary exhibition about the earthquakes and their aftermath (there’s also an article about the exhibition in The Press today).  They’ve used quite a lot of material from our archive, which is exciting for our team, because the more exposure CEISMIC gets the better for our long-term funding prospects.  But exciting for me personally is that the curator mentioned to me that a few of my own photographs are included in the exhibition.  So I can now say my photography has been exhibited in our national museum 🙂

The exhibition is only running for a month, so I doubt I’ll get up to Wellington to see it, but Wellington people, make sure you drop by Te Papa and have a look!

Big booms

I was confused last night to hear a strange booming noise in the distance.  It sounded like fireworks, but Classical Sparks was last week, so I couldn’t figure out what it would be.  I looked out the kitchen window, because sometimes fireworks in town are just visible from there (Hagley Park is about 5 km away from my place), and sure enough, I could see the tops of big bursts of fireworks going off.  I watched them for quite a while before it finally clicked – it must have been the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony.  Yeah, sports doesn’t make a lot of impact on my consciousness, even when everyone’s been talking for months about some big deal international competition taking place in Christchurch…

The asbestos removal guys turned up this morning just as I was leaving for work.  They said it should only take them about an hour to remove the panel.  Hope all the other components of the massive team* working on my little repair are as quick and efficient!

* I got the scope of works from the builder yesterday, and the list of tradespeople named on it was enormous: assessor, contracts manager, asbestos tester, asbestos remover, builder, painter, and electrician.  I never knew it could take so many people to fix one smallish hole!  At least I’m getting my money’s worth out of losing my no-claims bonus 🙂

I’m getting my Meritorious Service award from the union this afternoon (finally – Harvestbird and I wanted to make sure we both got our awards at the same ceremony, but every potential date the union’s administrator came up with ended up not suiting one or the other of us, so it’s taken a while to find a date we could both do).  It’s not going to be anything particularly fancy – just drinkies with the branch committee and staff over in the union offices.  I don’t think our brilliant suggestion of a celebratory cake train (like a sushi train, but with lots of tiny fancy cakes going round on the conveyor belt instead of fish) will eventuate.

Seriously, someone needs to invent a cake train.  I’d definitely go to that restaurant!

Bad news and good news

Just got a call from the builders – they finally got the results back about the asbestos testing (only a week after they said they’d have them…)  The bad news is, they found asbestos.  The good news is, it’s going to be a simple job to remove the offending panel, so they’re going to do that tomorrow.  The even better news is, they should be able to do it all from the outside of the house, so I don’t have to take a day off work to hang around waiting for them to turn up so I can let them in.  And because it’s a simple job and only involves removing the damaged panel and not the entire eaves, then my insurance will cover the asbestos removal as well as the repairs (I double checked with the insurance company about that the other day, just to be sure!), so I’m not going to be any further out of pocket.   Of course, the bad news about it being asbestos is that it means that the actual repairs won’t be happening until at least next week now, so I’ve got to put up with the hole for a bit longer (I suppose the good news is that at least I don’t live in an area with bats or other attic-nesting flying creatures, so nothing’s likely to make use of that tempting hole to invade the attic in the meantime…)

Danger lurking under the eaves?

Got a call this morning from the builder that the insurance company have appointed.  They can’t start work on repairing the damaged eaves until they’ve been tested for asbestos.  Because of the age of the house, it’s very likely the material the eaves are made of (which looks kind of like thin concrete) is fibrolite, a board made from a mixture of cement and asbestos that was commonly used in NZ houses in the 1950s.  And if it is, health and safety rules say they have to have it professionally removed before they’re even allowed to touch the house (though it’s not a danger to me in the meantime, it’s just if they start cutting it and dust is flying around that it becomes dangerous).

So it could take longer to get the repair done than I thought.  The builder said he’d get someone to come and take a sample today, and they should have results by the end of the week.  Keep your fingers crossed it’s just nice innocent asbestos-free concrete!  (Although maybe finding fibrolite would be an advantage – might mean they’ll completely replace the entire eaves, not just patch up the hole… 🙂 )

They broke my house :-(

Late last night I was woken up by a strange scraping sound outside.  It was quite windy, so I assumed it was just a tree branch rubbing against the window somewhere, so (after trying unsuccessfully to ignore it and go back to sleep) I got dressed and went outside to investigate.  And discovered it wasn’t a tree branch after all – it was part of the eaves of my house!

My section is next door to an alleyway which is a bit of a magnet for local kids to hang out in at night.  Which would be fine, except they smoke (and then the smoke drifts in my windows), write graffiti on my fence and quite often try breaking loose palings off it.  None of which I particularly want to happen.  So when I had the house rewired I got the electrician to put a security light on the corner of the house nearest the alleyway, so that it lights up the alleyway a bit whenever someone walks down there, making it a bit less tempting for the kids.

Obviously someone took exception to this, because they’d ripped the security light down, taking a huge chunk of the eaves with it, and leaving a gaping hole into my attic.  The scraping sound I’d heard was a chunk of board with the light still attached swinging back and forth on the (still live!) electrical cable and scraping against the side of the house.  I’ve got no idea when they did it, because I hadn’t been round that side of the house to notice it until I heard the noise, but there was some other vandalism done around the neighbourhood on Saturday night so I’m guessing it was then.  I was home on Saturday night and didn’t hear anything, but I spent the evening sewing, so between the noise of the sewing machine and the DVD I was watching (with volume turned up so I could hear it over the sewing machine) the sound must have been masked.

I was worried the weight of the light might pull the electrical cable out, which would have caused a bigger problem, so there I was in the middle of the night climbing a ladder to remove the heavy spotlight bulbs from the fitting and try and shove the whole thing back up into the attic space where at least it wouldn’t be hanging by its wire.  This home ownership thing is fun, isn’t it?

Anyway, I rang the police this morning (just so I could tell the insurance people I’d reported the crime – I don’t actually expect them to be able to do anything, given that I didn’t see or hear anything and I’m not even sure when it happened), and then my insurance company, who were really helpful and quickly arranged an assessor to come round (I think they’re just relieved to get a nice simple claim that doesn’t involve EQC 😉 ).  He rang me at lunchtime to let me know he’d inspected the damage and is going to arrange a builder to fix it, hopefully sometime this week.

So, apart from the little matter of having to pay the excess, and losing my no-claims bonus, it should all be sorted out without too much hassle.  I’d still much rather it hadn’t happened at all, though 🙁

And so begins 2015

Back at work, and it was definitely a struggle to get up and organised this morning.  That’s the trouble with holidays, doing nothing becomes way too much of a routine.  But I managed to wake up sufficiently to clean the cat fur off my backpack (apparently Parsnips had been using it for a bed while I was in Alexandra) and get to work on time, so a good start 🙂  And after a morning spent QAing photo descriptions, I feel like I was never away…

Yesterday Lytteltonwitch and I went over to Raspberry’s to pick up some books she was getting rid of.  We didn’t get to see her new place though – she was waiting for a plumber, so we just dashed in and got the books and left.

On the way back to my place we stopped off at a couple of furniture shops, because I’m still on a quest for a foot-stool to go with my armchair.  I didn’t find anything, but Lytteltonwitch did find a really cool witch sculpture for her lounge, and I found a cheap and cheerful set of stationery drawers which are perfect to replace the old drawer unit I was using in my study, which had got damaged so only one of the drawers was really usable.  So a completely unsuccessful shopping expedition in one sense, but very satisfactory in another.


My holiday is almost over, and as usual I didn’t achieve half the things I’d planned to do, but on the other hand, I did achieve a lot of things I didn’t plan to do (like an impromptu trip down to Alexandra) so it all evens out in the end.  And after a big burst of housework this morning the house is clean and restored to order after the kids’ visit, which means I can relax and enjoy my last couple of days.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them – maybe I’ll just wantonly waste them… but I reckon by Wednesday I should be feeling refreshed and ready to go back to work.  Talking of which, I really should start resetting my body clock to more sensible bedtimes again…

So very tired

It’s been fun having the kids here, but I’m SO glad they’re going home tomorrow – I’m exhausted!

Niece and I had our special “girls only” day today.  When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said “Shopping!”, so our first stop was Riccarton Mall.  I was relieved to discover that her boredom threshold for shopping is not much longer than mine, so after wandering around the mall for about an hour we gave up on shopping and went to a playground instead, followed by icecreams, then the museum, a spot of giraffe hunting, and a late lunch at C1, just so we could get curly fries delivered by pneumatic tube.  Lots of fun, but exhausting!

By the time we got home, just after 3, Niece was asleep on her feet, and Dad and the boys (ok, mostly Dad, with a bit of grudging help from the boys in between sneaking back inside to play on the computer) had successfully stacked my firewood, repaired my fence, trimmed the ivy and secured my bookcases (yes, it’s taken four years since the earthquakes for me to properly eq-safe my house).  Once I was home, Dad went up in the attic to have a look at the leaking roof (for some strange reason he didn’t trust the boys to hold the ladder and not wander off and leave him stranded up there…) and the good news is the damage isn’t as bad as I’d thought, and he’s pretty certain he’s found the source of the leak and can fix it easily.  A definite load off my mind there!

Cards again tonight, this time “Warlords and Scumbags”, a game I learnt on the truck in Africa and taught the boys years ago.  It’s a pretty simple game, with no bows or trumping, just basic following suit, so Niece was able to play too (with a bit of help from time to time, plus we all had to pretend we couldn’t see her cards, because she still struggles to hold a hand, so usually just spread them out on the table in front of her).