Wednesday, 1 April 2009


I'm loving this Autumn weather. Now that I've settled into a routine of gardening in the morning and working in the afternoon, my garden is looking fabulous, or as fabulous as it can look with a scratchy chicken, 10 galumphing ducks and a playful rabbit running around. The ducks are all maturing, though Runty McShortStuff's voice remains unbroken, and I suppose we can expect piles of eggs soon. This morning I weeded the section of the vegetable garden I sowed a couple of weeks ago, and managed to identify a few tiny parsley plants. I also planted some beetroot and a zillion little spring onion plants. Pak'n'Save had 2 bunches of seedlings for $5 yesterday. I've covered everything with wire frames, netting and stuff like that to keep the poultry out, so I'll just have to wait and see.

We acquired a second rabbit over the weekend, while I was in Auckland immersing myself in Mensa life. She came to us courtesy of Freecycle, and is a little black and white cutie. She's very highly-strung, which is why she needed re-homing, and she bit me this morning for having the audacity to remove the remains of greens that she didn't eat yesterday. Still, she loves to be stroked, and I think once she's settled she'll be good buddies with Robbie (who's been neutered) and they'll run around the garden together. She's very literary - her common name is Lenore (as in Edgar Allan Poe), and her registered name is Cheery Littlebottom. Terry Pratchett fans unite!

The weekend was a blast, as they always are. On Friday I paid a surprise visit to my phone buddy, Mark, who lives in an apartment on Quay St. He was thrilled to see me (for only the second time since we hooked up by phone over a year ago), and we enjoyed lunch at a new restaurant nearby called A & M. I paid, which was fine, though I had been hoping he'd suggest somewhere a little more downmarket (read: cheap). He later apologised, having assumed I was a lot wealthier than him, which I probably am, given that he's on a disability benefit.

In the evening our after dinner guest speaker was supposed to be Jim Mora, but he got called away for "Mucking In", so at the last moment a local member who used to work as an astronomer in South Africa gave us an illustrated talk on measuring the distance of far objects in space. Can't say I understood it all (and he got a bit impatient at some of my questions), but the slides were unbelievably gorgeous - I didn't know galaxies came in shapes other than spirals, so I learned something. After that we did the traditional quiz, which is always fun and provokes many arguments.

On Saturday morning we had a group of fascinating speakers: a MAF officer from Auckland Airport, complete with examples of confiscated goods, a young Chinese calligrapher who is branching out into the Chinese calligraphy equivalent of abstract expressionism, and a psychologist whose specialist area is gifted children. After lunch a bunch went off for a tour of the local SPCA (very tempting!), while some of us stayed around to talk to some potential members who were sitting their Mensa entry test. Of five applicants, three were close enough to be offered retests, and the other 2 were sent on their way. Later in the afternoon there was a tour of Auckland Airport Customs, limited to 20 people (of whom I wasn't one, having registered too late) and I hung around the hotel playing board games. It's always fun to learn some new games, and now I have to try and get hold of "Guillotine" and "Apples to Apples", both greatly entertaining.

Saturday night's dinner was at a Japanese barbecue restaurant in Botany Downs, complete with vegetarian option for yours truly (I prefer my tofu steaks to be firm rather than silken tofu, but it tasted good anyway). Sunday morning began early as the Hurricanes were playing in South Africa at 6am. I had trouble staying awake at that time of the morning, especially as I was watching it from my bed, so I just kept pushing the snooze button on my alarm. It probably drove the occupants of rooms around me nuts, but at least I got to watch the game at 10-minute intervals!

The morning activity was a car rally around West Auckland, including morning tea at Crystal Mountain where we were given key rings as souvenirs, though I was disappointed not to see a single front lawn with rusting cars on it. Our team won, having been the only one to get 100% correct of the questions we had to answer. Lunch was in the hotel after prizegiving, and those of us who didn't immediately have planes to catch spent the rest of the day watching a film-length documentary on the "Ghost Fleet", the story of a great Chinese Admiral who sailed past Africa and goodness knows where else long before the days of European explorers. I fell sleep quite quickly, so only saw the beginning and the end, but it had one of those irritating narrators who make the History Channel unwatcheable, so I didn't mind.

My flight wasn't until 9pm (that's Fly Buys for you), so I went to the airport with Fraser, whose flight was at 6, then spent the rest of the time sitting on the floor of Whitcoulls, reading whatever took my fancy. I'm up to Chapter 6 of Joe Bennett's book about the origin of his underpants.

Enough. Time to get to work.