Thursday, August 2, 2018

Bobbie and Billie

Finally, there are names for the new cats.
It has not been without some pressure, given our previous cats were called Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty, and that our next cat was called New Kitty.
It was thus, as you can imagine, with great trepidation that we adopted the two new cats. 
Not for us the worries about cat flu and whether they'd bring half-dead birds or, heaven forbid, a weta into the house, (see here for a picture of the Weta, at your peril), no, not at all.
The pressure was - what are they going to be named? What if we can't even think of a name? Are they doomed to be Newer Kitty and Newist Kitty?
Billie or Bobbie
The horrendous stress, my friends, cannot be underestimated.
At work a colleague asked 'Have you named them, yet?' 
It had only been a week. Try asking me that in a year.
One of the boys said if he had cats, they'd be called Tim Whatley and Bob Sacamano, characters in Seinfeld. I was telling a friend this and she said, 'You could always name one of the cats Bobbie'.
Bobbie... That sounded like a real possibility. Bobbie for a girl cat. I'm partial to the unisex (can we still say unisex?) names. I have been Jo all my life and, after all, I could spell it Joe if I wanted. I'm not fussed. People can spell it like that if they wish, they can add add the extra 'e', I don't care.
Then she, my friend, remarked that someone she knew was called Billie Jo, but she went by the name of just Billie.
Bobbie and Billie!
Straight away, I liked, nay, I loved those names.
Billie and Bobbie.
This is massive, I told her. No cat in the last 20 years of the history of the Joanne Jo/e family has ever had a, shall we say, a 'proper' name.
Indeed, it is so massive, it thusly deserved to be announced to the world, hence you are reading about it. This is huge.
I texted my daughter, who approved.
I told my son, who asked, which one is which?
Decisions were made, and now Billie and Bobbie are the newest additions to the family.
It would just be good if the chicken, who has been with us now for two years, had a name as well but I think  'Chicken' will have to do, and to be honest, I doubt Chicken minds that at all.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Kitty Cats

It was recently the birthday and I was so lucky to have my carnivore sister and vegan daughter here for a few days. Normally it passes in a bit of a "just another day" but this was quite neat. Not even a significant birthday either.
We went out for dinner to a yummy South American place, and the next day after we dropped the sister off at the airport, the daughter and I went to a plant-based restaurant close to town and it was quite yummy as well. Massively yummy. On the way back, we dropped in at a plant based bakery and bought donuts and they, too, were extremely yummy. Kilos were gained, my friends. Kilos.
Then the next day we went and adopted cats.
Two tabby girls, around five years old, from the SPCA.
Our darling New Kitty, a demented calico cat, who once spent a week living on the garage roof under the peach tree, had died earlier this year and I had thought, as you do, that I would never get another feline, not for a long time. But over the past few weeks I'd been thinking that maybe I would consider it. With some strange work hours going on in this house, sometimes you get home and the silence is deafening. After years of listening to Metallica and Pantera and whoever else happens to be playing in the boys' rooms, when you get home from work at night and there is no one home, no Satan heavy-metal music playing, it is kind of creepy to have that silence and I've been taking a pass on playing music of late, nothing appeals. So I'd been thinking that maybe a security nice cat might be the go. 
So after we dropped the sister off at the airport, we went to the SPCA to have a look at who was up for adoption. I rather fancied a ginger cat, and there were some lovely gingers there. Years ago we briefly had a ginger cat, a lovely fellow, and the ginger cats I've met seem to be fabulous kitty cats.
But there were also these two tabby girls, and they were bonded (most likely sisters) and had to go together.
So we pondered it, and when we went back the next day to make the choice, the two girls were still there so I thought, what the heck, chances are they'll be harder to home, so we adopted them.
They are quite lovely and I suspect, might be a bit mischievous. They have settled in well and spend a fair bit of time on the window-sill gazing intently at the pigeons and assorted bird life that congregate on the neighbour's roof.  It will be at least another week, perhaps longer, before they can venture outside, but in the meantime they have their own room  for night time, and for when no one is home, and seem quite happy, cheerful cats. Although they are probably not happy and cheerful at all because, after all, they are cats. And who knows what cats ever think?
Interesting times ahead.
~ Joanne 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A laugh for when I'm long gone

I've been thinking of late about the value of keeping a diary. Not a "woe is me" diary of embarrassing angst (that you will watch burn into ashes one day when the angst is just a humiliating event of your past and no one must ever know a la the teen years) but a diary of day-to-day events.
My father used to keep one. It was just a hardcover exercise book, and every day he'd write down interesting things related to life, like calling the vet out to the farm, going to the sale yards to buy heifers, a mate popping around, Jo arriving with the kids to stay a week for the holidays....!
At times, I've done this, though not religiously.
I have one entry in a book (90% empty, fyi) where it says I'm in bed writing, and the three cats, Boy Kitty, Girl Kitty and Mirrie are there.  Mirrie was a stray, considered an imposter by the "Kitties" I'm sure. They never got on, so this image is clearly a (rare) blissful moment.  When I first found the diary years later, I remembered it. Boy Kitty, Girl Kitty and Mirrie, all three of them lying on the bed (note with significant distance between them) while I'm writing away on the laptop.
Cats are the best.
RIP you three.
I am thinking about this now because I met a woman recently, having a huge property dispute with an ex partner. He denied they had ever lived together, because she was claiming her legal share of property.
She remembered an article being written about him years earlier,  that it was published in a local paper, and there was a photograph of them in their house. It was proof, she hoped, that they had lived together because all these years on, there was little proof at all. It was quite a crazy story, but she needed this photograph - whenever it was. Yet none of the possible newspapers it could have been in are digitised. There's no way of finding out which issue it was in, beyond a vague memory of a year and a newspaper. The only way to find the pic, will be to go through issue after issue of newspapers she think it might be in, and it will take hours and hours and hours. It''ll be worth it in the end if she gets her share of the property, but boy, talk about time consuming. Not to mention how it is a dispute gets to the stage where she has to have real proof she lived there, when it happened over ten years ago.
If only she'd kept some kind of day to day diary, I was thinking, because a reporter coming around and interviewing you would surely be something you would put in there, amidst the mundane.
If only, and then she'd have a day or even a month to work with. If only...
Maybe my dad's idea, an exercise book in the kitchen where you can just take a few minutes to write down things every day, is the easiest. Just the random stuff of life, the stuff that doesn't seem important. That isn't too personal it ends up in a fiery heap one day.
My sister's here for a few days,  Mum rang and Aunty Bonnie is in hospital, the car failed its warrant of fitness, and the cat has found a new place, sleeping on the floor.
At the least, it might be good for a laugh for the fam, when I'm long gone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Their Finest

I was down at the farm last weekend when I took this photo. I was about to make the 45 minute walk from the farm to the airport. The farm is only minutes out of the town and on the airport side, so quite lucky, really.  
I could of course have taken a taxi, which I used to do, but what a waste of money when I have legs that are working. Plus I fly carry-on most of the time, so its not like I'm trudging along country roads with a wretched suitcase in tow. That would be a drama in itself plus its a reasonably busy road where you're constantly having to walk through grass so you don't get run over. The times I've flown down there at night, I've had to navigate the roads in the dark and that is pretty dodgy, I can tell you. Plus you wouldn't believe the rubbish that ends up on country roads, quite disgusting. Last time I did have a suitcase so I went to the airport as soon as check-in opened to check it in, then drove back to the farm, and walked back to the airport. Timed to the minute and not without some drama, I tell you, but I made it. Anyhoo, as I was leaving the house this past weekend, and thinking how I should ask my brother to drive me down to the end of the drive on the ride on lawnmower to save myself that bit of the walk, I took this picture. FYI he doesn't drive, hence all the walking, and of course I'm not going to ask him to get out the lawnmower to drive me down the drive. But I like this image. Rural New Zealand in winter.
While I was there I watched a movie called Their Finest. Set in World War Two, it was a terrific story  about a woman who ends up writing propaganda films for the British government. There were some good relatable bits about the creative process, about brainstorming together and plotting, but it had a quite surprising bit near the ending. In fact, when that particular bad moment hit, I immediately thought, how are they going to get out of this one, so that the film ends on a positive note because it has to end on a positive note. It truly must.
Well, they managed it, and in a quite unexpected way.  Maybe others had the happy ending figured out, but I didn't, and without ruining the film if you haven't seen it, the ending to me was all about just how important optimism and hope are in creative work, in the story itself.
I read somewhere that in moments of great peril such as war time, entertainment like movies are even more important because we, the people, need to see something that maybe takes us away from the bad time we are in, some escapist entertainment, but also something that gives hope.
A movie well worth watching, I thought.
~ Joanne

Sunday, June 17, 2018

House jobs

Currently reading: Quite a few writerly type books, dipping in and out of them, and also a book on the 1918 influenza pandemic and how it affected New Zealand ~ research for a work project. On the fiction front, the latest David Baldacci. Always a good, pacy read.
Sheep pens on the farm.
I reckon I'll go on a romance blitz after this, and get some e-books from writer friends and see what they're up to. Some nice home-and hearth, or rom com sounds good. Something that makes you feel optimistic, that maybe the world isn't going to hell in a handbasket. (Must look up origin of that saying one day.)
Other stuff: On the house front, there are some projects needing attention. I had some windows replaced in a room. I had gone in there to touch them up, once one of the boys moved out. You know, a bit of paint here and there. Wasn't looking forward to it (physical labour, you know), and thus put it off, and when I finally took a deep breath and went in, I realised the window frames were rotten and I'd need new ones.
A month or so later, the new windows are now in, nicely painted, and so good. I just go in and stare at them.
But.... they show up just how much more needs to be done in the room. It's always like that when you do one thing. Fortunately it is stuff I can supposedly do myself. Sanding and painting and I think, wallpapering, as there isn't a lot of wall space to have to paper. The last time I hung wallpaper which is still amazingly not falling off the wall (well, not completely) I swore I'd never do it ever, ever again but you know... time passes... the memory of the horror fades... I'll give it a crack.
The other thing was that while the builder was here, at no extra cost (yay) he wondrously chopped down the trees in front of the house, and cut the big branches up into firewood logs. One was an impressive Camelia tree with gorgeous pink flowers but it blocked the light. Even worse was that some dratted weed tree (a privet, which the local council has indeed deemed a weed tree) had over time grown up by the Camelia trunk, so in fact what I thought was one tree I discovered a few weeks ago was two. Anyhoo, they are now gone and we have some firewood stacked (thank you Johnny the builder) and a heap of the twiggie branches to get rid of over time although I may just de-leaf and stack them somewhere as they could be useful in a volcanic eruption, flood, hurricane, world war three, when we have no power.  (It will happen one day....)
Removing the trees now means it has shown up that the house needs waterblasting after the effects of the tree. You know, green slimy bits. Mould. Quite gross.
So I can tell you, all this is not going to happen in a hurry but I'll plod away at it and hopefully by the summer, that room will be looking sweet (should the dear boy decide to come back home one day) and the green splotches on the house, we  I will have removed.
~ Joanne

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Seasons and winter love

It's winter down-under which is possibly my favourite time of year.
I always think I'm the only one who loves winter, that everyone else is just hanging out for summer and the beach and the barbeques, but some work colleagues and I were discussing this the other day and how much we love winter. The season of scarves and coats, hot water bottles and reading in bed, a hot drink on a cold day, hibernating. And of course, soup!  Fortunately its not like we get snow here and have to deal with all that drama in the freezing cold. The best of both worlds.
I was on the farm last weekend, which is pretty cold, and was even better because of the fire going! My brother had bought wood to last the winter back in January and good on him, he quite likes chopping it and stacking it. I can remember having to stack loads of firewood as a kid which was kind of okay (actually it totally sucked, I can't say this supposed 'work ethic' theory people go on about has rubbed off on me much), but of course, the pay off is nice.
But then, the good thing about winter is that by the time spring comes around, you're ready for the change in the season, so it all works out rather nicely.
I was reminded of this watching the Harry and Meghan royal wedding. There was a piece of scripture read out at the service that talked about the season of spring, and was a nice reminder of seasons, not just the winter/spring/summer/autumn seasons, but  the seasons in life. How life changes. How you can look back over a period of time, whether it's one of grief, or a relationship break-up, or going through a restructure at work where staff morale is just the pits and it feels like it will never end, whatever drama is going on at the time, and you either have to make decisions to change it, or just get through it until it comes right for you anyway.
"For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come. Yes, spring is here.The leaves are coming out,and the grapevines are in blossom. How delicious they smell!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Missing the bus

I missed my bus home from work last night. One of those situations where you're waiting at the lights, you see your bus, and just before the pedestrian walk light goes green to cross, the bus pulls
Because it was long past rush hour, it was half an hour for another bus, so what do you do?
You cheer yourself up by taking a bit of a detour, knowing there's a good book in your bag to read (an excellent book on writing by Christopher Vogler and David McKenna called "Memo From the Story Department.")
The detour is McDonalds for an ice-cream.
While I was waiting I spotted Richard. He's an eccentric character, one of the streeties you see when you work in the city. I've chatted to him a lot before, about books and sports and anything really. He used to wear a jacket supporting the same rugby league team one of my kids supported. A team that at the time happened to be the bottom-of-the-table team, and had been for many years.
The book could wait.
So I took my ice-cream over to where Richard was, sat down and we had a good twenty minute natter about stuff. He asked what I was doing in town late; I told him I'd been at a work event.
He's from England, originally, so we talked about royal things, especially in light of the Queen's statement supporting Prince Charles as the next head of the Commonwealth.  We talked about public transport, about history, about languages - about a heap of stuff. Or rather, he talked and I listened. Then time was up, the ice-cream was long gone, and the bus would be arriving soon.
I look forward to catching up with Richard again, soon.

Bobbie and Billie

Finally, there are names for the new cats. It has not been without some pressure, given our previous cats were called Boy Kitty and Girl Ki...