Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 5

Day 14+7+8, September 15. 14 new, all Auckland; 983 in the cluster; 530 active, 456 recovered. (Yeah... SO not my math.) We're now getting used to early spring days; I miss winter already but it sure is pretty and cheerful. I had a housework day, cooking, laundry, even cleaning a bit. Also sampled the rethreaded warp. This experiment is turning out to be far more valuable than I expected, except... yeah... another threading mistake. I knew I should have turned another light on while I rethreaded, instead of going by feel. Righto, more Battlestar Galactica binging.
Day 14+7+9, September 16. 13 new, all Auckland; 966 in the cluster; 460 recovered. RNZ did not list active case numbers; I suppose that's better than hard-to-explain math. 
 
Tomorrow at 8.30AM, we end our eight-year hate/hate relationship with our stove. 

In 2013, Dad died, so I spent one of the hottest summers living with Mom for five months. (Jury is still out on whether that was the right thing to do, but that's another story.) Ben and I skyped every night, and at the very end of my time away, he said our 1987 oven was acting up. We had been warned parts for the oven were no longer available, so when Ben said something alarming, we decided to replace it. And we did the first weekend after I came back. 

I was home alone when a young chap came to install it. He seemed nice, but he had a mouth; he couldn't shut up about the floor not being level, (it is, Ben checked,) and I couldn't wait for him to leave. It turned out the guy bent the right oven door hinge badly. Normally I'd ring the store and get it set right ASAP, but I just couldn't not face the mouth, so I didn't complain. A few years later the thermostat on one hob, and then another, broke so they were either all the way up, or off. We lived with two hobs and an oven door that wouldn't shut, (I got in the habit of putting a chair in front to keep it shut,) for some years, while I asked around for a trustworthy repair person, to no avail. 
Earlier this year Ben thought the hinge is probably beyond repair, so we bit the bullet and bought a new one after eight years. As I cleaned the floor and walls behind it this morning, I found a big ding in a unlikely place, so the initial install was worse than we thought. Tomorrow, our own electrician is going to install it. Phew.

And then we'll get our second jab in the afternoon.
Day 14+7+10, September 17. 11 new, all Auckland; 1007 in the cluster; 457 active, 550 recovered. (Hey, look at the math!! Look at the math today!!) 
 
I don't. I look horrible in greens, especially lighter ones. But thanks, Library, nice idea. (And I returned my compliment into the pile so someone else can love it. I now wished I cheated and read others; they seemed all unique.) 
Day 14+7+11, September 18. 20 new, all Auckland; 1027 in the cluster; 641 active, 386 recovered. Ben felt a little woozy, so I pretended I did, too. Also, we both felt clairvoyant; I see cleaning the oven door glass in my near future. 
Day 14+7+12, September 19. 24 new, all Auckland; 1050 in the cluster, all in Auckland now; 688 active, 361 recovered. Oops, math slip. We did stuff, cooked and ate stuff, and watched stuff.
Day 14+7+13, September 20. 22 new, all Auckland; 1071 in the cluster; 376 active, 790 recovered. (Math is not RNZ's strong suit.) On Wednesday Auckland will move to Level 3, (for two weeks?) while, Ben tells me, the rest of the country moves to normal, (not Delta) Level 2. Parts of northern Waikato adjacent to Auckland is under special provision, because a parolee released from Auckland went home, and with three family members, tested positive. I'm a little confused about this case as it sounded to me like someone who picked up said person might have been positive, and was not allowed to exit Auckland. Not sure if this person was tested, etc. 
Day 14+7+14, September 21. 14 new, Auckland and northern Waikato; 1085 in the cluster; 294 active, 790 recovered. I've been fed up with myself unable, or unwilling, to get back to "normal" life, but I might have finally broken that pattern today. Or not. I'll know tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 4

Day 14+7+1, September 8. 15 new, all Auckland; current outbreak 855, active 636. And the start of Level 2 outside Auckland. I used to loathe 2 because the rules were hard to understand. But last night I had an aha! moment; under 4 I'm not allowed leave home except for food, medicine/doctor/COVID testing/jabs, or exercise near home, (vaguely defined.) Under 3, I'm allowed a few "non-contact" consumption additionally. Under Level Delta 2, I am more or less allowed to do anything but follow stringent rules, i.e. masks, newly mandatory scanning/record keeping, distancing,  and group size limits.

Level 2 morning. Early traffic noise was no more than the last three weeks, but more industrial noise. Someone on my street had the radio on really loud, maybe fixing house or car or tree? Too early, so loud, and shouty songs. I shut the windows, and... it was Ben! Closing the windows made the music louder!!

Also today a few systems got hacked again; the tax department, banks, and our weather service, while some parts of the country continue to have wild weather, especially Auckland. Also, there might have been a person carrying a gun showing up at Christchurch Hospital. 

I've been a bad daughter. I talked to Mom on May 10. Then I tried on July 15, but I had a problem and we couldn't connect. (I'd been attending quite a few weaving-, art- and Shakespeare-related Zoom thingies I had shut down my microphone at multiple places. Ben asked me why I didn't use my phone. Wha???) Before May Mom and I spoke weekly, but I'd been having difficulties coping with Mom's mind deteriorating, which isn't evident because she puts on a great act. Some of what she said so astonished me, every week I text my sister in panic, and though I can't see her, her eyeballs strode to the back of her head, a sigh that can easily blow away a straw pig house leaked out of her, before she would text back, "not true." Anyway, I talked to Mom today, and she had one bombshell, and a couple of surprises. The problem is, they are all plausible. I might bring them up with my sister if the opportunity cropped up. 
 
Super windy today; I reorganized my herbs, spices, and condiments and made a shrimp curry.  
Day 14+7+2, September 9. 13 new, all Auckland; 868 in the cluster; 603 active, 265 recovered. 
 
This afternoon, I finished weeding/cleaning the pots on the patio, and put almost all self-seeded hellebores into pots and water-proof coffee bean bags. I was disappointed last autumn how few self-seeded babies there were; only three good clusters, two dark pinks and one possible purple, (found between a purple and dark pink,) and no slate. Slates don't produce a lot of seeds and self-seeders seldom survive, but still I live in hope and most years pollinate and cover a few flowers with muslin bags. 
 
I planted the two smaller clusters into a new patch under the cherry tree in the autumn, and though tiny, they seem to be doing well. I'll be thrilled if they flower next year, but it's likely I'll have to wait until the year after. The last dark pink had a large cluster. I'd already used a dozen to fill in the gaps in two patches. I want to keep the rest in tiny pots until next fall so I can start another patch or use them to fill in gaps. I had a dozen pots, but separating the tiny plants, I kept running out of pots and soil, and in the end I had perhaps four dozen. And I still ran out of containers but it was too dark to keep working, so these four will be taken care of tomorrow. 
 
I've been growing hellebores for well over 20 years and I'm quite pleased when I get a dozen self-seeding plants from an older one, occasionally two dozen, but I don't think I've ever had nearly five dozens from one. Now if only I could get more flowers per plant as many folks do... 
Day 14+7+3, September 10. 11 new, all Auckland; 879 in the cluster; 591 active, 288 recovered. Overnight there was wild weather "around" us; 180km winds, trees and power lines blown down/away, resultant power outage and fires, and trucks toppling. And by around us, I mean, to our east, southeast, and southwest, all over the South Island, and possibly parts of the lower North Island. In Nelson, we had some rain. It's supposed to be wild until and including Monday.

Ben had the day off, which meant food shopping. And in case the weather turned wild, we went early, i.e. before noon. Under Level Delta 2, a staff counts the number of shoppers going in/coming out, make sure we scan or sign in, and have masks. Anything other than Level 1, we go to Countdown, where the queue, if any, are shorter and more than one from one bubble is allowed in. (Strictly speaking, I'm not sure if this is allowed under the wider New Zealand rules, but the store is big and aisles wider, I even asked during the previous lockdown, but we're perhaps blatantly breaking the rules.) There was one young chap, in his 20s??, not wearing a mask, and the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh, the demographic with the greatest positive cases!"  
 
At checkout, we had a chat with one Zen, a most low-keyed, pleasant chap, (and I think I read his name tag correctly without my staring too hard.) I asked if folks were really rude or mean to supermarket staff, because, I said, "without you people, we'll, ummm... die, you know?" Zen, a big guy, instead, said, "You'd be surprised. People are unhappy and easily angered." He told me more, but it was hard to hear though his mask when he dropped his voice. This was completely contrary to what I expected, all the more surprising because so many staff are young; why would anyone want to be nasty to "kids" who sell us food during such precarious times!!
 
We were home a little before 1PM. We put away the food while watching the update. In Level Delta 2, Ben wanted to do more or less normal shopping, and top up veg during the week, so there wasn't much. We listened to Deputy PM Robertson, who has a calm, even monotone, voice, and we were exhausted from the shopping trip, I was ready to lie down on the kitchen floor for a nap. We managed to stay upright until update finished, I think, and then had a real nap. In the evening, we binge-watched Battlestar Galactica. :-D We enjoyed it because there was so much less CG that's become the norm for science fiction. There are a few more hours of it left for the remainder of the weekend.
Day 14+7+4, September 11. 23 new, all Auckland; 902 in the cluster; 612 active, 289 recovered. (Radio New Zealand math.) Apparently Nelson missed out on a raucous thunderstorm overnight, but we did have strong wind in the morning. Then, sun and calm, so I went outside, and it was so tranquil I wondered what I should do after potting up the hellebores. Then came a slight breeze, then soft rain, and then sudden huge, noisy, bullet-shaped rain drops. I hurriedly tried to gather my things, and before I was done, sun again. The way things work around here, had I stayed, it would have rained again; had I come in, it would be beautiful. So, I came inside. I have options now; I might line them up against the fence in one area, or.....  
Day 14+7+5, September 12. 20 new, all Auckland; 922 in the cluster; 569* active, 352 recovered. (RNZ numbers except *Ministry.) I can't keep up with all the wild weather reports, and there have been so many; today we learned the existence of Orange and Red Warnings. 

The most exciting thing toady was the plate on which I was building a salad was too small, Ben transferred it in a stainless bowl to mix, and neither of us could be bothered to move it to nicer plate/bowl.  
Day 14+7+6, September 13. 33 new, all Auckland; 955 in the cluster; 582 active, 372 recovered. I wasn't sure why active+recovered didn't match the total; it dawned on me the one may be the elderly person who passed away. Genetically mysterious cases remain problematic. An Auckland couple got caught using their "essential worker" status to drive from Auckland to Hamilton, hopped on a plane to a skiing holiday in Wanaka. They have their own place down there, and a father in high places, so name suppression, etc. Police are going to prosecute, or so the media say. Everybody else in Auckland remain in Level 4, the rest of the country in Level Delta 2, for another week. 
 
All around the country wild weather continues, including possible snow further south, and ongoing drought up north. We had 15-20 minutes of thunderstorm in the morning; Ben was in town and saw lightening, but it must have been in the east/southeast because I heard a lot but saw nothing. The rest of the day was overcast and chilly, but nothing more.

I've been (re-/over-)thinking how I want to go on with this current experiment but saw no light, so I rethreaded anyway. Sometimes sitting on a project works wonders, but not this time. I'd do another sample or three, and if this threading doesn't work, I'll do it again. I don't like the tension, though, so I'm going to un/re-do the front.  
Day 14+7+7, September 14. 15 new, all Auckland; 970 in the cluster; 575 active, 394 recovered. I've been very tired for no good reason, so I cooked. It's interesting how cooking has become my go to place. Tonight we have miso-merinated chicken, kumura & mushrooms baked in chicken juice, and brownies. For warmer days, we have lime juice ice cubes to drop in glasses and dilute with water. Tonight will be a ginger wine & hot water night, though. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Plague Diary Season 3 Week 3

Day 14+1, September 1. 75 new; 74 AKL; one a household contact in WLG who previously returned three negative tests. Three!

Today was a weird day. I woke up after 9, and didn't get up until after 11. I wasn't sick, or even particularly tired, but I felt as if my spirit had left the planet. It was another lovely weeding day, that registered, but I didn't even feel guilty. The only thing I could manage was to gaze at a woven sample I'm meant to analyze. I listened to two Covid podcasts and watched the 1PM update, but other than discovering Chris Hipkins, (Minister for Covid-19 Response), is growing on me, I absorbed nothing. 
 
Late in the afternoon, I had a shower and dressed ready to go into town. I wasn't sure if Ben would have the time, because one meeting seemed to drag on, but he said we could at the last minute. So briefly I broke the Level 3 lockdown rules and lingered in front of Volume for about seven seconds; completely non-essential, and would have lingered longer had it not been after hours and Thomas and Stella weren't getting ready go home, while Ben went to check our PO Box for the first time possibly since August 13.

Still so much traffic. But also, on odd moments, strangers wave and smile. So I guess we're OK. 
LOL. Busted! This is the photo I wanted to use for today's entry, but Thomas noticed the bag outside their window. Truth be told, I wanted to drop some limes and dried lime peels. But lingering sounded oh-so-much better. (And less rule-breaking.) Artistic license, I say. But I did stay long enough to get this one shot. Honest.  
Day 14+2, September 2. 49 new, in Auckland, 736 in all; A: 720, W:16, but also 11 recovered, so 725 active cases. I haven't been paying attention to hospitalization and ICU numbers, but it is going up. Hospitals in Auckland are asking the regions to loan ICU nurses, and/or around 100 staff. This morning I noticed regular traffic noise around 5.30, then a plane, (I think, and not a helicopter,) just before 6; I couldn't tell if it was taking off or landing, but I imagined it transporting a nurse or three to Auckland. Also it transpired a positive case was on the run and at home for 13.5 hours last night, and he live-cast it on Facebook. Dear me, if he wasn't carrying Delta, it would be kind of funny. 
 
That's it for tonight. I'm still working. 
Day 14+3, September 3. New: 28, (A: 27, W: 1); total 764, (recovered: 33, active: 731). I'm 63. When I was 18/19, at least three of my classmates in two countries had babies; those kids would be 44/45 today. Jacinda is just 41; Grand Robertson, deputy PM and Finance Minister is two months short of 50; Chris Hipkins, Health and Covid Response Minister will be 43 on Sunday. We are in such good hands; I can't believe our luck. 

That was supposed to be it for today, but now, a stabbing in Auckland supermarket, six injured, culprit shot. Crikey. And our Internet suffered from hacking.
Day 14+4, September 4. New: 20, all Auckland; total active: 782, (A: 765, W: 17). But sadly, one death. And although hospitalization/ICU/ventilator numbers are low, it wasn't long ago that nobody was on the ventilator, but today there are seven. (Sorry my categories are inconsistent, but I'm copying what Radio NZ reports.)  

It was another sunny, (too sunny, and not cold,) calm day. We got up late, and by the time we had coffee and ate, and I washed the dishes at a leisurely pace, it was after midday. So I stuck around for the 1PM because Radio NZ Live Blog said there will be a 1PM. Except there wasn't! And I really wanted to keep working on a Summer & Winter weave investigation I've been doing... 
 
Gotcha! I did want to weave, and I wanted to bake, but I went outside and worked almost four hours. Four hours in the context of our outside is nothing, but I swept the driveway and sprayed it for green growth; sowed a few seeds, and dug up some self-seeded hellebore babies and planted in three different places. Plus four hours work doesn't tire me so if the spirit moves, if motivation kicks in, I can go out tomorrow with no hesitation. There is so much that needs doing and the soil is starting to get a little harder, though, so prognosis is terrible, but hey... 
Day 14+5, September 5. New: 20, all Auckland; total 801 in this community outbreak, 721 active, 80 recovered. Or thereabouts. They're going to test a whole lot of folks up in Auckland to make sure Delta is not hiding. Vaccination numbers are up, too, mostly first timers, which is what they said they'll work on. There's more coverage of the terrorist today, name and quite a bit of details made public, unlike the Christchurch shooter.
 
Again, nice weather, but there were a few things we had to do. I had to kneed and prove our weekly spelt; marinade chicken that sat in the fridge salted for a few days; Ben wanted to make curry with beef that also sat salted; but most of all I had to do something with the thawed egg whites from yesterday. I would have made angel food cake, (Ben's favorite!) had I a pan or some kind of a mechanism to bake and stand it upside down, but I don't right now. 
 
The second candidate was coconut macaroons, (not French macarons,) I swear I made as a teenager. However, my go-to book on all things nice from my Minnesota days failed to provide me with a recipe! I looked online, read a few, and made my own concoction. Although I used between 1/2 and 1/3 of the sugar, it's cloyingly sweet, and I think I put in too much coconut. So we now have cocoa- and lime-flavored Coconut Weirdos. At least we won't eat them as quickly as the last three batches of cookies. 

By the time the Weirdos came out of the oven, it was past 3; I was exhausted, plus I really wanted to rethread the sample loom but I haven't decided how I want to rethread. So, yeah, I went outside and weeded the pots on the patio. I thought if I can get started, that'll give me an incentive to continue tomorrow, but I may have gotten almost half done. 
 
The driveway I sprayed yesterday hadn't cleaned up as much as I wished; the patio needs spraying, too. Last night I "clicked" for more of the stuff, so Ben can "collect" on Wednesday. Interesting times.
Day 14+6, September 6. 20 new, all Auckland; total community 821, active 726. In addition to a new black and white chart they used, we finally have a new page with graphs, to be updated daily. All regions except Auckland will go into Level Delta 2, slightly more restricted than the old Level 2, on Wednesday. Ben's Click & Collect's collect part at the hardware store isn't going to be that special/peculiar now.
 
Levels, though, eh. A few houses away, a family with small kids moved out, and another with older kids moved in in the last fortnight. This morning, I got a call from our electrician's receptionist, asking could they come tomorrow to deliver/install our new oven. 
 
"But tomorrow is still Level 3," I said. 
 
"We are allowed to work under Level 3," she said, "with proper distancing."
 
2m apart in our kitchen?? But this is a good company; she said it's OK if we prefer they came under Level 2. I said something to the extent, "You bet."

We bought the oven in early July; it arrived from Christchurch in early August; a young chap from the shop told us to come pick it up; we bought the deliver-and-warrant package, but any day the following week would suit; the shop didn't call until the Tuesday after the following week, but tomorrow, Wednesday, would suit. Except we went into lockdown that very Wednesday. So, you could say, hardly essential/urgent for us. Though Sparky might have thought we'd be desperate. I better clean it a little bit, though.

Forecast was rain, but as usual the sky looked "will it or won't it" all morning. I noticed one of the three of these guys was bent broken, so I cut it and stuck the good parts in pots. And then it started raining, and soon after, it was bucketing. And for the rest of the day we had heavy mist, light rain, sky falling, and a little bit of sun. 
It looks a little lop-sided now, but we'll see how it goes; too many plants in one small pot anyway. 
Day 14+7, September 7. 21 or 22 new, (unclear if one is community or border,) all Auckland; total community 841, active 694.The mood is all Level 3, even though until the end of today, we are still at 2. Ben had a minor adventure at the hardware store collecting the mould-fighter for the driveway and patio. He said it was excellently organized. 

We also had another call from our electrician; with the level going down they are super busy, but our oven is coming in ten days, the same day Ben and I are scheduled for our second jabs.